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The Oxford history of Islam

THE OXFORD HISTORY of I S L A M EDITED BY John L. Esposito OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS OXTORD UNIVERSITY PRESS Oxfor

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THE

OXFORD

HISTORY of I S L A M

EDITED

BY

John L. Esposito OXFORD UNIVERSITY

PRESS

OXTORD UNIVERSITY PRESS Oxford Athens Cape Town Karachi Nairobi

Auckland

Chennat

Bogota

Dar es Salaam

Kuala I u m p u r Paris

Hew York

Bangkok

Delhi

Madrid

Sao Paulo

Buenos Aires Florence

Melbourne

Singapore

Taipei

Calcutta

H o n g Kong

Mexico City Tokyo

Istanbul

Mumbai

Toronto

Warsaw

utul asioemttd lumponip in Berlin

lhadan

Copyright ISBN 0-19-510799 i (alk. piper) I , Islam--History, BPS0 095 1999 297.09

[. Hsposito, John. 1 99-13219

dc21

99-1*219 Design by P O L L E N

9 8 Printed in Hong Kong on aiid-free paper

For H a s i b Sabbagh Builder of bridges of steel and of mutual understanding and I s m a i l R. a l - F a r u q i scholar and pioneer in Muslim-Christian dialogue

CONTENTS Introduction i.\ CHAPTER

ONE

M u h a m m a d and the Caliphate POLITICAL

HISTORY

OF

THE ISLAMIC

EMPIRE

UP

TO

THE

MONGOL

CONQUEST

Fred M. Donner I CHAPTER

TWO

F r u i t o f t h e Tree o f K n o w l e d g e THE

RELATIONSHIP

BETWEEN

FAITH

AND

PRACTICE

IN

ISLAM

Vincent J. Cornell CHAPTER

THREE

Law a n d Society THE

INTERPLAY

OF

REVELATION

AND

REASON

IN

THE

SHARIAH

Mohammad Hashim Kamali 107 CHAPTER

FOUR

Science, M e d i c i n e , a n d T e c h n o l o g y THE

MAKING

OF A SCIENTIFIC

CULTURE

Ahmad Dallai CHAPTER

FIVE

Art and Architecture THEMES

AND

VARIATIONS

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom 21c CHAPTER

SIX

Philosophy and Theology FROM

THE EIGHTH CENTURY

C E .

TO

THE

PRESENT

Majid Fakhry 269 CHAPTER

SEVEN

Islam and Christendom HISTORICAL, FROM

CULTURAL,

THE SEVENTH

TO

AND

RELIGIOUS

THE FIFTEENTH

INTERACTION CENTURIES

Jane L Smith CHAPTER

EIGHT

Sultanates a n d G u n p o w d e r E m p i r e s THE

MIDDLE

EAST

Ira M. Lapidas Ï47 vii

CONTENTS CHAPTER

NINE

T h e Eastward J o u r n e y o f M u s l i m K i n g s h i p ISLAM IN SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST

ASIA

Bruce B. Lawrence

395 CHAPTER

TEN

C e n t r a l Asia a n d C h i n a TRANSNATIONALIZATION, ISLAM1ZATION, AND ETHNICIZATION

Dru C. Gladney

433 CHAPTER

ELEVEN

I s l a m i n A f r i c a t o 1800 MERCHANTS,

C H I E F S , A N D SAINTS

Nehemio Levtzion

CHAPTER

TWELVE

Foundations f o r Renewal and R e f o r m ISLAMIC MOVEMENTS

IN T H E EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH

CENTURIES

John Obert Vbll

CHAPTER

THIRTEEN

E u r o p e a n C o l o n i a l i s m a n d t h e Emergence o f M o d e r n M u s l i m States S.V.R. Nosr

549 CHAPTER

FOURTEEN

The Globalization o f Islam THE RETURN

OF MUSLIMS

TO THE WEST

YvonneYa2beck Haddad

6oi CHAPTER

FIFTEEN

Contemporary Islam REFORMATION

OR REVOLUTION?

John L.EspositO

64? Chronology 691 Select Bibliography 697 Contributors 708 Image Sources 710 Index 7»

Introduction

John L . Esposito

A l t h o u g h Islam is the youngest o f the m a j o r w o r l d religions, w i t h i .2 b i l l i o n f o l lowers, Islam is the second largest and fastest-growing r e l i g i o n i n the w o r l d . To speak o f the w o r l d o f Islam today is to refer n o t o n l y t o countries that stretch f r o m N o r t h Africa to Southeast Asia b u t also t o M u s l i m m i n o r i t y c o m m u n i t i e s that exist across the globe. Thus, for example, Islam is the second or t h i r d largest r e l i g i o n i n Europe and the Americas. Both the M u s l i m w o r l d and the West have experienced the i m p a c t o f Islam politically, culturally, and demographically. Events i n the c o n t e m p o r a r y M u s l i m w o r l d have led to an explosion o f interest and scholarly w o r k o n Islam and the M u s l i m w o r l d . M u c h o f this w o r k i n r e l i g i o n , history, and the social sciences has c o n t r i b u t e d t o w a r d the redressing o f earlier imbalances o f coverage and stereotyping. The Oxford History of Islam is part o f this process. The c o g n i t i v e , i d e o l o g i c a l , p o l i t i c a l , and d e m o g r a p h i c m a p o f the M u s l i m w o r l d c h a n g e d d r a m a t i c a l l y i n the second h a l f o f the t w e n t i e t h century. M o d e r n nation-states e m e r g e d f r o m centuries o f European c o l o n i z a t i o n , often as a result o f successful independence movements. However, contemporaryM u s l i m h i s t o r y challenged the expectation that m o d e r n i z a t i o n w o u l d result i n the progressive w e s t e r n i z a t i o n and secularization o f societies. Secularization o f society has n o t p r o v e d a necessary p r e c o n d i t i o n for social, e c o n o m i c , and political development.

ix

X

INTRODUCTION

Islam today is the d o m i n a n t symbolic and ideological force i n the M u s l i m w o r l d , i n f o r m i n g social institutions (education, clinics, hospitals, social welfare services, and banks) and politics. I n contrast to the expectations o f only a few decades ago, Islam (Islamic symbols, ideology, organizations, and institutions) has reemerged as a significant force i n public life. Mainstream Islamic organizations have become major social and political actors i n society. The reassertion o f Islam produced n e w Islamic republics i n Iran, Sudan, andAfghanistan. At the same time, Islamic movements emerged as the major o p p o s i t i o n i n Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, Tunisia, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestine/Israel, Kaslirnir, Central Asia, and elsewhere. Radical Islamic movements have used violence i n attempts to destabilize and topple governments and attack M u s l i m elites as w e l l as Western governments and interests. O f equal importance, M u s l i m s are a significant presence i n the West.

INTRODUCTION

XI

In the 1950s and 1960s large numbers o f M u s l i m s emigrated to Europe and America as laborers, students, and professionals. Today they are a significant m i n o r i t y , addressing issues o f identity (assimilation or integration), values, p o l i t ical and social participation, and pluralism i n Western secular societies. The Oxford History of Islam is designed to provide ready access to the history o f Islam. W r i t t e n for the general reader but also appealing to specialists, o u r goal is to present the best o f scholarship i n a readable style, c o m p l e m e n t e d by a r i c h use o f illustrations. Technical terms have been severely l i m i t e d and diacriticals o m i t ted. The approach to understanding Islam and M u s l i m history and c i v i l i z a t i o n is interdisciplinary, relying o n historians o f Islamic r e l i g i o n , history, art, and science as w e l l as social sciences. C o n t r i b u t o r s represent different disciplinary perspectives and include scholars f r o m diverse national and religious traditions. As w i t h The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, it has been especially i m p o r t a n t to include M u s l i m as w e l l as n o n - M u s l i m scholars. W M e it is not possible to cover this topic exhaustively i n a single volume, The Oxford History is comprehensive i n its coverage. The first part o f die book provides an overview o f the origins and development o f classical Islam: its faith, community, institutions, sciences, and art. It also surveys the liistoric encounter o f Islam and Christianity, critical to w o r l d history and to relations between the M u s l i m w o r l d and the West. The M o n g o l invasion and destruction o f the Abbasid e m p i r e i n the thirteenth century appeared to b r i n g to an end Islam's p h e n o m e n a l expansion as faith and as empire. Instead, as seen i n the next chapters, the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries saw a p e r i o d o f sultanates and empires, extending f r o m T i m b u k t u to Mindanao. Sultanates f r o m Africa to China and Southeast Asia emerged alongside great e m p i r e s — t h e O t t o m a n and Safavid empires i n the M i d d l e East and the M u g h a l i n South Asia. W i t h i n each, Islam expressed itself i n diverse ways and flourished

as b o t h a faith and a c i v i l i z a t i o n . However, by the eighteenth century,

across the M u s l i m w o r l d the fortunes o f M u s l i m societies were i n decline. The next group o f chapters tracks the domestic and international challenges faced by premodern and m o d e m M u s l i m societies, i n particular movements o f Islamic renewal and reform. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries witnessed the rise o f premodern reform movements f r o m Africa to Southeast Asia, m d u d i n g theWahhabi, M a h d i , and Sanusi, w h i c h responded to internal causes o f stagnation and decline. By the nineteenth century, m u c h o f the M u s l i m w o r l d faced an external threat, the onslaught o f European colonialism. The colonial legacy and the history of M u s l i m responses to the political, economic, and religious challenges o f European i m p e r i alism i n the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have had a p r o f o u n d impact o n M u s l i m societies and u p o n relations between the M u s l i m w o r l d and the West. The final chapters o f the b o o k provide perspectives o n the c o n t e m p o r a r y landscape. The resurgence o f Islam i n the late t w e n t i e t h century has been a test i m o n y to the vitality o f Islam. At the d a w n o f the twenty-first century, Islam is

Xii

INTRODUCTION

indeed a global presence chat blurs o l d distinctions between the M u s l i m w o r l d and the West. Islam is t r u l y a w o r l d r e l i g i o n , necessitating coverage o f b o t h Islam and the West and Islam in the West. Islam is t o be f o u n d n o t o n l y i n the m o r e than çc M u s l i m countries o f the w o r l d b u t also i n significant M u s l i m m i n o r i t y c o m m u n i t i e s i n Europe and America as w e l l as such diverse countries as China, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines. As a result, Islam and M u s l i m history have played a n d continue t o play a dynamic and m a j o r role i n w o r l d history. I w i s h t o especially acknowledge m y colleagues, the c o n t r i b u t o r s t o this v o l u m e , w h o have been responsive t o m y requests for revision and additions. I a m i n d e b t e d t o James Piscatori ( O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y ) , Tamara Sonn (College o f W i l l i a m and M a r y ) , and John O. Voll (Georgetown U n i v e r s i t y ) for their invaluable assistance. Natana DeLong-Bas, m y senior research assistant, was especially helpful i n gathering the chronology. Sheila Blair and Jonathan B l o o m were a pleasure t o w o r k w i t h , invaluable i n i d e n t i f y i n g the many illustrations t o be f o u n d i n this volume. Jean Esposito, as always, was there w i t h advice and encouragement.

T H E O X F O R D H I S T O R Y of

ISLAM

CHAPTER

ONE

Muhammad and the Caliphate P O L I T I C A L H I S T O R Y OF T H E I S L A M I C E M P I R E UP T O T H E M O N G O L C O N Q U E S T

Fred M . Donner

Islam as a r e l i g i o n and c i v i l i z a t i o n made its entry o n t o the w o r l d stage w i t h the life a n d career o f the Prophet M u h a m m a d i b n A h d A l l a h (ca. 5 7 0 - 6 3 2 ) i n western Arabia. After his death, a series o f successors called caliphs claimed political a u t h o r i t y over the M u s l i m c o m m u n i t y . D u r i n g the p e r i o d o f the caliphate, Islam grew i n t o a religious tradition and civilization o f w o r l d w i d e importance. A p r o p erly h i s t o r i c a l v i e w o f Islam's appearance and early d e v e l o p m e n t ,

however,

demands that these processes be situated against the cultural b a c k g r o u n d o f sixth-century Arabia and, m o r e generally, the Near East.

Historical Setting The Near East i n the sixth century was d i v i d e d between t w o great empires, the

(Left) Pilgrims to Mecca

Byzantine o r Later Roman Empire i n the west and the Sasanian Empire i n the east,

worshiping around the

w i t h the k i n g d o m s o f H i m y a r i n southern Arabia and A x u m i n the H o r n o f Africa

Kaaba, the cubical stone

constituting smaller players i n the political arena. This Byzantine-Sasanian rivalry-

structure covered with cloth,

was merely the most recent phase i n a l o n g struggle between Rome and Persia that

which stands in the middle

had lasted for m o r e than five h u n d r e d years. The t w o empires n o t only raised c o m p e t i n g claims to w o r l d d o m i n i o n , they also represented different cultural traditions: the Byzantines espoused Hellenistic culture, w h i l e the Sasanians looked to ancient Iranian and Semitic cultural traditions and rejected H e l l e n i s m as alien.

1

of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. Muslims revere the Kaaba as the House of God and direct their prayers toward it five times a day.

2

THE OXFORD

HISTORY

OF

ISLAM

This cultural antagonism was specifically exacerbated by religious rivalry; i n the t h i r d and f o u r t h centuries the Byzantine emperors had declared themselves c h a m pions o f Christianity, w h i c h itself had been heavily i m b u e d w i t h Hellenistic c u l ture, whereas the Sasanian Great Kings espoused the I r a n i a n faith k n o w n as Zoroastrianism (Magianism) as their official r e l i g i o n . O n the eve o f Islam, r e l i gious identities i n the Near East, particularly Greek o r Byzantine Christianity and Zoroastrianism, had thus acquired acutely political overtones. A l t h o u g h both the Byzantine and Sasanian empires espoused official religions, neither empire had a religiously homogeneous p o p u l a t i o n . Large populations o f Jews were scattered t h r o u g h o u t the Near East; they were especially numerous i n such cities as Alexandria, Jerusalem, A n t i o c h , Hamadan, Rayy, Susa, the Byzantine capital at Constantinople, and the Sasanian capital at Ctesiphon. Many m o r e Jews were setded i n places like Tiberias i n Palestine and i n southern Mesopotamia, where Jewish academies c o n t i n u e d a l o n g tradition o f religious learning and c o n t r i b u t e d to p r o d u c i n g the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds (the authoritative bodies o f Jewish tradition) d u r i n g the f o u r t h , fifth, a n d sixth centuries. Christians were numerous, perhaps the m a j o r i t y o f the Near Eastern p o p u l a t i o n i n the sixth century", b u t they were d i v i d e d i n t o several sects that differed o n points o f theolThe great church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was built

ogy. Each sect viewed itself as the t r u e or o r t h o d o x

("right-confessing")

Christianity a n d dismissed the others as heterodox. The Byzantine (or Greek

by the Byzantine emperor

O r t h o d o x ) faith, the official c h u r c h o f the Byzantine Empire, was w i d e l y estab-

Justinian in the sixth cen-

lished i n Greece, the Balkans, and a m o n g the large Greek-speaking populations o f

tury. It was transformed into

Anatolia (Asia M i n o r ) . I n Syria-Palestine

a mosque after the Ottomans

c h u r c h was m a i n l y l i m i t e d to the towns. A few Byzantine Christians were even

conquered Constantinople in 1 4 5 3 , and the minarets were added then.

a n d Egypt, however, the Byzantine

f o u n d i n the Sasanian Empire, mainly i n Mesopotamia, but their p o s i t i o n was precarious. Christians f o l l o w i n g the teachings o f Bishop Nestorius (Nestorianism)

M U H A M M A D

AND THE CALIPHATE

3

had been forced to leave the By zantine Empire after Nestorius was deposed for heresy by the C o u n c i l o f Ephesus i n 431. They had to take refuge i n the Sasanian Empire, scattered w i d e l y between Mesopotamia, Iran, and the fringes o f Central Asia. A n o t h e r Christian sect, the Monophysites, had been declared a heresy by the C o u n c i l o f Chalcedon i n 451, but M o n o p h y s i t i s m was nonetheless the creed o f most i n d i g e n o u s Christians o f A x u m , Egypt, Syria-Palestine,

Mesopotamia.

A r m e n i a , and Iran, particularly i n the countryside. Zoroastrians were f o u n d m a i n l y i n Iran and southern Mesopotamia; few lived outside the Sasanian Empire. C o m m u n i t i e s o f all three religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Z o r o a s t r i a n i s m ) — w h i c h are called the scriptural religions because they shared the idea o f a divinely inspired, revealed scripture—were also found i n Arabia. The Byzantines and Sasanians fought many wars between the f o u r t h and sixth centuries i n an effort to secure and extend their o w n territories. They competed w i t h particular intensity for key border zones such as upper Mesopotamia and Armenia. They also tried to seize key towns f r o m one another to gain control over, and therefore to tax, the lucrative " O r i e n t trade." This commerce b r o u g h t southern Arabian incense, Chinese silk, Indian pepper and cottons, spices, and other goods f r o m the Indian Ocean region to die cities o f the Mediterranean basin. The Byzantines and Sasanians also attempted to gain the advantage by establishing alliances w i t h lesser states i n the r e g i o n . The most i m p o r t a n t o f these client states was the Christian k i n g d o m o f A x u m , w i t h w h i c h the Byzantines established an uneasy alliance. Both Byzantines and Sasanians also f o r m e d alliances w i t h tribal groups w h o lived o n the Arabian fringes o f their territories. Arabia was wedged between the t w o empires. The Sasanians established a series o f protectorates over tribes and small states o n the east Arabian coast and i n O m a n , whereas the Byzantines b r o u g h t tribes o n the fringes o f Palestine and Syria i n t o their o r b i t . Arabia occupied a strategic p o s i t i o n i n relation to the O r i e n t trade, a fact that led b o t h empires to intervene decisively i n its affairs d u r i n g the sixth century. I n 52c the Byzantines persuaded A x u m to invade and occupy the k i n g d o m o f H i m y a r i n Yemen and its i m p o r t a n t trading ports, thus b r i n g i n g the Red Sea trade to the I n d i a n Ocean securely w i t h i n the Byzantine o r b i t . I n 57c, however, the Sasanians, i n v i t e d by the Himyarites, sent an e x p e d i t i o n to oust the A x u m i t e s f r o m Yemen, w h i c h for the next several decades was a Sasanian province ruled The Sasanians, rulers of Iran a n d adjacent areas in the centuries before I s l a m ,

p'\

111

m i n

ffi'itiiiiEüti •;

I IIIIII M i l l '

J l l j m i j r ' i i !'• I

maintained their capital at Ctesiphon, near present-day Baghdad. The main room of their palace was a giant iwan, a barrel-vaulted space,

'ft-

under which the ruler sat.

c

4

T H E OXFORD

HISTORY

OF

ISLAM

by a governor appointed by the Great King. Some t i m e later, the Sasanians i n a u gurated the last and greatest o f the Sasanian-Byzantine wars by l a u n c h i n g a series o f assaults o n Byzantine t e r r i t o r i e s farther n o r t h . Between 611 and 620 the Sasanians seized most o f Anatolia, all o f Syria-Palestine, and Egypt f r o m the Byzantines. But i n the next decade the Byzantine e m p e r o r Heraclius regained these territories, and i n 628 he was able t o conquer the Sasanians' Mesopotamian heartlands, depose the Great K i n g , and install another, m o r e docile king. These dramatic events f o r m e d the political backdrop t o the career o f Islam's Prophet M u h a m m a d i n the western Arabian towns o f Mecca and M e d i n a . A l t h o u g h distant from the m a i n centers o f h i g h civilization i n the Near East, .Arabia was n o t isolated. The Arabian peoples were aware o f and affected by p o l i t i cal, economic, and cultural developments i n the more h i g h l y developed surrounding lands o f the Near East. Trends i n religion i n particular resonated i n various parts o f Arabia. Many religions had established themselves i n Arabia o n the eve o f Islam. Christianity was well-established i n parts o f eastern Arabia along the Persian G u l f coast and i n O m a n as w e l l as i n Yemen. The Yemeni city o f Najran i n particular later became famous because o f the m a r t y r d o m o f Christians there d u r i n g the sixth century. Christianity had also spread among some o f the pastoral nomadic tribes that occupied the northern fringes o f the peninsula, where i t bordered o n Syria and Mesopotamia, and may also have been current among some pastoral groups farther south, i n n o r t h e r n and central Arabia itself. Judaism was similarly widespread; important Jewish c o m m unities existed i n the string o f oasis towns stretching southw a r d along the n o r d i e r n Red Sea coast o f Arabia, i n c l u d i n g the towns o f Khaybar andYathrib (later called Medina, the Prophet Muhammad's adoptive home). Jews were also found i n eastern Arabia and especially i n Yemen. Zoroastrianism was far less widespread i n Arabia than either Christianity or Judaism, but a small f o l l o w i n g existed, particularly i n parts o f eastern Arabia and O m a n , where the Sasanian Empire had established protectorates among the local populations. Arabian communities o f all Uiree scriptural religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism—sometimes maintained contact w i t h their co-religionists i n the lands surrounding Arabia, where these religions were m u c h more firmly established. For example, bishops from lower Mesopotamia were sent to Yemen, and .Arabian Jews ma)- have had some contact w i t h the great academies o f Jewish learning i n Mesopotamia. In a d d i t i o n t o the scriptural religions, Arabia also was h o m e t o a host o f local animist cults, w i n c h attributed d i v i n e powers t o natural objects—the sun, the m o o n , Venus, certain sacred rocks o r trees, and so o n . These cults seem t o have been late vestiges o f the animist religions once widespread a m o n g the peoples o f the ancient Near East, such as the Babylonians and Canaanites. A l t h o u g h anim i s m still existed in Arabia i n the sixth century, i t was being supplanted by the scriptural religions i n many areas. The r e m a i n i n g strongholds o f these animistic cults were i n central and western Arabia, especially i n t o w n s such as Taif and

MUHAMMAD

A N D THE CALIPHATE

C

Mecca, w h i c h contained sanctuaries (harams) w i t h i n whose confines members o f the cult were f o r b i d d e n to fight and had to observe other rules o f the c u l t — a feature that made such harams i m p o r t a n t centers for markets and for social transactions o f all kinds. I n Mecca the cultic center was a cube-shaped b u i l d i n g called the Kaaba, embedded i n w h i c h was a m e t e o r i c black stone a r o u n d w h i c h cult members p e r f o r m e d circumambulations to gain the favor o f the cult's dieties. The religious, cultural, economic, and poUtical environment i n Arabia and the Near East was thus a very complex one. Before examining Islam's rise, however, i t is i m p o r t a n t to note a feature o f the Near Eastern landscape that profoundly i n f l u enced the course o f the region's history, i n c l u d i n g its history d u r i n g the early Islamic centuries. There are extensive tracts o f agriculturally marginal land i n the Near East; these marginal lands consist either o f arid steppe and desert, as i n m u c h o f Arabia, or o f semiarid mountainous terrain, as i n parts o f Iran and Anatolia. I n these regions settled life, particularly larger towns and cities, tended to be w i d e l y scattered and i n some cases virtually nonexistent. Some such areas, however, could sustain thinly scattered populations o f pastoral nomads o r mountaineering peoples l i v i n g i n small settlements and relying o n a m i x t u r e o f subsistence agriculture and herding. These nomadic or m o u n t a i n e e r i n g peoples were often outside the effective c o n t r o l o f any state, and they organized themselves pohtically i n kinship-based entities (tribes) or i n larger confederations o f tribes. I n many cases they also had strong martial traditions, apparently rooted i n such diverse factors as their skill w i t h r i d i n g animals and a culturally based attitude o f superiority toward nonpastoralists o r lowlanders. The result was that for several m i l l e n n i a the history o f the Near East was marked by the repeated i n t r u s i o n o f powerful pastoral nomads or m o u n tain tribespeople i n t o the richer, settled lands and towns belonging to the various states o f the region. Sometimes diese intrusions were merely raids along a state's borders, usually undertaken w h e n a state was n o t strong enough to defend a district effectively. D u r i n g other intrusions, however, nomads or m o u n t a i n tribes toppled the r u l i n g dynasties o f m o r i b u n d states and supplanted the rulers w i t h members o f their o w n group, w h o became a new r u l i n g dynasty—-usually settling d o w n i n the state's heartlands i n the process, but keeping a power base i n the marginal region from w h i c h they had come. This process o f periodic i n t r u s i o n by peoples f r o m the marginal regions i n t o the state--dominated areas o f the Near East is one o f the m a i n themes i n the area's history.

The Prophet Muhammad and the Nascent Community of Believers The h i s t o r i a n , w h e t h e r M u s l i m o r n o n - M u s l i m , w h o wishes t o w r i t e about the life o f the Prophet M u h a m m a d faces grave problems o f b o t h d o c u m e n t a t i o n a n d interpretation. The first r u l e o f the h i s t o r i a n is t o rely whenever possible o n c o n -

6

THE OXFORD

HISTORY

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t e m p o r a r y documents-—yet for the life o f the Prophet these are virtually nonexistent. Fortunately, many accounts p r o d u c e d w i t h i n the M u s l i m c o m m u n i t y i n later times provide us w i t h copious i n f o r m a t i o n about the Prophet. W h e n deali n g w i t h such accounts, however, the h i s t o r i a n must t r y t o i d e n t i f y and set aside those features that reflect n o t the Prophet's life and times b u t later attitudes and values o f all kinds that have been interpolated i n t o the story o f his life b y subsequent w r i t e r s , w h e t h e r consciously or unconsciously. This is never an easy task, and a significant measure o f honest disagreement inevitably emerges a m o n g historians engaged in the w o r k o f evaluating the r e p o r t e d events and p r o v i d i n g a sound i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e m . The b r i e f sketch o f the Prophet M u h a m m a d ' s life and career that follows is d r a w n largely o n the basis o f the t r a d i t i o n a l narratives, but the choice o f traditional materials selected, and the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f their overall m e a n i n g , reflect m a i n l y the author's general concerns as an h i s t o r i a n interested i n questions o f social and p o l i t i c a l i n t e g r a t i o n and i n the e v o l u t i o n o f religious movements. Little is k n o w n w i t h certainty about the Prophet M u h a m m a d ' s early life. H e was b o r n M u h a m m a d i b n (son o f ) A b d Allah i n the small western Arabian t o w n o f Mecca some t i m e a r o u n d 570 c.E. (traditional accounts differ o n the date). H e belonged to the H a s h i m clan, one o f the smaller segments o f the tribe o f Quraysh that d o m i n a t e d Mecca. A t an early age M u h a m m a d was orphaned and came under the guardianship o f his paternal uncle, A b u Talib, head o f the H a s h i m clan, Mecca was the site o f an i m p o r t a n t pagan shrine, the Kaaba, d u r i n g M u h a m m a d ' s y o u t h . The Quraysh tribe served as guardians and stewards o f the cult o f H u b a l , centered o n this shrine. The tribe was also involved i n trade; although they p r o b ably dealt m a i n l y in h u m b l e goods such as hides, their commercial activity gave t h e m contact w i t h m u c h o f Arabia and the s u r r o u n d i n g lands, and i t p r o v i d e d t h e m w i t h a measure o f experience i n the organization and management o f people and materials. T r a d i t i o n a l sources portray M u h a m m a d as having been a p r o m i s i n g and respected y o u n g m a n w h o participated i n b o t h Mecca's cultic activities and its commerce. He also seemed to have had an i n w a r d , contemplative side, however, w h i c h expressed itself i n his periodic w i t h d r a w a l to secluded spots for p r o l o n g e d periods o f m e d i t a t i o n and reflection. It was d u r i n g such a retreat, i n about 610, that he began to have religious experiences i n the f o r m o f visions and sounds that presented themselves as revelations f r o m God. These experiences initially so terrified h i m that he sought comfort f r o m his first wife, Khadijah, but the visions occurred again and slowly M u h a m m a d came to accept b o t h the message itself and his o w n role as God's messenger. The revelations, c o m i n g to M u h a m m a d as sonorous utterances, were eventually collected to f o r m the Quran (sometimes spelled " K o r a n " i n earlier English w r i t i n g s ) , w h i c h is sacred scripture for Muslims.

To M u h a m m a d and. to all w h o have since followed his message, the Q u r a n is l i t -

In the first centuries of Islam,

erally the w o r d o f G o d , God's o w n eternal speech.

many fine manuscripts of the

The message M u h a m m a d received i n these revelations was a w a r n i n g that only t h r o u g h devotion t o the one and only God a n d through righteous observance o f the revealed law could people attain salvation i n the afterlife. Some revelations thus

Quran were copied on parchment in the distinctive angular script known as Kufic and embellished with gold

emphasized the oneness and omnipotence o f God, Creator o f the w o r l d and o f chapter headings. everything i n i t , including h u m a n k i n d . Others warned that the Last Judgment was near; and then those w h o had lived righteously w o u l d be sent to heaven and those w h o had lived evil lives w o u l d be sent to eternal damnation i n hell. Other revelations laid out the general guidelines for a righteous existence. These included w o r ship o f the one God and rejection o f idols and false gods; regular prayer; almsgiving and charitable treatment o f the poor, w i d o w s , orphans, and other unfortunates; observance o f strict modesty i n dealing w i t h the opposite sex, a n d o f h u m i l i t y i n all one's affairs; the need t o w o r k actively for the g o o d and to stand u p against evil w h e n one sees i t ; and many other injunctions. Still other revelations retold stories o f earlier prophets (among t h e m Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus) w h o , like M u h a m m a d , had been charged w i t h b r i n g i n g God's t r u t h to their people, and w h o provided for Believers inspiring models o f righteous conduct: as the Quran put i t , "Surely i n this there is a sign for y o u , i f y o u believe," Many aspects o f M u h a m m a d ' s message were conveyed i n concepts a n d sometimes i n w o r d s that were already familiar i n Arabia. I n part, this was what made M u h a m m a d ' s message comprehensible to his first audience. The ideas o f

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m o n o t h e i s m , a Last Judgment, heaven and hell, prophecy and revelations, and the emphasis o n intense, even m i l i t a n t , piety were widespread i n the Near Eastern scripturalist religions i n the sixth century. I n this sense Muhammad's message can be seen as an affirmation and refinement o f certain trends among the scripturalist religions o f the late antique era, perhaps as an effort at their reformation. To adherents o f the pagan cults o f western Arabia, however, i n c l u d i n g M u h a m m a d ' s fellow tribespeople o f Quraysh, his message came as a b l u n t repudiation o f all they stood for. He proclaimed their p o l y t h e i s m as incorrect and p r o f o u n d l y sinful, an affront to the one God's unity, i n itself sufficient t o c o n d e m n t h e m eternally to hellfire. He made i t clear that i n their behavior, they failed i n many ways to meet God's demands for h u m i l i t y , for modesty, for charity for the less fortunate, and especially

for

pious

dedication

to G o d

h i m s e l f t h r o u g h regular

prayer.

M u h a m m a d p o i n t e d o u t that the tribe's pagan ancestors, even his o w n grandfathers, were similarly destined for p e r d i t i o n — a n idea certain to generate outrage i n a tribal society that h i g h l y revered ancestors. The Quraysh were aghast. M u c h o f M u h a m m a d ' s prophetic career, f r o m the t i m e he began p u b l i c l y preaching i n about 613 u n t i l his death i n 632, was consumed w i t h w a r d i n g off and eventually o v e r c o m i n g the o p p o s i t i o n o f his o w n t r i b e , the Quraysh. H i s early followers i n c l u d e d some close relatives, such as his paternal cousin, A l i i b n A b i Talib (ca. 6 0 0 - 6 1 ) , as w e l l as a few p r o m i n e n t Meccans o f leading clans, such as U t h m a n i b n Affan (ca. 575-656) o f the Umayya clan. H e was also j o i n e d at first by many people o f l o w e r social stature i n Mecca—clients, freed slaves, and individuals o f lesser clans o f Quraysh—perhaps because their weaker family ties made it easier for t h e m to act i n accordance w i t h their conscience. As his f o l l o w i n g grew, however, the o p p o s i t i o n and abuse by the r e m a i n i n g Quraysh h a r d ened; c o n d i t i o n s became so bad for some that M u h a m m a d arranged for a n u m b e r o f t h e m to take refuge w i t h the r u l e r o f A x u m i n perhaps about 615. His situation i n Mecca became critical w i t h the death, i n close succession, o f his w i f e Khadijah and his uncle A b u Talib, i n about 619; almost simultaneously, he had lost his m a i n source o f e m o t i o n a l support and his m a i n protector, because A b u Talib, although he never embraced the Prophet's message, had nonetheless used the solidarity o f the H a s h i m clan to defend M u h a m m a d . As M u h a m m a d ' s situation worsened, he began to l o o k to other t o w n s i n western Arabia for supporters. It was a r o u n d 620 that M u h a m m a d w o n over a few people f r o m Yathrib, an oasis t o w n about 250 miles ( 4 0 0 k m ) n o r t h o f Mecca. For some years the p o p u l a t i o n o f Yathrib, w h i c h i n c l u d e d t w o p r e d o m inantly pagan tribes and a n u m b e r o f Jewish tribes, had been r i v e n by intractable internal strife. C )ver the next t w o j cars m o r e people ot Yathrib agreed u 11 ibserve the Prophet's message, u n t i l finally a large delegation o f people f r o m Yathrib

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9

agreed t o f o l l o w his teachings a n d invited h i m t o c o m e t o Y a t h r i b as arbiter o f their disputes a n d de facto r u l e r o f the t o w n . M u h a m m a d gradually sent his beleaguered followers f r o m Mecca t o safety i n Y a t h r i b . f o l l o w i n g t h e m h i m s e l f and taking u p residence i n 622.Yathrib henceforth came t o be k n o w n as Medina ( f r o m the Arabic madinat al-nobi, " t h e Prophet's c i t y " ) . The Prophet's move (the hijra, e m i g r a t i o n ) t o M e d i n a m a r k e d the b e g i n n i n g o f a n e w chapter i n his life and that o f his followers. They were n o longer a small, oppressed religious g r o u p i n Mecca; they were n o w an a u t o n o m o u s r e l i g i o - p o l i t i c a l c o m m u n i t y o f Believers that d o m i n a t e d the oasis o f Medina. M u h a m m a d ' s hijra t o M e d i n a i n 622 was thus the b e g i n n i n g o f Islam's l o n g life as a political force, a fact s y m bolized by the selection o f that year t o serve as the first year o f the Islamic era. D u r i n g his roughly ten years i n Medina ( 6 2 2 - 3 2 ) , M u h a m m a d consolidated his control over the town's disparate p o p u l a t i o n , and he extended Medina's power and influence i n Arabia. W h e n M u h a m m a d first arrived, Medina was still full o f smould e r i n g rivalries: between the town's t w o m a i n Arab tribes; between the muhajirun ("emigrants," the Believers w h o h a d emigrated to Medina f r o m Mecca or elsewhere) and the ansor ("helpers," Muhammad's first followers i n Medina, w h o had invited h i m and his Meccan followers to find refuge w i t h them); and between some o f Medina's Jews and the n e w Believers. W h i l e some o f Medina's Jews appear to have supported M u h a m m a d , those w h o challenged M u h a m m a d ' s claim t o prophecy, and i n some cases cooperated w i t h his political enemies (or whose leaders d i d ) , were handled harshly i n a series o f confrontations—exiled w i t h loss o f

R. J. Burtons nineteenthcentury drawing of Medina with the Mosque of the Prophet in the center. The Prophet settled here in 622. and his new house became the first mosque in Islam and later served as his place of burial.

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their lands, enslaved, or executed, depending on the case. Beyond Medina the most determined opponents o f Muhammad's efforts to extend his influence and his message were his erstwhile fellow citizens, the Quraysh o f Mecca. Mecca and Medina became locked i n an intense struggle to w i n over other towns and groups o f nomads, a struggle in w h i c h Mecca, w i t h its established commercial and tribal tics, initially appeared to have the advantage M u h a m m a d , however, launched raids against Meccan caravans, seizing valuable booty and hostages, and, more important, disrupting the commercial lifeblood o f Mecca. After a series o f raids and battles against the Quraysh that seem to have been indecisive i n their results (at Badr in 6 2 4 ; U h u d , 625; and Khandaq, 627), M u h a m m a d negotiated a truce w i t h the Quray sh at Hudaybiya i n 628. I n exchange for some short-term concessions, the truce gave M u h a m m a d and his followers the right to make the pilgrimage to Mecca's shrine, Kaaba, i n the f o l l o w i n g year. The treaty also gave M u h a m m a d a free hand to subdue one o f Mecca's key allies, the oasis o f Khaybar n o r t h o f Medina, whose large Jewish population (some o f them refugees from Medina) was hostile to the Prophet. This done, i t was relatively easy for M u h a m m a d to t u r n o n Mecca itself, w h i c h submitted virtually w i t h o u t bloodshed i n 630. Aware o f h o w dangerous the Quraysh could be i f their o p p o s i t i o n continued, and w i s h i n g to w i n their support, M u h a m m a d was careful to spare their pride. He tied t h e m to his movement by awarding many o f their leaders important commands and positions o f authority. W h i l e M u h a m m a d was engaged i n his struggle against Mecca, he was also slowly w o r k i n g to b r i n g more and m o r e n o m a d i c groups and towns w i t h i n Medina's orbit, either as loose allies or as full-fledged members o f the c o m m u n i t y o f Believers. I n d o i n g so, he used the appeal o f his religious message, promises o f material gain, or, o n occasion, o u t r i g h t force to b r i n g recalcitrant groups under Medina's sway. His conquest o f Mecca opened the way for victorious campaigns— w i t h the help o f the Quraysh—against the other m a i n t o w n o f western Arabia, Taif, and against the remaining groups o f powerful nomads i n the region. By this t i m e Muhammad's position as the most powerful political leader in western Arabia had become apparent to all, and tribal groups that had until then tried to h o l d Medina at arm's length n o w sent delegations to tender their submission. By Muhammad's death in 632, his c o m m u n i t y had expanded—more by religious persuasion and political alliance than by force—to include all o f western Arabia, and he had made fruitful contact w i t h some groups i n the n o r t h e r n Hijaz, N e j d , eastern Arabia, O m a n , and Yemen.

Early Expansion of the Community and State U p o n Muhammad's death i n 632, the y o u n g c o m m u n i t y o f Believers faced a set o f difficult challenges. The first and most basic challenge was to resolve the ques-

MUHAMMAD

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t i o n : Were the Believers to f o r m a single p o l i t y under one leader even after M u h a m m a d ' s death, or were they to b e l o n g t o separate c o m m u n i t i e s , each headed by its o w n political leader? I n the end the Believers chose t o r e m a i n a single c o m m u n i t y and selected the Prophet's father-in-law and staunch supporter, A b u Bakr, to be his first successor. A b u Bakr and subsequent successors as leaders o f the Islamic c o m m u n i t y are k n o w n i n Islamic tradition as caliphs ( f r o m the Arabic khalifa, m e a n i n g "successor" or "representative"). A b u Bakr and the Believers i n Medina faced a second i m m e d i a t e challenge. A l t h o u g h the t o w n s o f Medina, Mecca, andTaif and the nomadic groups between t h e m were for the most part quite steadfast i n their support o f A b u Bakr, many groups i n Arabia that had once tendered their submission to M u h a m m a d t r i e d to sever their political or religious ties w i t h M e d i n a once the Prophet was dead. Some claimed that they w o u l d remain Believers b u t contended that they d i d n o t owe the tax that the Prophet had collected, w h i c h A b u Bakr c o n t i n u e d t o demand. Other groups gave n o assurances that they w o u l d remain Believers. I n still other cases religious leaders arose c l a i m i n g t o be prophets themselves. Against these threats, A b u Bakr acted quickly and decisively i n w h a t is usually called the Apostasy (or Ridda) wars, d u r i n g w h i c h he sent armed bands o f Believers to the m a i n centers o f o p p o s i t i o n i n Arabia: Yemen, N e j d , andYamama. By maki n g shows o f force first among wavering tribes, these campaigns picked u p allies as they proceeded, and grew large e n o u g h to defeat the m o r e serious opponents, such as the "false p r o p h e t " Musaylima o f Yamama. These campaigns were f o l lowed by incursions i n t o O m a n and n o r t h w a r d t o w a r d the Arabian fringes o f Syria and Mesopotamia (what is n o w Iraq). I n 634, at the end o f t w o years o f camp a i g n i n g , A b u Bakr and the Believers o f Medina had b r o u g h t the entire Arabian peninsula under their c o n t r o l , opening the way t o further conquests that w o u l d , w i t h i n a few m o r e decades, make the Believers the masters o f a vast empire. This was possible partly because the almost ceaseless m i l i t a r y activity o f the Ridda wars p r o v i d e d the setting i n w h i c h the loosely organized war parties f o r m e d at the b e g i n n i n g o f the Ridda wars began t o assume the character o f a standing army, w i t h a core o f devoted supporters ( m a i n l y t o w n s m e n o f M e d i n a , Mecca, andTaif) leading a larger mass o f allies d r a w n f r o m a w i d e variety o f Arabian tribes. It also represented the d o m i n a t i o n o f the pastoral and mountaineer populations o f Arabia by the e m b r y o n i c n e w state i n Medina, w h i c h was headed by an elite g r o u p c o m posed almost exclusively o f settled t o w n s m e n . The Ridda wars b r o u g h t the Believers to the very doorsteps o f the Byzantine and Sasanian empires, but they also d i d m o r e . The emergence i n Arabia o f a state where n o n e h a d been before, one that c o u l d harness the m i l i t a r y potential o f the Arabian p o p u l a t i o n , made i t possible for the Believers to organize campaigns o f conquest that penetrated the great empires a n d wrested vast territories f r o m

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t h e m . The great wave o f early conquests was the m a i n w o r k o f the second caliph, U m a r i b n al-Khattab (r. 6 3 4 - 4 4 ) , w h o m A b u Bakr u p o n his deathbed selected to lead the Believers. The conquests were further c o n t i n u e d d u r i n g the first years o f the reign o f the r i i i r d caliph, U t h m a n i b n Affan (r. 6 4 4 - 5 6 ) . The caliphs launched one set o f offensives against the Byzantine-controlled territories o f Palestine and Syria, h o m e to many Arabic-speaking tribes (part o f the p r i m a r y audience to w h i c h the Q u r a n had been addressed). These incursions elicited defensive reactions f r o m the Byzantine authorities i n Syria, against w h o m several battles were f o u g h t . Eventually, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius sent a large army f r o m Anatolia to secure Syria against the threatening Believers, b u t to n o avail; his force was decimated at a battle along theYarmuk valley (east o f the Sea o f Galilee) i n 636. Most o f the countryside and towns o f Syria and Palestine fell to the Believers shortly thereafter; the o n l y exceptions were some coastal t o w n s such as Ascalon and T r i p o l i , w h i c h h e l d o u t for years longer because the Byzantines c o u l d supply t h e m by sea. F r o m Syria the Believers sent campaigns i n t o n o r t h e r n Mesopotamia, A r m e n i a , and against the Byzantine frontier i n southern Anatolia. A n e x p e d i t i o n a r y force f r o m Syria also wrested the r i c h province o f Egypt f r o m the Byzantines, c o n q u e r i n g the c o m m e r c i a l and cultural h u b o f Alexandria i n 642. At the same time as the offensives i n Syria and Palestine, the Believers were faced w i t h i m p e n d i n g clashes w i t h the Sasanian Empire i n w h a t is n o w southern Iraq. The early contacts o f the Believers w i t h the Arabic-speaking pastoral nomads o f this r e g i o n , and their increasing boldness i n penetrating Iraq's interior, had caused the Sasanians to m o b i l i z e their armies to resist t h e m , b u t they fared n o better than the Byzantines. I n a great batde i n 637 at abQadisiyah ( m o d ern Kadisiya) i n southern Iraq, the Sasanians were decisively broken, o p e n i n g the r i c h alluvial lands o f Iraq to occupation by the armies o f the Believers. F r o m southern Iraq the Believers sent campaigns i n t o Khuzestan and Azerbaijan, and others pursued the fleeing Sasanians i n t o the Iranian highlands. Gradually the m a i n t o w n s o f western Iran, and w i t h t i m e areas farther east, fell to the Believers. By the m i d - 6 c o s the Believers r u l i n g f r o m Medina had loose c o n t r o l over a vast area stretching f r o m Yemen to A r m e n i a and f r o m Egypt to eastern Iran. A n d f r o m various staging centers i n this vast area, the Believers were organizing raids i n t o areas yet further afield: f r o m Egypt i n t o Libya, N o r t h Africa, and Sudan; f r o m Syria and n o r t h e r n Mesopotamia i n t o Anatolia; f r o m A r m e n i a i n t o the Caucasus region; f r o m lower Mesopotamia i n t o many unconsolidated districts i n Iran and eastward t o w a r d Afghanistan and the fringes o f Central Asia. A n i m p o r t a n t feature o f the early expansion o f the Believers was its quality as a religious m o v e m e n t , b u t this was colored by the presence o f the state. The caliphs and their followers believed, o f course, i n M u h a m m a d ' s message o f the

M U H A M M A D

AND THE CALIPHATE

I J

need to acknowledge God's oneness and to live righteously i n preparation for the i m m i n e n t Last Day. They saw their m i s s i o n as jihad, o r m i l i t a n t effort to combat evil and to spread M u h a m m a d ' s message o f m o n o t h e i s m and righteousness far and w i d e . But their goal seems to have been to b r i n g the populations they encountered i n t o submission to the righteous order they represented, n o t to make t h e m change their r e l i g i o n — n o t , at least, i f they were already m o n o t h e ists, such as Christians and Jews. For this reason the early Believers collected t r i b ute f r o m conquered populations but generally let t h e m w o r s h i p as they always had; o n l y pagans and at times Zoroastrians appear to have been coerced i n t o embracing Islam o r had their places o f w o r s h i p sacked. The astonishing extent a n d r a p i d i t y o f this process o f expansion a n d c o n quest can o n l y be u n d e r s t o o d i f the nature o f the expansion i t represented is recognized. It was, first a n d f o r e m o s t , the expansion o f a n e w state based i n M e d i n a . The r u l i n g elite of this state were m o s t l y settled t o w n s m e n o f Mecca, M e d i n a , and Taif, w h o c o m m a n d e d g r o w i n g armies c o m p o s e d m a i n l y o f pastoral n o m a d s f r o m n o r t h e r n and central Arabia o r m o u n t a i n e e r s f r o m Yemen. It was n o t an expansion o f n o m a d i c o r m o u n t a i n e e r i n g peoples as such. The state-sponsored q u a l i t y o f the expansion is reflected i n a significant measure o f centralized d i r e c t i o n o f the expansion m o v e m e n t by the caliphs a n d their circle, w h o appear to have c o o r d i n a t e d strategy between various fronts, as w e l l as i n certain bureaucratic i n s t i t u t i o n s that were established d u r i n g the early conquests. The i n s t i t u t i o n s i n c l u d e d the c r e a t i o n o f a regular p a y r o l l (diwan) for the soldiers, as w e l l as the g a t h e r i n g o f the e x p e d i t i o n a r y forces i n distant areas i n t o t i g h t l y clustered g a r r i s o n settlements that became the nucleus o f n e w cities: Kufa and Basra i n s o u t h e r n M e s o p o t a m i a , Fustat i n Egypt, and s o m e w h a t later, M a r v i n northeastern Iran (651)

a n d Qayrawan i n Tunisia

( 6 7 0 ) . These garrisons h e l p e d the Believers live apart f r o m the vast conquered p o p u l a t i o n s they r u l e d , and so to avoid assimilation; later, as cities, these garrisons w o u l d be a m o n g the m o s t i m p o r t a n t centers i n w h i c h early Islamic c u l ture was elaborated. The consequences o f the conquests were m o m e n t o u s . They established a large new empire i n the Near East, destroying the Sasanian Empire completely and occup y i n g i m p o r t a n t parts o f the Byzantine Empire. Moreover, the leadership o f this new empire was c o m m i t t e d to a n e w religious ideology. N e w economic structures were created w i t h the demise o f the o l d r u l i n g classes and the rise o f a new one, consisting at first largely of people o f Arabian o r i g i n . Property and wealth—as w e l l as political p o w e r — w e r e redistributed o n a grand scale. Most i m p o r t a n t , the newly emergent state provided the political framework w i t h i n w h i c h the religious ideas o f the r u l i n g Believers, w h o were but a small part o f the p o p u l a t i o n , could gradually spread a m o n g the conquered peoples. The many captives taken d u r i n g

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the conqtiests came to be integrated i n t o the tribes and families o f their captors as clients (mmvali), a fact that facilitated this transformation.

The Early Caliphate and the Question of Legitimacy It was w i d e l y accepted i n the early c o m m u n i t y o f Believers that M u h a m m a d could have n o successor i n his role as Prophet. But the early Believers decided that someone should succeed M u h a m m a d as t e m p o r a l head o f the c o m m u n i t y . The first d o c u m e n t a r y references call the leader o f the c o m m u n i t y o f Believers n o t caliph but amir al-mu minin ( " c o m m a n d e r o f the Believers"), and this may be the

Interior of the Great Mosque at Qayrawan in Tunisia. Founded in the late seventh century, the mosque owes much of its present aspect to extensive rebuilding by the Aghlabid governors in the ninth century

M U H A M M A D

AND THE

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IC

o r i g i n a l t e r m for the heads o f the c o m m u n i t y , replaced only some t i m e later by the t e r m caliph, w h i c h was seen as synonymous but had the advantage o f being f o u n d i n the Quran. Whatever i t was called, c o m m u n i t y leadership was at first i n f o r m a l a n d personal, m u c h like t r i b a l leadership. O n l y gradually d i d the caliphate acquire greater prestige and formality, as the o r i g i n a l Islamic state grew i n t o a far-flung e m p i r e d u r i n g the early conquest era. A l t h o u g h the first t w o caliphs, A b u Bakr and Umar, appear to have enjoyed widespread support among the Believers, dissension arose under the t h i r d caliph, U t h n i a n . The reasons for this discontent probably included practical concerns, such as a tapering o f f i n the ready supply o f conquest b o o t y for i n d i v i d u a l soldiers, o r feelings that newly conquered lands outside the garrison t o w n s were not being made available for settlement by the soldiers and were instead being d o m i n a t e d by wealthy families. But they also seem to have involved perceptions that U t h m a n was n o t r u l i n g w i t h the fairness and disdain for private gain that most p i o u s Believers expected o f t h e i r c o m m a n d e r . U t h m a n was accused ( w h e t h e r rightly, i t may never be k n o w n ) o f favoring his relatives w h e n m a k i n g i m p o r t a n t and sometimes lucrative appointments, o f d i v e r t i n g monies f r o m the treasury, and o f other transgressions, some fiscal, some m o r a l . This dissension grew i n t o a violent u p r i s i n g , w h i c h culminated i n the m u r d e r o f the caliph i n 656. These developments began the complicated series o f events k n o w n as the First C i v i l War ( 6 5 6 - 6 1 ) , w h i c h was a struggle for leadership o f the c o m m u n i t y o f Believers waged by the p r o m i n e n t heads o f several families w i t h i n the Prophet's tribe, the Quraysh. This is a chapter o f the u t m o s t i m p o r t a n c e i n Islamic history, because this is w h e n the m a i n subgroups o r sects that have con¬ stituted the M u s l i m c o m m u n i t y u p to the present day first emerged. After Uthman's m u r d e r the people o f M e d i n a , i n c l u d i n g some o f the c o n spirators, recognized as the next caliph Ah' i b n A b i T a l i b — c o u s i n and son-in-law o f the Prophet, therefore a m e m b e r o f his clan, the H a s h i m . Ali's acclamation as caliph was opposed by significant segments o f the c o m m u n i t y o f Believers, h o w e v e r — i n particular by U t h m a n ' s k i n s m e n o f the U m a y y a d clan, led by M u a w i y a h , and by leading members o f some other Quraysh families, i n c l u d i n g the Prophets favorite w i f e , Aishah, and t w o o f M u h a m m a d ' s early supporters, Talha i b n Ubaydallah and al-Zubayr i b n a l - A w w a m . The b i d for power by Talha, al-Zubayr, and Aishah was t h w a r t e d w h e n their forces were decisively defeated at the "batde o f the camel" near Basra i n southern Iraq by the supporters o f Ali (shial Ali, Arabic for "party o f A l i . " often referred to simply as the Shia o r Shiites). A l i and his backers established their base i n the garrison t o w n o f Kufa. They eventually felt strong enough to march n o r t h w a r d along the Euphrates River, i n t e n d i n g to take the war to Muawiyah's base i n Syria. Armies o f the t w o sides met at Siffin along the m i d d l e Euphrates, near the frontier o f Syria

16

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and Iraq, but many o n b o t h sides were uneasy about launching an attack against m e n w h o also considered themselves Believers, and w h o u n t i l recently had been their o w n comrades-at-arms. Skirmishing gave way, after many days, to a battle that was broken o f f w h e n A l i and M u a w i y a h agreed that the matter should be setUed by arbitration rather than fighting and w i t h d r e w to Kufa and Syria, respectively, to await the arbiters' decision. Eventually neither side was satisfied w i t h the arbitration results, and a p e r i o d o f desultory raiding between Syria and Iraq ensued. D u r i n g the p e r i o d o f arbitration and thereafter, Ali's situation was weakened by the w i t h d r a w a l f r o m his camp o f some militant pietists, w h o came to be k n o w n as Kharijites ( f r o m the Arabic khawarij, possibly meaning "seceders"). Some o f t h e m may have broken w i t h A l i because they feared that i f he reached an a c c o m m o d a t i o n w i t h M u a w i y a h , they w o u l d be called to account for their participation i n the m u t i n y against U t h m a n . Others may have fell that Ali's agreement to arbitrate revealed an i m p i o u s lack o f trust i n God's ability to render a just verdict between the t w o rivals o n the battlefield. As they said i n their battle cry, " O n l y G o d has the r i g h t to decide." A h was forced to massacre many Kharijites i n a batde at Nahrawan i n eastern Iraq, an event that shocked many and d i d little to advance his cause, because many Kharijites were r e n o w n e d for their piety. The First C i v i l War finally came to an end i n 661, w h e n a Kharijite assassin killed A l i (another was t h w a r t e d before he c o u l d assassinate M u a w i y a h ) . Shortly thereafter, the m a j o r i t y o f Believers agreed to recognize M u a w i y a h as caliph, perhaps less because they t h o u g h t h i m the ideal r u l e r than because, after five years o f t u r m o i l , they yearned for stability and u n i t y a m o n g the Believers. Muawiyah's r e c o g n i t i o n as caliph marks the b e g i n n i n g o f the Umayyad caliphate (661—750). D u r i n g his t w o decades as caliph, M u a w i y a h relied o n careful d i p l o m a c y and strong governors, especially i n Iraq and the east, to m a i n t a i n an uneasy peace i n the c o m m u n i t y . He kept discontented Shiite supporters o f Ali's family under cont r o l , and either subdued small uprisings o f rebellious Kharijites or forced t h e m to take refuge i n frontier zones, beyond the effective reach o f the caliph's agents. The relative stability o f his reign enabled the M u s l i m armies once again t o embark o n raids and campaigns o f conquest against n e i g h b o r i n g areas. But the issues that were at the heart o f the First C i v i l W a r — h o w leaders o f the c o m m u n i t y o f Believers were to be selected, and above all w h a t were the criteria for leadership—remained unresolved. It is hardly surprising that a n e w wave o f internal t u r m o i l , the Second C i v i l War (680—92), broke out u p o n Muawiyah's death. The Second C i v i l War was a c o n t i n u a t i o n o f the first, because the same groups were involved, at the remove o f one generation. The Umayyads, whose h o l d o n the caliphate f r o m their capital i n Damascus was being challenged, were represented first by Muawiyah's sonYazid (r. 6 8 0 - 8 3 ) ,

a

n

d t h e n , afterYazid's early

death and a p e r i o d o f confusion w i t h i n the Umayyad family, by another relative,

MUHAMMAD

A N D THE CALIPHATE

I7

the caliph A b d al-Malik i b n M a r w a n (r. 685-705-). The Umayyads faced w i d e spread o p p o s i t i o n . F r o m Ali's o l d s t r o n g h o l d i n Kufa, the Shiites, w h o claimed that the caliphate s h o u l d belong to someone o f Ali's family, rallied first a r o u n d Ali's younger son, al-Husayn. After al-Husayn and his family were massacred i n 680 by U m a y y a d t r o o p s at Karbala i n I r a q , the Shiites c o n t i n u e d to resist Umayyad r u l e i n Kufa under the leadership o f a charismatic leader n a m e d alMukhtar, w h o claimed to be acting i n the name o f one o f Ali's sons. A b d Allah i b n al-Zubayr ( 6 2 4 - 9 2 ) , son o f that al-Zubayr whose b i d for the caliphate had been so quickly ended i n the First Civil War, established himself i n Mecca and was recognized by many i n the empire as caliph. His determination and broad support made his resistance to the Umayyads as formidable as his father's had been ephemeral. Meanwhile, several groups o f Kharijites took advantage o f die political disarray prevailing i n the c o m m u n i t y o f Believers to establish themselves i n various parts o f Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. I n the end, after a dozen years o f bitter strife, A b d al-Malik and his ruthless lieutenant, al-Hajjaj ibnYtisuf, were able to pacify first Iraq, then Arabia, and to b r i n g die w h o l e empire under Umayyad control. The road the Umayyads had f o l l o w e d to victory, however, was littered w i t h

The golden dome of the shrine at Karbala in Iraq marks the burial site of the Prophet's grandson Husayn

m a n g l e d dreams, m e m o r i e s o f w h i c h w o u l d haunt the dynasty's future and c o n -

and his family, who were

tribute to its downfall. Yazid's generals, i n the first unsuccessful efforts to subdue

murdered by the Umayyads

A b d Allah i b n al-Zubayr i n Mecca, had ruthlessly crushed an u p r i s i n g i n Medina w h i l e en route, and had even laid siege to the sacred precincts i n Mecca, i n the

in 680. This act of martyrdom marks the beginning of the separation of Shiites as a

process starting a fire that destroyed part o f the Kaaba. The Shiites had seen their

political party and distinct

hopes dashed, b u t the pitiless slaughter o f Ali's son al-Husayn and his family at

subgroup within the Islamic

Karbala p r o v i d e d t h e m w i t h an act o f m a r t y r d o m o f m y t h i c a l p r o p o r t i o n s .

community.

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N u r t u r i n g the m e m o r y o f this m a r t y d o m deepened their hatred o f the Umayyads and started a process whereby the Shiites began to feel themselves to be n o t merely a political party but a distinct subgroup w i t h i n the Islamic c o m m u n i t y . I n the course o f w o r k i n g out the differences w i t h i n their o w n house, the Umayyads had even managed to set some Syrian tribes against others i n a way that w o u l d later u n d e r m i n e their efforts to b u i l d a cohesive army o n these tribal groups. The i m p o r t a n c e o f the t w o civil wars goes far b e y o n d their i m m e d i a t e p o l i t ical impact, however. These c i v i l wars represented the arena i n w h i c h Believers first openly debated the ways i n w h i c h a u t h o r i t y to lead the Islamic c o m m u n i t y could be legitimately claimed. Kharijites h e l d that true piety and impeccably righteous behavior were the only qualities that p r o v i d e d true l e g i t i m a t i o n i n an Islamic context. Others, notably the Alids and their Shiite supporters, w h o contended that o n l y a m e m b e r o f Ali's family or o f the Prophet's clan o f H a s h i m should h o l d power, argued that legitimacy was essentially genealogical. Still o t h ers—such as the Umayyads-—claimed that the consensus o f the c o m m u n i t y o f Believers (jarruia, or c o m i n g together) was the most i m p o r t a n t element i n establishing a legitimate c l a i m to head the Islamic c o m m u n i t y . Later, some ( i n c l u d i n g the Umayyads)

w o u l d argue that their very ascent to p o w e r was

an

expression o f God's w i l l and therefore legitimate i n its o w n r i g h t . These claims and counterclaims w o u l d be raised repeatedly i n the centuries ahead. It is therefore d u r i n g the c i v i l wars that the m a i n sectarian subdivisions o f the Islamic c o m m u n i t y first emerged: the Shiites, the Kharijites, and (retrospectively, t h r o u g h an ephemeral g r o u p k n o w n as the M u r j i a ) the Sunni or o r t h o d o x m a j o r i t y sect o f Islam, w h i c h came to be defined as m u c h as anything by their rejection o f the central beliefs o f the Shiites and Kharijites. A l l members o f these subgroups w i t h i n the Islamic c o m m u n i t y justify their particular identity o n the basis o f their differing readings o f the events o f the c i v i l wars, particularly the first war. The c i v i l wars are thus the lens t h r o u g h w h i c h radiates the spectrum o f groups m a k i n g u p the M u s l i m c o m m u n i t y . The ideal o f a politically u n i f i e d c o m m u n i t y o f Believers (ummafi) headed by a caliph eventually became unrealizable i n practice, as the empire came to span thousands o f kilometers and the c o m m u n i t y to embrace m i l l i o n s o f people. Nonetheless,

the i n s t i t u t i o n o f the

caliphate (and indeed, the caliph h i m s e l f ) played an i m p o r t a n t role because i t stood as a symbolic e m b o d i m e n t o f M u s l i m religious unity. For this reason the i n s t i t u t i o n was retained l o n g after it had ceased to have real political meaning.

Apogee of the Caliphal Empire (700-950 C.E.) The age o f the first conquests and the civil wars ( r o u g h l y 6 3 0 - 7 0 0 C.E.) had seen the establishment o f the c o m m u n i t y o f Believers as a loosely organized political

M U H A M M A D

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ig

entity headed by the first caliphs. The early c o m m u n i t y and state had been united ( w h e n they were u n i t e d ) n o t so m u c h by institutional structures, most o f w h i c h were still e m b r y o n i c , but m a i n l y by i d e o l o g y — t h a t is, by the Believers' convict i o n that they were engaged i n a c o m m o n effort to establish, i n God's name, a n e w and righteous regime o n earth. The d e p t h o f this c o n v i c t i o n underlay the intensity w i t h w h i c h the Believers had disagreed over the legitimacy o f various rivals for the caliphate d u r i n g the c i v i l wars; but their c o m m i t m e n t to a c o m m o n cause also enabled the Believers to come together once again as a single political u n i t after the wars. By the end o f the second war i n 692, the Believers had embraced more clearly than before their identity as Muslims—that is, as a monotheist confession f o l l o w i n g the teachings o f M u h a m m a d and the Q u r a n , and for this reason distinct f r o m other monotheists such as Jews o r Christians. D u r i n g the t w o and a half centuries that followed the second w a r (ca. 700-ca. 950 C . E . ) , the rudimentary institutional structures o f the early c o m m u n i t y o f Believers fully matured, providing the caliphs w i t h the irhlitary and administrative machinery needed to contain the divisions that have reverberated d o w n through the subsequent history o f the Islamic c o m m u n i t y since the civil wars. The p e r i o d o f 700 to 950, then, represented the apogee o f the caliphal empires—an age o f political and c o m m u n a l expansion, great institutional and cultural development, and economic g r o w t h . The Umayyad dynasty was overt h r o w n i n 750 C . E . by a military uprising organized by the Abbasid family, descen-

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dants o f the Prophet Muhammad's uncle al-Abbas i b n A b d al-Muttalib (ca. c66-ca. 653), resulting i n a shift o f the i m p e r i a l capital eastward f r o m Damascus, i n Syria, to Iraq, where the early Abbasids founded a new capital, Baghdad. But several keyaspects o f the evolution o f the caliphate and the empire continued under b o t h the late Umayyad and the early Abbasid caliphs, and for this reason, despite the change o f r u l i n g dynasty, i t is fair to v i e w the p e r i o d o f 700 to 950 as a single phase i n the history o f the caliphate and o f the Islamic c o m m u n i t y . The most basic fact about this p e r i o d is that the caliphal empire and the M u s l i m c o m m u n i t y continued to expand. The early conquests had g r o u n d to a halt d u r i n g the Second C i v i l War, as the Umayyads and their rivals devoted m i l itary resources to fighting each other. After the war, however, the Umayyads i n a u gurated a second phase o f i m p e r i a l expansion (the first h a l f o f the e i g h t h century). Some o f the conquests sponsored by the later Umayyads were m o t i vated by a desire to extend Islamic rule. For example, expansion seems to have been the objective o f the great ( i f unsuccessful) campaigns by land and sea against Constantinople, the capital o f the Byzantine Empire (669, 6 7 4 - 8 0 , and 716—17), as w e l l as the annual s u m m e r raids i n t o Byzantine border territories (a The mighty land walls of

p o l i c y c o n t i n u e d under the Abbasids u n t i l the m i d d l e o f the n i n t h c e n t u r y ) . The

Constantinople, built in the

caliphs also doubtless h o p e d to a f f i r m their legitimacy a m o n g M u s l i m s by spon-

centuries preceding the rev-

soring such campaigns o f j i h a d against n o n - M u s l i m states. The incentive for

elation of Islam, protected the city against repeated invasions, including the unsuccessful Arab campaigns

launching other campaigns, however, seems to have been the desire to benefit f r o m the seizure o f booty, particularly captives w h o c o u l d be e m p l o y e d or sold as slaves; this may have been the case w i t h many raids i n N o r t h Africa organized

in the seventh and eighth

by the later Umayyads. The throngs o f recruits w h o participated i n these cam-

centuries.

paigns were, o f course, responding to a w i d e range o f m o t i v a t i o n s — f r o m zeal

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to spread the faith or the hope o f attaining m a r t y r d o m o n the battlefield (and hence eternal salvation), to lust for b o o t y or hope o f f i n d i n g new lands to settle, to a simple thirst for adventure. W i t h o u t the organizing activity o f the caliphs and their governors, however, most o f these campaigns w o u l d not have occurred. Whatever the motivations, the scope o f the second phase o f conquests was astonishing. I n N o r t h Africa the M u s l i m s , w h o d u r i n g the c i v i l wars had stayed close to their strong points, such as the garrison t o w n o f Qayrawan, finally dislodged the last Byzantine outposts, such as Carthage, and pushed all the way to the Atlantic coast o f Morocco. The local Berber p o p u l a t i o n began to embrace Islam, and some were d r a w n i n t o the expansion process. I n 711 general Tariq i b n Ziyad led an a r m y consisting largely o f Berbers across the Straits o f Gibraltar (named after h i m ) i n t o Spain. Other troops, Berber and Arab, p o u r e d i n and w i t h i n a few b r i e f years seized the southern and eastern t w o - t h i r d s o f the Iberian peninsula f r o m the faltering Visigothic k i n g d o m , w h i c h vanished, leaving small, i m p o v e r i s h e d Christian k i n d g o m s o n l y i n the n o r t h e r n mountains. F r o m Spain the M u s l i m s sent raids across the Pyrenees i n t o the Languedoc and adjacent regions o f France, reaching the h i g h water mark o f their expansion i n the west somewhere near the Loire r e g i o n , w h e r e i n 732 they were defeated by the Frankish ruler Charles Martel. A l t h o u g h the M u s l i m s held several cities i n southern France for a f e w decades, ultimately their conquests there were ephemeral; by the late e i g h t h century they seldom ventured n o r t h o f the Pyrenees. D u r i n g the n i n t h century theAbbasids' governors o f Tunisia, the Aghlabids, raided Sicily (starting i n 827), southern Italy, and the French and Italian Rivieras, and established over m u c h o f Sicily a M u s l i m political presence that endured u n t i l the arrival o f the N o r m a n s i n the mid-eleventh century. In the east, U m a y y a d governors launched renewed campaigns f r o m their garrisons i n Khurasan ( i n northeast I r a n ) , particularly M a r v and Balkh, i n t o the regions beyond the Oxus River o n the fringes o f Central Asia. Between 70c and 713, Bukhara i n Transoxiana, the region o f Fergana and its capital, Shash ( m o d ern-day Tashkent), the r i c h district o f K h w a r i z m ( m o d e r n - d a y K h o r e z m ) south o f the Aral Sea—all located i n w h a t is n o w k n o w n as Uzbekistan—and m u c h o f Sogdiana, i n c l u d i n g its capital at Samarqand, were b r o u g h t i n t o the Umayyad Empire. Despite numerous rebellions and efforts by local groups to o v e r t h r o w M u s l i m r u l e d u r i n g the early n i n t h century, these areas remained forever after part o f the Islamic w o r l d . M e a n w h i l e , between 711

and 713, the caliphate was

establishing its first permanent f o o t h o l d i n Sind ( p a r t o f the Indus River valley); the teenage c o m m a n d e r o f M u s l i m troops, M u h a m m a d i b n al-Qasim, marched t h r o u g h southern Iran to conquer and establish an initial base at D a i b u l , the m a i n city i n the Indus delta. F r o m i t he conquered other major cities i n the region n o w k n o w n as Pakistan, i n c l u d i n g the religious center at M u l t a n and the p o l i t i c a l cap-

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ital o f Sind, Brahmanabad (where the city o f Mansura w o u l d later be built u n d e r the Abbasids). These first M u s l i m colonies i n Sind lived o n , but little about t h e m is d o c u m e n t e d , and they were doubtless almost c o m p l e t e l y

autonomous.

Nevertheless, recent archaeological evidence suggests that they m a i n t a i n e d ties o f trade, at least w i t h other parts o f the Islamic w o r l d such as Iran and Syria. D u r i n g the expansion o f the caliphal empire, the Islamic c o m m u n i t y itself spread beyond the empire. Whereas the spread o f the empire was carried out m a i n l y by armies, the spread o f the Islamic faith beyond the caliphate's borders was usually the w o r k o f merchants and pious preachers. Kharijite merchants f r o m N o r t h Africa, for example, appear to have been the first t o b r i n g Islam to the populations o f subSaharan West Africa. The m a i n spreading o f die Islamic community, however, took place w i t h i n the caliphal empire itself. In many parts o f the empire, even i n those conquered early o n , such as Egypt or Iran, the population remained predominantly n o n - M u s l i m for centuries. W i t h time, m o r e o f these conquered peoples embraced Islam; estimates suggest that i n the Near Eastern provinces Muslims became the majority only after about 800 C.H. I n other words, d u r i n g the golden age o f the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates Muslims were still a m i n o r i t y i n the lands diey ruled. The empire's conquered populations were gradually w o n over to Islam for various reasons. Forced conversions were rare, but i n some cases the i m p o s i t i o n o f higher taxes o n n o n - M u s l i m s may have created an economic incentive for embracing Islam. For the most part, however, the gradual Islamization o f the empire's p o p ulations was part o f a complex transformation o f the w h o l e social environment, involving many factors that i m p i n g e d simultaneously o n the individual and the family; economic and political advantage, social mobility, linguistic and cultural affinities, marriage and kinship requirements, and, above all, the intrinsic appeal o f Islam as a belief system. A n o t h e r i m p o r t a n t feature o f this p e r i o d was c o n t i n u i n g r i v a l r y f o r the caliphate itself, that is, for supreme p o l i t i c a l power i n the empire. O n the p r a g matic side there were g r u m b l i n g s or actual uprisings directed against established caliphs, and various measures (such as t r a n s f o r m i n g the a r m y ) were taken by the caliphs themselves to safeguard their power. But the ideological struggle over the m e a n i n g o f the caliphate and the legitimacy o f various contenders' claims to i t also c o n t i n u e d unabated i n this p e r i o d . A l t h o u g h the U m a y y a d caliph A b d alMalik and his successors were able to b u i l d a fairly f i r m support base f o r t h e m selves after the Second Civil War, they nonetheless faced widespread o p p o s i t i o n . The l o n g - s t a n d i n g o p p o s i t i o n o f the Shiites and Kharijites c o n t i n u e d . The Umayyads used garrison troops to c o n t r o l numerous small Kharijite insurrections as w e l l as m o r e serious uprisings such as that m o u n t e d by the A l i d leader Zayd i b n A l i i n Kufa i n 740. But the Umayyads were also opposed by many n e w converts to Islam, most o f t h e m mawali, o r clients, o f Arab tribes, w h o felt that

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their conversion s h o u l d have e n t i t l e d t h e m t o equal treatment w i t h other M u s l i m s , particularly the lower rate o f taxes that Arab M u s l i m s enjoyed. A n u m ber o f pious M u s l i m s backed the n e w converts i n this c l a i m , however, or felt that the Umayyads had discredited themselves i n some other w a y by their earlier actions. Such concerns may have u n d e r l a i n the obscure qadaiiyya m o v e m e n t ( o n the surface, a debate over the degree to w h i c h God's o m n i p o t e n c e l i m i t e d h u m a n independence and responsibility) that plagued the last decades o f U m a y y a d rule. O n a m o r e m u n d a n e level, the later Umayyads faced a crisis as agricultural lands were abandoned i n the t w o richest provinces o f the e m p i r e , Egypt and Iraq. The f u l l reasons f o r this p h e n o m e n o n are n o t k n o w n — i t was probably linked i n part to the conversion to Islam o f the indigenous peasantry—but whatever the causes, this abandonment disrupted the flow o f taxes and i n some cases was reversed o n l y t h r o u g h draconian measures that f u r t h e r enhanced the Umayyads' reputat i o n f o r harsh and unjust rule. The Umayyads were n o t b l i n d to their opponents' varied claims, and they made serious efforts t o establish themselves as legitimate heads o f the Islamic c o m m u n i t y and rulers o f the state. They encouraged scholars to gather and c o m p i l e reports about the o r i g i n s o f Islam (the Prophet's life and career, the history o f the earlyc o m m u n i t y , and so o n ) . I n this way, the Umayyads played a central role i n establishing a M u s l i m identity, because the o r i g i n story a f f i r m e d that the Islamic c o m -

The Dome of the Rock in Terusalem is the third holiest site in Islam. Built over the remains of Solomon's temple, the structure is thought by many Muslims to mark the spot from which Muhammad began his night journey to heaven.

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m u n i t y they led was the direct descendant o f Muhammad's o w n , and diat i t f o l l o w e d his teachings and those o f the Q u r a n — p r o p o s i t i o n s to w h i c h Muslims still adhere. The Umayyads also asserted their legitimacy by continuing the ancient trad i t i o n o f royal patronage for sumptuous religious buildings, notably the D o m e o f Rock i n Jerusalem and the Umayyad mosque i n Damascus—two o f the first o u t standing examples o f Islamic architecture. The Umayyads' support for campaigns o f expansion and conquest also helped bolster their claim to b e i n g legitimate rulers o f the Islamic c o m m u n i t y . Despite these efforts, however, o p p o s i t i o n to the Umayyads intensified d u r i n g the second quarter o f the e i g h t h century. At the same t i m e divisions w i t h i n their Syrian-based a r m y — t h e product o f clashes d u r i n g the Second Civil War and r i v a l r y over royal patronage—made the army an increasingly unreliable support for the U m a y y a d regime. Yet i t was just at this t i m e that ceaseless campaigning o n the Byzantine frontiers and stubborn internal o p p o s i t i o n made firm support indispensable. The Alids and their Shiite supporters proved especially t r o u b l e some to the Umayyads, f o m e n t i n g numerous uprisings i n the last decades o f Umayyad r u l e . Eventually, i t was another branch o f M u h a m m a d ' s f a m i l y (the Abbasids), however, that f i n a l l y o v e r t h r e w the Umayyads and o c c u p i e d the caliphate i n 750. U n l i k e the Alids and their Shiite partisans, the Abbasids had patiendy organized an u n d e r g r o u n d o p p o s i t i o n movement and b u i l t u p a secure p o w e r base before r i s i n g i n open revolt. Moreover, w h e n they organized their rebelhon against the Umayyads f r o m the province o f Khurasan i n northeastern

Courtyard of the Great Mosque in Damascus, founded in the early eighth century. The walls were once entirely covered with glittering mosaics, largely covered with whitewash in this photograph taken in the early

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Iran, the Abbasids carefully kept secret their o w n identity as claimants to the caliphate, rallying supporters instead i n the name o f "the family o f M u h a m m a d . " This vague appeal enabled t h e m b o t h to avoid detection by the Umayyads and to w i n the backing o f many a m o n g the Shiites ( w h o naturally assumed that the movement was i n favor o f an A l i d ) and o f m a n y other d i s g r u n t l e d groups w h o yearned for m o r e righteous leadership than they thought the Umayyads had p r o vided. O n l y after decisively defeating U m a y y a d armies i n several battles i n Iran and Iraq, and k i l l i n g the caliph and many U m a y y a d princes, d i d the Abbasid leader A b u 1-Abbas al-Saffah c o m e o u t i n the open and receive the oath o f allegiance as caliph. For several t u r b u l e n t years the Abbasid caliphs al-Saffah (r. 7 5 0 - 5 4 ) and A b u Jafar a l - M a n s u r (r. 7 5 4 - 7 5 ) c o n s o l i d a t e d t h e i r p o w e r against r i v a l s w i t h i n the Abbasid family, d i s g r u n t l e d A l i d s , and f o r m e r p o w e r f u l s u p p o r t ers s u c h as the Abbasids' agent A b u M u s l i m , w h o had largely engineered the r e b e l l i o n i n Khurasan. By about 756, however, the Abbasid dynasty's p o w e r was securely established, and the Abbasids w e r e to o c c u p y the caliphate f o r the r e m a i n d e r o f its existence (that is, f r o m 750 u n t i l 1258), a l t h o u g h after about 950 t h e i r real p o w e r was severely c u r t a i l e d by a succession o f secular p o w e r h o l d e r s . The first Abbasids c l a i m e d to be s t a r t i n g the caliphate anew, p u r g i n g i t o f the evils o f t h e i r U m a y y a d predecessors. Shortly after c o m i n g to p o w e r , the second A b b a s i d c a l i p h , al-Mansur, f o u n d e d a n e w i m p e r i a l capital at Baghdad, o n the T i g r i s River i n I r a q , t o s y m b o l i z e this break w i t h the i m p i o u s U m a y y a d past. M a n y Islamic r u l e r s o f later p e r i o d s w o u l d f o l l o w this precedent by f o u n d i n g n e w capitals to s y m b o l i z e the start o f w h a t they c l a i m e d to be a n e w era. Even the Abbasids' overthrow o f the Umayyads d i d not end the struggle over the caliphate, however. The Shiites sdll believed that only an A l i d could legitimately lead the c o m m u n i t y , so they were usually n o more favorably disposed to the Abbasids than they had been to the Umayyads. The complex relationship between these t w o branches o f the Prophet's family, the Abbasids and the Alids, is a central theme o f Abbasid history (and o f many historical texts w r i t t e n i n this and later periods). The reverence that many early M u s l i m s felt for the family o f the Prophet M u h a m m a d , indeed for the entire H a s h i m clan, led some Abbasid caliphs, such as al-Mansur and al-Mahdi (r. 775-85), to favor their A l i d contemporaries by i n c l u d ing t h e m at court, seeking their advice, and otherwise t r y i n g to w i n their support. Other Abbasids, such as H a r u n al-Rashid (r. 7 8 6 - 8 0 9 ) , were suspicious o f the Alids, w h o m they assumed to be conspiring f o r the caliphate. For their part, the Alids were also divided i n dieir attitude toward the Abbasids, w h i c h naturally varied i n some measure w i t h the Abbasids' policies toward t h e m . Some A l i d s — s u c h as the brothers I b r a h i m and M u h a m m a d i b n A b d Allah ( d . 762-763) and al-

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Husayn i b n A h ( d . 786), and their m o r e radical s u p p o r t e r s — c o u l d not let go o f the idea that the)- were m o r e entitled to r u l e than the Abbasid "upstarts," and rose i n rebellion,

p a r t i c u l a r l y i f the

reigning

Abbasid had taken a h a r d l i n e t o w a r d them.

Others,

such

as

Jafar

al-Sadiq

(702/3—76c), were m o r e prudent i n deali n g w i t h the Abbasids and advanced a special A l i d claim to r u l e i n terms o f a strictly r e l i g i o u s leadership. By the late e i g h t h century, i f n o t earlier, some Shiites h a d developed a clearly articulated concept o f the imamate (the office o f the i m a m , or head o f the c o m m u n i t y ) , w h i c h posited The Abbasid capital at Baghdad, founded in 762 as reconstructed on the basis of medieval descriptions. The

that o n l y an A l i d i n a certain l i n e o f descent f r o m the Prophet's c o u s i n and

caliph's palace and mosque stood in the center of a vast

s o n - i n - l a w A l i i b n A b i Talib c o u l d r i g h t -

esplanade surrounded by shops and residences.

f u l l y c l a i m leadership o f the M u s l i m c o m m u n i t y . The social upshot o f this was a

gradually hardening sense a m o n g the Alids' Shiite supporters that they f o r m e d a distinct, separate g r o u p w i t h i n the M u s l i m c o m m u n i t y , identified w i t h the f o r tunes o f the A l i d imams. This sense o f Shiite separateness f r o m w h a t was b e c o m i n g the Sunni m a j o r i t y i n the Islamic c o m m u n i t y begins to be visible by the b e g i n n i n g o f the n i n t h century at the latest; f r o m that t i m e o n , Shiites and Sunnis often appear as rival social and political factions i n the life o f Baghdad and many other places i n the Islamic w o r l d , independent o f the existence i n a particular historical m o m e n t o f an A l i d claimant to power. F o l l o w i n g the abortive rebellion o f al-Husayn i b n A l i i n the Hejaz i n 786, some Alids and their supporters seem to have decided that the Abbasids were too p o w e r f u l near the empire's centers o f p o w e r to be challenged there, and they established small, independent states i n inaccessible regions, such as the w i l d m o u n t a i n c o u n t r y south o f the Caspian Sea, i n Yemen, or in the far western reaches o f N o r t h Africa. F r o m these n e w bases, and f r o m u n d e r g r o u n d movements secretly organized i n the heart o f the e m p i r e , the Shiites eventually m o u n t e d m o r e effective challenges to Abbasid rule. This struggle for the position o f caliph also raged w i t h i n the r u l i n g dynasty (whether Umayyad or Abbasid), because there was n o clear tradition or rule o f succession. Many caliphs f o u n d themselves confronted by insurrections m o u n t e d by, or i n the name of, their o w n brothers, uncles, or other close relatives. Powerful

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factions i n the army, bureaucracy, caliphal court, and caliphal family (the different mothers o f t w o rival half-brothers, for example) lent their support to the claimant w h o m they t h o u g h t w o u l d best serve their o w n interests. Some caliphs, r e m e m bering their o w n close call at accession, hoped t o spare their offspring the same tribulations and drew u p detailed wills laying out the exact order o f succession o f several sons. Such arrangements seldom worked o u t as intended, however. A major example o f this was the bitter civil w a r that broke out f o l l o w i n g the death o f the Abbasid caliph H a r u n al-Rashid i n 809. Despite the fact that al-Rashid had made strenuous efforts to regulate the succession, al-Rashid's son M u h a m m a d a l - A m i n (r. 809-813) was o v e r t h r o w n by his brother a l - M a m u n (r. 813-33), w h o had been governor o f Khurasan. U n d e r l y i n g the dispute was a long-lasting tension between Baghdad and Khurasan, w i t h pro-Baghdad and pro-Khurasan factions i n the army, the court, and the landed aristocracy backing either a l - A m i n or a l - M a m u n . A l - M a m u n ' s attempt to govern the empire f r o m Marv, his capital i n Khurasan, aroused great discontent, and i n 819 he moved his court to Baghdad. By then, however, the civil war's disruptive events had done m u c h to u n d e r m i n e the Abbasids' legitimacy. These included not o n l y the l o n g siege o f Baghdad and its inhabitants and the execution o f a l - A m i n but also al-Mamun's effort to w i n Shiite support by backing, for a t i m e , an A l i d as his heir-apparent—only to d r o p h i m f r o m succession later, w h e n the idea proved a political embarrassment. This episode exacerbated tensions between Sunni backers o f the Abbasids and the Shiites, b o t h o f w h o m felt victimized i n ways that caused people to question Abbasid legitimacy. Abbasid legitimacy was also u n d e r m i n e d by clashes w i t h a religious elite increasingly jealous o f its r i g h t to interpret nascent Islamic law. By the n i n t h cent u r y religious scholars expert i n the Quran and the sayings o f the prophet had come to feel that they—not the caliphs—should be the final arbiters i n matters o f law. The mihna, or i n q u i s i t i o n , instituted by the Abbasid caliphs between 833 and 8 4 8 — w h i c h revolved a r o u n d a theological d o c t r i n e k n o w n as Mutazilism and focused o n the question o f whether the Quran text was created or eternal—was i n part an effort by the caliphs to enforce their claims to legal absolutism. The m a i n result o f this episode, however, was to make heroes out o f A h m a d i b n Hanbal (780-855) and other religious scholars i n Baghdad w h o had led the opposition.

Development of the Caliphal Army and Administration This p e r i o d ( 7 0 0 - 9 5 0 ) was also marked by i m p o r t a n t developments i n key i n s t i tutions o f the caliphate and the M u s l i m empire, particularly the army and the i m p e r i a l bureaucracy. The later Umayyads t r i e d to b u i l d a potent n e w army based o n the Arab tribes o f Syria, w h i c h they tied to their interests t h r o u g h

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lavish caliphal patronage. The early Abbasid armies, by contrast, relied especially o n soldiers f r o m Khurasan (often settlers o f Arabian o r i g i n ) w h o m the

first

Abbasids had r i d d e n to power. A l t h o u g h the Arabian and Syrian tribes that c o n stituted the core o f the Umayyad army were n o t completely swept away, i t was the Khurasanians and their descendants—the abnu al-dowla, or "sons o f the revol u t i o n , " n o w mostly settled i n I r a q — w h o d o m i n a t e d the Abbasid m i l i t a r y establishment for almost a century after the Abbasids' accession i n 750. But b o t h the Umayyad and early Abbasid armies were composed m a i n l y o f ordinary m e n w i t h ordinary social ties (that is, to their families, tribes, places o f o r i g i n , and so o n ) . I n many cases, soldiers were only o n d u t y part t i m e or were recruited by the army as auxiliaries as occasion demanded. Despite their loose structure and lack o f professional t r a i n i n g , such armies enabled the Umayyads and Abbasids to extend the empire's borders, quell dissident movements, and launch the annual s u m m e r raids against the Byzantines i n Anatolia. This pattern o f loose army organization was gradually replaced d u r i n g the n i n t h century by a n e w m o d e l b u i l t a r o u n d smaller, h i g h l y trained corps o f f u l l t i m e professional soldiers (ahulams), w h o lived and w o r k e d as tight cadres and w h o often had few permanent ties to the rest o f society (many were n o t even m a r r i e d ) . The change began w h e n the caliph a l - M u t a s i m (r. 833—42) assembled a b o d y g u a r d o f mercenaries—many

b u t not all o f t h e m slaves (mamluks) o f

Turkish o r i g i n , or recently freed slaves. The idea was that such soldiers w o u l d be completely loyal to the ruler w h o had raised i h e m to power, because they had few ties to the families, tribes, or institutions o f the capital and central lands o f the empire. Because these mercenaries were professionally trained, they were m o r e effective i n the field than other recruits, and they came to f o r m an increasingly large segment o f the army. They helped secure a l - M u t a s i m against p o t e n tial rivals and enabled h i m to impose m u c h tighter c o n t r o l over the provinces o f the empire (especially over their taxes). To reduce frictions between the Arabicspeaking p o p u l a t i o n o f Baghdad and the soldiery, w h o often d i d not even speak Arabic, al-Mutasim constructed an e n o r m o u s new capital at Samarra, r o u g h l y sixty-five miles (one h u n d r e d k m ) n o r t h o f Baghdad o n the east bank o f the Tigris. The vast scale o f the new capital offers some i n d i c a t i o n o f the size o f his army, and o f the wealth he was able to collect i n taxes to pay for i t . The g r o w t h o f the professional army c o n t i m i e d under al-Mutasim's successors al-Wathiq (r. 8 4 2 - 4 7 ) and al-Muta\vakkil (r. 847-61). Moreover, governorships o f i m p o r t a n t provinces were increasingly assigned to key commanders i n the n e w army rather than to the caliph's k i n s m e n or other civilian notables, and more traditional units o f the army were sidelined. Eventually, this m i g h t y m i l i t a r y machine got o u t o f h a n d , however, p r o v i n g itself m o r e effective as an agent o f factional politics than as a force o f i m p e r i a l defense. I n 861 army commanders

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conspired to assassinate the caliph a l - M u t a w a k k i l , ushering i n a decade o f chaos d u r i n g w h i c h m i l i t a r y factions fought a m o n g themselves for supremacy and for d w i n d l i n g revenues, m a k i n g and u n m a k i n g f o u r caliphs i n Samarra i n the process. M e a n w h i l e , the empire's affairs outside I r a q were neglected; many provinces were left o n their o w n , and n u m e r o u s rebellions sprang u p , some o f w h i c h seized entire regions and established virtually independent states, w h i l e others threatened to seize Baghdad itself. Under the late Umayyads and Abbasids the i m p e r i a l administration also underwent significant changes, aimed at creating a u n i f i e d bureaucracy under caliphal oversight that c o u l d manage the e m p i r e — a n d particularly its taxes—more effectively. Talented administrators such as A b d a l - H a m i d ibnYahya ( d . 750) and I b n alMuqaffa ( 7 2 0 - 7 5 6 ) oversaw the first efforts to professionalize the bureaucracy, i n c l u d i n g the development o f a new; l u c i d Arabic prose style. The Abbasids' rise to power b r o u g h t an increase i n the prominence o f individuals and families hailing f r o m Iran, especially Khurasan, not only i n the army b u t also i n the caliphal court and i n governmental institutions generally, i n c l u d i n g the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . The viziers or heads o f this administration, such as the famed viziers o f the Barmakid family, were h i g h l y educated, and as heads o f a vast bureaucracy, they often held great power i n the Abbasid government. At its height a r o u n d the m i d - n i n t h century the Abbasid a d m i n i s t r a t i o n was composed o f a large n u m b e r o f separate departments (divvans), staffed by thousands o f clerks or secretaries (kuttub) w h o ran this administrative machinery. The administration dealt w i t h assessment and c o l lection o f land taxes f r o m the various provinces, w i t h incomes f r o m state lands and confiscated property and w i t h other kinds o f i n c o m e , as w e l l as w i t h disbursements to the army and to administrators and others o n government salary. It included a treasury that balanced receipts and expenses, an accounting office, an intelligence service, a chancery office to handle official correspondence, and a department for the caliph's special court o f appeal (mcizalim). Eventually, the costs o f r u n n i n g such a vast bureaucracy outstripped revenues, however. Struggles arose between the caliphs and their increasingly petulant army commanders and troops for c o n t r o l o f the bureaucracy and the revenues i t c o u l d provide. I n a few cases, p o w e r f u l army chiefs actually secured appointments as viziers—usually w i t h disastrous results because most m i l i t a r y m e n lacked the extensive scribal training, i n everything f r o m tax assessment and accounting to literature and c o m p o s i t i o n , required o f an effective vizier. After the chaos o f the 860s, the caliphate enjoyed a temporary resurgence o f power because several caliphs had close ties to the army chiefs. W i t h the help o f some cooperative viziers, they were able to p u t d o w n the most threatening rebellions. The caliph a l - M u t a d i d (r. 8 9 2 - 9 0 2 ) was able to regain c o n t r o l over Iraq, n o r t h e r n Mesopotamia, Al-Jazirah, n o r t h e r n Syria, and parts o f western Iran.

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Other areas o f the e m p i r e — i n c l u d i n g m u c h o f A r m e n i a , Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iran, N o r t h Africa, and Y e m e n — w e r e effectively a u t o n o m o u s under their "govern o r s " or local dynasties, however, and made little or no real financial or m i l i t a r y c o n t r i b u t i o n to the caliphate. But even areas that were under Abbasid c o n t r o l at the b e g i n n i n g o f the tenth century n o w consisted o f a mosaic o f units headed by p o w e r f u l governors, tribes, or local families, and they were weakly integrated w i t h the caliphate. A vigorous and skillful caliph such as a l - M u t a d i d c o u l d rely o n t h e m for support, but w h e n the caliphal g r i p weakened again these areas also could venture to stand o n their o w n . The caliphal g r i p weakened decisively after 908, and the next forty years i n Baghdad were marked by continual i n f i g h t i n g o f bureaucratic and army factions for control o f the caliphs and whatever revenues c o u l d be raised by his bureaucracy, c u l m i n a t i n g i n a m i l i t a r y takeover i n 932. Thereafter the Abbasid caliphs had n o trustworthy units to rely o n , and key army factions ensured that the civilian bureaucracy paid t h e m first. The intensity o f the struggle was exacerbated by a general shortage o f money, generated by disarray and extravagance i n the bureaucracy, loss o f revenues f r o m independent provinces and recalcitrant tax farmers, and an unfortunate decline i n the agrarian p r o d u c t i v i t y o f Iraq itself, f o r m e r l y the caliphate's financial m a i n stay. To cope w i t h the revenue shortage, the Abbasids began to rely o n an i n s t i t u t i o n called iqw (loosely translated as "fief," although the t e r m had a w i d e and variable range o f meanings). Iqta was a k i n d o f administrative shortcut whereby a general or soldier was given the right to collect tax revenues directly f r o m a certain district. The advantage i n the short t e r m was that the troops were paid even i f the treasury was empty, and the relevant parts o f the bureaucracy c o u l d be eliminated. The disadvantages, however, particularly the potential for abuse o f the peasantry and loss o f administrative oversight, were significant. As a result o f these developments the once p o w e r f u l Abbasid caliphs were l i t tle m o r e than figureheads by the 940s, endowed w i t h symbolic religious authority, b u t lacking real political or military power or financial resources o f their o w n . That power and access to resources had passed to p o w e r f u l m i l i t a r y figures, especially the one w h o c o u l d occupy the coveted p o s i t i o n as the caliph's commanderi n - c h i e f (amir al-umara). As the power o f the caliphate was choked off, leaders o f the r e g i o n a l and local polities that emerged c o m p e t e d against one another for c o n t r o l o f Baghdad and the privilege o f being the caliph's "protector." The most n o t e w o r t h y o f these protectors were the chiefs o f the p o w e r f u l B u y i d family o f northwestern Iran ( w h o played this role f r o m 94c to 1055) and the sultans o f the Turkish Seljuk dynasty ( w h o d o m i n a t e d Baghdad f r o m 105c

u n t i l the m i d -

t w e l f t h c e n t u r y ) . F r o m the m i d - t e n t h century u n t i l the M o n g o l s ended the caliphate i n 1258, the Abbasid caliphs were recognized as overlords i n many parts o f the Islamic w o r l d , but only i n a symbolic sense. O n l y o n a few occasions d i d

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theAbbasids succeed i n regaining, albeit briefly, some o f their lost power. Knowledge o f the caliphs' eventual demise, however, must not overshadow the many positive achievements that t o o k place d u r i n g the age o f the i m p e r i a l caliphate. The expansion o f the empire created the p o l i t i c a l haven i n w h i c h the n e w faith o f Islam established itself a m o n g n e w populations f r o m Spain to India. Moreover, the i m p e r i a l caliphate gave b i r t h to a sophisticated and richly varied new civilization i n Eurasia, culturally the most advanced o f its day. This cultural genesis was linked to a n o t e w o r t h y process o f u r b a n i z a t i o n that took place d u r i n g the early Islamic centuries; a l t h o u g h u r b a n life i n the Mediterranean basin had declined sharply i n late antiquity, the early Islamic era saw a revival o f urban centers and o f the commerce and culture usually associated w i t h t h e m . The early m i l i t a r y garrisons o f the first conquest days—Kufa, Basra, Marv, H i m s , Fustat, Qayrawan—soon grew i n t o bustling t o w n s t o w h i c h M u s l i m s o f divergent c u l tural backgrounds, especially n e w converts, were d r a w n . I n the government offices, private salons, and marketplaces o f such t o w n s , as w e l l as o f the i m p e r ial capitals o f Damascus and Baghdad, a new Islamic literary culture i n Arabic began to crystallize—all the m o r e remarkable because before the rise o f Islam, Arabic had no t r a d i t i o n o f w r i t t e n literature. Poetry, grammar, Quranic studies, history, biography, law, theology, philosophy, geography, the natural sciences— all were elaborated i n Arabic and i n a f o r m that was distinctively Islamic. The social base supporting tins new Arabic-Islamic culture was to a certain extent bipartite. The religiously inclined cultivated such fields as Quranic studies, prophetic traditions, religious law, and theology, w h i l e topics such as history, philosophy, and statecraft were sponsored particularly by the scribes o f the imperial bureaucracy, w h o were often learned i n Sasanian and other traditions o f statecraft. Poetry, from the start the soul o f the Arabic literary tradition, was cultivated by botii groups i n religious and secular varieties. The full development o f Arabic-Islamic literary culture continued long after 950, o f course, but its foundations were laid, its first remarkable monuments completed, and many o f its distinctive genres and forms were first established d u r i n g the age o f the imperial caliphate. The caliphs also presided, w i t t i n g l y or n o t , over economic developments that had global repercussions. The vast extent and relative stability o f the empire over almost t w o centuries—as w e l l as the c o n t i n u o u s c i r c u l a t i o n w i t h i n i t o f soldiers, administrators, p i l g r i m s heading to or f r o m Mecca, and scholars w i s h i n g to study w i t h r e n o w n e d teachers—helped to keep routes open and made i t easier for merchants to travel far and w i d e . The rise o f Arabic as a c o m m o n w r i t t e n language made it easier for merchants f r o m distant parts o f the empire to c o m m u nicate. Moreover, merchants i n the Islamic domains i n this era were usually unencumbered by duties or the need f o r special travel documents. M e a n w h i l e , the rise o f large cities created a base o f d e m a n d for a variety o f products, as w e l l

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as centers o f culture. I n its heyday i n the early n i n t h century, Baghdad appears to have been a city o f about a m i l l i o n inhabitants—a staggeringly large size for preindustrial t i m e s — a n d had to i m p o r t even its basic f o o d supplies f r o m sources some distance away. Some l u x u r y goods i n d e m a n d i n Baghdad, particularly a m o n g the political and commercial elites, were b r o u g h t f r o m halfway a r o u n d the globe. Baghdad grew to a size unmatched by other cities, but smaller cities also c o n t r i b u t e d to the economic b o o m . The flourishing p o r t city o f Siraf, o n the eastern coast o f the Persian Gulf, symbolizes one d i m e n s i o n o f this c o m m e r c i a l activity. It was a key transit p o i n t for foodstuffs c o m i n g f r o m O m a n , as w e l l as textiles and other goods entering the caliphal domains f r o m east Africa, I n d i a , and beyond. In the other direction hoards o f Abbasid gold coins f o u n d around the Baltic Sea are silent reminders o f a once-thriving commercial connection that helped revitalize the economy o f n o r t h e r n Europe and may have helped stimulate the n i n t h century revival o f culture and economy c o m m o n l y called the Carolingian renaissance. The discovery o f N o r t h African coins i n Abbasid-period archaeological sites i n Jordan, or Iraqi (or Chinese) ceramics f o u n d i n Egypt, attest to yet other dimensions o f this thriving commerce. It is appropriate to think o f m u c h o f Eurasia i n this p e r i o d as a single, vast economic body, o f w h i c h Abbasid Baghdad i n particular was the heart, p u m p i n g the commercial lifeblood that kept the system alive. Iraq's prosperity i n particular, w i t h its r i c h tax base and t h r i v i n g commerce, was an i m p o r t a n t element c o n t r i b u t i n g to the political power and cultural brilliance o f the h i g h caliphate. W h e n Iraq's agrarian prosperity began to wane i n the tenth cent u r y — a result o f such varied factors as deterioration o f vital irrigation works, salinization o f the soil, and sheer administrative mismanagement—the caliphs f o u n d themselves increasingly unable to pay the bills o f their enormous government operations. This i n t u r n sparked the infighting among military and administrative factions that characterized the long decline o f Abbasid power.

Local Autonomy, Decentralization, and Regionalism Through I I O O The capture o f Baghdad by the Buyids in 94 c, and their reduction o f the caliphs to little more than figureheads, was merely the climax o f a long process o f change that saw ever more parts o f the Islamic empire gradual!) slip be) o n d the caliphs' real control. The emergence o n the former empire's terrain o f autonomous or independent political u n i t s — w h a t some historians call a " c o m m o n w e a l t h " o f regional M u s l i m states, united by their participation i n an emerging Islamic culture—makes tracing the political history o f the Islamic c o m m u n i t y after about 900 C E . m u c h more difficult than i t is for earlier periods, w h e n there existed a single main center o f polit-

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teal power. This section mentions some o f the m a i n political units that emerged and gives a general idea o f their significance and o f larger patterns o f political and cultural evolution o f w h i c h these units were part. Given the nature o f communications and travel i n preindustrial times, many provinces o f the Islamic empire, particularly those distant f r o m the capital at Damascus or Baghdad, enjoyed a significant measure o f a u t o n o m y even at the apogee o f caliphal power. The caliphs i n Damascus or Baghdad simply d i d not have the means to keep lands as far away as Ifriqiya or Khurasan, not to m e n d o n Spain or India, under close supervision. The caliphs therefore had to rely o n strong governors to manage distant provinces. It was taken for granted that provincial governors w o u l d operate w i t h a good deal o f autonomy, and the caliphs were usually w e l l satisfied i f governors recognized their overlordship, contributed to the caliphal treasury, and put additional military units at their disposal w h e n they were needed. One important measure o f truly centralized control under such conditions, however, is whether governors, despite the great independence o f action they w i e l d e d w i t h i n their provinces, could effectively be replaced by the caliphs. I n this regard, i t is notew o r t h y that the Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphs engaged i n frequent (sometimes almost annual) rotation o f their governors. Even provinces i n w h i c h the governorship was granted for Ufe or made hereditary, however, c o u l d remain loyal to the caliphs and offer m e a n i n g f u l support i n the f o r m o f tax revenues, m i l i t a r y backing, and diplomatic support. The first province to be definitively detached f r o m the caliphate was Spain. After the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad caliphs and slaughtered many o f their k i n s m e n , one U m a y y a d prince w h o escaped made his way to N o r t h Africa, and i n 756 he invaded Spain. It then became an independent state under Umayyad rulers, w h o at first called themselves simply amir ( c o m m a n d e r ) . Eventually, i n 929, the greatest o f the Spanish U m a y y a d rulers, A b d al-Rahman I I I (891-961 ) , assumed the title o f amir al-mu'minin (caliph), i n defiance o f the Abbasids and o f the Ismaili Fatimids, w h o were closer and m o r e dangerous rivals. D u r i n g the n i n t h to the twelfth centuries a splendid and distinctive Islamic culture developed i n Spain, enshrined i n m a j o r w o r k s o f Arabic poetry and prose literature, i n signal c o n t r i b u t i o n s to Islamic philosophy, theology, and law, and i n m a j o r a r c h i tectural m o n u m e n t s such as the Great Mosque o f Córdoba and A b d al-Rahman's palace complex at Medinat al-Zahra. Many Christians and Jews i n Islamic Spain began to adopt their rulers' Arabic language and culture, and i n t u r n made their o w n c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o the culture's b r i l l i a n c e . The great Jewish

philosopher

Maimonides, for example, w h o composed works i n b o t h Arabic and Hebrew, was as m u c h a product o f Islamic as o f Jewish culture. The Umayyads i n Spain faced significant challenges, however. Tension a m o n g Arab settlers, Berber settlers, and local converts (muwallads) sometimes resulted i n

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armed clashes. Some Christians steadfastly resisted b o t h acculturation and assimi l a t i o n , and tensions between M u s l i m s and Christians sometimes ran h i g h . Disaffected elements—whether Christian or M u s l i m — o f t e n d i d not hesitate to call o n the Christian k i n g d o m s o f n o r t h e r n Spain or even o n the Carolingians beyond the Pyrenees for aid, and this e m b r o i l e d the Umayyads i n persistent r a i d i n g and warfare along their n o r t h e r n borders. The p o w e r f u l strongman Abu A m i r al-Mansur ( c o m m o n l y k n o w n as A l m a n z o r ) , w h o came to p o w e r as protector o f a y o u n g caliph and remained i n c o n t r o l o f affairs u n t i l his death i n 1002, The Great Mosque of Córdoba, founded in the late eighth century, was repeat-

cam-

paigned tirelessly i n the n o r t h , using a new army composed o f Berber recruits. After Almanzor's death, however, the caliphate fell u n d e r dispute a m o n g various claimants, backed by d o m i n a n t families i n the m a i n cities o f Islamic Spain.

edly enlarged to meet the

Finally, i n 1031,

needs of the expanding

caliphate altogether, ushering i n the era o f the " p e t t y k i n g s " ( m t i M al-tmvoif i n

Muslim population.The

Arabic, reyes de taifas i n Spanish), d u r i n g w h i c h Islamic Spain was d i v i d e d i n t o an

ingenious system of two-

unstable aggregation o f c o m p e t i n g city-states: Seville, Córdoba, Toledo, Badajoz,

tiered supports allowed builders to create a forest of supports using the short

the leading families decided to abolish the Spanish Umayyad

Saragossa, Valencia, Granada, and others. A l t h o u g h the c o m p e t i t i o n a m o n g these local rulers was partly responsible for

stubby columns from

the brilliant cultural flowering o f Islamic Spain d u r i n g the eleventh century, the

Visigothic buildings.

same c o m p e t i t i o n , played out on the political plane, sapped the economic and m i l -

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itary strength o f each o f the petty kings, w h o often raided one another's territories or agreed to pay tribute to Christian k i n g d o m s o f n o r t h e r n Spain w h e n threatened w i t h attack. The era o f the petty kingdoms thus helped to make possible the relentless expansion o f the Christian k i n g d o m s o f n o r t i i e r n Spain at the expense o f the Islamic south that began w i t h the u n i o n o f Castile and Leon i n the late eleventh cent u r y — w h a t is k n o w n i n later Spanish historiography as the reconquisto. The first landmark i n the reconquista occurred i n io8c, w h e n Toledo fell to the astute and dynamic king o f Castile and Léon, Alfonso V I . The petty kings, recognizing that they were too weak to avoid suffering Toledo's fate, yet too divided by petty jealousies to agree o n any one o f t h e m as ruler o f t h e m all, invited the p o w e r f u l ruler o f the Almoravids i n Morocco, Yusuf ibnTashfin, to cross the Strait o f Gibraltar and lead their defense against Alfonso i n 1086. Thus began the p e r i o d o f A l m o r a v i d and Almohad d o m i n a t i o n , w h i c h delayed for m o r e than a hundred years the expansion o f the Christian kingdoms i n t o Islamic Spain. Parts o f N o r t h Africa also became independent o f the caliphate, i n fact or i n p r i n c i p l e , at an early date. U n l i k e Spain, w h i c h had a prosperous agrarian base and boasted numerous t h r i v i n g cities even i n early Islamic times, most o f N o r t h Africa was t h i n l y populated by pastoralists or marginal f a r m i n g c o m m u n i t i e s , and there were few large towns. U n d e r the Umayyad caliphs (before 750) the M u s l i m garrison center at Qayrawan—situated i n I f r i q i y a , the most fertile part o f N o r t h Africa, m o d e r n Tunisia—replaced Byzantine Carthage as the center o f government, and it l o n g remained the nucleus b o t h o f caliphal a u t h o r i t y and o f Islamic o r t h o d o x y i n N o r t h Africa. Even t h o u g h all o f N o r t h Africa was theoretically subject to the caliphate, vast areas, especially those m o r e distant f r o m Qayrawan, remained effectively outside the c o n t r o l o f the caliphs and their gov-

The Ribat at Monastir in

ernors. Moreover, d u r i n g the seventh and e i g h t h centuries, many Berbers were

Tunisia, founded at the end

w o n over to Kharijite Islam by Kharijite merchants, preachers, and refugees fleeing oppression i n their earlier centers i n Iraq and O m a n . Their egalitarian and puritanical variety o f Islam, w i t h its emphasis o n pious "bearers o f religious k n o w l e d g e , " seems to have struck a sympathetic c h o r d a m o n g the Berbers, i n w h o s e t r a d i t i o n a l beliefs h o l y (sometimes m i r a c l e - w o r k i n g ) m e n played a

of the eighth century, is one of a series of fortress/ monasteries established to protect the North African coast and extend Muslim power to Sicily.

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p r o m i n e n t r o l e . The Kharijites established n u m e r o u s small states i n L i b y a , Tunisia, and Algeria d u r i n g the e i g h t h and n i n t h centuries, such as that o f the Rustamids o f Tahert. Because many Kharijites were heavily involved i n commerce, they seem to have been the first to carry Islam across the Sahara to the peoples o f the western Sudan ( m o d e r n Chad, Niger, and M a l i ) . Other refugees f r o m Abbasid rule also f o u n d shelter i n die difficult m o u n t a i n terrain o f N o r t h Africa, i n c l u d i n g the A l i d prince Idris i b n A b d Allah, w h o fled after the abortive A l i d rebellion i n the Hejaz i n 786 and established a small state i n Morocco, w h i c h his successors r u l e d f r o m their n e w capital at Fez. By the late eighth century m u c h o f N o r t h Africa beyond the outskirts o f Qayrawan was a checkerboard o f independent tribes and small states that tendered neither recognition n o r taxes to the caliphs i n Baghdad. I n 800 C E . the Abbasid caliph H a r u n al-Rashid resorted to recognizing his governor, I b r a h i m i b n al-Aghlab, as hereditary governor o f Ifriqiya ( " A f r i c a , " as the province o f N o r t h Africa was then called) i n exchange for an agreed annual tribute. This arrangement had the advantage o f b r i n g i n g at least some revenue to Baghdad and o f preserving the appearance o f Abbasid rule. D u r i n g the century o f their rule the Aghlabid governors were often criticized by the strictly o r t h o d o x p o p u l a t i o n and religious scholars o f Qayrawan for their abuses o f power. Partly to quell such c r i t icism, they struggled m i g h t i l y against the Kharijite states a r o u n d t h e m , built mosques and i r r i g a t i o n w o r k s , and sponsored naval campaigns against Sicily, leadi n g to the establishment o f M u s l i m rule o n that island. Aghlabid Qayrawan also The Aghlabid basins at Qayrawan were among the

developed as a major center for theology and law, but m u c h o f N o r t h Africa nevertheless remained effectively beyond Aghlabid rule. Their r u l e was b r o u g h t to an

many waterworks built in

abrupt halt by the rise o f the Ismaili Fatimids i n Ifriqiya d u r i n g the first decade o f

the mid-ninth century by

the tenth century.

the rulers of present-day Tunisia. Water from aqueducts flowed into the smaller basin where the silt was

F r o m the t i m e o f its conquest i n 6 3 9 - 4 2 , Egypt was an i m p o r t a n t part o f the Islamic empire. The " p r o v i n c e " o f Egypt i n c l u d e d N o r t h Africa and Spain u n t i l these were split o f f to f o r m a separate province i n 70c. Despite a steady flow o f

deposited; the clear water

Arabic-speaking settlers t o Egypt, the local Copts ( M o n o p h y s i t e Christians)

then flowed into the adjoin-

remained the m a j o r i t y o f the p o p u l a t i o n f o r at least several centuries, and they

ing larger basin from which

l o n g remained i m p o r t a n t as administrators for their M u s l i m rulers. The ancient

it was distributed to the city.

city o f Alexandria c o n t i n u e d t o be a m a j o r trade e m p o r i u m , but the M u s l i m s

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developed their new g a r r i s o n t o w n o f Fustat ( O l d Cairo), w h i c h was f r o m the start the province's administrative center. By the n i n t h century Fustat was b e g i n n i n g to develop as an i m p o r t a n t economic and Islamic cultural center. The r i c h f a r m l a n d o f the N i l e valley made Egypt a m a j o r source o f revenue f o r the Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphs. Despite its i m p o r t a n c e , however, Egypt slipped o u t o f the effective grasp o f the Abbasid caliphs w h e n they were overw h e l m e d by m i l i t a r y factions i n Samarra and Baghdad; for most o f a century after 868, Egypt was virtually independent o f the caliphate u n d e r autonomous m i l i tary governors (the Tulunids, 8 6 8 - 9 0 5 , and the Ikhshidids, 935-69) or p o w e r f u l financial administrators (especially die Madharai family i n the early tenth century). D u r i n g this t i m e Egypt's economy seems to have suffered f r o m m i s management o f the tax system. But also d u r i n g this p e r i o d Egypt began to emerge, for the first t i m e since the Roman conquest almost a thousand years earlier, once again as an independent state. Egypt t o o k another giant step i n this d i r e c t i o n w h e n the Fatimid caliphs, c o m i n g f r o m I f r i q i y a , conquered it i n 969 and made i t the seat o f their caliphate shortly thereafter. M u c h o f n o r t h e r n and central Arabia was the preserve o f local pastoral n o m a d i c groups, over w h i c h the caliphs i n Baghdad often had m i n i m a l c o n t r o l . The caliphs d i d , however, endeavor to keep the h o l y cities o f Mecca and Medina, i m p o r t a n t for symbolic and cultic reasons as the focus o f the annual pilgrimage, firmly

under their governors' supervision, and to keep open the m a i n p i l g r i m -

The great Mosque at Sanaa in Yemen was founded in early Islamic times and repeatedly restored and repaired. The Sulayhids. adherents of Ismaili Shiism who ruled Yemen from Sanaa and Dhu Jibla from 1014 to 1138, were one of the many dynasties that established local control as the

age roads t h r o u g h tribal t e r r i t o r y f r o m Syria and Iraq. Southern Arabia (Yemen,

power of the Abbasid caliphs

Hadramawt, and parts o f O m a n ) was only loosely held by the caliphate even i n

declined.

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the best o f times. Under the Umayyads and early Abbasids, governors were regularly dispatched to Yemen, but generally they had little influence beyond the capital at Sanaa. Yemen's r u g g e d terrain was mostly d o m i n a t e d by various tribal chiefs, w h o often resided i n m o u n t a i n top castles and c o n t r o l l e d local market towns. Kharijism and particularly Shiism o f various varieties took h o l d at an early date a m o n g some groups i n this natural refuge zone. After the m i d - n i n t h century, as the p o w e r o f the Abbasid caliphs declined, local dynasties o f diverse o r i gins became established i n various centers, particularly Sanaa i n the m o u n t a i n s and Zabid along the Red Sea coast. Commerce w i t h the I n d i a n Ocean basin was an i m p o r t a n t clement i n the economic life o f the m a i n coastal towns, such as Sohar, A d e n , and Zabid. The rise o f local and regional a u t o n o m y o n the Iranian plateau occurred i n very diverse ways and at different times i n different parts o f Iran. The first trend t o w a r d autonomy (not yet independence) can be seen i n the career o f the Tahirid family, w h i c h rose to p r o m i n e n c e i n Abbasid service d u r i n g the c i v i l w a r o f 809-13. D u r i n g the m i d d l e o f the n i n t h century the Tahirids were recognized as hereditary governors o f m u c h o f eastern I r a n , centered o n the r i c h province o f Khurasan and i n c l u d i n g adjacent provinces

such as Sistan and m u c h

of

Transoxiana, w h i c h they governed by c o - o p t i n g i m p o r t a n t local families. The Tahirids ( w h o also h e l d i m p o r t a n t posts i n Baghdad and elsewhere) remained loyal to the Abbasid caliphs and consistently delivered considerable revenues to the caliphal treasury, i n exchange for w h i c h the Abbasids allowed the Tahirids virtually free rein i n their provinces. T a h i r i d d o m i n a t i o n o f eastern Iran was b r o u g h t t o an end a b r u p t l y i n 873 w h e n their capital N i s h a p u r ( i n the p r o v i n c e o f Khurasan) was conquered by the Saffarids o f Sistan, whose attitude t o w a r d the caliphate was as aggressive and hostile as the Tahirids' had been supportive. The r u g g e d and i m p o v e r i s h e d p r o v i n c e o f Sistan, t h o u g h conquered early by the M u s l i m s , had been o n l y m a r g i n a l l y integrated i n t o the caliphal e m p i r e . D u r i n g the U m a y y a d and early Abbasid periods, K h a r i j i t e bands and other local rebellions kept the r e g i o n t u r b u l e n t . The f r e e b o o t i n g Saffarid leaders, r i s i n g i n this context, expanded their c o n t r o l first i n t o Khurasan and western Afghanistan, t h e n i n t o the provinces o f K e r m a n ( i n southeast I r a n ) and Fars ( i n southwest Iran). By the 870s they had seized Khuzestan ( i n southwest Iran) and parts o f southern Iraq and came close t o o v e r t h r o w i n g the Abbasids i n 876, w h e n they were f i n a l l y t u r n e d back by the caliph's armies o n l y a few days' m a r c h f r o m Baghdad. For many years thereafter, however, the Saffarids r e m a i n e d p o w e r f u l and essentially i n d e p e n dent o f the caliphs, w h o were forced to recognize the Saffarids as " g o v e r n o r s " o f their h o m e province o f Sistan, as w e l l as o f Fars and K e r m a n ( u n t i l at least 898), and even awarded t h e m key posts i n Baghdad. A f t e r about 9 0 0 the

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Saffarids were restricted t o Sistan, as they were supplanted i n m u c h o f eastern Iran by the Samanids, a " l o y a l i s t " dynasty o f governors w h o had risen f r o m the w r e c k age o f the f o r m e r T a h i r i d d o m a i n s . The Samanid family came to prominence as subordinates o f the Tahirids, for w h o m they governed key towns o f Transoxiana. W h e n the Saffarids seized Khurasan, the Samanids retained control over Transoxiana. By about 900 the Samanids had reconquered Khurasan i n the name

of

the

Abbasids, w h o recognized them as governors, and extended their control over m u c h o f northern Iran, K h w a r i z m

(modern

K h o r e z m ) , and further east I n Transoxiana and Afghanistan as w e l l , paying special attention to w a r d i n g o f f depredations i n t o settled districts b y the n o m a d i c Turkish tribes o f Transoxiana. Like the Tahirids, the Samanids r e m a i n e d loyal t o the Abbasids, b u t they never c o n t r i b u t e d revenues to the caliphate and were, i n effect, an i n d e pendent state. They prospered especially because o f the lucrative trade i n slaves,

The tomb of the Samanids at Bukhara is one of the earliest mausolea to survive in the Islamic lands. It covers the graves of several mem-

captured a m o n g Turkish tribes l i v i n g o n

bers of the Samanid family, governors of Khurasan and Transoxiana

the f r i n g e s o f t h e i r d o m a i n s . M a n y o f

for the Abbasid caliphs in the early tenth century.

these slaves were trained i n m a r t i a l skills and sold as mercenaries or used to staff t h e i r o w n b u r g e o n i n g army. But the Samanid p e r i o d also saw the conversion o f parts o f Transoxiana's T u r k i s h p o p u l a t i o n t o Islam by i t i n e r a n t merchants and missionaries, and the b e g i n nings o f the peaceable m i g r a t i o n o f T u r k i s h converts i n t o Samanid d o m a i n s to settle. To manage their domains, the Samanids established an extensive bureaucracy, based o n the Abbasid m o d e l and staffed by cadres o f h i g h l y literate scribes. As earlier i n Abbasid Baghdad, the h i g h l y educated administrators i n the Samanid bureaucracy c o n t r i b u t e d to the development o f their m a j o r cities—Nishapur, Bukhara, Samarqand—as i m p o r t a n t centers o f Islamic culture. I n the Samanid case, however, this blossoming o f Islamic culture was not o n l y i n Arabic but also, for the first t i m e , i n Persian. This was a m o m e n t o u s development i n the history

40

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Mahmud of Ghazna crossing the Ganges, as portrayed in the Compendium of Chronicles composed and illustrated for the Ilkhanid vizier Rashid al-Din in the early fourteenth century.The Ghaznavids,Turkish military governors for the Samanids, were renowned in later times as the hrst to extend Muslim power into northern India

o f Islamic c i v i l i z a t i o n , w h i c h u n t i l t h e n had been elaborated exclusively i n Arabic. The development o f a Persianate variant o f Islamic culture broke this m o n o p o l y and opened the way for the development o f other Islamic languages i n later times, such as O t t o m a n Turkish and U r d u . ( A l l the Islamic languages, however, adopted a m o d i f i e d f o r m o f the Arabic script, closely i d e n t i f i e d w i t h Islam's sacred text, the Q u r a n , as the s y m b o l o f their religious i d e n t i t y ) The Samanids patronized such r e n o w n e d Persian poets as R u d a k i and F i r d o w s i , whose Shahnameh (Book of Kings), or Persian national epic, emphasized the " e t e r n a l " struggle between Iran, w h i c h was settled and agricultural, and Turan (the Turkish steppe), w h i c h was pastoral. This epic p o e m echoed the tense conditions o n the steppe f r o n t i e r over w h i c h the Samanids themselves r u l e d w h i l e saying little about the e c o n o m i c

interdependence

b e t w e e n settled people and pastoral

nomads that typified this frontier. I n the end the Samanids fell to just such a " T u r a n i a n " threat. The QaraKhanids, a confederation o f Turkish peoples l i v i n g east o f the Jaxartes River were the first p o l i t i c a l g r o u p i n g o f the i n n e r Asian steppe to be led by M u s l i m rulers. Crossing the Jaxartes, they entered Transoxiana f r o m the east, defeated the Samanids, and seized the province i n 999. Khurasan and parts o f Afghanistan

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4]

r e m a i n e d i n the hands o f the Samanids' Turkish m i l i t a r y governors o f Ghazni, w h o thus began their existence as an independent state. The Ghaznavids were a m o n g the first to regularly call themselves sultans, a Quranic w o r d that f r o m the tenth century was used t o refer to an Islamic secular m o n a r c h . (Other terms that came to be used i n this way were the Persian shah and the Turkish khan.) The Ghaznavid sultans, a l t h o u g h they m a i n t a i n e d a c u l t u r e d c o u r t that patronized some i m p o r t a n t authors ( i n c l u d i n g , i n his later years, F i r d o w s i ) , b u i l t a m i l i tary regime i n t e n t o n raising revenue t h r o u g h taxation and raiding. They frequently descended f r o m Afghanistan i n t o n o n - M u s l i m parts o f Sind ( m o d e r n Pakistan) to seize the r i c h b o o t y available there, particularly f r o m its many H i n d u temples. A f t e r 1040,

w h e n they lost Khurasan to the Seljuks,

the

Ghaznavids were l i m i t e d to Afghanistan and increasingly t u r n e d their attention to Sind. As a result o f this r e o r i e n t a t i o n , they c o n t r i b u t e d significantly to the spread i n India o f Sunni Islam, w h i c h had u n t i l then been restricted to relatively small c o m m u n i t i e s that were remote f r o m the rest o f the Islamic w o r l d . Some areas o f the Iranian plateau were f r o m the start beyond effective caliphal c o n t r o l because o f their difficult terrain, and they remained so even w h e n the caliphs were p o w e r f u l . The m a i n case o f such inaccessibility was the jungle-like r e g i o n along the slopes o f the Elburz M o u n t a i n s s o u t h o f the Caspian Sea (Daylam, Gilan, Tabaristan, Mazandaran). Here local chieftains, w h o at best paid l i p service to the caliphs, struggled w i t h one another for primacy. This area, like Yemen, served as a natural refuge zone and received several fugitive A l i d princes, w h o helped convert m u c h o f the p o p u l a t i o n o f Daylam, at least, to Shiism. This area also served as the initial base for the w a r l o r d Mardavij ( d . 93c), w h o made a s h o r t - l i v e d attempt to restore an Iranian m o n a r c h y and Zoroastrianism, and then for the Shiite B u y i d family, w h o emerged f r o m Mardavij's entourage to gain power i n m u c h o f central Iran—parts o f Daylam, Jibal, and the r i c h province o f Fars. By 94c one o f the B u y i d chiefs, A h m a d i b n Buyeh (later k n o w n as M u i z z al-Dawiah), had m o v e d his troops i n t o Iraq and taken possession o f Baghdad, where he was recognized by the Abbasid caliph as commander i n c h i e f (amir alumara). I n the process the caliphs were effectively reduced to figureheads, having significant religious a u t h o r i t y but usually little real power. The Buyids prevailed i n central and w e s t e r n Iran and i n central and s o u t h e r n Iraq for m o r e than a century, and i n t h e i r heyday they managed to exert their c o n t r o l also over O m a n , across the Persian G u l f f r o m Fars, and over M o s u l ( A l - M a w s i l ) and n o r t h e r n Iraq. T h e i r d o m a i n s , however, were not a u n i fied state b u t rather a loose confederation o f h o l d i n g s called appanages, each granted to a d i f f e r e n t m e m b e r o f the B u y i d family. A t times, a single B u y i d c h i e f was unquestionably head o f the f a m i l y — t h e most notable example b e i n g the ascendancy o f A d u d al-Dawlah (r. 9 4 9 - 8 3 ) — b u t

most o f the t i m e the

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THE OXFORD

HISTORY

OF

ISLAM

B u y i d brothers and cousins were i n sharp c o m p e t i t i o n w i t h one another t o e x t e n d their appanages at the expense o f their relatives, or to oust t h e i r relatives a n d take over t h e i r appanages. The B u y i d princes w h o h e l d appanages i n I r a n usually established close relations w i t h the local l a n d h o l d i n g classes, w h i c h p r o v i d e d a s o l i d financial basis f o r their essentially m i l i t a r y d o m i n a t i o n . The m o s t prosperous o f the B u y i d appanages

was Fars, w h i c h had a

solid agrarian base and significant c o m m e r cial activity. Its capital at Shiraz also was h o m e to an extensive bureaucracy, a vestige o f Abbasid times, and an i m p o r t a n t c o u r t that sponsored a b r i l l i a n t l i t e r a r y c u l t u r e (always, despite the Buyids' Iranian o r i g i n s , i n A r a b i c ) . Other I r a n i a n appanages o f the B u y i d c o n f e d e r a t i o n , particularly Jibal and its

capital

Rayy,

were

relatively

stable

a l t h o u g h less w e l l developed than Fars. Baghdad under the Buyids, by c o m p a r i son, was an appanage o f q u i t e a different The Gunbad-i Qabus in northeastern Iran marks the grave of Qabus bin Washmgir, ruler of the focal

character. The presence o f the caliph and his court gave Baghdad great prestige and made i t

Ziyarid dynasty, who died in 1012. The flanged shaft

important as a center o f Arabic-Islamic c u l -

soars 52 meters above the artificial hillock on which

ture, b u t i t also meant that the Buyids and

it stands.

their Daylamite troops had to manage, and sometimes face the o p p o s i t i o n of, the t u r b u lent factions i n the Turkish army there. Moreover, the c o n t i n u i n g decline o f Iraqi agriculture deprived the Buyid amir i n Baghdad o f the k i n d o f agrarian base that c o n t r i b u t e d to the viability o f B u y i d appanages i n Iran and southern Iraq. The B u y i d era i n Baghdad proved to be o f great significance for the development o f Shiite culture, however. A l t h o u g h the Buyids were often o n g o o d terms w i t h the Abbasid caliphs, whose presence under their protection provided t h e m w i t h valuable Islamic legitimacy, as Smites they allowed Baghdad's large Shiite p o p u l a t i o n for the first t i m e to openly observe the major Shiite holidays. For the same reason Shiite scholarship entered its first great f l o w e r i n g d u r i n g the B u y i d p e r i o d , w h i c h saw the p r o d u c t i o n o f major w o r k s i n Shiite law, theology, and other disciplines. The Buyids f u r t h e r extended the use o f iqta, an i n s t i t u t i o n that had o r i g i n a t e d

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4