Islam Expands

Setting The Stage

After the death of Muhammad in 632, the community found themselves in quite a dilemma. They found it their duty to carry Muhammad’s words of Allah and to spread it. Unfortunately, they hadn’t a clue how they would choose their new leader. This predicament will eventually be the cause that split up the Muslim world.

Muhammad's Successors Spread Islam

Not having chosen or instructed his loyal followers on how to choose their new ruler, who would spread Muhammad’s words around the world; the Muslim community had to rely on ancient tribal custom. The first caliph, meaning “successor” or “deputy”, of the Muslim people was Abu-Bakr chosen for his loyalty to Muhammad and having known him in the first place.


"Rightly Guided" Caliphs

Abu-Bakr and the next three elected calips, which were Umar, Uthman, and Ali, were known as the "rightly guided" caliphs. These 4 caliphs had all known Muhammad, and they used the Qur'an and Muhammad's ways and actions as their guides for ruling. This was the start of caliphate ruling.


Abu-Bakr promised the Muslim society he would keep up the idea that Muhammad had planted. When the prophet died, chaos cam to Islam. Some people left Islam, others withheld from paying taxes, and even declared themselves prophets. For this reason, Abu-Bakr decided implemented Jihad, which referred to the inner struggle against evil. This word is also used in the Qur'an as an armed struggle against believers. Abu-Bakr engaged the meaning of jihad in order to encourage and justify the expansion of Islam.
in 634 when Abu-Bakr died, the state already controlled all of Arabia. after his death the second caliph took over, under Umar armies conquered Syria and lower Egypt, they also took parts of the Sassanid Empire. the caliphs that followed, Uthman and Ali continued to expand the Muslim territories. By 750 the Muslim Empire streatched from the Atlantic ocean to the Indus River.

Reasons for Success

One of the success of the Islam expand was that before Muhammad's death, he had expressed the desire of spreading the Islam religion throughout the people of the north. Muslims thinks that all their victories were caused by their determined faith in Islam and they think that Allah helped them throughout the struggles. They were very persistent in spreading Islam, so they would fight until they were heard. They were stubborn in what they believed, and they didn't think that others could influence them, but they thought that they could influence the others. Another reason of success was their military army. It was well-disciplined and well commanded. But another fact that contributed with it was that the two empires north of Arabia was pretty weak.


Another reason was that in other empires, people were obligated to believe in the official religion so they welcomed their Muslim invaders because they liked the message of Islam. Without notice, people started to accept Islam because it required no pressure or obligation. Another reason was that there was a economic benefit for Muslims, which was that they didn't have to pay poll tax.

Abbasids Consolidate Power

To solidify power, the Abbasids moved the capital of their empire in 762 to a newly created city, Baghdad, in central Iraq. This new location was on key routes, which gave the caliph access to trade goods, gold and information about the far-flung empire.


The Abbasids developed a really strong bureaucracy to conduct the large empire´s affairs. A treasury kept track of the money flow, a special department managed the business of the army diplomats were sent to the courts in Europe, Africa and Asia. To support this bureaucracy they taxed almost everything including land, imports and exports, and non-Muslim wealth.


In the interest of peace, the majority of Muslims accepted the Umayyads' rule. However, a minority continued to resist. Two main groups developed through this resistance and acceptance of the ones holding power and the future of the religion. These 2 main groups were the Sunni and Shi'a. The Sunnis regard Ali as the fourth and last of the "rightly guided caliphs" following on from Abu Bakr 632-634, Umar 634-644 and Uthman 644-656. They believe that Muslim rulers should follow the Sunna, or Muhammad's example.Sunnis do not have a formal clergy, just scholars and jurists, who may offer non-binding opinions.In the other hand, the Shi'a , meaning "party" of Ali, believe that Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law, should have succeeded Muhammad
and that the caliphate should pass down only to direct descendants of Mohammed (pbuh) via Ali and Fatima, they often refer to themselves as ahl al bayt or "people of the house" [of the prophet].

The line of Mohammed (pbuh) through Ali and Hussein became extinct in 873CE when the last Shia Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, who had no brothers disappeared within days of inheriting the title at the age of four. The Shias refused, however, to accept that he had died, preferring to believe that he was merely "hidden" and would return. When after several centuries this failed to happen, spiritual power passed to the ulema, a council of twelve scholars who elected a supreme Imam. The best known modern example of the Shia supreme Imam is the late Ayyatollah Khomeni, whose portrait hangs in many Shia homes. The Shia Imam has come to be imbued with Pope-like infallibility and the Shia religious hierarchy is not dissimilar in structure and religious power to that of the Catholic Church within Christianity. Sunni Islam, in contrast, more closely resembles the myriad independent churches of American Protestantism.Their imams are believed to be inerrant interpreters of law and tradition. Shia theology is distinguished by its glorification of Ali. In Shia Islam there is a strong theme of martyrdom and suffering, focusing on deaths of Ali and, particularly, Hussein plus other important figures in the Shia succession. Shi`ism attracted other dissenting groups, especially representatives of older non-Arab (Mawali) civilizations (Persian, Indian, etc.) that felt they had not been treated fairly by the Arab Muslims.

Sunnis and Shias agree on the core fundamentals of Islam - the Five Pillars - and recognize each others as Muslims. However, there remain significant differences between the two forms of Islam and these are what tend to be emphasized. Many Sunni's would contend that Shias seem to take the fundamentals of Islam very much for granted, shunting them into the background and dwelling on the martyrdoms of Ali and Hussein.On a practical daily level, Shias have a different call to prayer, they perform wudu and salat differently including placing the forehead onto a piece of hardened clay from Karbala, not directly onto the prayer mat when prostrating. They also tend to combine prayers, sometimes worshipping three times per day instead of five.Shia Islam also permits muttah - fixed-term temporary marriage - which is now banned by the Sunnis. They both claim on each oter that they have disorted the meaning of various passages in the Qur'an.But beside these two, there is a small group called the Sufi, who rejected the luxurious life of the Umayyads.They pursued a life of poverty and devotion to a spiritual path.

Percentage Today of Sunni and Shi'a Muslims Worldwide: Sunni- 83% Shia-16% Other—-1%

By: ely
World History By: McDougal Littell

Muslim Trade Network

The Muslims traded through the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean, these were the two major sea-trading networks at that time. There, they could easily expand their religion to other cultures and at the same time gain money while they’re there. They could trade with the rest of the world from this spot (which obviously left out America:3). The land network where they traded went through the Silk Roads in China and with India, major world traders at the time.

They met with African and European traders too. They traded in Arabic and using the Abbasid dinar. Traders could go to banks in which they would change their money for kind of checks, called sakks. They could exchange this in many different and distant cities, which encouraged trading. The city of Cordoba found in Andalus was a great center of poetry, philosophy, and science. Here we could find 200,000 people, here non-Muslims adopted Muslim customs. Here, cultural diffusion was almost inevitable.

Trade = More products + More technologies = Cultural Diffusion

Muslims developed new business techniques
• Partnerships
• Banks
• Credit
• Checks


Internal Conflicts Creates a Crisis

The Muslim community had difficulty maintaining a unified rule. Since Uthman was murdered a civil war broke out, this was because various group struggled for power. A family known as the Umayyads then came to power. They moved to the Muslim capital this is Damascus the one I am referring to. For their location it made controlling their conquered territories easier. Basically the Umayyads abandoned the simple life of previous caliphs and began to surround themselves with wealth and ceremony similar to that of non-Muslim rulers.

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