CBSE Notes | Class 11 | Social Science | History | Chapter 4 - The Central Islamic Lands
The chapter introduces students to the origins and the founder of Islam: Prophet Muhammed. It also enlists the major Islamic sects and their faith, communities and practices. We also highlight the Abbasids revolution and various caliphates.
Faith, Community & Politics
The Origin Of Islam roots in the time during 612-32. The Prophet Muhammad preached the worship of a single God, Allah, to the membership of a single community of believers (umma).
Who was Prophet Muhammad?
Muhammad is credited with founding Islam and establishing Islam's sacred scripture, Quran. He spent his entire life in what is now Saudi Arabia, from his birth in Mecca around 570 CE to his death in Medina in 632.
In the sixth century, Arab culture was confined to the Arabian Peninsula, southern Syria, and Mesopotamia.
The Arabs were divided into tribes (Kabila), each led by a chief chosen for his personal courage, wisdom, and generosity (murawwa).
Everyone had a tribe's own god or goddess, worshipped as an idol (Sanam) (masjid).
Many Bedouin tribes moved from dry to green desert oases in search of food (mainly dates) and camel fodder. Some settled in cities and traded or farmed.
The Quraysh Tribe
The Quraysh tribe controlled Mecca's main shrine, the 'kaba' (Cube-Like Structure), which was used to preach idolatry.
Outside of Mecca, residents were required to perform an annual pilgrimage (hajj) to the shrine. Mecca's strategic location on a trade route connecting Yemen and Syria added to its significance.
The Meccan shrine was a haram (sanctuary) that protected its visitors. Pilgrimage and commerce facilitated communication and the exchange of beliefs and customs between nomadic and settled tribes.
The polytheistic Arabs' attachment to idols and shrines, on the other hand, was more immediate and powerful than their knowledge of a Supreme God, Allah.
Muhammad as a messenger of God
Around 612, Muhammad declared himself to be God's messenger (rasul).
Simple rituals such as daily prayers (salat) and moral principles such as almsgiving and not stealing were included in the worship.
The Establishment 'Umma'
Muhammad was tasked with the responsibility of establishing an umma (religious community) of believers.
The community would attest to the religion's existence (shahada) in front of God and other religious communities. The believers were also stated as Muslims.
They were promised salvation and a share of the community's resources on the Day of Judgment. Affluent Meccans objected to their deities being rejected and viewed the new religion as a threat to Mecca's status and prosperity.
In 622, Muhammad was compelled to relocate to Medina. The journey of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina (hijra) marked the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
The Creation of Political Order
Muhammad established a political order in Medina based on all the sources & ensuring the safety of his followers while also resolving the city's ongoing civil strife.
Muhammad's political leadership included polytheists and Medina's Jews in the umma.
Muhammad bolstered his adherents' faith by incorporating rituals (such as fasting) and ethical principles.
Agriculture, commerce, and an alms tax provided financial support for the community (zakat).
Additionally, the Muslims staged ghazw raids against Meccan caravans and nearby oases. The Meccans were enraged by these raids, as were the Medina Jews.
Following a series of battles, Muhammad's reputation as a religious preacher and political leader spread widely. Muhammad's conversion was now required in order to join the community.
Arabs placed a premium on strength and solidarity, even in the harsh desert environment. Numerous tribes, mostly Bedouins, converted to Islam as a result of Muhammad's accomplishments.
Muhammad's alliances expanded to include the entirety of Arabia.
Mecca & Medina
Medina became the administrative capital of the Islamic state, while Mecca remained the religious capital.
The Kaba was purified of idols as a result of Muslims praying to face the shrine. Muhammad quickly united a large portion of Arabia under a new faith, community, and state.
Early Islam was for a long period a federation of Arab tribes and clans.
The Expansion Of the Caliphate
What is a Caliphate?
It is referred to the political and religious state dominion of the Muslim community under the leadership of an Islamic leader as a successor of the prophet Muhammad.
A shift in the Political Authority
Muhammad's political authority was transferred to the umma after his death in 632, with no established succession principle. This allowed for new ideas to emerge, but it also caused deep divisions among Muslims.
The most significant innovation was the establishment of the caliphate, in which the community's leader (amir) became the Prophet's deputy (khalifa).
The first four caliphs (632-61) justified their power by claiming a close relationship with Muhammad and carrying on his work under Muhammad's general guidelines.
The caliphate's twin goals were to maintain control over the umma's tribes while also raising resources for the state.
After Muhammad’s death, many tribes broke away from the Islamic state. Some even raised their own prophets to establish communities modelled on the umma.
The first caliph, Abu Bakr, suppressed the revolts by a series of campaigns.
The second caliph, Umar, shaped the umma’s policy of expansion of power.
The caliph was well aware that the umma could not be sustained on the meagre income generated by trade and taxes.
The caliph and his military commanders rallied their tribes to conquer the Byzantine Empire in the west and the Sasanian Empire in the east.
Byzantine & Sasanian Empire
The Byzantine and Sasanian empires had vast swaths of Arabia under their control, as well as vast resources with which to pursue their political and commercial goals.
The Byzantine Empire promoted Christianity, while the Sasanian Empire promoted Zoroastrianism, Iran's ancient religion. Religious strife and aristocratic uprisings weakened both empires.
Because of the decline of these two empires, Arabs were able to more easily annex territories through wars and treaties. In three successful campaigns, Arabs bought Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Egypt.
Military strategy, religious fervour, and the opposition's weakness all contributed to the Arabs' success. The third caliph, Uthman, launched campaigns in Central Asia to strengthen the caliphate's grip on the region.
The Arab-Islamic state had seized control of the vast territory between the Nile and the Oxus within a decade of Muhammad's death.
In all conquered provinces, a new administrative structure was imposed, led by governors (amirs) and tribal chieftains (ashraf).
Muslim taxes and a percentage of raids were used to fund the central treasury (bait al-mal).
Soldiers of the caliph were stationed in desert camp cities like Kufa and Basra to be close to their natural habitat while still being under the command of the caliph. The ruling class and soldiers were paid on a monthly basis and shared in the booty (ata).
Taxes: Non-Muslims were able to keep their property and religious practices by paying taxes (kharaj and jizya).
Communal Autonomy: Dhimmis (state-protected subjects) has been declared for Jews and Christians, who have been given considerable autonomy over their communal affairs.
The Cost of Expansion
Arab tribesmen found it difficult to expand and unite politically. As the umma's territory expanded, disagreements over resources and offices posed a threat to the umma's unity. The ruling class of the early Islamic state was dominated by Meccan Quraysh.
Uthman (644-56), the third caliph and a Quraysh sought more control and staffed his administration with his own men. Uthman was assassinated by an oppositional alliance of Iraq, Egypt, and the medina, making 'Ali' the fourth Caliph.
The Major Islamic Sects
Shia & Sunni
The rifts among the Muslims deepened after Ali, the fourth caliph (656-61), who fought two wars against those who represented the Meccan aristocracy.
Ali’s supporters and enemies later came to form the two main sects of Islam: Shias and Sunnis.
Ali established himself at Kufa and defeated an army led by Muhammad’s wife, Aisha, in the Battle of the Camel (657). Ali was not able to suppress the faction led by Muawiya, a kinsman of Uthman and the governor of Syria.
At Siffin (northern Mesopotamia), Ali's second battle ended in a truce that split his followers into two groups: some remained loyal to him, while others left the camp and came to be known as Kharijites.
Caliph Ali was assassinated by a Kharji in a mosque at Kufa after the death of the caliph his followers paid allegiance to his son, Hussain, and his descendants.
Muawiya made himself the next caliph in 661, founding the Umayyad dynasty which lasted till 750. It appeared as if Arab domination would disintegrate after the civil wars.
There were also signs that the tribal conquerors were adopting the sophisticated culture of their subjects The second round of consolidation took place under the Umayyads & the prosperous clan of the Quraysh tribe.
The Umayyads & The Centralisation Of Polity
The conquest of large territories destroyed the caliphate and replaced it with an authoritarian polity. The Umayyads implemented a series of political measures to consolidate their power within the umma.
Muawiya, the first Umayyad caliph, moved his capital to Damascus and adopted Byzantine court and administrative institutions.
Ensuring his son's heirship, he introduced hereditary succession. These innovations allowed the Umayyads to rule for 90 years and the Abbasids for two centuries.
The Umayyad state had become an imperial power based on statecraft and the loyalty of Syrian troops. The administration included Christian advisers and Zoroastrian scribes and bureaucrats.
But Islam continued to legitimise its rule. For their part, the Umayyads put down rebellions in the name of Islam. So did they. During Abd al-(685-705) Malik's and subsequent reigns, both Arab and Islamic identities were emphasised.
Abd al-Malik used Arabic for administration and coinage.
The gold dinar and silver dirham were copies of Byzantine and Iranian coins (denarius and drachm), with crosses and fire altars symbols and Greek and Pahlavi (Iran's language) inscriptions.
The coins now had Arabic inscriptions instead of symbols. Abd al-other Malik's major contribution to the development of Arab identity is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
What were Abd al-Malik's Coinage reforms?
'Abd al-reform Malik's established a purely epigraphic coinage, a significant departure from the past. In the Kufic script, images were replaced with Quranic verses and the profession of faith, the shahada.
Abd al-Malik’s reform of coinage was linked with his reorganisation of state finances. It proved so successful that for hundreds of years, coins were struck according to the pattern and weight of the third specimen.
The reformed dinar was purely epigraphic. It carries the kalima: ‘There is no God but Allah and He has no partner (Sharik)’
The Abbasid Revolution
How did the Abbasids replaced Umayyads?
The Abbasids ruled most of the Islamic empire (except for some western parts) after assuming the caliphate in 750 CE until 1258 CE when their empire After Muhammad, the Abbasids became the third Caliphate.
The Umayyads were demonised by the Abbasids, who promised to restore Islam to its original form. Not only did the revolution alter the dynasty, but it also altered the political structure and Islamic culture.
Tax concessions and privileges were promised by the Umayyad regime, but they were never delivered. Faced with the wrath of race-conscious Arabs, the Iranian Muslims (mawali) eagerly joined any campaign to depose the Umayyads.
Their army, led by an Iranian slave named Abu Muslim, defeated the last Umayyad caliph, Marwan, at the Zab River.
In Khurasan, the Abbasid uprising began (eastern Iran). The Arab-Iranian population in Khurasan could be mobilised. The Syrians' dominance was resented by Iraqi Arab soldiers.
The Abbasids, descendants of the Prophet's uncle Abbas, rallied dissidents and legitimised their rise to power by promising a Messiah (Mahdi) from the Prophet's family (Ahl al-Bayt).
The importance of Iranian culture grew during the Abbasid era. Baghdad, near the ruins of Ctesiphon, became the capital of the Abbasids.
To increase Iraqi and Khurasan participation, the army and bureaucracy were reorganised non-trially. The religious status and functions of the caliphate were elevated by the Abbasids, who favoured Islamic institutions and scholars. Government and empire, on the other hand, required that the state remain centralised.
The magnificent imperial architecture and elaborate court rituals of the Umayyads were preserved.
Break-Up Of The Caliphate And The Rise Of Sultanates
The Decline of Abbasid Power
The Abbasid state weakened in the ninth century due to loss of control over distant provinces and internal strife between the pro-Arab and pro-Iranian army and bureaucracy factions.
During the civil war of 810 between supporters of Amin and Mamun, sons of Harun al-Rashid, a new power bloc of Turkish slave officers emerged (mamluk). Shiism competed for power with Sunni orthodoxy.
The Taurids and Samanids in Khurasan and Transoxiana, Turan, and the Tulunids in Egypt and Syria arose.
The Fatimid Caliphate
The Abbasid dynasty's power was quickly confined to Iraq and Iran. In 945, the Buyids, a Shiite clan from Iran's Caspian region, captured Baghdad (Daylam). The Buyid rulers were known by a variety of titles, including shahanshah (king of kings), but did not have a caliph.
The Abbasid caliph was symbolic of their Sunni subjects. The decision to retain the caliphate was prudent, as the Fatimids desired control of the Islamic world.
The Fatimids claimed to be Islam's sole legitimate rulers due to their ancestry through the Prophet's daughter, Fatima.
In 969, they conquered Egypt and founded the Fatimid caliphate. Fustat, Egypt's former capital, was decommissioned in favour of Qahira (Cairo), which was founded on the day Mars rose (Mirrikh, also called al-Qahir).
Both dynasties fostered the development of Shiite administrators, poets, and scholars. Economic and cultural patterns, not a single political order or a single language, bind Islamic society together (Arabic).
The separation of state and society, the development of Persian as an Islamic high culture language, and the maturity of intellectual dialogue maintained unity despite political divisions.
Scholars, artists, and merchants travelled freely throughout the Islamic world, spreading ideas and customs.
The Muslim population, which was under 10% in the Umayyad and early Abbasid eras, grew rapidly.
Conversion became possible and meaningful as Islam's identity as a religion and a cultural system became clearer.
The Turkish sultanates added a third ethnic group to the Arabs and Iranians in the tenth and eleventh centuries. The Turks were a nomadic tribe from Turkistan (northeast of the Aral Sea to the Chinese border) who gradually converted to Islam.
As slaves and soldiers, they rose to high positions in the Abbasid, Samanid, and Buyid empires, owing to their loyalty and military prowess.
The Ghaznavid Sultanate
What do we understand about the Ghaznavid Sultanate?
Mahmud of Ghazni built on Alptegin's foundations (961) and established the state in (998-1030).
They possessed a well-trained army of Turks and Indians (one of the generals of Mahmud was an Indian named Tilak). Their power base was in Khurasan and Afghanistan, and they derived legitimacy from the Abbasid caliphs. Mahmud, the slave's son, desired to be addressed as Sultan by the caliph.
To counter Shiite power, the caliph backed the Sunni Ghaznavid. Seljuq Turks entered Turan as soldiers in the Samanid and Qarakhanid armies (non-Muslim Turks from further east). They developed into a formidable force under the leadership of Tughril and Chaghri Beg.
The Seljuqs (Turko-Persian Sunni Muslims) conquered Khurasan in 1037 and established their first capital at Nishapur. In 1055, the Seljuqs defeated the Buyids in western Persia and Iraq, restoring Sunni rule in Baghdad.
The caliph, al-Qaim, bestowed the title of Sultan on Tughril Beg, thereby separating religious and political authority.
The Seljuq Brothers
The two Seljuq brothers ruled in perfect harmony, in accordance with tribal customs regarding family rule.
Alp Arsalan, Tughril's nephew, succeeded him. Alp Arsalan furthered the Seljuq empire's expansion into Anatolia (modern Turkey).
European Christians and Arab states clashed from the 11th to the 13th centuries.
In the early 13th century, the Muslim world was on the verge of disaster. Last but most devastating nomadic assault on established civilizations, the Mongol threat.
What are "The Crusades"?
The Crusades were a series of religious wars that began, were supported, and were occasionally directed by the Latin Church during the mediaeval period. The most famous of these Crusades took place in the Holy Land between 1095 and 1291, with the objective of reclaiming Jerusalem and its environs from Islamic rule.
Ahl al-Kitab) in mediaeval Islamic societies, because they had their own scripture (the New Testament or Injil). In Muslim countries, they were allowed to enter as traders and pilgrims. Palestine was a Byzantine province.
However, Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection remained. Also in Christian Europe. Muslim hatred grew. Muslims were the main enemy because most Slavic tribes and Normans were Christians.
The Christian Muslim Conflict
A shift in Western Europe's social and economic structure contributed to the Christian-Muslim conflict. They worked together to promote political stability and economic growth based on agriculture. The Peace of God movement saved feudal principalities from war and plunder-based economics.
Churchmen and the general public were protected from military violence.
"Enemies of God" were redirected by the Peace of God. His empire crumbled after Malik Shah died in 1092. Alexius I reclaimed Asia Minor and northern Syria. Pope Urban II had a chance to renew the Christian spirit.
Holy Land Liberation War
In 1095, the Pope and the Byzantine emperor declared war on each other for the liberation of the Holy Land. Between 1095 and 1291, Christians in Western Europe planned and fought against Muslim cities in the eastern Mediterranean. (Levant). The conflicts were dubbed Crusades. The French and Italians, for their part, captured Antioch, Syria, in 1098-99 and claimed it. Muslims and Jews were massacred in the city following their victory.
Invasions by Christians (ifrinji or firangi) were also referred to as Frankish invasions.
In Syria-Palestine, there were four crusader states. Later crusades sought to re-establish and expand it.
In 1144, following the Turks' capture of Edessa, the Pope declared (1145-49). From Damascus, a defeated German-French army returned home. Outremer's influence was dwindling. Crusader zeal gave way to luxury and Christian territorial disputes.
Salah al-Din established an Egypto-Syrian empire in 1187 after defeating Christians. After a century, he reclaimed Jerusalem.
Salah al-Din, according to history, treated Christians better than Muslims and Jews. He bestowed the Holy Sepulchre on Christians, converted numerous churches into mosques, and transformed Jerusalem into a Muslim city.
Except for some coastal towns in Palestine and free access to Jerusalem for Christian pilgrims, they gained little from the third crusade. In 1291, Egypt's Mamluks drove crusaders out of Palestine. Europe's military interest in Islam waned following World War II.
They had a dual impact on Muslim-Christian relations. While Muslim power returned, Italian mercantile communities (from Pisa, Genoa, and Venice) expanded their influence in trans-Atlantic commerce.turned home defeated from Damascus. Outremer's power was eroding. Crusader zeal gave way to luxury and Christian territorial disputes.
After defeating Christians in 1187, Salah al-Din established an Egypto-Syrian empire. He reclaimed Jerusalem after a century.
According to history, Salah al-Din treated Christians better than Muslims and Jews. He gave Christians the Holy Sepulchre, converted many churches into mosques, and made Jerusalem a Muslim city.
They gained little from the third crusade except for some coastal towns in Palestine and free access to Jerusalem for Christian pilgrims. Egypt's Mamluks expelled crusaders from Palestine in 1291. After World War II, Europe's military interest in Islam waned.
They influenced Muslim-Christian relations in two ways. Although Muslim power returned, Italian mercantile communities (from Pisa, Genoa, and Venice) grew in influence in trans-Atlantic trade.
Economy: Agriculture, Urbanisation & Commerce
Agriculture was practised widely in the newly conquered areas. There Land was owned by the big and small peasants and in some cases by the state.
If we talk about the states like Iraq and Iran, where the land existed in fairly large units cultivated by peasants. Taxes were collected by the estate owners on the behalf of the state.
The state acquired the abandoned land after the Islamic conquests and handed it over to the elites or Caliph's family.
The overall control of the land was with the state only.
The land conquered by the Arabs were subject to a tax, to be paid by the owners.
The Arabs imposed a tax on the owners called 'Kharaj', which ranged from half to a fifth of the harvest. The tax was 10% of the produce from Muslim-owned or cultivated land. Non-Muslims who wanted to pay fewer taxes began to convert to Islam.
The caliphs had a uniform taxation policy. Also, the state authorised officials to claim their salaries from iqtas, or agricultural revenues (revenue assignments). This political stability accompanied agricultural success.
Construction of dams and canals, and drilling of wells (often with waterwheels or noria) were all crucial for good harvests in the Nile valley. People who cultivated land got tax breaks under Islamic law. Even without major technological advances, peasant initiatives and state support increased cultivable land and productivity.
Cotton, oranges, bananas, watermelons, spinach, and brinjals (badinjan) were among the new crops grown and exported.
Islamic civilisation flourished as cities multiplied. Many new cities sprung up to house the local administration's Arab soldiers (Jund). Kufa and Basra in Iraq, and Fustat and Cairo in Egypt, were among the misr (Arabic name for Egypt).
Baghdad's population grew to around 1 million in half a century after it became the Abbasid caliphate's capital (800). Older towns like Damascus, Isfahan, and Samarqand also got a facelift.
Their population grew along with the production of food grains and raw materials for urban manufacturers.
A vast urban network formed, connecting towns and forming a circuit.
The congregational mosque (masjid al-Jami), large enough to be seen from afar, and the central marketplace (suq), with shops in a row, merchants' lodgings (fandub), and the money-office. changer's
Administrators (ayan or state eyes), scholars, and merchants (tujjar) lived in the cities.
Ordinary citizens and soldiers lived in the outer circle, which had its own mosque, church or synagogue, market, and public bath (hammam).
On the outskirts were poor people's houses, a market for fresh produce from the countryside, caravan parks, and ‘unclean' shops like tanning and butchering. There were inns and cemeteries outside the city walls.
This typology changed depending on the landscape, political traditions, and historical events. Urbanization and political unification widened the exchange circuit. The Muslim empire benefited from its location between the Indian and Mediterranean trading zones.
From China to Europe, Arab and Iranian traders controlled the maritime trade for five centuries.
The Red Sea and the Persian Gulf were major trade routes. Spices, textiles, porcelain, and gunpowder were shipped from India and China to Aden, Aydhab, and the Gulf ports of Siraf and Basra.
The goods were transported by camel caravans to Baghdad, Damascus, and Aleppo for local consumption or further transmission. The hajj caravans grew in size whenever the Indian Ocean sailing seasons (mawasim, origin of the word monsoon) coincided.
Exports from Alexandria to Europe were handled by Jewish merchants, some of whom traded directly with India, as evidenced by letters preserved in the Geniza collection. The Red Sea route gained importance as Cairo grew as a commercial and political hub, and as demand for eastern goods grew in Italy's trading cities.
Towards the east, Iranian merchant caravans set out from Baghdad for China via Bukhara and Samarqand (Transoxiana), bringing Central Asian and Chinese goods, including paper.
Transoxiana was also an important commercial hub for the exchange of European goods (mainly fur) and Slavic captives with Russia and Scandinavia (hence the word, slave).
Islamic coins used to pay for these goods were discovered in hoards along the Volga and in the Baltic. These markets also bought male and female Turkish slaves (Ghulam) for the caliphs and sultans.
Money became more important in the central Islamic lands due to the fiscal system and market exchange.
Coins of gold, silver and copper (fulus) were minted and circulated, often in bags sealed by money-changers, to pay for goods and services. Gold came from Africa (Sudan) and silver from Central Asia (Zarafshan valley).
Precious metals and coins also came from Europe, which used these to pay for its trade with the East. The rising demand for money forced people to release their accumulated reserves and idle wealth into circulation. Credit combined with currencies to oil the wheels of commerce.
The Muslim World's Contribution
The Muslim world contributed most to mediaeval economic life by improving payment and business organisation. Merchants and bankers used letters of credit (sakk, origin of the word cheque) and bills of exchange (suftaja) to transfer money between places or people.
The widespread use of commercial papers relieved merchants of carrying cash and made their travels safer. The caliph used the sakk to pay salaries and poets.
So long as certain prohibitions were observed, Muslims could make money. To avoid usury, people used creative methods (hiya), such as borrowing money in one coin and paying it back in another and hiding the interest as a currency exchange commission (the origin of the bill of exchange).
Sailing, slavery, merchants, and money-changers are all depicted in the Thousand and One Nights (Alf Layla Wa Layla).
Learning & Culture
When the Islamic community experienced increasing contact with other people, it was forced to engage in self-reflection and consider such issues as God and the world.
How should a Muslim act in public and in private?
Informed Muslim scholars used various resources to grow the social identity of the community while also fulfilling their own intellectual curiosity. For ulama, the Quran and the example of the Prophet (sunna) were the only sources of knowledge. Some Muslims continued to prepare a body of laws, which they called sharia (straight path), to govern their relationship with God and their relations with others.
The phenomenon of love and passion were used to increase ecstasy and passion in Sufi religious gatherings. Rabia of Basra (d. 891) expressed in her poetry an intense love for God (ishq).
Bayazid Bistami, an Iranian Sufi, was the first to teach complete submersion in God. Scholars like the Mutazila group used Greek logic and reasoning to defend Islamic beliefs. Aristotle's writings, Euclid's Elements, and Ptolemy's Almagest were all introduced to Arabic-reading scholars.
Medieval Islamic societies valued fine language and imaginative creativity. One's communication skill was elevated to adab, a literary and cultural aesthetic.
The ode (qasida), created by Abbasid poets to praise their patrons' achievements, was one of the most popular pre-Islamic poems. Persian poets revitalised and reworked Arabic poetry, influencing Arab cultural dominance.
The older text is a translation of a Pahlavi version of the Panchtantra called Kalila wa Dimna (the names of the main characters) into Arabic. After that, it was translated into Indic (Indo-Persian) in Baghdad in the eighth century. During the Mamluk era, many more stories were written in Cairo.
History writing was well established in Muslim societies with high literacy. In Persian literature, dynasties, cities, and regions were explored.