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The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

Chapter 9: The Sasanid Empire and the Rise of Islam, 200-1200


The Sasanid Empire

The Roman Empire, 500 C.E.

Europe, West Asia, and Arabia, 600 C.E.

Maps Relating to Islam's Historical Development

Images from World History: Sasanid Empire 
These images provide insight into this important, but often forgotten, Iranian Kingdom.  Many of the images reveal the influence of Zoroastrianism and other aspects of Sasanid culture on other Mediterranean civilizations.

Islamic History: Images
Seven contemporary images of the ruins of important sites in the development of Islam.

The Islamic World to 1600: An Online Tutorial
This comprehensive site contains many contemporary and historical images relating to Islam's historical development.  It also includes many relevant Maps.

Islamic Art
An excellent introduction into Islamic art by period.  This comprehensive site contains numerous images as well as textual analysis.

Detroit Institute of Art: Islamic Images
A brief introduction to artwork during the Mamluk rule in Egypt and Seljuk Turk rule in the Middle East.

Art Images for College Teaching: Islamic Art
View nine images of Islamic architecture in Spain.

Alhambra and Generalife
Click on the "camera" buttons for images of these classic examples of medieval Islamic architecture in Spain.

THE NOBLE SANCTUARY: The Online Guide to Al-Aqsa Mosque
This virtual tour offers numerous images of this holy shrine in Jerusalem.  The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in the Islamic religion.

Activity One:

Many historians have referred to Islam as the first "world civilization" in global history.  Go to Map of the Muslim World, 1500.  The areas within the green border either were predominantly Muslim or had strong Muslim majorities by the year 1500.  What previous civilizations had existed in these areas?  In other words, what previous "large traditions" did Islam replace in this part of the world?  You might want to review Maps from previous chapters to refresh your memory.  Now read the essay at Islam: A World Civilization and define "world civilization."  How did Islam unite people of different traditions and outlooks?  How did this development create a world civilization?  Can you think of any antecedents for this development?  For example, had other large traditions emerged, perhaps on a smaller geographical scale, in these areas in previous periods?

Activity Two:

One reason Islam was able to expand and attract converts relatively quickly was that it built on other large traditions in the Middle East.  Go to The Islamic World to 1600 and click on "Islamic Beginnings" in the right-hand column.   Complete this tutorial, making sure to review the hyperlinks buried within the essay.  While exploring this site, keep two tasks in mind.  First, analyze how Islam built upon the legacies of both Roman and Persian influence in the Middle East.  Second, search for, in general terms, the overarching principles of an Islamic view of the world and the roles of men and women in it.  Pay special attention to the role of Muhammad, the Five Pillars of Islam, the Qur'an, and the Hadith.  When finished, explain the Islamic outlook, how it incorporated older large traditions in the Middle East, and why it was able to expand among many people within and outside the Middle East.   You might want to review the essay Islam: A World Civilization from Activity One and Old World Contacts: Cultural Conversion from Chapter 8, Activity 4 for additional information.

Activity Three:

The growth and expansion of Islam not only blended many cultures, it also brought together many intellectual traditions.  The result was quite often fascinating.  Read the essay relating to Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi, a highly influential Islamic mathematician who lived in the eighth and ninth centuries.  While you might not comprehend all the math discussed in this essay, pay attention to the process by which Al-Khwarizmi developed algebra.  What older mathematical approaches did he expand?  What role did Indian scholarship play in his work?  Visting the hyperlinks of other mathematicians mentioned in this essay will help you answer these questions.  The integration of many intellectual traditions was profound in the Islamic world between the seventh and fifteenth centuries.  For further explanation, see Islam, Science, and Knowledge.  While reviewing this essay, make a list of Islamic scientific achievements that built upon the foundations laid by other intellectual traditions.

Activity Four:

The last section of Chapter 9, "The Recentering of Islam," on pages 245-246 of The Earth and Its Peoples (Second Edition), deals with an important development in Islamic history.  The Abbasid Caliphate (see Map 9.2 in your textbook) although still theoretically in place, disintegrated into smaller political units after the tenth century.  See the Maps of Almoravid Dynasty, 1117 and 1200, the Eastward shift of the Fatimid Caliphate, 960-1060, and The Seljuk Turks (you will need to scroll down to view these Maps at each site).  Nevertheless, Islamic civilization continued to grow and flourish without one strong central government.  One source of this continued resilience was the role of non-government institutions that developed over previous centuries.  Go to Britannica.com: Sufism.  For information on one Sufi tradition and several early practicioners, see The Naqshbandi Sufi Way and explain how this institution developed over time.  From what traditions did it borrow?  How did this institution promote both the continued expansion and vitality of Islam after 1000?  For another important institution, see Encyclopaedia of the Orient: Ulama.  How did this institution promote the continued expansion and vitality of Islam after 1000?  You might also want to review page 245 of your textbook for some context.  After exploring these institutions, analyze the role of sufism and the ulama in Islamic civilization after the disintegration of political unity around 1000.