History of Islam, page 2

Umayyad caliphate 661-750

Mu'awiya, the leader of the struggle against Ali, established himself as the caliph. Damascus becomes the capital of the first Muslim dynasty and the new Arab empire. Despite opposition, Mu'awiya decided that the role of caliph should be hereditary. The title was passed on within his family. His Umayyad dynasty established another kingdom in Spain.

The Shi'as from the 7th century

After Ali’s death, opponents of the Umayyad dynasty supported the claims of Ali's two sons. They formed the Shi'at Ali (the 'party of Ali'). Islam is still divided between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis.

Sufis from the 8th century

The rapid rise of the caliphate to a great temporal power generated a reaction against the worldly interests. Devout Muslims searched for the purity and mystical fervor of the early years. They adopted a simple life and wore plain woolen garments. The Arabic for wearing wool is sufi, the name used for Muslims who practice mysticism. There are many Sufi sects today. The dancing dervishes formed a Sufi sect in the 13th century.

Arabs and Muslims 8th century

At first Arabs and Muslims were inseparable. As the Muslim expansion reaches its peak, there were not enough Arabs to man the army. Persians and Berbers were converted to Islam. Non-Arabs often feel they were treated as second-class Muslims. For example, they paid a poll tax. They rebelled against the Umayyad caliphate.

Abbasid caliphate from 750

A new Persian caliphate called Abbasid revolted against the Umayyad caliphate in Damascus, capturing Damascus in 750. One family member survived and established a new Umayyad dynasty in Spain. Baghdad (modern-day Iraq) became the new center of the Muslim world.

Baghdad 8th century

The Abbasid caliphs adopted the administrative system of the Persian empire. During this period, Islam grew beyond its Arab roots to become an international religion. The Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid is described in Thousand and One Nights. Calm reigned on most of the empire’s borders.

Islam and other religions from the 7th century

The Qur'an instructs Muslims to be tolerant of the two older monotheistic religions, Judaism and Christianity.

Arab civilization from the 8th century

A distinctive Arab civilization emerged in distant regions: Baghdad, Cordoba (Spain), and Cairo (Egypt). These great cities shared Islam, the Arabic language, and full tolerance for Christians and Jews. It was a period of economic and cultural growth, with trade expansion and scholarship. Arabic became dominant throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Source: History of Islam, page 2
Gascoigne, Bamber. HistoryWorld. From 2001, ongoing.

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