Abbasid decline and the spread of islamic civilization to south and southeast asia summary and notes




Abbasid decline and the spread of islamic civilization to south and southeast asia summary and notes


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Abbasid decline and the spread of islamic civilization to south and southeast asia summary and notes

                                Pages 144 – 169



The Islamic Heartlands in the Middle and Late Abbasid Era

The vast Abbasid empire gradually disintegrated between the 9th and 13th centuries. Revolts spread among the peasants, slavery increased, and the position of women was further eroded. Divisions within the empire opened the way for Christian crusaders from western Europe to invade, and for a short time, establish warrior kingdoms in the Muslim heartlands. Political decline and social turmoil were offset for many by the urban affluence, inventiveness, and artistic creativity of the Abbasid Age.
An Age of Learning and Artistic Refinement

The avid interest in Muslim ideas and material culture displayed by European knights and merchants in this era cautions us against placing too great an emphasis on the political divisions and struggles that were so prominent in the later Abbasid era. It also invites comparison with neighboring civilizations, such as those in India and western Europe that were much more fragmented and racked by warfare in late Abbasid times. In the midst of the political turmoil and social tensions of the Abbasids, Muslim thinkers and artisans living in kingdoms from Spain to Persia created, refined, and made discoveries in a remarkable range of fields. Their collective accomplishments mark one of the great ages of human ingenuity and creativity. Their thoughts and techniques influenced their counterparts in all the civilized centers of the Eastern Hemisphere from the Sudan of Africa to Iberia and western Europe, and from India to relatively isolated China.

The Coming of Islam to South Asia

From the 7th century onward, successive waves of Muslim invaders, traders, and migrants carried the Islamic faith and elements of Islamic civilization to much of the vast south Asian subcontinent. By the 12th and 13th centuries, Muslim dynamics ruled much of north and central India. Muslims conquests and growing numbers of conversions provoked a variety of Hindu responses. They also prompted efforts on the part of followers of both religions to reconcile their differences. Although these measures resulted only in an uneasy standoff between the two communities, Islamic influences had clearly become a major force in south Asian historical development. They added further layers of richness and complexity to Indian civilization, as well as some of its most enduring linkages to the peoples and cultures of neighboring lands.

The Spread of Islam to Southeast Asia

The spread of Islam to India set the stage for its further expansion. Arab traders and sailors regularly visited the ports of southeast Asia long before they converted to Islam. From the 13th century, traders and Sufi mystics spread Islam to Java and the islands of modern Indonesia. As was the case in India, conversion was generally peaceful, and the new believers combined Islamic teachings and rituals with elements of local religions that had spread to the area in preceding centuries.
Conclusion: The Legacy of the Abbasid Age

Although problems of political control and succession plagued the kingdoms and empires that divided the Muslim world, the central position of Islamic civilization in global history solidified during the Abbasid rule. Its role as the go-between for the civilizations of the Eastern Hemisphere grew as Arab trading networks expanded to new areas. More than ever, it enriched the lives of nomadic peoples, from the Turks and Mongols of central Asia to the Berbers of north Africa and the camel herders of the Sudan. Islam’s contributions to the growth and refinement of civilized life greatly increased. From its cities and universities - and the accomplishments they generated in the fine arts, sciences, and literature - to its vibrant religious and philosophical life, Islam pioneered patterns of organization and thinking that affected the development of human societies in major ways for centuries to come.



What factors led to the decline and collapse of the Abbasid caliphate?

What factors served to unite Muslims across continents and diverse cultures?

How did women’s social status deteriorate during this era?

What intellectual movements and divisions arose and how did they affect Islam?

Describe the intellectual contributions and achievements of Islamic civilization.

What factors contributed to Islam’s spread to south and southeast Asia?

How did contacts between Hindu society and Islam affect each civilization?

What was the impact of Turkish migrations on Islamic civilization?

What motivated the crusades and how did they affect the combatants?

What Muslim achievements and technologies influenced other civilizations?



Seljuk Turks











Map 7.1: The Abbasid Empire at its Peak (Page 147)
Identify the boundaries of the Abbasid Empire.

What cities seem to be centers of trade?

What is the relationship between location and trade during the Abbasid era?

Map 7.2: The Spread of Islam, 10th – 16th centuries (Page 158)
Identify the principal Muslim states depicted on the map.

In what patterns did Islam seem to expand?


Visualizing the Past: Patterns of Islamic Global Expansion (Page 156 – 157)
What are the three largest Muslim countries in the world today?

What Muslim countries have large non-Muslim minorities?

How did Islam spread?

The traditional view was that Islam was spread by war. How does the information in the chart support or refute this idea?
PHOTO ESSAY: Islamic Civilization (Pages 144, 148, 153, 154, 155, and 161)
The Abbasid Empire and their Muslim successor states developed a brilliant civilization, which made many intellectual contributions to the world.

As depicted in the photos, describe Islamic developments in:
The math and sciences.
The arts including literature and music.

How did Islamic achievements blend diverse elements?

At the center of Islam is Allah. How do the achievements in the photos support or refute this idea?

Describe the lifestyles of the intellectual elites based on the photos.


Document Analysis: Ibn Kaldun (Page 151)

Document Analysis
Who wrote it? (Attribution includes biographical references)

What was the author’s point of view?

How reliable is the document? Why?

What was the intent or purpose behind the document?

Who was the intended audience?

What is the document’s tone?

A Historian at Work
How does the author see nomads and sedentary peoples?

How do dynasties change over time?

How do the Chinese Mandate of Heaven and the cycle of civilizations compare with Ibn Kaldun’s cycle?



The decline of the Abbasid power was due to all of these reasons EXCEPT:
the difficulty of governing a widespread empire.
invasions of European crusaders.
regional loyalties.
Shi’ia dissenters and slave revolts.
rebellious governors and new dynasties.
During the Abbasid empire, caliphs
exercised strong central control over their distant provinces.
were increasingly isolated by advisors.
avoided the use of mercenaries in their armies.
supported the spread of Shia doctrine and the teachings of the Sufis.
persecuted non-Muslims.

were Turkish-speaking slave armies used by Muslims.
were the last great central Asian nomads to disrupt Eurasian civilizations.
broke from the Sunni Muslims over who should be the rightful leader.
overran Spain and established a brilliant Arabo-Hispanic civilization.
were non-Muslim boys forcibly converted to Islam and settled as farmers.

During the Abbasid period, women
were at the center of the Shia opposition to Abbasid rule.
frequently became Sufi mystics because of the freedoms allowed them.
acquired rights to own land and engage in business.
became increasingly isolated in the harem and behind the veil.
exercised no influence in palace and harem politics.

During the Abbasid period, the use of slaves
began to gradually die out as economically profitless.
spread throughout the region and came to dominate agriculture.
was legally curtailed by the Muslim courts.
was confined to the royal court.
expanded as male and female slaves were valued for their beauty, intelligence and strength.

The Seljuks
conquered the Abbasid Caliphate and Byzantine Empire.
favored the Shia sect and became its protector.
settled in the lands of modern Turkey and became the Abbasids’ protector.
were unable to stop the Crusades or end Crusader control of Jerusalem.
became a sect of Islam devoted to learning, mysticism, and medicine.

The impact of the Crusades
disrupted the Muslim world.
had little effect on the military capabilities of the Europeans.
led to the collapse of the Abbasid caliphate.
was greater on the Europeans because it brought Europe into contact with Muslim civilizations and their accomplishments.
encouraged mass European migrations to the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The greatest beneficiaries of the sustained urban prosperity during the rule of the Abbasids were
women, who acquired rights to own property.
slaves, when the caliphs emancipated them and gave them lands to farm.
poor workers, who were freed from taxes.
artisans, artists, architects, and merchants.
foreigners, especially non-Muslims, who ran the empire’s bureaucracy.

During the Abbasid caliphate, the Arabs lost their dominant influence in governmental affairs and intellectual achievements to the

The Sufis
condemned scientific and cultural borrowing from non-Muslim sources.
helped spread Islam.
objected to the violence and social strife, which befell the Abbasid world.
led religious wars against Christians in Europe and the Middle East.
attempted to blend Islam with Judaism and Christianity.

The Abbasid reign ended when
Mongol soldiers sacked Baghdad.
the Seljuk Turks overran the empire.
Christian Crusaders took Jerusalem.
the Mameluks invaded the empire.
Shia governors and troops revolted and murdered the last caliph.

Although India was frequently invaded over the centuries before the arrival of the Muslims,
there was little change to the continual rule of the Guptas.
contacts between invaders and local peoples remained limited.
India was largely isolated from its neighbors.
the Hindu and Buddhist level of material culture assimilated most invaders.
invaders had no impact on the Indians.

Muslims were able to initially overcome northern Indians because
there was no strong, unified states or armies to oppose them.
the low caste-segregated Hindus welcomed the Muslims as liberators.
Hindus and Buddhists were engaged in a religious civil war.
their penetration was peaceful, commercial, and welcome.
repeated invasions and diseases had killed off many northern Indians.

All of these Indian groups were attracted to Islam and converted EXCEPT:
people who lived in the Indus and Ganges River plains.
low caste Hindus.
Brahmans, rulers, and soldiers.

Contacts between Hindus and Muslims led to
the seclusion of Hindu women.
constant warfare between the two groups.
the absorption by the Muslims of many Hindu social practices.
mass conversion of Hindus to Islam.
decreased trade opportunities.



Compare and contrast spread, conversion, and accommodation in any two of these religions: (1) Islam; (2) Christianity; (3) Buddhism; and (4) Hinduism.

How did the position of women in the Muslim world change from the time of Muhammad through the fall of the Abbasids? (Change over Time)

Compare and contrast the fall of the Abbasids with the fall of any one: (1) the Roman Empire; (2) Han China; or (3) Guptan Empire.

Compare and contrast Arabic intellectual achievements with the classic Greeks.

Compare and contrast the affect of pastoral nomads on Arabic (Islamic) civilization and its relationship with any one other sedentary civilization.



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