The First Global Civilization: The Rise and Spread of Islam summry and study guide




The First Global Civilization: The Rise and Spread of Islam summry and study guide


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The First Global Civilization: The Rise and Spread of Islam summry and study guide


Chapter 6, The First Global Civilization: The Rise and Spread of Islam


In the 7th century C.E., the Arab followers of Muhammad surged from the Arabian Peninsula to create the first global civilization.  They quickly conquered an empire incorporating elements of the classical civilizations of Greece, Egypt, and Persia.  Islamic merchants, mystics, and warriors continued its expansion in Europe, Asia, and Africa.  The process provided links fro exchange among civilized centers and forged a truly global civilization.  Although united in belief of Muhammad’s message, the Islamic world was divided by cultural and political rivalries.  The disputes did not undermine the strength of Muslim civilization until the 14th century.

Key Concepts:

Desert and Town: The Pre – Islamic Arabian World:

  • Islam appeared first on the Arabian Peninsula, an area occupied by pastoral nomads and on the periphery of the civilized zones.
  • Much of the peninsula is desert, which supported both goat and camel nomadism among peoples called Bedouin.  Sedentary agricultural communities were limited to the far south of the peninsula, and trading towns like Mecca developed along the coasts.
  • The Bedouin tribal culture of clan loyalty and rivalry provided a critical backdrop for the emergence of Islam.  Women enjoyed somewhat greater freedom, art was largely nonexistent, and religion was a blend of animism and polytheism.


The Life of Muhammad and the Genesis of Islam:

  • In the 7th century C.E., a new religion arose in the Arabian Peninsula.  Built on the revelations received by the prophet Muhammad, a trader from Mecca, the new faith won over many camel – herding tribes of the peninsula within decades.
  • Islam united Arabs and provided an important ethical system.  Though initially an Arab religion, Islam’s beliefs and practices (including the five pillars) eventually made it one of the great world religions.


The Arab Empire of the Umayyads:

  • Although some Bedouin tribes renounced their allegiance to Islam following Muhammad’s death in 632, the Prophet’s followers were able to conduct military campaigns restoring the unity of the Islamic community.
  • Abu Bakr assumed leadership of the umma (community of the faithful).  Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, was passed over, which would later cause an important rift in the Muslim community.
  • Once the rebellious tribesmen were brought back into the umma, Muslim armies began to launch attacks on neighboring civilizations outside of Arabia.
  • Within a short period of time, Arab armies exploited weaknesses in their enemies’ forces and captured Mesopotamia, northern Africa, and Persia.  A new dynasty, the Umayyads, ruled this Arabic empire.
  • The question of succession soon led to the Sunni-Shi’a split.
  • Umayyad extravagance ultimately led to the empire’s overthrow.


From Arab to Islamic Empire: The Early Abassid Era:

  • The Abbasid rulers move the Empire’s capital to Baghdad, and lived a life of luxury that alienated many followers.
  • The Abbasids fully integrated the mawali, or non-Arab Muslims, into the Islamic community.
  • Merchants and landlords grew in wealth and status.  Cities grew, the dhow improved sailing, and slave labor became increasingly important. 
  • Arab learning flowered, as scholars sought to preserve the great works of Greek and Roman civilization.


Key Terms:

  • Bedouin:


  • Shaykhs:
  • Mecca:


  • Medina:
  • Umayyad:


  • Ka’ba:
  • Qur’an:


  • Umma:
  • Zakat:


  • Five Pillars:
  • Caliph:


  • Ali:
  • Abu Bakr:


  • Ridda Wars:
  • Jihad:


  • Uthman:
  • Battle of Siffin:


  • Mu’awiya:
  • Sunni:


  • Shi’a:
  • Karbala:


  • Mawali:
  • Jizya:


  • Dhimmis:
  • Abbasids:


  • Wazir:
  • Ayan:


  • Quraysh Bedouin tribe:
  • Allah:


  • Khadijah:
  • Hijra:


  • Ramadam:
  • Hajj:


  • Damascus:
  • Hadiths:


  • Battle of River Zab:
  • Baghdad:


  • Dhows:
  • Mosque:


  • Islam:
  • Muslims:


Chapter 6, Quiz Questions

1) Which of the following groups was responsible for the slaughter of the male descendents of the Umayyad Dynasty?
A) Syrians
B) Christians
C) 'Abbasids
D) Berbers
E) "people of the book."

2) Which of the following regions was NOT affected by Islam during its early history (prior to 750 C.E.)?
A) North Africa
B) Europe
C) Asia
D) South America
E) Sub-Saharan Africa

3) The Arabic camel nomads were referred to as
A) Hashim.
B) bedouin.
C) mawali.
D) ayan.
E) fellahin.

4) Which of the following cultures of the Arabian Peninsula was most significant the development of Islam?
A) Bedouin
B) Urban
C) Sedentary agricultural villages
D) Hunting and gathering
E) Medieval

5) Which of the following statements concerning bedouin society is NOT accurate?
A) Bedouin herders lived in kin-related clan groups.
B) Bedouins lived in highly mobile tent encampments.
C) Clans were commonly congregated together in larger tribal groupings.
D) Arabian society fostered strong dependence on loyalty and cooperation with kin.
E) Bedouins were rarely found living in urban areas.

6) Leaders of bedouin clans were called
A) shaykhs.
B) wazirs.
C) mawali.
D) dhows.
E) imams.

7) Which of the following groups was NOT a component of bedouin society?
A) Shaykhs
B) Free warriors
C) Artisans
D) Slaves
E) Herders

8) Which of the following statements concerning inter-clan relationships in bedouin society is most accurate?
A) Clans within the same tribe almost never engaged in warfare, but violence between different tribes was common.
B) Arabic society was too mobile to result in many contacts between clans, and therefore violence was minimal.
C) Inter-clan violence over control of water and pasturage was common.
D) Inter-clan violence was regulated by a universally recognized code of law imposed by the Quraysh in Mecca.
E) Violence in Bedouin society was generally limited to slave uprisings.

9) What was the result of inter-clan rivalries?
A) They kept population down in a region that could support few people.
B) They tended to weaken the bedouin in comparison to neighboring peoples and empires.
C) They allowed for intermarriage between clan groups, thus preventing social isolation.
D) They prevented mobility and migration that would have debilitated efforts at more complex social organization.
E) They strengthened be bedouin and enabled them to challenge their neighbors.

10) What clan was responsible for the foundation of Mecca?
A) Umayyad
B) Abbasid
C) Aghlabid
D) Almoravid
E) Turks

11) What was the Ka'ba?
A) The tribe that dominated Mecca
B) The name given to Muhammad's flight from Mecca
C) The port of Mecca
D) The religious shrine that was the focus of an annual truce
E) The belief in the goodness of holy war

12) What was the major difference between Medina and Mecca?
A) Political dominance in Medina was contested between a number of Jewish and bedouin tribes.
B) Mecca was established in an oasis, and Medina was in a mountainous region.
C) Medina was engaged in long-distance caravan trade, while Mecca was not.
D) Medina was located on the western side of the Arabian Peninsula, while Mecca was located on the Persian Gulf.
E) Medina was controlled by Coptic Christians while Mecca was controlled by the Banu Hashim clan.

13) Which of the following statements most accurately describes the status of women in bedouin society prior to Islam?
A) Women were regarded as little more than property with neither rights nor status.
B) Descent in bedouin tribes was strictly patrilineal.
C) Women were the equals of males in the rugged society of the desert bedouin.
D) They enjoyed greater freedom and higher status then Byzantine and Sasanian women.
E) Women were permitted to take more than one husband (with approval of their mother).

14) What was the nature of the material culture of bedouin society?
A) The bedouins constructed numerous temple complexes featuring monumental architecture in the form of pyramids.
B) Although their nomadic lifestyle did not permit the development of monumental architectural forms, the bedouins were skilled painters and sculptors.
C) Mecca was a major center for the development of art and architecture, but the desert bedouin produced little of cultural value.
D) Except in the sedentary agricultural communities of the South, there was little art or architecture and the chief focus of cultural creativity was oral poetry.
E) The bedouins preserved the learning of classical cultures through writings that included prose-like epics.

15) What was the nature of pre-Islamic bedouin religion?
A) Most of the bedouin were Christians.
B) Most of the bedouin were Jews.
C) It was a blend of animism and polytheism.
D) The bedouin were monotheists who worshipped Allah.
E) The bedouins had no religious beliefs.

16) Which of the following represents a mounting pressure for change in pre-Islamic society?
A) Invasion from sub-Saharan Africa agricultural cultures incompatible with nomadic life
B) Greater Byzantine and Sasanian control over Arabic tribes of the peninsula and Arabic migration to Mesopotamia
C) The increasing influence of Hindu animism from the expansion of the Gupta Empire
D) The increasing influence of polytheism throughout all cultures around the Mediterranean
E) The increasing scarcity of natural resources to support the life and culture of the bedouins

17) What was the clan into which Muhammad was born?
A) Umayyad
B) Abbasid
C) Almoravid
D) Banu Hashim
E) Sassanid

18) When did Muhammad receive the first revelations that were eventually written down in the Quran?
A) 550 C.E.
B) 610 C.E.
C) 622 C.E.
D) 632 C.E.
E) 711 C.E.

19) What was the initial response of the Umayyads to Muhammad's new faith?
A) They regarded him as a threat to their wealth and power as he questioned the traditional gods of the Ka'ba.
B) They sought to protect him from a plot on his life by the Banu Hashim.
C) The Umayyads immediately accepted Muhammad as their religious and political leader and the chief power in Mecca.
D) The Umayyads simply ignored Muhammad as an insignificant member of a weak clan.
E) They sought him as an ally against the Sassinians and the Byzantines.

20) Which of the following statements concerning Muhammad's flight to Medina is NOT correct?
A) He fled because of the threat of assassination in Mecca.
B) He fled because he was invited to mediate a dispute between the tribes of Medina.
C) Muhammad fled from Mecca with nearly one quarter of the city's population.
D) Once in Medina he attracted new followers to his faith.
E) Muhammad fled to Medina in the year 622.

21) The Umayyads felt threatened by all of the following developments EXCEPT
A) Muhammad's destruction of the Ka'ba.
B) the development of Muhammad's religion.
C) the growing power of Medina.
D) raids on their caravans.
E) disputes between rival families.

22) What was the date of Muhammad's flight to Medina from Mecca?
A) 570 C.E.
B) 610 C.E.
C) 622 C.E.
D) 635 C.E.
E) 711 C.E.

23) What was the Umayyad response to Muhammad's migration to Medina and subsequent success there?
A) The Umayyad rulers of Mecca ignored Muhammad as long as he was content to remain in Medina.
B) War broke out between Mecca and Medina resulting in the eventual victory of Muhammad and the Medina clans.
C) War broke out between Mecca and Medina resulting in the eventual victory of the Umayyads.
D) Reluctantly but peacefully, the Umayyads were converted to Islam.
E) The Umayyads eagerly converted to Islam and welcomed Muhammad back to Mecca.

24) What was the principle advantage of the Islamic concept of the umma?
A) It provided a clear principle of political succession that would provide the basis for an Islamic state.
B) It provided for an annual treaty that would restore the trade routes of Arabia.
C) It provided dietary restrictions that allowed for more equitable distribution of food in Arabia.
D) It transcended old tribal boundaries and made possible political unity among Arab clans.
E) It emphasized the value of individualism and fostered self-reliance among the bedouin tribes.

25) Which of the following statements concerning the ethical system of early Islam is NOT correct?
A) Islam stressed the dignity of all believers and their equality in the eyes of Allah.
B) Islam stressed the responsibility of the wealthy and strong to care for the poor and weak.
C) A tax for charity was obligatory in the new faith.
D) The teachings of the Prophet and the Quran were not formally incorporated into a body of law.
E) It recognized the truth of similar ethical ideas in Judaism and Christianity.

26) What was Muhammad's teaching with respect to the revelations of other monotheistic religions?
A) Muhammad accepted the earlier Christian revelations, but rejected completely any influence from Judaism.
B) Muhammad accepted the earlier Judaic revelations, but rejected completely any influence from Christianity.
C) Muhammad accepted the validity of earlier Christian and Judaic revelations and taught that his own revelations were a final refinement and reformulation of earlier ones.
D) Muhammad stressed that only his own revelations had merit and that others were works of the devil.
E) Muhammad taught that monotheistic religion was compatible with polytheism.

27) Which of the following is NOT among the "five pillars" of Islam?
A) A confession of faith
B) Hajj
C) Charity
D) Pilgrimage to Medina
E) Fasting during Ramadan

28) What happened after Muhammad's death in 632?
A) Many of the bedouin tribes renounced Islam.
B) Islam ceased to exist until it was reestablished under the Umayyad dynasty at Damascus.
C) After a lengthy period of grief, the tribes selected a new leader based on the established principle of succession in the Quran.
D) A military commander, Khalid ibn al-Walid, was chosen as leader of Islam.
E) Islam remained unified under the leadership of Ali.

29) The wars to defeat rival prophets and restore the unity of Islam were called
A) Ridda.
B) dhow.
C) Karbala.
D) the first fitnah.
E) Rihla.

30) The office of the political and religious successor of Muhammad was called
A) wazir.
B) dhow.
C) Karbala.
D) Caliph.
E) Ayan.
Answer:  D

31) Which of the following was NOT a reason for the early expansion of Islam beyond Arabia?
A) The desire for booty
B) The sense of common cause and united strength
C) The desire to convert new populations to Islam
D) A means to release the energies of the bedouin tribes against others than themselves
E) The weakness of their adversaries.

32) Why did the Arab warriors not want to convert large numbers of people to Islam?
A) Muhammad specifically stated that Islam could only be spread among the Arabs.
B) They would have had to share their booty and would have lost tax revenues.
C) They lacked the political organization to govern them and feared insurrection by non-Arabs.
D) Conversion would have slowed down the process of conquest.
E) They wanted to keep high religious offices among themselves.

33) Which of the following areas of the Byzantine Empire was NOT conquered by the Muslims by 650 C.E.?
A) Palestine
B) Egypt
C) Syria
D) Asia Minor
E) Iraq

34) Why was the caliph Uthman disliked by so many Arabs?
A) He had halted the process of expansion and thus stopped the flow of booty to the tribesmen.
B) He was the first caliph to be chosen from Muhammad's early enemies, the Umayyads.
C) He was not an Arab.
D) He was a firm supporter of Muhammad's son-in-law and nephew, Ali.
E) He murdered Ali.

35) What was the result of the first civil war between Ali and the Umayyads?
A) Ali was able to defeat the Umayyad clan and reduce them to political insignificance.
B) Ali was killed in the conflict, but his son Hasan was named caliph and won a great victory over the Abbasids.
C) Despite early successes, Ali's faction disintegrated, leading to an Umayyad victory and Ali's assassination.
D) Ali suffered a disastrous military defeat at the Battle of Siffin, and the Umayyads emerged victorious.
E) Islam remained firmly united behind the heirs of Husayn and Ali.

36) The political and theological faction within Islam that recognized only Ali and the descendants of the family of Muhammad as rightful rulers was called
A) Shi'a.
B) Sunnis.
C) Kharij.
D) Fiqhs.
E) Sufis.

37) Under the Umayyads, the political center of Islam shifted to
A) Baghdad.
B) Merv.
C) Constantinople.
D) Damascus.
E) Cairo.

38) What was the nature of citizenship within the Umayyad Empire?
A) All converts to Islam, regardless of their ethnic origins, were full citizens and members of the elite.
B) Only Muslim Arabs were first-class citizens of this great empire.
C) The Umayyads recognized all residents of their empire, whether Muslims or "people of the book" as full citizens.
D) Arabs rapidly lost their dominance in the Umayyad Empire to the native residents of Persia.
E) Malawi were accorded full rights of citizenship.

39) The term for non-Arab Muslim converts is
A) jizya.
B) dhow.
C) mawali.
D) dhimmis.
E) umma.

40) What was the Umayyad attitude to other religions?
A) The Umayyads suppressed all religions within their territories other than Islam.
B) The Umayyads converted to Christianity, but continued to permit the open worship of Islam.
C) The Umayyads displayed tolerance towards the religions of dhimmi peoples.
D) Christianity and Judaism were suppressed as heresies, but other communities were permitted to retain their religions.
E) Zoroastrians and Hindus were never accepted.
Answer:  C

41) What was the most significant of the transformations brought about by the Abbasids' rise to power?
A) The final defeat of the Byzantine Empire with the capture of Constantinople
B) The mawali were admitted as full members of the Islamic community
C) The destruction of absolutism within Islamic government
D) The destruction of Sunni influences within Islam
E) Victory in the Crusades and the conquest of Spain

42) The Abbasids moved the political center of their empire to
A) Baghdad.
B) Constantinople.
C) Merv.
D) Damascus.
E) Jerusalem.

43) What was the nature of the Abbasid government?
A) The Abbasids abandoned the formality and absolutism of the Umayyads and established an open and representative government.
B) The Abbasids outdid the Umayyads in establishing an absolutist government symbolized by the growing powers of the wazirs and the sinister presence of the executioner.
C) The Abbasid government represented a return to the principles of government in the first days of the Orthodox caliphate.
D) The Abbasids continued the policies of the Umayyads virtually without change, including the maintenance of an exclusively Arabic elite.
E) The Abbasid government was extremely efficient due to the influence of Byzantine advisors.

44) What was the nature of the economy of the Abbasid period?
A) It was a period of general prosperity typified by urban growth and the restoration of the Afro-Eurasian trade axis.
B) There was a general crisis in the agricultural economy resulting from the constant warfare of the period.
C) The economic downturn of the era was typified by the breakdown in the trade between the Middle East and China.
D) Although commerce was generally resuscitated during the Abbasid period, artisan production dropped off significantly.
E) Trade was initiated with northern Europe, which eventually led to the rise of slave trade with Africa.

45) Who were the ayan?
A) Abbasid bureaucrats
B) African slaves
C) Free artisans
D) A rural landholding elite
E) Jewish converts to Islam

46) What was the status of artisans in Abbasid cities?
A) Handicraft industries were staffed by slave labor exclusively.
B) The number of artisans decreased along with the economic crisis of the Abbasid period.
C) Artisans were free men who owned their own tools and who formed guild-like organizations to negotiate wages.
D) Artisans were able to utilize their guild-like organizations to seize political control of most Abbasid towns.
E) Artisans found no markets for their goods and were finally incorporated into the ayan.

47) What was the nature of slavery within the Abbasid social system?
A) According to the Quran, slavery could not exist in Islam, and the Abbasid freed all former slaves.
B) Slavery was limited to the non-Arab converts to Islam, and died out during the period of the Abbasid Empire.
C) Because most unskilled labor was left to the unfree, slaves could be found in both the towns and countryside of the Abbasid Empire.
D) Slavery was known in Abbasid cities, but was virtually unknown in the countryside where most labor was performed by a free peasantry.
E) Most slaves worked under favorable conditions but were never allowed to convert to Islam.

48) What was the primary cultural contribution of the Muslims during the Abbasid period?
A) The Muslims were able to recover and preserve the works of the ancient philosophers as well as transmit ideas and culture from one civilization to another.
B) The Muslims became extraordinarily adept at portraiture, focusing on depictions of Muhammad and the early caliphs.
C) Although the material culture of the Abbasid period remained poor, Muslims were able to make some advances in music.
D) Islamic learning was necessarily unique, as they had no access to the ancient traditions of philosophy and science.
E) Islamic culture combined the achievements of earlier civilizations such as the Harappan and the Aryans.

Essay Questions:
The First Global Civilization: The Rise and Spread of Islam

  1. Describe the social organization of the Arabs prior to the introduction of Islam.


  1. Compare and contrast the status of women in Islam during the pre – Islamic period and the Abbasid Empire.
  1. Why was Islam able to appeal to people of so many different cultures?


  1. Why was the essential dispute within Islam over the succession to the Prophet Muhammad?
  1. What was the difference between the Abbasid Empire and the Umayyad Empire?



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