The Central Islamic Lands

In AD 600, Arabian society was divided into tribes (Qabila). Tribe of Muhammad called Quraysh in Mecca controlled main shrine Kaba, a cube like shape. In AD 612, Muhammad declared himself as a messenger (Rasul) of God. He preached worship of single God and a single community - Umma. This was the origin of Islam. The Quran is its holy book. In Islam, daily prayer (salat) is an important ritual. With Muhammad’s migration (hijra) in AD 622 from Mecca to Medina, the Islamic calendar began. After his death in AD 632, power passed into the hands of the Caliphate, and its leaders (amir al muminin) became the deputy (khalifa) of the Prophet. The central treasury (bait al-mal) of the Caliphate obtained revenue from taxes paid by Muslims. The non-Muslims paid taxes on their rights to property (kharaj) and religious practices (jiziya). The Umayyads replaced the Caliphate. Muawiya became the first Umayyad Caliph in 661 and Damascus was his capital. A movement, called dawa, replaced the Umayyads with the Abbasids (AD 750). The Abbasids rule declined in the 9th century, and the Turkish Sultanates ruled in 10th-11th centuries. Medieval Muslims regarded Christians as the People of the Book (ahl al-kitab). During Islamic rule, Christians were allowed to the Holy Land of Palestine and Jerusalem. Between 1095 and 1291, western European Christians waged wars (Crusades) against Muslim cities in the eastern Mediterranean (Levant). Through Crusade, Pope Urban II tried to revive Christianity. Salah al-Din (Saladin) created an Egypto-Syrian empire and called for jihad (holy war) against the Christians in 1187. The Sufi saints renounced the world (zuhd) and relied on God alone (tawakkul). Pantheism (oneness of God) is important in Sufism. Religious art of Islam promoted Calligraphy (khattati) and Arabesque (geometric and vegetal designs).

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