Rise of Islam

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The Sasanid Empire and the Rise of Islam, 200–1200

I. The Sasanid Empire, 224–651 A. Politics and Society 1. The Sasanid kingdom was established in 224 and controlled the areas of Iran and Mesopotamia. The Sasanids confronted Arab pastoralists on their Euphrates border and the Byzantine Empire on the west. Relations with the Byzantines alternated between war and peaceful trading relationships. In times of peace, the Byzantine cities of Syria and the Arab nomads who guided caravans between the Sasanid and Byzantine Empires all flourished on trade. Arabs also benefited from the invention of the camel saddle, which allowed them to take control of the caravan trade. 2. The Iranian hinterland was ruled by
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Muhammad’s father-in-law Abu Bakr took over leadership of the umma as the successor (caliph) of Muhammad. Abu Bakr faced two main tasks: standardization of the Islamic religion and consolidation of the Islamic state. Abu Bakr successfully re-established Muslim authority over the Arabs and oversaw the compilation and organization of the Quran in book form. 4. Disagreements over the question of succession to the caliphate emerged following the assassination of the third caliph, Uthman. A civil war was fought between those who supported keeping the caliphate in Uthman’s clan (the Ummaya) and those who supported the claim of Muhammad’s first cousin and son-in-law Ali. The Umayya forces won and established the Umayyad Caliphate in 661. 5. These disagreements led to the development of three rival sects in the Muslim community. The Shi’ites supported Ali’s claim to the caliphate and believed that the position of caliph rightly belonged to the descendants of Ali. Those known as the Sunnis believed that the first three caliphs had been correctly chosen and supported the Umayyad Caliphate. The most militant followers of Ali formed the Kharijite (rebel) sects. Most of the 800 million Muslims of today are either Sunnis or Shi’ites.
III. The Rise and Fall of the Caliphate, 632–1258 A. The Islamic Conquests, 634–711 1. The Islamic conquests of areas outside Arabia began in the seventh century. In the first wave of conquest, the Arabs took Syria,

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