Monthly Archives: November 2013

Arabic writing

The Abbasid dynasty hosted a very important reform that made possible a lot of the literary and scientific advances of the next two centuries: they reformed the writing system. The Semitic language family has been around as long as written … Continue reading

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Baghdad of legend

The Abbasid dynasty endowed a scholars’ center in Baghdad; its first work was to collect and translate the Iranian books sitting in local libraries. We don’t know at what point they began to translate the Persian storybook that became the … Continue reading

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Baghdad

As payoff for Persian support, the Abbasid rulers agreed to relocate the administrative capital to Persian territory, instead of Damascus. The old capital of Ctesiphon may have been starting to fall apart, but in any case, they decided to build … Continue reading

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Abbasid Dynasty

The Umayyad dynasty had been ruling since winning the Battle of Karbala, where they defeated the last of Mohammed’s grandsons. They were of the same tribe as Mohammed, but not from his clan or family. Arabic extended families appear to … Continue reading

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Sociological results of Umayyad policies

I’ve got a draft on the Abbasid dynastic takeover of the Muslim Empire, but I’m waiting to receive in the mail a book that I read back in 2008, because I remember it had some interesting details. So meanwhile, just … Continue reading

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Early co-existence within the Caliphate

The theme of this series is the relationship between East and West through the Middle Ages, including attitudes and precedents. Although the Christians and Jews within the East were not, by definition, Westerners, their shared beliefs with the old Roman … Continue reading

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Arab-ization

Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Iran were primarily agricultural societies. The landscape of these places was typical of farming societies: small towns scattered among farms. By the 7th century, they were mostly Christian, though not all Catholic or Orthodox. The Armenians … Continue reading

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Muslim invasion of France

In 730, the Land of the Franks appeared to be wide open for conquest. The Franks were the most primitive people the Muslims had yet fought, and their Merovingian kings had become increasingly powerless. The border areas were especially decentralized; … Continue reading

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Muslim conquest of Spain

The single most significant fact about the Muslim empire is that, by around 725, it linked lands from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. This was the widest strip around the Equator that any empire had yet united. Most of … Continue reading

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Ashoura and the Battle of Karbala

Just a news article about violence during the Shi’ite festival. They re-enact the Battle in a ritual way (not very accurately) and whip themselves bloody to show their grief for the deaths of Mohammed’s family. http://www.timesofisrael.com/at-least-41-killed-in-attacks-during-iraq-shiite-ritual/  

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