Essay: Middle Eastern Civilization

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Middle Eastern Civilization

The era before the rise of Islam, the first six centuries of the Common Era, were set forth due to the development of major events. One of the biggest and important of these events is the establishment and rise of Christianity. The spread of Christianity marked the end for many pre-Christian religions with the exception of Judaism and the Persian religion. The conversion of Emperor Constantine began a religious transformation of the Roman Empire. The Roman state was used to promote and protect the new religion. By Emperor Justinian's time, the Roman Empire was not only used to promote Christianity's supremacy among other religions but universal adherence to one religious doctrine. The second major development is the shift of power from the West to the East. The Roman capital moved from Rome to Constantinople. While they called themselves Roman they referred themselves as such in Greek. The influence of Greek culture spread throughout the East because of Byzantium. The spread of Hellenic culture marks the third major development of the period, the Hellenization of the Middle East. While the process actually began several centuries earlier with Alexander the Great, it wasn't until the Romans entered the Middle East did Hellenic culture take hold. Roman rule provided peace which in turn fostered the growth of Greek influence. Roman stability brought rule of law, infrastructure, and military protection. These elements stimulated the growth of commerce and travel.

2. At the beginning of the Classical Islamic Period, the Middle East was a battleground of two major empires. The Christian Byzantium Empire was warring against the Sassanian Empire of the Persians. Both states weakened by constant warfare created an opportunity for the caliphs to expand their empire. Despite warring empires it is the establishment of Islam that will define the region till this present day. Islam a religion started by Mohammed was born about 570 C.E. He came from a trading family related to the Quraysh tribe, the original founders of Mecca. Around 610, Mohammed received a visit from the angel Gabriel delivering a message from God. God demanded Mohammed to spread God's message. The spread of Islam did not grow through militancy until 624 following Mohammed's successful attack on a Meccan caravan.

When the Prophet died in 632, he left the leadership position to Abu Bakr, who became caliph. Bakr continued Islam's military expansion by conquering the Arabian Peninsula. Bakr passed the goal of conquest to his lieutenant Khalid who by the time of his death in 642 had conquered all of the Middle East. The expansion of Arab and Islamic expansion left a lasting mark. Muslim conquerors adapted the culture of those they conquered as well as influence the culture of their subjects. This period also saw the rise and fall of the Umayyad Empire. The establishment of this civilization began with the rift in the Muslim community that split them into Shi'a and Sunnis. Umayyad power eventually fell into decline and was replaced by the Abbasid caliphate. The Abbasid changed the nature of caliphate making the caliph into a being above all other men. They flourished economically due improved agriculture and expanded trade. The textile industry in particular was a major component of the Abbasid economy. Expanded trade provided an influx of new goods and ideas. The art of papermaking was acquired from China and resulted in the establishment of paper mills. Being at the crossroads of the world brought new knowledge and customs that were assimilated into daily life. This mix of ideas and people helped create a dynamic environment that promoted innovation and discoveries in all fields. This age is called the Islamic Golden Age.

3. By the time of the early Middle Period circa 950-1250, the Abbasid Empire was already in decline. The Golden Age is also still occurring during this time. The first problem for the Abbasid was the Isma'ilis who splintered from… [END OF PREVIEW]

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