Middle Eastern Civilization Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1254 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Middle East Civilization I (HIS 251-01N)


The Umayyad, Abbasid, and early Middle Periods of Islamic history were some of the greatest in its history marked by significant technological and cultural progress. Known as the Golden Age of Islam, most Middle Easterners lived in cities during these periods that were constructed along Byzantine and Roman models with towers and gates along each wall and two perpendicular axial streets that intersected at a small square. Sometimes this square was covered by a dome on pillars. The rest of the city was laid out according to the grid that the two main streets established. The cities themselves possessed a local identity, which its inhabitants enforced with their sense of responsibility of keeping order and peace. Dwellings were constructed in a manner so as to give each citizen maximum privacy. Each city had a mosque with an open courtyard and colonnade. What was unique about these cities were minarets that dominated the skyline.

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The central presence of the mosque also signifies that religion acted as the web of interest that linked governing elite to the people, particularly since these eras were still so closely connected to Muhammad and fervently religious, and indeed the religious leaders (the Imams) were the ones who acted as medium between citizens and rulers. The governing elite and the citizens were also linked by the government's need for tax revenues and the merchants' need for market inspectors to regulate their business within the city. The government itself functioned with the help of local leaders of the city, leading merchants, leaders elected by the Dhimmis and Islamic scholars. All of these different sectors helped the government monitor the pulse of the city.

2. Mosques and Other Architecture

Term Paper on Middle Eastern Civilization Assignment

The common characteristics of the mosque are the following: The minaret and dome as well as a square enclosure or a courtyard (shan) where Muslims can pray or perform salat. A mihrab, a semi-circular alcove set into the wall which points to the qiblah or the direction of the Kabba. A minbar near the mihrab where the imam lectures. Inline with the mihrab is a platform (dikka) where the muezzins chant with the Imam. Finally, there is the wudhu khana (the basin) used for washing hands and feet before prayer

Islam's first mosque was the courtyard of Muhammad's house that was located in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Later important mosques during the Classical Period included the Umayyad mosque of Damascus, the Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, the Great Mosque of Qairawan, the Great Mosques of Cordoba, the Friday Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The latter is an Islamic shrine built on the original site of the Jewish Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan initiated the project and the two engineers Yadzid Ibn Salaam led it from Jerusalem and Raja ibn Haywah from Baysan. Its construction was not only to proclaim the supremacy of Islam (thus the site chosen) but also to ensure that Muslims would not be tempted by Christianity. This site was the former Roman temple to Jupiter and the two Jewish temples. It was also believed that Mohammed had ascended from this site to heaven, hence building the temple at this spot.

The Alhambra, another famous Islamic site, was a fortified citadel and palace built in Granada, Spain, whilst general constructions that Muslims of that period built included palaces, mausoleums, shrines, public baths, libraries, hospitals, forts, and bazaars. Although these were constructed out of ornate material, the Ghaznavids and Seljuks in the medieval period built their buildings out of baked or mud bricks that were decorated with stucco or stone.

3. Islamic Art

The decorative arts as practiced by the Muslims -- otherwise called iconoclastic - are where people… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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