ch13 - Chapter 13 Abbasid Decline and the Spread of Islamic...

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Chapter 13 Abbasid Decline and the Spread of Islamic Civilization to South and Southeast Asia Chapter Summary By the mid 9th century the Abbasids were losing control over their vast Muslim empire. Distance hampered efforts to move armies and control local administrators. Most subjects retained local loyalties. Shi'i dissenters were particularly troublesome, while slave and peasant risings sapped empire strength. Mongol invasions in the 13th century ended the very weakened state. Despite the political decline, Islamic civilization reached new cultural heights, and Islam expanded widely in the Afro-Asian world through conquest and peaceful conversion. The Islamic Heartlands in the Middle and Late Abbasid Era. The Abbasid Empire disintegrated between the 9th and 13th centuries. Peasant revolts and slavery increased. Despite the artistic and intellectual creativity of the age, the position of women eroded. Signs of decline were present during the reign of Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785). He failed to reconcile moderate Shi'i to Abbasid rule. Al-Mahdi abandoned the frugal ways of his predecessor and surrounded his court with luxury. He failed to establish a succession system resolving disputes among his many sons, leaving a lasting problem to future rulers. Imperial Extravagance and Succession Disputes. One son, Harun al-Rashid, became one of the most famous Abbasid caliphs. The luxury and intrigues of his court were immortalized in The Thousand and One Nights . The young ruler became dependent on Persian advisors, a trend followed during later reigns as rulers became pawns in factional court struggles. Al-Rashid's death led to the first of many civil wars over the succession. The sons of the winner, al-Ma'mun, built personal retainer armies, some including Turkic nomads, to safeguard their futures. The armies became power centers, removing and selecting caliphs; their uncontrolled excesses developed into a general focus for societal unrest. Imperial Breakdown and Agrarian Disorder. The continual civil violence drained the imperial treasury. Caliphs increased the strain by constructing costly new imperial centers. Peasants had imposing tax burdens, often collected by oppressive tax farmers, forced upon them. Agricultural villages were abandoned and irrigation works fell into disrepair. Bandits and vagabonds were everywhere; they participated in peasant rebellions often instigated by dissident religious groups. The Declining Position of Women in the Family and Society. The freedom and influence possessed during the 1st centuries of Islam severely declined. Male-dominated Abbasid society imagined that women possessed incurable lust, and therefore men needed to be segregated from all but the women of their family. The harem and the veil symbolized subjugation to males. The seclusion of elite women, wives and concubines, continued, and the practice of veiling spread to all. Abbasid wealth generated large demand for concubines and male slaves. Most came from non-Muslim neighboring lands. Poor women
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This note was uploaded on 05/20/2010 for the course HISTORY World Civi taught by Professor N/a during the Spring '10 term at Open Uni..

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ch13 - Chapter 13 Abbasid Decline and the Spread of Islamic...

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