Lecture_week_2 - Lectures Week 2, January 11-15, 2011 1....

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Lectures Week 2, January 11-15, 2011 1. Arabia before Muhammad a. a desert surrounded by fertile land b. Tribal pastoral nomads, surrounded to the North and East by the great Mediterranean civilizations c. Those bands always a nuisance to settled lands, never a threat. d. Occasionally Romans or Persians attempt to take control of Arabia, with very limited success. e. Few permanent settlements, agriculture only in oases such as Yathrib. f. Polytheistic religion, major shrine the Ka’aba in Mecca. g. Some familiarity with Judaism and Christianity and some interest. h. The Koran mentions “hanifs” – saintly men who are “neither Jews nor Christians” who were associated with monotheism. 2. Mecca a. Mecca is a town in the Hijaz, the coastal region of northeast Arabia. b. It lies in an extremely arid region, not in an oasis, and had very little agriculture. c. In the time of Muhammad it is small, and relatively poor, made up mostly of mud huts. d. But it is already a holy city. e. Mecca is home to the Ka’aba – a holy stone, the Zamzam spring, and the shrine around them. f. It is an important site of pilgrimage long before Islam. g. The main occupation of the inhabitants is trade, in caravans from Yemen and beyond to Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia g. The dominant tribe of Mecca are the Quraysh, who are (according to tradition) the guardians of the Ka’aba. f. Their founder is Qusayy, 5 generations before Muhammad 3. Who was Muhammad? a. born around 570 to the Hashimiyya clan, a mid-ranking clan of the Qurayshi. b. orphaned as a child, raised by his uncle, Abu Talib. c. According to legend, participated as a child in the construction of the Ka’aba shrine. d. Became a trader, like his relatives, and traveled extensively, coming into contact with Jews and Christians. e. Worked in the service of a wealthy widow, Khadija, and at 25 married her (she was 40). f. Till the age of 40 was a respected, but hardly outstanding, member of the Quraysh 1
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4. From Conversion to Hijra a. In accordance with custom, Muhammed spends a month a year on mount Hirai in religious worship. b. The prophet Gabriel “Jibril” speaks to him, and tells him he is God’s prophet. c. Mohammed starts preaching monotheism to his countrymen. d. converts first his wife, then others, establishing a growing movement. e. Acknowledges the Qa’aba, but insists it is dedicated to God -- Allah f. Eventually comes into conflict with Meccan leaders. g. unable to protect himself and his followers he looks for alternative places to settle. h. First tries Ta’if, but experiment fails. i. Eventually comes to agreement with the Khazraj tribe of Yathrib. h. In 622 Muhammad and his followers move from Mecca to Yathrib, which they call “Medina” – “the City” meaning “the city of the prophet. j. This is the Hijra, the traditional beginning of Muslim history.
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This note was uploaded on 09/18/2011 for the course HIST 21 taught by Professor Alexander during the Winter '11 term at UCLA.

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Lecture_week_2 - Lectures Week 2, January 11-15, 2011 1....

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