While their beliefs are very different in Medieval Spain Christians and Muslims

While their beliefs are very different in medieval

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because they were people of the Hebrew Scriptures. While their beliefs are very different, in Medieval Spain Christians and Muslims developed a cooperative relationship and lived peacefully for many centuries. Political and Government Structures The Christian and Islamic systems of determining rulers were very similar during this time, with both claiming a divine right bestowed from God. The emperor in the Christian empires was seen as “Christ’s representative on earth” (Browning, 1980). Prior to the early Middle Ages, the first emperor Constantine was said to have had a dream in which Jesus Christ appeared to him (Pohlsander, 1996) and this is how the tradition of the “divine” emperor began. Under Constantine, the government of the Byzantine Empire was highly organized. The government controlled wages, rates, and rent, set interest rates, developed insurance and credit services, and collected taxes (Browning, 1980).
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UNIT 5 ESSAY 4 Similarly, many of the Islamic caliphs during this time period also claimed divine authority for their rule (Gillani & Tahir, 2014). The second Abbasid caliph claimed that he was “bestowed the divine right of kingship from god” and based their diplomacy on the claim that their sovereignty must be recognized as “spiritual and religious leadership in the Muslim World” (Gillani & Tahir, 2014). Over time, titles of the leaders under this political structure changed from being messengers or deputies to the Prophets of God to simply being Prophets or messengers of God, implying they received their authority from God directly. People were made to believe that if the caliphate collapsed, the entire universe would be destroyed (Gillani & Tahir, 2014). Under the Abbasid regime, each village and town administered their own affairs and the government only intervened during disturbances or if taxes weren’t paid (Gillani & Tahir, 2014). This is different than the complete control exercised by the Byzantine Empire. This eventually led to a tendency of “hereditary governorship” (Gillani & Tahir, 2014) and the empire split into four independent Muslim kingdoms, each with its own history and structure. Gillani & Tahir (2014) explain that this system led to financial disorder and a shortage of money due to the excessive luxury of the court and also a loss of control to their own army commanders and guards, who were able to appoint one another, which eventually led to the downfall of the Abbasid caliphate. Art and Architectural Styles Early Christian art was dominated by religion. Christians adopted the symbol of the cross, which Constantine claimed to have seen in his vision (Pohlsander, 1996). Recurring themes in Christian art were the fish, the lamb, and the sheep. Later, the crucifixion of Christ and images of the Virgin and the Christ Child were included in artwork as well (Beckwith,
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UNIT 5 ESSAY 5 1970). Islamic art was, and still is, dominated by the written word. Arabic calligraphy is a common theme in Islamic art because Allah’s revelation to Allah was manifested through the spoken word. This important art form was typically seen as illustrations in books, such as the
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  • Spring '12
  • Barker
  • Islam, Vaughan

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