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7th Grade World History

Ancient Islam

Ancient Rome
Ancient Islam
Ancient Africa
Ancient China
Ancient Japan
The Americas
Medieval Europe
The Renaissance
The Reformation



Scorching temperatures and lack of water are located on a hot, dry desert land called the Arabian Peninsula, or Arabia.  This pininsula is on the southwest corner of Asia and lies near three continents- Africa, Asia , and Europe.  Geographers call this place the "crossroads" location because many trade routes link through this region.  In this region, huge sandy desert with sand dunes cover large parts of Arabia.  Some sand dunes can rise to almost 800 feet high and cover hundred miles.  Rub'al-Kali is the world's largest sand dune, and it covers most of Arabia.  Oasis', or a wet fertile area, are very rare in the hot desert climate.  These places are very key in tradeing because they give traders life. . .literally.  Eventhough deserts cover most of Arabia, there are still landformes along the edges of the peninsula.  Mountains are along the southern and western coasts, while marshy land lies close to the Persian Gulf.  Daily, the region of the desert reaches 100*F.  This makes it hard for the animals and plants to survive.  These living creatures get little rain and have roots that go deep into the ground to gather water. 



Religion was HUGE in Ancinet Islam.  Around 570 a man named Muhammad was brought into the world.  He had it tough; his father died before he was born, his mother died when he was six.  But that didn't stop him, he went into the caravan business and later, he married Khadijah.  Often Muhhamad went alone to the hills to pray and meditate.  At the age of 40, he went to go to his retreat.  He met a person, well it was an angel.  Gabriel was his name.  He told Muhhamad to recite! recite!  Muslims believe that God spoke to Muhhamad through this angel and had made him his prophet.  Around 613 Muhhamad spread the word about his encounter in the cave.  Soon a new religion came about called Islam, and followers were called Muslims, and the messages from God to Muhhamad were collected in the Holy book of Islam, the Qur'an.  Muhhamad taught Muslims that Allah was the only God, just like Christianity, and Judaism.  On people's pilgrimage, a journey to a sacred place like Mecca, people worshiped at a very important shrine in Mecca called the Kaaba.  Muhhamad's teachings seemed to upset many Arabians in the way that merchants lost money, people didn't believe him, and have people give money to the poor.  People didn't want to do these things.

people walking around the Kaaba in Mecca

     The exact word of God and Muhammad's teachings, well that's what the Muslims believed, were collected in the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an.  This taught that there was only one God, Allah, and Muhammad was his prophet, Allah's commands, acts of worship, guidelines for behavior, rights for woman, no slaves, and the rules for social life.  But this holy book was not the only way of life for the Muslims, there was also the Sunnah.  This taught the duties and way of life of Muslims.  In here were the Five Pillars of Islam.

the Qur'an, holy book of Islam



There were many achievements in Ancient Islam.  Here is a table of only some of their achievements:


What it was

a device used to figure out one's location, direction, and time of day
in Delhi, the capital of Muchal India, the observatory was built in the 1700's
Muslim scholars collected info about the world, some of which is used to make a map; new maps led to greater understanding of the world
they combined the ideas Greek and Indian ideas into their own numerable system that we still use today, its the Arabic Numerals
doctors made medicine from plants to treat pain and illnesses; they developed better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat many diseases
muslim philosophers lead to the discovery of Sufism, people can find God's love by having a personal relationship with God
poetry and short stories were common among the Muslim world
Muslims built mosques to honor God and inspire religous followers, these mosques had a minaret

Muslim artists turned calligraphy into their own form of art

In 756 Cordoba was chosen to be the capital of what is now Spain.  It was a GREAT Muslim city, just like Baghdad.  This too was based on agriculture and trade.  Jewerly and textiles were exported from there and they were valued throughout Europe.  In the early 900's, Cordoba was the largest city throughout all of Europe.  It was home to mansions and mosques, busy markets and shops, and aqueducts.  Men and woman came from across Muslim territories to learn at the univerisities in this glorious city.  They studied all sorts of sruff like Greek and Roman stuff.  Eventhough Cordoba was a Muslim city, Jews lived in it .  They held key jobs in their government and they made great controbutions to the cities cultural growth.
ancient Cordoba



Abu Bakr was the first converts of Muhammad.  He also was the next ruler of Islam, after Muhammad died.  Under his rule, Muslims invaded and conquered many lands.  By his death in 634, Arabia had been unified as a Muslim state.  Persian and Byzantine empires were defeated by the Muslims because they were too weak while the Muslims were too strong.  The captured had to make a treaty with Muslims lands saying that they had to worship no non-muslim god and in return, the Muslims didn't attack.  They soon attacked even more people/tribes, some of them being people in central Asia, northern Italy, the Berbers, and some of Europe.  But they were soon stopped by the city of Tours.  Eventhough they were stopped, they still kept going and created a new dynasty called the Abbasids in 750.

     The Ottoman Empire, who controlled much of Europe, Asia, and Africa, was home to Muslim Turkish warriors called Ottomans.  They soon ruled land from eastern Europe to North Africa and Arabia.  Janissaries, fierce Muslim fighters who were slaves, and gunpowder was essential to their success.  Mehmed II was also key to their success.  He captured the Byzantine Empire and made their great church, Hagia Sophia, into a mosque.  Another ruler continued Mehmed's victories.  He carried his armies into the east through Anatolia, Asia Minor.  These accomplishments made the Empire a major world power.  These emperors had a valiant effort but it wasn't until 1520 when  Suleyman I ruled is when Ottoman reached its height.  He pushed his troops into the eastern Mediterranean and Europe in early 1900's.

     The Safavids gained power to the east of the Ottoman empire as they reached their height.  They encountered and argued about tow groups of people.  It was about whether who should become a caliph.  But before that, in 1501 the leader conquered Persia and as king, he made Persians follow his religion- Shia.  He eventually wanted everybody to become Shia but he ran into a brick wall when he tried to convert the Ottoman's to Shia, they were Sunni.  Under 'Abbas, leader in 1588, the Safavids took back Uzbeks from the Ottomans'.  He led them into great achievements.

     The Mughal empire lay east of the Safavid empire.  These people were Turkish Muslims form central Asia.  Babur ounded this empire.  He tried to make an empire for years but he finally did in 1526.  Akbar grew the empire in the mid-1500's.  He believed that no single religion had all answers so he made it so everyone could have their own religion.  The police helped to keep things in order.  The Munghals tried to expand their empire to almost all of India.  This was not a peacefull time.  But in the late 1600's, a new ruler came about.  He was not as gracious as Akbar.  He persacuted non-Muslim and made them pay a special tax.  This led to a revolt which then led to the collapse of the Mughals.

Mughal Empire at death of Akbar (1605)

There are two ways to live in this type of climate that Arabia has; you could either have a nomadic life, you move from place to place, or you could have a sedentary life, settled life in towns.  If you lived life as a nomad, then you would live a life of craziness.  You would live in a tent and raise herds of wheep, goat, and camels.  The animals would produce milk, meat, and skins for tents.  You would travel with other nomads across the desert on camal back.  Your fellow tribe would protect you in your time of need and support.  On the other hand, there were also towns people.  These towns peole settled along an oasis and were mostly traders and merchants.  Most of the people in Arabia were townspeople.  Many towns had a souk, market, so peole, nomads and townspeople, could trade and eat and relax.  Trade was important to not only Arabia, but to Northeast Africa, India, and the Mediterranean.
an ancient souk barnyard
     Merchants helped spread Islam into new lands.  They introduced it into India and Africa.  They also carried it as far west as Malaysia and Indonesia.  They really impacted life there.  As a result of trade, the Arabians got much in return.  They got products and inventions from new lands.  Many people became rich. 
     The Safavids blended Persians and Muslim ethnicity together to form one grand culture.  Beautiful mosques were being built and larg domes.  Esfahan, the capital, was one of the magnificent cities in the 1600's.

S.ocial Structure


The social structure for Ancinet Islam is that of Islamic followers, the Muslims.  They followed Muhammad's teachings and stayed true to their religion.  There were different types of Muslims and/or people in Arabia.  There were nomads, people who traveled from place to place, and there were towns people who traded and were mercahnts.

     In the Ottaman Empire the society was divided into two classes.  The first were the judges and people who advised sultan on legal and military matters belonged to the ruling class.  These people had to be loyal to sultan, practice Islam, and understand Ottoman customs.  But the other class was made up of people who didn't meet these requirements.  Jews and Christians from conquered lands were many of this community.  Like all the other places, this society limited woman's rights.  Woman had to live in a harem.  Thus taking them apart form the men and public life.

Five Pillars of Islam
The Five Pillars of Islam were the duties in which Muslims were required to follow.  The first pillar is a statement of faith.  Muslims must say "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet."  They must say this in their daily prayers and when they first become a Muslim.  The second pillar is their daily prayer.  This says that Muslims must pray five times a day: before sunrise, at mudday, in late afternoon, right after sunset, and before they go to bed.  The third pillar is a yearly donation to the poor and needy, or a local charity.  They must pay part of their salary to a religious official.  This money is used to build mosques, pay debt, or help the poor.  Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam.  They must fast during the month of Ramadan, the holy month.  One must not eat or drink between dawn and sunset.  This show that God is more important than one's body.  The last pillar is the hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca.  All of the Islamic followers must travel to Mecca at least once in their lives.

In 762 Baghdad became the capital of the Islamic Empire.  This was a major trading center because it was located along water and land routes.  This was one of the world's richest cities in the late 700's and early 800's.  It was known as the round city because three walls surrounded it.  Inside the walls was where the caliph's palace was, but outside was where houses and souks for the population.  In addition, Baghdad supported science and the arts.  Many of the artists and writers came here.

Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
Joshua 1:9"'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  
Do not be terrified; 
Do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.'"
Isaiah 40:28-31 "'Have you never heard? Have you never understood?The Lord is the everlasting God,the Creator of all the earth.He never grows weak or weary.No one can measure the depths of his understanding.29 He gives power to the weakand strength to the powerless.30 Even youths will become weak and tired,and young men will fall in exhaustion.31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.They will soar high on wings like eagles.They will run and not grow weary.They will walk and not faint.'"