Questions: Islam and Islamic Political Structures Essay

Submitted By marcusup98
Words: 2994
Pages: 12

1) Describe European and sub-Saharan African contacts with the Islamic world.
European contact with the Islamic world was often strained. When the Muslims were building the Islamic empire, they had conquered most of the area surrounding the Mediterranean. As the Muslims moved on to Europe, they conquered Spain, but were stopped at the French border by Charles Martel in the Battle of Tours. Charles Martel won, and if he had lost, the Muslims would likely have conquered the rest of Europe. Years later, the European Christians waged war on the Islamic empire in order to win back the Holy Land from the Muslims. After many years of wars, the Christians eventually lost the war, but they benefitted in a way by reviving strong trading connections with the Muslims.
In sub-Saharan Africa, there were mixed reactions to islam. In West Africa, the kings of Ghana converted to islam mainly to improve trading relations with the Islamic merchants, and the rulers did not necessarily adhere to Islamic doctrines. In the kingdom of Mali, Islam was also tolerated, and even honored when the king Mansa Musa. In East Africa, the same process of the rulers adopting Islam to improve trade relations occurred. The rulers were not particularly interested in establishing a strong Islamic following in their lands, but eventually Islam spread through the noble class. Throughout all of Africa, Islamic traditions were adapted to traditional African beliefs. When people converted to Islam, they still believed in nature spirits, dead relative spirits, etc. They made their own brands of Islam.
Discuss the benefits of European/Islamic interactions further. Discuss the political influence of Islam in Africa aloth further.

2) Describe Islamic political structures, notably the caliphate.
In the 7th Century AD, a new religion Islam spread from the arabian peninsula and began a sequence of conquest and conversion that helped to forge the world's first global civilization. The Muslims conquered a huge region extending from Spain to central Asia and formed an empire that combined classical civilizations of Creece, Egypt, and Persia. The caliphate played a key role in Islamic political structures. After Muhammad's death in 632, there was a political power struggle because he failed to appoint a line of successors. In the time of need for a strong leader, a caliph was appointed. A caliph was the political and religious successor to Muhammad. Abu Bakr was chosen as the first caliph. The caliph represented political unity of the muslim state. It could be seen as the "head of the state." It had officials that were representatives of other peoples and groups who must govern according to Islam law. The decision of who should be named caliph had many effects. The two groups, Sunni and Shi'a Islam fought over who should be named caliph. In the decades after the prophet's death, the question of succession generated deep divisions in the Muslim community, and it split. The Sunnis backed up the Umayyads, and the Shi'is or supporters of Ali, were the most fundamental in the Islamic world.

Discuss other political structures besides the caliphate. Discuss the expansion of the bureaucracy during the Abbasid period for example.

3) Describe the impact of Islam on gender systems.
According to the Quran women and men were held spiritually equal in god’s eyes. However, this was not the case with Muslim law. Muslim law gave women rights though controlled them in matters like marriage, divorce, social participation, legal status, dress code and education. Practices also show this difference in status like veiling and the use of haremes, separate buildings off of the main home in which concubines would stay and be guarded by eunuchs. As Islam spread, this belief, in lower status of women traveled with it. The Bedouin nomadic tribes of Arabia that guarded caravans originally had a relatively high status for women as they played key parts in their society. This belief changed with the arrival…