Early Islam

Whether Islam is considered the inerrant way of God, or a wholly human enterprise, or both, there is no doubting the profound historical importance of the religion, society, and empire that Prophet Muhammad introduced to the world 1300 years ago. We will explore topics covering a general timespan from the beginnings of Islam to the end of an era with Baghdad's destruction at the hands of Hulagu Khan.

-The cultural milieu of 7th century Arabia and pre-Islamic times
-The beginnings of Islam and its early schisms
-The Islamic invasions
-The Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, and Fatimid caliphates
-The Islamic Golden Age and its culture, art, science, and philosophy
-The Crusades
-The Islamicization of the Turks
-The impact and consequences of the early Islamic period upon later world history and the present day

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  • Drew R.

    Anyone who thought they had a coherent foreign policy theory for Iraq etc on Sunday, doesn't anymore. http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-07-01/why-turkey-now-wants-iraq-to-break-up

    1 · July 1

    • Greg M.

      I am not sure Baghdad is relevant to the KRG at this point. Not only does the Baghdad government not control the Kurdish region, it doesn't control anything north of Baghdad! That court will only be recognizing something already happening. The Kurdish region's oil goes through Turkey, which makes Ankara far more important for the KRG government chances of independence than Baghdad can conceivably ever be.

      July 2

    • Greg M.

      On the one hand the Turks weigh the oil profits and benefits to stability of dealing with the Kurds across the border (vassalizing the KRG). On the other hand they worry about a push by their own Kurds to join an independent Kurdish state (meltdown scenario). Erdogan has sided with de facto Kurdish independance for a while now. Officially they are still opposed as they have backed off any endorsements for now (the US has always offically opposed independence). Kurds are also a famously fractious people so their actions aren't necessarily going to be centrally guided.
      I don't think the US really has any influence over the Maliki government to force him to resign and then force the Shia to share. The US speaks as if this is possible. Couldn't do that with all those troops there. Never going to do it now. Independent states are simply going to be reality, but reality hasn't been US foreign policy's strong suit for a while now.

      July 2

  • Drew R.

    You might find these maps interesting. http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/maps.shtml

    1 · June 30

  • Greg M.

    Loved the conversation. Also, just in honour of our meetup appatently a new "caliph" was declared today. Good timing.

    Hope I didn't blab too much. I have been preparing a trip to the region and hope to get the most out if it historically and culturally.

    June 29

  • Greg

    interesting and educational

    June 29

  • Victor

    Turns out Mamoun's is a take-out counter with no seating, so we'll be convening at the Olive Tree Cafe right next door instead. any latecomers welcome to join.

    June 29

  • Dorothy K.

    Sorry to leave it so late to cancel, but the weather out is too hot for me. However, in my research for this meeting I learned that the hadiths, commentaries on the life and sayings of Mohammed, were not compiled til two centuries after his death. Even longer than the Gospels after the death of Jesus.

    June 29

  • Victor

    Thanks, Greg. Mamouns does not accept reservations so we will have to show up to see if there are enough tables--if not, we can move to the Olive Tree Cafe next door.

    June 28

  • Greg

    Hi Victor I wonder if you considered sitting arrangement at Mamoun's. Just in case there is a great place across the street Olive Tree Café.
    http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/olive-tree-cafe-bar/

    June 27

  • Greg M.

    Another recommendation: Back in the the 70's Gaddafi helped fund a 'Ben-Hur'-esque epic about the founding of Islam. Anthony Quinn is a commanding presence, but since Mohammed and his family are never shown (of course), he plays a minor player in the drama. However the filmmakers use some ingenuity to still tell the story. For the amateur historian to be viewed cum grano salis.

    You can stream the movie on the internet movie archive: https://archive.org/details/The-Message-1976-StoryofIslam

    IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074896/

    Fun Fact: There was a hostage taking in DC over this film in the mistaken belief that Mohammed was shown. Also despite Al-Azhar in Cairo approving the film.

    June 18

  • Joseph J.

    See you there.

    June 9

  • Greg M.

    For the Sunni-Shia split, and an easy intro to the Rashidun I also recommend 'After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam' by Lesley Hazleton. The author really motivates the emotional aspect narrative and why it so means so much to so many people.

    June 2

  • Greg M.

    Looking forward to this discussion!

    It strikes me that the earlier part of the defined era has an epic, unified narrative during the explosive growth of the Caliphate, but the story gets more complex as the unity of the Caliphate falls apart. I assume we will be painting the picture with broad brushes and in that spirit I'd like to recommend a short intro book on the subject: 'Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes' by Tamim Ansary. Its quick, lively and informative. Reads like the author is speaking about the subject to over over a few beers. P.S. Great map of the caliphate's expansion, you beat me to it.

    June 2

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