By Tom Holla
No less important than the cave in of the Roman Republic or the Persian invasion of Greece, the evolution of the Arab empire is likely one of the ideal narratives of historical background, a narrative dazzlingly wealthy in drama, personality, and success. like the Romans, the Arabs got here from nowhere to carve out a stupefyingly giant dominion—except that they accomplished their conquests now not over the process centuries because the Romans did yet in a question of a long time. like the Greeks through the Persian wars, they overcame doubtless insuperable odds to emerge effective opposed to the best empire of the day—not by means of status at the protecting, despite the fact that, yet through hurling themselves opposed to all who lay of their direction.
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Additional resources for In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire
The 1st, a grizzled veteran by way of the identify of Abu Bakr, have been his spouse throughout the perilous flight to Medina, and the daddy of his favorite spouse; the second one, Umar, were his brother-in-law; the 3rd, Uthman, have been married to at least one of his daughters. The fourth, Ali ibn Abi Talib, had had fun within the so much most suitable pedigree of all: the 1st male ever to transform to Islam, a step he had taken on the precocious age of 9, he was once additionally the Prophet’s cousin, prior to ultimately graduating to turn into, only for strong degree, his son-in-law in addition. d those 4 males had reigned for simply thirty years in overall, yet already, by the point that Al-Jahiz used to be placing pen to paper, they have been good on their strategy to being enshrined by way of the majority of Muslims as veritable paragons—ar-Rashidun, or “the Rightly Guided. ” now not, in fact, that their interval in strength may perhaps relatively evaluate with Muhammad’s at Medina; yet nonetheless, as a golden age, it got here in a wonderful moment. “For at that time,” as Al-Jahiz positioned it wistfully, “there used to be not anything within the method of offending motion or scandalous innovation, no act of disobedience, envy, rancour or contention. ”24 Islam were pristinely Islamic nonetheless. yet after each summer time there has to be a iciness; and after each golden age an age of iron. In 661, the period of the Rashidun used to be delivered to a bloody and tragic finish. The Caliph Ali was once murdered. Then, 20 years later, his son was once shrink in conflict; lips that had kissed the Prophet have been prodded sarcastically by means of a conqueror’s stick. via now, a dynasty of Qurayshi despots, the Umayyads, had dug their claws deep into the Caliphate and made it their own—to the scandal of the God-fearing. the hot Caliphs drank wine; they saved puppy monkeys; they termed themselves, now not the Prophet’s Successors, yet “the deputies of God. ” tremendous behaviour equivalent to this used to be sure to tempt the wrath of heaven; and certain adequate, in 750, the Umayyads have been toppled, pressured to escape, and systematically hunted down via vengeful demise squads. however, the blots and stains in their close to century in energy weren't so simply erased. regardless of that the dynasty that succeeded them to the caliphal throne, the Abbasids, claimed descent from the uncle of Muhammad himself—the golden age of the Rashidun was once no longer restored. in its place, at least at midnight days that had preceded the arriving of the Prophet, novelty and department appeared rife. Rival sects proliferated—and rival Caliphs too. in the meantime, past the palaces during which the Successors of the Prophet wearing silks and ate from plates of gold, the negative chanced on themselves as oppressed as that they had ever been through the boldness of the robust, the rich, the harsh. Remorselessly, the query nagged: how had all of it long gone fallacious? or even extra remorselessly: how was once it top to be set correct? centuries on from the hijra, and the final guy to have obvious the Prophet alive used to be lengthy in view that departed from the face of the realm. however, faced as they have been through the splintering of the days, so much Muslims knew that there can be no actual method to any challenge that lacked the sanction in their liked prophet.