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No Islam?

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eventhorizon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2010 at 06:26
There are several interesting points I want to address:

Al Jassas mentioned the importance of historical contexts that was ripe for a  change, where both Byzantine and Sassanians have fought each other, over extended and ready to take a fall.

This is a good point, however, I want to add that context itself is no guarantee for great upheavals like rise of  Islam and Mongol invasions. For both of these phenomenon, at the root there were exceptional individuals, accidental freaks of nature, if you will, the right spark that was able to ignite the tinder box. In case of Islam, the message was more powerful than the messenger, and it survives to this day with no small foot print in the world. The Mongol invasions had their effect as well, although there was no enduring message, the current states of Russia, China and to an extent the Indian sub-continent, were heavily influenced.

es_bih, I am not an expert on trade routes, my general point was about the European maritime activity and its growth, where the Islamic states became the middlemen for trade with the East. Definitely Europeans were trading with Muslim states on the Mediterranean but they had little opportunity to trade directly with the East after the rise of Islam and  they wanted to cut out the middlemen and trade directly with India and China, hence the sailings via the cape of good hope and sailing towards west to circumnavigate the earth to find the East.

drgonzaga, Islam remained relatively monolithic compared to other world religions such as Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, despite different sects and their internecine fights, mainly because of the institution of annual Haj where people, traders and scholars met and exchanged notes and trade connections were made. The fragmented thought was natural as Islam, used as a unifying meme or doctrine, was used differently in its many different imperial contexts, such as in initial Khilafa, Spain, later Ottoman, Safavi (shiite), Mughal, South East Asia etc. As soon as Islam lost its status as an imperial doctrine and empires disintegrated in recent centuries, Islam itself is going through a transformation to find its new role as a stateless spiritual guide, which brings even more fragmentation I suppose. There are of course lunatics who look for that elusive state and make it once again an imperial doctrine, but that is a vain effort to swim against the tide to bring back the past, despite whatever sum of oil money is invested in this fruitless train of thought and misguide the masses. One thing they forget is that Islam itself did not win those wars, it was always in combination with either the ferocious Bedouin warriors united with an exception zeal and later the masters of old world warriors, the feared steppe nomads. Technology of gunpowder made them obsolete and the world moved on. But then if you are a Phd in history and teaching at a university, you already know all this, I am just making my points for others who do not know as much I guess.


Edited by eventhorizon - 07 Apr 2010 at 06:35
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drgonzaga View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2010 at 07:04
Relatively monolithic? Even the phrasing disguises the actual dynamics of Islam as each region entering the political orb stamped its own perspective as to what would succumb to the traditional.
 
Try this site for a defense of the "monolithic":
 
Honi soit qui mal y pense
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2010 at 07:27
Hello Eventhorizon
 
I must disagree with you on the observation than Arabs and Mongols were "freaks" of history. They weren't. In both cases the same catalysts for revolution existed among both peoples with one simple difference. The Arabs were united by an idea, the religion of Islam. For mongols it was a personal unity that died with Genghis khan.
 
Remember that Arabs and mongols weren't the only modern outburst of nomadic peoples that conquered lands but they were the most successful. Hungarians, Huns, kahzars, Bulgars, Berbers (twice), Pashtuns, Seljuqs and many more all were exposed to the same influences that lead to their outbursts but failed to achieve what the Arabs and Mongols did because of various reasons.
 
Al-Jassas
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2010 at 09:04
Hello Al-Jassas, I did not mean that Arabs and Mongols were freaks of history, both had historical and geographic reasons in their domain to create the characteristics (skills of war) that contributed to their success, but my point was that the leaders that emerged, were accidents of history - rare, special and gifted individuals with abilities sufficiently powerful to ignite the given "explosive" historic situations they were in. That is what I meant by freaks of nature, the leading individuals, not the people themselves. Many times in history, there are "explosive" situations present, but the lack of proper spark, in the form of leaders, make those situations pass by without making epoch changing upheavals, or even if there is upheaval, it does not make it large enough, as in the case of Mongols or large and long lasting enough, as in the case of Islam.

As always, I believe the great men/women hypothesis in history, which says that just as historical dynamics, individuals shape history as much if not more, given they are the right person at the right point in time and place, and of course with the right ideas.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2010 at 10:03
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Relatively monolithic? Even the phrasing disguises the actual dynamics of Islam as each region entering the political orb stamped its own perspective as to what would succumb to the traditional.
 
Try this site for a defense of the "monolithic":
 


Can't see how it is monolithic either... from various schools of thought within both realms (Sunni and Shia)... to mysticism... to this site you just brought up, and even localized interpretations.

What is the same however is the Quran... and the pillars, but again isn't a part of this discussion.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2010 at 10:07
Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:


es_bih, I am not an expert on trade routes, my general point was about the European maritime activity and its growth, where the Islamic states became the middlemen for trade with the East. Definitely Europeans were trading with Muslim states on the Mediterranean but they had little opportunity to trade directly with the East after the rise of Islam and  they wanted to cut out the middlemen and trade directly with India and China, hence the sailings via the cape of good hope and sailing towards west to circumnavigate the earth to find the East.



It wasn't about the Ottomans or the Mamluks being the intermediaries... it was about the general dominance of the Italian city-states in the Mediterranean trade... Portugal and Spain would've gone ahead with their plans regardless, because it was much more ideal to travel by sea than stop over at the Levant or Nile Delta... travel a few days by land and then find another ship.

Direct contact with the "East" via the Mediterranean was just not ideal.. nor does it make any sense... you would still run across intermediates.

If no one had brought up the idea that you can circumvent the Mediterranean and get there "faster" with a direct sea route then they wouldn't have undertaken these journeys at that point.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote necoo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Aug 2010 at 19:22
As I've probably mentioned before, Turtledove is immortalised for me by The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump [1], but otherwise, especially in the series starting with the South winning the Civil War, I've found him unconvincing and, frankly, somewhat boring.

 


Edited by gcle2003 - 22 Aug 2010 at 02:12
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