Arab and Muslim Dynasties 750-1250 CE

Andalusian Spain   

During the Umayyad period, Muslim had led armies across North Africa and into Southern Spain in 711 and had consolidated their territory over the southern half of the Spanish peninsula. When the Abbasids overran and destroyed the Umayyads and their empire, only one of the leadership of the Umayyads escaped.  He was Abd ar-Rahman I, who fled to Andalusia (Spain) where he was granted an emirate.   Scholars no longer describe the Islamic history of Spain as one of conquest of one culture over another.  When the Umayyads crossed into Spain they never conquered all of the peninsula.  Further they established separate principalities ruled by separate amirs who controlled their own territories and cooperated with other neighboring principalities and towns.  In addition some Muslim areas cooperated a great deal with neighboring Christian ruled territory, and even those areas under Muslim control contained a great number of Christian and Jewish populations, some of whom converted to Islam but many were allowed to retain their religion under Muslim rule.   
There is a documentary series on The Fall of Andalusia available from  Each section is about 40 minutes.  The Fall of Andalusia Part 1  The Fall of Andalusia Part 2   ملف سقوط الأندلس ج  2  Fall of Andalusia Part 3   The Fall of Andalusia Part 4   

The Abbasid Revolution and the Abbasid Empire (750 – 1250)

The one area that remained difficult for the Umayyads was Iraq, and it was from Baghdad that an opposition movement arose that would challenge and take down the Umayyad dynasty less than a century after it was founded.   In the 8th century the Umayyads found themselves confronted with three sources of rivalry and dissidence.  These were the following:
1. Dissatisfaction of the Shi’is regarding the basis of Umayyad power (believed to be illegitimate)
2.  Resentment against Syria from the provinces
3. Resentment against Arabs by non-Arabs
Together, this dissidence allowed for a rebellion from forces in Iraq that defeated and overthrew the Umayyads in 749 The Abbasid Revolution was led by descendents of the Prophet’s uncle ‘Abbas, who established the Abbasid Caliphate.  In 750 the new capital was established by caliph al- Mansur-in Baghdad, Iraq.

As one of the major caliphates and empires of Islamic history, the Abbasid Caliphate originated and was based around its new capital city of Baghdad in Iraq.  It started as a major political revolt, sometimes referred to as the Abbasid Revolution against the Umayyad Dynasty and Caliphate that was based in Damascus in Syria.  The cause of the revolt may have centered around the needs of the new Muslim communities based to the East of Damascus that included increasing numbers of non-Arabs or mawali. The privilege system of the Umayyad based on Arab and original ties may have led to uncertainty among social groups as it expanded eastward and the Abbasid revolt was an Iraq centered movement that built on the system of Sassanid rule that preceded the arrival of Arab and Islamic culture and religion, and that relied on a system of tax farming to raise revenue.  With the arrival of Arab and Islamic civilization into Iraq, there did not appear to be a great change in this system and the Arabs were based as garrison troops who initially lived off these taxes.  As more Arabs settled and became farmers themselves it appears rivalries emerged as non-Arab and non-Muslim local rulers were not allowed to tax them (Kennedy, The Early Abbasid Caliphate, 1981, p. 37).  Because the newly arriving Arabs were also politically ruled from the now distant capital of Damascus to the West, the needs for resolving local issues probably became more difficult.  How much revenue was to be kept locally and how much sent back to Damascus? 
The political history of the Abbasid Caliphate revolved around the office of the Caliph which was an attempt to provide a system of political succession (Kennedy, 2005).  We have seen how ever since the death of Muhammad in 632 CE / 1 AH, that the selection of political leadership was a problem that recurs in history as it did for other societies.  In the Abbasid system the choice of succession led to numerous rivalries and claims and these disputes at times led to civil wars and rivalries.  One of the major problems in the Eastern Arab lands, was the preference for a succession centered around the claims of the family descendants of the prophet’s family, the ahl al-bayt.  The claims to succession in the East preferred to follow the claims of the Shi`is and the imams  of the famly of Husayn b. ‘Ali.  Nevertheless, the Abbasid caliphate, and its family dynasties created a system of an empire that grew to dominate the economy and social system of the Eastern Arab regions.  We also find that its centralization of power led to regional uprisings in its provinces (Kennedy, The Early Abbasid Caliphate, 1981). 
The Umayyads were disliked for several reasons, but in the region of Iraq, the primary reasons for dissent against them was twofold.  For those Iraqis of Hejazi origin and who were related to an emerging Hejaz based nobility, they complained that the Umayyads were not of the ahl al-bayt, the family of the prophet.  Second another emerging trend came from the Kharaijites  الخواريج  who resented the Hejazi power and claimed that the new dynasties were not properly selected and sought a local decentralized power. This crisis was brought to bear when Husayn b. ‘Ali, the prophet’s grandson, was killed at Karbala in Iraq in 680 CE (61 AH).  There was even a claim by some that Ibn al-Hanafiya, one of ‘Ali’s sons was a a Mahdi, who would transform society and bring in a new era.  In this period the claims for power of the imam or Mahdi, as divinely guided was given greater prominence.  After a number of early political successions, by about 717 CE (98 AH) ‘Abd Alla b. Mu`awiya  and others asserted their authority.  By 749 CE (132 AH) the Abbasid armies crossed the Euphrates after fighting with the troops of the Umayyad governor.  One of the surviving leaders of this rebellion was Abu’l-`Abbas, from whom the name Abbasids was given, and he was proclaimed the first Abbasid caliph at the Great Mosque at Kufa.
The New Capital City of Kufa
Kufa is an interesting city to study for it was the first capital city to be ordered to be built during the caliphate of Ali, the last of the Rashiddun caliphs.  As such it came to rival Damascus and the new Muslim towns of Syria and Palestine.  The establishment of Kufa in an uninhabited part near the Euphrates river also isolated it or may have created resentment from other Iraqi communities and new Muslims who favored the Kharijite doctrine. 
After the death of Caliph Ali, the city of Kufa appears to have some disarray and it was not until the Abbassid dynasty was established that it continued to develop.  Yet despite this, by the 2nd century AH or 9th century CE the decision to abandon Kufa was made in favor of building another new capital city in a better location.  That new city, Baghdad was ordered to be built by Caliph Mansur.  The plan of the new city of Baghdad was famously based on a round circular plan and included areas for commerce, palaces, markets, residences, as well as irrigated farm areas with canals.  The location of the new city of Baghdad was better placed as it straddled or linked the two rivers the Euphrates and the Tigris.  A person whose career represents the transition from the old capital of Kufa to the new capital city of Baghdad is the great mathematician, philosopher and scientist, Al-Kindi.  Al-Kindi (185-256 AH / 805-873 AD) was born and raised in Kufa where his father was an Abbasid official, but his career as an intellectual was made possible in the new capital of Baghdad where his prodigy as a young mathematician and scientist.  See the Muslim Heritage page on Al-Kindi.
Figure 9 Palace complex at Kufa in Iraq, where Ali (the 4th Caliph had tried unsuccessfully to establish his capital.  It later was built up here in around 764-78/146-61 AH by the Abbasids. Source:
Figure 10 Kufa, The Great Mosque in Iraq, where Ali (the 4th Caliph had tried unsuccessfully to establish his capital.  It was built around 670 CE.
The newly inscribed Abbasids still had to deal with Marwan the Umayyad leader who marched against them.  Estimates are that the Umayyad army outnumbered the Abbasids from 100,000 or 150,000 to only 10,000 to 30,000 for the Abbasids.  Marwan split his army on both banks linked by a bridge he built.  The Abbasids cleverly adopted a close defensive position and held off the Umayyad thrusts.  In frustration, Marwan destroyed the bridge isolating the other half of his army.  When the Syrian attacks were repelled many fled and more drowned in the river than actually were killed in battle.  The defeat undermined Marwan’s authority and led to his ultimate downfall and the collapse of the Umayyads.
The Abbasids ruled over a vast area that ranged from the Indus river in India across the Arab central lands to the western borders of Tunisia, and from as far north as Armenia near the Caucuses to San`a’ in Yemen.  Its capital base in Iraq was given the name of the Sawad, or Black Land, from the color of its richly irrigated soil that came from canals linking the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.  The Abbasids derived their wealth not only from this agricultural wealth but also from their trade throughout their empire and with the Gulf region to its South. 
Figure 11  Plan of the “Roudn City” of Baghdad, Iraq, founded in 750 CE by Caliph al-Mansur 762-67/144-49 AH
The City of Baghdad  may also be read as the center of the narrative in Alf Layla wa Layla (A Thousand and One Nights) whose compilation as a series of stories originates from the Abbasid period. 

Revolt on the Periphery of the Abbasid Empire:  the example of the Zanj Rebellion in Southern Iraq and the Qarmatis in Bahrain 

When one studies the Abbasid Empire, we find that it was not a continuous uninterrupted dynastic reign.  Indeed within the Abbasid Empire and during its long rule from 750 – 1248, it experienced rebellions and some fragmentation.  The most famous of these was the Zanj Rebellion in Southern Iraq.  The Zanj were mostly slaves of African origin who were employed or enslaved in large numbers as agricultural workers and peasants in Southern Iraq. 
ʿAlī b. Muḥammad al-Zanjī (d. 2 Ṣafar 270/11 August 883), known as Ṣāḥib al-Zanj, “Chief of the Zanj,” was the leader of the famous rebellion of black slaves from the coast of East Africa, known as Zanj, who were, from an indefinite date onwards, imported in large numbers into ʿAbbāsid Iraq. This revolt would heavily disrupt lower Iraq and Khūzistān for a period of some fifteen years (between 255/869 and 270/883), causing immeasurable material damage and killing tens (some sources even claim hundreds) of thousands of people.
ʿAlī b. Muḥammad was the prototype of a revolutionary: he was of obscure descent yet was accepted into the elite circles of his time. An educated man and a gifted poet, he was also versed in the occult sciences. Over time he embraced various doctrines and attempted to incite several uprisings, notably in al-Baḥrayn and Basra. Finally succeeding, he instigated the largest black slave rebellion in the history of the Muslim world.
We know very little about ʿAlī b. Muḥammad's life. There are a few sentences describing his birth, his parents, and his family, and even less about his time at the court in Sāmarrāʾ, the ʿAbbāsid capital from 221/836 to 279/892. Slightly more information is known about his stays in al-Baḥrayn, Basra, and Baghdad, but this is still insufficient to give a definitive account. In fact, even the elaborate descriptions of his wartime exploits, which cover pages and pages, provide nothing but scattered bits of information and disconnected details of his life. The nine pages that appear in the chronicle of al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923; Taʾrīkh, 3:1742–50) and a passage from al-Ṣafadī (d. 764/1363; al-Wāfī, British Museum MS, fol. 140v.-143v.; and ed. al-Ḥujayrī, 21:405–13, n.287) represent almost all we know about him. (Popovic, La révolte, 71–81, 176–80, 187–93; Popovic, The revolt, 33–43, 150–3, 193–9).
One of the leaders of the Zanj rebellion was ʿAlī b. Muḥammad who was raised in a village in Iraq and grew up as a teacher of poetry, grammar and astronomy.   In around n 246/863–4 he left Iraq to travel to Bahrain were he stayed for about five years and was involved in some rvolts that were defeated.  He returned to Basra in Iraq, a city that was faced with internal strife between rival factions.  He won supporters over to his side but was forced to flee to Baghdad with some of his followers.  He returned to Basra in about 869 and instigated a revolt of African slaves who were assigned to work on saltpeter works, an ingredient in gunpowder.  He persuaded them to rebel against their masters in what is known as the Zanj rebellion.  He was killed in about 883 by an Abbasid soldier (Popovic, 2014). 
Among the more interesting figures to emerge from among the Zanj is the scientist Khalid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Marwarrudhi who undertook solar and astronomical observations during the Abbasid caliphate of al-Ma’mun in the 9th c. AD.  Together with ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā al-Asṭurlābī in 827, he measured th length of a meridian arc along the Tigris and thus the Earth's circumference, getting a result of 40,248 km (or, according to other sources, 41,436 km).  That’s pretty good, it’s less than 4% off (Bolt, 2007)!  The actual circumference is 40,075.  For example in the 2nd century B.C. the ancient Greek astronomer Eratosthenes had attempted to estimate the circumference based on visible measurements and came up with 46,620 km, an error of 16.3%.
Source for this section:  Popovic, Alexandre. "ʿAlī b. Muḥammad al-Zanjī ." Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by: Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Brill Online, 2014. Reference. Higher Colleges Of Technology UAE. 27 January 2014 <>

After the fall of the Zanj the Qarmatis or Qarmatians arose an intermediary tribal power in Eastern Arabia and Bahrain.  There origins are uncertain but the timing of their rise and proximity suggests they were influcenced by the Zanj movement in Southern Iraq.  They were an independent tribal alliance or confederation that based itself in or around Bahrain and remained autonomous for about a century.  Under its leader Abu Tahir, they became a problem for both the Abbasids in Baghdad and for the Hejaz.  When they sacked Mecca in 929 they massacred its population and held the black stone of the Ka'aba until a large ransom was paid by the Abbasid caliph several decades later.  (See, Ella Landau-Tasseron, "Arabia" in The New Cambridge History of Islam:  The Formation of the Islamic World Sixth to Eleventh Centuries, Vol. 1 (2010), p. 445.

The History of Major Dynasties and Empires in Islamic History.

A general timeline guide to various dynasties in Islamic history is found at the Archnet Timeline website.  It gives a general interactive timeline that allows one to place time and space of different Islamic and Arab political dynasties from the Maghrib in the West to Central Asia.   This may a  good place for students to start who are looking for a topic of research or for general reference and exam preparation.

The Fatimid Empire 

The Crisis of the Crusades and its Resolution   

From the 11th century onward, Europeans sought greater access to the Eastern European and Mediterranean based trade and commerce.  The Crusades against the Islamic states of the Near East and Spain, and against pagan regions of Northern Europe and Russia were products of Western Europe's  inferior trade position.  They relied upon an ideological religious crusade to mobilize a profit-seeking military aristocracy in alliance with the clergy.  The accumulation of wealth among this aristocracy and clergy rested on their ability to disenfranchise and dislocate peasants from land-based rights privileges during the late phases of the 10th century onward.  While peasants were not passive and would at various times rebel against this encroachment, the trend toward lordship and prominent clerical estates as major landowners in Europe became the major force of accrual of wealth and prestige in late medieval and early modern Europe.  For recent surveys of this trend toward peasant dislocation and the rise of the aristocratic court, military orders and clergy, see Chris Wickham, The Formation of the Early Middle Ages (Wickham, 2005), and The Inheritance of Rome:  Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000  (Viking, 2009), and M. McCormick, The Origins of the European Economy (McCormick, 2001).

Saladin as an exemplary ruler during the Crisis of the Crusades

One of our key sources on the life of Saladin is Bahā’ al-Dīn Ibn Shaddād’s al-Nawwādir al-Sulṭaniyya wa’l Maḥāsin al-Yūsufiyya (The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin) (Shaddād, 2002).  The following is his account of the Battle of Ḥaṭṭin, in 1187 (583 AH). 
The sultan perceived that his gratitude for God’s favour towards him, evidenced by his strong grasp on sovereignty, his God-given control over the lands and the people’s willing obedience, could only be demonstrated by his endeavouring to exert himself to the utmost and to strive to fulfill the precept of Jihad.  He sent to summon all his forces, which gathered on the date given at ‘Ashtarā…  He always sought out Fridays for his battles, especially the times of Friday prayer, to gain the blessing of the preachers’ prayers on the pulpits, for they were perhaps more likely to be answered.
As he marched out at that time in battle array, he heard that the enemy, when they learnt that he had concentrated his armies, gathered in full on the plain of Saffūriyya in the territory of Acre and intended to come to battle.  The same day, the sultan camped at Lake Tiberias near a village called Sannabra.  … He attacked Tiberias and took it within one hour after a direct assulat.  Eater hands then turned to plundering, taking captives, burning and killing.  The citadel alone held out.
Learning what had happened to Tiberias, the enemy could not bear not to give into their impulsive zeal, but set out at once and marched to defend Tiberais. 

Arabs and Normans in Sicily and Italy

Pope Urban II's call for a Crusade also intersected with the occupation of Southern Italy and Sicily by the Normans.  As a French Pope he was dependent on Norman and French support for stay in office and to deflect the threat of anti-popes that could be created at the whim of the emperors.

Most of the participants in the First Crusade were from the north of France, including Pope Urban II.  A great many other Europeans resisted joining this First Crusade, notably the Germans and most Italian seaport cities.  Only Genoa offered support for the campaign, which is itself odd, because its location on the West coast of Italy made preparations by sea that much more difficult.  The Venetians resisted because the Crusades threatened their monopoly trading position as middle merchants between Constantinople and the Levantine cities of the Middle East.Europe's motivation to invade the Middle East and occupy Syria, Palestine and the City of Jeruslaem requires an examination of the material and ideological causes of warfare.  War is an expensive option. In the late 11th century, the success of Seljuk Turkic expansion and rule along the Syrian coast, their domination over the key trade cities of Damascus, their pressure on Constantinople and Cairo, constrained European markets.  When the Seljuks took over Jerusalem in the late 11th century, they allowed Christian monasteries and churches to remain.  There is little evidence that the Seljuk Muslims persecuted or desecrated Christian institutions.  Therefore the choice of Pope Urban II in 1095 to proclaim a Crusade or Holy War to be sanctioned by the combined forces and financial support of the Church and the various royal states must be explained on grounds other than the rush to save Christian practice in Jerusalem or the Holy Land.

The Crusades and the Struggle to Control Jerusalem and Palestine
By 1098 The Crusaders had beseiged and taken Antioch, but it took another year to capture Jersualem. The crusaders divided their conquered lands into four separate states, including Antioch which was occupied and controlled by the Normans.

  To understand the importance of Jerusalem as a center of three religious faiths, see this interactive tour of the Haram al-Sharif, the large plaza built on the old Jewish temple's foundation and encompassing the two important Muslim shrines and mosque complexes, the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque al-Aqsa.  There is also a 360 panorama tour you can take in Jerusalem Through Time.    

The Mamluk Empire in Syria and Egypt 

Culture of the Mamluks   

Central Asia:  Samarqand, Bukhara and Centers of Islamic Civilization 

The Silk Route and the Mongol Invasion   

Silk Roads / Mongol Empire  From the Asia for Educators website at Columbia University:

Their main page is  • The Silk Roads: An Educational Resource [Education About Asia, The Association for Asian Studies]  This article by the City University of New York professor Morris Rossabi appeared in the Spring 1999 issue of Education About Asiamagazine.  • The International Dunhuang Project: The Silk Road Online [The British Library]  The International Dunhuang Project is "a ground-breaking international collaboration to make information and images of all manuscripts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang and archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road freely available on the Internet and to encourage their use through educational and research programs." This website is a truly comprehensive resource for teaching about the Silk Road. See especially the EDUCATION>TEACH section for teaching websites on various topics, including Buddhism on the Silk Roadand The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith.  Art of the Silk Road: Cultures: The Sui Dynasty [University of Washington, Simpson Center for the Humanities]  The Travel Records of Chinese Pilgrims Faxian, Xuanzang, and Yijing: Sources for Cross-cultural Encounters between Ancient China and Ancient India [PDF] [Education About Asia, Association for Asian Studies]  Article about three Chinese monks who traveled to India: Faxian (337?-422?), Xuanzang (600?-664), and Yijing (635-713). With maps. Reprinted with permission of the Association for Asian Studies.  Lesson Plan + DBQs • Religions along the Silk Roads >> Xuanzang's Pilgrimage to India [PDF] [China Institute]  Unit Q from the curriculum guide From Silk to Oil: Cross-cultural Connections along the Silk Roads, which provides a comprehensive view of the Silk Roads from the second century BCE to the contemporary period. In this lesson "students will travel with the pilgrim-monk Xuanzang (c. 596-664) and share some of the hardships of his journey. They will learn about religious pilgrimage from a Buddhist point of view."  • Xuanzang: The Monk Who Brought Buddhism East [Asia Society]  "The life and adventures of a Chinese monk who made a 17-year journey to bring Buddhist teachings from India to China. Xuanzang subsequently became a main character in the great Chinese epic Journey to the West."  Mongol Empire (Yuan Dynasty) 1279-1368 CE  Overview Maps • Dynasties of China [The Genographic Project: Atlas of the Human Journey,]  Printable Map • Maps of Chinese Dynasties: Yuan Dynasty [The Art of Asia, Minneapolis Institute of Arts]  Interactive Map • Yuan Dynasty, 1260–1368 [Princeton University Art Museum]  • The Mongol Dynasty [Asia Society]  Background about "Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan  • The Mongols in World History [Asia for Educators]   The Mongols' Mark on Global History (International Trade, Pax Mongolica, Support of Artisans, Religious Tolerance   The Mongol Conquests (What Led to the Conquests?, Chinggis Khan's Role, The Empire's Collapse, etc.); The Mongols in China (Khubilai Khan, Life in China under Mongol Rule, etc.);   Key Figures in Mongol History (Chinggis Khan, Khubilai Khan, Ögödei, Marco Polo); and   The Mongols' Pastoral-Nomadic Life   Video Unit • The World Empire of the Mongols [Open Learning Initiative, Harvard Extension School]  Lesson Plan + DBQs • Ethnic Relations and Political History along the Silk Roads >> China under Mongol Rule: The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) [PDF] [China Institute]  From Silk to Oil: Cross-cultural Connections along the Silk Roads, which provides a comprehensive view of the Silk Roads from the second century BCE to the contemporary period. "This unit investigates why the Mongols can be considered the greatest conquerors in world history. Students will look at how the Mongol conquests changed the Eurasian world and discuss how Khubilai Khan (1215-1294) and his advisors ruled one of the greatest prizes won by Mongol armies: China."  Marco Polo, 1254-1324  AFE Special Topic Guide • Marco Polo in China [Asia for Educators]  A compilation of primary source readings, discussion questions, and lesson ideas intended to expose students to the impressive developments in Chinese civilization during the Yuan period. 

Ibn Battuta 1325-1354 CE 

Ibn Battuta was born in Tangier (Morocco) in 1304 and was possibly the most widely traveled individual until the era of modern exploration or the age of the steam locomotive.  As a trained legal scholar, Ibn Battuta managed to work his way as a judge (qadi) around the main core cities and to the periphery of the expansive Muslim world of the 14th century.  His travel account the Rihla (Travel) is one of the most famous travel accounts ever written and rivals Marco Polo's Travels as a seminal text for understanding the late Middle Age system of trade and travel.  After nearly thirty years of travels across Africa, into Russia, Yemen, India, Southeast Asia, the Philippines and China, Ibn Battuta returned to Tangier where he completed his book and finished his career as a judge. 

Along with Ibn Khaldun's
 Muqaddimah  (Introduction to History) and his longer sets of historical writing, Ibn Battuta provides us with as complete a historical survey of the system of interchange and cooperation that existed across Islamic civilization during through the 14th century.  As a survivor of the Black Plague, Ibn Battuta provides us with comparative material on the status and level of various cities and regions of this period.

Doubts about whether Ibn Battuta actually traveled to all of the locations described in his
 Rihla (Travels) have been raised by a number of historians.  These historians particularly doubt his descriptions or ability to have traveled to the Volga River in Russia, or to parts of Yemen or the Pacific ocean islands of Southeastern Asia. 

For summary excerpts from his
 Rihla go to
  Self-Study:  An interactive map
 of Ibn Battuta's travels from his home in Morocco to China and back is available at:
Secondary Sources:
Ross E. Dunn,
 The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century (London: Croom Helm, 1986) 

Ibn Khaldun writes a History of the World 

Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) was a Tunisian scholar who traveled widely across the Muslim world and wrote one of the most famous of all historical works, the Kitab al-Ibar, of which the Introduction has been translated into English as The Muqaddimah.  

Khaldun received an excellent education but was orphaned at the age of 16 when his parents and much of his family succumbed to the Black Death.
 He worked as an administrator and consultant in government at courts in Fez in Morocco and Granada in Spain.  After a series of political intrigues that landed him into prison he withdrew from political life and began to study the social conditions of Berber and semi-nomadic peoples in the neighboring regions of the Sahara. He compiled regional histories and set out to develop a type of comparative history that also drew upon his own personal experience. Ibn Khaldun developed a theory about the rise and fall of dynasties and the importance of asabiya or group feeling or solidarity as a factor in sociology and history of power dynamics. Like Ibn Battuta he worked as a judge (qadi) in Cairo and famously met the conqueror Tamurlane as part of negotiations with the Mongol ruler and the Mamluks. 

Exhibition website on Ibn Khaldun

The BBC has an audio podcast on Ibn Khaldun's importance at

An electronic version of
 Al-Muqaddimah  or the Introduction to the Kitab Al-Ibar is at 

Islam in Non-Arab Lands: 

South Asia:  Islam in India    

Self-Study:    Islam in India, Empires, Regions, Resistance 1200-1500 CE  The systematic introduction of Islam into India began in 1206 with the Islamic conquest of Northern India by the Ghurid ruler Qutb-ud-din Aibak.  Qutb-ud-din was a Turkish warrior slave of the sultan of Afghanistan. Qutb-ud-din's conquest ushered in an era of military feudalism for much of India and the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate.  This style of a military state and administration would dominate a number of empires of the Islamic world and its periphery from this period through the 16th century.  It included the Mamluk dynasty and empire that dominated Syria and Egypt, as well as various attempts at military feudalism in the Khmer region of Cambodia, and the Mongol Empire that would dominate the great Central Eurasian plateaus from the late 13th to 14th centuries.

The Delhi Sultanate was not the first introduction of Islam into India.
 Parts of the far northwestern parts of India's coastal border with Iran, the Sind, had been variously captured or under Islamic control or influence by around 712 C.E.  There is a strong regional component to Islam's success and the political domain of the Delhi Sultanate in the North. During the first dynasty, Iltutmish (r. 1210-1236)  managed to hold out against the Mongol Invasion which left garrisons of troops on India's northern border in the Panjab.  From around 1236-1239, Iltutmish's daughter, Raziyyat was a successful ruler for three years until she was deposed and killed in a palace coup.  (Kulke and Rothermund, 2010, p. 118).  See the contemporary chronicle, Tabaqat-i-Nasari, 

[1] Barbara Stowasser, “Women and Politics in Late Jahili and Early Islamic Arabia:  Reading behind Patriarchal History,” in Amira El-Azhary Sonbol, ed.,  Gulf Women, 69-103.  (Doha:  Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2012).   

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