23 Aralık 2010 Perşembe

Medieval Near Eastern Societies

Non-Muslim Communities in the Early Islamic World

Ahl al-dhimma (“Protected People”): dhimmi
-obliged to pay poll tax (jizya) and land tax (kharaj)
-allowed to practice and organize own religion
-dhimmi women allowed to marry Muslim men (but not vice-versa); children would be Muslim
-conversion of Muslims not permitted
-allowed to hold positions in administration
-generally held to be inferior in social standing to Muslims

Who were the ahl al-dhimma?

Ahl al-kitab (“People of the Book”)
1. Jews (Banu Isra’il, Yahud)
-isra’iliyyat (stories about Hebrew prophets and Biblical figures)

2. Christians (Nasara / Nasrani: “from Nazareth”): Monophysites, Chalcedonians, Nestorians
-transmission of ancient Greek learning

Extension of ahl al-kitab (and dhimmi) status:
1. Zoroastrians (Majus – “Magians”)
-dualist religion
-written scriptures (Avesta)
2. Sabians (Sabi’un)
a. Judeo-Christian baptising sects esp. in Iraq
b. Pagan star-worshippers of Harran

Manicheaism (zandaqa; zindiq):
-not included among the ahl al-dhimma
-dualist teachings of 3rd c. prophet Mani
-zandaqa came to mean “heresy”
-repressed and persecuted

Page from a Qur’an manuscript, probably Iraq, 9th c., parchment
Kufic script

Translation movement:
-began under Abbasid caliph al-Mansur
-continued for some 200 years
-inspired by Sasanian imperial ideology
-Bayt al-hikma (“House of Wisdom”) in Baghdad
-initially translations from Pahlavi (Middle Persian)
-later translations from Greek

Subjects covered by the Translation Movement (750-950):
-Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music)
-Entire field of Aristotelian philosophy
-metaphysics -ethics -logic -physics -zoology -botany
-Health sciences (medicine, pharmacology, veterinary science)
-Occult sciences: (magic, alchemy, astrology)

Revival of the Persian literary in the 10th c.:
Samanid dynasty (819-1005):
-Iranian aristocratic family
-establish a state in Eastern Iran and Central Asia

capital Bukhara
-active sponsorship of learning and New Persian literature (esp. poetry)
-translations from Arabic into Persian
-Shahnama (“Book of Kings”)
– Persian national epic of the pre-Islamic Iranian kings by the poet Firdawsi: highly influential text for later Iranian and Turkish societies.