A very Concise Introduction

НазваниеA very Concise Introduction
Дата конвертации19.04.2013
Размер0.89 Mb.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   ...   26
Christianity after the Reformation

The Reformation changed everything for Christianity. Christianity continued to dominate Europe but it was an even more fractured Christianity than before. Roman Catholicism remained the state church in most of Southern Europe, Protestantism became the state church in most of Northern and Western Europe.

As the power, prestige, influence, and financial situation of Western Europe grew thanks to Western European exploration, colonization, and imperialism, so did the power, prestige, financial situation, and influence of Christianity. Christianity was transplanted to North America, South America, and the Antipodes and became the dominant religions in the European settler societies in those regions of the world.

Though in most cases Catholicism and Lutheranism are not the state churches of the nations of Western Europe anymore a kind of unofficial theocracy continues in parts of Europe even today where Lutheran and Catholic churches receive state funding and the clergy amount to civil servants since they receive pay from several of the nations of Europe.

In Eastern Europe Orthodox Christianity continued to dominate the religious landscape and continued to constitute the official church of Eastern European kingdoms and later nation-states including Russia. It would be the Russian Revolution in 1917 and Communist triumph in Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe after WWII that would put an end to the theocracies of Orthodox Europe at least until the fall of communism in the 1980s and 1990s.

The post-World War II period saw not only a decline in Christian political power but also in Christianity and religion itself. In Sweden only about 4% of the population attends religious services. It is only about 5% in Norway. 14% of Czechs, 21% of French men and women, and 27% of Brits attend religious services. Religious attendance is even down in the Catholic bastions of Poland (55%) and Ireland where Catholic religiosity has declined thanks to disestablishment, secularization, and the clergy sex scandal from around 90% in the 1990s to 62% today. By the way, Poles immigrating into an economically vibrant Ireland looking for work have mitigated this decline in attendance at Catholic mass. Another problem for Catholics in Ireland involves the clergy. Few Irish men are entering the priesthood today while the average age of Irish priests is 61.

One example of the demographics of religion in one European, well perhaps European, country today: In the UK today, according to Britain’s National Statistics, Christians constitute 71.8% of the British population in 2001, Muslims 2.8%, Sikhs 0.6%, Jews 0.5%, Buddhists 0.3%, and other religions 0.3%. The other religions category, by the way, includes around 32,000 Spiritualists, 31,000 Pagans, 15,000 Jains, 7,000 Wiccans, 5,000 Rastafarians, 5000 Baha’i’s and 4,000 Zoroastrians (4,000). 15.1% of Brits claimed to have no religion.

Despite the decline of Christianity in the “modern” world Christianity remains a vibrant world religion. Today there are some 2.1 billion Christians, about one-third of the world’s population, of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant varieties all around the world.


Focus on Religion, National Statistics (UK)



For Muslims Islam, to submit to god or Allah, is the one true faith transmitted to the world through his prophet Muhammad (c. 570-632). Muhammad, whose uncle was the leader of the Ouraysh tribe, heard a voice, so the story goes, while praying in 610, which called on him to worship the one god, Allah, and only the Allah. After pledging to worship no other god but Allah, God periodically revealed the series of holy messages—114 in total organized by length—to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel that today make up the Qur’an (http://www.quran.org/quran.htm and http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/koran/),

For Muslims the Qur’an is the very word of Allah. The Qur’an mandated that those who submitted to the word of Allah abandon paganism and give up infanticide. The Qur’an placed an emphasis on the nuclear family instead of tribal organization, allowed polygamy but limited males to four marriages, mandated dowries in marriage, gave women inheritance rights they had not had before, and allowed women and men to pray together. Segregated prayer would be restored again in the 8th century.

Not everyone was taken with the new revelations including Muhammad’s uncle. Muhammad thus had to flee Mecca for Media. Today Muslims refer to this as the hijira and date year one of their calendar from it. In Medina Muhammad established a theocracy under his holy rule ostracizing anyone who opposed him including Jews. Islam and theocracy has been linked ever since.

By 630 “the prophet” and his forces were strong enough to take Mecca in a holy war, a jihad. By 632 Muhammad’s jihad had succeeded in conquering all of the Arabian Peninsula and converting most of its inhabitants to the new faith. A tax to be used for charitable purposes, the zakat, was instituted.

With Islam now the established religion of Arabia a month of fasting to mark Muhammad’s victory over pagan forces at the Battle of Badr in 624, Ramadan, became a mark of the Islamic faith. So too did a yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj, formal worship three times a day, salat, and prayers uttered in direction of Jerusalem. Later it was mandated that prayer had to be said in the direction of Mecca. Places of worship, called mosques, were built in which Muslims could profess that there was no god but Allah and that Muhammad was his messenger.

After Muhammad’s death in 623 caliphs led the ummah, the Muslim community of the faithful. Islam would prove a powerful ideological force for conquest. The armies of the caliph would take Damascus and Antioch in present day Syria in 635, conquer Alexandria in 642, conquer Persia by 651, take Kabul in present-day Afghanistan in 664, conquer Carthage in 698, and conquer Samarkand in present day Uzbekistan in 710. By the 8th century the Islamic Empire stretched from southern Spain to India.

The Muslim conquerors treated the conquered relatively well. Rather than persecuting their new non-Muslim subjects the conquerors instituted minority Jewish and Christian communities within their empire—peoples of the book—giving them a degree of autonomy.

After Muhammad

All was not well within the Islamic world after “the prophet’s” death. The third caliph, Uthman, the husband of two of Muhammad’s daughters and great grandson of Ummayah, leader of the Quraysh tribe, had persecuted “the prophet” and had only lately come to the faith. Uthman’s past caused discomfort among some of the faithful. For them Ali, the husband of Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah, should succeed to the leadership of the community of the faithful. Civil war between the two groups broke out. By 661 it was over and Ali was dead. Those who supported Ali, however, the Shi’a, refused to come back into the fold. They shunned those who supported Uthman and awaited, their own apocalyptic scenario, the rightful leader of the faithful, an imam, who would arise from the house of Ali.

Mainstream Muslims would establish their capital in Damascus and rule the Muslim Empire until around 750. The new Muslim empire adopted and adapted the culture of those they conquered—administration, music, art, and the Greek classics—and compiled the oral sayings of “the Prophet”, hadith.

The Empire that Islam created was a diverse and multicultural one, geographically, linguistically, politically, culturally, and religiously. In the early days of the empire Sunni Muslims, Shi’a Muslims, Jews, and Christians populated the empire. All non-Muslims, even those who converted to Islam, had to pay the taxes imposed on the “unbeliever”.

The Islamic Empire was an empire various tribes, families, and regions dreamed of controlling. The Umayyads Caliphate continued to dominate the Muslim world in the 8th century. Not everyone was happy with Umayyad rule, however. Both the Abbasids of Western Iraq and the Khurasans of Eastern Iraq and Iran resisted Umayyad rule. In the 740s the Abbasids and the Khursans united against the Umayyads. By 750 the Umayyads were defeated.

The Abbasids now took control of the Empire. Setting themselves up as the elites of the Empire the Abbasids established their capital first in Baghdad in 762 and then in Samarra in the 830s. Tensions in the Empire, however, continued. Rebellion in Egypt and Syria led to Abbasid recognition of the autonomy of both. Tensions with Khurasan led the Abbasids to recognize Khurasan independence. By 800 the Abbasids had lost what is today Tunisia to the Berbers. As for Iberia, the Abbasids never really controlled that either. In the 8th and 9th centuries Islamic Spain would become a caliphate without a caliph and take over all but a tiny part of Spain. By 811 internal tensions within the Abbasid ruling elite led to a civil war between brother and brother. It ended in 819.

Under the Abbasids trade flourished. Baghdad became a centre of Mediterranean trade between Arabia, Egypt, Byzantium, the lower Volga, India, and China. Culture was revived and flourished. In the Abbasid Empire science, philosophy, law, and literature flourished. Books were printed on paper. The Greek and Roman classics were translated. Aristotle’s writings on numerous subjects and Euclid’s geometry were translated into Arabic. The Indian method of calculation was used as the basis for the creation of Arabic numbers, the number system we use today. Arabic prose and poetry—much of this was sung—strove for beauty and elegance and became popular. Muslim Spain, in particular, would see the flowering of Islamic culture. Science, music and literature would flourish in Muslim Spain. The mosque at Cordoba (http://witcombe.sbc.edu/sacredplaces/cordoba.html

would be built during this period.

It was in the 8th century that a new sect in Islam arose, Sufism. Sufism was a mystical brand of Islam that derived from a reading of the Quran and was legitimated by it and was, in typical sectarian fashion, a reaction to the perceived worldliness of caliphate Islam. The goal of Sufis was to deepen devotion and to bring spiritual transformation to believers. To achieve these goals Sufism emphasized ascetic practises like vigils, fasting, giving up worldly possessions, and simple living.

By the 10th century the Abbasid caliphate was declining. Tensions between Sunni and Shi’a would be a major factor in the decline of the Abbasids. Shi’a would attack the Abbasids bringing that dynasty to an end. The end result was the fragmentation of the once unified Islamic Empire into a series of regional tribal powers bound together by trade and a common language, the Samianids in parts of Persia and Afghanistan, the Buyids in Iraq and parts of Persia, the Hamdanids in Syria and parts of northern Iraq, the Fatimids in Egypt and parts of North Africa, the Sirids in the Magreb (Morocco, Algeria, and parts of Tunisia).

Speaking of Shi’a and Sunni, the 10th through 11th centuries would see each sect establish their own sacred symbols, heroes, and pilgrimage sites. Sects becoming denominations? It was in this era that Shi’a began to venerate the tombs of Ali and his family.

Culture continued to flourish in post the Abbasid Islamic world. Cairo and Cordoba emerged as important cultural centres in the Islamic world in the 10th and 11th centuries. Ibn Sina (Avincenna, 980-1037) practiced medicine and wrote works on science and philosophy, particular Aristotelian philosophy, largely in Isfahan in the period. In 971 the famous academy in Cairo, Al-Azhar, was founded as a centre of Islam. It claims to be the oldest university in the world.

Around the year 1000 Seljuk Turks arrived in Iran from the area east of the Caspian Sea. After forming an alliance with the Sunni caliphate they took over the area once dominated by the Buyids proclaiming themselves sultans of the new Seljuk state.

The Seljuks didn’t stop there. In the 1050s and 1060s Seljuks fought the Byzantines. In 1071 they defeated Byzantine forces at the Battle of Manzikert (contemporary Malazgirt in Turkey). Byzantine Anatolia now lay defenceless before Seljuk forces. They quickly conquered most of it.

While the Seljuks were unifying some parts of the old Islamic Empire other parts of the old Muslim Empire were fragmenting. The Shi’a Fatamid Caliphate moved out of Tunisia into Egypt, the Maghreb, Sicily, Malta, the Levant, and Hijaz between 909 to 117I. The Berbers formed their own state in Magreb in North Africa and eventually took over northwest Africa in the 1070s and 1080s.

This era saw dark clouds looming on the horizon of the Islamic Empire. This was, of course, the years that saw Christians and Muslims fight a series holy wars or holy jihads against one another in the “holy land”. Christian armies would have some success in the early years of these holy wars.

All told there were a total of seven holy wars or jihads between Christians and Muslims and sometimes Christians and Christians during these years. During the First Crusade (1095-1099) Christian knights took control of several cities along the Syrian and Palestinian coast establishing the “Crusader states” of Edessa, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Tripoli in Syria and Palestine. Most of these territorial gains would be be reversed by the Muslims during the Second Crusade (1147-1149). The third took place between 1188 and 1192. The fourth took place between 1202-1204 and saw the capital of the Orthodox Christian Constantinople, rival to growing trade and maritime power Venice, sacked by Catholic Christian Crusaders. The fifth Crusade took place between 1217 and 1221 and resulted in the conquest of Damietta in Egypt by the Christians. The sixth took place between 1248 and 1250. The Seventh lasted from 1248-1254. The Eighth took place in 1270. Ironically, the Near East didn’t look that much different at the end of the holy crusades than it did at the beginning.

The Third Crusade is perhaps the best known in popular memory. This was the crusade when Richard “Coeur-de-Lion”, Richard the Lion-Hearted, left England to battle the “infidel”. In myth and legend Richard’s capture during that Crusade left his kingdom open to the evil designs of his brother King John and his henchman the Sheriff of Nottingham. In the myth and legend only Robin of Locksley, Robin Hood, loyal to “good King Richard” stood in their way. The Third Crusade was the crusade of the Kurd Saladin (Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub) who, after ousting the Shi’a from Egypt, retook most of the kingdom of Jerusalem and the cities of Acre, Toron, Beirut, Sidon, Nazareth, Caesarea, Nabulus, Jaffa (Yafo), and Ascalon (Ashqelon) from the Christians in the space of three months. By 1187 this devotee of jihad would recapture the city of Jerusalem.

It wasn’t only in the Near East that the Islamic Empire was suffering setbacks. 1212 saw the Christians defeat the Almohads, militant Sunnis who had taken more of what is today for the Muslims, at Las Navas de Tolosa. In a little over two hundred years the balance of power—political, military, geographic, and economic—between Muslim and Christian—would be entirely changed.

Despite the violence of the period culture in the Islamic Empire remained vibrant. It was the age of Ibn Rushd (Averroes, 1128-1198), physician, judge, astronomer, and commentator on Aristotle, who amongst others, made Muslim Cordoba a centre of culture and learning all across the Mediterranean world.

The Seljuk Empire didn’t last long. Anatolia soon broke up into Seljuk principalities. It was under Osman I (r. 1280-1324) that the Ottoman’s made their appearance on the Anatolian stage. By the fourteenth century the Ottoman’s had reduced the Byzantine Empire to Constantinople, Thessaloniki, and a narrow strip of land in what is today modern Greece. In 1364 they defeated a Hungarian and Serbian force at the Maritsa River “threatening” Europe for the first time in history. Pope Urban V responded with calls for yet another Christian Crusade against the Muslim threat. In 1389 the Ottomans defeated a Serbian army at the Battle of Kosovo, a loss that still lives in the memories of many Serbs today. Ottoman ruler Selim (r. 1467-1520) stopped the Safavid (more about them soon) thrust into present-day Turkey and conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and several ports in Arabia. At its zenith under the rule of Suleyman the Magnificent the Ottoman Empire stretched from Turkey south through Egypt into the East African coast—it included parts of Central Asia and Persia—west through present day Algeria, and west across the northern shore of the Mediterranean and through the Balkans reconstituting, to a large exent, the old Eastern Roman Empire. The Ottoman Empire would continue to try to expand into Europe until they were defeated at the Battle of Vienna in 1683.

It was the Ottomans under Mehmed II who conquered the previously thought unconquerable centre of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. Cannon made it conquerable. Constantinople now became the capital of the ever-expanding Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, from the Greek
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   ...   26


A very Concise Introduction iconBritannica Concise Encyclopedia

A very Concise Introduction iconConcise international chemical assessment document no. 1

A very Concise Introduction iconSo here is the gkdoze trying to give a concise and brief ( looks huge though believe me there is lots and lots more … ) about the United Nations

A very Concise Introduction iconSo here is the gkdoze trying to give a concise and brief ( looks huge though believe me there is lots and lots more … ) about the United Nations

A very Concise Introduction iconConcise Oxford Russian Dictionary / ред.: М. Уилер, Б. Унбегаун, П. Фалла, 2006. XVI, 476, 17, 528 с
Андрианов, Сергей Николаевич. Англо-русский юридический словарь : Около 50000 терминов / С. Н. Андрианов, А. С. Берсон, А. С. Никифоров,...

A very Concise Introduction iconIntroduction and Scope 1 Introduction

A very Concise Introduction icon1 introduction to property as a relationship, and introduction to property claims 1

A very Concise Introduction iconI. Introduction

A very Concise Introduction iconI. Introduction

A very Concise Introduction iconI. introduction

Разместите кнопку на своём сайте:

База данных защищена авторским правом ©lib.convdocs.org 2012
обратиться к администрации
Главная страница