Complete 2 pages APA formatted article: Why did Islam and the Arabs succeed in spreading throughout the greater Middle East/ Gulf against the Byzantines and Persians What were the Military successes of the Omayyad and Abbasids Arab empires. The Post-Muhammad, Nation of Islam The early Islamic was based in Saudi Arabia, centered in Medina under the administrative and religious leadership of its founding father, Prophet Muhammad. Following his unexpected death in 632, there was a power vacuum since the prophet had not named his preferred successor (Davidson and Goldschmidt 50). His closest friend, and one of his earliest converts, Abu Bakr was selected by consensus as the leader of the fledgling Islamic nation. However, some of the clans that had pledged allegiance to the Prophet Muhammad started showing dissent by not recognizing Abu Bakr’s legitimacy as their ruler and breaking off from the larger nation of Islam. Abu Bakr used military force against the dissenting clans and the nation of Islam was re-united, albeit under intense inter-clan tension. Following his death, his successor Umar wisely chose to channel this aggression externally by mounting a series of military campaigns against the Persian and Byzantine empires in a bid to expand the largely Arab nation of Islam in what we now consider the Middle East region (Lapidus 21).
The Early Expansion of the Nation of Islam
This campaign proved successful as the Arab led the nation of Islam, defeated the seemingly militarily superior Byzantine and Persian empires. Their success was based on a number of factors. First among them was that the two major Middle Eastern empires, Persia and Byzantium, were already significantly weakened through perennial in fighting against each other for centuries. Both sides had suffered great losses in terms of military personnel and overall morale by the time the Arabs mounted their expansionist military campaign. The Arabs also had cavalry superiority with camels to supplement their warhorses, what camels lacked in speed they made up for in resilience and superior desert mobility (Davidson and Goldschmidt 52). The Arab invaders, in a stroke of tactical genius, lured out the Byzantine and Persian forces to desert battlegrounds. in the sandy terrain, their mixed cavalry offered them tactical superiority. To make up for their numerical disadvantage, the Islamic nation incorporated non-Muslim Arabs who were motivated to rise against the Persian and Byzantine empires due to the economic hardships they had endured because of the exclusion policies of the two empires. Another factor that further weakened the Byzantine Empire was the increasing theological differences between the Christian sects within it, caused by controversy over the divine nature of Christ. The Christians whose views opposed those adopted by the empire, joined the Arab invaders by taking up arms against the Byzantine Empire. In the end, victory was achieved through a multi-religious military effort and the Middle East were under the control of the Arab nation of Islam.
The Omayyad Empire
The new Islamic nation, now in control of the Middle East, was led by a religion based Caliphate system of government, with the caliph being the overall military, religious and political leader. In 661, the Omayyad clan took control of the caliphate, turning it into a succession-based dynasty. Under the leadership of the Omayyad, the Islamic nation mounted an aggressive military expansion starting from Egypt, stretching across the entire breadth of Northern Africa and into the Iberian Peninsula (modern day Spain and Portugal) in Southern Europe. The seat of power for the Ummayad’s was in Damascus, Syria. The military expansion during this period had many similarities to the Roman model of expansion, with the Arabs appointing governors to run its conquered dominions while maintaining their semi-independence as provinces in the larger nation of Islam. The Omayyad Empire at stretched from China in the East, to Southern Europe in the West and is acknowledged as the fifth largest empire in history (Feldman 52).
The Abbasid Empire
The Omayyad dynasty lasted until the year 750, when they were overthrown by the Abbasids. Mostly thanks to their unpopular taxation policies, there was public dissatisfaction with the Omayyad dynasty leadership. In 750, with massive public support, the Abbasid clan took over the leadership of the Islamic nation. The major military efforts of the Abbasid dynasty were directed internally in dealing with dissent within the different nations in the empire who had secessionist ambitions (Feldman 67). The Abbasid rulers changed the seat of power from the Omayyad stronghold of Damascus to Baghdad, where they oversaw a rise in scientific knowledge and technological advancement known as the ‘Islamic Golden Age’. The Islamic military benefited from these technological advances. However, the Mongol invasion of the Middle East in 1258 brought down the curtain on the Abbasid dynasty when they burned down its capital, Baghdad.
Davidson, Lawrence, and Arthur Goldschmidt. A Concise History of the Middle East. PA: Westview Press. 2005. Print.
Feldman, Noah. .The fall and rise of the Islamic state. Princeton University Press, 2012. Print.
Lapidus, Ira Marvin. .A history of Islamic societies. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Print.