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Biography of Muhammad | Prophet. Narrations that form the Muslim tradition.

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The revelations received by the Prophet, which were collected into the Quran, would become the Foundation of Islamic civilization.
The study of the life of Muhammad is based on Hadith (narrations that form the Muslim tradition) which, gathered in the Sira of Ibn Ishak (mid-8th century) and modified at the beginning of the 9th century by Ibn Hisan, constitute the official biography of the Prophet. The Quran offers interesting facts to know their thinking, but is very poor in relation to its life. As is the case with other founders of major religions (Buddha, Jesus, Confucio), known only roughly previous stages at the time of starting the preaching of his doctrine. There is no doubt that Mahoma was born in Mecca, in those days a small town surrounded by desert in the western part of the Arabian peninsula, a few kilometres from the Red Sea. He belonged to the clan Hasim, of the tribe of the Quraish, and his father, Abd Allah, died before he was born, by what the orphan was welcomed by his grandfather Abd al - Mataalib, head of the Hasim.

Imaginary Portrait of Muhammad
The first years spent with her mother, Amina, a woman from another clan who, following custom, and to safeguard it from the rigors of the summer of Mecca, sent him to the desert, where a Bedouin mother raised him. These suckler came to Mecca twice a year, in spring and autumn, to raise to the newborn babies of wealthy families. Muhammad was raised by Halima, a pastor's wife Saudi, who felt worth seeing him so helpless; the child was orphaned of mother to six years of age. Soon the grandfather also missed him and received under cover of his uncle Abú Talib, mercader and custodian of the Kaaba enjoyed priestly rank. Muhammad had his cousin Ali as their childhood Playmate.
He was twelve years old when he enlisted first in the caravan of his uncle, taking responsible care of camels. In his first trip to Damascus he had the opportunity to contact the Nestorian Christians, sect condemned at the Council of Ephesus by denying the dogma of the Holy Trinity and the divine character of motherhood of Mary. According to the legend, the monk Bahira discovered signs of prophecy in the child and prevented their families so that to protect it from the Jews.
With his uncle, Mahoma came to acquire extensive experience in caravan driving through the desert, but the lack of resources prevented him from independence. He married Jadicha, a rich widow who, before contracting marriage at the age of twenty-five, he put to the test by sending him with one of their caravans to Syria. Jadicha had around forty years old and gave her four girls and two boys. Males died prematurely. Some authors see this fact the cause of the sympathy of Muhammad for children, with whom I used to play.
Thanks to this marriage, he could devote himself to his craft and make good business; Jadicha, for its part, also distinguished himself for being a formidable partner. While lived Jadicha, Mahoma took no more women as wives; later it would even have a harem, but in all cases it was marriage for political reasons. The fifteen years that followed this Union does not know anything. It was a period during which was known as a straight and true, man dedicated to his business, but excluded from the main commercial circles.

The revelations

Towards the year 610 Mahoma had the first revelations. Had customarily retire to pray and meditate in a cave in Mount Hira, and sometimes used to stay overnight there one or two nights. In one of the first occasions had the vision of a glorious being who initially identified as God, and in another rear view thought it was the Archangel Gabriel. This glorious being ordered him to write the Quran. Divine revelations would be repeated throughout his life with some frequency, and both Muhammad as his disciples learned memory.
As the material basis of writing was rare in the area, it is said that, after the death of the Prophet, his Secretary found passages from the Quran written on pieces of paper, palm leaves, stones, shoulder blades, ribs, and pieces of leather. The final version that is known from the Qur'an, i.e., which brings together all of revelations received by Mahoma, is posterior to the year 650, twenty years after the death of the Prophet. Sometimes the revelations produced it certain physical reactions: I felt pain and perceived a strong sound, like ringing of bells; Sometimes, on cold days, the companions saw how thick drops of sweat fell from his front, while the revelation took place.

The Archangel Gabriel and Muhammad
Muhammad began to preach his doctrine three years later, to the 613. Meanwhile the first conversions had occurred. His wife Jadicha was the first and supported him in moments of crisis to experience the first visions; She and particularly Waraqa persuaded him of the prophetic character of such experiences. Some accounts say that the first male convert was Zaid ibn Harita liberto, while others suggest that it was his cousin Ali. Among the first who developed was his friend and also merchant of La Mecca Abu Bakr, who provided great support to Islam, especially when the Islamic State had already been constituted. In the lists that are conserved of the early followers of Muhammad, you can see that most were young people from the most influential families of Mecca. However, when Mahoma began to disseminate his doctrine, these families had been displaced by a new social class that emerged from the commercial prosperity of the city, which would pose a lively opposition to the Prophet.
In his preaching, Mahoma leaned toward a monotheism based on belief in a full of goodness and Almighty God who will judge each one according to their performance; the man should show gratitude to God and recognize their dependency on it. Recognition of the Divine omnipotence is contrasted with the attitude of great merchants, convinced that their wealth is what allows all; Mahoma man's life had rely on to do what is necessary to attain paradise. The generosity and respect for the weak were the essential points that insisted his first preaching.
Initially, therefore, Islam arose as a continuation of Christianity and Judaism, religions Mahoma knew. Criticism of monotheism by Muhammad professed began with the public preaching, and soon a first confrontation took place with the polytheistic Arabs. The one God of Muhammad could worship at the Kaaba (Mecca building built, according to the Koran, Abraham, containing the black stone that Gabriel gave to Isaac), but not so in other three shrines dedicated to other gods and goddesses on the outskirts of the city. But it seems certain, as he has been asserted, that opposition to Muhammad based on large merchants for fear that away idols, to decline the business. The Kaaba, the shrine of Mecca, was still the sanctuary par excellence and the disappearance of the idols would not hurt more than a small group of merchants who had settled in the vicinity of the city and had created there new sanctuaries, whose cults were expressly condemned by Muhammad.

Preaching of Muhammad in Mecca
The reasons for the growing enmity of the commercial oligarchy of Mecca to the Prophet must be sought in attacks of Muhammad to the way of life of the rich, denial of his omnipotence and, above all, the possibility that preaching would Muhammad one sufficient political personality to put in front of the city in a more or less near future. This could harm the main merchants who, in fact, imposed their points of view and ruled the city thanks to its richness, its commercial experience and membership to the top clans, while Mecca is governed by an Assembly composed of the heads of all the clans. The growing importance of Muhammad endangered their perks. Why Abu Chahl, one of its fiercest enemies, suggest the political danger Mahoma.
Initially, the pressures of Abu Chahl consisted of not paying legitimate debts to those Muslims who did not enjoy the protection of any clan or belonged to weak clans; later he tried that Abu Talib, uncle of Muhammad and chieftain of the clan that belonged to the Prophet, Muhammad prohibit the proclamation of the new faith. Abu Talib did not accept because it would have been disgraceful for his clan to deny protection to one of its own, and because the new faith agreed broadly with its policy, contrary to the trade monopolies established by rich merchants that emerged in the heat of the new commercial prosperity.
In the year 619 killed his uncle and protector Abu Talib and his faithful wife Jadicha. His second wife was Sawda, a widow who was among the first conversations. It seems that Mahoma contracted this marriage to avoid Sawda did with someone from outside the group. The head of the clan of the Hasim was occupied by another uncle of Muhammad, Abu Lahab, ending by vested interests, and apparently also by pressure from Abu Chahl, removing the protection to the Prophet.
Muhammad had to seek refuge in the nearby city of Al - Ta'if, and attempted to put its inhabitants against Mecca. Did not reach their goal, and even he was stoned by the crowd. He returned to Makkah clandestinely obtained the protection of one of the clans, and their proselytizing activities were limited. During that time, Mahoma tried to ally themselves with various nomadic tribes, who by then were in the vicinity of Mecca on the occasion of a religious party, but neither succeeded in its negotiations.

The Hegira

On the occasion of the pilgrimage to the Kaaba in the year 620, Mahoma came into contact with six citizens of Medina who were impressed by his personality and thought that might be useful. It is said that, the following year, these same pilgrims, representing most clans of Medina, promised to Muhammad accept him as Prophet and obey him. This event was baptized with the name of the first oath of Al - Aqaba. Muhammad sent ahead to one of his men to preach his doctrine and at the same time informed of the political situation in that city. Emigration (Hijra) to Medina was staggered groups not to draw attention. The latest in splitting were Muhammad, his friend Abu Bakr, his cousin Ali and some of his relatives. The Islamic calendar counts the years from July 16, 622, date of the Hijra.
In the first months of his stay was drafted the Constitution of Medina. Supporters of Mecca and members of eight clans of Medina, converted to Islam, formed a community directed by Muhammad, imposed on it some of the traditional rules of nomadic life: solidarity, blood revenge, acceptance of the decisions of the Prophet revealed materials and delivery to it of one-fifth of the spoils. Ensure that the identity of beliefs was above the tribe was the first success of Muhammad, success that will have deep political repercussions inasmuch as the new community will not comply with laws, customs and urban traditions imposed by the aristocracy, but will be issued rules of Allah, the only God, through his Prophet Muhammad , which submitted to a tribe or particular group, Makkah, condition has become Prophet and leader of a community which have their place those who accept faith.
In April 623 Mahoma consummated the marriage, held two years ago in Mecca, Abu Bakr, Aisha, nine-year-old daughter. That same year began the raids against the caravan mequies. It was very common in the Arab world at the time and was considered almost as a sport and a way of life. It was a simple act of looting in which there was no bloodshed, except on rare occasions; to avoid the violence used to pay compensation. However, in 624 there was already a first dead on the side mequi, during the holy month of the pilgrimage, when they observed a strict truce.

The Archangel Gabriel and Muhammad in the battle of Badr
The most important skirmish took place March 15, 624 at the battle of Badr. Three hundred men of Muhammad defeated a large caravan, guarded by nine hundred men, which had interests the majority of merchants of Mecca. The fray perished Abu Chahl and other main leaders of Mecca. Claimed, in addition, important rescues the prisoners, although Mahoma forgave those who could not meet them. The official story would elevate facts like these to the category of victorious battles.
The military successes of the believers ended up cancel trade in Mecca, and their leaders agreed to Muhammad to safeguard its commercial interests. Bedouin tribes were also subjected to a doctrine that coincided with the customs they practiced. Muhammad seized Mecca in the year 631, destroyed idols and decreed a general amnesty. After successive battles did undergo throughout Arabia in the 632. The passage of the troops more or less sincere mass conversions were produced. Muhammad had converted to the warlike and scattered Arab tribes in a United people who embark on an unprecedented expansion after his death.

Last pilgrimage of Muhammad in Mecca
That same year Mohammed in person led the pilgrimage to Mecca, which had already become an exclusively Muslim rite. On 15 March of 632, suffering from fever and strong headaches, he died with his face on the knees of his young wife Aisha. His father-in-law and friend, Abu Bakr, would succeed the Prophet in the Caliphate.

The Islamic State

The codes developed during the last years in Medina would be expanded with the socio-economic and political revelations necessary to govern and administer the community of believers and all those who, without converting to the new faith, they agreed to Muhammad as head. Many of the provisions respond to specific situations and acquired general value whenever Mahoma consider them suitable for the community. These rules abound of equal character and those intended to protect the weak, not limited to declare equal to all believers and to formulate the need to serve the needy, but they provide concrete solutions to the problems.
During the stay in Medina, the emigrants (with this name referred to the supporters of Muhammad fled from Mecca) they lacked the resources and the legal alms (zakat)was instituted to cater to their needs. This charity, practical means of leveling to those who have nothing with those who have sufficient assets, became later tax mandatory and only to Muslims; not converted (only accepted as such in the territories dominated by the community to the Christians and Jews) would pay also tax staff and other territorial. Another of the sources of income of Islam comes from the loot, which reserves the fifth head of the community, which also has the lands conquered by the believers during the holy war.
The origin of the last practice is complex: Muhammad believes that he has been chosen by the one God, Allah, not to preach a new faith, but to restore, as the last of the prophets, the purity of religion given to Abraham; Islam does not oppose therefore neither Judaism nor Christianity, but at its discretion exceed them. This religious attitude, coupled with the fact that there were powerful Jewish clans in Medina (the number of Christians was meager), made that Muhammad tried to attract to the Jews and made concessions such as ordering that the prayer was made facing Jerusalem. But his conciliatory plans failed, the Hebrews were opposed to the community, both religiously and politically, and collaborated with the inhabitants of Mecca, until Mahoma decided to expelled from Medina, deliver their lands to the emigrants and ordering that the prayer was made since then in direction to Mecca, where was the shrine built by Abraham; from this moment on, was considered the conquered lands belonging to the leader of the community, which could establish in them who wanted.

Muhammad directing the destruction of idols
of the Kaaba after take over Mecca
The content of the faith was based on the belief in Allah as the one, Almighty and everlasting God, creator and owner of all things. Belief in Allah is accompanied by belief in the prophets (that Muhammad is the last), in los angeles, in the sacred books (that the Quran is the last and the only necessary), in the resurrection and predestination. Who belong to Islam must make the profession of faith, reciting prayers five times a day, paying legal alms, meet the pilgrimage to Mecca once in life and fasting during the month of Ramadan. Another of the obligations of Islam, the holy war, is not accepted by legal experts, but yes it will be widely used by the civil power based on expeditions and wars led by Muhammad during his stay in Medina.
The character many times "local" or "circumstances" of the revelations contained in the Koran did not enough to regulate the numerous issues of Government, administration and justice to Muslims after the death of Muhammad, by what the revelations of the Holy Book were completed, not in the religious aspect, but in others, with the Sunna, or set of traditions relating to the conduct of the Prophet; together, the Quran and the Sunna form a religious law that is at the basis of law, organization, social life and economic life of Muslims. The acceptance of one or another reading of the Qur'an, or of certain accounts of the Sunna, and the mode of interpreting one and others, therefore have a great importance in the history of the Muslims, in which religion and politics, in its broadest sense the latter, are intimately linked, at least during the first centuries of Islam.

Muhammad and the Quran

The Quran

The Holy Book of Islam is the Quran; He expressed his creed and includes his law. Improfanables and transcendental essence and appearance lies to the Muslim faith, in containing the word of Allah revealed to his envoy or Messenger (rasul) Mohammed, who would transmit it ("in clear Arabic language", as says the same Quran) people of his around as message of salvation. Such revelations took place of form spaced from the year 610 a.d. to 632, he died. The Spanish name comes directly from the Arabic al - quran, Word that means "recitation" or, by extension, "the sacred text which is recited". It is a term related to the Syriac Language in which, still today, are designated the liturgical readings of the Maronite rite with the word qeryono. Also referred to as Alkitab (the book), Furquan ("liberation", "Salvation"), Kitab-ul-lah (book of God), and to el-tanzil (the revelation).
Muhammad preached the texts received by revelation, reciting them and making them recite their faithful, who were holding them memory and sometimes copied them in writing. This supports of all kinds were used: palm leaves, animal skins, bone fragments, scapulae of camels, Ostraca, or any other similar object to write them. Belonging to a culture of oral tradition, would not be difficult for the followers of the new religion to memorize text brief, rhymed and rhythmic; no doubt would be recorded in the memory with ease.

Muhammad
The death of Muhammad, Muslims began to gather in manuscripts all Quranic existing texts, causing differences that were alleviated by the initiative of the Caliph Utman (644-656) to official language, constituted as Vulgate, with a characteristic consonantal text, which, however, did not eliminate the possibility of different "readings" occur (qiraat), whose (non-transcendental) variants are compatible with the consonant of Utman text , and materialize in certain divergences of score and vocalization. Utman consonantal text was revised at the time of the Umayyad Caliph Abd al - Malik (685-705), and pointed out with vowels and auxiliary graphic signs, possibly during the 8th century, as Malik, the famous Medina alfaqui (died in 795), only admitted such signs on the copies used for teaching.
The Qur'anic text is divided into 114 chapters or Azores (suras), which, in turn, are made by verses or verses (to the-aya). Each azora has a title, more or less suggestive; the first is the Fatiha or "opening", brief prayer, often recited, with only seven verses: "in the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful! Praise be to God, Lord of the universe, the compassionate, the merciful, master of the day of judgment. We adore you, we ask for help. Drive us along the straight path, the path of those whom you give your grace, not of those who incur your anger nor of those who err". This azora initial continue the remaining 113, arranged from highest to lowest length: thus, the second azora (titled "The cow") has 286 verses, some large, and the last azora ("men") has only six short verses.

The first azora Quran
The title headed each of Azores them is taken or of one of the issues dealt with therein or by a word or phrase appearing in it. Below indicates the place in which it was revealed, the number of verses or verses that consists and, finally, the basmala ("in the name of God, Clement and merciful"), formula of invocation that starts all Azores them, except the nine. At the beginning of some Azores appear a letter calls fawatih ("initial") or to the-huroof to el-muqatta ("cut letters"), which is not known its exact meaning; Some researchers, such as Loth, consider that they are abbreviations of names divine, while others, such as Nöldeke, Hirschfeld and Buhlcreen, believe that it is the initial letter or end of the name of those companions of the Prophet that still life constituted its own corpus, which seems unlikely. Others, such as Zaki Mubarak, saying that it can be musical notations. These letters also have been interpreted from perspectives that try to justify and prove the miraculous Quran character, as it is the case of the Muslim scholar Baydawi.
To be placed the 114 chapters of the Quran according the length of them, the book does not follow in their materials a thematic order that references on a subject matter or appearance are often scattered among several Azores and verses, and has to resort to all them to calibrate the Qur'anic doctrine regarding this whole. The texts of the Quran are not in chronological order, according to the time course of the life of the Prophet in which revelations, were going on with their successive stays in Mecca and Medina. Very early were proposals for chronological classification of the various Azores, above all for the sake of distinguishing the ancient texts of the later, since sometimes there are disagreements between the two, and the contents of an old passage can be changed in another later revealed. This resulted in the technical process of set texts abrogated by other subsequent abrogantes.
You Azores them or chapters are often grouped into five periods. In the first period mequi, covering forty you Azores, there is a clear presence of rhyme and rhythm. In this period the presence of God banishes the man. God is not intended to give a code of action but to restore a cult. You are encouraged to admire the created things as signs of God's power and are they remembered the punishments they received other peoples of the past that did not listen to your prophets. The day of judgment appears as the last argument. In the second period, with 21 you Azores, begins to swear by the Koran instead of the Sun, moon, sky and other natural bodies, and the history of the ancient Hebrew prophets is developed. From this second period, also mequi, they begin to find Jewish influences that entered directly. In the third period, with 21 you Azores, argumentation is directed to the generation that calls for miracles to believe, without knowing to see that they are everywhere.

Pages of a Quran from the 13th century
The texts revealed in the fourth period, longer period medini, considered with 24 Azores, differ greatly from the texts of the period mequi. Muhammad is a man of State who leads a group of believers. Its function is now teaching and not convincing. The style lost in lightness and becomes diffuse throughout very long verses. Finally, Azores them 2, 4, and 5 mainly try to the Organization of the new society and much of its history. It is a part with a Hebrew influence.
Both in its content in its form, the Quran, as divine word, is considered perfect. Its text is also appreciated aesthetically, which manifests itself in the art of his recitation, with its diverse and melodic interpretations, that they can snatch to the Auditorium, and art of his calligraphy, also estimable. As literary piece sublime became to become among the Muslims the dogma of its inimitability. For the faithful, the style of the Quran is miraculously beautiful and impossible to imitate: any translation of the Quran into another language can only disfigure the text. After considerable discussion, the majority of Muslim theologians ended up accepting that the translations were legitimate insofar as it allowed approaching the "ideas" of the Quran. Except in very special cases, the law prohibits the liturgical use of a translated Quran. The Quran is thus surrounded, in its depths and in its form, a halo of respect, fervor and extraordinary dedication, present in the whole life of the Muslim, who seeks to preserve it, focusing on the ideals and experiences, and resorting to reading both daily as on solemn occasions. The Qur'an brings together and primordial form Islamic civilization, as the great axis of the same brand.

The Islamic creed

The Quran defines the beliefs of Islam and expresses his essential regulatory framework, being the main base of the regulation of the life of the believer. The Islamic faith is focused on believing in Allah, God, "no partner", Almighty, wise, merciful, creator, remunerative in the afterlife and the final judgment with the resurrection of the dead. These beliefs are those that are mainly contain and detailed in Azores them Mecca, while from the period of Medina the contents tend to be more normative, targeting the community governing there the Prophet.
The Quran reminds human his littleness against the wonders of nature, God's work, whose greatness and generosity should be recognized and worshipped. The message, in essence, is that there is one God, creator of all things, which is the only who must serve a cult practicing and observing correct behavior. Always merciful God, has led humanity so it venere you through multiple prophets, to which it has sent to preach his message and that they have been rejected repeatedly. The Quran confirms the existence of angels, Devils and genies (chinn) in several passages. Next to it, the Quran contains a set of precepts and ethical and moral recommendations, warnings about the arrival of the last day and final judgment, stories of prophets before Muhammad and about peoples who were sent, precepts relating to religion and other social matters, such as marriage, divorce and inheritance.

Page from a Koran of 1594 (library
the monastery of el Escorial)
Generals of the Quran topics and many illustrative stories share elements and contents with Christian (as the legend of the seven sleepers) and Jewish writings, although they often develop differently. The details of the stories about the early prophets most resembling the versions that are found in the apocryphal Jewish and Christians than the versions found in the Bible are numerous. The same Quran says that he has come to confirm the contribution of the previous Scriptures and mentions the Torah, the Psalms and the Gospel, as well as referring also to a few "sheets of Abraham". The Qur'anic monotheism is in the same tradition that the Judaism, and images and expressions that can be found in the Quran and in the biblical tradition are very numerous. Indeed, contemporaries of early Islam considered this as one sect more than those derived from the biblical trunk.
In general, the Quran is situated within the framework of the life of the Bedouin, but also of merchants, sailors and fishermen, and not lacking, despite the sobriety and the concise style of the Quran, allusions to the caravans of winter and summer the caravans from Mecca leading to Aden or Syria. The actual Arabic atmosphere can be identified in issues as the existence of mysterious beings called geniuses or exaltation of the generosity, the bravery and family solidarity. Characteristics of the Arabs are also the high esteem they profess eloquence and Arabic style. Rites of the pilgrimage to Mecca and the seven laps around the Kaaba as leave also betray the actual Arabic appearance, given the singular interest stones and number seven have Semitic cults.
Prohibitions relating to sacred territories and the animals living in them are also Semites aspects that the Quran has preserved, purifying elements incompatible with monotheism. Come also from the Arabic tradition the sacred months, during which hostilities were not permitted as well as the oldest fragments of the Quran in which passages of finished short phrases are always in the same syllable, surely a kind of oracles Arabic style, causing that opponents of Muhammad to accuse him of magician or soothsayer.
Except in the case of the holy war, the Koran leaves men as part of their daily lives, demanding only that they do well wherever they are, that they do not commit excesses, so measured way using goods that God grants them, and who is able to get rid of his selfishness to help the poor or to the community. For Muslims the Quran, while Word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad that serve as a guide to all humans, is the fundamental source of all rule of law. The legal rules contained in the Quran are some two hundred and are displayed in various verses. Despite the small number of standards, the work of exegesis and methodological induction of the four teologico-juridicas (hanefi, maliki, chafei and hambali) would result in the VII and VIII centuries the Islamic legal system. One of the features of the Quran which is reflected in all the rules of the Islamic legal system is the oneness between religion, morality and law. The religious and moral precepts and even certain social customs form a same rule with the same binding effect. It is difficult, therefore, separate from one another.

Exegesis of the Quran

The Koran is accepted among the majority of Muslims as the literal word of God, and that is the center around which gravitates the Islamic world; its value is comparable to that granted Jews to Torah or that the figure of Jesus is for Christians. Every good Muslim religious obligations include, along with the obligatory daily prayer, recite complete passages from the Quran; Likewise, secular education required to learn it by heart. Muslims consider the text of the Qur'an as one of the main sources of Islamic culture, next to the Hadith (tradition collecting the behaviour and practices of the Prophet) and for the Shiites, the teachings of the magnets.
There in the Quran passages from complex and divergent interpretation, which warns even in her azora III, verse 7: "[wing] is writing who has revealed. Some of his verses are unambiguous and constitute the matrix writing; others are dubious. The lost heart follow the wrong spirit of discord and desire to give their own interpretation. But no one but God knows its interpretation." The importance of setting and the correct understanding of the Qur'anic text constituted "Science of the Qur'an" as a key subject of Islamic culture, to develop, among other things, the discipline of its interpretation, since lexical and grammatical bases to the dogmatic and legal. Numerous are the comments of the Quran, produced from all tendencies Orthodox or Sunni (with their various schools), Shi'a and khaarijis; the Sufis exegesis take allegorical projections. These works of commentary and interpretation (tafseer) may be reduced or encompass many volumes, such as the of al - Tabari, comprising 30 volumes.

Quran from the 12th century found in Timbuktu
Although some believers consider the Quran summarizes all Islam and that this may not be used outside of this sacred text, the truth is that the complex reality of the Islamic world extends beyond its pages. Nor is it possible to affirm, without falsifying reality, that the Quran represents true Islam without taking into consideration the numerous additions and glosses made aside, judged as corrupt by the more Orthodox, and which are contained among the traditional Muslim teachings. It is not possible to understand the Quran regardless of Exegetical and tradition of interpretation that has been developed around him. This tradition meets and helps to understand the complex ambiguities of the Quran. It is this tradition, even, which gives body to the belief that the Qur'an contains a series of revelations made to Muhammad.
The interpretation of the Quran (tafseer), field of research within Islam that endures even today since its inception already at the time of the establishment of the text, in time of Utman, has given birth to numerous books and treatises. The different approaches that have been produced in an attempt to unravel the true meaning of the text gave rise to Exegetical treatises of different nature and perspective. Thus, al - Tabari (d. 923) was based on the tradition; Al - Baydawi (died to 1291) and Nasafi (died 1310) developed a linguistic exegesis; Al - Razi (d. 1209) rationally elaborated the above elements. Yet Abu Hayyan (d. 1345) also wrote a monumental Exegetical treatise on the Quran. Al - Talabi (died 1038) analyzes in order in his work on prophets all the verses of the Qur'an that relate to the topic.
The work of al - Tabari analyzes the Quran verse to verse and offers different opinions that scholars of the time gave on vocalization, grammar, lexicography, ethics and moral interpretation, as well as the relations of the text sacred to the life of Muhammad. The different points of view are collected without any comment, although it is frequent that al - Tabari indicates which one is your favorite. This comprehensive procedure of al - Tabari has been followed by many subsequent comments, while others have preferred to follow criteria of simplicity and brevity, choosing to comment only some verses on them, or by choosing a single topic for study, such as the vocabulary of the Qur'an, subject of considerable complexity and difficulty due to their theological implications, besides the difficulty that is itself intrinsically. In general, the sacred text of islam is considered in relation to the context of the life of the Prophet, and is granted, starting from this premise, timeless and universal in scope.
Passages from the life of Muhammad is understood that they were revealed in connection with specific incidents of his life or to resolve specific problems faced that. Some researchers outside the Muslim noted the procedure of type midrasico under which certain aspects of the life of Muhammad have been created from some of the passages of the sacred text. According to this interpretative line, this procedure saves enough similarity to the way in which Jewish tradition manufactured stories of the Midrash from biblical characters, while the text was composed. If so, explain the Quran through references to the biography of the Prophet would be a mode of circular reasoning, considered a serious threat to the validity of the argument in scientific terms.

Quran from the 11th century (British Museum, London)
The interpretations of the Quran frequently reflect differences and different trends that occur in the heart of the Muslim community. Especially striking is the difference between the Shia interpretation of some verses specifically and Sunni interpretation, because Shiites are the Quranic verses references to the special status of Ali ibn Abu Talib and magnets, while Sunnis do not find such references. According to Shia, the Caliph Utmán suppressed Quran fragments that made reference to Ali and their rights to happen to Muhammad in its political and religious, accusation which does not seem substantiated.
The nature of God's Word Uncreated and eternal which is attributed to the Quran, to consideration of the same as something created in time, was one of the most lit topics of discussion on the origins of islam. This discussion included issues of theology with grave and serious consequences in the political arena concerning the relative authority of the Caliphs and the scholars of religion (ulema). Although consideration of the Quran as something not created prevailed, Shiites have opposed it. These differences have led to both reformists and fundamentalists to interpret the text in a partisan manner, so that it fits properly to their (on many occasions) contradictory points of view. Within the interpretive currents there are those who come to say that the Quran is consistent with many of the ideas defended by modern science, and even ensure that actually predicts them. The dark nature of the Qur'anic text leads, without a doubt, the appearance of this kind of so different, divergent interpretations and often contradictory.

Muhammad and Islam


Islam

The names of Islam, Islam or Muslim religion is known to the monotheistic religion founded by Muhammad. According to the tradition, the precepts of the religion were transmitted him through the mediation of an angel, Gabriel, which made it successive revelations. These revelations were collected in the Koran, the sacred book of the Muslims. The doctrines of Muhammad spread initially among the nomads of Arabia in the 7th century, are today, one of the most important religions of the world and the basis of Muslim civilization. Islam, as well as a religion, is also a law that regulates the life of a Muslim, both in regard to their individual religious behaviour and on the social or political level.
The Islamic creed is strict: Allah is the only God, creator of the world, all-powerful, he is due obedience and devotion (islam means submission, and Muslim, that which is subjected to God). The true believer follows the dictates of Allah; the infidels he awaits them the final judgment and the torments of hell, and is promised to the faithful a paradise full of pleasures. As for the belief in a single God, Islam is analogous to Judaism and Christianity; in fact, Muhammad was inspired by the Bible and integrated into its credo to the prophets of the old testament. Considered one Prophet, Christ and Muhammad, as receiver of revelations from God through the Archangel Gabriel, as the greatest among them.

Muhammad
The religious obligations of the believer (complement and never substitute faith) there are five: the profession of faith ("there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet") which is recited in solemn moments; the ritual prayer five times a day facing Mecca, in a State of purification and with a few gestures and preset terms; the fast yearly in the month of Ramadan, namely to refrain from consuming food and drink and sex from sunrise to sunset of the Sun; legal alms or zakat, as religious purification of wealth and contribution to the support of the community; and the pilgrimage to Mecca once in life. Participation in the holy war, for the defense and expansion of faith, does not constitute an obligation, but it is an act pleasing to Allah, which grants paradise to whoever dies in combat, forgiving its faults and sins.
In addition to these duties, Islam establishes other rules of lower rank that must be observed by the good Muslim: the prohibition of eating pork or animals, or drinking wine or intoxicating fluids; the convenience of practicing charity with the disadvantaged; the respect for life and other properties; the veto on the loan with RIBA; fairness and justice in business transactions.
In this regard, it should be emphasized that the Quran governs not only religious aspects and ethical-moral behavior, but also the Organization of ordinary life, field in which accepts some customs of pre-Islamic Arabia. Thus, for example, consolidates the patriarchal concept of the family and the role of women is at a lower level to the be regarded legally as minor, although the Quran insists repeatedly in the duty to treat women respectfully and wives the right to divorce in the event of ill-treatment. Polygamy is allowed without further limitation to the number of wives (it may not exceed the figure four), but the concubines is unlimited, so the financial means of the individual sets the number of women who can have. In any case, we must not forget that Islam was born in a particular environment (that of Arabia at the beginning of the 7th century) and that the current valuation of the same must take into account this circumstance, under penalty of committing a grave mistake.

Theology and ethics

Islam rejects so resounding polytheism, and even the possibility of a human being to participate in some way in the divinity: God, Allah, is omnipotent and unique. Primordial act of mercy, Allah created the world and man, and endowed to each be their own nature and laws that govern their behavior. The result is a cosmos orderly and harmonious; that order and harmony is the main proof of the existence and unity of God. Nature was created at the service of humanity that can exploit it self-serving. But humanity, in turn, exists to serve God: must build a just social order, guided by ethical principles, and worship God.
God's mercy is not only manifested in the creation of a nature to the service of man, but also in its communication with the men through the prophets. Although the human being possesses the knowledge of good and evil, you need a spiritual guide. The teachings of all the prophets come from the same divine source, and therefore various religions are, in essence, a single, although they acquire forms, rituals or different institutions. The prophets are merely human, but, insofar as his teachings come from God, you cannot reject some and accept others: there will always be that abide by its teachings. The particularity of Muhammad is the be the last Messenger of God's will; Therefore the revelation in the Quran is the last and the most perfect and should be imposed on the former.
God, after creating heaven and Earth, created man in the person of Adam, taught him the names of all beings and asked to be his vicar on Earth. Since the dawn of the history of mankind, desired by God religion was Islam, but as the men forgot him, God sent prophets to remind you. These profetas-enviados could have also another mission, the enacted temporary legislation that injertara in the immutable religion. In this way, the history of humanity is understood as the successive shipments of prophets to different peoples. Some were sent to the peoples of Arabia, and others, to the Hebrews. The penultimate of envoys was Jesus, simple creature, sent only to the children of Israel. At the end, when it was time, Mahoma was sent to the first Arabs and then to all of humanity. After it will not be sent any prophet; legislation enacted in the Quran will be valid until the day of resurrection.
The Quran censorship as major flaws of human pride and unconsciousness of its insignificance, selfishness and parochialism. Men live pending of the earthly, forget the creator and only return to him when nature fails. In their myopia, men believe not get nothing of charity or aid to his fellow men, ignoring that God will reward them with prosperity. The Quran encourages the individual to transcend and overcome such shortcomings. This will develop his righteousness, his moral "attention" or taqiyya (whose more accurate translation is "caution" or"defense", the danger though it is usually translated as "fear of God") and may examine judiciously, not self-deceptions, the moral value of their shares. The ultimate goal of human behavior should be the good of humanity and not the pleasures and selfish ambitions.

Representation of the last judgment
The world will end the day of reckoning: mankind will be gathered and individuals will be judged by their actions. The "elect" will go to the garden (the Paradise) and the "losers" will go to hell, even though God is merciful and forgive those who are deserving of it. The Quran recognizes also another kind of Divine Providence, which affects the history of peoples and Nations. Like people, they can be corrupted by wealth or pride, and if they are not reformed they will be punished with destruction or their subjection to more virtuous Nations.

The precepts of Islam

The importance of the five religious obligations of the believer above is reflected in the name which are known: "the five pillars of islam". The first is the profession of faith (shahada): "there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet". It must be made public by every Muslim at least once in your life "verbally and with total concurrence of heart", and is the income of the individual in the community.
The second, the salat, is the obligation to perform five prayers a day: before sunrise, at noon, between three and five in the afternoon, after the sunset, and before midnight. At such times of the day, the muezzin (of el-Mu ' addin, "the caller to prayer") makes a public call from a minaret of the mosque. Before the prayer, the devotee should make relevant ablutions. Prayer, carried out towards the Kaaba, start standing; then make a genuflection to which are two prostrations; Finally, the faithful sit. In each position, certain sentences and fragments of the Koran are recited. As the Holy day of Islam, Friday held special prayers of a Community nature, preceded by the sermon of the magnet.

Muslims praying in the great
Mosque of Srinagar (India)
The third fundamental precept is to give zakat or alms. The zakat was originally a tax demanded by Muhammad (and later by Muslim States) to the more affluent members of the community, especially to help the poor, although it was also used to other humanitarian needs or to finance the Jihad or holy war. Only if the zakat has delivered are considered legitimate and purified the properties or riches of the believer. Today, although your payment is still an obligation, it has become a voluntary alms upon which Governments do not intervene.
The fourth pillar is fasting or saum which every Muslim must perform during the month of Ramadan: must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and intercourse from sunrise to the sunset, and avoid every thought or act sinful. Those who can afford it, moreover, should eat at least a poor. Finally, the hach or pilgrimage to the Kaaba, in Mecca, is also an obligation for every Muslim adult who has sufficient assets and is not physically incapacitated. It must be done during the first ten days of the last month of the lunar year and requires that the faithful are in a State of absolute purity. Pilgrims must give seven laps at the Kaaba and running seven times to light passing between the two mounds next to the shrine. Thus comply with the so-called "Hajj". The "lesser pilgrimage" includes the visit to various rites, and next sites of Mina and Arafat as stoning with seven stones of three points that evoke the three times that Abraham was tempted by the devil.

Islamic law and society

For Islam, all walks of life (spiritual, social and political) constitute an indivisible unit that should be governed by Islamic values. Thus, the concept of society of Islam is essentially theocratic; society and everything human must be organized in accordance with the will of God. This ideal also inspired concepts of Islamic law and the Islamic State, and explains the pointed emphasis of Islam on social obligations. The fundamental religious duties set out in the five pillars have already in themselves clear implications for the life of the community. But also the sharia or Islamic law sets moral guidelines of the community. In Islamic society, the law covers a wider field than in the culture of the West, since it includes moral and legal imperatives. Therefore not all Islamic law can be formulated as a legal rule or imposed by the courts; It depends largely on awareness.
Islamic law is based on four sources. The first of these is, of course, the Koran, which continues, as a second documentary source, the tradition represented by the Sunna and Hadith. The third source is ijtihad (responsible for "individual opinion") and with her problematic issues not addressed in the Quran or Hadith, although the lawyer relies on such sources to, by means of an analogical reasoning (qiyas), reach a conclusion are settled. Such arguments were already used by Islamic theologians and jurists in the conquered countries, had to deal with the need for harmonizing laws and local customs with the Islamic creed. The fourth source is the community consensus (ijma), which gradually rule out certain opinions and accept others. Since Islam lacks an official dogmatic authority, it is a process that requires a long time.

The Islamic State

Islam gave way to a political institution, the Islamic State, whose bases were defined in a document from the year 622, the first year of the Islamic era or hegira: the "Constitution of Medina". In it, the Prophet regulated the activities of their community, the umma initially reduced and that spread in less than one century from the India to the Atlantic. In their tribal environment, Mahoma implemented a law Supreme and true as most suitable for all men.
The Koran contains a net political ideology, for the compulsory recognition of a principle of authority and the distinction between righteousness and error. Allah, Almighty and single, has lieutenants of his power in the world, explicitly named in the Qur'anic text, although it is not reached to point out the way as it must govern the Muslim community following the disappearance of the Prophet, aspect which had to be supplemented by a further elaboration juridico-religiosa. The Hadith also developed the doctrine of the need to recognize a sovereign, Caliph or Imam of the Muslim community, collecting sayings of the Prophet such as "whoever obeys me, God obeys; who disobeys me, disobeys God. Who obeys his boss, me me is due, and who disobeys him, disobeys me me."
The Islamic political order establishes the existence of a community of faithful United with their rector, in harmony, something that happened for a short time as ideal. Muhammad was both "Prophet and statesman," as the title of a famous book of the British scholar William Montgomery Watt; in Mahoma prophecy was completed, and after his death in the year 632, his successors improvised an elective monarchy, which fell in four of their relatives, the "Orthodox Caliphs", until in the 661 the Umayyad dynasty took power, which was seized by the Abbasid dynasty in 750.
Soon broke the unity of the Islamic State, due to conflicts that erupted over the question of who should lead it: Shiites only accepted to direct descendants of Muhammad to play that role; the khaarijis did not require as a condition for it a particular lineage, but certain personal qualities of the candidate, and for the "Orthodox" or sunni Islam sovereignty could only exercise it belonging to the tribe of Quraish, that of the Prophet. Several practical conflicts broke the unit initial of the Islamic community, and even in the 10th century coexisted, as if it were a schism, three caliphates simultaneously: the Abbasids of Baghdad, the Fatimids of Tunisia (who then moved to Cairo) and the Umayyads of Córdoba.

The expansion of Islam

The rapid expansion of Islam was due to the situation of internal weakness in which they were the Byzantine and Sassanid, Empires exhausted by their ongoing clashes; on the other hand, neither of them gave much importance to the Arab expeditions, and when they wanted to react was too late. It must also take into account the superiority military invaders, they enjoyed great mobility thanks to a light armament consisting of swords, bows and Spears, while their enemies were paralyzed by heavy equipment. In addition, his mastery of the ancient routes allowed them to place camps at strategic locations. To its successes also contributed the directive ability of some Caliphs who were brilliant military leaders as well as the religious feelings of the Arab people (which facilitated the triumph over opponents who were weak and disunited) and relative tolerance towards the conquered populations.
As long as that apostle of God, Mahoma had not planned their succession. He was convinced that he was the link between God and man, and thought that real carrier of his authority was not, in fact, himself, but the community as a whole and divine law that guided it. This imprecision brought the first problems at the heart of the umma after the death of the Prophet in the 632.
The disappearance of Mohammed was on the verge of destroying the political and social building, which had begun to build. The hours that followed his death were the most critical of the history of Islam, because of the rivalry between the members of his family and the quraishi aristocracy when deciding who should replace him as head of the umma. It was the more intimate group of his disciples which resolved the situation, choosing to happen to Abu Bakr, father and friend of the Prophet, who received the title of Caliph (Khalifa rasul Allah), i.e. "successor of the Envoy of God". In this way, so vague in its functions and so vague in its terms of reference and in the form of election or appointment, the institution of the Caliphate was born.

Mohammed and the four Orthodox Caliphs
Abu Bakr (632-634) was recognized as the new head of the community, with the exception of certain Bedouin tribes who started a movement for secession or "apostasy" (ridda). Along with Umar (634-644), Utman (644-656) and Ali (656-661), forms the Group of so-called Orthodox Caliphs (rasidun), companions of Muhammad and that they had personally known to the Prophet. Under his rule occurred the first expansion of Islam, especially during the Caliphate of Umar, who had an outstanding military and organizational capacity.

The Orthodox Caliphate

After the death of Muhammad, the main goal was achieve unity in Arabia, submitting the rebellious tribes, and affirm, therefore the supremacy of Islam, thing in less than a year would meet Abu Bakr to overcome local resistance and impose the dominance of Islam in almost all Arabia, allowing you to start the expansion by Syria, Palestine Mesopotamia, Persia and Egypt.
Following the route used by the Arabs in their movements to richer lands in another time, the Muslims came to the borders of Palestine, where his victory over the Byzantines in Aynadayn (634) allowed them to conquer all Syria soon (in the 635 took Damascus). A new triumph in Yarmuk (636) facilitated the occupation of Jerusalem (638), which was considered since the second Holy City of Islam, after Mecca. The weakness of the Byzantine Empire and the existence in Palestine and Syria from Arab groups that provided assistance to the Muslims favored these conquests.
The Arab armies penetrated into high Mesopotamia, and later reached Armenia, allowing their local Princes to maintain some autonomy in Exchange for the payment of taxes. From there they carried out several sorties until the current Ankara, without success, for the moment, settle in that area. At the beginning of the 8th century, the Arab advance halted in the Taurus Mountains.

Expansion of Islam under the Orthodox Caliphate
The first expeditions against the Sassanid Empire carried them out Arab tribes in lower Mesopotamia, in support of which was later attended by Arab armies. In the year 633 seized Hira, the ancient capital of the lakmies, and, after the decisive battle of Qadisiyah (637), occupied Ctesiphon, the Sassanid capital. In their advance by Mesopotamia called Iraq since then, Muslims were not limited to existing cities, but they also founded military bases (amsaar) such as Basra and Kufa, South of the ancient Babylon, where he undertook the conquest of the West and the center of Persia.
Faster was the conquest of Egypt, as the population, mostly Coptic, was subject to heavy exactions by the Byzantine rulers led by the Patriarch of Alexandria, whom Emperor Heraclio I (610-641) entrusted the resistance against the Muslims. There, as happened in Syria, the arrival of these was received with pleasure. In addition, the Byzantine army could not attend curb the advance of the Muslim army led by Amr ibn al - As, who soon took the most important cities and founded the fortified camp of Fustat (641), origin of the old Cairo. This was consolidated in Egypt Arab domination and concluded the first phase of the Muslim expansion.

The Organization of the Caliphate

It must not have been easy task organization of the newly created Muslim empire, because there was no regulation on how they should be treated vanquished peoples, so it has resorted to the example given by Muhammad in the Qur'an. Interested Muslims keep his post to the population that dominated, since it represented an important source of income, because their taxes were valuable contributions to the economic life of the community.
The distribution of the conquered lands was not performed in a uniform manner, because it was considered the way in which accountability occurred. In Syria and Egypt was respected the situation and allowed owners keep their lands in Exchange for the payment of the land tax (kharaj), since the surrender was the result of an agreement. Didn't the same thing in Iraq, where lands were confiscated for the most part since the resistance was very strong, and the capitulation, unconditional. In a similar way was in the lands of the Byzantine Empire which had belonged to the State or to owners who had fled, which was confiscated and became part of the assets of the Muslim State.
It corresponded to the Caliph Umar proceed to the Organization of the conquered lands and the effective reform of the administration of the Empire. At first, the spoils of war is distributed in accordance with the Quran, so that one-fifth was destined to Allah, his Prophet or the successors of the same, and the rest was distributed among the fighters. But soon saw the need to regulate a comprehensive administrative system that accumulate all revenues in the Treasury and, accordingly, draw up the list of fighters and establish the corresponding payments and fixed salaries.
The Caliphs ensured order in the newly conquered territories, and so considered of interest encourage the emigration of Muslims outside Arabia, granting lands for this purpose, which created a group of new owners which, logically, would them faithful. Military bases on the edge of the desert, serving, in turn, of shopping centers were created at the same time. In this way it was proceeding on distribution and occupation of the conquered lands. The expansion of the Muslim empire made it necessary to create specific charges dealing directly with the Government of the different provinces; However, in some places, as in Egypt, the Byzantine administration was respected and officials continued in their posts.
Thus, by the principles laid down by Muhammad and the institutions and traditions of the dominated peoples, is was organizing the Muslim State, especially during the reign of Umar. Endowed with an exceptional political wisdom, a tenacious will and a vigorous energy, concerned, above all, to serve the interests of Islam, this Caliph was the real organizer of the Muslim State: he promoted the conquest, created new cities, made territorial donations, launched the Administration, organized the army, stronger central authority and promoted many initiatives through which Islam began to transform itself into a society governed by the order and the hierarchy.
However, his death began to show the first signs of division within the Muslim community. His successor, Utman, belonging to the clan of the Umayyads (members of the tribe of Quraish, and the aristocracy of Mecca), worried about more than encourage the members of his family to serve the good of Muslims, which provoked many revolts. To this was added the discontent on the part of the population have been braked conquests and unable to get the rich spoils of the past, increased discomfort because, when Utman came to power, Arabia it was undergoing a serious financial crisis and had significant economic difficulties.
There are, however, noted that during his Government continued the advance in North Africa, is conquered the Jurasan and were important maritime expeditions, which allowed the conquest of Cyprus (649) and other islands of the Eastern Mediterranean, which put an end to the Byzantine hegemony in that area. His assassination, in the 656, created a huge upset among the Umayyads, who tried to avenge his death, initiating a period of discord that ended up dividing the Muslim community.

The end of the Orthodox Caliphate

During the confusion that followed the death of Utman, the population of Medina named Caliph Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet (he had married his daughter Fatima), of dubious qualities as a statesman. There was no agreement on the choice, and the mequies showed their dissatisfaction by this designation, because they wished that he was elected a member of the Umayyad family.
Ali must face the opposition of the followers of the late Caliph, grouped around the Umayyad Muawiya, Governor of Syria and cousin of Utman, as followers of Aisha, widow of Muhammad, who could not accept that Ali (who already had faced on other occasions) would have benefited from a crime. The first armed clash took place in the vicinity of Kufa in 656, and is known as the "battle of the camel", animal that Aisha was riding and around which was fought; This meeting marks the beginning of clashes between members of the Muslim community. The triumph of Ali strengthened his power, but only in Iraq, since neither Amr ibn al - As in Egypt and Muawiya in Syria recognized his authority.
In the 657 occurred a new confrontation between Muslims in Siffin plain, on the banks of the Euphrates, where occurred one of the most famous events in the history of Islam: when Muawiya was about to be defeated, Amr, its ally, had the idea of placing sheets of the Quran at the tip of Spears, as a symbol of appeal the judgment of Allah; This avoided the defeat, because all laid down the weapons. Some followers of Ali showed their disapproval by this attitude and wanted to return to the fight, but the refusal of the Caliph to resume combat left him, and withdrew. Muslim history gave this group the name of khaarijis, "those who leave"; Ali fought them, and died murdered by one of them in the 661.
The Caliphate of Ali was a complete failure, as they lost the unity of the Muslim world, who, at his death, was split into three groups: the khaarijis, Shia and Sunni, that disagreed as to the legitimacy of the power supply. The khaarijis maintained that any pious Muslim could access the Caliphate. The Shi'a (members of the "party of Ali", xi'at Ali) considered illegitimate Muawiya both the previous Caliphs, because they argued that succession to the Caliphate was legitimate by inbred line; they were grouped around the wife of Ali, Fatima, and to his sons, Hasan and Husayn. The Sunnis accepted the authority of Muawiya, and considered that the Caliphate was not transmitted by direct blood line, but that they should be entitled members of the tribe of the Prophet.
With the death of Ali ended the theocratic regime that had based the Quran and, as a model, the behavior of the Prophet. Since then, it was necessary to use wise exegetes or pious traditionalists to clarify or fill gaps in the requirements of the Quran or the Sunnah (the sayings and facts attributed to Muhammad set). Own expansion of the Empire, the evolution of the society or the development of the economy would force the successive Caliphs to adapt the structures of the State to the problems of the moment.

The Umayyad Caliphate

While Hasan, son of Ali, was recognised as his father's successor, renounced their rights in favor of Muawiya (661-680). This meant the establishment of the Umayyad dynasty at the head of the Muslim community, whose destinations was going to go for a period of nearly a century, and the triumph of the aristocracy on the companions of Muhammad quraishi. The first objective of Muawiya was the foundations of a dynasty rooted in Syria, where he himself had been established since the first moments of the conquest, and try to consolidate and strengthen caliphal authority in a time that was latent civil war and began to manifest itself with separatist movements.
Muawiya printed a new orientation to the Caliphate, giving absolute priority to governmental centralization, with the aim that all power shifting in the Caliph. He promoted pre-Islamic habits to surround himself with a consultative body or sura of nobles, also involving delegations from Arab tribes that gave its approval to the decisions of the Caliph. He introduced, at the same time, the principle of autocratic superiority of the Caliph, against the theocratic State bequeathed by Muhammad, and maintained by the first two Caliphs, and assured the dynastic procedure, imposing hereditary transmission, to designate successor in life to his son, as had the Byzantines, ratified by the suradecision. Through this consultation, the Muslim community recognized the authority of the chosen person and undertook to obey it.
In the Organization of the central Government and the administration of the provinces was inspired by models of the old Byzantine administration, which he knew well for the time that he was Governor of Syria, and moved the capital of the new dynasty to Damascus, leaving Medina and Mecca as political centers, which caused a deep discomfort among some groups of Muslims.
Thanks to his ability and his personal prestige, Muawiya was able to overcome the difficulties and internal problems and keep the peace in the vast Empire that ruled. During his term and that of his successors, Abd al - Malik (685-705) and Al - Walid (705-715) continued the Muslim advance in three directions: Constantinople and Asia minor, North Africa and the Iberian peninsula, and Central Asia.
The wars of conquest against the Byzantines continued in Asia minor, but in this area the Arab armies found an insurmountable obstacle: the Taurus Mountains, by which the territories located around them were the subject of permanent dispute between Muslims and Byzantines. On the other hand, the Arabs besieged Constantinople several times, both by land and by sea (668-669, 674-680, 716-718), but the Byzantine capital hard resisted their attacks.
After the conquest of Egypt, the Arabs continued their offensive in North Africa. Its achievements include the Foundation, in 670, a camp in al - Qayrawan (Kairouan), which protected the route to Egypt and served as a base to confront the Berber tribes of the West of Ifriqiya (Tunisia); taking of Carthage (698); the submission of the tribes of the Centre and West of the Maghreb, and the conquest of the peninsula Iberica (711-715).

The Umayyad Caliphate
In the East, the Muslim armies took Afghanistan (698-700) and the Transoxiana (from 650), putting forward to islamize the conquered territories. Such was the case of Bukhara and Samarkand (conquered in the 709 and 712, respectively), which became two large Muslim centers of Central Asia. Shortly after they invaded Chinese Turkestan and penetrated into the India, in 711.
During the ninety years of rule of the Umayyad dynasty, the Muslim empire reached the extreme limits of its expansion: stretched from the India to the Iberian peninsula. But despite their efforts, the numerous revolts that occurred inside weakened the Umayyads in such a way that they were not able to stop the Abbasid thrust. The 750 year marked the end of the Umayyad in East dynasty, because only one of its members, the Prince Abd al - Rahman, escaped from the slaughter of the Abbasids; It was he who, in 756, established the Umayyad dynasty in al - Andalus.

The Abbasid Caliphate

With the arrival of the Abbasids (descendants of al - Abbas, uncle of the Prophet) Islam suffered a new transformation. First, the civil war between two dynasties harmed for a short space of time the unity of the Empire. Secondly, the confrontation showed the decline of a type of Government that had been powerless to stop the adverse movements (khaarijis, Shia). Thirdly, it was necessary to adopt measures that calm down social and economic unrest that prevailed between the muwallad, the non-Arab population converted to Islam.
This new Arab dynasty directed the destinies of the Muslim empire from 750 to 1258, year in which the Mongols took the city of Baghdad; but, effectively, the Empire of the Abbasids lasted only until the end of the 9th century, when they began to shatter their domains. One of the first changes that took place was the transfer of the seat of Government to Iraq, where in the 762 the Caliph Al - Mansur (754-775) founded Baghdad, the new capital. This was intended to establish his power in a turbulent area and satisfy Iraqis and Iranians, left behind by the Umayyads. However, the removal of the capital for the Muslim West would encourage independence movements in this last area.
The abasies Caliphs showed a very different to the Umayyad attitude. These were heads of the tribe and community, and Arab kings, whose power rested in the army. Abbasid era historians later to the Umayyads have broken the organization proposed by the Caliphs rasidun to establish instead a secular Kingdom. For its part, the Abbasids gave preference to his religious prestige: the Caliph was the magnet, the spiritual and temporal head, an absolute sovereign, whose power was regulated in the Islamic law; even more, was "representative of God" on Earth, and not only the successor to the Prophet. This idea so great them and took them away from their subjects, with those who rarely had contact, because they lived normally held in luxurious palaces. Its power is also reflected in the temporal sphere, where all authority showed. Very few were the Caliphs who ruled personally, since, in the likeness of the Persian administration, used to delegate the Affairs of State in a vizier, whose power was large. This office became hereditary, so true dynasties of viziers, emerged as the Iranian family of the Barmakies.

The Abbasid Caliphate
The administrative principles were not changed in a special way. The offices of the Administration (diwan), very sophisticated, constituted true ministries. The form of Government, was transformed, however, because she was left feeling the influence of recruited staff between the Iranian muwallad , since the Arabs, although they were not excluded from power, not occupied the most important administration jobs. On the other hand, the army had lost its conquering function, and at that time should ensure to maintain and apply the law within the Empire; its members were first recruited between the jurasanies, and, since the 9th century, among the Turks.

The break-up of the Abbasid Caliphate

Among the abasies Caliphs they deserve special mention Harum Al - Rashid (786-809) and Al - Mamun (813-833). With al - Rashid the Caliphate lived one of its moments of greatest splendor; This character was known in the West for the relations with the Byzantine empress Irene and with Charlemagne. However, it was he who began the collapse of the Caliphate, granting to Ibrahim ibn Aglab, Governor of Ifriqiya, an autonomy close to independence.
Meanwhile, in al - Andalus had been an independent Umayyad Emirate, and several local authorities had arisen in Morocco: the dynasty of the rustemies of Tahert (776-911, founded by the Kharijite Ibn Rustum) and that of the Idrisid (788-974, founded by the Shi'a Idris I). However, at the beginning of the 9th century, the Abbasid Empire was the greatest economic and political power of the time. During the Government of al - Mamun, the Abbasid civilization reached its peak: Baghdad became a cultural center, where arose the social and cultural norms followed in other Muslim countries.
During the second half of the 9th century began the decline of the Abbasid Empire, motivated in large part by the economic crisis and the proliferation of secessionist movements. In its expansion, Islam had clumps a set of peoples and races very different among themselves; such differences unloaded in few centuries the ties which bound them the sole Government, until admitted, of the Muslim community. Several were the reasons that prompted the secessionist movements: the remoteness of the metropolis, the isolation of certain areas, the idea of race and, in particular, the desire for enrichment through weapons. In this way, in the middle of the 10th century there were already three Caliphs in the Muslim world: the abasi in Baghdad and the Umayyad Cordoba and the Fatimid Cairo.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

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