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Umayyad Caliphate, The: The History and Legacy of the Second Islamic Kingdom Established After Muhammad’s Death

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Umayyad Caliphate, The: The History and Legacy of the Second Islamic Kingdom Established After Muhammad’s Death

Scritto da Charles River Editors

Narrato da Kelly McGee

Lunghezza: 2 ore


The split between the two forms of Islam was already in the process of forming upon the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad had constructed around himself not only a potent new religious movement but also a powerful young state called the Ummah (the "Community" for lack of a better translation). Belonging to the Islamic faith also meant belonging to the Ummah, which was governed by its own laws and had many of its own institutions. In his own lifetime, Muhammad had ruled the Ummah through what sociologists call "charismatic authority," a term coined by Max Weber that is defined as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Hence, Muslims believe Muhammad ruled because he was uniquely chosen and endowed by God as the exemplar of all humanity, giving him a unique (though not perfect or infallible) ability to govern humanity. This was a holistic form of governance because the Prophet did not simply deliver God's words (what became the Holy Qur'an), nor did he simply pronounce upon court cases and create laws. He did all those things, but he also presented in his own person the embodiment of the best that humanity could aspire to. He was fully human, but the finest, most pious example that humans would ever produce.

Amid the upheaval in the Islamic world following Muhammad’s death, the Umayyad Caliphate lasted for less than a century, but in that time it managed to become one of the most influential of the major caliphates established following him. Its official existence was from 661-750, and the rulers were the male members of the Umayyad dynasty, roughly translated from Arabic as the “Sons of Umayyah.” Its primary base of power was in Syria following the creation of a dynastic, hereditary rule headed by one of Syria’s long-lasting governors, Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan.

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