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Question 1:

What were the features of the lives of the Bedouins in the early seventh century?

Answer:

The word ‘Bedouin’ has been derived from the Arabic word 'Badawiyin', which means ‘a desert dweller’. Accordingly, the nomadic tribes of the desert regions of the Middle East are referred to as Bedouins. Some important features of the lives of the Bedouins are given below.

1. The Bedouins were basically herders moving from one place to another in search of fodder for their camels and food for their own survival.

2. The ancient Bedouins were polytheistic. In other words, they worshiped many gods. There are references to the practice of animism too.

3. The Bedouins socially organised themselves around tribes. The spirit of egalitarianism was sustained within the tribes. However, wars within the tribes were frequent. These frequent wars created chaos and anarchy in the deserts.

4. In the 7th century, members of the Bedouin tribe influenced by the achievements of Muhammad and his vision of solidarity started accepting Islam.

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Question 2:

What is meant by the term ‘Abbasid revolution’?

Answer:

The Abbasid Revolution was the first major military political upheaval in the Muslim world. This revolution was led by the Abbasid dynasty against the Umayyad dynasty in 750 AD. The main reasons that led to the revolution are:

• Promises made by the Abbasids to restore the Tawhidic civilization as formulated by the founder of Islam Muhammad

• The extreme desire to end all oppressions of the dissident groups like those inflicted by the Umayyads

Such an image of different Arabs as portrayed by the Abbasids helped them to win huge support of the masses. To make such promises a reality, a revolution under the Abbasid leader Abu Muslim was raised in 747 AD. The revolution reached its climax in the war of Zab (750 AD), which gave the final blow to the Umayyad hegemony. This revolution sealed the fate of the Umayyads in the Arab region and paved the way for the dissemination of Iranian culture.

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Question 3:

Give examples of the cosmopolitan character of the states set up by Arabs, Iranians and Turks.

Answer:

The word ‘cosmopolitan’ implies a characteristic that ensures familiarity with different countries and cultures. A country or state is referred to as cosmopolitan if it comprises multi-cultural demographics. The following points describe how the states under the control of Arabs, Iranians and Turks reflected a cosmopolitan character:

1) The Arabs brought the states of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt under their control. This helped the Arabs to get exposed to the cultures of different countries. Although the majority of the people were followers of Islam, Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews, Bedouins etc. were also assimilated in the society.They were provided autonomy to conduct their communal affairs and granted the right to property and the right to religion on the payment of taxes like jizya and kharaj. People of different cultures were also given the opportunity to participate in the administrative machinery. For example, Bedouins served as soldiers to the Ummayad caliph. There is also evidence of Christian advisors in the administration, Zoroastrian scribes and bureaucrats.

2) The Iranians under the Abbasid dynasty also showcased the spirit of cosmopolitanism in the true sense. For the first time, caliphal status was claimed by local dynasties other than the Islamic dynasties of Spain, North America, etc. The Abbasids made their influence-base truly international, which was no longer determined by the Arab nationality; it rather got extended to the community of believers. Their cosmopolitan approach is understood from the acceptance of the Persian tradition of governance. Government services were open to non-Arabic-speaking population.

3) The Turks successfully created a hybrid civilization. Their idea of cosmopolitanism was based on the Islamic principles of humanism and tolerance. The Turks established themselves as the saviours and protectors of the people who had an experience of subjugation under other regimes. Under the reign of the Turks, the Persians, the Arabs, the Christians and the Jews lived peacefully.

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Question 4:

What were the effects of the Crusades on Europe and Asia?

Answer:

The Crusades had a bitter impact on the Muslim-Christian relations. The horrors of wars forced the Muslims to constrain all ties with the Christians. The need to protect the areas inhabited by mixed populations compelled the Muslims to further act more strictly with the Christians.
Apart from violence and terror, the Crusades had some positive impacts too. The Crusades gave a huge boost to commerce. The long-drawn-out wars created a constant need for the transportation of men and goods from the East to the West and vice versa. Goods from Damascus, Alexandria and Cairo flowed into the sea ports of Italy to be further shipped to Europe. The trading activities helped in increasing the influence of the Italian mercantile class on international trade. Thus, we can say that the Crusades had diverse effects on both Asia and Europe.

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Question 5:

How were Islamic architectural forms different from those of the Roman Empire?

Answer:

Islamic Architectural Forms

All buildings used for Islamic worship, instruction and commemoration form a part of the Islamic architecture. The three most important forms of the Islamic architecture are the hypostyle mosque, the four-iwan mosque and the centrally planned mosque. Let’s discuss each of them.

Hypostyle mosque: The basic unit of the hypostyle mosque was the bay.  The bay is an area covered by four columns. In a hypostyle, the bay could be expanded so as allow the mosque to grow along. This enabled the growing community to find space for prayers.  These mosques had an inner courtyard surrounded by riwaqs or arcades on three sides. The courtyards usually had a fountain to conduct wudu. Minarets also made their appearance in mosques in this form. The most famous hypostyle mosque is the Great Mosque of Kairouan, Tunisia.

Four-iwan mosque: The four-iwan style of mosques developed in the 11th century.  Iwan was a vaulted space opening on one side of the courtyard. Of all the iwans, the principle one was well decorated. This style was highly influenced by the Persian architecture. The Masjid-i-Jami at Isfahan is an important example of the four-iwan mosque form.

Centrally planned mosque: This form of mosque was popular among the Ottomans.  The earliest example of this form was the mosque built by the Ottomans by converting the Byzantine Church of Hagia Sophia. This mosque became the prototype for several other mosques built by the Ottomans in the times to come. These mosques usually had large spherical domes and four distinct minarets. The Selimiye Cami in Edime is an example of the centrally planned mosque.

Roman Architectural Forms

Romans were great builders. They introduced several new building methods and techniques that replaced the previously used techniques of post and lintel. Roman builders introduced the use arches and columns.  On the basis of the types of columns used, Roman buildings can be classified into three main forms: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Let’s discuss each of them.

Doric style: The Doric columns are the simplest of all forms of columns. They have a circle-shaped capital at the top and a square at the top of that. The Doric form does not have any base. The Parthenon of Athens belongs to this order.

Ionic style: The Ionic style is more graceful but less imposing compared to the Doric style. This form has a more ornamented capital and a slender and fluted shaft. The Colosseum in Rome has the Ionic style of columns.

Corinthian style: This style of columns is often referred to as the king of all columns. The bell-shaped capital with acanthus leaf motifs makes these columns highly elegant.

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Question 6:

Describe a journey from Samarqand to Damascus, referring to the cities on the route.

Answer:

The journey from Samarkand to Damuscus starts off through the Silk Route. As the name suggests, the route was a major route for trade in silk. On the journey, we come across many cities that were important trade centres. Some prominent ones are Bukhara, Merv, Herāt and Nishapur.

Bukhara is the city that has long been a centre of trade, scholarship, culture and religion. It became the intellectual centre of the Islamic world during the golden age of the Samanids. From the 6th century BCE, Bukhara has been one of the main centres of world civilisations. The architecture of Bukhara is something to marvel at. It includes Po-i-Kalan complex, Kalyan or Kalon Minor (Great Minaret). The Kalyan minaret, the Tower of Death, from where criminals were executed by being thrown off the top, is another example.

Merv, formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana and later Alexandria and Antiochia in Margiana, was a major oasis city in Central Asia. It is claimed that Merv was briefly the largest city in the world in the 12th century. The oasis of Merv is situated on the Murghab River that flows from Afghanistan. Merv is advantageously situated in the inland delta of the Murghab River. This gives Merv two distinct advantages. It provided an easy southeast–northwest route from the Afghan highlands towards the lowlands of Karakum, the Amu Darya valley and Khwarezm. It also serves as a natural stopping point for the routes from northwest Iran towards Transoxiana–the Silk Road. This place was an important stop on the Silk Road during the time of the Han dynasty. Merchants traded fresh horses or camels and it was a very important oasis city.

Herat, the third largest city of Afghanistan, is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. Situated in a fertile area, Herāt was traditionally known for its wine. The city has a number of historic sites, including the Herat Citadel and the Mosallah Complex. Herāt, which was known as the Pearl of Khorasan during the Middle Ages, was one of the important cities of Khorasan. It lies on the ancient trade routes of the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. Strategic importance of the roads from Herāt to Iran, Turkmenistan and other parts of Afghanistan earns it the name ‘the gateway to Iran’.

Nishapur or Nishabur is a city in the Razavi Khorasan Province. The name comes from New Shabuhr, which means ‘New City of Shapur’, ‘Fair Shapur’ or ‘Perfect built of Shapur’. It is situated in a fertile plain at the foot of Mount Binalud. Nearby are the turquoise mines that supplied the world with turquoise for at least two millennia. Nishapur, along with Merv, Herāt and Balkh, was one of the four great cities of Greater Khorasan and one of the greatest cities in the Middle Ages. It was a dwelling place for diverse ethnic and religious groups and a trading stop on commercial routes from Transoxiana, China, Iraq and Egypt. Nishapur is known for its pottery (painted under a transparent glaze), carpet-weaving industry and turquoise masonry.



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