Development of “sunna,” fiqh, 4 sunni madhabs, 3 shi’i madhhabs.

Some background at:


The Shari’a provided the classic, familiar way of articulating ideas about justice, order, and values in society, and survived the breakup of the caliphate, anarchy, changing political and religious trends, and differing ethnic or racial groups. The Shari’a was often wielded more from “public opinion” than from the force of the rulers. Goldschmidt asks about the relevance of Shari’a on p. 113.




Although Islam talks about “one umma” there were indeed various levels of class consciousness. Urban professionals vs. rural or nomadic tribesmen. Farmers were usually not totally “free”


Ancestry, race, religion, sex, age.


Sharif, sayyid, etc.
Race and Color in Islam

4 millets of the Ottoman system

Pact of Umar

Women: lower status than men but many traditional guarantees that held society in place. Most activities segregated by gender.


Intellectual Life


Greek into Arabic. Hunayn ibn Ishaq, and Ishaq ibn Hunayn d. 873.

Al-Farabi d. 950

Ibn Sina d. 1037

Al-Ghazzālī d. 1111

Ibn Rushd d. 1198

Ibn Khaldūn d. 1406



Arabian Nights, Joha stories (Nasruddin Hoja, etc.).


Art: calligraphy, floral, geometric.

Architecture: mosques, citadels, public spaces,
Pictorial representation: quite popular esp. in “Gunpowder Empires”


Kalām: Theology:

Mu’tazilapeople of Al-Tawhīd  wal-Adl “Unity and Justice”

Unreality of Divine attributes—non-corporeal God—God must do justice and cannot do, does not do, evil—people are responsible for their acts—al-manzala bayn al-manzalatayn—reason used along with revelation—Qur’an was created by God, not an eternal attribute.


Ash’arism won out. Some key ideas include the reality of attributes and Qur’anic terms such as “hand of God” Bila kayf “without asking how;” and the eternity of the Qur’an. 



Summary: conflicts and diversity in classical Islamic civilization included: