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One of the most effective dynasties to govern the vast Muslim empire was the Umayyad. The Umayyads were initially ruled by the Abu Sufyan dynasty. The family, who were primarily traders, had initially opposed Islam. However, they changed their ways in the first half of 627 and went on to succeed Mohammed and his immediate successors as effective administrators. The second of the four principal Arab caliphates was Umayyad Cordoba. The government was established soon after the Muslim Civil War, which ended in AD 655.
Syria served as the Umayyads' primary power base, and subsequently Damascus became their capital. There are various reasons why the Umayyad Cordoba was regarded as special. Some of these reasons include the fact that it was an extensive kingdom. The other reason is that their system of administrations was considerably different and finally the fact that kingdom had been established in earlier. One thing that the Umayyad's are known for the fact that they transformed the caliphate empire from what was a formerly religious institution into a dynastic one (Lewis 6). Even though they have been met by what is seen as a negative perception from the Islamic historians, their representations can be seen in the transformation that they brought about. As a result, they can be considered as part of the Arab golden age which was set to emulate and restore.
Establishment of the Caliphate of Cordoba was one of the greatest achievements of Moorish Spain. It resulted in the conversion of the city into the largest cities, particularly in the western world. In the same regard, it cited as a major rival of constantaple. The legacy of the caliphate of Cordoba remains even in the contemporary world with most of the contributions such as the Islamic art. Among the most conspicuous pieces of art include those that are integrated into the construction of cathedral mosque of Cordoba as well as the Alcazar of Cordoba. Indeed the history of Umayyad Cordoba continues to resonate with various personalities. As the caliphate of Cordoba came to an end in the year 1031, the actual political system came to an abrupt stop. Moreover, there was the emergence of the Taifa kingdoms that further led to the weakening of the empire (Lewis 5).
The first time the Umayyad dynasty is then they had moved from the original capital headed to Damascus. For this period, the caliphate of Damascus remained the center of power both regarding political and spiritual entities. One of the leaders who was able to eliminate the Umayyad family was identified as Muhammad's grandchildren. However, one of the individuals who survived the massacre was supposed to travel across the Maghreb and successfully emerge on the other side of the Mediterranean (Abulafia 61).
The individual in this case was Abd ar-Rahman, he was protected by various tribes in northern Africa, specifically the Berber tribes. Afterward, he landed in Spain in a region identified as almoner where he began his stay. Consequently, he gained support from a majority of the Syrian troop and therefore he managed to defeat the Abbasids. It is at this point that he was accorded the title of Amir by his followers. Even after being accorded the title, he chose not to proclaim himself as the caliph so as to avoid opposition from the government of Damascus and that time. However one of the actions that demonstrated a change is that he chose to develop a new political structure that composed of trustworthy men. Another factor that led to the development of the empire is that by the tie of Rahman's death a strong political system had already been established.
At the time that Asia was undergoing a crisis, the reorganization of the Christian territories on the northern peninsula occurred by the year 912. Concurrently, Raman's rule came to an end at the same time, and this, therefore, triggered the beginning of the caliphate of Cordoba. As a result, the kingdom grew in three directions (Abulafia 193). The first one was towards Maghreb to the south. The second one comprised of the Holy Roman Empire and the Christian kingdoms which grew towards the north. Finally, there was the Byzantium which extended towards the east. Subsequently, the caliph continued to send emissaries all over the places, and therefore Cordoba grew to be established as one of the major players in the political and economic platforms. Onwards the city grew with libraries and colleges cropping up. However, there was a looming crisis following the death of Hisham II, and the spread of fitna led to the decline of the kingdom. As a result, the kingdom declined substantially in 1031 leading to the development of the Taifa kingdom and the ultimate dissolution of the kingdom (Abulafia 69).
The extent of the kingdom
As it is, the caliphate empire covered approximately 62 million people who at that time made up of 20 % the world population. The Umayyad's were criticized of having included several administrators who were of nun Muslim origin. Another achievement is that they went ahead to reduce the taxes for those who newly converted to Islam. This reduction in the tax considerably stimulated the growth of the economy and therefore led to the increase of the wealth. Also, there was a reduction in the government expenditure on the people.
The administration of the Umayyad
Although the mode of administration at that time was considered unjust, Umayyad still governed the population by the own laws. The Jewish and the Christian communities had autonomy and therefore and therefore the Umayyad administration had their consideration. In so doing their religious leaders were involved in the policy making. More so Muhammad at that time had also explicitly stated that all the Abrahamic religions were allowed to practice their religion with the condition that they would pay the taxation that was known as jizya taxation.
Another reason why the Umayyad dynasty was unique is the fact they started what is seen as the welfare state of the Muslim and the non-Muslim state. This was conducted for the poor advocated by Umar ibn al-Khattab. The finances for the development of the welfare emanated from the zakat tax that was levied from the Muslims only. Also, the Christian and Muslims were stable, and the battles were considerably reduced (Winroth 301). Noticeably the administration of the empire was well organized in that the government at large remained substantially stable. The mauwiya could borrow the ideas of governance and administration from the Byzantine Empire which had successfully ruled the region previously.
The success of the government was founded on the fact that it was based on four governmental branches. These branches were identified as military affairs, political, religious and finally the tax collection administration. Subsequently, the branches were further subdivided into more administrative branches, departments, and offices. Regarding geographical administration, the empire was divided into units known as provinces. Their borders were flexible and therefore they could change with time. Each of the provinces had an appointed administrator referred to as a khalifah (Abulafia 108). At this level, the Khalifa was in charge of the army leaders, police, religious officials as well as the civil administrators of that particular province. The local expenses were catered for by the taxes that emanated from the same provinces. The remainder of the revenues would be sent to the Damascus capital which facilitated further growth. However, as the empire continued to expand the number of the qualified workers reduced. As such the Umayyad allowed the workers from the conquered states to retain their jobs in the new government (Brown 192). As a result, most of the proceedings and works of the local government was recorded in different languages such as Coptic Persian as well as a Greek. Later on, the work began to be recorded in Arabic.
Another factor that made the Umayyad special is the fact that it relied on money economies. As such the coins remained in use even after the conquest. More so the Umayyad government also began minting their coins in Damascus. The coins are similar to the currently existing coins. Specifically, the silver coins were identified as dirhams while the golden coins have been designated as dinars (Winroth 236). With a stable currency, the economy of the caliphate became more diverse and fruitful. In this regard, trade became the most prominent source of revenue.
The social organization of the Umayyad's
One of the things that caused the Umayyad's to be unique is their nature of social organization. A close look at the empire reveals that they were organized into four social classes. The first social class was the Muslim Arabs who were at the top of the society. They were charged with the responsibility of ruling the conquered areas (Brown 341). Despite the rule of equality, the Arab Muslims considered themselves with higher esteem such that they did not mix with the other individuals. The second social class consisted of the Muslim non-Arabs which in most cases happened to be the clients of the Muslim Arabs. Thirdly there were the non-Muslim persons who were comprised of groups of Christians Jews and also the Zoroastrians. This group of the residents had been offered a protected status in the empire as long as they acknowledged the supremacy of the ruling Muslim Arabs. More so they had been given freedom of having their courts as well as allowed to exercise their religion. As a result, the Christian and the Jewish theological thinkers continued to produce some of the major religious thinks and philosophers who happened to come up with intellectual ideas (Brown 19). Such individuals would later convert to Islam and therefore contribute to a larger pool of the Islam thinkers. Finally, down in the social groups was the final groups which consisted of the slaves.
Currently, it is believed that the Umayyad family although being opposed to the Islam happened to be one of the special and successful rulers of the Muslim dynasty. An underlying reason is the fact that although they had limited resources they had focussed on creating allies. For instance, mauwiyah strengthened his political dynasty by marrying a maysunm who was a daughter of another ruling family. The marriage was majorly politically motivated, and therefore the subsequent relations with the Kalb tribe became relatively stable even after the Muslim tribe went to Syria. Subsequently, mauwiya proved to be special as he was the one who realized the full importance of the navy.
Umayyad Cordoba is also special with respects that it was marked by what is seen as territorial as well as cultural and administrative problems. The ummayads, however, had the exception of favoring the old Arab families and considerably disregarded the families of those people who has newly converted to Islam. Again in course f the administration of the Umayyad's the Arabic language became the legislative language. As a result, the currencies and documents began to be issued in the language. One achievement of the Umayyad's that made them considerably special is the fact they established the most famous buildings including the Umayyad Mosque at Damascus and the dome of the rock which is situated at Damascus.
Abulafia, David. The great sea: A human history of the Mediterranean. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Brown, Peter. Late antiquity. Harvard University Press, 1998.
Lewis, David Levering. God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215. WW Norton & Company, 2009.
Winroth, Anders. The age of the Vikings. Princeton University Press, 2014.
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