The Umayyads

Abdulhadi Alajmi

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:
The Umayyads


The study of Umayyad history (661–750 ce/41–132 ah) is one of the most important subjects of Islamic history and overall human history. The students of this period are often amazed at the awesome military achievements of the empire and the period in which it occurred. The Umayyads reached westward to Spain and eastward to Indonesia in less than forty years after they came to power. What type of political arrangement did the Umayyads have to be able not only to experience this rapid military expansion but also to maintain political control over the newly acquired lands? How was it possible for a family of Arab descent connected to other Arab tribes to gain the legitimacy, secular or religious, necessary for maintaining control over a large non-Arab and even non-Muslim population? Finally, how was the empire able to establish a reliable tax system to finance its military operations as well as architectural building activities? These are the questions that Western scholars often try to answer when dealing with the Umayyads. The problem remains that, as a rule of thumb, a history student would often like to find primary sources written about the subject. Our case here is very difficult. The Arabic sources dealing with the Umayyads are secondary material written by scholars hostile to the dynasty and living under the Abbasid regime, which in itself carried out a revolution and eventually toppled the Umayyads. Given the nature of these historical sources, one must raise the question of whether a reliable understanding of the period will ever be possible. As a result, scholars often pursue this period carefully by trying to answer the above questions.

Article.  6966 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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