Today (?) in Middle Eastern history: Muhammad conquers Mecca (630?)

You'll note the presence of question marks in the title to this post, and that's not to remind me to go back and check later. The question marks are there because there's no particular reason to believe that this event happened on the date that corresponds with January 11, 630, on our Gregorian calendar. Don't … Continue reading Today (?) in Middle Eastern history: Muhammad conquers Mecca (630?)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Bakhamra (763)

However, the Hasanids had their moments of rebellion. For example, there was a Hasanid-led revolt in September 762, which was ultimately squashed by the Abbasids at the Battle of Bakhamra on January 21, 763. This is sometimes considered to have been a “Zaydi revolt,” since the Zaydis claim its leader as one of their imams, … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Bakhamra (763)

Islamic History, part 30: the early Islamic military (7th-9th centuries CE)

Islamic History Series I feel pretty certain that nowadays we would point to the advent of Islam as the most important development of the movement that Muhammad began in Mecca and Medina in the first part of the 7th century. However, to contemporary observers in the period immediately following his death, it must have seemed … Continue reading Islamic History, part 30: the early Islamic military (7th-9th centuries CE)

Today in Islamic history: the Battle of the Zab (750)

One of the nice things about having done this blog as long as I’ve been doing it is that the “this day in history” posts are starting to overlap. I hope you enjoy this one from January 25, 2015, on the Battle of the Zab.

and that's the way it was

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Zab, which took place in 750 and was the climactic battle in the Abbasid Revolution that ousted the Umayyads from the caliphate. Obviously you can find out more about the revolution elsewhere on this blog, but the battle itself deserves a little mention.

The Umayyad army was primarily made up of Syrian Arabs, who had amply demonstrated their toughness and battlefield capabilities by this point in campaigns against the Byzantines and in putting down several previous rebellions. They were under the direct command of Caliph Marwan II himself, and Marwan, although he may not personally have been all sunshine and rainbows, had impressive credentials as a military leader. He’d been governor of the northernmost provinces of the empire, which meant direct responsibility for conducting raids against neighboring Christian kingdoms like the Byzantine Empire and Georgia, and he’d taken the caliphate…

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Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Bakhamra (763)

The various Shiʿa movements that have sprung up over the centuries trace their origins, obviously, to Ali b. Abi Talib, the cousin and son in-law of Muhammad. But apart from that common ancestry there have (again, obviously) been a number of disagreements within the Shiʿa community over which line of descent from Ali was legitimate. … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Bakhamra (763)

This date in history: January 16

A handful of relatively minor Middle East-related things happened on this date in history. Well, OK, the Shah leaving Iran wasn’t “relatively minor,” but the actual fact of his departure was pretty anti-climactic, and anyway you’re not getting a detailed recap of the Iranian Revolution today, sorry. I hope you enjoy this recap of the day’s events that I wrote last year instead.

and that's the way it was

I don’t have a long tale to share today, but January 16 is the anniversary of a few important days in Middle East-related history that should be commemorated.

  • On this date in 929, Abd al-Rahman III declared that his Emirate of Cordoba was no more, and in its place he created the Caliphate of Cordoba. This move restored the Umayyad dynasty to the (well, “a”) caliphate, at least on paper, and (more importantly) theoretically raised Abd al-Rahman’s position to an equal level with the Abbasid caliph, Al-Muqtadir, and the Fatimid caliph, Al-Mahdi. We could dig deeper into this, but the fact is that we’re almost there in our Islamic History series and I’d rather tackle it there in due course.
  • In 1956, Gamal Abdel Nasser pledged to “liberate” Palestine. Whatever your definition of “liberate” might be in this context, he, ah, didn’t, so there’s really not much more to say…

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