The Umayyad Dynasty and the Rise of Islam

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After Ali's Death, the Rise of the Umayyad Dynasty

After Ali's death, Mu'awiya took over the caliphate, founding the Umayyad dynasty (661-750) and moved the capital to Damascus. Mu'awiya achieved the modernization of the army, which led to territorial expansion. He introduced registries in administration and an effective postal system. On a political level, he practiced a tribal system of leadership, reviving Shura (council of elders) and wufud (delegations sent by tribes to inform the caliph). Therefore, in this era, blood and tribal relations resurfaced, substituting the former religious faith as the main element of unification of society. Mu'awiya named his son Yazid as his successor. There were many revolts in Medina (by old Muslim families rallied around Abdullah ibn Zabayr) and Kufa (Ali's old capital, who were supporting Husayn, Ali's son, as the leader of the revolt, which turned into a civil war - Battle of Karbala in 680 - where Husayn was killed).

Sunni Islam and Shia Islam

Sunni Islam defends that the caliph is the elected successor of the Prophet and succeeded in the political and military leadership of the community but had only limited religious status.

Shia Islam places the leadership on the Iman, who had to be a direct descendant of Muhammad and Ali. The title was only appointed by God, and he had both political power and an authoritative interpreter.

The Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood emerged in the Suez Canal, as it was the region with the strongest colonial presence. Founded by Hassan al-Banna, the movement called for the implementation of Sharia law as a way to subvert European domination. They had developed an idea according to which the main enemies of Islam are the West or they developed later a doctrine called Takfirism (if a Muslim was to deviate from the right path, he is an apostate and he can be killed). It branched out across the Middle East (Hamas, 1987). Its Islamic discourse was a means to criticize foreign companies and their sponsor governments in the exploitation of Egyptian workers. They also believed in the importance of charity and have conservative views on gender rights.

The Balfour Declaration (1917)

The British gave official support to the Zionist cause (Zionism seeks the reestablishment of Jewish life on a national basis), promising the Jews to help them create a "national home for the Jewish people".

The Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916)

French and British foreign ministers met secretly and decided to divide the Middle East into spheres of interest. It was a blueprint for the carving up of the post-Ottoman Middle East into British, French, and Russian (initially) spheres of influence. But the leak of the plans by the Russians caused a wave of anti-European sentiment. In November 1918, the Anglo-French declaration would formalize the agreement, stating that both sought to assist in the establishment of government and administrations in Syria. Basically, GB was offered to help with the creation of a united Arab State, while it was promising the creation of a national home for the Jewish people, and at the same time, it was dividing the zones into spheres of influence.

The McMahon-Hussein Correspondence (1915-1916)

There was a strong Arab nationalist sentiment, popular among urban elites and some traditional leaders seeking greater autonomy. WWI caused the arrest of many Arab nationalist leaders under the accusation of collaboration with GB or France. The sheriff of Mecca reached out to Britain's High Commissioner in Egypt asking for help. The Damascus Protocol (July 1916) was a promise to help the Arabs to overthrow the Ottoman rule and obtain independence. In 1916, the Arab revolt against the Ottomans started, which lasted until the end of WWI.

The Independence War of 1948

The independence war of 1948 ended in an armistice and resulted in the creation of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Israel increased its territory nearly 23% more than what had initially been assigned by the UN. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank were annexed by Egypt and Jordan, respectively (Palestinian territories were not only occupied by Israel but by Jordan and Egypt). It's also the beginning of the Palestinian Refugee problem. This situation remained until the Six Day War (1967).

The Yom-Kippur War (1973)

The Yom-Kippur War lasted 6 months, and the Israelis could not foresee this war, so it was seen as a defeat even though Israel didn't lose its positions. It was a turning point because the Arab States decided to join efforts against Israel using oil. The Gulf monarchies decided to carry out an embargo of oil to the countries that supported Israel. This caused a worldwide crisis due to the high prices, which made the conflict's nature turn domestic and forced western countries to decide between Israel or Oil.

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