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West Asian religion – Ottoman and Safavid, Sunni and Shiite

By |2018-04-25T23:21:42-07:00September 11th, 2017|Islam, Religion, West Asia|

Shah Mosque, Ishfahan, Iran (1611-38) West Asia was divided into two big empires in the 1500s AD - the Ottoman Empire and the Safavid Empire. Both the Ottomans and the Safavids followed Islam, but they followed two different kinds of Islam. The rulers and most of the people of the Ottoman Empire followed Sunni Islam, but in the Safavid Empire most people followed Shiite Islam. [...]

History of religion – sacrifice, holidays

By |2018-04-21T12:09:37-07:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion|

Building at Gobekli Tepe (ca. 9000 BC) People have started a lot of different religions. Some of them are still practiced today; others are not. It is hard even to know what religion is. But let's say religion is any tendency to change your own behavior in accordance with supernatural forces. Most people [...]

What’s the difference between Shiite and Sunni?

By |2018-04-09T23:07:25-07:00July 26th, 2017|History|

In the lifetime of the Prophet Mohammed, and for some years afterwards, Islam was a united faith. But by the 650s AD, Islam split into two main sects. They fought bitterly with each other. These two sects were the Shiites (SHE-ites) and the Sunnis (SOO-knees). Both Sunnis and Shiites still exist today and they are still fighting. The Shiite [...]

The Umayyads – Early Islamic History

By |2017-07-25T17:04:54-07:00July 25th, 2017|History, Islam|

Tomb of Ali, the first Imam and the fourth caliph, in Iraq (it was rebuilt about 1500 AD by the Safavids) Mohammed died in 632 AD. His second wife's father, a rich man named Abu Bakr, took over as caliph. He became the leader of the new religion of Islam, and of the newly united Arab [...]

Saladin and the Ayyubid Dynasty

By |2019-02-07T06:01:19-07:00July 23rd, 2017|History, Islam|

Saladin Saladin started the Ayyubids When the First Crusade defeated the Fatimid Caliphs and captured Jerusalem in 1099 AD, people were very upset. People in Egypt and Syria gradually decided that the Fatimids were too weak to rule anymore. One of their generals, Saladin (Salah ad-Din ibn Ayyub in Arabic), took over control from the Fatimids. He founded the Ayyubid [...]

Architecture of the Abbasid Caliphate

By |2019-01-15T18:07:55-07:00July 22nd, 2017|Architecture, Islam|

Minaret at Samarra, 847 AD The Abbasids built Baghdad When the Abbasid dynasty moved the capital of the Islamic Empire to Baghdad from Damascus in 762 AD, of course they needed a lot of new buildings to make it beautiful. They did build a lot of lovely buildings. See earlier buildings in Damascus Medieval Islamic architecture All [...]

Buddhism and Islam – Central Asian religion

By |2018-04-16T14:00:45-07:00June 1st, 2017|Central Asia, Religion|

Bamiyan Buddhas (Afghanistan, ca. 500 AD, now destroyed by the Taliban) Central Asia's wide steppe is so easy to ride horses or camels over or walk over that there have always been a lot of people coming and going through Central Asia, and they bring their religious beliefs with them. So people in Central Asia [...]