wonders of monotheism: the seventh century.

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When it talks of the Byzantine Empire, topic of conversation not very common on the other hand, logical and inescapably are often mentioned emperors Constantine and Justinian, however sistematically is overlooked that Islam emerged in the seventh century, under Emperor Heraclius, so it would be fair to dedicate him a little attention.

The rebellion that began its father, exarch of Carthage and his uncle, against the government of Constantinople, ended the rule of terror that had been implanted with the support of the Persian Empire, a general named Phocas, whom Heraclius himself personally executed. Then he faced the Germanic tribes that filtered by an unwatched Danube, while the persian Sassanids snatched Egypt, Syria and Palestine. Once alleviated the problem of European borders, Heraclius instead of trying to to reconquer the imperial provinces lost in the hands of the Persians, he went straight to the heart of Persia, where he made alliances with the Turks and Khazars that allowed him to reach the gates of Ctesiphon, moment when the Persian nobility handed on a plate to Chosroes, after which the Persian Empire disappears atomized in many feudal kingdoms.During the Persian campaign, which personally led, Constantinople was besieged by the Avars, but the wealthy city resists. After regaining Palestine and Syria and apparently with the intention of channeling domestic animosity of Christianity against a common foe, Heraclius was involved in a anti-Jewish crusade in the Holy Land with the excuse of having received these, in its moment, to the Persians as liberators . The Byzantine harassment to the Jewish communities forced many of these people to migrate to some of the major Arab cities, where some tribes professed Judaism. Perhaps all this immigration aroused a certain nationalism among the Arabs, the fact is that in these circumstances Muhammad received the revelation, but not before the Archangel Gabriel at open heart extirpated the root of evil from his chest, as if it were as most normal , a less anatomical exegesis is to identify “the desire” residing in the heart as the source of evil, but certainly it is not so impressive.
After all this warfare, the bulk of the Byzantine military contingent was exhausted, too much to pay attention to what was happening in the central zone of the Arabian Peninsula, a relatively isolated area, a network of enough active of caravan centers separated by large desert areas, run by Arabs, Arab Christians as the lakhmidas, settled by the Persians in Mesopotamia, Arab Jews from Yatreb, city later called Medina and Bedouin Arabs, while the real owners of this network were the rich Jewish, Syrians and Greeks traders living in the opulent Middle Eastern imperial provinces.

The mystic landscape was at least complicated, to the early seventh century of the current era, especially within Christianity, where the massacres carried out by mobs of either sign, were the order of the day, or perhaps there were other interests much more banal. The religion that Constantine chose to solidify his empire three hundred years ago, was entangled in an unsolvable debate from a religious perspective: the nature of Jesus, a byzantine discussion that actually extends to the present, with alien theory which is probably the most recent one. The Egyptian Copts were Monophysites, a deist version where is denied the human nature of Jesus and from the beginning they were very entertaining, bruising and defacing images and texts on the walls of those monuments because they no longer understood them and were considered work of devil. In Byzantium, Monophysitism was triumphing despite the syncretistic attempt of Monothelism sponsored by the emperor. Nestorianism was Diphysite ie believed in the mixed nature of the person of Jesus and together with Monophysitism and the Maronite doctrine, all of them were fighting for Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine while in North Africa and Spain was spreading Arianism, doctrines all of them considered as heretical by the Roman Trinity except the Maronite one which was just picturesque. Muhammad apparently asked for his doctrine the recognition of Judaism, an act of naivety maybe, typical perhaps of those who believe in what the say, but as what he asked for was quite impossible, muslims, from that moment, left to pray toward Jerusalem and the Jews became the worst enemies of the Prophet.
Actually the spiritual scenario was an answer to a deeper political and economic reality: the Western Roman Empire was in the process of decomposition, the Roman emperors were no longer emperors, were not even Romans, but Goths kings and they were not living yet in Rome, but in Ravenna as rich landowners, so that so-called Eternal City with all its prestige was actually in the hands of the Catholic Church and in fact did practice a temporal power even more stable than the civil power itself, always engaged in border wars and constant courtisan intrigues. So that various Germanic monarchies were divided Europe., the only Roman emperor was in Constantinople, who with the victory over the Persians did restore the trade routes to China and India, who were in Persian hands.

On the death of Heraclius, Roman Catholicism was technically against the ropes, surrounded by Monophysites and Arians, ie the concept of Trinity was about to be turned into heresy, but it knew get out of the mess with a dramatic effect: crowning to the boss of the Franks as king of Gaul, in exchange to confront the Germanic invasions and adopt the Catholicism, what actually did not very well, but the end of Monophysitism, a doctrine of popular base unlike Catholicism, ally of the rich landowners, at the style of the cults of Osiris and Amon in ancient Egypt, was sentenced unexpectedly by the Arabs, who let the Catholicism could come to be. Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome, immediately ordered the evangelization of the Britons and did well until the Normand tribes pushed the Britons westward, Ireland and the Armorica, that’s why today is called Britain. Over time the Normands would convert to Catholicism as Byzantium itself. The Catholic Empire begins.

Before his death, Muhammad had managed to unify most of the tribes under a nationalist sentiment covered by the new dogma, which in the eyes of the Monophysites seemed one more way to Christianity. By the time the Byzantine generals wanted to react, it was late, certainly did not expect the motivation that pushed the Muslims, nothing to do with skittish tribal fuss that the Byzantine war industry used to overwhelm easily . The spread of Islam began with the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s successor, completing the annexation of the entire Arabian peninsula including Mesopotamia, continue with Umar conquered the kingdoms Persian and the Byzantine provinces of Syria and Palestine including Jerusalem where he would order construction the restive Al-Aqsa mosque before being killed, then until Uthman was also killed and then Ali who did not escape the same fate as their predecessors. The policy of this new empire in the making, of taxing non-Muslim faiths and to require only a fifth of the spoil to the combatants, result of looting, extortion and the sale of slaves, encouraged the spirit of conquest and filled the coffers of the Caliph, who then used money to buy those muslims he did not trust while he handed power to those he wanted. The sudden wealth of the muslims at first altered the balance of prices in the area and the most basic things cost a pretty penny in cities like Medina.
To the first four Caliphs and six others, Muhammad had promised paradise but in fact all died immensely rich, what would be a contradiction according to the proverb of the rich, the camel, the eye of the needle and the kingdom of heaven; which is also valid for Muslims. Despite the Spartan customs that are attributed to Muhammad, he and all his family died having accumulated a considerable fortune. Abu Darr al Gifarí, respected Muslim during the caliphate of Uthman used to lash out against the Jewish, labeling them as usurers as is custom, in the same way also he demanded to the caliph a better distribution of wealth, earning him being abandoned in the desert where he died soon after, to fulfill in this way what Muhammad himself in his day he revealed him. A significant gesture would have it Ali, who seeing threatened his right to the caliphate, did not hesitate to open the doors of the treasury, to ruin the call for meeting of its rival, showing that is what actually moves people. The incident led to civil war when the Umayyad Muawiya in Damascus refused to recognize Ali as new Caliph.

The early internal disagreements of Islam, certainly gave a respite to the emerging European monarchies, who transmuted the benefits of the power in castles, chapels and monasteries. In Western Europe disappeared all the splendor of Greco-Roman culture, buried under tons of stone and polychrome altarpieces, but this varnish pious, only served to cover nepotism and barbarism. Religion does not bring peace and war arise from the intricacies of trade relations, where will always find a Jew to blame, because they will know how to do business but friends apparently do not.

Bibliography.: Jacques Pirenne, “Universal History”
Juan Vernet, “Los Origenes del Islam”

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