Byzantine and Islamic Civilizations
Byzantine: complicated, mazelike (even underhanded).
I. Basic Events.
A. Constantine converted to Christianity in 313 CE; he declares Christianity to be a legally recognized religion, free from persecution (in time the formerly oppressed will become the oppressors!).
B. The Roman Empire is in severe economic and political decline. In 330 CE, Constantine moves his capital from Rome to Byzantium, renaming the city Constantinople in the process.
C. Rome is invaded and sacked by barbarian/ Germanic tribes from Northern and Eastern Europe in 410, 455 and finally in 476 CE. While the Western church based in Rome remains intact, the Western Empire becomes a patchwork of barbarian kingdoms.
D. Constantinople becomes the Eastern seat of the Christian church and a highly cosmopolitan center of trade and international culture.
E. Justinian and Theodora, emperor and empress (527-565): exerted the greatest cultural influence upon Constantinople, initiating massive building projects, such as Hagia Sophia.
F. Constantinople fell to the Muslims in the 15th century. Now called Istanbul and essentially Muslim, it is still the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
II. East and West: A Mistrust of One Another that Showed Itself in Many Ways.
A. Artistic and Cultural Principles.
1. Line (West) vs. Color (East).
2. Thought (intellect) vs. Feeling (heart and soul).
3. Expansive Mass (sculptures, murals, basilicas) vs. Minute Detail (mosaics, miniatures, inlays).
1. Roman Pope vs. Eastern Patriarch.
2. Latin vs. Greek.
3. Celibacy vs. Marriage.
4. Homo ousia vs. Homoi ousia .
5. The Great (and final) Schism: 1054 CE.
III. Byzantine Style in Religious Art and Architecture.
A. Hagia Sophia (now a Muslim mosque, only one of dozens of churches and chapels throughout the city, each one as ornate as this one).
3. Greek cross design.
B. San Vitale, Ravenna (Northern Italy).
1. Mosaics (the capturer of light that will influence later stained glass).
a. Jesus as judge (political).
b. Justinian/Theodora as priest/priestess (religious).
1. Devotional language of symbol (why?).
2. Little concern for realism/linear perspective.
3. A standard to which the artist rigidly adheres.
a. Mary: red and blue (primary colors.
b. Jesus: orange and green (secondary colors).
I. Islam: submission; peace.
A. From the triliteral root SLM.
2. MuSLiM: one who submits to God
3. S(H)aLoM (Hebrew): peace
II. Muhammed (570-632 CE)
A. The call from Allah (via the angel Gabriel; c. 610 CE).
B. Mecca to Medina to Mecca (622-630 CE).
1. 622: The Year One (the year of Hijrah, or "migration").
III. The Quran (Koran)
A. Quran: recitation
1. That which Allah recited through Gabriel to Muhammed.
2. That which Muhammed recited to his people.
3. That which the believer recites today.
B. The Quran is not narrative but declarative in format. 114 chapters.
C. The nature of Semitic language patterns.
IV. The Five Pillars of Faith
A. Shahada (Confession): There is not god but God (Allah), and Muhammed is his prophet.
B. Salat (Prayer): Five times per day, in the direction of Mecca (upon arising, noon, mid- afternoon, sunset, before retiring).
C. Zakat (Charity): 1/40th or 2.5% of one's earnings/material assets for the poor.
D. Sawm (Fasting): During the ninth month of Ramadan, from sunrise to sunset; not simply from food/drink,tobacco, but also from harsh thoughts and unkind acts.
E. Hajj (Pilgrimage): Durng the month of Dhu al-Hijah, a journey to the Great Mosque in Mecca.
V. Islamic Sects
A. Sunni (the community of consensus).
1. The majority (approx. 80%).
2. The caliphs (successors to Muhammed); until 1924, when individual states/regions began to elect their own (popular vote).
B. Shi'ite (partisan).
1. The minority (approx. 20%).
2. Leadership via direct descendency from the family of Muhammed (Ali, his son-in-law).
3. The 12Imam (through the ninth century); the agent of the Imam: theAyatollah (a sign of Allah).
4. Prominent in Iran, Iraq.
VI. The Mosque.
A. The Mihrab: the pointer toward Mecca.
B. The Muezzin: the reciter; the caller to prayer.
C. The Minaret: a prayer tower; ascended by the muezzin to call people to prayer.
D. The Kaaba Stone at the Great Mosque of Mecca.
VII. The Fine Arts.
A. From a theological perspective, Islam is aniconic, i.e., the Holy is never depicted as a visual image. Even in pictures of the Prophet Muhammed, his face is veiled so as not to equate his countenance with Allah.
B. Other visual art forms.
2. The arabesque.
3. Geometric design.
C. Literature: The episodic format of The One Thousand and One Nights ("...and then what happened?").
VIII. Other Doctrines and Features of Islam.
A. Jihad (literally, struggle, striving). Often in reference to holy war, but this is not wholly accurate.
B. Treatment of Women.
1. Both culturally and doctrinally determined.
2. The practice of polygyny.
C. Shirk (idolatry).
D. The Muslim legacy to European/Western culture (after 1000 CE).
1. As tragic an event as the Christian Crusades was (for both Christian and Muslim; four successive waves to "liberate" Jerusalem), the crusaders returned to Europe with many philosophical, scientific and technological innovations that had been developed in the Muslim world, as well as much of the West's classical knowledge (Greek-Roman) that had been lost in the fall of Rome (476 CE) but acquired, preserved and translated by both Muslim and Jewish scholars and scientists.
a. Plato and Aristotle via Muslim philosophers Avisenna (980-1037) and Averroes (1126-1198).
b. Mathematics and optics.
2. Cf. the film "Robin Hood."
3. Cf. American music and the importation of the Beatles.
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