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Ian Straughn

Islamic Archaeology

Archaeology and Religion

Islamic Landscapes

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
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Akram F. Abed March 21, 2007 Reading Response #2

Perhaps the fact that I took offense, on behalf of the Muslim conquerors is a bit excessive. Throughout my life, there have been many a time where I was underestimated – my accomplishments attributed to a lack of strong opposition. When the author attributes the great success of the Muslims in their military campaign due to the weakening of the Byzantine and Sassanian Empires, as “a result of Divine Will” , it seems undercut their strong will, and military genius. My fascination with the Muslim conquerors was the way in which they were able to structure their military. It seems to have been set up in a relatively short amount of time; furthermore, it was efficient at drawing upon the strength and the capabilities of their forces. The leadership, in my opinion, shows its effectiveness in also dealing with situations without the use of force, even were its larger predecessor failed; one such instance is using trade to quell the “Buddhist peoples of what are today the Turkish republics” . I assume that many of the best units in the army were those who previously worked for the other Empires, namely the Byzantines, on their frontier lands. I assume that in enlisting and becoming a soldier for the Muslim armies, they brought with them the efficient characteristics of the highly developed armies. Even though they were a much smaller army, they still had many Arabs and non-Arabs join their ranks, which I assume led to a greater moral among the troops. I feel as though knowing their limitations and using advanced military techniques, while also being highly motivated, was more instrumental in their success

Jund troops also caught my attention. I view these units as men who could be highly trusted by their commander. I assume at this time of much change, a commander would not feel as comfortable commanding foreign troops as he would commanding those from his own tribe. It is evident that the tribal system continues even now because of the safety it provides. I also believe that transition was necessary, as opposed to a complete, sudden change. It is easy to see the transition out of the tribal system: combining smaller tribes in order to yield a larger population and rotation of those tribes from the frontiers to the heartland on a constant basis. This is largely reminiscent of other empires that would move their citizens into newly acquired territories, both to populate it, and ensure its loyalty. Loosely structuring the military on the tribal system allowed the Caliphs to transition the former tribal people into the settled society while also gaining their support in the military campaign.