The Golden Horde and Russia

This article discusses the Mongol and Golden Horde invasions of Russia and Ukraine. It highlights the way that the Mongols treated the native Russians and how they influenced the political and cultural trends in that region of the world. This article also talks about how the Muslims dealt with the Russian Orthodox Church and its presence during Muslim rule. Included in the article are some images of Muslim art, clothing, and money that was used and made in Russia, and has contributed to the history of Russian art and culture.

-Anna Turcott

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Sorghaghtani Beki

The “Mother of the Great Khans”, Sorghahtani Beki ruled as Regent in Mongolia and Nothern China after the death of her husband, Tolui, Genghis Khan’s youngest son. Speculation suggests that she refused a marriage offer from Guyuk (Ogodei’s son) to keep the throne for her sons. She exercised her power as a mother to raise her sons to be great leaders, encouraging them to learn to read and speak foreign languages, even though she was illiterate. She was a Nestorian Christian and raised her sons to also be religiously tolerant. There is some suspicion that she had Güyük killed when he tried to undermine her power as Regent. She was in power until her son Möngke took over. She died in 1252. In all, she was politically savvy and a powerful woman in Mongol, and world, history.

Her sons:
Möngke Khan: 1251-1259
Kublai Khan: 1259-1294, Eastern Mongol Empire, Yuan dynasty
Hulagu Khan: 1262-1265, Ilkhanate dynasty, (Central Asia)

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This podcast offers a concise summary of Muhammad al-Ghazali’s Incoherence of the Philosophers.

Muhammad al-Ghazali was a major critic of the works of other philosophers. In this work he attacks various viewpoints of Ibn Sina, more commonly known as Avicenna. By criticizing others’ philosophies, he also asserted an emphasis on God’s absolute power in Islamic theology. A popular criticism al-Ghazali held was of the idea that the universe is eternal. According to al-Ghazali, if the universe is eternal, then God could not have created it, thus God cannot be all powerful. This was considered heresy to al-Ghazali. It seems that his goal was to combine philosophy and theology in such a way that God has the ultimate power, contrary to other philosophers. A significant issue he found with Avicenna’s teachings regarded the theory of causation. Avicenna believed that one thing may be the cause of another however al-Ghazali proposed the theory of occasionalism, which is to say that one thing does not necessarily cause the other, rather they are simply grouped together by God, further asserting His power as the absolute divine being




Diana Handler

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Revolution and “ISIS” Flag, & Historical ties

The “parallelism” between Islam, the revolution and the Isis flag dates back to early Islamic beliefs.The black and white flag decorated with Arabic lettering which in translation means ““There is no god but Allah [God]. Mohammad is the messenger of Allah”. It’s popularly interpreted in the wrong context, it’s not a war cry or rebellious phenomenon. It’s simply a declaration of faith and an an acceptance of Muhammad as God’s prophet used across Islam, officially known as the “shahada” which origins date back to ancient times. It’s association with with Jihad corresponds to how the flag is displayed and interpreted through media. This is parallel to misuse and aspects of propaganda in both media and for extremists purposes. Monochrome flags are an ancient tradition in ancient Eastern, Arabic, and Islamic tradition, and some people believe one of the Prophet’s original banners was black, according to the Quilliam Foundation. Modern jihadists therefore adopted this style to legitimise their causes (Gander, 2015). In retrospect you can mold a flag’s meaning through action. Similar to the confederate flag in America, some argue that the flag is a symbol of slavery and oppression, while others insist that it is purely a matter of Southern heritage and pride. The flag is not unique to the KKK, but we can observe them use it frequently for their causes, similar to ISIS with the ancient flag. It has been adopted for their own political and theological identity.

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Alamut Castle

This webpage article by Medium, gives a short, but detailed history of the Castle of Alamut, the epicenter of the Assassins. It first describes the original establishment of the castle by an ancient Persian King and further goes into detail about how Hassan Sabah found and took over this hidden castle. Within the castle under Hassan Sabah, there was an enormous library that was a center for learning sciences, philosophy, astronomy, etc. This article also outlines the work of the Assassin’s and how they were against the reigning Seljuk empire and their various assassinating campaigns. In the end of the article, there is a video and discussion of how to visit Alamut and details of it’s moderate, stair-climbing hike. The Alamut fortress is a fascinating piece of history that is still portrayed in popular culture today in video games and movies, but its history of its use is what makes it enthralling.


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The Twelve Shi’a Imams

This site gives a simple list of the Twelve Imams along with the Prophet Muhammad and Lady Fatima as the Infallible people revered in Shi’ism. There is also a brief description of the first three Imams, Ali, Hasan, and Husayn as greatly respected helpers of the Prophet.


This article gives a detailed description of each of the Twelve Imams, their significant accomplishments, and their deaths. There is also more information on the Shi’a traditions and beliefs about these important figures. This information only includes the Twelver Shi’a line of succession without reference to the other off-shoots. jd

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The Kharijite

The Kharijite were once a group that supported Ali who were from the Tamim tribe.  They were ready to support him in his battle with Mu awiyah who wanted to avenge Uthman’s death. They became upset when Ali agreed to negotiate with Mu awiyah instead of go to war with him. They were even further angered when Ali and Mu awiyah agreed to bring in a third party to help with the negotiations because they could end up selecting a new caliphate. They strongly believed that only God could decide the fate of the battle. Their fuel for this support was from a passage in the Qur’an that states if two parties of the same fate should fight because one is rebelling against the other, than they should fight against them until they are brought back under God’s will. In their eyes, Ali was the rightful successor, and by allowing Mu awiyah to walk away they felt Ali was not doing God’s will, and that in itself was a sin. And in the Kharijites beliefs, if you sin, you can not rule. One of their main beliefs were anyone could be a leader among the community and they did not have to be of the Quraysh let alone Arab. The only requirements they had were you had to be a Muslim and pious. It was a Kharijite that wound up assassinating Ali, but they also made trouble for future Caliphs as well due to their extreme beliefs. The Kharijite are very fanatical, and they take the Qur’an literally. Over time they spread out and formed different groups. The most extreme group was called the Azariqah and they came from Basra. Another well known group are called the Ibadiyah, and they reside in Oman, North Africa, and Zanzibar and are the only sect to survive to this day.



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Muhammad’s Daughter’s Marriages

Zainab, Muhammad’s oldest daughter, married a merchant cousin with wealth, Abu al ‘Aas ibn al Rabi’.  When Muhammad started having revelations Zainab converted while her husband did not, causing strife.  After Muhammad’s revelation that a monotheist must not marry a polytheist, Abu al ‘Aas sent Zainab to Medina to rejoin her family.  Abu al ‘Aas ended up converting to Islam in 7 AH and went to Medina to be with Zainab until her death in 8 AH.

Ruqayyah, Muhammad’s second daughter, was first married to ‘Utbah, son of Abu Lahab, who was a Quraysh elite.  This marriage was ended when Muhammad began having revelations that the Quraysh disagreed with.  Ruqayyah then married ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan ibn Abul-‘Aas ibn ‘Abd Shams whom she stayed with until her death, which coincided with the Battle of Badr.

Umm Kulthum, Muhammad’s third daughter, originally married ‘Utaybah, the brother of ‘Utbah, sons of Abu Lahab.  This marriage ended at the same time of Ruqayyah’s marriage to ‘Utbah, with the sisters being sent home together.  Umm Kulthum remained unmarried until her sister Ruqayyah’s death in 3 AH.  Umm Kulthum then married Ruqayyah’s widowed husband, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan, earning him the title, Dhu al-Nurayn or “The Possessor of Two Lights”.

As we know, Fatima, Muhammad’s youngest daughter, married Muhammad’s cousin and childhood friend Ali.




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Historical Meaning behind Liver Eating in Islam

In my research of this topic, it appears that the organs of the body have different symbolic meanings. The liver, specifically, symbolizes wealth and is also regarded as the “center of anger and mercy” in the bodily form. It is said that consuming a liver will bring financial freedom and prosperity into someone’s life. The process of the liver being removed from the body is regarded as the “reappearance of hoarded money”. Within the text of the Qu’ran,  first food offered to welcome the people of paradise(heaven) when they enter it will be “the caudate lobe of whale liver”. Specifically this is mentioned in the hadeeth of Thawbaan, who is renowned as the freed slave of the Messenger of Allah. Some scholars have pondered the significance behind the first meal in heaven being fish liver, because the second meal is supposedly bull meat. The two are quite different, yet the main assumption is that the fish an aquatic animal which is “indicative of the essence of life on earth, and the bull is a land animal which is indicative of tilling the soil and earning a living, so the people of Paradise are given these two things to eat to signal the end of this world and the beginning of the Hereafter” (Rooh al-Ma‘aani by al-Aloosi).


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Tomb of Jafar

This is a post I found about Jafar Ibn Abi Talib who was one of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions. He is one of the earliest converts to Islam and was personally sent by the Prophet to lead a small group of believers on a migration into Abyssinia. It was in Abyssinia where he spoke to the Ethiopian King about the persecution suffered by him and his fellow believers in Mecca.  He died in the battle of Mu’Tah where it is said he fought until both of his arms were cut off and he was cut into two halves.


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