chapter  6
18 Pages

Shi'ites and Turks, Crusaders and Mongols

WithArthur Goldschmidt, Aomar Boum

This chapter explains the rise of Shi'ism as a political force in the Middle East, during roughly the tenth and eleventh Christian centuries. The rise and fall of Shi'ite power and the Turkish influx benefited the area; however, the Crusaders and the Mongols did the Middle East more harm than good. Two Shi'ite dynasties threatened the Sunni 'Abbasids in Baghdad: the Fatimids, who challenged their legitimacy, and the Buyids, who ended their autonomy. The 'Abbasid caliph in Baghdad was helpless; it is wrong to suppose that he was an Islamic pope who could command all Muslims to wage jihad against the Crusaders. The Crusaders shored up a tiny state called Little Armenia, formed in southwest Anatolia by Armenian Christians who had fled from the conquering Seljuks. Two Turkish dynasties, both Sunni and both founded by ghazi warriors for the Samanid dynasty, stand out during this era: the Ghaznavids and the Seljuks.