The Center Cannot Hold: Three Caliphates
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The Center Cannot Hold: Three Caliphates book
During the ninth and tenth centuries, the Muslim world suffered political fragmentation that paralleled the religious fragmentation into Shi‘ism and Sunnism. Within a century of having come to power, the Abbasid caliphate was losing revenue and experiencing mutinies in its army. Soon, the Shi‘ite Fatimids declared a caliphate in North Africa, and it was followed two decades later by yet a third caliphate, that of the Umayyads of Cordoba in the Iberian Peninsula. Although Muhammad’s dream of a religiously and politically unified Muslim state was permanently shattered, the Arab conquests left a legacy of commercial revival and cultural flowering; the political fragmentation did not interfere with a sharp increase in long-distance trade that now flourished between India and the Atlantic.