Definitions (797 words) Essay

DefinitionsHagia Sophia: Church erected in Constantinople during the reign of Justinian, which later became a mosque and a museum; ranks as one of the world’s most important examples of Christian architecture
Grand Canal: One of the world’s largest waterworks project before modern times built during the Sui dynasty under second emperor, Sui Yangdi, in order to facilitate trade between northern and southern China, mainly in an attempt to make supplies of rice and other food crops from the Yangzi River valley available to those in the northern regions; series of artificial waterways that spanned almost 2,000 kilometers from Hangzhou in the south to Chang’on in the west to the city of Zhuo (near modern Beijing) in the north; integrated economies of northern and southern China, establishing an economic foundation for cultural and political unity
Giovanni and Lusanna: Depicts the court trial of Lusanna Girolamo (belonging to the artisan class) and Giovanni della Casa (patron class) taking place in Renaissance Florence; Lusanna states that she and Giovanni are married, however Giovanni disperses this claim; focuses on the social hierarchy and the interaction of different social classes
Gupta Empire: (320-480) India
Founded by Chandragupta (unrelated to Mauryan Emperor) and centered in Ganges Valley. Flourished under his son, Samudragupta (ca.335-375), who by means of military conquest and political shrewdness brought much of India from the Himalayas in the north to the Vindhya Mountain in the
south under his goverment. Samudragupta put an end to weakness and fragmentation, and laid the foundations for India’s Golden Age. Under Samudragupta’s son Chandragupta II (ca.375-415), the Gupta Empire reached its height. Chandrragupta II overthrew Shakas (invaders from the borders of China) and as a result, trade between India, Mid-East and China came under the Gupta Empire’s protection. Crisis hit the Gupta Empire with the invasion of the White Huns. Skandagupta (ca.455-467) managed
to throw back the invasion – the Huns failed to uproot Gupta Empire, but essentially dealt the dynasty a fatal blow. [During this period, India was mostly united, without political fragmentation or foreign domination and confusion; Hinduism was promoted, which led to the decline of Buddhism (and virtual disappearance by the time Islam arrived in India – which led to the conflict between Muslim and Hindu); Indian mathematics and the concept of zero. Following the fall of the Gupta Empire, the proliferation
and hardening of the caste system.]
Caliph: The Umayyad Caliphs (661-750); The Abbasid Caliphs (750-1258)
Muhammad died in 632, leaving no instructions for the future government of the Muslim community. A group of Islamic leaders met in Medina (now in Saudi Arabia), the capital of the Muslim world at that time, and elected Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s father-in-law and closest associate, to lead the community. Abu Bakr took for himself the title khalifat Rasul Allah (Arabic, “successor to the Messenger of God”), from which the term caliph (Arabic, khalifah, “successor”) is derived. Umar I became the second caliph in 634. Under his leadership, the first great expansion of Islam outside of Arabia took place. Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and the northern part of Mesopotamia became Islamic territories, and the armies of the Persian Empire were routed several times. Umayyad caliphs, vastly enlarged the Muslim empire and created a bureaucracy capable of administering it. Under the Umayyads, Muslim armies swept eastward to the borders of India and China, westward across North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean, then northward through Spain and over the Pyrenees Mountains into France. The Umayyads were overthrown by a combination of Shiite, Iranian, and other Muslim and non-Muslim groups dissatisfied with the Umayyad regime. By 747 they had secured enough support to organize a rebellion in northern Iran that led to the defeat of the Umayyad caliphate three years later. The Abbasids executed most of the Umayyad family and moved the capital of the empire to Baghdad. The Abbasids became patrons of learning and encouraged religious observance. They were the first Muslim rulers to become leaders of an Islamic civilization and protectors of the religion rather than merely an Arab aristocracy imposing an Arab civilization on conquered lands. Under their caliphate Baghdad replaced Medina as the center of theological activity, industry and commerce developed greatly, and the Islamic empire reached a peak of material and intellectual achievement.

Hadj/Hajj: Islam, the major pilgrimage to Mecca. The term hajj means standing before a deity in a sacred place or voyage to a sacred place, and Mecca is considered the most sacred of the Muslim cities. As a religious duty noted in the Qur’an (Koran) and the fifth of the Five Pillars of Islam, all healthy adult men and women who are financially able must perform the hajj at least once in their lifetime.

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