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Cultural Heavyweights Dar Al-Islam and the Byzantine Empire

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The Muslim World and The Byzantine Empire were two of the most powerful and most-linked-together civilizations during the Middle Ages due mostly to their cultural achievements, religious values, and economic activities. The Byzantine Empire and Muslim World had very similar and different cultural achievements due to their very unique styles but also sharing each other’s ideas as well. The Muslim world’s cultural achievements focused more on the development and interaction of cultures while the Byzantine Empire’s cultural achievements revolved more around the ideology of state building and the arts, but although there are some obvious differences between the two civilizations, their cultural achievements were very similar in many ways. Although the two civilizations practiced religions that shared some similarities, they did have religious oppositions as well and differed in many of their beliefs. Contrary to their very different religious values, they had very similar economic structures by trading on the silk roads and having very strong banking systems. The Muslim World and Byzantine Empire do share some similarities when it comes to economic activities and cultural achievements, they vary and contrast greatly when it comes to each of the civilization’s religious values.

The Dar Al-Islam and the Byzantine Empire had quite different religious values, although some similarities are prevalent. Both Islam and Christianity, in particular, Eastern Orthodox Christianity are both Abrahamic religions, meaning both of the civilizations emphasize and trace their origins to Abraham and that they are both monotheistic. Another similarity between both Dar Al-Islam and Christianity is that they both believe in God, the Muslims call God “Allah”. A big difference between the two religions is that they have different holy books with different teachings. The Christian holy book is the bible and teaches about Jesus Christ being the Son of God and has the 10 commandments whilst the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, teaches about the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah and the Five Pillars of Islam. Also Islam’s do not believe as Jesus being a prophet or Son of God. Also the Dar Al-Islam believes in Sharia, which is the holy law of Muslims. Another main difference between Orthodox Christianity and Islam is that Christianity spread to east Europe, especially Russia, while Islam spread across the Mediterranean Sea, but mainly stayed in the Middle East.

Although the two civilizations face many differences regarding religion, they do find many similarities with economics. Both the Byzantine Empire and the Dar Al-Islam had very sophisticated banks. Both developed a form of currency, the Byzantine’s created Bezant, which was the standard currency of the Mediterranean region at the time. The Dar Al-Islam created Sakk, which is the early form of the modern day check. Both civilizations had major cities. The Dar Al-Islam had the major city of Baghdad and the Byzantine’s had Constantinople. Both of these cities were major centers of trade and banking. Both civilizations were very agriculturally strong and went through a “green revolution”. The Islamic world and Byzantine Empire both traded across the Mediterranean Basin and across the famous Silk Roads, each civilization with many merchants to facilitate the mass of trading going on with these civilizations. With all the trading, partnerships, and banking, both civilizations had extremely advanced business practices for their time.

The Dar Al-Islam and The Byzantine Empire made many very significant cultural achievements during the Middle Ages. Both civilization valued education very much and built many schools. A difference is that the Byzantine government built and ran the schools in Byzantium while Mosques built and ran schools in the Muslim World. The Byzantine Empire built the extravagant Hippodrome, which is world famous. The Hagia Sophia, which Justinian built in Constantinople with such beautiful architecture, even when the Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Dar Al-Islam they kept it and turned it into a Mosque instead of burning it to the ground. Both civilizations spread ideas to other people. The Byzantines spread the Cyrillic alphabet to other people and the Dar Al-Islam spread and adopted the Arabic number system, algebra, and nautical technology. Both civilizations studied the classics of famous philosophers and scientists like Aristotle, Epicurus, and Confucius. The Muslim world’s cultural achievements focused more on the development and interaction of cultures while the Byzantine Empire’s cultural achievements revolved more around the ideology of state building and the arts.

The Dar Al-Islam and Byzantine Empire may not be around today but their extravagant cultural achievements, economic breakthroughs, and religious values shaped and continue to shape the way we live today. Although each civilization had its fair share of differences, they shared many ideas and that is why they were so powerful and successful. The Dar Al-Islam and the Byzantine Empire are definitely the true cultural heavyweights in the Middle Ages.

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