Friday, September 26, 2014

Digital Scrapbook Entry #2 - Agrarian Era
Author: The World Religions & Spirituality Project
Author: Zachary Beauchamp
                                                       Religion and Empire
The Sassanid Empire
The invention and use of irrigation is what most historians believe to have led to the creation of cities and eventually states. The manpower and organization needed to successfully create and maintain irrigation systems is very large, however because farming with irrigation allows for such high crop yield most populations turned to it. The use of irrigation leads to food surplus since agriculture is much more efficient at producing large quantities of food. This food surplus leads to both population growth and specialization of labor. The growth of population means tension and disagreement also rise as people grow less and less attached and connected to everyone within the community. This, along with the specialization of labor, leads to the creation of organized religion. Religion allows for people within a community to feel connected with others of their religion, which leads to much less rivalries and unrest. In this way religion was a necessity to keep early civilization from crumbling from the inside. The creation of cities then leads to the creation of nations and states as cities begin to conquer nearby cities and as they begin to grow in influence and power. Naturally as the cities gain more land and people, they spread their beliefs and religion to the population they now control. Before long, these fledgling states start growing until they form large empires covering hundreds of miles of land. Again, they continue to spread their original religion, until the religion has been forced on so many people that it becomes large enough to be called a world religion. In this way the success of the religion is based in most part with the success of the city or nation it belongs to. The success or failure of the state will directly affect the religion, at least initially. An example of this is the Sassanid Empire. Along with the Achaemid Empire, the Sassanid Empire grew and spread Zoroastrianism. However upon the collapse of the Sassanid Empire, the Rashidun Caliphate rose to power in the Middle East. The Rashidun Caliphate was a Muslim state, and after rising to power Islam replaced Zoroastrianism as the prominent religion in the area.
Current ISIS holdings: Red
Claims: pink
Uncontrolled/Unclaimed: White
Although the empires of the Agrarian age have fallen and been replaced, many of the religions still exist, and they are just as tied to nations as ever. A perfect example of this is the ever growing organization ISIS, or Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, is an unrecognized state which has been gaining traction in the Middle East. The main area which they contend over is found within Iraq and Syria. They are an extremist sect of the Islamic faith which is attempting to reform the caliphate, which is an Islamic state ruled by a leader who is the head of both the empire and the Muslim faith. The last caliphate with any power was dissolved when President Ataturk of the Ottoman Empire reformed the government in 1924 and abolished the institution. ISIS follow Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They wish to restore the Sunni Caliphate as well as abolish other religions and beliefs from the Middle East. If fact much of the reason for ISIS' existence is that they are a Sunni organization, and they often fight to take land from the Shia Muslims, whom they believe to be heretics. Many believe the faith and thoughts of ISIS are not that of most Muslims, and many disagree with their actions.Currently ISIS is classified as a foreign terrorist organization by the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.
Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdad

The organization of ISIS is a perfect example of how religion still follows expansion of states the way it did during the Agrarian Era, however with several twists. Both times the belief of a state has been forced upon the people it has conquered, whether that be peacefully or not. It is important to note however, that the religion being force upon conquered peoples may not be different fundamentally, but the way it is practiced is. For example when ISIS forces its religion upon Shiite Muslims, it is spreading its particular beliefs, and even though Shiite Muslims believe in Muhammad as well, what exactly they believe in and how they go around practicing is different. This is important because even though most the Middle East is Islamic, ISIS is still spreading it's particular views. It is also very likely that if ISIS and Caliph Abu Bakr fall, the particular beliefs of ISIS will, for the most part, dissipate with it. This is speculated because most of the Islamic community has shown their disagreement with ISIS, and so when ISIS falls, their personal beliefs on Islam will fall as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment