Ahhh have to move quickly for first page!
1438 AH, a Year of No Significance
Sub-Saharan African states partially adopted from @theman7777
’s Worlda for an uncolonized Africa; pixel art format inspired by @ToixStory
’s excellent Winter Period map, which was a great source of inspiration for this map.
So I’ve been watching Caspian Report’s Science and Islam videos series, which have given me inspiration to make a scenario on a more successful Mu’tazila movement. I am by no means an expert in Mu’tazila theology, nor am I by any means well-versed in Middle Eastern history, so bear with me.
Pixel art: Clockwise from top left
1)The Tehran skyline
2)The Yi'si'tan'bu skyline
3)The Kaaba. I know it was built much later on, but it looks cool, so I'm keeping it.
From the reign of the Caliph Harun Al-Rashid
onwards, the Abbasid Caliphate had reigned unchallenged. Its achievements in the sciences and arts were unparalleled in the world as the Translation Movement
brought texts from a million different languages to fill the libraries of the House of Wisdom
, pushing the Islamic world to ever greater heights.
From Cathay to Ireland, the Abbasid Caliphate was the
place to be for one to freely pursue the sciences or arts and Baghdad was a great metropolis at the center of it where people from all over the world met. As the point of convergence for the East and the West, the Islamic World absorbed Indian mathematics, Rhoman classics and Chinese thought, combining them into something greater. It was the Islamic Golden Age
, and it was in this period that a school of philosophers who had adopted ancient Greek philosophy into Islamic thought—the Mu’tazilites
emerged. The Mu’tazilites believed that first, it was necessary to give a rational explanation to matters both of the physical world and Islamic belief; and second that humans enjoyed absolute free will. This doctrine spread quickly across the Muslim world, eventually growing so influential that the Abbasid Dynasty would officially enforce it as the official creed of the Caliphate and led to the dominance of Mu’tazila creed as well as the state over the Ulema
scholars of the Caliphate, a policy often enforced by a ruthless inquisiton
Yet this era would also be the period in which cracks began to emerge in the Abbasid Caliphate. Although the Abbasid Caliphate began as a Persian revolt, the Abbasids had begun to alienate her Persian bureaucrats on which matters of state were so reliant on. The Abbasid Caliphate also found herself severely overextended, and was forced to cede control of the Western provinces to smaller, more local states.
As the Abbasids declined, challenges to the official Mu’tazila creed emerged, one of them being the scholar Ibn Hanbal
. Ibn Hanbal rejected the ruthless imposing of the Mu’tazila doctrine, and for that he was banished first from the House of Wisdom, then Baghdad and finally the Caliphate. Having sought refuge in Cordoba, Ibn Hanbal plotted his revenge, but was found dead one day in a café that he frequented in Damascus with 13 dagger-inflicted wounds on his back and his murderer nowhere to be found.
Despite his ultimate defeat, the defiant scholar found more power in death than life. Rebellions broke out across the Levant at the news of the assassination. Revolts that shook the foundations of the Caliphate to the very core. In the end though, the Abbasid Caliphate stood strong, and just like so many that had went before him, Ibn Hanbal disappeared into the pages of history, courtesy of the Caliph’s inquisition.
That was not to say that the Abbasid Caliphate was out of the woods yet. Yes, theologically, the Mu’tazila doctrine had proved herself victorious, but this had no effect on the Caliphate’s political woes. With Egypt and Persia, the Caliphate’s wealthiest provinces declaring their independence, the Caliph was humiliated and absolutely lacking in any authority over the state. Eventually, the Mamluks
, or the Turkish slave soldiers of the Abbasid military seized power, striking the greatest blow to the Caliphate, eventually founding the Tulunid Caliphate
centered on Damascus. Even worse, the Samanid Dynasty
that had arisen in Persia was a Shia Dynasty that now threatened Baghdad herself.
Mesopotamia broke away from the newborn Tulunid Caliphate at an early time, and would see great turmoil in the coming centuries, with Caliphates rolling in and out virtually each year. Intellectual development too, ground to a halt in Mesopotamia and relocated to Tulunid Egypt
or Umayyad Al-Andalus
. This did not mean that intellectual development was in any way, stopping. Quite the contrary, it speeded up. Given how the Abbasid inquisition was extremely effective at protecting the rationalist ideology of the Mu’tazilites, many scholars were sent to the gallows for their Orthodox views on Islam. The Tulunids had learnt from the mistakes of the Abbasids that had preceded, and thus took a lighter stance on opposing philosophies, which allowed scientific thought to progress much more quickly. No longer did the Muslim world rely on the importing of foreign schools of thought—it was now the
greatest hub of science, culture and art on the face of Earth.
Academic affairs aside, the fall of the Abbasids had brought forth a vacuum of power in the Middle East, and that vacuum was too big for the Tulunids to fill on their own.
In came the Rhomans.
The Rhoman Empire
had been in decline since the age of Justinian, and Nikephoros III
“the Pious” sought to reclaim the long-lost Levant for Rome once more—with perhaps the reclamation of Jerusalem from the hands of the Saracens. From 520 AH (505 SH; 1126 AD) to 524 AH (509 SH; 1130 AD), the Tulunids and the Rhomans duked it out—a conflict supported by even the Pope in Rome who called for a Crusade for the Holy Land.
Heading wast of the Levant, one would find himself in Al-Andalus, where the Ummayads too began their conquests. With reforms that accommodated the native Christian populations in government and society alike, the now strengthened Ummayads inched once more towards the heartlands of Christendom in the French Kingdom.
In the Far East, a similar story was playing out in China. Ever since the destruction of the Tang Dynasty in the Anshi Rebellion
, China had fell into civil war after civil war in the Southern Exile Period
(偏安). To the North lay the splintered successors to An Lushan’s short-lived Qi Dynasty
, many of these kingdoms ruled by Turks, Khitans, Jurchens or the Xianbei Tribes. To the South lay what remained of the Chinese Empire, countries now ruled the land south of the Huai River
. These two states would go on to form the Empires of Cathay
(華契) and Huainan
(華夏) respectively, but for the moment they battled for influence over China.
The single most important event of the Middle Ages for what remained of China—if not all of Asia would be the unification, and thus Islamicization of Cathay
. In centuries prior, Islam had steadily grown in Central Asia, the prestige of such a booming civilization pushing forward Islamicization in Inner Eurasia, and with the rise of the Khitan Li
, a Muslim ruler finally ascended to the Chinese throne.
Contrary to what had was seen in the Islamicization of India, Kilwa or Rus’, this wave of Islamicization took a notably…localized turn. The Khitan Emperor Naihe Nalan
was, while a Muslim, the ruler of a nation that claimed to be a successor to China of old. And thus, he had been exposed to Confucian teachings from a young age. It was soon evident that as much as this was an Islamicization of China, it was too, a Sinicization of Islam in China. Very quickly, Islam would become the foremost amongst the “Four Teachings”—Islam, Confucianism, Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism.
Back in the Middle East, the Crusades ended with a catastrophic defeat for Christendom. Instead of renewed glory for Christendom and the Rhoman Empire, Nikephoros III had brought forth a new low for Rhome. Instead, Tulunid armies were at the gates of Constantinople and Ummayad forces had seized Occitania for themselves.
By 726 AH (704 SH; 1326 AD), both Rome and Constantinople were under Muslim rule and Christendom was being pushed ever northwards.
It was in this period that Islam made what was perhaps her single greatest discovery—the continents of ‘Amriktan. The discovery of two new continents by one Bakr Jinan
meant riches and wonders beyond imagination, and opportunities for the ever-growing Islamic empires.
The settlement of ‘Amriktan not only brought forth riches from an alien continent, it also kicked off the Age of Colonialism
. In this era, powers such as Al-Andalus, Al-Maghrib, Italyia or Rum settled the new continents. Foremost in this struggle would be Al-Andalus, which by 957 AH (929 SH; 1550 AD) controlled the lion’s share of the new world.
However, this Age of Colonialism had the natives holding the short end of the stick. From the Incans in the South to the Aztecs of the North, Andalusian conquerors subjected the native populace to great massacres and looting. The Andalusians, who had been historically less exposed to Mu’tazila thought viewed, through their Orthodox Muslim lens the largely Bronze-age civilizations as mere primitives that were, for lack of a better term, livestock. Disease also played a major role in the destruction of the native populace, and a few decades since the first Muslim set foot on the New World, 80% of the native population had been destroyed.
Andulsia’s increasing dominance of the new world would, however not go unnoticed by the great powers of Dar-al-Islam. In 1101 AH (1068 SH; 1689 AD), Al-Andalus began what Cordoba trumpeted as the last great religious war between Dar-al-Islam and Christendom. The reality was, however that the Alpine War
, as it came to be known, was as much a war between Al-Andalus and Christendom as it was between Al-Andalus and the vast array of Mu’tazila-aligned forces arrayed against her.
Al-Andalus remained very much unscathed after all this. Unlike France, Germany or to an extent, the Sultanate of Rum, Al-Andalus’ core was very much intact, as were her colonies. In fact, this war alerted Al-Andalus of her diplomatic isolation. The answer to this was twofold—first, Al-Andalus would mend relations between her and the prime Mu’tazila power of the time—Ghazid Syria and focus efforts instead on the Shi’a Persians. Second, Al-Andalus would build up her mastery of the new world as a fallback option if anything were to go wrong.
The Huainan states were previously based on the Huai River
. However, they were now pushed ever southwards by the Muslim Khitans
and found themselves lacking in resources or raw manpower that the north offered. They and other East Asian states such as Nihon
would too make inroads towards the new world as well as the southern continent of Sazau
. Their colonies were small in size though, given the size of the Pacific and transport across it. And thus, Huainan colonizers took a page from their Buddhist and Shintoist religions and mostly adopted a diplomatic approach to colonization by focusing on the integration of natives. While unable to alleviate the rampant diseases that ravaged the locals, they nevertheless attempted to cure natives with whatever resources they had and encouraged interbreeding to speed up the growth of their colonies.
In Africa, the Islamic powers were unable to dominate the continent on the same scale as they did in ‘Amriktan. Instead, the Islamic powers would encourage local Jihads
and the establishment of Islamic powerhouses in Africa that served as pawns for their Northerly liege-lords. By the end of the Age of Colonialism in the 1290s AH (1250s SH 1870s AD), Islamic forces never did manage to dominate Africa completely, however, their influence was permanently etched on the continent.
The advent of industrialization in the 1160s AH (1130s SH; 1750s AD) pushed the ridiculously dominant Islamic world further up the “food chain” of civilizations, widening the gap between the urbanized Islamic world and it’s at times mediaeval neighbor to the North.
But following this rapid growth was an age of Liberalism. The Islamic states (and the Nordic Empire), for the most part had trended towards authoritarian forms of centralized government to finance the incessant wars of recent years. While there were of course ideas of the Rebirth Era
, change was happening far too slowly for the people to be satisfied with their governments.
Across the Middle East, revolutions began with the aim of toppling governments and the decaying institutions that they held onto. And it would be now that Egypt, in the wake of reversals in recent decades would suffer the consequences of being by far the most forward in the Islamic World. Ruling over a highly educated populace that knew they had alternatives to a monarchy that had failed them so, the Sultan awoke to riots across his empire one scorching Egyptian morning, and by the end of the month, the Sultanate had fallen and a Republic was put in place.
The Egyptian Republic
would bring great discord to the Middle East of the time at a delicate moment. Under one Amil Karim
, the Egyptian Republic pulled itself together from the discord and utter mayhem that the revolution had brought forth and marshaled the Republic’s armies to take advantage of Egypt’s distracted and fearful neighbors.
’s Republic was eventually brought down by an ill-advised invasion of Persia and an equally foolish trek across the Empty Quarter
which decimated the Egyptian Grand Army. However, his legacy would last on forever. Despite the best efforts of both Persia and Al-Andalus—the greatest winners of this period of discord—Republican rebels as well as bandits plagued the Levant. This eventually settled into a myriad of independent statelets perpetually out of reach of any of the great powers by virtue of sheer unruliness.
The progress train, no matter the situation would continue to charge forwards. What started out as mere steam power blossomed into a world covered from one end to another in railways, factories, electric cables and more, all of this infrastructure linking Baghdad to Delhi; Delhi to Yi’si’tan’bu; and Yi’si’tan’bu to New Tunis. Inventions kept rolling out by the week and wealth poured into the coffers of nations like never before.
Al-Andalus was, without a doubt the greatest victor of the Industrial Age. From the times of the long-gone Ummayads, the Andalusians had cleverly prevented any of the powers to her East from forming a concrete alliance. Not Rum, not Arabia, not Egypt and definitely not Persia. All the while, her influence had only spread across the continents. Trade systems and railway networks grew to their apex and by the 1370s AH (1330s SH; 1950s AD), even space ports were organized around the Caliph in Al-Andalus.
The Great War
was a bid to finally bring Al-Andalus’ greatest rival in Persia to bend the knee after some 4 centuries of defiance, and it was, to many, the last war the world would ever see, as it would be where Al-Andalus finally secured her mastery of the world. From the beaches of Syria to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, Al-Andalus and her vast host of tributaries faced off against the world for 2 decades of grueling conflict.
Just as it seemed that Persia was spent and Konstantiyee was doomed to fall, the Great War ended with the use of the world’s first atomic weapon. The Andalusian homeland was demolished by weapons of unmatched force, obliterating millions and bringing an end to a 4-century long golden age.
The new world order that was ushered in following the Great War was centered on the strict neo-Mu’tazila Tehran-Yi’si’tan’bu Axis
. Behind the scenes of a prosperous planet, the inquisitors of the Abbasid era have been reborn to hunt down opposition against progress with ruthless efficiency.
1438 years following the death of the prophet, this enforcement of a strictly neo-Mu’tazila doctrine has brought about a new golden age--an age of progress, prosperity and growth as humanity inches ever closer to the stars.
But at what cost?