Martial incompetence of Islam (vs. cultural power of Islam?)

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,965
Blachernai
Urban development in islam was a regression if compared to late antiquity. Syria, Egypt and north Africa were all more urbanised under Romans than under islamic empires.
Whether that has anything to do with Islam or is simply part of long-term trends is unclear. Alan Walmsley's Early Islamic Syria is a good place to start on the thorny issue of late antique Roman cities.
 
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JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,160
USA
A rather strange comment. Islam is a religion/faith not a race. Islamic war history has been overwhelmingly guided by Turks. Turkic groups are the ones who built and maintained most of the large islamic empires, so their competence/incompetence should be viewed via the prism of rise and fall of Turkic people's ability to maintain large empires. With the exception of early Arabs, almost all major islamic powers were led by turks.
What of the Arab Ismail of Morocco ? Ismail was Sultan of Morocco for over 50 years and led an army of 150,000. In the late 17th century Ismail led his armies to important victories against the Ottomans in Algiers. Ismail also developed an alliance with Louis XIV of France doing so in part out of opposition to Spain.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,118
Cornwall
A rather strange comment. Islam is a religion/faith not a race. Islamic war history has been overwhelmingly guided by Turks. Turkic groups are the ones who built and maintained most of the large islamic empires, so their competence/incompetence should be viewed via the prism of rise and fall of Turkic people's ability to maintain large empires. With the exception of early Arabs, almost all major islamic powers were led by turks.
What is a strange comment?
 
Nov 2013
739
Texas
A rather strange comment. Islam is a religion/faith not a race. Islamic war history has been overwhelmingly guided by Turks. Turkic groups are the ones who built and maintained most of the large islamic empires, so their competence/incompetence should be viewed via the prism of rise and fall of Turkic people's ability to maintain large empires. With the exception of early Arabs, almost all major islamic powers were led by turks.
Yet you are ironically providing evidence of this, why would Persians (among others) need Turkish and Turko-Persian leadership, unless they (among others) functioned more as a cultural power than a martial one?

I guess my contention is that (with the partial exception of the Turks) Islam during the Islamic Golden age functioned more as a cultural power than a martial one.

Pre-Islamic Persia did not need Turkish leadership; that's because (though prone to decadence, especially in martial affairs), pre-Islamic Persia was a martial and administrative power; but ISlamic PErsia was more of a cultural power than a martial one; and I suspect they influenced the other Islamic powers in this regard (such as when Seljuk Turks stop being great fighters, but go on to be notable architects.)
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,118
Cornwall
I'd also say 'early arabs' was quite a long time! If the islam spread was in the 7th century, I'm not aware of any Turkic-led enterprises in Western North Africa (or Hispania) until 700 years later - and then of dubious effect/control.
 
Nov 2013
739
Texas
Your description of the Almohads does not refect the works of Ambrosio Huici Miranda, who wrote the definitive history. Not sure if it is in English (I would think so)

Historia Politica del Imperio Almohade (2 vols)

...but I was lucky to find the 2 volumes in print a couple of years ago. The conquests of Abd Al Mu'min and the Caliphates of Yusuf I and Yaqub Al-Mansur were pretty scary give or take the odd set back. Things actually started to decline under Al-Nasr and tangibly after him/Las Navas de Tolosa, due to the usual in-fighting and arab-berber hatred

But in the mid 1190s - look out!

The Almoravids were also pretty effective up to and including Yusuf Ibn Tashufin. And both dynasties came to delve surpringly into arts and architecture

While we are at it it's hard to find any miltary or administrative force that compared - given the context of the region - with the Caliphate of Cordoba under Abderraman III, Alhaken II and the terrible Almanzor.

(I'm afraid I've no idea what 'Sales (???) and Fez did OK' means)
I would not describe the Almohads as particularly apt at battling the Khafir (at least not relative to the turks or Arabs, to say nothing of the TImurids). Even/especially in Almohad Dynasty Morrocco; we see signs of cultural affluence (affluence of Morrocco cities and trade routes such as Rabat, Sale and so on) rather than first rate martial prowess. Yes, might I suggest Almohad dynasty Morrocco was yet another example of an Islamic culture having mediocre warfare and administration, yet cultural power due perhaps to the trade routes they controlled and were connected to. (or more likely, due to momentum from a prior golden age in the 900s, possibly. When, would say, was the golden age of Morrocco? Ah, you used the Almohad dynasty as an example too before...)
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,118
Cornwall
I would not describe the Almohads as particularly apt at battling the Khafir (at least not relative to the turks or Arabs, to say nothing of the TImurids). Even/especially in Almohad Dynasty Morrocco; we see signs of cultural affluence (affluence of Morrocco cities and trade routes such as Rabat, Sale and so on) rather than first rate martial prowess. Yes, might I suggest Almohad dynasty Morrocco was yet another example of an Islamic culture having mediocre warfare and administration, yet cultural power due perhaps to the trade routes they controlled and were connected to. (or more likely, due to momentum from a prior golden age in the 900s, possibly. When, would say, was the golden age of Morrocco? Ah, you used the Almohad dynasty as an example too before...)
I can only really go by the work of Ambrosio Huici Miranda on this. Who has examined the sources and is quoted by nearly all authors.

Nothing mediocre about the war or the administration. Not until the 'decline' as with every empire!
 
Sep 2016
1,378
Georgia
Persia was a cultural powerhouse; yet really wasn't as powerful as pre-islamic Persia
You've never heard about Abbas I or Nader Shah ? Persia was powerful during the reign of Abbas I and managed to inflict several defeats on Ottoman forces, while regaining much of territories that were lost at the end of 16th century. That's during the historical period when Ottoman Empire was still going strong.

Nader Shah was one of the greatest military commanders in 18th century and achieved a great success against various enemies.
 
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Sep 2016
1,378
Georgia
Pre-Islamic Persia did not need Turkish leadership; that's because (though prone to decadence, especially in martial affairs), pre-Islamic Persia was a martial and administrative power;
Such a great martial power was Pre-Islamic Persia that it got crushed by Arabs. Sasanid Empire was destroyed by Islamic power.

Achaemenid Persia was destroyed by one young Macedonian King.
 
Nov 2013
739
Texas
Such a great martial power was Pre-Islamic Persia that it got crushed by Arabs. Sasanid Empire was destroyed by Islamic power.

Achaemenid Persia was destroyed by one young Macedonian King.
Yes, pre-islamic Persia was fell twice in a thousand years; and had it's power restored in less than a century after being fell (though Islamic Persia resurged more as a cultural power.)

Abbasid Persia was an Arab dynasty; that's why they fought a bit better than the later medieval dynasties.

that's really not a bad record (indeed, only few, such as the Romans or the Arabs actually had a much better one

As for Nader Shah; not only was he of Turkish extraction, this wasn't really the golden age (either culturally or militariy) of Persia.

I guess my contention is that during the Islamic golden age, Islamic powers (especially non-Turkic or non-ARab ones) functioned more as a cultural power than a martial one.