After the Muslims exploded onto the scene in the 7th century, they learned that anyone can take a empire, but holding an empire is another matter entirely. We go to Syria, where Damascus served as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate. The Umayyads were the family who eventually took control following the turmoil of finding successors to Muhammad.
Ali A Olomi, historian and host of Head on History, rejoins us to take us into the next phase of Muslim history, in which the rich and connected Banu Umayya demonstrate the durability of hegemony: after every revolution, the elite and connected always come back in the end.
The Umayyads may get a bad rap in places, but they left an enduring empire in their wake, best shown in the remarkable mosque in their capital.
While we discuss the splendor and tragedy of Damascus, try some tabbouleh, my all-time favorite salad.
Armstrong, Karen. Islam: a Short History.
Donner, Fred McGraw. Muhammad and the Believers: at the Origin of Islam
Ingraham, Christopher. “How rising inequality hurts everyone, even the rich” in Washington Post
Keenan, Brigid. Damascus: Hidden Treasures of the Old City
Kennedy, Hugh. Caliphate: the History of an Idea
Bradt guide to Syria
Footprint Syria handbook
Photograph by wikipedia user Aladdin