Between 500 and 800 CE, the Byzantine and Islamic empires were the most powerful forces in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Each had a single ruler (the Byzantine emperor and the Islamic caliph) and each sought to spread a monotheistic faith (Christianity and Islam). Choose either the Byzantine or Islamic empires and identify two factors that made it successful. Then, find two similarities between Christianity and Islam. Do you think religion played a role in the success of the empires?
Consider religion. While people experience religion in a distinctly individual manner, religion exists in a larger social context as a social institution. For instance, an individual’s religious practice may be influenced by what government dictates, holidays, teachers, places of worship, rituals, and so on. These influences underscore the important relationship between individual practices of religion and social pressures that influence that religious experience (Elias, 1978). In simpler terms, figuration means that as one analyzes the social institutions in a society, the individuals using that institution in any fashion need to be ‘figured’ in to the analysis.
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