The first century of Islam was one of the most creative moments in recorded human history: a religion, empire, language and--in many respects--a people were born. Yet the first dynasty of Islam, the Umayyads (661-750), were short-lived and deeply unpopular, falling in a mass uprising to revolutionaries who repudiated much of what they stood for. Addressing this apparent contradiction goes some way towards explaining why the Umayyad failure was the success of early Islam.

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