What was daily life like during the early part of the Islamic Empire?
The Islamic Empire was one of the largest empires in world history. It covered a wide range of cultures, climates, and geography. Below we will discuss what the daily life was like during this time for Arab Muslims living in the Middle East.
Like with all societies, the size and style of homes were different for the rich and the poor. Poor people lived in tents or mud huts, while the wealthy lived in large single family homes. The large homes usually had a courtyard in the center with a fountain where people could cool off from the desert heat. Sometimes they had wind towers that would force wind through the house like air conditioning.
During the Middle Ages, the Islamic Empire had a booming trade economy. As a result, people worked a variety of jobs including farmers, merchants, craftsmen, teachers, herders, and soldiers.
Girls wearing Hijab Source: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
A common meal during that time would have consisted of dates, honey, and milk. This same meal is often used today by Muslims to break their fast during Ramadan. Other common foods included eggplant, lintels, and water to drink. Meat, such as lamb and chicken, was rare and typically only eaten by the wealthy. Some foods were forbidden by Islam including pork and alcohol. Forbidden foods are called "haram" and allowed foods are called "halal."
To protect themselves from the hot sun of the Middle East, early Muslims wore clothing that covered their entire bodies. Both men and women wore long shirts and loose pants. Women often wore head scarves and veils. Men also used head coverings including turbans. Dressing modestly and covering up was also part of the Islamic religion.
Education was an important part of the early Islamic Empire. Young boys attended school where they studied and memorized the Quran. They also studied other subjects including mathematics, philosophy, astrology, and Greek.
Modern Day Nomads by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O'Donald.
While some people lived in towns and villages, others were nomads. Nomads moved about the desert looking for new pastures and water for their animals. They lived in long, low tents that were easy to move about. Some of the first converts to Islam were nomads. They helped Islam to spread rapidly throughout the Middle East as they moved from place to place.
Interesting Facts about Daily Life During the Early Islamic Empire
Water was the most common drink. Sometimes water was flavored with mint, fruits, or roses.
They didn't have a lot of furniture in their homes. Rugs were common, however, and were used as floor coverings, blankets, cushions, and pillows.
Most marriages were arranged by the families. Women married very young, often at the age of 12 or 13. Men usually married around the age of 19 or 20.
Islamic women today often wear a veil that covers the head and chest called a "hijab."
A man could have up to four wives (but he had to be able to provide for them), while a woman was only allowed one husband.