The Umayyads and Abbasids were both dynasties that dominated the Islamic World. Both held the title of Caliph.
The Umayyads emerged earlier than the Abbasids (having ruled from 661–750 CE), and they moved their capital to the city of Damascus. They borrowed heavily from the Byzantines in creating their governing and administrative structures. Even so, the Umayyads remained an Arab-dominated culture. They continued the Islamic expansions further west across North Africa and into Europe, as well as east into India. They were overthrown in 750 CE, when the Abbasids began to come into power.
The Abbasids moved their capital further east towards the city of Baghdad (in modern day Iraq). Their civilization would be shaped out of the fusion between Arabian and Persian influences. However, while the Abbasids enjoyed a greater degree of social and political stability than the Umayyads did (as well as experiencing the famous Golden Age of Islam), the Abbasids also marked the beginning of the political disintegration and fracturing of the Islamic World. You can see this theme present even in their earliest history, when the last survivor of the Umayyads would relocate to Spain and establish a rival Caliphate in Córdoba in 756. However, this theme would become particularly critical in shaping the later history of the Caliphate, as can be seen by such examples as the rise and collapse of the Seljuk Empire, the Crusades, and the Mongol Invasions.
- Both the Umayyad and Abbasid Empires professed the Muslim faith.
- The two empires trace their origins to Prophet Muhammad (SAW), either through family ties or religion.
- In both empires, Muslims were exempt from some taxes applied to non-Muslims.
- Both empires fell through conquest.
- Women enjoyed more freedoms in the Umayyad Empire compared to the Abbasid Empire. Women were not secluded or forced to wear a veil in the Umayyad Empire.
- The Umayyad Empire focused on developments in the Mediterranean coast, while the Abbasids focused on Iran and Iraq.
- The Umayyad Empire did not push for conversions of non-Muslims to the Muslim faith. The Abbasids promoted conversion and incentivized the process through favorable treatment of the converts. The Abbasids withdrew taxes for the converts.
- Although the Umayyad Empire focused on enhancing military strength, the empire was conquered by the Abbasids.
- The Umayyad capital was in Damascus, while the Abbasid capital was in Baghdad.
One more thing,
dbello mentioned in his post that the Abbasid's were Sh'ite, which was true in the beginning, but after they consolidated power they switched to Sunni practices, which cost them supporters.
Here are some bullet points to get you started in your assignment.
The Abbasid Caliphate
- ruled from 750-1258 and then from 1261-1517. The breif interruption was due to the Mongol sack of their capital city of Baghdad.
- founded by the decendents of Muhammad's uncle.
- seized power by overthrowing the Umayyad empire.
- capital city was Baghdad for most of their rule.
- sought to accept non-muslims into their societies. Accepted Persian support and influence into their court.
- stressed value of knowledge. Oversaw the golden age of Islamic culture in literature, art, architecture, technology and science.
- embraced Sunni Islamic practices.
The Umayyad Caliphate
- established after the death of Muhammad by a powerful family from Mecca. Ruled only from 661-750.
- capital city was Damascus
- had a social structure where Arab Muslims were at the top and everyone else was below. They tried to keep non-Arab muslim influences out of their court.
- stressed military conquest rather than aquisition of knowledge. Did oversee the building of many important buildings (the Dome of the Rock)
- Sunni Islam.
I hope this helps get you started.
The Islamic Empire between 632-750 AD was full of internal conflict, and as a result separated into two different sects: the Sunn'i (Umayyad) and the Shi'ite (Abbasid) The Sunn'i continued to follow the teachings of the early caliphs (the Prophet Muhammads' successors) the Shi'ite followed Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali. The Umayyad Caliphs were responsible for several military conquests and thus converting the conquered to Islam. The Abbasids overthrew them in 749 and moved the capital to Baghdad. They were also responsible for spliting and sharing power between the Arabs religious goals, the Persians administrative authority, and the Turks' military might. In addition, There were advances in medicine, science, mathematics, and philosophy under the Abbasids.