The spread of Islam in the late 600’s and 700’s has acquired a lot of study. It began when the prophet Muhammad (who lived from 570 C.E. to 632 C.E.) began sharing his belief that God had sent him a revelation at the age of 40. Before the rise of Islam, Arabia was a peripheral desert wasteland whose once great trading cities had fallen on hard times. The sparse population of the Arabian peninsula was divided into rival tribes and clans that worshipped local gods. A great deal of Islam’s spread was through military conquest. Arab forces defeated the Persian Empire, took about half of Byzantium’s territories, conquered Spain, and attacked southern France. With the expansion of the Arab empire came the spread of the Islamic faith.
The Arab Empire’s location on the Arabian peninsula provided opportunities and routes of trade over three continents: Africa, Europe, and Asia. Also, conversion to Islam was not forced on anyone in the Arab Empire. In fact, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians were all considered “people of the book” and were given the status of dhimmis, which were protected subjects. The Islamic civilization was able to formulate an extensive empire via military power, location on the Arabian peninsula/trade routes, and voluntary conversion.
The Islamic civilization was able to formulate an extensive empire by way of military power. The Arab encompassed all or part of the Egyptian, Roman/Byzantine, Persian, Mesopotamian, and Indian civilizations. In the 650s, Arab forces defeated the Persian Empire and took over about half of Byzantium’s territories.
In the early 700s, Arab forces reached the Indus River and took control over some major oases towns in Central Asia, and they also swept through North Africa, conquered Spain, and attacked southern France. According to Sir Edward Crecy, the Muslims had cruel and almost wild methods of conquest. At the Battle of Tours, the Muslims struck their enemies and took captives without number. Everything gave way to their swords. The Franks were terrified of the all-powerful Arab military.
The cruelty towards the inhabitants of the city could be described as “the fury and cruelty of raging tigers.” Muhammad also gave religious choices to those who were not of the Muslim faith. They were given the choice to convert to Islam, practice your current religion while still respecting Islam and pay tribute, or disrespect both and have war waged against you. Due to the strength of the Arab military, other empires cowered at the sight of it. The Muslim warriors were known to be ruthless in times of war and had a the qualities to force any nation into following the Islamic beliefs.
The Islamic civilization was able to formulate an extensive empire through its location on the Arabian peninsula/trade routes. Trading played an important role in the spread of Islam in several parts of the world, notably southeast Asia. Islam came to the Southeast Asia, first by the way of Muslim traders along the main trade-route between Asia and the Far East, then was further spread by Sufi orders and finally consolidated by the expansion of the territories of converted rulers and their communities. The growth of the muslim empire from 632-750 C.E. shows that faith was easy to spread.
The Islamic civilization was able to formulate an extensive empire due to its policies on voluntary conversion. Not everyone was forced to adhere to the teachings of Islam. The people had a choice of religion in the Arab Empire. However, there were numerous citizens who preferred the Islamic culture over their current beliefs. The promise to devout Muslims of a paradise with an abundant supply of water appealed to many desert-dwellers. The belief in equality among all followers of Islam appealed to many impoverished nations.
For instance, Muhammad gave choices to the leader of a Christian Arab tribe. He said to believe or else pay tribute, and to obey the Lord and himself. Muhammad also said that if you diplease them, he will fight against him and take captive his little ones and slay the elder. These people willingly converted to Islam from their ancestral religions, causing the Islamic empire to grow. The Quran states that those who profess Islam will go to heaven, and those who turn back will be punished.
The Islamic civilization was able to formulate an extensive empire via military power, location on the Arabian peninsula/trade routes, and voluntary conversion. The early Islamic civilization was a stage of rapid spread that, in turn, was able to encompass such an extensive empire. Even though the empire met its demise in 1253 C.E., many customs and beliefs of Islam are still practiced to this day. The Muslim population is ever-growing, and is predicted to surpass the Christian population by the year of 2060. The rapid spread of the Islamic civilization was a key turning point in Muslim culture, as it resulted in a widespread diffusion of a new popular culture.