Why Did Islam Spread So Quickly: Argumentative Essay

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Muslim expansion had a major impact on world history, the most noticeable being that Islam evolved from a predominantly Arab religion into a religion with a universal appeal. Muslims have risen from a small, fractured community on the Arabian Peninsula to the largest religious and political force in the Eastern Hemisphere, with over 350 million people. Military conquest, trade, pilgrimage, and missionaries were all used to spread Islam so quickly, so far and wide. As Islamic ideas and traditions interacted with new societies, they manifested themselves in distinct ways and finally took on a variety of shapes.

Muhammad, the central prophet of the Islamic faith, is the earliest prophet of Islam, which originated in Saudi Arabia in the 6th century. When Muhammad returned to his hometown after completing the Qur'an, he spread the word. Soon after, Umar, the second caliph, began conquests outside of Arabia. The newly exposed faith prospered as the Muslim community and religion extended throughout the Middle East with the rise of the Muslim state and Islamic religion. Muhammad died in 632 CE, and tensions were felt within the Islamic alliance. A few of the tribes considered their loyalty to Islam owed principally to Muhammad, and their devotion to Mecca and Islam had ended. The situation was further complicated by Muhammad's ambiguous instructions on who should be the leader and heir to the community. Fortunately, Abu Bakr, Muhammad's close friend and father-in-law, immediately assumed the role. It was Abu Bakr who was known as the first caliph and as a revolutionary monarch of society. In addition to his political power as a caliph, he possessed spiritual authority. As a consequence of the military conquests, Islam's political position, and the task Muhammad had given it were strengthened. Islam reached over three continents within half a century of the prophet's death. Muslim conquests had influenced and conquered Africa, Western Asia, and even much of Europe by the 8th century. The original Islamic doctrine did not preach war, and it did not multiply through invasions in particular. The spread of Islam was mediated through declaring war against those clans who did not accept the message of God. Initially, Christians and Jews were not expected to convert or treated with disrespect. Muslim faiths did not require people to convert. Even today, large numbers of Jews and Christians live in Muslim-majority countries, where they form considerable communities.

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The early spread of Islam was caused by the conquests of Arab Muslims, which happened within a very short period after it was founded: “Taking place over a period of ninety years, these conquests swept away the imperial forces of the Arabs’ proud neighbors to the north and resulted in a permanent cultural transformation of the societies that came under Muslim control” (Egger, 2004, p.65). During the seventh century, Arab Muslim troops crushed rebellions across the Arabian Peninsula, conquering territory in the neighboring Byzantine and Sasanian empires and beyond. It took roughly two decades for them to create a major Arab Muslim empire spanning three continents. Religion was not solely motivating for the Arab Muslim rulers, and neither was their success attributed to Islam alone, though it certainly played a part. The majority of conquests took place under the time of Umar, the second caliph, who ruled from 634 to 644. The Rashidun Caliphate built a huge empire through a series of quick military triumphs. They grew for religious as well as political reasons, as was usual at the time. “Muslim armies now entered a new phase of their conquests. From that point, they would spread the hegemony of Islam wherever their power enabled them to overcome local resistance” (Egger, 2004, p.70). Distinct, fighting Arab tribes came together to form a unified political force, aided in part by the threat of military conquest. This unity was shaky, and it eventually gave way to severe schisms that disturbed political and ecclesiastical institutions in the years to come. Only a small number of those who were under the control of Arab Muslim rulers converted to Islam right away. Muslims did not constitute the majority of subjects of Islamic empires until the eleventh century, some centuries later. Although contrary to popular belief, Islam is neither a sword religion nor does it spread predominantly through warfare. The enormous countries captured by Arab forces were converted to Islam in a short period, not by force of arms, but by the attractiveness of the new religion. People were not forced to convert to the new religion. Many Jews and Christians persisted, and important groups of believers in these faiths can still be found in Muslim territories.

Islam was disseminated in a variety of ways, including trade, missionaries, and pilgrimage. Native people were slowly affected by these trades, which resulted in increased conversions to Islam: “Trade and religion were thus inextricably combined in Mecca. The pilgrimage to Mecca was the climax of the trading platform” (Armstrong, 2007, p.19). As Islamic ideas spread via commerce and pilgrimage routes, mingling with local cultures and evolving into new versions and interpretations of the religion, Islam's spread was inextricably related to trade. With Muslim dominance of the western half of the Silk Road by the mid-eighth century, all long-distance trade had to pass via Muslim territory, making trade a crucial part of the religion's spread. Whenever Muslim traders traveled, they carried the message of Islam with them. On the other hand, the new religion appealed to local merchants since it legitimized their economic foundation better than most other belief systems at the time. Islam had expanded its borders along the Silk Road by the 8th century, and it was no longer just an Arab faith. Conversions were frequently motivated by money considerations and the financial incentives available to those who joined the ummah. Islam continued to develop a foothold among the conquered peoples of Central Asia, thanks to merchants who spread the religion without duress: “Scholars, missionaries, merchants, and pilgrims traveled widely throughout the Dar al-Islam and communicated developments in law, science, engineering, devotional material, etiquette, and numerous other facets of the various evolving Islamic societies over vast distances. The different regions of the Muslim world retained unique characteristics inherited from their pre-Islamic culture, but they were increasingly able to share a common Islamic culture, as well” (Egger, 2004, p.331). Merchants to the south of the commercial routes had converted to Islam by the 10th century. The rulers began to convert in the 11th century CE.

Many socioeconomic developments took place under Islam between 610 and 661, including Muhammad's mission and the authority of his four immediate successors who constituted the Rashidun Caliphate: “Muhammad could now implement his moral and social reforms in a way that had been impossible in Mecca. His goal was to create a society of hilm. Those who kept the faith (mu’min) were not simply 'believers'. Their faith must be expressed in practical actions: they must pray, share their wealth, and in matters that concerned the community, 'consult among themselves' to preserve the unity of the ummah” (Armstrong, 2007, p.71). Changes in areas like social security, family structure, slavery, and women's rights improved what existed in Arab society at the time. Muhammad established a new social security system and a new family structure, both of which were huge improvements over previous practices. He constructed a theological and social framework for the lives of various races of men by adapting what was finest in nomad morals for settled communities. Two key alterations to ancient slavery presented by Islam had far-reaching implications. One was the presumption of liberty, and the other was the prohibition against enslaving free people except in very specific situations. The situation of the Arabian slave was improved: the Arabian slave was no longer just a chattel, but a human person with a religious and thus social standing, as well as legal rights. Women had almost no rights in the Arabian pre-Islamic rule of status, however, Islamic law gave women several privileges. The reforms touched marriage, divorce, and inheritance, and the prohibition of female infanticide and recognition of women's complete personhood were among the general improvements in the position of Arab women. They devised a new system of marriage, family, and inheritance in which women were considered individuals, and social security was guaranteed to them and their offspring. Certain components of the Arab pre-Islamic past, such as caring for one's immediate kin, widows, orphans, and others in need, and establishing justice, were approved and advocated by Muhammad. These ideals, on the other hand, would be re-ordered and presented from the perspective of strict monotheism. The journeys of Ibn Battuta contributed to the Dar al-Islam movement and helped to retain Islam's global influence. His writings can be utilized by historians as a window into the past, allowing them to see the world through his eyes as it was at the time.

In conclusion, Islam spread so quickly through military conquest, trade, pilgrimage, and missionaries. People from all over the world were drawn to its religious principles and overall appeal. The varieties of Islamic expression changed over time as the world progressed, and Islamic civilization remains in traditional Islamic ideologies.

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