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Spread of Islam

The Spread of Islam began shortly after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 632. Trade networks connected many religions which helped the spread of Islam. During his lifetime, the community of Muslims, the ummah, was established in the Arabian Peninsula by means of conversion to Islam. In the first centuries conversion to Islam followed the rapid growth of the Muslim world under the Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphs. Muslim dynasties were soon established and subsequent empires such as those of the Abbasids, Almoravids, Seljuk Turks, Mughals in India and Safavids in Persia and Ottomans were among the largest and most powerful in the world. The Islamic world was composed of numerous sophisticated centers of culture and science with far-reaching mercantile networks, travelers, scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, doctors and philosophers, all of whom contributed to the Golden Age of Islam. The activities of this quasi-political early ummah resulted in the spread of Islam as far from Mecca as China and Indonesia, the latter containing the world's largest Muslim population. Today there are between 1.1 billion and 1.8 billion Muslims, such that Islam the second-largest religion in the world.

Note on historiography

Although Islamic history has been studied extensively, the early expansions and their nature has remained a poorly studied field in relation to its social, historical, affective or psychological aspects according to some historians. The conceptualization is dominated by two stereotypes; the first popularized and captured by Gibbon in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is of a fanatical Arab horseman riding forth from the desert with a sword in one hand and the Qur'an in the other offering victims a choice between one of the two, however such "old notions of forced conversions have been abandoned, at least in scholarly literature." The other image is one of an interfaith, interracial utopia where different races and peoples lived together in harmony. This has also been discredited for more shaded and complex views such as; an acculturation of Arab-Islamic social norms and language, or a process of dialog between the monotheistic Arabs during the Muslim conquests with other faith traditions.

Conversion

Increasing conversion to Islam paralleled the rapid growth of the Arab Empire in the first centuries after the Islamic prophet Muhammad's death. Muslim dynasties were soon established in North Africa, West Africa, throughout the Middle East and in Iran. Non-Muslims were not excluded from the economic elite during the Caliphate. Politically, non-Muslims suffered from certain restrictions on participation in political life.

Phase I: The Early Caliphs and Umayyads(610-750)

This was the time of the life of Prophet Muhammad and his early successors, the four rightly-guided caliphs, as well as the dynasty of the Umayyad Caliphs (550-661).

In the first century the establishment of Islam upon the Arabian peninsula and the subsequent rapid expansion of the Arab Empire during the Muslim conquests, resulted in the formation of an empire surpassed by none before. For the subjects of this new empire, formerly subjects of the vanishing Byzantine and Sassanid Empire, not much changed in practice. The objective of the conquests was more than anything of a practical nature, as fertile land and water were scarce in the Arabian peninsula. A real Islamisation therefore only came about in the subsequent centuries.

Ira Lapidus distinguishes between two separate strands of converts of the time: one is animists and polytheists of tribal societies of the Arabian peninsula and the Fertile crescent; the other one is the monotheistic populations of the Middle Eastern agrarian and urbanized societies.

For the polytheistic and pagan societies, apart from the religious and spiritual reasons each individual may have had, conversion to Islam "represented the response of a tribal, pastoral population to the need for a larger framework for political and economic integration, a more stable state, and a more imaginative and encompassing moral vision to cope with the problems of a tumultuous society." In contrast, for sedentary and often already monotheistic societies, "Islam was substituted for a Byzantine or Sassanian political identity and for a Christian, Jewish or Zoroastrian religious affiliation." Conversion initially was neither required nor necessarily wished for: "(The Arab conquerors) did not require the conversion as much as the subordination of non-Muslim peoples. At the outset, they were hostile to conversions because new Muslims diluted the economic and status advantages of the Arabs."

Only in subsequent centuries, with the development of the religious doctrine of Islam and with that the understanding of the Muslim ummah, did mass conversion take place. The new understanding by the religious and political leadership in many cases led to a weakening or breakdown of the social and religious structures of parallel religious communities such as Christians and Jews.

The caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty established the first schools inside the empire, called madrasas, which taught the Arabic language and Islamic studies. They furthermore began the ambitious project of building mosques across the empire, many of which remain today as the most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world, such as the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. At the end of the Umayyad period, less than 10% of the people in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Spain were Muslim. Only on the Arabian peninsula were there substantially more Muslims among the population.

Phase II: The Abbasids (750-1258)

This was the time of the Abbasid Dynasty (750-1258), the second great dynasty with the rulers carrying the title of 'Caliph'.

Expansion ceased and the central disciplines of Islamic philosophy, theology, law and mysticism became more widespread and the gradual conversions of the populations within the empire occurred. Significant conversions also occurred beyond the extents of the empire such as that of the Turkic tribes in Central Asia and peoples living in regions south of the Sahara in Africa through contact with Muslim traders active in the area and sufi missionaries. In Africa it spread along three routes, across the Sahara via trading towns such as Timbuktu, up the Nile Valley through the Sudan up to Uganda and across the Red Sea and down East Africa through settlements such as Mombasa and Zanzibar. These initial conversions were of a flexible nature and only later were the societies forcibly purged of their traditional influences.

The reasons why, by the end of the 10th century CE, a large part of the population had converted to Islam are diverse. One of the reasons may be that

"Islam had become more clearly defined, and the line between Muslims and non-Muslims more sharply drawn. Muslims now lived within an elaborated system of ritual, doctrine and law clearly different from those of non-Muslims. (...) The status of Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians was more precisely defined, and in some ways it was inferior. They were regarded as the 'People of the Book', those who possessed a revealed scripture, or 'People of the Covenant', with whom compacts of protection had been made. In general they were not forced to convert, but they suffered from restrictions. They paid a special tax; they were not supposed to wear certain colours; they could not marry Muslim women; their evidence was not accepted against that of Muslims in the law courts; their houses or places of worship could not be ostentatious; they were excluded from positions of power (although in various places Jews and Christians worked as secretaries or financial officials for Muslim rulers)."

It should be pointed out that most of these laws were elaborations of basic laws concerning non-Muslims (dhimmis) in the Quran. The Quran does not give much detail about the right conduct with non-Muslims, in principle recognizing the religions of the book and demanding a separate tax for them.

American historian Ira Lapidus points towards "interwoven terms of political and economic benefits and of a sophisticated culture and religion" as appealing to the masses. He writes that :

"The question of why people convert to Islam has always generated intense feeling. Earlier generations of European scholars believed that conversions to Islam were made at the point of the sword, and that conquered peoples were given the choice of conversion or death. It is now apparent that conversion by force, while not unknown in Muslim countries, was, in fact, rare. Muslim conquerors ordinarily wished to dominate rather than convert, and most conversions to Islam were voluntary. (...) In most cases worldly and spiritual motives for conversion blended together. Moreover, conversion to Islam did not necessarily imply a complete turning from an old to a totally new life. While it entailed the acceptance of new religious beliefs and membership in a new religious community, most converts retained a deep attachment to the cultures and communities from which they came."

The result of this, he points out, can be seen in the diversity of Muslim societies today, with varying manifestations and practices of Islam.

Contrary to Lapidus, anthropology professor Kamuyu-Wa-Kang'ethe points out that there are also examples of African societies (notably Egypt and Somalia) that had their ethnic heritage almost completely wiped out by the encroaching Muslims, due to prohibition against long-standing African cultural traditions in favor of foreign, Muslim beliefs, and the castration of African males and rape of African females, who refused to convert.

Conversion to Islam also came about as a result of the breakdown of historically religiously organized societies: with the weakening of many churches, for example, and the favoring of Islam and the migration of substantial Muslim Turkish populations into the areas of Anatolia and the Balkans, the "social and cultural relevance of Islam" were enhanced and a large number of peoples were converted. This worked better in some areas (Anatolia) and less in others (e.g. the Balkans, where "the spread of Islam was limited by the vitality of the Christian churches.")

Along with the religion of Islam, the Arabic language and Arab customs spread throughout the empire. A sense of unity grew among many though not all provinces, gradually forming the consciousness of a broadly Arab-Islamic population: something which was recognizably an Islamic world had emerged by the end of the 10th century. Throughout this period, as well as in the following centuries, divisions occurred between Persians and Arabs, and Sunnis and Shiites, and unrest in provinces empowered local rulers at times.

Conversion within the Empire: Umayyad Period vs. Abassid Period

There are a number of historians who see the rule of the Umayyads as responsible for setting up the "dhimmah" to increase taxes from the dhimmis to benefit the Arab Muslim community financially and to discourage conversion. Islam was initially associated with the ethnic identity of the Arabs and required formal association with an Arab tribe and the adoption of the client status of mawali. Governors lodged complaints with the caliph when he enacted laws that made conversion easier, depriving the provinces of revenues.

During the following Abbasid period an enfranchisement was experienced by the mawali and a shift was made in the political conception from that of a primarily Arab empire to one of a Muslim empire and c. 930 a law was enacted that required all bureaucrats of the empire to be Muslims. Both periods were also marked by significant migrations of Arab tribes outwards from the Arabian Peninsula into the new territories.

Conversion within the Empire: Conversion Curve

Richard Bulliet's "conversion curve" shows a relatively low rate of conversion of non-Arab subjects during the Arab centric Umayyad period of 10%, in contrast with estimates for the more politically multicultural Abbasid period which saw the Muslim population grow from approx. 40% in the mid 9th century to close to 100% by the end of the 11th century.. This theory does not explain the continuing existence of large minorities of Christians in the Abbasid Period. Other estimates suggest that Muslims were not a majority in Egypt until the mid-10th century and in the Fertile Crescent until 1100. Syria may have had a Christian majority within its modern borders until the Mongol Invasions of the 13th century.

Phase III: Dissolution of the Abbasid Empire and its Reconquest by the Ottomans (950-1450)

The expansion of Islam continued in the wake of Turkic conquests of Asia Minor, the Balkans, and the Indian subcontinent. The earlier period also saw the acceleration in the rate of conversions in the Muslim heartland while in the wake of the conquests the newly conquered regions retained significant non-Muslim populations in contrast to the regions where the boundaries of the Muslim world contracted, such as Sicily and Al Andalus, where Muslim populations were expelled or forced to Christianize in short order. The latter period of this phase was marked by the Mongol invasion and after an initial period of persecution, the conversion of these conqueror's to Islam.

Phase IV: the Ottoman Empire 13th Century - 1918

The Ottoman Empire defended its frontiers initially against threats from several sides: the Safavids on the Eastern side, the Byzantine Empire in the North which vanished with the fall of Constantinople 1453, and the great Catholic powers from the Mediterranean Sea: Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and Venice with its eastern Mediterranean colonies.

Later, the Ottoman Empire set on to conquer territories from these rivals: Cyprus and other Greek islands (except Crete) were lost by Venice to the Ottomans, and the latter conquered territory up to the Danube basin as far as Hungary. Crete was conquered during the 17th century, but the Ottomans lost Hungary to the Holy Roman Empire, and other parts of Eastern Europe, ending with the Treaty of Carlowitz (1699).

Phase V: (Post-Ottomans - present)

Islam has continued to spread through commerce, the activities of Sufi missionaries, and migrations; especially in Southeast Asia.

By region

Arabia

At Medina, prophet Muhammad is said to have received repeated embassies from Christian tribes. His treatment of the Christian Arabs was distinctly more liberal and courteous than that accorded by him to the calcinated Jews. He looked on the latter as a potentially dangerous political menace, while he regarded the former not only as subjects, but also as friends and allies.

Asia

Soon after the death of prophet Muhammad, all these provinces fell, one after the other, into the hands of the Muslims, who threatened, for a while, the entire extinction of Christianity in Western Asia. Due however to the tolerant attitude of the majority of the Umayyad, and the Abbasid caliphs of Damascus and Baghdad respectively,, Christianity in the Muslim empire gradually began to experience a new and unprecedented level of revival and vigour. Nestorian and Jacobite theologians, philosophers, and men of letters soon became the teachers of the conquering Arabs, and the pioneers of Islamo-Arabic science, civilization, and learning. Nestorian physicians became the attending physicians of the court, and the Nestorian patriarch and his numerous bishops were regarded in Asia as second to none in power and authority.

Under the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphs, Christianity enjoyed, with few exceptions, great freedom and respect throughout all the Muslim Empire, as can be seen from the facts and data collected by Assemani and Bar-Hebraeus, according to which many Nestorian and Jacobite patriarchs from the seventh to the eleventh centuries received diplomas, or firmans, of some sort from prophet Muhammad himself, from Umar, Ali, Marwan, Al-Mansur, Harun al-Rashid, Abu Ja'far, and others. (Shedd, op. cit., 239-241; Assemani, De Catholicis Nestorianis, 41-433 sqq.; Bar-Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum I, 309, 317, 319, 325; II, 465, 625; III, 307, 317, 229, 433, etc.; and Thomas of Marga, op. cit., II, 123, note.)

Greater Syria

In 635 Damascus surrendered, its inhabitants being promised security for their lives, property, and churches, on payment of a poll tax. by 640 the conquest was virtually complete. The Arab garrisons were kept apart in camps, and life went on much as before. Conversion to Islam had scarcely begun, apart from Arab tribes already settled in Syria; except for the tribe of Ghassan, these all became Muslim. Christians and Jews were treated with toleration, and Nestorian and Jacobite Christians had better treatment than they had under Byzantium . The loyalty of his new subjects was paramount to the success of Muslim rule in the region, therefore excessive taxation or oppression was avoided.

Like their Byzantine and late Sasanian predecessors, the Marwanid caliphs nominally ruled the various religious communities but allowed the communities' own appointed or elected officials to administer most internal affairs. Yet the Marwanids also depended heavily on the help of non-Arab administrative personnel and on administrative practices (e.g., a set of government bureaus). As the conquests slowed and the isolation of the fighters (muqatilah) became less necessary, it became more and more difficult to keep Arabs garrisoned. As the tribal links that had so dominated Umayyad politics began to break down, the meaningfulness of tying non-Arab converts to Arab tribes as clients was diluted; moreover, the number of non-Muslims who wished to join the ummah was already becoming too large for this process to work effectively.

Palestine

The Muslims arrived at Jerusalem around early November 636, and the Roman garrison withdrew into the fortified city. For four months the siege continued, every day there was a fierce assault. At last, when all further resistance was hopeless, the Patriarch Patriarch Sophronius (who acted throughout as the head of the Christian defenders) appeared on the walls and demanded a conference with Abu Ubaidah. He then proposed to capitulate on fair and honourable terms; the Christians were to keep their churches and sanctuaries, no one was to be forced to accept Islam. Sophronius further insisted that these terms should be ratified by the caliph in person. Caliph Umar, then at Medina, agreed to these terms and came with a single camel to the walls of Jerusalem. He signed the capitulation, then entered the city with Sophronius "and courteously discoursed with the patriarch concerning its religious antiquities" . It is said that when the hour for his prayer came he was in the Anastasis, but refused to say it there, lest in future times the Muslims should make that an excuse for breaking the treaty and confiscating the church. The Mosque of Omar (Jami 'Saidna 'Omar), opposite the doors of the Anastasis, with the tall minaret, is shown as the place to which he retired for his prayer. Under the Muslim the Christian population of Jerusalem in the first period enjoyed the usual toleration given to non-Muslim theists. The pilgrimages went on as before. From that point, the rights of the non-Muslims under Islamic territory were governed by the Pact of Umar, and Christians and Jews living in the city were granted autonomy in exchange for a required poll tax (jizya).

The description of Arculf, a Frankish bishop who went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the seventh century, written down from his account by Adamnan, monk of Iona (d. 704): "De locis terrae sanctae", lib. III (P. L., LXXXVIIl, 725 sq.), gives us a not unpleasant picture of the conditions of Christians in Palestine in the first period of Muslim rule. The caliphs of Damascus (661-75O) were enlightened and tolerant princes, on quite good terms with their Christian subjects. Many Christians (e.g. St. John Damascene, d. c. 754) held important offices at their court. The Abbaside caliphs at Bagdad (753-1242), as long as they ruled Syria, were also just and tolerant to the Christians. The famous Harun Abu-Ja-'afar (Haroun al-Raschid, 786-809) sent the keys of the Holy Sepulchre to Charlemagne who built a hospice for Latin pilgrims near the shrine.

During the Fatimid rule, Romans were attacking Syria. It was inevitable that the Christians of Jerusalem should try to help their fellow-countrymen to reconquer the land that had been Roman and Christian; inevitable, too, that the Muslims should punish such attempts as high treason. In 969 the patriarch, John VII, was put to death for treasonable correspondence with the Romans; many other Christians suffered the same fate, and a number of churches were destroyed. The infamous Hakim (Al-Hakim bi-amr-Allah, the sixth Egyptian Caliph, 996-1021, who became the god of the Druze) determined to destroy the Holy Sepulchre (In 1010). It was one of the causes of the feeling that eventually brought about the First Crusade. It has been rebuild in 1048.

Iraq, Persia, and Central Asia

It used to be argued that Zoroastrianism quickly collapsed in the wake of the Islamic conquest of Persia due to its intimate ties to the Sassanid state structure. Now however, more complex processes are considered, in light of the more protracted time frame attributed to the progression of the ancient Persian religion to a minority; a progression that is more contiguous with the trends of the late antiquity period. These trends are the conversions from the state religion that had already plagued the Zoroastrian authorities that continued after the Arab conquest, coupled with the migration of Arab tribes into the region during an extended period of time that stretched well into the Abbassid reign. While there were cases such as the Sassanid army division at Hamra, that converted en masse before pivotal battles such as the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, conversion was fastest in the urban areas where Arab forces were garrisoned slowly leading to Zoroastrianism becoming associated with rural areas. Still at the end of the Umayyad period, the Muslim community was only a minority in the region.

Turkey

See also: Byzantine-Arab Wars

Indian sub-continent

Islamic influence first came to be felt in the Indian subcontinent during the early 7th century with the advent of Arab traders. Arab traders used to visit the Malabar region, which was a link between them and the ports of South East Asia to trade even before Islam had been established in Arabia. According to Historians Elliot and Dowson in their book The History of India as told by its own Historians, the first ship bearing Muslim travelers was seen on the Indian coast as early as 630 AD. H.G. Rawlinson, in his book: Ancient and Medieval History of India claims the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century AD. This fact is corroborated, by J. Sturrock in his South Kanara and Madras Districts Manuals, and also by Haridas Bhattacharya in Cultural Heritage of India Vol. IV.The Arab merchants and traders became the carriers of the new religion and they propagated it wherever they went. It was however the subsequent expansion of the Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent over the next millennia that established Islam in the region.

Considerable controversy exists both in scholarly and public opinion about the conversions to Islam. Embedded within this lies the concept of Islam as a foreign imposition and Hinduism being a natural condition of the natives who resisted, resulting the failure of the project to Islamicize the Indian subcontinent and is highly embroiled with the politics of the partition and communalism in India. These are typically represented by the following schools of thought:

  1. That the bulk of Muslims are descendants of migrants from the Iranian plateau or Arabs.
  2. That Muslims sought conversion through jihad or political violence
  3. A related view is that conversions occurred for non-religious reasons of pragmatism and patronage such as social mobility among the Muslim ruling elite or for relief from taxes
  4. Conversion was a result of the actions of Sufi saints and involved a genuine change of heart
  5. Conversion came from Buddhists and the en masse conversions of lower castes for social liberation and as a rejection of oppressive existent Hindu caste strictures.
  6. Was a combination, initially made under duress followed by a genuine change of heart
  7. As a socio-cultural process of diffusion and integration over an extended period of time into the sphere of the dominant Muslim civilization and global polity at large.

Southeast Asia

Islam came to the Malay Archipelago, first by the way of Muslim traders along the main trade-route between Asia and the Far East, then was further spread by Sufi missionaries and finally consolidated by the expansion of the territories of converted rulers and their communities. The first communities arose in Northern Sumatra (Aceh) and the Malacca's remained a stronghold of Islam from where it was propagated along the trade routes in the region. There is no clear indication of when Islam first came to the region, the first Muslim gravestone markings date to 1082. When Marco Polo visited the area in 1292 he noted that the urban port state of Perlak was Muslim, Chinese sources record the presence of a Muslim delegation to the emperor from the Kingdom of Samudra (Pasai) in 1282, other accounts provide instances of Muslim communities present in the Melayu Kingdom for the same time period while others record the presence of Muslim Chinese traders from provinces such as Fujian. The spread of Islam generally followed the trade routes east through the primarily Buddhist region and a half century later in the Malacca's we see the first dynasty arise in the form of the Sultanate of Malacca at the far end of the Archipelago form by the conversion of one Parameswara Dewa Shah into a Muslim and the adoption of the name Muhammad Iskandar Shah after his marriage to a daughter of the ruler of Pasai. In 1380 Sufi missionaries carried Islam from here on to Mindanao. Java was the seat of the primary kingdom of the region, the Majapahit Empire, which was ruled by a Hindu dynasty. As commerce grew in the region with the rest of the Muslim world, Islamic influence extended to the court even as the empires political power waned and so by the time Raja Kertawijaya converted in 1475 at the hands of Sufi Sheikh Rahmat, the Sultanate was already of a Muslim character. Another driving force for the change of the ruling class in the region was the concept among the increasing Muslim communities of the region that only the descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (Sayyid) were fit to rule them causing the ruling dynasties to attempt to forge such ties of kinship by marriage. By the time the colonial powers and their missionaries arrived in the 17th century the region up to New Guinea was overwhelmingly Muslim with animist minorities.

Inner Asia and Eastern Europe

Little is known about the timeline of the Islamicization of Inner Asia and the Turkic peoples who lay beyond the bounds of the caliphate. Histories merely note the fact of pre-Mongol Central Asia's Islamicization. The Bulgars of the Volga are noted to have adopted Islam by the 10th century under Almış, to whom the modern Volga Tatars trace their Islamic roots. When the Friar William of Rubruck visited the encampment of Batu Khan of the Golden Horde, who had recently completed the Mongol invasion of Volga Bulgaria, he noted "I wonder what devil carried the law of Machomet there". Another contemporary known to have been Muslim, was the Qarakhanid dynasty of the Kara-Khanid Khanate which lay much further east. However, the modern day history of the Islamicization of the region - or rather a conscious affiliation with Islam - dates to the reign of the ulus of the son of Genghis Khan, Jochi, who founded the Golden Horde. Kazakhs, Uzbeks and some Muslim populations of the Russian Federation trace their Islamic roots to the Golden Horde and while Berke Khan was the first Mongol monarch to officially adopt Islam and even oppose his kinsman Hulagu Khan in the defence of Jerusalem at the Battle of Ain Jalut, it was only much later that the change became pivotal and the Mongols converted en masse when a century later Uzbeg Khan converted - reportedly at the hands of the Sufi Saint Baba Tukles.

Some of the Mongolian tribes became Islamized. Following the brutal Mongol invasion of Central Asia under Hulagu Khan and after the Battle of Baghdad (1258) Mongol rule extended across the breadth of almost all Muslim lands in Asia,and the caliphate was destroyed and Islam was persecuted by the Mongols and replaced by Buddhism as the official religion of the land. In 1295 however, the new Khan of the Ilkhanate, Ghazan converted to Islam and two decades later the Golden Horde followed suit. The Mongols had been religiously and culturally conquered, this absorption ushered in a new age of Mongol-Islamic synthesis that shaped the further spread of Islam in central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

In the 1330s the Mongol ruler of the Chagatai Khanate converted to Islam, causing the eastern part of his realm called Moghulistan to rebel. However during the next three centuries these Buddhist, Shamanistic and Christian Turkic and Mongol nomads of the Kazakh Steppe and Xinjiang would also convert at the hands of competing Sufi orders from both east and west of the Pamirs. The Naqshbandi's are the most prominent of these orders, especially in Kashgaria where the western Chagatai Khan was also a disciple of the order.

Africa

Egypt

See also: Muslim conquest of Egypt
The victorious Muslims granted religious freedom to the Christian community in Alexandria, for example, and the Alexandrians quickly recalled their exiled Monophysite patriarch to rule over them, subject only to the ultimate political authority of the conquerors. In such a fashion the city persisted as a religious community under an Arab Muslim domination more welcome and more tolerant than that of Byzantium.

North Africa

See also: Umayyad conquest of North Africa

Byzantine rule was ended by the Arabs, who invaded Morocco in 682 in the course of their drive to expand the power of Islam. Except for the Jews, the inhabitants of Morocco, both Christian and pagan, soon accepted the religion of their conquerors. Berber troops were used extensively by the Arabs in their conquest of Spain, which began in 711.

No previous conqueror had tried to assimilate the Berbers, but the Arabs quickly converted them and enlisted their aid in further conquests. Without their help, for example, Andalusia could never have been incorporated into the Islamicate state. At first only Berbers nearer the coast were involved, but by the 11th century Muslim affiliation had begun to spread far into the Sahara

The Marwanid Maghrib illustrates a kind of conversion more like that of the peninsular Arabs. After the defeat of initial Berber resistance movements, the Arab conquerors of the Maghrib quickly incorporated the Berber tribes en masse into the Muslim community, turning them immediately to further conquests. In 710 an Arab–Berber army set out for the Iberian Peninsula under the leadership of Tariq ibn Ziyad.

East Africa

See also: History of Sudan (Coming of Islam to the Turkiyah)

Along the coast of Africa Islam spread among the Berbers and Somalis(who converted to Islam in 7th century when the first muslims migrated to Abyssinia), who joined the Muslim community and almost immediately drove north across the Mediterranean into Europe. On the east coast of Africa, where Arab mariners had for many years journeyed to trade, Arabs founded permanent colonies on the offshore islands, especially on Zanzibar, in the 9th and 10th cent. From there Arab trade routes into the interior of Africa helped the slow acceptance of Islam. In the 20th cent. Islam has gained more converts in Africa than has Christianity, which labors under the burden of identification with European imperialism.

West Africa

The spread of Islam in Africa began in the 7th to 9th century CE, brought to North Africa initially under the Umayyad Dynasty. Extensive trade networks throughout North and West Africa created a medium through which Islam spread peacefully, initially through the merchant class. By sharing a common religion and a common language (Arabic), traders showed greater willingness to trust, and therefore invest, in one another.

Europe

Hispania /Al-Andalus

The Arabs first began their conquest of southern Hispania or Al-Andalus in 710 and created a province under the Caliphate which extended as far as the north of the peninsula. A large number of Berbers from Morocco migrated to Andalus, adding towards the Muslim population of converts. At the end of the 10th century, possibly a majority of the population was thus Muslim. But large numbers of Jews and Christians also lived alongside Muslims, mainly working as traders. These subjects were "held together by the tolerance of the Umayyads towards Jews and Christians, and also by the spread of the Arabic language, which had become that of the majority, Jews and Christians as well as Muslims, by the 11th century."

"Toleration, a common language and a long tradition of separate rule all helped to create a distinctive Andalusian consciousness and society. Its Islamic religious culture developed on rather different lines from those of the eastern countries, and its Jewish culture became independent of that of Iraq, the main centre of Jewish religious life." Muslim Andalusia is particularly interesting because there the pressure for large-scale conversion that was coming to plague the Umayyads in Syria, Iraq, and Iran never developed.

During the 11th century, the Umayyad caliphate in al-Andalus broke up into smaller kingdoms called Taifas, which in the end created the preconditions for the Christian reconquest. The latter re-established Christian rule more and more southwards, ending all Muslim rule in 1492 with the reconquest of the Kingdom of Granada. Virtually all Muslims and also all Jews found themselves forced to either convert to Christianity or leave the country - the result was an exodus of both Muslims and Jews to North Africa, resulting not only in a loss of business but also in a massive brain drain for the time being.

Balkans

In Balkan history writing the question of conversion to Islam was, and still is, a highly charged political issue. It is intrinsically linked to the issues of formation of national identities and rival territorial claims of the Balkan states. The nationalist discourse of the current Balkan historiography defines all forms of Islamization as results of the Ottoman government's centrally organized policy of conversion or Dawa. Islamization in each Balkan country took place in the course of many centuries and its nature and phase was determined not by the Ottoman government but by the specific conditions of each locality. Military victories of Muslim rulers were sometimes followed by the conversion of the masses to Islam, with the possible exceptions of Spain and the Balkans.

See also

Notes

References

  • Devin De Weese, Devin A, "Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde", Penn State Press, Sep 1, 1994, ISBN 0-271-01073-8
  • Fred Astren, "Karaite Judaism and Historical Understanding", Univ of South Carolina Press, Feb 1, 2004 ISBN 1-57003-518-0
  • Tobin Siebers, "Religion and the Authority of the Past", University of Michigan Press, Nov 1, 1993, ISBN 0-472-08259-0
  • Jonathan Berkey, "The Formation of Islam", Cambridge University Press, Jan 1, 2003, ISBN 0-521-58813-8
  • Goddard, Hugh Goddard, "Christians and Muslims: from double standards to mutual understanding", Routledge (UK), Oct 26, 1995 ISBN 0-7007-0364-0
  • Hourani, Albert, 2002, A History of the Arab Peoples, Faber & Faber, , ISBN 0-571-21591-2
  • Lapidus, Ira M. 2002, A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Timothy M. Savage, Europe and Islam: Crescent Waxing, Cultures Clashing, The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2004. http://www.twq.com/04summer/docs/04summer_savage.pdf
  • Stoller, Paul. "Money Has No Smell: The Africanization of New York City," Chicago: University of Chicago Press ISBN 978-0-226-77529-6
  • Eaton, Richard M. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1993 1993. Online version last accessed on 1 May 2007
  • Peter van der Veer, "Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India", University of California Press, Feb 7, 1994, ISBN 0-520-08256-7

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