The Spread of Islam: Online Discussion Questions (Also Unit Three Due Dates)

All right, lovely people!  Here we go, off into the medieval period.  You should have received a copy of the unit three reading guide and vocabulary assignment today in class– if you’ve misplaced yours, please make sure to download a copy from the Unit Three materials page.

Significant due dates for this unit are as follow:

  • African Trade Systems Simulation (Wednesday, September 9th)
  • In-Class Comparative Essay (Wednesday, September 16th)
  • Unit Three Reading Quiz (Friday, September 18th)
  • Unit Three Vocabulary Assignment (Friday, September 18th)
  • Unit Three Test (Thursday, October 1st)

This unit is going to feel a little fragmented, since we’ve got Labor Day coming up this Monday and Fall Break (Sept. 21 – 25) during this unit as well.  The best advice I can give you is to stay on top of your reading and to make sure that you review your notes during your break so that it’s not a total shock when you get back to class.

One more piece of business– remember, those of you interested in applying for the Governor’s Honors Program this summer, there’s an informational meeting in the ID lab in the Freshman Academy at 7:45 AM and 3:30 PM tomorrow, September 3rd.  If you can’t make it to the meeting, please check in with Ms. Biddy in room 2106.

As to tonight’s homework– you should have received a copy of The Spread of Islam in class today.  Please read the article carefully, and then respond in comments to the following discussion points.  Remember, the usual commenting policy applies– one good comment which addresses the prompts fully can receive a maximum grade of 95%, while one good comment PLUS a response to a classmate’s comment is eligible for a full 100% of credit on the assignment.  Please provide specific examples from the text when possible to support your position.

You may additionally find the following video a helpful visual:

Your discussion prompts are as follow:

Based on your readings and our discussions in class today, what factors led to the rapid expansion of Islam between the 7th and 15th centuries?  What made Islam attractive to people in sub-Saharan Africa? In India?  Central Asia? Southeast Asia?

How did Islam change as it moved into new regions?  Do you think these transformations– and those which took place during the diffusion of Buddhism and Christianity– are beneficial to religions, or harmful?  Justify your answer with evidence from your readings.

Additionally– and I know that I don’t need to remind you wonderful people– as we are discussing religion, please remember to keep your conversation academic and respectful, and remember that I am moderating all comments.  And comments I find inappropriate will be prevented from posting.

Have a good evening, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

80 thoughts on “The Spread of Islam: Online Discussion Questions (Also Unit Three Due Dates)

  1. The Islamic expansion can be chalked up to many factors including militaristic expansion of Muslims as well as economic expansion and a emphasis on supporting lower level members of society. They didn’t force others to convert and instead taxed those who practiced different religions than they did. This of course made Islam very appealing to alot of people who were conquered by them. Since Muhammed had been part of a merchant tribe he used the skills and connections to spread his ideals. Then of course you have the conversions that monotheistic religions like Islam and Christianity practice called spontaneous conversion . In Islam they have a concept of heaven and a concept of hell so they use rewards and fear mongering to either bully or out of fear or desire for reward convert. This drew in many people and using an ultimatum is an effective way to convince someone to join up with you. Also one of the major benefits of converting for the lower class was the charity. Muslims are religiously obliged to help the needy. As Islam spread and was more widely adopted it began to change at least in some local aspects. Practices of shariah became more diverse and certain laws were ommited. Africa took out the cutting off a hand as punishment for a theif just to name ab example. Overall yes the changes made were beneficial because it alowed Islam to spread farther and faster


  2. Many factors led to the expansion of Islam between the 7th and 15th centuries. One of the factors that allowed for the fairly quick spread of this empire was economics. The Islamic empire was well known for trading goods which allowed their culture to expand through merchants. This helped to expand to places like sub- Saharan Africa and Central Asia. Later on, Islam became attractive to places like Southeast Asia and India due to the idea of spiritual equality that allowed for peasants to be spiritually equal to a person considered a Brahman, giving them a positive after life to believe in.

    As Islam began to move into new regions, it slowly began to pick up on different cultures. When Islam first started, the Arabs thought to keep it an ethnic religion like Judaism, but as more territory was taken over in places like West Asia and North Africa by the Islamic empire, this idea quickly went away. In ca. 900 CE Sufism was added to the religion which later contributed monasticism such as that of Christianity and Buddhism. Sufism varied the religion of Islam, sometimes focusing more on being missionaries, charity, or religion. The Sufi aided in the addition of Southeast Asia to the Islamic empire. The Islamic empire also changed during its conquest of Europe. During this time, the Islamic army shows more aggressiveness and the Arabs become somewhat known as murderers, with an brutal rule. The transformations that the Islamic culture and empire went through were due to the many people and cultures it encountered during conquest.


  3. Islam spread for many reasons. Islam is commonly understood to have “spread by the sword”. And to a degree his is true. Islam spread through military expansion and when the Muslim caliphates would take over new lands, the people were likely to convert. This can be credited to the taxes put on nonmuslims and the small amounts of discrimination towards them.

    when Islam spread new regions it picked up ideas from the new culture it spread to. This can be seen as that Muslims originally intended for it to be an ethnic religion but as it spread many cultures adopted it.


    • “Spread by the sword” is certainly a fitting definition to Islam’s expansion. That and trade was its only main ways of spreading to others, and the rate of its acceptance shocks me. I would imagine the discrimination was much more harsh than what many think to have caused such conversions, that or people those days were eager to switch their worship.


  4. I believe that the spread of Islam was caused be a variety of many factors. One main factor was the news for resources to sustain the group, such as water and food. This caused Muslims to expand military and conquer places such as Egypt and Spain.
    As Islam spread, its followers also grew in number, Islam was a highly attractive faith because of the high taxes on non-Muslim minorities and the manifestation of Islam’s great success and power.
    Islam also played a role in trade, putting great emphasis on traders and merchants, which spread knowledge of Islam quicker and further.


  5. (I failed to mention in class that I was unable to use the computer yesterday as my father returned from a trip and had to work from home. This comment system also doesn’t work well from my phone.)

    Islam’s rapid expansion was mainly due to military conquest founded by the prophet Muhammad’s ability of a good general. As the religion did not have a strong reliance on missionaries, they conquered land and cities to spread the the word of their religion. Many regions accepted it as they were conquered as it would provide bonuses such as lower taxing. Outside of the domain, Islam was still attractive for the general worship of a single god whom quite often rewards followers through the promise of something better after death.

    Islam changed to adapt to the culture of each region, such as when it spread to Indonesia, followers still kept some of their previous beliefs and practices. I think this is more beneficial to religions as it allows each place it spreads to to keep its identity and culture. This then makes the acceptance of the religion easier to everyone of that region as well as improves the religion’s reputation. Islam was greater accepted because it didn’t force out every other belief nor was is forced upon most people.


  6. 1. Islam was a very widely known religion, and one of it’s defining factors is that each person takes a Hajj (journey to Mecca). This is important because everyone that made the pilgrim mite to Mecca crossed long distances carrying their culture and beliefs with them, which spread as they travelled. This was also the fact with Muslim traders/merchants who travelled to cities and sold their goods along with spreading their beliefs (Islam). It was especially attractive to peasants and low-class citizens in North Africa, Central Asia, and any other bordering country to the Middle East because it promoted spiritual equality among all people.

    2. Like all cultural things, Islam changed into more conservative and liberal forms and branches as it spread outwards. For example, Islam in western China will have many different cultural beliefs and styles than Islam in Afghanistan. This happens because people who learn new religions often integrate it into their lives, so they don’t change their entire way of life by converting. This was especially common in states where Islam is a minority.


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