Homework: The Spread of Islam

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– think about 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 arediscussing 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!

92 thoughts on “Homework: The Spread of Islam

  1. The most primary factor of Islam’s expansion was its equality between the sexes, at least compared to that of other regions and religions. Most of the areas listed above, especially India and Asia, were extremely patriarchal, and women were often given lower status. As such, when Islam spread to these regions, many women quickly took up the opportunity to convert and gain a much better status.

    I believe that the changes were harmful overall, because Buddhism and Christianity heavily differed from Islam. Thus, when they diffused into Islam, it lost many of its unique elements, and a little bit of the equality that it previously had (mostly thanks to Christianity).

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    • Other religions, like Christianity, offered a similar idea of equality in the eyes of God to all sexes. I don’t think the equality between genders was the primary factor for the fast expansion of Islam. However, I do like how you thought equality was important; I think social equality was an extremely strong factor for the quick spread, but not the only one.

      Although I do understand why you believe the alterations to Islam were harmful, I disagree that Buddhism and Christianity are extremely different from Islam. As Muslims believe, Christianity and Islam worship the same god, and all three religions believe in peace and harmony. All three were altered throughout history and are still today some of the most popular religions in the world.

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    • While the Islamic concept of spiritual equality between men and women certainly was an important reason for religious adoption by other regions, I would consider it more of an attractive quality than a factor of its expansion. Factors would be better defined as direct causes of the spread of the Islamic faith, such as military conquest or trade, as these were both methods in which Muslims were able to integrate themselves into other regions. I would consider equality of sexes more of a trait that resulted in appeal and willingness to convert than I would consider it a factor.

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    • I do not believe equality between sexes was the primary factor of Islam’s expansion. Other religions offered this as well (for example, Christianity and Buddhism) and were actually accessed easier(and earlier) by Indian and Asian people. Also, the document states that the royal parties were the first to switch to Islam in India and Southeast Asia. This means that it wasn’t lower class women, as you mentioned, converting to Islam.

      I do not believe that the changes were harmful. I do not believe uniqueness is necessarily a “good” thing for a religion as much as it’s efficiency at meeting the needs of the individual. Religion’s purpose is to find an inner self and bigger meaning. Uniqueness doesn’t directly correlate with religion’s primary purpose, thus I do not see changes due to uniqueness being a harmful effect to any religion, particularly Islam.

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    • I don’t agree with you when you say that Islam’s primary factor of expansion is because of the balance of sexes. Though it was an attractive feature and a nice touch to the religion, it did not necessarily help with the expansion. I believe that military conquest and extensive trading was a more primary factor of expansion because it allowed the word of the religion to be spread.

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    • I believe that rather than the equality of the sexes being a factor in the expansion of Islam, it was more of an incentive for the people of where the religion had expanded due to conquest and trade to convert to Islam. I also disagree with your statement of the changes made were harmful to the religion overall; because even though the changes might have caused some harmful factors, the religion overall is still thriving in the world today, meaning whatever changes were not as harmful as to destroy the religion

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  2. Based on the reading concerning the spread of Islam, the factors that caused the extremely rapid expansion was military conquest and trade. It also offered social equality – gender and class equality – what was less common among other religions of the time. There was no forced conversion, however, peer pressure and imperial pressures (heavier taxes on non-Muslims) sped the conversion process up.

    Islam appealed to many or the Sub-Saharan Africans because trade was extremely successful for Muslims, and people at any status were able to convert to Islam. Technology, writing, and education was extremely advanced which was attractive to those who though this way of life would be successful for them. Islam spread into Central Asia through much force and persuasion.This region was relatively isolated and Islam broke the barrier. Conquests spread the idea of Islam but voluntary conversions were due to the attractiveness to the success of the Islamic empire. India resisted Islam slightly more than the rest of the conversions because Hinduism was so strong. Those who converted were mostly of lower class and were drawn to Islam because of the equality in statuses. The Southeast Asians were attracted to Islam because of advanced trade, technology, and an advanced quality of life. Most coastal residents converted, leaving the interior people polytheistic.

    Through every region Islam traveled through, it adapted to the culture which combined original Islamic tradition and tradition of the culture that was converted. I believe these alterations the religion had to go through strengthened it. When a religion forms to fit any culture, as most have evolved this way over time, more cultures are open to worship in that way and more conversions can take place. The alterations allow the religion to be applicable to anyone. For example, Central Asia altered Islam to fit into the life of those living in that culture, just as classical China altered Buddhism to fit the mold of the culture. This allowed for more people to practice the religion, strengthening its following.

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    • Abbey I completely agree with you on how that the transformations of Islam into new regions strengthens and benifits it. I also agree with you on how that the spread of Islam was mainly through military conquests and trade because Muslim merchants were those were moved around a lot and spread the the religion as well as for military some were forced for the Islam religion. Also pressure did and was a part of spreading this religion because of taxes like you included in your comment.

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    • I agree with your reason for the expansion of Islam. The trade ad military conquests were very important and without them Islam would not have expanded pass Mecca. This was very important. Your reasoning for why Islam was appealing had great points I did not even think of such as the ability to convert at any level you were at.

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    • I agree that the factors that led to the expansion of Islam were military conquest and trade. The Islamic Caliphate conquered many other regions and spread their teachings to the people in those regions. It also attracted traders as it legitimated merchant activity.

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  3. The rise of Islam was mostly due to the ease of which ideas and philosophies could spread in Eurasia due to trade routes, lack of large obstacles (mountains, deserts, etc.), and the extremely fast conquering of land by the Islamic empire. Islam was a way to get out of taxes and to fit in the majority of the population (at least, in the Islamic empire), so a lot of people adopted the religion, even though it was not necessary. Islam’s principle of giving to the poor and needy made it attractive to low-class people in all of the areas listed, and the praise for merchants attracted many wealthy individuals. Women were also, for the most part, equal to men in Islam, also, catching the eyes and the hearts of women in the areas Islam influenced.

    Islam did become more strict under the Sufi leaders over time, and some areas, mainly the ones around Europe, did accept Islam, but not all of it’s beliefs, like some of it’s family ideas (mostly the one about women being equal in religion to men), and this made Islam into a sort of HAJJpodge (hodgepodge) of different cultures. I do believe that this hurt the Islamic empire in the long run, as it was much more difficult to appeal to many different forms of Islam, even though they had the same major beliefs (all followed the Qur’an), than to appeal to just one. The Caliphates had to govern in a way to please many, many cultures, and it was too difficult to do effectively.

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  4. Part of the rapid spread of Islam was the conquering of new territories. They needed to do that in order to acquire resources for the empire they were creating. As they conquered new land, the conquered area wasn’t forced to become Islam, but many people converted anyways so they don’t have to pay extra taxes. Also, the religion was quite popular, this was because of the equal role given to both men and women. Both men and women were able to be equal in the eyes of the religion Islam changed

    I believe that a changing could be harmful to the religion. A change can cause conflict within the religion on what and what not to believe. An example could be the Sunni and Shia muslims, with the slightly different ideas spreading to different areas, they could come in contact with each other and a conflict would arise.

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    • I agree that a changing religion can cause many conflicts and can eventually lead to different sects, like the Sunni and the Shi’a Muslims, because religions that are this old can only be interpreted based on the ancient writings and ones’ own beliefs. A religion should not have to change so much that it is no longer recognizable by its previous followers.

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    • I see your point that “changing” could be harmful to religion and how a split of belief could harm the religion. But couldn’t not changing bring even more damage. Instead of people being afraid of “changing” they can then just do it freely.

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    • I understand your point of view on why change may not be a positive thing. However, religious diffusion can keep the main values of a certain religion while just adding to the already existing aspects. There can be a common ground which would not have to cause conflict.

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  5. Islam spread rapidly because of the Muslim’s ability to hold successful conquest and trade. A notable characteristic of Islam is its legitimacy of merchants, which attracted many people to the religion. Another characteristic is the fact that Islam had an emphasis on helping the lower-class, teaching charity and spiritual-equality. Another unique property of Islam that wasn’t very prominent during this time, was the fact that the Muslim’s were so religiously tolerant and didn’t force their religion upon their conquered peoples.
    Islam was important in Sub-Saharan Africa because of its trade emphasis. In this region, the resources were tight so people had to trade to make a living and stay alive. This made it a very successful thing to do at this time. Central Asia was a tough place for Islam to break through, but they managed because their trade, technology, and quality of life was so attractive. These here reasons were also the reason that many Southeast Asians were attracted to Islam, and eventually converted.
    When Islam reached a new region, it would adapt and compromise with the original culture their and create almost a “subculture” of Islam. I think this change is extremely beneficial to the religion because it allows some diversity in what is practiced and understood. For example, when Islam moved to India the Indians taught the Muslims their own systems of science of mathematics, which in turn greatly affects how trade is conducted.

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  6. Islam spread so fast because of the large amount of land taken during the Islamic Empire, the strategic spread of it by people, and its appeal to a variety of people. In Africa it was the strategic exposure in the Sudanic Kingdoms and the convenience that Islamic people could write made the way for it there. In India it was more difficult because they already had it mostly taken over by Hinduism and Buddhism but they eventually started to blend. In Central Asia they were the first outside religion to enter and they took over using force and persuasion to spread Islam. In South East Asia they were more strategic appealing tho the higher class and set examples for commoners to follow.

    As Islam moved it charged and added to new languages such as Swahili, lead to the creation of new instruments like the guitar, and provided conveniences such as literate followers and at least some sense of equality for lower class and women in some areas.

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    • Totally agree with this, It’s so interesting in the fact how Islam can be interpreted in so many ways, and this is how Islam can appeal to many people. They also spread because Islam was tolerant of other faiths such as Judaism and Christianity as mentioned in the Quran (pardon the spelling because I can not put symbols in here) , and women are more respected by the Islamic faith so it appealed to literally everyone.

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  7. The reason why Islam spread at a rapid pace was that the religion appealed to people in many societies, it appealed to low class groups due to equality of all people. It also included merchants which in the past were not really found important particularly in Southeast Asia because merchants were unstable because they depended on how much income they earn, and it changes. “It also appealed to people because Islam in that time period had many achievements including cultural and political achievements.”(page 48). People also converted by conquest. Islamic conversions were also not mandatory rather it was voluntary which appealed to many people.

    Conversions were mainly voluntary in Sub-Saharan Africa, meanwhile in Central Asia it was forced with means of persuasion. In India, conversions were actually encouraged by higher authorities like the Muslim ruling class. “Islam specifically attracted warriors and people from the lowest class, drawn by the promise of spiritual equality rather than Hindu ideas of successful reincarnations” (page 54). In Southeast Asia, conversions were mainly by the influence of ruling elites.

    Islam changed with the interests of the people in the certain regions. Like for example, it appealed to the lower castes in the caste system due to the equality of all Muslims while in sub-Saharan Africa, it was more of a high status thing.
    I do feel that the transformation of Islam were beneficial to a certain extent because it was very flexible; however I do think it does lose some characteristics of this religion in certain regions to appeal to all people.

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    • I do agree with the idea that some characteristics are lost when a religion expands. Not all aspects of a religion or culture can stay the same in order for an area to adopt a new idea or religion.
      You stated that the conversion was not mandatory but voluntary however you then went on to state that the conversions to Islam seen within the Sub-Saharan Africa region as well as in Central Asia were forced or mainly voluntary. Therefore, Could you say that the religion focused on not having forced conversions however the leaders were flawed within certain regions of the world?

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    • Sydney,

      I completely agree with all of your statements! I also believe that Islam changed through the beliefs of the individuals in a society, as well, I agree with your statement that some societies were forced into Islam (which i completely forgot to mention in my response, oops!). However, I would also mention that Islam spread through trade and allowed for a higher literacy rate among followers through the readings of the Qur’an. Over all, I think your response was well structured and historically accurate. 🙂

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  8. Based on my reading of The Spread of Islam, the factors that led to the rapid expansion of Islam was military conquests, trade, and migration between the 7th and 15th century. I believe that Islam was attractive to people in Sub Saharan Africa because it first spread to the higher class through trade because they needed them to keep records from Muslims in West Africa. In India, I think Muslim attracted to people in India because as the Hindus tolerated those groups, the influences moved in both directions between Muslims and Hindus. Also as well as more durable Muslim con questions in India also helped the spread of that religion. In Central Asia, the Muslim religion wasn’t attractive to people at first because Muslim contacts were with force and persuasion. In Southeast Asia, I think people were attracted because as Muslim trading ships from Arabia and India it brought those people and people in SE Asia merged with cultural influences like popular customs, dances, and festivals.

    I believe Islam changed as it moved into new regions because as it entered new places, it had to fit in with the other cultures and environment in those certian regions. So it mergered with other cultures in that certian area that Islam had come in contact with. I think that these transformations strengthened and are beneficial to the religion. Just like in India, it strengthened both religions of Islam and Hinduism because Muslims learned about Indian science and mathematics and Hindus conformed and tolerated the Islam beliefs and practices.

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    • Baileigh, I agree with you when you said that Islam spread through sub-Saharan Africa through the upper class, which caused it to slowly spread throughout the entire region. Although, I disagree with you when you said that Islam spread because the Hindu religion tolerated it. I believe the Hindus did tolerate their beliefs, but in the long run they both conflicted eachother, making it harder for it to spread as fast.

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      • I agree with you on the factors of the spread of Islam that they were caused with military conquest and trading. Also I do agree with Carleigh’s comment on that Islams and Hindus conflicted each other.

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  9. Islam expanded rapidly due to the quality of the military power. Islam took over land from Spain to China and when people saw the power of the Islamic army they often wanted to convert because they saw that as being gods will that Islam beat them at war. Islam changed as it went from region to region by incorporating the views of the local region. For instance, in India, Islam began to incorporate stories from the Hindu religion into Islam. The only difference in these stories being the names of the characters. The overall effect for the religion was good because it allowed Islam to be appealing to all people and probably converted large amounts of people.

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  10. Originally, conquest was the main factor that led to the rapid expanison of Islam. The Islamic Empire ran out of food due to the new masses of people it had to feed, therefore leading to conquest north and west. The Empire taxed those whom did not believe in Islam heavier and made it harder for them to get more jobs, which led to many peoples conversions. Islam was attractive to people in sub-Saharan Africa because it provided high social status and the kind of generalized religion useful to farflung trade, unlike other religions found in the area. Islam in Inda was attractive to members of lower cast systems in Hindiusm because Islam got rid of such social stratification. Islam spread in Central Asia due to force and persuasion. Southeast Asia’s inland peoples were attracted to Islam because because it was used as a way of integrating with the coastal populations, in a period of expanding trade. While Islam conquered so much territority in such a short amount of time, they didn’t really force anyone to convert, however they did give them “friendly” modes of encouragment such as taxes.

    I think that transformations to a religion can be harmful or helpful. When a relgion adapts to the culture it has conquered, it makes diffusion of said relgion easier. It also produces amazing artwork, food, and stories for us to enjoy today. On the other hand, relgion is sadly used as a way to control people. I believe that the farther a relgion gets from the timeperiod it was created in, the more changes can happen in the religion. Sometimes we get lucky and the relgion changes becuase it is what is best for its followers, however; more often than not a relgion changes becuase a person wants to control someone else. For example, the idea of an Islamic State was placed into the wrong hands, ISIS. While the creation of an Islamic State is a good idea, they way they have gone about it has harmed their fellow Muslims. I think that the majority of them don’t care about their relgion, they care about the power that ocmes along with it.

    -Ansley McCoy

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  11. Baileigh, I agree with your ideas on how Islam spread. However, I have some difficulty understanding how the merging of the relgion was helpful to its followers. Yes, by merging with other cultures it diffused faster, but those mergers might have caused the problems we have today. Radical groups such as ISIS have made it difficult for all Muslims to practice their relgion. Muslims are afraid to pray in public for fear of scaring and bothering those around them. These groups have taken such a great relgion and made it hard for its followers to practice all because they want a little bit of power. The ideas behind their terrible actions were caused by cultural difussion. While merging with other cultures may have helped Islam spread at the time, its hurting its followers today.

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  12. The rise of Islam was due to Military conquest. When they obtained new land, the conquered people were not forced to convert to Islam but rather, those who were Islamic had reduced taxes which made being it more desirable. Also, Islam was desirable to many people because it offered gender and social equality.
    Islam was able to spread into Sub-Saharan Africa because of it’s success of trade and that people of any class or rank were accepted into the religion. In Central Asia many people converted voluntarily because the success of the Islamic Empire through conquest made it desirable to them. Many of the lower class people of India were pulled towards Islam because it offered equality among all classes and social statuses. Finally the Southeast Asians were drawn towards Islam because of the higher quality of life and the more advanced technologies.
    As Islam moved into new regions, the culture of that region and the culture of Islam tangled together into a new culture. I think these changes were mostly beneficial to the Islamic culture because it allowed more leniency to the regions and therefore made it more attractive to spread even more.

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    • I agree that Islam provides gender equality, but social equality? I believe that there were still a social hierarchy with clear distinctions. It might not be as strict as the caste system, but it was still present.

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    • I agree with you on almost all points, and I really like the idea that changes to Islam actually made it more desirable by adding local customs. But I do not believe it offered social equality. It was said to, but in reality Arabs were favored throughout the empire, and payed less taxes with better jobs.

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    • I agree with you in thinking that Islam and other cultures mixed together. In somewhat agree with you in thinking that the blend of Islam and the culture created a new culture. In some cases it did, like Swahili, but in other cases it didn’t blend or blended very little, like in Sudanic kingdoms women had more rights, punishment wasn’t as strict, and kings portrayed themselves as divine, contrary to Islamic beliefs.

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    • I disagree that Islam was mainly spread through military conquest. I think it expanded more through trade, especially because Islamic controlled regions were not forced to convert. We see Islam being more forcefully imposed in Central Asia, but generally it expanded through various trade routes.

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  13. Major factors leading to the spread of Islam included conquest, trade, and equality between both genders and all classes. Although no conquered people were forced to convert to the official language of Islam, benefits of being Islam, such as being socially equal to those around the and lighter taxes, certainly increased the Islamic popularion.

    Trade was very appealing to those in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as social equality between all classes of the conquered peoples. Because everything was in Arabic, including the Qur’an and Hadith, this also encouraged literacy, which was also attractive to the newly conquered people of Sub-Saharan Africa. Islam during the Umayyad Caliphate strongly attempted to move into the the Hindu and Buddhist civilizations of India and China, respectively, and had trouble doing so; India, due to its polytheistic belief system, were more protective of their culture and religion, however they did allow small minorities of Muslims to stay there; as well as teaching them about science and mathematics, including the future “Arabic” numbering system. Southeast Asians were drawn to the Islamic Empire by technology and trade.

    I believe the spread of Islam to these non-Muslim countries had its ups and downs, including having to “adapt” Islam to fit its new surrounding, as well the countries they were conquering. Christianity and Buddhism also had these ups and downs that occur when the attempt to spread throughout polytheistic areas of the world.

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  14. Based on both the readings and in class discussions, I think that trade and the conquests of territories led the rapid expansion of Islam. The religion was spread through the word of merchants who spread the concepts and principles of the Islamic faith. The conquests of territories allowed for the spread of Islam by introducing the taxing of those who were not of Islamic faith. Islam was attractive to people in many regions due to its focus on clear set laws, a set of ideals that allowed trade, as well as its idea of spiritual equality. Islam was attractive to many of these regions due to being seen as having success in trade.
    Islam changed as it moved into new regions due to the assimilation of both cultures into one culture for that region. I think that the changes that accompanied the diffusion of Islam were beneficial to the religion. “Arabs for a time sought to reserve Islam for their people alone… people in the conquered regions sought access… adopting Arab language and culture in the process.” On Page 48 of the reading the concept of the assimilation was addressed. The adopting of a language and a culture is seen as more of a positive concept than that of a negative concept.

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  15. Islam experienced a rapid and widespread expansion from the seventh to fifteenth centuries, and there are a few factors to which this expansion can be attributed. These manifest through military conquest, as well as through missionary activity and trade. The former assisted in the spread of Islam in a rather unconventional sense, as there were no accompanying forceful conversions to the faith. Rather, the strength and skill of Muslim armies were convincing of a God’s pulling of strings, taxation on other tolerated faiths caused Islam to be seen as a better economic option, and the religion itself appealed to the lower-class people of many different peoples of lower classes due to its spiritual equality. However, for each Islam-influenced region, there are specific and unique reasons for attraction to this religion. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, Islam represented the spread of literacy and the definition of high status. Significant conversion occured first with Mali rulers, who employed Muslims as bureaucrats as well as trading partners, and became Muslim themselves as a demonstration of amity. In India, the idea of spiritual equality and divine judgement following death were particularly attractive concepts. For those of lower castes, who were not given much of a standing in society as a whole, a meaningful place in religion was reason enough for some to convert. Additionally, many found the idea of one life, accompanied by one judgement, preferable to an endless cycle of birth and rebirth. Central Asia, a region with a history of diminished social status for women, found Islam’s spiritual equality, regardless of gender, very appealing. Southeast Asia saw many a conversion for this same reason, as Islamic law allowed women a higher social standing and opportunities in which to participate in the economy (namely through marketplace activities).

    Islam merged with the cultures of each region it conquered, thus creating many diverse blends of the faith. This can be seen in Islam-influenced architecture and instruments in Spain (such as the guitar), systems of writing and oral communication in Sub-Saharan Africa, arts, music, and horseriding techniques in Central Asia, the adoption of Indian scientific and mathematic concepts, and festival themes and methods of dance in Southeast Asia. Islam grew to incorporate local cultural aspects of whichever region it had presence in. I believe that this was beneficial to the religion in its spiritual conquest. A faith tends to be less appealing when it requires complete and utter conversion to its mindset, and many local peoples would logically find comfort in still retaining the ability to embrace aspects of their previous lifestyles; these cultural mixtures made Islam undoubtedly more appealing to its converts.

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    • I agree with your thoughts on military conquest and trade, and I like how specific you went into each of the areas that we were asked about. I agree with your ideas on specifically India, and how you addressed that the cycle of life and rebirth was relevant to the spread of Islam. I like how you acknowledged that the caste system was essentially invalid in Islam, and that many of the lower citizens accepted this to achieve the same social standing as everyone else, regardless of gender as well. I do think that this is very well worded and put together, and that you explained the prompt thoroughly. Nice job, Audrey.

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  16. Islam spread rapidly because its use and support of trade and conquest. It was popular with merchants and traders because of its root with Muhammad being a merchant. At the time very few religious groups supported merchants so that was another reason for the popularity of Islam with merchants. Also, Islam strongly encourage giving to the poor, gender equality, and social equality. This is appealing to people from sub-saharan africa and south east asia because many of the people in this are were not well educated and poor, so this gave them the opportunity to change their lives.
    Conquest was also another way for Islam to expand. They used conquest more as financial support with religious expansion coming second. However after the empire became very large and spread out different areas started to have different ideas about the spread of Islam. Some places just taxed people that did not convert while others forcibly converted people. I think that this was harmful because as the empire became more spread out which caused the people to become less connected in their ideas.

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  17. Many factors influenced the spread of Islam to different regions. Trade and interactions with Islamic people is one factor. For example, in northern Africa, trade with the Muslims as well as military conquest were the reasons while many converted. Islam was attractive to he African population because of the fact that anyone, despite socioeconomic class or gender could convert ad have equal rights upon joining. A second reason for spread would be economic benefit. People all along the Islamic empire were taxed for worshiping other gods or practicing other religions, and in order to avoid those taxes, people would convert to Islam. Lastly, Islam provided gender & social equality. This made Islam really desirable to those living in India under the impression of caste system, as well as those in Asia, where under the impression of patriarchal philosophies like Confucianism, women had little rights.

    The spread of Islam is facilitated the change in the religion. According to human geography, the further one gets from the hearth (in this case Mecca), the more a phenomena changes to fit the beliefs and customs of the place it is in. So, for example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, some kings still considered themselves divine (pg 51) which goes against the common Islamic belief that there is only one god.

    All in all, I believe that regional varieties of Islam is good but sort of problematic. Culturally, it is good because people are still able to have regional cultures and their own “twist” (for lack of a better word) on a religion. Politically, it can be problematic because in the absence of unification and ubiquitous beliefs, it is very hard to establish and maintain social orders, laws, and even taxes. And when you ave a hard time in maintaining social control, a weakened state could come into effect.

    -Alli Moss-

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  18. The factors that led to the expansion of Islam were military conquests and the spread of Islamic beliefs through trade and missionary activity. Islam was attractive because it provided clear guidelines and rules for how to get into heaven and it also gave some equality between the sexes. After North Africa and other areas were conquered, the conquered people sought to change to Islam instead of keeping their own religion. Islam was also attractive because it did not force its conquered people to convert to Islam, it let them keep their faith. Also in Southeast Asia, trading ships spread religious beliefs.

    Islam was adapted to suit different civilizations as it spread. In India, the Muslim leaders would tell Hindu religious stories but they would use Muslim characters in the stories. When Islam collided with Christianity and Buddhism it borrowed ideas about the Christian Monastic movement and it also emphasized its followers to participate in works of charity. I think that these changes are helpful to religions because it makes it seem more flexible and attractive to potential followers. as long as the core beliefs are the same, there is nothing wrong with a religion being changed a little bit. Because after all, religion is all about one’s personal beliefs in something.

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    • I agree with everything that you mentioned in your initial paragraph, especially the idea of the diffusion in Southeast Asia relying on the movement of trading ships. This allowed Muslim merchants and Sufis to bring the religion to the Malay Peninsula and also Indonesia. The spread of the religion can also partly be owed to the schools imposed in the villages. This brought coastal peoples inland as they were then exposed to the religion.

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  19. Islam spread very quickly through the Afro-Eurasian region for several reasons. The first and most important is the military conquest. The Islamic Caliphate was very successful at taking over other states and civilizations during this time period which allowed the missionaries to spread their teachings to more people. The Islamic Empire didn’t force people into Islam during the time period of interest, but the conquests were still very efficient due to more people under direct control over the growing populace as well as, of course, missionary work. Also, many people likely followed Islam primarily because the masses were. This is common throughout sociology and human history, humans doing things because the masses are. With this being said, I believe that the second major reason behind the Islamic expansion is the long distance trade. Trade was encouraged and allowed in this Islamic Empire and many took advantage of this to teach Islamic beliefs. Islam was likely attractive to people of these regions under Islamic conquest for many reasons. The first being the sheer power of the Islamic empire. The power and control itself caused many people to convert. The second is likely it’s teachings of equality and charity. Through Islam’s spread, many changes occurred. These changes were due to people getting different interpretations of the Koran and even changes made through travel. I believe that these transformations are a very, very good thing. Religion in itself is for the individual. Religion is a way for someone to feel an inner self and connection, and if changes are made to fit the people better, it’s a beautiful thing. The document states that Islam changed in its view on converting people and violence with time. In India, many people were forced to convert to Islam by force. This is definitely much different than the primarily peaceful spread through European and Mediterranean regions. This may seem like a bad thing for the religion, but it is actually a very good thing. If this wouldn’t have happened, Islam would’ve likely not succeeded in India and wouldn’t had spread to southeast Asia. Implications of this are still felt today, with Indonesia being the largest Islamic state on earth.

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    • I agree with your point that adaptations of religions are beneficial. Since religion is typically a super personal topic, it would make more sense for beliefs to be slightly different for every adherent than for them to be uniform among the population. Minor changes in a religion do more strengthening than weakening.

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  20. Social classes and trade had the largest effect on the rapid expansion of Islam. While Islam offered social equality to all people, people of the ruling class had a much higher influence on the religion spreading and effecting people. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Islam religion gave many more rights to women than any other previous religions of this time. Also within the upper classes, Islam allowed for ‘culture unity.’ In India, the ruling class was majorly Muslim, so the population was encouraged to convert. This was done mainly by taking old Hindu stories and changing them slightly to benefit Islam teachings. The lower castes were also promised ‘spiritual equality,’ unlike other religions. Southeast Asia was introduced to Islam through trade. Once the ruling classes had converted the religion was soon adopted and people quickly converted. Before Central Asia came into contact with Islam, most, if not all, conversions were not required, sometimes not even encouraged in parts of the world. Central Asia is the first place forced conversion takes place. The nomadic people of Central Asia found Islam attractive because it was very systematic, unlike previous religions and current government status.

    The changes to Islam overall helped the religion. When Islam was introduced to a certain part of the world, it changes a little bit to fit to the region and culture. This can be seen in India when Hindu stories were taken and applied to the Islam faith in order for more people to convert to the Islamic religion. Another example of the Islam faith would be the division between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

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    • I agree with you when you mention how the changes to Islam were beneficial to the faith. Slight changes were made in different areas in hopes to gain more followers. Your reference to the Hindu stories supported and strengthened your point. Good job!
      -Emily Claire Lauth

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    • I also agree that the changes and modifications that the Islamic religions make were successful in helping with the spread of the religion. Although the part about the Sunni and Shia was just somewhat thrown into the end of your post and you didn’t really go into detail on why it helped with the spread of the Islamic religion, it was just a bit confusing. Although, i feel you did a good job on explaining how the religion spread and how it spread so fast. It was a very good post!

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  21. The article on the rapid spread of Islam talked about factors that caused the spread of the religion. These factors include, military conquest, trade, Sufism, and muslim schools and architecture. In sub-Saharan Africa, trade developed quickly causing Islam to spread to this region. Swahili merchants brought Arabic language and Muslim religion and political ideas into sub-Saharan Africa. This caused people to convert because it provided cultural unity for all upper classes. Islam became attractive to the people in India because the people in the upper class adopted it first, creating an example for the people in the lower class. This caused a domino effect and Islam began to rapidly spread through India, despite the conflicting Hinduism. In Central Asia, Islam became attractive to the people through muslim traders and Sufi missionaries, who spread Islam amoung tribal groups. The dominant patterns of Islam came through force and persuasion. Southeast Asia was the last major region affected by Islam, it became attractive to the people through trade and Sufis. Sufis traveled inland and created schools in order to preach of the Islamic faith.
    Islam inevitablely changed in a few ways as it rapidly spread throughout the globe. A major change that stood out to me was when the religion spread through out India. Islam would have spread just as fast into India as it did in other regions, if Hinduism didnt conflict the believes. Hinduism and Islam differed in polytheistic and monotheistic beliefs, as well as ritual and social beliefs, and spiritual equality versus successive reincarnations. In India new religions developed that adopted Muslim and Hindu prinicples. I don’t think that that changing religions had negative consequences. If anything it created new religions and new beliefs. People can choose what they believe, so in the long run, it doesn’t realy matter what parts of religions one chooses to believe.

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  22. Islam had begun its rapid expansion between the 7th and the 15th centuries due to its extreme acts of military conquest and trade across the Middle East. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the idea of Islam was attractive due to many Muslims’ ability to be literate. The Sudanic Kingdoms were taken over simply due to accessibility from the Islamic State, and conversion was easy. In India, conversion to Islam was slightly decreased due to the strong force of Hinduism opposing it, being resistant to opening up to the religion. Eventually, due to peer pressure and economic pressure, as well as the idea of being equal in class for rank and gender, some little bits of Islam slipped into the region through the lower classes. In Central Asia, the spread of Islam was extremely forced and persuasive, and eventually the religion conquered the region. Today the majority of central Asia is Muslim, including the republics that had recently torn away from the Soviet Union. In Southeast Asia, this region was the last to be affected by the spread of Islam, and merchants and trading ships were the ones to bring it to the region. They were attracted to the idea of equalized classes and the advances in technology.
    Islam underwent a few changes during its exploration process, as it adapted to the new cultures and made slight changes while keeping to many of the original Islamic ideas. I believe that these adaptations can be beneficial and harmful, as the inversions can help or harm the culture. Beneficial towards technology and trade organizations, Islam helped spread its ideas throughout the world, while it can be harmful towards straying from the ideas of Islam and modifying the authenticity of the religion.

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    • I disagree with your interpretation of the change of Islam and how it could be harmful. Although cultural diffusion can cause a religion to change slightly, I do not think that the changes made would be great enough to stray from the core ideas of Islam or hinder Islam’s authenticity. If this had happened all new religions would have formed entirely, and not have just integrated into the main beliefs of Islam. Just like Christianity there are many variations of Islam that do not necessarily hurt the religion as a whole.

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  23. Based on my readings about Islamic spread, I think that Islam expanded so quickly mainly because of military conquest. As they would conquer more land, the defeated area was not forced to convert to this faith. Instead, it was simply convenient to do so, because that they would not have to pay taxes for not being Islam. Islam was popular in so many areas because it offered social equality in both class and gender wise. (Believed that women were as equal as men and that all classes could join.) Both of which were very uncommon at the time. Islam especially attracted those in lower classes because Islam basically got rid of the social ranks and because one of the five pillars is Alms, or giving charity to the poor. Islam also was so appealing to others because of trade, and the ideas and philosophies it helped form, new technologies and an overall better life for people who would join, (such as the ability to be literate).

    I think that Islam slightly changed as it moved to different regions because the peoples’ cultures and interests differed, so it had to consider what and who they wanted to appeal to (like the lower classes). Some of these changes, however, led to the losing of some characteristics of the religion. On the other hand, the changes could be seen as beneficial because it allowed for a more diverse Islamic view.
    -Emily Claire Lauth

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    • Islam most definitely spread quickly due to military conquest, but Sufism was not mentioned in the argument. While it was heavily implied in that region that it would be better to convert to Islam, Sufi missionaries also converted people through enthusiasm and good treatment of all people. Also, “more diverse Islamic view” can be widely interpreted. The argument needs to clarify that “more diverse Islamic view” means the blending of religious aspects. For example, Hinduism and Islam blended to create Sikhism.

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  24. The rapid expansion of Islam was led by their impressive trade, conquest, and their surprisingly effective simple missionary activity. It was considered attractive in a variety of ways to those who were being conquered or just thought of converting as a nice option. It appealed because it spoke of power and triumph, the spiritual equality of both man and woman, and the lower classes benefit from the charitable donations that were given to them. In sub-Saharan Africa the Muslims broadened trade and got hired by the King of Ghana to keep their records. Converting to the Muslim faith was also considered a sort of “good will” in the eyes of their partners. In central Asia the Muslims were the first to really break through to the region, when Islam came it was newly freed from recent conquests and control and those in the area enjoyed the status enhancement of women and their influence with the art and music that was brought. India was already heavily dominated by Hinduism and while Islam remained a minority for quite a while it was still considered a tolerated by the Hindus. They were able to exchange ideas and culture both ways so it was mutually beneficial in the region. Spiritual equality was the most attractive to the warriors and lower castes who were not given the opportunity in the past. Southeast Asian peoples also bought into the higher statuses given to the women and the the status was maintained unlike in the Islamic Middle East where female possibilities and status was declining.

    Islam blended the cultural practices and was tolerant of the conquered and expanded people’s territory. I believe that the diffusion that occurred was highly beneficial. They gathered much intelligence within the scientific and mathematical fields, including the important development of “Arabic” number system. The language of Swahili was an Arabic-African mix that resulted from the expansion. The spread of trade was a significant upside to moving into the new regions. The arts were influential on both ends of the spectrum. Overall despite conflict that ensued, the peoples ability to mutually influence each other prove much more beneficial than harmful.

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  25. The two main factors that lead to the rapid expansion of the Muslim empire are trade and conquest. Trade spread stories and beliefs of Islam, and made it familiar to the area. Also, Arab success in trade made Islam appear desirable, and was sometimes explained by them having the will of god. Military conquest is the main reason for their expansion. The Arabian peninsula has very few resources other than sand, wind, and heat, and definitely does not have the resources to support an empire. Conquest gained land, resources, followers, and international respect. Islam was attractive for a variety of reasons. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it was desirable because it provided more rights for women, and because of its written Arabic alphabet. Islam had a hard time in India due to the strict following of Hinduism and it’s caste system, but eventually weaseled its way in through the lower class who were tired of being “untouchables”, or women who wanted more rights. Islam spread very fast in Central Asia, which lacked a prominent religion. To many people there, Muslim victories seemed too good to be human, and they too converted. Southeast Asia was the last region Islam spread to. Trading ships and merchants spread the religion throughout the area, who found it desirable due to such wealth and overall success.

    Islam changed by merging with local traditions, such as costumes, dances, and festivals, as well as Hindu and Buddhist rituals and festivals, and a surprising degree of animism. I think such changed were beneficial for the Islamic empire, because it made them appear more desirable to locals who were not ready for a complete change, and loved their local customs. However, I feel that if the empire lasted much longer, the definition of Islam would have changed in different places as separate changes occur independently of each other, kind of how Buddhist in India means a philosophical belief system, while in China it is a full scale religion where the Buddha is worshiped.

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  26. From what I learned in class, Islam first started out in Mecca and gradually grown out to much of the Middle East and Northern Africa mostly through military conquest and most importantly the search for resources as nothing can be made out of the sand of the Arabian peninsula. Throughout the conquests, Islam did not forced the conquered people to convert but instead the people converted into the religion mostly due Islam’s power in its expansion and seeing the need to convert, then you have the lower classes which appealed to them because of its charity and spiritual equality, and if one is non- muslim, greek, or polytheistic, they would have to deal with paying high taxes until they decide to convert. This mostly happened in sub- Saharan Africa and Middle East. In Central Asia, it was force and persuasion in which Arabs and Turks held and then later go to tribal groups. It is not until the mongols came and made everything better for Islam by conquering Central Asia and make contact with the Middle East easier. In India, Muslim tried the same with force and persuasion but the Hindus were not interested. One group that get attracted were the lower caste mostly for the spiritual equality. Southeast Asia dealt with intercultural contact.

    I do think that the spread of Islam was more beneficial. Intercultural contact, having an idea adopted in a culture. The Arabians copied the number system of India and Eastern Europe eventually adopted it. Another is how the religion shaped the Spain’s music and architecture. Then there is Jewish and Muslim science and philosophy changed European intellectual life. Cultures merged and formed the identity of the people in Southeast, Central Asia, and Sub- saharan Africa. Despite tensions between India and Eastern Europe, both did take in account of the ideas formed from Islam.

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  27. Several things led to the rapid expanse of the Muslim religion. The religion appealed to the lower class, so anyone in a Hinduism-based society who was in a low caste was attracted to the idea of charity and equality. It was also appealing to woman, because it allowed for freedoms that were hardly ever seen in the day and age for the females. While some places, like North Africa were almost forced into conversion by harsh taxes on polytheistic believers. In many societies that the religion spread in, it was simply more convenient to say you were Muslim.
    Islam changed in many ways as it melded with other cultures as well. “Islam in Southeast Asia inevitably merged with regional cultural differences, including popular costumes, dances, and festivals. . .” (pg. 54) The religion also had clear rules, leaving no questioning for divine right, or a holy ruler. I think it can be beneficial for a religion to be able to merge with local cultures because it will be more tolerated if it doesn’t seem completely foreign to the locals. It can spread farther, and influence more people this way. However it also allows for societies to differ from one another, which can lead to conflict. Two societies may fight about who’s version of the religion is correct.

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    • You make a great point about how the transformations within the religion can be harmful, and I think you’re right. Since the merging of local ideas of the religion will sometimes result in conflicting ideas, this can even lead to civil unrest among the people, which can slowly become a factor in the fall of the Empire. These transformations can also lead to such strong changes in the religion in which it’s not as concrete and solid as it was prior, or perhaps the religion might blend in so well that it almost disappears. I think there are benefits and harms to the case though, as there are still benefits associated with transformations and blending of local culture with a religion.

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  28. Between the 7th and 15th century Islam spread like wildfire. Where the true spread began was in the Saudi Arabian peninsula, in a city called Mecca. With Mecca being a massive trade center numerous merchants came in and out daily. Some of these merchants leaving with a new religion, and with their religion they spread the holy word from city to city. By 632 CE Islam mainly spread through the sword. This meaning that the religion itself gained followers through conquest of neighboring lands, Which included Persia,North Africa and most of the Byzantine Empire. As others watched on they took a liking to the holy devotion and enthusiasm of the Muslims and decided to take on Islam as their religion. It is said that Islam spread through a balance between trad and conquest plus persuasion. Though in the 8th century the west part of sub-Saharan Africa relied on Islamic people to keep record of tax and horse supplies. While in the kingdom of Mali its king converted to Islam as goodwill towards trading partners. Then the East African coast was filled with the religion of Islam because of “coasters.” Coasters were merchants who traveled along the coast, These merchants were majority of Arab traders. Spread then happened upon Sudan through Egyptian missionaries and traders. Also in the 8th century central Asia was becoming majorly Islamic. This is because in the 7th century Islam still spread through force and persuasion until it stopped there prior to conquering a part Tranoxania. Then the mongol invasions brought upon new contacts between central Asia and the middle east. Then the last major region to be effected be Islam was South-East Asia.This land was seen by Muslims through trading ships which had brought Islam to the southeast to begin with. Merchants also had strong ties with the Central towns and through persuasion Islam started to spread here too.

    Though It seemed to be Helpful The spread of Islam was harmful. When they started they used swords to “persuade” the religion into the people they were trying to conquer. It may have opened up lots of trade options but it also stripped away the major religion of that area. Plus the diffusion with Christianity and Buddhism towards Islam weakened the religion in that area. Such is like the kingdom of Mali not giving women equal rights and seeing the Islamic punishments too harsh and not accepting them. The religion itself is not like what it used to be and because of this diffusion and different strings of Islam, conflict is a strong possibility.

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  29. There are several contributors that lead to the expansion of Islam, a few of those factors being increases in military conquests, vastness of trade, and activeness of missionaries. Islam was made attractive to the people of Sub-Saharan Africa by missionary attempts and religious wars lead by passionate Muslims. This lead to the conversion of many Africans to the religion of Islam, leaving the total percentage of Islamic Sub-Saharan Africans being 40%. As for Central Asia, because Islam was one of the first outside religions to make its way into the region, it automatically sparked interest among the people and became popular. The spread in India can be justified by the vast differentiation of the two faiths existing at the time, Islam contrasting strongly to Hinduism and further fueling an inner desire for change. Muslim merchants and Sufis then brought the religion to Southeast Asia through Muslim trading ships from Arabia. Another reason for the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia can be based on the setup of schools inland by the Surfs. These were attractive to the coastal populations and further pulled them in, exposing them to the religion.

    Islam changed as it diffused through new regions by taking place in “cultural amalgamations”. The incorporation of Islam with traditional values of a region brought forth diversity and flux in culture. The transformations of a region due to the spread of Islam can be seen as beneficial and neutral, due to the fact that on one hand, it dissolved beliefs of strict social policies, but on the other hand did no harm to other religions. This can be seen in the conversions from Hinduism to Islam in India.

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  30. Some of the most important factors involving the spread of Islam were that Islam provided clear explanations on how to avoid eternal hell and reach heaven, the movement of Sufism, the trade opportunities Islam provided, and the overall enthusiasm that Muslims had for their religion. The combination of these factors is what helped Islam to spread as fast as it did. Islam was attractive to individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa because of the new trading partners the religion provided with Muslim northern Africans. Lower class people in India were attracted to Islam because of the religion’s promises of equality for all followers of the faith and did not include a system of reincarnation. People in Central Asia were attracted to Islam because other than a few small polytheistic faiths than were in the region; there were no other major religions that had previously been in central Asia. While people in Southeast Asia were attracted to Islam because it provided the inland peoples a way of integrating with the coastal people in a new growing trade network. While spreading to these various regions Islam began to change slowly to be more inclusive of the new individuals it was taking own. Islam evolved in the sense of allowing cultural integration to occur and tolerance to local customs. This was extremely beneficial to Islam as a whole. This was so important because by allowing cultures to still remain unique while being unified under one official religion prevented many uprisings and riots to protest the oncoming of the new religion being Islam.

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  31. After reading “The Spread Of Islam”, it is evident that Islam’s expansion between the 7th and 15th centuries was a result of trade, societal advances, and extensive conquest. Islam appealed to sub-Saharan Africa through the impact of trade in the higher classes. It appealed to India because of its lessened social stratification, contradicting the caste system and attracting low-caste citizens. Islam prevailed in Central Asia through conquest, implementing brute force and persuasion. It was attractive to Southeast Asia, due to its social norms that allowed stronger positions for women and diverse cultural customs.
    As Islam diffused to different regions, it changed over time. Often, Islamic tradition would syncretize with the customs of the region. For example, the text mentions that, upon spreading to Southeast Asia, Islam adopted some of the traditions of the region. I think that these types of changes can benefit a religion, making it more stable. It allows the belief system to be more adaptable and strengthens its followers and their connection to the traditions.

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    • I agree with your statement that adapting the traditions of the people they are seeking to convert strengthens the amount of followers of the religion, but I ultimately do not know if it makes the religion as a whole more stable. I believe that eventually after the religion continues to adapt the culture from region to region would eventually make it unstable. This instability could lead to misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the religion and what is considered valuable in the religion as a whole which could lead to conflict within the religion.

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    • Although I agree on your point made regarding sub-Saharan Africa and Islam’s appeal to its elites, I feel as though it is also important to recognize that missionaries were also actively working to convert those in the general population, and that African kings even enlisted the services of Muslims to keep their records and allowed them to marry their daughters. This is important to include because it shows how eager the sub-Saharan Africans were to integrate this new religion into their society.

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    • I agree, I think it can benefit a religion by being able to help spread the religion, however I think it can also do some harm by adopting the traditions of the region. Because of this influence a sect of the religion can be created, which can sometimes have contradicting beliefs. This could cause some form of religious intensity between the two values and civil unrest.

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  32. The main factor that led to the rapid expansion of Islam was conquest, which was originally fueled by a need of more resources. The Empire taxed those whom did not believe in Islam (and had a much heavier one for polytheistic religions) and made it harder for them to get more jobs, leading to many people converting. Islam was attractive to people in sub-Saharan Africa because it gave high social status and it was useful to farflung trade, unlike other religions found in the area. Islam in India was attractive to untouchables and other low-class people because Islam got rid of the social stratification that comes with the caste system.. Islam spread in Central Asia due to force and persuasion. Southeast Asia’s inland peoples were attracted to Islam because because it was a way of connecting to the coastal people and expanding trade. While Islam conquered plenty of territory, but the religion is not forced- it is encouraged. Islam changed by going from region to region, incorporating the views of the area they conquered- this is shown in Sub- Saharan Africa, where the people thought that some Islamic punishments were too strict. This means there would probably be minor adjustments made to better suit the population. Overall, I think transformations are beneficial to religions because they help them grow and become universalizing religions, since they mold in more people’s lifestyles.

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  33. After reading The Spread Of Islam , the main factors that caused fast expansion of Islam was trade and military conquests between the 7th and 15th century.True to all regions characteristics of Islam are they had core values on helping the lowerclass people .Or that it had many merchants that attracted people to the religion . One really unique quality of Islam is that Muslim’s were religiously tolerant and didn’t force their religion on the people they conquered which probably made people alittle bit more willing to hear the religion out. In sub-Sahara Africa specifically it gave the opportunity for literacy , Islam was also attractive to people in Sub Saharan Africa because it provided gender and social equality. In India conversion to Islam wasn’t as prominent because the strong force of Hinduism against it, people were alittle resistant to opening up to the religion. In Southeast Asia , people were drawn to islam by technology and trade that is had.

    Islam did change throughout the different regions because Islam had to fit in with the culture but still having to stay true to original Islamic culture. Basically in each region there is a mini version of islam like a “subculture”. I believe these changes the religion had strengthened it allowing the religion to almost meet people where they in a non literal sense meaning these changes made the religion suitable to just about anyone. An example would be how Islam moved to India and the hindus taught the Muslims science and mathematics, and also tolerated islamic practices.

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  34. Based on the reading and the discussion in class today, there are many factors that led to the rapid expansion of Islam between the 7th and the 15th centuries. One factor that led to the rapid expansion of Islam was the spread of it through trade and missionary activity. This is one of the major reasons Islam spread to sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Sufi missionaries would go with traders to various places to spread Islam among the locals. Many leaders would want to give goodwill to Islamic traders in North Africa, like Sundiata, who converted to Islam and used Muslim bureaucrats and Mansa Musa, who traveled to Mecca in 1324 and organized a center of Muslim scholarship in Timbuktu. Another reason Islam spread rapidly was because of conquest of lands. Many people in conquered lands would convert to Islam spontaneously, and others would convert to get lower taxes.

    Islam was attractive to people in sub-Saharan Africa by its use of language and trade partners, like the kingdom of Ghana, who hired Muslims to keep records, and in the kingdom of Mali, who used Muslims as bureaucrats. It didn’t spread to lower social classes much, but many high social class people converted. In India, Islam was attractive to warriors and people from the lowest castes who wanted spiritual equality. In Central Asia, trade and conquest persuaded local people to convert to Islam. In Southeast Asia, the elite had converted and Sufis had set up schools and preached in each village inland, trade making Islam attractive.

    Islam didn’t change very much as it mover to regions. It combined with local culture and customs in some places, like in Central Asia where art, music and women status were influenced by Islam. I think that these transformations are beneficial to religions because it gives the religions a good rigid structure that can be relied upon later to not change drastically, but it is also good that religions can blend well with social practices.

    – Evan Wigley

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  35. Based on the article, “The Spread of Islam” and our class discussion, the expansion of Islam was due mainly to military conquests. These military conquest were the cause of Islam becoming so large and spreading from the Arabian Peninsula to Spain and parts of Africa. Islam was widely accepted for many reasons. One of these include the increased equality between women and men. This was very different for man other countries of this time such as India. Another reason is the new culture it brought along with it. Islam brought new culture to Europe through it’s art. From Islam, Europe found the guitar and new art forms that can be seen in architecture. Islam also was appealing because of the new language that cam with it, Arabic. The different countries and areas came with different cultures. This is important because it means a lot of countries could communicate and trade with each other. The expansion of the culture could also be due to the help of Sufi leaders who spread the beliefs of Islam around ca. 900 CE.

    I think the transformations were beneficial to the religions because it offered a new form of monotheism in the area. This new religion also offered changes in the society. These changes include the increase of women’s rights and the new culture.

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  36. Islam spread quickly because it not only appealed to women and people of lower classes because it stated the idea of spiritual equality, but it was also spread through conquest, subtle encouragement by state support, and trade. Sub-Saharan Africa was conquered ca. 650 CE, but that did not matter as Islam permitted other religions in its occupied region. The main factor that converted Sub-Saharan Africans were interactions throughout Sub-Saharan Africa in the Post-Classical period. For example, the king of Ghana used Muslims to keep records of trade, which later resulted in facilitated raids of that area. After Ghana collapsed ca. 13th century, the kingdom of Mali flourished and converted to Islam to respect trading partners in North Africa. Conversion here was voluntary. The culture was blended into African society, but did not reign supreme; e.g. cutting off hands of thieves was not culturally acceptable. Islam was first introduced into Central Asia in the eight century. Here, most people converted due to force or labor. This happened as the Arabs and Turks invaded each other often after the eighth century. During the ninth century, Sufi missionaries converted nomadic groups in Central Asia who later converted Turks in the tenth century. Finally, the Mongols who invaded Central Asia and the Middle East in the thirteenth century guaranteed the region was predominantly Muslim. When Islam spread to India, its religious beliefs differed with Hinduism which caused social conflict. This stopped as Muslim conquests into India took place in the eleventh century. As these conquests happened, Islam blended with Hinduism to convert people and Sufi missionaries spread the religion through enthusiasm. The lower varnas of Hinduism were prepared to convert to this new faith that supported their spiritual equality. Islam today is a religious minority in India. Southeast Asia was introduced to Islam in the fourteenth century by trading ships from the Arabian Peninsula which brought Sufi missionaries and merchants who converted the upper class in the 15th century. European conquest did stop the spread of Islam, but Indonesia is still the largest Islamic state today.
    Islam mixed with other faiths during its expansion that not only created new faiths such as Sikhism, but also new art forms and architectures. In Spain, Islam mixed with Christianity to create what is now known as the Cathedral of Cordoba, which was originally a mosque, but changed to a church. There are pros and cons to this religious expansion; while Sikhism, a by product of Hinduism and Islam, causes conflicts throughout India and Pakistan, the production of arts, such as guitars in music, spread throughout the world. As the reading says, Christianity and Islam did not mix well, despite their closely related faiths. For example, the Crusades in the late eleventh century happened because Christians wanted to take back “The Holy Land” from Muslims.

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  37. I feel the main factor that caused the Islam to spread was that many of the Muslims were merchants. When the merchants would go to trade, they wouldn’t just trade the goods: they would trade ideas. They would tell the people they are trading with about Islam and how appealing it was. The merchants would keep spreading the ideas as they went to new areas to trade. It was appealing to those societies because Islam called for spiritual equality between males and females when society was mainly patriarchal at the time.

    Islam changed as it went to other regions by acculturating Islam with the current culture it was spreading too. They incorporated Islam into their daily life’s so the people could keep doing what there are doing so they don’t have to change anything.

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    • I agree, many merchants and lower class people converted to Islam because they had nothing left to lose and could only gain. Islam made them feel as if their lives would become more meaningful and they would get more appreciation for the hard work that they commit to every day without gaining a single bit of respect when practicing other religions. I also like how you incorporated the matter of Islam diffusing into the other cultures practiced in those regions prior to the arrival of Islam.

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  38. Islam’s spread is mainly because of its goals for its people. Some of the goals of Muslims included conquering territory, trade, and conversions. Conversions influenced most areas more than anything else because of the religion’s appeal to all, especially those of lower class. Although there was conflict among those that were polytheistic, most conversations, forced or not, aided this problem. Conversions was often encouraged by tax incentives and social pressure. Trade between Sudanic areas in Sub Saharan Africa improved relations and economy for Islam and West Africa. This encouraged conversion to Islam as a thanks for helping out these kingdoms. India was dominated mainly by Hinduism which caused major conflicts between Hindus and Muslims however their cultures combined where they did agree, like in science, mathematics, and culture. Central Asia was mainly influenced by violence and threatening to convert. Southeast Asia was effected culturally and through conversions until Europe’s arrival.
    The Islamic religion remains the same for the most part but its culture and technology are largely influenced by its conquests. Overall, these transformations were beneficial at the time. The religion becomes widely practiced and it encourages unity among different areas. However, the methods of conversion, according to the document “The Spread of Islam”, like forced conversion, does lay down ground work for manipulation and different interpretations that may or may not drastically change the nature of Islam.

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  39. Islam’s rapid expansion was mainly caused by the conquest of large amounts of land by Muslims, its social equality, and trade. In sub-Saharan Africa, people found the religion attractive due to Islam’s social equality and literacy, even if it was just in Arabic, at the least. Lower caste Indians found Islam attractive because of how the religion rid itself of social stratification. Initially in Central Asia, people didn’t find the religion attractive because it was forced onto them. In Southeast Asia people found Islam attractive because of technology and trade.
    As Islam moved into new regions, it adopted some of the new regions’ cultures that it came into contact with. I believe that the transformations were beneficial to the religion because it essentially helped it appeal to more people, thus causing the religion to spread more.

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  40. I believe that the biggest reason that the Islamic religion spread so quickly was the equality of the sexes. The religion made people equal or gave those within the Islamic Empire a higher status, which was a plus for people who wanted to convert. By law they became equal to any other Muslim person. This was a big hit with people in a caste system or in gender roles.

    The Islamic religion evolved a little in each area that it began to settle and grow roots. I believe that by evolving with each area, it strengthened the importance of the religion. Being able to tie in some of the native’s customs that were already in place with their new religion made the Islamic religion more stable. It also leads to fewer conflicts about the religion or riots. An example of the open how followers disagreed on a religious idea, yet still follow under the same religion, would be the differentiation between the Sunni Muslims and the Shia Muslims. They’re both a type of Muslim, but they evolved differently due to different ideas in different regions.

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  41. The main reasons for Islam’s expansion was, first “It appealed to lower-class groups because of its commitment to charity and spiritual equality for the poor”, and second is that it made a huge equality between genders. For some areas like Sub-Saharan Africa, only the minority were drawn to the religion, while in Central Asia “Islam was the first outside religion to penetrate the region”, and in areas such as Southeast Asia Islam expanded due to ” a way of integrating with the coastal populations, in a period of expanding trade”.
    In Central Asia Islam effected many Nomadic tribes and Islams tolerance allowed the cultures to maintain a lot of their own culture. A high status of women was one of the traits that Islam left entangled in their culture, and this was a huge deal. In most parts of the world women’s status was not high. Islam changed the status of women in this area, and it spread to many more. The opposite however occurred in India. In this region Islam tried to force its way into India and the religion Hinduism (which controlled the government by a caste system) had a huge disagreement with this new faith. Many battles occurred and even today there is huge hostility between the two regions. Islam effected the world in good and bad ways, and for the most part it was good as Islam adopted to be a way to trade, status to women, a release of class-society, and not just a religion.

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  42. After completing the reading, it became quite evident that the major factors contributing to the swift expansion of Islam between the 7th and 15th centuries were impressive conquests, political connections, and passionate missionaries. In addition to these, the religion’s acceptance and fair treatment of oppressed and minority groups, along with its demonstration of success, also aided in Islam’s diffusion. Many individuals of other religions appreciated the direct instructions for how to get into heaven provided by the Muslims, as well as their enthusiasm to convert others. Islam was attractive to the people of sub-Saharan African mainly due to strong trade connections and religious connections. Because of bonds formed through past exchanges of goods, the king of Ghana in specific, hired Muslims to keep his records, for they had more experience with writing. In return for services such as that, many African kings, converted to Islam as a sign of respect and reverence for their trading partners. Many of the Muslim traders also intermarried with high-class Africans, supplying Africa with a sense of cultural unity, while at the same time allowing Islam to become a symbol of the wealthy and elite. Islam appealed to India with somewhat initial difficulty because Muslim ideology conflicted in many aspects with Hinduism, the dominating religion of that time. However, Islam managed to survive in a few regions through trading contracts and invasion, ultimately resulting in a give-and-take relationship between the two religions. Hindus adapted to use more popular languages while the Muslims assimilated Indian science and technology. Islam in India was further promoted through the conversion of royalty and the religion’s equal inclusion of all castes. The people of central Asia were eager to convert because of force and persuasion working side by side. Many Muslim conquests took place, converting the conquered as they went. At the same time, missionaries moved throughout the more remote areas of the region, working to convert various tribal groups, such as the Turks, through their innovative views of equality. Finally, the Islamic religion appealed to those in Southeast Asia through a strong emphasis on trade. This not only sent Muslim merchants to integrate the religion into the region, but only helped to unite the coastal cities with the inland territories thanks to the increased emphasis on trade by means of the sea.

    Islam often changed in various ways throughout its expansion. This occurred most prominently by fusing with the current cultures and religions of the new regions that it encountered. Although some may claim that this is harmful to societies based on the fact that Islam encouraged harsh punishments, such as cutting off the hands of thieves, it is also true that many of the more extreme Muslim beliefs were rejected, as is the case in sub-Saharan Africa, while the ideals of equality and kindness were often promoted. The integration of the Islamic religion also played a major role in enriching the culture of those it influenced through elaborate architecture, and new styles of song and dance, such as it did in Bulgaria.

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  43. The rapid spread of the Islamic religion was largely due to a multiplicity of factors that often times varied depended on which region of the world is being discussed. Between the 7th and 15th centuries, the factors that led to the spread of Islam were military conquest, trade, missionary and evangelism work, and the equality of social class systems. Islam appealed to people of different regions for a varied number of reasons. In sub-Saharan Africa, The conversion of people began due to the fact that Islam applauded merchants for their work and their prosperous political structure. Within India, because Hinduism was the most common religion and was significantly different from Islam in which Hindus believed in polytheism and Muslims believed in monotheism, therefore there was religious tolerance of Islam. Subsequently, the spread of Islam reached its highest in India because Islam valued spiritual equality, and Hinduism valued the caste system. Therefore, people of the lowest caste system were drawn more to Islam. In Central Asia, the use of force and conquest were systems used to convert non-believers and later on trade became a system of conversion. Southeast Asia used trade especially from Arabia to modern day Indonesia and with the use of the Sufis Islam became prominent.

    Islam often times adapted small pieces of the culture in which it was surrounded by. For example, in Southeast Asia Islam fused with the culture and adapted certain rituals such as festivals and plays. Muslims also coexisted with other religions such as Hinduism. I believe that the acceptance of the culture of the people you are trying to convert could do nothing but benefit the religion. Especially in the case of areas that already have dominant and existing religions. For example, in India where Hinduism had dominated over the region for a number of years, the adaption of pieces of their culture made non-believers of Islam more apt and prone to converting. Ultimately, the adaption of culture can lead to more followers of that particular religion.

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  44. Based on the reading, there were two major factors that were involved in the expansion of Islam between the 7th and 15th centuries. The first factor was military conquest. This created rapid expansion and diverse regions. People are not forced to convert to the new religion under the Islamic conqueror. The second factor was the conversion of people through trade and missionary activity. People gladly converted as the beliefs, morals, and the rules were clear. This also caused attraction from lower class groups, merchants, and traders as they felt that they were involved in the religion in some way.

    Islam became attractive to the people of Sub-Saharan Africa through interactions and contacts such as conquest, trade, and missionaries.The predominately Hindu India became encouraged by the Muslims mixing the culture of Hinduism and Islam. For example, using Muslim characters to tell Hindu stories or the building of shrines on Hindu temples. Islam Spread through Central Asia by means of systematically forcing and persuading people through Muslim contact. Similar to India, Southeast Asia was influenced through the mixture of their culture and the Islamic culture. Also, Muslim trading ships from Arabia and India influenced Southeast Asia because it brought merchants and Sufi to spread the religion.

    As Islam moved into new regions, it changed as it broke into sects that had different views on the religion based on the influence of their culture. An example of this from our reading would be the Sufism movement around 1200 CE. The Sufi wanted to believe in different concepts of the religion, such as, “a stricter focus on religion and a more intense piety.” I believe this is harmful to the religion because the different views can contradict each other and/or cause religious war and civil unrest between the sects. However the different sects can have it’s advantages, as they could still spread the same religion, but in a different form or through their view.

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  45. Factors that led to expansion of Islam were trade,missionary activity, and military conquest. Religious contact between Africans and Muslims set the basis for much of the conversions later. Islam was attractive in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia because of trade and connections among tribal groups.
    Islam changed in terms of spiritual leadership. For example, Sufi leaders worried about luxury and secular interests. I feel these changes were beneficial because the diffusion spread Islam in a time when it was greatly looked down upon. Spaniards converted to Islam after conquests won by Muslims.

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    • I disagree about your second point that changes in terms of spiritual leadership is beneficial. I think that the conflict and change in succession of leaders of the religion after Muhammad led to internal conflicts which would have been harmful to the unity of the military and political forces.

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  46. Islam was a culture that spread gradually but “amazingly rapid” because of the geography and regions that surrounded it. The way in which it spread was like many other religions which were through conquest and by trade or missionary activity. The spread of this religion varied from place to place. For example, In Sub-Saharan Africa, Islam spread through “missionary efforts and religious wars” that were conducted by Muslims while in Central Asia, it spread primarily through force and or persuasion. Then in India, the Muslims and Hindus influenced each other by sharing things such as science and mathematics. Then lastly, in Southeast Asia, “merchants established crucial contacts” that were sent to persuade the ruling classes.
    Overall Islam had to modify itself slightly over time in order to help the religion grow. This is most clearly made evident when the religion adapted to the Hindu cultural settings when it used the Hindu stories. Although, they did use Muslim characters to change the stories in order to fit in with the Islamic religion. Also, the Muslims tolerated non-Greek Christians and Jews because they were seen as the “people of the book”. This is because they all believed in the same god although their practices and worship are not the same. All of this is to show that the Islamic faith was one that could adapt and to be more accommodating to the people.

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  47. Islam between the 7th and 15th century spread greatly to many regions including Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, India, and Southeast Asia. This is because the preachings of Muhammad was spread through these regions by means of conquest, trade, or missionary activities. This affected people in these regions and convinced them to convert causing Islamic art, architecture, political styles and more to stick around. In Europe, people converted because the success the Muslims had while conquering and in North Africa, Islam spread through religious interactions. Similarly, Islam spread through cultural diffusion in India and was mixed in with the Hindu culture in some parts, but in Central Asia it spread through force and persuasion, and through expanded trade networks in Southeast Asia. But something in common between those who converted was that they felt attracted to Islam’s power and triumph such as their strict beliefs and the belief of a good and bad afterlife determined by the person’s compliance.
    Islam’s ideas changed between its birth and spread even though it all happened very quickly. The most amount of this cultural diffusion occurred in India because the already existing Hinduism was mixed with the Islamic culture. The two together created many new beliefs and started a new culture named Sikhism. Muslims also obtained new knowledge in science and mathematics from India as the two cultures mixed principles.

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  48. The rapid spread of Islam between the 7th and 15th century CE is due to a combination of factors. These factors are the appeal to lower classes and women, military conquest, and trade. First, Islam appealed to lower class people because the teachings of the Quran involve both charity to lower classes and spiritual equality for all, despite class or gender. This, in addition to Muhammad’s respect for his wife, was a factor that made conversion appealing to women as well. Merchants, who often had lower status in other societies and religions were given higher status in Islamic belief, because Muhammad was a merchant. Another prominent factor to the rapid spread of Islam was the extremely successful military conquest of the Islamic empire. Their horseback skills, scimitars, and steel production made them an unstoppable army. While they did not forcibly convert conquered territory, most often converted because it was the majority belief, taxes were levied on opposing religions, and it appealed to various regions for different reasons. Prominence of trade and support for merchants also facilitated quick spread of ideas from the empire. Each region which Islam spread to had some differing reasons for conversion in addition to these reasons. In Sub-Sahran Africa, Arabic traders were hired by the wealthy and powerful because of their literacy. As a sign of respect for the partners, they would often convert to Islam, and lower classes would follow suit because of the appeal to lower classes and the fact that the religion became a sign of being high-class. In India, the religion was met with more resistance, due to Hinduism being the basis of their political and religious structure. However, Islam was adopted by lower class “untouchables” who did not wish to be spiritually inferior any longer. In Central Asia, Islam was “the first outside religion to penetrate the region in a systematic fashion” (pg 52). There was not a completely central religious system that was as strongly ingrained as Hinduism, and Islam did not require complete cultural change after conversion. In addition, the Mongols brought contacts which allowed for the interaction the Islamic empire needed to finish conversion. Southeast Asia was the last region to be converted to Islam, because of isolation. Muslim merchants influenced local authorities in coastal towns, which converted first. Then the Sufis expanded inward and the interior regions saw conversion as a way to connect with the coastal regions.

    Islam, as it expanded throughout the Afro-Eurasian world, participated in syncretism with local beliefs and cultures. In many places, only part of the Islamic Empire culture would be adopted- such as the religion, but not the architectural style. A religion’s ability to form to fit any culture is extremely helpful, because it makes it much more universalizing and it aids in the spread of the religion. People don’t want to change their lifestyle and culture completely, so it is better if the religion allows for some change depending on the society adopting it. Many different interpretations of Sharia Law exist. The rapid spread of Islam to such culturally different regions- such as Africa and Southeastern Asia- is evidence that this quality is helpful, not harmful.

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  49. Islam, within only a few years of its creation, expanded farther than any other religion at the time through trade, conquest, and missionary activity. This substantial success and power attracted people to the religion, while the generally tolerant practices of the religion secured followers. Across sub-Saharan Africa, India, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia, Islamic trade routes established the dominance of the religion. Islam also provided personal social benefits for all classes. For example, elites and higher-class people engaged in Islam because of the power and strength that was associated with it. Traders and middle-class people followed Islam because of its praise for merchants and political success. Lower-class groups practiced Islam because of its commitment to charity and spiritual equality. It was a win-win situation for everybody, and therefore many people converted to it. Also, taxes on minority religions and some forced conversion contributed considerably to Islam expansion.
    As Islam spread into new regions, it blended with other cultures by adopting certain customs. I believe the transformations that Islam went through were beneficial to its expansion. Islamic tradition was easily adjusted into the lives of people which ultimately strengthened its following. Because Islam was not strictly imposed onto cultures, it was more openly accepted and more people converted to it. Islamic artistic styles and architecture stretch from Spain to Sub-Saharan Africa to former Soviet Union republics to Indonesia. However, its rapid expansion led to fear, hate, and rivalry against Islam.

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  50. Based on the reading of the spread of Islam, the big factors that caused the rapid spread of the Islamic religion were conquests over military forces and trading across the regions during the time period between 7th and 15th centuries. However the conversion of Islamic practice was not forcefully, it was rather voluntarily. Islam was very attractive to people due to its belief on class, gender, social equality.

    In the Sub-Saharan Africa, Islam spread through the ordinary people who were merchants and traded which they took in the Islamic technologies and writings. In spread of Islam in Central Asia involved force and persuasion where people adopted Islam voluntarily based on the strength and succession of the Muslim power. On the other hand, India unlike the other cultures conflicted with the Islam since they already had a strong religion of Hinduism which majority of people practiced. In India, the lower class people were more often converted to Islam due to its attractiveness of social class equality. Lastly, Southeast Asia was the last major region affected by Islam, they converted to Islam mainly based on influence on trading economy. Islam spread to the elites which then caused the ordinary people to follow so they can interact with them.

    Islam were probably slightly different in every region it expanded because they tolerated other cultures and adopted them for their benefits. They were necessary to change and combine with each culture to create less conflicts between them as well as taking in or banishing whatever seemed was necessary. For example, in Sub-Saharan African culture, Islamic punishments, such as cutting off the hands of thieves, were rejected as it being too brutal.

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