How Islam Expanded
Islam was a religion that Muhammad created and introduced in the Middle East. Before Islam, the culture was predominantly polytheistic with one supreme God, Allah, presiding over a community of spirits. Islam was introduced to the Middle East by Muhammad who was born in the year 570. Muhammad was deeply troubled by his society and while familiar with Christianity and Judaism. Muhammad began to practice meditation and believed he had reached a spiritual commune with Allah and recorded his understandings in the holy book, the Qur’an. Muhammad began to preach in Mecca about his revelations and, “…at first, many were convinced that he was a madman or a charlatan. Others were undoubtedly concerned that his vigorous attacks on traditional beliefs and the corrupt society around him could severely shake the social and political order” (Spielvogel & Duiker, 2013). At the beginning of his preaching, he had only thirty followers after thirty years. His followers were systematically persecuted and suffered cruel brutalities. Muhammad died as Islam began to spread throughout the peninsula.
Islam is a monotheistic religion and differently than other religions, teaches that the prophet Muhammad, who revealed the power and intentions of the omnipotent being, Allah, was only a prophet not to be worshipped. Islam is focused on salvation and is based on the Five Pillars of Islam. The Five Pillars of Islam include the “belief in Allah and Muhammad as his Prophet; standard prayer five times a day and public prayer on Friday at midday to worship Allah; observation of the holy month of Ramadan, including fasting from dawn to sunset; if possible, making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in one’s lifetime; and giving alms, or zakat, to the poor and unfortunate” (Spielvogel & Duiker, 2013).
Islam expanded under what can be defined as a crusade and/or jihad. A holy war ensued and expanded the authority of the movement through raids and Arabs became unified under Muhammad’s successor. Once unified, Arabs were able to take control of other Empires and trading routes. There has been a lot of speculation as to how The Arab Empire was able rise so quickly and expand at the rate they did. Various explanations that historians have proposed include the theory that a, “…prolonged drought on the Arabian peninsula to the desire of Islam’s leaders to channel the energies of their new converts. Another hypothesis is that the expansion was deliberately planned by the ruling elites in Mecca to extend their trade routes and bring surplus-producing regions under their control” (Spielvogel & Duiker, 2013).
Spielvogel, J. J., & Duiker, W. J. (2013). The Essential World History. Cengage Learning.