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Essay on Islam

Essay on Islam

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Published by Chad Whitehead
A formal research paper on Islam. It describes how Islam began, how it spread, why it spread so far and fast, and the importance of Muhammad in it's founding and early period.
A formal research paper on Islam. It describes how Islam began, how it spread, why it spread so far and fast, and the importance of Muhammad in it's founding and early period.

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Published by: Chad Whitehead on Jun 27, 2014
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06/27/2014

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1
Christine Vandor
Question 1. Compared with Christianity as a new religion Islam took off much more quickly and spread rapidly throughout the Middle East and beyond. Identify the factors that may help explain Islams dramatic expansion.
Compared to Christianity, the speed and totality of Islam's expansion across the Middle East and beyond was nothing short of breathtaking. Althogh the appealing natre of Mhammad's message, his personal charisma, military genis as well as his ability to draw Arab followers in complete de!otion to himself were the fondational forces that established Islam and nited Arabian tribes nder its banner, there were many other factors at play in its phenomenonal sccess. "y the time Mslim armies  brst throgh the Arab frontier, with their pre#Islamic cltre predisposing them to a ni$e type of resilience and self reliance, they tra!elled $ickly and pillaged !ast areas in short periods of time. Copled with this, the impo!erished and war#torn state of mch of both the "y%antine and &ersian empires meant the inhabitants were ill prepared for the striking Arab attacks and nable to defend themsel!es against the shocking and nexpected wa!e of Arabian con$erors. inally, the ready acceptance of Mslim rle de to a combination of Islam's easy conditions, open $ality and the crmbing state of most of the pre!iosly "y%antine or (asanian domains contribted greatly to its sccess and pa!ed the way for the de!elopment of Islam across the region for centries to come. Mhammad clearly possessed a personal charisma and a striking ability to illicit de!otion to himself and his mission. E!en thogh he ne!er wa!ered from his deeply religios con!ictions, he was, ne!ertheless, a shrewd politician and sed his political system in order to reach his spirital goal of men ltimately li!ing in harmony with each other in sbmission to the one tre )od
1
. *e was calclating, patient, and in control of his emotions bt also gifted in the art of military planning and campaigning
+
. *e $ickly drew a grop of disciples who grew into an atocratic commnity which natrally lead to strggles for power of the region. his first commnity was religios in origin bt de to the natre of Arab society became politically focsed almost immediately. A strong army in the form of organised militia with an independent sorce of wealth meant that Mhammad's political party was able to silence any opposition within its 1
 Maxime -odinson,
 Muhammad 
, ++, p.+1/
+
 
 Ibid 
. p.+1/
 
+
Christine Vandor
ranks and eliminate those who wold not assimilate
0
. nce Arabia was nited, howe!er, Mhammad became not only the messenger of )od to a specific grop bt also the head of a new Islamic state comprised of a commnity of belie!ers de!oted to )od and his laws. As the newly organised Arab armies ad!anced ot of Arabia and con$ered new lands they broght with them both a political and social order that was cltrally Arabian and based firmly on the ideology of their faith
2
. nce the spirital fondations were laid throgh Mhammad's preaching in Medina, and as the new order expanded throgh Arabia by both con!ersion and force
3
, a call to mobilise the commnity and gi!e them rles to li!e by became the primary concern. his was achie!ed throgh the 4oran. -lings for domestic concerns as well as orders for soldiers and explanations for specific conflicts and battles were all addressed in the 4oran as needs arose. -ather than conflicting with long held cltral rlings howe!er, the new legislation confirmed many practices and traditions that were familiar to Arab families, bt placed them within a Mslim context. his also ser!ed to nify the commnity frther gi!ing them concrete instrctions from their leader in all aspects of commnal life
/
. he sccessfl de!elopment of the Islamic state within the *i5a% and the greater Arabian peninsla was most certainly the initial factor that led to the greater Mslim con$ests in the Middle East and beyond. he organisation of anarchical Arabian tribes into a nited forces with a clear, well#defined prpose was the key to this sccess. he army raised by Mhammad was not, at first, the type of standing armies that were typical in srronding empires bt rather consisted of !olnteers from !arios allied tribes than responded to his call when the need arose. After battles the war spoils were shared ot, as dictated in the 4oran, and warrior retrned to his own home
6
. he stable natre of Islam within Arabia can be entirely attribted to the way in which Mslim ideology appealed to and captred the minds of the people7 particlarly the minds of 0
-odinson,
 Muhammad 
, p.+13.
2
 8ohn 9. Esposito,
 Islam the Straight Path
, +11, p.0:. 3(imon (ebag Montefiore,
 Jerusalem
, +11, p.16;.
/
 -odinson,
 Muhammad 
, p.+01.
6
 8acob 9assner < Michael "onner,
 Islam in the Middle Ages
, p.;.
 
0
Christine Vandor
those responsible for making decisions sch as the chiefs and leaders of tribes
:
. he way in which Mhammad formed the new state played a !ital role in the Arab con$est and laid the fondation for expansion in the centries to come
;
. he tribal mentality of pre#Islamic Arabia contined to be the central political ideology, and instead of re5ecting tribalism otright, Mhammad simply worked to redirect loyalties towards his 'spra#tribal confederation'
. ribal life was e!erything, and in this  patriarchal society a man's entire identity was tied to his tribe. It was not ncommon, howe!er, for men to switch tribes, and claim descent from another tribe if, for instance, that tribe was pro!ing more sccessfl than their own. ribes increased and decreased in nmber depending on the strength and sccess of their chiefs. 9eadership was passed from father to son bt a new chief was re$ired to earn his position by pro!ing his strengths throgh diplomacy, sccessfl exploits and wise decisions. If he did not meet the expectations of the tribe he cold not expect their allegiance
. herefore, a man's  personal gain was an element in determining where his loyalties lay
. )i!en this existing social strctre, the new Mslim commnity, the =mmah, was essentially a tribe that was established not on biological descent bt rather the acceptance of Mhammad's religion, which was simply to accept Allah as the one tre )od and Mhammad as his prophet. It is likely that many indi!idal con!ersions came throgh acceptance of grop tribal decisions to align with the Mhammad's political agenda
. E!en thogh part of the niting process inclded exploiting the almost ni!ersal belief that Arabs descended from Abraham throgh Ishmael, which helped bind allegiance to it, the =mmah was less abot genealogy and more abot loyalties to the religion rather than familial descent. "t for all intents and prposes it operated in mch the same way as traditional tribal life, and this pro!ided an exceptional strong fondation for the Islamic state and a formidable force for expansion
. :
 -odinson,
 Muhammad 
, p.++6. ; Marshall *odgson,
The Venture of Islam vol.2
, 1;62, p.;.
1
 8onathan "erkey,
The Formation of Islam
, +0, p./6.
11
 *gh 4ennedy,
The Great Arab Conuests
, +6, p.06+.
1+
 
 Ibid 
. p.0;.
10
 "erkey,
The Formation of Islam
, p./:.
12
 4ennedy,
The Great Arab Conuests
, p.0;.

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