Islam, one of the most well-known religions today, had its origins in the mountainous terrain around

Mecca. The religion, along with its connections to politics and territory, spread quickly, however. The timing, rapidity, and direction of Muslim territorial expansion were due to trade routes and the desire of the caliphates for conquest. Though there is a substantial amount of information already, more Islamic texts would give a better understanding of the expansion of Islam.

Caravan Trade Route

Desire of Caliphate for Conquest


The invention of the camel saddle contributed to the rise of Arab-dominated caravan cities. Connected the Arabian Peninsula to alternative cultures such as the Sasanid and the Byzantine empires. Later, when Islam would become more fully developed, beliefs spread with the help of trade and cultural interaction. Though the trade routes were not a direct root cause, they shaped the rapidity and direction of Muslim territorial expansion. Islam expanded by trade in the areas taken over by Arab Armies before and after the year 1000.

Under the second caliph, Umar, the Islamic Conquests began. Arab armies took Syria and Egypt from the Byzantine Empire and defeated the Sasanids. 10 years later, armies went on to take over Tunisia and Spain, as long as Sind. In the 11th century, conquests in India, Anatolia, and subSaharan Africa began. During the times of Conquests, however, the caliphate did not allow the Arabs to own the land they conquered. Instead the caliphate compensated army service with booty. Taxes were paid only by non-Arabs and non-Muslims, so naturally some would convert to avoid paying taxes. The Abbasid dynasty put emphasis on Islam. Due to the dynasty becoming more cosmopolitan as a result of the Abbasid dynasty’s focus on theology, knowledge was shared along with religious beliefs. Great works were translated into Arab. Gradually, this smote the social discrimination against Arabs and allowed many to convert to Islam in the 2nd quarter of the 9th century.

What reasons might there be for the timing, rapidity, and direction of Muslim territorial expansion? What more do you need to know in order to gain an understanding of the expansion of Islam? There were a few things that contributed to the timing, rapidity, and direction of Muslim territorial expansion: booty, religious fanaticism, and the weakness of the foes of Islam; trading; leaders; and the caliphate. Even with all the information we already have, more texts written by Muslims would give a better understanding of the expansion of Islam. The millions of Arabs who participated in the conquests over several generations constituted a small self-isolated ruling minority living on the taxes paid by non-Arab, non-Muslim subject population. There is no evidence of coherent missionary efforts to spread Islam during the conquest period. During the period of expansion, Arab forces were organized into regular, paid armies and kept in military camps and garrison towns so that they did not overrun the countryside. Even though they spread over Muslim societies and taxed, they did not try to convert. The caravan trade brought Arabs into contact with the Byzantine and Sasanid civilizations. Islam also expanded by trade in India, sub-Saharan Africa and Anatolia both before and after the year 1000. In 622, Muhammad and his followers fled from Mecca to Medina because Mecca's leaders pressured his kin to disavow him and persecuted the weakest of his followers. Towards the end of Muhammad's life, the umma in Medina developed into the core of the Islamic state that later expanded to include all of Arabia, Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Disagreements over the question of succession to the caliphate emerged following the assassination of Uthman. A civil war arose between those who supported keeping the caliphate in Uthman's clan and those who supported the claim of Ali. These disagreements led to three rival sects in the Muslim community.