How Islam Quickly Spread
From being a small religious sect in the Middle East, Islam has for centuries grown into one of the world’s major religions with close to 1.8 billion adherents worldwide. The reason for this remains to be seen, but many historians have generally attributed this to several factors that shaped the religion’s character and continue to do so in the contemporary world.
First, Islam’s rapid growth is the result of politico-military conquests in the Early Middle Ages. Second, trade and commerce centered in the city of Mecca helped in the dispersion of Islamic thought across Europe and much of Asia and Africa. Finally, Islamic tenets had encouraged individuals and scholars to travel across the globe and introduce the religion to a diverse range of ethnicities.
Islam was first introduced around 600 AD through the prophet Muhammad. Acting upon the revelations of the archangel Gabriel, Muhammad had set out on preaching about the new faith through the Qur’an, which is a collection of revelations and tenets composing the core of Islamic tradition and culture.
After the death of Muhammad, his successors set out to spread the message of Islam throughout the Middle East, West Asia, and North Africa. The Arabs were able to wrest areas from the Persian and Byzantine empires. Under Islamic occupation, citizens in these lands enjoyed extensive freedom they would not otherwise get from their former masters. The people then willingly converted into Islam, enticed by the promise of eternal paradise.
Trade and Commerce
The spread of Islam can also be attributed to the trading between the Middle East and other parts of the globe. In its height, Mecca was a city of prosperity and wealth. Commerce in the region was highly concentrated in this city, and foreign merchants flock there to trade their goods for spices, dates and other local products they could not get from anywhere else.
Arab merchants also conducted trade in many parts of the globe. Along with opportunities to net a profit, these merchants also traded Islamic customs and ideas. They also acted as missionaries and advocates of Islam, who preached the Qur’an to curious natives. Eventually, these natives would also be influenced by these teachings and would adopt the ways of Islam as their own.
A case in point is the opening up of trade routes into Southeast Asia. Muslim traders would set up outposts where they can also spread the message of Islam. These outposts would later develop into towns and the natives would convert into the new faith, thereby securing a foothold for Islam in the region.
The work of itinerant scholars and imams also contributed in the rise of Islam. Missionary activity came to a head after the death of Muhammad. Along with various conquests being waged in the Middle East, individuals would travel to different places. Many of these preachers and missionaries embraced Dawah, which makes it a noble duty to spread the message of Allah throughout the world.
Important periods in history such as the Golden Age of Islam which started from 700 to 1000 AD noted the rise of Islamic missionary work under the guise of commerce. The work of these individuals have resulted in many communities embracing and adopting Islam.
Through these factors, Islam’s adherents had grown significantly, rivaling that of Christianity.