DBQ Essay Islam
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Based on the following documents, Islam spread by a variety of means, to encompass parts of Europe, China, India, Africa, and the Middle East. Political, and Religious strategies were used to help spread Islam, throughout many various places. At times violence was used to spread Islam, with the help of a strong military system. The idea of equality was also a key piece in some parts of the world, to help convert many to the Islamic faith. Finally, trade routes and merchants were also used to spread the Islamic faith wherever they went. Overall, the spread of Islam was not due to one sole reason or person, but the Islamic civilization developed such a large empire, due to the many people and idea’s used to convert the non-believers.
The following documents bring forth the political aspect, of how and why Islam, grew to cover such an extensive area. Edward Crecy, the author of document 4 describes the fighting style of the Muslim’s, showing how they conquered lands with violence at times. Sir Edward Crecy, was an English knight, who was most likely Christian, having no affiliation to the religion of Islam, and thus he does not see the peaceful side of the Muslim attempts at converting non-believers, he focuses on the vicious fighting style, used to punish those who chose not to convert. This helps prove that the Muslims used violence to spread Islam, by political means of conquest. Syed Ameer Ali, describes the spread of Islam as peaceful, compared to that of Christianity, where Christianity persecuted those who didn’t believe, yet the Muslim’s left those who did not believe alone.
This is proven by the Dhimmies, also known as the people of the book, because Muhammad left these people alone, because he respected their religions, thus proving that Islam’s spread through politics was peaceful as well. Due to Ali’s ethical background, she feels that the Muslim faith, was much more peaceful, than others, because she practices Islam herself. Peace and violence were both used in the political expansion of the, but Phillip K Hitti believes that the reason behind the expansion of Islam was due to something else. According to Phillip K. Hitti, Islam began as tribes who wanted riches, and wealth, and so began conquering surrounding lands, slowly developing into the vast Arab empire. This view of conquest is different from previous two, because it doesn’t focus on a sole purpose and way of converting people; it is just described as tribes conquering for political conquest and expansion, they are not being reinforced by religion.
Hitti’s Theory of Idea here, shows that he believes the Muslim Empire started and spread in a completely new way, because he is highly educated, and he sees the beginning of the conquest and expansion of the Muslim Empire, as nothing more than any other political conquest, to get rich. To help further the support on the political spread of Islam, a letter, from a tribe conquered by the Muslim’s would be useful, describing how they were treated in the time before their conversion, and whether it was peaceful, or violent, or maybe proving Hitti’s theory, that Islam spread for political conquest rather than for the religion.
Religion played a key role in the spread of Islam, just as much as the Political side did. In Document number 3, Phillip K. Hitti, describes there Religion as having immense amounts of equality, and that, “their leader is like one of them: the low cannot be distinguished from the poor.” The concept of equality that was offered with the Islamic religion helped spread Islam into Patriarchal societies, as well as societies with a tight caste system, because it benefitted the poor, and the women of these cultures. Kitti, being educated, believes that expansion of the Islamic empire was so successful, because the religion treated so many people, like women, and the poor so much better than they had previously been treated, helping Islam spread into these societies. In Document 5, J.J. Saunders brings forth religion again, telling those who wished to spread Islam that, “they should fight in the cause of God, but to not be the aggressors.”
J.J. Saunders believes that according to the Muslim faith, and Muhammad’s opinions of those who he is trying to convert, they may use violence, or they may be peaceful and leave them be. Muhammad is known for supporting the people of the book, known as dhimmies, because he respects their religion, but for other’s violence is needed to convert them to Islam. This idea of leaving “the people of the book” alone, helped to spread Islam even further, because to those who were Christian or Jewish, Islam was not interfering with them, so they saw no need to fight it, but rather supported the spread instead. The word of the Qur’an, in document 2, is spread to non-believers, and gave Muslims the promise of an after-life and of happiness.
Because the Qur’an was the holy word of God, The aspect of going to heaven, or paradise, upon the time of death, flattered many, and thus this religious aspect, helped many to convert to Islam, and further expand the empire. To further support the idea of Religion being a main factor in the spread of Islam, a law code, or document, showing Muhammad’s reasons to use violence against some, but to leave other’s alone, in hopes of converting people to Islam would be useful to help us see Muhammad’s opinions on other cultures and religions.
Trade routes, and Economics were a vital source in the spread of Islam, and the Muslim Empire. In document 1 Muhammad forced non-believers to pay taxes or convert, yet he still left the dhimmies alone. Because of Muhammad’s status as seal of the prophets, he will attempt to spread Islam by any means necessary, whether it be peaceful or violent or forcing the people to pay taxes, and this Economic aspect helped to further spread the empire. So if people did not want to convert, they must pay taxes to Muhammad and the Islam faith, and this proves that economics played a key role in the expansion of the empire. The map shows the expansion of the Islam faith, at various times.
This helps us to see how effective trade routes and economics were in the expansion of the Islamic faith, because as time passed merchants traveled throughout empires spreading the Islamic faith wherever they went. Without the help of merchants, and economics Islam would never have covered such a large and extensive empire. Overall, Islam was able to spread to cover such a larger area in three main ways. Religious benefits such as equality and afterlife, pleased many non-believers so that they did convert. For those who did not convert, violence was then used until you had converted, or you were forced to pay taxes, in order to support the growing Islam faith. And finally, wherever merchants went, the Islamic faith came with them and spread across a vast land.