In the seventh century something remarkable happened: Islam, the first truly global civilization was conceived. In a desert, arid area of Arabian Peninsula, an inhospitable region of rock and sand, a message was delivered to merchant from Mecca, Mohamed, a message that will resonate for 14 centuries to all continents and more than a billion people across the globe. No history of humankind has witnessed such a remarkable and swift expansion: In a mere 60 years, Arab Islamic empire was biggest empire in the history of humankind. This essay is an attempt to discuss the main causes of expansion of from Mohamed and first “Four rightly - guided Caliphs” to the end of the twentieth century with Word and Sword. In its structure, we will briefly touch historical perspective of events that lead to the spread of Islam, consider main causes and finally concluding remarks.
Arab peninsula was wedged in between two dominant Empires of its time, Byzantine and Sassanid (Persian), and therefore, it was influenced by its religions and cultural characteristics: Christianity from north and west with its monotheistic faith from the “Book” and Zoroastrianism with its dualistic approach. It was also a major trading route that connected continents- Africa with Middle East and central Asia and east Mediterranean region. Mecca region itself was a highly cosmopolitan centre, with wide ranging merchants, whose most prolific activity was religion, where the altar of Kaaba served as one of central worship sites in pre-Islamic polytheism. This social climate shaped the distinctive character of Islamic religion.
Not long after prophet Mohamed received a divine message from Allah, spreading the word of God began in his household, where Khadijah, his wife and Ali, his cousin were the first converts to Islam. After Abu Bakr converted to Islam, who had some influence and wealth, next few converts came from rival tribe, Ummayads, who will later form a foundation of first dynasty of rulers under Islam. Other converts came slowly from ranks of young people and slaves. Despite pressure to renounce their new faith, they resisted and even succeeded in converting some of the prosecutors, for example, Omar, (Matthews, 2010) who would, according to Ansaray (2010), shape Islam as political ideology, give Islamic civilization its characteristic stamp and will ended up with empire bigger than Roman.
Early Arab warriors were surprisingly agile, fast, resilient and above all, equipped with unshakable faith in their divine guidance and mission. They also produced some of the most brilliant military commanders in human history- like Khalid ibn al-Walid, who never lost in more than a hundred battles and who fought under Mohamed, and latter for Rashudin Califate; Abu Bakr and Umar ibn Khatab. His strategic achievement include conquest of the Arabia, Persian Mesopotamia, Sassanid Persian Empire and Byzantium’s Syria in a just several years from 632 to 636 CE. Most notable battle was his victory at Yarmouk. The Battle of Yarmouk is regarded as one of the most decisive battles in military history,(Walton, 2003; Nicolle, 1994 cited in Wikipedia)1 and it marked the first great wave of Islamic conquests after the death of Muhammad, heralding the rapid advance of Islam into the then Christian Levant. We can see, also how symbolism of the sword become very important in Arab culture, where Saif is used as a metaphor in many phrases in Arab language, such as Saiff al Haqq (sword of truth), Saif al-Islam (sword of Islam), and interestingly, Saif Ullah Al- mosloul (drawn sword of the God) was name that Khalid ibn al-Walid himself was also known for.(Wikipedia)2 In simple terms, Islam would never spread without it’s military and it’s religious zeal. However,...