Big Era Five Patterns of Interregional Unity



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Continuing Spread. Beginning in 1192, other Muslim Turkish military groups conquered parts of India, including most of the north all the way to present-day Bangladesh, which borders the Bay of Bengal. The number of Muslims in India gradually increased from that time. The people of Bangladesh had been Buddhists, but beginning about 1300, they rapidly embraced Islam. Elsewhere in India, except for Punjab and Kashmir in the far northwest, Hinduism remained the religion of the majority. In South India and Sri Lanka, both merchants and Sufi preachers, that is, followers of mystical Islam, spread the faith. By 1300, traders and Sufis also introduced it to Southeast Asia. Over the next two centuries, Islam spread from Malaysia to the great archipelago that is today Indonesia.
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21 Entering a region where Buddhism, Hinduism, and local polytheist religions existed, Islam required several centuries to become well established. In Inner Eurasia beginning in the eighth century, Islam gradually spread to the original homelands of the Turkic-speaking peoples until it became the main religion of nearly all of them. Islam also spread into Xinjiang, the western part of China, where it was tolerated by the Chinese empire. Islam entered southern China through seaports, such as Guanzhou, the city where the earliest masjid exists.
Africa. Before 1500, Islam spread widely in sub-Saharan Africa. Before 1000 CE, the first major town south of the Sahara that became majority Muslim was Gao, a commercial center located on the Niger River in Mali. Over the centuries, many other rulers and parts of their populations followed this pattern. By 1040, groups in Senegal had become Muslims. From there, Islam spread to the region of today’s Mali and Guinea. Muslims established the kingdom of Mali in the thirteenth century and the Songhai empire from 1465 to 1600. Farther east, Kanem-Bornu near Lake Chad became Muslim after 1100. In West Africa, like Turkestan, India, and Indonesia, traders and Sufis introduced Islam. When rulers accepted the faith, numerous Muslim scholars, lawyers, teachers, and artisans migrated into the region to help build Muslim administration and cultural life. African Muslim scholars became established in major towns like Timbuktu, where they taught and practiced Islamic law as judges. By 1500, Islam was established in West Africa in a wide east-west belt south of the Sahara. Local polytheistic religions remained strong, however, and Islam did not become the majority faith in this region until the nineteenth century. In East Africa, traders spread Islam along the coast beginning at least by the tenth century. By the fourteenth century, the numerous commercial city-states along the coast from today’s Somalia to Tanzania were predominantly Muslim. In the Sudan, south of Egypt, the population of Nubia gradually became Muslim during the fourteenth century, through immigration of Muslim Arab pastoral groups and because Christian rule became weak in that region.
Strong Governments and the Spread of Islam. By understanding that the expansion of Muslim rule was different from the spread of Islam, we can see an interesting trend. Ironically, Islam has spread most widely and rapidly among populations at times when Muslim rule was weaker and less unified. When Muslim political regimes were decentralized, disunited, or completely absent, Islam as a religion flourished and often spread to non-Muslims. Influence by traders and Sufis and influence of Muslim scholars, lawyers, and artisans in the cities aided the spread of Islam to new areas. On the other hand, the Ottoman Empire in southeastern Europe, or the Sultanate of Delhi, and the later Mogul empire of India had little success in spreading Islam, though they did gain territory. Non-Muslim populations seem to have viewed these powerful, tax-gathering Muslim rulers negatively, and so they resisted conversion to Islam. Whoever did embrace Islam in such circumstances, if not for material gain, usually did so because of the efforts of merchants, teachers, and traveling Sufi preachers, who were not part of the government. Study Questions
1. In what important way was the conquest of territory by Muslims different from the spread of Islam
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22 2. How many centuries do historians think it took from the time Islam was introduced until it became the religion of the majority population in Egypt, Syria, Iran, and Spain
3. To which regions did Islam spread mainly as a result of trade and travel
4. How might laws tolerating other religions have affected the spread of Islam among the population
5. Construct a simple time line tracing the spread of Islam using the dates in the text above.
6. Locate the regions mentioned in the text on a map, and make labels showing the dates when 1) Islam was introduced there and 2) when it embraced a majority of the population. Compare your map with Student Handout 2.3 map.
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Student Handout Chronology of the Spread of Islam
Beginning more than 1400 years ago, Islam has spread from the small trading town of Makkah on the Arabian Peninsula to become a world religion practiced on every continent. Like other world religions, Islam has been spreading ever since its origin, both through migration of Muslims to new places, and by individuals who have accepted Islam as their religion, having chosen to convert from other religions. During the first century after Muhammad began preaching, rapid expansion of the territory under Muslim rule took place as a result of military campaigns. This territory did not instantly become Islamic" meaning that most people rapidly became Muslims. Rather, the spread of Islam among the population took centuries, even in the regions conquered in the seventh century CE. The following chronology marks dates when various regions were first introduced to Islam. It also gives the dates when Muslims probably became a majority of the population in those regions. The timeline also records trends in cultural and religious influence by both Muslims and non-Muslims which affected the spread of Islam.
622 Muhammad and the Muslims migrated from Makkah to Madinah at the invitation of the Madinans. Muhammad became the city’s leader, and the first Muslim community was established.
630 Makkah surrendered to the Muslim force, placing the city under Muslim rule. Many members of Quraysh accepted Islam shortly after.
632 Muhammad died, leaving much of the Arabian Peninsula under Muslim rule.
634-650 Muslim armies defeated Byzantine and Persian imperial armies, bringing Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Iran under Muslim rule, including the cities of Jerusalem, Damascus, and Alexandria.
711-715 Spain, Turkistan and Sind (northern India) were brought under Muslim rules Muslim soldiers settled in Chang’an (Xian, the largest city in China. Muslim merchants also visited and settled in southern Chinese ports. c. 800-850 Islam became the faith of the majority of people in Iran.
819 The Samanids became the first independent Muslim state in northeastern Iran and Inner Eurasia. By the s CE, Islam became the majority religion in that region. c. 850-900 Islam became the majority religion in Iraq, Egypt and Tunisia.
7
th
Century CE
8
th
Century CE
9
th
Century CE
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24 c. 940-1000 Islam became the majority religion in Muslim-ruled parts of the Iberian Peninsula (today’s Spain and Portugal.
1099-1187 Western European Crusader armies held Jerusalem.
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th c Muslim traders in West Africa began to spread Islam. Muslims settled in the Champa region of Vietnam and introduced Islams The Almoravids, a Muslim Berber ruling group, spread Islam in Mauritania and other parts of West Africa. They campaigned against the
Soninke kings of Ghana. s The Almoravids ruled in North Africa and Muslim Spain (al-
Andalus). The empire of Ghana weakened. c Islam became the majority religion in Syria.
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th c. Ghana’s empire collapsed and Mali rose. Rulers of Kanem, near Lake Chad, became Muslim. End 13
th c. Muslims settled in northern ports of Sumatra (today’s Indonesia. Muslim traders had close trade and cultural contacts in the trading cities on the east Indian coast, such as Gujarat. ca Islam became the majority faith in Anatolia (part of today’s Turkey.
1295 the Ilkhan ruler Ghazan "the Reformer" was the first Mongol leader to become Muslim, along with most of his Mongol generals.
1324-25 Mansa Musa, king of Mali, made the pilgrimage journey to
Makkah, strengthening Mali’s links with Islam.
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th c. Mali, Gao, and Timbuktu, cities on the Niger River in west Africa became important centers of Muslim trade and scholarship
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th c. A ruler of Malacca converted to Islam, while that port city was becoming an important stop on the China-Indian Ocean trade routes. From Malacca, Islamic influence spread in the Malay peninsula and nearby islands.
1453 Ottoman forces conquered the city of Constantinople, ending the Byzantine Empire.
1085-1492 Spanish Christian forces carried out Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula.
1495 Muslims and Jews were expelled from Spain, while others were forced to convert to Christianity.
Sources for the Chronology Richard W. Bulliet, Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1979); Khalid Y. Blankinship, "Politics, Law and the Military" in S. L. Douglass, ed, World Eras Rise and
10
th
– 12
th
Centuries CE
13
th
– 14
th
Centuries CE
15
th
Century CE
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Spread of Islam, 622-1500 (Farmington Hills, MI Gale Group, 2002), 230-232; Marshall GS. Hodgson, The
Venture of Islam, vols. 1-2 (Chicago University of Chicago Press, 1974); Francis Robinson, ed. Atlas of the Islamic
World Since 1500 (New York Facts on File, 1982).
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Student Handout Map of Expansion of Islam
Map from Francis Robinson, ed. The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Islamic World
(Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996), 47.
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Student Handout Graphing Rates of Conversion to Islam by Region
The spread of Islam during the medieval period is difficult for historians to describe because there is alack of population data fora period so long ago. Historians have a lot of evidence that Islam was spreading, but this evidence is hard to quantify. For example, there is ample evidence in literary works and government documents that the Arabic language was spreading, and the number of mosques built during those periods was clearly rising. Literature shows that many writers were concerned with Islamic topics, and chronicles of political history describe issues affecting their Muslim subjects. But determining how rapidly or slowly Islam was spreading and when a majority of the population indifferent regions had accepted Islam has been a mystery.
Creative Historical Thinking. The historian Richard W. Bulliet made a pioneering effort to measure the spread of Islam by making creative use of an important Arabic literary source, the biographical dictionary. Like today’s Who’s Who of prominent Americans, these dictionaries were produced in Muslim regions from a very early period. Compilers of biographical dictionaries collected information about prominent individuals in many walks of life, such as important religious scholars, government officials, judges, poets, and teachers of the Traditions of the Prophet (hadith). Biographical dictionaries recorded prominent citizens of a particular city, those who died during the reign of particular rulers or dynasties, or famous individuals in a particular profession. Some of the biographers compiled dictionaries from earlier collections of biographies. Taken together, these sources exist for many regions and provide a wide variety of information on thousands of individuals over centuries.
What’s Ina Name? By studying the biographical data, Bulliet developed a theory showing how rapidly Islam spread in various regions between the sixth and thirteenth centuries. To gather information on conversion to Islam by prominent individuals and families, he took advantage of the traditional Arab practice of naming people. A person might be named, for example, Abdullah al-Dimashqi. Abdullah was his given name, and his family name reveals that he was from Damascus. A name also typically included the fathers, grandfather’s and even great grandfather’s name to identify the family. For example, a biographical dictionary would list a name like Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Sulaiman ibn Yaqub al-Dimashqi. (“Ibn” means son of) Each person’s biographical entry might include several generations. In Muslim tradition naming a child is very important, and parents are encouraged to give children good names to live up to. Popular names come from the Qur’an, or from prophets, or from important companions of the Prophet Muhammad.
Bulliet noticed that the chains of names often included non-Arab, pre-Islamic names. If the great- great grandfather of an individual carried the Persian name Cyrus, for example, that name pointed to the generation in which the person’s family had first converted to Islam. Hundreds of biographical entries show a similar pattern of naming and often describe in the entry how that person converted. By figuring out approximately how many years passed between the conversion of those ancestors and the deaths of individuals listed in the dictionary, Bulliet could plot conversions to Islam in various places. These dictionaries, taken together, provided a data sample made up of thousands of names over many centuries, ranging across major Muslim regions such as Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Muslim Spain.
How People Adopt New Ideas. Using a technique from modern scientific data analysis, Bulliet set out to find meaningful patterns in the information on conversion to Islam. He learned about a type of graph used to analyze how human populations adopt technological innovations. For
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28 example, when microwave ovens were invented and marketed for the first time, not many people used them. Then advertising in trade shows and magazines and on radio and television made more people aware of these appliances. Gradually, more people tried the new technology. Some of the early users liked their ovens and told their neighbors. Microwaves became easier to use, and more people saw their advantages. As the number of people who owned them increased, products like microwavable snacks and dinners appeared with cookbooks full of microwave recipes. The number of microwave purchases started to increase rapidly, the price went down, and competing models appeared everywhere. Today, microwave ovens are standard in nearly every household and business in the US. Sure, a few people suspect that nuking their food is unhealthy, and may never buy an oven. But the process of adopting microwaves in the US is complete. The graph for adoption of anew technology looks like an “S-curve.”
*
The curve starts out flat, like the bottom of a hill. The risk-takers who first adopt something new are called Early Adopters As more and more people hear about anew idea and buy into it, the bandwagon effect kicks in, and the curve rises more steeply. Early and Late Majorities are the people who hop on the bandwagon until 50 percent of the people who will use the new technology is reached and exceeded. Then the market of potential users gets saturated, the pace of adoption slows down, and the curve flattens out. At that point most people already use the new technology, and overtime even some Laggards join in, waiting until everybody else already done so. Some people never adopt the technology at all. This model could demonstrate the spread of personal computers, for example, or use of email and the Internet between the s, when a few specialists used it, to today, when people allover the world communicate online.
Applying the Model to Religious Conversion. Bulliet recognized that individuals in the biographical dictionaries made up a population set similar to people adopting anew idea or product. Conversion is asocial process in which people gain information about anew faith, at some point adopt that faith, and begin to live by its practices. They also share information with others. They may migrate to anew place and become exposed to the new ideas. The story of Muhammad and the Muslim community showed that at first a very small number believed in his teaching, and they suffered as a minority. As the faith became more prominent and successful, numbers increased rapidly. By the time of Muhammad’s death, much of Arabia had adopted Islam. The story in other regions might not be as dramatic or rapid, but still might follow a similar pattern. For Bulliet, preparing and analyzing the data involved many decisions and careful guesses in some cases. When he wrote his book, he laid out these problems, such as finding the average length of a generation between an individual, his father, and grandfathers, and dating the various entries accurately on the timeline. In order to see how a creative historian works, it is worthwhile to read his book.
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29 The graph on the next page summarizes some of Bulliet’s findings about conversion to Islam in five major regions Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Spain, between 646 and 1293 CE, that is, the first six centuries after Muhammad’s death. It is clear that the data for conversion to Islam fit the
S-curve model. Of course, historians still test these ideas and contribute research on the problem. Having a better idea of how and when Islam spread in these regions helps historians better understand many other events in Muslim history, and compare the spread of Islam with other religions in world history.
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Spread of Islam in Different Regions by Conversions over Time

AH = Anno Hijri (Muslim calendar) dates CE = Common Era dates Iran Iraq Syria Egypt & Tunisia Spain AH CE Percent of Muslim converts
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World History for Us All Big Era 5.3– Landscape/Close-Up Unit http://worldhistoryforusall.sdsu.edu/
Page Study Questions
1. What kind of historical source provided data for the graph How did this source provide clues about when people converted to Islam
2. What is the connection between microwave ovens and medieval Muslims
3. Using the graph key, identify each colored line. Which Muslim region experienced the earliest wave of conversions to Islam Which region was the latest in time Which regions experienced a parallel process of conversions to Islam
4. During the Umayyad dynasty, was there a Muslim majority population in any of the regions shown
5. In 750, when the Abbasid dynasty came to power, what percentage of Muslim conversions in Iran and Iraq had, according to Bulliet’s data, taken place How does this data lineup with the idea that large numbers of non-Arab converts to Islam contributed to the Abbasid victory
6. Why do you think the conversion process happened later in Spain than in Egypt or Syria What percentage of conversions had probably taken place by 1085, when the city of Toledo fell to the Christian forces What might have happened to the rate of conversion to Islam in Toledo after 1085?
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Student Handout Muslim Biographical Dictionary Entry
Abu Taiba Isa ibn Sulaiman al Darimi al Jurjani. He was one of the religious scholars and ascetics. He recited hadith from Kurz ibn Wabra, Jaafar ibn Muhammad, Sulaiman al A’mash, and others. His two sons Ahmad and Abd al-Wasi recited hadith from him, ad did Saad ibn Said and others. His mosque was inside the walled inner city on the street named for Abd al-Wasi ibn
Abi Taiba, his son. His house was beside his mosque. He had manifest benefices in the form of estates and lands. He established charitable trusts which are known by his name down to the present day, on behalf of his children, his grandchildren, and his relations in Juzjanan in a town known as Asburqan. . . . His grave is beside the Taifur canal at the edge of Sulaiman-abadh cemetery. . . . The story of Dinar, the grandfather of Abu Taiba, is that he was a rural landowner from Marv. He was taken prisoner during the raid on Khurasan of Said ibn Uthman ibn Affan and fell into the part of the booty that went to a man name Jafar ibn Khirfash. . . . He lived with him fora time, and then Jafar manumitted him. Jafar died without any heir other than Dinar. So Dinar took possession of Jafar’s wealth. Then he married, and a son Sulaiman, the father of Abu
Taiba Isa, was born to him. From the Persian biographical dictionary entitled Ta’rikh Jurjan History of Gorgan] quoted in Richard W. Bulliet, Islam: The View from the Edge (Columbia UP, 1994), 45-47.
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Lesson 3
The Impact of Islam in Afroeurasia, 632-1000 CE
Objectives:
Students will be able to
• Locate important cities in Muslim regions during the period before 1000 CE
• Evaluate the growth of cities as a factor in the expansion of Muslim rule and spread of Islam
• Assess the impact of urbanization in Muslim regions on change in Afroeurasia
• Identify social, economic, political, and cultural aspects of the impact of Islam in
Afroeurasia.
Procedure:
1. Introduce Student Handout 3.1 and draw students attention to the two prominent historians statements about the cumulative impact of the spread of Islam and its political, economic, and cultural dominance in Afroeurasia during the period from 632-1000 CE and beyond. Have students read the excerpts and make notes by folding a sheet of notebook paper in quarters, drawing lines along the folds, and using both sides to complete the resulting eight boxes. Write a heading at the top of each box that reflects a realm of activity in which Islam had some impact, and quote segments from the two excerpts in support of that type of impact. After using this organizer to read the excerpts, debrief and discuss how such influences were manifested during the period. Compare with other societies and periods in world history. Examples of such headings are

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