The expansion in Islam was a long process, occurring through centuries. The conquests were led in the name of the Prophet Muhammad. However, these victories were also the expression of the triumph of a people over the first Empires dominating the Middle East. From the seventh century and the rise of Islam, to the nineteenth century, the "Arab world" or "Islamic World" was one of the major cultural regions. These expressions refer to the Muslim civilization, sharing an Islamic identity which is a "vast network of interacting people and groups, with considerable diversity and some sufficiently common elements so that it is possible to speak of these diverse communities as being part of the Islamic world" . For many westerners, this conception of the Middle East is really new. As Julia Clancy-Smith points out, the West has to "de-exoticize" its perception of the Eastern culture and history . The issue is to understand how it has been possible for this culture to endure such a long time? To answer this question, this paper will further examine the idea announced by Voll in the previous quotation.
[...] However, according to some people, the twentieth century is the one of the rebirth of Islam, as it is nowadays one of the major religions practiced in the world and present in very different places such as Africa, India, Middle East and Europe. Works Cited - Clancey-Smith, Julia, Middle East in the World History”, World History Bulletin 9 (Fall/winter 1992-1993): 30-34; reprinted in Dunn ed., The New World History, 293-300. - Dunn, Ross E. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: a Muslim Traveller of the 14th Century. [...]
[...] During his life, the Prophet was able to rally a great diversity of people and populations around him. From the very early time, the diversity was prevailing among the Muslim community. After his death, in the name of Islam, people started to build a new Empire, the Caliphate formed of most of the territory of the previous Byzantine Empire, parts of central Asia and Spain. The all Sasanian territory was also conquered. Islamic rulers decided to follow the Sasanian model, tolerating religious diversity. [...]
[...] From the seventh century to the nineteenth, the Islamic World was a main cultural region in the world, by creating a community sharing the same values and thus allowing the emergence of a prosper culture, capable to resist to various threats Which events could have threatened the Islamic world? During these twelve centuries, the Islamic World could have been weakened by a lot of horrendous events. As Ross E. Dunn enounces it terrible Mongol conquests of Persia and Syria that occurred between 1219 and 1258 appeared to Muslim to threaten the very existence of Islamic civilization”. [...]
[...] For instance, Cairo's population was in the middle of the fifteenth century a half of what it was a century earlier. Contrary to Christian people, Muslim people did not think it was a punishment of God for all the sins committed by human beings. Muslims agreed on the idea that it was the work of God, but just as another manifestation of His will. That is why we can imagine why the Muslim society went through this catastrophe, because the Umma did not consider it as a calamity. [...]
[...] However, the invaders were themselves Muslim, converted from almost a century, but it did not stop them from participating “eagerly in the violent dismembering of Persian society, ridding the land and the farms, crops, irrigation works, and cities that obstructed the free movement of their herds”. Paradoxically, Emperor Ghazan was the first ruler to proclaim Islam as a State religion, ousting other religions from the territory. But it was not a Islam, varying from Sunni Islam to Shi. Many agree on the fact that Islam was taken as official religion only for opportunist reasons. [...]
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