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Islam has had touched many different cultures and influenced those and had helped development in the Mediterranean world and beyond. The explanation of how Islam influenced others is mentioned in fine detail in Peter Stearns’ book “Cultures in Motion: Mapping Key Contacts and Their Imprints in World History”. The ideas of Islam was something that appealed to many different people and cultures in several ways, and it brought about changes to those they made contact with. Islam’s spread was increased due to the multitude of areas nearby. One of the ways that Islam was spread in Europe, was through military conquest that their ideas were spread out and people took the ideas that they liked. These military conquests did not happen in order to convert others to their beliefs, but rather to protect their own faith that was being targeted. Due to the Middle East being the center of trade with areas such as Asia, Africa, and Europe, many of Islam’s ideas have spread to these areas through the method of trade. Islam spread into Africa by two ways. One way was the method that Islam was spread the most, by trade. The other way was through the influence Islam had on the ruler, Mansa Musa is a good example of this. He had become famous for his pilgrimage to Mecca where he displayed his wealth. Asia was another territory that had contact with those of Islam. A good majority of Asia was Buddhist, but Islam was one of the few to reach deep enough into the area to make an impact. Islam spread in Asia in two ways that differ from those ways used in other areas. The first way was through force. The second was was through persuasion. Islam also proceeded into Southeast Asia. This was one of the last areas to be impacted by Islam. Contact was made through trade ships from Arabia. This had two effects, one was their influence and impact on the culture. The other was placing a good amount of people that are still there even today. The influence and impact the ideas and beliefs from Islam were so great that even now “Indonesia is one of the largest Muslim nation in the world today” (Cultures in Motion: Mapping Key Contacts and Their Imprints in World History). India was also another area that was touched by the ideas of Islam. The beliefs were very different where those in India believed in the religion of Hinduism and the religious ideas that Islam had countered what Hindus believed in. Rather than take in the religious ideas, those who were in India shared their knowledge of science and math with those who were Muslim. The influence of Islam in India was not one based on beliefs but rather one that was based on logical and rational academical knowledge.
In the textbook “Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past”, Jerry Bentley and Herbert Ziegler talk about this time period in Asia as a time of major expansion. The authors talk about the rise of the Yuan dynasty, and several other factors that also show this time of expansions and change. Not only are the rise of the Mongols talked about, but other smaller and lesser known empires as well. The Yuan dynasty was established by Kublai Khan as he made himself emperor. He then expanded his reign in to Persia during his time of rule. As nomadic people, trade was something very important and crucial as trade routes were secured during this dynasty. As pointed out many times, through trade are ideas spread to new places and this was just another way that Islam was brought in to this nation. Unfortunately for the Mongols, their reign did not last forever and they ran into political problems. Internal problems were not the only problems they faced, they also had to go through serious illnesses such as the bubonic plague. With these factors all in play at once, the Yuan dynasty and the rule of the Mongols fell. After the Mongols, another nomadic empire rose up, the Tamerlane empire. Although it was not as influential as the Yuan dynasty, it gave way to the Ottoman Empire which was a significant part of history.
There were many positive consequences of this expansion. Many of these positive consequences are talked about in Jonathan Lyons’ book “The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization”. One of those consequences being that ideas spread, and cultures found new things to adapt and make their own. Diversity was something that began to grow as well. Not only were the religious ideas spreading, but also the fundamentals of subjects such as mathematics, basic ideas of science, and better advanced ways to practice medicine. These helped to advance the world and to modernize what was already known. Of course, with every thing good there has to be some thing bad as there were several negative consequences to the expansion. With the rise of Islam in Europe, other religions came to fear that their own ideas and original beliefs would be ignored and eventually. Christianity is a prime example of this hate and fear towards Islam and Muslims. Then what followed was that European crusades were started in attempt to drive out Muslims from what was considered to be the Holy Lands. Overall the spread of Islam and influence through trade is an interesting one. It shows how far ideas travel and how different people and cultures take what they want to improve what they already have.
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