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Influence Silk Road on Spread of Islam

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 Islam, the popular and influential communal religion was believed to have begun in Mecca and Medina around the beginning of the 7th century, approximately 600 years after Christianity was founded. Islam stands to yield many believers, which meant that there had to be some way for Islam to spread and grow. Islam accumulated a following rapidly throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, and afterward throughout the world through many means of spread, most notably trade. To a large extent, trade promoted the spread of Islam due to the development of capitalism, Silk Road trade, interaction with African societies, and trade of the Quran.

To a large extent, trade promoted the spread of Islam due to the development of capitalism. According to Benedikt Koehler, the spread of Islam originated through the birth of capitalism through trade and commerce in Mecca. It was thought by many ideologists that the rise of Christianity and its people upsurged the idea of capitalism, however, it has been proven that Islam had established capitalism, through extensive trade (caused by jobless farmers) and commerce. It can be inferred that the creation of capitalism in pre-Islamic times was driven by trade and commerce, meaning that Islam could begin to spread throughout the Middle East easily. Since Mecca was thought to be an important center for trade, it can be reasoned that trade was intertwined with Islamic beliefs as well. This belief was strengthened because, through trade, individuals were constantly exposed to the ideas, teachings, and benefits of Islam and through the spread of capitalism and trade, meaning both subjects mutually benefited each other. This meant that trade, commerce, and the birth of capitalism accelerated the notions of Islam in the Middle East, thus promoting the spread of Islam.

To a large extent, trade promoted the spread of Islam through the creation of the Silk Road. In early trading, there was an abundance of activity occurring between different civilizations through trade. For example, there was extensive trading between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. In addition, there was also trade between Arabs and Africa. The Silk Road was known by most as one of the most important trading routes spanning from Europe to Asia, and afar. Due to this extensive trade route, it can be inferred that there were many ethnic groups and religious crusades that traveled along the routes of the Silk Road. With many Islamic and Muslim traders traveling, there was bound to be a spread of Islam, their culture, and their beliefs. This meant trade, attributing to the Silk Road and the spread of any religion, to a large extent, assisted in the spread of many religions, most prominently including Islam, throughout the route of the Silk Road.

Additionally, according to the Cornell University Library of Asian studies, there were many cultural influences that were spread along the Silk Road, such as influences from China, which eventually translated to Islamic culture. Some examples include abstract art, human figures, murals, technologies, and more. The extensive influences throughout many cultures were because of the vast range of the silk road. There were many new art forms and technologies that transferred into Islam due to cultural trade. Since Islam had developed such advanced and dazzling art forms and technology, it was natural that many traders and citizens of large developing cities would be attracted to the association of Islam. Since the expression of individuals was evident, that meant that trade of cultural influences throughout Islam, Europe, and Asia vastly promoted the spread of Islam through trade.

To a large extent, trade promoted the spread of Islam through the interactions of African societies. One of the major contributions in Africa’s ability to trade was the large bodies of water surrounding the continent. These large bodies of water provided a breeding ground for some plagues and diseases, however, the growth of crops and the spread of religion were overpoweringly evident. This meant that when the expansion of Islam was spreading throughout Europe and Asia, large (and small) bodies of water provided many opportunities for Muslims, converts, and even slaves to learn about Islam throughout Africa. Many Islamic beliefs and intentions were easily spread throughout Africa, which was made possible through water, meaning to a large extent, trade promoted the spread of Islam throughout Africa.

To a large extent, trade promoted the spread of Islam through the trade of the Quran, the religious text of Islam. The Quran, written originally by Mohammed and other religious personas, is a scared Islamic book, to which all Muslims must believe in. One of the most noteworthy quotes in the book states that ‘God is the truth… and he gives life to the dead… He is capable of everything’. The increasing demand of trade also meant that there were also developments of trade routes such as the Silk Road, seas, rivers, and even the creation of cities, such as Venice, Florence, and Genoa. It can be surely concluded that the Quran was brought with the Muslims who were pilgrimaging in order to attract new converts and individuals. This essentially meant that the teachings, beliefs, quotes, and the stories of the Quran were also passed down to the newer generation of Muslims. Using these stories and teachings, the Quran, in fact, promoted the spread of Islam, by explaining its moral teachings and accounts, therefore attracting new groups of individuals wanting to convert into Islam.

Another prominent example of the trade of the Quran was that Muhammed, a prophet and founder of Islam, promises its believers that all will be accommodated when they pass with an afterlife: the Gardens of Eden. The Gardens of Eden is known as a green paradise surrounded by trees and animals, where there are many opportunities to relax. Due to the large-scale trading of the Quran and its promises of an afterlife, there was bound to be an abundance of converts. This promise gives a believer of Islam something to look forward to after they die, somewhere to rest, and somewhere where all their worries are non-present. With such a persuasive promise, many people did indeed convert into Islam through the trade of the Quran.

While to a large extent Islam spread through trade, there were also beliefs that conquests promoted the spread of Islam as well. However, according to the conquest of Jerusalem, warfare created a vulnerable, two-sided economy. It can be inferred that due to a vulnerable economy, the trade would have been driven down, with fewer people coming in for travel and trade throughout. Fearing the demise of the economy of the Vatican, even Pope Innocent the third had to take careful precautions in their economy. While conquests led to many new individual converts, there were also considerable disadvantages to acknowledge. One example was the dwindling of trade, the economy, and capitalism which was caused by conquest. This meant that conquest most likely led to the demise of trade. Without much trade, traffic wouldn’t flow smoothly, meaning the economy would go down along with capitalism. While conquests made it easy to advertise Islam’s promise and ideals to its victims, to a larger extent, trade was essentially more important in the promotion of the spread of Islam.

In the final analysis, trade was essential for past civilizations to sustain communities for survival. Trade provided civilizations with food, supplies (such as for war), safety, and other resources, meaning that it is crucial to understand how trade has affected past history, especially religion. While there are many theories and thoughts on how Islam was spread, it is continuously proven that Islam was in fact, to a large extent, was spread through trade. 

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Influence Silk Road on Spread of Islam. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 26, 2022, from
“Influence Silk Road on Spread of Islam.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022,
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Influence Silk Road on Spread of Islam [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 24 [cited 2022 Jun 26]. Available from:
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