The Islamic empire started in the year 610 and has expanded in area and knowledge ever since. The Islamic empire is one of the most famous and most talked about empires and religions in the world due to the many things it has influenced in the modern-day era. It is one of the largest religions in the world with believers all over the globe. This essay explains how Islam spread, how they improved their understanding of the world and had an empire of loyal followers.
The early Islamic Empire expanded because they had a very strong and loyal army. Once they conquered a place they also respected their traditions and could negotiate for peace. As seen in a map of Umayyad Caliphate, a strong army helped the Muslims conquer large areas of Land. However, according to historian Fred Donner, the reason the Muslim army was so strong is that the soldiers received gifts in exchange for loyalty.1 In the 800’s CE historian Al-Biladuri wrote a book called “The Battle of Yarmuk (636) and After”. He described how the Greeks and their followers were tied together by chains so that none of them would run away.2 After conquering Spain, The Treaty of Tudmir (713 CE) was made which describes the conditions of peace. It states that as long as they don’t shelter fugitives, encourage a protected person to fear them nor conceal news of their enemies they will respect the people of Spain and their traditions. The people won’t be forced to convert to Islam and no one will be hurt.3 This shows that they used more than one method in order to ensure that the Islamic Empire expanded.
The early Islamic Empire developed their knowledge by traveling to places around the world and learning and improving their methods. A book on medicine written by Avicenna, born in 980, was used by doctors in Europe until the 17th century.4 Surgery was also vastly improved; instead of cutting out people’s brain and rubbing it with salt saying, “The devil has got into her brain”, they were able to perform intricate surgery.5 They could operate on eyes to remove cataracts and removed cancers. The could even amputate arms and legs. They also discovered that opium made patients sleep so they used during surgeries when patients were in pain.6 After a trip to India, they discovered a new system of numbers. Before that most people used Roman numerals to count things, however this was not a good system.7 This new system helped farmers count their crops and made it easier for traders to work with money. The Arabs were also very interested in Astronomy. It helped travelers know which direction to go in as well as to know where Mecca was in order for them to practice their daily prayers.8 The Muslims also improved a Greek invention called the Astrolabe, which was used to measure the height and position of the starts and to know what time it was.9 Travelers found the Astrolabe extremely useful as they could use the stars as a map so they knew exactly where to go. Using the Astrolabe they were able to conquer Northern parts of Africa and expand their empire.
The Islamic Empire was an empire of faith. The Muslim religion began when a man named Muhammad received messages from God whilst he was meditating. These messages were then collected in a book called the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. The Qur’an states that there is only one God, Allah. However, many people didn’t like Muhammad’s ways. In 630 there was a war, which after several years Muhammad won and the Islam would spread across Arabia.10 The Sunnah is the written record of Muhammad’s thoughts and actions, which describes how Muhammad lived and the expected way of life for Muslims.11 According to Muhammad, people should treat others with respect, generosity. The Sunnah also expresses that it’s bad to owe someone money and that people should listen to their leaders.12 If that wasn’t enough for the followers of Islam to completely obey and have faith in their religion, the Qur’an says that those who obey God will granted life in paradise in the afterlife.13 On the other hand, those who have not obeyed God will suffer.14 This guarantees the faith of Muslim soldiers and makes their army extremely strong.
The early Islamic Empire was one of the most successful empires to have existed. They developed numerous methods: A book they wrote on medicine in the very early eleventh century was still used in Europe until the 17th century and Muslim doctors could perform intricate surgery. At the same time, the early Islamic Empire was expanding with the help of their fearless and faithful army. In this way, Islam is an empire of faith and science.
1 Donner, F. (1981). The Early Islamic Conquests. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
2 Al-Biladuri: The Battle of Yarmuk (636) and After. In Internet Medieval Source Book. Fordham University
3 The Treaty of Tudmir. In Olivia Remie Constable (Ed.), Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources p. 37-38. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.
4 Child, John. 1995. The Rise of Islam. Peter Bedrick Books. p. 30
5 A Muslim doctor describing European medical treatment during the Crusades. Dated about 1150.
6 Child. p. 31
7 Ibid. p. 32
9 Ibid. p. 33
10 Shek, Stanley M. Burstein Richard. 2012. World History. Orlando, Florida: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. p. 357
11 Ibid. p. 360
12 Ibid. p. 360-361
13 Ibid. p. 358