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UNIT 7: The Spread of Religions

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Islam

Six centuries after the beginning of Christianity, Islam began in the Arabian Peninsula. This segment looks at the rapid spread of Islam in Eurasia and Africa in the centuries following its origins, and the reasons diverse peoples found the new faith so appealing.

Islam began in 610 CE when Muhammad, an Arabian merchant, received a vision commanding him to establish a godly community, to preach morality, and to warn people that Judgment Day was at hand. These teachings were gathered in the Qur'an, the Muslim holy book, which provided guidance for both individuals and communities. In just a few years after Muhammad's death, Muslim armies had conquered a huge empire in Eurasia and North Africa.

While the majority of the empire's inhabitants did not immediately convert to Islam, these areas became more uniformly Muslim by the twelfth century CE. Muslims also spread the faith to new areas by trade and missionaries. Missionaries — known as Sufis — spread out along trade routes, adapted the message of Islam to local contexts, and brought a spiritual, mystic interpretation of Islam to ordinary people. As in the case of Buddhism, Muslim pilgrims who visited the holy sites of Islam brought renewed faith, teachings, and texts back to their homelands, aiding the spread of the faith among their own peoples.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Jane I. Smith, SUFI MYSTIC MEDITATING IN THE WILD (n.d.). Courtesy of the American Theological Library Association.

Anonymous Safavid, PROPHET MUHAMMAD AT THE KA'BA WITH ANGEL SEIZING IDOLS (1600). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Kathleen Cohen.


Hot Pepper Studios, created for Bridging World History, THE SPREAD OF ISLAM (2004). Courtesy of Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Amr Nabil, GRAND MOSQUE IN MECCA (2001). Courtesy of AP/ Wide World Photos.



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