Traditions and Encounters, AP Edition (Bentley), 5th Edition

Chapter 13: The Expansive Realm of Islam


The religion of Islam emerged on the Arabian peninsula in the seventh century C.E. as a result of the vision and the teachings of Muhammad. His message attracted a rapidly expanding circle of devout believers, known as Muslims. After Muhammad's death, Arab conquerors spread the word of Islam throughout a vast territory extending from the Indus River to the Iberian peninsula within one century. This rapid expansion of Islam contributed to the development of a massive trade and communication network in which goods and ideas spread freely. The realm of Islam became one of the most prosperous and cosmopolitan societies of the postclassical world. This new society was characterized by the following:

  • Strong commitment to the monotheistic belief system, resting on the Five Pillars of Islam, first articulated by Muhammad and later elaborated on by scholars and mystics
  • The development of overland and maritime trade and communication routes that facilitated the spread of new crops, trade goods, and ideas, from improved techniques in agriculture to the writings of the classical Greek philosophers
  • Engagement with and sometimes adoption of various cultural traditions encountered by the far-flung realm and its trade contacts, leading to elements of Persian, Indian, Christian, and Greek cultures finding their place into Islamic society and thought
Traditions & Encounters, 5e
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