Spread of Islam

Figure 1.--This early Islamic image provides a highly idealized image of the Archangel Gabriel and Muhammad leading Muslim forces at battle of Badr (624 AD). Unlike most religious leaders, Mohammed was a military figure, frequently leading Muslim forces. His battle successes and willingness to destribute the spoils of war attracted Arab tribal warriors to his standard. The great Islamic conquests and Islamic outburst from Arabia took place after the death of Muhammed with the army he began to build. We are not sure when this work was painted and by whom, but we would guess it is an 8th century image. There are no images of Mohammed made during his life time. .

The Arabs spread Islam throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Iberia in an amazingly short period of time. The conquests were carried out by the sword. They began in the harsh deserts of Arabia and spread as far west as Spain and Portugal and east into Centrl Asia and the southwest Pacific. Mohammed death (632) was followed by one of the most remarkable military campaign in history. One of the fascinating aspects of Islam is how the new religion of the Arab tribes so rapidly became one of the major religios of the world and the dominant religiom from Noth Africa west to central Asia. The common concept in the Wesr is that Islam was spread by the sword. This is an important element in the success of Islam, but it is hardly the only factor. There are a range of economic and social factors which contributed to the success of Islam. The weakness of Byzantine Christianity was a major factor. As was after the conquest, the obvious economic advantages of converting. There were other factors involved. And these factors varied over time and in the different areas in which Islam became the domininant or principal religion. Another interesting question is the strength of Islam in the modern world.

Western Misconception

Many Westerners do not seem to undertand the historic spread of Islam nd probably over emphasize military conquest at the expense of other factors. A Pakistani reader writes, "Many Westerners believe that Islam was spread by the sword. This is yet another misconception amongst the non-muslims that Islam was perhaps spread by the sword and that forced conversions was a norm in Islamic countries. I would appreciate if you consider the following logic. If the Moghuls indeed forcedly converted non-muslims to Islam than why are there any Hindus living in India? You should also note that there are about a million Coptic christians living in Middle-East which means christians since generations. We know that Muslims have ruled over the Middle-East since 1400 years. How come there are any christians living in the region? Thirdly, we also know that the largest muslim populated country in the world is Indonesia. The question to ask is: which Muslim army went to Indonesia that converted the entire nation into Muslims? The same argument can be used for countries like Malaysia as well." HBC believes that our reader makes an important point, although we do not entirely agree with him. Even a basic historical survey reveals that Islam was indeed spread by the sword. It was the victories of Arab armies that brought Islam into the Middle East and North Africa, the heart of the Muslim world. Yet we would also say that military conquest was only part if the story. It is one thing to conquer a people and another matter to convert a people. Much of the population in conquered lands accepted Islam for a variety of social and economic reasons as well as the force and beauty of Isamic teachings. Forced conversions did occur, but were only part of the spread of Islam. And there were areas such as Southeast Asia where Islam was spread initially by sea-going traders.

Historic Spread of Islam

One of the fascinating aspects of Islam is indeed how the new religion of the Arab tribes so rapidly became one of the major religions of the world and the dominant religiom from North Africa west to central Asia. The Arabs when they stormed out of the Aranian deserts were a fairly small force in comparison to heavily populated, rich agricultural socities that they conquered. The common concept in the Wesr is that Islam was spread by the sword. This was indeed an important element in the success of Islam, but it is hardly the only factor. There are a range of economic and social factors which contributed to the success of Islam. But that success was phenomenal and not well understood. For Islamicists it was simple--the will of Allah. Historians attempt to be somewhat more insightful. It is in fact difficult to understand. The Arabs were small in number compared to the empires they attacked. Nor did they have a superiority in armaments. Yet they prevailed and in a very short period of time. The weakness of Byzantine Christianity was a major factor as was the wars between the Byzantines and Persians had weakened both. And both empires had enforced oppresive regimes. The Byzanties for example brutaly attempted to supress Christian sects who questioned the established Church. The Arab conquests seem remarably well planned and executed. One historian explains, “The Muslim conquests were far from being the outpouring of an unruly horde of nomads.” The Arab Bedouins were both tough and more mobile than the larger armies they confronted. They were motivated by tribal honour and the lure of booty inaddition to the fire of Islam. Part oif Mohammed's genius was a desire to end the internal tribal warfare of Arabia--the “frenetic military energies of the Bedouin”. His successors turned this energy outward toward the infidel. [Kennedy]

Islamic Conquests

The Arabs spread Islam teoughout the Middle East, North Africa and Iberia in an amazingly short period of time. The conquests were carried out by the sword. They began in the harsh deserts of Arabia and spread as far west as Spain and Portugal and east into Centrl Asia and the southwest Pacific. Mohammed death (632) was followed by one of the most remarkable military campaign in history. The Arab warriors were confronted by two emense and powerful empires (the Byzantine and Sasanian Persian). The Arabs took 8 years to conquer Syria and then 7 years to prevail in Iraq. This cut a major junk out of the Byzantine Empire. They took Egypt in only 2 years. The Moors took Spain and Portugal in only 5 years. Arabs moved into Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The conversion of the local populations is a more complex process than the conquest. Conversion was something that did not particularly interest the initial Arab warriors who more concerbned with tribute. Arab administration after the conquest was more important in the conversion process. The Arab conquerors incorporated the local populations into their new administrative class. The existing religions (Christianity in Syria and Egypt, Zoroastrianism in Persian, Hinduism and Buddhism in India were not at first persecuted other than having to pay taxes. Large-scale conversions came after te conquest, usually much later. Then there was obvious economic advantages of converting, but this war far from the only factor. And these factors varied over time and in the different areas in which Islam became the domininant or principal religion. Here is our assessment of the spread of Islam in various areas of the world.

Arabia (620s)

Islam expanded very rapidly after the death of Muhammad (632). Here Mohammed and his successors proved succesful at both military conquest of those who resisted the new Islamic community and the conversion of non-believers. Abu Bakr succeeded Mohammed and became the first Caliph. He focused on ending paganism among the Arab tribes. Under Abu, Arabia became for the first time a region controlled by a central authority, the Islamic community at Medina. Here a merchant community fired by a firece commitment to their new faith. Abu Bakr and his supporters extended their control over the Arabian peninsula and launched exploratory raids north into Byzantine Syria. The Arab warriors were in part fired by a religious commitment and the concept of jihad. Muslims are obliged by the Koran to extend the faith to non-believers as well as to defend Islam from attack. The concept of jihad as delivered in the Koran did not include agressive warfare against non-Muslims. Arab warriors did in fact wage "holy war" was who interpreted the Koran as providing them a justification as well vas the material weath to be gained by conquest. The military capability gained by uniting the Arab tribes gave the Isamic community the capabulity of enbgaging in military operations beyond small-scale raids outside the Arabian peninsula.

The Near East -- Mesopotamia and the Levant (636-38))

The spread of Islam into the wider-Middle East was made possible by Arab victories over Byzantine armies. The Byzantine Empire was the major enemey encountered by the Arans emerging from the Arabian desert. The encounter with the Byzantines was the first of many major battles between Muslims and Christians. It was Omar who acted as Calif or head of the Moslem community (634-44) that initiated the explosive expansion of the Arabs and Islam. Omar achieved the first great successes of Arab armies outside of the Arabian Peninsula. He struck north at the then expansive Eastern or Byzantine Empire ruled by the Emperor Heraclius. Omar's armies attacked Syria, seizing large areas. The Arabs at the Battle of Yarmuk (636) in Syria decisively defeated a Byzantine Army. The Arabs entered Jerusalem and finally Damascus (638). This was the beginning of a major religious shift in which Islam gradually replaced Christianity in its Middle Eastern birth place. This was possible because the Byzantine Empire was in many ways weak. The Empire was envolved with prolonged warfare with the Persian Empire to the east. It also oppresed the peasantry with heavy taxes. The Empire also supressed non-orthodox Christian teachings. As a result, opposition to Islam after the conquest was weakened by the fact that under the new Muslim rulers, taxes were less onerous and there was the opportunity for non-orthodox Chritian sects to operate. Another factor may seems to have been the appeal of Islamic theology, although is a difficult factor to assess. One convert wrote, "Islam appears to me like a perfect work of architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other, nothing lacking, with the result of an absolute balance and solid composure. Everything in the teaching and postulate of Islam is in its proper place. [Assad, p. 5.] Over time conversions developed in part because of the advantages of being a Muslim in a Muslim ruled society. Arab rulers imposed a personal tax on all non-Muslims which of course encouraged many to convert. There were forced conversions later in the Caliphate, but at first this was relatively rare. In fact the conquering Arabs were not at first anxious to convert captive populations because the tax paid ny non-believers was a lucrative source of income. Yarmuk also marked a long series of Muslim attacks on the Byzantines and other Christian kingdoms in the west and Persians in the east. This is notable because modern Islamists now call Americans and Europeans as "Crusaders" and describe the Crusades as a Christian assault on peace-loving Islam. This view of history conventiently ignores nearly four centuries of unrelenting Muslim attacks on Christian kingdoms in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

Persia (637-42)

The Arabs swept through the Holy Land and Mesopotamia, first driving back the Byzatines. Arab armies after the conquest of the Byzantine Levant turned east to Persia. The Persian Empire confronted by Arab armies had been weakened by war with the Byzantine Empire. Arab warriors, fired by Islamic fervor, smashed much larger Persian armies. The Arabs first seized Mesopotamia (modetn Iraq) from the Persians and then conquered Persia itself. Arab armies continued Omar's military campaigns. The crossed the Euphrates and attacked the Persian Sassanian Empire. Arab horsemen proved a devestatingly effective military force. Arab armies defeated much larger Sassanian armies. They entered Ctesiphon (637). This was followed by other victories. Their victory at Nahavand (642) opened the way to the Iranian plateau. Persia was incorporated into the Islamic Calipate. Our knowledge of the Arab conquest comes almost entirely from Arab accounts. As so often in the ancient world, the only surviving accouts are those of the victors. The Arab writings are often self-serving descriptions of marshal bravado. They stress the simple virtues of the pious, egalitarian Bedouin and look down on the aristocratic Persian foes often described as effeminate. At the time most in the people in the region were Christians and Zoroastrians. Islam when the Arab conquet began, developed approches for dealing with the "conquered peoples". The conquered peoples were "protected persons" only if they submitted to Islamic domination by a "Contract" (Dhimma), paid poll tax - jizya - and land tax - haraj - to their masters. Any failure to do so was the breach of contract, enabling the Muslims to kill or enslave them and confiscate their property. The cross could not be displayed in public and the people of the book had to wear special clothing or a belt. Their men were not allowed to marry Muslim women, their slaves had to be sold to a Muslim if they converted and they were not allowed to carry weapons. They had to take in Muslim travelers, especially soldiers on a campaign. This took place after a decade when Muhammad was dead and when his second successor and son-in-law Umar announced these terms to conquered Christians. The resulting inequality of rights in all domains between Muslims and dhimmis was geared to a steady erosion of the latter communities by attrition and conversion. Zoroastrianism was gradually replaced by Islam as the majority religion of the Persian people. While these provisions seem draconian, they were less rigorous at the time than the approaches taken when Christians conquered Islamic principalities. Persia was not, however, Arabized like Mesopotamia, the Levant, Egypt, North Africa, Somalia, and Sudan. At in part out of resistance to the Arabs, the Shiia sect of Islam became dominant in Persia.

Egypt (640-41)

Arab armies also brought Islam to Egypt. The Egyptian population like that of the Levant objected to Byzantine rule and the supression of non-orthodix Crustian sects. Arab armies conquered most of Egypt (640). The Arab conquest is considered the most significan event bin Egyptian history since the unification of the Two Lands (Upper and Lower Egyot) by King Menes. The Arab general Amr ibn al Aas was personally given command by Mohammed. He led the Aran army into Egypt. Amr crossed into Egypt (December 639). He led an army of about 4,000 mounted warriors. They were armed with lances, swords, and bows. Amr's immediate objective was the fortress of Babylon (Bab al Yun) opposite the island of Rawdah in the Nile River at the apex of the Delta. It proved to be the key to the Arab conquest of Egypt. Any advance up the Delta to Alexandria was risky until the fortress was first taken. Reinforcements arrived, increasing Amr's forces to between 8,000 and 12,000 men (June 640). The Arab and Byzantine armies met on the plains of Heliopolis (July 640). The Byzantine army was defeated, but not destroyed. Most of the Byzantine force managed to withdraw in good order to the fortress at Babylon. Amr besiged the fortress which fell after 6 months (April 641). Amr then led his army on to Alexandria. The city had defensive fortifications, but the governor decided to surrender rather than confront Amr's army. A treaty was negotiated (November 641). The Byzantines unsucessfully attempted unsuccessfully to retake the city 642). A key factor in the Aran victory was the Christian Copts. The Byzantines had been trying to force the Copts to accept Byzantine orthodoxy. The Arabs offered the Copts the opportunity to retain their Christian theology. Thus during the fighting, the Copts either remained neutral or actually supported the Arabs.

North Aftrica (640-741)

The conquest of Egypt (640), opened the way to North Africa. Blocked by the Sahara to the south, Arab armies spearheaded the spread of Islam by moving east along the Mediterranean coast. Arab military expeditions into North Africa were launched by local initiative from Egypt. At the same time, Muslim sea raids were conducted from Rhodes to the southern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula. After conquering Egypt, there was no strong military opposition or strong political state in the rest of North Africa to resist the Arabs. The Vandals had invaded from southern Spain and established a state centered on Carthage (430s). After destablising the Western Empire, the Vandals were defeated by Justinian and the revived Eastern of Byzantine Empire (534). The Byzantines restablished controlm of North Africa regaining control of the strategic center at Carthage. The Byzantines after the Arab victory in the Battle of Yarmuk (636) were hard pressed to defend their Empire in the Levant and were soon fifgting even in Anatolia. The Byzantines were thus in no position to resist the advance of Arab armies in their newly won North African provinces. They did attempt to defend the old imperial center at Carthage abd were aided by forces from Sicily and Visigothic Spain. The Arab armies were too powerful and the Arab General Hassan seized Carthage, the Roman imperial center (698). The notable chronicler of the Roman Empire writes, "... Africa was irrecoverably lost, the zeal and resentmentof the commander of the fauthful prepared in the Spring a more numerous armamentby sea and land; and the patrician in his turn was compelled to evacuate the post and firtifications of Carthage. A second battle was fought in the neighborhood of Utica; the Greeks [Bzantines] and Goths were again defeated; and their timely embarcation saved from the sword of Hassan ...." [Gibbon, p. 279.] The Byzantine navy was defeated in the eastern Mediterranean. The Arabs launched three major military offensives east toward whatv is modern Algeria and Morocco. At first repulsed, all of North Africa was finally in the hands of the Caliphate (709). The Arab victory was completed under Musa bin Nusayr (موسى بن نصير‎) as the governor and general of the Umayyad caliph Al-Walid I. The only exception was Ceuta at the African Pillar of Hercules. Here a Spanish Vidigothic garrison held out behind strong city walls. "... the kings of Spain were possessed of the fortress of Ceuta; one of the Columns of Hercules [the Straits of Gibraltar] ... Musa, in the pride of victory, was repulsed from the walls of Ceuta, by the vigilance and courage of Count Julian, the general of the Goths." [Gibbon, p. 280] Count Jukian's heroic defense would soon turn to treachery as he would switch his alegience to Musa, making possible the Muslim invaion of Soain. 'The Arabs not only faced the Byzantines abd Spanish in North Africa, but also the Berbers. The Berbers people were a warlike nomadic group who inhabited much of North Africa south of the settled coastal areas. While the Arabs prevailed, they alienated the Berbers as a result of the brutalities of the slave trade. The result was the great Berber rebellion (741). [Kennedy] Eventually the Berbers were throughly Islamicized.


While Arab armies rapidly conquered Byzantine territories (The Levant and Egypt), the conquest of Anatolia and Constantinople itself proved a much more protracted process. The victory of Byzantine Emperor Leo III (718) ended the rapid expansion of Arab. The Byzantines prevented the emtry of Muslim armies into Europe for centuries. Ottoman armies would eventually conquer Anatolia, but had difficulties seizing Constantinople in part because of Byzabntine naval power and the strength of the city walls and fortifications.

Western Europe: Spain and France (711-32)

A decade after smashing Byzantine power in North Africa at Carthage (698), the Arabs had not only reached the southern shores of Europe facing Gibraltar, but launched an invasion of Spain. Arab armies had defeated Byzantine armies in the East, but the Byzantines still prevented an Arab invasion of Eastern Europe. That invasion wiukld come in the West. After the conquest of North Africa, the Arabs and their Berber Allies looked across the Strait of Gibraltar at the weak Visigoth kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula. Here a small Germanic ruling class had governed since the fall of the Roman Empire. Musa bin Nusayr, the governor of Muslim North Africa, dispatched his general, Tarik, and his largely Berber army on an expedition across the Strait (711). The defection of Count Julian in Ceuta made this possible. Tarik's army consisted of Muslims of varying origins. Accounts vary. Some sources say the Moorish army was predominately Arabs, but included Berbers, Syrians, and others). Others emphasize Berber origins. The Visigothic King , Roderick, assembeled an army to repulse the Tarik who he thought commanded a small mercinary army. Tarik landed at Gibraltar, the name of which cimes from the ArabicJebel-al Tarik. Roderick proved to be an ineffectual commander. One historian describes him as 'Weighed down by a golden crown, a heavy robe, archaic jewelry, and an ivory carriage drawn by two white mules" [Fuentes, p. 51.] The weakness of the Visigithingb kingdom was displayed in Rodericks stunning defeat at Guadalete / Río Barbate, (July 19, 711). It is believed that Roderick and much of the Visigothic nobility was killed in the battle and aftermath. Tarik swept north toward Toledo, the Visigithic capital, facing no futher strong resistance. Visigothic Spain passed into history. The Moors moved through the Visigothic Kingdom (sometimes referred to as the Toulouse Kingdom) destroying any armed resistance and over the space of only a few years almost totally dominated the Peninsula. Muslim armies then ventured across the Pyrenees and established a foothold in southwest France. A moved north was defeated at the Battle of Poitiers by a Frankish army under Charles Martel near Tours (732). While only a relatively minor military scirmish, along with avictory in the East of Byzantine Emperor Leo III ended the phase of rapid advance by Arab armies. The Moors then withdrew south of the Pyrenees. They never again seriously threatened France. Charles Martel would go on to found a powerful state, the foundation of modern France. The Moors were left in control of almost the entire Iberian Pensinsula except for a few small Christian enclaves in the rugged northhwest. The cost of coqquering the rugged moutabeous area proved not worth the effort. Only slowly did the Christian Reconquista occur (8th-15th centuries).

Central Asia (7th-8th centuries)

Muslim armies after conquering Persia moved east east into Central Asia. The Arab conquest of Persia continued with the comquest of Afghanistan (651) and Transoxiana (674). The early Arab armies met their fircest opponents among Turkic tribes of Central Asia. Eventually, however, lands as far east as Turkestan and the Indus valley were under Islamic rule (8th century)

India (16th century)

Islam first arrived on the sub-continent carried by seafaring Arab merchants. This introduced Islam to coastal areas. As there were no conquerng armies and India was alreafy a sophisticated region with well-established religiogious beliefs, the level of conversions were low. Coastal India, however provided a steping stone for Arab traders to reach Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia and the East Indies (Indonesia). Islamic armies brought Islam into the sub-continent in a more orceful way, but did not for some time penetrate south of the Indus River. They did conquer the aras of modern Pakistan and this is why the north was sonheavily Islamicized. It was Mongol warriors in the 16th century that brought Islam to the rest of modern India. While the Mongol outburst of the 13th century spared the sub-continent, a later Mongol invasion suceededed in overwealing India. Baber or Zahir ud-Din Mohammed (1483-1530), a descendents of Genghis Kahn and Tamerlanre, was a child warrior King at age 11. He began raids into India for booty (1519-24). He defeated Ibrahim Lodi, the last Sultan of Delhi, at the First Battle of Panipat. He took both Delhi and Agra (1526). Baber founded the Moguhl Empire. He and subsequent Moguhl emperors promoted Islam, some with considerable tolerance others with intolerence and forced conversions.


The Ottoman Empire had shielded the Balkans from the force of Arab armies. Ottoman Armies began the advance in Europe and it was Ottoman military victories that carried Islam to the Balkan Peninsula. The Ottoman conquest began before the fall of Contantonople and intesified after the city fell (1453). The Christian population of the Balkans, however, generally resisted conversion, although there were converts, especially in what is now Albania amd Bosnia.

Southeast Asia (Indonesia/Malaya)

Islam brought by Arab traders from centers in coastal India began to reach modern Malaya and Indonesia. The Arabs did not politically control coastal India, but India was an open society and the Arab traders were allowed to operate there. Some of the Arab traders and seafarers sought markets further east. They became frequent visitors to trading centers throughout Southeast Asia. They were the first to introduce Islam. Their purpose was trade, but they brought their religion with them. Indian traders brought Hinduism and Nuddhism with them. The areas was an important part of the Euroasian trading complex. Chinese traders could obtain Indian goods and Indian and Arab traders could obtain Chinese goods. The East Indies did not like China and Indias produce much in the way of trade goods, but they did have spices (cloves, nutmeg, and mace) and aromatic woods . Trading centers developed at ports along the Malayan peninsula. Trading occurred here because the Straits of Malaca had the effect of channeling traders in this area. Chinese porcelins and silks arrived from the north. East Asian vessels to Arab or Indian ships brought from India (and even Europe). This trade had developed well before the Arab outburst, but with the rise of Islam, Arab traders who controlled access to Europe and the Indian Ocean seaways became very important. Traders at the time needed to be armed. This and the fact that the people of the Malaysian Peninsulas and the East Indies proviuded an opening for Arab traders to established armed bases. The fact that the Arab traders over time came to control the coastal trade betweem the East Indies and the sub-continent allowed them over time to establish Muslim principalities in Java, Sumatra and mainland Malaysia. Over time Islamic influences began to be accepted by people in the interior as well. Thus Islam curiously became well-established in the West Indies well before it became a forece on the sub-continent.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Arab traders brought Islam to East Africa soon after the success of the religion in Arabia. Islam did not, however, penertate beyond coastal trading settlements. The Sudan and Somaliland were gradually both Arabized and Islamized, primarily through the influence of Arab traders. Ethiopia became increasingly isolated from European Christendom. At a much slower pace Islam entered West Africa. Here the Sahara was a najor barrier. Rather than maritime tradersas in East Africa, however, it was Arab merchants traveling with camel caravans that crossed the Sahara. For an extended period, slaves flowed south, but Islam did not flow south. A factor at first was thatthe Berbers in the Magreb resisted Islam. Muslim sultanates were eventually established in trading centers like Mali and Timbuctu in the West and Harar in the East. These trading centers also became important centers of Islamic learning. Unlike universities developing in Europe, these universities never expanded the curriculum to secular made the transition to secular subjects. The Malian Empire was the first major Islamic state in Werst Africa south of the Sahara (13th century).

Modern World

Another interesting question is the strength of Islam in the modern world. A Pakistani reader writes, "We also know that Islam is growing exponentially by each following year throughout the word. We know that Islam is growing rapidly in America, in Britain, and in other western countries. This has only increased many-folds-over since 9/11! Which Muslim is forcedly converting these Americans and Britishers to the religion of Islam? This is infact a miracle how Islam while on one hand is being negatively portrayed by the media is attracting so many people into its fold! If you ask me my dear friend what is the reason for this phenomenal success, I'd say: 'The West is embracing Islam simply because Islam has the solutions to the problems of mankind.' The greatest of problem has been about the right concept of God. Islam simplifies this concept into one single statement: 'There is no god but Allah who alone is worthy of all worship and all praise and all thanks and that Muhammad is His Last Messenger/Prophet.' You have acknowledged this fact on your own website by saying: 'While Christian Europe fell into the dark ages and intolerance prevailed, Islam developed a rich often tolerant society... for other civilizations and religions, especially People of the Book... This leads to the question of whether democracy and Islam are comaptible. This is a topic that we are not very familiar with and welcome reader comments and insights.'" Here we would disagree with our Pakistani reader. We are not sure to what extent Islam is growing in Asia and Africa. There seems to be some growth in Africa, but we know little about this. We see little growth of Islam in Latin America. Nor do we see any growth of Islam in America and Europe, expept among immigrant populations such as the Pakistanis (Britain), Algerians (France), and Turks (Germany). Very few Americans and Europeans have converted to Islam. In fact the principal trend in Europe is away from religion and toward a completely secular society. There does seem to be a growth worlwide in the number of Muslims. Much of this increase comes from Muslim countries which tend to have very high rates of population increase. While some Muslim countries are very rich because of oil, other Muslim countries are amomg the poorest countries. The very rapid rate of population increase in part explains the economic problems of Muslim countries. It also explains the migration of Muslims to non-Muslim countries which offer jobs and a more affluent life style. This in turn has increased the Muslim population in those countries. But more important is the aswertion that Islam has the sollution to the problems of mankind. Here a cursory examinatiin of the world shows that just the opposite is true. Many of the poorest and most backward countries with the lowest standard of living in the world are Muslim countries, the major exceptions being the oil-producing countries. In contrast, the wealtiest coutries with the highest standard of living are the Western and Asian countries where the princples of democracy, secular law, and basic human rights have freed their citizens to utilize their innate creativity to build a standard of living on an unprecedented level.


Asad, Muhammad. Islam at the Crossroads (New Era Publications, 1982).

Fuentes, Carlos. The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World (Houghton Mifflin: New York, 1992), 399p.

Kennedy, Hugh. The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007), 421p.

Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol. II Great Books Collection(Benton/Britanica: Chicago, 1952), 855p. Gibbon's classic multi volume book was originally published 1776-89). Vol ii wa published in 1781.


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Created: 2:03 AM 2/2/2007
Last updated: 3:15 AM 7/15/2013