5

ISLAM IN THE PAST

Islamin the Past

Whydid the Islamic world experience resurgence after the Mongol conquestof Baghdad in 1258?

Inthe 13th century, a powerful and ruthless tribe of nomads, theMongols emerged in the Southwest Asia. The nomads had vast armieswhich left a trail of massive destruction and devastation. Theyinvaded and massacred several societies and empires in the Islamborderlands. Until the mid 13th century, the Muslim world was sparedfrom the wrath and ravage horsemen. Due to the decline of the AbbasidCaliphate authority, whose influence did not go beyond the city ofBaghdad, he was not in a position to defend himself from the Mongols.Nonetheless, Baghdad remained the capital of Islam due to its uniquelibraries and the residence of the caliphs. In 1258, over 150, 000Mongol soldiers invaded the city and destroyed everything, includinglibraries, palaces, and mosques (Lapidus, 2014).

Despitethe destructions, the attack resulted in a resurgence of the Islamreligion. The weakened caliph led to the emergence of new leadershipin Egypt, even before the Baghdad siege, who were able to defend theMuslims holy lands. The new leadership strengthened the Islamicempire, and the influence of religion in the Middle East. Some of theMongol soldiers who were left in the region to rebuild and rule thecities converted to Islam and got absorbed in the culture. Also, theIslamic religion underwent a self-renewal due to the increaseddominance of the Sufis after the fall of Baghdad. This led to theintroduction of the tasawwuf religious ideology (purity of heart),which powered the rebirth. The change was necessitated by thedestruction of the political structures and, therefore, lookinginwards to the spiritual roots was the only option (Armstrong, 2002).The generation of Muslims, who experienced the wrath of the Mongol,was committed to ensuring that their religion survived, and itsinfluence expanded. Consequently, the renewal can be attributed tothe fact that the Sufis provided the only hope for the population(Armstrong, 2002).

Howdid the expansion of Islam to Asia and Africa impact those regions,and how did the people in those regions influence Islamic practice?

Thespread of Islam in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world had hugeimpacts. The effects of the religion were due to its role in thepolitical, social and cultural structures. It introduced bureaucraticsystems that did not exist in some of these regions. Additionally, itcreated culturally and politically unified groups that have survivedfor several centuries (Lapidus, 2014). The spread of Islamicinstitutions in African and Asia created trade routes and vibranteconomies, especially in West Africa, the Indian Ocean coast, andCentral Asia. For example, economic kingdoms and coastal cities, aswell as the trans-Saharan trade route, emerged in Africa, whichfacilitated slaves, gold, and salt trade. Social and cultural impactsinclude conversion from traditional religions to Islam and increasedinteractions between societies. Swahili in the East African coastemerged as a result of relations between Bantus tribes and the MuslimArabs (Robinson, 2004).

Althoughthe influence of the religion on the African and Asian societies isdominant, the local communities had an impact on the Islam and itsspread to other regions in the world. The flourishing of Islam indifferent parts of the globe was dependent on the trade routes andcommodities made available to the Islamic powers from Asia andAfrica. For example, merchants in South Asia played a significantrole in the establishment of Islamic territories in India.Additionally, through interactions with the local societies, such asthe Hindus, unique Muslim societies emerged (Lapidus, 2014).

References

Armstrong,K. (2002). Islam:A short history.New York, NY: Modern Library.

Lapidus,I. (2014). AHistory of Islamic Societies.Cabridge: Cambridge University Press.

Robinson,D. (2004). Muslimsocieties in African history.New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.