1. Islam is a major world religion. Its origin can be traced back to 610 CE in Arabia. The basis of this religion is the revelations to the prophet Mohammad. Dissatisfied with his life, he traveled to deserts, hills, and the wilderness surrounding Mecca, where he lived, to meditate and reflect. He became a new man through his revelations, which many of his followers believe Allah transmitted to him through his angel Gabriel. Islam was originally an Arab religion, but many different beliefs and practices were added to it, making it extremely popular and aiding in its rapid spread. This new religion spread to many different areas surrounding Arabia, both under Mohammad and after his death. The Muslim Empire grew to encompass Spain and the Eastern Roman Empire as well Persia and Africa. After his dead, Muslim had spread to Africa, Southeast Asia, India and Central Asia.
When Muslims traveled to different places for trade, they usually settled down and started mingling with the locals. This brought a fresh flavor to the local culture that was quite often appreciated by the inhabitants. Trade brought with it Muslim traders who settled in these regions and made the environment favorable for the preachers to come and preach Islam. There was also an air of superiority and mysticism in the Islamic traditions and the message of Islam was also quite simple to follow and very effective when implemented, unlike the prevalent religions of those regions. Muslims also bought a lot of slaves and converted these slaves to Islam. A lot of people even converted to Islam so that they received a favorable response from these.
As Muslim dynasties expanded and began ruling territories with non-Muslim populations, laws were established to create a hierarchy with Muslims at the top. Non-Muslims were ordered to pay the jizya, a poll tax that allowed non-Muslims to practice their religion and receive protection from the Muslim ruler. However, converts to Islam would reap even more benefits than those simply paying the jizya. The tax became an incentive for elite non-Muslims to rejoin the ruling group and transcend limits imposed on non-Muslim communities and traders. Conversions to Islam by communities along the Silk Road can be attributed to the desire of non-Muslims seeking better trade contacts and contracts. Also, according to the book, a Muslim was ensured that in his after life, he would go to paradise, “he who performs good deeds, whether man or a woman, and is a believer, will surely enter Paradise, and shall not be deprived even of an iota of his reward.”
In short, it was the religion’s high esteem of trade, the connections made between Muslim merchants, and the protections afforded by a large empire that led the creation of a single large trading zone. At the height of this trading network, goods from as far east as China were reaching ports all the way in Spain in the west, and products from Europe were being bought as far south as Ethiopia. All this was thanks to the vast trade networks of Muslim merchants.


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