Expansion of Islam

Movement of Main Centers of Islam

•      Mecca – until 661

•      Damascus – (661-750) - Umayyads

•      Turkey – (750-1055) - Abbasids

•      Cairo – (969-1171) - Fatimids

•      Turkey – Ottomans – Istanbul (1055-1243)

•      Today – Turkey and Iran


•      Began expanding west through North Africa

•      Crossed the Med. into Spain

•      Tried to take France (732 Battle of Tours)

•      Expanded into Turkey

•      Wanted to take Constantinople; not yet

•      Christianity in Turkey (Byzantine empire) seriously declined during 11th cen.


Note: These maps are from W.C. Brice. An Historical Atlas of Islam .



•      Stop the encroachment by Muslims on Europe

•      Reclaim the holy land from Muslims

–  Muslims had been harassing Christian travelers

•      Pope Urban offered crusaders:

–  Pardons, Indulgences, Promises of relief from sin, Guarantee of paradise

•      Attempted to recapture Damascus, Jerusalem


•      Crusades were not successful

•      Did not recapture Turkey, Israel (partially)

•      1218 Genghis Khan (from China) took Persia, Syria, Turkey

•      Center of Islam moved to Cairo

•      Islam moves into an era of instability

•      Ottomans take the Balkans, but not Europe

•      Continue to move east into Asia and E. Asia

After the first Crusade





Medieval to Modern

•      The Ottomans (from eastern Turkey) took control of all of Turkey

•      Also took control of Constantinople, Greece, the Balkans (Bosnia, Albania) and Herzegovina

•      By the 15th cen. Turkey was 90% Muslim, it had been primarily Christian



Continued Struggle

•      Ottomans tried moving further into Europe, it failed

•      Europe began taking back much of the territory

•      End of 19th cen. Muslims were more on the defensive

•      Massacres of native Christians who would not convert



•      Armenia – 300,000 killed (1894-96)

•      Even more killed after WWI

•      Muslim empire established in Persia

•      Ottomans took Iraq but not Persia/Iran

European Expansion

•      The Industrial revolution and trade expansion helped European countries expand their influence to many new countries: Asia, Africa

•      Countries with large Muslim populations were influenced; seen as being controlled by the West

•      By 1900 Ottoman Turkey was declining

Muslim Reform

•      Many Muslims began to ask why would God allow the infidels to control them

•      Is the success of the West due to Christianity’s superiority to Islam?

•      The answer was that they had not been good Muslims, reform is necessary

•      They tried to  learn some things from “Western” thinking

•      Some Muslims saw European and American models of government and social and economic reform as good


•      Reaction took three forms:

–  Traditionalists – hold to the past, any change should not affect the traditions of the past

–  Islamists – ignores the traditional interpretation of the authoritative texts;

•   Seeks a golden age from the past that is a perfect Muslim community

–  Modernists – embraces change, even within religion; accepts modern influences as good

(Categorized by Rippin, Muslims, 182ff.)


•      Another description of the reaction (Esposito, 126)

•      Adaptation & Cultural synthesis

–  Separate religion and politics

–  Islam should be restricted to personal life; public life should be modeled after Western ideas

•      Withdrawal & Rejection

–  Islam had deviated from tradition

–  The answer is withdrawal, non-cooperation, rejection of the west

–  Two choices: armed struggle (jihad); emigration


•      Modernism – midway between the other extremes

–  Emphasized reform (jihad)

–  Emphasized flexibility and adaptability

•      Three basic groups:

–   Conservatives / Fundamentalists / Reformists


Other Beliefs

•      Among the Shi’ites, Imams are viewed as the primary leaders (religious and in some areas political)

–  Never more than a handful at one time

–  When one rises above the others, based on popular opinion, he is known as the Ayatollah, “sign of God”

•      “Seveners” say Imam Mahdi (messiah) is the incarnation of Allah himself; “Twelvers” do not


•      Imam Mahdi – Messianic figure

–  Will bring peace to the world and convert the world to Islam

–  Will reign for 7 years after which resurrection and judgment will come

•      Many Sunnis believe Jesus will return to reign and  bring peace (they refer to a Koran passage that indicates Jesus really did not die (4:155)

Muta Marriage

•      Shi’ite Islam allows “temporary marriage”

•      Contract for a specific period of time (a day, a night, several days, few hours)

•      The man gives the woman money

•      Any children born are legitimate

•      The woman has no claim to the man once the contract is over


•      Existed before Muhammad (called Baal marriage)

–  Muhammad did not reject it, too ingrained

•      Purpose was to provide a woman for a man while away from home

•      No word against it in the Koran; 4:28 “such women as you have enjoyed, give them their hire due.”

•      The Shi’ites use this verse to support it

•      Sunnis use the Hadith to reject it

•      Sunnis say it is too much like prostitution

Status of Women

•      Pre-Islamic Arabia

–  Had no rights: no inheritance, no divorce

–  No limit to the number of wives

–  Primary function was to bear children

–  Female babies were often killed or “exposed”


•      Muhammad & Koran

–  In the sight of God men and women are equal

–  Both will be judged according to their deeds

–  Against exposing female infants

–  Even if a father is angry over a female baby, he will be judged for it

–  A woman has to consent to marriage

–  She gets the gift at the marriage, not the father

–  She has divorce rights


•      A man must wait 4 mths to divorce, to see if he wants to change his mind; then wait 3 more mths to see if she is pregnant

•      He must provide for her

•      She may initiate divorce if he abandons her

•      A man may have 4 wives, only if he treats them equally


•      In actual practice, men are superior to women

•      She is to be obedient, if not, he may beat her

•      She could be put in jail for not obeying (repealed in Egypt in 1970’s)

•      She is to cover herself; not to draw attention

•      Her place is in the home to raise children