What Was the Importance of Muhammad for the Arab Conquests? Essay

1992 Words May 6th, 2012 8 Pages
What was the importance of Muhammad for the success of the Arab conquests?

The role of Prophet Muhammad, as both a temporal and religious leader was undeniably an important factor in the success of the Arab conquests. These events took place between 622 and 750, first involving the establishment of a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula, then leading to a Muslim Empire which stretched from central Asia to North Africa and was one of the largest the world has ever seen. This overwhelming success merits explanation, yet this is difficult to establish with certainty, due to the small number and poor quality of surviving sources. Muhammad’s main role was to provide a unifying influence, both during his lifetime when he united a
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The difficulty though is in determining whether this remained the dominant motivation until as late as AD 718. Furthermore, increasing conversions to Islam facilitated the conquests. The liberal nature of Arab Muslim rule further ensured their success. The decision to allow the conquered to keep their property and practice their respective faiths was effective in gaining support. By not forcing people to convert, a more liberal religious policy than that of the Byzantines or the Persians, the spread of the new religion was a slow process but resultantly effective. This was particularly the case with the majority Monophysite Christians of Egypt and Syria, who were being persecuted by the Romans. Lewis argues that "the .. Christian Aramaic-speaking people of the Fertile Crescent, and the Coptic-speaking Christian people of Egypt ... found their new masters less demanding, more tolerant, and ... more welcoming than the old."
However, other geopolitical factors of the seventh and eighth centuries were also necessary preconditions for the success of the arab conquests. The weaknesses of the empires which the arab conquests encroached were crucial. The Sassanid Persian and Byzantine Roman empires had expended all their resources on long wars with each other, and so could not resist the Arab advance, and additionally, were divided within themselves. Furthermore, semi-independent Arab

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