The Diffusion of the Islam
in North Africa/Southwest Asia
The North Africa/Southwest Asia realm has spread itself from the Atlantic shores of Morocco to the mountains of Afghanistan. Sometimes this part of the world is referred to as the Arab world. This realm is one the richest in the world of historical and cultural point of view. It has been the origin of three of four religions; Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The Islam is the major religion in the “Arab World”, but along with it Christianity and Judaism take an important place. It is also a region of intense conflict basically on religious and cultural issues.
The Islam started to spread out more than thousand years ago, A.D. 613, with the work of Muhammad the Prophet. This man began to receive messages from Allah and soon he started preaching among his people. The Islam could be interpreted as an improvement or revision of the Christianity and Judaism. In someway Islam brought to the Muslim world not only uniting religion but also a new set of values, understandings, a whole new way of life.
After the death of Muhammad the Prophet the Islam continued to spread. The Arab armies were attacking, invading and conquering different parts of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa. They converted to their religion wherever they went. About A.D. 700 the Islam reached North Africa and most of Southeast Asia. Centuries later it came to Southern and Eastern Europe, West and East Africa, South Asia and it reached even China about A.D. 1000.
This spreading religion is a perfect example of diffusion processes, particularly spatial diffusion. The first center was at Medina in Arabia, but it was moved to Damascus and finally to Baghdad. The Islam was carried by any man of this religion, no matter if he was a child, soldier, teacher or even the sultan. Not only the Islam fit in the definition. Any new form in the fashion, in the music or in our culture that takes place in our live is a form of spatial diffusion.
Almost every place, every city and nomadic community in the Arab world was touched by the expansion diffusion formed by the local nearness, which is referred by scientists as a contagious diffusion. High ranked people like sultans and kings also spread the Islam, which is hierarchical diffusion and this is only one of the various forms of hierarchical diffusion. The main idea is spreading the trend from larger to smaller scale. The Islam also disseminated by relocation diffusion, from Morocco to the East Indies and from Subsaharan Africa to Eastern Europe.
Spreading from city to city the Islam was meeting new cultures and it was overtaking them. Arabs were not destroying everything and after that building all over again. On the contrary, they were building great mosques, they had very developed architecture, pottery, textile, etc. Their science was surpassing the European one. Most of time they were living in consensus with the other religions, although trying to convert all of the population into the Islam. When Europe was entering the so-called “Dark Ages” the Arab world was in its heyday. The Arab world so strong, that even after centuries of Holy War and Crusades the Catholic world could not get back the Promised Land.
Throughout more than one thousand years the Arab world has reigned over huge part of Southeast Asia, North Africa and the most of Eastern Europe. It is one of the most appropriate examples for the different kinds of diffusions. The Islam succeeded to convert basically everyone into it and now it has more one billion followers in every part of the globe. With small exceptions it has left remarkable wealth in our civilization, from which people still benefit.