If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Focus on context: The origins of Islam


Before answering the question, read the following excerpt.
Whatever the reason, it is clear that the empires of Byzantium and Persia failed to keep in check the steppe peoples within and beyond their borders in the late sixth and early seventh centuries. The Turks, Avars, and Arabs are all able to make significant encroachments over the course of this period. The same can be said for China where the Wei dynasty collapsed in 534 and decades of infighting ensued, which was reduced somewhat by the Sui dynasty (589–618) but only properly brought under control with the establishment of the Tang dynasty by Emperor Gaozu (618–26). The Persian Empire suffered the most, since its capital, Seleucia-Ctesiphon, was dangerously close to the steppe lands, and the deserts and mountains within its realm favored regional autonomy and limited centralization.
Ignominious [shameful] defeat at the hands of Emperor Heraclius and an ensuing civil war fatally weakened the regime’s ability to respond when the Arabs overran their lands. The capitals of the Byzantine and Chinese empires, on the other hand, were far from the steppe and extremely well defended, and the empires themselves, organized around large bodies of water (the Mediterranean Sea and the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, respectively), were reasonably well integrated. This meant that though they also suffered many defeats at the hands of steppe raiders, they were able to weather the storm. The Avars and Turks clearly had ambitions to penetrate further into the lands of Byzantium and Persia, but they were coming from the difficult northern and eastern sides of the two empires, where they faced substantial man-made and natural obstacles, whereas the Arabs were directly adjacent to the soft southern underbellies of these empires, and so it was they who ultimately triumphed in this seventh-century great game.
From Robert Hoyland's In God's Path: The Arab Conquest
From this excerpt, what argument can be made about imperial expansion and conflict?
Choose 1 answer:
Choose 1 answer: