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Current time:0:00Total duration:12:12

Video transcript

other videos we have talked about the early history of islam which really revolves around the life of muhammad and muhammad as we talked about was born roughly in 570 and dies in 632 and on this timeline here the white period is before according to muslim traditions that he started having the revelations from god and the brown period is when he's having these revelations and he's starting to be the leader of this nascent muslim community now what we see here in this dark brown is what was in control of this muslim community at the time of muhammad's death and you see even by that period they had control of a good chunk of the arabian peninsula and what's particularly surprising is how fast islam spread shortly after that the next period after muhammad dies the leadership of the community of the ummah goes to the caliphs and this actually becomes a contentious issue that we'll talk about in other videos it's the seed of the eventual schism between the sunnis and the shias but this next period the rashidun or the rightly guided kalis khalif means successors essentially successors to muhammad under these four khalifs you see islam spread from as far west as tunisia and egypt all the way through persia and keep in mind this is spreading overtaking conquering what used to be controlled by very powerful empires the easter the byzantine empire or eastern roman empire taking territory from them here and then the and then sassanid persia taking territory from them and this is less than 30 years and then it spreads even more during the next caliphate which is now dynastic the umayyad caliphate by the end of that at 7 50 ce you see islam has now spread or conquered from modern day spain and portugal all the way to modern day india and pakistan and we could continue this narrative and we will continue to talk about it in future videos but what's really interesting is to think about how and why it was able to spread this rapidly there's very few instances in history where we see this type of an empire form this quickly and to get some context on that we have this text here from the american historian ira lapidus's book islamic societies to the 19th century and lapidus writes the expansion of islam involved different factors in different regions in north africa anatolia the balkans in india so these are regions that we aren't showing in this map those happen later on after outside of the period depicted in this map it was carried out by nomadic arab or turkish conquerors and so that is a similar form method that we're talking about though in this map in the indian ocean and west africa it spread by peaceful contacts among merchants or through the preaching of missionaries in some cases the diffusion of islam depended on its adoption by local ruling families in others it appealed to urban classes of the population or tribal communities the question of why people convert to islam has always generated intense feeling earlier generations of european scholars believed that conversion to islam were made by the point of the sword and that conquered peoples were given the choice of conversion or death so a lot of according to ira lapidus these early european scholars viewed it analogous to things like the spanish inquisition or some aspects of the crusades or some of what we saw in the new world with the conquistadors where it really was convert or die but according to lapidus it is now apparent that conversion by force while not unknown in muslim communities so in muslim countries so there was some forced conversion but according to lapidus was in fact rare muslim conquerors ordinarily wish to dominate rather than convert and most conversions to islam or were voluntary in most cases worldly and spiritual motives for conversion blended together and other re other sources i've looked at do hint at these early caliphates weren't that interested in conversion they were clearly muslim and they were also arab dominated and they liked having this elite arab muslim ruling class and they weren't that interested in spreading the religion and only when we get to into the abbasid caliphate where it becomes more multicultural and more muslim and less arab focused that you start to have more and more conversions and the sources i've seen have by the end of the umayyad dynasty only about 10 to 30 percent of the conquered people convert to islam but much more convert during what's often referred to as the golden age of islam when islam is collecting the works of the ancient greeks and the chinese and the hindus and getting scholars from all around the world under the abbasid dynasty now what when lapidus talks about in most cases worldly and spiritual motives for conversion blended together he's referring to these ideas that well maybe for some people it just appealed to them and you have to remember people weren't going from being independent to being subjugated in most cases even before the conquest of islam they were probably subjugated by a king or part of an empire like the byzantine empire or the persian empire and so they're really switching from one conqueror to another and oftentimes people are hopeful that the new conqueror might be better than the last so oftentimes they are proven wrong sometimes it might actually be the case and so there might have been some support that allowed it to spread this quickly and there's also worldly motive motives if there's a muslim ruling class and if you want to be associated with that ruling class that might be a worldly motivation in order to actually convert now the other thing that we do know about these early muslim empires and many of the muslim empires is they did have this notion of dimi status and dimi is referring to the idea of protected persons and it's often referred to as people of the book but it included it included jews christians that islam according to islamic tradition follows in the same tradition of but then when you eventually have muslim conquest of india included hindus and buddhis hindus and buddhis as well and it also included zoroastrians who the early muslims considered to be monotheistic and the idea of dimi status is that they would have protected rights they would have the same property contract rights but different political rights the the muslim ruling class definitely had better political rights and they would pay a different tax than what the muslims actually paid now in order to get context from a religious point of view you can look at some of the religious texts of islam especially the koran and even the hadith which are the the second-hand accounts of the life and practices of muhammad and there you get an interesting perspective and so on the side of religious tolerance you have excerpts like this there shall be no compulsion in acceptance of the religion unto you your religion and unto my religion and from an ethnic point of view there also seems to be a you know a sense of non-superiority of one ethnicity over another indeed there's no superiority of an arab over a non-arab nor of a non-arab over an arab nor of a white over a black nor a black of over a white except by piety towards god and this is from muhammad's farewell sermon that's given by the hadith the life and sayings of muhammad now on the other hand there definitely are more militant portions of the quran one of the most quoted excerpts is this one and fight in the way of god those who fight you but transgress not the limits truly god likes not the transgressors and kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you and persecution is worse than killing and do not fight them at the sacred mosque until they fight you there but if they fight you then kill them such is the recompense of the disbelievers and if they cease then indeed god is forgiving and merciful fight them until there is no persecution and until worship is acknowledged to be for god but if they cease then there is to be no aggression except except against the oppressors so a critical view of this is saying look this is clearly advocating to kill other people and fight those who are considered to be disbelievers that's clearly a critical view of this and you will not see this type of language for example and more pacifist notions of say the gospels and it's the gospels and it's definitely not the notion the modern notion that we have of passive resistance or peaceful resistance in the notion of a gandhi or a martin luther king now those who would defend or see a little bit more nuance here would say look you've got to this is not talking about killing disbelievers arbitrarily this is talking about killing those who are persecuting you and they would say look this revelation is believed according to islamic tradition to have come down when the muslims were actively being persecuted by muhammad's tribe the quraish they were in medina they were essentially an exile and they were in fear for their lives muhammad's own life their quraysh had attempted to kill him they were torturing and killing that early muslim community and in that context they're saying and fight the way of god those who fight you so it's really out of defense trying not to be persecuted but transgress not the limits and even there there are rules of law here or rules of engagement and kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you and persecution is worse than killing and so this is creating a moral hierarchy that is very debatable especially amongst in modern times is persecution is persecution worse than killing and do not fight them at the sacred mosque so this is really seems to be referring to the quraish because remember they're fighting over this notion of what even should happen at the sacred mosque until they fight you there but if they fight you then kill them such as the recompense for the disbelievers and if they cease then indeed god is forgiving and merciful so to some degree those who would be who would see the nuance in this passage they say hey look this is talking about killing those who persecute you but it actually seems to be a little bit more conciliatory than remember the quran is according to islamic christian built on the traditions of the old testament and on christian traditions and especially relative to the old testament which tends to be much more absolute when someone is disliked by god they just you know whole whole cities or peoples are are destroyed or killed or god might command his prophets and the leadership to kill other people just because they displeased god in the old testament people who would defend this passage or see nuance here says look this is about being persecuted and fighting persecution and even if those and if those persecutors stop then don't seek revenge they and if they seize and indeed god is forgiving and merciful and there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors so i'll leave it to you to decide i encourage you to look up your own primary resources look up different translations one of the the tricky things of not just the quran but including the bible which is believed to first be written in aramaic or the old testament the torah written in hebrew is that the translation itself can also give you various nuance but make your own decisions about what you think is or your own judgments of what we've talked about in this video