How did the
spread of Islam affect the World
The Muslim community constituted to grow after
Prophet Muhammad's death. Within a few decades, vast numbers of people across
three continents - Africa, Asia, and Europe - had chosen Islam as their way of
One of the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the purity of
its doctrine - Islam calls for faith in only one God. This, coupled with the
Islamic concepts of equality, justice and freedom, resulted in a united and
peaceful community. People were free to travel from Spain to China without
fear, and without crossing any borders.
As millions of people embraced Islam, they brought with them the heritage of
ancient civilizations like Egypt, Greece, India, Persia, and Rome. Muslims
cherished these cultures' knowledge and took great pains to preserve their
libraries and honor and the scholars residing in their cities.
Many Muslim scholars traveled to these cities seeking knowledge. They
translated into Arabic volumes of philosophical and scientific works from Greek
and Syriac languages (the languages of Eastern Christian scholars), from
Pahlavi (the scholarly language of Pre-Islamic Persia), and from Sanskrit (an
ancient Indian language). As a result, Arabic became the language of worldly
scholarship, and people migrated from all over the world to study in the Muslim
By 850, most of the philosophical and scientific works of Aristotle; much of
Plato and Pythagorean school; and the major works of Greek astronomy,
mathematics and medicine such as the Almagest of Ptolemy, the Elements of
Euclid, and the works of Hippocrates and Galen, were all rendered into Arabic.
Furthermore, important works of astronomy, mathematics and medicine were
translated from Pahlavi and Sanskrit. For the next 700 years, Arabic became the
most important scientific language of the world and the repository of much of
the wisdom and the sciences of antiquity.
The achievement of scholars working in the Islamic tradition went far beyond translation
and preservation of ancient learning. These scholars built upon the ancient
heritage with their own scientific advances. These advancements were a direct
cause of the Renaissance in Europe.
Muslims excelled in art, architecture, astronomy, geography, history, language,
literature, medicine, mathematics, and physics. Many crucial systems such as
algebra, the Arabic numerals, and the very concept of zero (vital to the
advancement of mathematics), were formulated by Muslim scholars and shared with
medieval Europe. Muslims invented sophisticated instruments that made future
European voyages of discovery possible: the astrolabe, the quadrant, and
detailed navigational maps and charts.