The History of the Middle East

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What are the major factors of the rise of Islam during and after the life of Muhammad?

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The most salient feature in the dramatic rise of Islam was the military conquests of Arabian Muslims. Muhammad set the tone by attacking caravans of pagan Arabs, whose rejection of the prophet, and Islam, forced Muhammad to flee from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. By the time of his death 10 years later, Muhammad had conquered Mecca and most of the pagan tribes of Western Arabia. He recruited soldiers in part through promising glory for their martyrdom, forced his captors to accept Islam, and systematically destroyed their pagan temples and religious artifacts.

After Muhammad's death in 632, his first four successors, or caliphs , continued military campaigns that quickly captured most of the middle east and spread into Europe. Though the victors did not force their new subjects to convert to Islam, they required them to pay a special tax to be able to practice any different "Abrahamic" faith (e.g., Christianity or Judaism). Since the majority of the conquering armies were already Islamic,...

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