Why were the Arabs able to conquer such a vast territory so quickly? What role did Islam play in the Arab conquests? How did the Arab conquests change Islam?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Shortly after Muhammad's death in 632, most of the Arabian peninsula was, for the first time perhaps ever, unified. What prompted the caliphs that succeeded Muhammad to turn their attention outside the peninsula was exactly this unification—the tribes of the peninsula had for many years made raids on each other a central component of their economies, so military raids were essential to maintaining unity. Armstrong writes that they achieved a number of "astonishing victories" in the modern territories of Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, and within a few years had conquered the entire Persian Empire, and most of North Africa. As Armstrong writes, "a century after the Prophet's death, the Islamic Empire extended from the Pyrenees to the Himalayas." Far from holy wars, the author emphasizes that these campaigns were motivated by a desire for plunder, much like medieval warfare in Europe. Politically, they were successful because they did not impose much on the peoples they conquered, essentially...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 545 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team