Development of Islamic Religion Along Silk the Road
Religions have developed differently across the world. The development of religions in the world is often focused on the strengths and weaknesses of different times. The challenges faced by different religions are often taken as a source of pride as they show the level of divine support that the particular religion has faced. Islamic religion as other religions has experienced immense changes over the years. The development of the Silk Road as a point of trade has enhanced changes in the Islamic religion in more ways than can be believed. Between 200 BC to 1400BC, there was trade going on in the Mediterranean region as well as the entire Roman Empire. This accelerated trade led to the development of an important route between China and the Roman Empire. Through the route, various goods were transported and traded but the most common good was silk. This led to the development of the name Silk Road.
Besides the exchange of goods, the Silk also led to the exchange of cultures as there was interaction between many cultures such as the Greeks, Romans and the Arabians among others. The cultural exchange also involved religious exchange among the trading partners (Alavi 5). The development of Islam through the Silk Road began through adoption of Islam by the Chinese. Since the Chinese and Asians are considered to have wise principles and beliefs, the fact that they adopted Islam as a religion led to the encouragement of the western trade partners to also engage in Islam. Another reason that contributed to the spread of Islam is that the religion places a strong value on integrity. This focus made the goods sold by the Muslims to be considered of more superior quality. This made trade partners to consider Islamic religion to be more favorable to trade than the more common Buddhist religion.
In the social context, Islam spread more easily because of intermarriages that occurred between the trade partners who used the Silk Road. In addition to this, trading through the Silk Road enabled the Eastern partners to provide religious materials for purchase as well as for borrowing purposes to their religions counterparts from the West. The people who engaged in trade via the Silk Road were also Pagans in most cases and thus were easy to convince to join Islam due to the predominance of the religion. Although Islam spread through the Silk Road, various challenges were also faced in the process. For instance, there were other much older religions such as Judaism. This implies that it was more difficult to convince the people of the goodness of Islam when they knew other religions (Eickelman and Piscatori 19).
Additionally, the Spread of Islam also faced the challenge of travelling via Silk Road. According to previous studies, the journey made through Silk Road was tiresome due to the dusty conditions of the roads. Sometimes the travelers died for various reasons. This means that the spread of Islam could have been hindered by the danger of the expeditions as only a few would engage in the activity. In addition to this, conversion to Islam through Silk Road led to the lack of significant guidance and teachings. This subsequently led to the development of several different teachings that produced diverse religious sects instead of building on the original Islam (Smith 52).
Alavi, Douglass. Emergence of Renaissance: Cultural Interactions Between Europeans and Muslims. CA: Council on Islamic Education, 2000.
Eickelman, Dale and James Piscatori. Muslim Travelers: Pilgrimage, Migration and the Religious Imagination. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
Smith, Huston. The Illustrated World’s Religions. New York: Harper and Collins, 1994.
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