Access the Relative Effectiveness of Expansion of Christianity and Islam

May 22, 2020 in History Essay

History Essay Sample

Access the Relative Effectiveness of Expansion of Christianity and Islam From the Eighth Century Through the Fourteenth Century


Christianity and Islam began at around the same time and same region. Christianity started in Palestine while Islam started in Mecca. Christianity started as early as the 1st century A.D while Islam started at around 0500 A.D. At the time, the two religions had very few followers, and they were regarded as sects. Christianity had only 11 members, initially they were 13, but two died, Jesus Christ, the founder, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate and Judas committed suicide. In a span of three hundred years, Christianity had grown from a sect in Galilee to the most widely practiced religion in the Roman Empire. The spread of Islam became possible because Mecca was a trading city, where many people visited and carried out trade. Traders came from Yemen, China, East Africa, North Africa, and the southern parts of Europe. These traders heard information about the new religion and some converted to Islam and helped spread the the religion to their respective regions. By the eighth century, Christianity and Islam were spreading to all corners of the world. The two religions usually clashed in their quest to convert people. Muslims used military conquests to force and convert communities opposing Islam.

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Expansion of Christianity

Between 732-814 AD, Christianity thrived in the Carolingian Empire. It was helped by Pepin and Pope Stephen II, who formed a historic alliance. Pepin wanted the Pope's blessing in his quest for leadership of Gaul. After the victory, Pepin was declared king of the Carolingian Empire, Patrician of the Romans and later sent his armies to Italy to secure the Papal States from the Lombards, in favor and support of the Pope. When Pepin died, his son Charles took over the leadership of Gaul and made Christianity the guiding principle of his empire. During his reign, King Charles built a school in his empire to teach Christianity. In the year 800 A.D, on Christmas day, Charles was crowned King of the Roman empire by Pope Leo III. Within a few years of his reign, King Charles conquered most of the mainland Europe where he inspired the spread of Christianity. A major factor that helped the spread of Christianity was the crucifixion of Jesus by Pontius Pilate and the persecution of his disciples and believers. The Christian believers underwent a lot of persecution in the Roman Empire, who by the second century spread to other countries hence spreading the religion as they moved, to avoid persecution at home.

In November 27th, 1095 A.D, Pope Urban II launched 200 years of Crusades in France at the Council of Clermont. He convinced noblemen and knights to face their sins and win back the holy land. He also convinced the people present to save their souls by becoming soldiers of Christ. By the time the Pope was finishing his speech, the audience had become so captivated that they began singing God wills it! The primary reasons why the Crusades was launched is to

  1. Bring freedom to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Jerusalem
  2. Sort out the rifts among Christians in the East, Roman, and Orthodox
  3. Bring together warring lords and knights into the cause of penitential warfare

By July 15th, 1099 the crusaders freed Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was restored to the Christian rulers, and there was the establishment of the four Crusader states. These states include Edessa, Antioch, Tripoli, and Jerusalem. Eventually the states collapsed.

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Expansion of Islam

By 650 A.D, Syria, Egypt and Iraq had been subdued the Muslim armies. Later, in 647-709 A.D, the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate defeated the Byzantine-ruled North Africa and thus effectively ended Catholicism in the region for several centuries. From the conquering of North Africa, the Muslim armies moved west and invaded Spain by 730 A.D, and had most of Spain under Muslim rule. The Muslims ruled for the next 700 years. They practiced jihad which was of great help especially in expanding outside the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula.  In their conquests, Muslims were very flexible and efficient, hence their centralized governments made it easy to assimilate inhabitants of the conquered areas.

The Muslim armies moved to India through the Indus River. In India, they met stiff opposition from the Hindus and Buddhists residing in the country (500). However, they were able to conquer the northern region of India (modern day Pakistan), and from there the Arabic Islamic Empire expanded to West Asia and beyond.

The Byzantine and Persian empires had a long series of war which led to the triumph of the Muslims. People in Syria and Egypt were longing for change because the empire imposed Christianity to the inhabitants, this imposition made the population eager to be free from the ruthless rule (568). The Muslim caliphate expansion was contributed by a war that lasted for about 26 years and left its opponents on the brink of collapse; the caliphates took advantage of the weakness, and spread their religion. However, Muslims encountered Charles Martel, in a battle near Tours in France and their influence towards northern Europe was cut short.

Other reasons that led to the wide spread of Islam to the corners of the globe involved the simple and rational approach which differed from conquest soft techniques and enticements.

Between 977 and 997 A.D Sabuktigin, the ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty defeated Jayapala and increased his territory to the Indus River. This win helped the Islamic Sultans and Sheikhs to spread the religion further. Though Sabuktigin was under the rule of the Samanid, his son Mahmud took over and freed the rulers of Ghazni.

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