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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Same book, 12 Aug 2008
This review is from: The Spread of Islam in the World (Paperback)
This book is really worth the purchase and the read. Please note that this is same book as "the preaching of Islam" by the same author. It is just another title; I thought they were two different books but they are the same.

This refutes the myth that Islam was spread by the sword. Islam was spread in an almost disorganised, haphazard, ad-hoc manner. Rather than an organised movement similar to missionary movements of Christanity. It does state that some rulers who tried to force Islam onto people where all unsucessful. Their is an interesting story in which Nafisa, one of the grand daughters of Imam Hassain was looking after a sickly child of her non-muslims next door neighbour. She made a supplication to God and the girl was healed. The family were shocked and all became Muslim.

Moses maimondies, the famous Jewish scholar, was compelled to become Muslim by a ruler. He fled that kingdom to another part of Islamic world; where they quashed the apostacy case against him! Claiming that he was forced therefore not could not be taken into account. It is a book more about the numbers of people who converted rather than convert stories. Also people note this is the same book as the Preaching of Islam by the same author, just a different title. Buy it, read it.

It is well worth buying to read how Islam spread to the global religion it is now.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History From A Different Perspective, 14 April 2007
This review is from: The Spread of Islam in the World (Paperback)
First published in 1896, "The Spread of Islam in the World: A History of Peaceful Preaching" by Professor Thomas Arnold concentrates on the spread of the religion, as opposed to Islamic society. It would be easy to consider this book out-of-date, considering all that has taken place in the Islamic world since it was published, especially in the period between World War II and present day. However, in many ways this weakness is actually a strength of the book, because the reader can be sure that the history included in this book is not colored by modern day events.

Professor Arnold separates the spread of Islamic society from that of Islam as a religion. The advance of Islamic societies was often by the sword, just as the spread of societies such as Greece, Rome, and Persia were done by conquest. This book, though, is about the spread of Islam, the religion. While there certainly were cases where attempts at forced conversion took place, Professor Arnold makes it clear that for the most part that was not the case and he demonstrates with many examples how ineffective such attempts actually were.

Even without forced conversion, there were pressures for people to convert to Islam, the largest one being the jizyah, which was a tax imposed on non-Muslim subjects. This tax was common to all regions, although the amount varied greatly depending on the period and region. In most cases the tax was fairly small, but during some periods it became oppressive enough to result in false conversions. Most of the time, the tax was fairly small and was also often waved if the non-Muslim subjects contributed to the defense of the society. Another form of pressure was that non-Muslims were forced to wear dress which would indicate their status. However, this was quite rare and usually did not last for long periods.

The most interesting part of the book is in the specifics of each of the different regions. Professor Arnold covers: Western Asia, Christian Africa, Christian Spain, the spread under the Turks, Persia and Central Asia, the Mongols and Tartars, India, China, Africa, and the Malay Archipelago. The history of Islam in Spain was the best example of how the three major monotheistic religions could live together in peace, prior to the 19th century. The section on the Mongols and Tartars covered the effects of the Mongol invasion and the devastation it caused Islam at the time. It also was interesting to read how the Muslims turned this around to convert their conquerors. He also discusses why the Christian attempts to do the same were much less successful.

Non-Christian Africa is the region where forced conversion was attempted the most, but with very few successes. The attempts at Muslims to convert the pagans there were largely ineffective until the 19th century. Interestingly enough, it was the development of colony states by Christian Europe in Africa which brought with them their laws which enabled the proselytizing of Muslims to have a large effect. Thus once again it was the peaceful efforts which resulted in success.
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The Spread of Islam in the World
The Spread of Islam in the World by Sir Thomas W. Arnold (Paperback)
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