Religious Spread Through Conquest. Essay

2176 words - 9 pages

Religions Spread Through ConquestWhen studying history, both in a professional and academicsense, we try to make connections between civilizations and timeperiods. Historians have attempted to discover universal conezts ofhuman nature, a bond that forms from continent to continent, humanbeing to human being. Is there a conezt quality that all peoplesposses, and is reflected in all civilizations? Indeed, it isextremely difficult to make generalizations about centuries of modernhistory. To say that something is true of all of history is virtuallyimpossible, as a counter-example exists for just about anything thatcan be said of any group of civilizations. To say that all religionsare spread by violence is equally unfair and untrue - becausecontrasted religions has been spread in exceedingly diverse regions ofthe world, by vastly different cultures. Islam, as a prime example,has been characterized inequitably by historians and the media as areligion of violence. To put it bluntly, as this article does, "Islamwas mainly spread through Arab territorial conquests (Sudo, 4)."However, upon examination, it is not fair to make the generalizationthat Islam is a religion of violence, and one notices when looking atworld religion on a whole, one finds that Islam was no more violentthan any other religion. In fact, not only is Islam not afundamentally violent philosophy, but we can also see that many otherreligions normally considered "non-violent," such as Christianity orHinduism, have been spread through bloody conquest. Thus, insearching for a universal conezt of history, we ought not fall intothe "fallacy of abstractions," as Sydney J. Harris keenly puts it, andassume that because of isolated incidents and conflicts of territorialambitions, that all religions have violent tendencies.Islam has, throughout the centuries, been somewhat a victim ofcircumezce - indeed it has been perceived by many as oppressive andcruel. This belief originated over a thousand years ago, when Islamicpeoples first threatened the western world. As they slowly underminedByzantine authority, Christians became terrified of their presence,resulting in widespread animosity and aversion. Hindus and Buddhistsof the South Asian subcontinent lived under Islamic law for hundredsof years (Ahmad, et. al., 186), and eventually, in the twentiethcentury, split the region into angry factions (Ahmad, et. al., 207).Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, was a great warrior. This invariablylead defeated peoples to believe that he begot a cult of war andviolence. Over the centuries, it also has developed the ability toinstill a sense of holy purpose onto its believers and soldiers, wherethey go into a battle of certain death for their faith in the jihad,or holy war. Even today, the jihad is still a potent source ofconflict and aversion, as the many of the problems in the Middle Eastcenter around the issue of Islamic Fundamentalism and the jihads.Originally, Islam was perceived by western historians as a...

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