Rise of Islam and The Crusades




Prophet Mohammad, originally known as Abū al-Qāsim Muhammad ibn Abd Allāh ibn Abd al-Māttalib ibn Hāshim, was born c.570 in Mecca, presently located in Saudi Arabia. This messiah was the proclaimer of the Quran and the founder of Islam – a system that was more than just a religion; it was a binding force among the Arabs.

Prophet Mohammad was orphaned at a very young age, and by Arab custom was unable to inherit anything. He was therefore relatively poor roughly until 595 C.E,

when a rich widow named Khadhija employed him as a steward to go to Syria and manage her trading supplies. He eventually married her.

Although he was wealthy now, he began to spend his time in solitary reflection on the prevalent issues in Mecca where religious principles were deteriorating and there was an atmosphere of general unrest in the city. During this period of solitude, Mohammad heard a voice that said “You are the messenger of God” as he meditated.

He later deemed that he had heard the arch angel Gabriel. His friends were instrumental in convincing him that he was God to the Arabs as Moses and Jesus Christ had done to the Jews and Christians. He continued to receive these holy messages from time to time until his death. These messages were compiled into chapters to form the holy Quran. Over time his followers rapidly increased in number.

At a certain point in his life, he received a message informing him of a plot to assassinate him. On hearing this, he left Mecca along with his companion Abu Bakr for Medina-which was at the time known as Yathrib. This pilgrimage is popularly known as Hegira or Hijrah. During his first pilgrimage in 620 C.E. he narrated the story of Islam and the teachings of the Quran to six men of the Banu Kazraj of Medina, who readily embraced the culture of Islam. On his second pilgrimage in 621 C.E, five of these men brought along seven others with them. These twelve fellow travelers informed Mohammad of the rapid popularity of Islam in Medina.

Eventually these twelve men pledged allegiance at Mohammad’s hand promising to accept him as a prophet and to worship none but one God and to renounce sins such as theft, adultery and murder. This is known as the first pledge of Allah.


After Mohammad himself had successfully established the new faith through conversion and conquest of those that stood against him there was rapid expansion of the Islamic State.  United by their faith in God and a commitment to political consolidation and supported by the first Caliph Abu Bakr,the Merchant elite of Arabia succeeded in consolidating their power throughout the Arabian peninsula and began to expand north towards Syria.  Political upheavals also favored the cause of Islam. Owing to the prolonged series of wars between the Byzantine and the Persian empires and the exhaustion caused despite the Byzantine victory led to Muslim Triumphs in Easter regions such as Iraq, Egypt and Africa. As a result of their remarkably efficient and flexible governance in the newly conquered areas even the unbelievers became interested in this new religion in increasing numbers. In addition to the obvious power held by the new leaders a personal tax was imposed on all the non Muslims which compelled many to convert.  Islam gained further popularity as it tended to embrace people of different colours and cultures without any bias. After the death of the third caliph Muawiyah, a self- proclaimed caliph who happened to be a relative of Mohammad, made Damascus his capital and established the Umayyad dynasty. Umayyad military campaigns were continuously successful but were defeated for the first time at Constantinople which was under the aid of Greek fire. However they continued to have success across the West. The next logical expansion for Islam was into the weak kingdom of the Visigoths of Spain which took a total of seven years to accomplish. Meanwhile, the Muslims continued to expand eastward into Central Asia such as Turkestan and the Indus valley(in India).

Islam first established itself in India during the life of Muhammad the Prophet by erecting mosques and organizing missionary endeavors in 17 CE. Trade with the Arabs further led to the spread of Islam as a religion. Islam in India had the unique experience of having to coexist with other religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism all of which had their origins in India. With time, the successive waves of Muslim forces that made their way into India further expanded Muslim political domains without altering the religious or social structure of Indian society. Ironically, they helped in making the presence of another religion felt. Wandering teachers further brought Islam to the masses.

Thus the spread of Islam has had a huge impact on the culture, traditions and mind-sets of people across the globe.


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Islam had a profound global impact not only in terms of the religious structure but also in the fields of language, mathematics, astronomy and medicine, whose effects can be seen to this day. The Arabians are often credited with the concept of algebra, derived from the word al-jabr meaning to restore or complete.

Islam requires its followers to pray facing what would be the general direction of Mecca, the birthplace of Prophet Mohammad, which encouraged them to find scientific ways to determine their exact geographic locations.

They were initially criticised for the same and referred to as false-soothsayers. Their findings, however, were supported by the translations of Greek scientific works, such as those of Ptolemy.  Ibn al-Shatir is said to have developed the planetary theory and studied the radius of Mercury’s orbit, information that would later be used by Copernicus. Unfortunately, many scientific discoveries were lost when Bhagdad was invaded and sacked by Mongol forces.

Islam had a tremendous impact on India culturally.

It brought in elements such as the purdah system, language, dance, music, art and architechture. Islam played a major role in starting up the Bhakti movement by attempting to abolish the brahminical monopoly over the Hindu  society.

This gave rise to the “bhakti cult “ and produced saints like Ramanand,Kabir, Nanak and many more.


Psychology is said to be borne out of philosophy and theology. Considering that both the Crusades and the rise of Islam are fairly theological in nature

Islam not only contributed in terms of the religion or culture, it also helped in the progress of intellectual life. One of the most prominent philosophers, Avicenna was interested in the teachings of the Greeks, in particular those of Aristotle. Now this links back to psychology, in the sense that Greek philosophies are considered to be an essential precursor of psychological development.

Another significant outcome of the Crusades and the rising religion of Islam is that many Greek teachings that had been lost over the years due to the lack of documentation had been written, stored and perpetuated through the countries in the middle east. This act of war resulted in the onset of exchange of information and ideas between the cultures. Recovery of Greek writings, meant revival of ideas such as will, body-mind dualism and many other concepts that are still integral to the discipline of psychology.

Now, it is also known that the Romans had carried forwards the Greek works in philosophy, which is considered to be the mother of psychology. However, the downfall of the Roman empire lead to a stop in progression of psychology as a subject. The fall of the Roman empire meant that there was an increased belief in faith.

The role science or even psychology had to play was not taken into consideration. Psychology turned out to be a piece of the ethical teachings on conduct educated by the congregation, and psychology progressed toward becoming inundated in the folklore of Christian practice. Mental clarifications of any action needed to affirm to the fundamentals of Christianity.

Psychological instabilities and social deviancy were viewed as detestable condemnations or demonic possessions. Remedies to these dysfunctional behaviours did not include understanding it, it used prayers to god.



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