What Was the Importance of Muhammad for the Arab Conquests? Essay

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What was the importance of Muhammad for the success of the Arab conquests?

The role of Prophet Muhammad, as both a temporal and religious leader was undeniably an important factor in the success of the Arab conquests. These events took place between 622 and 750, first involving the establishment of a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula, then leading to a Muslim Empire which stretched from central Asia to North Africa and was one of the largest the world has ever seen. This overwhelming success merits explanation, yet this is difficult to establish with certainty, due to the small number and poor quality of surviving sources. Muhammad’s main role was to provide a unifying influence, both during his lifetime when he united a
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Hourani attributes most of the success of the early conquests to the specific role played by Muhammad. Muhammed did not play the role of political leader in the Umma or conquests, but took the position of supreme arbitrator. However, he may have been involved in military leadership; a text from Syria written between 632 and 634 mentions that “a false prophet [had] appeared among the Saracens… with Sword and Chariot”. However, the arabs’ military success can also in part be attributed to the warlike nature of their society, which had been apparent in the constant skirmishes which had previously beset the tribal society. This is a particularly useful source, as the ‘wall of ignorance’ means that many of the sources we can access were written by the victors or were passed through Isnad (word of mouth). The fact that this source does not originate from the victor enhances its reliability. The motivating force of Islam, and thus the ideas first established by Muhammad, played a crucial role in the conquests. The new aim shared by many Muslims, to convert the entire world to Islam, was the most important reason for the initial Arab conquests. This led to an enthusiastic and motivated army, which facilitated its success. Muhammad continued to inspire Arabs to work together and fight successfully long after his death. Rather than reckless
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