The Rise of Islam in Arabia


Muhammad was born in 570AD, in Macca. He belonged to the Quraysh Tribe of Arabia. In the 6th century, Arabs consisted of the Arabian Peninsula, Syria and Mesopotamia. Muhammad was Arab with culture and language and he was a merchant. Before the emergence of Islam, the Arabs lived in tribes known as Quabilas. Every tribe had a separate leader.

Prophet Muhammad preaching- A Russian Painting 1840-1850

Grigory Gagarin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Leaders were made not only based on inheritance but also their courage, generosity and wisdom. Every tribe had their own God and Goddesses. They were polytheistic Tribes and they all worshipped idols. Some tribes like Bedouins were nomadic. They moved from dryer places to places with water and food for their camels. Some lived in towns and practised agriculture. Muhammad's tribe lived in Mecca and looked after the main shrine of Mecca; a cubical structure called Kaba. The Idols of every Tribe were placed inside the cubical structure. Kaba was considered holy by all other tribes and they all installed their idols there and came every year on pilgrimage (hajj) to worship. Mecca was on the route to Yemen and Syria and it enhanced its popularity of Mecca. It was a sanctuary for everyone and there was no violence allowed in Mecca. People of every tribe met and shared their beliefs there.

Rise of Islam in Arabia

  • The Arabs were in contact with Jews and Christians for trade, so they had a vague idea about the belief in one supreme God.

  • They were still more attached to their shrines and idols.

  • In 612 CE, Muhammad declared himself the messenger of God, also known as rasul.

  • Muhammad claimed that he had received the message from God that only Allah, the one true God should be worshipped.

  • He gave simpler ways for prayer and abstinence from immoral activities like theft and drinking.

  • He wanted to found a community of believers who worshipped the one true God, Allah. The community was to be bounded by a similar set of beliefs.

  • Muhammad's preaching influenced those who were deprived and were not gaining anything from the religion and trade of Mecca.

  • Muhammad promised them the share of everything in the community and promised them salvation on the day of Judgement.

  • The followers of the teachings of Muhammad and the believers of Allah became Muslims.

  • The new religion was opposed by the old tribes of Mecca who were protective of their Gods and idols.

  • They saw the new religion as a threat to their beliefs.

  • In the year 622 CE, Mohammad and his followers were forced out of Mecca and he went to Madina.

  • The journey of Mohammad from Mecca to Medina became a pivotal point in Islamic history. This journey was known as Hijra.

  • The year when Muhammad went to Medina was the beginning of the Muslim calendar, known as the Hijri era.

How Did Islam Spread in Arabia?

  • There were many factors and circumstances which led to the fast spread of Islam among Arabs. It gained momentum after the death of Muhammad and it spread with the Muslim empires.

  • The community of Ummah protected all believers and provided them with resources to survive and spread the teachings of Muhamad.

  • In Madina, Muhamad formed an order where he provided his followers with his protection.

  • The Ummah grew into a larger community which also included people of other religions like Jews and Zoroastrians, under the leadership of Muhammad.

  • Major development happened in Islam when Muhammad, with his organised followers, captured Mecca and declared himself the religious and political leader.

  • Impressed by the achievement and popularity of this new religion many Arab tribes like Bedouins, converted themselves to Islam.

  • Mecca was made the religious centre of the Islamic state and Madina was made the administrative centre.

  • In a very short period, Muhammad was able to unite many Tribes of Arab in the Muslim Ummah, but most of the unification was done by Caliphate after his death.

The Spread of Islam After Muhammad

  • With the political consolidation of many tribes, Islam spread fastly during Muhammad’s time.

  • Many followed the preaching’s and teachings of Muhammad and joined the Ummah, but the rapid conversion to Islam was seen during the age of the Caliphate.

  • The first dynasty to establish a Caliphate was the Rashidun empire. It was established in the year 632CE and it ruled the Muslim Ummah till 661CE.

  • The Rashidun Empire was overthrown by the Umayyad Dynasty, Umayyads were of Arab Lineage and they influenced Arab culture throughout the caliphate.

  • Umayyads issued new coins with Arabic inscriptions and they were in power till 750CE.

  • The Ummahyads were overthrown by Abbasids in 750CE. They included non- Arabs and non-Muslims in administration and the empire expanded manifolds

  • The caliphates expanded Islam through military expeditions, tribes were forced to accept Islam

  • Another way of the spread of Islam was through trade relations, Missionaries, pilgrimages and merchants.

  • The most spread of Islam was seen during Abbasid Caliphate when people accepted Islam to avoid taxes paid by non-Muslims.


The religion Islam came from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. In 612 CE he preached about worshipping one true god, Allah. Before the preaching of Muhammad, there were many tribes in Arab. The tribes were close communities and they had their leader and God and Goddesses.

The tribes were polytheistic. Mecca was a holy place for all the tribes. It has a shrine with a cubical structure where tubes installed their idols and came every year to worship. When Muhammad captured Mecca with his followers, all the idols were removed and Mecca became the religious centre for Muslims. Muhammad made the conversion the sole requirement for joining the Muslim Ummah. After the death of Muhammad Islam gradually spread through the Caliphate. Later the Caliphate break into many Muslim empires which spread throughout the world and spread the teachings of Muhammad.


Q1. What were the factors for the spread of Islam?

Ans. There were several factors for the spread of Islam −

  • Acceptance of Islam by other religions to avoid paying tax.

  • Missionaries.

  • Merchants.

  • Military conquest.

  • Pilgrimage.

Q2. Who were the Abbasids?

Ans. Abbadis were the descendants of the uncle of Muhammad, Abbas. They proposed their right to the Caliphate.

Q3. When was the Hijri era started?

Ans. Hijri era was started on the date when Muhammad came to Madina and established his political order and expanded the Ummah.

Q4. Who were the Bedouins?

Ans. Bedouins were a nomadic tribe of Arabs, who were the first to accept Islam. They used to move from dryer places to oases in search of food and water for their Camels.

Q5. Who were the Mawalies?

Ans. Non-Arab individuals were known as Mawali, who joined the community through the patronage of prominent tribesmen. Even after accepting Islam, they were never treated equally to them.