Islamic Influences in the Middle East

The inception of the Islamic religion resulted from a series of revelations that Muhammad, who is considered by Muslims to be the last of a line of prophets, received from Allah dating back to the year 610.

Islam, with the Qur’an acting as its guide, has since transformed from a religion into a complete way of life for Muslims. This way of life made a great impact on the early development of the Middle East and continues to have a lasting impression on the politics and culture of the Arab nations.

Before the revelations of Muhammad in the 600’s, the Middle Eastern territories weren’t any different than the European nations at this time. Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Anatolia were all united politically and culturally with the rest of the Greco-Roman world under the leadership of Constantinople while the Mesopotamia valley divided the Byzantine and Persian Empires. The spread of Muhammad’s messages soon became unpopular with the power-elite in the city of Mecca so he and his followers emigrated from Mecca to the city of Medina. The emigration, which is thought to have officially started Islamic history, was just the beginning of what soon resulted in Muhammad gaining control of most of the Arab land for the sake of Islam. They occupied Palestine in 636, Mesopotamia in 637, Syria and Egypt in 640 and Persia in 642. The majority of the population in the areas conquered by Muhammad’s followers converted to Islam, creating a permanent cultural frontier between Europe and the Muslim world. During this time period of Islamic expansion, the Islamic Middle Eastern cities became the centers of cultural and economic activity in western Eurasia. Cities like Baghdad became largely populated due to this expansion boosting a successful trading economy and rich cultural life. The Middle Eastern Islamic societies soon became considered among the elite due to the fact that literature, architecture, medicine and science were far in advance of anything established in Western Europe.

Today there is an estimated 1.3 billion Muslims in the world with 18 percent still living in the Middle East. Even though the majority of Muslims live in Eastern Asia, the Islamic ideals still dominate Middle Eastern politics. In recent times Islam has been viewed in a negative light due to Islamic Extreme groups who have successfully completed numerous terrorist operations for the sake of their Islamic views. Because of these groups, many countries have issued a War on Terrorism to help eliminate such terrorist activities as well as punish countries that help fund and support them. Unfortunately most Muslims do not share these same extremist views yet their Islamic views are associated with them.