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The history of the spread of Islam spans about 1,500 years. Muslim conquests following Muhammad's death led to the creation of the caliphates, occupying a vast geographical area; conversion to Islam was boosted by missionary activities, particularly those of imams, who intermingled with local populations to propagate the religious teachings.[1] These early caliphates, coupled with Muslim economics and trading, the Islamic Golden Age, and the Age of the Islamic Gunpowders, resulted in Islam's spread outwards from Mecca towards the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans and the creation of the Muslim world. Trade played an important role in the spread of Islam in several parts of the world, especially Indian traders in southeast Asia.[2][3]

Muslim dynasties were soon established and subsequent empires such as those of the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, Mamluks, Seljukids, and the Ayyubids were among the largest and most powerful in the world. The Ajuran and Adal Sultanates, and the wealthy Mali Empire, in North Africa, the Delhi, Deccan, and Bengal Sultanates, and Mughal and Durrani Empires, and Kingdom of Mysore and Nizam of Hyderabad in the Indian subcontinent, the Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Samanids, Timurids, and Safavids in Persia, and the Ottoman Empire in Anatolia significantly changed the course of history. The people of the Islamic world created numerous sophisticated centers of culture and science with far-reaching mercantile networks, travelers, scientists, hunters, mathematicians, physicians, and philosophers, all contributing to the Islamic Golden Age. The Timurid Renaissance and the Islamic expansion in South and East Asia fostered cosmopolitan and eclectic Muslim cultures in the Indian subcontinent, Malaysia, Indonesia and China.[4]

As of 2016, there were 1.6 billion Muslims,[5][6] with one out of four people in the world being Muslim,[7] making Islam the second-largest religion.[8] Out of children born from 2010 to 2015, 31% were Muslim[9] and currently Islam is the world's fastest-growing major religion.[10][11][12]

Principal cities of East Africa, c. 1500. The Kilwa Sultanate held sway from Zanzibar, in the 9th and 10th century. From there Arab trade routes into the interior of Africa helped the slow acceptance of Islam.

By the 10th century, the Kilwa Sultanate was founded by Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi (was one of seven sons of a ruler of Shiraz, Persia, his mother an Abyssinian slave girl. Upon his father's death, Ali was driven out of his inheritance by his brothers). His successors would rule the most powerful of Sultanates in the Swahili coast, during the peak of its expansion the Kilwa Sultanate stretched from Inhambane in the south to Malindi in the north. The 13th-century Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta noted that the great mosque of Kilwa Kisiwani was made of coral stone (the only one of its kind in the world).

In the 20th century, Islam grew in Africa both by birth and by conversion. The number of Muslims in Africa grew from 34.5 million in 1900 to 315 million in 2000, going from roughly 20% to 40% of the total population of Africa.[67] However, in the same time period, the number of Christians also grew in Africa, from 8.7 million in 1900 to 346 million in 2000, surpassing both the total population as well as the growth rate of Islam on the continent.[67][68]

Western Africa

Tariq ibn Ziyad was a Muslim general who led the Islamic conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711-718 A.D. He is considered to be one of the most important military commanders in Iberian history. The name "Gibraltar" is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Tāriq (جبل طارق) (meaning "mountain of Tariq"), named after him.

There are accounts of the trade connections between the Muslims and the Rus, apparentl

Tariq ibn Ziyad was a Muslim general who led the Islamic conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711-718 A.D. He is considered to be one of the most important military commanders in Iberian history. The name "Gibraltar" is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Tāriq (جبل طارق) (meaning "mountain of Tariq"), named after him.

There are accounts of the trade connections between the Muslims and the Rus, apparently Vikings who made their way towards the There are accounts of the trade connections between the Muslims and the Rus, apparently Vikings who made their way towards the Black Sea through Central Russia. On his way to Volga Bulgaria, Ibn Fadlan brought detailed reports of the Rus, claiming that some had converted to Islam.

According to the historian Yaqut al-Hamawi, the Böszörmény (Izmaelita or Ismaili / Nizari) denomination of the Muslims who lived in the Kingdom of Hungary in the 10th to 13th centuries, were employed as mercenaries by the kings of Hungary.

The history of Arab and Islamic rule in the Iberian peninsula is probably one of the most studied periods of European history. For centuries after the Arab conquest, European accounts of Arab rule in Iberia were negative. European points of view started changing with the Protestant Reformation, which resulted in new descriptions of the period of Islamic rule in Spain as a "golden age" (mostly as a reaction against Spain's militant Roman Catholicism after 1500)[citation needed].

The tide of Arab expansion after 630 rolled through North Africa up to Ceuta in present-day Morocco. Their arrival coincided with a period of political weakness in the three centuries old kingdom established in the Iberian peninsula by the Germanic Visigoths, who had taken over the region after seven centuries of Roman rule. Seizing the opportunity, an Arab-led (but mostly Berber) army invaded in 711, and by 720 had conquered the southern and central regions of the peninsula. The Arab expansion pushed over the mountains into southern France, and for a short period Arabs controlled the old Visigothic province of Septimania (centered on present-day Narbonne). The Arab Caliphate was pushed back by Charles Martel (Frankish Mayor of the Palace) at Poitiers, and Christian armies started pushing southwards over the mountains, until Charlemagne established in 801 the Spanish March (which stretched from Barcelona to present day Navarre).

A major development in the history of Muslim Spain was the dynastic change in 750 in the Arab Caliphate, when an Umayyad Prince escaped the slaughter of his family in Damascus, fled to Cordoba in Spain, and created a new Islamic state in the area. This was the start of a distinctly Spanish Muslim society, where large Christian and Jewish populations coexisted with an increasing percentage of Muslims. There are many stories of descendants of Visigothic chieftains and Roman counts whose families converted to Islam during this period. The at-first small Muslim elite continued to grow with converts, and with a few exceptions, rulers in Islamic Spain allowed Christians and Jews the right specified in the Koran to practice their own religions, though non-Muslims suffered from political and taxation inequities. The net result was, in those areas of Spain where Muslim rule lasted the longest, the creation of a society that was mostly Arabic-speaking because of the assimilation of native inhabitants, a process in some ways

The tide of Arab expansion after 630 rolled through North Africa up to Ceuta in present-day Morocco. Their arrival coincided with a period of political weakness in the three centuries old kingdom established in the Iberian peninsula by the Germanic Visigoths, who had taken over the region after seven centuries of Roman rule. Seizing the opportunity, an Arab-led (but mostly Berber) army invaded in 711, and by 720 had conquered the southern and central regions of the peninsula. The Arab expansion pushed over the mountains into southern France, and for a short period Arabs controlled the old Visigothic province of Septimania (centered on present-day Narbonne). The Arab Caliphate was pushed back by Charles Martel (Frankish Mayor of the Palace) at Poitiers, and Christian armies started pushing southwards over the mountains, until Charlemagne established in 801 the Spanish March (which stretched from Barcelona to present day Navarre).

A major development in the history of Muslim Spain was the dynastic change in 750 in the Arab Caliphate, when an Umayyad Prince escaped the slaughter of his family in Damascus, fled to Cordoba in Spain, and created a new Islamic state in the area. This was the start of a distinctly Spanish Muslim society, where large Christian and Jewish populations coexisted with an increasing percentage of Muslims. There are many stories of descendants of Visigothic chieftains and Roman counts whose families converted to Islam during this period. The at-first small Muslim elite continued to grow with converts, and with a few exceptions, rulers in Islamic Spain allowed Christians and Jews the right specified in the Koran to practice their own religions, though non-Muslims suffered from political and taxation inequities. The net result was, in those areas of Spain where Muslim rule lasted the longest, the creation of a society that was mostly Arabic-speaking because of the assimilation of native inhabitants, a process in some ways similar to the assimilation many years later of millions of immigrants to the United States into English-speaking culture. As the descendants of Visigoths and Hispano-Romans concentrated in the north of the peninsula, in the kingdoms of Asturias/Leon, Navarre and Aragon and started a long campaign known as the 'Reconquista' which started with the victory of the Christian armies in Covadonga in 722. Military campaigns continued without pause. In 1085 Alfonso VI of Castille took back Toledo. In 1212 the crucial Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa meant the recovery of the bulk of the peninsula for the Christian kingdoms. In 1238 James I of Aragon took Valencia. In 1236 the ancient Roman city of Cordoba was re-conquered by Ferdinand III of Castille and in 1248 the city of Seville. The famous medieval epic poem 'Cantar de Mio Cid' narrates the life and deeds of this hero during the Reconquista.

The Islamic state centered in Cordoba had ended up splintering into many smaller kingdoms (the so-called taifas). While Muslim Spain was fragmenting, the Christian kingdoms grew larger and stronger, and the balance of power shifted against the 'Taifa' kingdoms. The last Muslim kingdom of Granada in the south was finally taken in 1492 by Queen Isabelle of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon. In 1499, the remaining Muslim inhabitants were ordered to convert or leave (at the same time the Jews were expelled). Poorer Muslims (Moriscos) who could not afford to leave ended up converting to Catholic Christianity and hiding their Muslim practices, hiding from the Spanish Inquisition, until their presence was finally extinguished.

In Balkan history, historical writing on the topic of conversion to Islam was, and still is, a highly charged political issue. It is intrinsically linked to the issues of formation of national identities and rival territorial claims of the Balkan states. The generally accepted nationalist discourse of the current Balkan historiography defines all forms of Islamization as results of the Ottoman government's centrally organized policy of conversion or dawah. The truth is that Islamization in each Balkan country took place in the course of many centuries, and its nature and phase was determined not by the Ottoman government but by the specific conditions of each locality. Ottoman conquests were initially military and economic enterprises, and religious conversions were not their primary objective. True, the statements surrounding victories all celebrated the incorporation of territory into Muslim domains, but the actual Ottoman focus was on taxation and making the realms productive, and a religious campaign would have disrupted that economic objective.

Ottoman Islamic standards of toleration allowed for autonomous "nations" (millets) in the Empire, under their own personal law and under the rule of their own religious leaders. As a result, vast areas of the Balkans remained mostly Christian during the period of Ottoman domination. In fact, the Eastern Orthodox Churches had a higher position in the Ottoman Empire, mainly because the Patriarch resided in Istanbul and was an officer of the Ottoman Empire. In contrast, Roma

Ottoman Islamic standards of toleration allowed for autonomous "nations" (millets) in the Empire, under their own personal law and under the rule of their own religious leaders. As a result, vast areas of the Balkans remained mostly Christian during the period of Ottoman domination. In fact, the Eastern Orthodox Churches had a higher position in the Ottoman Empire, mainly because the Patriarch resided in Istanbul and was an officer of the Ottoman Empire. In contrast, Roman Catholics, while tolerated, were suspected of loyalty to a foreign power (the Papacy). It is no surprise that the Roman Catholic areas of Bosnia, Kosovo and northern Albania, ended up with more substantial conversions to Islam. The defeat of the Ottomans in 1699 by the Austrians resulted in their loss of Hungary and present-day Croatia. The remaining Muslim converts in both elected to leave "lands of unbelief" and moved to territory still under the Ottomans. Around this point in time, new European ideas of romantic nationalism started to seep into the Empire, and provided the intellectual foundation for new nationalistic ideologies and the reinforcement of the self-image of many Christian groups as subjugated peoples.

As a rule, the Ottomans did not require followers of Greek Orthodoxy to become Muslims, although many did so in order to avert the socioeconomic hardships of Ottoman rule[70] One by one, the Balkan nationalities asserted their independence from the Empire, and frequently the presence of members of the same ethnicity who had converted to Islam presented a problem from the point of view of the now dominant new national ideology, which narrowly defined the nation as members of the local dominant Orthodox Christian denomination.[71] Some Muslims in the Balkans chose to leave, while many others were forcefully expelled to what was left of the Ottoman Empire.[71] This demographic transition can be illustrated by the decrease in the number of mosques in Belgrade, from over 70 in 1750 (before Serbian independence in 1815), to only three in 1850.

Since the 1960s, many Muslims have migrated to Western Europe. They have come as immigrants, guest workers, asylum seekers or as part of family reunification. As a result, Muslim population in Europe has steadily risen.

A Pew Forum study, published in January 2011, forecast an increase of proportion of Muslims in European population from 6% in 2010 to 8% in 2030.[72]

A Pew Forum study, published in January 2011, forecast an increase of proportion of Muslims in European population from 6% in 2010 to 8% in 2030.[72]