Need Help With Geography Homework Forum Posts

I need this by Sunday July 9th, noon Alaska Time. 

I need a well written 3 paragraph (each paragraph 5 – 7 sentences) on the following.

What role has the Islamic religion played in the history Southwest Asia and Northern Africa since the 7th century?  In what ways have other aspects of their society, polity, economy, and culture impacted the people that Muslim soldiers, merchants, and settlers conquered?  Please, refer to examples in your textbook in responding to these questions

Then i need another well written 3 paragraph (5 – 7 sentences) reply to another students paper.  Below is the students paper that needs to be responded to (this was there paper that answered the above questions).

Islam was introduced in Arabia in the 7th century when the Muslim Arabs fled from the persecution of the Pagan Quraysh tribe. When the Muslims defeated the Pagans, some returned to Arabia, but many decided to stay there and established Muslim communities along the Somali coastline. The local Somalis adopted the Islamic faith well before the faith even took root in its place of origin.

     For the polytheistic and pagan societies, apart from the religious and spiritual reasons each individual may have had, conversion to Islam “represented the response of a tribal, pastoral population to the need for a larger framework for political and economic integration, a more stable state, and a more imaginative and encompassing moral vision to cope with the problems of a tumultuous society. In contrast, for sedentary and often already monotheistic societies, Islam was substituted for a Byzantine or Sassanian political identity and for a Christian, Jewish or Zoroastrian religious affiliation. Conversion initially was neither required nor necessarily wished for: (The Arab conquerors) did not require the conversion as much as the subordination of non-Muslim peoples. At the outset, they were hostile to conversions because new Muslims diluted the economic and status advantages of the Arabs.

     Only in subsequent centuries, with the development of the religious doctrine of Islam and with that the understanding of the Muslim ummah, did mass conversion take place. The new understanding by the religious and political leadership in many cases led to a weakening or breakdown of the social and religious structures of parallel religious communities such as Christians and Jews. The caliphs of the Arab dynasty established the first schools inside the empire which taught Arabic language and Islamic studies. They furthermore began the ambitious project of building mosques across the empire, many of which remain today as the most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world, such as the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. At the end of the Umayyad period, less than 10% of the people in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Spain were Muslim. Only on the Arabian Peninsula was the proportion of Muslims among the population higher than this.

     What is most striking about the early expansion of Islam is its rapidity and success. Western scholars have marveled at it, and Muslim tradition has viewed the conquests as a miraculous proof or historic validation of the truth of Islam’s claims and a sign of God’s guidance. Within a decade, Arab forces overran the Byzantine and Persian armies, exhausted by years of warfare, and conquered Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Persia, and Egypt. The momentum of these early victories was extended to a series of brilliant battles under great generals like Khalid ibn al-Walid and Amr ibn al-As, which extended the boundaries of the Muslim empire to Morocco and Spain in the west and across Central Asia to India in the east. Driven by the economic rewards from conquest of richer, more developed areas, united and inspired by their new faith, Muslim armies proved to be formidable conquerors and effective rulers, builders rather than destroyers. They replaced the conquered countries, indigenous rulers and armies, but preserved much of their government, bureaucracy, and culture.

     For many in the conquered territories, it was no more than an exchange of masters, one that brought peace to peoples demoralized and disaffected by the casualties and heavy taxation that resulted from the years of Byzantine-Persian warfare. Local communities were free to continue to follow their own way of life in internal, domestic affairs. In many ways, local populations found Muslim rule more flexible and tolerant than that of Byzantium and Persia. Religious communities were free to practice their faith to worship and be governed by their religious leaders and laws in such areas as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In exchange, they were required to pay tribute, a poll tax (jizya) that entitled them to Muslim protection from outside aggression and exempted them from military service. Thus, they were called the “protected ones” (dhimmi). In effect, this often meant lower taxes, greater local autonomy, rule by fellow Semites with closer linguistic and cultural ties than the hellenized, Greco-Roman élites of Byzantium, and greater religious freedom for Jews and indigenous Christians. Most of the Christian churches, such as the Nestorians, Monophysites, Jacobites, and Copts, were persecuted as heretics and schismatics by Christian orthodoxy. For these reasons, some Jewish and Christian communities aided the invading armies, regarding them as less oppressive than their imperial masters. In many ways, the conquests brought a Pax Islamica to an embattled area, the conquests destroyed little: what they did suppress were imperial rivalries and sectarian bloodletting among the newly subjected population. The Muslims tolerated Christianity, but they disestablished it; henceforward Christian life and liturgy, its endowments, politics and theology, would be a private and not a public affair. By an exquisite irony, Islam reduced the status of Christians to that which the Christians had earlier thrust upon the Jews, with one difference. The reduction in Christian status was merely judicial; it was unaccompanied by either systematic persecution or a blood lust, and generally, though not everywhere and at all times, unmarred by vexatious behavior.

       A common issue associated with the spread of Islam is the role of jihad, so-called holy war. While Westerners are quick to characterize Islam as a religion spread by the sword, modern Muslim apologists sometimes explain jihad as simply defensive in nature. In its most general sense, jihad in the Quran and in Muslim practice refers to the obligation of all Muslims to strive (jihad, self-exertion) or struggle to follow God’s will. This includes both the struggle to lead a virtuous life and the universal mission of the Muslim community to spread God’s rule and law through teaching, preaching, and, where necessary, armed conflict. Contrary to popular belief, the early conquests did not seek to spread the faith through forced conversion but to spread Muslim rule. Many early Muslims regarded Islam as a solely Arab religion.

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