Compared to its limited cultural impact on Europe, Islam had a much more significant effect on the countries of North Africa.
Many North African countries still have a dominant Islamic population, and the religion had a great impact on the region’s government, economy, and cultural values.
Islam is one of the major religions of the world. Islam originated in the Middle East in the year 570 A.D., when the Last Islamic Prophet, Muhammad, was born.
Islam is a monotheistic religion, which means that people of the Islamic faith only worship one God. The name of the Islamic God is Allah.
Islamic regions are called caliphates, and are ruled over by a single leader called a caliph. The expansion of the Islamic Empire is one of the major tasks of the caliph – the concept of jihad, also known as the concept of holy war, dictates that Islamic leaders must spread the religion of Islam as far as they can.
Under the concept of jihad, the Islamic Empire was led from the Middle East to North Africa shortly after the establishment of the first caliphate.
The first invasion of North Africa took place in 647 A.D., and was a resounding military success, but a huge sum of money paid by the Libyan government made the Umayyad Caliphate turn back before conquering the region.
This payment only kept Libya safe for eighteen years, however. The Islamic armies invaded again in 665 A.D., and on this trip, they conquered most of North Africa, attaining a new stretch of land that spanned all the way from Egypt to Morocco.
In doing so, the armies of the Umayyad Caliphate were forced to fight the armies of the Byzantine Empire which had occupied North Africa before them.
It was a bloody battle, and it lasted 44 years – but by 709 A.D., Northern Africa was wholly under the control of the Umayyad Caliphate.
The people of Africa were forced to convert to Islam, and most traditional beliefs were given a new place as ways to practice devotion to Allah.
While some did not convert, the pagan religion of the region quickly vanished, and the religion of Islam became a unifying factor across the continent.
The region of North Africa which fell under Islamic control was called the Maghreb, and it spanned from Egypt to the country of Mauritania.
While there are no more caliphates in the modern world, many of the countries which were once located in the Maghreb still have a predominantly Muslim population, and the region is still known by the same name.
The original occupants of the Maghreb were called the Berbers. Despite their heavy resistance to Islamic control, they were eventually forced to convert, and the Berbers became another set of Muslim peoples.
The most obvious effect of Islam in North Africa was that it unified all the region’s territories under a single empire.
Before the invasion of the Islamic armies, the countries of North Africa had been at war with each other – however, with the arrival of the Umayyad Caliphate, this infighting stopped, and the countries became allies who served the same ruler.
The Islamic armies also brought with them several technological advancements that had been unseen before in the continent.
This aided the development of North African society, and brought it more closely in line with that of Europe.
That’s why, nowadays, the countries of North Africa are so much more developed than those of the east and south– the countries of the east and south had no help in development from the Islamic Empire, and therefore progressed much more slowly than those in the north.
However, the Islamic control of North Africa also made the region a target for Christian attack. Because the Islamic armies used North Africa as a base from which to evade Europe, it attracted the attention of the Frankish armies.
The Islamic soldiers who fought for control of southern Europe were known as the Moors, and most of them were wiped out by the Christian armies in 1492.
This greatly weakened North Africa’s military forces, and left them defenseless for several centuries afterwards.
– The Umayyad Caliphate.
– The Maghreb.
– The Berbers.
– 709 A.D.