Trading and commerce were important to the religion of Islam because they gave Muslims a reason to travel the world and spread Allah’s teachings.
Much of Islam’s spread can be traced back to the work of Islamic traders – it was the merchants of the Islamic Empire who first brought the religion to Africa and Europe, and established it as a dominant political force.
They achieved this by boosting the economies of the countries they visited, settling down with native people there, and gradually raising a generation of Muslims that became the majority population.
Being a merchant was an extremely common job in the Islamic Empire, and Islamic traders travelled great distances to sell their wares.
This is because, before the spread of the Islamic Empire, many resources from the Middle East had not yet been discovered or resold internationally.
The work of Islamic traders brought many new ideas – such as developments in medicine, technology, mathematics – to the rest of the world. This had a great impact on society’s development.
Trading also furthered the spread of Islam through the import and export of slaves. The trading of slaves was an important part of the economy of the Islamic Empire, and most slaves were forced to convert to Islam to suit their masters. Because of this, the working class of society became predominately Muslim as the years passed.
Despite the vast amount of territory controlled by the Islamic Empire, nearly every country within it used the same currency. This made it easier for Islamic traders to sell their wares.
The main Islamic coins were the dinar and the dirham, which were a gold and silver coin respectively.
Because these coins were expensive to manufacture, large transactions were instead made using paper money called suftaja, signed by financial officials to prove their authenticity.
This made trade even easier for Islamic merchants, as they wouldn’t have to drag huge carts of gold behind them wherever they went. The suftaja could be exchanged for coins in whatever city the merchants arrived in.
The most prominent trading capital of the Islamic Empire was the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire from the Middle Ages onward. At its time, Constantinople was one of the richest cities in the world.
It acted as a bridge between Europe, Asia, and North Africa, connecting the three continents in one major trading hub. This made Constantinople a very wealthy city, and encouraged merchants of all ethnicities to congregate there and share their wares.
Islamic merchants travelled in large groups of traders called “caravans.” Merchant caravans usually had somewhere between 6-50 members, although this number could be even higher depending on what they were selling.
Merchant caravans often had extremely large distances to travel, and because of this, brought many professionals along with them to aid their journey. Caravans would often include entertainers, doctors, midwives, and even hunters to make the journey more sustainable.
Merchant caravans usually travelled by foot, but the wealthier caravans would move from place to place using camels.
Camels are desert animals, and were one of the few species capable of surviving in harsh conditions like those of the Middle East and Africa. Because of this, they were the ideal animal to carry merchants’ wares, and sometimes members of the caravan.
Camels were one of the most sought-after animals in the Islamic Empire because of this – just have one greatly increased the amount of money one could earn trading.
– Through their travels, they could spread Allah’s message to many people and encourage them to convert to Islam.
– The dinar and dirham.
– Camels, for their use in transport and trade.