ISLAM ADOPTION ESSAY 5
Islamreligion spread fast since its emergence on the Arabian Peninsula.Within a few years it had reached many communities. The impact ofIslam on communities that adopted it was great as it changed theirsocial, political, financial and economic lives. Two specificcommunities that adopted Islam were the Berbers from North Africa andthe Pathans from India.
TheBerbers are a community of heterogeneous people who share a commongeographical origin from North Africa. The Berber community come fromthe same ancestry and shared a strong, rich culture that was longestablished, until the Muslim conquest in the seventh century. TheMuslim conquest forever changed the Berbers, as they were Islamizedand Arabized leaving little traces of their pre-Islamic heritage. TheMuslim conquest is written in history as a time that led to massivetransformation and greatly influenced the Berbers. In 639A.D, sevenyears after Muhammad’s death, Muslim armies reached Africa.According to Carpenter (2008), the Islam conquered North Africaspecifically the Maghreb in seven decades. The Muslim conquestremains historic as it took place from the Nile to the Atlanticmaking it more complete than any former conquests. It changes alsoseemed permanent and greater. Muslim armies moved west afterconquering Byzantine Egypt where indigenous tribes were hostile tothem. The armies encountered fierce resistance from disparate deserttribes who eventually grouped themselves under the name Berbers.Invading Muslim armies finally suppressed Berbers by 700 AD.
Despiteresisting the Muslims until the eight century, the Berbers ultimatelyconverted to Islam. Besides that, many of them also adopted Arabic astheir main language. Though the Berbers did not assimilate Islam,they became an essential part of the expanding Muslim empire. Despitemost Berbers being willing to convert to Islam, they wanted tomaintain their political independence. They lacked leadership and astable political system and thus were defeated by the Arabs in the9thcentury. Because of the invasion, the Berbers peasant economy waslargely affected. As the Arab people started treating the Berbersequally, empire building and an established system of leadership wasestablished. The Berbers became politically stable and even startedconverting other communities to Islam. Intellectually the conversionof Berbers to Islam led to adoption of the Arabic language andculture (Shatzmiller, 2000). To date, Berbers adhere to Islamictraditions such as religious feasts and fasts with an exception of afew not participating in the Ramadan fast. However, the Islamicreligion largely influences the Berber culture through Islamicmythology that dictates existence of spirits and djinns. They readand closely follow the Koran observing Islamic holidays.
ThePathan from India is another community that adopted Islam religion ina place where Hinduism dominates. They are one of the four majorMuslim communities said to be an immigrants from neighboringAfghanistan. According to Caroe (1958), the successive Musliminvasions of 11-12thcentury drove them to India. They formed a part of Turk Afghan armiesa part of the raiders under Mahmud of Ghazni. Their political powerreached its peak when Sher Shan an Afghan ruler established his ruleover North India but was short-lived. In 1947 after independence, thePathan left in large numbers to Pakistan a newly created nation then.To date most of them inhabit Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Sincethe conversion to Islam, the Pathan have gone through many changes.The Islam religion serves as a unifying and essential element intheir lives. It unites them with other Islamic communities and helpsthem connect spiritually. Though the Pathan had an expressiveculture, adopting Islam had an impact on them (Caroe, 1958). Theyorganized their political system to suit the Islamic religion andincorporated Islamic practices and ceremonies into their system. Theybelong to the Sunni sect and worship Allah. Religious leaders werewell organized. At the village level, the Mullah played the role ofleadership, a trained religious leader. Religious leaders performedroles like making calls for prayers five times a day, tending to themosque and officiating rites of passages like birth, death, marriageand circumcision. The religious ceremonies include Id-ul-Fitr,Ramadan celebrations, fasting, ritual slaying of sheep and ProphetMohammed’s birthday (Akhter, 2009). The Pathan communities followtheir faith strictly and practice Haj at least once in theirlifetime.
Familyhonor and self-respect is a great virtue for Pathan’s as dictatedby Islam. Revenge and blood feuds are also evident in this communityand followed faithfully. Having martial backgrounds, many Pathanyouth serve in the defense services. Socially they are interactiveand practice businesses. They Islamic influence is seen on the foodsthey eat as they do not eat pork. Their dishes are spicy and can onlyeat halal meat with staple foods like rice, maize, wheat and specialdishes like biryani, pilau, korma and spicy fried mutton/beef. Theyonly marry from Muslim communities with marriage arrangements takingplace through family elders. Polygamy is also acceptable andconsanguineous marriages. Before Islam, polygamy was not commonamongst the Pathan communities. The influence of Islam on the Pathanhas been massive.
Akhter,S. (2009). Faith& philosophy of Islam.Delhi: Kalpaz.
Caroe,O. (1958). The Pathans 550b.c.-a.d. 1957. London: Macmillan New York: St. Martin`s Press.
Carpenter,A. (2008). Influenceof Islam on the Berbers,Demand Media, retrieved from http://people.opposingviews.com/influence-islam-berbers-3652.html
Shatzmiller,M. (2000). TheBerbers and the Islamic State.Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, Google books.