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Religious Traditions in Late Middle Ages

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In the middle ages in the Middle East, the empire in reign was known as Hulegu’s empire. Hulegu’s rule had great impact on religion, because, during his invasion of Iraq, he used brutal force burning mosques and palaces (Lockard 266, 4|). His army tried to get into Egypt, but the natives had strong Islamic background and defended their city in the name of defending their religion. The Mongols who were led by Hulegu eventually settled in Persia where they killed all the Abbasids but later embraced Islamic religion. This was done in 1258 CE. Their descendants in Russia also became Muslims, and this is how Islamic religion expanded to Russia and became stronger in Iraq and Persia.

The Mamluks, who had defended the capture of Egypt by Hulegu, ruled the country and Syria from 1250 to 1500 CE. They made Egypt the richest Middle Eastern state. They then expanded their rule to Arabia capturing Mecca and Medina (Lockard 267, 3). The capture of the two cities was significant to Islamic religion, because the Mamluks were able to control Muslim pilgrims to Mecca. They became rich, because they could tax the flow of pilgrims into Mecca.

The Christian religion at this time had disintegrated into two predominant denominations, namely the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. The Christian church as well as the Islamic religion was greatly influenced by power shifts in the territory where they had blossomed. During the thirteenth century, the Mamluks were eventually defeated by the Ottoman ho had taken advantage of a vacuum created by the rule of Constantinople on the Byzantine in western Eurasia. This was a major link between the Middle Eastern Islamic religion and the European Christian religion. Ottoman also defeated the greatest power of Christianity in southeastern Europe, Serbia. Their effected the Christian religion converting Christians into Muslims because the Ottomans favored Muslims in taxes. This was mostly due to economic reasons where most Serbia-speaking and Albanian Christians adopted the Islamic religion. This created a clear division between Orthodox, Catholic, and Muslim people which was a recipe for complicated politics in the state. In 1453, sultan Mehmed conquered Constantinople and converted the city into Istanbul, the Ottoman capital. During his rule, he allowed all religious denominations to prosper where the religious leaders were given the authority to administer to the people of their corresponding faiths thus making Istanbul a multiethnic and multi religious city.

Religious Traditions in Early Modern and Modern Ages (1500-1930 CE)

In the fifteenth century, Muslims and Christians engaged in trade freely because the Islamic rule allowed all religions to prosper in Istanbul. Due to this exchange of trade and culture, the European Christians benefited by acquiring scientific and technological skills which were imported into Europe (western). Scientific knowledge led to criticism of the Christian church which caused the diversification of ideas (religious) in western societiies (Lockard 269, 2).

Between the fifteenth and the nineteenth century, both Islamic and Christian religions were focused on expanding from their original areas to neighboring and far off places. Christianity spread into the United States of America where there was high rate of immigration as a result of population rise in Europe. On the other hand, the spread of Islamic religion into Africa was due to trade where the Arabs move Africans from their places of origin and sold them as slaves in the Mediterranean region. The spread of Islamic religion in Africa was encouraged by acceptance of Islam by rulers in western Africa. East Africa was slow to adopt Islamic religion because there was no state large enough to act as a launching pad of Islamic law. 

The spread of Islamic religion in Africa was aided by Kabaka Mutesa of Buganda (now Uganda) in (1856-84) who declared Islamic religion the state religion. When his rule was threatened by the spread of Islam, he put to death some followers and later tried to impress Europeans with his interest in Christianity. Islam, however, survived, and, today, a part of the Buganda is still dominated by Islam adherents (Clarke, 176, 2). The era was marked by a widespread difference between Muslims and Christians because they introduced different views especially on matters concerning creation. While Christians took hold in many western societies, Islam took hold in the Arabic countries as well as some African states, mostly the coastline of Africa, which it reached before Christianity.

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