Franco Cardini

Europe and Islam: Encounters and Confrontations

1 The Birth of Islam and the Break-up of Mediterranean Unity

The new religious faith of Islam, which originated in the Arabian peninsula in the early seventh century, spread rapidly after the death of its founder, Mohammed, in 632. It completely transformed the Asian and African areas of the Mediterranean. Within a quarter of a century it had absorbed the Persian empire and compelled the Byzantine empire to change its policies. The Arabs who brought the new faith occupied the coasts and some of the inland parts of Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and northern Africa, which were the recruitment areas for the fleets of the Eastern Roman Empire. The conversion of their populations to Islam ...

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