FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SPREAD OF ISLAM TO THE EAST AFRICAN COAST

By 1500 AD, Islam was the strongest influencing factor at the E. African coast. There are many factors that facilitated the introduction and the spread of Islam at the E. African coast which include the following:-

The Arabs came and settled at the coast, they started trading with the local people at the coast whereby they carried out barter trade. The item from the interior and along the coast of E. Africa. Thus this trade, there was instructions between Arabs and Africans and the process Islam was spread. 

Intermarriages: This was anotherstrong factor responsiblefor the spread of Islam on the coast of E. Africa. When the Arabs arrived at the coast, they married black women who produced children that were automatically Muslims. The number of Muslims increased at the coast a situation that led to the development f Islam

The introduction of Kiswahili language: Swahili was a mixture of the Bantu language and Arabic. The development of this language was a very big factor in the development of Islam at the coast because it eased communication between the Arabs and Africans thereby earning the preaching of Islam.

The role of Muslim scholars, it is noted that Muslim scholars visited the coast, they wrote and even drew maps locating the coast of East Africa E.G. Ibin Batuuta and the information that was produced was taken to Arabia and parts of the world thus advertising the coast which later facilitated the coming of more Arabs muslims who eventually spread Islam.

The hospitality of people of E. Africa. The warm welcome accorded to Arab Muslims by the coastal people facilitated the spread of Islam by providing accommodation to Arab Muslims.

Introduction of Sharia. It is noted that the Arabs introduced Islamic laws as a code of conduct which at a later stage helped many people to convert to Islam. The effective implementation of Sharia especially in matters of family law inheritance, commercial transactions etc attracted many people to Islam.

The construction of mosques and Quranic schools. It’s on record that the Arabs constructed Muslim infrastructures like mosques and schools in areas like Mombasa, Malindi, and Kilwa etc. The mosques worked as coordination centres, prayer places and sometimes as places to celebrate Muslim festivals. The Quranic schools helped the teaching of Islam because the Quran and Hadith of prophet were part of the religion a situation that facilitated Islam at the coast.

The role of slave trade.  Much as the practice retarded the spread of Islam, to some extent it facilitated the spread of Islam. It was automatic that one had to behave like his master even without being forced.

The provision of employment to Africans by the Arabs. It is noted that when the Arabs reached at the coast, they introduced plantation and Agriculture and they offered to people who preferred to behave as they behaved. Therefore most of Africans adopted Islam because it was the way of life for the Arabs.

Presence of favourable climate. This factor facilitated the Arabs to come and settle at the E. African coast, in the process they found themselves spreading Islam hence developing the religion.

Introduction of Arabic language at the coast. This was a very important factor because most of Islamic literature like the Holy Quran, Hadith of the prophet etc were written in Arabic. Therefore if became easier for African to learn the principles of Islam after being introduced to Arabic language.

  • The Arab way of eating was perhaps another factor that made Africans to admire Islam. For resistance the Arabs would wash their hands before eating, eat together from one plate while sitting down etc. This level of hygiene and brotherhood attracted Africans who were always invited but not a chased away to share the meal.
  • Expulsion of the Portuguese from East African coast.
  • Proxicimity of East Africa to Middle East.
  • Presence of valuable trade items like gold, ivory etc.
  • The role of sheikhs.
  • Presence of Indian Ocean and monsoon winds.

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