Had Muslims managed to conquer Anatolia and Constantinople in the 600s or early 700s, would they have expanded into the Balkans and beyond afterwards?

Futurist

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Had Muslims managed to conquer Anatolia and Constantinople in the 600s or early 700s, would they have expanded into the Balkans and beyond afterwards? If so, where and when would they have stopped expanding?
 
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Theodoric

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Mar 2012
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Umayyad Empire yes, Abbasid Empire no. Although I could see the Abbasid's establishing a full Mediterranean trade Empire through more passive means. And if the Umayyad's conquered the region, it's also doubtful that the area would become "Muslim" any time soon as they were not particularly motivated toward proselytism; particularly among Christians and Jews. The Early Islamic Empires did not appear to see Christianity and Judaism as alien/enemy/rival faiths the same way European Christians saw Islam and Judaism.
 
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Futurist

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Umayyad Empire yes, Abbasid Empire no. Although I could see the Abbasid's establishing a full Mediterranean trade Empire through more passive means. And if the Umayyad's conquered the region, it's also doubtful that the area would become "Muslim" any time soon as they were not particularly motivated toward proselytism; particularly among Christians and Jews. The Early Islamic Empires did not appear to see Christianity and Judaism as alien/enemy/rival faiths the same way European Christians saw Islam and Judaism.
In the long-run, though, wouldn't the odds have been pretty good that most of the region would have become Islamized? I mean, wouldn't there have been gradual pressure to convert to Islam in order to avoid paying the jizya tax? Also, once one converts, one can't go back since apostasy is punished by death in Islam--which is really sad. :(

I can see Balkan Slavs accepting Islam in this scenario.
What about other Europeans to the north, east, and west of the Balkans?
 
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Maki

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I don't really think the Arabs would have expanded that much. At some point I think such an empire would became too big and too difficult to rule.
 
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Futurist

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I don't really think the Arabs would have expanded that much. At some point I think such an empire would became too big and too difficult to rule.
You do have a point there. That said, though, if no one is actually going to be physically stopping these Islamic expansions, then I could still see a more gradual expansion of Islam into other parts of Europe in this scenario. Even small Islamic states were sometimes capable of expansion--for instance, the Ottoman Empire was extremely tiny in 1300 but later became an extremely powerful force.
 

Tulun

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Nov 2010
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I don't really think the Arabs would have expanded that much. At some point I think such an empire would became too big and too difficult to rule.
And would have to clarify if we talk about an empire expanding, or religion? If the Umayyads lets say capture Constantinople and settle there, they themselves wouldn't need to expand further for the spread of the religion, as you suggested also there would be a good chance for Balkan Slavs also adopt the religion and so on then their neighbors etc. Lets say Danubian Bulgarians or later the Kievan Rus (in reality too they apparently also considered adopting Islam before opting for Byzantine Christianity). And if they became muslims, then these new converts would spread the religion further. Having common religion means joining their diplomatic network, transmission of the know-how from that direction etc. A muslim Constantinople in the 6-700s would have a very long shadow in Central and Eastern Europe through trade networks, just like Byzantium and their variant of Christianity had in reality. So in that case it would be possible that pagan Central, Eastern and maybe some of the Northern Europeans too would convert to Islam.

Also in this case (Byzantium falls that early) muslims would advance more easily in Italy too.
 
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Kirialax

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Given the skin-deep or non-existent Islam of many of these theoretical conquerors and the distance between Damascus and Constantinople, here's a crazy idea: the conquerors become the culturally conquered. The Umayyads were half-Romanized anyway, running a Roman administration, and early Islam was fully integrated into the Christological controversies of the near east. Very little separates a Mu'awiya from the local Christians helping run his empire. Now, if we're talking about the Marwanid-Umayyad state, things might be a bit different.

Or more likely, the Umayyads would implode. Damascus had trouble keeping Mesopotamia in line, how well would they handle owning the prestigious capital of the Roman Empire?
 

Theodoric

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In the long-run, though, wouldn't the odds have been pretty good that most of the region would have become Islamized? I mean, wouldn't there have been gradual pressure to convert to Islam in order to avoid paying the jizya tax? Also, once one converts, one can't go back since apostasy is punished by death in Islam--which is really sad. :(


What about other Europeans to the north, east, and west of the Balkans?
I'm thinking European Islam would probably turn out much like European Christianity due to the economic and cultural backgrounds of the region. There is no death penalty for apostasy in Islam in any Western Country that I am aware of, I have worked with ex-Muslims and went to school with others. Andalusian Iberia was one of the most liberated areas of the world during its time.

It's difficult to say for certain, my guess as to what would happen:
* Manorial system in Europe would have disappeared more quickly, particularly in the South - we would see FAR more of the sort of trade society that emerged in the Levant, Venice, and among the Genovese.
* Islamic conversion would be far lower in Africa, Levant, and Asia Minor - a lot of the heavy conversion occurred as the result of economic and military disasters (with European and North-East Asian invaders), and the world would have been able to deal FAR better with those if it were more unified - this would have severely hamstrung extremist factions and philosophies.
* Christianity would still be the majority religion in Europe, today.
* Islam would be far more secular in nature today, globally - as the golden age wouldn't have ended.
* The Renaissance would have hit Europe FAR sooner, as the expansion of trade and economic success would have hit Europe WAY sooner.
* Due to the shorter life of the Manorial system, it's possible that Slavic Russia might not have developed as well as it did. Perhaps even Northern Europe -- even though the Manorial system was more of a short transition between the Viking age and the rise of the trade Empires (like the Hansa, Visby, Norway) -- would have fallen behind in development.

That's my take at least. In short, I think Islam would be WAY different today if the early Empires had been more successful in their conquests. I am on the side that feels much of the former Roman Empire may have been better off, but the parts of the Empire that didn't fall within the Roman borders probably would have been worse off. Again, all speculation (as is the name of the forum).
 
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Theodoric

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Here's another thing to consider. The Mongol Empire MAY have still been successful in destroying the Eastern half of the Empire.
That means Europe would have been the most powerful and influential region of the Islamic world. What would the nature of the Roman Caliphate have been? What role would the Roman Catholic Vatican have played in its politics?
Would we have seen an era of absolute Monarchies? Or would things have been more secular and republican? When answering, consider it's unlikely the European varieties Islam of this timeline would resemble today's Middle Eastern varieties of Islam.
 
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