Was the Arab Expansion Inevitable, and Can It Happen Without A United Faith?

As mentioned in my post prior, Islam served as the catalyst for the unification of Arab tribes, without some sort of equivalent social movement/unifying faith akin to Islam serving as a factor for the tribes to coalesce around. The tribes proved remarkably competent in taking advantage of the power vacuum within the Middle east and North Africa, and had many extremely capable warriors amongst their ranks, yet pre-Islam were disunited and were plagued by feuds and rivalries. Islam brought about a revolutionary change in which it transcended pre-existing social norms to create a radically different society, uniting the Arabs under a concept of brotherhood. Therefore without some sort of Islam-like movement to unite the tribes under a singular interest, such expansion would be unlikely.
I guess a better question then is whether Islam is necessary as the catalyst, or whether the tribes could unite around something else, whether religious or not.
 
They can expand without Islam but only if the conditions prevailing în the Near East at that time are maintained (Persia and the Roman Empire are neutralising each other). If the conditions are maintained, Mesopotamia and Syria-Palestine are too great a prize to be passed on.
 
Factor :
- use of Camel as Desert logistics train.
Camels existed for a millennium and longer, they are nothing new.

- proto Arab Agricultural Revolution which create
- large population of Arabs
What's the evidence of this revolution and why would it have affected the Arabian peninsula more, hardly known for being an agricultural center, plus expansion didn't start from Yemen but the Hejaz region.

- climatic factors that damage agricultural empires and push Arabs to expand
What climatic factors?

- spread of Monotheism (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) that replacing old religious system
Ok, why does this matter?

- increasing pressure from surrounding Empires (Romans, Persian and Axum)
- political and military knowledge absorbed from surrounding states
Ok why didn't this happen in the Assyrian, Persian or Greek period?

- various Prophet would fight each other, eventually one would emerge victorious, Arabia is small and internationally connected to have multiple regimes, while surrounded by expanding Empires.
Arabia is not small, this is a pretty ridiculous thing to say. It's not even particularly easy to traverse.
- Genghis Khan mongol empires is not unusual, there are Liao and Jin predecessor and Oirat, Dzungar, and Manchu succcesor. so periodically Eastern steppe would have one leader who unite them.
Did the Arabian peninsula have multiple empires starting from there? Right, they largely didn't, how does this prove your point? Also the Jin dynasty didn't come from the Steppe, of course if you consider the entirety of the neighbours in the north of China you are going to have some empires from time to time, this doesn't prove anything given it involved distinct populations living in distinct geographic regions.

- Arabia had arrived at same condition. Eventually some unification occur and Arabs spread. Only when there are technology and demography rebalancing occur, surrounding Agricultural Empires can suppress Arabia desert again
You didn't actually show what this new technology is and frankly you made it up.
 
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They can expand without Islam but only if the conditions prevailing în the Near East at that time are maintained (Persia and the Roman Empire are neutralising each other). If the conditions are maintained, Mesopotamia and Syria-Palestine are too great a prize to be passed on.
Even within the context of a Byzantine-Sassanid war, if the invasion happened even mere years later or if the Sassanids didn't have a civil war right when the Arabs invaded, it could have gone completely different even with Islam in the scene, let alone a scenario without it.
 
What are those exact factors? What technology did the Arabs that they didn't have before? How are geopolitical factors inevitable?
The weakened condition of both the Roman and Persian empires were caused by factors external to politics of the Arabian peninsula; for the sake of this discussion, they are "inevitable" in that they would have occurred even if Muhammad had died in childbirth.

That created the space for Muhammad's second-most-significant contribution to history, after his ideology: his military reforms. Muhammad didn't introduce new technologies. He did form a unified military built on the backs of the extant Bedouin cavalry tradition. Early military successes allowed Muhammad's armies to obtain better weaponry from captives, which he gave to nomadic tribes to secure their loyalty and grow his new military. The Rashidun were able to expand much further by building on the military core Muhammad created, much like how Philip of Macedon's work enabled his son Alexander the Great.
 
The weakened condition of both the Roman and Persian empires were caused by factors external to politics of the Arabian peninsula; for the sake of this discussion, they are "inevitable" in that they would have occurred even if Muhammad had died in childbirth.

That created the space for Muhammad's second-most-significant contribution to history, after his ideology: his military reforms. Muhammad didn't introduce new technologies. He did form a unified military built on the backs of the extant Bedouin cavalry tradition. Early military successes allowed Muhammad's armies to obtain better weaponry from captives, which he gave to nomadic tribes to secure their loyalty and grow his new military. The Rashidun were able to expand much further by building on the military core Muhammad created, much like how Philip of Macedon's work enabled his son Alexander the Great.
Ok so you think it's a snowball event caused by the succes of Muhammad, this again doesn't support your initial idea that it would happen regardless of the existence of a unifying figure.

Plus you are again not really explaining why you think this snowball effect is itself inevitable, in many other cases in history one could argue that snowball effect should have happened but it didn't.

Also this military was clearly not that unified when considering the various civil wars like the Ridda wars or the early Fitnas, who says those civil war cannot end up crippling the early state? Who says this military's success were not also caused by simple luck in having good leadership?
 
Ok so you think it's a snowball event caused by the succes of Muhammad, this again doesn't support your initial idea that it would happen regardless of the existence of a unifying figure.
No, my idea is that it would happen regardless due to any number of potential contemporaneous unifying figures. A unifying figure was very probable and, once united, their success to at least some degree against the Romans and Persians was inevitable; that it was Muhammad who led them was not.

Also this military was clearly not that unified when considering the various civil wars like the Ridda wars or the early Fitnas, who says those civil war cannot end up crippling the early state? Who says this military's success were not also caused by simple luck in having good leadership?
The same could be said about early Rome due to the Social Wars and such. That's not enough to stop a good snowball.
 
No, my idea is that it would happen regardless due to any number of potential contemporaneous unifying figures. A unifying figure was very probable and, once united, their success to at least some degree against the Romans and Persians was inevitable; that it was Muhammad who led them was not.
Ok, but you didn't yet make the case for it, why was an unifying figure probable? Why did no such figure arise and succeed in other places with a similar situation?

Also why was success against the Romans and Persians inevitable? If the Arabs were not unified at the right time to invade the wartorn Byzantines or the divided Sassanid empire(in the middle of a civil war) why would they still be successful?

The same could be said about early Rome due to the Social Wars and such. That's not enough to stop a good snowball.
Exactly it can, I don't agree with anyone saying that Roman hegemony over the Mediterranean was inevitable.
 
Im not at all sure that without Islam the arabs would be united. Its very doubtful.

Even if they united the fanaticism that invoked was of great use to them in fighting their wars. Dont forget that tough ultimately they ended up winning massivly OTL it was a close run thing. Yarmouk was a 6 day battle were they were massivly outnumbered even by a very weakened Byzantine Empire - it easily could have gone the other way. They were also fighting the Sassanids at the same time - even a slower victory in Syria could have been fatal to their efforts in Mezopotamia. Islam and the fanaticism it ispired was a huge boost to their troops without with its questionable at least if they could have won.

Exactly it can, I don't agree with anyone saying that Roman hegemony over the Mediterranean was inevitable.
Roman hegemony was not inevitable (very few things were) but also more likely than not. The reason was Rome's unique approach to citizenship which created for them a manpower pool to draw upon that was unparalelled at the time. Rome could afford to and did actually loose a number of battles the kind of which would have been and was eventually fatal to every one of the diadochi kingdoms or Carthage for the matter. Think of Hannibal: he was beating the romans left and right inflicting defeats that would have been crippling to anyone else. Finally he lost once - he could not as easily replace his army as the romans did and that one defeat was final. Its the same story for most of the states of the era. Rome had a crazy adventage in manpower at the time.
 
No, my idea is that it would happen regardless due to any number of potential contemporaneous unifying figures. A unifying figure was very probable and, once united, their success to at least some degree against the Romans and Persians was inevitable; that it was Muhammad who led them was not.
These figures only appeared in response to the success Muahmmad had. They sought to emulate his influence and would purport to being his Prophetic successors. As stated twice prior, the nature of the Islamic society that Muhammed cultivated was ground-breaking in the region. The conflicts that emerged between these “unifying” figures that you reference, and the Muslim community, stemmed from the fact that they were attempting to seize power in the vacuum created following Muhammad’s death. In fact, a majority of them, only purported to Prophethood following his death. Furthermore the term unifying is inappropriate in such context, they failed to gain much support apart from their own individual tribes within the Ansar. Without Muhammad, it is highly unlikely these figures would of appeared.
 
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Historians right now are furiously debating the nature of pre-Islamic "Arabia" with some going so far as suggesting that before Mohammed there was no such things as Arab identity (Peter Webb). I think it depends on your interpretation of the history. I think certainly the Arabs/proto-Arabs/Ma'addites were on the rise before/without Mohammed. See Dhu Qar and other less mythologized victories over Byzantines and Sasanian forces. The Empires used the Arabians as mercenaries and peripheral/frontier vassals, but did away with their clients the Lakhmids and Ghassanids which helped create the power vacuum which helped the Islamic conquests.

I think you could see Arab Conquests without Mohammed, but not The Arab Conquest. Without religion as a unifying feature, I wonder if there is the possibility for fragmented arabic realms emerging from the ruins of Sasanian mesopotamia or parts of the Byzantine levant.
 
I think you could see Arab Conquests without Mohammed, but not The Arab Conquest. Without religion as a unifying feature, I wonder if there is the possibility for fragmented arabic realms emerging from the ruins of Sasanian mesopotamia or parts of the Byzantine levant.
That's what I think. It'd be smaller than the state which spanned from Spain to India, and divided among more power centers, but there would be some conquests made by the Arabs in the region around the Arabian peninsula.

No telling whether they'd LAST or not, but...
 
Possibly less of a massive invasion of the Middle East, North Africa, etc., and more a bunch of people leaving as settlers and assimilating.
 
I would say much later, the ummayds where the one build the Arab identity
Yes, that is more in line with Webb's thesis, however, I think you would agree that an Arabic identity began to be (if you agree with Webb) constructed due to Mohammad's rise during his lifetime to an extent, even if it wasn't necessarily "complete" until the Ummayads set about writing their histories and poetry.

Personally, not being a Middle Eastern specialist, it seems Webb goes too far, which seems to the academic consensus. I also think we place far too much emphasis on specific labels, that identities can remain reasonably static despite changing labels, I see this in other areas of history. It seems to me that there was, essentially, a Pre-Islamic identity, Ma'add, which essentially can be called a proto-Arabic identity. Just because such labels, either Arab or Ma'add, aren't considered significant to the people they apply to, doesn't mean they didn't exist in some form in their consciousness or in real terms regardless of their perceptions. That's not to say that what can be called Arabic in the 9th century is likewise proto-Arabic/Ma'add in the 6th century. Interestingly the Lakhmids and Ghassanids generally seem to be considered outside of the proto-Arabic identity due to their Imperial associations. I wonder if, in non-Islamic Arabic conquests, how religious differences will influence the establishment of Arabic realms, which ones will be Monophysite or Orthodox, and which ones will be Nestorian, etc. I think the Sasanians are in deep sh*t after losing to Heraclius, but I don't know if the Byzantines will fall so lackadaisically to a non-unified Arab army.
 
Yes, that is more in line with Webb's thesis, however, I think you would agree that an Arabic identity began to be (if you agree with Webb) constructed due to Mohammad's rise during his lifetime to an extent, even if it wasn't necessarily "complete" until the Ummayads set about writing their histories and poetry.

Personally, not being a Middle Eastern specialist, it seems Webb goes too far, which seems to the academic consensus. I also think we place far too much emphasis on specific labels, that identities can remain reasonably static despite changing labels, I see this in other areas of history. It seems to me that there was, essentially, a Pre-Islamic identity, Ma'add, which essentially can be called a proto-Arabic identity. Just because such labels, either Arab or Ma'add, aren't considered significant to the people they apply to, doesn't mean they didn't exist in some form in their consciousness or in real terms regardless of their perceptions. That's not to say that what can be called Arabic in the 9th century is likewise proto-Arabic/Ma'add in the 6th century. Interestingly the Lakhmids and Ghassanids generally seem to be considered outside of the proto-Arabic identity due to their Imperial associations. I wonder if, in non-Islamic Arabic conquests, how religious differences will influence the establishment of Arabic realms, which ones will be Monophysite or Orthodox, and which ones will be Nestorian, etc. I think the Sasanians are in deep sh*t after losing to Heraclius, but I don't know if the Byzantines will fall so lackadaisically to a non-unified Arab army.
I have doubts that a non-unified Arab conquests would be able to deal with the Sassanids or post-Sassanid polities in the plateau as rapidly as OTL as well.
 
I have doubts that a non-unified Arab conquests would be able to deal with the Sassanids or post-Sassanid polities in the plateau as rapidly as OTL as well.
I didn't mean to suggest they'd conquer the whole Sasanian Empire, however, they'd probably conquer much of their westernmost territories, the Sasanians were folding by the 7th century and didn't put up too much of a stiff resistance after the fall of Ctesiphon. Now, in this TL, could they hold on to their core territory east of the Zagros, even after losing Ctesiphon? They could, imo. Could a Zoroastrian Persian/Iranian state (the Sasanian dynasty might not survive) eventually even retake Mesopotamia? Possibly if, as we've suggested the Arabian polities here are less united.
 
The Arabs are likely to raid and maybe nab a patch of land here and there, the nearby empires are on the verge of collapse and it'll take a mild breeze to knock parts of them down.

However, to think that some other unifying figure is likely to appear and repeat what Muhammad did is crazy. Smacks of historical determinism to me.

By all accounts, Muhammad was a political and military genius, not to mention that the Rashidun rolled two 10/10 leaders right after him as well. The rise of the Caliphates is one of the most bizarre and crazy things I can think of that actually happened OTL. To the point where if someone put it in a timeline we would all be yelling ASB.

There is absolutely no way that the Arab conquests as we know them happen without Muhammad.
 

CalBear

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Nope arabs where disunited and weak ,plus a lot of early Muslim come very rivals tribes If anything they remain the desert dogs as roman called the pre islamic Arabs.

This place selling short islam is disgusting
You are just about out of rope here.

This is action #10.

Stop trying to pick fights.

See ya' in 7.
 
I don't really see here why Arab expansion was "inevitable" -- it's not as though Persia and Rome had been continuously strong, and both states had warred ferociously in the past. Islam had a vital role in unifying the Arabs under a single political and religious banner; the monotheistic role of Islam was also central towards building a group identity for the Arabs & strengthening "royal" power, without which there would have been no impetus for "spreading the religion" (note here that spread of religion does not at all necessitate mass-conversion).

It is more than possible that political upheaval would take place -- but the Arabs would likely not have been the catalyst of that without Islam. The likely alternative in such a case IMHO is probably upheaval by a Central Asian "Turkic" tribe, which had been harrassing Sassanid frontiers anyhow & which could conceivably gain the loyalty of the Seven Parthian Clans that formed the backbone of the state.
 
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