Islam in Asia

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Islam began in Asia in the 7th century during the lifetime of Muhammad. A number of adherents of Islam have lived in Asia & especially West Asia and South Asia since the beginning of Islamic history. Islam is said to have arrived in Manipur (Northeast India) in 615 AD via Chittagong which is part of present-day Bangladesh's coast in the age of silk route (both onland and by sea) trades when Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas (b.594-d.674 AD) and others, namely Uwais al-Qarni (594-657), Khunais ibn Hudhaifa, Saeed ibn Zaid, Wahb Abu Kabcha, Jahsh and Jafar ibn Abu Talib preached there. The Barmakid family was an early supporter of the Abbasid Revolution against the Umayyads and of As-Saffah. This gave Khalid ibn Barmak considerable influence, and his son Yaḥyā ibn Khālid (d. 806) was the vizier of the caliph al-Mahdi (ruled 775–785) and tutor of Hārūn ar-Rashīd (ruled 786-809). Yaḥyā's sons al-Faḍl and Ja'far (767-803) both occupied high offices under Harun.

Many Barmakids were patrons of the sciences, which greatly helped the propagation of Indian science and scholarship from the neighboring Academy of Gundishapur into the Arabic world. They patronized scholars such as Gebir and Jabril ibn Bukhtishu. They are also credited with the establishment of the first paper mill in Baghdad. The power of the Barmakids in those times is reflected in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights; the vizier Ja'far appears in several stories, as well as a tale that gave rise to the expression “Barmecide feast”.

We know of Yaḥyā ibn Khālid al-Barmakī (d. 805 CE) as a patron of physicians and, specifically, of the translation of Hindu medical works into both Arabic and Persian. In all likelihood, however, his activity took place in the orbit of the caliphal court in Iraq, where at the behest of Hārūn ar-Rashīd (786-809), such books were translated into Arabic. Thus Khurāsān and Transoxiana were effectively bypassed in this transfer of learning from India to Islam, even though, undeniably the Barmakī's cultural outlook owed something to their land of origin, northern Afghanistan, and Yaḥyā al-Barmakī's interest in medicine may have derived from no longer identifiable family tradition.[1]

Many of the early governors of the Caliphate were Barmakids. Khalid ibn Barmak built Mansura, Sindh and later Baghdad. His son was the governor of what is now Azerbaijan.

Current status[edit]

Islam is currently the largest religion in Asia (25%) followed by Hinduism.[2] The total number of Muslims in Asia in 2010 was about 1.1 billion. Asia is home to the largest Muslim population, with West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia being particularly important regions. 62% of the world's Muslims live in Asia, with Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh having the four largest Muslim populations in the world. The spread of Islam outside of the Arabian peninsula and into other parts of the continent can be linked to the extensive trade routes connecting West Asia to China.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Volume 4, Part 2 By C. E. Bosworth, M.S. Asimov, page 300
  2. ^ [1] accessed April 3, 2012. Archived January 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]