From HandWiki
Short description: Process by which a society shifts towards the religion of Islam

Islamization,[lower-alpha 1] Islamicization,[1] or Islamification (Arabic: أسلمة), refers to the process through which a society shifts towards the religion of Islam and becomes largely Muslim. Societal Islamization has historically occurred over the course of many centuries since the spread of Islam outside of the Arabian Peninsula through the early Muslim conquests, with notable shifts occurring in the Levant, Iran, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, West Africa,[2] Central Asia, South Asia (in Afghanistan, Maldives, Pakistan, and Bangladesh), Southeast Asia (in Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia), Southeastern Europe (in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo, among others), Eastern Europe (in the Caucasus, Crimea, and the Volga), and Southern Europe (in Spain, Portugal, and Sicily prior to re-Christianizations).[3] In contemporary usage, it may refer to the perceived imposition of an Islamist social and political system on a society with an indigenously different social and political background.

The English synonyms of Muslimization, in use since before 1940 (e.g., Waverly Illustrated Dictionary), convey a similar meaning. Muslimization has recently been used as a term coined to describe the overtly Muslim practices of new converts to the religion who wish to reinforce their newly acquired religious identity.[4]


Main page: Social:Spread of Islam

Historically, the process of Islamization was complex and involved merging Islamic practices with local customs. This process took place over several centuries. Scholars reject the stereotype that this process was initially "spread by the sword" or forced conversions.[5]

Modern day (1970s–present)

Modern day[when?]Islamization appears to be a return of the individual to Muslim values, communities, and dress codes, and a strengthened community.[6]

Another development is that of transnational Islam, elaborated upon by the French Islam researchers Gilles Kepel and Olivier Roy. It includes a feeling of a "growing universalistic Islamic identity" as often shared by Muslim immigrants and their children who live in non-Muslim countries:

The increased integration of world societies as a result of enhanced communications, media, travel, and migration makes meaningful the concept of a single Islam practiced everywhere in similar ways, and an Islam which transcends national and ethnic customs.[7]

This does not necessarily imply political or social organizations:

Global Muslim identity does not necessarily or even usually imply organized group action. Even though Muslims recognize a global affiliation, the real heart of Muslim religious life remains outside politics—in local associations for worship, discussion, mutual aid, education, charity, and other communal activities.[7]

A third development is the growth and elaboration of transnational military organizations. The 1980s and 90s, with several major conflicts in the Middle East, including the Arab–Israeli conflict, Afghanistan in the 1980s and 2001, and the three Gulf Wars (1980–88, 1990–91, 2003–2011) were catalysts of a growing internationalization of local conflicts. [citation needed] Figures such as Osama bin Laden and Abdallah Azzam have been crucial in these developments, as much as domestic and world politics.[7]

See also

By area

By method

  • Forced conversion to Islam
  • Conversion to Islam in prisons
  • Islamic missionary activity
  • Devshirme


  1. Also spelled Islamisation; see spelling differences.


  1. "Islamicization". The Free Dictionary. 
  2. Robinson, David, ed. (2004), "The Islamization of Africa", Muslim Societies in African History, New Approaches to African History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): pp. 27–41, doi:10.1017/CBO9780511811746.004, ISBN 978-0-521-82627-3,, retrieved 2022-11-13 
  3. Kennedy, Charles (1996). "Introduction". Islamization of Laws and Economy, Case Studies on Pakistan. Anis Ahmad, Author of introduction. Institute of Policy Studies, The Islamic Foundation. p. 19. 
  4. Lindley-Highfield, M. (2008) '"Muslimization", Mission and Modernity in Morelos: the problem of a combined hotel and prayer hall for the Muslims of Mexico'. Tourism Culture & Communication, vol. 8, no. 2, 85–96.
  5. Marcia Hermansen (2014). "Conversion to Islam in Theological and Historical Perspectives". in Lewis R. Rambo and Charles E. Farhadian. The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion. Oxford University Press. p. 632. "The process of “Islamization” was a complex and creative fusion of Islamic practices and doctrines with local customs that were considered to be sound from the perspective of developing Islamic jurisprudence. As historian Richard Bulliet has demonstrated based on the evidence of early biographical compendia, in most cases this process took centuries, so that the stereotype of Islam being initially spread by the “sword” and by forced conversions is a false representation of this complex phenomenon" 
  6. Lapidus, p. 823
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Lapidus, p. 828–30

Further reading

  • Devin De Weese, Devin A, (1994), Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde, Penn State Press, ISBN:0-271-01073-8
  • Lapidus, Ira M. (2002), A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Raphaël Liogier, Le Mythe de l'islamisation (fr), Seuil, 2012