Essay on The Effects of the Islamic Expansion on Indian Ocean Trade

Essay on The Effects of the Islamic Expansion on Indian Ocean Trade

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The Effects of the Islamic Expansion on Indian Ocean Trade

The period of 650-1000 CE is of great significance to developing Indian Ocean trade. In this essay I will present case studies of material and written evidence to provide a profound insight as to how the Islamic Expansion affected Indian Ocean trade.

Wink (1990, 7) states that, “up to the 11th century, the Muslims penetrated the countless kingdoms of al-Hind only as traders”. A century after the prophet’s death, the Islamic rule had expanded from Spain to India and the Far East. I believe an expansion of that size would most certainly have had an effect on trade and exchange of ideas. Moreover, Chaudhuri (1985, 36) is confident that the Arab conquests politically integrating Egypt, Syria, Iran, and North Africa established a zone of economic consumption, creating new market demands. Not only did the Islamic expansion form a commercial boost, but also provided safer trade routes, an outcome of the commercial law protection and judicial rights which were governed Islamic leaders.

In fact, by the 10th century, there is clear evidence of maritime expansion as a result of the spread of the Islamic lifestyle, Arab ships and merchants sailing to China, as I shall further explore below.

Material Evidence of Indian Ocean trade with the Islamic world:
Belitung Shipwreck
In 1998, a shipwreck was discovered north of the Tanjung Pandan port on the Island of Belitung (figure 1), Indonesia, and was excavated by a German explorations company. This shipwreck presents a great deal of evidence to show the extensive trade between the Islamic world and the Far East. The location of the shipwreck alone is an indication of the maritime routes of trade between nations at the time.


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... 2008. Encyclopaedia of the history of science, technology, and medicine in non-western cultures. Berlin; New York: Springer.

Subbarayalu, Y. 1996. Chinese ceramics of Tamilnadu and Kerala coasts. In Tradition and Archaeology (eds H. P. Ray and J.-F. Salles). New Delhi: State Publishers.

Tibbets, G.R. 1957. “Early Muslim Traders in South-East Asia.” Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 30, No. 1 (177)(1957),
pp. 1-45

Vosmer, Tom. 2010. “The Jewel of Muscat Reconstructing a ninth-century sewn-plank boat.” In Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds, edited by Krahl, Regina and Guy, John, 120-135. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Wink, A. 1990. Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World. Vol. 1. Early Medieval India and the Expansion of Islam 7th -11th Centuries. 2nd Rev. Edn. Leiden: Brill.

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