Social and Economic Effects of the Plague on Medieval Islam Societies

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The Bubonic Plague, known more commonly as the Black Death, was a fatal disease that ravaged Asia and Europe during the mid-14th century. Although the destruction the Plague brought upon Europe in terms of deaths was enormous, the Islamic world arguably suffered more due to the fact that plague epidemics continually returned to the Islamic world up until the 19th century. The recurrence of the disease caused Muslim populations to never recover from the losses suffered and a resulting demographic shift that arguably helped Europe to surpass the Islamic world's previous superiority in scholarship. The Islamic world had suffered at least five major plague epidemics before the Black Death in the 14th century, yet the Black Death was far more deadly than any of the previous epidemics that had hit the Islamic world. Medieval Muslims had no scientific explanation for the disease and thus Islamic societies began to believe that the plague was of divine origin. Religious teachers declared that for the righteous Muslim death by plague was a blessing, a martyrdom like death in defense of Islam, which ensured the victim a heavenly reward. For the infidel death by plague was considered a punishment for sin that condemned one to hell. As with all acts of Allah, the pestilence seen as just, merciful, good, and could not be avoided. Since God specifically chose each victim, there could be no random spreading of the disease by contagion, nor could one escape death by flight or medication. From these views, Muslims formed three basic tenets for coping with the plague: The disease was a mercy and martyrdom from God for the faithful Muslim but a punishment for the infidel, a Muslim should neither enter nor flee a plague-stricken land, and there was ... ... middle of paper ... ...rough Muslim ports. This in turn led only rise of prices at local marketplaces. Finally, the constant migration of unskilled laborers to urban environments during the Plague simply meant that their earnings would continue to be depressed and their standard of living lowered. Simply put, the Black Death economically devastated Islamic societies, some to the point of no return. The Black Death and subsequent medieval plagues devastated Islamic societies. The Muslim world was hit harder more than most European societies due to the recurrence of plague epidemics in the Islamic world up until the 19th century. This continual resurgence of deadly disease triggered a collapse in Muslim societies that was never truly recovered from. The resulting economic and social changes debatably assisted Europe in surpassing the Islamic world's previous superiority in many subjects.

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