Bentley vs. Foltz

Foltz’s argument on how religion is spread refutes Bentley’s argument. Foltz believes that religion is spread by politics, pursuit of patronage and Muslim domination of commercial activity. Foltz uses Islam as an example. Islam was spread through conquest over other areas and the conquered brought their religion to the conquered area. All tribes in the area surrounding Mecca sent in emissaries to the prophet Muhammad saying they would stay peaceful known as “submission” so the tribes accepted this new religion and no longer prosecuted followers. Soon Muslims began to conquer other areas and politics became a reason to convert. Being ruled by Muslims and having most areas controlled by Muslims encouraged people to abandon their own religion and join the “growing culture of Islamic civilization.” Another reason is pursuit of patronage. People that depend on the government to get money would join the same religion as their supporters to gain benefits and advantages. People also convert religions because of the dominance of commercial activity. Muslims dominated the commercial activity on the silk roads. A merchant might see advantages in becoming a Muslim. It would create more business with other Muslims and seeing as the roads were controlled by them it would mean a lot of trade. Muslim officials might also extend benefits to other Muslim traders and maybe better benefits under the law.

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