The Arrival of Islam in
What factors contributed to the spread of Islam in
Beginning in the late thirteenth century, Islam became an increasingly
important political, social and economic presence in Southeast Asia.
While the primary vehicle for the spread of the religion was trade, a
variety of factors supported an environment that welcomed Islam and
encouraged its growth throughout the region. By the end of the eighteenth
century, because of trade links, Islam was established in southern
Philippines, the Malay Peninsula, eastern Borneo, and among the
Cham people on the coast of central Vietnam. The greatest expansion
of Islam was in the Indonesian archipelago, but certain areas experienced
a more intense and long-lasting influence. Geographic, economic,
and social (including linguistic) factors contributed to specific patterns
of the development of Islam in various
places across Southeast Asia. Students will
use readings and maps showing trade, the
expansion of Islam, linguistic groups, land
and sea elevation, and major religious groups
to investigate reasons for those patterns.
Students will be able to:
- Identify historical patterns of Islamic expansion in
- Identify several factors that contributed to the spread
of Islam throughout the region.
- Discuss the impact of Islamic expansion on economic
and social activities in Southeast Asia.
- Read and analyze primary documents and maps.
- Use maps to acquire and analyze information from a
- Analyze spatial organization of people, places,
cultural artifacts, and environments on the earth’s
- Use features of geography to interpret the past.
- Reading and analyzing documents, responding to questions: two class periods
- Sharing responses, generating list and ranking influences: one class period
- Sharing essays (written as outside assignment): one class period (optional)
Introduction to Southeast Asia: History, Geography, and Livelihood
Barbara Watson Andaya
Islam in Southeast Asia: A Chronological Table
R. Michael Feener
- Southeast Asia: Dominant Religions, circa 2000 (use as overhead projection)
- Document Packet, including:
Mapping Exercise 2
Mapping Exercise 3
Mapping Exercise 4
Mapping Exercise 5
Mapping Exercise 7
Spread of Islam
Map packet, including:
Eurasia: Expansion of Islam
Southeast Asia: Expansion of Islam
Political Map of Indo-Malay Region
Trade Links of Melaka
Land and Sea Elevations of
Linguistic Families and Preponderant Groups of Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia: Dominant Religions,
- Organizer: Factors that Influenced the Spread of
Islam (one per student plus one to project)
- Anticipatory Set:
- Begin class by asking students: How do cultural
practices or traditions spread or change?
- Share the overhead projection of Religions in
Contemporary Southeast Asia, circa 2000. Highlight
the areas where Islam is represented. Ask students
where Islam originated, pointing out the distance
between the Arabian Peninsula and Southeast Asia.
- Have students theorize how and why Islam may
have spread to this part of the world. Explain to
students that this activity will provide information
on how and why Islam spread to some regions of
- Small Group Work:
- Organize students into groups of three or four.
- Distribute a packet of materials and guiding questions to each student.
- Review the contents of the packet with students
- Working in their groups, students are to answer the
questions accompanying each document.
- Sharing Responses:
- As a class, have students share their responses. A list
of factors influencing the expansion of Islam should be
recorded as the responses are shared, for reference in
completing the organizer below.
- Completing Organizer:
- Introduce the organizer entitled “Factors that influenced
the spread of Islam.”
- Ask students to rejoin their groups and discuss this
question: How important do you think each of the factors
was in the expansion of Islam?
- Have members of the group discuss their views, though
each individual should develop his or her own chart.
- Class Discussion:
- Have the class reconvene as a whole. Using a blank, projected copy of the organizer, compile a list of the factors students deemed most important in the spread
of Islam in Southeast Asia, offering support from the
documents and history, for their responses.
Student’s understanding will be assessed on student’s
- Participate in small group analysis of documents
including maps and readings.
- Participate in the development of a chart identifying
key factors of Islamic expansion.
- Develop an essay that answers the following question:
What elements exist in Southeast Asia today
that would support the spread of Islam?
For classroom populations with diverse learners or
English language learners who may struggle with the
unit’s vocabulary, it may be helpful to read the first
document (Excerpt from Background Essay by Barbara
Watson Andaya) aloud, recording information for the response
questions as a class. Small groups may then work
on the remaining maps or reading selections, as assigned
by the teacher, and shared through a jigsaw format with
the class before the organizer is completed.
As an alternative essay, students could utilize their chart
as an outline for a five-paragraph essay on the question:
What are the three key influences that spread Islam in
Answer these questions in a journal or as a “ticket out the
1. Do religious practices continue to spread around the
2. How does this happen?