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How was Islam spread among Turkish population or in historical Turkey?

How did ethnic Turkish people embrace Islam?

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The definition "Turkish" came to mean an ethnic "Turk" professing Sunni Islam (see e.g.…). In this sense what we refer today as "ethnic Turkish" comprises many ethnic substrata, held together among all other things, by religion. Just for the record I would add "ancient Turkish people" or something similar. – astabada Dec 13 '12 at 14:05

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Ethnic Turks first embraced Islam when they met the expanding Arab empire in modern day Iran (and slightly to the north and east). This was where the Turks had settled, and the Arabs were conquering in the late seventh, and eight centuries A.D. The Arabs feared Turkish military prowess more than that of the longer-term "locals," and offered economic and social inducements (e.g. better education) to the Turks to support them. Part of the "package" was the Islamic religion.

By the turn of the Millenium, Arab power waned, leaving a power vacuum for the Turks to move into. These newly Islamacized Turks moved west across Iraq, into the eastern part of modern day Turkey. Around 1200 A.D. the even fiercer Mongols accelerated the process by chasing the Turks out of Iran, and into Turkey.

Short answer (in reverse order of the questions asked): The Turks were "Islamized" by the rising Arab powers when they met in Iran, and then when Arab power waned, they migrated into modern Turkey, (conquering the local Byzantine empire), making that part of the world Islamic.

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When Turks arrived in what is modern-day Turkey, they were already Muslims. The Battle of Malazgirt/Manzikirt between the ancestors of modern Turks and the Byzantine Empire marks the start of this large-scale migration by Turkic tribes.

The various groups who constituted the migration were not homogeneous: there were Karakoyunlu, Akkoyunlu, Turkmen and so on. But they were Sunni Muslim by this point through long contact with the Islamic world following the Battle of Talas River in 751 in which an Arab army defeated the Chinese. This shifted the influence over Central Asia away from Christianity and Buddhism to Islam.

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This is not bad, but I wish the answer more-directly treated the details of that time in regard to how Asiatic descendants of Turks made the switch. Mass force-conversions, establishment of local religious leaders, etc. – New Alexandria Oct 9 '12 at 15:42
Don't forget the "Shamanism" that was the traditional/autochthonous religion of many Turkic and Mongolian tribes in Central Asia before the arrival of any of these major religions. There were also Taoist influences too, for sure. – Noldorin Oct 12 '12 at 0:26
@NewAlexandria The word "şamanizm" is also used in Turkish to describe their pre-Christian and pre-Islamic beliefs. – SigueSigueBen Nov 5 '12 at 5:40
@NewAlexandria Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that şaman is a traditional Turkic word, but rather it is used in modern Turkish in this way. – SigueSigueBen Jan 6 '13 at 20:16
@NewAlexandria According to an etymological dictionary I have on hand, şaman was a borrowing from Sanskrit into Central Asian Turkic languages. Derivatives can be found in Uyghur and other languages. – SigueSigueBen Jan 6 '13 at 20:22

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