With the help of Salaam Travel and Tours, you can trace the footsteps of ancient traders by travelling down the famous Silk Road. Discover how textiles, spices and even religions were exchanged along this vast intercultural trade route that ran from the Mediterranean, crossing into India and all the way to Japan. These days, a trip to India or China will show you how Islam spread along the Silk Road, which started around 1,000 B.C and continued for several millenniums. Today you can even meet the Hui people, who are widely thought to be the descendants of the Muslim merchants that settled in China at the end of their Silk Road journeys.

Discover for yourself how scientific and medical advancements by Muslims also had a significant impact on the Chinese Buddhist traders who adopted this medical knowledge to treat wounds. And you’re bound to still stumble along stalls selling similar herbal medicines today if you visit markets in Dunhuang, China.

Muslims merchants in India also brought with them insights on astronomy, and the best place to see this is inside New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar Observatory. This was built by Sawai Jai Singh ll in the 18th century after he undertook a major scientific program to refine the ancient Islamic zij tables, that measure the exact hour and define the calendar.

Art and music also spread through cities and towns along the route of the Silk Road. Sufi Muslims used chanting, singing and instrumental music to win converts from the audiences at the Silk Road’s tea houses and bazaars. You can still see this today throughout Turkey and Persia.

But this cultural interchange worked both ways, and influences from Chinese Buddhists and other regions resulted in radical changes in Islam. For the first time in the 12th century, Muslim artists experienced Buddhist statues and Indian narrative artwork. This resulted in abstract Islamic art changing to also depict human figures, which were long considered forbidden by Quranic law. And if you travel along Samarkand and Khiva in Uzbekistan, you too can see mosques with representational murals.