Islam arrived on the African continent via Muslim refugees fleeing persecution in the Arab peninsula. It spread from Alexandria, Egypt, Nubia, and Ethiopia, as well as from the East African coast inwards. The main reason for this was that Islam tolerated traditional values, such as allowing a person to have more than one wife. This made conversion less upsetting as one would not have to abolish a number of their traditional practices.
Islam was a relatively modernizing religion aimed towards the expansion into various societies, strengthening government powers, and breaking down ethnic loyalties. Researchers mention that Islam did not discriminate based on ethnicity. This was a vital factor that contributed to its significant influence on the African continent.