During the first centuries of the existence of the sect, Karaism was widely extended among the Jews, and could boast of making many converts among the followers of the parent religion, gathering them in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Babylonia, and Persia. Several circumstances contributed to its success. Firstly, sectarianism was then rife in the East in consequence of the great changes brought about by Islam, and numbers of the adherents of different confessions throughout the califate eagerly accepted any new departures. In the second place, Anan's proclamation of the unrestricted study of the Bible as the only source of religion was most attractive, not only to the members of earlier anti-rabbinic sects, which had by no means been uprooted, but also to the more liberal elements within traditional Judaism that were dissatisfied with the stagnation shown in the methods of the Babylonian academies. In the third place, the directors of the academies (the Geonim), who were at that time out of touch with science and all secular matters, were too short-sighted to recognize the dangers threatening traditional Judaism on the part of the new sect, and believed that by simply ignoring it they could destroy it. They were, moreover, incapable of engaging in religious polemics with their adversaries, as they were familiar only with weapons which the latter refused to recognize, namely, arguments taken exclusively from the traditional writings, and did not distinguish critically between halakic and haggadic and mystical elements in rabbinical literature. Hence none of the attacks on traditional Judaism, not even those that were unfounded, were properly refuted, nor was the true state of affairs explained.