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Muslim history involves the history of the Islamic faith as a religion and as a social institution. According to Islamic Faith and the Holy Text, it is wrong to say that the history of Islam began in Arabia with Muslim Prophet Muhammad's first recitations of the Qur'an in the 7th century, but with Adam and Eve. They are considered the First Apostles of God. Later, Abraham, Moses and Jesus all taught the same faith as prophets, albeit in different regions or at different points of time.

Like most world religions, the historical evolution of Islam had a significant impact on the political, economic, and military and beyond its primary geographic areas. Islam's historical development has affected both inside and outside the Islamic world. The concept of the Islamic world is useful in observing the different periods of Islamic history; similarly useful is an understanding of the identification with a quasi-political community of believers, or ummah, on the part of Islam's practitioners down the centuries. Islamic culture encourages identification with a quasi-political community of believers or the ummah, and this principle has influenced the behavior of a number of players in history. The history of Islam is closely tied to the political, economic, and military.

A century after the death of Muhammad, an Islamic empire extended from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to Central Asia in the east. The subsequent empires of the Umayyads, Abbasids, the Fatimids, the Mughals, the Safavids, and Ottomans were among the largest and most powerful in the world. The Islamic civilization gave rise to many centers of culture and science and produced notable scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, doctors, nurses and philosophers during the Golden Age of Islam. Technology flourished; there was much investment in economic infrastructure, such as irrigation systems and canals; and especially, the importance of reading the Qur'an produced a comparatively high level of literacy in the general populace.

Later, in the eighteenth century and nineteenth century, many Islamic regions fell under the tutelage of European imperial powers. After the First World War, the remnants of the Ottoman Empire were parcelled out as European protectorates. Since 1924, there has been no major widely accepted claim to the caliphate (which had been last claimed by the Ottomans).

Although affected by various ideologies such as communism, during much of the twentieth century, the Islamic identity and the dominance of Islam on political issues have arguably increased during the early twenty-first century. The fast-growing Western interests in Islamic regions, international conflicts and globalization have changed the influence of Islam on the world of the twenty-first century.[1]


According to the traditionalist view, the Qur'an began with revelations on Prophet Muhammad's divine revelations in AD 610. The verses of the Quran were written down and memorized during his life. Makkah was conquered by the Muslims in the year AD 630. In 628 the Makkan tribe of Quraish and the Muslim community in Madina had signed a truce called the Treaty of Hudaybiyya beginning a ten-year period of peace, which was broken when the Quraish and their allies, the tribe of Bakr, attacked the tribe of Khuza'ah, who were allies of the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad died in June 632. The Battle of Yamama was fought in December of the same year, between the forces of the Rashidun Caliph Abu Bakr and Musailima.

Andrey Korotayev and his colleagues suggest to view the origins of Islam against the background of the 6th century AD Arabian socioecological crisis whose model is specified by Korotayev and his colleagues through the study of climatological, seismological, volcanological and epidemiological history of the period. They find that most sociopolitical systems of the Arabs reacted to the socioecological crisis by getting rid of the rigid supratribal political structures (kingdoms and chiefdoms) which started posing a real threat to their very survival. The decades of fighting which led to the destruction of the most of the Arabian kingdoms and chiefdoms (reflected in Ayyam al-`Arab tradition) led to the elaboration of some definite "antiroyal" freedom-loving tribal ethos. At the beginning of the 7th century a tribe which would recognize themselves as subjects of some terrestrial supratribal political authority, a "king", risked to lose its honour. However, this seems not to be applicable to the authority of another type, the "celestial" one. At the meantime the early 7th century evidences the merging of the Arabian tradition of prophecy and the Arabian Monotheist "Rahmanist" tradition which produced "the Arabian prophetic movement". The Monotheist "Rahmanist" prophets appear to have represented a supratribal authority just of the type many Arab tribes were looking for at this very time, which seems to explain to a certain extent those prophets' political success (including the extreme political success of Muhammad). (Andrey Korotayev, Vladimir Klimenko, and Dmitry Proussakov. Origins of Islam: Political-Anthropological and Environmental Context. Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. 53/3–4 (1999): 243–276). v

Early Caliphate

After Muhammad died, a series of Caliphs governed the Islamic State: Abu Bakr Siddique, Umar, Uthman and Ali. These first Caliphs are popularly known as the "Rashidun" or "rightly-guided" Caliphs in Sunni Islam. After the Rashidun, a series of Caliphates were established. Each caliphate developed its own unique laws based on the sharia. There were at times competing claims to the Sunni caliphate, and the Imams of Ismaili Shi'a Islam, descended from Ali and Muhammad through his daughter Hazrat Fatimah, set up their own caliphate which ruled the Fatimid Empire.



Al-Rashidun - "The Rightly-Guided Caliphs"

Following Muhammad's death, a series of four Caliphs lead the Islamic Empire during this period. Starting with Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman, and ending with Ali.

Abbasids - "Islamic Golden Age"

The gains of the Ummayad empire were consolidated upon when the Abbasid dynasty rose to power in 750, with the conquest of the Mediterranean islands including the Balearics and Sicily.[2] The new ruling party had been instated on the wave of dissatisfaction propagated against the Ummayads, cultured mainly by the Abbasid revolutionary, Abu Muslim.[3][4] Under the Abbasids, Islamic civilization flourished. Most notable was the development of Arabic prose and poetry, termed by The Cambridge History of Islam as its "golden age."[5] This was also the case for commerce and industry (considered a Muslim Agricultural Revolution), and the arts and sciences (considered a Muslim Scientific Revolution), which prospered, especially under the rule of Abbasid caliphs al-Mansur (ruled 754 — 775), Harun al-Rashid (ruled 786 — 809), al-Ma'mun (ruled 809 — 813), and their immediate successors.[6]

Abbasid Caliphate and contemporary states and empires in 820.

Baghdad was made the new capital of the caliphate (moved from the previous capital, Damascus) due to the importance placed by the Abbasids upon eastern affairs in Persia and Transoxania.[6] It was at this time however, that the caliphate showed signs of fracture and we witness the uprising of regional dynasties. Although the Ummayad family had been killed by the revolting Abbasids, one family member, Abd ar-Rahman I, was able to flee to Spain and establish an independent caliphate there in 756. In the Maghreb region, Harun al-Rashid appointed the Arab Aghlabids as virtually autonomous rulers, although they continued to recognise the authority of the central caliphate. Aghlabid rule was short lived, as they were deposed by the Shiite Fatimid dynasty in 909. By around 960, the Fatimids had conquered Abbasid Egypt, building a new capital there in 973 called "al-Qahirah" (meaning "the planet of victory", known today as Cairo). Similar was the case in Persia, where the Turkic Ghaznavids managed to snatch power from the Abbasids.[7][8] Whatever temporal power of the Abbasids remained had eventually been consumed by the Seljuq Turks (a Muslim Turkish clan which had migrated into mainland Persia), in 1055.[6]

During this time, expansion continued, sometimes by military warfare, sometimes by peaceful proselytism.[2] The first stage in the conquest of India began just before the year 1000. By some 200 (from 1193 — 1209) years later, the area up to the Ganges river had been conquered. In sub-Saharan West Africa, it was just after the year 1000 that Islam was established. Muslim rulers are known to have been in Kanem starting from sometime between 1081 and 1097, with reports of a Muslim prince at the head of Gao as early as 1009. The Islamic kingdoms associated with Mali reached prominence later, in the 13th century.[2]

During the Abbasid reign, Baghdad became one of the greatest cultural centers of the world. Abbasid caliphs Harun al-Rashid and Al-Mamun were great patrons of arts and sciences, and enabled these domains to flourish. Islamic philosophy also developed as the Shariah was codified, and the four Madhabs were established and built. This era also saw the rise of classical Sufism. The greatest achievement, however, was completion of the canonical collections of Hadith of Sahih Bukhari and others.[9]

Regional powers

The Abbasids soon became caught within a three-way rivalry of Arabs, Persians and the immigrant Turks.[10] In addition, the cost of running a large empire became too great.[11] The political unity of Islam began to disintegrate. The Emirates, still recognizing the theoretical leadership of the caliphs, drifted into independence, and a brief revival of control was ended with the establishment of rival caliphates. Eventually the Abbasids ruled as puppets for the Buwayhid emirs. During this time, great advancements were made in the areas of astronomy, poetry, philosophy, science, and mathematics.

The Fatimid Empire

Al-Hakim Mosque, Cairo, Egypt

The Fatimids had their origins in Ifriqiya (modern-day Tunisia and eastern Algeria). The dynasty was founded in 909 byˤAbdullāh al-Mahdī Billah, who legitimised his claim through descent from Muhammadby way of his daughter Fātima as-Zahra and her husband ˤAlī ibn-Abī-Tālib, the firstShīˤa Imām, hence the name al-Fātimiyyūn "Fatimid".

Abdullāh al-Mahdi's control soon extended over all of central Maghreb, an area consisting of the modern countries ofMorocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, which he ruled from Mahdia, his newly-built capital in Tunisia.

The Fatimids entered Egypt in the late 900s, conquering the Ikhshidid dynasty and founding a new capital at al-Qāhira(Cairo) in 969.[12] The name was a reference to the planet Mars, "The Subduer", which was prominent in the sky at the moment that city construction started. Cairo was intended as a royal enclosure for the Fatimid caliph and his army, though the actual administrative and economic capital of Egypt was in cities such as Fustat until 1169. After Egypt, the Fatimids continued to conquer the surrounding areas until they ruled from Tunisia to Syria and even crossed over into Sicily and southernItaly.

Under the Fatimids, Egypt became the center of an empire that included at its peak North Africa, Sicily, Palestine,Lebanon, Syria, the Red Sea coast of Africa, Yemen and the Hejaz. Egypt flourished, and the Fatimids developed an extensive trade network in both the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Their trade and diplomatic ties extended all the way to China and its Song Dynasty, which eventually determined the economic course of Egypt during the High Middle Ages.

Unlike other governments in the area, Fatimid advancement in state offices was based more on merit than on heredity. Members of other branches of Islam, like the Sunnis, were just as likely to be appointed to government posts as Shiites. Tolerance was extended even to non-Muslims such as Christians and Jews, who occupied high levels in government based on ability. There were, however, exceptions to this general attitude of tolerance, most notably Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah.

The Fatimid palace was two parts. it used to be in the Khan el-Khalili area at Bin El-Quasryn street [1].

The Iberian peninsula under the Umayyads and the Berber dynasties

The interiors of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain decorated with arabesque designs.

The Arabs, under the command of the Berber General Tarik ibn Ziyad, first began their conquest of southern Spain or al-Andalus in 711. A raiding party led by Tarik was sent to intervene in a civil war in the Visigothic kingdom in Hispania. Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar (named after the General), it won a decisive victory in the summer of 711 when the Visigothic king Roderic was defeated and killed on July 19 at the Battle of Guadalete. Tariq's commander, Musa bin Nusair quickly crossed with substantial reinforcements, and by 718 the Muslims dominated most of the peninsula. There are some later Arabic and Christian sources present an earlier raid by a certain Ṭārif in 710 and one, the Ad Sebastianum recension of the Chronicle of Alfonso III, refers to an Arab attack incited by Erwig during the reign of Wamba (672–80). and two reasonably large armies may have been gay in the south for a year before the decisive battle was fought.[13]

The rulers of Al-Andalus were granted the rank of Emir by the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I in Damascus. After the Abbasids came to power in the Middle East, some Umayyads fled to Muslim Spain to establish themselves there. By the end of the 10th century, the ruler Abd al-Rahman III took over the title of Emir of Córdoba(912-961).[14] Soon after, the Umayyads went on developing a strengthened state with its capital as Córdoba. Al-Hakam II succeeded to the Caliphate after the death of his father Abd ar-Rahman III in 961. He secured peace with the Christian kingdoms of northern Iberia,[15] and made use of the stability to develop agriculture through the construction of irrigation works.[16] Economical development was also encouraged through the widening of streets and the building of markets. The rule of the Caliphate is known as the heyday of Muslim presence in the peninsula.[17]

The rule of the Umayyad Caliphate collapsed in 1031 due to political divisions and civil unrest during the rule of Hicham II who was ousted because of his indolence.[18] Al-Andalus then broke up into a number of mostly independent states called taifa kingdoms (Arabic, Muluk al-ṭawā'if; English, Party kingdoms). The decomposition of the Caliphate into those petty kingdoms will then weaken the power of the Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula vis-à-vis the Christian kingdoms of the north. Some of the taifas such as that of Seville will consequently be forced to enter into alliances with the Christian princes and pay tributes in money to Castille.[19]

The Crusades

Beginning in the 8th century C.E. the Christian kingdoms of Spain had begun the Reconquista aimed at retaking Al-Andalus from the Moors. In 1095, Pope Urban II, inspired by the perceived holy wars in Spain and implored by the eastern Roman emperor to help defend Christianity in the East, called for the First Crusade from Western Europe which captured Edessa, Antioch, Tripoli and Jerusalem. The Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem emerged and for a time controlled many holy sites of Islam. Saladin, however, restored unity within the Umma by defeating the Fatimids, and was then able to put an end to the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187 C.E. Other crusades were launched with at least the nominal intent to recapture the holy city and other holy lands, but hardly more was ever accomplished than the errant looting and occupation of Christian Constantinople, leaving the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire severely weakened and ripe for later conquest. However, the crusaders did manage to weaken Muslim territories preventing them from further expansion into Christendom.

The Mamluks

In 1250 C.E., the short-lived Ayyubid dynasty (established by Saladin) was overthrown by slave regiments, and a new dynasty—the Mamluks—was born. The Mamluks, who were Turkic, soon expanded into Palestine, expelled the remaining Crusader states and repelled the Mongol attempt to invade Syria (see Battle of Ain Jalut). Thus they united Syria and Egypt for the longest period of time between the Abbasid and Ottoman empires (1250-1517).[20]

Islam in Africa

The first continent outside of Arabia to have an Islamic history was Africa, particularly Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia via modern day Eritrea).

The Great Mosque of Kairouan also known as the Mosque of Uqba founded in 670, is the oldest mosque in the Maghreb, Kairouan, Tunisia

Islam in Maghreb

This part of Islamic territory has had independent governments during most of Islamic history, with a number being of historical importance.

The Idrisid dynasty were the first Arab rulers in the western Maghreb (Morocco), ruling from 788 to 985. The dynasty is named after its first sultan Idris I.

The Almoravid dynasty was a Berber dynasty from the Sahara that flourished over a wide area of North-Western Africa and the Iberian peninsula during the 11th century. Under this dynasty the Moorish empire was extended over present-day Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Gibraltar, Tlemcen (in Algeria) and a great part of what is now Senegal and Mali in the south, and Spain and Portugal in the north.

The Almohad Dynasty or "the Unitarians," were a Berber Muslim religious power which founded the fifth Moorish dynasty in the 12th century, and conquered all Northern Africa as far as Egypt, together withAl-Andalus.

Islam in East Africa

Islam in the East Africa can be dated back to the founding of the religion and the beginning with the hijra; in 615, when a group of Muslims were counseled by Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca and travel to Abyssinia (an act known as the First migration to Abyssinia), which was ruled by, in Muhammad's estimation, a pious Christian king named al-Najashi (Negus, King of Abyssinia). Moreover, Islamic tradition states that the first muezzin Bilal al-Habeshi, one of the foremost companions of Muhammad, was from Abyssinia (Habasha).[21]

There were Islamic governments in Tanzania. The people of Zayd were allegedly the first Muslims to immigrate to East Africa. Islam came to East Africa mainly through trade routes. The African peoples that lived along these routes became converts due to the close contact they had with Arab traders in areas like Tabora. They learned from them the manners of the Muslims and this lead eventually to their conversion neither with encouragement nor discouragement by the Muslim Arabs. In pre-colonial East Africa, the structure of Islamic authority was held up through the Ulema (wanawyuonis, in Swahili language). Their base was mainly in Zanzibar. These leaders had some degree of authority over most of the Muslims in East Africa at this time; especially before territorial boundaries were established. This is because the majority of Muslims lived within the sphere of influence of the Sultanate in Zanzibar. The chief Qadi there was recognized for having the final religious authority.[22]

Islam in West Africa

Usman dan Fodio after the Fulani War, found himself in command of the largest state in Africa, the Fulani Empire. Dan Fodio worked to establish an efficient government, one grounded in Islamic laws. Already aged at the beginning of the war, dan Fodio retired in 1815 passing the title of Sultan of Sokoto to his son Muhammed Bello.

Islam in Asia

Indian Subcontinent

See also: Islam in India, Islam in Pakistan

Islamic rule came to the region in the 8th century, when Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh, (Pakistan). Muslim conquests were expanded under Mahmud and the Ghaznavids until the late twelfth century, when the Ghurids overran the Ghaznavids and extended the conquests in Northern India. Qutb-ud-din Aybak conquered Delhi in 1206 and began the reign of the Delhi Sultanates.

In the fourteenth century, Alauddin Khilji extended Muslim rule south to Gujarat, Rajasthan and Deccan. Various other Muslim dynasties also formed and ruled across India from the 13th to the 18th century such as the Qutb Shahi and the Bahmani, but none rivalled the power and extensive reach of the Mughal Empire at its peak.


China has never been a Muslim country, but, it has a substantial Muslim community.

Southeast Asia

Islam reached the islands of Southeast Asia through Indian Muslim traders from Gujarat near the end of the 13th century.[8] Soon, many Sufi missionaries translated classical Sufi literature from Arabic and Persian into Malay. Coupled with the composing of original Islamic literature in Malay, this led the way to the transformation of Malay into an Islamic language.[23] By 1292, when Marco Polo visited Sumatra, most of the inhabitants had converted to Islam. The Sultanate of Malacca was founded by Parameswara, a Srivijayan Prince in the Malay peninsula. Through trade and commerce, Islam spread to Borneo and Java, Indonesia. By the late 15th century, Islam had been introduced to the Philippines.

As Islam spread, three main Muslim political powers emerged. Aceh, the most important Muslim power, was based firmly in Northern Sumatra. It controlled much of the area between Southeast Asia and India. The Sultunate also attracted Sufi poets. The second Muslim power was the Sultanate of Malacca on the Malay peninsula. The Sultanate of Demak was the third power, appearing in Java, where the emerging Muslim forces defeated the local Majapahit kingdom in the early 16th century.[24] Although the sultanate managed to expand its territory somewhat, its rule remained brief.[8]

Portuguese forces captured Malacca in 1511 under the naval general Afonso de Albuquerque. With Malacca subdued, the Aceh Sultanate and Brunei established themselves as centers of Islam in Southeast Asia. Brunei's sultanate remains intact even to this day.[8]

Mongol invasions

The wave of Mongol invasions, which had initially commenced in the early 13th century under the leadership of Genghis Khan, marked a violent end to the Abbasid era. The Mongol Empire had spread rapidly throughout Central Asia and Persia: the Persian city of Isfahan had fallen to them by 1237. With the election of Khan Mongke in 1251, Mongol sights were set upon the Abbasid capital, Baghdad. Mongke's brother, Hulegu, was made leader of the Mongol Army assigned to the task of subduing Baghdad. This was achieved at the Battle of Baghdad (1258), in which the Abbasid army was defeated by the superior Mongol army. The last Abbasid caliph, al-Musta'sim, was captured and killed; and Baghdad was ransacked and subsequently destroyed. The cities of Damascus and Aleppo fell shortly afterwards, in 1260. Plans for the conquest of Egypt weres temporarily delayed due to the death of Mongke at around the same time.[8]

With Mongol conquest in the east, the Ayyubid dynasty ruling over Egypt had been replaced by a man who was born prince struggled as a slave named Mamluks also known as Lion of Ain Jaloot in 1250. This had been done through the marriage between Shajar al-Durr, the widow of Ayyubid caliph al-Salih Ayyub, with the Mamluk general Aybak. Military prestige was at the center of Mamluk society, and it played a key role in the confrontations with the Mongol forces. After the assassination of Aybak, and the succession of Qutuz in 1259, the Mamluks challenged and decisively routed the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut in late 1260. This signalled an adverse shift in fortunes for the Mongols, who were again defeated by the Mamluks at the Battle of Hims a few months later, and then driven out of Syria altogether.[8] With this, the Mamluks were also able to conquer the last of the crusader territories.

Three Muslim empires of the Early Modern Era

In the 15th and 16th centuries three major Muslim empires were created: the aforementioned Ottoman Empire in much of the Middle East, the Balkans and Northern Africa; the Safavid Empire in Greater Iran; and the Mughul Empire in South Asia. These new imperial powers were made possible by the discovery and exploitation of gunpowder, and a more efficient administration.[25] By the end of the 19th century, all three had declined significantly, and by the early 20th century, with the Ottomans' defeat in World War I, the last Muslim empire collapsed.

Mughal Empire

Humayun's Tomb inDelhi, India.

The Mughal Empire was a product of various Central Asian invasions into the Indian subcontinent. It was founded by the Timurid prince Babur in 1526 with the destruction of the Delhi sultanate, with its capital in Agra. Babur's death some years later, and the indecisive rule of his son, Humayun, brought a degree of instability to Mughal rule. The resistance of the Afghani Sher Shah, through which a string of defeats had been dealt to Humayun, significantly weakened the Mughals. Just a year before his death, however, Humayun managed to recover much of the lost territories, leaving a substantial legacy for his son, the 13 year old Akbar (later known as Akbar the Great), in 1556. Under Akbar, consolidation of the Mughal Empire occurred through both expansion and administrative reforms. After Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan came to power. Subsequently, Aurangazeb ruled vast areas including Afghanisthan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.[8][26]

The empire ruled most of present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan for several centuries, before it declined in the early 18th century, which led to India being divided into smaller kingdoms and princely states. The Mughal dynasty was eventually dissolved by the British Empire after the Indian rebellion of 1857.[8][26] It left a lasting legacy on Indian culture and architecture. Famous buildings built by the Mughals, include: the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, the Badshahi Mosque, the Lahore Fort, the Shalimar Gardens and the Agra Fort. During the empire's reign, Muslim communities flourished all over India, particularly in Gujarat, Bengal and Hyderabad. Various Sufi orders from Afghanistan and Iran were very active throughout the region. Consequently, more than a quarter of the population converted to Islam.[26]

Safavid Empire

Shah Suleiman I and his courtiers, Isfahan, 1670. Painter is Ali Qoli Jabbador, and is kept at The St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies in Russia, ever since it was acquired by Tsar Nicholas II. Note the two Georgian figures with their names at the top left.

The Safavids (Persian: صفویان) were an Iranian dynasty from Iranian Azarbaijan that ruled from 1501 to 1736, and which established Twelver Shi'a Islam as Iran's official religion and united its provinces under a single Iranian sovereignty, thereby reigniting the Persian identity.

Although claiming to be the descendants of Ali ibn Abu Talib, the Safavids were originally Sunni (the name "Safavid" comes from a Sufi order called Safavi). Their origins go back to Firuz Shah Zarrinkolah, an Iranian local dignitary from Iran's north. During their rule, the Safavids recognized Twelver Shi'a Islam as the State religion, thus giving Iran a separate identity from its Sunni neighbours.

In 1524, Tahmasp acceded to the throne, initiating a revival of the arts in the region. Carpet making became a major industry, gaining new importance in Iran's cities. But the finest of all artistic revivals was the commissioning of the Shahnama. The Shahnama was meant to glorify the reign of the Shah through artistic means. The two-volume copy contained 258 large paintings to illustrate the works of Firdawsi, a Persian poet. The Shah also prohibited the drinking of wine, forbade the use of hashish and ordered the removal of gambling casinos, taverns and brothels.

Tahmasp's grandson, Shah Abbas I, also managed to increase the glory of the empire. Abbas restored the shrine of the eighth Twelver Shi'a Imam, Ali al-Ridha at Mashhad, and restored the dynastic shrine at Ardabil. Both shrines received jewelry, fine manuscripts and Chinese porcelains. Abbas also moved the empire's capital to Isfahan, revived old ports, and established thriving trade with the Europeans. Amongst Abbas's most visible cultural achievements was the construction of Naqsh-e Jahan Square ("Design of the World"). The plaza, located near a Friday mosque, covered 20 acres (81,000 m2), thus dwarfing Piazza San Marco and St. Peter's Square.[27]

Ottoman Empire

The Seljuk Turks fell apart rapidly in the second half of the 13th century, especially after the Mongol invasion of Anatolia.[28] This resulted in the establishment of multiple Turkish principalities, known as beyliks. Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, assumed leadership of one of these principalities (Söğüt) in 1281, succeeding his father Ertuğrul. Declaring an independent Ottoman emirate in 1299, Osman I led it to a series of consecutive victories over the Byzantine Empire. By 1331, the Ottomans had captured Nicaea, the former Byzantine capital, under the leadership of Osman's son and successor, Orhan I.[29] Victory at the Battle of Kosovo against the Serbs in 1389 then facilitated their expansion into Europe. The Ottomans were firmly established in the Balkans and Anatolia by the time Bayezid I ascended to power in the same year, now at the helm of a swiftly growing empire.[30]

Further growth was brought to a sudden halt, as Bayezid I had been captured by Mongol warlord Timur (also known as "Tamerlane") in the Battle of Ankara in 1402, upon which a turbulent period known as the Ottoman Interregnum ensued. This episode was characterized by the division of the Ottoman territory amongst Bayezid I's sons, who submitted to Timurid authority. When a number of the territories recently conquered by the Ottomans regained independent status, potential ruin for the Ottoman Empire became imminent. However, the empire quickly recovered, as the youngest son of Bayezid I, Mehmed I, waged offensive campaigns against his ruling brothers, thereby reuniting Asia Minor and declaring himself the new Ottoman sultan in 1413.[8]

Around this time the naval fleet of the Ottomans developed considerably, such that they were able to challenge Venice, traditionally a naval power. Focus was also directed towards reconquering the Balkans. By the time of Mehmed I's grandson, Mehmed II (ruled 1444 — 1446; 1451 — 1481), the Ottomans felt strong enough to lay siege to Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium. A decisive factor in this siege was the use of firearms and large cannons introduced by the Ottomans, against which the Byzantines were unable to compete. The Byzantine fortress finally succumbed to the Ottoman invasion in 1453, after 54 days of siege. Mehmed II, entering the city victorious, renamed it Istanbul. With its capital fallen to the Ottomans, the rest of the Byzantine Empire quickly disintegrated.[8] The future successes of the Ottomans and later empires would depend heavily upon the exploitation of gunpowder.[31]

In the early 16th century, the Shi'ite Safavid dynasty assumed control in Persia under the leadership of Shah Ismail I, upon the defeat of the ruling Turcoman federation Aq Qoyunlu (also called the "White Sheep Turkomans") in 1501. The Ottoman sultan Selim I quickly sought to repel Safavid expansion, challenging and defeating them at the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514. Selim I also deposed the ruling Mamluks in Egypt, absorbing their territories into the Ottoman Empire in 1517. Suleiman I (also known as Suleiman the Magnificent), Selim I's successor, took advantage of the diversion of Safavid focus to the Uzbeks on the eastern frontier and recaptured Baghdad, which had previously fallen under Safavid control. Despite this, Safavid power remained substantial, with their empire rivalling the Ottomans'. Suleiman I also advanced deep into Hungary following the Battle of Mohács in 1526 — reaching as far as the gates of Vienna thereafter, and signed a Franco-Ottoman alliance with Francis I of France against Charles V of the Roman Empire 10 years later. Suleiman I's rule (1520 — 1566) signified the height of the Ottoman Empire, after which it fell into a relative decline with the rapid industrialization of the European empires.[8][32]


During the 18th century, Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab (1703 – 1792) led a religious movement (Wahhabism) in Najd (central Arabia) that sought to purify Islam. Wahhab wanted to return Islam to what he thought were its original principles as taught by the as-salaf as-saliheen (the earliest converts to Islam) and rejected what he regarded as corruptions introduced by bid‘ah (religious innovation) and Shirk (polytheism). He allied himself with the House of Saud, which eventually triumphed over the Rashidis to control Central Arabia, and led several revolts against the Ottoman Empire. Initial success (the conquest of Mecca and Medina) was followed by ignominious defeat, then a resurgence which culminated in the creation of Saudi Arabia.

The 20th century

The modern age brought radical technological and organizational changes to Europe and the Islamic countries found themselves less modern when compared to many western nations. Europe's state-based government and rampant colonization allowed the West to dominate the globe economically and forced Islamic countries to change.

Demise of the Ottoman Empire

By the end of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire had declined due to internal conflict. The decision to back Germany in World War I meant they shared the Central Powers' defeat in that war, which led directly to the overthrow of the Ottomans by Turkish nationalists led by the victorious general of the Battle of Gallipoli: Mustapha Kemal, who became known to his people as Atatürk, "Father of the Turks." It was fundamentally Atatürk who is to credit for successfully renegotiating the treaty of Sèvres (1920) which ended their involvement in the war and establishing the modern Republic of Turkey, which was officially recognized by the Allies in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). Atatürk went on to implement an ambitious program of modernization that emphasized economic development and secularization. He effectively transformed Turkish culture to reflect European style laws and clothing, adopted Hindu-Arabic numerals, the Roman alphabet, separated the religious establishment from the state, and emancipated woman- even giving them the right to vote roughly contemporary with the same transformation in western law for the first time.[33] Following World War I, the vast majority of former Ottoman territory located outside of Asia Minor was handed over to the victorious European powers as European protectorates. The Allies had promised the subjected people of the former Ottoman Empire during the war future independence in exchange for their assistance fighting the central Turkish powers in Asia Minor. To their dismay, old-fashioned European imperialism was put in to practice through this system of "protectorates" which was a mere smoke-screen for their continued subjugation by the new powers in the region: the British and the French. The struggles for independence from their Turkish overlords and the cooperation of partisan forces with the British were romanticized in the stories of British secret intelligence agent T.E. Lawrence- later known as "Lawrence of Arabia."[34] Ottoman successor states include today's Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Lebanon, Montenegro, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, other Balkan states, North Africa and the north shore of the Black sea.[35]

Many Muslim countries sought to adopt European political organization and nationalism began to emerge in the Muslim world. Countries like Egypt, Syria, and Turkey organized their governments with definable policies and sought to develop national pride amongst their citizens. Other places, like Iraq, were not as successful due to a lack of unity and an inability to resolve age-old prejudices between Muslim sects and against non-Muslims.

Some Muslim countries, such as Turkey and Egypt, sought to separate Islam from the secular government. In other cases, such as Saudi Arabia, the new government brought out new religious expression in the re-emergence of the puritanical form of Sunni Islam known to its detractors as Wahabism which found its way into the Saudi royal family.

Partition of India

The partition of India refers to the creation in August 1947 of the two sovereign states of India and Pakistan. The two nations were formed out of the former British Raj, including treaty states, when Britain granted independence to the area (see Undivided India). In particular, the term refers to the partition of Bengal and Punjab, the two main provinces of what would be Pakistan.

In 1947, after the partition of India, Pakistan became the largest Islamic Country in the world (by population) and the tenth largest post-WWII state in the modern world. In 1971, after a bloody war of independence, the Bengal part of Pakistan became an independent state called Bangladesh.

Today, Pakistan is the second largest Islamic country in the world following Indonesia. Pakistan is presently the only nuclear power of the Muslim world.

Arab-Israeli conflict

The Arab-Israeli conflict spans about a century of political tensions and open hostilities. It involves the establishment of the modern State of Israel as a Jewish nation state, the consequent displacement of the Palestinian people, as well as the adverse relationship between the Arab nations and the state of Israel (see related Israeli-Palestinian conflict). Despite initially involving only the Arab states bordering Israel, animosity has also developed between other Muslim nations and Israel. Many countries, individuals and non-governmental organizations elsewhere in the world feel involved in this conflict for reasons such as cultural and religious ties with Islam, Arab culture, Christianity, Judaism, Jewish culture or for ideological, human rights, or strategic reasons. While some consider the Arab-Israeli conflict a part of (or a precursor to) a wider clash of civilizations between the Western World and the Arab or Muslim world,[36][37] others oppose this view.[38] Animosity emanating from this conflict has caused numerous attacks on supporters (or perceived supporters) of each side by supporters of the other side in many countries around the world.

Oil wealth

Between 1953 and 1964, King Saud reorganized the government of the monarchy his father, Ibn Saud, had created. Saudi Arabia's new ministries included Communication (1953), Agriculture and Water (1953), Petroleum (1960), Pilgrimage and Islamic Endowments (1960), Labour and Social Affairs (1962) and Information (1963). He also put Talal, one of his many younger brothers (by 29 years his junior) in charge of the Ministry of Transport.

In 1958-59, Talal proposed the formation of a National Council. As he proposed it, it would have been a consultative body, not a legislature. Still, he thought of it as a first step toward broader popular participation in the government. Talal presented this proposal to the king when the Crown Prince was out of the country. Saud simply forwarded the proposal to the ulama asking them whether a National Council was a legitimate institution in Islam. The idea seems to have died in committee, so to speak. It would be revived more than three decades later. A Consultative Council came into existence in 1992.

Meantime, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries came into existence in 1960. For the first decade or more of its existence, it was ineffectual in terms of increasing revenue for the member nations. But that would change. Tension between Faisal and Saud continued to mount until a final showdown in 1964. Saud threatened to mobilize the Royal Guard against Faisal and Faisal threatened to mobilize the National Guard against Saud. It was Saud who blinked, abdicating and leaving for Cairo, then Greece, where he would die in 1969. Faisal then became King.

The Six-Day War of June 5-10, 1967, a war between Israel and the neighbouring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. had other effects. It effectively closed the Suez canal, it may have contributed to the revolution in Libya that put Muammar al-Gaddafi in power, and it led in May 1970 to the closure of the "tapline" from Saudi Arabia through Syria to Lebanon. These developments had the effect of increasing the importance of petroleum in Libya, which is a conveniently short (and canal-free) shipping distance from Europe.

In 1970, it was Occidental Petroleum which constituted the first crack in the wall of oil company solidarity in dealing with the oil producing nations; specifically, in this case, with the demands for price increases from the new Qaddafi government.

In October 1973, another war between Israel and its Muslim neighbors, known as the Yom Kippur War, broke out just as oil company executives were heading to Vienna, site of a planned meeting with OPEC leaders. OPEC had been emboldened by the success of Libya's demands anyway, and the war strengthened the unity of their new demands.

The Arab defeats in the Six Day and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars triggered the 1973 oil crisis. In response to the emergency resupply effort by the West that enabled Israel to defeat Egyptian and Syrian forces, the Arab world imposed the 1973 oil embargo against the United States and Western Europe. Faisal agreed that Saudi Arabia would use some of its oil wealth to finance the "front-line states," those that bordered Israel, in their struggle.

The centrality of petroleum, the Arab-Israeli Conflict and political and economic instability and uncertainty remain constant features of the politics of the region.

Two Iranian revolutions

The Iranian Constitutional Revolution took place between 1905 and 1911. The revolution marked the beginning of the end of Iran's feudalistic society and led to the establishment of a parliament in Persia and the restriction of the power of Shah (king). The first constitution of Iran was approved. But after the final victory of the revolutionaries over the Shah, the modernist and conservative blocks began to fight with each other. Then World War I took place and all of the combatants invaded Iran and this weakened the government and threatened the independence of Iran. The system of constitutional monarchy created by the decree of Mozzafar al-Din Shah that was established in Persia as a result of the Revolution, was weakened in 1925 with the dissolution of the Qajar dynasty and the ascension of Reza Shah Pahlavi to the throne.

In 1979 the Iranian Revolution (also called "The Islamic Revolution" ) transformed Iran from a constitutional monarchy, under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to a populist theocratic Islamic republic under the rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a Shi`i Muslim cleric and marja. Following the Revolution, an Iranian referendum established the Islamic republic as a new government, and a new constitution was approved, electing Ruhollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader of Iran. During the following two years, liberals, leftists, and Islamic groups fought with each other, and ultimately the Islamics captured power. At the same time, the U.S., the USSR, and most of the Arab governments of the Middle East feared that their dominance in the region was challenged by the new Islamic ideology, so they encouraged and supported Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, which resulted in the Iran-Iraq war.

The 21st century

Islam in Turkey

Since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, there has been a strong tradition of secularism in Turkey established and institutionalized by Atatürk's Reforms. Although the First Grand National Assembly of Turkey had rallied support from the population for the Independence War against the occupying forces on behalf of Islamic principles, Islam was gradually omitted from the public sphere after the Independence War. The principle of secularism was thus inserted in the Turkish Constitution as late as 1937. This legal action was assisted by stringent state policies against domestic Islamist groups and establishments to neutralize the strong appeal of Islam in Turkish society. Even though an overwhelming majority of the population, at least nominally, adheres to Islam in Turkey, the state, which was established with the Kemalist ideology has no official religion nor promotes any and it actively monitors the area between the religions using the Presidency of Religious Affairs. The Republic Protests were a series of peaceful mass rallies by Turkish secular citizens that took place in Turkey in 2007. The target of the first protest was the possible presidential candidacy of the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, afraid that if elected President of Turkey Erdoğan would alter the Turkish secularist state [39]

Dynasties of Muslim Rulers

There are Muslim Dynasties which can be found in list of dynasties of Muslim Rulers

See also


  1. Milestones of Islamic History
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 L. Gardet; J. Jomier. "Islam". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. 
  3. Lewis (1993), p.84
  4. Holt (1977a), p.105
  5. Holt (1977b), pp.661-663
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Abbasid Dynasty", The New Encyclopedia Britannica (2005)
  7. "Islam", The New Encyclopedia Britannica (2005)
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 Applied History Research Group. "The Islamic World to 1600". University of Calagary. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  9. Nasr (2003), p.121
  10. Nasr (2003), p. 121-122
  11. Lapidus (1988), p.129
  12. Beeson, Irene (September/October 1969). "Cairo, a Millennial". Saudi Aramco World: 24, 26–30. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  13. Collins (2004), 139.
  14. Hourani, pg.41
  15. Glubb, John Bagot (1966). The course of empire: The Arabs and their successors. Prentice-Hall. pp. 128. 
  16. Glick, Thomas F. (2005). Islamic and Christian Spain in the early Middle Ages. BRILL. pp. 102. ISBN 9-0041-4771-3. 
  17. Luscombe, David Edward; Jonathan Riley-Smith (2004). The new Cambridge medieval history. Cambridge University Press. pp. 599. ISBN 0-5214-1410-5. 
  18. O'Callaghan, Joseph F. (1983). A History of Medieval Spain. Cornell University Press. pp. 133. ISBN 0-8014-9264-5. 
  19. Constable, Olivia Remie (1997). "The Political Dilemma of a Granadan Ruler". Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 103. ISBN 0-8122-15699. 
  20. Hourani, pg.85
  21. Curtis, Edward E. (2002). Islam in Black America: identity, liberation, and difference in African-American Islamic thought. SUNY Press. pp. 119. ISBN 0-7914-5370-7. 
  22. Nimtz, Jr., August H. (1980). Islam and Politics in East Aftrica. the Sufi Order in Tanzania. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 
  23. Nasr (2003), p. 143
  24. Bloom and Blair (2000), p. 226-230
  25. Armstrong (2000) p. 116
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Bloom and Blair (2000), p. 211-219
  27. Bloom and Blair (2000), p. 199-204
  28. Holt (1977a), p.263
  29. Koprulu (1992), p.109
  30. Koprulu (1992), p.111
  31. Armstrong (2000), p.116
  33. (Citation: Bentley, Jerry H. and Ziegler, Herbert F. "Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past." New York: McGraw Hill, 2006, pp. 961 and 969.
  34. Citation: Bentley, Jerry H. and Ziegler, Herbert F. "Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past." New York: McGraw Hill, 2006, pp. 971-972.
  35. Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History, vol.4, p.1402
  36. Causes of Anti-Americanism in the Arab World: A Socio-Political Perspective by Abdel Mahdi Abdallah (MERIA Journal. Volume 7, No. 4 - December 2003
  37. Arab-Israeli Conflict: Role of religion (Israel Science and Technology)
  38. Arab-American Psychiatrist Wafa Sultan: There is No Clash of Civilizations but a Clash between the Mentality of the Middle Ages and That of the 21st Century
  39. "Secular rally targets Turkish PM", BBC News, April 14, 2007.

References and further reading

Books and journals

  • Armstrong, Karen (2000). Islam: A Short History. Modern Library. ISBN 978-0679640400. 
  • Bloom and Blair (2000). Islam:A Thousand Years of Faith and Power. 
  • Esposito, John (2000b). Oxford History of Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195107999. 
  • Hart, Michael (1978). The 100:Ranking of the most influential persons in history. New York: Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8065-1057-9. 
  • Holt, P. M.; Bernard Lewis (1977a). Cambridge History of Islam, Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521291364. 
  • Holt, P. M.; Ann K. S. Lambton, Bernard Lewis (1977b). Cambridge History of Islam, Vol. 2. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521291372. 
  • Hourani, Albert; Ruthven, Malise (2003). A History of the Arab Peoples. Belknap Press; Revised edition. ISBN 978-0674010178. 
  • Koprulu, Mehmed Fuad; Leiser, Gary (1992). The Origins of the Ottoman Empire. SUNY Press. ISBN 0791408191. 
  • Lapidus, Ira M. (1988). A History of Islamic societes. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-22552-3. 
  • Lewis, B. (1993). The Arabs in History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-285258-2. 
  • Rahman, F. (1982). Islam & Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-70284-7. 
  • Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2003). Islam:Religion, History and Civilization. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-050714-4. 
  • Sonn, Tamara (2004). A Brief History of Islam. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-4051-0900-9. 
  • Ankerl, Guy (2000). Coexisting Contemporary Civilizations: Arabo-Mulsim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western. INUPress. ISBN 2-88155-004-5. 
  • Hourani, Albert (2002). A History of the Arab Peoples. Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-21591-2. 


  • P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs, ed. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 
  • William H. McNeill, Jerry H. Bentley, David Christian, ed (2005). Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History. Berkshire Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0974309101. 
  • The New Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Incorporated; Rev Ed edition. 2005. ISBN 978-1593392369. 

External links