Characterized by the belief that there is only on God
One who is appointed by God to convey a divine message
The sacred book of Islam: the word of God revealed to the Prophet. Revelation
God’s disclosure of himself and his will to his people
The Arabic word for the one and only God
Arab desert nomad
Cube-shaped religious shrine believed to have been erected by Adam and then rebuilt by Abraham. Today it is the central shrine of Islam – the focal point for daily prayer and the pilgrimage – and is within the precincts of the great mosque of Mecca. Oligarchy
A form of government in which the power is invested in few, or in a dominant class or clique Polytheism
The belief in many gods or more than one god
Absolutely trustworthy (free from error)
Islamic community; refers to the worldwide Muslim community Usury
Lending money for interest
The succession to the sovereignty of the Islamic community
Those Muslims who follow the tradition (sunna) of the Prophet without acknowledging and political privilege to the descendants of ‘Ali’ or any other companion Shi’i
those Muslims who believe that Muhammad designated ‘Ali and his rightful descendants the true leaders of the Muslim community.
Today over one billion people adhere to some form of Islam and the majority live outside the ‘Arab World’. It is the world’s second largest religion. Islam emerged in the seventh century in a region where Asia and Africa met and spread rapidly north, east and west. For more than fourteen centuries, Islam has grown and spread from a religion of the seventh century Arabia of the Prophet Muhammad to a world religion whose followers are found across the globe. Characterized by an uncompromising love in the one true God (Allah), through his revelation and his Prophet, Islam developed into a spiritual pathway whose law, ethics and theology made it a rapidly growing world religion. The foundation of Islamic belief and practice is the Qur’an. For Muslims, the Qur’an is the revealed literal word of God. Second to it in authority are the narratives, sayings, doings and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. Muslim faith and practice are based in revelation but expressed in a variety of beleifs, attitudes, rituals, laws and values.
Pre-Islamic Arabia –
Seventh century pre-Islamic Arabian society and religion reflected the tribal realities of the Arabian Peninsula. Arabia’s 1 700 000 square km were dominated by desert and steppe areas. Bedouin tribes travelled from one are to another in search of water and pasture for their flocks. Mecca was a significant point of trade and commerce in Arabia. Social organization and identity for the peoples of Arabia were based on membership of an extended family – a tribe consisting of a cluster of several family groupings, led by a chief. Gods and goddesses served as protectors of individual tribes and their spirits were associated with sacred objects. In Mecca, there was a central shrine of the Gods, the Ka’ba which was the site of a great annual fair. While these gods were main objects of worship, beyond this tribal polytheism was a shared belief in Allah. Allah was the supreme high God –the creator and sustainer of life – but remote from everyday concerns and so was not the object of cult or ritual. At this time there were also three other flourishing religious traditions – Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Arabian tribal society provided the context for the rise of Islam. The emergence of Mecca as a major commercial center ushered in the beginnings of a new political, social and economic order. This was the time and the social environment in which Muhammad was born.
The Prophet Muhammad
History, legend and Muslim belief portray Muhammad as a remarkable man and a prophet. Historical records tell us little about Muhammad’s early years. The majority of the information about Muhammad comes from prophetic narratives. Muhammad the son of Abd Allah was born around 570 CE into the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe, the major tribe in Mecca. At the age of twenty five he married a forty year old wealthy widow. He had two sons, who died in infancy, and fur daughters. Muhammad, who had become a successful member of the Meccan society, was deeply disturbed by the changes that came with Mecca’s transition from a semi-Bedouin culture to a commercial, urban society. He was greatly respected for his judgment and trustworthiness. He retreated regularly to a cave on Mount Hira where he meditated, worshiped God and contemplated his life and the troubles of his society, seeking greater meaning and insight. It was on Mount Hira that Muhammad became Muhammad the messenger of God. A heavenly intermediary, the archangel Gabriel, commanded ‘Recite’. Muhammad responded that he had nothing to recite. The angel repeated the command twice before to words finally came to Muhammad. With this revelation, Muhammad finally saw himself as a divinely inspired messenger or prophet of God. Muhammad continued to receive divine revelations over a period of twenty three years. Muhammad memorized these revelations and scribes in Mecca wrote them down. These messages were collected and became the Qur’an, Islam’s sacred scripture. After the revelation on Mount Hira, the Prophet Muhammad’s life can be divided into three distinctive periods: The Meccan period, The Migration to Medina and the treaty of Hudaybiyya and his death.
The Meccan Period –
The first thirteen years of Muhammad’s preaching were difficult, hampered by Meccan resistance, rejection and violence. His message was not altogether welcomed for at least two reasons:
His rejection of polytheism threatened the livelihood and prestige of the Meccans as keepers of the Ka’ba, the religious shrine that housed the tribal idols The values he expressed did not agree with the money-making policy of the rich merchants of the city
Muhammad denounced false contracts, usury and the neglect and exploitation of orphans and widows. He defended the rights of the poor and oppressed, asserting that the rich had an obligation to the poor and that this would be met as a ‘welfare tax’ levied on wealth and agricultural lands. Later, Muhammad would be involved in conveying revelations that altered the legal shape of society, especially concerning marriage. A potential economic loss was combined with the undermining of Meccan tribal political authority by Muhammad’s claim to prophetic authority and leadership, and his insistence that all belonged to umma (a single universal community) that went beyond tribal bonds.
Migration to Medina –
While Muhammad struggled preaching God’s message in Mecca, he gathered a small band of faithful followers including his paternal cusin-in-law, his future father-in-law and the first caliph. Muhammad’s situation changed significantly in 621 CE when he was invited to serve as a chief arbitrator in a bitter feud between two Arab tribes. Muhammad accepted this invitation around the same time as the Night Journey. The Night Journey was the journey when Archangel Gabriel took Muhammad through the air from Mecca to Jerusalem and then he made the ascension to heaven past the great prophets who had preceded him, to the presence of God. It was here that Muhammad was taught the ritual of the five daily prayers. Muhammad and about two hundred of his followers emigrated to Medina. Al-Hijra marked a turning point in Muhammad’s fortunes and a new stage in the history of the Islamic movement. The importance of the hijra is reflected in its adoption as the beginning of the Islamic calendar. Muslims chose to date their history from the creation of umma, the Islamic community. The community, as much as the individual, was to be the instrument for realizing Gods purpose for humanity on earth. By leaving Mecca, Muhammad broke away from the old tribal organization to create a community of faith, and established a religion with its own institutions. On arriving in Medina, Muhammad announced a charter which set out the rights and duties of all citizens and the relationship of the Muslim community to other communities. Muslims formed a community whose primary identity was a common religious and commitment. At the same time Muhammad turned his attention towards Mecca. Mecca had a special status as a religious and economic center and further revelations to Muhammad, which named Mecca as the qibla for prayer and the focus for Muslim Hajj, increased its religious significance. Muslims were viewed as defectors and traitors to Meccan tribal traditions.
Treaty of Hudaybiyya and the death of Muhammad –
The treaty of Hudaybiyya with the Meccans was a turning point for Muslims. In the peaceful atmosphere many willingly converted to Islam. When Mecca broke the treaty, the Muslim army conquered Mecca without any resistance. Muhammad entered Mecca and granted amnesty to the great majority of his former enemies. He destroyed the idols and images in the Ka’ba and dedicated it to the one God as intended by Abraham. (In Muslim tradition, the Ka’ba was rebuilt by Abraham and was the first shrine on earth for the worship of God as intended by Abraham). The Meccans converted to Islam, and were within the umma. During the next two years, Muhammad established his authority over much of Arabia and tribes one after another converted to Islam.at sixty three years of age, Muhammad lead the pilgrimage to Mecca. He died later that year.
Muhammad – model of Muslim life and devotion –
Muhammad remarkable character and personality inspired extraordinary confidence and commitment. Both during his lifetime and throughout the following centuries, Muhammad has provided the ideal model for Muslim character and life, providing the pattern that all believers are to emulate. He is the living Qur’an – the witness whose behavior and words reveal gods will. The practices of the prophet became the guiding source of Islamic law alongside the Qur’an. Muslims look to Muhammad example for guidance in all aspects of life. His influence on Muslim life cannot be underestimated, since he served as both religious and political leader of Medina – prophet of God, ruler, military commander, chief judge, lawgiver. As a result the practice of the prophet, his sunna, became the standard for community life. Muhammad is revered as the ideal religious and political leader, loyal friend, and model husband and father. Muhammad is an example of extreme good in humanity.
Islam after the Prophet
The four ‘rightly guided’ caliphs –
Muhammad’s death was unexpected and no explicit provision had been made for a successor. The first successors are called the four ‘rightly guided’ caliphs who were all early converts and companions of the Prophet:
Abu Bakr (632-634CE) – a very early follower of the prophet, he was the father of Muhammad’s alleged favourite wife, ‘A’isha. He was acknowledged as Muhammad’s successor by the Prophet’s companions. He pacified and united Muslim tribes, and ordered the first collection of the written text of the Qur’an.
‘Umar (634-644CE) – an early follower of the prophet, he was the designated nominee for succession to Abu Bakr, a member of the Quraysh clan and the father of Muhammad’s wife Hafsa. ‘Umar extended Muslim rule to Syria, Egypt, Persia and in the north of Armenia. ‘Umar appointed a council of six men to select his successor.
Uthman (644-656CE) – an early follower of the Prophet, ‘Uthman was from a leading Meccan family. Repots hold that ‘Uthman commissioned the officially endorsed copy of the Qur’an that was written in Meccan dialect, its current form. His murder was the first of a series of Muslim rebellions that would plague the Islamic community’s political development.
‘Ali (656-661CE) – Muhammad’s closet male relative, his paternal cousin. ‘Ali was married to the Prophets daughter, Fatima and father to his grandsons. Ali moved his capital to Iraq, a more central location within the expanding Muslim world. During ‘Ali’s reign his authority was challenged by two opposition movements. The opposition was largely inspired by the accusations that ‘Ali was complicit in the killing of ‘Uthman. After a series of battles, ‘Ali lost effective power and he was assassinated by a fringe group whilst entering a mosque in Kufah.
The end of the elected caliphs –
There is no fifth ‘rightly guided’ caliph. A new period of Islamic and political history began, and political rule in the vast Muslim world became a dynasty or a hereditary monarchy.
The Female Companions of the Prophet
There were strong women in Muhammad’s life who helped establish the Muslim tradition. Women who lived in Muhammad’s time were neither secluded nor subservient.
Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet, was a successful business woman who managed her father’s business and reserved the family’s fortune. Khadija is important in Islam as Muhammad’s first wife and the ‘mother of Islam’. Khadija earned three titles: Ameerat –Quarish (Princess of Quarish), al-Tahira (the Pure One) and Khadija Al-Kubra (Khadija the Great). Khadija was said to have had an impeccable character. She used to feed and clothe the poor, assist her relatives financially, and provide for the marriage of those of her kin who could not otherwise have had the means to marry. Khadija had heard of the honesty, trustworthiness, high moral character and clean habits of Muhammad. She also realized something of his spiritual capacities. It is understood that after hearing all the good news about Muhammad from Maysarah (Khadija’s slave girl) and pondering the idea of offering a marriage proposal to the young Muhammad, Khadija had a dream that would bring her to her final decision. The couple would be married for twenty five years and conceive a total of six children during the marriage. When Khadija’s husband Muhammad received his first revelation from the archangel Gabriel (Jibril), she was the first person to convert to Islam. Khadija did not hesitate to embrace Islam at all, trusting to her husband’s teachings. Khadija was a loyal wife by always providing strength to her husband, proclaiming his truth to those who did not believe and would belittle any opposition of men to the sayings of her husband. Khadija also sacrificed her vast health to promote Islam, helping to free slaves who had embraced Islam and helping to feed the community of slowly growing Muslims. She remained at Muhammad’s side and supported him throughout his mission to spread Islam. Khadija died in the year of 619 CE which has come to be known as the Year of Sorrow. “Khadija had been the first to publicly accept Muhammad as the messenger of Allah, and she never stopped doing all she could to help him…Khadija always had a special place in his (Muhammad) heart…Muhammad replied ‘she believed in me when no one else di; she accepted Islam when people rejected me; and she helped and comforted me when there was no one else to lend me a helping hand’”. – Ibn Kathir (Islamic scholar) Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khadijah
Aisha or “Mother of Believers” had an important role in early Islamic history, both during Muhammad’s life and after his death. Aisha was an active figure in numerous events and an important witness to many more. Aisha contributed to the growth, development and understanding of Islam. Being a role model to a significant amount of others added to her attributions as a consultant regarding Muhammad’s prayer and practices. Aisha was to be married to Muhammad at age nine/ten. Child marriages such as this were relatively common in Bedouin societies at the time. It is said that is was in Aisha’s company that Muhammad received the most revelations. After Muhammad, Aisha was readily involved in continuing his messages. She was present through the reigns of the four caliphs with her father becoming the first caliph. Aisha delivered ideas expressing the Prophets practice and expressed herself as a role model to women, which can be seen within some traditions attributed to her. Not only was she supportive of Muhammad, Aisha added scholarly intelligence to the development of Islam. She was known for her expertise Qur’an. Her intelligence and contributions regarding the verbal texts of Islam were in time transcribed into written form, becoming the official history of Islam. Soon after Muhammad’s death the Islamic community began consulting Aisha on Muhammad’s practices, and she was often used to settle disputes on infrequent points of law. During Aisha’s life she was a strong advocate for the education of Islamic women especially in areas such as law and the teachings of Islam. Aisha’s scholarly intelligence and motherly figure allowed for important contributions in the emergence of Islam and an important dignitary to the Muslim women. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aisha
Fatimah was the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad and his first wife Khadija. She was born in Mecca and is given the title of ‘al-Zahra’ meaning the shining one. Fatima accompanied Muhammad when he emigrated to Medina. Soon after her arrival in Medina she married her father’s cousin ‘Ali. After her marriage to ‘Ali, the wedded couple led a life of poverty. Fatimah vouched to take care of the household work and in return, Ali to take care of the outside work, such as gathering firewood and bringing food. When Muhammad was facing his last illness Fatima was there to nurse him. In general she was devoted to her domestic duties and avoided involvement in political affairs. Yet after Muhammad’s death he had a sharp clash with Abu Bakr (the first caliph) and supported ‘Ali in his reluctance to submit to Abu Bakr’s authority. She came into conflict with the caliph a second time over a property that she claimed Muhammad had left her. Abu Bakr refused to sanction her claim and Fatima refused to speak to him. Fatima died six months later. Muhammad revered Fatimah as if she were a divine being, saying “Allah, the most high; is pleased when Fatima is pleased. He is angered; whenever Fatima is angered”. Whenever Fatima would go to the house of Muhammad, he would stand up out of respect and honour her by giving her a special place to seat herself in his house. Muhammad is reported to have said, “Fatima is a part of me and whoever offends he offends me”. Fatima became the object of great veneration by all Muslims because she lived closest to her father and supported him in his difficulties as well as the fact that she was the only member of Muhammad’s family that gave him descendants.
Sunni and Shi’i Islam
The major divisions within the Muslim community began less than thirty years after the Prophet’s death and the reason for their appearance was largely political – who has the gifts and the spiritual insights to guide the Muslim community? For the Sunni (today almost 85% of Muslims) the head of the Muslim community must be the best qualified Muslim. The Sunni claimed to follow the right path of Islam. For them, the right path is the ways based on the Qur’an and the sunna of the Prophet. For Sunnis, all direct revelation from Allah was complete with Muhammad’s death and is represented by the Qur’an and explained, elaborated and put into practice through the sunna of the prophet. The Shi’i (today about 15% of Muslims) believe that only the descendants of the Prophet can be invested as the leader of all Muslims, and they keep an official list of those who should have governed the Muslim world since the death of the Prophet. Shi’i hold that although the twelfth leader disappeared, divine guidance is still available through the descendants of Muhammad and qualified scholars. The Leaders could reveal the inner meaning of the Qur’an or could add to the understanding of the revelation of Allah. The difference between these two major variants is not one of belief, but rather the expression of those beliefs and how Islamic history is perceived.
The articles of faith -
The main articles of faith (or doctrines) in Islam are said to be revealed or ‘sent down’ from Allah. It speaks of belief in the following:
Existence and unity of god - The first article of faith is the belief in one god who created all that exists but was not himself created; he is ‘The Eternal’. Muslims, in accordance with this article of faith, should worship Allah alone.
It is forbidden to represent Allah in visual or symbolic form. The ninety-nine names given to Allah in the Qur’an describe the Attributes, for example, the All Knowing, the compassionate, the Giver of all things. These names are often written on the walls as part of the decoration of a mosque.
Existence of angels - A belief in angels is central to the religion of Islam, beginning with the belief that the Qur’an was dictated to the Prophet by the archangel Gabriel (Jibril). The angels are created from light, have no gender and do not eat or drink. Angels witness God’s creative glory and therefore express absolute praise, service and obedience to God. They often serve as God’s messengers.
Each person has two recording or guardian angels who record their good and bad deeds and these angels are acknowledged during daily salat (prayer)
God’s revelation to humans in holy books
(Refer to: Belief in prophets and the books of Allah below)
God appointing prophets to all people
(Refer to: Belief in prophets and the books of Allah below)
Resurrection and life after death - Islam sees the ‘real universe’ and that ‘real universe’ continues after death. Belief in life after death is so crucial to Islam that any doubts about it amount to the denial of Allah. The Qur’an states that for each person after death there is an intermediate period where souls wait for resurrection. When this present world ends, Allah will call these souls and they will be brought to judgment before Allah.
Ever human who has ever lived will be rewarded for their goodness or punished for their sins. God’s forgiveness will manifest in abundance but the only sin that will not eventually be forgiven by Allah is the deliberate worship of other Gods. There is a place for the wicked jahannam (hell) there is also a place for believers and good people, jannah (paradise). Because death marks the beginning of eternal life the funeral is highly significant.
God’s will and human freedom of choice - Although Muslims are held responsible for their own sins, they also believe that nothing happens unless it is the will of Allah. This belief shows the recognition of his power and acceptance of his will for them – people cannot do anything unless approved by God; however, they still have a free will to choose. In other words, while Allah knows the past and future actions of every person, each individual has the free will to act for good or evil i.e. they have control of their fate. Humans chose their actions but God creates them.
Shi’i Muslims do not believe in free will since that contradicts God being all-knowing and all-powerful. Rather they believe in ‘a way between the two ways’ – believing in free will but within the boundaries set for it by God and exercised with his permission.
Belief in Prophets and the Books of Allah –
A Prophet is someone through whom God speaks. God sent a prophet to every nation on earth. Nabi is the word used for most of these prophets, but rasul describes a prophet who has delivered a holy book. These are known as messengers of Allah. Belief in prophet-hood is closely linked with belief in Holy Books. Five prophets are considered the most important as they received special revelations. They are Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. For Muslims, Muhammad is Allah’s last prophet, who brought the final message from Allah to humanity. Along with the Qur’an, the holy books that contain Allah’s revelation to these revered prophets are the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Gospels.
http://studiesofreligion.org.au/sample/03_islam/islam_origin_summary.html - Summary points on Pre-Islamic Arabia, Muhammad’s life and the model for Muslim life, the four rightly guided caliphs and the variants of Islam
The ethical teachings of Islam reflect how the beliefs and teachings of Islam influence human behaviour. Islam laces very strong emphasis on the importance of right action, and the laws that govern actions fall roughly into two categories. On the one hand, there is that body of law that governs the behaviour of Muslims towards God. These include laws about prayers, fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimages and the like. The most important of these laws are the five pillars. The second type of Islamic law directly regulates the ways in which human beings treat each other. A Muslims whole life is guided by Shari’a. it regulates all aspects of Muslim life: The performance of ritual
Family and inheritance laws
Rules for commerce and the social and political order
For Muslims, their whole life must be one of submission to Allah for happiness in this world and the next.Muslims must therefore know what is fard (obligatory), what actions are halal (forbidden) and what actions are haram (allowed). Shari’a encompasses both public and private life. The Process of Islamic Jurisprudence –
Shari’a has four sources from which to draw its guiding principles: The Qur’an
Legal precedent or qiyas
The Qur’an is the most important authority for Muslims followed by the sunna of the Prophet as found in the hadith. By describing how the Prophet Muhammad prayed, the sunna provides details of what the Qur’an instructed. The consensus of Muslim scholars (ijma’) is used to make rulings about things not explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an or hadith. The primary benefit of ijma’ is that it allows Muslim scholars to make legal rulings that provide guidelines on a variety of modern issues. All rulings of these scholars must be derived from the teachings and principles of the Qur’an and/or the sunna. Legal precent or qiyas is a legal ruling arrived at through a process of deductive reason or analogy. E.g. the Qur’a prohibits the consumption of alcohol but does not mention drugs. Based on reason (qiyas) drugs are also illegal in Islam because of its harmful effects on health, just like alcohol. While Islamic ethics are articulated in Shari’a and this provides the common principles for life for all Muslims, it is important to note that there are some areas where Muslims differ in its interpretation.
The 5 Pillars of Islam
The Muslim goal of devotional submission to God is put into practice through the five pillars of Islam. Throughout the Muslim world, these five duties are performed by practising Muslims and are a unifying force in Islam. Shahada – Public Declaration of faith; to publicly declare his/her faith: ‘I testify that there is no God but Allah. And I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God’.
Salat – Daily Prayer. Salat is obligatory five times each day. It is the distinctive mark of believers and it provides them with opportunities for direct communion with god five times a day. The five obligatory (fard) prayers in a day include:
The morning prayer
The noon prayer
The afternoon prayer
The evening or sunset prayer
The night prayer
It is preferable to perform the ritual prayer with other people and in a mosque with an imam, a Muslim may prayer almost anywhere.
Zakat – the payment of Zakat is a compulsory welfare contribution by economically well-off Muslims for the needy. It is paid once a year based on their cash savings and gold, silver and jewellery if their savings are above a certain threshold. The minimum amount of zakat is 1/40th (2.5%) of excess personal wealth. Once collected, Zakat can only be distributed to the poor, needy and other rightful beneficiaries. Zakat is paid to gain Allah’s favour.
Sawm – Muslim adults are required to fast from dawn to sunset each day during the month of Ramadan. This means that a Muslim should not eat, drink, smoke or have sex during the hours of fasting. Although all Muslims are expected to fast, there are some exceptions. Those who are too old or sick or people on long journeys do not have to fast; nor do pregnant women, breastfeeding or menstruating women. They can make up the missed days later
Hajj – Hajj is the pilgrimage to the Ka’ba in Mecca. Hajj must be undertaken at least once in every Muslims life (by those who can afford it). Hajj is performed during the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims reflect on their lives and collectively ask for forgiveness.
Timeline of the History of Islam:
c. 570 CE
Birth of Muhammad.
c. 610 CE
Muhammad receives first vision in a cave near Mecca.
c. 610-22 CE
Muhammad preaches in Mecca.
Hijira - Muhammad and followers flee to Medina.
Islamic calendar (AH, Anno Hegirae) begins.
Muslims successfully attack Meccan caravans at Badr.
Muslims are defeated by Meccans at Uhud.
Muslims capture Mecca. Ka'ba is cleansed, pilgrimage rites are Islamicized, tribes of Arabia vow allegiance to Muhammad 632
Death of Muhammad. Abu Bakr chosen as caliph.
Wars of ridda (apostasy) restore allegiance to Islam
Muslim conquests (Futuhat) begin.
Muslim armies take the Fertile Crescent (Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia), North African coast, parts of Persian and Byzantine Empires c. 650
Caliph Uthman has the Qur'an written down.
Uthman is murdered; Ali becomes fourth caliph.
Battle of Siffin. Mu'awiya, governor of Syria, claims the caliphate. 659
Arbitration at Adruh is opposed by Ali's supporters.
Ali is murdered; Mu'awiya becomes caliph. Beginning of Umayyad Caliphate (661-750). 680
Death of Husayn marks beginning of the Shi'at Ali ("party of Ali") or Shi'a sect. 685-705
Reign of Abd al-Malik. Centralization of administration - Arabic becomes official written language (instead of Greek and Persian) and Arab coinage is established. late 600s
Ruling classes in East and West Africa convert to Islam.
Groups of ascetics and mystics begin to form
Arab armies enter Spain from North Africa.
Muslim empire reaches its furthes extent. Battle of Tours prevents further advance northwards. 747
Revolt defeats the Umayyads.
Abu l'Abbas becomes caliph in Iraq
Baghdad (Madinat al-Salam, "city of peace") becomes the new capital of the Abbasid empire. 755
Abd ar-Rahman founds an Umayyad Dynasty in Cordoba, Spain.
Division within Shi'ites - majority are the modern Imamiyya (Twelvers) who co-exist with Abbasid caliphs; minority are more extreme Isma'iliyaa (Seveners). 786-809
Reign of Harun ar-Rashid, best known through the stories of The Thousand and One Nights. 800s
Written collections of Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) are compiled. Sicily comes under Muslim rule. 813-33
Reign of Ma'mun. Theological controversy over whether the Qur'an is created or uncreated and eternal. Center for translation of texts from Greek to Arabic founded in Baghdad. 869-883
Uprisings of black slaves (Zanj) are eventually defeated.
First Fatimid caliph in Tunisia.
Umayyad Abd ar-Rahman III declares himself caliph in Cordoba. 940
Muhammad al-Mahdi, the twelfth imam, disappears. Twelvers still await the future return of the"Hidden Imam." 945
The Buyids (Persian) invade Baghdad and take power from caliph. 969
Fatimids gain power in Egypt and attack Palestine, Syria, and Arabia. Cairo (Al-Qahira, "the victorious city") is founded. 980-1037
Life of Avicenna, Iranian physician and Aristotelian philosopher. 996-1021
Reign of Fatimid al-Hakim. Hamza ibn Ali forms basis of esoteric Druze religion. late 900s
West Africa begins to convert to Islam
Umayyad caliphate in Cordoba defeated by the Christian Reconquista. 1055
Seljuk Turks take Baghdad; Abbasids now only nominal rulers. 1000s
Reconquista takes more of Spain, Sicily falls to the Normans, Crusader kingdoms are briefly established in Palestine and Syria. 1071
Seljuk Turks defeat Byzantines at Battle of Manzikert.
Hasan-i Sabbah takes Alamut in the Persian mountains, the Assassin sect forms around him. 1099
Christian Crusaders take Jerusalem.
Sufi orders (turuq) are founded.
Life of Averroës, Muslim philosopher from Cordoba who sought to integrate Islam with Greek thought. 1171
Fatimid power ends in Egypt with the conquests of Saladin.
Saladin declares himself sultan of Egypt and Syria.
Death of Saladin; most of Crusader states have returned to Islam. 1200s
Assassins wipes out by the Mongols. Indian rulers in Delhi take title of Sultan. Spanish mystic Muhyi al-Din ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240) flourishes. 1221
Genghis Khan and the Mongols enter Persia.
Mongols take the Punjab.
Mongols capture Baghdad; city is sacked and caliph is killed. End of Abbasid caliphate. 1281-1324
Reign of Uthman (Osman), who founds the Ottoman Empire. Muslim merchants and missionary Sufis settle in SE Asia.