AP World History
• Semitic speaking people of the Middle East
• Nomads who moved regularly to find water and food
• Settled in the Arabian peninsula – desert land
– lack of rivers and lakes
• Organized into independent clans/tribes to help one another with the harsh environment • Each tribe had a sheikh
• Developed the caravan trade and were major carriers of trade from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea
• Conflict over water & pasture land w/warrior culture The Arabs
• Early Arabs were polytheistic • Allah (Arabic for
“God”) was worshipped as a supreme god over other gods
• Each tribe had a sacred stone that was worshipped as a symbol of Allah
• Mecca grew as a result of the caravan trade and the worship of the Black Stone (meteorite) in a central shrine called the
• Tensions arose between
Bedouins & the wealthier merchants from Mecca
• Umayyad tribe controlled
Mecca (monotheistic believed in Allah)
The Life of
• Born in Mecca in 570 A.D. to a merchant family • Was an orphan, but grew up to become a caravan manager; contact with Jews &
• Married a rich widow named Khadija; bothered by class inequalities & rivalries
• Experienced visions and was visited by the angel Gabriel
• Came to believe that he received the final revelations of Allah (God)
Early Spread of Islam
• His followers (only 30) were persecuted so he leaves on the
Hegira (to Medina).
• He gains support in Medina and among the Bedouin tribes.
• The first Muslim community
(Umma)is formed here.
Conquering of Mecca
• 630 Muhammad conquers Mecca declares the Ka’bah a holy shrine.
• He removes the tribal idols, but keeps the Black Stone.
• Muhammad becomes the religious and political leader .
Why was Islam Attractive?
Equality no intermediaries
End to vendettas & feuds
Spread of Islam
• Muhammad dies in 632 A.D.
• Left no clear successor or heir
• The position of Caliph