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Orville Boyd Jenkins

Muhammad was born about 570 in Mecca, son of Abdul Allah of the Hashimite branch of the Quraysh tribe.  After his parents died when he was age 6, he was raised by his uncle Abu Talib.  He traveled with his uncle, and first visited Syria at age 12.

A rich widow named Khadija hired him to run her trading business, then married him, when he was 25.  He began to go to Mt.  Hira (Heira), a hill not far from Mecca, for meditation.  It was there he began to have his visions and finally felt called as a prophet.  After Khadija's death, Muhammad married Aisha, a virgin.  He later married other wives, all widows.  Muhammad was 50 years old at Aisha's death.

Muhammad's Ministry

Muhammad had a high moral concern.  He was convicted about the immorality and barbarism of his people.  In the year 610, he testified that Gabriel had appeared to him and announced his call to be a prophet/preacher.  The night he received his call on Mt.  Hira is called the Night of Power, Lailat ul-Qadar.  His religion initially appealed to slaves and poor.  

Opposition developed because so much of Mecca's business related to idolatry.   Muhammad was protected by Abu Talib against Quraysh opposition.  In 622 after Abu Talib had succumbed to pressure to withdraw his protection, Muhammad was forced to flee for his life (to Medinah).  This flight, or hijjra, is the beginning for the Islamic era.  The Muslim calendar is dated from the hijjra.

Mecca was a commercial and religious center, the site of pilgrimage from ancient times.  Muhammad's whole clan were traders.  In fact that is the meaning of the clan name Quraysh.  This was actually his father's clan and city.  His mother's home was Medinah, an agricultural center.

Jews were strong in Medinah, and initially he experienced a good reception there.  In a short time he began to implement his vision of uniting all monotheists.  The Constitution of Medinah, an agreement between all the tribes of Medinah, established Muhammad as ruler of all inhabitants.  This is the beginning of the Muslim umma.  

Significant dates in the History of Islam

570/71 - Muhammad is born
610 - Muhammad begins preaching
622 - Muhammad and followers flee to Medina (hijra)
624 - Quraysh armies suffer a major defeat at Badr
630 - Bloodless entry into Mecca, cleansing of Qa'ba; Mecca becomes center of Islam
632 - Muhammad dies; Abu Bakr becomes First Caliph

Development of the Empire

634 - 'Umar becomes Second Caliph
635 - 'Umar captures Damascus, followed by Syria
637 - Eastern Mesopotamia (Iraq) falls
638 - Jerusalem falls to 'Umar
639-41 - Egypt falls
641 - Persia (Iran), Sassanid Empire is defeated in the Battle of Nihavand
640-652 - Asia Minor subjected
644 - 'Uthman ibn 'Affan becomes Third Caliph
650 - Official version of the Qur'an established by Zaid
656 - 'Ali ibn Abi Talib becomes Fourth Caliph; Muslim civil war occurs
661 - 'Ali assassinated
685-87 - Shia (Shiat 'Ali) revolt occurs in what became Iraq
691 - Building of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
700 - North Africa is completely conquered
710-11 - Muslims invade Indus Valley
711 - Muslim Arabs and Berbers invade Spain and defeat the Goths
732 - Charles Martel defeats the Moors at Tours, France

Cultural Development

750 - Abbasid Muslims defeat the Ummayad Dynasty, except in Spain
751 - Muslim Arabs capture Turkestan from China
762 - Capital of the Caliphs moved to Baghdad by Al-Mansur
778 - Charlemagne's Frankish/Abbasid army invades Spain, is defeated at Roncesvalles
786-809 - Harun al-Rashid encourages learning, makes war on the (Christian) Byzantine Empire
810 - Birth of al-Bukhari, scholar who sifted through 600,000 hadith (traditions) to establish authoritative collection of 2,762 Hadith
909 - Fatimid (Shia) dynasty established in Egypt
922 - Sufi al-Hallaj scoured and crucified for claiming "I am the Truth" 970 - Al-Azhar University and mosque founded in Cairo

Decline of Arab Rule

1031 - The citizens of Cordova disestablish the Spanish Caliphate, which is replaced by small Muslim states
1055 - The Seljuk (Saljuq) Turks, who have conquered part of Persia and been converted to Islam, take Baghdad, introduce the title al-Sultan
1165 - Sufi poet ibn al-'Arabi born
1071 - Alp Arslan (Seljuk Turk leader) defeats the Byzantine army, capturing he Emperor and breaking the power of the Byzantine Empire
1071-80 - Seljuks capture Syria and Palestine
1085 - Europeans begin reconquest of Spain
1096-1291 - The Crusades are conducted against the Seljuk Turks
1097 - Crusader Bohemund (a Norman) defeats the Turks at Nicaea
1099 - Antioch and Jerusalem are taken and Norman kingdoms established
1085 - Europeans begin reconquest of Spain
1123 - Death of Omar Kayyam, poet and astronomer
1171 - Salah-al-Din (Saladin), a Kurd serving as Prime Minister, overthrows the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt
1187 - Saladin, uniting Syria, Palestine and Egypt, recaptures Jerusalem
1190 - Ghengis Khan (Temujin) becomes Khan (Great King) of the Mongols
1192 - The Afghan Muhammad Ghori conquers Northern India
1204 - Crusaders capture and loot Constantinople
1206 - Ghengis Khan unites all Mongol and Tatar tribes
1206 - Sultanate of Delhi is established by Ghori's successors
1260 - The Egyptian Mameluke army stops the Mongol advance near Nazareth
1261 - Byzantines recapture Constantinople.  

The Mongols Dominate

1219-60 - Mongols/Tatars invade Asia and Eastern Europe, subjugate the Seljuks, are converted to Islam
1240 - Batu, grandson of Ghengis Khan captures Kiev, take over the Ukraine and Russia
1258 - Mongols under Hulagu take Baghdad from the Abbasids, conquer Syria
1295 - Ghazan, Mongol Khan, converts to Islam
1302 - The Seljuk vassal kingdom is absorbed by Ottoman powers in the Mongol Empire
1304 - Oljeitu, Mongol Khan, becomes a Shiite
1326 - Ottoman Turks conquer parts of the Byzantine Empire, including Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania and Hungary
1336 - Turkic Timur (Tamerlane) born, official date 9 April, alternative dates late 1320s or early 1330s
1365/1365 - Timur (Tamerlane) conquers Persia, makes capital in Samarkand
1368 - Mongol Yuan dynasty in China overthrown by new Ming Dynasty
1365 - Timur (Tamerlane) deafeats rival and former partner Husayn at Balkh, is crowned Imperial ruler of the Chagatay Turks,, marries princesses of the Chagatay and Genghis Khan lineages
1384-86 - Tamerlane conquers Sistana dn Kandahar
1393 - Tamerlane takes Baghdad, campaigns against Georgia
1396 - Ottomon Sultan Bayazid I routs Europeans at Nicopolis, the Last Crusade
1398 - Tamerlane's plunder of the Punjab and sacking of Delhi upsets the rule of the Sultan of Delhi
1400 - Tamerlane takes Sivas and Alepp; 20,000 Syrian skulls in mounds around the city
1393 - Tamerlane defeats Ottomon Sultan Bayazid I, sacks Smyrna, the Christian outpost in Asia Minor, again attacks Georgia
1405 - Tamerlane dies in Otrar, Khazakhstan
1450 - The Sultanate of Delhi is reestablished
1453 - Ottoman Turks under Muhammad II take Constantinople, finally ending the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire
1480 - The Duke of Muscovy overthrows ruling Tatars (Beginning of the Russian Empire)
1492 - King Ferdinand of Spain ousts the Moors from their final stronghold of Granada; also ousts Jews form Spain
1517 - Ottoman Turks capture Syria and Egypt
1526 - Babur, king of Kabul, overthrows the Sultan of Delhi and establishes the Moghul Empire in India
1529 - Ottoman Turks led by Suleiman the Magnificent are turned back after a siege of Vienna
1639 - Ottoman Turks take Iraq from Persia
1683 - Ottoman Turks are again turned back from Vienna
1707 - Aurangzeb, last great ruler of the Indian Mughal (Moghul) Empire, dies, beginning a decline of the Empire

An Era of Realignment

1800-1900 - European colonial expansion: France and Britain in North Africa; Russia in Islamic Central Asia; Holland in Indonesia
1801 - Britain and the Ottomans are allied to force a French withdrawal from invaded Egypt
1829 - The Greek revolution, assisted by Russia, Britain and France, succeeds in liberating Greece from the Turkish-Egyptian Ottoman Empire 1833 - Turkish Sultan requests Russian assistance to put down invasion of Mehmet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, and subsequently places Turkey under Russian military guardianship
1855 - Russian Tsar Alexander II relinquishes claims to Turkish affairs after war with Turkey, Great Britain and France
1858 - The British Empire annexes the former Moghul Empire, after domination since 1800
1873 - Turkic Khanate of Khiva, the last Turkish province outside Turkey, falls to Russia
1881 - Britain defeats the rebel army of Muhammad Ahmad, the "Mahdi" who controlled the Southern half of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
1882 - Britain Occupies Egypt to restore civil order

A New World Map

1901 - 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Su'ud (Sa'ud) captures Riyadh and establishes the Sa'ud dynasty in Arabia
1908 - Young Turk revolt in Turkey
1914 - Britain establishes a protectorate over Egypt after Ottoman Turkey declares war on the Allies
1914-1918 - Turkey (Ottoman Caliphate) is the ally of Imperial Germany in World War I
1916 - Arab revolt against Turkey, supported by the British
1916 - Greater Syria divided between Fance and Britain; Iraq protectorate established by Britain
1918-45 - After World War I, European powers continue to occupy most Arab/Muslim lands, especially France and Great Britain, under League of Nation mandates
1920 - Thrace and Anatolia (containing Constantinople/Istanbul) are ceded from Turkey to Greece by the Treaty of Sevres after WWI
1921-22 - Turkish "war of liberation" recovers land ceded in treaty; reconquers Armenia and eastern Turkey.
1922 - Egypt gains independence from Britain, but British troops remain to protect British use of the Suez Canal
1923 - Kemal Ataturk, leader of the "Young Turks," overthrows the Ottoman Caliphate, secularizes Turkey and withdraws Turkey from Arab/Muslim relations, promoting Westernization
1923 - The Treaty of Lausanne, between Turkey and the Allies, restores Thrace and Antolia to Turkey, after the Greco-Turkish War
1924 - Ibn Saud establishes rule over most of the Arabian Peninsula
1932 - Iraq granted independence
1944 - Neutral Turkey joins Allies against the Axis powers

Middle East Focus

1945 - Formation of Arab League
1947 - Britain divides Indian sub-continent into India and Muslim Pakistan
1948 - Arab-Israeli War
1952 - Turkey and Greece join NATO; Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrows the Egyptian monarchy, proclaiming a republic
1956 - Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal
1963 - Turkey becomes an associate member of the European Community
1967 - Israel fights the 6-day war with all its Arab neighbors, taking portions of Syria, Jordan and Egypt, in an effort to force an agreement on "defensible borders" for Israel.  
1970s-80s - Muslim activists conduct campaign of bombings in various parts of the world
1979 - US President Carter effects a treaty between Egypt and Israel
1991 - UN approves US invasion of Iraq in retaliation for annexation of Kuwait
1991-2003 - Iraq remains under UN sanctions and air supervision, pending compliance with UN requirements to reveal and destroy all "weapons of mass destruction"
2003 - US, in its "War on Terrorism," unilaterally invades Iraq against UN protests in order to discover "weapons of mass destruction" and depose Saddam Hussein
2004 - US and a few allies attempt to pacify Iraq, as unrest and violent opposition grows over perceived lack of US progress in restoring the nation


Includes material originally published in An Outline Introduction to Islam (Nairobi:  Communication Press, 1991.)
First posted on Thoughts and Resources 22 February 2003
Last updated 16 July 2011

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 1991, 2007 by Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

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