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published: 3/17/04
updated: 12/20/04

Timeline of Islam




A Chronology of the Muslim religion

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Islam is a world religion that was founded by the prophet Muhammad more than 600 years after Christ. Followers of Islam, called Muslims, study and base their lives upon the Quran, the sacred text, which records the teachings of Muhammad.

The Arabic word islam means "submission," reflecting the faith's central tenet of submitting to Allah. Islamic practices are defined by the Five Pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage and alms.

Below is a timeline of the history of Islam. Major events are in bold.




A timeline of the Islamic faith

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.
622 CE
Hijira - Muhammad and followers flee to Medina.
Islamic calendar (AH, Anno Hegirae) begins.
624 CE
Muslims successfully attack Meccan caravans at Badr.
625
Muslims are defeated by Meccans at Uhud.
630
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.
632-33
Wars of ridda (apostasy) restore allegiance to Islam
633
Muslim conquests (Futuhat) begin.
633-42
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.
656
Uthman is murdered; Ali becomes fourth caliph.
657
Battle of Siffin. Mu'awiya, governor of Syria, claims the caliphate.
659
Arbitration at Adruh is opposed by Ali's supporters.
661
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.
Comparison chart: Sunni and Shia Islam
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.
700-800s
Groups of ascetics and mystics begin to form
710
Arab armies enter Spain from North Africa.
732
Muslim empire reaches its furthes extent. Battle of Tours prevents further advance northwards.
747
Revolt defeats the Umayyads.
750
Abu l'Abbas becomes caliph in Iraq
754
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.
765
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.
908
First Fatimid caliph in Tunisia.
928
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
1030
Umayyad caliphate in Cordoba defeated by the Christian Reconquista.
Comparison chart: Islam and Christianity
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.
1090
Hasan-i Sabbah takes Alamut in the Persian mountains, the Assassin sect forms around him.
1099
Christian Crusaders take Jerusalem.
1100-1200s
Sufi orders (turuq) are founded.
1126-98
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.
1174
Saladin declares himself sultan of Egypt and Syria.
1193
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.
1241
Mongols take the Punjab.
1258
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.
mid-1300s
Ottomans capture Bursa and Iznik and move into Europe.
1366
Capital of Ottoman Empire moved from Bursa to Adrianople.
late 1300s
Ottomans take control of the Balkans.
1400s
Islam reaches the Philippines.
1453
Mehmet Fatih (rules 1451-81) conquers Constantinople. The two halves of the Ottoman Empire are united and the sultan becomes Byzantine emperor.
1492
Castile and Aragon capture Granada. All Muslims (and Jews) expelled from Spain.
1501
Isma'il (1487-1524) claims to be the Hidden Imam and is proclaimed Shah (king) of Persia. Twelver Shi'ism becomes official religion of Persia.
1516
Ottomans conquer Syria and Egypt.
1517
Ottomans control Mecca and Medina.
1520-66
Reign of Suleyman the Magnificent; Ottoman Empire reaches its zenith. Hungary and coastlands of Algeria and Tunisia come under Ottoman rule.
1526
Babur (Mongolian) seizes the Delhi sultanate and takes control of northern India.
1556
Akbar founds the Mughal dynasty in northern India.
1600-1700s
Venetians, Habsburgs, and Russians divide European Ottoman lands between them.
1625
Java comes under rule of Muslim kingdom of Mataram.
1699
Treaty of Karlowitz confirms first substantial losses of Ottoman Empire in Europe.
1700s
Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab rejects Sufism and all innovation (bid'a). Founds what becomes the Saudi Arabian kingdom. Hindus regain power from Mughals in northern India.
1738
Mughal empire invaded by the Afghans.
1779
Afghans ousted by Qajar dynasty, which rules Persia until 1925.
1798
Napoleon's expedition to Egypt.
1805
Muhammad Ali becomes governor of Egypt, which becomes independent of the Ottomans, gains control of western Arabia and extends into the Sudan.
1807-76
Tanzimat period. Ottoman Empire undergoes extensive program of modernization in government, law, and medicine.
1830
Greece regains independence from Ottomans.
1850s
Non-Muslim Ottoman citizens granted equality with Muslims.
1858
Last Mughal in India is deposed and India comes under British rule.
1876-1908
Reign of Abd al-Hamid II; autocratic and religiously conservative period in Ottoman rule.
1878
Congress of Berlin recognizes independence of Balkan states previously under Muslim rule.
1882-1952
Egypt occupied by the British.
1908-18
Last decade of Ottoman rule. Rise of nationalistic "Young Turks." More liberal policies develop.
1912
Founding of Islamic Union (Sareket Islam), a modernizing movement in SE Asia.
1918
Fall of Ottoman Empire. League of Nations grants Britain mandatory status over Palestine and Iraq, and France over Lebanon and Syria.
1923
Republic of Turkey established. Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) is first president.
1927
Tablighi Jamaat reform movement founded in India.
1928
Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brothers) founded in Egypt.
1941
Jamaat-i Islami reform movement founded in Lahore, India.
1945
Indonesia becomes independent republic.
1945-60s
Islam spreads to the West with mass migrations from Asia, Africa, and India.
1947
Pakistan founded as an Islamic nation. Islam becomes a minority religion in India.
1957
Independent Malayan state established with Islam as the official religion but guaranteed tolerance.
1960s
Familes from SE Asia and North Africa emigrate to Europe and the Americas.
1979
Shah of Iran is overthrown by Ayatullah Ruhullah Khumayni, who establishes strict fundamentalist rule of Shi'a principles.
late 1990s
Taliban come to power in Afghanistan.
2001
Muslim extremists attack the United States.
2003
Saddam Hussein ousted by Western forces.

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