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

Timeline of Islam




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

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.
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.
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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