Islam in History: An Overview
The Rashidun “Rightly Guided” Caliphate
Abu Bakr; Umar; Uthman; Ali, who is murdered
Conquest of Jerusalem
Arab dynasty ruling from Damascus
Martyrdom of Husayn (Ali’s son) in Karbala, Iraq, and beginning of the Shi’a sect.
Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain)
In 711 a rival branch of the Umayyad caliphate was established in Spain, and Spain
remained in Muslim hands until it was taken again by Christians in the 13th century. Jews
and Christians were prominent in culture and government under Islamic rule. Literature,
philosophy, architecture, mathematics, chemistry, astronomy and medicine all flourished,
stimulated by contact with Christian, Jewish and earlier Greek cultural sources.
Translations of Greek works into Arabic were begun and continued through the 9th
An Arab caliphate established in Baghdad, during which the classical schools of Islamic
law and theology flourish. Cultural achievements remained high.
Al-Kindi (c. 800-873), Al-Farabi (870-950), Ibn Sina / Avicenna (980-1037),
Al-Gazali (1058-1111), Ibn Rushd / Averroes (1126-1198).
Maimonides (1135-1204), Jewish philosopher / theologian, lived in Cairo and served as
court physician to the Muslim ruler Saladin.
Christian reconquest of Muslim controlled territories in Spain, Sicily, and Italy.
Saladin reconquers Jerusalem.
Ottoman (Turks, Saracens) Empire
Sunni Islamic Empire in Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Eastern Europe. With
the demise of the Ottoman Empire after WW I (1918), many of the boundaries of present
day nation states in the Middle East were determined by the British and French.
Mughal Empire in India and South Asia
(Akbar, d. 1605, introduces a degree of religious toleration; from India Muslim (Sufi)
missionaries go to Malaysia, Indonesia.)
Safavid Empire (Persian, Iran)
(“Twelvers” Shi’a; the “hidden” imam)
Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab rejects Sufism and founds what becomes the Saudi Arabia
Kingdom; the roots of later Wahhabiya (a radical, puritanical Islamic movement) emerge.
The califate is abolished by a secular Turkish regime.
Pakistan founded as an Islamic nation.
The Iranian Revolution ushers in a new era of political Islam and radical Islamism.