History of Islam
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The history of Islam concerns the Islamic religion and its adherents, known as Muslims. "Muslim" is an Arabic word meaning "one who submits to God". Muslims and their religion have greatly impacted the political, economic, and military history of the Old World, especially the Middle East, where lies its roots. Though it is believed by non-Muslims to have originated in Mecca and Medina, Muslims believe that the religion of Islam has been present since the time of the prophet Adam. The Islamic world expanded to include people of the Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization. . A century after the death of last Islamic prophet Muhammad, the Islamic empire extended from Spain in the west to Indus in the east. The subsequent empires such as those of the Abbasids, Fatimids, Almoravids, Seljukids, Ajuuraan, Adal and Warsangali in Somalia, Mughals in India and Safavids in Persia and Ottomans were among the influential and distinguished powers in the world. The Islamic civilization gave rise to many centers of culture and science and produced notable scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, doctors, nurses and philosophers during the Golden Age of Islam. Technology flourished; there was investment in economic infrastructure, such as irrigation systems and canals; and the importance of reading the Qur'an produced a comparatively high level of literacy in the general populace.
In the later Middle Ages, destructive Mongol invasions from the East, and the loss of population in the Black Death, greatly weakened the traditional centre of the Islamic world, stretching from Persia to Egypt, and the Ottoman Empire was able to conquer most Arabic-speaking areas, creating an Islamic world power again, although one that was unable to master the challenges of the Early Modern period.
Later, in modern history (18th and 19th centuries), many Islamic regions fell under the influence of European Great powers. After the First World War, Ottoman territories (a Central Powers member) were partitioned into several nations under the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres.
Although affected by ideologies such as socialism and secularism during much of the 20th century, the Islamic identity and the dominance of Islam on political issues intensified during the early 21st century. Global interests in Islamic regions, international conflicts and globalization changed the type of Islamic influence on the contemporary world. Modern interpretations of Islamic texts advocate the unification of religion and state.
In pre-Islamic Arabia Arab people lived in the Arabian Plate. In the south of Hedjaz (principal religious and commercial centre of Middle Ages Arabia), the Arabic tribe of Quraysh (Adnani Arabs), to which Muhammad belonged, had been in existence. Near Mecca, the tribe was increasing in power. The Quraysh were the guardians of the Kaaba within the town of Mecca and was the dominant tribe of Mecca upon the appearance of Islam. The Kaaba, at the time, was used as an important pagan shrine. It brought revenues to Mecca because of the multitude of pilgrims that it attracted. Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim tribe of the Quraysh clan, a branch of the Banu Kinanah tribe, descended from Khuzaimah and derived its inheritance from the Khuza'imah (House of Khuza'a).
According to the traditional Islamic view, the Qur'an (Koran) began with revelations to Prophet Muhammad (when he was 40 years old) in 610. The history of the Qur'an began when its verses were revealed to the Sahabah during the Muhammad's life. The rise of Islam began around the time the Muslims took flight in the Hijra, moving to Medina. With Islam, blood feuds among the Arabs lessened. Compensation was paid in money rather than blood and only the culprit was executed.
In 628, the Makkah tribe of Quraish and the Muslim community in Medina signed a truce called the Treaty of Hudaybiyya beginning a ten-year period of peace. War returned when the Quraish and their allies, the tribe of 'Bakr', attacked the tribe of 'Khuza'ah', who were Muslim allies. In 630, Muslims conquered Mecca. Muhammad died in June 632. The Battle of Yamama was fought in December of the same year, between the forces of the first caliph Abu Bakr and Musailima.
After Muhammad died, a series of Caliphs governed the Islamic State: Abu Bakr (632-634), Umar ibn al-Khattab (Umar І, 634-644), Uthman ibn Affan, (644-656), and Ali ibn Abi Talib (656-661). These leaders are known as the "Rashidun" or "rightly guided" Caliphs in Sunni Islam. They oversaw the initial phase of the Muslim conquests, advancing through Persia, Egypt, the Middle East and North Africa.
Umar improved the administration and built cities like Basra and canal and irrigation networks. To be close to the poor, Umar lived in a simple mud hut without doors and walked the streets every evening. After consulting with the poor, Umar established the first welfare state Bayt al-mal. The Bayt al-mal or the welfare state was for the Muslim and non-Muslim poor, needy, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. The Bayt al-mal ran for hundreds of years under the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century and continued through the Umayyad period and well into the Abbasid era. Umar also introduced Child Benefit and Pensions for the children and the elderly. The expansion of the state, was partially terminated between 638–639 during the years of great famine and plague in Arabia and Levant respectively. During Umars reign, within 10 years Levant, Egypt, Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, Fezzan, Eastern Anatolia, almost the whole of Sassanid Persian Empire including Bactria, Persia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Caucasus and Makran were incorporated into Islamic State. When Umar was assassinated in 644, the election of Uthman as successor was met with increasing opposition. The Qur'an was standardized during this time.
Local populations of Jews and indigenous Christians, persecuted as religious minorities and taxed heavily to finance the Byzantine–Sassanid Wars, often aided Muslims to take over their lands from the Byzantines and Persians, resulting in exceptionally speedy conquests. As new areas joining the Islamic State, they also benefited from free trade, while trading with other areas in the Islamic State, so as to encourage commerce, in Islam trade is not taxed, wealth is taxed. The Muslims paid Zakat on their wealth to the poor. Since the Constitution of Medina, was drafted by the Islamic prophet Muhammad the Jews and the Christians continued to use their own laws in the Islamic State and had their own judges. Therefore they only paid for policing for the protection of their property. To assist in the quick expansion of the state, the Byzantine and the Persian tax collection systems were maintained and the people paid a poll tax lower than the one imposed under the Byzantines and the Persians.
In 639, Muawiyah I was appointed as the governor of Syria after the previous governor Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah died in a plague along with 25,000 other people. To stop the Byzantine harassment from the sea during the Arab-Byzantine Wars, in 649 Muawiyah I set up a navy; manned by Monophysitise Christians, Copts and Jacobite Syrian Christians sailors and Muslim troops. This resulted in the defeat of the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655, opening up the Mediterranean.
When Umar was assassinated in 644, Uthman Ibn Affan became the next caliph. As it is well known that Arabic language is written without vowels, and when Qur'an reached the non-Arabic speakers, people began having different dielects and phonics which was changing the exact meaning of verses in the Qur'an. This was brought to the notice of Uthman Ibn Affan. Begun in the time of Uthman ibn Affan, the compilation of the Qur'an was finished sometime between 650 and 656, Uthman sent copies to the different centers of the expanding Islamic empire. From then on, thousands of Muslim scribes began copying the Qur'an.
The Qur'an and Muhammad talked about racial equality and justice as in the The Farewell Sermon. Tribal and nationalistic differences were discouraged. But after Muhammad's passing the old tribal differences between the Arabs started to resurface. Following the Roman–Persian Wars and the Byzantine–Sassanid Wars deep rooted differences between Iraq, formally under the Persian Sassanid Empire and Syria formally under the Byzantine Empire also existed. Each wanted the capital of the newly established Islamic State to be in their area. Previously, the second caliph Umar was very firm on the governors and his spies kept an eye on the governors. If he felt that a governor or a commander was becoming attracted to wealth or did not meet the required administrative standards, he had him removed from his position.
Early Muslim armies stayed in encampments away from cities because Umar feared that they may get attracted to wealth and luxury. In the process, they may get away from the worship of God and become attracted to wealth and start accumulating wealth and establishing dynasties. "Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one's] hope." Qur'an 18:46  "O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that - then those are the losers." Qur'an 63:9  Staying in these encampments away from the cities also ensured that there was no stress on the population and also that the populations remained autonomous and kept their own judges and representatives. Some of these encampments later grew into cities themselves, like Basra and Kufa in Iraq and Fustat in Egypt. Some cities also had agreements with the Muslims, such as during the Siege of Jerusalem in 637 CE.
Uthman ibn al-Affan was assasinated in Egypt. Ali ibn Abi Talib assumed the position of caliph and moved the capital to Kufa in Iraq. This later resulted in the first civil war (the "First Fitna") and Ali was assassinated by Kharijites in 661. Six months later in 661, Hasan ibn Ali, the fifth Rightly Guided Caliphs, made a peace treaty with Muawiyah I. In the Hasan-Muawiya treaty, Hasan ibn Ali handed over power to Muawiya on the condition that he be just to the people and keep them safe and secure and after his death he does not establish a dynasty. Mu'awiyah broke the conditions of the agreement and began the Umayyad dynasty, with its capital in Damascus.
After the peace treaty with Ali's son, Hassan ibn Ali, and the suppression of the revolt of the Kharijites, Muawiyah I proclaimed himself Caliph in 661 and began consolidating power. In 663, a new Kharijite revolt resulted in the death of their chief. Unrest continued in the Second Fitna, but Muslim rule was extended under Muawiyah to Rhodes, Crete, Kabul, Bukhara, and Samarkand, and expanded in North Africa. In 664, Arab armies conquered Kabul, and in 665 pushed into the Maghreb.
After Mu'awiyah's death in 680, conflict over succession broke out again in a civil war known as the "Second Fitna". The Caliphate fell into the hands of Marwan I who was an Umayyad. The Umayyads conquered the Maghrib, the Iberian Peninsula, Narbonnese Gaul and Sindh.
The Umayyad dynasty (or Ommiads), whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph, ruled from 661 to 750. Although the Umayyad family came from the city of Mecca, Damascus was the capital. After the death of Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr in 666, Muawiyah I consolidated his power. Muawiyah I moved his capital to Damascus from Medina, which led to profound changes in the empire.
As the state grew and the state expenses increased. Additionally the Bayt al-mal, the Welfare State expenses to assist the Muslim and the non-Muslim poor, needy, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled increased, the Umayyads asked the new converts (mawali) to continue paying the poll tax. The Umayyad rule, with its wealth and luxury also seemed at odds with the Islamic message preached by Muhammad. All this increased discontent. At its largest extent, the Umayyad dynasty covered more than 5,000,000 square miles (13,000,000 km2) making it one of the largest empires the world had yet seen, and the fifth largest contiguous empire ever.
Muawiyah beautified Damascus, and developed a court to rival that of Constantinople. He expanded the frontiers of the empire, reaching the edge of Constantinople at one point, though the Byzantines drove him back and he was unable to hold any territory in Anatolia. Sunni Muslims credit him with saving the fledgling Muslim nation from post-civil war anarchy. However, Shia Muslims accuse him of instigating the war, weakening the Muslim nation by dividing the Ummah, fabricating self-aggrandizing heresies slandering the Prophet's family and even selling his Muslim critics into slavery in the Byzantine empire. One of Muawiyah's most controversial and enduring legacies was his decision to designate his son Yazid as his successor. According to Shi'a doctrine, this was a clear violation of the treaty he made with Hasan ibn Ali.
In 682 AD Yazid restored Uqba ibn Nafi as the governor of North Africa. Uqba won battles against the Berbers and Byzantines. From there Uqba marched thousands of miles westward towards Tangier, where he reached the Atlantic coast, and then marched eastwards through the Atlas Mountains. With about 300 cavalrymen, he proceeded towards Biskra where he was ambushed by a Berber force under Kaisala. Uqba and all his men died fighting. The Berbers attacked and drove Muslims from north Africa for a period. Weakened by the civil wars the Umayyad lost supremacy at sea, and had to abandon the islands of Rhodes and Crete. Under the rule of Yazid I, some Muslims in Kufa began to think that if Hussein ibn Ali the descendent of Muhammad was their ruler, he would have been more just. He was invited to Kufa but was later betrayed and killed. Later this concept was taken one step further and they started thinking, what if history took a different course and Ali was the first caliph and these ideas were later odopted by some Shia and institutionalised by the Safavids.
The period under Muawiya II was marked by civil wars (Second Fitna). This would ease in the reign of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, a well-educated and capable ruler. Despite the many political problems that impeded his rule, all important records were translated into Arabic. In his reign, a currency for the Muslim world was minted. This led to war with the Byzantine Empire under Justinian II (Battle of Sebastopolis) in 692 in Asia Minor. The Byzantines were decisively defeated by the Caliph after the defection of a large contingent of Slavs. The Islamic currency was then made the exclusive currency in the Muslim world. He reformed agriculture and commerce. Abd al-Malik consolidated Muslim rule and extended it, made Arabic the state language, and organized a regular postal service.
Al-Walid I began the next stage of Islamic conquests. Under him the early Islamic empire reached its farthest extent. He reconquered parts of Egypt from the Byzantine Empire and moved on into Carthage and across to the west of North Africa. Muslim armies under Tariq ibn Ziyad crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and began to conquer Spain using North African Berber armies. The Visigoths of Spain were defeated when the Umayyad conquered Lisbon. Spain was the farthest extent of Islamic control of Europe (they were stopped at the Battle of Tours). In the east, Islamic armies under Muhammad bin Qasim made it as far as the Indus Valley. Under Al-Walid, the caliphate empire stretched from Spain to India. Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef played a crucial role in the organization and selection of military commanders. Al-Walid paid great attention to the expansion of an organized military, building the strongest navy in the Umayyad era., This tactic was crucial for the expansion to Spain. His reign is considered to be the apex of Islamic power.
Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik was hailed as caliph the day al-Walid died. He appointed Yazid ibn al-Muhallab governor of Mesopotamia. Sulayman ordered the arrest and execution of the family of al-Hajjaj, one of two prominent leaders (the other was Qutaibah bin Muslim) who had supported the succession of al-Walid's son Yazid, rather than Sulayman. Al-Hajjaj had predeceased al-Walid, so he posed no threat. Qutaibah renounced allegiance to Sulayman, though his troops rejected his appeal to revolt. They killed him and sent his head to Sulayman. Sulayman did not move to Damascus on becoming Caliph, remaining in Ramla. Sulayman sent Maslamah ibn Abd al-Malik to attack the Byzantine capital (siege of Constantinople). The intervention of Bulgaria on the Byzantine side proved decisive. The Muslims sustained heavy losses. Sulayman died suddenly in 717.
Yazid II came to power on the death of Umar II. Yazid fought the Kharijites, with whom Umar had been negotiating, and killed the Kharijite leader Shawdhab. In Yazid's reign, civil wars began in different parts of the empire. Yazid expanded the Caliphate's territory into the Caucasus, before dying in 724. Inheriting the caliphate from his brother, Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik ruled an empire with many problems. He was effective in addressing these problems, and in allowing the Umayyad empire to continue as an entity. His long rule was an effective one, and renewed reforms introduced by Umar II. Under Hisham's rule, regular raids against the Byzantines continued. In North Africa, Kharijite teachings combined with local restlessness to produce a significant Berber revolt. He was also faced with a revolt by Zayd bin Ali. Hisham suppressed both revolts. The Abbasids continued to gain power in Khurasan and Iraq. However, they were not strong enough to make a move yet. Some were caught and punished or executed by eastern governors. The Battle of Akroinon, a decisive Byzantine victory, was during the final campaign of the Umayyad dynasty. Hisham died in 743.
Al-Walid II saw political intrigue during his reign. Yazid III spoke out against his cousin Walid's "immorality" which included discrimination on behalf of the Banu Qays Arabs against Yemenis and non-Arab Muslims, and Yazid received further support from the Qadariya and Murji'iya (believers in human free will). Walid was shortly thereafter deposed in a coup. Yazid disbursed funds from the treasury and acceded to the Caliph. He explained that he had rebelled on behalf of the Book of Allah and the Sunna. Yazid reigned for only six months, while various groups refused allegiance and dissident movements arose, after which he died. Ibrahim ibn al-Walid, named heir apparent by his brother Yazid III, ruled for a short time in 744, before he abdicated. Marwan II ruled from 744 until he was killed in 750. He was the last Umayyad ruler to rule from Damascus. Marwan named his two sons Ubaydallah and Abdallah heirs. He appointed governors and asserted his authority by force. Anti-Umayyad feeling was very prevalent, especially in Iran and Iraq. The Abbasids had gained much support. Marwan's reign as caliph was almost entirely devoted to trying to keep the Umayyad empire together. His death signalled the end of Umayyad rule in the East, and was followed by the massacre of Umayyads by the Abbasids. Almost the entire Umayyad dynasty was killed, except for the talented prince Abd ar-Rahman who escaped to Spain and founded a dynasty there.The descendants of Muhammad's uncle Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, represented by As-Saffah, rallied discontented mawali, Arabs and some Shia's against the Umayyads and overthrew them with the help of the general Abu Khorasani, inaugurating the Abbasid dynasty in 750, which moved the capital to Baghdad. A branch of the Ummayad family fled across North Africa to Al-Andalus, where they established the Caliphate of Córdoba, which lasted until 1031 before falling due to the Fitna of al-Ándalus. The Bayt al-mal, the Welfare State then continued under the Abbasids.
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References and further reading
Books, articles, and journals
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- Chronological history of Islam and Muslims up to current time
- Islam: 662AD - Present
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- A history of Islam in America
- Ethiopian Muslims History The Haven of the First Hijra (Migration): an African nation is the Muslims’ first refuge
- Brief history of Islam
- Chronological history of Islam
- A history of Islamic culture
- Islamic Civilization
- Islamic Historical pictures - Gallery/صور
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