A start on a basic Islamic chronology

A start on a basic Islamic chronology February 1, 2019


Ka‘ba (aka Kaaba)
The Ka‘ba in Mecca. (Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)
Although dating to pre-Islamic times, it has been the center of the Muslim world since the early seventh century.


Here’s a first pass at a basic timeline of Islamic history — disproportionately modern in focus and still needing substantial fleshing out — for the introductory book on Islam that I’m slowly expanding and revising for eventual publication.  I’ll return to it in future blog entries:


570 AD  Muhammad is born in Mecca.

610 AD  According to Muslim belief, Muhammad is visited at the age of forty by the angel Gabriel while meditating and praying in a cave near Mecca. Thus begins the revelation of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, which will continue until Muhammad’s death.

622 AD  Amid mounting persecution in Mecca, Muhammad and his followers migrate to the nearby town of Yathrib (later known as Medina).  This is the hijra, the “flight” or “emigration,” and it marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, Muhammad becomes a ruler and lawgiver and establishes an Islamic state.

630 AD  Muhammad takes control of Mecca, peacefully.  He clears the idols and images out of the Ka‘ba and rededicates it to the worship of God alone.

632 AD  Muhammad dies after a relatively brief illness. His father-in-law and close associate, Abu Bakr, is chosen as his caliph or successor.

638 AD  Muslim Arab forces begin the conquest of Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.

641 AD  Muslim Arab forces begin the conquest of Egypt .

661 AD  ‘Ali b. Abi Talib is assassinated, ending the period of the four “orthodox” or “rightly guided” caliphs, who were, in order, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, æUthman, and æAli. This marks the beginning of the Umayyad dynasty, based in Damascus.

711 AD  Muslims — many of them Berbers — enter Spain in the west and India in the east.  Eventually, almost the entire Iberian Peninsula comes under Islamic control.

732 AD  A small Muslim force is defeated at Poitiers in France, by Charles Martel.

750 AD  The Abbasids overthrow the Umayyads, soon moving the imperial capital eastward from Damascus to their newly-founded city of Baghdad.

1099  AD  European Christian Crusaders take Jerusalem from the Muslims. Eventually, though, the Muslims defeat the Crusaders and regain control of the Holy Land.

1299 AD  The earliest Ottoman Turkish state is formed in Anatolia, which is today’s Turkey.

1453 AD  The Ottomans conquer Constantinople, putting an end to what little was left of the Byzantine Empire by that time, and change its name to Istanbul.

Circa 1800 AD  Approximately 30 percent of Africans forced into slavery in the United States are Muslim.

1919 AD  With the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire, which had joined in on the losing side, swiftly collapses and Europeans colonize many of its former holdings in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.

1930 AD  The so-called “Nation of Islam” — the “Black Muslim” movement — is created in the United States by W. D. Fard. It is based on some Islamic ideas, but also declares Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975) a prophet.

1948 AD  The state of Israel is established.

1956 AD  Israel, followed by the United Kingdom and France, invades Egypt during the “Suez Crisis,” sometimes called the Second Arab-Israeli War.

1967 AD  During the Six-Day War, Israel seizes the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.

1973 AD  In the Yom Kippur War (or October War, or Ramadan War), fought mostly in the Sinai and the Golan Heights, Egypt enjoys some military success against Israel.

1975 AD  Wallace D. Muhammad, the son of Elijah Muhammad, assumes leadership of the Nation of Islam after his father’s death and brings most of his followers into mainstream Islam.

1979 AD  The Iranian Revolution results in the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the first attempt at an Islamic state in the modern era.

2001 AD  The World Trade Center in New York is destroyed, and the Pentagon near Washington DC is seriously damaged, by attacks coordinated by al-Qa‘ida.



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