Make your own free website on

Islamic World



Muhammad (570-632 AD.)- the Arab merchant who received a series of revelations from Allah (God). Muhammad created a community (umma)  based on his revelations. Thus, from the very beginning, the religion that he launched has had concrete political, social, and economic aspects, as well as spiritual or moral ones.


Islam-The religion based on revelations received from Allah (God) by the Arab prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century. The word “Islam” simply means “surrender” or “submission.” One who accepts Islam is a “Muslim,” or “one who submits.”


Qur’an (Koran)- the holy book of Islam which contains the revelations Muhammad received. All the surahs (chapters) were in writing before the Prophet died, but they were only collected into a single book after his death.


Hadith- the traditions of what the Prophet said and did. Considered the second major source of the Muhammad’s message to mankind.


Shari’a- religious law based on interpretations of the Qur’an and Hadith by the “ulema” (scholars, or judges).


5 Pillars of Islam: 1) basic creed- “there is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God”

                             2) ritual prayer five times daily

                             3) Observation of fasts, especially Ramadan.

                             4) Almsgiving

                             5) Pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a person’s lifetime.


Jihad- a general injunction to “strive in the way of God.” This has often been interpreted to mean to fight to expand or protect Islam. 


Ulama (ulema)- the scholars or judges whose decisions regarding the religious law (Shari’a) carry enormous weight in Islamic society.



Early Chronology


610 AD.- Muhammad received his first revelation.


622 AD.- Muhammad and his followers move to Medina (hijra) and set up the first Muslim community.


632 AD.- Muhammad died. Much of Arabia under his control by this time.


632-715 AD.-  His successors carry expansion of the community beyond Arabia. By the latter date, Arab (Muslim) armies held sway from Spain through North Africa, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, to the Indus River. Their conquests were only halted in Gaul (France) in 732 AD, Constantinople in 717 AD and in central Asia in 715.


644-1259 AD.- Muhammad’s successors (caliphs) rule over an Islamic state which combined existing local, Greco-Roman and Persian cultures with Arab/Muslim culture. Much of the Middle East was converted to Islam fairly rapidly. The political and cultural center of the Islamic world moved from Arabia to Damascus, and then to Baghdad.


1259-fourteenth and fifteenth centuries-  Mongol domination in the Islamic world. The Mongol destroyed the Abbasid caliphate in 1259. Mongol control fragmented very quickly, but their khanates only crumble in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.


The Mongols were eventually succeeded by the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires which dominated the Islamic world into the nineteenth century.