The angel Gabriel revealed to Muhammad verses from the Quran. After this vision, Muhammad proclaimed himself to be a prophet of Allah. Muhammad began to preach what the angel told him to the people of Mecca. This is extremely important to Islam because the Quran is said to be the direct messages of Allah, or God. Every Muslim is taught the importance of this book.
In 622, Muhammad and his followers fled from Mecca to Medina. The ruling class in Mecca threatened Muhammad with violence and assassination. Muhammad’s journey to Medina is known as the hijra, and marks the birth of a united Islamic community. Islam was able to grow in Medina. The hijra also signifies the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
In 629, Mecca finally submitted to the Muslims. When Muhammad entered the city, he headed straight for the Ka’bah and circled it seven times. From then on, the Ka’bah was known as the principal holy place for Muslims. In 632, Muhammad made his final pilgrimage to Mecca and said that only Muslim’s could worship at the Ka’bah in his last sermon. The pilgrimage is now one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and during hajj a Muslim performs many of the actions that Muhammad did in Mecca.
During this time, the differentiation between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam occurs. It emergence of the Shia began with the death of Muhammad and the concern over who will be his successor. Sunni Muslim’s believe that Abu Bakr was Muhammad’s rightful successor while Shiites discount the legitimacy of the first three caliphs and believe that Ali and his descendants are the sole legitimate Islamic leaders. After the death of Husayn in 680 at the Battle of Karbala, the Shia sect became even more differentiated from the Sunni sect and ended with the formation of some small Shia states. The two groups have seen much sectarian violence over the centuries.
The Abbasid Empire marked the height of Islamic civilization with heavy contributions in art and culture, development of Islamic law, and rising trade, agriculture, industry, and commerce. The Islamic religion was able to grow, spread, and prosper during this time. The Abbasid Empire ended when the Mongols invaded in 1258.
Split between the Twelvers and the Seveners, created two divisions within the Shia sect. The Twelvers coexisted with the Abbasid caliphs, while the Seveners practiced a more extreme Islam. This is an example of how a religion changes over time and changes to what the people want and need.
The different Sunni law schools reflect differing viewpoints on some laws and obligations within Islamic law. They were founded around the 9th century and continue to be prominent in Islamic life today, preaching their opinions about social and economic issues that affect one’s religious relationship.
Western Africa begins to convert to Islam, an important step in the spread of the religion and began its quest to become a world religion.
The Crusades were a series of holy wars initiated by the Christians to recapture the holy city of Jerusalem from the Muslim’s. The Muslim’s had first captured Jerusalem in 638. The Christian crusaders take Jerusalem in 1099. This is important in Islamic history because it represents a conflict with another religion over a holy city that they both designate as theirs.
The Sufi orders were founded during this time. Sufism is the mystical beliefs of Islam. They are strong adherents to the principles of peace, tolerance and pacifism. Sufi’s consider themselves as observing the purest form of Islam.
The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest and longest lasting empires in history. The empire was inspired, sustained, and united by Islam and Islamic institutions. This time period was important for Islam because the religion grew with the expansion of the empire. The empire possessed the three holiest cities in the religion: Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. The Ottoman Empire ended with the formation of Turkey as an independent state after a long period of decline.
Islam reaches the Philippines, signifying it’s continuous growth and expansion.
Constantinople falls under Muslim rule and unites the two halves of the Ottoman Empire. Control of Constantinople allowed trade to go under the control of the Muslim’s and gave them a strategic location. The sultan also became the Byzantine emperor.
The Safavid Empire was a strong Islamic Empire located in the present location of Iran. The main religion of the empire was Shia Islam, and all other religions and forms of Islam were suppressed. The Safavids launched a vigorous campaign to convert what was then a predominantly Sunni population by persuasion and by force. This is surprising since the empire had Sufi origins.
The Mughal Empire ruled most of India and Pakistan during this time. The empire consolidated Islam and spread Muslim arts and culture as well as faith. The Mughals were a Muslims who ruled in an area of Hindu majority.
Formation of the Islamic Union, a modernizing movement in Southeast Asia. This is one of the most important aspects for a world religion, the ability to encounter modernity.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded, which is the Arab world's most influential and one of the largest Islamic movements, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. The Brotherhood’s goal is to instill the Quran and Sunnah as the sole reference point for the family, community, and state. The Muslim Brotherhood was most active in the 1950’s and 1960’s and was responsible for a lot of violence in the Middle East.
Pakistan was founded as an Islamic nation and Islam becomes the minority region after centuries of control by the Mughal Empire. The two nations have seen conflicts between each other due to their religions. This is important to the religion because it shows the interaction of Islam with another religion, Hinduism.
Islam begins to spread to the West with mass migrations from Africa, Asia, India, and the Middle East.
Under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini the people of Iran were able to overthrow the Shah, a longtime ally of the United States who had relegated Islam to a marginal role in society. This marked the first time an Islamic regime had been able to replace a more secular form of government. The Islamic Republic of Iran still plays a pivotal role in the international community.
The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan and has been the cause of much violence and human rights abuse in Afghanistan. They have caused a negative stigma of Islam in many Western cultures.
In 2001, Muslim extremists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the United States. This attack placed a stereotype on the entire Muslim community and increased anti-Muslim feelings in the United States. Since then, relations with the United States and many Islamic countries in the Middle East have deteriorated, including the act of war.