The Islamic World

This is an interactive timeline of history and culture in the Islamic world. It is for educational purposes only. The views expressed in the linked video, audio and web pages are not necessarily those of its creator, Dr. James Terry, or his employers. Dates are given by year only (please ignore days/months).

0570-01-01 00:00:00

Birth of Muhammad

Muhammad is born to a woman named Aminah at Mecca. The name Muhammad derives from the Arabic verb hamada, meaning to praise or glorify. Muhammad's father, Abdullah, dies shortly before his birth. When Muhammad’s mother dies, he goes to live with his grandfather. When his grandfather dies, he goes to live with his paternal uncle, Abu Talib.

0580-01-01 03:46:32


Bilal ibn Rabah (580–640 CE) was one of the most trusted and loyal companions of Muhammad. He was born into slavery in Mecca. His father Rabah was an Arab slave, while his mother, Hamamah, was a former princess of Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia). Bilal is considered to be the first muezzin, chosen by Muhammad himself. He was known for his beautiful voice, which he used to call people to prayer.

0595-01-01 00:00:00

Muhammad marries Khadijah

Muhammad marries Khadijah, a wealthy widow. He is 25, she is nearly 40. They will have six children, of whom four daughters will survive infancy. When her husband receives his first revelation, Khadijah becomes the first person to convert to Islam.

0610-08-18 05:04:36

The Night of Power

In the "Night of Power” Muhammad is believed to have experienced his first revelation from Allah through the angel Gabriel (Jibril). The Jabal al-Nur ("Mountain of Light") is a mountain near Mecca that houses the cave where this revelation is believed to have taken place.

0613-07-18 01:48:44


Aisha bint Abu Bakr (circa 613 - 678) was one of Muhammad's wives, married to the Prophet at a very young age. Aisha had an important role in early Islamic history, both during Muhammad's life and after his death.

0615-01-07 12:05:40


Fatimah (615-circa 633) was the daughter of Muhammad and Kadijah. She was married to Ali and was survived by two sons, Hasan and Husayn, and two daughters, Zaynab and Umm Kulthum.

0622-01-01 00:00:00

The hijra

The hijra (departure): Muhammad and a few hundred followers leave Mecca for Yathrib (Medina), the oasis town where his father was buried. The residents of Yathrib invited Muhammad--known for his wisdom--to be a mediator in their civil conflict. Year 1 of the Muslim calendar.

0623-01-01 00:00:00

Medina-Mecca war begins

Beginning of war between Medina and Mecca. In the following year Muhammad led his followers to victory in the Battle of Badr, in what is today Saudi Arabia.

0627-01-01 00:00:00

Battle of the Trench

In the Battle of the Trench Muhammad's followers defended Yathrib (Medina) which was besieged by the Meccans. In preparation for the battle, the defenders dug a trench, which made their enemies' cavalry ineffective.

0628-01-01 00:00:00

Treaty of Hudaybiyyah

In 628, Muhammad and his followers marched from Medina to Mecca, attempting to enter the city for pilgrimage.They were blocked by the Quraysh tribe, after which Muslims and Meccans entered into the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, whereby the Quraysh promised to stop fighting Muslims and promised that Muslims would be allowed into the city to perform the pilgrimage the following year.

0630-01-01 00:00:00

Conquest of Mecca

Muhammad’s followers capture Mecca.

0632-02-01 00:00:00

Farewell pilgrimage

The Farewell Pilgrimage (Hujjat al-wada') was the only Hajj pilgrimage that Muhammad participated in. It was reported that more than 100,000 Muslims took part in the pilgrimage.

0632-03-06 17:50:53

Muhammad's Last Sermon

Muhammad delivered his Last Sermon (or Farewell Sermon) on the 9th of Dhu al-Hijjah, 10 AH (March 9th, 632) in the Uranah valley of Mount Arafat. The sermon is mentioned in almost all hadith collections.

0632-08-17 12:09:14

Death of Muhammad

Muhammad dies after a brief illness at age 62. He dies at Medina and is buried in the mosque there. Abu Bakr succeeds Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community (caliph).

0632-11-19 09:16:18

Caliph Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr (ca. 573-634) was a senior companion and advisor to Muhammad and father of Muhhamad's wife, Aisha. When he became caliph in 632, Abu Bakr succeeded to the political and administrative authority previously exercised by Muhammad. Upon his death in 534 he was succeeded as caliph by Umar.

0634-01-01 00:00:00

Caliph Umar

Umar (ca. 584-644) succeeded Abu Bakr as caliph in 634. Under his rule, the Muslim caliphate expanded to encompass the former Sasanian (Persian) Empire and large parts of the Byzantine Empire. In 644 he was assassinated in the Mosque of the Prophet, Medina. He was succeeded as caliph by Uthman.

0637-01-01 00:00:00

Muslims capture Jerusalem and Antioch

Muslim armies capture the important cities of Jerusalem and Antioch (near modern Antakya, Turkey).

0644-03-16 02:32:00

Caliph Uthman

Uthman (579-656) succeeded Umar in 644 as the third Rashidun ("rightly guided") caliph. He married two of Muhammad's daughters, Ruqayyah, then Umm Kulthum. He was assassinated in 656.

0646-03-16 02:32:00

Muslims capture Alexandria

Muslim army captures the important port of Alexandria, Egypt.

0651-03-16 02:32:00

Qur'an text established

In 651, nineteen years after the death of Muhammad, the caliph Uthman (ruled 644-56) ordered a group of scholars to produce a a standard written copy of the Qur'an, often referred to as the Uthmanic recension. This text, which was divided into 114 chapters, remains fundamentally unchanged today.

0651-07-04 02:32:00

End of the Sasanian Persian Empire

The Sasanian Persian Empire is extinguished with the assassination of the fugitive Shah Yazdegird.

0656-11-01 00:00:00

Caliph Ali

Ali ibn Abi Talib (ca. 601-661), Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, was the fourth and final Rashidun ("Rightly Guided") caliph. He was assassinated in Kufa (modern Iraq) in 661. When Ali was killed, Mu'awiyah, as commander of the largest Muslim army, had the strongest claim to the caliphate. Ali's son Hasan ibn Ali signed a truce and retired to private life in Medina. Mu'awiyah was crowned caliph at a ceremony in Jerusalem later that year (foundation of the hereditary Ummayad dynasty).

0661-03-16 02:32:00

Caliph Mu’awiyah I

Mu'awiyah I (602-680) was the first caliph of the Ummayad Dynasty. He was crowned in Jerusalem in 661.

0680-10-10 15:43:15

Battle of Karbala

Muhammad's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali, is killed, together with supporters and his infant son. The battle has an important place in Shia history and tradition. It is often cited as the definitive break between the Shia and Sunni sects of Islam. The battle is commemorated each year by Shia Muslims on the Day of Ashura.

0685-02-20 16:29:23

Caliph Abd al-Malik

The Umayyad Abd al-Malik (646-705) was named caliph at Damascus in 685.

0691-03-16 02:32:00

The Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhra) completed in Jerusalem (al-Quds).

0706-07-25 07:42:36

Great Mosque, Damascus

Built by the Umayyad Caliph al-Walid.

0711-02-20 16:29:23

Battle of Guadalete

The Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad led the Muslim conquest of Visigothic Spain in 711-718 A.D. Under the orders of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I, Tariq led an army from the north coast of Morocco, consolidating his troops near a hill now known as the Rock of Gibraltar. ("Gibraltar" is a Spanish version of the Arabic name Jabal Tāriq, meaning "mountain of Tariq"). Tariq won a decisive victory when the Visigothic king, Roderic, was defeated and killed on July 19 at the Battle of Guadalete.

0712-02-20 16:29:23

Capture of Toledo

Muslims take Toledo (in modern Spain)

0717-03-27 13:18:19

Siege of Constantinople

Umayyad army and navy besiege Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. The Muslim forces abandon the siege in 718.

0717-07-30 19:45:17


Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya (717–801) the female Sufi saint and mystic, was born in Basra (Iraq).She is widely considered to be the most important of the early Sufi poets.

0721-06-01 16:23:37

Abu al-Abbas as-Saffah

Known as "the Blood-Shedder" for his ruthless tactics, Abu al-Abbas as-Saffah (721/22-754) was the first caliph in the Abbasid dynasty. He assumed the caliphate after the Battle of the Zab (February, 750) brought about the end of the Umayyad dynasty.

0732-03-27 13:18:19

Battle of Tours

Charles Martel’s troops defeat a Muslim army at Poitiers (modern France), halting the northward advance of Islam in western Europe.

0750-01-01 00:00:00

Silver-gilt dish

From Tabaristan (northern Iran). Umayyad. 8th century. British Museum, London. The figural scene executed in repoussé relief imitates the technique of earlier Persian metalwork, although the style is somewhat naïve. The subject departs from the seriousness and formality of Persian royal art and embraces the pleasures of leisure and luxury. A nobleman, a cup of wine in one hand, picnics under a grape-laden vine. He and the lady to his right snack on tasty delicacies. In the foreground are wine jars in a cooler, a goatskin water bag, and a pot simmering on the fire. They are entertained by musicians, including a mysterious masked figure, perhaps an actor or a singer.

0750-01-01 00:00:00


The eighth century CE saw the emergence of three of the most prominent schools (maḏāhib) of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh).

0750-08-17 04:21:14

Battle of the Zab

Abbasids defeat Ummayads on the banks of the Zab river in Iraq. End of the Umayyad caliphate.

0751-03-27 13:18:19


Islamic world learns art of papermaking from the Chinese. Paper mills built in Baghdad and Samarkand.

0754-01-01 00:00:00

Al-Mansur Abbasid caliph

Abu Jafar al-Mansur becomes second Abbasid caliph.

0756-01-01 00:00:00

Ummayad emirate of Córdoba

Abd er-Rahman I, Umayyad commander of the Muslims of Al-Andalus, proclaims himself Emir of Córdoba.

0762-05-31 04:59:37

The Round City of Baghdad

The Abbasids moved the capital from Damascus (the Umayyad capital) to Baghdad, on the banks of the Tigris River in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). The new city was founded by the caliph Al-Mansur in 762. The city's name, Madinat al-Salam, means “City of Peace.”

0780-10-21 09:40:55


Abu ʿAbdallah Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (780-ca. 850) was a Persian mathematician, geographer and astronomer. His name gives us the English word "algorithm."

0786-10-21 09:40:55

Harun al-Rashid

Harun al-Rashid (763?-809) was the fifth Abbasid caliph. During his reign Baghdad grew into the most splendid city of its period, and architecture, art, music, and science flourished. He established the legendary library called the Bayt al-Hikma ("House of Wisdom").

0789-01-01 00:00:00


Abu l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Nafi‘ (known as Ziryab, meaning "Blackbird") was a poet, musician, singer, cosmetologist, fashion designer, trendsetter, astronomer, botanist and geographer active at the Umayyad court of Córdoba.

0800-03-04 22:09:42

Aghlabid Dynasty

In 800, the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid appointed Ibrahim I ibn al-Aghlab as hereditary Emir of Ifriqiya (today eastern Algeria, Tunisia and Libya).

0820-07-21 17:37:40


Al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-gabr wa’l-muqabala ("The Compendious Book on Calculation") was written in Baghdad around 820 by the Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (ca. 780-850).

0825-07-21 17:37:40


The Persian encyclopedist Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khwarizmi, in his "Keys of the Sciences", remarked that if, in a calculation, no number appears in the place of tens, then a little circle should be used "to keep the rows." This circle the Arabs called ṣifr, "empty." That was the earliest mention of the word that eventually became the mathematical term zero.

0832-07-01 00:00:00


ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā al-Asṭurlābī was an astronomer and geographer active in the ninth century in Damascus and Baghdad. He wrote a treatise on the astrolabe and enjoyed renown as an instrument-maker. He was an opponent of astrology. During the reign of al-Ma'mun, he participated in an expedition to the Plain of Sinjar to measure the length of a degree of longitude, and thus the circumference of the Earth. He got a result of 40,248 km. for the Earth's circumference (Modern science measures the circumference at 40,075.16 km.)

0847-08-06 00:32:26

Mosque of Al-Mutawakkil, Samarra

Famous for its 164-foot spiral minaret, this congregational mosque was buit by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil between 847 and 851. At the time of its construction it was the largest mosque in the world.

0850-06-01 00:00:00


Major collections of ahadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) compiled circa 850-915.

0860-01-01 00:00:00

Ibn Abd Rabbih

Ibn `Abd Rabbih (860–940) was a writer and poet born in Umayyad Cordoba. He was descended from a freed slave of Hisham I, the second Umayyad emir of Al-Andalus. He enjoyed a great reputation for learning and eloquence.

The Islamic World

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