A Brief History of Islam

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Islam: Truth or Myth? start page



Muslim version of their own history

Islam, began in Mecca, claimed to be the revelation of God (Allah) through the angel Gabriel to a man named Muhammad. Muhammad was born in approximately AD 570-571. He was born to the powerful tribe of the Quraish in Mekkah (Mecca). His father's name was Abdullah. His mother's name was Aminah.

Apparently Abdullah was a merchant who made caravan trips. He died on a trading trip soon after his marriage to Aminah, leaving Muhammad fatherless at birth. Aminah, his mother, died when he was only six years old. Muhammad was taken in by his grandfather, only to have him die when Muhammad was eight years old. At this time, his uncle, Abu Talib, one of the leaders of the Quraish tribe took him in and raised him.

Muhammad was taught the family business and apparently quite successful. A wealthy widow named Khadijah arranged for Muhammad to oversee her trading business, and was so impressed with his skill and appearance that she proposed marriage to him. Muhammad was twenty-five and Khadijah was forty when they married. They had six children, two boys and four girls. Both of the sons died early in life. The daughters lived to see Muhammad become the founder of Islam.

Having married the wealthy Khadijah, Muhammad now became a gentleman of leisure and somewhat of a philosopher. He would retreat from society, take trips into the desert and mountains. He would spend his hours in meditation, greatly concerned about the condition of the civilization he saw around himself. He had a personal mission to find "truth." One of his frequent places of seclusion was a cave on Mount Nur. It was while in this cave, during the month of the Ramadan, a pagan festival, that he received his first visitation from Gabriel and recited the verses found in Qur'an 96:1-5.

At first, Muhammad shared his new revelations with only his family and close friends. During the next three years the message of Muhammad quietly spread among the people of Mekkah, especially among the youth. Then Muhammad is believed to have received instructions from Allah to go public with his message and openly condemn the paganism and idolatry of Mekkah. This open condemnation of idolatry became an economic threat to the prosperity of Mekkah, and as a consequence, organized opposition to Muhammad and Islam began. At this point, Islam was politically weak, and many Muslims died for their faith.

Persecutions became so great that many Muslims fled to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) for refuge. When Mekkan delegates tried to extradite them, after hearing the Muslim's defense, the ruler refused their extradition on the basis that his faith was similar to theirs, and he could not allow them to be harmed.

Muhammad continued to proclaim his message, and his following slowly grew. At one point, in 621, a group of delegates from Madinah (Medina) responded to his call and made a covenant with Muhammad and declared themselves to be Muslims.

A year later, in 622, some seventy people from Madinah made a similar declaration and pledged to fight to protect Muhammad against any and all odds. This pledge or covenant from some who were leaders of Madinah was a turning point for Islam

It provided Muslims with a secure base of operations and allowed them to expand from it. Muhammad commanded the Muslims in Mekkah to migrate to Madinah. After some struggle, Medina was declared to be wholly a Muslim community. For thirteen years, Muhammad had preached in Mekkah with minimal success. He had followed a quiet, non-political approach and merely preached. Now, however, his tactics changed. He established himself as religious, political, and military leader. Under his guidance, the community of believers became more important than family or tribe. Islam began to be spread through intimidation and force. Entire tribes and cities were "converted" under threat of war or by conquest. Success led to greater success. Inthe year 630, eight years after he had been forced to leave Mekkah, Muhammad returned with such an overwhelming force that the Mekkans made no resistance. Muhammad's forces destroyed all the idols of Mekkah, and declared the Kabah to be the place of worship for Allah.

With the subjugation of Mekkah, Islam became the power on the Arabian peninsula Tribe after tribe, city after city declared allegiance to Islam and it's prophet. They were given no choice. Muhammad returned to Madinah and continued to rule his kingdom from there. Muhammad died in 632 at the age of sixty-three. In twenty-three years he established a religion and social order that is still dominant in the Arab world today.

With Muhammad's death, Islam continued to flourish under the leadership of Muhammad's companions. The first Caliph (successor to the prophet - Kalifah) was his father in law and long time friend, Abu Bakr. In his two years of leadership, Abu Bakr consolidated Islamic influence over the entire Arabian peninsula.

The second caliph was Umar. He was in power from 634 to 644. Under Umar, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia were added to the growing list of Islamic subjects. Others followed, continually expanding the borders of Islam. Under the leadership of the Kalifahs, Islam spread into Europe, Africa, and Asia. The caliphate lasted centuries, shifting from one dynasty to another, but always claiming the religious right to lead. Eventually the caliphate evolved into the Ottomon Empire which lasted until the early 20th century.

Islam spread as a social system, a political system, and a religious system and it was spread by force of arms. That was its philosophy in the beginning, and it is still the philosophy of Islam today.

Today Islam is one of the world's dominant religions, and claims as much as one fifth of the world's population.

Islam claims to be a united religion with no divisions; however, one does not have to be an astute observer to realize that Islam is, in reality, fragmented into many different branches, some of which are militantly hostile to each other. There is no unity among Muslims as they would have us believe. Two prominent groups, the Shiites and Sunnites had their origins around 660 over who was the legitimate caliph. Other sects followed.

With the end of the colonial system, Islamic states were given their autonomy again. With the wealth from petro-dollars, Islam as a religion is being successfully spread over the world. Islam is one of the greatest opponents in existence to the gospel of Christ today, and is one of the fastest growing religions in the world.

Contact Author: Ney Rieber

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History as Muslims will tell it:

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Islam: Truth or Myth? start page



The Islamic Year is 10 days shorter than the Gregorian Year. Therefore Islamic dates differ from Gregorian dates. The Gregorian Calendar is used here for dates. Dates preceded by a c are approximate.

Convert between Gregorian Year and Islamic Year :
Gregorian Year = 32/33 * (Islamic Year) + 622
Islamic Year = 33/32 * (Gregorian Year - 622)

In The Beginning Many Centuries Later



The Prophet Ibrahim is born.
By this time, the people have gone back to worshipping idols. He knows that these idols cannot be god, so he breaks them. The people try to burn him for this act but he is saved by Allah. He searches for the truth and it is revealed to him by Allah.
The Prophet Ibrahim is ready to sacrifice his son Isma'il.
Allah accepts his readiness and sends a lamb to be sacrificed instead.
The Prophets Ibrahim Isma'il build the Ka'bah in Makkah.


The Prophet Ya'qub born, in Egypt.
He calls people to Allah. The believers become known as the Banu Isra'il.


Fir'awn, the ruler of Egypt looks upon the Banu Isra'il as foreigners and treats them harshly, fearing that one day they may be too powerful.
He hears about the coming of a prophet, from his sears, and gives order for every Banu Isra'il male child born, to be killed.
The Prophet Musa born at this time. He is concealed by his mother for three months. When she can no longer manage she is inspired by Allah to put him into a specially made box and throw the box into the river. He is found by a member of Fir'awns family and taken to Fir'awns wife, who adopted him.
The Prophet Musa grows up in Fir'awns house. During this time he comes across the Egyptian beating one of the Banu Isra'il. He gives the Egyptian a blow and kills him accidentally.
The Prophet Musa leaves Fir'awns house for Midian where he stays for ten years. He then stays at Tuwwa, a valley at foot of the mountain At-Tur in Sinai. Here, he is given divine guidance by Allah, selected as a prophet, and given the Tawrat. Two signs are bestowed on him : a stick that, when thrown turns into a living serpent, and the ability to make his hand shine.
The Prophet Musa is commanded by Allah to invite Fir'awn to the right path. He begs Allah to make his brother Harun his helper, and it is granted. They go to Fir'awn and tell him that they have been chosen to save the Banu Isra'il from Fir'awns oppression. Fir'awn makes fun of them, so the Prophet Musa shows the signs. Fir'awn, thinking him a magician, challenges him to face his own magicians. The magicians can't match him, and profess their faith in Allah, making Fir'awn even angrier.
Allah commands the Prophet Musa to leave Egypt with his followers. They set of in the middle of the night. They are chased by Fir'awn and his soldiers. They are trapped at banks of the River Nile. Allah commands the Prophet Musa to throw his stick into the water. As he does so, the River Nile divides into two, forming a road, allowing the Banu Isra'il to cross over. Fir'awn follows, but as soon as all the Banu Isra'il are safely across, water pours back to form the River Nile. Fir'awn and his soldiers are all drowned.


The Prophet Dawud is given The Zabur by Allah.


The people have gone back to worshipping idols. The Prophet Isa born. His birth is a miracle, since his mother, Maryam, is still a virgin. He can talk while still a baby.


The Prophet Isa is commissioned as a prophet. He is bestowed with some miraculous powers : make birds out of clay, heal leprosy within minutes, restore the eyes to the blind, and give life to the dead.
He is given the Injil, and commanded by Allah to bring the people onto the right path. He asks the people to obey Allah. Some people make up things about him and say that he is part of Allah or the son of Allah. For these people there can be no forgiveness, since they have committed the biggest sin, that of Shirk (associating any one with Allah).
The Prophet Isa is taken up by Allah. He is NOT crucified, like some people think.


Khadijah, wife of the Prophet Muhammad born.


The Prophet Muhammad born, in Makkah, Arabia. His father, Abdullah, dies before his birth.


The Prophet Muhammad's mother, Aminah, dies. He is looked after by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib.


The Prophet Muhammad's grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, dies. He is looked after by his uncle, Abu Talib, a leader of the Quraish and a merchant.


The Prophet Muhammad accompanies his uncle, Abu Talib, on a business trip to Syria.


Local war breaks out between the tribes of Quraish and Hawazin, in the Hajj season.


The Prophet Muhammad marries Khadijah, a 40 years old widow.


Ali, cousin of the Prophet Muhammad born.


Rebuilding of the Kaabah is completed by the Quraish.
Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad is born.


The Prophet Muhammad receives the first revelation of the Quran, during the month of Ramadan.

610AD - 612AD

First phase of the Islamic Movement. The Prophet Muhammad preaches to friends and closest relatives. The Prophet Muhammad's wife Khadijah and cousin Ali become Muslims.


The Prophet Muhammad receives the command, from Allah, to preach openly to the public, and does so from Mount Safa. This marks the beginning of the second phase of the Islamic Movement.
A'ishah, wife of the Prophet Muhammad after the death of Khadijah, born.

613AD - 615AD

The Makkans who had, up to now, not taken any serious notice, become very hostile. Many muslims are tortured. Attempts are even made on the Prophet's life. Hamzah, a brave man, and the Prophet's uncle becomes a Muslim, adding great strength to the Islamic Movement.


Umar, a strong and tough person, in his late twenties, become a Muslim adding greater strength to the Islamic Movement.

617AD - 619AD

The Quraish are seething at the increase in the strength of the Muslims. They plot another assault and decide on a total boycott of the Muslims. The boycott is eventually lifted because of differences between the Quraish themselves.


Year Of Sorrow. Both the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib and wife, Khadijah, die.
The Most Difficult Day. Visit to Ta'if. Visits three important people to invite them to Islam. All three refuse, insult him and incite street urchins to drive him out of the city.
Al-Mi'raj, on the night of 27th Rajab. The Prophet is taken to Jerusalem, and from there ascends to the heavens where he leads the other prophets (May Allah Be Pleased With Them) in prayer. He is then shown Paradise and hell. The five times daily prayers are ordained.


First Covenant of Al-Aqabah. 12 people from Madinah accept the Prophet's call to Islam and sign a pledge in which they agree to obey Allah, not commit murder, adultery or steal.


Second Covenant of Al-Aqabah. This time 73 people take up the pledge, including 2 women.
Hijrah.The Prophet Muhammad commands the Makkan Muslims to migrate to Madinah, and after they are safely there migrates himself to establish the first Islamic state. The Islamic Calendar begins from this date.
Treaty with the Jews is signed. The Jews, however, did not live up to it and later betrayed it.
Masjidun Nabi (The Prophet's Mosque) is constructed.
Jihad is ordained.
Adhan and Zakah introduced.
The Qiblah is changed from Bait ul-Maqadis to Al-Kaabah.
Sawm (fasting) prescribed. Ramadan set as the month of fasting.
Battle of Badr. Muslims come out triumphant, even though the Muslims were outnumbered 3 to 1, and were not as well equipped as the Makkans.
Marriage of Ali and Fatimah.


1st restriction on drinking wine revealed.
Battle of Uhud. Makkans plan revenge on the Muslims. Muslims very nearly win. However the battle is just about a draw because of the disobedience of some archers who left their posts to collect some of the booty.
Revelations about Riba (interest) and laws concerning orphans, inheritance, marriage and rights of wives.


Revelations about Hijab (veil) for women and the prohibiton of drinking wine.


Battle of Dumatul Jandal.
Battle of Banu Al-Mustaliq.
Revelations about laws of adultery and slander.
Battle of AhzabThe Prophet on hearing that the Makkans are launching an offensive against Madinah, orders trenches to be dug around the city. The enemy force, when it arrives at Madinah, cannot gain entrance and waits for 4 weeks and then drained leaves.


The Hudaibiyah Agreement is signed in which the Muslims are allowed into Makkah the folowing year and ten years of peace is agreed.
Khlaid Bin Walid and Amr Ibnul As, two great generals, become Muslims.


The Prophet Muhammmad sends emissaries to the Roman Emperor, the Persian Emperor, the Ruler of Egypt, the King of Abyssinia, the Cheifs of Syria and other leaders, initing them to Islam.
Battle of Khaibar.
The Prophet performs the postponed Umrah.
Revelation about laws concerning marriage and divorce.


Conquest of Makkah. The Hudaibiyah Agreement invalidated by the Makkans. The Quraish do not have enough power to stop the Muslims, as all the top generals are on the Muslims side. The Muslim army enters Makkah without incident.
Abu Sufian, the arch-enemy of the Prophet is granted an unconditional pardon.
The Prophet Muhammad declares general amnesty for the entire community of Makkah.
Battle of Humain.
Siege of Ta'if.
Revelation of final order prohibiting Riba (interest).


Battle of Tabuk.
Revelation ordering Jiziah (protection tax on minorities.
Hajj prescribed.


The Prophet Muhammad delivers his farewell speech at Arafat before about 120,000 Muslims.
The Prophet Muhammad dies, in Madinah.
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq is elected to become the first Khalifah (succesor).

632AD - 634AD

Collection and collation of the Quran is achieved.
Romans cause trouble. Four separate armies are defeated.


Fatimah dies.


Abu Bakr dies.
Umar Al-Faruq becomes the second Khalifah.

634AD - 644AD

Vast areas of the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire and the whole of Egypt are brought under Islamic rule.


Umar appoints a six-man committee to elect his successor.
Umar is stabbed and dies 3 days later.
The committee chooses Uthman Al-Ghani , and he becomes the third Khalifah.

644AD - 656AD

Vast areas of North Africa, including Cyprus, Morocco, Tripoli and Tunisia, are brought under Islamic rule. Roman Empire, the Persian Empire and the whole of Egypt are brought under Islamic rule.
Constantine, Emperor of Rome, attacks Alexandria with a naval fleet of 6,000 men but is defeated by the Muslim naval force.
Civil war with unruly and angry mobs.


Uthman is murdered by rioters.
Ali Al-Murtada (May Allh Be Pleased With Him) is elected the fourth Khalifah, at a difficult time.

656AD - 659AD

The once mighty Muslim army is mostly involved with solving internal clashes. The Muslim Ummah (community) is seriously divided, groupings develop and mutual trust and confidence are undermined.


Ali is fatally wounded during Salatul-Fajr and later dies.

661AD - Early 10th Century

Known as the Period Of The Imams. Spiritual and political leadership passes from Ali (May Allah Be Pleased With Him), after his death, to the twelve Imams, in succession.


A'ishah dies.


Egypt comes under Muslim rule.


The martyrdom of Imam Hussein at Kerbala, Iraq.


Muslims enter Spain and begin Islamic rule.
Islam is established in India.

750AD - 850AD

The Shari'ah, Islamic System Of Law, is developed.


Baghdad, Iraq is the greatest city in the expanding Islamic world.


The Islamic University Of Al-Azhar is founded in Cairo, Egypt. It is the world's oldest university.

1138AD - 1193AD

Life of Salah ud-Din, Governor of Egypt. He was the adversary of Richard the Lion Heart in the Crusades. He was eventually victorious over Richard the Lion Heart, and is still a role model of Islamic chivalry.


Osman, who gave his name to the Ottoman Dynasty, starts to establish his power in Turkey.


The Ottomans conquer Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire and rename it Istanbul. The Ottoman Empire expands.


Muslim rule in Spain ends.


The Ottoman Empire includes South-East Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.


A Muslim kingdom is established in Sumatra. From here, Islam spreads to Java, the Moluccas and Borneo.


The Sulmaniyyah Mosque complex is completed, in Istanbul. It includes the mosque, 7 colleges, a hospital, an asylum, a soup kitchen, a bath house, schools, shops, a sports ground and fountains


Egypt is occupied by France.


Usman dan Fodio founds the Khalifate of Sokoto in Nigeria.


Britain, France and Russia support Greece against its Ottoman rulers.


The French invade Algeria.


The Dutch attack the Sumtran Muslim kingdom.


The British attack and occupy Alexandria, Egypt.


Britain's first purpose-built mosque is completed in Woking, Surrey.


The Constantinople Agreement between Britain, France and Russia on the divisions of Ottoman land.


The British fight the Ottomans for control of Gaza, Palestine.


The end of the Ottoman Empire and the Khalifate of Sokoto.


The Persian Shah abolishes Islamic dress and rules that all men must wear European-style clothes.

1950AD - 1970AD

Muslims migrate to Europe, the USA and Australia.


The Algerians rebel against French colonial rule.


The Persian Shah is deposed and the Islamic Republic of Iran is established.

1980AD - Present

Genocide of Muslims in Bosnia, Burma, Chechnya and Kashmir.

 Contact Author: Ney Rieber

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