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The Spread of Islam
The Initial Caliphs:

After the unexpected death of Mohammed there was no clear successor named by him. His closest companions were considered the most excellent of men being, next to Mohammed, Abu Bakr, then Umar, then Othman and then Ali. Abu Bakr was chosen as the first Caliph by this group even though he was an elderly man. A great many were of opinion that the right of succession belonged to Ali, the son of Abu Taleb. Mohammedans have ever since been divided, some maintaining that Abu Bakr, and then Omar and then Othman, who were named the first three Caliphs, were the rightful and lawful successors of the prophet. Others disclaiming them altogether as usurpers and constantly asserting the right of Ali. This accounts for some of the differences in the sects that we see today.

Abu Bakr, being the first successor of Mohammed and first Caliph, experienced a falling away of many of the Arabian tribes who felt a loyalty to Mohammed, only. Abu Bakr was able to bring  the tribes on the Arabian peninsula back into the Islamic fold. During his two short years as Caliph, he also managed to bring the areas now known as Iraq and parts of the Levant into the fold. He hoped that by attacking Iraq and Syria he might remove the danger from the borders of the Islamic State. Abu Bakr felt that he should nominate his successor so that the issue should not be a cause of dissension among the Muslims after his death, though there was already controversy over Ali not having been appointed. He appointed Umar as his successor after discussions with some companions. Abu Bakr died the same day that Damascus was taken, which was on Friday the 23d of August, in 634.

Umar (or Omar) was thus named the second Caliph after the death of Abu Bakr.  Umar ruled from August 634 CE to 643 CE, or about 9 years, and was one of the most powerful rulers in history. He was known as an expert jurist and is best known for his justice, that earned him the title Umar the Great. Umar's stress was on the well being of the poor and underprivileged people. The people were soundly moved by Umar's speeches and his popularity grew rapidly and continuously over the period of his reign. During his reign the Levant(including Jerusalem in 638 CE), northern Egypt, northern Africa to Libya,  a major part of the Persian Empire were annexed to the Islamic Empire. According to one estimate more than 4050 cities were captured during these military conquests. Prior to his death in 644, Umar had ceased all military expeditions, apparently, to consolidate his rule in Egypt and the newly conquered Persian Empire. It was Umar, according to Jewish tradition, who set aside the Christian ban on Jews and allowed Jews into Jerusalem and to worship there.

Uthman (Othman) was a companion of Muhammad who assumed the role of Caliph of the Muslim Empire at the age of 65 following the death of Umar in 644  until his assassination in 656 CE. Under his leadership, the empire expanded into modern day Iran in 650 CE, some areas of present-day Afghanistan in 651 and the conquest of Armenia was begun in the 640s CE. Some of Uthman's notable achievements were the economic reforms he introduced, and the compilation of the Qur'ran into the unified authoritative text that is known today.
Uthman was a shrewd businessman and a successful trader from his youth, which contributed greatly to the Rashidun Empire. Umar had placed a ban on the sale of lands and the purchase of agricultural lands in conquered territories. Uthman withdrew these restrictions, in view of the fact that the trade could not flourish under those restrictions. The economic reforms introduced by Uthman had far reaching effects; Muslims as well as non-Muslims of the Rashidun Empire enjoyed an economically prosperous life during his reign.
Uthman is perhaps best known for forming the committee which produced multiple copies of the text of the Qur'ran as it exists today. The reason was that various Muslim centers, like Damascus, had begun to develop their own traditions for reciting the Qur'ran and writing it down with stylistic differences. Uthman obtained the complete manuscript of the Qur'ran from Hafsah, one of the wives of the Islamic prophet Muhammad who had been entrusted to keep the manuscript ever since the Qur'ran was comprehensively compiled by Abu Bakr. Uthman then summoned the leading compiling authority and some other companions to make copies of the manuscript.
According to Muslim sources, unlike his predecessor, Umar, who maintained discipline with a stern hand, Uthman was less rigorous with his people; he focused more on economic prosperity. Under Uthman, the people became economically more prosperous and on the political plane they came to enjoy a larger degree of freedom. In view of the lenient policies adopted by Uthman, the people took advantage of such liberties, which became a problem for the state, and it culminated in the assassination of Uthman in 656 CE.





Islam Symbol














Muslim Man






Islam Symbol




Conquest of Iberian Peninsula; Spain, Portugal:

The Berbers, Muslims of North Africa west of Egypt, entered the Iberian peninsula in711 CE. This starts the conquest by the Berbers and Arabs of the Iberian Peninsula which were not totally expelled from the peninsula until 1492 CE or a span of 781 years.            
By 1717 Cordoba became the capitol of Muslim of Al-Andalus and later the effective capitol of the Iberian peninsula. The European elite would often vacation in Cordoba where they saw running water in the many fountains and apartments and, also, cobble stone streets in the city. Some of these luxuries were imported to the north for use by the elite while the commoners lived in squalor.

During the wars between Christians and Muslims, Jewish courtiers were valued as diplomats, translators, and advisors to both sides. By 725 CE, Muslim raids had reached as far north as Autun in Frankish France. In 732 a Muslim army defeated an Aquitanian force near Bordeaux in southern France. After Duke Eludes' defeat, Aquitaine pledged allegiance, formally, to the new rising Carolingian dynasty, but still remained out of Frankish central rule until 768. By 759 the Moors lost the city of Narbonne, that lies about 528 miles from Paris, their furthest and last conquest into Frankish territory ending all Muslim rule north of Iberia.

The Umayyad Caliphate, lasting from 929 to 1031 CE, proclaimed himself Caliph of Córdoba, breaking all ties with the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad. Under the reign of Abd al-Rahman III Muslim Al-Andalus reached its greatest height before its slow decline over the next four centuries.

From the end of the Umayyad Caliphate in 1031 CE, the Muslim political structure fragmented and Christian armies started to control some cities. In 1064 the Christian army under Ferdinand I - besieged Muslim Coimbra and all Muslims were forced out of the Portuguese territory.

By 1130 CE, with the decline of the Muslim holdings, power started to shift to Christian rule. This meant there were many battles with the Christians who gradually captured the territories in what is now modern day Spain. It wasn't until 1491 CE that the Muslims in Granada surrendered to the Christians and signed The Treaty of Granada.

In 1492 CE, the same year Columbus sailed to the New World,  the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II took control of Granada and, thus, Spain. During the years of1492 to1507, the remaining Muslims in the Crown of Castile were ordered to become Catholic. King Ferdinand ordered the conversion of the mosques to Christian churches. This new Christian population, voluntarily converting so they could stay in Spain, came to be known as the Mariscos. The Jews who were forcefully converted were called Marranos that means pigs.

In 1609 King Philip III issued the Act of Expulsion for all remaining Moriscos, claiming that they appealed to the Ottoman Empire for military intervention in Spain. The process of expulsion ended by 1614, thus ending the occupation of the Muslims on the Iberian Peninsula.


Abbasid caliphate:

This was the high point for Islamic art, culture, law, trade, technology, etc. and lasted from 750-1258 CE labeled the Islamic Golden Age. During this period the capital city was moved from Damascus to Baghdad. There  they started the "House of Wisdom", basically a university, inviting scholars from all over the world. They were both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars sought to translate and gather all the world's knowledge into Arabic. During this period they collected, synthesized and significantly advanced the knowledge gained from China, India, Greece and others.

Notably, this included Algebra, Medicine, Astronomy, Navigation at sea, chemical possesses (such as distillation), Literature, and Philosophy (especially Aristotelian Philosophy that influenced Thomas Aquinas among others). The technological advances including papermaking, gunpowder, irrigation and farming, hydropower,  early industrial uses of tidal power, wind power, and petroleum (notably by distillation into kerosene), and development of industries.

It's no stretch of the imagination to say the West would not have come out of the early middle ages to its present status in the world except for knowledge gained from the Muslim Abbasid period. In virtually every field of endeavor -in astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, medicine, optics and so forth- Arab scholars were in the forefront of the scientific and intellectual advance of the time.


Father of Algebra
Father of Algebra

Father of Chemistry
Father of Chemistry

Father of Optics
Father of Optics


Robert de flander crosie

Robert de flander corsie

Knights Templar

Knights Templar

Knights of 7th Crusade

Knights of the 7th Crusade

The Christian Crusades of the Levant:

The main cause of the First Crusade was an appeal by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I to the western Pope Urban II for military assistance against the Turks. He needed mercenaries to help repel the Turkish Muslims who had advanced into the Byzantine Empire. The Pope promised all those who went would obtain remission of sins and to all who died in the expedition immediate entry into heaven.

The crusaders set off from France and Italy in August 1096 CE. They faced a disorganized Muslim empire and conquered several cities, primarily, along the coast of Palestine.  The armies finally reached the walls of Jerusalem in early 1099 with only a fraction of their original forces. The Jews and Muslims fought together to defend Jerusalem against the invading Franks but were unsuccessful. By July 1099 the crusaders entered the city. They proceeded to massacre many of the remaining Jewish and Muslim civilians and pillaged or destroyed mosques and the city itself.

Initially, Muslims were not able to resist the Crusader states due to internal conflicts. Eventually, the Muslims began to reunite under the leadership of Imad ad-Din Zengi who began by re-taking Edessa in 1144. It was the first city to fall to the Crusaders, and became the first to be recaptured by the Muslims.
The Kurdish Muslim Saladin, as he was known in the west, created a single powerful state. Following his victory at Hatin his army easily overwhelmed the disunited crusaders in 1187 and all of the crusader holdings, including Jerusalem, except a few coastal cities. Upon the capture of Jerusalem, Saladin summoned the Jews and permitted them to resettle in the city. Saladin's noble and chivalrous behavior was noted by Christian chroniclers and despite being the scourge of the Crusaders, he won the respect of many of them. Rather than becoming a hated figure in Europe, he became a celebrated example of the principles of chivalry.

Thus, the Muslims recaptured the Levant and renewed their harassment of the Byzantine Empire who negotiated a treaty with the Muslims fearing the Crusaders as much as the Muslims.
The main benefit to the west for the crusades was the transfer of knowledge from the Muslims to Europe. Thus began the awakening of the west to Greek philosophy, primarily from Aristotle, and all the other advancements discussed under the Abbasid Caliphate above.
The Ottoman Empire (1281-1924): History
Turkey was a Muslim state founded by Turkish tribes in northwestern Anatolia (Modern day Turkey). With the capture of Constantinople in 1453 by the Turks, the Ottoman state became an empire. The empire reached its peak by 1683, covering parts of Asia, Europe and Africa. The reign of the Ottoman dynasty lasted for 623 years, from 1299 CE to 1922, when the monarchy in Turkey was established after WWII.

With Istanbul, renamed Constantinople, as its capital and vast control of lands around the Mediterranean ocean, the empire was at the center of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for over six centuries. The Ottoman Empire was one of the longest lasting empires in history. Through its politics, conflicts, and cultural heritage, it provided one of the longest continuous tales in history. The empire was at the height of its power under the reign of "Suleiman the Magnificent", as he was known in the west, and "The Lawgiver" in the East. At the helm of an expanding empire, Suleiman personally instituted legislative changes relating to society, education, taxation, and criminal law. During the 16Th and 17Th centuries the empire was one of the most powerful states in the world – a multinational, multilingual empire that stretched from the southern borders of central Europe to the outskirts of Vienna, part of Hungary in the north to Yemen in the south. It also stretched from Algeria in the west to Azerbaijan in the east, thus, controlling much of southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.

In 1923 the international community recognized the new Turkish parliament which established the Republic of Turkey. This formally ended the Ottoman Empire including the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924. The Caliphate's authority and properties were then transferred to the new Turkish state that we have today. Thus, the Ottoman Empire came to an end after WWII.


Veiled Women

Veil--sign of Muslim


Muslim Women

Modern Muslim Women with modified veil


Noon Prayers

Street Prayers


Muslim Man

Muslim man reading the Koran


Muslim Woman

Veiled Muslim Woman

Islamic Modernism
Islam and modernity was an attempt to reinvigorate and reform Islam from within as a way to counter the perceived weakness and decline of Muslim societies in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This Modernity is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon rather than a unified and coherent phenomenon. It has historically had different schools of thought moving in many directions.

The reformist spirit of the early times was especially evident in the emergence from Egypt to Southeast Asia of an Islamic modernist movement that called for a “reformation” or reinterpretation of Islam. Islamic modernists argued that Islam and modernity were compatible and there was a need to reinterpret and reapply the principles and ideals of Islam to formulate new responses to the political, scientific, and cultural challenges of the West and of modern life. The reforms they proposed challenged the status quo maintained by the conservative Muslims scholars, who saw the established law as the ideal order that had to be followed and upheld. Islamic modernists saw the resistance to change on the part of the conservative ulama as a major cause for the problems the Muslim community was facing as well as its inability to counter western hegemony. Although Islamic modernists were subject to the criticism that the reforms they promoted amounted to westernizing Islam, their legacy was significant and their thought influenced future generations of reformers.

The influence of modernism in the Islamic world resulted in a cultural revival. Dramatic plays became more common, as did newspapers. Notable European works were analyzed and translated. Legal reform was attempted in Egypt, Tunisia, the Ottoman Empire, and Iran, and in some cases these reforms were adopted.  Efforts were made to restrict the power of government. Polygamy was ended in India. Azerbaijan even granted suffrage to women in 1918 before several European countries and the United States. At the recommendations of reform-minded Islamic scholars, western sciences were taught in new schools. Much of this had to do with the intellectual appeal of social Darwinism, since it led to the conclusion that an old-fashioned Muslim society could not compete in the modern world.

The aftermath of World War I resulted in the end of the Ottoman Empire and the domination of the Middle East by European powers such as Britain and France. Historians such as Peter Watson suggest that World War I marks the end of the main Islamic modernist movements, and that this is the point where many Muslims "lost faith with the culture of science and materialism". However, modernism has continued, primarily, in Turkey and Egypt.

The Six-Day War between Israel and its neighbors ended in a decisive loss for the Muslim side. Many in the Islamic world saw this as the failure of their economic system. It was at this point that "fundamentalism and militant Islam began to fill the political vacuum created."

Today we see the ultra-modernization of some Muslim countries and the phenomena of "The Arab Spring" that has not played out yet. Even Iran is developing a modern military and technological society although still under the control of conservative Muslimists. Much of fundamentalism and militant Islam still remains but the influence of Muslim countries in world affairs continues to expand.

The Islamic religion grew from a small number of people under the Prophet Mohammed to a large and fast growing religion of today. Its beginnings were in the 7Th century CE with the revelations of Allah (God) through the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed. Mohammed said this was not a new religion but a restoration of the original words of Allah and he was the last of the prophets. Only through the revaluations given to Mohammed could you enter Allah's presence.

The Islamic religion grew rapidly in the early years. By the 8Th century CE the religion had spread from the Iberian Peninsula  to modern North India and Pakistan. The Muslims were blocked from expanding into Europe by the Byzantine Empire until Constantinople was conquered in 1453.The Ottoman Empire continued to stretch northwards, taking Hungary in the 16th century, and reaching as far north as the west-central and south-western portions of present-day Ukraine in the mid-17th century. By this time most of the Balkans were under Ottoman control. Ottoman expansion in Europe ended with their defeat in the Great Turkish War during the last decades of the 17th century. Over the centuries, the Ottoman Empire gradually lost almost all of its European territories, until its collapse in 1922, when the former empire was transformed into the nation of Turkey.

The Five Pillars of Islam  are five basic acts in Islam that the Quran presents as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They make up Muslim life, prayer, concern for the needy, self purification and the pilgrimage.

They are:
1. the Islamic creed (shahada)
2. daily prayers (salah)
3. almsgiving (zakat)
4. fasting during the month of Ramadan (sawm)
5. the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime.

Today the Islamic religion is the second largest religious group, behind Christianity, and is the fastest growing major group. The main populations of Muslims are located in:

1. Southwest Asia:
Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and non-Arab nations such as Iran, Turkey.

2. Africa:
North African countries such as Morocco and Egypt; Northeast Africa countries like Somalia and Ethiopia; and West African countries such as Niger and Nigeria.

3. Europe:
Mostly in the Balkans and the Ukraine.

4. Central Asia:
Afghanistan and the other Stans.

5. South Asia:
Including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka.
6. East Asia:
Parts of China.
7. Southeast Asia:
Indonesia (The most populist Muslim country), Brunei and Malaysia.


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