Atlas of World Religions The Origins of Islam
A chronology of the early days of the Muslim religion.
ca. 570 C.E.
Mohammed bin Abdullah is born into an impoverished family in Mecca. He is a member of the Kureish tribe, which looks after the Kaaba, a sanctuary in Mecca. Even in pre-Muslim times, the Kaaba had already become a place of pilgrimage. Mohammed travels to Mount Hira to reflect and pray.
Mohammed has his first vision, which is later interpreted as an appearance of the Angel Gabriel.
Mohammeds emigration (hijra) from Mecca to Medina marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar, the first year of the hijra.
Mohammed makes his final pilgrimage to Mecca. He dies in Medina in June without having designated a successor (caliph or imam). Ultimately, the leadership battle divided the Muslim community into Sunnis and Shiites.
Caliph Abu Bakr dispatches armies to conquer Syria and Mesopotamia.
634 to 644
Caliph Omar; more territorial conquests by Muslims, including Egypt and Iran.
644 to 656
Caliph Osman occupies additional countries, including Libya and Cyprus. Before being murdered, he has the Koran compiled in its present form.
656 to 661
As a result of infighting, Caliph Ali Mohammeds son-in-law and cousin relocates the caliphate from Medina to Kufa in Iraq, where he is murdered in 661.
661 to 680
Caliph Muawiyya, the governor of Syria, establishes the Umayyad dynasty. Alis son Hussein backs Alis descendants claim to the caliphate.
In Karbela, Iraq, Alis supporters, led by Hussein, stage a revolt against the caliph Yasid, which is put down. Hussein dies in the Battle of Karbela. His supporters then declare all former caliphs apostates and confirm Alis descendants as the Muslim communitys true imams (successors). Only they, it is said, can receive the divine light of leadership from Ali leading to the creation of the Shiite movement.
680 to 683
661 to 750
Umayyad dynasty; the empires borders are extended to Spain in the west and India in the east.
Construction of the Dome of the Rock (Mosque of Omar) in Jerusalem.