Byzantium repelled several Persian attacks around 550 which signaled the beginning of the end for Persia. The Persian empire eventually collapsed in favor of Islam, which took the Middle East by storm. After three years of the peace treaty between Persia and Byzantium, Muhammad was born. He was born in 570 in Mecca near the ancient shrine called Ka’ Ba. Ka’ Ba was thought to have been built by Abraham, whom the Muslims claim to be the father of their religion.
Muhammad’s father died shortly after his birth and by the time he was six, his mother died as well. He was raised by his uncle who also lived in Mecca. He married a wealthy widow and became a very successful merchant. In 610 at the age of forty, he had his first revelation. The messages said that he was the prophet of a new religion and that he needed to prophecy to the world. Those first proclamations make up the first passages of Qu’ Ran.
Islam’s god is called Allah which literally translates into god. Muslims are universally monotheistic, and believe Allah created the world. Allah has several prophets who bring his “message” to men. The last of them was Muhammad. Islam has several holy books but the two most important are Qu’ Ran and Hadith.
There are five pillars of Islam. Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, Fast of Ramadan, and Hajj. Jihad is the Muslim name for a holy war. It can be both outward and inner in the life of a Muslim. The struggle to complete the pillars of Islam is an inner struggle.
After Muhammad, the religion was carried on by a series of elected leaders. The first four Caliphs after Muhammad were considered the Rashidun Dynasty. All four were elected from the leaders of Islam. The first Caliph was named Abu Bakr. He helped consolidate the Quran into one solid book. The second Caliph was Umar. He was assassinated in 644. The third Caliph was Uthman. He dealt with revolts near the end of his reign. The fourth Caliph was Ali. He was the first male convert to Islam.
The two parties caused so much disruption that Ali could not keep the government in control. Ali was eventually assassinated and was succeeded by a corrupt Caliph starting the Umayyad Dynasty. The two parties separated and became known as sects. There are actually three sects in Islam but the first two are more well-known than the third. There are the Sunni, Shia, and the Sufi.
The expansion of Islam happened in five key stages. The first four Caliphs made up the Rashidun Dynasty. This was a part of the first stage. Also a part of the first stage was the Umayyad Dynasty. The Umayyad rulers came immediately after the Rashidun’s. The Umayyad rulers ruled the empire at its largest point.
The Battle of Tours represents the end of Muslim conquest in the Middle East. It took place in between the French cities of, Tour, and Poitiers. The Franks were successful and spread the religion of Islam in that direction. The Muslims were eventually thrown out of Iberia altogether sometime later.