Islam as a religion began in 622 AD and continues today. Its immediate and overall history is marked with significant battles among and against peoples living in lands that became the targets of the Caliphate or the overall Dar al-Islam (House of Islam). The theological beliefs of Islam that support the desire to establish a worldwide Caliphate ruled by Shari’a law are still a potent force within Islam today, and some suggest that it has become as dominant as it was in the days of the first and second waves of jihad.

After the time of Muhammad, the Umma (Muslim community) leadership came from four Rightly Guided Caliphs for about 30 years: Abu Bakr from 632-634, Umar from 634-644, Uthman from 644-656 and Ali from 656 to 661 AD who was the closest blood relative of Muhammad. By 650 AD Islam and its military campaigns had brought most of Syria, Palestine, Egypt (642) and the Persian Empire (643) under their control, capturing Jerusalem in 638, North Africa in 647 and Cyprus in 649. Some of the nations invaded and now controlled were considered the richest nations in the world at the time and were guarded to the teeth by powerful militarism, yet they all fell into Islamic hands.

During the time of Ali, the last Rightly Guided Caliph in 656 AD, he moved the Arab capital from Medina to Kufa in southern Iraq. As the closest blood relative to Muhammad he was extremely revered and followers were given a special name called the Shia or, “party” of Ali. During this time Arab exclusiveness within Islam was broken and all were considered equal when converted to Islam to become Muslim.

Ali was later assassinated in 661 by Muawiyah, the founder of the Umayyad Caliphate, who took his place as leader of the Umma. This triggered a split in loyalty from Muslims. Today almost 1500 years later these loyal groups still rule the majority of Islam. After the assassination two paths of loyalty within Islam became prominent: the Shia which follow Ali and the Sunni which pledged loyalty to Muhammad. During this time however Muslims continued to dominate the middle-east, eastern and southern Europe, as well as north African and Asian regions. From 650 to 732 AD massive expansion was taking place that ended up with eastern Turkey, India and China adding to the Umma’s influence.

The Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) was ousted from Damascus and replaced by the Abbasid Caliphate with its capital in modern day Baghdad, Iraq in 755 AD. A different Umayyad line continued in Spain, beginning with the Umayyad prince Abd Ar-Rahman, until 1492 and the Battle of Andalusia. In the 730’s Charles Martel and Charlemagne fought back Muslim expansion into France. The Battle of Tours is still seen today as an important historical event that stopped Islamization of Western Europe. The lack of ability by the Muslims to scout Europe accurately and set up defensive positions is known to have been a vital component in their ultimate defeat. During the time of the Empire in Cordoba in Spain there were two capitals of rival caliphates, the Abbasid Baghdad and Umayyad Cordoba. Cordoba was probably the greater influence because of its geographical location.

There is also another dynasty or caliphate called the the Fatimid Caliphate which started in Tunisia in 909 AD. Later the army of the Fatimid Caliphate conquered Egypt, Cairo in 969 becoming their capital. The caliphate lasted until its fall in 1171 AD because of a few reasons. The Zirids, or collection of governors declared independence inevitably declaring loyalty to the Baghdad, Abbasid Caliphate in the 1040’s. Also the Fatimid empire was seriously challenged by Turkic invaders as well as Crusaders in the Levant.

The spread of Islam beyond its traditional boundaries in the Great Arid Zone was enabled by the actions of regional rulers; the Fatimids and Berbers in North Africa made inroads into sub-Saharan Africa, just as the Ghaznavids did in India, with the sultan Mahmud (r. 997–1030) launching no fewer than 17 raids into the subcontinent. Africa, India, and Southeast Asia were thus softened up for the large-scale conversion of their populations to Islam that would take place in subsequent centuries.

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire, founded by Osthman or Osman I (born within the dominate tribe Oguz, forefathers of the Osmanli or Ottoman Turks) was born in 1258 and died in 1326, lasted from 1299 AD until November 1, 1922 being succeeded by the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923 until present day. Mongols stretched from Eastern Europe across Asia dominate from the unification of the Mongol and Turkic tribes in modern day Mongolia. The Genghis Khan invasions make him ruler of all Mongols in 1206 but with the breakup of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368 AD dissolution of the entirety was inevitable. Following the defeat of the Seljuk tribes (a branch of the Oguz) from the Sunni Seljuk Empire, which stretched from the Hindu Kush to eastern Anatolia and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, by the Mongols in 1293 Osman I took lead of the Turks in an already fractured Mongol Empire. This gave way to the Ottoman Empire as influence spread and Muslims continue their fight against an ever-weakening Byzantine Empire.

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