A man who lived in what is now Saudi Arabia from 570-632CE. He founded the religion of Islam.
These are the main teachings of Islam:
1) Testify that "There is only one God and Muhammad is His messenger."
2) Pray five times a day (dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, nightfall) facing Mecca (and wash before praying.) Gather at Mosque for noon prayer and sermon on Fridays.
3) Do not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset during the lunar month of Ramadan
4) Give alms (charity) to the poor
5) If possible, go on pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) at least once during the first days of Dhu'l-Hijja (the twelfth month of the Muslim calendar (Hajj)
All of these helped to unify the Muslim community.
The tenth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. One of the pillars of Islam is the duty of Muslims to avoid eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset during this month. This helps Muslims to focus on God.
This is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a pilgrimage to Mecca which each Muslim must try to make at least once in his/her life. This helps to unite Muslims because they are always traveling to the same place.
A city in what is now Saudi Arabia. It was Muhammad's birthplace. It was a sacred city before Islam because it contains a shrine called the Kaaba, which was sacred to all the surrounding tribes. Because fighting was forbidden in the vicinity of the Kaaba, this city became an important trading centre. All Muslims are supposed to try to make a pilgrimage to this city at least once in their lifetimes. Also, all Muslims face this city when they pray. This helps to unify Islam.
A cubical shrine in the centre of Mecca, supposedly founded by Abraham. It used to contain statues representing the gods of all the tribes. This made Mecca an important religious an trading centre. When Muhammad took over Mecca, he smashed the idols. Now it symbolizes the oneness of God for Muslims. When Muslims pray, they face this shrine.
(aka Yathrib) A city surrounding an oasis 400 km north of Makkah (Mecca). Its citizens invited Muhammad to come to live there in 622 CE. There, he was able to establish the first Muslim community and to build up a strong following.
(aka Hijra) Muhammad's journey from Makkah (Mecca) to Yathrib/Medina in 622 CE. This marks the beginning of Islam as an established religion because Muslims left their tribes and became a new group. The Muslim calendar is dated from this event.
(aka Qu'ran) The main Muslim holy book. Muslims believe it was dictated by God to the prophet Mohammed, although it was only written down after his death.
People of the Book
The Muslim term for Jews and Christians. Muslims consider Judaism and Christianity to be close enough to the true religion. Muhammad taught that Jews and Christians should not be forced to convert to Islam. This meant that Muslims usually treated Jews and Christians better than Christian treated Jews and Muslims.
The fourth Caliph. He was Muhammad's cousin and son-in law. He led the Muslims from 565-661. Islam expanded further under his leadership and he moved the capital to shat is not Iraq, the better to control the growing empire. When the Umayyads, led by Mu'awiya challenged his leadership, he tried to keep the peace, but was assassinated by a disgruntled follower. Ali's followers refused to agree to the leadership of the Umayyads. They argued that only the descendents of Muhammad through Ali should lead the Muslims. They became the branch of Islam known as Shiites.
The branch of Islam whose followers do not believe the leader has to be a descendent of Muhammad through Ali. Most Muslims belong to this group.
A branch of Islam whose members believe the leaders of the religion should be the descendents of Muhammad through Ali. The majority of Muslims in Iraq and Iran belong to this group, but only 10-20% of all Muslims belong to this group.
Dynasty that ruled the Muslims from 661-750. They were the same tribe as the third caliph, Uthman. They moved the capital to Damascus, Syria. Under their rule, the Islamic empire spread into Central Asia and across North Africa into Spain. They were overthrown by the Abbasids in 750.
Dynasty that descended from one of Muhammad's uncles. They ruled the Islamic empire (at least officially) from 750-1258. They moved the capital to Baghdad and presided over the golden age of Islam.
This was the capital of the Islamic empire under the Abbasids. It was centrally located between the Persian and Mediterranean worlds. The city they built was circular, with the Caliph's palace and grand mosque at the center, surrounded by gardens and administrative buildings. It was the administrative center of the Muslim empire. It also became a trading center. For goods from North Africa, Persia, China and India. Also, scholars of all nations and faiths gathered in its "House of Wisdom." This city was built in 762 and sacked by the Mongols in 1258. It never really recovered.
House of Wisdom
A great centre of learning in 9th century Baghdad. Scholars from all religions form all over the known world gathered there, where they were paid by the caliph to translate ancient Greek, Persian and Indian texts into Arabic. They also made important discoveries in astronomy, science, medicine and mathematics. This knowledge would eventually be passed on to the rest of the world.
This is a city in what is now Spain. (Most of Spain was conquered by the Muslims under the Umayyads in the late seventh and early eighth centuries.) When the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750, the last of the Umayyads escaped and made his way here. He turned it into a capital to rival Baghdad. It is especially famous for its Great Mosque. It became a major century of learning and culture, attracting Jews and Christians as well as Muslims. Through this city, Muslim learning spread to Europe, which was technologically backward at the time. The Christians re-conquered this city in 1236 and expelled all Muslims.
This important mathematical concept was invented by Indian mathematicians in the fourth century (and also the Mayans in central America). Muslim scholars learned about it form India and spread it to the rest of Europe, Asia and Africa. This made huge advances in mathematics possible.
A series of wars between Christians and Muslims for control of the "Holy Land" - present day Israel and Palestine. The Christians learned a great deal from these encounters with Islam, which benefited Europe. They also committed atrocities that are still remembered in the Islamic world today.