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Nomadic Arabs from the northern peninsula.


Ruling member of a Bedouin tribe, selected by the majlis.


Council of elders of a Bedouin tribe.


Founder of Islam, united Arab world.


The flight of early Muslims from Mecca to Medina in 622.


Religion founded by Muhammed in the sixth century. Became a world religion, dominating the Arab world.


Muslim community


Muslim holy book. Complied after Muhammed's death

5 Pillars

1. Confess there is no God but Allah and Muhammed is his prophet.
2. Pray five times daily facing the Ka'bah in Mecca.
3. Fast, particularly during the month of Ramadan.
4. Give alms and charity.
5. Make a pilgrimage to Mecca.


The "way" or "path." Muslim code of conduct


"Successor" or leader of the Islamic community. Also considered to to be the imam, or religious leader.


Muhammed's son-in-law and cousin. Was assassinated in 661, inspiring the Shi'ite faction.


Replaced Ali upon his assassination. Made the caliphate hereditary, founding the Umayyad dynasty.


Sunni. "Orthodox." Larger branch of Islam today.
Shi'ite. "Partisans of Ali." Anticipate the Occultation.


Muslim dynasty founded by Muawiya. Called "more political than pious."


Battle in which the Muslims defeated the Byzantine army in 636.


Overthrew the Umayyad dynasty. Brought political, economic, cultural changes. Tried to break distinctions between Arab and non-Arab Muslims.

Harun al-Rashid

Greatest Abbasid caliph. Called "the Upright." Rule known as the Golden Age of economic and educational prosperity.

Seljuk Turks

Nomadic converts to Islam. Mercenaries for the Abbasid dynasty. Captured Baghdad and occupied the eastern part of the Abbasid empire.


Christian invasions of Islamic land in an attempt to "reclaim" the Holy Land.

House of Wisdom

Arabic library in Baghdad.

Arabian Nights

Collection of Arabic tales by Omar Khayyam.

Omar Khayyam

Arabic poet and storyteller in the twelfth century. Exhibited modern-like skepticism.

Ibn Sina

Arabic physician and philosopher who proposed that the world operates on natural laws.


Islamic mysticism embraced by thirteenth-century poet Rumi. Dervishes twirl to attain God through ecstatic love.

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