The start of Islam is marked in the year 610, following the first revelation to the prophet Muhammad at the age of 40. Muhammad and his followers spread the teachings of Islam throughout the Arabian peninsula. Soon after the death of the prophet Muhammad, there were military expeditions, called futuhat, or literally “openings,” into what is now Egypt and other parts of North Africa. In other parts of the world, Islam spread through trade and commerce. The following is a brief timeline that highlights some of the major occurrences in Islam’s development and modern religious and political events.
570 C.E. Muhammad is born in Mecca. He comes from a noble family and is well-known for his honesty and upright character.
610 According to Muslim belief, at the age of 40, Muhammad is visited by the angel Gabriel while on retreat in a cave near Mecca. The angel recites to him the first revelations of the Quran and informs him that he is God’s prophet. Later, Muhammad is told to call his people to the worship of the one God, but they react with hostility and begin to persecute him and his followers.
622 After enduring persecution in Mecca, Muhammad and his followers migrate to the nearby town of Yathrib (later to be known as Medina), where the people there accepted Islam. This marks the “hijrah” or “emigration,” and the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, Muhammad establishes an Islamic state based on the laws revealed in the Quran and the inspired guidance coming to him from God. Eventually he begins to invite other tribes and nations to Islam.
630 Muhammad returns to Mecca with a large number of his followers. He enters the city peacefully, and eventually all its citizens accept Islam. The prophet clears the idols and images out of the Kaaba and rededicates it to the worship of God alone.
633 Muhammad dies after a prolonged illness. The Muslim community elects his father-in-law and close associate, Abu Bakr, as caliph, or successor.
636 – Arab invasion to Persia brings end of Sassanid dynasty and start of Islamic rule.
638 Muslims enter the area north of Arabia, known as “Sham,” including Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.
641 Muslims enter Egypt and rout the Byzantine army. Muslims consider their conquest as the liberation of subjugated people, since in most instances they were under oppressive rule.
655 Islam begins to spread throughout North Africa.
661 Imam Ali is killed, bringing to an end the rule of the four “righteous caliphs”: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. This also marks the beginning of the Umayyad rule.
680 Murder of Ali’s son Husain by the Umayyad Caliph marks beginning of the Shi’at Ali (“party of Ali”) or Shi’a sect.
711 Muslims enter Spain in the west and India in the east. Eventually almost the entire Iberian Peninsula is under Islamic control.
732 Muslims are defeated at Potiers in France by Charles Martel.
750 The Abbasids take over rule from the Umayyads, shifting the seat of power to Baghdad.
10th-13th c Turk & Afghan raids & early Muslim dynasties in India.
1000 Islam continues to spread through the continent of Africa, including Nigeria, which served as a trading liaison between the northern and central regions of Africa.
1099 European Crusaders take Jerusalem from the Muslims. Eventually Muslims defeat the Crusaders and regain control of the holy land.
1120 Islam continues to spread throughout Asia. Malaysian traders interact with Muslims who teach them about Islam.
1299 The earliest Ottoman state is formed in Anatolia, Turkey.
1453 Ottomans conquer the Byzantine seat of Constantinople and change its name to Istanbul.
1501 – With the support of Shia Qizilbash warrior tribes, Shah Ismail I establishes the Safavid dynasty; Shia Islam declared state religion.
1526 Mughal Dynasty, largest Muslim dynasty in India, established. Continues until dismantled by British colonialists in 1857.
Circa 1740 Wahhabism, a fundamentalist Islamic revivalist movement instigated by an eighteenth century theologian, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792) from Najd, Saudi Arabia. The movement gained unchallenged precedence in most of the Arabian Peninsula through an alliance between Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and the House of Muhammad ibn Saud, which provided political and financial power for the religious revival represented by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. The alliance created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where Mohammed bin Abd Al-Wahhab’s teachings are state-sponsored and the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia.
Circa 1800 Approximately 30 percent of Africans forced into slavery in the United States are Muslim.
1802 Abdulaziz, leader of the First Saudi State, led ten thousand Muslim soldiers into an attack on the Shi’ite holy city of Karbala, in what is now southern Iraq and where Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad is buried. The Saudi soldiers killed more than two thousand people, including women and children.
1828 – Iran cedes control of Caucasus to Russia after second Russo-Persian war.
1857 British captured Delhi and eliminated Mughal rule in India after 332 years. Last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Rangoon in Burma. This was also the end of 1000 years of Muslim rule over India.
1859 Imam Shamil laid down arms before Russian forces and the Islamic State of Dagestan became a Russian province.
1870-1924 Muslim immigrants from the Arab world voluntarily come to the United States until the Asian Exclusion Act is passed in 1924.
1882 Egypt came under British military occupation.
1901 Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud captures Riyadh. French forces occupy Morocco.
1904 Morocco becomes a French protectorate under the Algeciras Conference.
1905 Hassan-Al-Banna was born in Alexandria(Egypt),The beginning of the Salafiyyah movement in Paris with its main sphere of influence in Egypt.
1906 All India Muslim league was established in Dhakka (Bengal).
1907 – In Iran, after the Constitutional Revolution, the introduction of the constitution which limits the absolutist powers of rulers.
1912 The beginning of the Muhammadiyyah reform movement in Indonesia.
1916 Arab revolt against Ottoman (Turkish) rule. Lawrence of Arabia leads attacks on the Hejaz Railway.
1917 World War I ends with the defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, which was the last of the Islamic empires. Many regions populated by Muslims in Africa and Asia are colonized by Europeans. France and Britain also betray a number of regions to whom they had promised post-war independence by rescinding their promise and dividing regions up amongst themselves in the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
1919 The first revolution in Egypt led by Saad Zaghlul against British occupation.
1922 Egypt unilaterally granted independence by the United Kingdom.
1923 Mustafa Kemal secures Allied recognition of Turkey’s independence in the Treaty of Lausanne and subsequently declares the Republic of Turkey. The Turkish capitol is officially shifted to Ankara.
1924 King Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud conquers Mecca and Medina, leading to the unification of the Kingdoms of Najd and Hejaz.
1928 Turkey is declared a secular state. In Egypt, Hasan al-Banna founds the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement dedicated to social, political, and moral reform. The movement would later spread to other Arab nations and to Pakistan.
1930 The Nation of Islam is created in the U.S. by W. D. Fard. It is based on some Islamic ideas, but contains innovations, such as the appointment or declaration of Elijah Muhammad as a prophet.
1932 Ibn Saud had disposed of all his main rivals and consolidated his rule over much of the Arabian Peninsula. He declared himself king of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that year.
1936 Increased Jewish immigration leads to an Arab revolt in Palestine in the Great Uprising.
1939 Start of World War II.
1941 British and Russian forces invade Iran and Reza Shah is forced to abdicate in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Shah in Iran.
1941 Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi founds Jamaat-e-Islami, the Muslim Brotherhood’s South Asian counterpart.
1945 End of World War II. Indonesia declares independence from the Netherlands. New leader Sukarno decides not to implement sharia law nation-wide.
1946 Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria are granted independence from Britain and France.
1947 India gains independence from Britain, and Pakistan is created from the region’s Muslim-majority areas under the Leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
1948 The state of Israel is created. Palestinian and Lebanese refugees flee to the United States, among them, Muslims and Christians. Arab countries attack the new state of Israel and suffer defeat in war with Israel. Hundreds of thousands ofPalestinians are displaced.
1951 Iranian Parliament votes to nationalize their oil industry, which is dominated by the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Britain imposes an embargo and a blockade, halting oil exports and hurting the economy. A power struggle between the British-backed Shah and Iranian-elected Prime Minister Mossadegh ensues and the Shah flees the country in August 1953.
1952 The McCarren-Walter Act relaxes the U.S. ban on Asian immigration. Muslim students come to the U.S. from many nations.
1953 Backed by American and British intelligence agencies, in Iran General Zahedi leads a coup against Mohammed Mossadegh and Iran’s nationalization of oil, returning the Shah to power.
1954 Algerian War of Independence begins. Gamal Abdel Nasser bans the Muslim Brotherhood.
1956 Morocco and Tunisia become independent from French rule.
1960 Mali and Senegal become independent from French rule.
1962 Algeria becomes independent from French rule.
1965 Revisions of immigration law further open the doors for Muslim immigration. Malcolm X is assassinated.
1967 In the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan, Israel seizes control of Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. More Palestinians are displaced.
1970 Death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat becomes president of Egypt and continues preparation of the army for the next war with Israel.
1970s Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools (madrassas) and mosques globally, from Pakistan to California. This spreads a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that has inspired multiple violent Islamist groups and individuals.
1971 Bengalis in East Pakistan under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman begin campaigning for independence from West Pakistan, prompting a heavy-handed military reprisal from Pakistani forces. India enters the conflict, causing the third Indo-Pakistani War which culminates in the creation of Bangladesh.
1975 Wallace D. Muhammad, the son of Elijah Muhammad, takes over leadership of the Nation of Islam after his father’s death and brings most of his followers into mainstream Islam. He later creates the Muslim American Society, which attracts many members, most of whom are African-American.
1979 The Iranian Revolution results in the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the first attempt at an Islamic state in the modern era. The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.
1980 Iraq invades Iran, beginning the Iran–Iraq War. In a move not recognized internationally, Israel confirms its capital as the united Jerusalem.
1988 290 passengers and the crew of an Iran Air Airbus are mistakenly shot down by the USS Vincennes. Iran accepts a ceasefire agreement with Iraq following negotiations in Geneva under the aegis of the UN.
1989 Ayatollah Khomeini issues a religious edict (fatwa) ordering Muslims to kill British author, Salman Rushdie, for his novel, ‘The Satanic Verses’, considered blasphemous to Islam.
1990 Iraq invades Kuwait. North Yemen and South Yemen reunite.
1991 A coalition of United States-led forces attacks Iraq and reverses its attempted military annexation of Kuwait.
1992 The 400 year-old Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India is destroyed by Hindu extremists, sparking widespread religious rioting across India.
1996 Taliban forces seize control of most of Afghanistan and declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
1999 Russia occupies Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. In Pakistan, General Parvez Musharraf overthrows the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif. Pro-democracy students at Tehran University, Iran, demonstrate following the closure of the reformist newspaper ‘Salam’. Clashes with security forces lead to six days of rioting and the arrest of more than 1,000 students.
By the end of this century, global Muslim population had grown to almost one-fifth (20%) of the total, driven by improved healthcare and infrastructure globally.
2001 Members of Al Qaeda, an Islamic terrorist organization, attacks the United States. Hijacked commercial airliners are flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building on September 11, 2001, killing upwards of three thousand. The United States subsequently declares a War on Terror and invades Afghanistan, whose Taliban regime had given refuge to Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
2002 Hindu-led riots against Muslims in Gujarat, India. More than 2000 reported killed, most of them Muslims. A terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda kills more than 200 people in the 2002 Bali bombings. Chechen rebels take 800 hostages in the Moscow Theater hostage crisis. The US establishes Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, a highly-controversial military prison in Cuba. This is one of several high-security prisons at which the CIA has used torture to elicit confessions from suspects, many of whom were held without trial.
2003 The United States leads the invasion of Iraq, searching for “weapons of mass destruction”, starting the second Iraq War. Iranian Shirin Ebadi becomes the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in promoting human rights. In Iran, thousands attend student-led protests in Tehran against the clerical establishment.
2004 The US begins unmanned drone attacks in NW Pakistan.
2006 Muhammad Yunus wins Nobel Peace Prize for successful application of microcredit schemes to poor entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.
2007 US announces sweeping new sanctions against Iran, the toughest since it first imposed sanctions almost 30 years ago.
2008 UN Security Council tightens economic and trade sanctions on Tehran.
2009 In Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is declared to have won a victory in the 12 June presidential election. The public and rival candidates challenge the result, alleging vote-rigging. Several hundred thousand people take to the streets. At least 30 are killed and more than 1,000 arrested in the wave of protests that follow.
2010 UN Security Council imposes fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, including tighter financial curbs and an expanded arms embargo.
2010-2011 Arab Uprising protests, from Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria, to Morocco.
2012 Muslim Brotherhood comes to power in Egypt, with Mohammed Morsi voted President in democratic elections.
2013 Military coup of Egypt. Morsi deposed and hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members arrested. Muslim Brotherhood declared an illegal organization.
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