Islam’s Emergence in the 7th Century AD

Islam's Emergence and Expansion in the 7th century

Islam’s emergence in the 7th century marked a time of significant change and expansion as the religion began to spread and conquer various territories. The process started with the unification of Arabia by the Prophet Muhammad in 622 and continued under the leadership of the Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphs. These conquests led to the downfall of the Sasanian Empire and the capture of key territories including Persia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa

The Byzantine Empire also faced setbacks during this time, with a mass incursion of Slavs in the Balkans and the decisive victory at the Siege of Constantinople. Other notable events of the 7th century include the Councils of Toledo in the Iberian Peninsula, the rise of Northumbria in the British Isles, and the establishment of the Tang dynasty in China


Constantinople in Turmoil: Army Mutiny Leads to Massacres and Power Grab by Low-Ranking Officer Phocas

In the 7th century AD, the army in Constantinople revolted against Emperor Maurice and the general population joined in, targeting the wealthy. Christians turned against Christians as Maurice and his family were brutally killed. The mutineers then placed the heads of the victims on display and threw their bodies into the sea. A low-ranking military officer named Phocas then seized power as the new emperor. Pope Gregory expressed his approval of Maurice's demise, describing the rise of Phocas as the will of God. He called for Catholics to pray for Phocas' strength against his adversaries.

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Heraclius Takes Power: Overthrows Phocas and Changes Official Language of Eastern Roman Empire to Greek

In 610, Heraclius arrived in Constantinople via ship from Africa, overthrew the reigning Eastern Roman Emperor Phocas and took the throne himself. One of his first major decisions as emperor was to shift the official language of the Eastern Roman Empire from Latin to Greek, which was already spoken by the majority of the population.

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Muhammad's starts preaching in Mecca

In the early days of his preaching, Muhammad's message was met with little attention and even skepticism in his hometown of Mecca. He began to publicly share his belief in the oneness of God and the need for moral reform, but many of his fellow Meccans ignored him or thought him to be crazy. Despite this, Muhammad continued to spread his message, gathering a small group of followers who believed in his teachings. This group would eventually grow, and Muhammad's message would gain widespread acceptance, leading to the formation of the Islamic religion. The early rejection and the perseverance of Muhammad and his followers, laid the foundation of one of the most influential religions in the world.

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Æthelfrith of Northumbria emerges victorious in battle against the Welsh at Chester, England.

Æthelfrith, who was the king of Northumbria, emerged victorious in a battle against the Welsh at Chester, England. This battle was a significant event in the 7th century AD in England and marked a turning point in the territorial disputes between the Northumbrian and Welsh kingdoms. Æthelfrith's victory in this battle expanded his kingdom's territory and solidified his power. This event also had an impact on the relations between the Northumbrian and Welsh kingdoms and the political and military landscape of the time. The victory at Chester was a significant achievement for Æthelfrith and his kingdom of Northumbria.


Muhammad in Yathrib
  • 622 AD: A group of people visiting Mecca from the town of Yathrib were impressed by Muhammad and his teachings, they invited him to come back to Yathrib with them.
  • 623 AD: Muhammad and his followers stopped facing towards Jerusalem during prayers and instead began facing towards Mecca. Additionally, Muhammad abandoned the traditional Jewish Sabbath of Saturday and instead made Friday a special day for the Muslim community.
  • 624 AD: Due to economic difficulties in Yathrib, Muhammad organized raids on merchant caravans to acquire resources. The most successful of these raids was at Bedr, where the raiders killed an estimated 50-70 people from Mecca. This action led to increased hostility between Muhammad and Mecca.

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The Avars, the Slavs and the Persians jointly besiege but fail to capture Constantinople.

The Avars, the Slavs and the Persians jointly laid siege to the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in the 7th century AD. Despite their combined efforts, they were unable to capture the city. The siege was a significant event in the history of the Byzantine Empire and Europe as a whole. The Byzantine Empire's capital, Constantinople, was considered one of the most heavily fortified cities in the world at the time, and the fact that it was able to withstand the joint attack of these three powerful enemies demonstrated the strength of the Byzantine defense and the skill of its military. The failure of this siege also had an impact on the political and military landscape of Europe, as it prevented the Avars, Slavs and Persians from gaining control of the strategically important city and served as a reminder of the Byzantine Empire's strength.


The Arab–Byzantine wars begin. Much of the Roman Empire is conquered by Muslim Arabs led by Khalid ibn al-Walid.

The Arab-Byzantine wars were a series of conflicts that took place between Muslim Arab dynasties and the Byzantine Empire between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. These wars began during the initial Muslim conquests led by the Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs in the 7th century and continued under their successors until the mid-11th century.


The Muslim conquests begin.

The early Muslim or Islamic conquests, also known as the Arab conquests, were a series of military campaigns led by Muhammad, the founder of Islam, in the 7th century. These conquests united Arabia under a new political system and quickly spread under the leadership of the Rashidun Caliphate and the Umayyad Caliphate, resulting in the establishment of Islamic rule across three continents. Scottish historian James Buchan notes that these conquests were both swift and extensive, comparable only to those of Alexander the Great and more enduring.


Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, died on June 8, 632
Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah." inscribed on the gates of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina

Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah." inscribed on the gates of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina

Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, died on June 8, 632. He was a religious, political, and military leader who founded the religion of Islam in the 7th century. He began receiving revelations from God, through the angel Gabriel, when he was 40 years old and over the next 23 years, he preached the message of Islam and converted many people to the faith. He also led many military campaigns to spread Islam and unite the Arabian Peninsula under its rule. His death was a significant event in the history of Islam as it marked the end of the era of the Prophet and the beginning of the era of the Caliphs. His death also caused a major succession crisis among his followers, leading to the formation of two main sects of Islam, the Sunni and the Shia.

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The Muslim conquest of Palestine
Dome of the Rock (Skalní dóm)

Dome of the Rock (Skalní dóm)

In 638 AD, the Muslim armies under the command of the Muslim leader Khalid ibn al-Walid, conquer Palestine, a region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. The Byzantine Empire, which controlled Palestine at the time, was unable to mount a successful defense against the Muslim invaders. The Muslim conquest of Palestine marked a significant turning point in the history of the region, as it brought an end to Byzantine rule and marked the beginning of Muslim rule. The Muslim armies were able to quickly gain control of the major cities in Palestine such as Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Gaza, and the local population largely accepted the new rulers. This campaign was the start of a series of conquests that would expand the Muslim empire into North Africa, and the Middle East, and brought the region under the Islamic faith and culture.


Muslim conquest of Egypt and Armenia

The Muslim army under the command of 'Amr ibn al-'As captured Egypt between 639 and 646 AD during the Rashidun Caliphate. This marked the end of Roman rule in Egypt, which had lasted for seven centuries since 30 BC. The Byzantine Empire's control over Egypt had been weakened due to a previous invasion and occupation by the Sasanian Empire from 618-629, which was later regained by Byzantine emperor Heraclius. However, the caliphate was able to seize Egypt a decade later, taking advantage of the Byzantine's weakened state.


656–661: The First Fitna occurs

The First Fitna, also known as the "strife/sedition of the killing of Uthman," was the initial civil war within the Islamic community. It resulted in the downfall of the Rashidun Caliphate and the rise of the Umayyad Caliphate. The war was primarily fought between the fourth Rashidun caliph, Ali, and various rebel factions.


The Koran is completed and published
The first four verses (ayat) of Al-Alaq, the 96th chapter (surah) of the Qur'an. Egyptian Calligraphy of the first lines of Sura al-Alaq.

The first four verses (ayat) of Al-Alaq, the 96th chapter (surah) of the Qur'an. Egyptian Calligraphy of the first lines of Sura al-Alaq.

In 660, The Koran, considered a complete and organized text, was published for the first time. After his conquest of Mecca, Muhammad faced resistance from various tribes in Arabia and rival prophets. The Koran reflects this struggle by describing non-believers as evil and stating that they can expect war from God (3.151). However, the Koran also promotes peace with those who are willing to make peace (8.61). Muhammad aimed for peaceful coexistence among different groups within his realm, including Christians and Jews, and imposed taxes on them. The Koran also includes verses about Christians and Jews not fearing or grieving (2.62). Additionally, as Muhammad drew from the biblical tradition present in Arabia, the Koran mentions biblical figures and reiterates the message of God's love and grace (5.54).


Assassination of Ali and the Rise of the Shia-Sunni Split

An assassination attempt was made on Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, and he died from his injuries. This event further exacerbated the divide between his supporters, known as Shia Muslims, and their rivals, the Sunni Muslims. The Sunni Muslims were then establishing a new caliphate in Damascus, Syria.


End of civil war among Muslims

In 664, the civil war among the Muslims came to an end. Under the leadership of caliph Mu'awiyah in Damascus, Islamic expansion continued through military means.


Victory of the Bulgars over the Byzantines in the Battle of Ongal

The Battle of Ongal occurred during the summer of 680 in an area known as Ongal, near the Danube delta and the Peuce Island, which is currently located in Tulcea County, Romania. The conflict was between the Bulgars, who had recently entered the Balkans, and the Byzantine Empire, which ultimately lost the battle. This battle was a significant factor in the formation of the First Bulgarian Empire.


Emperor Justinian II of the Byzantine Empire defeats the Bulgarians
Emperor Justinian II

Emperor Justinian II

In 688, Emperor Justinian II of the Byzantine Empire achieved a significant victory against the Bulgarians. The Byzantine Empire had been engaged in a series of conflicts with the Bulgarians, who had recently established their own kingdom in the Balkans. The victory by Justinian II marked a turning point in the Byzantine-Bulgarian wars and marked a resurgence of Byzantine power in the region. However, it was not a definitive victory as the conflict between the two empires continued in the following years. The victory allowed Emperor Justinian II to strengthen his rule and secure his position as the ruler of the Byzantine Empire.


The Arabs capture Carthage from the Byzantine Empire

In 698, the Arab forces captured Carthage from the Byzantine Empire. Carthage, located in modern-day Tunisia, was a major city in the Roman province of Africa and a key trading post in the Mediterranean. The Byzantine Empire had controlled Carthage for several centuries, but the Arab conquest marked the beginning of the city's decline. The Arab victory was significant as it marked a major shift in the balance of power in the Mediterranean and North Africa, and allowed the Arab empire to control the key trade routes. The fall of Carthage also marked the beginning of the end of Byzantine rule in Africa, and the Arab conquest of North Africa was a major step towards the Arabization of the region.



  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2022, December 12). 7th century. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation.

  • World History Timeline: 7th Century (601 to 700). (2015).

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