Timeline for Rise of Islamic Empire: 610  - 1258 CE

610-632 CE: Koran revealed to Muhammed

622-632 CE: Muhammed's following gains strength, in Medina

632 CE: Muhammed dies;

his followers have by now gained control of Armenia, Mesopatamia, most of Persia, Egypt;
632-661 CE: Islamic empire expands, rules from Medina (map "of Muslim Expansion until A.D. 661")
Empire led by "Rightly-Guided Caliphs";
Begin to conquer areas ruled by Western rulers;
Initial response is to reject Hellenistic culture as that of the inferior, vanquished enemy;
661 CE: Sunni and Shiite muslims split;
disagreed as to how Muhammed intended his successor to be chosen;

Shiites: followers of Muhammed's son-in-law Ali (the 4th successor/Caliph) and his descendents; Ali was murdered, buried in Iraq (now a pilgrimage site)

Sunnis : followers of the 3rd Caliph of Muhammed and of elected leaders thereafter

capital of empire moved to Damascus.  location more central.  also provided greater contact with Hellenic civilization and the still existing reservoirs of western and ancient knowledge

661-750 CE: Ommayad Dynasty.  (map "of Omayyad Empire c. A.D. 750"; map "of Muslim Expansion in the West in the Omayyad Period 661-750")
by 730, they would control northern Africa, Spain, all of Persia, northern India;

Move to Damascus, new dynasty represents defeat of one group of Muslims over the local non-Mulsim culture.  New dynasty not very open to Greek culture and ideas, but did inherit knowledge from Christian and Judaic traditions.  Ruled from Spain to India.

750-1258 CE: Abbasid Dynasty; (map "of Late Abbasid Caliphate c. A.D. 900")
capital moved to Baghdad.
Defeat of one Muslim group by another meant that the old-time Greeks were no longer the enemy.
More open to Greek culture.

(Ommayad Dynasty would continue in Spain, with center of learning in Cordova.)

Great academy for translation established; lasted for two centuries.  This is the great era of translation. By end of 9th century, no more translations needed or sought.
- first Christians and Christian physicians did the translating from Syriac into Arabic; soon, scholars realized Syriac versions were full of errors
- decision made to seek out original Greek manuscripts rather than translations thereof
- Plato was known only through NeoPlatonic commentaries
- Aristotle translated virtually in entirety
- Aristotle studied mostly in commentaries rather from original writings
- Aristotle known as "the first teacher"

Great authorities were
- in astronomy: Ptolemy
- in medicine: Galen
- in everything: Aristotle


1258 CE: Mongols invade; Baghdad destroyed.

End of Golden Age of Islam