Islamic History

NOTE: To view the full Encyclopaedia Britannica articles noted on this page one must be a paid subscriber or access the articles through a library that has a subscription.
Table of Contents
Maps
Surveys of Islamic History
Pre-Islamic History of Arabia: The Jahiliyah
History of Islam During the Lifetime of the Prophet and the Rightly Guided Caliphs
History of the Islam in the Middle East after the Rightly Guided Caliphs until 1258 CE: 'Ummayids and Abbasids
History of Islam in East, Central, South, and Southeast Asia
History of Islam in Africa
The Academic Study of Islamic History
Islamic and Middle East History Classes
Comprehensive Islamic History Sites
Converting Dates between Hijri, Julian, and Gregorian Calendars
Conferences

Maps of the Muslim World

  • Historically Related Maps of the Muslim World Collected by Prof. Von Schlegell at the University of Pennsylvania, this is the best collection of its kind on the web. (Link fixed, November 12, 2001.)

    General Surveys of Islamic History

  • The History of Islam by Professor John Voll of Georgetown University. Originally a ten page article published in the Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion, ed. Robert Wuthnow; then put online by Congressional Quarterly, Inc.

  • The Religion of Islam, consisting of an overview of its basic principles and early history, written by the Islamic scholars at ISL software.

  • A Brief History of Islam Written by the Islamic scholars of ISL software, this history briefly surveys the major dynasties of the Muslim world.

  • Islam and Islamic History in Arabia and the Middle East This is a well-written survey in some detail (more than the previous link) and organized according to dynasty.

  • The Islamic World to 1600, an on-line book developed by the Department of History at the University of Calgary, is a well-done but largely political history of the Muslim world until 1600.

  • Early Islamic History, major events from the birth of the Prophet to 1492.

  • A Brief Chronology of Muslim History Although there is much more to Islamic history than military and political history, these are the histories that have tended to capture people's attention, rather than cultural history. Hence, this particular link deals almost entirely with military and political history from the 6th to the 20th century.

    Pre-Islamic History of Arabia: The Jahiliyah

  • The Abbasid Construction of the Jahiliyya: Cultural Authority in the Making (link fixed, January 17, 2004) by Rina Drory, of the Department of Arabic and Unit for Culture Research of Tel Aviv University. This article was published in the scholarly journal Studia Islamica, 1996/1 (February), pp. 38-49.

    History of Islam During the Lifetime of the Prophet and the Rightly Guided Caliphs<

  • Map of Arabia During the Advent of Islam (link fixed 18 August 2005).

  • Companions of the Prophet is an alphabetical listing of biographies of a number of "companions" (sahaba) of the Prophet, namely those who physically saw him and were believers during his lifetime. These particular biographies come from two Islamic contemporary sources: the book, Companions of the Prophet, by Abdul Wahid Hamid and the Islamic database, Alim Online. In particular, see the biographies of the following companions:
    Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud
    'Abd al-Rahman Ibn Awf
    Abu Dharr al-Ghifari
    Abu Musa al-Ash'ari
    Abu Hurayrah
    Abu al-Darda
    'A'ishah bint Abi Bakr
    Asma bint Abi Bakr
    Mu'adh ibn Jabal
    Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas
    Salman al-Farsi

  • New Light on the Story of Banu Qurayza and the Jews of Medina This article, written by W. N. Arafat and published in 1976 in the scholarly Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, refutes the validity of the Muslim story of the massacre of the Banu Qurayza, a Jewish tribe of Medina (link fixed 16 March 2006).

  • The Rightly-Guided Caliphs The four "rightly-guided" caliphs were the first four leaders of Islam to succeed the Prophet Muhammad in his role as head of the Islamic community. This concise overview was written by the National Muslim Student Association of the USA and Canada.

    History of Islam in the Middle East after the Rightly Guided Caliphs: 'Umayyids and 'Abbasids

  • Civil War and the Umayyads, written by Richard Hooker, is a political history that begins with the death of the Prophet and covers both the period of the Rightly Guided Caliphs (632-661 CE) and that of the Ummayad Dynasty (661-750 CE).

  • The Abbasid Dynasty, a political history written by Richard Hooker, covers the dynasty that ruled the Middle East during the years 750 to 1258 CE.

  • A History of Aleppo and Damascus in the Early Middle Ages, 635-1260 C.E., a lecture at the University of Kyoto by Professor. R. Stephen Humphreys. (Fixed 10.1.98)

    History of Islam in East, Central, South, and Southeast Asia

  • Contested Borders in the Caucasus (link fixed 18 August 2005) is an on-line book edited by Professor Bruno Coppieters and consisting of essays by various scholars dealing with the recent political history of the Caucasus. Most significant for students of modern Islamic history are chapter six, Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan: The Historic Origins of Iranian Foreign Policy, chapter seven, Iran's Role as Mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis, and chapter eight, Turkey's Policies in Transcaucasia.

  • The Origins of the Kazaks and Uzbeks is an article by the eminent historian Zeki Velidi Togan and translated by H. B. Paksoy.

  • Islam in China (link fixed 18 August 2005; 16 March 2006) briefly discusses the history of Chinese Islam from 650 CE to 1980 CE.

  • Concise History of Islam in India (711-1775 CE) (link fixed 18 August 2005) written by the Pakistani Student Association at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

  • Islam in Peninsular Malaysia (link fixed 18 August 2005), gives an overview of the origins of Malaysian Islam, its spread, and the effects of European colonization.

    History of Islam in Africa

  • The Spread of Islam in Nigeria: A Historical Survey is a detailed academic paper by Joseph Kenny, O.P., Ph.D., a Dominican priest who is also a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria . Professor Kenny delivered this paper at the Conference on SharÓ`a in Nigeria held at the Spiritan Institute of Theology, Enugu, 22-24 March 2001. (Fixed December 15, 2003; March 16, 2006.)

  • The Spread of Islam Through North to West Africa is an online book by Joseph Kenny, O.P., Ph.D. (Fixed December 15, 2003; March 16, 2006.)

  • Islam in Africa In this article, Professor 'Abdur Rahman Doi of Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria discusses the early history of Islam in Africa, from the year 615 CE until the early eighth century CE. (Fixed January 24, 2003.)

  • The Spread of Islam in West Africa In this article, Professor 'Abdur Rahman Doi begins with the 8th Century CE and discusses the history of Islam in the ancient empires of Western Sudan: Ghana, Mali, Songhay, Kanem-Bornu, and Hausa-Fulani land. (Fixed January 24, 2003.)

  • Africa and Islamic Revival: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives is the text of a lecture delivered by John Hunwick, one of the chief scholars of African Islam.

  • The Jihad and the Consolidation of Sudanic Intellectual Tradition by Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa, a Nigerian scholar. This is a well-researched and documented scholarly article presented at the International Conference on the Bicentenary of the Sokoto Caliphate 1804-2004 from 14th to 16th June 2004 (link fixed 16 March 2006).

  • The Arabic Literary Tradition of Nigeria by Prof. John Hunwick of Northwestern University, originally published in Research in African Literatures, Volume 28, Number 3, 1997.

  • The Islamicization of the Hara Plateau and Its Muslim Shrines This article, by the scholar Ulrich Braukamper, discusses an important chapter in the history of Islam in the Ethiopian-Somali "Horn of Africa." (Fixed as of 10/1/98; offline as of 15 December 2006.)

  • Discussion of African Islamic History (link fixed 18 August 2005) This link consists of correspondence between a number of scholars of Africa concerning materials for the teaching of Islam in Africa.

    The Academic Study of Islamic History

  • Tradition and Innovation in the Study of Islamic History: The Evolution of North Amercian Scholarship Since 1960, a lecture at the University of Tokyo, by Professor R. Stephen Humphreys, a highly regarded historian of Islam. (Fixed 10.5.02)

    Islamic and Middle East History Classes

  • The Middle East in the 20th Century Stanford University professor Joel Beinin's class site. It includes a syllabus, lecture notes, images, historical documents, and maps. Professor Beinin is currently (the year 2002) the president of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). (Fixed, October 5, 2002)

    Comprehensive Islamic History Sites

  • Studies of Countries with Significant Muslim Populations, researched by the U.S. Library of Congress as part of its Area Studies on-line handbook. These multi-dimensional studies often contain very useful historical surveys of the country in question.

  • Encyclopaedia of the Orient is a well-designed and useful reference covering mainly the Middle East and North Africa.

  • Internet Islamic History Sourcebook created by Prof. Paul Halsall of the University of North Florida. A wide-ranging site covering all periods of Islamic history. It is especially noteworthy for the large amount of scanned English texts published before 1923 (and therefore copyright free). The choice of materials shows an emphasis on concerns of Orientalist, modernist, and late-modernist historians.

  • World History Textbook Review (link fixed 18 August 2005). This link consists of critical reviews written by scholars of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) concerning various Middle East and World History textbooks. The reviews focus on the treatment of Islam and the Middle East in these textbooks.

    Converting Dates between the Hijri (Islamic) and Gregorian and Julian (i.e. Western) Calendars

    (Substantially revised, 21 February 2009) Often a student of Islamic Studies will encounter dates written only using the Hijri calendar or dates only in the Gregorian or the Julian calendars. In order to compare events the dates of which are written with different calendar systems, it is necessary to convert such dates to the same system. Hence, it is common for scholars to write the Hijri date followed by the Gregorian or Julian date for a particular event (e.g. for the current year: 1424/2004 or 1424 AH / 2004 CE). For reasons noted below, the conversion is not simply a matter of adding or subtracting years. Hence a formula, computer program, or book of date equivalencies is used to do the conversion.

    Because the Christian calendar changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1582, the general scholarly convention is that for dates before 990/1582, Julian dating should be used. Although the Gregorian calendar was established by Papal bull. on 24 February 1582, Gregorian dating did not begin until October of 1582. More precisely, the last day of the Julian calendar was Thursday, 4 October 1582 (16 Ramadan 990 AH); and then the next day was the beginning of the Gregorian calendar, which was Friday, 15 October 1582 (17 Ramadan 990 AH). The link to the converter below at the Institute of Oriental Studies automatically converts according to the Julian calendar for dates on or before 16 Ramadan 990 AH (4 October 1582). Also, for dates on or after 17 Ramadan 990 AH (15 October 1582), it automatically converts according to the Gregorian calendar.

  • Converting Between Islamic and Western Dates at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Zurich.

    For example, the passing of the Prophet Muhammad on Monday (yawm al-ithnayn) 13 Rabi' al-Awwal in the year 11 AH correctly converts to 8 June 632 CE (Julian).

    See the following links for converting online between Hijri, Gregorian, and Julian dating as well as other calendars:

  • Calendrica
  • Calendar Converter by Fourmilab
  • Hijri, Julian, and Gregorian Calendar Converter

    Simple programs that convert between the Gregorian and Hijri calendars are the following:

  • Date Converter of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Saudi Arabia This is accurate for Gregorian dates. Although it does not state that dates prior to 17 Ramadan 990 AH will be converted to Julian, that is in fact what it does. Unfortunately, it is one day early, mistakenly equating 16 Ramadan 990 with 3 October 1582.
  • Hijri Date Converter at Islamicity (but you must hit the Gregorian to Hijri date converter button when you start using it, at least using Firefox). Like the converter of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs (above), it too mistakenly converts to Julian dates one day early.
  • Gregorian -- Hijri Date Converter (not working as of 21 February 2009).

    Books containing date equivalences that are used by scholars are the following:

  • Cattenoz, Henri. Tables de concordance, 2nd edn. (Rabat: …ditions techniques nord- africaines, 1954), recommended by Prof. C. Melchert as being "easy to use."
  • Spuler, B. & J. Mayr (eds.). WŁstenfeld-Mahlersche Vergleichungs-Tabellen zur muslimischen und iranischen Zeitrechnung. 3rd rev. ed. (Wiesbaden, 1961).
  • Unat, Faik Resit. HicrÓ tarihleri Mil‚dÓ tarihe Áevirme kilavuzu. 5th ed. (Ankara, 1984), recommended as being easy to use even without knowledge of Turkish by Reference Tools in Islamic Art and Architecture at Harvard.

    In Islamic texts dates are written using a lunar calendar beginning with the hijra (the emmigration or flight) of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina. This is called the Hijri calendar and is designated by the abbreviation AH, in contrast to the Western solar calendar currently used in academia in the United States, which refers to the era beginning with the birth of Jesus as the Common Era and which is abbreviated by CE. The reason why a calculation beyond simple addition or subtraction must be made in order to determine the CE date if one knows the AH date (and vice versa) is because the lunar year is ten or eleven days less than the solar year.

    While the lunar Hijri calendar is used in the Sunni and pre-modern Iranian Shi'i world, Modern Iran uses a solar Hijri calendar that is 621 years less than the Western solar calendar. Converting between these two calendars is simply a matter of subtracting 621 from a CE date or adding 621 to a solar Hijri date. Nevertheless, converting between the lunar Hijri calendar and the solar Western calendar requires a somewhat more complicated calculation. Hence we have provided the links above, which performs the required calculation. Readers interested in more information about the Islamic calendar should consult the article entitled "Islamic Calendar" in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World.

  •  

    Return Home