Islamic history for Home School or Middle School Kids
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Medieval Islamic History

Tunisian doors

Modern humans first came to the Arabian Peninsula from Africa, following the coastline in small boats, probably about 60,000 BC, in the Old Stone Age. They were hunters and gatherers. By 2000 BC (or possibly earlier) Semitic-speaking people had moved into the Arabian Peninsula, this time coming from the north. They were nomads when they arrived, who travelled around with their sheep and goats pasturing them in different pastures at different times of year. And they stayed nomads: many of them are nomads today.

In the southern part of the peninsula, on the other hand, the people were farmers. Nobody is sure where they came from, but the Queen of Sheba mentioned in the Bible may be one of these people.

By the time of Alexander the Great, we start to know a little more about the Arabs, because the Greeks were trading with them. The Romans also traded with the Arabs, who got spices and other things from India and sold them to the Romans for gold.

In the long war between the Sassanids and the Romans, different tribes of Arabs fought on each side. In this Late Antique period, the kingdom of Saba (Sheba) fell apart.

The Prophet Mohammed was born in the northern Arabian trading city of Mecca between 570 and 580 AD. When he was forty years old, he heard the angel Gabriel speaking to him and telling Mohammed that he was a prophet in the line of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, who would continue the faith those prophets had started. Mohammed's faith was called Islam (iz-LAMM). After a slow start, Mohammed made a lot of converts to his religion, and after he won some military battles, most of the other Arabic tribes also converted to Islam. After they had done that, Mohammed's successors attacked first the Romans and then the Sassanids to convert them. By 640 (after the death of Mohammed) the Arabs controlled most of West Asia, and soon after that, under the rule of the Umayyad caliphs, they conquered Egypt. By 711, the Umayyads controlled all of Western Asia except Turkey (which was still part of the Roman Empire), and all of the southern Mediterranean: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and most of Spain.

More Islamic History

Life of Mohammed
Umayyads
Abbasids
Fatimids
Mamluks
Seljuks
Ottomans
Main Islam page




Copyright 2012-2014 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated 2014. Powered by Dewahost.
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