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Islam sprang from the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century AD.

Wealth derived from exploitation of crude oil under the Arabian Peninsula allow the Government of Saudi Arabia to promote and support Islam throughout the world today.

The most commonly accepted theory of hominin (i.e., various species of homo) expansion posits movement through the Arabian Peninsula as shown in the first image above.

The second image shows the northern and southern supposed routes through Arabia in the "out of Africa" hypothesis
for the spread of homo species.

The "out of Africa - through the Arabian Peninsula" hypothesis is supported by the fact that some Paleolithic stone implements found in the at sites in the Arabian Peninsula are older than those found at any other sites outside of Africa.

Neolithic artifacts found in the Arabian Peninsula either were made by progeny of the early arrivals or were made by participants or progeny of participants of later waves of migration into or through the peninsula.

The map in the third image above show some of the relatively few paleolithic archeological sites that have been studied in the Arabian Peninsula.  It is assumed that many other sites remain to be discovered and studied.  All but two of the sites shown in the image had only surface finds -- in sandy areas of the world, wind tends to blow away soil leaving heavier artifacts on the surface.  At some dry lake bed sites in the Rub' al-Khali surface finds are so common that they virtually constitute the entire surface.

All Semitic languages are assumed to be derived from some unknown proto-language which developed into three semitic linguistic families that were described/defined ex post facto by modern linguists.  We should remember that this whole structure is simply a construct of the linguists that aids them in the study of modern languages of the area.  In ancient times, the folks who spoke "proto-semitic" and its later variants simply learned from their parents, siblings, and neighbors, with whom they constructed and uttered conventional vocalizations which they combined with facial expressions, "body language", and gestures to convey meaning.

In pre-Islamic times, what we now know as the Middle-East was divided between the Byzatine and Sasanian empires, the latter of which  was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire.  It was ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from AD 224 to AD 651. The Sassanian Empire, which succeeded the Parthian Empire, was recognized as one of the main powers in Western, Southern, and Central Asia, alongside the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than 400 years.

Both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires lost territory to militant Islam, and that undoubtedly led to some (or even great) consternation in the upper echelons of the Imperial bureaucracy and in the military leadership.  But nobody else had any great stake in the status quo.  In fact, in many areas the Islamic "conquerors" appear to have been welcomed as salvation from the corrupt or at least inept administration of the previous rulers.  Nationalism was still centuries away from its birth.  Similarly, loyalty to the Christian religion had not been engendered by controversies among it various branches (which still today have not been settled). so the common people had little compunction in shifting to the apparently united and much more simple unitarian and monophysite  belief structure and simple moral responsibilities of Islam.

Renaissance and even 18th and 19th century maps of the Arabian Peninsula deemed large areas of the peninsula's interior as unexplored.  But already in the 2nd century The Greek Roman geographer Claudius Ptolemy had produced a credible map of the whole peninsula including the interior. 

The interior of the peninsula was also well known to both the local tribal and royal leaderships and to the organizers of trade through the peninsula.  None of the western explorers, of course, had the wit to ask the locals.

Pagan images from the Hejaz (the western edge of the Arabian Peninsula) which included Mecca and Medina.  The most important local goddess in Mecca was the earth goddess Cybele, to whom pre-Islamic Meccans turned for assistance before important decisions and actions.  And by "turned" is meant visiting her idol in the Ka'bah or, at least, turning to face in the direction if the person was unable to physically visit the idol.  Some scholars speculate that turning in the direction of Cybele is the origin of the Islamic qiblah, i.e., facing toward Mecca during prayer, (= Arabic: salih). The second and third images represent the pre-Islamic Allah, a moon god who was recognized as superior to (and in some areas creator of) all the other god and goddesses. 

The pre-Islamic tribes of the Hejaz were pagan, but they were surrounded by areas inhabited by Christians and Jews.  For further explication, see from which the text and image below is drawn

Arabia in the 6th Century CE was a land on the fringe of the great civilisations of the time. To its north were the empires of Byzantium and Sassanid Persia. In the south, in what is today Yemen were the ancient city-states Saba, Maʿīn, Qataban, Hadramauth and Himyar, that had links of trade, culture and perhaps kinship across the Red sea with the Christian Kingdom of Aksun (Abyssinia/ Ethiopia). In the north were the Bedouin tribes of the Ghassanids and Lakhmids – who served as clients for the Byzantines and Persians respectively. And along the mountainous Red sea coast of western Arabia, was the Hejaz or al-Hijaz, region of the great caravan-trading Bedouin tribes, united under the mercantile aristocracy of the tribe of Quraysh, with the sanctuary in Mecca as its spiritual centre.
The religious landscape of the peninsula was similarly diverse. The Arabs of the Hejaz were ‘pagans’, but the Ghassinids were monophysite Christians, the Lakhnids too, though they served the Persians, followed Christianity, probably Nestorian. The peoples of south-western Arabia were probably multi-religious – pagans, Jews and monophysite-Christian. In fact, according to some sources, the last Himyarite king in the Yemen region, Dhū Nuwās, converted to Judaism and began persecuting the Christian population, who appealed to the Byzantines for aid. The Byzantines arranged for the Christian Kingdom of Aksun to send an army under the general Abraha into Yemen. Abraha deposed Dhū Nuwās and became Governor. He is believed to have constructed a great Church at Sana'a and sought to extend his influence into the Hejaz to which purpose he led an army that included elephants against Mecca. According to Arab tradition the city was miraculously saved. This is said to have happened in the year of the Prophet’s birth (CE 570), which perhaps to commemorate this miracle, is known as “the year of the elephant”. In any case, this Christian kingdom of Yemen is believed to have ended after the Sassanids launched a counter-intervention and expelled the Ethiopians.

The Roman bronze horse (now at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC) is one of many Roman artifacts recovered in Yemen.  Rome had extensive contacts with Arabia in pre-Islamic times starting almost immediately after the conquest of Egypt by Augustus in 30 BC.  An two legion expedition into Arabia led by the second prefect of Roman Egypt, Aelius Gallus, was recorded by the historian and geographer Strabo.  Strabo, whose source was Aelius, said the effort ended  in failure, due to heat, lack of (or bad) water, treachery of a guide, and logistics failures.  See and internal links in that article and a translation of Strabo's account at*.html for more detail.  The Romans called the northwest section of the Arabian Peninsula Arabia Petraea, the central area Arabia Deserta, and the southwest section Arabia Felix.

The Nabataean Kingdom encompassed the northern end of the overland "incense" route.  In 106 AD, Trajan's legions took over Nabataea and renamed it Arabia Petraea.  The conquest was not strongly opposed as evidenced by the fact that Nabataean military forces almost immediately were absorbed in the the Roman military machine as auxiliaries.  Both the Nabataenans and, in turn, the Romans maintained strong links with tribes to the south and with successive Yemeni administrations.  Everyone involved recognized the mutual benefits of keeping open the overland route, which carried east African and Yemeni aromatics northward.

The center section of the route was controlled by the Quraysh tribe centered in Mecca and was the source of Quraysh wealth and power.  Mohamad's first wife, Khadija bint Khuwaylid, was a wealthy merchant of the Quraysh. Mohamad's biography indicates that, as a youth, he participated  trade caravans on the incense route as far north as Syria and that later in life he was involved in trade between India and the Mediterranean.  (A short summary of generally accepted information about Mohamad is available at

Although sea routes to Berenice on the Red Sea coast of Roman Egypt and then to Ailia (Roman Aqaba) eventually took over trade from India and further east, the overland incense route continued to be important well into the Islamic period.

Mohamed and the beginnings of Islam

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Images of Mohamed are are no longer condoned by most Sunni Muslims, who consider such images to be temptations to idolatry.  Instead, an image of his name in Arabic script -- often the one shown -- is used to represent him.  The aversion to images of Mohamed was not a feature of early Islam.  Two examples are shown, the first of Mohamed receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel (Jibril) and the second of Mohamed and Abu Bakr seeking refuge from their Quraysh enemies in the Cave of the Bull near Mecca at the beginning of the hijra. 

The Hijra (or Hejira) was the movement of of Mohamed and his followers from Mecca to Yathrib in 622 AD to escape persecution by the Quraysh.  The Quraysh leadership apparently were jealous of Mohamed's growing influence.  Mohamed was welcomed by in Yathrib where his following grew.  In 630 Mohamed leading a force of his followers (as many as 10,000 in some accounts) returned triumphantly to Mecca, converted the Quraysh, and destoyed the idols in and around the Ka'bah.

Shia Muslims generally do not share Sunni aversion to images of Mohamed -- images of Mohamed, Ali, and Hussayn are often displayed in by Shia Muslims.

Non-Muslims may doubt the authenticity of revelations to Mohamed but have no problem accepting revelation in their own cults.  Shown are images of the Christian Annunciation, Jewish Burning Bush (and the bush, which is still growing at St. Catherine's monastery in the Siniai), and the Mormon revelation to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni.

Two images (probably from different editions of Al Biruni's Vestiges of Past Centuries, written ca. 1000 AD and still in print in various editions and languages) show Mohamed delivering his last sermon on Mt. Arafat in Mecca.  The third image show a pre-revelation Mohamed mediating a dispute among Meccan leaders over who would re-install the Black Stone after the Ka'bah was refurbished.  His solution was to have all the leaders carry the stone in a cloth to its position in the corner of the Ka'bah.

The Qur'an states that the Ka'bah in the Masjid al Haram (the "Sacred Mosque") in the center of Mecca was built by Abraham and his son Ismail.  The Black Stone is in a silver frame in the eastern corner of the ka'bah.

For an short explanation of the Ka'bah, see

Perhaps the most important image in this unit, this is a representation of Mohamed's Night Journey, riding on Buraq to the Farthest Mosque.

The Islamic assertion that location of the Farthest Mosque is in Jerusalem is, and has been in the past, the basis for the Islamic territorial claim for Jerusalem.  For western secularists this claim has little basis, but we should remember that other claims for Jerusalem were and are based on similar tenuous religious assertions.

According to most Islamic reckonings, Mohamed's Night Journey (al-isra w' al-mi'raj) took place shortly before the hijra, which would place it in or around 621 AD.  Muhammad al-Bukhari in the Sahih al-Bukhari describes Mohamed's mount, an animal called Buraq: "...a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me." ... "The animal's step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal's sight. ..."  Al-isra was Mohamed's journey to the earthly "farthest mosque" and al-mi'raj was the subsequent journey of Mohamed to heaven where he conversed with Allah.  (For an explanation of the Night Journey, see'raj and for information on the Sahih al Bukhari hadith collection, see  Further information can be found by following links on these pages.)

From very early in the Islamic period, the "farthest mosque" has been identified with the site of the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.  The earliest Muslim qiblah (direction of prayer) was toward Jerusalem. 
According to the traditional Muslim view, the Qiblah originally faced the Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem.  This Qiblah was used for over 13 years, from 610 CE until 623 CE.  Seventeen months after the Islamic prophet Muhammad's 622 CE arrival in Medina – the date is given as 11 February 624 – the Qiblah became oriented towards the Kaaba in Mecca. According to traditional accounts from Muhammad's companions, the change happened very suddenly during the noon prayer in Medina, in a mosque now known as Masjid al-Qiblatain (Mosque of the Two Qiblahs).  Muhammad was leading the prayer when he received revelations from God instructing him to take the Kaaba as the Qiblah (literally, "Turn then Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque:").  According to the traditional accounts contained in the hadith and sira, Muhammad, who had been facing Jerusalem, upon receiving this revelation, immediately turned around to face Mecca, and those praying behind him also did so. (From
Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is built at the site claimed by Islam of the Farthest Mosque, and the name al-Aqsa literally means, in Arabic, "the farthest".  The Dome of the Rock which is the other major structure in the "Noble Sanctuary" (Judeo-Christian "Temple Mount"), covers the stone peak on which Abraham is said to have prepared to sacrifice his son (Isaac in the Judeo-Christian tradition and Ismail in the Muslim tradition.)  Guides at the Dome of the Rock also point to indentations in the rock as the footprints of Mohamed where he stood to begin al-mi'raj.

Note that Persian and far eastern Islamic representations of Mohamed's Night Journey sometimes show Mohamed's mount as a horse with a female human head and a peacock tail.  See for example

Ali ibn Abi Talib was the son of Mohamed's uncle,Abu Talib.  Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Islamic prophet Muhaed, ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam.   Sunni Muslims consider Ali the fourth and final of the Rashidun ("rightly guided" Caliphs), while Shias regard Ali as the first Imam and consider him and his descendants the rightful successors to Muhammad, i.e., members of the Ahl al-Bayt, the household of Muhammad. This disagreement split the Ummah (Muslim community) into the Sunni and Shia branches.

For More information on Ali, see
For more  information on Sunni Islam, see
For more information on Shia Islam, see
Follow links on thes pages for further information.

Because new images of Mohamed have become increasingly rare, images of incidents in his life sometimes are available only from rather strange sources.  An archive of Mohamed images is available on the Internet at Since there are no known contemporary images if Mohamed, all later images are simply artists' guesses about how he may have appeared.  WARNING -- some of the images in the archive will certainly offend Muslims.

The images above are a series of six advertizing trading cards issued by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company (Lemco) .  (The Liebig's company was the originator of Liebig and Oxo meat extracts and later Oxo beef stock cubes. It was named after Baron Justus von Liebig, the German 19th-century organic chemist who founded it.)

The Spread of Islam -- Conquest/Jihad


Launched by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095, the First Crusade was the most successful. Urban gave a dramatic speech urging Christians to swarm towards Jerusalem and make it safe for Christian pilgrims by taking it away from the Muslims. The armies of the First Crusade left in 1096 and captured Jerusalem in 1099. From these conquered lands Crusaders carved out small kingdoms for themselves which endured for some time, though not long enough to have a real impact upon local culture.

Timeline of the Crusades: Before the Crusades 350 - 1095



After removing a Roman temple from the site (possibly the Temple of Aphrodite built by Hadrian), Constantine I has the Church of the Holy Sepulcher constructed in Jerusalem. Built around the excavated hill of the Crucifixion, legend has it that Constantine's mother Helena discovered the True Cross here.


Persians capture Damascus and Antioch.


Persians sack Jerusalem. damaging the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the process.


Muslims conquer Syria and Iraq.

0634 - 0644

Umar (c. 0591 - 0644) reigns as the second caliph.


Muslims begin the conquest of Persia and Syria.


Arab Muslims capture the city of Damascus from the Byzantines.

August 20, 0636

Battle of Yarmuk (also: Yarmuq, Hieromyax): Following the Muslim capture of Damascus and Edessa, Byzantine Emperor Heraclius organizes a large army which manages to take back control of those cities. However, Byzantine commander, Baänes is soundly defeated by Muslim forces under Khalid ibn Walid in a battle in the valley of the Yarmuk River outside Damascus. This leaves all of Syria open to Arab domination.


The Arabs occupy the Persian capital of Ctesiphon. By 0651, the entire Persian realm would come under the rule of Islam and continued its westward expansion.


Syria is conquered by Muslim forces.


Jerusalem falls to invading Muslim forces.


Caliph Umar I enters Jerusalem.


Muslims conquer Egypt and Persia.


Islam spreads into Egypt. The Catholic Archbishop invites Muslims to help free Egypt from Roman oppressors.


Under the leadership of Abd-al-Rahman, Muslims conquer southern areas of Azerbaijan, Daghestan, Georgia, and Armenia.


Under the leadership of Amr ibn al-As, Muslims conquer the Byzantine city of Alexandria in Egypt. Amr forbids the looting of the city and proclaims freedom of worship for all. According to some accounts, he also has what was left of the Great Library burned the following year. Al-As creates the first Muslim city in Egypt, al-Fustat, and builds there the first mosque in Egypt.


Muslim leader Umar dies and is succeeded by Caliph Uthman, a member of the Umayyad family that had rejected Muhammad's prophesies. Rallies arise to support Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, as caliph. Uthman launches invasions to the west into North Africa.


Muawiya I, a member of the Umayyad family, leads a raid against Cyprus, sacking the capital Salamis-Constantia after a short siege and pillaging the rest of the island.


Sicily is attacked by Muslims coming out of Tunisia (named Ifriqiya by the Muslims, a name later given to the entire continent of Africa).


Muawiya I leads a raid against Rhodes, taking the remaining pieces of the Colossus of Rhodes (one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world) and shipping it back to Syria to be sold as scrap metal.


Muawiya I conquers Cyprus and stations a large garrison there. The island would remain in Muslim hands until 0966.


Battle of the Masts: In one of the only Muslim naval victories in the entire history of Islam, Muslim forces under the command of Uthman bin Affan defeat Byzantine forces under Emperor Constant II. The battle takes place off the coast of Lycia and is an important stage in the decline of Byzantine power.

0661 - 0680

Mu'awiya, founder of the Umayyad dynasty, becomes the caliph and moves the capital from Mecca to Damascus.


Egypt fell to the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates until 868 CE. A year prior, the Fertile Crescent and Persia yielded to the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, whose rule lasted until 1258 CE and 820 CE, respectively.


Sicily is attacked by Muslims coming out of Tunisia.


First Siege of Constantinople: This attack lasts off and on for seven years, with the Muslim forces generally spending the winters on the island of Cyzicus, a few miles south of Constantinople, and only sailing against the city during the spring and summer months. The Greeks are able to fend off repeated attacks with a weapon desperately feared by the Arabs: Greek Fire. It burned through ships, shields, and flesh and it could not be put out once it started. Muawiyah has to send emissaries to Byzantine Emperor Constans to beg him to let the survivors return home unimpeded, a request that is granted in exchange for a yearly tribute of 3,000 pieces of gold, fifty slaves, and fifty Arab horses.


The Muslim conquest reaches to Morocco in North Africa. The region would be open to the rule of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates until 800 CE.


Muslims under Mauwiya I capture the island of Rhodes.


Arab conquest reaches the Indus River.

August 23, 0676

Birth of Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer) in Herstal, Wallonia, Belgium, as the illegitimate son of Pippin II. Serving as Mayor of the Palace of the kingdom of the Franks, Charles would lead a force of Christians that turn back a Muslim raiding party near Poitiers (or Tours) which, according to many historians, would effectively halt the advance of Islam against Christianity in the West.


Muslims send a large fleet against Constantinople in an effort to finally break the city, but they are defeated so badly through the Byzantine use of Greek Fire that they are forced to pay an indemnity to the Emperor.


Birth of Leo III the Isaurian, Byzantine Emperor, along the Turkish-Syrian border in the Syrian province of Commagene. Leo's tactical skills would be responsible for turning back the second Arab Muslim siege of Constantinople in 0717, shortly after he is elected emperor.


Emperor Justinian II and Caliph al-Malik sign a peace treaty making Cyprus neutral territory. For the next 300 years, Cyprus is ruled jointly by both the Byzantines and the Arabs despite the continuing warfare between them elsewhere.


Birth of Hisham, 10th caliph of the Umayyad Dynasty. It is under Hisham that Muslim forces would make their deepest incursions into Western Europe before being stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Poitiers in 0732.


Muslims capture Carthage in North Africa.


Muslims from Pamntelleria raid the island of Sicily.


With the further conquest of Egypt, Spain and North Africa, Islam included all of the Persian empire and most of the old Roman world under Islamic rule. Muslims began the conquest of Sindh in Afghanistan.

April 0711

Tariq ibn Malik, a Berber officer, crosses the strait separating Africa and Europe with a group of Muslims and enters Spain (al-Andalus, as the Muslims called it, a word is etymologically linked to "Vandals"). The first stop in the Muslim conquest of Spain is at the foot of a mountain that comes to be called Jabel Tarik, the Mountain of Tarik. Today it is known as Gibraltar. At one time the Berbers had been Christians but they recently converted in large numbers to Islam after the Arab conquest of North Africa.

July 19, 0711

Battle of Guadalete: Tariq ibn Ziyad kills King Rodrigo (or Roderic), Visigoth ruler of Spain, at the Guadalete River in the south of the Iberian peninsula. Tariq ibn Ziyad had landed at Gibraltar with 7,000 Muslims at the invitation of heirs of the late Visigoth King Witica (Witiza) who wanted to get rid of Rodrigo (this group includes Oppas, the bishop of Toledo and primate of all Spain, who happens to be the brother of the late king Witica). Ziyad, however, refuses to turn control of the region back over to the heirs of Witica. Almost the entire Iberian peninsula would come under Islamic control by 0718 CE.


Muslim governor of Northern Africa Musa ibn Nusayr follows Tariq ibn Ziyad with an army of 18,000 as reinforcements for the conquest of Andalusia. Musa's father had been a Catholic Yemenite studying to be a priest in Iraq when he was captured in Iraq by Khalid, the "Sword of Islam," and forced to choose between conversion or death. This invasion of Iraq had been one of the last military orders given by Muhammed before his death.


Birth of Pippin III (Pippin the Short) in Jupille (Belgium). Son of Charles Martel and father of Charlemagne, in 0759 Pippin would capture Narbonne, the last Muslim stronghold in France, and thereby drive Islam out of France.


By this year just about all of Spain is in Muslim hands. The Muslim conquest of Spain only took around three years but the Christian reconquest would require around 460 years (it might have gone faster had the various Christian kingdoms not been at each other' throats much of the time). Musa's son, Abd el-Aziz, is left in charge and makes his capital the city of Seville, where he married Egilona, widow of king Rodrigo. Caliph Suleiman, a paranoid ruler, would have el-Aziz assassinated and sends Musa into exile in his native Yemen village to live out his days as a beggar.


Lisbon is captured by Muslims.


Cordova (Qurtuba) becomes the capital of Muslim holdings in Andalusia (Spain).


Leo the Isaurian, born along the Turkish-Syrian border in the Syrian province of Commagene, revolts against the usurper Theodosius III and assumes the throne of the Byzantine Empire.

August 15, 0717

Second Siege of Constantinople: Taking advantage of the civil unrest in the Byzantine Empire, Caliph Sulieman sends 120,000 Muslims under the command of his brother, Moslemah, to launch the second siege of Constantinople. Another force of around 100,000 Muslims with 1,800 galleys soon arrives from Syria and Egypt to assist. Most of these reinforcements are quickly destroyed with Greek Fire. Eventually the Muslims outside Constantinople begin to starve and, in the winter, they also begin to freeze to death. Even the Bulgarians, usually hostile to the Byzantines, send a force to destroy Muslim reinforcements marching from Adrianopolis.

August 15, 0718

Muslims abandon their second siege of Constantinople. Their failure here leads to the weakening of the Umayyad government, in part because of the heavy losses. It is estimated that of the 200,000 soldiers who besieged Constantinople, only around 30,000 made it home. Although the Byzantine Empire also sustains heavily casualties and loses most its territory south of the Taurus Mountains, by holding the line here they prevent a disorganized and militarily inferior Europe from having to confront a Muslim invasion along the shortest possible route. Instead, the Arabic invasion of Europe must proceed along the longer path across northern Africa and into Spain, a route which prevents quick reinforcement and ultimately proves ineffective.


Muslims attack Septimania in southern France (so named because it was the base of operations for Rome's Seventh Legion) and become established in the region known as Languedoc, made famous several hundred years later as the center of the Cathar heresy.

July 09, 0721

A Muslim army under the command of Al-Semah and that had crossed the Pyrenees is defeated by the Franks near Toulouse. Al-Semah is killed and his remaining forces, which had previously conquered Narbonne, are forced back across the Pyrenees into Spain.


Battle of Covadonga: Pelayo, (0690-0737) Visigoth noble who had been elected the first King of Asturias (0718-0737), defeats a Muslim army at Alcama near Covadonga. This is generally regarded as the first real Christian victory over the Muslims in the Reconquista.


Hisham becomes the 10th caliph of the Umayyad Dynasty. It is under Hisham that Muslim forces make their deepest incursions into Western Europe before being stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Poitiers in 0732.


Under the command of Ambissa, Emir of Andalusia, Muslim forces raid southern France and capture the cities of Carcassone and Nimes. Primary targets in these and other raids are churches and monasteries where the Muslims take away holy objects and enslave or kill all the clerics.


Muslim forces occupied Nimes, France.


Muslim forces occupy the French cities of Narbonne and Avignon.

October 10, 0732

Battle of Tours: With perhaps 1,500 soldiers, Charles Martel halts a Muslim force of around 40,000 to 60,000 cavalry under Abd el-Rahman Al Ghafiqi from moving farther into Europe. Many regard this battle as being decisive in that it saved Europe from Muslim control. Gibbon wrote: "A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Muhammed." Others, though, argue that the battle's importance has been exaggerated. The names of Tours, Poitiers, and Charles Martel do not appear in the Arab histories. They list the battle under the name Balat al-Shuhada, the Highway of Martyrs, and is treated as a minor engagement.


Muslim invaders capture the city of Arles.


Charles Martel sends his brother, Childebrand, to lay siege to Avignon and drive out the Muslim occupiers. Childebrand is successful and, according to records, has all the Muslims in the city killed.


Already having retaken Narbonne, Beziers, Montpellier, and Nimes during the previous couple of years, Childebrand captures Marseille, one of the largest French cities still in Muslim hands.

June 08, 0741

Death of Leo III the Isaurian, Byzantine Emperor. Leo's tactical skills were responsible for turning back the second Arab Muslim siege of Constantinople in 0717, shortly after he was elected emperor.

October 22, 0741

Death of Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer) in at Quierzy (today the Aisne county in the Picardy region of France). As Mayor of the Palace of the kingdom of the Franks, Charles had led a force of Christians that turned back a Muslim raiding party near Poitiers (or Tours) which, according to many historians, effectively halted the advance of Islam against Christianity in the West.

April 04, 0742

Birth of Charlemagne, founder of the Frankish Empire.


Death of Hisham, 10th caliph of the Umayyad Dynasty. It was under Hisham that Muslim forces made their deepest incursions into Western Europe before being stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Poitiers in 0732.


The Arabian Nights, a compilation of stories written under the reign of the Abbasids, became representative of the lifestyle and administration of this Persian influenced government.

0750 - 0850

The Four Orthodox Schools of Islamic Law were established.


The Abbasids assume control of the Islamic world (except Spain, which falls under the control of a descendant of the Umayyad family) and moved the capital to Baghdad in Iraq. The Abbasid Caliphate would last until 1258.

September 0755

Abd al-Rahman of the Umayyad dynasty flees to Spain to escape the Abbasids and would be responsible for creating the "Golden Caliphate" in Spain.


The Emirate of Cordova is established by Umayyad refugee Abd al-Rahman I in order to revive the defeated Umayyad caliphate which had been destroyed in 0750 by the Abbasids. Cordova would become independent of the Abbasid Empire and represents the first major political division within Islam. The political and geographic isolation of the Cordova Caliphate would make it easier for Christians to decisively conquer it despite their failures elsewhere, although this would not be completed until 1492.


Arabs lose the city of Narbonne, France, their furthest and last conquest into Frankish territory. In capturing this city Pippin III (Pippin the Short) ends the Muslim incursions in France.


Pepin's son, Carolus Magnus (Charlemagne), succeeded his father and became one of the most important European rulers of medieval history.

September 24, 0768

Death of Pippin III (Pippin the Short) at Saint Denis. Son of Charles Martel and father of Charlemagne, in 0759 Pippin captured Narbonne, the last Muslim stronghold in France, and thereby drove Islam out of France.



Charlemagne, King of the Franks and soon-to-be Holy Roman Emperor, is invited by a group of Arab leaders in northeastern Spain to attack Abd al-Rahman I, ruler of the Emirate of Cordova. Charlemagne obliges them, but is forced to retreat after only getting as far as Saragossa. It is during his march back through the Pyrenees that his forces are set upon by Basques. Among the many who die is the war leader Roland from Breton, killed in Roncevalles, whose memory has been preserved in the "Chanson de Roland," an important epic poem during the Middle Ages.


The Great Mosque in Cordoba, in Muslim controlled Spain, was built.


Danes invade England for the first time.


Death of Abd al-Rahman I, founder of the Umayyad Emirate of Cordova. His successor is Hisham I.


Hisham I, emir of Cordova, calls for a Jihad against the infidels in Andalusia and France. Tens of thousands from as far away as Syria heed his call and cross the Pyrennes to subjugate France. Cities like Narbonne are destroyed, but the invasion is ultimately hated at Carcassone.


Death of Hisham I, emir of Cordova. His successor is his son, al-Hakam, who would keep up the jihad against the Christians but would also be forced to contend with rebellion at home.


The Basques rise in revolt and kill the local Muslim governor of Pamplona.


North Africa falls under the rule of the Aghlabi dynasty of Tunis, which would last until 0909 CE.

0800 - 1200

Jews experience a "golden age" of creativity and toleration in Spain under Moorish (Muslim) rule.


Ambassadors of Caliph Harunu r-Rashid give keys to the Holy Sepulcher to the Frankish king, thus acknowledging some Frankish control over the interests of Christians in Jerusalem.


Vikings begin selling slaves to Muslims.


Hien Tsung becomes the Emperor of China. During his reign a shortage of copper leads to the introduction of paper money.


Muslims attack the Civi Vecchia near Rome.

April 04, 0814

Death of Charlemagne, founder of the Frankish Empire.


With the support of Moors, the Basques revolt against the Franks in Glascony.


Death of Al-Hakam, emir of Cordova. He is succeeded by Abd al-Rahman II.

June 0827

Sicily is invaded by Muslims who, this time, are looking to take control of the island rather than simply taking away booty. They are initially aided by Euphemius, a Byzantine naval commander who is rebelling against the Emperor. Conquest of the island would require 75 years of hard fighting.


Muslim invaders capture the Sicilian city of Palermo and make it their capital.


Birth of Ahmad Ibn Tultun, founder of the Tulunid Dynasty in Egypt. Originally sent there as a deputy by the Abbasid Caliphate, Tultun will establish himself as an independent power in the region, extending his control as far north as Syria. It is under Tultun that the Great Mosque of Cairo is built.


Muslim raiders sack Marseille.


Muslim forces capture Bari, principle Byzantine base in southeastern Italy.


Muslim raiders sail a fleet of ships from Africa up the Tiber river and attack outlying areas around Ostia and Rome. Some manage to enter Rome and damage the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul. Not until Pope Leo IV promises a yearly tribute of 25,000 silver coins do the raiders leave. The Leonine Wall is built in order to fend off further attacks such as this.


Battle of Ostia: Aghlabid monarch Muhammad sends a fleet of ships from Sardinia to attack Rome. As the fleet prepares to land troops, the combination of a large storm and an alliance of Christian forces were able to destroy the Muslims ships.


The Acropolis of Zimbabwe was built in Rhodesia.


Perfectus, a Christian priest in Muslim Cordova, is executed after he refuses to retract numerous insults he made about the Prophet Muhammed. Numerous other priests, monks, and laity would follow as Christians became caught up in a zest for martyrdom.


Abd al-Rahman II has eleven young Christians executed in the city of Cordova after they deliberately seek out martyrdom by insulting the Prophet Muhammed.


Death of Abd al-Rahman II, emir of Cordova.


Muslim raiders attack Constantinople.


Muslim invaders capture the Sicilian city of Castrogiovanni (Enna), slaughtering several thousand inhabitants.


Under Cyril (0826 - 0869) and Methodius (c. 0815 - 0885) the conversion of Moravia begins. The two brothers were sent by the patriarch of Constantinople to Moravia, where the ruler, Rostilav, decreed in 863 that any preaching done had to be in the language of the people. As a result, Cyril and Methodius developed the first usable alphabet for the Slavic tongue - thus, the Cyrillic alphabet.


Emperor Louis II travels from Germany to southern Italy to battle the Muslim raiders causing trouble there.


The Sattarid dynasty, whose rule would continue until 0930 CE, extended Muslim control throughout most of Persia. In Egypt, the Abbasid and Umayyad caliphates ended and the Egyptian-based Tulunid dynasty took over (lasting until 904 CE).


Arabs capture the island of Malta.


After a month-long siege, the Sicilian city of Syracuse is captured by Muslim invaders.


King Alfred the Great of England created a system of government and education which allowed for the unification of smaller Anglo-Saxon states in the ninth and tenth centuries.


Iceland is colonized by Vikings from Norway.


Muslims pillage Campagna in Italy.


The Seljuk Empire unites Mesopotamia and a large portion of Persia.


Under Emperor Basil, the Byzantines recapture lands occupied by Arabs in Italy.


Death of Ahmad Ibn Tultun, founder of the Tulunid Dynasty in Egypt. Originally sent there as a deputy by the Abbasid Caliphate, Tultun established himself as an independent power in the region, extending his control as far north as Syria. It is under Tultun that the Great Mosque of Cairo is built.


Muslims invading Italy burn the monastery of Monte Cassino to the ground.


Birth of Abd al-Rahman III, generally regarded as the greatest of the Umayyad caliphs in Andalusia. Under his rule, Cordova would become one of the most powerful centers of Islamic learning and power.


The Fatimids of Egypt conquered north Africa and included the territory as an extension of Egypt until 0972 CE.


Mayans emigrate to the Yucatan Peninsula.


The Muslim conquest of Sicily is completed when the last Christian stronghold, the city of Taorminia, is captured. Muslim rule of Sicily would last for 264 years.


The Tulunid Dynasty in Egypt is destroyed by an Abbasid army sent to reestablish control over the region of Egypt and Syria.


Sicily came under the control of the Fatimids' rule of North Africa and Egypt until 1071 CE. From 0878 until 0909 CE, their rule of Sicily was uncertain.


The Fatimid Dynasty assumes control of Egypt. Claiming descent from Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammed, and Ali bin Abi Talib, the Fatimids would rule Egypt until being overthrown by the Auyybids and Saladin in 1171.


Muslims control all the passes in the Alps between France and Italy, cutting off passage between the two countries.


Abd al-Rahman III becomes the Umayyad Caliph in Andalusia.


A combined force of Greek and German emperors and Italian city-states defeat Muslim invaders at Garigliano, putting Muslim raids in Italy to an end.


Muslim forces cross the Pyrenees, enter Gascony, and reach as far as the gates of Toulouse.


Abd al-Rahman III transforms the Emirate of Cordova into and independent caliphate no longer under even theoretical control from Baghdad.

0935 - 0969

The rule of Egypt was under the Ikhidid dynasty.


The Althing, the oldest body of representative government in Europe, is established in Iceland by the Vikings.


Madrid is recaptured from Muslim forces.


Hugh, count of Provence, gives his protection to Moors in St. Tropez if they agree to keep the Alpine passes closed to his rival, Berenger.

c. 0950

Catholicism becomes prevalent and dominant religion throughout Europe.


According to traditional historiography, Europe enters Dark Ages.


Emperor Otto I sends representatives to Cordova to ask Caliph Abd al-Rahman III to call off some Muslim raiders who had set themselves up in Alpine passes and are attacking merchant caravans going in and out of Italy.


Death of Abd al-Rahman III, generally regarded as the greatest of the Umayyad caliphs in Andalusia. Under his rule, Cordova became one of the most powerful centers of Islamic learning and power. He is succeeded by Abdallah, a caliph who would kill many of his rivals (even family members) and has captured Christians decapitated if they refuse to convert to Christianity.


Under the command of general Nicephorus Phokas, the Byzantines recapture Crete from Muslim rebels who had earlier fled Cordova.


Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus Phokas reconquers Cyprus from the Muslims.


Grenoble is recaptured from the Muslims.


The Fatimid dynasty (Shi'ite) takes Egypt from the Ikshidids and assumes the title of caliphate in Egypt until 1171 CE.


Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas reconquers Antioch (modern Antakya, capital of the province Hatay) from the Arabs.


The Fatimids of Egypt conquer north Africa.


The Muslims in the Sisteron district of France surrender to Christian forces and their leader asks to be baptized.


Eric the Red is exiled from Iceland and settles in a new land he called Greenland in order to attract settlers.


Ramiro III, king of Leon, is defeated by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (Almanzor) at Rueda and is forced to begin paying tribute to the Caliph of Cordova.


Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir sacks Barcelona


The monastery of Monte Cassino is destroyed a second time by Arabs.


Japanese literary and artistic golden age begins under Emperor Fujiwara Michinaga (ruled 0995 - 1028).

July 03, 0997

Under the leadership of Almanzor, Muslim forces march out of the city of Cordova and head north to capture Christian lands.

August 11, 0997

Muslim forces under Almanzor arrive at the city of Compostela. The city had been evacuated and Almanzor burns it to the ground.


Venice conquers the Adriatic port of Zara. The Venetians would eventually lose the city to the Hungarians and, in 1202, they offer a deal to soldiers of the Fourth Crusade: capture the city again for them in exchange for passage to Egypt.

c. 1000

Chinese perfect the production and use of gunpowder.


The Seljuk (Saljuq) Turkish Empire is founded by an Oghuz Turkish bey (chieftain) named Seljuk. Originally from the steppe country around the Caspian Sea, the Seljuks are the ancestors of the Western Turks, present-day inhabitants of Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

August 08, 1002

Death of Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir, ruler of Al-Andalus, on the way back from raiding the Rioja region.


Arab raiders sack the Italian city of Pisa.


Birth of Isaac I Comnenus, Byzantine emperor. Founder of the dynasty of the Comneni, Isaac's government reforms may have helped the Byzantine Empire last longer.


The Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is destroyed by Muslim armies.


Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, founder of the Druze sect and sixth Fatimid Caliph in Egypt, orders the Holy Sepulcher and all Christian buildings in Jerusalem be destroyed. In Europe a rumor develops that a "Prince of Babylon" had ordered the destruction of the Holy Sepulcher at the instigation of the Jews. Attacks on Jewish communities in cities like Rouen, Orelans, and Mainz ensue and this rumor helps lay the basis for massacres of Jewish communities by Crusaders marching to the Holy Land.


Sulaimann, grandson of Abd al-Rahman III, returns over 200 captured fortresses to the Castilians in return for massive shipments of food for his army.


Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, founder of the Druze sect and sixth Fatimid Caliph in Egypt, orders the destruction of all Christian and Jewish houses of worship in his lands.


Berber forces capture Cordova and order that half the population be executed.


Jews are expelled from the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordova, then ruled by Sulaimann.


Arab Muslim forces conquer Sardinia.


The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is partially destroyed by earthquakes.


Merchants from Amalfi and Salerno are granted permission by the Egyptian Caliph to build a hospice in Jerusalem. Out of this would eventually grow The Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (also known as: Knights of Malta, Knights of Rhodes, and most commonly as Knights Hospitaller).


Caliph al-Hakim proclaimed himself to be divine and founded the Druze sect.


Several Cathar heretics are discovered in Toulouse and put to death.


Muslims expel the Berber rulers from Cordova and install Abd er-Rahman V as caliph.


The power of the Byzantine Empire begins to decline.


Richard II of Normandy leads a group of several hundred armed men on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the belief that the Day of Judgment had arrived. Turkish control of the region hampers their goals, however.


The Frankish protectorate over Christian interests in Jerusalem is replaced by a Byzantine protectorate. Byzantine leaders begin the reconstruction of the Holy Sepulcher.


Alp Arslan, "The Lion Hero," is born. Arslan is the son of Togrul Beg, conqueror of Baghdad who made himself ruler of the Caliphate, and great-grandson of Seljuk, founder of the Seljuk Turkish empire.


The Moorish Caliphate of Córdoba falls.


The emir of Aleppo has the Krak des Chevaliers contructed.


Castile is retaken from the Arabs.


The Byzantines make a landing in Sicily, but don't try to recapture the island from the Muslims.


The Seljuk Turks become established in Persia.


The rise of the Seljuk Turks begins.

1045 - 1099

1099 Life of Ruy Diaz de Vivar, known as El Cid (Arabic for "lord"), national hero of Spain. El Cid would become famous for his efforts to drive the Moors out of Spain.

May 18, 1048

Persian poet Umar Khayyam is born. His poem The Rubaiyat became popular in the West because of its use by Victorian Edward Fitzgerald.

1050 - 1200

The first agricultural revolution of Medieval Europe begins in 1050 CE with a shift to the northern lands for cultivation, a period of improved climate from 700 CE to 1200 CE in western Europe, and the widespread use and perfection of new farming devices. Technological innovations include the use of the heavy plow, the three-field system of crop rotation, the use of mills for processing cloth, brewing beer, crushing pulp for paper manufacture, and the widespread use of iron and horses. With an increase in agricultural advancements, Western towns and trade grow exponentially and Western Europe returns to a money economy.


Duke Bohemond I (Bohemond Of Taranto, French Bohémond De Tarente), prince of Otranto (1089–1111) is born. One of the leaders of the First Crusade, Bohemond would be largely responsible for the capture of Antioch and he secures the title Prince of Antioch (1098 - 1101, 1103 - 04).


Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos restores the complex of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.


A famine in Egypt forces al Mustansir, 8th Fatimid caliph, to seek food and other commercial assistance from Italy and the Byzantine Empire.

July 16, 1054

Great Schism: The Western Christian Church, in an effort to further enhance its power, had tried to impose Latin rites on Greek churches in southern Italy in 1052; as a consequence, Latin churches in Constantinople were closed. In the end, this leads to the excommunication of Michael Cerularius, patriarch of Constantinople (who in turn excommunicates Pope Leo IX). Although generally regarded as a minor event at the time, today it is treated as the final event that sealed the Great Schism between Eastern and Western Christianity.


Seljuk Turks capture Baghdad.


The Almoravid (al-Murabitun) Dynasty begins its rise to power. Taking the name "those who line up in defense of the faith," this is a group of fanatical Berber Muslims who would rule North Africa and Spain until 1147.


Roger Guiscard lands at Sicily with a large Norman force and captures the city of Masara. The Norman reconquest of Sicily would require another 30 years.


Alp Arslan succeeds his father, Togrul Beg, as ruler of the Baghdad Caliphate and the Seljuk Turks.


The Seljuk Turks conquer Christian Armenia.

September 29, 1066

William the Conqueror invades England and claims the English throne at the Battle of Hastings. Because William is both the King of England and the Duke of Normandy, The Norman Conquest fuses French and English cultures. The language of England evolves into Middle English with an English syntax and grammar and a heavily French vocabulary.


Romanus IV Diogenes becomes the Byzantine Emperor.


Alp Arslan invades the Byzantine Empire and is repulsed by Romanus IV Diogenes over the course of three campaigns. Not until 1070, though, would the Turks be driven back across the Euphrates river.


Seljuk Turks capture Jerusalem from the Fatimids. Seljuk rule is not quite as tolerant as that of the Fatimids and Christian pilgrims begin returning to Europe with tales of persecution and oppression.


Brother Gerard, a leader of the Benedictine monks and nuns who run the hospices in Jerusalem. beings to organize The Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (also known as: Knights of Malta, Knights of Rhodes, and most commonly as Knights Hospitaller) as a more military force for the active protection of Christian pilgrims.


Normans conquer the last Byzantine holdings in Italy.

1071 - 1085

Seljuk Turks conquer most of Syria and Palestine.

August 19, 1071

Battle of Manzikert: Alp Arslan leads an army of Seljuk Turks against the Byzantine Empire near Lake Van. Numbering perhaps as many as 100,000 men, the Turks take the fortresses of Akhlat and Manzikert before Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes can respond. Although Diogenes is able to recapture Akhlat, the siege of Manzikert fails when a Turkish relief force arrives and Andronicus Ducas, an enemy of Romanus Diogenes, refuses to obey orders to fight. Diogenes himself is captured and released, but he would be murdered after his return to Constantinople. Partly because of the defeat at Manzikert and partly due to the civil wars following the murder of Digoenes, Asia Minor would be left open to Turkish invasion.


Tancred of Hauteville is born. A grandson of Robert Guiscard and nephew of Bohemund of Taranto, Tancred would become a leader of the First Crusade and eventually regent of the Principality of Antioch.

December 15, 1072

Malik Shah I, son of Alp Arslan, succeeds his father as Seljuk Sultan.


Seljuk Turks conquer Ankara.

July 1074

El Cid marries Jimena, niece of Alfonso IV of Castile and daughter of the Count of Oviedo.


First recorded execution in England by the ax: the Earl of Huntingdon.


Seljuk Turks capture Nicaea. It would change hands three more times, finally coming under control of the Turks again in 1086.


Battle of Cabra: El Cid led his troops to a rout of Emir Abd Allah of Granada.


Order of the Hospital of St. John is founded in Italy. This special order of knights was dedicated to guarding a pilgrim hospital, or hostel, in Jerusalem.


An Armenian state is founded in Cilicia, a district on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor (Turkey), north of Cyprus, by refugees feeling the Seljuk invasion of their Armenian homeland. A Christian kingdom located in the midst of hostile Muslim states and lacking good relations with the Byzantine Empire, "Armenia Minor" would provide important assistance to Crusaders from Europe.

1081 - 1118

Alexius I Comnenus is Byzantine emperor.


El Cid, now a mercenary because he had been exiled by Alfonso IV of Castile, enters the service of the Moorish king of the northeast Spanish city of Zaragosa, al-Mu'tamin, and would remain there for his successor, al-Mu'tamin II.


Ibn Tumart, founder of the Amohad Dynasty, is born in the Atlas mountains.


Seljuk Turks conquer Antioch, a strategically important city.

October 25, 1085

The Moors are expelled from Toledo, Spain, by Alfonso VI.

October 23, 1086

Battle of Zallaca (Sagrajas): Spanish forces under Alfonso VI of Castile are defeated by the Moors and their allies, the Almorivids (Berbers from Morocco and Algeria, led by Yusef I ibn Tashufin), thus preserving Muslim rule in al-Andalus. The slaughter of Spaniards was great and Yusef refused to abide by his agreement to leave Andalusia in the hands of the Moors. His intention was actually to make Andalusia an African colony ruled by the Almorivids in Morocco.


After his crushing defeat at Zallaqa, Alfonso VI swallows his pride and recalls El Cid from exile.

September 13, 1087

Birth of John II Comnenus, Byzantine emperor.


Patzinak Turks begin forming settlements between the Danube and the Balkans.

March 12, 1088

Urban II is elected pope. An active supporter of the Gregorian reforms, Urban would become responsible for launching the First Crusade.


Byzantine forces conquer the island of Crete.


Yusuf Ibn Tashfin, King of the Almoravids, captures Granada.


The Normans recapture Sicily from the Muslims.


Cordova (Qurtuba) is captured by the Almoravids.


After the death of Seljuk Sultan (al-sultan , "the power") Malik Shah I, the capital of the Seljuks is moved from Iconjium to Smyrna and the empire itself dissolves into several smaller states.

May 1094

El Cid captures Valencia from the Moors, carving out his own kingdom along the Mediterranean that is only nominally subservient to Alfonso VI of Castile. Valencia would be both Christian and Muslim, with adherents of both religions serving in his army.

August 1094

The Almoravids from Morocco land near Cuarte and lay siege to Valencia with 50,000 men. El Cid, however, breaks the siege and forces the Amoravids to flee - the first Christian victory against the hard-fighting Africans.

November 18, 1095

Pope Urban II opens the Council of Clermont where ambassadors from the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus, asking help against the Muslims, were warmly received.

To expand images, click on the small images or on the links immediately below small images. spread.jpg http:///

Maps show the spread of Islam and of Arab/Turkic conquest.

Examples of Islamic mosques and shrines throughout the world.

Non-Muslims at various historical historical periods have viewed Islam through their own lenses.  Here we have Gustave Dore's 19th century illustration of Mohamed in the ninth trench of the eighth circle of Dante's Inferno.  Mohamed, according to Dante, was mutilated for sowing discord. 

Next, Mohamed is shown on the "Lawgivers Frieze" of the chamber of the US Supreme Court.  For different reasons, some American Muslims as well as some anti-Muslim politicians and commentators have demanded the removal of the image.  The Court has decided to keep the frieze as it is. 

In the final image are two books, which depending on the viewpoint of the observer, are either anti-Islamic tracts or are "higher criticism" of the Quran and of Islamic traditions.  The authors maintain that their books are analogous to works that question the validity of Christian and Jewish holy books and traditions.  Christian and Jewish higher criticisms are also received according to the viewpoints of observers.