Early Muslim conquests
|Early Muslim conquests|
Expansion from 622–750, with modern borders overlaid
|Commanders and leaders|
The early Muslim conquests (
The resulting empire stretched from the borders of
Under the last of the
Umayyads, the Arabian empire extended two hundred days journey from east to west, from the confines of Tartaryand India to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean... We should vainly seek the indissoluble union and easy obedience that pervaded the government of Augustusand the Antonines; but the progress of Islamdiffused over this ample space a general resemblance of manners and opinions. The language and laws of the Quranwere studied with equal devotion at Samarcandand Seville: the Moorand the Indianembraced as countrymen and brothers in the pilgrimage of Mecca; and the Arabian languagewas adopted as the popular idiom in all the provinces to the westward of the Tigris.
The Muslim conquests brought about the collapse of the
It has been suggested that some
Arabia was a region that hosted a number of different cultures, some of which were urban and others were the nomadic Bedouin. Arabian society was divided along tribal and clan lines with most important divisions between the "southern" and "northern" tribal associations. Both the Roman and Persian empires competed for influence in Arabia by sponsoring clients, and in turn Arabian tribes sought the patronage of the two rival empires to booster their own ambitions. The Lakhmid kingdom which covered parts of what is now southern Iraq and northern Saudi Arabia was a client of Persia, and in 602 the Persians deposed the Lakhmids to take over the defense of the southern frontier themselves. This left the Persians exposed and over-extended, helping to set the stage for the collapse of Persia later that century. Southern Arabia, especially what is now Yemen, had for thousands of years been a wealthy region that had been a center of the spice trade. Yemen had been at the center of international trading network linking Eurasia to Africa and Yemen had been visited by merchants from East Africa, Europe, the Middle East, India and even from as far away as China. In turn, the Yemeni were great sailors, travelling up the Red Sea to Egypt and across the Indian Ocean to India and down the east African coast. Inland, the valleys of Yemen had been cultivated by a system of irrigation that had been set back when the Marib Dam was destroyed by an earthquake in about 450 AD. Frankincense and myrrh had been greatly valued in the Mediterranean region, being used in religious ceremonies, but with the conversion of the Mediterranean world to Christianity had reduced the demand for frankincense and myrrh, causing a major economic slump in southern Arabia, which helped to create the impression that Arabia was a backward region.
Little is known of the pre-Islamic religions of Arabia, but it is known that the Arabs worshiped a number of gods such as al-Lat, Manat, al-Uzza and Hubal, with the most important being Allah (God). There were also Jewish and Christian communities in Arabia and aspects of Arab religion reflected their influence. Pilgrimage was a major part of Arabian paganism, and one of the most important pilgrimage sites was Mecca which housed the Kaaba, which considered to be an especially holy place to visit. Mohammad, a merchant of Mecca, started to have visions in which he claimed that the Archangel Gabriel had told him that he was the last of the prophets continuing the work of Jesus Christ and the prophets of Tanakh. After coming into conflict with the elite of Mecca, Mohammad fled to the city of Yathrib, which was renamed Medina. At Yathrib, Mohammad founded the first Islamic state and by 630 conquered Mecca.
The prolonged and escalating Byzantine–
Nevertheless, neither empire was given any chance to recover, as within a few years they were overrun by the advances of the
In late 620s