The Prophet Mohammad introduces the religion of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.

PROLOGUE: 400-600 CE

Mecca Outpost

Mecca is a trading outpost near the Red Sea on the Arabian Peninsula. It comes under the control of an Arabian tribal alliance known as the Quraysh. The Umayyads are a leading clan in the tribe.

Mecca Trade

Due to being near a crossroad and having abundant water from the Zamzam Well, the Quraysh become wealthy trading lucrative spices. Mecca grows into a larger trade city.

Hubal & Allah

The Quraysh worship a god called Hubal. They also worship many other gods, including Allah and his daughters. The name Allah likely descends from the Arabic al-ilāh, which means The God.

The Kaaba

The people of Mecca are polytheistic; believing in many gods. The trade city has a holy sanctuary called the Kaaba, which features 360 idols and is a popular pilgrimage site in Arabia.

Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews, have used the word Allah for God. According to Islam, the Kaaba was built by the prophets Abraham and Ishmael.


Abdullah & Amina

570 CE: Abdullah and Amina live in Mecca and belong to the prominent Banu Hashim clan in the Quraysh tribe. Amina becomes pregnant, but Abdullah dies early in his wife’s pregnancy.

Birth of Muhammad

Amina gives birth to Muhammand, but dies when her son is six years old. Muhammad is initially orphaned, but soon comes under the care of his grandfather Abd al-Muttalib; head of the Banu Hashim clan.

Uncle Abu Talib

Muhammad’s grandfather dies and his uncle Abu Talib succeeds as head of the Banu Hashim clan. Abu Talib develops a good friendship with Muhammed despite struggling with financial hardships.

Journey to Syria

582 CE: 12-year-old Muhammad travels with his uncle Abu Talib to Syria to gain trading experience. They meet a Christian monk named Bahira who foresees Muhammad becoming a prophet.

The Quran gives minimal personal information regarding Muhammad. Most details on his life come from later prophetic biographies (known as Sirah) and reports on Muhammad’s words (known as Hadith).

Sirahs and Hadiths are dated to 800-1000 CE. With many details about Muhammad dated to 200-400 years after his life, some scholars are more critical of their historical accuracy.

Merchant Khadija

A wealthy businesswoman named Khadija hires Muhammad to travel to Syria with her trade caravans. Khadija is daughter of a prominent leader in the Quraysh tribe and Banu Hashim clan in Mecca.

The Trustworthy

Muhammed becomes a respected member of Khadija’s caravan and is often asked to arbitrate between conflicts. He is given the nickname of Al-Amin, which in Arabic means the trustworthy.

Marriage to Khadija

595 CE: Khadija hears positive reports about Muhammed and they form a business partnership. However, a 25-year-old Muhammad soon marries the 40-year-old Khadija.

Rebuilding the Kaaba

605 CE: The Kaaba in Mecca is renovated after being damaged in a flood and/or fire. Muhammed places the sacred Black Stone in the center, which had been removed during the reconstruction.

There are conflicting traditions about Khadija between Sunni and Shia Muslims. The Sunni’s believe Khadija was a widow, while the Shia version believes she was a virgin. 

The Cave of Hira

610 CE: 40-year-old Muhammad spends many hours in prayer and meditation. He often retreats to a cave named Hira on Mount Jabal al-Nour a short distance from Mecca.


Muhammad abandons the polytheism of his tribe and comes to believe that he is a prophet of the one true god: Allah. The name likely descends from the Arabic al-ilāh, which means The God.

The First Converts

Muhammad’s wife Khadija believes Muhammad’s message and is the first convert. His ten-year-old cousin Ali, prominent trader Abu Bakr, and adopted son Zaid also believe his message.

Public Preaching

613 CE: Muhammad begins to publicly preach his beliefs in Mecca, but he only gains a few new followers among young adults and foreigners. Most Meccans ignore or mock his message.

According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad received his first revelation from the angel Gabriel in the the Cave of Hira. The fasting month of Ramadan celebrates Muhammad’s first revelation.

Muslim Persecution

Muhammad slowly gains more converts while continuing to criticize the idol worship and polytheism in Mecca. Quraysh leaders begin to rebuke and persecute Muhammad and his followers.

The First Martyr

Muhammad preaches against slavery. A slave named Sumayyah bint Khayyat joins Muhammad, but is soon speared by her master for not renouncing her beliefs and becomes the first martyr.

Prayer Toward Jerusalem

Muhammad believes he is a prophet following in the footsteps of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. His followers pray toward the holy city of Jerusalem. It is known as Qibla, which means Direction.

Daugther’s Marriage

615 CE: Uthman, a second cousin of Muhammad, had converted to Islam against the wishes of his clan. He now marries Ruqayyah, the beautiful daughter of Muhammad and Khadija.

Muhammad’s beliefs becomes known as Islam, which means Submission to God in Arabic. The followers becomes known as Muslim, which is an active verb form of the word Islam and means Submitter to God.

Clan Boycott

616 CE: The Banu Umayyad, Banu Makhzum, and Banu Adb-Shams of Mecca declare a boycott against Muhammad’s Banu Hashim clan. They hope to have the prophet and his followers expelled.

Boycott Struggles

616-619 CE: The Banu Hashim clan is forced to migrate outside Mecca and struggles with starvation. However, when some Meccans begin to sympathize with the Muslims, the boycott is withdrawn.

Year of Sorrow

619 CE: Muhammad’s wife Khadijah and supportive uncle Abu Talib both die. Leadership of the Banu Hashim clan passes to Muhammad’s less sympathetic Uncle Abu Lahab.

Marriage to Aisha

620 CE: Abu Bakr is one of Mohammed’s first converts. The prominent trader pledges his young daughter in marriage to Mohammad. However, the marriage is held off for a few years.

According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad experienced a miraculous night-long journey with the angel Gabriel in 620 CE known as the Isra and Mi’raj.

Mohammad likely married Aisha when she was between 6-9 years old. It may have been a political marriage, but there is debate and controversy over the subject.  


Battle of Buath

A war breaks out between the Khazraj and Aws clans in the Arabian town of Medina. The Aws clan ally with the Jewish Arab Qurayza and Nadir clans and barely defeat the Khazraj clan.

Delegation from Medina

Muhammad is highly respected as an arbitrator. A delegation from the large agricultural oasis of Medina invites the prophet to resolve the continuing conflict among their many tribes.

Migration to Medina

622 CE: Muhammad agrees to be arbitrator in Medina, he also negotiates a deal to migrate his persecuted followers to the town. Muslims soon begin to quietly depart from Mecca.

Journey to Medina

The 53-year-old Muhammad and Abu Bakr are one of the last Muslims to depart from Mecca. Cousin Ali stays behind to redirect a hostile group attempting to assassinate the prophet.

The Migration to Medina marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. It is also known as the Hegira, which is the Arabic word for migration.

Quba Mosque

Muhammad places stones to create a mosque courtyard a short distance outside of Medina. He prays for 14 days at the mosque until his cousin Ali arrives safely from Mecca.

The Muhajirun

The relatives and followers that trusted Muhammad and emigrated to Medina becomes known as the Muhajurin, which means Emigrants. They become the prophet’s most trusted advisors.

Constitution of Medina

623 CE: Muhammad drafts a constitution that forms a multi-religious alliance between the tribes in Medina. It also declares Muhammad as the mediating authority between tribes.

Prayer to Mecca

624 CE: Muhammad prays in what will become known as the Mosque of the Two Qiblas in Medina. He is said to receive a message to change the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca.

Places of worship and prayer in Islam are called a Mosque, which simply means Place of Ritual Prostration. Any place can be designated a mosque and it doesn’t require a special building.

The Mosque of Two Qiblas is the only Mosque featuring two prayer direction markers. One points toward Mecca, while the other points to Jerusalem.

Caravan Raids

The Meccans seized much property from Muhammad and his followers. Having secured an alliance in Medina, Muhammad raids Meccan caravans and captures goods as repayment for the losses.

Battle of Badr

624 CE: Muhammad attempts to ambush a Meccan caravan near the town of Badr, but are confronted by a protective force. Despite being outnumbered, the Muslim raiders emerge victorious.

Commander Khalid

625 CE: The Umayyad clan sends a larger Meccan force to attack Muhammad. It is led by commander and master horseman Khalid ibn al-Walid of the Quraysh clan.

Battle of Uhud

Commander Khalid outflanks and defeats the Medinan army in a battle near Mount Uhud. The Muslim army retreats to Medina with a severely wounded Muhammad.

The Quran does not forbid images of Muhammad, but some Hadiths do prohibit visual depictions of religious figures. However, there is division on this issue (and many others) since different branches of Islam use different Hadiths.

The Ansar

Residents of Medina that convert to Islam become known as the Ansar, which means Supporters. Muhammad establishes an official brotherhood between his followers from Mecca and supporters in Medina.

Islamic-Jewish Tensions

Tensions have been increasing between Muslim and the Jewish communities in Medina. Following the defeat at Uhud, the Jewish Banu Nadir clan challenges Muhammad as the leader of Medina.

Exile of Banu Nadir

The Jewish Banu Nadir clan is accused of conspiring to assassinate Muhammad during peace negotiations. Islamic forces invade their territory and expel the group from Medina.

Jews of Kaybar

Jewish communities reside in the Oasis of Kaybar and are wealthy from cultivating dates from palm trees. The Banu Nadir clan settle among Jewish people in the region.

The Arabic word Banu means children of or descendents of and refers to their family lineage.

Meccan Alliance

627 CE: Meccans form a pagan alliance and organize a massive army to attack Medina directly. Expecting such an attack, Muhammad’s followers build a defensive trench around the city.

Anti-Islamic Alliance

The polytheists of Mecca attempt to ally with the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina. However, when Mohammad learns of the potential alliance, he intercepts and breaks up the meeting.

Battle of the Trench

Khalid leads the Meccans in a siege of Medina. However, poor weather, failure to secure the Jewish alliance, and the inability to breach the trench sinks morale and brings the attack to an end after 27 days.  

Siege of Banu Qurayza

Muhammad denounces the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe for breaking the constitution. The Jews are forced to surrender after a 25-day siege of their territory and the 700 men in the tribe are beheaded.

Medina was originally named Yathrib after the father-in-law of Moses: Jethro. According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad changed the name to Medina after the Battle of the Trench. Its full name is Al Madinah Al Munawwarah, which means The Enlightened City.


Attempted Pilgrimage

Muhammad and 1400 followers dress up as pilgrims and attempt a peaceful pilgrimage to the Kaaba in Mecca. However, they are stopped by the Quraysh tribe. 

Treaty of Hudaybiyyah

628 CE: Muhammad negotiates a ten-year truce with the Quraysh in Mecca. It allows Muhammad’s followers to perform their first pilgrimage, but the prophet is not allowed to join them.

Battle of Khaybar

Muhammad accuses the nearby Kaybar Jews of conspiring against Medina after the siege of Banu Qurayza. Muhammad invades their territory and forces them to pay a heavy agricultural tribute.

Muhammad’s Letters

Muhammad sends letters sends letters to leaders inviting them to Islam. This includes Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, Sasanian King Khosrow, Prefect Cyrus of Alexandria, and tribal rulers of Arabia.

Conversion of Khalid

629 CE: Possibly influenced by his family, Khalid ibn al-Walid converts to Islam. He is appointed as a Muslim commander by Muhammad and given the nickname of Sayf Allah; the Sword of God.

Battle of Mu’tah

A Muslim force attacks Christian Arabs near the town of Mu’tah, but are repelled by a Byzantine army. Khalid takes command and successfully withdraws the Muslim army.

Broken Truce

When the Meccans aid an allied tribe to attack a Muslim ally, Muhammad considers it a breach of the treaty. An Islamic army of 10,000 converts quickly set out to attack Mecca.

Conquest of Mecca

Muhammad’s army flank Mecca from four sides and attack the city simultaneously. However, Muslim forces capture the city with minimal resistance. Most Meccans convert to Islam.

There are conflicting accounts concerning the Battle of Mu’tah.

Battle of Hunayn

630 CE: Rival Bedouin tribes attack Muslims and Meccans who are weakened by their conflict. However, not aware of Muhammad’s swift victory, the Bedouins are decisively defeated.

Meccan Conversions

Most Meccans convert to Islam. The Umayyads are given gifts and important positions in the city in exchange for their loyalty, including governorship of the city.

Holy City of Mecca

The statues and symbols of Arabian gods in Mecca and the Kaaba are destroyed, but frescos of Mary and Jesus are potentially spared. Muhammad consecrates Mecca as a holy city of Islam.

Expeditions of Khalid

Muhammad dispatches Khalid to destroy idols and convert tribes in Arabia. When Khalid kills men in the rival Banu Jadhimah tribe, Muhammad condemns the deed and pays recompense to the tribe.

The Battle of Hunayn is one of the few battles mentioned by name in the Quran.

Expedition to Tabuk

631 CE: Hearing rumours of a Byzantine invasion in north-western Arabia, Muhammad organizes a large army to confront the invaders. However, no Byzantines are found.

Farewell Pilgrimage

632 CE: Anticipating that he is near death, Muhammad completes his first and final pilgrimage to Mecca with a group of followers. He instructs them on how to properly perform the journey.

Final Sermon

While returning from his pilgrimage, Muhammad tells his followers of his impending death and gives a sermon. The prophet states that his cousin Ali is a trusted friend and leader during the preaching.

Death of Muhammad

Muhammad falls ill with a fever, headache, and fatigue in Medina. While resting his head on the lap of his wife Aisha, he dies at the age of 63 He is buried by his family in Aisha’s home.

Muhammad’s pilgrimage sets the precedent of the annual Great Pilgrimage to Mecca, which is known as the Hajj.


The Saqifah Election

A small group of Muslims elect Muhammad’s close friend and father-in-law Abu Bakr as succesor. It took place in a covered communal meeting place known as a Saqifah.

Cousin Ali

 Muhammad’s cousin Ali and family were not present at the election of Abu Bakr. The family, along with some Muslims, argue that Ali was appointed as successor by the prophet during his final sermon.

Companions of the Prophet

The 50-60 disciples and followers who personally knew Muhammad during his lifetime become known as the Companions of the Prophets. They become the primary source for the prophet’s teachings.

Quran Writings

The Companions of the Prophet begin to write down the revelations that Muhammed spoke to them. It becomes known as the Quran, which is derived from an Arabic word meaning He Recited.

Caliph and Caliphate are derived from the Arabic word for Successor.

The succession of Muhammad began the Sunni and Shia split in the early Muslim community. The Sunnis hold father-in-law Abu Bakr as rightful successor, while Shias hold cousin Ali as the true heir.

The Rebellion Wars

Several Muslim rebels emerge against Abu Bakr and claim to be prophet’s successor. Abu Bakr launches a military campaign and defeats a rebel named Tulayha in two battles.

Battle of Yamama

Abu Bakr and Khalid organize a force of 13,000 Muslims and confront a rebel named Musaylimah in his fortified city of Yamama. After a bloody battle, Abu Bakr forces emerge victorious.

Compiling the Quran

Many Muslims that memorized the revelations of Muhammed died at Yamana. It motivates Abu Bakr to have scribe Zayd ibn Thabit of Medina compile all the writings into a single volume.

Unification of Arabia

Commander Khalid conquers remaining rebels, though often by working independently and ignoring Medina leadership  The entire Arabian Peninsula comes under Abu Bakr’s rule.

The Rebellion Wars is also known as the Ridda Wars, which means Apostasy Wars in Arabic. There are many contradictory and biased accounts of the battles.

Byzantine-Sasanian War

602-628 CE: The Byzantine and Sasanian armies are depleted from fighting each other in a 26 year war. Both empires are in significant financial difficulty and many cities are heavily taxed.

The Mobile Guard

Abu Bakr and commander Khalid organize an army to invade the Sasanian Empire. The cavalry division with its purebred Arabian horses become the backbone of the Islamic army.

Mesopotamian Conquests

633 CE: Commander Khalid engages in battles along the Euphrates river and captures many cities in Mesopotamia. The Sasanians struggle with the high mobility of the Islamic cavalry. 

Battle of Firaz

634 CE: Sasanian and Byzantine garrisons join forces against the Muslim invaders at the Firaz border outpost. Khalid outflanks and crushes the allied armies by pinning them against the Euphrates river.

Islamic forces conquered what will become Iraq and Kuwait.


Succession of Umar

Abu Bakr becomes very ill and nominates Islamic law specialist Umar as his successor before his death. However, the new caliph is unhappy with Khalid and seeks to restrain the independent commander.

Siege of Damascus

Commander Khalid’s forces lay siege to Damascus in Syria and soon capture the Byzantine city.  Damascan refugees are given a three-day armistice to retreat to Antioch.

Battle of Maraj-al-Debaj

After the three-day armistice comes to an end, Khalid leads his cavalry against the Damascan refugees near Antioch and slaughters 10,000 men. The Islamic force captures many spoils of war.

Battle of the Bridge

Islamic forces engage Sassanian forces near a bridge on the Euphrates river. However, Muslim forces panic at the sight of war elephants and many are killed. The Sassanian force allows the Muslims to flee.

Byzantine-Sasanian Alliance

635 CE: Sasanian Emperor Yazdegerd III forms an alliance with Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. They plan a united counter-attack against their mutual Islamic rival, but have trouble coordinating their efforts.

Battle of Yarmuk

636 CE: The impatient Byzantines attack Islamic forces near the Yarmuk river in Jordan. Although heavily outnumbered, Muslim forces outmaneuver and massacre the massive Byzantine force.

Battle of Al-Qadisiyyah

The delayed Sasanians attack Islamic forces near the Persian town of Qadisiya. Famous Persian General Rostam is killed in a sandstorm and his demoralized army is crushed by Islamic forces.

Capture of Gaza

635-637 CE: Islamic forces lay siege to Gaza and capture it after a three-year siege. The city is renovated as a major Islamic city and base of operations. Most churches are converted into Mosques.

The defeats of the Byzantine and Sasanian armies at Yarmuk and Al-Qadisiyyah is considered a major turning point in history.

Siege of Ctesiphon

Having defeated the main Sasanian army, the Islamic army lays siege to the Sasanian capital of Ctesiphon and captures it after two months. King Yazdegerd flees with the imperial treasury into Media.

Battle of Jalula

Islamic forces defeat another Persian force at the Diyala River and soon capture the cities of Tikrit and Mosul. The entirety of Mesopotamia comes under Islamic rule.

Siege of Jerusalem

Islamic forces lay siege to the Byzantine-owned Jerusalem and force the well-fortified city to surrender after six-months. Muslims gain control over most of the Palestine region.

Battle of the Iron Bridge

Islamic forces defeat the Byzantine army at the Orontes River. They proceed to lay siege to Antioch and capture the mostly undefended Syrian Capital. Muslims gain control over most of Syria.

Jerusalem remained under Islamic control until the First Crusade in 1099 CE.

The Zoroastrian religion of the Sasanians enters a period of decline as it is replaced by Islam.

Dismissal of Khalid

638 CE: Khalid has been increasingly losing favor with Caliph Umar for disregarding leadership, mismanaging war spoils, and his celebrity-like status. He is dismissed as commander.

Plague of Amwas

638-639 CE: A plague strikes the prominent Amwas military camp in Palestine and kills about 25,000 people. When the leadership dies, Mu’awiya of the Umayyad clan succeeds as deputy.

Invasion of Egypt

639-640 CE: The Islamic army enters Egypt and lays siege to Pelusium. They capture the strategic city in the Nile Delta within two months and proceed to capture the fortress city of Belbeis.

Siege of Babylon Fortress

The Islamic army lays siege to the Egyptian fortress called Babylon. After a seven month siege, Islamic soldiers perform a night time attack and manage to open the gates and conquer the fortress.

The Plague of Amwas was likely a recurrence of the bubonic plague. It is part of the First Plague Pandemic which began with the Plague of Justinian in 541 CE.

Conquest of Alexandria

641 CE: Islamic forces lay siege to Alexandria. The Egyptian capital has little military support, but it still takes the Islamic armies several months to breach the strong fortifications and conquer the city.

Battle of Nahavand

642 CE: Islamic forces attack the last Sasanian fortress of Nahavand and emerge victorious with heavy casualties. The Sasanian Imperial Army comes to an official end.

Conquest of Tripoli

643 CE: Having conquered Alexandria, Islamic forces move westward and invade the Libyan region of North Africa. They capture the city of Tripoli after a month-long siege.

Assassination of Umar

644 CE: Abu Lu’lu is a highly skilled Persian blacksmith from Nahavand who is brought to Medina as a slave. Abu soon attacks and mortally wounds Caliph Umar while he is praying in the mosque.

Historians consider Umar to be one of the most influential caliphs in history. He conquered the Sasanian Empire and two-thirds of the Byzantine Empire during his rule.


Election of Uthman

A six-man committee elects 68-year-old Uthman of the Umayyad clan to succeed as the third Islamic caliph. Uthman is the son-in-law of Muhammad and an early Muslim convert.

Governor Mu’awiya

Caliph Uthman promotes fellow members of his Banu Umayyad clan to important government positions. Commander Mu’awiya is given greater military rule over Syria and Palestine.

Alexandria Rebellion

644-645 CE: A naval fleet and local rebellion allows the Byzantines to retake Alexandria, but the Egyptian capital is soon recaptured by Islamic forces. Muslims reinforce city fortifications.

Invasion of North-Western Africa

647 CE: The Islamic army invades Byzantium territory in Northwest Africa, which is known as the Exarchate of Africa. They soon capture the cities of Tripolitania and Sufetula.

Islamic Navy

648 CE: Governor Mu’awiya organizes a large Islamic naval fleet in the ports of Palestine and Syria. It is manned by Monophysitise, Coptic, and Syrian Christians who disagree with Byzantine theology.

Conquest of Cyprus

649 CE: Mu’awiya’s naval force invades Byzantine-controlled Cyprus and quickly conquers the capital of Constantia. Islamic raiders loot the rest of the island and destroy many churches.

The Midrab

Caliph Uthman orders a sign to be posted on the wall of the Medina mosque so praying Muslims can easily pray toward the Kaaba in Mecca. A permanent indicator niche is soon built into mosques.

Quran Standardization

Confusion and difference in reciting the Quran emerge between distance regions. Caliph Uthman creates a standard Quran in which all subsequent copies should be copied and recited.

Invasion of Khorasan

651 CE: Islamic forces push eastward and capture forts in the Eastern Sassanian province of Khorasan. They also peacefully occupy the south-central Asian cities of Balkh and Herat.

Murder of Emperor Yazdgerd

Sassanid Emperor Yazdegerd continues to flee eastward and finds shelter with a miller near the city of Merv. However, the miller soon murders the ruler and steals his jewelry.

Siege of Dongola

652 CE: Islamic forces invade the Kingdom of Makuria in north-east Africa. However, the region proves difficult to conquer and both sides soon sign the long-lasting Baqt treaty.

Battle of the Masts

655 CE: Emperor Constans II leads a Byzantine fleet against the Islamic navy. Both sides suffer heavy casualties, but the Byzantine fleet is ultimately defeated and Constans barely escapes.

The death of Emperor Yazdgerd brings an official end to the Sassanid empire and the royal Persian dynasty.

Muslim forces invaded what is now Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and Sudan. The Baqt treaty, which lasted nearly 700 years, is one of the longest-lasting treaties in history.



656 CE: Caliph Uthman gives preferential treatment to his relatives in the Umayyad clan and becomes unpopular. A revolt erupts in Egypt and begins to spread to other Islamic centers.

Murder of Uthman

A thousand protesters arrive at Caliph Uthman’s house in Medina. While guards attempt to protect the front gate, some Egyptian rebels quietly climb the back wall and murder Uthman.

Caliph Ali

The people of Medina call Muhammad’s cousin and close companion Ali to become the fourth caliph. Although initially reluctant, the 56-year-old soon accepts the position.

Battle of Camel

Muhammad’s widow Aisha rejects the rule of Ali and leads an army against him. While Ali emerges victorious, there are massive casualties on both sides. Aisha is exiled to Medina.

The murder of Uthman and the election of Ali marks the beginning of the First Islamic Civil War. It is also known as the First Fitna, which means First Strife. Shia and Sunni Muslims differ on the details of the events.

Government Dismissals

657 CE: Caliph Ali dismisses controversial government officials appointed by Caliph Uthman. This includes governor Muawiya of Syria and Palestine. However, Muawiya refuses to step down.

Battle of Siffin

The forces of Ali and Muawiyah engage in a four-day battle. When Muawiyah begins to lose, he raises the Quran and requests arbitration. Ali is forced to accept the request when his forces stop fighting.

Arbitration Agreement

Muahwiyah and Ali agree to not engage in inter-Muslim violence as dictated by the Quran. Some followers of Ali don’t agree to peace and splinter into the Kharijites, which means To Get Out

Assassination of Ali

661 CE: Caliph Ali is struck with a poisoned sword by a Kharijite while praying at a shrine in Kufa. He dies two days later and is succeeded by his son Hasan ib Ali; a grandson of Muhammad.

Sunnis call the first four Caliphs as the Rashidun Caliphate, which means the Rightly Guided Successors. Shia Muslims view Ali as the first true successor and consider the first three caliphs as illegitimate rulers.

Hasan-Muawiya Skirmishes

Mu’awiya declares himself caliph and has formal ceremonies in Jerusalem. He then marches an army against Hasan in Kufa and the two sides engage in skirmishes.

Hasan-Muawiya Treaty

In order to unify the Islamic people, Hasan signs a treaty with Mu’awiya. It officially gives the caliphate to Mu’awiya in exchange for a large financial settlement and safety for all Muslims.

Successor of the People

One of the conditions of the Hasan-Muawiya Treaty is that Mu’awiya would not choose a successor, but that the position of caliph would be chosen by the Islamic community.

Retirement of Hassan

Hassan returns to Medina and manage the household of his grandfather Muhammad. He is joined by his younger brothers Hussein and Muhammad ibn.

These events continue the division between Shia and Sunni sects of Islam. Shia in Arabic is a short form of Followers of Ali. Sunni follow the line of Muawiyah and their name derives from the Arabic word for majority.


Caliph Muawiyah moves the Islamic capital from Medina to Damascus in Syria. Despite the treaty with Hasan, Muawiyah is the first ruler of what will become a family dynasty known as the Umayyad Caliphate.