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The Islamic Golden Age: A Story of the Triumph of the Islamic Civilization

Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)

Abstract

The present chapter discusses the most important forces that led to the rise of Islam’s “Golden Age”, a period of Islamic development that lasted nearly five centuries beginning with the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid (c. 786–809) and ended with the collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate following the Mongol invasions and the sack of Baghdad in 1258 CE. Some scholars, though, extend the period of Islam’s Golden Age to cover a longer period of time. All, though, agree that the Golden Age, a truly remarkable period in human history, on that encompasses the remarkable accomplishments made by Islamic scholars, humanists, and scientists in all areas of the arts and humanities, the physical and social sciences, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, finance, and Islamic and European monetary systems over a period of many centuries. This chapter briefly identifies many of the most important changes in human development brought about by the Abbasid dynasty of Baghdad, the Fatimid dynasty of Cairo, and the Umayyad dynasty of Andalusia. Further, the chapter presents multiple examples of the lasting contribution of the Islamic Golden Age from ancient to modern times—many of which lay the foundation for an optimistic future for the world-as-a-whole and for Islamic societies more particularly.

Keywords

  • Islamic Golden Age
  • Islamic civilization
  • Islamic Dynasties
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • Islamic Sciences
  • Islamic Art

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Annex 1 Timeline of the Expansion of the Muslim Rule (Note: All Dates Refer to the Common Era (CE))

Annex 1 Timeline of the Expansion of the Muslim Rule (Note: All Dates Refer to the Common Era (CE))

Period/year Main events Notes
c. 570 Birth of Prophet Muhammad (Mohammed) in Mecca  
622 The Hijrah (Hegira) or “Flight” from persecution in Mecca to Medina (first year of the Muslim calendar). Shortly after the Constitution of Medina was drafted. It established the first Islamic state. It focused on stability, freedom of religion, and justice.
632 The death of the Prophet Mohammad  
632–650 The “Rightly Guided Caliphs” succeeded the Prophet in ruling of the Islamic empire  
636 Muslims brought Islam to Syria (under Omar, the second caliph).  
637 Muslims reached Persia and Jerusalem (under the second caliph, Omar). About 638 AD the Caliph Omar entered Jerusalem and granted its residents a covenant of peace and protection known as the Covenant ‘or the Code of Omar.
641 Muslims conquered Alexandria (Egypt) (under the second caliph, Omar).  
661–750 The Omayyad Caliphs ruled the Muslim empire, centered in Damascus.  
711 Muslims crossed over to Spain, through North Africa.  
717–718 Muslims attempted to conquer Constantinople, then capital of the Byzantine Empire. They also advanced in western Europe as far as France (Franks stop their advance).  
750 Abbasids become rulers of Muslim Empire with Baghdad as center; the Golden Age of Islam begins.  
751 Islamic Empire reached China: Arabs learn papermaking from Chinese prisoners of war. Papermaking helps advance learning throughout the Arab world through books.  
c. 800–
1100
Muslims established regular trade caravans from across northern Africa;
they gradually extended routes across the Sahara desert into the West
African kingdoms of Mali and Ghana for the gold and salt trade. Islamic trade network becomes very prosperous and facilitates the exchange of ideas and technologies among societies with which they trade.
 
1055 Seljuk Turks, who are Muslim converts living in Central Asia, begin to move into territories of the Byzantine Empire. Conflicts and hostilities erupt between Christians and Muslims.  
1096 Crusades begin: Pope Urban II of Rome calls for all Christians to expel Muslims from Jerusalem and its surrounding region and from the Byzantine Empire.  
1258 Mongols sack Baghdad, killing the caliph and many Muslims: end of the Abbasid caliphs.  
1299 The Ottoman dynasty is founded under Osman I in Asia Minor (Turkey).
Osman ruled until 1326.
 
1291 End of Crusades: Muslims defeat Christians and remain in Holy Lands.  
1453 Ottoman Turks conquer Constantinople under the rule of Muhammad II, ending the Byzantine Empire. The city is renamed Istanbul, and becomes the capital of the Ottoman Empire.  
1520–1566 Suleyman the Magnificent ruled as Caliph Sultan of the Ottoman empire and increased its territory. The Empire reached its peak in culture, art, literature, architecture, and laws. The Ottoman empire exists until the end of World War I (1918). His Father Sultan Salim I, conquest Egypt and make end to the Mamluk Sultanate and took the title of Caliph from the last Abbasid caliph in Cairo in 1917

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Renima, A., Tiliouine, H., Estes, R.J. (2016). The Islamic Golden Age: A Story of the Triumph of the Islamic Civilization. In: Tiliouine, H., Estes, R. (eds) The State of Social Progress of Islamic Societies. International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24774-8_2

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