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The first Arab Muslim conquests (632–732), (Arabic: فتح, Fatah, literally opening,) also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified political polity in the Arabian peninsula which under the following Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Arab power well beyond the Arabian peninsula in the form of a vast Muslim Arab Empire with an area of influence that stretched from northwest India, across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, southern Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula, to the Pyrenees.
The Arab conquests brought about the collapse of the Sassanid Empire and a great territorial loss for the Byzantine Empire. Though spectacular, the Arab successes are not hard to understand in hindsight. The Sassanid Persian and Byzantine empires were militarily exhausted from decades of fighting one another. This prevented them from dealing effectively with the mobile Arab raiders operating from the desert. Moreover, many of the peoples living under the rule of these empires, for example Jews and Christians in Persia and Monophysites in Syria, were disloyal and sometimes even welcomed the Arab invaders, largely because of religious conflict in both empires.
History[change | change source]
Some of the individual conquests are mentioned here:
Byzantine-Arab Wars: 634-750[change | change source]
Under the Rashidun there were the conquests of Syria (637), Armenia (639), Egypt (639) and North Africa (652). Under the Umayyads the continuing conquest of North Africa (665), the second Arab siege of Constantinople (717-718) and the conquest of Tbilisi (736). In 827 there followed the conquest of southern Italy (827).
Conquests in Asia: 633 - 712[change | change source]
In 711, a Muslim expedition defeated Raja Dahir at what is now Hyderabad in Sindh and established Umayyad rule by 712. The Umayyad brought under control the whole of what is modern Pakistan, from Karachi to Kashmir and reached the borders of Kashmir within three years. But rather soon afterwards semi-independent Arab ruled states developed.
Conquest of Hispania: 711-718[change | change source]
The conquest of the Iberian Peninsula began when the Moors (mostly Berbers with some Arabs) invaded Visigothic Christian Iberia (modern Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Andorra) in the year 711. They landed at Gibraltar on April 30 and worked their way northward. This territory, under the Arab name Al-Andalus, became first an Emirate and then an independent Umayyad Caliphate after the overthrowing of the dynasty in Damascus by the Abbasids. In 1031 the Christian kingdoms started the Reconquest up to 1492, when Granada, the last kingdom of Al-Ándalus fell under the Spanish Kings.
Further conquests: 1200-1800[change | change source]
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahelian kingdom expanded Muslim territories far from the coast. Muslim traders spread Islam.
The modern era saw the rise of three powerful Muslim empires: the Ottoman Empire of the Middle East and Europe, the Safavid Empire of Persia and Central Asia, and the Mughal Empire of India; along with their contest and fall to the rise of the colonial powers of Europe.
Decline and collapse: 1800-1924[change | change source]
The Mughal Empire declined in 1707 after the death of Aurangzeb and was officially abolished by the British after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
Related pages[change | change source]
Notes[change | change source]
- Martin Sicker (2000), The Islamic World in Ascendancy: From the Arab Conquests to the Siege of Vienna, 'Praeger.
- Barbara H. Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages, (Ontario, 2004), p. 71-72.
- Medieval Sourcebook: Ibn Abd-el-Hakem: The Islamic Conquest of Spain
- Spain The conquest, Encyclopædia Britannica
References[change | change source]
- Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 51
- Fred Donner, The Early Islamic Conquests Chapter 6