] 570 CE: Early Islam - Born in Mecca, Muhammad is the founder of Islam, which has profound influence on Africa, India, western Asia and Europe. He is considered by Muslims to be God's last and greatest prophet. The Koran (Qur'an), 114 chapters of Muhammad's divinely inspired revelations, is the Islamic scripture, which resembles Judaism and Christianity -- two religions that largely influence Muhammad. These three religions are the world's only monotheistic faiths.

610 CE: Early Islam - Originally adhering to a polytheistic notion of the divine, Muhammad has a religious experience that changes not only his life, but the history of a large part of the world. He hears a divine voice, later believed to be the angel Gabriel of the Christian religion, tell him that Allah is the only god. He receives further instructions to adopt the name of "Prophet" and convert the Quaraish to accept the monotheism.

622 CE: Early Islam - The Quaraishs resist the new religion. Muhammad and his small band of followers migrate to the town of Yathrib in the north, which is open to his new faith. The Hijrah of 622, the migration, marks the beginning of the Muslim era. After making himself ruler, Muhammad changes the name of the town to Medina ("city of the Prophet"), and Medina becomes the seat of the caliphate.

630 CE: Early Islam - Muhammad and his followers overtake Mecca. With the Quaraish in submission, the Kabah, the central place of worship for Arabian tribes, becomes the main shrine of Islam.

632 CE: Early Islam - With the death of Muhammad, his father-in-law, Abu-Bakr, and Umar devise a system in which Islam can sustain religious and political stability. Accepting the name of caliph ("deputy of the Prophet"), Abu-Bakr begins a military exhibition to enforce the caliph's authority over Arabian followers of Muhammad. He thereafter moves northward overtaking Byzantine and Persian forces. Abu-Bakr dies two years following his succession of Muhammad. Umar succeeds him as the second caliph and begins a campaign against the neighboring empires.

637 CE: Early Islam - The Arabs occupy the Persian capital of Ctesiphon. By 651, the entire Persian realm is under the rule of Islam as it continues its westward expansion.

638 CE: Early Islam - The Romans are defeated at the Battle of Yarmouk and the Muslims enter Palestine. Before entering Jerusalem, Caliph Umar forms a covenant with the Jews, pledging protection of their religious freedom. The Muslims continue their conquest of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, which is completed in 641 CE.

641 CE: Early Islam - Islam spreads into Egypt. The Catholic Archbishop invites the Muslims to help free Egypt from Roman oppressors. This exemplifies the alliances formed between Muslims, Christians and Jews due to the Muslims' establishment of religious freedom for Christians and Jews. Muslim conquest is based on liberation, rather than subjugation, of conquered peoples. Egypt, Persia and the Fertile Crescent are ruled by the four "Righteous Caliphs" until 662 CE.

644 CE: Early Islam - Umar dies and is succeeded by Caliph Uthman, a member of the Umayyad family which rejected Muhammad's prophesies. Rallies arise to establish Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, as caliph.

654 CE: Early Islam - Islam spreads into all of North Africa.

656 CE: Early Islam - Caliph Uthman is murdered, and Ali becomes the new caliph.

661 CE: Early Islam - Not satisfied with Ali, Uthman's followers murder Ali. One of Uthman's relations takes the title of caliph, and Damascus replaces Medina for the seat of the caliphate. The Umayyad family rules Islam until 750. Ali's followers form a religious party called Shiites and insist that only descendants of Ali deserve the title of caliph or deserve any authority over Muslims. The opposing party, the Sunnites, insist on the customs of the historical evolution of the caliphate rather than a hereditary descent of spiritual authority.

662 CE: Early Islam - Egypt falls under the control of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates until 868 CE. A year prior, the Fertile Crescent and Persia yield to the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, whose reigns last until 1258 CE and 820 CE, respectively.

669 CE: Early Islam - The Muslim conquest reaches to Morocco in North Africa. The region is open to the rule of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates until 800 CE.

700 CE: Early Islam - The beginning of the eighth century sees the rise of Islamic mysticism. Known as Sufism, this tradition is marked by the individual's effort to establish an intimate relationship with Allah. One of the most critical passages of the Koran for Sufis is verse 7:172 which describes the covenant between God and the individual's soul before the creation of the universe. Renunciation is more than a rejection of the material realm; its objective is a level of freedom that promotes harmony with one's physical life, resulting in mystical union.

710 CE: Early Islam - Tariq ibn Malik crosses the straight separating Africa and Europe with a group of Muslims and enters Spain. A year later, 7000 Muslim men invade Gibraltar. Almost the entire Iberian peninsula is under Islamic control by 718 CE.

711 CE: Early Islam - With the further conquest of Egypt, Spain and North Africa, Islam includes all of the Persian empire and most of the old Roman world under Islamic rule.

711 CE: Early Islam - Muslims begin the conquest of Sindh in Afghanistan. Until 962 CE, Afghanistan witnesses different regional rules, periodically controlled by the Umayyad and the Abbasid caliphates and other locally-based rulers.

717 CE: Early Islam - The Umayyads attempt to conquer the Byzantine capital and fail, resulting in the weakening of the Umayyad government.

732 CE: Early Islam - At the Battle of Poitiers, Islamic expansion is halted in France but continues into parts of Asia and Africa.

750 CE: Early Islam - The Abbasids overtake the rule of the Islamic world (except for Spain which falls under the rule of a descendant of the Umayyad family) and move the capital to Baghdad in Iraq. Their orientation resembles Persian absolutism. The Arabian Nights, a compilation of stories written under the reign of the Abbasids, is representative of the lifestyle and administration of this Persian influenced government. Abd al-Rahman of the Umayyad dynasty flees to Spain to escape the Abbasids and is responsible for the "Golden Caliphate" in Spain, the greatest Islamic civilization yet known.

768 CE: Early Islam - Formerly passed down as an oral record, the history of Muhammad is first recorded by the historian Ishaq ibn Yasar.

786 CE: Early Islam - Caliph Harun al-Rashid, a major figure in the Arabian Nights, rules until 809 CE.

789 CE: Early Islam - With the Idrisid dynasty of Morocco, which lasts until 985 CE, local rulers begin to control North Africa.

800 CE: Early Islam - North Africa falls under the rule of the Aghlabi dynasty of Tunis, which lasts until 909 CE.

819 CE: Early Islam - Persian unity begins to disintegrate with the Samanid rulers in Northern Persia, whose rule in this region lasts until 1055 CE. One year later, the Tharid dynasty begins to control Khorastan (lasting until 874 CE), and in 864 CE, the Alid dynasty begins rule over Tabaristan (lasting until 1032 CE).

827 CE: Early Islam - Aghlabi rulers of Tunis begin conquests of Sicily which last until 878 CE.

857 CE: Early Islam - Sufi Al-Muhasibi introduces the study of conscience into Sufism.

865 CE: Early Islam - Rhazes discovers the difference between measles and smallpox. He is considered the greatest physician of medieval times. Rhazes dies in 925 CE.

868 CE: Early Islam - The Sattarid dynasty, whose rule continues until 930 CE, extends control throughout most of Persia. In Egypt, the Abbasid and Umayyad caliphates are ended and rule turns to Egyptian-based control with the beginning of the Tulunid dynasty (lasting until 904 CE).

877 CE: Early Islam - Syria and different sects of Lebanon are ruled periodically by the Tulunid, the Ikhidid, the Fatimid and the Ayyubid dynasties of Egypt until 1250 CE.

879 CE: Early Islam - The Seljuk Empire unites Mesopotamia and a large portion of Persia.

900 CE: Early Islam - The Fatimids of Egypt overtake north Africa and include the territory as an extension of Egypt until 972 CE.

909 CE: Early Islam - Sicily falls under the control of the Fatimids' united rule of North Africa and Egypt until 1071 CE. From 878 until 909 CE, the rule of Sicily is uncertain.

935 CE: Early Islam - Until 969 CE, the rule of Egypt is under the Ikhidid dynasty.

945 CE: Early Islam - A Shiite band invades Baghdad, and the Abbasid Empire becomes a powerless symbol of unity and legitimate government to the Muslim community. Until the sixteenth century, rule of Islamic civilization is decentralized and different sects are ruled by different rulers.

950 CE: Early Islam - Al-Farabi, the greatest of the faylasufs (Arabic for philosopher), lives most of his life in Baghdad and teaches that the enlightened individual could perfect his life through philosophy without being corrupted by the common beliefs of the public.

962 CE: Early Islam - Afghanistan is stabilized by the rule of the Ghaznavid dynasty which lasts until 1186 CE.

972 CE: Early Islam - North Africa is under the control of the Zayri rulers in Tunis. Their control lasts until 1148 CE, much longer than the Aghlabi rulers were able to sustain control.

969 CE: Early Islam - The Fatimid dynasty assumes the title of caliphate in Egypt until 1171 CE.

997 CE: Early Islam - Mahmud, ruler of a Turkish dynasty in Gujarat, conducts seventeen raids into northwestern India before his death in 1030. He is named the "Sword of Islam."

1037 CE: Early Islam - Avicenna, a faylasufs in the east, teaches a rationalistic philosophy which borders Sufi mysticism. Also a physician, Avicenna discovers that disease can be spread through the contamination of water and that tuberculosis is contagious. Among his medical writings, the Canon is accepted as authoritative until the late seventeenth century.

1037 CE: Early Islam - A region of Persia, Azerbajjan, falls under the rule of the Sajid dynasty. Azerbajjan is periodically ruled by different rulers from the end of the Seljuk Empire until 1502.

1056 CE: Early Islam - The Al-Moravi rulers of Morocco begin control over North Africa (lasting until 1147 CE).

1077 CE: Early Islam - The Seljuk, a Turkish dynasty, disrupts political and social structures formed by the Abbasids. The Seljuks extend their control over most of the Arab and Persian regions.

1100 CE: Early Islam - Islamic rule is weakened due to power struggles among Islamic leaders and the Christian crusades.

1100 CE: Early Islam - Afghanistan falls under the control of Ghorid rulers until 1215 CE.

1123 CE: Early Islam - The greatest of the Islamic poets is a Persian named Umar Khayyam. His poem The Rubaiyat is most popular in the West due to its use by Victorian Edward Fitzgerald.

1126 CE: Early Islam - In Spain, the Aristotelian Averroes of Cordova is the last important Islamic philosopher. He supports the official faith in public and is an extreme rationalist outside of the public realm. He dies in 1198 CE.

1130 CE: Early Islam - Until 1269, the Al-Mohad dynasty rules North Africa.

1168 CE: Early Islam - The Ayyubid dynasty rules Egypt until 1250 CE.

1187 CE: Early Islam - Muslim general Salah al-Kin al-Ayyubi, in Egypt, ends the Christian crusades.

1228 CE: Early Islam - The Haisi rulers of Tunis in North Africa assume control.

1248 CE: Early Islam - Muslim control of Spain is reduced to the Kingdom of Granada, which survives for more than two centuries more.

1251 CE: Early Islam - The last of the Egyptian-based dynasties, the Mamluk dynasty takes the caliphate until 1517 when Egypt falls under the control of the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

1258 CE: Early Islam - The Abbasid period is completely ended with the destruction of Baghdad by the Mongols.

1327 CE: Early Islam - With the disintegration of the Seljuk Empire, the Arab and Persian regions are fragmented into several military kingdoms until 1500. The Ottoman Turkish Empire establishes its capital at Bursa.

1453 CE: Early Islam - The Ottomans defeat the Byzantine Empire and continue expanding into the Balkans. The Ottoman Turkish Empire moves its capital from Bursa to Istanbul (Constantinople). After 1500, the Moguls (1526-1857 CE) and the Safavids (1520-1736 CE) follow the military example set by the Ottomans and create two new empires.

1492 CE: Early Islam - Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, later benefactors of Christopher Columbus, end Muslim rule in Spain.