The Rise of the Muslim World
Part 2: The Spread and Split of
Expansion and Division
Muslims were inspired to spread their
religion, believing that they had a duty to
carry the ideas of Islam to the world.
However, there was division over leadership
and eventually this would divide the Muslim
Despite this, Muslims created an empire that
included land on 3 continents. This created
cultural blending that continues to this day.
Important Dates
632: Muhammad dies, Abu-Bakr becomes the
first caliph and conquers Arabia.
634: Abu-Bakr dies, Umar becomes caliph
and conquers Syria and lower Egypt.
656: Uthman murdered, civil war begins.
661: Ali assassinated.
732: Berbers defeated at the Battle of Tours.
750-1258: Abbasid caliphate.
Islam after Muhammad
After the death of Muhammad, there was no clear
successor. Using ancient tribal custom, Abu-Bakr
was chosen.
Abu-Bakr was known as the first caliph (“deputy”).
He promised to uphold all that Muhammad had stood
Some tribes soon abandoned Islam, while others
refused to pay taxes or declared themselves
Abu-Bakr declared jihad (“striving”) against nonbelievers, using armed struggle to encourage the
expansion of Islam.
Rightly Guided Caliphs
Abu-Bakr and his three successors, Umar,
Uthman and Ali were known as the “rightly
guided caliphs” and their rule a caliphate.
They had all known Muhammad and used the
Qur’an and Muhammad’s actions to guide
their actions.
Under their rule, Muslims would gain control
of Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and parts of the
Sassanid (Persian) Empire. By 750, the
Muslim Empire stretched 6,000 miles.
The Spread of Islam
Muslims saw their military
victories as evidence of
Allah’s support, drawing
inspiration and energy
from their faith.
Armies were welldisciplined and expertly
Additionally, the Byzantine
and Sassanid Empires had
become weak.
Tolerance and Empire
Another reason for success was the religious
persecution of people under Byzantine or Sassanid
Non-Christians/Zoroastrians often welcomed the
Muslims and chose to convert to Islam and its
message of equality and hope. Muslims also did not
pay poll taxes.
The Qur’an forbade forced conversion, so Muslims
were tolerant of other religions.
“People of the book” received special considerationthey had to pay poll taxes or serve in the military, but
they could serve in the government.
After civil war and the
death of Ali, a family
called the Umayyads
came to power.
They moved the capital
to Damascus, making it
easier to rule their
territories but alienating
Arabs, and embraced a
lavish lifestyle.
Islam Splits
Due to disagreements over leadership and
the actions of the Umayyads, Islam split.
Sunni (followers of Muhammad’s example):
Accepted the Umayyads as rulers.
Shi’a (party of Ali): Resisted the Umayyad
rule and believed that the caliph needed to be
a descendant of Muhammad.
Sufi: Rejected the lifestyle of the Umayyads
and embraced poverty and devotion to a
spiritual path.
Sunni v. Shi’a
Believe that the first
four caliphs were
“rightly guided”
Believe that Muslim
rulers should follow the
Sunna, or Muhammad’s
Claim that the Shi’a
have distorted the
Believe that Ali, the
Prophet’s son-in-law,
should have succeeded
Believe that all Muslim
rulers should be
descended from
Muhammad, do not
recognize the authority of
the Sunna
Claim that the Sunni have
distorted the Qur’an
The Abbasids were part of a larger
rebel group that overthrew the
They murdered the Umayyad family
and moved the capital to the city of
This location gave them access to
important trade routes.
They developed a strong
bureaucracy, sent out diplomats,
had a treasury to keep track of
finances. To support all this, they
taxed land, imports, exports and
non-Muslim wealth.
Berbers and al-Andalus
One surviving Umayyad prince fled to
Spain and set up a caliphate there.
Muslims in Spain were known as
Berbers. They had advanced within
200 miles of Paris before they were
halted at the Battle of Tours in 732.
They established the state of alAndalus.
Division of Muslim Lands
The Abbasids could not
keep complete political
control of their empire.
Independent states
sprung up, with local
leaders breaking away.
The Fatimid caliphate
was formed by Shi’a
Muslims in North Africa.
Muslim Trade Networks
Trade linked all the
Muslim kingdoms.
Two major sea
(Mediterranean Sea
and Indian Ocean)
linked the Muslim
Empire to the world.
The land network linked
the Silk Roads of China
and India with Europe
and Africa.
One language (Arabic)
and one currency
(Abbasid dinar) linked
the empire.
Money changers set up
banks in cities, offering
letters of credit called
Cities such as Cordoba,
Damascus, Cairo and
Baghdad blended
cultures and promoted
the arts and sciences.

The Rise of the Muslim World