The Rise of Islam and African Civilization to AD 1000

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012

Time Line

350 Sonike dynasty begins in Ghana
543 Nubians convert to Christianity
570 Nubians convert to Christianity
572 Persians drive Axumites from Arabia
622 The hegira (Muhammad fl ees to Medina)
661 Umayyad caliphate begins
700 Beginnings of Muslim trade in east Africa
711 Arabs conquer the Indus Valley
740 Chola dynasty begins in southern India
750 Abbasid caliphate begins
753 Rashtrakuta dynasty begins in central India
762 Baghdad is founded as new capital city
802 Kingdom of Cambodia is established
939 Vietnam establishes independence from China


The Rise of Islam and African Civilization to AD 1000

Islam, the religion that would eventually unify the entire Near East, was founded in the early seventh century. The founding of this new monotheistic religion, which had its roots in Judeo-Christianity, led to an era characterized by conquest and conversion. By the end of the tenth century, a major new religion had taken firm hold on a sizeable region of the world. Islam also brought political changes to the Arab world, which found its tribes unified under one central government for the first time in their history.

It is important to remember that at this point in history, the term Arab refers to the ethnic group that is native to the Arabian Peninsula. The peoples of Iran and Iraq, whom we describe today as Arabs, are not ethnically Arabian at all, but Persian. The Muslim Empire that rose during the first millennium took its religion and its official language from the Arabians but was culturally and artistically Persian in many ways. As the first millennium drew to a close, the Muslim Empire became more and more diverse and cosmopolitan, embracing Turkish, Persian, and African elements as well as Arabian ones.

The major African civilizations of the first millennium included Nubia, Axum, and the kingdom of Ghana, in addition to Egypt. Foreign invasion, religious con- version, and international trade are the major themes of these civilizations.

After the fall of the Gupta Empire, the Indian civilization entered a chaotic period of strife among independent kingdoms; this fragmented political status would persist for several centuries. At this point, India resembled medieval Europe, with its feudal system of government and its thriving mercantile economy. Hinduism continued to develop and change, adopting many of the ideas and concepts of Buddhism.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The Rise of Islam and African Civilization to AD 1000 Practice Test

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