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Early History of the Arabs

By Edited Aug 7, 2015 2 4

The Arabs in the 7th century being conquered is known as one of the most dramatic and abrupt movements of any people in history. Only the population of the western portion of the Arabian Peninsula was of Islamic faith when Muhammad died in 532. It took two years for the whole peninsula to be converted into the new religion.

The Muslim armies moved up into the desert between Mesopotamia and Syria in 635. They were able to quickly conquer the prominent Christian cities in the area. The Arabian Desert tribesmen made up most of the aggressive battalions. Their sense of moral righteousness provided by their new religion along with their fondness of warfare and natura ferociousness formed an overpowering combination.


In 638, the Muslims were able to seize the crown jewel of all, Jerusalem, after besieging that city for a year. It was also a holy place for Islam, a religion formed a short time ago, that vision itself as the successor of Judaism and Christianity. Moses and Jesus were Muhammad’s precursors as prophets.

Kingdom of Lakhmid

The first known kingdom to use Arabic as its official language was the Lakhmid. It was located in what is now South Arabia and Transjordan. Its influence included in other areas nearby. There was a conflict over the control of Central Arabia. The Kindah of the western portion of Central Arabia took control of it in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. The Lakhmids were able to get it back in 528. The northern borders lay two small protectorates of different empires. Hira, located along the border with Persia (modern Iraq), was a Persian protectorate. Ghassan, located along the border with Syria, was a Byzantine protectorate.

Birth of Muhammad

Before the Romans and the Persians formed a peace treaty in 384, the people in the Arabia peninsula were able to take advantage of the right between two grand civilizations by making profits. The Hijaz formed part of an active trade route from the Mediterranean south to the Arabia sea. The city of Mecca played an integral part on this route. The tribes in Arabia followed many different types of paganisms before they converted to Christianity or Judaism. Then the prophet of Islam came along. Muhammad was born on around 570 to the Banu Hashim family. They were reputable merchants in the tribe of Quraysh in Mecca. He was able to change the destiny and history of not just Arabia, but also much of the world because he was shrewd in managing public affairs and military strategy.

Battle of Badr

The Battle of Badr, which is also known as the first battle of Islam, was won by Muhammad. The Battle of Uhud, often called the second battle of Islam, was also won by the prophet. Lastly, he conquered Mecca.

The Hijra

Starting in around 620, Mecca was hostile towards Muhammad and his followers because they wanted their prosperity to continue on. Tradition reveals that Muhammad and his followers were invited to the town of Yathrib by Christian and Jewish tribes. 622 is the first year of the Muslim calendar. That’s when they set out on the Hijra, the emigration to Yathrib. At that time they weren’t welcome to come to Mecca. Later on the town was renamed to Medina, which means “the city.” Muhammad was able to form a treaty with the tribes in the city. A large number of them were known as the Ansar, meaning “helpers,” and were fond of the prophet’s cause.

Early versions of Islamic practice were similar to Jewish practices including the fast of Yom Kippur and pray facing towards Jerusalem. That action may have been influenced by the Jews of Medina. The direction of prayer was turned to Mecca.

When Mecca was conquered by the Muslims, everyone was forced to convert to Islam. The Quraish and Umayya tribes were blended into the Islamic leadership by letting members of their leaders hold eminent positions in the government and military. As the whole Arabia population was converted, the prophet’s missionaries were active in the Eastern Empire, Ethiopia, and Persia.

Arabs and the Persian Empire

In 637, the battle of Kadisiya, near the Eurphrates river, caused the Persian Empire be conquered by the Arabs. When the city of Ctesiphon also dropped, the Arabs shared the well-known Spring Carpet. Meanwhile, Yazdegerd III, the last Sassanian emperor at the age of 5, escaped to the east with his loyalists. He managed to avoid from being captured until 651. That’s when at Merv, he was assassinated. His name still currently used in reference to the chronology of the Parsees. They number their years from the start of his reign in 632. Persia was then part of the Umayyad caliphate for a century.

The Arabs made a final push eastwards by staking out the central Asian plateau, which has a more intolerant terrain to deal with and is protracted. The Hindu Kush and its surroundings were the sight of battles during the second half of the 7th century. In the beginning of the next century, the whole land from the Arabian Sea in the south up through Kandahar and Balkh to Bukhara and Samarkand in the north beyond the Amu Darya was finally controlled by the Arabs. They achieved it by entering Sind and move into India as far north as Multan by 712 and march through either side of the Hindu Kush. At this most northern part, the Arabs were neighbors of the T’ang Chinese Dynasty. Both powers did clashed, which was won by the Arabs in 751 at the Talas River.

Arabs and the Byzantine Empire

During the 7th century, the Arabs kept on attacking the Byzantine empire. To destroy it, they incessantly tried to seize the capital city of it, Constantinople. The first unsuccessful attack on the city was in 669 via land and sea. In 717 during wintertime, the last of several expeditions ended in disaster for the attackers. When a treacherous storm wiped out a fleet of about 2000 ships, the Arab soldiers strayed around Anatolia before finally headed directly back home. Starting in the mid-670s, the Byzantines had a powerful psychological advantage. It was an enigmatic new device in their military weapons, which became the much esteemed Greek fire.

In 674, a Muslim fleet saw the “Greek fire” when they entered Bosphorus to attack Constantinople, and was greatly deterred to continue on with their mission. This new weapon that the Byzantine had can be seen as the precursor of the modern flamethrower, and their secret for it was bitterness guarded. No one ever found out how the chemists for the empire were able to attain the object of flame for its military. People have implied that the inflammable was essentially petroleum-based, able to float on water, and is very difficult to put an end to. Therefore without any explanations how, it can destroy a wooden fleet from afar. A high number of streams of liquid fire may either be lobbed in a canister or projected with an arrow is part of the process.


The ancient Persian empire was decimated by the Arabs. The Byzantine empire lost the lands of Syria and Egypt to the Arabs. When Egypt was conquered in 642, they were used only to pay taxes to the rulers. The Arabs already ruled land all the way to India and Central Asia from Northern Africa. The next venture for them was crossing the Straits of Gibraltar and establishing themselves in Spain in the year 711.





Nov 13, 2010 5:43am
Thank you for this great article about the early history of the Arabs and Islam. You have made great research.
Nov 14, 2010 8:10pm
Thank you askformore for reading and commenting on my article.
Nov 13, 2010 3:49pm
Good succinct history.
Nov 14, 2010 8:09pm
Thank you dpeach for reading and commenting on my article.
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  4. "Islam and the Arabs: A Concise History." Mideast Web. 20/10/2010 <Web >
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