More than 250 years before Muhammad’s ‘revelation’ on Mount Hira (Mecca), Emperor Constantine I had the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher constructed in Jerusalem on the Crucifixion Hill. About 580, Muhammad (age 9-11) when traveling in Syria with his uncle Abu Talib, met and learned much about Christians and the Bible. In 610, Muhammad had his first revelation on Mount Hira. He said that while in a cave, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and ‘inspiration was sent down to him; and he was taught by one Mighty in Power (Quran 53:4-).’ There he said Gabriel said, “Proclaim in the name of thy Lord… (Quran 96:1-).”
During his first few years, Muhammad made few converts through peace. In 613, the Persians had captured Damascus and Antioch of Syria; then in 614 they took Jerusalem. In 615, Muhammad went to the people of his great-grandfather Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, a leader of the Hashemites (Kings of Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Arabia are of this clan), and many converted to Muhammadanism – Islam (‘one who submits’) or Muslim (muslimun). At that time they were under persecution by other tribes. In 622, about 80 people with Muhammad left (‘Hijra’ – exodus) to Yathrib (‘the city’ of the Prophet – al-Medina). Medina at that time had a large Jewish presence. In 624, Muhammad broke with the Jews because they would not receive him as a prophet and adopt Islam – his form of religion for the followers of the God of Abraham (إله إبراهيم Allah Ibrahim). About that time Muslims began praying towards Mecca instead of Jerusalem; and started banishing and killing the Jews of Medina.
In 627, Abu Sufyan, leader of Mecca, sieged Muhammad’s forces and after he was unsuccessful, a confederation was created of about 8 Arab clans. In 630, an army of approximately 30,000 ‘Muslims’ took Mecca and made it their capital. In 632, Muhammad died and his father-in-law, Abu-Bakr, with Umar ibn Al-Khattab (Omar) – close friend of Muhammad and leader (caliph), revised and continued Islam. Moreover, Abu-Bakr began military campaigns against the Christians in Byzantine and Persians in Syria and Mesopotamia. By 637, Muslims conquered Syria and Iraq, and advanced against the Byzantines.
In 638, Umar came upon Jerusalem; and by 642 had taken Alexandria (Africa) and much of Egypt. What was not destroyed of the Great Library of Alexandria during the time of the Romans was destroyed by the Muslims that year. One recorded story says that Amr wrote to Umar about the books and scrolls; and he replied, “If the books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if they oppose the Quran, destroy them.” Other stories say they used the ancient scrolls to keep fires going.
Nevertheless, by 652 Muslims had conquered much of North Africa and the Middle East and into Armenia and Georgia; and attacked Sicily. Egypt, Persia and the Fertile Crescent (Iraq) came under the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates for hundreds of years. Between 668 and 678, they sieged the Christian city Constantinople (ancient Byzantium, Constantinople, and now Istanbul). The Greeks (with Greek Fire) helped repel the Arab aggressors and an annual tribute of 3,000 gold pieces, 50 slaves and 50 horses ceased the attacks until 717 when the Muslims attacked.
In 688, Emperor Justinian II and Caliph al-Malik signed a treaty to jointly control Cyprus. In 698, the Muslims conquered Carthage, Africa and by 711 reached from southern Spain, through North Africa to Afghanistan and modern Iran. The Visigoths of Spain would fight the Muslims for years; and by 716 Lisbon, Portugal and nearly all of Spain was over Muslim rule. In 717, about 210,000 Muslims under Caliph Suleiman – Maslama came upon Constantinople – once a home of ancient Christian Churches. A year after sieging, about 180,000 Muslims had been killed or died; and Emperor Leo’s forces (with the Bulgars) and the walls of Constantinople held with much loss to their people.
In 725, the Muslims took Nimes, France and other port towns. In 732, Charles Martel, prince of the Franks, in the Battle of Tours, with less than 2,000 soldiers stopped 40,000 Muslim cavalry from going farther into France. Battles continued through the Muslim borders. The Abbasid Muslims moved their capital to Baghdad in 750; their rule would last over 500 years until 1258. In the late 8th century Christian King Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus), Holy Roman Emporer; through war and diplomacy repelled the Arab Muslims from what is now France, Italy and much of Spain (Moors held much territory). Nevertheless, the Muslim built their schools, hospitals and mosques and converted by marriage, fear and false doctrines tens of millions.
Centuries of tension and Muslim conquest continued, including late 10th century Christians being executed in Andalusia for refusal to converting to Islam. By 972, the Fatimids of Egypt had control over nearly all of North Africa. About 1000, gunpowder began to be used in weapons in various parts of the world.
In 1012, Caliph Al-Hakim in Egypt ordered the destruction of all Christian churches and Jewish temples. The next year Jews were expelled from Cordova by the Umayyad Caliphate. By the mid-11th century, Seljuk Turk Muslims were established in Persia. Late 11th century, El Cid of Spain drove out the Moors. In 1054, the Western Christian Church (under the Roman Catholic rule) divided from the Eastern Orthodox Churches in what is called the Great Schism.
In 1055, the Seljuk Turks took Baghdad from their Arab brothers. And by 1091, the Normans took back Sicily from the Muslims. Yet, the Muslims had conquered the Christians in Armenia. In 1070 the Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem from the Fatimid Arabs; and by 1085, they held Syria and Palestine.
Over the next couple of centuries, Christian Crusades had limited and temporary successes. In 1096, the First Crusade began and ended in 1099 when Jerusalem was taking back for the Christians and Jews. The Second Crusade failed and by 1183, the Caliph Sultan, Saladin the Great took Aleppo, Damascus and controlled Egypt and Syria. The Third Crusade ended in 1192 with some limited success. In 1193, Saladin died. In 1204, the Crusades took Constantinople. In 1244, the Crusaders lost Jerusalem and Muslims have since controlled the holy Temple Mount, upon part of which in their Dome of the Rock.
Mid 1200s the French attacked Muslims in North Africa and the Mamluks took control from their Ayyubid brothers. About that time Genghis Khan sacked Baghdad (1258) and was threatening much of Asia and Eastern Europe. In 1453, Constantinople fell to over 200,000 Ottoman Muslims with tens of cannons. They changed the name of the city to Istanbul.
Between, the 13th and 16th century the Muslims gained some territory and control in India. In 1492, Muslims and Jews were expelled from Spain. In 1516, Muslim Ottomans conquered Syria, Egypt and in 1517 took control of Mecca and Medina. By 1700, the Venetians, Habsburgs and Russians had taken back much Europe from the Ottomans and divided lands. It was not until 1830, the Greece regain independence from the Ottomans; and not only 1850s that in parts of the Ottoman Empire, non-Muslims were granted equal rights. By 1882, the British occupied Egypt and after World War I the Ottoman Empire, which had lasted hundreds of years, came to an end.
In 1923 the Republic of Turkey was established. In 1928, the Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brothers or Muslim Brotherhood) was founded in Egypt. In 1945, Indonesia became independent; Pakistan in 1947 and Malaysia in 1957. In 1945, World War II ended and soon after many nations that had been colonized by ‘Christian’ nations such as Britain, France, Belgium and Portugal granted those countries independence (most in the 1960s after protests and revolts). In the late 1990s the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan.
September 2001, Muslim extremists attacked the United States and killed about 3,000 people. In the midst of the US-Iraq War that followed, many Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and other Muslim jihadist fighters that were in Camp Bucca prison from about 2004 to 2006 joined Baghdadi and formed ISIL/ISIS.