HomeHistory of PalestineThe Rise of Islam


570 Approx.
The Birth of Muhammad

Muhammad was born in approx 570 CE, in the Arabian city of Mecca, in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia. He is the central figure in the religion of Islam. His followers believe him to be the last prophet of the monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. He united Arabia under the Muslim faith.

Sasanian Empire Captures Palestine

In 614 CE Palestine was captured by the Sasanian Empire. This was the last Persian empire before the rise of Islam and was an archrival for the Roman/Byzantine Empire.

The Byzantines Recapture Palestine

In 628 CE the Byzantines recaptured Palestine

The Byzantine Empire was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East during Late Antiquity (approx between the 2nd and the 8th centuries CE) and the Middle Ages (approx between the 5th and the 15th centuries CE). Its capital was Constantinople, now renamed Istanbul. It survived until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. It was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe at the time. Constantine 1st (reigned 324-337) reorganised the empire and, a liberal with regard to religion, legalised Christianity. Theodosius 1st (r. 379-395) was not a religious liberal and made Christianity the state religion and proscribed other religious practices.

632 – 661
The Rashidun Caliphate

From 632 CE power shifted to the Islamic Caliphates. The first was the Rashidun Caliphate and in 634 CE it conquered Palestine. In 661 CE Muawiyah was crowned Caliph of the Islamic World in Jerusalem.

The Rashidun Caliphate (632-661 CE) grew to become the largest empire of the time. At its zenith it included the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, the Caucasus, North Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Iran and up to Central Asia. Abu Bakr was the oldest of Muhammad’s companions and was the first Caliph. The official religion was Islam but non-Muslim monotheistic faiths were permitted (although in some senses adherents were second-class citizens). Palestine was divided into two provinces: Aylya and Ramiah.

662 – 750
The Ummayad Caliphate

The Ummayad Caliphate from Damascus took over from the Rashidun from 662-750 CE. The Dome of the Rock was completed in 691 CE and was the world’s first great work of Islamic architecture. It was the site from which Muhammad was said to ascend to heaven. Jerusalem and Palestine remained under Muslim control for the next 1,300 years.

The population however was mostly Christian until Saladin in 1187.

750 – 1258
The Abbasid Caliphate

The Abbasid Caliphate replaced the Ummayad and ruled from 750-1258 CE. They established a capital in Baghdad to be close to Persia. They managed well at first but finally had to cede land to the Ummayads (out of power but not out of existence), and Egypt to the Fatimids.

From 878 CE Palestine was ruled from Egypt for about a century until the Fatimids and Great Seljuq Empire fought over Palestine, persecuting Christians in the process.

The Fatimids claimed descent from Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad. Their Caliphate (empire) lasted from 909-1171 CE and operated from Egypt.
The Seljuk Empire was a Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim empire ruling from 1037-1194 CE. They were mostly in the eastern Muslim world.