Key figures in Islamic History
570 A.D. – 632 A.D.
Muhammad (Arabic: مُحَمَّد, pronounced [muħammad]; c. 570 CE – 8 June 632 CE) was an Arab religious, social and political leader and the founder of Islam According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet, sent to present and confirm the monotheistic teachings preached previously by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. He is viewed as the final prophet of God in all the main branches of Islam, though some modern denominations diverge from this belief. Muhammad united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran as well as his teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief. He is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mahamad, Muhamad and many others.
Born approximately 570 CE (Year of the Elephant) in the Arabian city of Mecca, Muhammad was orphaned at the age of six. He was raised under the care of his paternal grandfather Abd al-Muttalib, and upon his death, by his uncle Abu Talib. In later years he would periodically seclude himself in a mountain cave named Hira for several nights of prayer. When he was 40, Muhammad reported being visited by Gabriel in the cave, and receiving his first revelation from God. Three years later, in 610, Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "submission" (islām) to God is the right way of life (dīn), and that he was a prophet and messenger of God, similar to the other prophets in Islam.
The followers of Muhammad were initially few in number, and experienced hostility from Meccan polytheists. He sent some of his followers to Abyssinia in 615 to shield them from prosecution, before he and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina (then known as Yathrib) in 622. This event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar, also known as the Hijri Calendar. In Medina, Muhammad united the tribes under the Constitution of Medina. In December 629, after eight years of intermittent fighting with Meccan tribes, Muhammad gathered an army of 10,000 Muslim converts and marched on the city of Mecca. The conquest went largely uncontested and Muhammad seized the city with little bloodshed. In 632, a few months after returning from the Farewell Pilgrimage, he fell ill and died. By the time of his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam
The revelations (each known as Ayah — literally, "Sign [of God]") that Muhammad reported receiving until his death form the verses of the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the verbatim "Word of God" on which the religion is based. Besides the Quran, Muhammad's teachings and practices (sunnah), found in the Hadith and sira (biography) literature, are also upheld and used as sources of Islamic law (see Sharia).
573 A.D. – 634 A.D.
Abu Bakr Abdullah ibn Uthman (Arabic: أَبُو بَكْر عَبْد ٱلله ٱبْن عُثْمَان; c. 573 CE – 23 August 634 CE), was a companion and, through his daughter Aisha, a father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, as well as the first of the Rashidun Caliphs.
Initially a rich and respected businessman, Abu Bakr later became one of the first converts to Islam and extensively contributed his wealth in support of Muhammad's work. He was among Muhammad's closest companions, accompanying him on his migration to Medina and being present at a number of his military conflicts, such as the battles of Badr and Uhud.
Following Muhammad's death in 632, Abu Bakr succeeded in the leadership of the Muslim community as the first Rashidun Caliph. During his reign, he overcame a number of uprisings, collectively known as the Ridda wars, as a result of which he consolidated and expanded the rule of the Muslim state over the entire Arabian peninsula. He also commanded the initial incursions into the neighbouring Sassanian and Byzantine empires, which in the years following his death, would eventually result in the Muslim conquests of Persia and the Levant. Abu Bakr died of illness after a reign of 2 years, 2 months and 14 days.
Umar ibn al-Khattab
584 A.D. – 634 A.D.
Umar ibn al-Khattab
Umar (/ˈuːmɑːr/), also spelled Omar (/ˈoʊmɑːr/; Arabic: عمر بن الخطاب ʻUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb [ˈʕomɑr-, ˈʕʊmɑr ɪbn alxɑtˤˈtˤɑːb], "Umar, Son of Al-Khattab"; c. 584 CE – 3 November 644 CE), was one of the most powerful and influential Muslim caliphs in history. He was a senior companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He succeeded Abu Bakr (632–634) as the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate on 23 August 634. He was an expert Muslim jurist known for his pious and just nature, which earned him the epithet Al-Farooq ("the one who distinguishes (between right and wrong)"). He is sometimes referred to as Umar I by historians of Islam, since a later Umayyad caliph, Umar II, also bore that name.
Under Umar, the caliphate expanded at an unprecedented rate, ruling the Sasanian Empire and more than two-thirds of the Byzantine Empire. His attacks against the Sasanian Empire resulted in the conquest of Persia in less than two years (642–644). According to Jewish tradition, Umar set aside the Christian ban on Jews and allowed them into Jerusalem and to worship. Umar was eventually killed by the Persian Piruz Nahavandi (known as ‘Abū-Lū‘lū‘ah in Arabic) in 644 CE.
Umar is revered in the Sunni tradition as a great ruler and paragon of Islamic virtues, and some hadiths identify him as the second greatest of the Sahaba after Abu Bakr. He is viewed negatively in the Shia tradition.