What was going on prior to Mohammed, during his time, and immediately afterward? Here is a world history timeline, from: Macrohistory: World History. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2015, from Macrohistory:World History. Mohammedan influence in RED.
501 In Central America, the Maya are peaking in economic prosperity. The civilization at Teotihuacán (in what is today Mexico) begins to decline and its people are migrating to the greatest Mayan city, Tikal, bringing with them ideas about weaponry and new ritual practices. Maya population is rising.
507 The Franks, who are Catholic, use the Arian Christianity of the Visigoths as an excuse to expand against them – Catholics seeing Arianism as a heresy. The Franks defeat the Visigoths, kill their king, Alaric II, and drive them into Spain.
511 Clovis, king of the Franks, dies and, as is custom among the Franks, the lands of Clovis are divided among his four sons, beginning the sordid rule of Europe’s “Merovingian” kings.
523 In northern China, power within the Tuoba Wei family (a Xiongnu family rather than Chinese) has passed to a dowager queen who is a devout Buddhist – Queen Hu.
524 One of the four sons of Clovis, Clodomer, dies, and two of the other sons of Clovis, Clotaire and Childebert, seize Clodomer’s lands for themselves and murder his children.
525 Living in Italy under the rule of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, Boethius has been accused of treason and imprisoned. He has written his work On the Consolation of Philosophy while in captivity, and in a year he is executed.
528 Hephthalites (White Huns) have moved from the Hindu Kush into the Punjab and eastward across the Ganges Valley, ravaging cities, towns and Buddhist monasteries, and now they are driven back, out of the Ganges Valley.
528 Despite her Buddhism, Queen Hu has resorted to an old monarchist tool: killing people. She has executed lovers who have displeased her. She has forced a rival into a convent and has had her executed, and in 528 she executes her son, who was growing restless under the tutelage of her lovers.
529 Justinian, Catholic Roman emperor at Constantinople since 518, closes down Plato’s old academy in Athens as part of a move to stamp out paganism.
531 Khosrau I, of the Sassanian dynasty, comes to power in Persia. He has crushed the communistic Mazdakite movement and has ended decades of disorder. He is to support Zoroastrianism and to reform and improve Persia’s economy, making taxes more equitable and curbing the power of aristocrats.
533 Getting the world ready for the Second Coming of Christ, Emperor Justinian sends his army to reconquer what had been parts of the Roman Empire. In North Africa he defeats the Vandals, who are Arian Christians, and he conquers territory and souls for the Church.
534 Continuing the Frankish tradition of making war for the sake of plunder, Clotaire and Childebert have overrun the kingdom of Burgundy – including the cities of Lyons and Geneva. The royal dynasty in Burgundy ends with the death of Gundimar. An independent Kingdom of Burgundy is no more.
534 Toledo becomes the capital of the Visigoth kingdom in Spain.
534 Outraged court officials rebel against Queen Hu. She cuts her hair and seeks refuge in a Buddhist nunnery, but the officials drag her out and assassinate her. Also, two thousands courtiers are killed. Northern China divides between western and eastern halves of the Wei dynasty.
536 Justinian’s army invades Italy at Naples.
550 What had been Roman-ruled Britain is largely divided among illiterate Anglo-Saxon warlords, surrounded by men who are preoccupied with fighting, valor and loyalty. They look with contempt upon what they see as the defeated God of the defeated Christians.
550 Rule in India is again divided among numerous kingdoms. Profitable trade with the Roman Empire has ended, and trade with Persia had also declined, which brings decline to some of India’s cities. In India a movement called Bhakti has begun and is growing. They practice humility and sing of their adoration and love for a generous, merciful, supreme God.
554 Justinian’s’ army defeats the Ostrogoths of Italy. Rome and much of Italy is in ruin. The Pope and Catholicism now reign supreme in Rome and central Italy. The Trinity version of Christianity has won against Arianism, violence again deciding a matter of theology.
560 The Hephthalites have returned to their power center near Samarkand. They are attacked, defeated by a Persian-Turkish alliance, the Persians taking revenge for the defeat that the Hephthalites had given their forefathers the previous century. The Hephthalites vanish as an identifiable people.
560 Ethelbert I succeeds his warlord father, Eormenric, in a kingdom in southern England called Kent – one of the older if not oldest Anglo-Saxon settlements in England, dating from the mid-400s or a couple of decades earlier. The young Ethelbert is soon to marry the Catholic daughter of the king of Paris, Charibert, a grandson of Clovis.
568 Constantinople has been weakened by its prolonged wars and by warring tribes into its empire. The Lombards invade Italy, reaching Milan.
577 A Xiongnu chieftain, Yan Ch’ien, unifies northern China by force.
581 Diffusion brings Chinese rule in northern China back to the Chinese. The Xiongnu chieftain, Yan Ch’ien, dies in 580 under mysterious circumstances. Replacing him is his son-in-law, Yang Jian, a tough Buddhist soldier from an aristocratic Chinese family, who has had the title Duke of Sui. Yang Jian proclaims that heaven and earthly signs indicate that he, being virtuous and wise, has been designated by heaven as the rightful successor. He takes the name Emperor Wen, and to eliminate rivalry he has fifty-nine people murdered. The Sui Dynasty has begun.
587 In Japan, the Soga clan, which has intermarried with the royal Yamato family, fights the Mononobe and Nakatomi clans over influence in selecting a successor to the Emperor Yomei has taken place. The Soga favor importing Buddhism from the Asian mainland, described there as the religion of the most civilized. The Mononobe and Nakatomi hold that Buddhism would be an affront to the gods of the emperor. The Soga win the civil war. The head of the Soga family, Umako, makes his nephew, Sujun, emperor.
588 In Spain, the king of the Visigoths, Recared I, has discarded Arian Christian and converts to Catholicism. And as the king goes, so goes his nation.
589 From northern China, Emperor Wen has gained power through the south. After 271 years of division, China is again united.
592 Emperor Sujun wants to be rid of his benefactor, Umako, but Umako strikes first and has Sujun murdered. Umako places his thirty-nine year-old daughter, Suiko, on the throne and makes her twenty-nine year-old nephew, Shotoku, regent.
594 Shotoku converts Suiko to Buddhism. Buddhism becomes the state religion and is called upon to protect the Japanese nation.
600 Monotheistic religion has spread to Arabia. Jews have been in Arabia for centuries. Christian missionaries have been in Arabia for more than a century. The entire Arabian province of Najran is Christian. Christianity has been established superficially in various other centers of trade, and Arabs living on the borders of Constantinople’s empire and Persia’s empire have been influenced by those empires.
602 Constantinople’s army mutinies against the Emperor Maurice and the masses join in against anyone who is wealthy – Christians against Christians. Maurice and his family are butchered as Maurice prays. Their heads are put on display and their bodies cast into the sea. A non-commissioned army officer, Phocas, becomes emperor. Pope Gregory joyfully applauds Maurice’s demise, and he describes the coming to power of Phocas as the work of Providence. He asks Catholics to pray that Phocas might be strengthened against all his enemies.
603 Khosrau II of Persia, who had had a good relationship with Maurice and his family, is disturbed by their deaths and declares war against Phocas and Constantinople. The Zoroastrian priesthood in Persia is pleased. As they see it, their king is responsible for conquering the world in order to spread peace, the Zoroastrian faith, individual salvation and to prepare all humankind for the great, worldwide battle against Satan at Armageddon.
610 The army of Phocas has been occupied by war with Persia, and Avars and Slavs have been advancing through Constantinople’s empire in Europe. Constantinople’s governor in Egypt, Heraclius, sails with a small army to Constantinople, and with Phocas having lost much of his support, Heraclius easily defeats him. Phocas is executed and Heraclius became emperor.
613 Muhammad has begun preaching publicly in his hometown, Mecca, and he is being ignored or is thought to be crazy.
618 In China, the Sui Dynasty has worked people too hard on public works projects and has lost economic prosperity in its wars against Korea. With flooding and famine has come rebellion and civil war. The victor, the Duke of Tang, becomes Emperor Gao-zu. The Sui Dynasty has ended and the Tang Dynasty has begun.
622 Pilgrims from Yathrib visiting Mecca (a holy city before the existence of Islam) are favorably impressed by Muhammad and invite him to return with them to their town. The town has no unifying governmental authority. Muhammad is fifty-two and becomes recognized in Yathrib as a religious leader and someone to go to for settling disputes.
623 Yathrib has a large Jewish community, and its leaders reject Muhammad’s claim to be a leader of Judaism. Muhammad and his followers stop bowing toward Jerusalem and begin bowing toward Mecca, and Muhammad abandons Saturday as the Sabbath and makes Friday his special day of the week.
624 Mohammad has responded to economic hardship in Yathrib by organizing raids on merchant’s caravans. He has his greatest success so far, at Bedr, where the raiders kill an estimated fifty to seventy persons from Mecca. Muhammad and Mecca are hostile, Muhammad claiming God to be on his side and blaming Mecca for having rejected him.
626 Avars, helped by Slavs, attack the walls of Constantinople. The Persians also assault the city. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Sergius, leads a defense of Constantinople and defeats the Avars.
630 Muhammad’s military has grown stronger, and in his war with Mecca he emerges victorious. Mecca’s wealthy are obliged to donate to the well-being of its poor. People in Mecca see Muhammad’s strength as the power of his god, and they see the other gods as having become powerless. There is a mass conversion to Islam, and Muhammad adds Mecca’s army to his own. Muhammad conquers the rest of Arabia, puts down others claiming to be prophets.
630 Constantinople’s army pushed through Mesopotamia, destroying as they went. The great canal works in Mesopotamia have been destroyed. The Persian army has overthrown Khosrau II. His son is crowned Khavad II and signs a peace treaty with Constantinople and returns Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor and western Mesopotamia to Constantinople’s empire.
632 Muhammad the Prophet dies.
634 The momentum generated by victories against dissidents and breakaway regions left Islamic warriors restless and feeling aggressive, and Arabia has been in an economic recession, trade having come to a standstill after ten years of war. War for booty is a tradition, and as an alternative to making raids against “the faithful” in Arabia, Muslim warriors are making raids into Mesopotamia. They meet little resistance and are encouraged to make more war. Islam’s first caliph to succeed Muhammad, Abu Bakr, declares a holy war in support of the raiders, and one of the greatest imperialisms of all time begins.
640 Buddhist doctrine and Shinto have been influencing each other. The Buddha, represented by the statue at Nara, has become identified with the Sun Goddess of Shinto worship, and Buddhist ceremonies have been weaved into traditional court ritual.
645 The Soga clan has been oppressive and arrogant and its leaders are overthrown and put to the sword by the Nakatomi clan – whose leader had been serving as Japan’s Shinto high priest. The Nakatomi would now select who among the Yamato family would be emperor and continue to run daily court ceremonies.
646 Muslim warriors have attacked wealthy but not common people, and they have not raped as some Christian armies have. In some areas they are seen as at least as no worse than the rule they are replacing. The empires of Constantinople and Persia have been weakened by war and lack of support, and Muslim warriors have conquered as far north as Syria, much of Mesopotamia and all of Egypt.
650 A mid-eastern people of mixed race, the Khazars, expand westward along the north shore of the Black Sea and push Bulgars from east of the Dniester River. The Bulgars migrate south, across the Danube River, and found the kingdom that in modern times is called Bulgaria. The Khazars sell captured people, mainly Slavs – the origin of the modern English word, slave.
651 Almost thirty years have passed since Muhammad’s death. The third caliph since Muhammad tries to put an end to quarreling over Muhammad’s legacy and orders a committee to collect Muhammad’s messages into a standard word, to be called the Koran, drawing from the memories and the tradition of passing history on orally. The result produces the wrath of various people and communities across Arabia who had become wedded to these rival interpretations.
652 The Muslims have conquered Persia, where people and the Zoroastrian religion were a greater barrier to conquest than were the people of previous territories. Muslims see Zoroastrianism as evil, and in Persia, its homeland, Zoroastrianism is doomed.
654 Christian missionaries from Ireland are beginning to evangelize across England. The king of Essex, Sigebert, has been influenced by Northumbria and has just converted to Christianity. Northumbria defeats the pagan king of Mercia, gains possession of Mercia and its king becomes overlord of England’s southern kingdoms. With pagans, Catholicism has won prestige with the military victory – a look of the Christian God’s superior power. Mercia converts to Christianity.
656 In Medina (Yathrib) Uthman is assassinated. The leaders of the sect that assassinated Uthman proclaims Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, caliph. Civil war erupts.
660 The Koran, as an arranged book and considered complete, is published for the first time. Muhammad’s main concern after his conquest of Mecca was resistance by recalcitrant tribes in Arabia and claims by rival prophets among the resisters. Reflecting this struggle, the Koran describes non-believers as evil and people who can expect war from God (3.151). But the Koran also advocates peace with enemies who are inclined toward it (8.61). Muhammad wanted people within his realm, including Christians and Jews, to get along. He wanted to tax Christians and Jews, and in the Koran are verses about Christians and Jews not fearing or grieving (2.62). Drawing as Muhammad did from the Biblical tradition that had entered Arabia, the Koran mentions biblical figures and repeats the Biblical message of God’s love and grace. (5.54).
661 An assassination attempt has been made on Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, and he dies of his wounds, aggravating a split between his supporters, called Shia Muslims. Their rivals, Sunni Muslims, are establishing a new caliphate at Damascus, in Syria.
664 The civil war among the Muslims ends. Led by caliph Mu’awiyah in Damascus, Islam renews military expansion.
679 According to Byzantine chroniclers, Bulgars cross the Danube into the Balkans. Previously they had made raids into the area. This time they come to stay, in territory that Constantinople (Byzantium) considers its own. Constantinople is annoyed but busy warring against Muslim Arabs.
680 A rebellion against another Umayyad caliph supports the son of Ali, Hussein. He is hopelessly outnumbered at the battle of Karbala, but he wants to die fighting, and does. He becomes the martyr for whom Shi’a Muslims will annually thrash themselves.
690 In China, Wu Zetian has worked her way from the emperor’s favorite concubine to replacing his wife and dominating the court, and now she officially becomes Empress Wu – the only Chinese woman emperor in history. Murder and terror have been her methods. Challenging Confucian opposition to rule by a woman, she has championed feminism, and she champions Buddhism.
692 The twelve-year civil war ends when the Syrian army overruns Mecca. The new Umayyad caliph since 685 has been Abd al-Malik.
700 Non-Arab Muslims outnumber Arab Muslims. Despite resistance from Arab leaders, integration between Arabs and non-Arab Muslims is rising. An Islamic empire by Arabs is on its way toward being swallowed by its conquests.