Book: Religions of a Single God
Chapter: Chapter 4: History of Islam
Islamic history begins, arguably, in Medina with the establishment of a religio-political
charter and a discrete community. From there, we can trace the expansion and spread of
the movement to form, eventually, the Islamicate. But establishing an empire and leading
an empire are different enterprises, so much of this chapter focuses on the challenges
Muslims faced when it came to leadership. The history of the Islamicate reveals little agreement concerning the nature and qualifications for leadership. Although some Arab features will likely always remain in Islam because of its Arab origins, we will see that Islamic history (and in a later chapter, Islamic culture) have been shaped even more profoundly by Persians, Berbers, and Turks, but also by interactions with Jews, Christians, and Hindus.