Timeline Description: The Islamic Golden Age (622 - 1258) represents a time in history when the political power of Islam allowed a flourishing of intellectual development. The Islamic empires were based on trade, as opposed to Christian society's focus on agrarian landlords. This, combined with the dominance of Arabic-African and Arabic-Asian trade routes, allowed the Muslim people to be exposed to a wide range of ideas and scholars, and allowed for the foundations of intellectual growth.
|622||Muhammad undertakes the Hijra.
The Prophet Muhammad undertakes the Hijra, his pilgrimage from Mecca to Medina. Shortly after his arrival, he writes the Constitution of Medina, which establishes the first Islamic state. This focuses on stability, freedom of religion, and justice. The Islamic empire starts to expand their control under Muhammad.
|632||The Rashidun Caliphate begins.
Muhammad dies, and control passes to the caliphs, the successors of Muhammad. The four "rightly guided," or Rashidun, caliphs greatly expand the Islamic empire into North Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, the Iranian Peninsula, and Central Asia. This provides the stability and influence necessary for the Golden Age scholars.
|661||The Umayyad Caliphate begins.
Ali, the final Rashidun Caliph, is assassinated and power transfers to his rival, Mu'awiya, who founds the Umayyad Caliphate. The Umayyads begin another large period of expansion, taking the empire to the Atlantic coast of Africa, into Spain, and deeper into Asia. This serves to strengthen the community for the scholars of the Golden Age.
|662||The Bayt al-Hikma is founded in Syria.(c. 662)
Thanks to classical centers of learning in the region, such as the renowned hospital and medical academy at Jundishapur and the famed Library of Alexandria, the Umayyads discover a wealth of knowledge. Mu'awiya gathers a large collection of books in Syria, the Umayyads' capital, and founds the Bayt al-Hikma, an early version of the later House of Wisdom.
|750||The Abbasid Caliphate begins.
The Abbasid Caliphate begins, standing as a rival to the Umayyads. The Abbasids become known for being more inclusive towards non-Arab Muslims.
|751||Contact with the Tang Dynasty introduces paper.
The Abbasid Caliphate's forces clash against those of the Chinese Tang Dynasty for control over the strategically valuable Syr Darya region. After this battle, paper starts to be manufactured in the Middle East. This access to paper becomes another key aspect in the flourishing of Muslim scholarship.
|762||Baghdad is built.
Baghdad is founded by the Abbasids at the heart of their empire. Built on the banks of the Tigris River, Baghdad becomes the largest city on Earth at the time and serves as a center for trade between Africa and Asia. This allows the Abbasid to generate great wealth in taxes and act as patrons for the arts.
|786||The House of Wisdom is founded.(c. 786)
Harun al-Rashid, the fifth Abbasid Caliphate, begins the original House of Wisdom in Baghdad by collecting large amounts of works. This begins the Translation Movement, thanks to al-Rashid's support, in which works are collected from classical periods and translated into Arabic. The movement initially focuses on medicine, mathematics, and astronomy, but others, particularly philosophy, follow.
|786||One Thousand and One Nights is consolidated.(c. 786)
The famous story One Thousand and One Nights, in which a woman tells an enraged sultan stories until he finally changes his ways, is gathered up from earlier versions. This forms the basis of the famous tale, including some tales about Caliph al-Rashid.
|830||Algebra is invented.(c. 830)
Muhammad bin Musa al-Kwarizmi publishes The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing, which forms the basis for algebra. This revolutionizes mathematics, which has previously been based solely on geometry, and opens many new ways of thinking in the field.
|850||Thabit ibn Qurra publishes his work.(c. 850)
Due to the patronage of famous scholars the Sons of Moses, Thabit ibn Qurra publishes many famous works. He translates Nicomachus of Gerasa's Arithmetic and makes important discoveries in algebra and geometry. In astronomy, he is considered one of the first reformers of the Ptolemaic system, and in mechanics he is the founder of statics, the analysis of force and torque.
|855||Hunayn ibn Ishaq publishes his work.(c. 855)
Hunayna ibn Ishaq becomes one of the masters of the Translation Movement. His most famous translation Questions on Medicine becomes a key resource for medical scholars.
|900||Muhammad ibn Zkariya al-Razi publishes his work.(c. 900)
Al-Razi is an important academic, particularly in the field of medicine. He discovers alcohol and sulfuric acid, and writes about how to diagnose and treat smallpox.
|1025||Abu Ali al-Hussain ibn Sina publishes his work.(c. 1025)
Abu Ali al-Hussain ibn Sina (also referred to by his western name, Avicenna) is often referred to as the "Father of Modern Medicine." His primary works are The Book of Healing, which is a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and The Canon of Medicine, which is an overview of all aspects of medicinal knowledge. He recognizes the cure for tuberculosis, and also contributes to astronomy, alchemy, geography, psychology, theology, mathematics, and poetry.
|1258||Mongols besiege Baghdad.
Under the command of Halagu Khan, the Mongols invade Baghdad with the intention of extending their rule further into Mesopotamia. After capturing the city, they kill al-Musta'sim, the final Abbasid Caliph, and destroy much of the grand libraries of Abassids, including the House of Wisdom. This is considered the traditional end of the Islamic Golden Age.