A Brief History of Islam and the West

7/15/05

 

632 AD: Muhammad died leaving only one daughter, Fatima.A majority (the Sunni) supported Abu Bakr, a kinsman, early convert, and father of one of his nine wives, Aisha, to replace Muhammad as Islamís new leader and the first caliph.A minority (the Shiites) supported Ali ibu Abu Talib, the husband of Muhammadís youngest daughter, Fatima, to become first caliph.Civil war between these factions in 656 AD elevated Ali to become the fourth caliph, but he was murdered at Al Kufah, Iraq, in 661 which led to the ongoing fight between Sunni and Shia.At present, Shiites dominate Iran and southern Iraq and represent about 15% of Muslims.All other Muslim countries are dominated by Sunnis composing about 85% of all Muslims.

 

637: Muslims capture Jerusalem.

 

711: The Moors, Muslims from Mauretania in NW Africa, overran Spain and developed a high culture centered in Cordoba.The Moors were never part of the Ottoman Empire.

 

1095-1291: There were nine Christian Crusades.The Christians retook Jerusalem in 1099 but the Muslims retook it in 1187.

1200-1300: The Ottoman Empire was established in what is now Turkey by Turkish Muslims.

 

1453: The Ottomans took Christian Constantinople (Istanbul) and held much of Southeastern Europe including parts of Hungary, Greece, Southern Russia, Armenia, Kurdistan, Iraq, part of Iran, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa from 1529 to 1789.After 1789, the Ottomans lost territory in Europe and Africa to France, Britain, Germany, and Russia as those countries expanded.By 1885, Africa was partitioned between Britain, France, Turkey, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.However, the Ottoman Empire was still a significant world power until the end of World War One in 1918.

 

1492: The last Moorish city in Spain, Granada, fell to Ferdinand and Isabella who financed Columbusís explorations beginning in 1492.

 

1859-1870: Italy became a unified country.

 

1866-1871: Bismarck unified Germany.

 

1914-1918: During World War One, the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany.The peace treaties dissolved the Ottoman Empire in 1918.Britain had occupied Palestine in 1917 and pledged in the Balfour Declaration (1917) to support a Jewish national homeland in Palestine.Britain controlled much of the Middle East from 1917 to 1940 and created most of the current boundaries.Note that there were no set boundaries within the earlier Middle Eastern empires.

 

1920: The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt promoting strict Muslim law with no separation of church and state.

 

1922: Kermal Ataturk overthrew the last sultan and founded modern Turkey with separation of church and state.

 

1941: Hitler invaded Russia capturing about 5 million prisoners.Hitler agreed to free prisoners who would fight the Russians.About 1 million Muslims who had endured Russian domination accepted Hitlerís offer.

 

1945: World War Two ends and the Cold War with Russia begins.Many of the Muslims from Russia stayed in West Germany.Some became British and American spies with CIA support because of their knowledge of Russia.

 

1947-1948: The UN General Assembly voted in 1947 to partition Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state.This UN sanctioned event led many Muslims to question Western interests in the Middle East.Britain withdrew from Palestine in May 1948.Israel declared an independent state on May 14, 1948.Several Arab states rejected the partitioning of Palestine, but have been unable to remove the Jews.Jerusalem has remained divided since 1948.

 

1960: Mr.Ramadan, a Muslim Brotherhood leader from Egypt, took charge of building a major mosque in Munich, Germany.Mr. Ramadan received CIA and Saudi support.

 

2001: Three of four lead airline hijackers on 9/11 had studied in Germany and had ties to the Munich mosque.

 

2005: Will Iraq be able to form a democratic government in which the role of Islam is limited and which accommodates Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds?Much of what happens in this century depends upon the answer.

 

Sources:

1.How a Mosque for Ex-Nazis Became Center of Radical Islam, Ian Johnson, Wall Street Journal 7/12/05.

 

2. Encarta, The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, and The World Almanac.