We're glad you're enjoying History Hub Community. To access the rest of History Hub and thousands of more resources like this one, log in here. Or learn how to become a subscriber here.

Muhammad and the Spread of Islam
Guide: Islamic Empire

Use this collection to explore the creation of an Islamic empire following the death of Muhammad in 632 CE. A critical thinking module provides a closer look at the tactics and successes of the Muslim armies that conquered wide swaths of territory, from Persia to Spain, following Muhammad's death. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Time Period Key Understandings

  • Relatability and promise of a better life in religious traditions attract converts and followers
  • Geography and previous cultural traditions impacted the spread of Islam
  • The relationship between religion and government can impact empirical stability, growth, and success
  • Dynastic rule can bring personal strife into governmental affairs
  • Religious division or fragmentation occurs as religion spreads geographically and there are various interpretations of leadership, key text, and doctrines
  • The relationship between religion and science changes over time
  • Preservation of Greek, Roman, and Indian academic achievements is significant to the continuation and advancement of knowledge
  • The religious identity of Spain impacts its empirical alignment and alliances throughout history
  • Religious text and interpretation of religious text can lead to differences in the practice of the religion across time and space
  • Strong bureaucratic systems positively impact the effectiveness of both civilizations and empires
  • Religious conflict negatively impacts the rule of the governmental system in place
  • Social stratification can lead to both stability and conflict

Key Questions

  • How did Islamic armies gain so many new territories and converts during the seventh century?
  • How did the caliphate become a powerful institution? How did different ideas about the caliphate affect the Muslim community?
  • Why did civil warfare break out between Muslims in the mid-seventh century? What were the lasting effects of the rivalry between the Sunni and Shia sects?


  1. Overview: Islamic Empire
  2. Outline: Outline
  3. Transcript: Transcript
  4. Lesson: Introduction
  5. Lesson: 1-Age of Conquests
  6. Lesson: 2-Empire of Caliphs
  7. Lesson: 3-Sunni and Shia
  8. Lesson: Closing
  9. Key Question: Arab Conquests
  10. Background Essay: Arab Conquests (Background Essay)
  11. Dilemma Perspective: Arab Conquests (Perspective 1)
  12. Dilemma Perspective: Arab Conquests (Perspective 2)
  13. Doing More: Doing More
  14. Reference Articles: Caliphate
  15. Reference Articles: Muslim Civil War of 656–661
  16. Reference Articles: Muslim Conquests
  17. Reference Articles: Shia Islam
  18. Biographies: Ali ibn Abi Talib
  19. Letters & Narratives: al-Baladhuri: on the Muslim conquest of Egypt (ninth century)
  20. Letters & Narratives: Hashim: caliph's arrangement with Christian subjects (ca. 660 CE)

MLA Citation

"Islamic Empire." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2158363. Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.

View all citation styles.

Entry ID: 2158363

back to top