The Early Islamic Period in the Levant

Sidebar to: Guarding the Holy Land

622 A.D.: Mohammed (c. 570–632) flees from Mecca to Medina (the Hegira); the first year of the Islamic era.

635–638: Muslim conquest of the Levant.

661–750: Umayyad caliphate, centered in Damascus. In the last decade of the seventh century, the caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

750–969: Abbasid caliphate, centered in Baghdad. The Abbasids continued to exist, though without much power, until the Mongol invasion of 1258.

969–1071: Fatimid dynasty, based in Egypt. The Fatimids created an Islamic power to rival the Abbasids in 909, and they continued to rule in Egypt until united within a new Ayyubid caliphate by Salah al-Din (Saladin) in 1187.

1071–1098: Seljuk Turks briefly controlled the Levant before the arrival of the Crusaders.

1099–1187: European Crusaders created colonies along the Levantine coast, including the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and erected a chain of fortresses to protect their eastern flank.

1187–1260: Ayyubid dynasty, founded by Salah al-Din (1138–1193), united Syrian and Egyptian Muslims, defeated the Crusaders at the Horns of Hattin near the Sea of Galilee, and returned the Levant to Muslim hands.

1229–1244: Treaty between Egyptian Ayyubids and German emperor Frederick II (1194–1250) gave the Crusaders control over Jerusalem (except the Temple Mount), parts of the Galilee and a narrow corridor from Jerusalem to Jaffa.

1258: The Mongols sack Baghdad, officially putting an end to the Abbasids.

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