The Arabian Peninsula is mostly desert with very few oases. People would settle and form communities at the oases. People were organized into tribes and clans that were led by sheikhs. Tribes often fought for control of the oases and the trading that took place there.
Life after Muhamad
Prophet Muhammad was born into a family of Mecca´s ruling tribe about 570. As a young man, Muhammad gained a reputation for intelligence, honesty, and kindness. Muhammad worked as a trader for a wealthy merchant named Khadija. She was so impressed by his virtues that she married him.
Life after Muhammad
The holy book of Islam is called the Qur´an. The Qur´an teaches that there is only one God, whom all Muslims should worship. According to the Qur´an, God is the creator and is merciful and compassionate. Islam teaches that God will judge individuals for their good and bad actions and send them to heaven or hell on final judgement day.
The Umayyads & the Abbasids
In 632, the Muslim state in Arabia almost collapsed when Muhammad died without naming a successor. Then a few leading Muslims acted decisively. They appointed Muhammad´s father in law Abu Bakr as successor. He then promised to follow the example that Muhammad gave.
Though he ruled for two years only he was very serious to the survival of Islam. His strong leadership kept all of Arabia united under Islam. The early caliphs succeeded in establishing a large Muslim empire. By 652, just 20 years after Muhammad's death, the Muslims had conquered Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and various parts of North Africa.
The Umayyads moved the capital of the Muslim empire to Damascus in Syria so it would be easier to control conquered lands but the downfall was that Muslims felt the new capital was to far from Islam´s heartland near Medina. This unpopular opinion caused Islam to split into 2 branches. The Sunni and the Shiite had different views of who could rule as caliph. This division in Islam remains to this day.