Today (?) in Middle Eastern history: Muhammad conquers Mecca (630?)

You've probably noted those question marks in the title to this post, and they aren't there to remind me to go back and check my facts later. The question marks are there because there's no compelling reason to believe that this event happened on the date that corresponds with January 11, 630, on our calendar. … Continue reading Today (?) in Middle Eastern history: Muhammad conquers Mecca (630?)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Grand Mosque seizure (1979)

Religious fervor was truly in the air in 1979. Presumably we don't need to go into much detail about that year's Islamic Revolution in Iran, which ousted Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's monarchy in favor of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his Islamic Republic. But across the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia had its own run in with Islamist … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Grand Mosque seizure (1979)

Islamic History, Part 5: Muhammad in Medina, war with Mecca, and Muhammad’s death (622-632)

Islamic History Series Having established Muhammad's initial ministry in Mecca and his eventual flight from that city, just ahead of a plot to assassinate him, we now pick up the story with Muhammad having arrived in the oasis city of Yathrib, although it wasn't "Yathrib" much longer. The city soon became known as "The City … Continue reading Islamic History, Part 5: Muhammad in Medina, war with Mecca, and Muhammad’s death (622-632)

Islamic History, Part 4: Muhammad’s Revelations and the Hijrah (~570-622)

Islamic History Series I was trying to decide how to approach the story of Muhammad, obviously the single most important episode in the development of Islam and Islamic civilization. I could start with the traditional narrative of Muhammad's life, but that risks people reading the narrative and treating it as though it were settled fact. … Continue reading Islamic History, Part 4: Muhammad’s Revelations and the Hijrah (~570-622)