The armies inspired by Islam unified the fractious Arabian Peninsula in the Riddah Wars (Wars of Apostasy) during the eight years before Muḥammad’s death in 632 and the subsequent rule of his father-in-law, Abū Bakr, the first khalīfat rasul al-Lah (successor to the messenger of God, often rendered as “caliph”).
The armies inspired by Islam unified the fractious Arabian Peninsula in the
Three distinct caliphates ruled a more or less united, and expanding,
ՙAlī’s caliphate was challenged by
Little effort was made to convert the inhabitants of conquered territory.
Social and political distinctions between different Arab identities persisted for centuries in military rivalry in newly acquired territories on three continents. Yemenis and southern Arabs competed with northern Arabs, while Arabs long settled in Syria (al-Shamiyyun) were resented by those remaining in the Hijaz of the Arabian Peninsula.
Muslim Empire in 760
Significant conquests outside the Arabian Peninsula began in 636, four years after the Prophet’s death, under the second caliph,
In 637, the Iranian capital of
A convert from one of the Berber tribes,
The armies that emerged from the
Iranian (Persian) and Turkish
Muḥammad and Abū Bakr organized the
The ՙAbbāsid Caliphate, c. 800
Distinctions between infantry and cavalry were blurred, since infantry was transported on horses and camels, while cavalry often dismounted, fighting on foot. Warhorses were rare and carefully conserved, led to battle, and mounted only when fighting began.
For the first few decades, successive caliphs kept their armies apart from the conquered population, building garrison towns such as al-Kufa, Basra, Qayrawan, and al-Fustat. Jabiya, the principal military camp of the Bilad al-Sham, was larger than the city of Damascus, which it secured. Muslim soldiers were enrolled in a roster called the
Regional armies were organized or designated in territories that became part of the Dar-al-Islam, both the region and the army known as a
The Fāṭimids, c. 1040
elephants crashing back into the Sāsānian line, Persian discipline broke down. With limited room to maneuver, the defenders were driven into the Euphrates River.
Prior to the emergence of Islam from the Arabian Peninsula, there was little tradition of either scholarship or written literature in the Arabic language. Perhaps the most comprehensive Muslim scholarship roughly contemporary to the history of Muḥammad and the Caliphate is
Abū Jaՙfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī’s
Offering a rare glimpse from the nearly illiterate lands north of the Pyrenees is the
Donner, Fred McGraw. The Early Islamic Conquests. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981. Kaegi, Walter Emil. Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Kennedy, Hugh N. The Armies of the Caliphs: Military and Society in the Early Islamic State. New York: Routledge, 2001. Lewis, Bernard. Islam and the Arab World: Faith, People, Culture. New York: Knopf, 1976. Lewis, David Levering. God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008. Nicolle, David. Armies of the Muslim Conquest. New York: Osprey, 1993. _______. Poitiers, A.D. 732. New York: Osprey, 2008. Nicolle, David, and Angus McBride. The Armies of Islam, 7th-11th Centuries. New York: Osprey, 1982. Islam: Empire of Faith. Documentary. Public Broadcasting Service, 2000. Muḥammad: Messenger of God (in North America as The Messenger). Documentary. Moustapha Akkad, 1976. The Story of Islam. Documentary. ABC News, 1983.
Armies and Infantry: Ancient and Medieval
Armies of the Seljuk Turks
The Ottoman Armies
West African Empires