Medieval Islamic History

Welcome! This site gathers primary sources for students getting started in the history of the Islamic world. It starts with the period before the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632) in order to give context and it extends to c. 1500 with the emergence of the so-called “gun powder empires” (Mughals, Safavids, and Ottomans).

The first step is getting started. This page explains why we’re talking about “medieval” and “Islamic” history: what’s at stake in the words we use?

Organizing medieval Islamic history is far from a straight-forward task. In some periods, it is easy to keep a single storyline, so either a chronological or a dynastic frame works best. Sometimes, though, a regional or thematic approach generates more interesting conversations. The organization of this site mirrors the different ways to approach early Islamic history.

This site starts chronologically:

However, with the collapse of the ʿAbbasid Caliphate in the ninth century, it becomes easier to organize geographically:

This site is a work in progress. Images should have links to direct you to the home of the entry (the google book site for written sources or the museum for objects) and/or relevant articles.