Four great islamic empires

The Muslim Dynasties

  • Period: 632 to 661

    The Rashidun Dynasty

    The Rashidun Caliphate or the Rashidun Empire was the first of the four major caliphates established after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
  • Period: 632 to 634

    Abu Bakr Abdullah ibn Uthman Abi Quhafa

    Hazrat Abu Bakr was the first Caliph of the Rashidun Dynasty. He is attributed with the honorific title Siddiq by some, predominantly belonging to the Sunni denomination. Abu Bakr became one of the first converts to Islam and extensively contributed his wealth in support of Muhammad's work. He was among Muhammad's closest companions, accompanying him on his migration to Medina and being present at a number of his military conflicts, such as the battles of Badr and Uhud.
  • Period: 634 to 644

    Umar ibn al-Khattab

    Hazrat Umar was one of the most powerful and influential Muslim caliphs in history. He was a senior companion and father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He succeeded Abu Bakr as the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate on 23 August 634. He was an expert Muslim jurist known for his pious and just nature, which earned him the epithet Al-Farooq ("the one who distinguishes (between right and wrong).
  • Period: 644 to 656

    Uthman Ibn Affan

    Hazrat Uthman Ibn Affan is the third Caliph of the Rashidun Dynasty. He was a second cousin, son-in-law, and a notable companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Born into a prominent Meccan clan, Banu Umayya of the Quraysh tribe, he played a major role in early Islamic history and is known for having ordered the compilation of the standard version of the Quran. Under Uthman's leadership, the Islamic empire expanded into Iran and some areas of Afghanistan in 651.
  • Period: 656 to 661

    Ali ibn Abi-Talib

    Hazrat Ali was a cousin, son-in-law, and companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He ruled as the fourth Rightly Guided caliph from 656 until his assassination in 661 and is one of the central figures in Shia Islam, being regarded as the rightful immediate successor to Muhammad and the first Imam by all branches of Shia Muslims. He is the son of Abu Talib and Fatimah bint Asad, the husband of Fatimah al-Zahra, and the father of Hasan, Husayn, and Zaynab.
  • Period: 661 to 750

    The Umayyads

    The Umayyads were the first Muslim dynasty, established in 661 in Damascus. Their dynasty succeeded the leadership of the first four caliphs—Abū Bakr, ʿUmar I, ʿUthmān, and ʿAlī. It was established by Muʿāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān, a native of Mecca and a contemporary of the Prophet Muḥammad.
  • Period: 661 to 680

    Muʿāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān

    Mu'awiya was the founder and first caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate serving from 661 until his death. He became caliph less than 30 years following the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and very shortly after the reign of the four rightly guided caliphs.
  • Period: 680 to 683

    Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān (Yazīd I)

    Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān was the second caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate. He ruled from April 680 until his death in November 683. His appointment was the first hereditary succession to the caliphate in Islamic history. His caliphate was marked by the death of Muhammad's grandson Husayn ibn Ali and the start of the crisis known as the Second Fitna.
  • Period: 683 to 684

    Mu'awiya II or Mu'awiya ibn Yazid

    Mu'awiya II was the third Umayyad Caliph. Mu'awiya II succeeded his father Yazid as the third Umayyad caliph and last caliph of the Sufyanid line. He ruled briefly in 683-684 before he died.
  • Period: 684 to 685

    Marwan ibn al-Hakam ibn Abi al-As ibn Umayya (Marwan I)

    Marwan I was the fourth Umayyad caliph, ruling for less than a year in 684–685. He founded the Marwanid ruling house of the Umayyad dynasty, which replaced the Sufyanid house after its collapse in the Second Muslim Civil War and remained in power until 750.
  • Period: 685 to 705

    Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan ibn al-Hakam

    Abd al-Malik was the fifth Umayyad caliph. His early life in Medina was occupied with pious pursuits. He held administrative and military posts under Caliph Mu'awiya I, founder of the Umayyad Caliphate, and his own father, Caliph Marwan I . By the time of Abd al-Malik's accession, Umayyad authority had collapsed across the Caliphate as a result of the Second Muslim Civil War and had been reconstituted in Syria and Egypt during his father's reign.
  • Period: 705 to 715

    Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (al-Walid I)

    Al-Walid I was the sixth Umayyad caliph. He was the eldest son of his predecessor Caliph Abd al-Malik. As a prince, he led annual raids against the Byzantines and built or restored fortifications along the Syrian Desert route to Mecca.
  • Period: 715 to 717

    Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik

    Sulayman was the seventh Umayyad caliph. He began his career as governor of Palestine, while his father Abd al-Malik and brother al-Walid I reigned as caliphs.
  • Period: 717 to 720

    Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (Umar II)

    Umar II was the eighth Umayyad caliph. He made various significant contributions and reforms to society, and he has been described as "the most pious and devout" of the Umayyad rulers.
  • Period: 720 to 724

    Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik (Yazid II)

    Yazid II was the ninth Umayyad caliph. A noble Arab maternal lineage held political weight during this period in the Caliphate's history, and Yazid took pride in his maternal Sufyanid descent, viewing himself superior to his Marwanid brothers. He was chosen by his paternal half-brother Caliph Sulayman as the second-in-line for the caliphate after their first cousin Umar II. Yazid acceded at the age of 29 following the death of Umar II.
  • Period: 724 to 743

    Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik

    Hisham was the tenth Umayyad Caliph. Hisham was born in Damascus. He was the son of Caliph Abd al-Malik and his wife Fatima. He was a member of the Banu Makhzum. He himself gained prominence when his daughter married the fifth Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. In 691, he became a grandfather to the future caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, who was reportedly named after him.
  • Period: 743 to 744

    Al-Walid II

    Al-Walid II was the eleventh Umayyad caliph. He succeeded to the throne on the death of Hisham. As heir, al-Walid was known for his open-handedness. As caliph, he took special care of the crippled and blind, increasing their stipend. He named his two sons, al-Hakam and Uthman, to succeed him in that order as documented by a letter dated 21 May 743 in al-Tabari. Tabari also quotes several of al-Walid's poems.
  • Period: Apr 15, 744 to Oct 4, 744

    Yazid ibn al-Walid ibn 'Abd al-Malik (Yazid III)

    Yazid III was the twelfth Umayyad caliph. Yazid III was the son of a Persian princess who had been given as a concubine to Caliph al-Walid I. His mother was Shah-i Afrid, a daughter of Peroz.
  • Period: Oct 4, 744 to Dec 4, 744

    Ibrahim ibn al-Walid

    Ibrahim was the thirteenth Umayyad caliph. Ibrahim was a member of the influential Umayyad dynasty. He was the son of sixth Umayyad caliph al-Walid I. Ibrahim's mother was a concubine named Su'ar or Budayra. Ibrahim was the grandson of great Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik and his grandmother was Wallada bint al-Abbas ibn Al-Jaz al-Absiyya.
  • Period: Dec 5, 744 to 750

    Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan ibn al-Hakam (Marwan II)

    Marwan II was the fourteenth and last caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate. Much of his reign was dominated by civil war, and he was the last Umayyad ruler to rule the united Caliphate before the Abbasid Revolution toppled the Umayyad dynasty.
  • Period: 750 to 1258

    The Abbasids

    The Abbasids had an unbroken line of caliphs for over three centuries, consolidating Islamic rule and cultivating great intellectual and cultural developments in the Middle East in the Golden Age of Islam.
  • Period: 750 to 754

    Abu al-‘Abbās ‘Abdu'llāh ibn Muhammad al-Saffāḥ (Al-Saffah)

    Al-Saffah was the first caliph of the Abbasid caliphate. In early October 749, Al-Saffah's army entered Kufa. One of his priorities was to eliminate his Umayyad rival, caliph Marwan II. The latter was defeated in February 750 at a battle on the Zab river, ending the Umayyad caliphate. Marwan II was killed on the run in Egypt. Al-Saffāh established Kufa as the new capital of the caliphate and Iraq would now become the seat of Abbassid power for many centuries.
  • Period: 754 to 775

    Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur (Al-Mansur)

    Al-Mansur was the second Abbasid Caliph. He is known for founding the 'Round City' of Madinat al-Salam, which was to become the core of imperial Baghdad. Al-Mansur was born at the home of the Abbasid family in Humeima (modern-day Jordan) after their emigration from the Hejaz. Al-Mansur's mother is reported to be a Berber slave. Al-Mansur was a brother of Abu al-'Abbas al-Saffah.
  • Period: 775 to 785

    Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Abdallah al-Mansur (Al-Mahdi)

    Al-Mahdi was the third Abbasid Caliph. Mahdi commenced his rule by releasing several political prisoners, expanding and decorating the holy places of Mecca and Medina, and building fountains and lofts for Hajj pilgrims. He expanded the mail service, increased his secret service, fortified cities, and increased judicial appointments. His charitable giving was also impressive.
  • Period: 785 to 786

    Abu Muhammad Musa ibn Mahdi al-Hadi (Al-Hadi)

    Al-Hadi was the fourth Arab Abbasid caliph. The revolt of Husayn ibn Ali ibn Hasan broke out when Husayn declared himself caliph in Medina. Al-Hadi crushed the rebellion and killed Husayn and many of his followers. Al-Hadi also crushed a Kharijite rebellion and repelled a Byzantine invasion. The Abbasid armies actually seized some territory from the latter.
  • Period: 786 to 809

    Harun al-Rashid

    Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. Hārūn became caliph in his early twenties. Upon his accession, Harun led Friday prayers in Baghdad's Great Mosque and then sat publicly as officials and the layman alike lined up to swear allegiance and declare their happiness at his ascent to Amir al-Mu'minin. He began his reign by appointing very able ministers, who carried on the work of the government so well that they greatly improved the condition of the people.
  • Period: 809 to 813

    Abu Musa Muhammad ibn Harun al-Rashid (Al-Amin)

    Al-Amin was the sixth Arab Abbasid Caliph. Al-Amin had an elder half-brother, Abdallah. However, Abdallah's mother was a Persian slave concubine, and his pure Abbasid lineage gave Al-Amin seniority over his half-brother. Indeed, he was the only Abbasid caliph to claim such descent.
  • Period: 813 to 833

    Abu al-Abbas Abdallah ibn Harun al-Rashid (Al-Mamun)

    Al-Mamun was the seventh Abbasid caliph. Al-Ma'mun's record as an administrator is also marked by his efforts toward the centralization of power and the certainty of succession. The Bayt al-Hikma, or House of Wisdom, was established during his reign. The ulama emerged as a real force in Islamic politics during al-Ma'mun's reign for opposing the mihna.
  • Period: 833 to 842

    Abū Isḥāq Muḥammad ibn Hārūn al-Rashīd (Al-Mutasim)

    Al-Mutasim was the eighth Abbasid caliph. He continued to implement the rationalist Islamic doctrine of Mu'tazilism and the persecution of its opponents through the inquisition (miḥna). Although not personally interested in literary pursuits, al-Mu'tasim also nurtured the scientific renaissance begun under al-Ma'mun. In other ways, his reign marks a departure and a watershed moment in Islamic history, with the creation of a new regime centered on the military, and particularly his Turkish guard.
  • Period: 842 to 847

    Abū Jaʿfar Hārūn ibn Muḥammad (Al-Wathiq)

    Al-Wathiq was the ninth Abbasid caliph. The chief events of his reign were the suppression of a Bedouin rebellion in the Hejaz in 845 and an abortive uprising in Baghdad in 846. He also defeated the Hanbali rebel Ahmad Ibn Nasr al-Khuza'i. The conflict with the Byzantine Empire continued, and the Abbasids even scored a significant victory at Mauropotamos, but after a truce in 845, warfare ceased for several years.
  • Period: 847 to 861

    Abu al-Faḍl Jaʽfar ibn Muḥammad al-Muʽtaṣim billāh (Al-Mutawakkil)

    Al-Mutawakkil was the 10th Abbasid caliph. under Al-Mutawakkil's reign, the Abbasid Empire reached its territorial height. Deeply religious, he is known as the caliph who ended the Mihna (persecution against many Islamic scholars), released Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and discarded the Muʿtazila, but he has been also the subject of criticism for being a tough ruler towards the non-Muslim citizens.
  • Period: 861 to 862

    Abu Ja'far Muhammad (Al-Muntasir)

    Al-Muntasir was the eleventh Abbasid Caliph. Al-Muntasir's mother was Hubshiya, a Greek slave. Al-Muntasir was able to quickly take control of affairs in the capital city of Samarra and receive the oath of allegiance from the leading men of the state. Al-Muntasir's sudden elevation to the Caliphate served to benefit several of his close associates, who gained senior positions in the government after his ascension
  • Period: 862 to 866


    Al-Musta'in was the twelfth Abbasid Caliph. After the death of the previous Caliph, Al-Muntasir (who had not appointed any successors), the Turkic military leaders held a council to select his successor. They were not willing to have Al-Mu'tazz or his brothers; so they elected Ahmad ibn Muhammad, a grandson of Al-Mu'tasim, who took the regnal name Al-Mustaʿin bi-llah (he who looks for help to God).
  • Period: 866 to 869

    Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Jaʿfar (Al-Mutazz)

    Al-Mutazz was the thirteenth Abbasid caliph. Originally named as the second in line of three heirs of his father al-Mutawakkil, al-Mu'tazz was forced to renounce his rights after the accession of his brother al-Muntasir and was thrown in prison as a dangerous rival during the reign of his cousin al-Musta'in. He was released and raised to the caliphate in January 866, during the civil war between al-Musta'in and the Turkish military of Samarra.
  • Period: 869 to 870

    Abū Isḥāq Muḥammad ibn al-Wāthiq (Al-Muhtadi)

    Al-Muhtadi was the fourteenth Abbasid caliph. Al-Muhtadi lived an austere and pious life notably removing all musical instruments from the court and made a point of presiding in person over the courts of grievances, thus gaining the support of the common people. Combining "strength and ability", he was determined to restore the Caliph's authority and power, which had been eroded during the ongoing "Anarchy at Samarra" by the squabbles of the Turkish generals.
  • Period: 870 to 892

    Abu’l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad ibn Jaʿfar (Al-Mutamid)

    Al-Mu'tamid was the fifteenth Abbasid Caliph. The accession of al-Mu'tamid brought an end to the turmoils of the "Anarchy at Samarra", which had begun with the murder of al-Mutawakkil in 861. Caliphal authority in the provinces collapsed during that period, with the result that the central government lost effective control over most of the Caliphate outside the metropolitan region of Iraq.
  • Period: 892 to 902

    Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad ibn Talha al-Muwaffaq (Al-Mutadid)

    Al-Mutadid was the sixteenth Abbasid caliph. In appearance, he was upright and thin, and on his head was a white mole, which, since white moles were not admired, he used to dye the mole black. His expression was haughty. In character he was brave—a story was told of his killing a lion with only a dagger. He had inherited all his father's energy, and cultivated a reputation of prompt action.
  • Period: 902 to 908

    Abū Muḥammad ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad (Al-Muktafi)

    Al-Muktafi is the seventeenth Abbasid Caliph. The new caliph was 25 years old. The historian al-Tabari, who lived during his reign, describes him as "medium-size, handsome, of a delicate complexion, with beautiful hair and a luxurious beard".
    Al-Muktafi inherited his father's love of buildings. He completed al-Mu'tadid's third palace project, the Taj Palace, in Baghdad, for which he reused bricks from the palace of the Sasanian rulers in Ctesiphon.
  • Period: 908 to 932

    Abu’l-Faḍl Jaʿfar ibn Ahmad al-Muʿtaḍid (Al-Muqtadir)

    Al-Muqtadir was the eighteenth Abbasid Caliph. He came to the throne at the age of 13, the youngest Caliph in Abbasid history, as a result of palace intrigues. Al-Muqtadir enjoyed a longer rule than any of his predecessors but was uninterested in government. Affairs were run by his officials, although the frequent change of viziers—fourteen changes of the head of government are recorded for his reign—hampered the effectiveness of the administration.
  • Period: 932 to 934

    Abu Mansur Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Mu'tadid (Al-Qahir)

    Al-Qahir was the nineteenth Abbasid Caliph. Al-Qahir had a pronounced headstrong and vindictive personality which made itself felt soon after his accession, when he tortured his brother's sons and officials, as well as al-Muqtadir's mother Shaghab, to extract their fortune. He was more energetic than his predecessor and cultivated an image of austerity and puritanism at his court.
  • Period: 934 to 940

    Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad ibn Ja'far al-Muqtadir (Al-Radi)

    Al-Radi was the twentieth Abbasid Caliph. His reign marked the end of the caliph's political power and the rise of military strongmen.
  • Period: 940 to 944

    Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Ibn al-Muqtadir (Al-Muttaqi)

    Al-Muttaqi was the Twenty-first Abbasid Caliph. His reign marked the start of the 'later Abbasid period'.
  • Period: 944 to 946

    Abu’l-Qāsim ʿAbdallāh (Al-Mustakfi)

    Al-Mustakafi was the twenty-second Abbasid Caliph. al-Mustakfi persecuted potential rivals, in the person of al-Fadl, the chief of the remaining sons of al-Muqtadir and brother of the two previous caliphs, al-Muttaqi and al-Radi. Al-Mustakfi and al-Fadl were said to have hated each other already during their stay in the Tahirid Palace as young princes. When al-Mustakfi was enthroned, al-Fadl prudently went into hiding, and the vengeful al-Mustakfi had his house burned down.
  • Period: 946 to 974

    Abū ʾl-Qāsim al-Faḍl ibn al-Muqtadir (Al-Muti)

    Al-Muti was the Twenty-third Abbasid Caliph. Al-Muti's reign represented the nadir of the Abbasid caliphate's power and authority. During the previous decades, the secular authority of the caliphs had shrunk to Iraq, and been curtailed by powerful warlords; it was now abolished entirely by the Buyids. Al-Muti was raised to the throne by the Buyids.
  • Period: 974 to 991

    Abd al-Karīm ibn al-Faḍl (Al-Tai)

    Al-Tai was the Twenty-fourth Abbasid Caliph. Very little is known about his personal and official life.
  • Period: 991 to 1031

    Abu'l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad ibn Isḥāq (Al-Qadir)

    Al-Qadir was the Twenty-Fifth Abbasid Caliph. At first, the new caliph seemed obedient, approving the nominations of officials and supporting his policies and Al-Qadir even agreed to marry the Buyid's daughter, although in the event she died just before the wedding was to take place. Seeing him as a Buyid puppet, the dynasts of the eastern Islamic world delayed recognition, and it was not until 1000 that the Samanids and Ghaznavids recognized al-Qadir's caliphate.
  • Period: 1031 to 1075

    Al-Qa'im bi-amri 'llah (Al-Qaim)

    Al-Qaim was the Twenty-sixth Abbasid Caliph. During the first half of al-Qa'im's long reign, hardly a day passed in the capital without turmoil. Frequently the city was left without a ruler; the Buwayhid ruler was often forced to flee the capital.
  • Period: 1075 to 1094


    al-Muqtadi was the Twenty-seventh Abbasid Caliph. He was honored by the Seljuk sultan Malik-Shah I, during whose reign the Caliphate was recognized throughout the extending range of Seljuk conquest. Arabia, with the Holy Cities, now recovered from the Fatimids, acknowledged again the spiritual jurisdiction of the Abbasids.
  • Period: 1094 to 1118


    Al-Mustazhir was the Twenty-eighth Abbasid Caliph. During his twenty-four-year incumbency, he was politically irrelevant, despite the civil strife at home and the appearance of the First Crusade in Syria. An attempt was even made by crusader Raymond IV of Toulouse to attack Baghdad, but he was defeated near Mersivan during the Crusade of 1101.
  • Period: 1118 to 1135


    Al-Mustarshid was the Twenty-ninth Abbasid Caliph. Al-Mustarshid achieved more independence as a ruler while the Seljuk sultan Mahmud II was engaged in war in the East. In 1122, al-Mustarshid deposed and imprisoned his vizier Amid al-dawla Jalal al-Din Hasan ibn Ali. Mahmud II then imposed Ahmad ibn Nizam al-Mulk as his vizier. Al-Mustarshid was also an Arabian poet.
  • Period: 1135 to 1136

    Abu Ja'far al-Mansur al-Rashid bi'llah ibn al-Mustarshid bi'llah (Al-Rashd)

    Al-Rashid was the Thirtieth Abbasid Caliph. Like his father, Al-Mustarshid, Al-Rashid made another failed attempt at independence from Seljuk Turks. To avenge his father's death, he insulted the envoy of sultan Ghiyath ad-Din Mas'ud who came to demand heavy largess, incited the mob to plunder his palace, and then, supported by Zengi, set up a rival sultan.
  • Period: 1136 to 1160


    Al-Muqtafi was the Thirty-first Abbasid Caliph. He succeeded his nephew Al-Rashid, who had been forced to abdicate by the Seljuks. The continued disunion and contests between Seljuk Turks afforded al-Muqtafi the opportunity to not only maintain his authority in Baghdad but also extend it throughout Iraq.
  • Period: 1160 to 1170


    Al-Mustanjid was the Thirty-second Abbasid Caliph. One of al-Muqtafi's wives, al-Mustanjid's stepmother, wanted her own son to succeed. She gained over many amirs to her side and had their slave-girls armed with daggers to kill the new caliph. Al-Mustanjid discovered the plot and placed the rebel son and mother in prison.
  • Period: 1170 to 1180

    Hassan al-Mustadi Ibn Yusuf al-Mustanjid (Al-Mustadi)

    Al-Mustadi was the thirty-third Abbasid Caliph. Like his predecessor, he continued to occupy a more or less independent position, with a vizier and courtly surroundings and supported by only a small force sufficient for an occasional local campaign. During his reign, Saladin ended the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, became the Sultan of Egypt, and declared his allegiance to the Abbasids.
  • Period: 1180 to 1225


    Al-Nasir was the Thirty-fourth Abbasid Caliph. His laqab means The One who Gives Victory to the Religion of God. He attempted to restore the caliphate to its ancient dominant role and achieved a surprising amount of success, despite the fact that the caliphate had long been militarily subordinated to other dynasties. He not only held Baghdad (the capital of the Abbasid empire) but extended his dominion into Mesopotamia and Persia.
  • Period: 1225 to 1226

    Abū'l-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥākim (Al-Zahir)

    Al-Zahir was the Thirty-Fifth Abbasid Caliph. At the time of al-Hakim's disappearance on 14 February 1021, his sister, Sitt al-Mulk, took the reins of power. She disregarded the previous appointment of a cousin, Abu'l-Qasim Abd al-Rahim, as heir apparent by al-Hakim, and instead raised al-Hakim's 16-year-old son Ali to the throne. Ali received the public oath of allegiance on 28 March, with the regnal name A-Zahir.
  • Period: 1226 to 1242


    Al-Mustansir was the Thirty-Sixth Abbasid Caliph. Al-Mustansir is particularly known for establishing Mustansiriya Madrasah (currently a part of the Al-Mustansiriya University). The Madrasah, at the time, taught many subjects including medicine, mathematics, literature, grammar, and Islamic religious studies, becoming a prominent and high-ranking center for Islamic studies in Baghdad.
  • Period: 1242 to 1258


    Al-Musta'sim was the thirty-seventh and the last Abbasid caliph. He is noted for his opposition to the rise of Shajar al-Durr to the Egyptian throne during the Seventh Crusade. He sent a message from Baghdad to the Mamluks in Egypt that said: "If you do not have men there tell us so we can send you men." However, Al-Musta'sim had to face the greatest menace against the caliphate since its establishment in 632: the invasion of the Mongol forces.