AcademiaAgriculture & FarmingHumanitiesSocial SciencesSTEM

Five Great Islamic Empires

Updated on January 20, 2017
alikhan3 profile image

The author is a fervent observer of Islamic religious practices, wherein he finds resolute contentment for his soul.

5. The Safavid Empire (1501 to 1736)

  • Capitol: Isfahan.
  • Area: 2,850,000 km2

The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia.

The Safavid dynasty was founded in 1501 by Shāh Ismāil. Shia Islam was their official state religion.

4. The Mughal Empire (1526 to 1857)

  • Capitol: Dehli
  • Population: 110-150 Million
  • Area: 3.2 Million square kilometers

Muslims had ruled the subcontinent for almost 800 years continuously beginning from the rule of Muhammad of Ghaur in 1203 till the collapse of Mughal Empire in 1857.

Mughals were the descendants of the house of Timur. In 1526 Babur from central Asia invaded India he defeated the last sultan of Sultanate of Delhi Ibrahim Lodhi in the Battle of Panipat and Established the Mughal Empire.

The empire was extremely prosperous and rich. Under the rule of Mughals, India enjoyed much cultural and economic progress as well as religious harmony.

The Mughals reached their height of power under the reign of Shah Jahan. He was keenly interested in buildings and architecture, he also built the Taj Mahal for his beloved wife.

A lasting legacy of Mughals. The Taj Mahal.
A lasting legacy of Mughals. The Taj Mahal. | Source
Mughal Empror Aurangzeb
Mughal Empror Aurangzeb

Mughal Empire was at its largest extent during the reign of Aurangzeb Alamgir. He was a deeply religious person and it is said that he wrote the whole Quran twice in his own handwriting. He waged wars against the Maratha and conquered Deccan region. After his death the empire declined gradually.

Causes Of Decline of Mughal Empire:

  1. The later Mughal rulers after Aurangzeb were increasingly inept, they were more interested in drinking, music and poetry rather then administration.
  2. Invasions of Nadir Shah of Persia and Ahmed Shah Abdali exposed the weakness of Mughal army. Both looted and sacked Delhi.
  3. Mughal army was unable to compete with the highly organized and trained army of British.
  4. It is often said that the long wars in Deccan during Aurangzeb's era had drained the treasury.
  5. Mughals did not have any Navy so they could not exercise their influence in the Indian Ocean against the East India Company.

3. Umayyad Caliphate (661-750)

  • Capitol: Damascus.
  • Population: 62,000,000 est.
  • Area: 15,000,000 km2

After the demise of Hazrat Ali (R.A) Muslim empire of the Khilafat-e-Rashida (first Caliphate) drifted into a power struggle between Hazrat Hassan(R.A) and Ameer Muawiya (R.A) but eventually to save the empire from civil war Hazrat Hassan (R.A) relinquished the caliphate in favor of Hazrat Ameer Muawiya (R.A) thereby marking the beginning of Umayyad Caliphate.

They established the largest Arab Muslim State in History. In 712 a Berber General Tariq ibn Ziyad Captured Spain for the Caliphate. They continued to rule Spain for the next 300 years. Their Caliphate was overthrown by the Abbasid after their defeat at the Battle of Zab.

The Great Mosque of Damascus was first built on this site by Umayyad Caliph al-Walīd I.
The Great Mosque of Damascus was first built on this site by Umayyad Caliph al-Walīd I. | Source

2. Abbasid Caliphate (750 to 1258)

  • Capitol: Baghdad.
  • Population: 50,000,000 est
  • Area: 10,000,000 km2

It is said that the waters of Tigris and Euphrates ran black for days with the ink of countless precious books from Baghdad's vast libraries that were flung into the rivers and red from the blood of scholars that were slaughtered at the time of Mongol Invasion.

The Abbasid were the third of four Islamic Caliphates. Sometimes the Abbasid and Ummayyad caliphate are collectively referred to as the Arab Muslim empire but they were two different dynasties.

The Period of Abbasid's is termed as the Golden Age of Islam due to advances in Sciences, Literature, Medicine and Philosophy. The Caliphate was finally abolished when Mongols under Halagu Khan captured and sacked Baghdad in 1258.

Maximum extent of Abbasid caliphate c.850  territories in dark green were lost early
Maximum extent of Abbasid caliphate c.850 territories in dark green were lost early

1. Ottoman Empire (1299 to 1922)

  • Capitol: Istanbul.
  • Population: 35,350,000 (1856)
  • Area: 5,200,000 km2

The Greatest Ottoman Sultan Suleyman "The Magnificent"
The Greatest Ottoman Sultan Suleyman "The Magnificent"

The Ottoman Empire can undoubtedly be called the greatest Muslim empire of all time because it stayed on the face of the globe for nearly 700 years. The empire was one of the largest and the longest ruling empire in history. During the 16th and 17th century the empire became the most powerful state of the world.

The first Ottomans were Turkish soldiers known as ghaziz. They had come to Anatolia with other Turks to escape the Mongols. In late 1200 a ghazi leader named Osman had great success in fighting the Byzantines. His tribe members became known as the Ottoman.

During the 1300 the Ottomans took over large parts of Anatolia and went into Europe. They defeated the crusades at the battle of Nicopolis. The Ottoman empire faced a temporary crises when Timur invaded it in 1402 and defeated Ottomans in Battle of Ankara. The empire recovered and Murad II took power and with this a period of expansion started. In 1444 Murad's army defeated the last crusades at the Battle of Varna. In 1453 Sultan Mehmed, Murad's successor captured Constantinople in 1453 renamed it Istanbul and made it the capitol. Sultan Selim I(1512–1520) dramatically expanded the Empire's eastern and southern frontiers by defeating Shah Ismail of Safavid Persia, in the Battle of Caldiran. Selim I established Ottoman rule in Egypt.

Suleymaniye Mosque, the icon of Ottoman architecture.
Suleymaniye Mosque, the icon of Ottoman architecture. | Source

The greatest Ottoman Sultan was Suleyman who ruled from 1520 to 1566. His rule was the apex of Ottoman power and he brought the empire to its height of dominance and prosperity. He conquered Hungary in 1526 and three years later laid siege to the city of Vienna. He Conquered the mighty strongholds of Rhodes and Belgrade with the help of big cannons and gunpowder. He annexed most of the Middle East in his conflict with the Safavids and large swathes of North Africa as far west as Algeria. Under his rule, the Ottoman fleet dominated the seas from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

After his death a period of slow decline begin. The Battle of Vienna in 1683 marked the end of Ottoman expansion in Europe. During 1683 to 1827 threats to the Ottoman Empire were presented by the traditional enemy, the Austrian Empire as well as by a new adversary, the rising Russian Empire. It was a period of stagnation.

During 1828 to 1908 the Empire faced challenges in defending itself against foreign invasion and occupation. The Empire ceased to enter conflicts on its own and began to forge alliances with European countries. It Ended In 1923 after the Republic of Turkey ceded it.

The skyline of Istanbul. Imagine seeing this sunset 200 years ago.
The skyline of Istanbul. Imagine seeing this sunset 200 years ago.

Causes Of Decline of Ottoman Empire:

  1. Europeans advanced greatly in Sciences and technology during the renaissance and Industrial revolution while the Ottomans remained in a state of stagnation.
  2. Europeans had discovered a sea route for trading with India, while previously they had to pass from the empire and pay ransom.
  3. The later Ottoman sultans were weak and incompetent. Corruption was common.
  4. The Arab revolt led by T.E Lawrence and King Faisal with full support of British played a crucial role in weakening Ottoman positions in Arabia and Hejaz during final phase of World War I.
  5. Even after the Treaty of Severs it was the treachery of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk which finally brought an end to caliphate.

© 2012 StormsHalted


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      Dear Alikhan3

      It is interesting to know the history of Islamic empires.No doubt Turkey was the greatest of all with science and technologies.I India mogul empire also was great.

      If you can explain why they collapsed? I think they cut off from science and technologies and feudal and dark age. Do you agree?

      When we go for Introspection we should forget differences, self audit always benefit how not to go for wrong.

      Thank you for the article.

      pramod gokhale

    • alikhan3 profile image

      StormsHalted 4 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan

      They both Mughal and ottomans declined gradually due to incompetent rulers and lagging behind the Europeans technology ........

    • alikhan3 profile image

      StormsHalted 3 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan

      Okay fine ....... let me clarify that whilst Indians fought against the ottomans in british armies .......( They were paid soldiers ) ........ their was also a massive movement to support the Khalifa in India ....... known as the Khilafat movement ( 1919-24) and delegations of Indian Muslims actually visited England and requested the President not to give harsh treatment to Turkey.........

    • profile image

      minsa 2 years ago


    • profile image

      Adil 2 months ago

      Umar bin al khattab (r.a). was the fastest conqueror of the world he conquered 22,00,000 sq miles in 10 years and he was also bravest or we can say No.1 warrior in the world. And there is missing something Ghaznavid empire and Timurid empire.

    • profile image

      Thomas Hennigan 2 months ago

      The Ottomans DID NOT conquer Vienna in 1529, although they laid siege to it, as they did again in 1683 and also failed and were routed.

    • alikhan3 profile image

      StormsHalted 2 months ago from Karachi, Pakistan

      The sentence originally intended the same, it has been further clarified now.

    • profile image

      Orhan Timur 6 weeks ago

      Actually the Abbasids had the greatest empire. The cultural advancements under their rule was unparalleled in any other Islamic dynasty. The Ottomans didn't really add much to the culture and by the standards of the 16 and 17th centuries they were fairly inferior.

    Click to Rate This Article