Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The Great Arab Conquests

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The Great Arab Conquests

How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In

Da Capo Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Muhammad started a religion and a military force. How Arab conquests from the seventh century shaped the modern world.

auto-generated audio
auto-generated audio

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


This sweeping, engrossing narrative of Muslim conquests begins after the death of Muhammad in 632. The prophet’s death and the subsequent Islam-inspired military conquests had reverberations that echo today. Author and professor Hugh Kennedy has taught this topic for 30 years. His thoughtful presentation molds diverse renditions of these complicated events from various historical Arab and non-Arab sources (some fragmentary) into a driving story about the people and events that shaped Islam. With a critical eye and an engaging style, he includes details about the cultures, politics, battles, beliefs, personal lives, heroics and motives that drove the men whose armies ranged over some of the world’s most remote areas about 1,400 years ago. Reconstructing and deciphering these events is no easy task for any historian, yet Kennedy’s book has aspects of a great novel. getAbstract highly recommends it to anyone interested in Islamic history and beliefs, which continue to shape the Middle East.


Military and Cultural Dominance

The historic Muslim conquests began in the vast Arabian Peninsula, an area that required 100 days of continuous travel by animal to cross. One of the first recorded Arab leaders was Queen Zenobia who established her kingdom around an oasis, the trading city of Palmyra. The Roman emperor Aurelian conquered her empire in A.D. 272.

By the sixth century, Arab nomads had built independent commercial centers in the Fertile Crescent. Arabs developed the Byzantine Empire in Syria and Palestine, and another empire grew among the Sasanian Persians in today’s Iraq. Like the Romans before them, warriors from both empires patrolled their borders to prevent the nomads from invading their commercial centers. However, managing these desert frontiers was expensive and logistically difficult, requiring a constant flow of provisions and new troops to remote, isolated forts and outposts.

To help control the nomads, the Byzantines and Sasanians hired friendly Arabs, or joined with them in familial or political alliances. The Byzantines worked with a local Christian dynasty, the Ghassanids, to placate the nomad chiefs. And some nomads became Christians...

About the Author

Hugh Kennedy has taught Medieval History at the University of St. Andrews since 1972. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2000.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic