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A Month in Great Islamic History: December

Below is a list of Islamic History about things that took place in December. In case you are wondering what happened in November, you can go here

December 3: Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II

On this day (3 December, 1447 CE / 14/15 Ramadan 851 AH) in Islamic history, the 8th Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II was born in Ottoman Demotika (located in modern-day Greece).

He was the eldest son and successor to the 8th Ottoman Sultan: Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople (Istanbul), and the father of the 9th Ottoman Sultan and 1st Ottoman Caliph: Yavuz Sultan Selim/Selim I.

He is most famously known for providing refuge to Andalusian Muslims & Jews fleeing the brutality and coercion of the new Catholic Spanish state (King Ferdinand of Aragon & Queen Isabella of Castile).

The painting of Bayezid II is from Seyyid Lokman Celebi‘s book titled “Kiyafetu’l-Insaniyye Fi Semaili’l-Osmaniyye” or “Human Physiognomy and the Disposition of the Ottomans”.

Islamic history

December 4: Omar Khayyam Death

On this day (4 December, 1131 CE {4/5 Muharram 526 AH}) in Islamic history, the famous Persian mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet, Abu’l Fath Omar ibn Ibrahim al-Khayyam or more simply known as Omar Khayyam, passed away in Nishapur, modern-day Iran at the age of 83.

After the Seljuk dynasty had expanded into Karakhanid domains (parts of Central Asia) in the 11th century (CE) under Sultan Malik-Shah I (son of Sultan Alp Arslan), Omar Khayyam entered into the service of the Seljuks.

He was personally invited by the Seljuk Vizier Nizam al-Mulk to meet Sultan Malik-Shah I and was thereafter requested to set up an observatory in the Seljuk capital of Isfahan (in modern-day Iran).

It is said that in this very observatory, Omar Khayyam calculated the length of the solar year to be 365.242199 days; modern science has determined he was off by just 0.74 seconds.

He is also currently being depicted in the new Turkish TV series on the Great Seljuks titled “Uyaniş: Büyük Selçuklu” or “Awakening: The Great Seljuks” an Islamic history series.

December 11: A Sad Day in Islamic History of the Ottoman

(1) On this day (11 December, 1917 CE {25/26 Safar 1336 AH}), British forces officially conquered Jerusalem from the Ottomans.

The Battle of Jerusalem between the Ottomans and the British lasted just under a month (between November 17 and December 11, 1917 CE); the Ottomans had officially surrendered two days prior on December 9, 1917 CE.

Pictured is British General Edmund Allenby entering Jerusalem on foot two days after its surrender by the Ottomans and which marked the official end to Ottoman rule in Jerusalem after a period of 400 years (1517 to 1917 CE).

After the conclusion of World War One a year later (November 1918 CE), the ‘Middle East’ was divided into numerous nation-states with borders drawn by European powers.

(2) On this day (11 December, 1198 CE {) the Andalusian polymath Ibn Rushd died in Marrakesh, Morocco.

He wrote books on Maliki fiqh (school of thought), philosophy, theology, Aristotelian logic, politics, mathematics, and numerous other fields of study.

Credit: Lost Islamic History

December 12:

On this day (12 December, 1098), the Crusaders conquered the town of Maʿarrat al-Nuʿman (in modern-day Syria) on their way to Jerusalem, massacring the town’s entire population.

In what has come to be known as “The Siege of Ma’arra”, it is infamous for the widespread cannibalism displayed by the Crusaders.

December 19:

On this day (19 December, 1111 CE {7/8 Jumada al-Thani, 505 AH}), the great Muslim theologian, jurist and scholar Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali (Allah have mercy on him), died in the city of Tus in modern-day Iran (then part of the Great Seljuk State).

He was nicknamed “Hujjatul Islam” or the “Proof of Islam” and was also considered a mujaddid or reviver of the Islamic tradition.

His most famous works include his magnum opus titled Ihya Ulum Ad-Din (“The Revival of the Religious Sciences”) as well as his work critiquing philosophy titled “Tahafut al-Falasifa(“Incoherence of the Philosophers”).

During the Great Seljuk Era, he was appointed by the famous Great Seljuk Vizier Nizam ul-Mulk in the famous Nizamiyya Madrasa in Isfahan (in modern-day Iran and then the capital of the Great Seljuk State).

He is currently being depicted in the Turkish TV Series on the Great Seljuks titled “Uyanış: Büyük Selçuklu” (Awakening: The Great Seljuks).


December 24:

On this day (24 December, 1144 CE {18/19 Jumada al-Thani, 539 AH) in Islamic history, Imad al-Din Zengi of the Oghuz Turkic Zengid Dynasty conquered the Crusader state of Edessa, after an almost one month-long siege.

It was the first major victory Muslims had in the Crusades.

December 25: Islamic Ottoman History of Capturing Baghdad

On this day (25 December, 1638 CE {17/18 Sha’ban, 1048 AH}), the Ottoman army under the command of Ottoman Sultan Murad IV recaptured the city of Baghdad from the Persian Safavid Empire.

The recapture of Baghdad by the Ottomans was part of the larger Ottoman-Safavid War between 1623-1639 CE.


December 26: End of Islamic history in Andalus

On this day (26 December, 1489 CE {22/23 Muharram, 895 AH}) of Islamic history, the Andalusian city of Almería fell to the joint monarchy of Castile and Aragon that would later become Spain.

The city was founded by the famous Umayyad Emir of Córdoba and later the first Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba, Abdur-Rahman III, in the year 955 CE.

Its Muslim population was almost entirely composed of indigenous (Iberian) converts to Islam, who were later joined by southern Arabian (Yemeni) tribes who settled in the region.

Pictured is the Alcazaba of Almería (Alcazaba de Almería/Citadel of Almería) which was founded by the aforementioned Abdur-Rahman III, and which gave this city its name: “al-Mariyyah” or “the Watchtower”.


December 31:

On this day (31 December 695 CE {15/16 Ramadan, 76 AH}) of Islamic history, Muhammad bin Qasim, the first general to lead Muslim armies into India, was born.

Muhammad bin Qasim (Allah have mercy on him) was born in Taif, the same city that previously tortured our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and to whom he famously showed mercy to.

The question that then arises, what would the condition of us Muslims who originate/are from the Indian subcontinent be like if it weren’t for our beloved Prophet’s ﷺ mercy and consequently the efforts of Muhammad bin Qasim?

(Whilst reflecting on this, we should thank Allah and send salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ).

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