Early Islamic Civilisation – Planning Overview

Written by Dan

Last updated

The dawn of the Islamic civilisation was a remarkable period in history. Emerging centuries ago, it brought new innovators and advancements that shaped the world we live in today.

If you’re a teacher looking to engage your students with this fascinating topic, fasten your seatbelts; you’re about to embark on an incredible adventure back through time!

In this article, we’ll explore how to plan an exciting unit studying Early Islamic Civilisation – discuss its prominent figureheads, immerse children in its culture and delve deeper into more detail than they ever thought possible.

By the end of this lesson overview planning guide, your students will understand what made Islamic civilisation so influential! So let’s get started.

Related: For more, check out our article on The History Of Benin  here.

The Early Islamic Civilisation Timeline

Early Islamic Civilisation

Early Islamic civilisation emerged in the Arabian Peninsula during the 7th century, following the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. It was a period of significant cultural, intellectual, and scientific development that had a lasting impact beyond the borders of the Islamic world. Here are some notable features of the Early Islamic civilisation:


Islam is the foundation of Early Islamic civilisation. Muslims believed in one God, Allah, and followed the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, who was seen as the last Prophet in a long line of prophets stretching back to Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.

Trade and Commerce

The Arabian Peninsula was an important centre for trade during the Early Islamic period. The city of Mecca was a hub for business. The Islamic empire expanded its reach across Africa, Europe, and Asia, creating trade networks that facilitated the exchange of goods and ideas.

Literature and Language

Arabic language and literature thrived during the Early Islamic period. Muslims believed that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, was God’s revealed word, and they revered it as the most critical piece of literature. Early Islamic literature also included works in poetry, history, and philosophy.

Art and Architecture

Early Islamic art and architecture were characterised by intricate geometric patterns and motifs, as well as the skilled use of calligraphy. Some of the most famous examples of Early Islamic architecture include the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Great Mosque of Damascus.

Science and Technology

Scientists and scholars in Early Islamic civilisation made significant contributions to fields such as mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and chemistry. Notable figures include Al-Khwarizmi, who developed algebra, and Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna), whose medical encyclopedias were used for centuries in the Islamic world and beyond.

Early Islamic civilisation was a significant intellectual, artistic, and scientific development that profoundly impacted the world. Its literature, art, science, and commerce contributions have helped shape the modern world.

Related: For more, check out our article on The Shang Dynasty here.

Timeline of Key Events from Early Islamic Civilization

The Early Islamic Civilization was a rich and dynamic period with many key events that contributed to the civilisation’s development. Here is a timeline highlighting some of the significant events from that period:

  • 570 CE: Birth of Prophet Muhammad
  • 610 – 622 CE: Revelation of the Quran
  • 622 CE: Hijra (migration) of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina
  • 632 CE: Death of Prophet Muhammad; appointment of Abu Bakr as the first Caliph (ruler) of the Muslim community
  • 632 – 661 CE: Rulership of the Rashidun Caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali
  • 656 CE: Assassination of Caliph Uthman; the beginning of the first Muslim civil war
  • 661 – 750 CE: Rulership of the Umayyads, a dynasty that moved the capital from Medina to Damascus, expanded the Islamic empire and its trade networks
  • 685 – 705 CE: Reign of Caliph Abd al-Malik, who introduced a unified Islamic currency and made Arabic the official language of the empire
  • 750 – 1258 CE: Rulership of the Abbasids, a dynasty that ruled from Baghdad’s new capital. Abbasids were responsible for much of the Golden Age of Islam, which saw vital advances in science, literature, and architecture.
  • 828 CE: Completion of the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain, symbolising Islamic cultural and architectural achievement in the West.
  • 1258 CE: Mongol sack of Baghdad, which led to the decline of the Abbasids and marked the end of the Golden Age of Islam.

This timeline highlights some of the critical events of the Early Islamic Civilization, from the early years of the revelation of the Quran to the flourishing of the Islamic empire and ultimately to the decline of the Abbasids. The legacy of Early Islamic Civilization is still visible in many regions today.

Achievements of Caliph Abd Al-Malik

Caliph Abd al-Malik was an influential and powerful ruler during the Umayyad dynasty of Early Islamic Civilisation. Here are some of his notable achievements:

  • Established a unified Islamic currency to centralise trade within the empire.
  • Established Arabic as the official language of the caliphate, unifying various regions under one language.
  • Constructed the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, a symbol of religious tolerance that still stands today.
  • Standard measurements were introduced throughout the empire, allowing for better trade and commerce between different areas.
  • Encouraged intellectual pursuits such as science, literature, and philosophy to expand knowledge and understanding.
  • Supported scholars who advanced important medical discoveries such as Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine, which was soon adopted across Europe and Asia.

Caliph Abd al-Malik made significant contributions to Early Islamic Civilization that have impacted many aspects of life today.

Teaching Opportunities from the Early Islamic Civilisation

Exploring Early Islamic Civilisation provides an opportunity to learn about a pivotal period in world history. Through its religious, scientific, and artistic developments, students can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the foundations of modern culture. Here are some teaching opportunities that come up from looking into Early Islamic Civilisation:

  • Discussing the importance of religious scripture, ritual and practice within Islam.
  • Investigating religious tolerance through examining figures like Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab who allowed Jews and Christians to practice their faith freely.
  • Analysing advancements in mathematics, science and medicine from essential thinkers such as Al-Khwarizmi and Ibn Sina.
  • Examining the architecture of buildings like The Dome of the Rock to understand how art was used to express piety and power.
  • Studied trade routes between different empires to observe how goods were exchanged and cultures were shared across boundaries.
  • Investigating literature produced during this period, such as The Thousand and One Night, has left an imprint on popular culture today.

Through exploring these topics, students can gain a deeper appreciation for The Early Islamic Civilisation’s formative impacts on our world today.

Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan 1: Exploring Literature from The Early Islamic Civilisation

Learning objectives:

By the end of this lesson, students will demonstrate an understanding of different literary works from The Early Islamic Civilisation and their impact on popular culture today.

Main teaching points:

  • Introduce different texts written during this period, such as The Thousand and One Night, Al Maqamat al Hariri and Tamim al Barghouti’s poetry collections.
  • Ask students to observe common themes within these texts, such as religion, philosophy, love stories etc.
  • Discuss how these works influenced literature from other areas, such as Europe and Africa.


At the end of the lesson, students should reflect on why these books are still famous centuries after they were written. Please encourage them to consider what concepts remain relevant despite technological changes.


Depending on student’s age level, teachers can adapt activities based on their familiarity with each text discussed; for example, by asking younger students to create a story about two characters who meet each other for the first time or by having older learners write a poem similar to those found in Tamim al Barghouti’s collection so that they can better appreciate his work.

Key Questions:

  • What makes literature from The Early Islamic Civilisation unique compared to other periods?
  • What are some similarities between these works?
  • How has literature from The Early Islamic Civilisation been adapted to different cultures throughout history?

Lesson Plan 2: Tolerance in Early Islamic Civilisation

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the religious tolerance of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab.
  • Recognise the importance of religious scripture, ritual and practice within Islam.
  • Appreciate how different faiths were able to coexist within the same region.

Main Teaching Points:

  • Introduce students to Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab and his policy of religious tolerance towards Jews and Christians in a Middle Eastern society.
  • Explain key religious figures such as Muhammad, who is viewed as a messenger from Allah by Muslims.
  • Describe specific examples of religious tolerance, such as allowing Jewish people to keep their practising rights within an Islamic state.

Reflection & Adaptations:

  • Ask students questions to explore their thoughts on religious tolerance and why it is so vital today.
  • Provide opportunities for discussion about how different faiths can coexist in the same region, especially given current world events.
  • Allow for group activities or student research projects about other historical figures or societies with examples of religious tolerance.

Lesson Plan 3: Advancements in Science & Technology from The Early Islamic Civilisation

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore contributions from essential thinkers such as Al-Khwarizmi and Ibn Sina that have helped shape our understanding of mathematics, science, and medicine today.
  • Appreciate the advances made by The Early Islamic Civilisation in astronomy and physics, which formed foundations for modern fields of study.

Main Teaching Points:

  • Introduce students to significant strides in knowledge, such as Algebra created by Al Khwarizmi during this period.
  • Discuss accomplishments like advancements in medicine due to Ibn Sina’s medical encyclopedia called The Canon of Medicine that remained influential in the medical practices of Europe up until the early twentieth century.
  • Explain physics-related ideas, like motion created by scientist Ibn Yunus which formed foundations for later discoveries made by Isaac Newton centuries later.

Reflection & Adaptations:

  • Engage students through activities or experiments showing how specific concepts were discovered or developed during this period.
  • Lead group discussions or debates exploring differences between innovations made then versus now, differences among scholars based on location or species, etc.
  • Encourage additional research outside class depending upon student interests related to scientific discoveries from The Early Islamic Civilisation.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






Join our email list to receive the latest updates.

Add your form here