Upon the death of the Prophet Mohammed, the Moslem Empire split. The Successors, or Caliphs, branched off. The Shi ites, or followers of the son-in-law, Ali, were in Tripoli. The followers of Fatima, The Prophet's daughter, called the Fatmids, were in Egypt. They had lost their holdings in Jerusalem to the Byzantines in 1096. The Selchukid (Seljuk) Turks, were in Syria, each city having its own ruler, and no organization. They were also in Baghdad and had extended into the Byzantine held Anotolia. The Umayyad Caliphate was in Cordova, Spain.
The Arab Empire, though united in Islam, was not very united politically. Revolts, civil war, assassination, all were common. But they had a unique culture that fast spread its influences to the Western Europeans.
They had developed advanced mathematics. They had explored the movements of the stars and planets in the heavens. They taught the Crusaders Chess. They traded in rare spices and silks, some the likes of which the Crusaders had not seen before. They introduced new arts, dance, metal workings, storytelling, all which became incorporated into the culture of the Crusaders, as apparent in clothing, jewelry and literature.
I have only touched the surface of Arab Culture here. Please visit your library for more books on the Arab Culture and history.
The best way to follow who is who in the Arab world is to list the Family groups and the members, and their relations and dates. The history is mentioned on the other pages of this site.
The Fatimid capital was moved from Tunis to Egypt (Cairo) and they controlled Egypt till the rise of the Ayyubids in 1171. The Caliphs were:
The Turkish Dynasties were many, divided into regional areas. Listed by families:
The Zangids, founded by Amad al din Zangi, who was the son of a Turkish slave and was the Chamberlain to the Great Seljuk Malik Shah. Zangi was appointed Governor (Atabeg) of Iraq and in the course of a year ruled over Mosul, Sinjar, Jezira, Harran and Aleppo. His sons divided his domain when he died in 1146. Sayf al din Ghazi was in Mosul and Mesopotamia and Nur al din Mahmud (Nur-al-din) was in Syria.
Atabegs of Armenia rose from Sukman al Kuthi, a former slave of a
Seljuk governor. The Atabegs Sukman II, Begtimur
The Burids, Atabegs of Damascus was founded by Tughtigin, a former official of the Syrian Seljuk. This became incorporated into the Zangids of Aleppo. The names to remember here are Tughtigin (1103), Muluk (1128), Shams (1132) Shihab (1134), Jamal (1138), and Mijir al din Abaq (1139-1154).
The Ayyubids Dynasty was founded in 1169 by Al Nasir Salah al din Yusf ibn Ayyub, known as Saladin. He was a Kurdish General, of Nur al din Mahmud ibn Zangi of Syria (known as Nur-al-din). He had taken Egypt from the Fatmids for Nur-al-din and then declared his independence. The Ayyubid empire was divided at his death in 1193 amongst his relatives. The Saladin Empire was eventually put back together by Sephadin (A 'Adil Sayf al din Abu Bakr ibn Ayyub), his brother, and it was divided again at his death.
The Mamluks were slave soldiers in the service of Najm al din Ayyub (1240-1249), the last of the Ayyubids. They were slaves brought from outside the kingdom as young children and raised as soldiers. They revolted and came to power in 1250, and the empire, which never was able to extend beyond the Euphrates in the East, lasted in Egypt till the Ottoman invasion in 1517. They did come to control Syria, Palestine and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The names of Aybak(1250) Baybars I (1260-1277) are found in later Crusader history.
just some of the more important names in Arab history.