Islam began in the first half of the 7th century A.D. In 610 A.D., the Prophet Muhammad began to receive messages from God, or Allah, and he began to preach these messages in his native Mecca.
In 622 A.D., the Meccan elites drove Muhammad out of town, and he continued to develop his new religion in Medina, a city about 209 miles north of Mecca. Muslims call this migration "the Hijra," and it marks the first year in the Islamic calendar. Throughout Muhammad's life, he continued to develop the religion as he received further messages from Allah, creating the faith that grew to dominate much of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia within a century.