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Overview Islam spread through military conquest, trade, pilgrimage, and missionaries. Arab Muslim forces conquered vast territories and built imperial structures over time. Most of the significant expansion occurred during the reign of the Rashidun from 632 to 661 CE, which was the reign of the first four successors of Muhammad. Islam and Europe Timeline (355-1291 A.D.) 355: After removing a Roman temple from the site (possibly the Temple of Aphrodite built by Hadrian), Constantine I has the Church of the Holy Sepulcher constructed in Jerusalem. Built around the excavated hill of the Crucifixion, legend has it that Constantine's mother Helena discovered the True Cross ... The Safavid Empire is considered one of the most prosperous Islamic empires, yet differs from others, since it was the only Islamic state that was officially Shi'ite. Originally, the Safavid Empire was dominantly Sunni, yet Ismail I, the second Shah of the empire, forced his citizens to convert to his sect of Islam, Shi'ite, through brutal methods.