By the Eighth century the Axumite Kingdom had lost its territories in South Arabia. This was due to the rise of Moslems, who occupied the Ethiopian coast and surrounding territories.
Abraha King of South Arabia was very unhappy about the pagan pratices in Mecca and Other areas, which caused him to become hostile towards the Persians and the Arabs. As stated in the Koran, around the year 540 "...an expiditionary force was sent by Abraha to attack the shrine at Mecca which was still pagan at this time."
The Attack was unsucessful.
In retaliation, in the year 572 North Yemen was attacked by the Arabs. This ".... allowed a Persian fleet to penetrate by way of Aden and thus occupy the country without the use of force.... The Persians continued to advance and by 602 the entire peninsula was occupied." This was a great loss to the Byzantine and Ethiopian Empires. Abraha and his succesors became the victims of Persian conquest.
South Arabia was first ruled by Persians and later by the Arabs. The latter grew too fast, were too advanced, and became too dangerous. They lost no time in cutting off the connections between the Ethiopian and Eastern Christian churches.
The Ethiopian Empire was completely cut off, not only from its South Arabian territory, ".... but also from its commercial outlets." It was cut off from all Mediterranian contact. When the main conquests by Caliph Omar (A.D 634-44) occured, the Byzantine Empire was pushed out of Syria altogether.
Armenia was overrun and Mesopotamia and Persia were conquered. Egypt passed passed almost completely from Christianity to Islam. Ethiopian Christianity was cut off from the rest of Christendom.
Even the link with Alexandria was discontinued for a while. The world heard no more about the Church of Ethiopia until the fifteenth century, when a mission went from Ethiopia to Rome. The Ethiopian delagation at the Council of Florence was a surprise to the rest of Christendom.
It was said that the continuous Christological dispute between the Christian churches had contributed to weakening Christianity and encouraging the Islamic religion. Perhaps this is a good lesson for future prospectives on Christian Unity.
The Axumite Empire, which was completely cut off from the rest of Christendom, had no other choice but to establish close ties with Islam. When Muhammad first began promulgating his religious teachings his followers suffered persecution under the Quraish in Arabia and were advised by Muhammad himself to take refuge in Ethiopia, ".... The land of righteousness where no one is wronged." The refugees were recived kindly by the Emperor Armah.
The emperor was approached by the Quraish, who sent an ambassador with rich gifts requesting the surrender of the refugees. Emperor Armah returned the gifts, saying, ".... If you were to offer me a mountain of gold I would not give up these people who have taken refuge with me." Afterward, the refugees were handed over to Muhammad. A good relationship was established between Muhammad and the Ethiopian Empire.
It was said that Muhammad had instructed his followers never to enter into any dispute with the Ethiopian Empire but to maintain a good relationship.
This relationship was short-lived, however, as the plan of Islam was to eliminate Christianity from the face of the Earth. Muhammad's sucessors could not resist attacking the Christian Ethiopians:
".... They captured Massawa and the Dahlak Islands subsequently sacking and setting fire to Adulis,
a disaster from which the latter never fully recovered.
The Axumites were finally driven from coastal areas and reduced to a political nonentity