First Muslim attempts to conquer Sicily
In 535, Emperor Justinian I returned Sicily to the Roman Empire, then ruled from Constantinople exclusively. As the power of what is now known as the Byzantine Empire waned in the West, Sicily was invaded by the Rashidun Caliphate during the reign of Caliph Uthman in the year 652. However, this first invasion was short-lived, and the Muslims left soon after. By the end of the 7th century, with the Umayyad conquest of North Africa, the Muslims had captured the nearby port city of Carthage, allowing them to build shipyards and a permanent base from which to launch more sustained attacks.
Around 700, the island of Pantelleria was captured by Muslims, and it was only discord among the Muslims that prevented an attempted invasion of Sicily at that time. Instead, trading agreements were arranged with the Byzantines, and Muslim merchants were allowed to trade goods at the Sicilian ports.
The first true conquest expedition was launched in 740; in that year the Muslim prince Habib, who had participated in the 728 attack, successfully captured Syracuse. Ready to conquer the whole island, they were however forced to return to Tunisia by a Berber revolt. A second attack in 752 aimed only to sack the same city.