Rashidun Caliphate Under Caliph Abu Bakr

Rashidun Caliphate Under Caliph Abu Bakr

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Early Islamic World

The Caliphate is the name of the Muslim government that ruled the Islamic Empire during the Middle Ages. For a long period of time, the Caliphate controlled Western Asia, North Africa, and parts of Europe. Its culture and trade influenced much of the civilized world spreading the religion of Islam and introducing advances in science, education, and technology.

Who was the leader of the Caliphate?

The Caliphate was led by a ruler called the "caliph", which means "successor." The caliph was considered the successor to the Prophet Muhammad and was both the religious and political leader of the Muslim world.

The Caliphate began after the death of Muhammad in 632 CE. The first successor to Muhammad was Caliph Abu Bakr. Today, historians call the first Caliphate the Rashidun Caliphate.

The First Four Caliphs

The Rashidun Caliphate consisted of the First Four Caliphs of the Islamic Empire. Rashidun means "rightly guided." These first four caliphs were called "rightly guided" because they were all companions of the Prophet Muhammad and learned the ways of Islam directly from Muhammad.

The Rashidun Caliphate lasted for 30 years from 632 CE to 661 CE. The First Four Caliphs included Abu Bakr, Umar Ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, and Ali ibn Abi Talib.

    Umayyad (661-750 CE) - Under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, the Islamic Empire expanded rapidly to include much of northern Africa, western India, and Spain. At its peak, it was one of the largest empires in the history of the world.

Historians differ on when the Islamic Caliphate came to an end. Many put the end of the Caliphate at 1258 CE, when the Mongols defeated the Abbasids at Baghdad. Others put the end at 1924 when the country of Turkey was established.

Shia and Sunni Muslims

One of the major divisions in the Islam religion is between Shia and Sunni Muslims. This division began very early in the history of Islam with the selection of the first Caliph. The Shia believed that the Caliph should be a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, while the Sunni thought that the Caliph should be elected.

8.8: The Rashidun Caliphs

  • Brian Parkinson
  • Faculty (History) at Georgia Southwestern State University
  • Sourced from University System of Georgia via GALILEO Open Learning Materials

Muhammad did not formally appoint a successor, or khalifa in Arabic, and no clear replacement arose to lead the Muslim community forward at the time of his death. In fact, the umma divided into three groups, with each willing to appoint their own successor to the Prophet. Emerging as a vocal leader at this critical juncture, &lsquoUmar, one of Muhammad&rsquos closest companions, convinced the majlis, or elders of the community, to elect Abu Bakr by consensus as a compromise candidate. Abu Bakr had been Muhammad&rsquos closest friend Muhammad&rsquos marriage of political alliance to &lsquoA&rsquoisha, Abu Bakr&rsquos daughter, further solidified their relationship.

The election of Abu Bakr (632 &ndash 634) brought much-needed stability and an almost democratic form of government to Islam. As caliph, Abu Bakr held together the converts to Islam by deploying the forces at his disposal, thus cementing his authority among the Arabian tribes. He prevented any rebellious Muslim tribes from reverting to the worship of their traditional tribal gods, as they were wont to do. Abu Bakr died in 634, two years after the Prophet Muhammad had died.

The majlis chose &lsquoUmar (634 &ndash 644), a close friend of Abu Bakr, to be the next caliph. &lsquoUmar had been the military power behind Abu Bakr. A dynamic and uncompromising leader, &lsquoUmar recognized the necessity of expansion northward to achieve various ends. First, he sought to subdue the security threat of raiding nomads, many of which remained a law unto themselves. Second, in his struggle to contain discontent, he used the cohesive element of jihad to unite the Muslim community against unbelievers and expand God&rsquos dominion. (The Arabic term of jihad actually refers to a &ldquostruggle,&rdquo usually against spiritual impurity, often known as &ldquogreater jihad,&rdquo and is associated with fulfilling God&rsquos objectives here on earth. The &ldquolesser jihad,&rdquo alternatively, is a physical struggle against the unbelievers of the Dar al-Harb, or Abode of War, until it is absorbed into the Dar al-Islam, or Abode of Islam, where believers were free to practice their faith as members of the predominant faith. Of note is the fact that Muhammad did not consider jihad important enough to make one of the pillars of Islam.) Third, &lsquoUmar understood the importance of plunder for the nascent caliphate. Troops received four-fifths of the loot from conquest the remainder of the revenue went to him to be dispersed amongst the neediest members in the Islamic community.

&lsquoUmar directed the full might of Islam northward against the Eastern Roman Empire, sometimes referred to as the Byzantine Empire. In 634, their first encounter took place in southern Palestine. The ensuing Battle of Ajnadayn was a decisive victory for the Muslims and a major loss for Emperor Heraclius. Two years later, an outnumbered Muslim army defeated the Eastern Roman Empire yet again at the Battle of Yarmouk, located on the eponymous river, somewhere between Damascus and Jerusalem. In both instances, the Byzantines relied on their slow, heavy cavalry, whereas the Arabs capitalized on their light armor and their superior mobility. The Muslims realized that they could not just charge the East Roman lines they showed their tactical superiority by flanking the Byzantines and executing a successful rearguard action instead. These victories opened up greater Syria to Muslim conquest. Antioch, Aleppo, and Jerusalem fell to the Muslims not long thereafter. &lsquoUmar appointed Mu&lsquoawiya, a member of the Meccan Umayyad aristocracy to govern Syria at his behest.

Map (PageIndex<1>): Map of Muslim and Byzantine Troop Movements, 635-636 CE Author: User &ldquoMagnus Manske&rdquo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Once he dealt with the increasingly vulnerable Byzantines in the Levant, &lsquoUmar directed his army to the east against the Sasanian Empire of Persia. In 636, fighting along the banks of the Euphrates River, a smaller Arab force triumphed over the Persians, at the Battle of Qadisiya. After successive days of exhaustive combat, the Muslims took advantage of environmental conditions and their light cavalry&rsquos mobility when they chased a dust storm and took the Sasanids by surprise.

To save their empire, the Persians mounted a failed counterattack. In 642, Umar&rsquos army eventually defeated the forces of the Sasanian Emperor Yazdagird III at the Battle of Nahavand, situated deep in Iran&rsquos Zagros Mountains. Yazdagird fled to the east as a fugitive, and, in 651, met his death at the hands of a local miller who killed the emperor in order to rob him of his belongings.

In 639, General &lsquoAmr petitioned &lsquoUmar for permission to invade Egypt and eventually persuaded the caliph that he could easily take Egypt so gained his reluctant consent. In 641, he received a message from &lsquoUmar recalling his forces. The general ignored the order and seized Egypt with just a few hundred soldiers. With promises of toleration, &lsquoAmr convinced the Egyptian Coptic majority to side with him against the Greek Orthodox ruling minority, whose Patriarch Cyrus had been actively persecuting the Copts as followers of a Christian heresy that failed to recognize the Holy Trinity.

Map (PageIndex<2>): Map of the Muslim Conquest of Egypt, 639-641 CE Author: User &ldquoMagnus Manske&rdquo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Clearly outnumbered Muslim armies thus successfully defeated two long-standing empires in the span of just a few decades. Several explanations help us understand the rapid expansion of Islam during this period. One concept, termed the vacuum theory, posits that the Byzantine and Persian empires had been severely weakened from near-continuous fighting, dating back decades prior to the rise of Islam, so they both suffered from the fatigue of war. Islam, therefore, occupied the vacuum of political power resulting from the collapse of these two exhausted empires.

The success of Muslim military strategy offers a second explanation. While Byzantine forces adopted a defensive stance on the battlefield, the Arabs employed more aggressive tactics, making use of their mobile light cavalry against their enemies&rsquo heavily armored armies. Once victorious, the Arabs populated garrison cities on the frontier, called amsar, with Muslims. These military settlements provided security, served as logistical loci, and discouraged Muslim troops from mingling with the locals. The caliphs thereby prevented their warriors being assimilated into the communities of the conquered while also preventing soldiers from disturbing the peace. Fustat in Egypt, as well as Kufa and Basra in Iraq, were the largest of the amsar. From bases like these, the Arabs could expand and consolidate their hold over the frontier.

Religion also provided an impetus for the expansion of Islam. Fearing that internal tribal divisions threatened the early Islamic state, &lsquoUmar united the Muslims through their common Islamic theology and faced them against a common enemy. Dedicated to the expansion of Islam, Muslims used the concept of jihad as a way to unify the umma, or Islamic community, against a foreign foe. Faith motivated the troops, who were zealous and determined to fight.

Simple economics also served as a primary motivating factor in the expansion of Islam. For one, Muslim rulers applied the jizya, an annual tax levied on non-Muslims, to newly-conquered lands. The money derived from conquest functioned as a driving force in the growth of the caliphate. With the expectation of material reward, soldiers could earn money for their service. While the practice of dividing the spoils of war amongst the soldiers continued under &lsquoUmar, he also started offering salaries to his troops, determining salaries according to the length of service.

The Muslims further exploited the internal divisions of targeted societies, as exemplified in Egypt, where the Coptic Christian majority, together with a large Jewish minority in Alexandria, had suffered under the rule of an oppressive Greek Orthodox Christian minority but gained autonomy and toleration within an Islamic state. And in Syria, another monophysite Christian minority called the Syrian Orthodox Church, or Jacobites, collaborated with the Muslims and hastened the collapse of the Byzantines. All these factors led the early Islamic state to expand exponentially.

In 644, an Iranian captive from the Persian campaign stabbed &lsquoUmar to death. His successor, &lsquoUthman (644 &ndash 656), was an elderly man from the Umayyad Clan who won a contentious election over &lsquoAli. &lsquoAli possessed all of the &lsquoAlid bona fides. &lsquoAli was not only son of Muhammad&rsquos early protector, Abu Thalib he was also the Prophet&rsquos cousin and son-in-law. He had married Muhammad&rsquos daughter Fatima together, they had two sons, Hasan and Husayn. &lsquoAli had also earned a well-deserved reputation as a virtuous Muslim. One of the first converts to Islam, he had journeyed with Muhammad on most of his expeditions and fought against the Meccans. Finally, &lsquoAli also served as a valued advisor to the early caliphs on questions of dogma.

Figure (PageIndex<1>): Family Tree of the Prophet Muhammad Author: User &ldquoBasilio&rdquo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Two factions formed in the wake of questions over &lsquoUthman&rsquos succession, thus initiating the development of a division within Islam. One faction was a group of &lsquoAlids who believed that &lsquoAli should inherit the mantle of Islam and referred to traditions suggesting that Muhammad had proclaimed to the faithful that &lsquoAli should be his successor. The amsar followed the &lsquoAlids and later adopted the Shi&lsquoa appellation. The other faction, the Umayyads contended that the method of appointing successors should be by consensus, as was done with the first caliphs. Mostly based in Mecca, they later identified as Sunnis. Over time, these factional differences became increasingly difficult to bridge.

Although &lsquoUthman, one of the Prophet&rsquos first converts, was a pious Muslim, he was a corrupt administrator. He displayed nepotistic tendencies that gave precedence to the Meccan elite, a practice that diverged from &lsquoUmar&rsquos policies of favoring soldiers who had been the first to respond to the call to action. &lsquoUmar&rsquos beneficiaries had usually originated from lesser tribes, those too weak to constitute a coherent threat to the establishment by contrast, &lsquoUthman&rsquos appointees were members of the Meccan elite who generally pursued policies benefiting the Umayyad merchants of Mecca.

Government also began to disintegrate under &lsquoUthman&rsquos rule, as opposition and instability plagued his tenure as caliph. He managed to offend three separate groups of Muslims. The first of these were the older, pious Muslims, who hailed from Medina. They resented how the hated Umayyads had taken over the same umma that they had previously persecuted and had once tried to destroy. Second were the Quran reciters. When &lsquoUthman commissioned and authorized a single official version of the holy text, an act for which he received many accolades, the Quran reciters lost the opportunity for gainful employment. Third were a disgruntled contingent of &lsquoAlids who called for &lsquoUthman to resign and advocated the election of &lsquoAli. Their discontent culminated in 656, when resentful devotees of &lsquoAli from Egypt broke into &lsquoUthman&rsquos home in Medina and assassinated him, purportedly while he was reading the Quran. They then hastily arranged for the election of &lsquoAli as &lsquoUthman&rsquos successor.

Thrice rejected by the majlis in favor of the first three caliphs, &lsquoAli (656 &ndash 661) reluctantly accepted the position of leader of the Islamic community. His selection represented a victory for the faction of legitimists disappointed in the earlier choice of &lsquoUthman. &lsquoAli assumed the role of caliph amid high expectations, for he was a pious and generous man. Yet the caliphate suffered under his rule. During this time of instability, he constantly had to suppress revolts. For example, tensions between the supporters of &lsquoAli and the family of &lsquoUthman eventually erupted into the first civil war in Islam. In 656, at the Battle of the Camel, &lsquoAli engaged the combined forces of the Prophet&rsquos favored wife, &lsquoA&rsquoisha, and her associates, Talha and Zubayr, who were both relatives of &lsquoUthman. Because &lsquoAli had failed to bring the dead caliph&rsquos assassins to justice these three together demanded satisfaction for his death.

The conspirators challenged &lsquoAli near the garrison city of Basra, in southern Iraq, before he had the chance to move the caliphate from Medina to the sympathetic military settlement of Kufa. A first, diplomacy seemed to prevail, as &lsquoAli sought to avoid bloodshed by negotiating. He succeeded in convincing the three to lay down their arms however, a group later known as Kharijis conspired to undermine their reconciliation and set fire to the tents in both camps in the dead of the night. Pandemonium ensued. Because of this single impetuous action, both parties thought the other side had flouted the agreement, committing a violation of trust. During the ensuing battle, &lsquoA&rsquoisha was pushed into the middle of the fray on the back of a camel, as was Arab custom. The supporters who rallied to her side were cut down, and &lsquoAli emerged victorious from a very bloody battle. The repercussions of his victory reverberated across the Islamic world, as older Muslim men castigated &lsquoA&rsquoisha for her part in the conflict and suggested that women should not play a role in public life.

Figure (PageIndex<2>): &lsquoAli and &lsquoA&rsquoisha at the Battle of the Camel Author: Unknown Source: Wikimedia Commons License: Public Domain

This threat was not the only one &lsquoAli faced, for he also had to contend with Mu&lsquoawiya, &lsquoUthman&rsquos cousin and former governor of Syria. Conspicuously absent from &lsquoAli&rsquos new administration, Mu&lsquoawiya refused to pay homage to &lsquoAli and asserted his own independence in Syria. He also echoed the accusations of &lsquoA&rsquoisha, Talha, and Zubayr, as members of Mu&lsquoawiya&rsquos Umayyad Clan had expressed dismay about the quick election of &lsquoAli, and questions still lingered over the new caliph&rsquos part in &lsquoUthman&rsquos death. &lsquoAli&rsquos failure to act against &lsquoUthman&rsquos assassins proved his culpability, Mu&lsquoawiya and the Umayyads, and Mu&lsquoawiya asserted the traditional Arab custom of exacting revenge on one&rsquos enemies.

His conflict with &lsquoAli culminated in 657 when they met at the Battle of Siffin, on the Euphrates River in northern Syria. After months of clashes, &lsquoAli agreed to arbitration with Mu&lsquoawiya. Still preferring negotiation over bloodshed, &lsquoAli had been of the opinion that Muslims should never take up arms against fellow Muslims. His willingness to negotiate with Mu&lsquoawiya, however, caused some of Ali&rsquos own soldiers to defect and adopt the appellation of Kharijis, from kharaja, meaning &ldquoto depart.&rdquo The first sect in Islam, they departed from Ali because they believed that &ldquojudgement belongs to God alone&rdquo (Quran 6:57) they saw &lsquoAli&rsquos willingness to negotiate with Mu&lsquoawiya as somehow reducing the role of God in determining a successor. In lieu of arbitration, they thought that God would determine the rightful successor by influencing the outcome on the field of battle.

Abu Bakr

Abū Bakr ‘Abdallāh bin Abī Quḥāfah aṣ-Ṣiddīq (Arabic: أبو بكر عبد الله بن أبي قحافة الصديق ‎c. (573 CE 22 August 634 CE) popularly known as Abu Bakr ( أبو بكر ), [1] was a senior companion and—through his daughter Aisha [2] —the father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Abu Bakr became the first openly declared Muslim outside Muhammad's family. [3] [ page needed ] [4] Abu Bakr served as a trusted advisor to Muhammad. During Muhammad's lifetime, he was involved in several campaigns and treaties. [5]

  • Mu'taq (presumably the middle)
  • Utaiq (presumably the youngest)
  • Quhafah ibn Uthman

He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632 to 634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death. [6] As caliph, Abu Bakr succeeded to the political and administrative functions previously exercised by Muhammad. He was commonly known as The Truthful Caliph ( الصديق , As-Saddīq). [2] Abu Bakr's reign lasted for 2 years, 3 months and 11 days ending with his death after an illness. He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632 to 634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death.

Abu Bakr's full name was Abd Allah ibn 'Uthman ibn Aamir ibn Amr ibn Ka'ab ibn Sa'ad ibn Taym (from whom the at-Taymi al-Quraishi) ibn Murrah ibn Ka'ab ibn Lu'ai ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr al-Quraishi. [7] [8]

In Arabic, the name Abd Allah means "slave of Allah". One of his early titles, preceding his conversion to Islam, was atiqe, "the saved one". Muhammad later reaffirmed this title when he said that Abu Bakr is the "atiqe" (the one saved from hell fire by God). [9] He was called Al-Siddiq (the truthful) [2] by Muhammad after he believed him in the event of Isra and Mi'raj when other people didn't, and Ali confirmed that title several times. [10]

There is a dispute over his name being Abdullah. Ibn Hajar in Al-Isaabah, and many other narrations, narrates from Qasim Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr, "I asked Ayesha the name of Abu Bakr. She said Abdullah. I said people are saying Ateeq. She said Abu Quhafa had three children, one was Ateeq, second Mu’taq and third, Otaiq. All three names are similar and derived from the same root."

He was mentioned in the Quran as the "second of the two who lay in the cave" in reference to the event of hijra, where with Muhammad he hid in the cave in Jabal Thawr from the Meccan search party that was sent after them, thus being one of few who were given direct mention in the Quran. [11]

Imam Jafar al Sadiq famously narrated how the title Siddiq was given to Abu Bakr from Muhammad. [12] [13] Jafar was a direct descendant of Abu Bakr from his maternal side, as well as being a descendant of Ali from his father's side. Jafar al-Sadiq was also the successor of the Naqshbandi Sufi order believed to be originating from Abu Bakr himself. [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] Imam Muhammad al Baqir, the father of Imam Jafar Sadiq, also called Abu Bakr with the title Siddiq. [19]

Much of the available knowledge about Muhammad comes through Abu Bakr's daughter, Aisha. After the death of Abu Bakr, her brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was raised by Ali. After Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was killed by the Umayyads, Aisha raised and taught her nephew Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. Aisha also taught another nephew Urwah ibn Zubayr. He then taught his son Hisham ibn Urwah, who was the main teacher of Malik ibn Anas] whose views many Sunni follow.

Qasim's mother was of ‘Ali's family and his daughter Farwah bint al-Qasim, who married Muhammad al-Baqir, was the mother of Jafar al-Sadiq. Therefore al-Qasim was the grandson of the first caliph Abu Bakr and the grandfather of Ja'far al-Sadiq.

Another of Abu Bakr's grandsons, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, was very close to Husayn bin Ali. After Hussein ibn Ali was betrayed by the people of Kufa and killed by the Yazid I Army of the, Umayyads ruler, [20] Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr confronted Yazid and expelled him from Iraq, southern Arabia and the greater part of Syria, and parts of Egypt. Following a lengthy campaign, on his last hour Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr asked his mother Asma' bint Abu Bakr, the daughter of the first caliph, for advice. Asma' bint Abu Bakr replied to her son: [21] "You know better in your own self, that if you are upon the truth and you are calling towards the truth go forth, for people more honourable than you have been killed and if you are not upon the truth, then what an evil son you are and you have destroyed yourself and those who are with you. If you say, that if you are upon the truth and you will be killed at the hands of others, then you will not truly be free". Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr left and was later also killed and the army now under the control of the Umayyads.

Non-political caliphates

Though non-political, some Sufi orders and the Ahmadiyya movement [60] define themselves as caliphates. Their leaders are thus commonly referred to as khalifas (caliphs).

Sufi caliphates

In Sufism, tariqas (orders) are led by spiritual leaders (khilafah ruhaniyyah), the main khalifas, who nominate local khalifas to organize zaouias. [61]

Sufi caliphates are not necessarily hereditary. Khalifas are aimed to serve the silsilah in relation to spiritual responsibilities and to propagate the teachings of the tariqa.

Ahmadiyya Caliphate (1908–present)

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a self proclaimed Islamic revivalist movement founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, who claimed to be the promised Messiah and Mahdi, awaited by Muslims. He also claimed to be a follower-prophet subordinate to Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. After his death in 1908, his first successor, Hakeem Noor-ud-Din became the caliph of the community and assumed the title of Khalifatul Masih (Successor or Caliph of the Messiah). [ citation needed ]

After Hakeem Noor-ud-Din, the first caliph, the title of the Ahmadiyya caliph continued under Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, who led the community for over 50 years. Following him were Mirza Nasir Ahmad and then Mirza Tahir Ahmad who were the third and fourth caliphs respectively. [ citation needed ] The current caliph is Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who lives in London [62] [63]


Ess, Josef van. "Political Ideas in Early Islamic Religious Thought." British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 28 (2001): 151–164.

Hinds, Martin. Studies in Early Islamic History. Edited by Jere Bacharach, et al. Princeton, N.J.: The Darwin Press, 1996.

Madelung, Wilferd. The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Tabari, al-. The History of al-Tabari. Vols. 10–17. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985–1999.

Epic World History

In the wake of the Prophet’s death the general consensus was that, since Muhammad did not leave explicit instructions on how to choose a successor, such a leader should be elected. Despite this consensus not all factions agreed.

One group, which later came to be known as the Partisans of Ali or Shiat Ali, claimed that Ali ibn Abu Talib, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, was designated as the prophet’s successor at a place called Ghadir Khumm during his last hajj pilgrimage.

The four successors to Muhammad as leaders of the Ummah—Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn alAffan, and Ali ibn Abu Talib—formed what is now known as the al-Rashidun or “Rightly Divinely Guided” Caliphate.

Originally many believed that the caliph was the political, but not the religious, successor to Muhammad. However other scholars have argued that the caliph, at least initially during the al-Rashidun period and Umayyad dynasty, held both political and religious authority, though they did not claim prophetic powers, since Muhammad was considered the “seal” of the prophetic line that began with Adam, the first man in the Islamic tradition.

Abu Bakr al-Siddiq
Umar ibn al-Khattab, Abu Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah, and Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, three of Muhammad’s closest companions and allies, decided that Abu Bakr should take over as head of the Ummah. As a member of the influential tribe of Quraysh, of which Muhammad was also a member, Abu Bakr was an early convert to Islam and father of A’isha, one of the prophet’s wives.

In 622 when Muhammad was compelled to leave his native city of Mecca for the oasis city of Yathrib (later renamed Medina) to the north, because of the death of his uncle and protector Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib and threats from the city’s polytheistic leaders, Abu Bakr was his trusted lieutenant and traveling companion.

As word of Muhammad’s death spread throughout Arabia, several Arab tribes that had pledged allegiance to Muhammad refused to obey the new caliph, Abu Bakr, who ruled from Medina. Although some of these tribes openly rejected Islam, despite having converted during Muhammad’s lifetime, other rebellious tribes objected to the continuation of political subjugation to the caliphate in Medina.

Abu Bakr moved swiftly against the rebels, stopping the rebellion with military force in what came to be known as the Ridda Wars, or the Wars of Apostasy. The struggle against the Hanifa clan, led by their leader Musaylimah, who claimed to be Muhammad’s prophetic successor, was the bloodiest, finally ending in 633 with the defeat of the Hanifa and the death of Musaylimah at the Battle of Aqraba.

Abu Bakr infographic

The larger result of the triumph of the al-Rashidun Caliphate over its challengers was the first major expansion of the Islamic state since the death of Muhammad, as the Muslims were in firm control over the vast majority of the Arabian Peninsula. After his victory in the Ridda Wars, Abu Bakr turned his attention to the north and east, directing Muslim armies to begin moving against the Byzantine Empire and its Arab allies in Palestine and Syria and the Persian Sassanid Empire’s landholdings in Mesopotamia.

The first Muslim military expeditions into Byzantine and Sassanid lands occurred during Abu Bakr’s reign. Before he was able to continue the caliphate’s expansion, Abu Bakr died of old age in August 634, after nominating Umar as his successor.

Umar ibn al-Khattab

Umar ibn al-Khattab
Umar ibn al-Khattab, one of Muhammad’s greatest critics and persecutors before converting to Islam, oversaw the caliphate’s first great expansion. It was during his reign as caliph that Islam’s political and religious authority spread by leaps and bounds outside its Arabian homeland.

In fairly short succession, the Byzantine Empire was driven out of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and parts of southern Asia Minor while the Sassanid Empire was pushed out of Mesopotamia by Muslim armies. After entering Iran and forcing the Sassanid government to flee farther east, the Muslims established new settlements at Kufah and Basra in present-day Iraq, which would act as garrisons to safeguard the caliphate’s new conquests.

Under Umar, the administration of the caliphate began to develop, with its soldiers paid varying rates according to the length and nature of their service, and local subjugated non-Muslim populations required to pay taxes, while Muslims were required to pay religious taxes. In 644 Umar was mortally wounded by Abu Lululah, a Persian slave, while leading communal prayers in Medina, for personal and not political reasons.

Utsman bin al-Affan
Before he died Umar appointed a six-member council of Muhammad’s Companions, all members of the tribe of Quraysh, to elect the next caliph. Ali was offered the position if he would agree to follow the edicts of his two predecessors. After Ali declined, the council elected Utsman ibn al-Affan, an early convert to Islam and a member of the powerful Umayyad clan, as the new caliph.

During his reign the authority of the central government in Medina was enhanced and a conference of scholars was called to codify an official version of the Qur’an, placing the chapters in the order in which they appear today. During Utsman’s reign the caliphate continued to expand, with Muslim armies moving farther east into Sassanid Iran.

Through treaties and military conquest, the Muslims established their control over the region’s urban centers, though in the mountains and rural areas, traditional societies continued to exist and non-Muslim peoples, such as the Turks of Central Asia, were prone to occasional revolt. The Sassanid empire, which had been in power since 224, was unable to maintain centralized control and by 651 it had collapsed.

Three regions in particular opposed Utsman’s reign: Medina, where non-Umayyad members of the Quraysh were dismayed at the caliph’s favoritism and Kufah and Egypt, where the caliph had attempted to revoke longstanding privileges and increased taxation. In 656 opposition to the caliph came to a head when several hundred Muslim soldiers stationed in Egypt returned to Medina to protest Utsman’s policies.

He talked them into returning to Egypt but sent an order to that region’s governor instructing him to punish the soldiers. The caliph’s message was intercepted and the soldiers returned, enraged, and assassinated Utsman as he sat reading the Qur’an. Uthman’s nepotism led to his downfall and further divisions in the Muslim Ummah.

Ali Ibn Abi Talib
After Utsman’s assassination, Ali became the fourth al-Rashidun caliph. Although he had not faced open opposition to his ascension to the seat of caliph, opposition to his rule soon coalesced around the Prophet’s widow A’isha, and two of Muhammad’s Companions, al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam and Talha ibn Ubayd Allah, who objected to Ali’s close alliance with prominent factions of Muslim converts.

Fearing that the influence of the Quraysh would be eclipsed, A’isha, al-Zubayr, and Talha led a rebellion against Ali. In December 656 at the Battle of the Camel outside Basra in Iraq, Ali’s forces defeated the rebellion, killing al-Zubayr and Talha. A’isha was sent back to Medina, where she was placed under house arrest.

The main bases of Ali’s support were in Iraq however in Syria, Ali was faced with open opposition from that province’s governor, Muawiya, an Umayyad relative of Uthman, who criticized the caliph for refusing to punish Uthman’s assassins. Muawiya was in command of a powerful military force and in 657 the armies of Muawiya and Ali met at Siffin.

A full-scale fight eventually ensued, but was soon ended when Muawiya’s soldiers held up pages from the Qu’ran and called out for a peaceful settlement. Ali, to the dismay of some of his more zealous followers, agreed to have his dispute with Muawiya arbitrated.

In the end Muawiya remained governor of Syria and Ali was left unchallenged as the caliph, though his position had been severely weakened. A group of zealots, the Kharijites, previously staunch supporters of Ali, claimed that by agreeing to arbitration, Ali had circumvented the will of God. Although he later defeated the bulk of the Kharijites’s military forces, Ali failed to stamp out their rebellion.

Kharijite assassination attempts against Muawiya and other senior Umayyad leaders failed, but in 661 Ali was mortally wounded by the Kharijite Abdur-Rahman ibn Muljam while leading the predawn prayers at the central mosque in Kufah. With his assassination, the al-Rashidun Caliphate came to an end and Muawiya and the Umayyad dynasty of Syria rose in its place. The Umayyads would continue expanding the Islamic state until the Abbasid dynasty overthrew them in a violent revolution in 750.

Rise of the Caliphates

After Muhammad’s death, many Arabian tribes rejected Islam or withheld the alms tax established by Muhammad. Many tribes claimed that they had submitted to Muhammad and that with Muhammad’s death, their allegiance had ended. Caliph Abu Bakr insisted that they had not just submitted to a leader, but joined the Islamic community of Ummah.

To retain the cohesion of the Islamic state, Abu Bakr divided his Muslim army to force the Arabian tribes into submission. After a series of successful campaigns, Abu Bakr’s general Khalid ibn Walid defeated a competing prophet and the Arabian peninsula was united under the caliphate in Medina. Once the rebellions had been quelled, Abu Bakr began a war of conquest. In just a few short decades, his campaigns led to one of the largest empires in history. Muslim armies conquered most of Arabia by 633, followed by north Africa, Mesopotamia, and Persia, significantly shaping the history of the world through the spread of Islam.

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The Rashidun Caliphate (632–661) is the period in Islamic history immediately following the death of the Prophet Muhammad. While Muhammad led a small religious polity in Medina under his charismatic prophetic leadership, he did not create anything that might be called an empire. The situation changed under the four caliphs of the Rashidun period – Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali – who oversaw the rapid expansion of the Islamic polity throughout the Near East. They elaborated important military, legal, and economic structures and developed a nascent imperial apparatus that helped ensure the success of the Islamic state. The Rashidun Caliphate is often considered a religio-political golden age, but it also witnessed many fierce debates about the nature of authority, the role of the caliph, and the relationship between religion and politics. In fact, the Rashidun Caliphate ended with a calamitous civil war that permanently divided the young Muslim community, revealing the incredible difficulty of simultaneously ruling a huge empire and maintaining religious unity.

Who are the four rightly guided caliphs of Islam?

The First Four Caliphs included Abu Bakr, Umar Ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, and Ali ibn Abi Talib. Umayyad (661-750 CE) - Under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, the Islamic Empire expanded rapidly to include much of northern Africa, western India, and Spain.

Additionally, how were the rightly guided caliphs elected? The concept of "Rightly Guided Caliphs" originated with the Abbasid Dynasty. The Rashidun were either elected by a council (see The election of Uthman and Islamic democracy) or chosen based on the wishes of their predecessor. In the order of succession, the rashidun were: * Abu Bakr (632-634 A.D.)

In respect to this, what does rightly guided caliphs mean?

. . &lrm al-Khulafāʾu ar-Rāshidūn), often simply called, collectively, "the Rashidun", is a term used in Sunni Islam to refer to the 30-year reign of the first four caliphs (successors) following the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, namely: Abu Bakr,

How did the four caliphs spread Islam?

The Four Rightly Guided Caliphs were the first four Caliphs that ruled after the death of Muhammed. It was a period during which Islam flourished and spread widely beyond Arabian peninsula to unify nations and large territories. He not only secured Islam, but spread it to Syria, Palestine and Iraq.

Watch the video: Early Muslim Expansion - Khalid, Yarmouk, al-Qadisiyyah DOCUMENTARY