The Rashidun Caliphate; The First Rashidun Caliph

With the beloved Prophet gone, the Muslim community, in mourning, had to find a way to move forward but first, they had to agree on a successor to Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah. Muhammad’s death sent shockwaves throughout the empire he had left behind. Rebellions broke out. It was complete and utter chaos. The Muslims were in mourning. They didn’t know who to turn to. Muhammad didn’t leave behind a plan of succession. Or at least, that’s what Sunnis say. Shias, however, believe that Muhammad declared his successor. Ali was Muhammad’s Cousin, he was the son of Abu Talib, the man who had raised Muhammad, he was also married to Muhammad’s youngest daughter, Fatima and now, after Muhammad, he was the head of the house of Hashim, Muhammad’sclan. Tensions were starting to break out in the Muslim community, especially between the Ansaar and the Muhajirun. They even considered establishing separate states with their own heads. Eventually, in a private meeting, Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s old friend was named Khalifa tul Rasool Allah, which means “Successor to the Prophet of Allah”. Ali, however, wasn’t present at this meeting. He was busy with the arrangements of Muhammad’s funeral. So, a successor to Muhammad was appointed, without consulting the new head of Muhammad’s house. This one decision was very controversial and it is, to this day, because you know, Muslims are very well-known for letting things go. This was the start of a Schism, the Shia-Sunni split. Shias believe that Ali should’ve been the first Caliph, most Sunnis, believe that Abu Bakr was the right choices but it’s not really as sectarian as most people think. These days, you’ll find Sunnis as well, who side with Ali on this argument,

Anyways, Abu Bakr became the first Khalifa or Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate. Caliph or Khalifa means Successor. Abu Bakr was a successor to Muhammad, so Muhammad himself didn’t have the title of Caliph, he was a prophet. Anyways, Abu Bark, after ascension to the office of Caliph, gave his first sermon which was as follows. His reign lasted for around 27 months, a little over two years. The first thing he did was consolidate his power over all of Arabia, he crushed all the rebellions and established the authority of the office held. He also started the canonization of the Quran by converting its ayahs into a book form. This is where Islam is different than say, Christianity, which was Canonized 300 years after Jesus. Finally, he sent Khalid ibn Al-Walid with an impressive army of Eighteen Thousand towards Mesopotamia. This was Islam’s first engagement with the Sassanid Persian Empire. Khalid ibn Al-Walid started conquest city by city. He and his unstoppable army were too much for the Persians. Abu Bakr passed away in 634 CE, two years after his friend Muhammad. He opened a floodgate that changed the course of history in the form of rapid conquest. Abu Bakr was succeeded by Umar ibn Al-Khattab.

Umar Ibn Khattab: The second Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate

By the point, Umar accedes to the caliphate, Khalid ibn Al-Waleed’s army was far into Persian territory. He was even threatening Ctesiphon, the Persian capital. Umar told Khalid to move towards Damascuswhile his replacement Sad ibn Abi Waqqas. Let’s return to Persia where shortly after Khalid had left in 634 CE, Muslims had suffered a defeat at The Battle of the Bridge. However, under the command of Sa`d ibn AbiWaqqas, Muslims got strong again. Sa’d led the Muslims to a decisive victory in the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah in 636 CE. Shortly after that, Ctesiphon, the Persian capital was besieged and taken by Sa’d in 637 CE. Umar wanted the Zagros Mountains to serve as a natural barrier and wanted to move no further into Persian Territory. However, the Persians kept raiding Mesopotamia and forced Umar to move further. In 642 CE, the Persians managed to raise an army against the Muslims which was defeated in the Battle of Nahāvand soon after Khalidhad passed away. Muslim victory over Persia was all but complete. The Persian Emperor Yazdegerd III escaped to Central Asia. Umar started the invasion of Mainland Persia, which eventually ended with the entirety of Persia under Muslim rule and Yazdegerd IIIfleeing to China. Along with Syria and Persia, Umar actually captured another significant area. He captured Egypt. He was initially against the conquest of Egypt because he wanted to consolidate power in Syria first but his Majlis E Shura or as you would call it Parliament, decided to invade Egypt so, his commander, Amr ibn Al-Aas, led an army of just 4000, according to most sources, into Egypt in 639 CE. Egypt was a part of the Byzantine Empire but after their defeat in Syria and Palestine, Egypt was really not something they could protect. By 641 CE, Alexandria fell to the Muslims. In 644 CE, Umar was assassinated by a Persian slave in Madinah. He was attacked during the morning prayer of Fajr, in Masjid an-Nabawi, the Mosque of the Prophet. Umar passed away three days after the attack. After having turned Muhammad’s empire into a world power. Stretching from Indus River to modern-day Libya. Despite this, Umar was a very simple man. He lives in a small door-less hut to be close to his people. He established the Bayt al-Mal to help the poor and the needy. He is still famous for his tolerance, as he allowed Christians and Jews to live and practice their faith freely. Thanks to him, to this day, in Islamic law, trade isn’t taxed, wealth is. He supported free trade to benefit his empire economically. During his lifetime, he never appointed a close relative to any position, even if they were more than qualified. It’s said that while Umar was fighting his wounds, his son, in retaliation for his father’s assassination killed three Persians in Madinah. Umar ordered to have his own son imprisoned left his fate to the next Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate. See you next time.

Read Also the next article on the 2 remaining Rashidun Caliphs. 


  1. […] Uthman, The Third Of Rashidun Caliphs’ successor was none other than Ali ibn Abi Talib. He was reluctant to accept at first mostly because most of his staunch supporters were rebels but he was eventually convinced by the people of Madinah. On June 18th, 656, Ali became the fourth Rashidun Caliph. He reigned for around five years and his time was the most turbulent yet, due to the First Fitna. First of all, Ali moved his capital to Kufa in Mesopotamia. Secondly, he had some problems with the Banu Ummayah, especially Muawiyah, the governor of Syria. Uthman was also a member of the Banu Ummayah and if there was anything this family taught their kids it was to stick together and they did stick together! Muawiyah demanded that the Killers of Uthman should be found and dealt with each and every one of them but Muawiyah demands were just an excuse to legitimize his authority and rule by the name of Uthman’s. So, he further erupted the chaos by declaring Ali as an accomplice in the assassination of Uthman’s and the matter of propagation of the idea that Ali killed the caliph or he was an accomplice in the killing of Uthman blew up into a full-scale civil war between Ali and Muawiyah The two main battles of the Civil War were the Battle of Camel and the Battle of Siffin. The first battle in 656 CE, the Battle of Carmel was fought between Aisha, Muhammad’s Widow, and Ali, Muhammad’s heir, cousin, and son-in-law. It was fought due to some confusion during negotiations. Aisha demanded justice for Uthman and well, it blew up into a battle. Ali won the battle and decided to forgive everyone and move on. The second battle, Battle of Saffin was fought between Muawiyah and Ali in which Muawiyah in order to win the war raised the Quran in their Spikes when he was about to be defeated by the marching armies of Ali, So as a result, negotiations were started. It was clear then, that there was gonna be no more fighting because it was unbearable to think that Muslims were killing Muslims. During Ali’s war, a group emerged which was called the Khawarij. This was an extremist group who believed in their own interpretation of the Quran. The Khawarij declared that since Ali decided to negotiate with Muawiyah rather than punish him, Ali was no longer fit to be Caliph. They revolted. Ali spent some time trying to finish off this rebellion. Ali fought the Battle of Naharwanagainst the Khawarij in 659 CE. Even though Ali won the battle, theKhawarij didn’t stop being a problem. They went as far as to kill anyone who wasn’t them. It was you’re-either-with-us-or-against-us kinda situation. They considered anyone who wasn’t on their interpretation of the Quran to be infidels. Sounds familiar, no? Meanwhile, the peace talks broke down. Muawiyah started raiding, Even took Egypt from Ali. Ali had two problems now; Muawiyah and the Khawarij. Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to solve any of them. On 27th January 661 CE, Ali was attacked by a Khawarij Assassin during prayer in the Great Mosque of Kufa. Ali died two days after. He declared that if he lives he forgives his assassin but if he dies, the assassin will be delivered only one equal hit as to what he had received, regardless of whether or not the assassin dies from that hit. Ali is revered in all of Islam. Shias considered him the first Imam. While the Sunnis consider him Muhammad’s kin and love him equally. Both consider him the fourth Rightly Guided Caliph. I, personally, believe that he was treated very unfairly by the Muslims around him and the circumstances of his caliphate were very unfortunate. Had it not been for the troubles of the empire he inherited, He could have made a great, kind, and just ruler. His son Hassan ibn Ali eventually gave the Caliphate to Muawiyah in 661 CE, in the same year as Ali’s assassination. Thus, Hassan ended the five-year turbulent period of the First Fitna. Muawiyah ascended to the throne of the Caliphate and yes, I do mean throne, in a ceremony in Jerusalem. He established the Umayyad dynasty that ruled the Empire through their corruption, intrigue and plotting for 90 years.  Thank you and see you next time. Read also about the First two Rashidun Caliphs […]

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