THE RIGHTLY GUIDED CALIPHS
The word caliph is the english form of the Arabic word ‘khalifa‘ which is short for ‘khalifatu rasulullah‘.
The latter expression means successor to the Messenger of Allah, Prohet Muhammad(SAW). The title was first used for Abu Bakr, who was elected head of the muslim community after the death of the prophet.
The rightly guided calips are four in munber. They ruled during the rashidun caliphate, hence, the derivation of the name khulafau rashidun.
- Abu bakr (632-634 AC)
Election to the caliphate
After the demise of the Prophet, Abu bakr came out of the Prophets apartment and broke the news. After the critical moment passed, the muslim community was faced with an extreme problem; who was to be the leader. After some discussion, the Prohet‘s companion agreed that no one was better suited for the position other than Abu bakr.
Abu bakr meaning ‘the owner of camels‘ was not his real name. He acquired the name later in life due to his great interest in raising camels. His real name was ‘Abdul ka‘abah‘(slave of the ka‘abah) which Prophet Muhammad later changed to Abdullah. The Prohet also gave him the title ‘Siddiq‘ which means the testifier to the truth. He was a fairly wealthy merchant and a respected man in Makkah. Even before he accepted Islam he was known to be a man of upright character and an amiable and compassionate nature . He was three years younger than Prophet Muhammad and some natural affinity drew them together from earliest childhood. Abu bakr was one of the first people to accept Islam in the early days. He also persuaded people like Uthman bn Affan and Bilal bn Rabah.
Abu Bakr‘s caliphate‘s achievements.
- He suppressed a group of rebellious people who refused to pay Zakat.
- He began the collection and compilation of the Qur‘an.
- Under his caliphate, the muslim army defeated the roman empire.
Abu Bakr‘s death.
Abu Bakr dies on 21 jamadi-al Akhir, 13 AH at the age of sixty three. He was buried by the side of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). His caliphate had lasted for a mere twenty seven month duration.
- Umar bn Khattab (634-644 AC)
During the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Umar was his closest assistant and advisor. When Abu bakr died, all the people of Madina swore allegiance to Umar, and on 23 Jamadi- al Akhir 13 AH, he was proclaimed the Caliph.
Umar was born into a respected Quraish family, thirteen years after the birth of Prophet Muhammad. His family was known for its extensive knowledge of genealogy. When he grew up, he was proficient in genealogy, swordsmanship, wrestling and speaking. He earned his living as a merchant.
- His caliphate was a vast expansion of Islam. Apart from Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and Iran also came under the protection of the Islamic government.
- He insisted that his appointed governors led simple lives, keep no guard at their doors and be accessible to the people at all times, and he himself set the example for them.
- The non-muslims who were under the caliphate and took part in defense, were exempted from paying jizya. Jizya is an agreement tax paid by non muslims to live and receive protection from an islamic state.
- The old, poor and disabled people were provided for from the public treasury and Zakat funds.
- Establishment of departments for treasury, army and public revenues. A population census was held and elaborate land surveys were conducted to establish equitable tax.
When Umar returned to Madina from Hajj, he made a prayer. Sometime later, when Umar went to the mosque to lead salah, a magician named Abu Lalu Feroze who had a grudge against Umar on a personal matter attacked him with a dagger and stabbed him several times. Umar died in the first week of muharram 24 AH and was also buried beside the Prophet. Uthman bn Affan (644 – 656 AC).
Before Umar died, the people asked him to nominate a successor. Umar appointed a committee consisting of Ali, Uthman, Abdur-Rahman, Sa‘ad, Al-Zubayr and Talha to select the next caliph from among themselves. Umar also outlined the procedure to be followed if any differences of opinions should arise. Abdur-Rahman withdrew his name but he was appointed by the community to nominate a caliph. After two days of discussion among the candidate and the opinions of Muslims in Medina had been ascertained, the choice was finally limited to Uthman and Ali. Abdur-Rahman and the other muslims went to the mosque and after a brief questioning, the people swore allegiance to Uthman. He was chosen in Muharram 24 AH.
He was born seven years after the Prophet. He belonged to the Omayyad branch of the Quraish tribe. He learned to read and write at an early age, and as a young man, he became a successful merchant.
Even before Islam, he had been noted for his truthfulness and integrity. Abu bakr invited him to Islam at the age of thirty four years. He was married to two of the Prophet‘s daughters, Ruqayyah and Kulthum.
- His realm extended in the west to Morocco, east to Afghanistan, and north to America and Azerbajan.
- A navy was organized, administrative divisions os state were revised, and many public projects were expanded and completed.
- Compilation of a complete and authoritative text of the Qur‘an. A large number of copies were made and distributed all over the muslim world.
During the second half of his caliphate, a rebellion arose. The jews and magicians, taking advantage of the dissatisfaction among the people, began conspiring against Uthman, and by publicly airing their complaints and grievances, gained so much sympathy that it became difficult to distinguish friend from foe.
After a long siege, the rebels broke into his house and murdered him. Uthman died on the afternoon of jum‘ah, 17 Dhul Hijja 35 AH (656 AC). He was eighty for years old
.Ali bn abi Talib.
After Uthman‘s martyrdom, the office of the caliphate remained unfulfuilled for two or three days. Many people insisted he take the position but he was embarrassed by the fact that the people who pressed him the most were the rebels and declined at first. When the notable companions of the Prophet urged him, he finally agreed.
He was the first cousin of the Prophet. He grew up in the Prophet‘s household and later married his youngest daughter, Fatima. He was a great scholar of Arabic literature and pioneered in the field of grammar and rhetorics.
Uthman‘s murder and the events surrounding it were a symptom and also became a cause of civil stike. Ali felt that the situation was mainly due to inept governors. He then dismissed all the governors appointed by Uthman and chose new ones.
All the governors except Muawiya who was the governor of Syria submitted to his orders. He declined to obey until the blood of Uthman was avenged and Aisha also took the position that the murderers be brought in quick.
It was hard to reveal the identity of the murderers and Ali refused to punish anyone whose guilt was not lawfully proven. Thus a battle between the army of Ali and the supporters of Aisha took place. She later realized her error and backed down but the situation in Hijaz was already troubled. Ali had to move his capital to Iraq. Muawiya then openly rebelled against Ali and a fierce battle was fought.
A fanatical group called the Kharijites consisting of people who haad broken away from Ali due to his compromise with Muawiya, neither Ali, Muawiya or Amr bn Das(ruler of Egypt) were worthy leaders. They went as far as proclaiming that caliphacy ended at Umar and the muslims should live without a ruler. The wanted to kill all the rulers and assassins were dispatched in the directions. The assassins to kill Muawiya and Amr did not succeed and they were captured and executed. One morning when Ali was absorbed in prayer in the mosque, Ibn-e-Muljim stabbed him with a poisoned sword. On the 20th of Ramadan, 40 AH, Ali died.