The rightly guided Caliphs
Hazrat Abu Bakr as 1st Caliph
In the Prophet’s lifetime:
Abu Bakr (R.A) was among the early converts to Islam. He named himself Abdullah, after embracing Islam. He was a childhood friend of Holy Prophet (PB UH) and accompanied him during his migration to Medina. He suffered persecutions alike and was there with the Holy Prophet (PBUH) during their stay at Saur. He participated in all the Battles like Badr, Uhad, Trench, and Hunain. He led the congregational prayer in the last days of Holy Prophet (PBUH). At the time of Prophet’s Death, he was a prominent figure in the consolidation of the Islamic empire. He recited some verses of Holy Quran upon the demise of Prophet (PBUH) in order to console all the followers:
“MUHAMMAD WAS NO MORE THAN A MESSENGER; MANY WERE MESSENGERS BEFORE WHO PASSED AWAY; SO IF HE DIED OR SLAIN, WILL YOU TURN BACK ON YOUR HEELS”.
He was among the ten blessed companions who were given the glad tidings of Paradise during their lifetime by the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Ansar insisted that in return for their services to Islam, they should elect the first Caliph from their community. Hazrat Umar (R.A) alleged to Abu Bakr (R.A) claiming that Holy Prophet was a Quraishite so this honor should go to them. Finally, after the consensus of opinion (Ijma), it was unanimously agreed that Abu Bakr (R.A) should be the first Caliph of Islam. As soon as Abu Bakr (R.A) became the Caliph, he was offered considerable resistance and he then instantly started to take measures to put it down.
In the last days of the Prophet’s (PBUH) life, some misguided people arose to claim prophethood. When Abu Bakr (R.A) was elected as the Caliph, they started their preaching openly. Among these false prophets were Tulaiha, Aswad Ansi, Musailamah, and Sajjah. Tulaiha belonged to the Banu Asad tribe in the northern Arabia. An army under Khalid bin Walid (R.A) was sent which met them at Buzaka. After a fierce battle, Tulaiha’s army surrendered and he himself fled to Syria. He embraced Islam during the time of the second Caliph.
Aswad Ansi belonged to the Ansi tribe in Yemen. He was an ugly man who kept his face veiled all the time. He was nicknamed
‘’THE VEILED PROPHET’’.
Being the leader of his tribe he revolted with the cooperation of the neighboring chiefs. He was the first false prophet who collected a large army in open revolt against Islam. He was defeated and killed by the Muslims.
The most dangerous of the false prophets was Musalima. He belonged to a tribe of central Arabia. His tribe accepted him as a prophet. Abu Bakr (R.A) sent Shurbhil and Ikramah to crush the rebellion; later Khalid bin Walid(R.A) joined them. Musalima’s army was defeated after a fierce battle at Yamama in 633AD. Musalimah was killed. In this battle, about 800 Muslims were martyred. Amongst them were 360 Huffaz (memorizers of the Holy Qur’an).
Sajjah was a woman who belonged to the Bani Tamim tribe. She claimed to be a prophetess and succeeded in mustering a large following. When Musalimah heard about her claim he invited her to Yamama. They decided to join forces and later Musailma married her which ended her adventure of prophethood and she lived in obscurity for the rest of her life. When the Muslims conquered Iraq she entered the circle of Islam along with her tribe.
Another important work done in his Caliphate was the compilation of Holy Quran when after the loss of many huffaz, Zaid bin Thabit was appointed after the Battle of Yamama along with. 75 other companions to collect and compile the authentic Quranic verses in a single manuscript. The compiled version was called the Mushaf. This ensured that the last word of Allah was kept with security and sanctity so that it may be used by the future generations.
The Arabian Peninsula was surrounded by the two great empires of that time on its northeastern side was the border of Persian Empire (Sassanid) while the northern part of the peninsula was bordered by the Byzantine Empire. Abu Bakr (R.A) readily took action against the Persians who had proved to be perilous to the newly established faith. The Muslim Army to achieve this purpose fought several battles such as the battle of Kazimah in 633 A.D against Hurmos. The Muslim army under the leadership of Khalid bin Waleed (R.A) defeated the Persians and Hormos was killed. Hira was also conquered by Khalid bin Waleed after which most of the Iraq came under Muslim rule. The Persians at Anbar surrendered to Muslim army and agreed to pay Jizya. Anbar also came under Muslim rule.
Abu Bakr (R.A) also organized the Muslims to fight against the Byzantines who were the most powerful enemies of Islam. Muslims were successful in both the battles of Basra in 634 A.D and in the battle if Ajnadein and Damascus were also besieged.
After the Prophet’s death, some of the people rose in revolt against the authorities in Medina and renounced Islam. Abu Bakr (R.A), without any delay, launched an expedition against this movement. After collecting the troops at Medina, he divided them into eleven battalions each with an experienced commander and sent them in eleven different directions to crush these revolts. He instructed each commander to first invite these tribes to Islam. If any refused to comply they were to be attacked. Some of the tribes accepted Islam but the others were stubborn and were dealt with harshly. All campaigns were successful and Abu Bakr (R.A) was able to re-establish control of Islam throughout the Peninsula.
In 632-33 A.D, the army under Usama bin Zaid was sent to Syria. The Muslims’ army outnumbered the Roman forces and Byzantine Empire was defeated and later on Bedouin tribes, Persians and Iraqis too. Euphrates region and kingdom of Hira were also captured. Muslim empire was rapidly advancing. There were many internal disputes going in the empire. Many states within like Bahrain, Mahrah and Banu Ghatafan were proving troublesome. They agreed that after Prophet’s (PBUH) death, their agreement had ended and they should be exempted from paying tax. Abu Bakr (R.A) rejected this. In 632 AD, a rebellious tribal force was defeated by Abu Bakr (R.A) and many rebels died. Following this, many delegates and tribes accepted to pay Zakat.
Hazrat Umar as 2nd Caliph
Hazrat Umar ibn al-Khattab (R.A) succeeded to the caliphate in 13 A.H/634 A.D because he was nominated by Abu Bakr (R.A), as well as the title ‘Successor of the Successor of the Messenger of Allah’. He also took the title of ‘Commander of the faithful’, ‘Amir al Mo’mineen’. He continued the expansion of Islam begun by the Prophet (PBUH) and Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A). Under his rule, Muslim army gained control in Syria, Iraq, Persia, and Egypt. A series of decisive battles brought these vast areas under Islamic rule. The Muslim armies were victorious at Yarmuk in Palestine in 15 A.H/636 A.D against Byzantines, opening up Syria. At Al Qadisya in 17 A.H/638 A.D against Persians opening up Iraq at Nihawand in 21 A.H/642 A.D against Persian opening up Persia.
The event of Fall of Jerusalem in 16 A.H/637 A.D is an example of Umar’s (R.A) relationship with nonmuslims and other states. After the Battle of Yarmuk, the Muslim army advanced and laid siege to Jerusalem. The citizens of Jerusalem offered to surrender on the condition that the caliph should himself come to sign the treaty. Hazrat Umar (R.A) responded to their request. At a deputation from Jerusalem waited on Hazrat Umar (R.A) and a treaty was drawn up. According to the treaty, security of life and property were granted to all citizens of Jerusalem. The safety of churches and other religious buildings was provided for the citizens. The citizens were required to pay Jizya. Those who refused to comply were asked to leave the city. The patriarch of the Jerusalem handed over the keys of the city to Hazrat Umar (R.A). Then the caliph expressed his desire to be led to some place where he could offer thanksgiving prayer.
As far as the administration of Hazrat Umar is concerned, he established a Majlis e Shoora consisting of prominent companions of the Holy Prophet(P.B.U.H). He also constituted a large body called the Majlis e Aam consisting of Muhajirin and Ansar and representatives of various tribes. The state was divided into provinces and each province was placed under an efficient governor called the Wali or Ameer. The Wali was not only the ruler of the province but also the military religious head. Hazrat Umar entrusted the Qazis with judicial functions. The Qazi was completely independent of the provincial governor. He also established a financial department of finance under the name of Dewan. He made garrison towns in Basra and Kufa for his soldiers. Pensions were given to the retired soldiers. For implementations of Quranic teachings, special steps were taken such a regulation of Salat and fasting. He also started the Islamic calendar. He said:
“EVEN IF A DOG DIES OF THIRST ON THE BANK OF THE RIVER OF EUPHRATES, AS A CALIPH OF AN ISLAMIC STATE, I SHALL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THAT ON THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.”
He had a great sense of responsibility as a caliph of the Islamic state and made special arrangements for the welfare of the people.
Hazrat Usman as 3rd Caliph
Usman (R.A) was the third caliph and succeeded Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A). He continued the policy of expanding the Islamic territories. He expanded the state towards the East and in the Mediterranean and crushed many rebellions. During the early years, the process of expansion of the Empire continued. The army moved in all directions and for the first time in Islamic History, utilized naval power. During his caliphate, for the first time a fleet of nearly 500 ships was built to fight with the Greeks on the Mediterranean Sea. His earliest focus was the Persian Empire in the East. Khurasan, Merv, Tus, Sarakhs and the then Khawarzim were captured in 650 AD. This bought 40,000 captives and rich booty to Medina. Towards the West, the Byzantines forces were defeated and Cyprus was conquered in 649 AD. In North America, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia were conquered by the middle of the 7th century. In 651 AD, the standardization of the Quran on the basis of Mushaf-e-Hafsa was done. Recitation on the model of only this copy was allowed and the rest were burnt to ensure uniformity. Official copies were dispatched to all provincial capitals. Two of the original manuscripts of his time exist even today. Hazrat Usman (R.A) continued to improve the administrative network laid down by the previous Caliphs. Regrouped some of the provinces and created new provinces for the newly conquered territories.
Majlis-e-Shoora or council of consultation was maintained. It held a periodic conference of the district authorities in order to keep him informed of the conditions of the country. Usman (R.A) used to hear public complaints after Friday prayers. He allowed Arabs to acquire agricultural lands in the conquered territories. He also expanded the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque and constructed new mosques, inns, border outposts etc. He made arrangements for the supply of drinking water for travelers by digging wells by the sides of roads and highways. A dam was built to protect Medina from floods. Usman (R.A) raised the salaries of the officers and the armed forces.
He was a very gentle and soft hearted person. The people who wanted to create chaos among Muslims took advantage of his soft nature. Usman (R.A) was a very strict administrator and the machinery of the government worked smoothly in his time. Usman (R.A) used to overlook the minor faults of the appointed Amils, provincial heads as well as the new converts. They took advantage of his leniency and rebelled against him. Abdullah bin Saba, a Yemenite Jew who outwardly accepted Islam, embarked on a subtle campaign of creating conflict among the Muslims. He and his followers established their headquarters in Egypt and began to circulate forged letters that complaints against the Caliph, to his governors and other state officials. Efforts were made to highlight the long forgotten rivalry between Banu Hashim and Banu Umayya. Usman (R.A) did not take timely action against him. Even some of the noblest actions of his were miss projected before the public; for example, the standardization of the Quran and the expansion of the compound of the Ka’abah.
Hazrat Usman (R.A) appointed his relatives in 4 of the provinces out of 12: Egypt, Syria, Kufa and Basra. All the governors appointed by him were people of great caliber. Ameer Muaviya, a relative of his was appointed as the governor of Syria and. Abdullah bin Saad, his foster brother, was appointed a governor of Egypt also by Usman (R.A). Usman (R.A) appointed Saad bin Abi Waqas as governor of Kufa. When he was unable to control the situation there, he was replaced by Waleed bin Uqba (Usman (R.A)’s foster brother) who proved his worth. Abu Musa Ashari was deposed at the demand of people of Basra, was replaced by Abdullah bin Amir (Usman (R.A)’s cousin) according to the wishes of the people. He proved very successful thus none of the governors appointed by him proved a failure.
The act by Hazrat Usman (R.A) of burning the Quran was seen by some as destroying God’s Word. This was done after consultation with the other companions and it was a great service that he rendered to Islam. He gave a convincing reply to each of the charges in the presence of the Prophet’s companions. His explanation was accepted. The rebels however stuck to their demand to depose the Caliph. To achieve their demand, finally in 35 A.H troops from Egypt, Kufa and Basra marched to Medina and encamped outside the capital. The rebels climbed the walls from the back and sneaked into his house unnoticed; leaving the guards on the gate unaware of what was going on inside. Usman (R.A) was assassinated on the 18 Dhul Haj and was buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
Hazrat Ali as 4th Caliph
Hazrat Ali (R.A) is the fourth and last Caliph of Islam. He took the seat of the caliphate in the time of great grief, terror, and anarchy because Hazrat Usman (R.A) was mysteriously assassinated. T he Islamic empire was without a caliph for some 5 and 6 days because there were confusion and disagreements on choosing a new caliph. The Egyptians and some rebellious groups like Al-Ashtar favored Ali; Kufans supported Zubair while the Basrans were in favor of Talha. Finally, Hazrat Ali (R.A) was chosen as Caliph and many tribes alleged to him. Talha (R.A) and Zubair (R.A) also paid homage after some hesitation.
However, this was soon to raise troubles later on. Many companions of Holy Prophets (PBUH) did not accept Ali (R.A) as caliph-like Zaid bin Sabit, Saad bin Abi Waqas and Muawiya bin Abu Sufyan (cousin of Usman (R.A)). Rebels soon started and many companions turned against him. Syria proved very troublesome. Muawiya raised voice for revenge for Usman’s (R.A) assassination and displayed blood stained shirt of him and chopped fingers of his wife, Naila. However, Ali (R.A) had to calm the situation before taking a step against Usman’s (R.A) killers. He replaced the governors of Kufa, Basra and Egypt with new ones. Muawiya was also replaced and this caused serious troubles in Syria. Ali prepared an army of 40,000 to tackle Muawiya but moved towards Basra as Hazrat Ayesha, Talha and Zubair had attacked it with a huge army and many Muslims were martyred in this war. Ali (R.A) negotiations failed and civil war broke out. This Battle of Camel occurred in 656 A.D and Ali (R.A) won the battle. Talha (R.A) and Zubair (R.A) were martyred and both the armies faced huge casualties.
Ali (R.A) tried to keep peaceful relations with Muawiya but it was of no avail. All negotiations failed and finally, both sides were ready for war. Ali (R.A) had an army of 80,000 to 90,000 soldiers, while Muawiya had 70,000 soldiers. Battle of Siffin was fought in 657 A.D and after several days of indecisive fighting, Amr bin Al-Aas came up with an idea of tying pages of Quran on their lances to stop fighting. Court of arbitration was held to on decide about the reaction against Usman’s (R.A) assassins. Some troops were against this and deserted Ali’s (R.A) army. These 10,000 troops turned against both Ali and Muawiya and chose their own leader Abdullah bin Wahab who made his headquarters at Nahrawan. These people are called Kharijites who according to a Quranic verse 49:9:
” THERE IS NO ARBITRATION EXCEPT FOR THE GOD ALONE”
claimed that the court of arbitrations was an unIslamic step taken. However, they were defeated by Ali’s (R.A) army at Narawan in the Battle of Narawan.
After this, there were several rebellions against Ali from Bahrain, Kufa, Basra, and Syria. Muawiya was creating public anger which was a threat to Ali (R.A). He prepared an army to encounter Muawiya but was martyred by a Kharijite, Ibn Muljam with a poisoned sabre in 40 A.H. Ibn Muljam was immediately caught and taken away. Hazrat Ali (R.A) in his last moments, turned to Imam Hasan (R.A) and said:
“IF I RECOVER FROM THIS WOUND IT WILL BE MY BUSINESS TO DEAL WITH HIM. IF I DIE, KILL HIM WITH A SINGLE STROKE OF THE SWORD, SO THAT THE DIVINE LAW IS CARRIED OUT”
Thus, after a troublesome caliphate of 5 years, Ali’s (R.A) caliphate came to an end with his martyrdom and the chapter of Rightly Guided Caliphs came to a tragic end.