Caliphate (Arabic: اَلْخِلَافَةُ
ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ al-Khilāfa-al-Rāshidah) (632–661) was
the first of the four major caliphates established after the death of
the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. It was ruled by the first four
successive caliphs (successors) of
Muhammad after his death in 632 CE
(AH 11). These caliphs are collectively known in Sunni
Islam as the
Rashidun, or "Rightly Guided" caliphs (اَلْخُلَفَاءُ
ٱلرَّاشِدُونَ al-Khulafā’ur-Rāshidūn). This term is
not used in Shia
Islam as Shia Muslims do not consider the rule of the
first three caliphs as legitimate.
Caliphate is characterized by a twenty-five year period
of rapid military expansion, followed by a five-year period of
internal strife. The
Rashidun Army at its peak numbered more than
100,000 men. By the 650s, the caliphate in addition to the Arabian
Peninsula had subjugated the Levant, to the
Transcaucasus in the
North Africa from
Egypt to present-day
Tunisia in the west; and
Iranian plateau to parts of
Central Asia and
South Asia in the
The caliphate arose out of the death of
Muhammad in 632 CE and the
subsequent debate over the succession to his leadership. Abu Bakr, a
close companion of
Muhammad from the
Banu Taym clan, was elected the
Rashidun leader and began the conquest of the Arabian Peninsula.
He ruled from 632 to his death in 634.
Abu Bakr was succeeded by Umar,
his appointed successor from the
Banu Adi clan, who began the conquest
Persia from 642 to 651, leading to the defeat of the Sassanid
Umar was assassinated in 644 and was succeeded by Uthman,
who was elected by a six-person committee arranged by Umar. Under
Uthman began the conquest of Armenia, Fars and Khorasan.
assassinated in 656 and succeeded by Ali, who presided over the
civil war known as the
First Fitna (656–661). The war was primarily
between those who supported Uthman's cousin and governor of the Levant
Muawiyah, and those who supported the caliph Ali. The civil war
permanently consolidated the divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims,
with Shia Muslims believing
Ali to be the first rightful caliph and
Imam after Muhammad. A third faction in the war supported the
Egypt Amr ibn al-As. The war was decided in favour of the
faction of Muawiyah, who established the
Caliphate in 661.
2.1 Succession of Abu Bakr
2.2 Succession of Umar
2.3 Election of Uthman
2.4 Siege of Uthman
2.5 Crisis and fragmentation
3.1 Conquest of the Persian empire
3.2 Wars against the
3.2.1 Conquest of
3.2.2 Occupation of Anatolia
3.2.3 Conquest of Egypt
3.2.4 Conquest of North Africa
18.104.22.168 Campaign against
3.2.5 Conquest of the islands of the
3.3 Treatment of conquered peoples
4 Political administration
4.1 Districts or provinces
4.2 Judicial administration
4.3 Electing or appointing a caliph
4.4 Sunni belief
Majlis al-Shura: Parliament
4.6 Accountability of rulers
4.7 Rule of law
5.2 Establishment of Bait-ul-Maal
5.3 Economic resources of the State
5.4.1 Beginning of the allowance
6 Welfare works
8 List of
9 See also
Caliphate at greatest extent (orthographic projection)
After Muhammad's death in 632 CE, his Medinan companions debated which
of them should succeed him in running the affairs of the Muslims while
Muhammad's household was busy with his burial.
Umar and Abu Ubaidah
ibn al-Jarrah pledged their loyalty to Abu Bakr, with the Ansar and
Quraysh soon following suit.
Abu Bakr thus became the first
Khalīfaṫu Rasūli l-Lāh (خَـلِـيْـفَـةُ
رَسُـوْلِ الله, "Successor of the Messenger of God"), or
Caliph, and embarked on campaigns to propagate Islam. First he would
have to subdue the Arabian tribes which had claimed that although they
pledged allegiance to
Muhammad and accepted Islam, they owed nothing
to Abu Bakr. As a caliph,
Abu Bakr was not a monarch and never claimed
such a title; nor did any of his three successors. Rather, their
election and leadership were based upon merit.
Notably, according to Sunnis, all four
Caliphs were connected
Muhammad through marriage, were early converts to Islam, were
among ten who were explicitly promised paradise, were his closest
companions by association and support and were often highly praised by
Muhammad and delegated roles of leadership within the nascent Muslim
According to Sunni Muslims, the term
Caliphate is derived
from a famous hadith of Muhammad, where he foretold that the
caliphate after him would last for 30 years (the length of the
Rashidun Caliphate) and would then be followed by kingship.
Furthermore, according to other hadiths in
Sunan Abu Dawood
Sunan Abu Dawood and Musnad
Ahmad ibn Hanbal, towards the end times, the Rightly Guided Caliphate
will be restored once again by God.
Succession of Abu Bakr
See also: Succession to Muhammad
Islamic conquests 622–750:
Expansion under the Prophet Muhammad, 622-632
Expansion during the
Rashidun Caliphate, 632-661
Expansion during the
Umayyad Caliphate, 661-750
Abu Bakr, the oldest companion of Muhammad, was caliph for only 2
years before he died. When
Abu Bakr and Umar, his two
companions, were in the
Saqifah meeting to select his successor while
the family of
Muhammad was busy with his funeral. Controversy among
the Muslims emerged about whom to name as Caliph. There was
disagreement between the Meccan followers of
Muhammad who had
emigrated with him in 622 (the
Muhajirun "Emigrants") and the Medinans
who had become followers (Ansar "Helpers"). The Ansar, considering
themselves being the hosts and loyal companions of Muhammad, nominated
Sad bin Ubadah as their candidate for the Caliphate. In the end,
however, Muhammad's closest friend, Abu Bakr, was named the khalifa
(caliph) or "Successor" of Muhammad. A new circumstance had formed
a new, untried political formation: the caliphate.
Troubles emerged soon after Muhammad's death, threatening the unity
and stability of the new community and state.
Apostasy spread to every
tribe in the
Arabian Peninsula with the exception of the people in
Mecca and Medina, the
Banu Thaqif in
Ta'if and the Bani Abdul Qais of
Oman. In some cases, entire tribes apostatised. Others merely withheld
zakat, the alms tax, without formally challenging Islam. Many tribal
leaders made claims to prophethood; some made it during the lifetime
of Muhammad. The first incident of apostasy was fought and concluded
Muhammad still lived; a supposed prophet
Aswad Ansi arose and
invaded South Arabia; he was killed on 30 May 632 (6 Rabi'
al-Awwal, 11 Hijri) by
Governor Fērōz of Yemen, a Persian
Muslim. The news of his death reached
Medina shortly after the
death of Muhammad. The apostasy of al-Yamama was led by another
supposed prophet, Musaylimah, who arose before Muhammad's death;
other centers of the rebels were in the Najd,
Eastern Arabia (known
then as al-Bahrayn) and
South Arabia (known as al-Yaman and including
the Mahra). Many tribes claimed that they had submitted to Muhammad
and that with Muhammad's death, their allegiance was ended. Caliph
Abu Bakr insisted that they had not just submitted to a leader but
joined an ummah (أُمَّـة, community) of which he was the new
head. The result of this situation was the Ridda wars.
Abu Bakr planned his strategy accordingly. He divided the
into several corps. The strongest corps, and the primary force of the
Muslims, was the corps of Khalid ibn al-Walid. This corps was used to
fight the most powerful of the rebel forces. Other corps were given
areas of secondary importance in which to bring the less dangerous
apostate tribes to submission. Abu Bakr's plan was first to clear Najd
and Western Arabia near Medina, then tackle
Malik ibn Nuwayrah and his
forces between the
Najd and al-Bahrayn, and finally concentrate
against the most dangerous enemy,
Musaylimah and his allies in
al-Yamama. After a series of successful campaigns Khalid ibn Walid
Musaylimah in the Battle of Yamama. The Campaign on the
Apostasy was fought and completed during the eleventh year of the
Hijri. The year 12 Hijri dawned on 18 March 633 with the Arabian
peninsula united under the caliph in Medina.
Once the rebellions had been put down,
Abu Bakr began a war of
conquest. Whether or not he intended a full-out imperial conquest is
hard to say; he did, however, set in motion a historical trajectory
that in just a few short decades would lead to one of the largest
empires in history.
Abu Bakr began with Iraq, the richest province of
the Sasanian Empire. He sent general
Khalid ibn Walid
Khalid ibn Walid to invade
Empire in 633. He thereafter also sent four armies
to invade the Roman province of Syria, but the decisive operation
was only undertaken when Khalid, after completing the conquest of
Iraq, was transferred to the Syrian front in 634.
Succession of Umar
Family tree of Umar
Umm Kulthum bint
Sunni view of Umar
Ten Promised Paradise
Shi'a view of Umar
Succession to Muhammad
Succession to Abu Bakr
Reforms (Pact of Umar)
Despite the initial reservations of his advisers,
Abu Bakr recognised
the military and political prowess in
Umar and desired him to succeed
as caliph. The decision was enshrined in his will, and on the death of
Abu Bakr in 634,
Umar was confirmed in office. The new caliph
continued the war of conquests begun by his predecessor, pushing
further into the Sasanian Persian Empire, north into Byzantine
territory, and west into Egypt. It is an important fact to note that
Umar never participated in any battle as a commander of a
throughout his life. These were regions of great wealth controlled by
powerful states, but long internecine conflict between Byzantines and
Sasanians had left both sides militarily exhausted, and the Islamic
armies easily prevailed against them. By 640, they had brought all of
Syria and Palestine under the control of the Rashidun
Egypt was conquered by 642, and the entire Persian Empire
While the caliphate continued its rapid expansion,
Umar laid the
foundations of a political structure that could hold it together. He
created the Diwan, a bureau for transacting government affairs. The
military was brought directly under state control and into its pay.
Crucially, in conquered lands,
Umar did not require that non-Muslim
populations convert to Islam, nor did he try to centralize government.
Instead, he allowed subject populations to retain their religion,
language and customs, and he left their government relatively
untouched, imposing only a governor (amir) and a financial officer
called an amil. These new posts were integral to the efficient network
of taxation that financed the empire.
With the booty secured from conquest,
Umar was able to support its
faith in material ways: the companions of
Muhammad were given pensions
on which to live, allowing them to pursue religious studies and
exercise spiritual leadership in their communities and beyond.
also remembered for establishing the Islamic calendar; it is lunar
like the Arabian calendar, but the origin is set in 622, the year of
the Hijra when
Muhammad emigrated to Medina.
Umar was killed in an assassination by the Persian slave Piruz
Nahavandi during morning prayers in 644.
Election of Uthman
Main article: The election of Uthman
The Generous – (Al Ghani)
Family tree of Uthman
Siege of Uthman
Military campaigns under
Umar died, he appointed a committee of six men to decide on the
next caliph, and charged them with choosing one of their own number.
All of the men, like Umar, were from the tribe of Quraysh.
The committee narrowed down the choices to two:
Uthman and Ali. Ali
was from the
Banu Hashim clan (the same clan as Muhammad) of the
Quraish tribe, and he was the cousin and son-in-law of
had been a companion to the Prophet from the inception of his mission.
Uthman was from the
Umayyad clan of the Quraish. He was the second
cousin and son-in-law of
Muhammad and one of the early converts of
Uthman was ultimately chosen.
Uthman reigned for twelve years as caliph, during the first half of
his reign he enjoyed a position of the most popular caliph among all
the Rashiduns, while in the later half of his reign he met increasing
opposition. This opposition was led by the Egyptians and was
concentrated around Ali, who would, albeit briefly, succeed
Despite internal troubles,
Uthman continued the wars of conquest
started by Umar. The
Rashidun army conquered
North Africa from the
Byzantines and even raided Spain, conquering the coastal areas of the
Iberian peninsula, as well as the islands of
Cyprus. Also coastal
Sicily was raided in 652.
Rashidun army fully conquered the Sasanian Empire, and its eastern
frontiers extended up to the lower
Uthman's most lasting project was the final compilation of the Qur'an.
Under his authority diacritics were written with the Arabic letters so
that non-native speakers of Arabic could easily read the Qur'an
Siege of Uthman
Main article: Siege of Uthman
After a protest turned into a siege,
Uthman refused to initiate any
military action, in order to avoid civil war between Muslims, and
preferred negotiations. After the negotiations, the
protestors returned but found a man following them, holding an order
to execute the protestors. The protestors returned and
that he did not write the order. He refuted the claim and tried to
talk it through. The protestors demanded he retire from being a
Uthman refused and returned to his room. This emboldened the
protestors and they broke into Uthman's house and killed him while he
was reading the Qur'an. It was later discovered that it was
not his autograph, but a forgery under his cousin Mu'awiya's
Crisis and fragmentation
Main article: First Fitna
Part of a series on
Sunni view of Ali
Shi'a view of Ali
Timeline of Ali's life
Hadith of the pond of Khumm
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim
Military career of Ali
Ali as Caliph
The Fourteen Infallibles
Imam (The Twelve Imams)
Ali in the Qur'an
Succession to Muhammad
Muhammad's widow, Aisha, battling the fourth caliph
Ali in the Battle
of the Camel (16th-century miniature from a copy of the Siyer-i Nebi)
After the assassination of the third Caliph,
Uthman ibn Affan, the
Ali to be the new
had been passed over for the leadership three times since the death of
Muhammad. Soon thereafter,
Ali dismissed several provincial governors,
some of whom were relatives of Uthman, and replaced them with trusted
aides such as
Malik al-Ashtar and Salman the Persian.
transferred his capital from
Medina to Kufa, a
Muslim garrison city in
Demands to take revenge for the assassination of
among parts of the population, and a large army of rebels led by
Talha and the widow of Muhammad, Ayesha, set out to fight the
perpetrators. The army reached
Basra and captured it, upon which 4,000
suspected seditionists were put to death. Subsequently,
Basra and the caliph's army met the army of Muslims who
demanded revenge for the murder of Uthman. Though neither
Ali nor the
leaders of the opposing force,
Talha and Zubayr, wanted to fight, a
battle broke out at night between the two armies. It is said,
according to Sunni
Muslim traditions, that the rebels who were
involved in the assassination of
Uthman initiated combat, as they were
afraid that as a result of negotiation between
Ali and the opposing
army, the killers of
Uthman would be hunted down and killed. The
battle thus fought was the first battle between Muslims and is known
as the Battle of the Camel. The
Ali emerged victorious
and the dispute was settled. The eminent companions of Mohammad, Talha
and Zubayr, were killed in the battle and
Ali sent his son Hasan ibn
Ali to escort Ayesha back to Medina.
After this episode of Islamic history, another cry for revenge for the
Uthman rose. This time it was by Mu'awiya, kinsman of Uthman
and governor of the province of Syria. However, it is regarded more as
an attempt by Mu'awiya to assume the caliphate, rather than to take
revenge for Uthman's murder.
Ali fought Mu'awiya's forces at the
Battle of Siffin
Battle of Siffin leading to a stalemate, and then lost a controversial
arbitration that ended with arbiter
'Amr ibn al-'As
'Amr ibn al-'As pronouncing his
support for Mu'awiya. After this
Ali was forced to fight the
Kharijites in the Battle of Nahrawan, a faction of his
former supporters who, as a result of their dissatisfaction with the
arbitration, opposed both
Ali and Mu'awiya. Weakened by this internal
rebellion and a lack of popular support in many provinces, Ali's
forces lost control over most of the caliphate's territory to Mu'awiya
while large sections of the empire such as Sicily, North Africa, the
coastal areas of
Spain and some forts in
Anatolia were also lost to
Illustration of the Battle of Siffin, from a 14th-century manuscript
of the Tarikh-i Bal'ami.
Ali was assassinated by
Ibn Muljam as part of a Kharijite plot
to assassinate all the different Islamic leaders meaning to end the
civil war, whereas the
Kharijites failed to assassinate Mu'awiya and
'Amr ibn al-'As.
Ali's son Hasan ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, briefly assumed the
caliphate and came to an agreement with Mu'awiya to fix relations
between the two groups of Muslims that were each loyal to one of the
two men. The treaty stated that Mu'awiya would not name a successor
during his reign, and that he would let the Islamic World choose the
next leader (This treaty would later be broken by Mu'awiya as he names
his son Yazid I successor). Hasan was assassinated, and Mu'awiya
gained control of the
Caliphate and founded the
marking the end of the
Caliphate expanded steadily; within the span of 24 years
of conquest, a vast territory was conquered comprising Mesopotamia,
the Levant, parts of Anatolia, and most of the Sasanian Empire.
Unlike the Sasanian Persians, the Byzantines, after losing Syria,
retreated back to Anatolia. As a result, they also lost
Egypt to the
Rashidun army, although the civil wars among the Muslims
halted the war of conquest for many years, and this gave time for the
Byzantine Empire to recover.
Conquest of the Persian empire
Further information: Islamic conquest of Persia
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's conquest of Iraq
The Great Moqsue in Kufah, Mesopotamia, 2016
The first Islamic invasion of the
Sasanian Empire launched by Caliph
Abu Bakr in 633 was a swift conquest in the time span of only four
months led by general Khalid ibn Walid.
Abu Bakr sent Khalid to
Mesopotamia after the Ridda wars. After entering
Iraq with his
army of 18,000, Khalid won decisive victories in four consecutive
battles: the Battle of Chains, fought in April 633; the Battle of
River, fought in the third week of April 633; the Battle of Walaja,
fought in May 633 (where he successfully used a pincer movement), and
the Battle of Ullais, fought in mid May of 633. In the last week of
May 633, the capital city of
Iraq fell to the Muslims after initial
resistance in the Battle of Hira.
After resting his armies, Khalid moved in June 633 towards Al Anbar,
which resisted and was defeated in the Battle of Al-Anbar, and
eventually surrendered after a siege of a few weeks in July 633.
Khalid then moved towards the south, and conquered the city of Ein ul
Tamr after the
Battle of ein-ul-tamr in the last week of July 633. By
now, almost the whole of
Iraq was under Islamic control. Khalid
received a call of help from northern Arabia at Daumat-ul-jandal,
Muslim Arab general, Iyad ibn Ghanm, was trapped among
the rebel tribes. Khalid went to Daumat-ul-jandal and defeated the
rebels in the
Battle of Daumat-ul-jandal in the last week of August
633. Returning from Arabia, he received news of the assembling of a
large Persian army. Within a few weeks, he decided to defeat them all
separately in order to avoid the risk of defeat by a large unified
Persian army. Four divisions of Persian and
Christian Arab auxiliaries
were present at Hanafiz, Zumiel, Sanni and Muzieh.
Khalid divided his army into three units, and decided to attack these
auxiliaries one by one from three different sides at night, starting
with the Battle of Muzieh, then the Battle of Sanni, and finally the
Battle of Zumail. In November 633, Khalid defeated the enemy armies in
a series of three sided attacks at night. These devastating defeats
ended Persian control over Iraq. In December 633, Khalid reached the
border city of Firaz, where he defeated the combined forces of the
Sasanian Persians, Byzantines and
Christian Arabs in the Battle of
Firaz. This was the last battle in his conquest of Iraq.
After the conquest of Iraq, Khalid left
Mesopotamia to lead another
Syria against the
Byzantine Empire, after which Mithna ibn
Haris took command in Mesopotamia. The Persians once again
concentrated armies to regain the lost Mesopotamia, while Mithna ibn
Haris withdrew from central
Iraq to the region near the Arabian desert
to delay war until reinforcement came from Medina.
reinforcements under the command of Abu Ubaidah Saqfi. With some
initial success this army was finally defeated by the Sasanian army at
Battle of the Bridge
Battle of the Bridge in which Abu Ubaid was killed. The response
was delayed until after a decisive
Muslim victory against the Romans
Levant at the
Battle of Yarmouk
Battle of Yarmouk in 636.
Umar was then able to
transfer forces to the east and resume the offensive against the
Umar dispatched 36,000 men along with 7500 troops from the
Syrian front, under the command of Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās against the
Persian army. The
Battle of al-Qādisiyyah
Battle of al-Qādisiyyah followed, with the Persians
prevailing at first, but on the third day of fighting, the Muslims
gained the upper hand. The legendary Persian general Rostam
Farrokhzād was killed during the battle. According to some sources,
the Persian losses were 20,000, and the Arabs lost 10,500 men.
Mosque of Isfahan, Iran, 2015
Following this Battle, the Arab
Muslim armies pushed forward toward
the Persian capital of
Ctesiphon (also called Madā'in in Arabic),
which was quickly evacuated by Yazdgird after a brief siege. After
seizing the city, they continued their drive eastwards, following
Yazdgird and his remaining troops. Within a short span of time, the
Arab armies defeated a major Sasanian counter-attack in the Battle of
Jalūlā', as well as other engagements at Qasr-e Shirin, and
Masabadhan. By the mid-7th Century, the Arabs controlled all of
Mesopotamia, including the area that is now the Iranian province of
Khuzestan. It is said that
Umar did not wish to send his troops
Zagros mountains and onto the Iranian plateau. One
tradition has it that he wished for a "wall of fire" to keep the Arabs
and Persians apart. Later commentators explain this as a common-sense
precaution against over-extension of his forces. The Arabs had only
recently conquered large territories that still had to be garrisoned
and administered. The continued existence of the Persian government
was however an incitement to revolt in the conquered territories and
Byzantine army, the Sasanian army was continuously striving
to regain their lost territories. Finally
Umar decided to push his
forces to further conquests, which eventually resulted in the
wholesale conquest of the Sasanian Empire. Yazdegerd, the Sasanian
king, made yet another effort to regroup and defeat the invaders. By
641 he had raised a new force, which made a stand at the Battle of
Nihawānd, some forty miles south of
Hamadan in modern Iran. The
Rashidun army under the command of Umar's appointed general Nu'man ibn
Muqarrin al-Muzani, attacked and again defeated the Persian forces.
The Muslims proclaimed it the Victory of Victories (Fath alfotuh) as
it marked the End of the Sasanians, shattering the last strongest
Yazdegerd was unable to raise another army and became a hunted
fugitive. In 642
Umar sent the army to conquer the whole of the
Persian Empire. The whole of present-day
Iran was conquered, followed
by the conquest of
Greater Khorasan (which included the modern Iranian
Khorasan province and modern Afghanistan), Transoxania, and
Balochistan, Makran, Azerbaijan,
Georgia, this regions were later also re-conquered during Caliph
Uthman's reign with further expansion into the regions which were not
conquered during Umar’s reign, hence the
frontiers in the east extended to the lower river
Indus and north to
the Oxus River.
Wars against the
Muslim conquest of Syria
Map detailing the
Rashidun Caliphate's invasion of the Levant
After Khalid captured
Iraq and firmly took control of it, Abu Bakr
sent armies to
Syria on the
Byzantine front. Four armies were sent
under four different commanders;
Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah
Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah (acting as
their supreme commander), Amr ibn al-As,
Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan and
Shurhabil ibn Hasana. These armies were all assigned their objectives.
However their advance was halted by a concentration of the Byzantine
army at Ajnadayn. Abu Ubaidah then sent for reinforcements. Abu Bakr
ordered Khalid, who by now was planning to attack Ctesiphon, to march
Syria with half of his army. Khalid took half of his army
and took an unconventional route to Syria. There were 2 major routes
Syria from Iraq, one passing through
Mesopotamia and the other
through Daumat ul-Jandal. Khalid took a route through the Syrian
Desert, and after a perilous march of 5 days, appeared in
The border forts of Sawa, Arak, Tadmur, Sukhnah, al-Qaryatayn and
Hawarin were the first to fall to the invading Muslims. Khalid marched
Bosra via the
Damascus road. At Bosra, the Corps of Abu Ubaidah
and Shurhabil joined Khalid, after which here as per orders of Caliph
Abu Bakr, Khalid took the high command from Abu Ubaidah.
Bosra was not
ready for this surprise attack and siege, and thus surrendered after a
brief siege in July 634 (see Battle of Bosra), this effectively ending
the Dynasty of the Ghassanids.
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria
Bosra Khalid sent orders to other corps commanders to join him at
Ajnadayn, where according to early
Muslim historians, a
of 90,000 (modern sources state 9,000) was concentrated to push
back the Muslims. The
Byzantine army was defeated decisively on 30
July 634 in the Battle of Ajnadayn. It was the first major pitched
battle between the
Muslim army and the
Byzantine army and
cleared the way for the Muslims to capture central Syria. Damascus,
Byzantine stronghold, was conquered shortly after on 19 September
634. After the
Muslim Conquest of Damascus, the
Byzantine army was
given a deadline of 3 days to flee as far as they could, with their
families and treasure, or simply agree to stay in
Damascus and pay
Masjid Al-Aqsa in Al-Haram Ash-Sharif, Old City of Jerusalem,
Byzantine-era temple in Idlib, Syria.
After the three-day deadline was over, the
Muslim cavalry under
Khalid's command attacked the Roman army by catching up to them using
an unknown shortcut at the battle of Maraj-al-Debaj.
On 22 August 634
Abu Bakr died, making
Umar his successor. As Umar
became caliph, he relieved Khalid of command of the Islamic armies and
Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah
Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah as the new commander. The conquest
Syria slowed down under him while Abu Ubaida relied heavily on the
advices of Khalid, and kept him beside him as much as possible.
Map detailing the route of the
Muslim invasion of central Syria
The last large garrison of the
Byzantine army was at Fahl, which was
joined by survivors of Ajnadayn. With this threat at their rear the
Muslim armies could not move further north nor south, thus Abu Ubaidah
decided to deal with the situation, and had this garrison defeated and
routed at the
Battle of Fahl on 23 January 635. This battle proved to
be the "Key to Palestine". After this battle Abu Ubaidah and Khalid
marched north towards Emesa, Yazid was stationed in
Damascus while Amr
and Shurhabil marched south to capture Palestine. While the
Muslims were at Fahl, sensing the weak defense of Damascus, Emperor
Heraclius sent an army to re-capture the city. This army however could
not make it to
Damascus and was intercepted by Abu Ubaidah and Khalid
on their way to Emesa. The army was routed and destroyed in the battle
of Maraj-al-Rome and the 2nd battle of Damascus.
Emesa and the
strategical town of
Chalcis made peace with the Muslims for one year.
This was, in fact, done to let
Heraclius prepare for defences and
raise new armies. The Muslims welcomed the peace and consolidated
their control over the conquered territory. As soon as the Muslims
received the news of reinforcements being sent to
Emesa and Chalcis,
they marched against Emesa, laid siege to it and eventually captured
the city in March 636.
Map detailing the route of the
Muslim invasion of northern Syria
The prisoners taken in the battle informed them about Emperor
Heraclius's final effort to take back Syria. They said that an army
possibly two hundred thousand (200,000) strong would soon emerge to
recapture the province. Khalid stopped here on June 636. This huge
army set out for their destination. As soon as Abu Ubaida heard the
news, he gathered all his officers to plan their next move. Khalid
suggested that they should summon all of their forces present in the
Syria (Syria, Jordan, Palestine) and to make a powerful
joint force and then move towards the plain of Yarmouk for battle.
Abu Ubaida ordered all the
Muslim commanders to withdraw from all the
conquered areas, return the tributes that they previously gathered,
and move towards Yarmuk. Heraclius's army also moved towards
Muslim armies reached it in July 636. A week or two later,
around mid July, the
Byzantine army arrived. Khalid's mobile guard
Christian Arab auxiliaries of the Roman army in a skirmish.
Nothing happened until the third week of August in which the Battle of
Yarmouk was fought. The battle lasted 6 days during which Abu Ubaida
transferred the command of the entire army to Khalid. The five times
Byzantine army was defeated in October 636 CE. Abu Ubaida held
a meeting with his high command officers, including Khalid to decide
on future conquests. They decided to conquer Jerusalem. The siege of
Jerusalem lasted four months after which the city agreed to surrender,
but only to
Umar Ibn Al Khattab in person. Amr ibn Al As
suggested that Khalid should be sent as Caliph, because of his very
strong resemblance of
Khalid was recognized and eventually,
Umar ibn Al Khattab came
Jerusalem surrendered on April 637 CE. Abu Ubaida sent the
commanders Amr bin al-As, Yazid bin Abu Sufyan, and Sharjeel bin
Hassana back to their areas to reconquer them. Most of the areas
submitted without a fight. Abu Ubaida himself along with Khalid, moved
Syria once again to conquer it with a 17,000 man army.
Khalid along with his cavalry was sent to Hazir and Abu Ubaidah moved
to the city of Qasreen.
Khalid defeated a strong
Byzantine army at the
Battle of Hazir and
reached Qasreen before Abu Ubaidah. The city surrendered to Khalid.
Soon, Abu Ubaidah arrived in June 637. Abu Ubaidah then moved against
Aleppo. As usual Khalid was commanding the cavalry. After the Battle
Aleppo the city finally agreed to surrender in October 637.
Occupation of Anatolia
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn al-Walid's invasion of Eastern
Anatolia and Armenia
Abu Ubaida and Khalid ibn Walid, after conquering all of northern
Syria, moved north towards
Anatolia conquering the fort of
clear the flank and rear from
Byzantine troops. On their way to
Antioch, a Roman army blocked them near a river on which there was an
iron bridge. Because of this, the following battle is known as the
Battle of the Iron Bridge. The
Muslim army defeated the Byzantines and
Antioch surrendered on 30 October 637 CE. Later during the year, Abu
Ubaida sent Khalid and
Iyad ibn Ghanm at the head of two separate
armies against the western part of Jazira, most of which was conquered
without strong resistance, including parts of Anatolia,
Edessa and the
area up to the Ararat plain. Other columns were sent to
far west as the Taurus Mountains, the important city of
Malatya which were all conquered by Khalid in the autumn of 638 CE.
During Uthman's reign, the Byzantines recaptured many forts in the
region and on Uthman's orders, a series of campaigns were launched to
regain control of them. In 647 Muawiyah, the governor of
Syria sent an
expedition against Anatolia. They invaded
Cappadocia and sacked
Caesarea Mazaca. In 648 the
Rashidun army raided Phrygia. A major
Isauria in 650–651 forced the Byzantine
Constans II to enter into negotiations with Uthman's governor
of Syria, Muawiyah. The truce that followed allowed a short respite,
and made it possible for
Constans II to hold on to the western
portions of Armenia. In 654–655 on the orders of Uthman, an
expedition was preparing to attack the
Constantinople but this plan was not carried out due to the civil war
that broke out in 656.
Taurus Mountains in
Turkey marked the western frontiers of the
Caliph Uthman's reign.
Conquest of Egypt
Muslim conquest of Egypt
Map detailing the route of the
Muslim invasion of Egypt
Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, 2013
At the commencement of the
Muslim conquest of Egypt,
Egypt was part of
Byzantine Empire with its capital in Constantinople. However, it
had been occupied just a decade before by the
Sasanian Empire under
Khosrau II (616 to 629 CE). The power of the
Byzantine Empire was
shattered during the
Muslim conquest of Syria, and therefore the
Egypt was much easier. In 639 some 4000
Amr ibn al-As
Amr ibn al-As were sent by
Umar to conquer the land of the
ancient pharaohs. The
Rashidun army crossed into
Egypt from Palestine
in December 639 and advanced rapidly into the
Nile Delta. The imperial
garrisons retreated into the walled towns, where they successfully
held out for a year or more. But the Muslims sent for reinforcements
and the invading army, joined by another 12,000 men in 640, defeated a
Byzantine army at the Battle of Heliopolis. Amr next proceeded in the
direction of Alexandria, which was surrendered to him by a treaty
signed on 8 November 641. The
Thebaid seems to have surrendered with
scarcely any opposition.
The ease with which this valuable province was wrenched from the
Byzantine Empire appears to have been due to the treachery of the
governor of Egypt, Cyrus,
Melchite (i.e., Byzantine/Chalcedonian
Orthodox, not Coptic) Patriarch of Alexandria, and the incompetence of
the generals of the
Byzantine forces, as well as due to the loss of
most of the
Byzantine troops in
Syria against the
Rashidun army. Cyrus
had persecuted the local Coptic Christians. He is one of the authors
of monothelism, a seventh-century heresy, and some supposed him to
have been a secret convert to Islam.
During the reign of
Uthman an attempt was made in the year 645
Alexandria for the
Byzantine empire, but it was retaken by
Amr in 646. In 654 an invasion fleet sent by
Constans II was repulsed.
From that time no serious effort was made by the Byzantines to regain
possession of the country.
The Muslims were assisted by some Copts, who found the Muslims more
tolerant than the Byzantines, and of these some turned to Islam. In
return for a tribute of money and food for the troops of occupation,
Christian inhabitants of
Egypt were excused from military service
and left free in the observance of their religion and the
administration of their affairs. Others sided with the Byzantines,
hoping that they would provide a defense against the Arab
invaders. During the reign of
Egypt was captured by
rebel troops under the command of former
Rashidun army general Amr ibn
al-As, who killed
Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr the governor of Egypt
appointed by Ali.
Conquest of North Africa
The Roman ruins of
After the withdrawal of the Byzantines from Egypt, the Exarchate of
Africa had declared its independence under its exarch, Gregory the
Patrician. The dominions of Gregory extended from the borders of Egypt
Abdullah Ibn Sa'ad used to send raiding parties to the
west. As a result of these raids the Muslims got considerable booty.
The success of these raids made
Abdullah Ibn Sa'ad feel that a regular
campaign should be undertaken for the conquest of North Africa.
Uthman gave him permission after considering it in the
Shura. A force of 10,000 soldiers was sent as reinforcement. The
Rashidun army assembled in
Barqa in Cyrenaica, and from there they
marched west to capture Tripoli, after
Tripoli the army marched to
Sufetula, the capital of King Gregory. He was defeated and killed in
the battle due to superb tactics used by Abdullah ibn Zubayr. After
Battle of Sufetula the people of
North Africa sued for peace. They
agreed to pay an annual tribute. Instead of annexing North Africa, the
Muslims preferred to make
North Africa a vassal state. When the
stipulated amount of the tribute was paid, the
Muslim forces withdrew
to Barqa. Following the First Fitna, the first Islamic civil war,
Muslim forces withdraw from north Africa to Egypt. The Ummayad
Caliphate, re-invaded north Africa in 664.
Mosque of Khartoum, Sudan, 2013
A campaign was undertaken against
Nubia during the
Caliphate of Umar
in 642, but failed after the Makurians took victory at the First
Battle of Dongola. The army was pulled out of
Nubia without any
success. Ten years later, Uthman’s governor of Egypt, Abdullah ibn
Saad, sent another army to Nubia. This army penetrated deeper into
Nubia and laid siege to the Nubian capital of Dongola. The Muslims
damaged the cathedral in the center of the city, but the battle also
went in favor of Makuria. As the Muslims were not able to overpower
Makuria, they negotiated a peace with their king Qaladurut. According
to the treaty that was signed, each side agreed not to make any
aggressive moves against the other. Each side agreed to afford free
passage to the other party through its territories.
Nubia agreed to
provide 360 slaves to
Egypt every year, while
Egypt agreed to supply
grain, horses and textiles to
Nubia according to demand.
Conquest of the islands of the
Further information: History of
Islam in southern Italy
During Umar's reign, the governor of Syria, Muawiyah I, sent a request
to build a naval force to invade the islands of the
Umar rejected the proposal because of the risk of death of
soldiers at sea. During his reign
Uthman gave Muawiyah permission to
build a navy after concerning the matter. In 650 CE the Arabs
made the first attack on the island of
Cyprus under the leadership of
Muawiya. They conquered the capital, Salamis - Constantia, after a
brief siege, but drafted a treaty with the local rulers. In the course
of this expedition a relative of Muhammad, Umm-Haram fell from her
mule near the Salt Lake at
Larnaca and was killed. She was buried in
that same spot which became a holy site for both many local Muslims
and Christians and, much later in 1816, the
Hala Sultan Tekke
Hala Sultan Tekke was
built there by the Ottomans. After apprehending a breach of the
treaty, the Arabs re-invaded the island in 654 CE with five
hundred ships. This time, however, a garrison of 12,000 men was left
in Cyprus, bringing the island under
Muslim influence. After
Muslim fleet headed towards the island of
Rhodes and conquered them without much resistance. In 652-654,
the Muslims launched a naval campaign against
Sicily and they
succeeded in capturing a large part of the island. Soon after this
Uthman was murdered, and no further expansion efforts were made, and
the Muslims accordingly retreated from Sicily. In 655 Byzantine
Constans II led a fleet in person to attack the Muslims at
Phoinike (off Lycia) but it was defeated: both sides suffered heavy
losses in the battle, and the emperor himself narrowly avoided death.
Treatment of conquered peoples
See also: Dhimmi
Muslim monotheist inhabitants - Jews, Zoroastrians, and
Christians of the conquered lands were called dhimmis (the protected
people). Those who accepted
Islam were treated in a similar manner as
other Muslims, and were given equivalent rights in legal matters.
Non-Muslims were given legal rights according to their faiths' law
except where it conflicted with Islamic law.
Dhimmis were allowed to "practice their religion, and to enjoy a
measure of communal autonomy" and were guaranteed their personal
safety and security of property, but only in return for paying tax and
Muslim rule. Dhimmis were also subject to pay jizya
(Muslims were expected to pay zakāt and kharaj). Disabled dhimmis
did not have to pay jizya and, were even given a stipend by the state.
Rashidun caliphs had placed special emphasis on relative fair and
just treatment of the dhimmis. They were also provided 'protection' by
the Islamic empire and were not expected to fight; rather the Muslims
were entrusted to defend them. Sometimes, in particular when there
were not enough qualified Muslims, dhimmis were given important
positions in the government.
Al-Masjid an-Nabawi at Medinah, the empire's first capital, in the
Hijaz, Arabian Peninsula, 2008
Mosque at Kufah, the empire's second capital, in Iraq, 2016
The basic administrative system of the Dar al-Islamiyyah (The House of
Islam) was laid down in the days of the Prophet.
Caliph Abu Bakr
stated in his sermon when he was elected: "If I order any thing that
would go against the order of Allah and his Messenger; then do not
obey me". This is considered to be the foundation stone of the
Umar has been reported to have said: "O Muslims,
straighten me with your hands when I go wrong", and at that instance a
Muslim man stood up and said "O
Amir al-Mu'minin (Leader of the
Believers) if you are not straightened by our hands we will use our
sword to straighten you!". Hearing this
"Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) I have such followers."[citation
In the administrative field
Umar was the most brilliant among the
Rashidun caliphs, and it was due to his exemplary administrative
qualities that most of the administrative structures of the empire
were established.
Districts or provinces
Abu Bakr the empire was not clearly divided into provinces,
though it had many administrative districts.
Empire was divided into a number of provinces which
were as follows:
Arabia was divided into two provinces,
Mecca and Medina;
Iraq was divided into two provinces,
Basra and Kufa;
the province of Jazira was created in the upper reaches of the Tigris
and the Euphrates;
Syria was a province;
Palestine was divided in two provinces: Aylya and Ramlah;
Egypt was divided into two provinces: Upper
Egypt and Lower Egypt;
Persia was divided into three provinces: Khorasan, Azarbaijan, and
In his testament
Umar had instructed his successor not to make any
change in the administrative set up for one year after his death. Thus
for one year
Uthman maintained the pattern of political administration
as it stood under Umar, however later he made some amendments. Uthman
Egypt one province and created a new province comprising North
Africa. Syria, previously divided into two provinces, also become a
During Uthman's reign the empire was divided into twelve provinces.
During Ali's reign, with the exception of
Syria (which was under
Muawiyah I's control) and
Egypt (that he had lost during the latter
years of his caliphate to the rebel troops of Amr ibn Al-A'as), the
remaining ten provinces were under his control, which kept their
administrative organizations as they were under Uthman.
The provinces were further divided into districts. Each of the 100 or
more districts of the empire, along with the main cities, were
administered by a governor (Wāli). Other officers at the provincial
Katib, the Chief Secretary.
Sahib-ul-Ahdath, the Police chief.
Qadi, the Chief Judge.
In some districts there were separate military officers, though the
governor was in most cases the commander-in-chief of the army
quartered in the province.
The officers were appointed by the Caliph. Every appointment was made
in writing. At the time of appointment an instrument of instructions
was issued with a view to regulating the conduct of Governors. On
assuming office, the
Governor was required to assemble the people in
the main mosque, and read the instrument of instructions before
Umar's general instructions to his officers were:
Remember, I have not appointed you as commanders and tyrants over the
people. I have sent you as leaders instead, so that the people may
follow your example. Give the Muslims their rights and do not beat
them lest they become abused. Do not praise them unduly, lest they
fall into the error of conceit. Do not keep your doors shut in their
faces, lest the more powerful of them eat up the weaker ones. And do
not behave as if you were superior to them, for that is tyranny over
During the reign of
Abu Bakr the state was economically weak, while
during Umar’s reign because of increase in revenues and other
sources of income, the state was on its way to economic prosperity.
Umar felt it necessary that the officers be treated in a strict
way as to prevent the possible greed for money that may lead them to
corruption. During his reign, at the time of appointment, every
officer was required to make the oath:
That he would not ride a Turkic horse (which was a symbol of pride).
That he would not wear fine clothes.
That he would not eat sifted flour.
That he would not keep a porter at his door.
That he would always keep his door open to the public.
Umar himself followed the above postulates strictly. During the
Uthman the state become more economically prosperous than
ever before; the allowance of the citizens was increased by 25%, and
the economical condition of the ordinary person was more stable, which
Uthman to revoke the 2nd and 3rd postulates of the oath.
At the time of appointment a complete inventory of all the possessions
of the person concerned was prepared and kept in record. If there was
an unusual increase in the possessions of the office holder, he was
immediately called to account, and the unlawful property was
confiscated by the State. The principal officers were required to come
Mecca on the occasion of the Hajj, during which people were free to
present any complaint against them. In order to minimize the chances
Umar made it a point to pay high salaries to the staff.
Provincial governors received as much as five to seven thousand
dirhams annually besides their share of the spoils of war (if they
were also the commander-in-chief of the army of their sector).
As most of the administrative structure of the
Empire was set
up by Umar, the judicial administration was also established by him
and the other
Caliphs followed the same system without any type of
basic amendment in it. In order to provide adequate and speedy justice
for the people, an effective system of judicial administration was set
up, hereunder justice was administered according to the principles of
Qadis (Judges) were appointed at all administrative levels for the
administration of justice. The Qadis were chosen for their integrity
and learning in Islamic law. High salaries were fixed for the Qadis so
that there was no temptation to bribery. Wealthy men and men of high
social status were appointed as Qadis so that they might not have the
temptation to take bribes, or be influenced by the social position of
any body. The Qadis were not allowed to engage in trade. Judges were
appointed in sufficient number, and there was no district which did
not have a Qadi.
Electing or appointing a caliph
Rashidun caliphs were chosen through shura
(شُـوْرَى), a process of community consultation has been
described as a form of "Islamic democracy".
Fred Donner, in his book The Early Islamic Conquests (1981), argues
that the standard Arabian practice during the early Caliphates was for
the prominent men of a kinship group, or tribe, to gather after a
leader's death and elect a leader from amongst themselves, although
there was no specified procedure for this shura, or consultative
assembly. Candidates were usually from the same lineage as the
deceased leader, but they were not necessarily his sons. Capable men
who would lead well were preferred over an ineffectual direct heir, as
there was no basis in the majority Sunni view that the head of state
or governor should be chosen based on lineage alone.
This argument is advanced by Sunni Muslims that Muhammad's companion
Abu Bakr was elected by the community, and this was the proper
procedure. They further argue that a caliph is ideally chosen by
election or community consensus. The caliphate became a hereditary
office or the prize of the strongest general after the Rashidun
caliphate. However, Sunni Muslims believe this was after the 'rightly
guided' caliphate ended (
Al-Baqillani has said that the leader of the Muslims simply
should be from the majority.
Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man
Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man also wrote that
the leader must come from the majority.
Following the death of Muhammad, a meeting took place at Saqifah. At
Abu Bakr was elected caliph by the
Sunni Muslims developed the belief that the caliph is a temporal
political ruler, appointed to rule within the bounds of Islamic law
(The rules of life set by Allah in the Qur'an). The job of
adjudicating orthodoxy and Islamic law was left to Islamic lawyers,
judiciary, or specialists individually termed as Mujtahids and
collectively named the Ulema. The first four caliphs are called the
Rashidun, meaning the Rightly Guided Caliphs, because they are
believed to have followed the
Qur'an and the sunnah (example) of
Muhammad in all things.
Majlis al-Shura: Parliament
See also: Shura, Majlis, Majlis-ash-Shura, and Islamic democracy
Traditional Sunni Islamic lawyers agree that shura, loosely translated
as “consultation of the people”, is a function of the caliphate.
Shura advise the caliph. The importance of this is
premised by the following verses of the Qur'an:
... those who answer the call of their Lord and establish the prayer,
and who conduct their affairs by Shura. [are loved by God][42:38]
... consult them (the people) in their affairs. Then when you have
taken a decision (from them), put your trust in Allah[3:159]
The majlis is also the means to elect a new caliph. Al-Mawardi has
written that members of the majlis should satisfy three conditions:
they must be just, they must have enough knowledge to distinguish a
good caliph from a bad one, and must have sufficient wisdom and
judgment to select the best caliph. Al-Mawardi also said in
emergencies when there is no caliphate and no majlis, the people
themselves should create a majlis, select a list of candidates for
caliph, then the majlis should select from the list of candidates.
Some modern interpretations of the role of the
those by Islamist author
Sayyid Qutb and by Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, the
founder of a transnational political movement devoted to the revival
of the Caliphate. In an analysis of the shura chapter of the Qur'an,
Islam requires only that the ruler consult with at least
some of the ruled (usually the elite), within the general context of
God-made laws that the ruler must execute. Taqiuddin al-Nabhani,
Shura is important and part of "the ruling structure" of
the Islamic caliphate, "but not one of its pillars," and may be
neglected without the Caliphate's rule becoming unislamic. Non-Muslims
may serve in the majlis, though they may not vote or serve as an
Accountability of rulers
Sunni Islamic lawyers have commented on when it is permissible to
disobey, impeach or remove rulers in the Caliphate. This is usually
when the rulers are not meeting public responsibilities obliged upon
them under Islam.
Al-Mawardi said that if the rulers meet their Islamic responsibilities
to the public, the people must obey their laws, but if they become
either unjust or severely ineffective then the
Caliph or ruler must be
impeached via the
Al-Juwayni argued that
Islam is the
goal of the ummah, so any ruler that deviates from this goal must be
Al-Ghazali believed that oppression by a caliph is enough
for impeachment. Rather than just relying on impeachment, Ibn Hajar
al-Asqalani obliged rebellion upon the people if the caliph began to
act with no regard for Islamic law.
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said that to
ignore such a situation is haraam, and those who cannot revolt inside
the caliphate should launch a struggle from outside. Al-Asqalani used
two ayahs from the
Qur'an to justify this:
And they (the sinners on qiyama) will say, "Our Lord! We obeyed our
leaders and our chiefs, and they misled us from the right path. Our
Lord! Give them (the leaders) double the punishment you give us and
curse them with a very great curse"...[33:67–68]
Islamic lawyers commented that when the rulers refuse to step down via
successful impeachment through the Majlis, becoming dictators through
the support of a corrupt army, if the majority agree they have the
option to launch a revolution against them. Many noted that this
option is only exercised after factoring in the potential cost of
Rule of law
Sharia and Islamic ethics
The following hadith establishes the principle of rule of law in
relation to nepotism and accountability:
Narrated ‘Aisha: The people of Quraish worried about the lady from
Bani Makhzum who had committed theft. They asked, "Who will intercede
for her with Allah's Apostle?" Some said, "No one dare to do so except
Usama bin Zaid the beloved one to Allah's Apostle." When Usama spoke
about that to Allah's Apostle Allah's Apostle said: "Do you try to
intercede for somebody in a case connected with Allah’s Prescribed
Punishments?" Then he got up and delivered a sermon saying, "What
destroyed the nations preceding you, was that if a noble amongst them
stole, they would forgive him, and if a poor person amongst them
stole, they would inflict Allah's Legal punishment on him. By Allah,
if Fatima, the daughter of
Muhammad (my daughter) stole, I would cut
off her hand."
Various Islamic lawyers do however place multiple conditions, and
stipulations e.g. the poor cannot be penalised for stealing out of
poverty, before executing such a law, making it very difficult to
reach such a stage. It is well known during a time of drought in the
Rashidun caliphate period, capital punishments were suspended until
the effects of the drought passed.
Islamic jurists later formulated the concept of the rule of law, the
equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of the land, where
no person is above the law and where officials and private citizens
are under a duty to obey the same law. A
Qadi (Islamic judge) was also
not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of religion, gender,
colour, kinship or prejudice. There were also a number of cases where
caliphs had to appear before judges as they prepared to take their
According to Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University, the
legal scholars and jurists who once upheld the rule of law were
replaced by a law governed by the state due to the codification of
Sharia by the
Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century:
Caliphate there was an economic boom in the lives
of the ordinary people due to the revolutionary economic policies
Umar ( 634-644 CE/AD) and his successor
Uthman ( 644-656
). At first it was
Umar who introduced these reforms on strong bases,
Uthman who himself was an intelligent businessman,
further reformed them. During Uthman's reign the people of the empire
enjoyed a prosperous life.
Main article: Bayt al-mal
Bait-ul-Maal (literally, The house of money) was the department that
dealt with the revenues and all other economic matters of the state.
In the time of
Muhammad there was no permanent Bait-ul-Mal or public
treasury. Whatever revenues or other amounts were received were
distributed immediately. There were no salaries to be paid, and there
was no state expenditure. Hence the need for the treasury at the
public level was not felt.
Abu Bakr ( 632-634 ) earmarked a house where all money was kept on
receipt. As all money was distributed immediately the treasury
generally remained locked up. At the time of the death of Abu Bakr
there was only one dirham in the public treasury.
Establishment of Bait-ul-Maal
Main article: Bayt al-mal
In the time of
Umar things changed. With the extension in conquests
money came in larger quantities,
Umar also allowed salaries to men
fighting in the army.
Abu Huraira who was the
a revenue of five hundred thousand dirhams.
Umar summoned a meeting of
his Consultative Assembly and sought the opinion of the Companions
about the disposal of the money.
Uthman ibn Affan advised that the
amount should be kept for future needs. Walid bin Hisham suggested
that like the Byzantines separate departments of treasury and accounts
should be set up.
After consulting the Companions
Umar decided to establish the central
Treasury at Medina. Abdullah bin Arqam was appointed as the Treasury
Officer. He was assisted by
Abdur Rahman bin Awf
Abdur Rahman bin Awf and Muiqib. A
separate Accounts Department was also set up and it was required to
maintain record of all that was spent. Later provincial treasuries
were set up in the provinces. After meeting the local expenditure the
provincial treasuries were required to remit the surplus amount to the
central treasury at Medina. According to Yaqubi the salaries and
stipends charged to the central treasury amounted to over 30 million
A separate building was constructed for the royal treasury by the name
bait ul maal, which in large cities was guarded by as many as 400
The coins were of Persian origin, and had an image of the last Persian
emperor. Muslims added the sentence Bismillah to it.
In most of the historical accounts it states that among the Rashidun
Uthman ibn Affan was the first to strike coins; some accounts
however state that
Umar was the first to do so. When
conquered three types of coins were current in the conquered
territories, namely Baghli of eight dang; Tabari of four dang; and
Maghribi of three dang.
Umar (according to some accounts Uthman) made
an innovation and struck an Islamic dirham of six dang.
Social welfare and pensions were introduced in early Islamic law as
forms of zakāt (charity), one of the Five Pillars of Islam, since the
time of the
Umar in the 7th century. The taxes
(including zakāt and jizya) collected in the treasury of an Islamic
government were used to provide income for the needy, including the
poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. According to the
Al-Ghazali (Algazel, 1058–1111), the government was
also expected to stockpile food supplies in every region in case a
disaster or famine occurred. The
Caliphate was thus one of the
earliest welfare states.
Economic resources of the State
The economic resources of the State were:
Main article: Zakat
Zakāt (زكاة) is the Islamic concept of luxury tax. It was taken
from the Muslims in the amount of 2.5% of their dormant wealth (over a
certain amount unused for a year) to give to the poor. Only persons
whose annual wealth exceeded a minimum level (nisab) were collected
from. The nisab does not include primary residence, primary
transportation, moderate amount of woven jewelry, etc. Zakāt is one
of the Five Pillars of
Islam and it is obligation on all Muslims who
qualify as wealthy enough.
Main article: Jizya
Jizya or jizyah (جزْية; Ottoman Turkish: cizye). It was a per
capita tax imposed on able bodied non-
Muslim men of military age since
non-Muslims did not have to pay zakāt. The tax was not supposed to be
levied on slaves, women, children, monks, the old, the sick,
hermits and the poor. It is important to note that not only were
some non-Muslims exempt (such as sick, old), they were also given
stipends by the state when they were in need.
Fay was the income from State land, whether an agricultural land or a
meadow, or a land with any natural mineral reserves.
Main article: Khums
Khums was the booty captured on the occasion of war with
the enemy. Four-fifths of the booty was distributed among the soldiers
taking part in the war while one-fifth was credited to the state fund.
Main article: Kharaj
Kharaj was a tax on agricultural land.
Initially, after the first
Muslim conquests in the 7th century, kharaj
usually denoted a lump-sum duty levied upon the conquered provinces
and collected by the officials of the former
Byzantine and Sasanian
empires, or, more broadly, any kind of tax levied by
on their non-
Muslim subjects, dhimmis. At that time, kharaj was
synonymous with jizyah, which later emerged as a poll tax paid by
Muslim landowners, on the other hand, paid only ushr, a
religious tithe, which carried a much lower rate of taxation.
Ushr was a reciprocal 10% levy on agricultural land as well as
merchandise imported from states that taxed the Muslims on their
Umar was the first
Muslim ruler to levy ushr.
Muslim traders went to foreign lands for the purposes of
trade they had to pay a 10% tax to the foreign states. Ushr was levied
on reciprocal basis on the goods of the traders of other countries who
chose to trade in the
Umar issued instructions that ushr should be levied in such a way so
as to avoid hardship, that it will not affect the trade activities in
the Islamic empire. The tax was levied on merchandise meant for sale.
Goods imported for consumption or personal use but not for sale were
not taxed. The merchandise valued at 200 dirhams or less was not
taxed. When the citizens of the State imported goods for the purposes
of trade, they had to pay the customs duty or import tax at lower
rates. In the case of the dhimmis the rate was 5% and in the case of
the Muslims' 2.5%. In the case of the Muslims the rate was the same as
that of zakāt. The levy was thus regarded as a part of zakāt and was
not considered a separate tax.
Beginning of the allowance
Battle of Yarmouk
Battle of Yarmouk and
Battle of al-Qadisiyyah
Battle of al-Qadisiyyah the Muslims
won heavy spoils. The coffers at
Medina became full to the brim and
the problem before
Umar was what should be done with this money.
Someone suggested that money should be kept in the treasury for the
purposes of public expenditure only. This view was not acceptable to
the general body of the Muslims. Consensus was reached on the point
that whatever was received during a year should be distributed.
The next question that arose for consideration was what system should
be adopted for distribution. One suggestion was that it should be
distributed on an ad hoc basis and whatever was received should be
equally distributed. Against this view it was felt that as the spoils
were considerable, that would make the people very rich. It was
therefore decided that instead of ad hoc division the amount of the
allowance to the stipend should be determined beforehand and this
allowance should be paid to the person concerned regardless of the
amount of the spoils. This was agreed to.
About the fixation of the allowance there were two opinions. There
were some who held that the amount of the allowance for all Muslims
should be the same.
Umar did not agree with this view. He held that
the allowance should be graded according to one's merit with reference
Then the question arose as to what basis should be used for placing
some above others. Suggested that a start should be made with the
Caliph and he should get the highest allowance.
Umar rejected the
proposal and decided to start with the clan of Muhammad.
Umar set up a committee to compile a list of persons in nearness to
Muhammad. The committee produced the list clan-wise. Bani Hashim
appeared as the first clan. Then the clan of Abu Bakr, and in third
place the clan of Umar.
Umar accepted the first two placements but
delegated his clan lower down on the scale with reference to nearness
in relationship to Muhammad.
In the final scale of allowance that was approved by
Umar the main
provisions were:
The widows of
Muhammad received 12,000 dirhams each;
`Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, the uncle of
Muhammad received an annual
allowance of 7000 dirhams;
The grandsons of Muhammad, Hasan ibn
Ali and Hussain ibn
Ali got 5000
The veterans of the
Battle of Badr
Battle of Badr got an allowance of 6000 dirhams
Those who had become Muslims by the time of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
got 4000 dirhams each;
Those who became Muslims at the time of the Conquest of
Mecca got 3000
The veterans of the
Apostasy wars got 3000 dirhams each.
The veterans of the
Battle of Yarmouk
Battle of Yarmouk and the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah
got 2000 dirhams each.
In this award Umar's son Abdullah ibn
Umar got an allowance of 3000
dirhams. On the other hand,
Usama ibn Zaid got 4000.
Muslim citizens got allowances of between 2000 and 2500.
The regular annual allowance was given only to the urban population,
because they formed the backbone of the state's economic resources .
The Bedouin living in the desert, cut off from the states affairs
making no contributions in the developments were often given stipends.
On assuming office,
Uthman ibn Affan increased these stipends
by 25%.
That was an economic measure which contributed to the prosperity of
the people at lot. The citizens of the Islamic empire became
increasingly prosperous as trade activities increased. In turn, they
contributed to the department of bait al maal and more and more
revenues were collected.
The mosques were not mere places for offering prayers; these were
community centers as well where the faithful gathered to discuss
problems of social and cultural importance. During the caliphate of
Umar as many as four thousand mosques were constructed extending from
Persia in the east to
Egypt in the west.
Al-Masjid an-Nabawi and
Masjid al-Haram were enlarged first during the reign of
Umar and then
during the reign of
Uthman ibn Affan who not only extended them to
many thousand square meters but also beautified them on a large scale.
During the caliphate of
Umar many new cities were founded. These
included Kufa, Basra, and Fustat. These cities were laid in according
with the principles of town planning. All streets in these cities led
Friday mosque which was sited in the center of the city.
Markets were established at convenient points, which were under the
control of market officers who was supposed to check the affairs of
market and quality of goods. The cities were divided into quarters,
and each quarter was reserved for particular tribes. During the reign
Caliph Umar, there were restrictions on the building of palatial
buildings by the rich and elites, this was symbolic of the egalitarian
society of Islam, where all were equal, although the restrictions were
later revoked by
Uthman because of the financial prosperity of
ordinary men, and the construction of double story building was
permitted. As a result, many palatial buildings were constructed
throughout the empire with
Uthman himself building a huge palace in
Medina which was famous and, named Al-Zawar; he constructed it from
his personal resources.
Many buildings were built for administrative purposes. In the quarters
called Dar-ul-Amarat government offices and houses for the residence
of officers were provided. Buildings known as Diwans were constructed
for the keeping of official records. Buildings known as Bait-ul-Mal
were constructed to house royal treasuries. For the lodging of persons
suffering sentences as punishment, Jails were constructed for the
first time in
Muslim history. In important cities Guest Houses were
constructed to serve as rest houses for traders and merchants coming
from far away places. Roads and bridges were constructed for public
use. On the road from
Medina to Mecca, shelters, wells, and meal
houses were constructed at every stage for the ease of the people who
came for hajj.
Military cantonments were constructed at strategic points. Special
stables were provided for cavalry. These stables could accommodate as
many as 4,000 horses.
Special pasture grounds were provided and
maintained for Bait-ul-Mal animals.
Canals were dug to irrigate fields as well as provide drinking water
for the people. Abu Musa canal (after the name of governor of Basra
Abu-Musa al-Asha'ari) was a nine-mile (14 km) long canal which
brought water from the
Tigris to Basra. Another canal known as Maqal
canal was also dug from the Tigris. A canal known as the Amir
al-Mu'minin canal (after the title
Amir al-Mu'minin that was ordered
Caliph Umar) was dug to join the
Nile to the Red Sea. During the
famine of 639 food grains were brought from
Egypt to Arabia through
this canal from the sea which saved the lives of millions of
inhabitants of Arabia.
Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas
Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas canal (after the name of
Kufa Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas) dug from the
water to Anbar.
'Amr ibn al-'As
'Amr ibn al-'As the governor of Egypt, during the
Caliph Umar, even proposed the digging of a canal to join the
Mediterranean to the Red Sea. This proposal, however, did not
materialize due to unknown reasons, and it was 1200 years later that
such a canal was dug, today's Suez Canal. Shuaibia was the port for
Mecca. but it was inconvenient, so
the site of the new seaport, and a new port was built there. Uthman
also reformed the city's police departments.
Rashidun elite soldier" equipped for infantry
warfare. He wears an iron-bronze helmet, a hauberk and lamellar
leather armour. His sword is hung from a baldric, and he carries a
Rashidun army was the primary military body of the Islamic armed
forces of the 7th century, serving alongside the
Rashidun navy. The
Rashidun army maintained a very high level of discipline, strategic
prowess and organization, along with motivation and self initiative of
the officer corps. For much of its history this army was one of the
most powerful and effective military forces in all of the region. At
the height of the
Caliphate the maximum size of the army was
around 100,000 troops.
Rashidun army was divided into the two basic categories, infantry
and light cavalry. Reconstructing the military equipment of early
Muslim armies is problematic. Compared with Roman armies or later
Muslim armies, the range of visual representation is very
small, often imprecise and difficult to date. Physically very little
material evidence has survived and again, much of it is difficult to
date. The soldiers used to wear iron and bronze segmented helmets
that came from
Iraq and were of Central Asian type.
The standard form of protective body armor was chainmail. There are
also references to the practice of wearing two coats of mail
(dir’ayn), the one under the main one being shorter or even made of
fabric or leather. Hauberks and large wooden or wickerwork shields
were used as a protection in combat. The soldiers were usually
equipped with swords that were hung in a baldric. They also possessed
spears and daggers.[page needed]
Umar was the first Muslim
ruler to organize the army as a state department. This reform was
introduced in 637. A beginning was made with the Quraish and the Ansar
and the system was gradually extended to the whole of Arabia and to
Muslims of conquered lands.
The basic strategy of early
Muslim armies sent out to conquer foreign
lands was to exploit every possible weakness of the enemy army in
order to achieve victory. Their key strength was mobility. The cavalry
had both horses and camels. The camels were used as both transport and
food for long marches through the desert (Khalid bin Walid’s
extraordinary march from the Persian border to
camels as both food and transport). The cavalry was the army’s main
striking force and also served as a strategic mobile reserve. The
common tactic was to use the infantry and archers to engage and
maintain contact with the enemy forces while the cavalry was held back
till the enemy was fully engaged.
Once fully engaged the enemy reserves were absorbed by the infantry
and archers, and the
Muslim cavalry was used as pincers (like modern
tank and mechanized divisions) to attack the enemy from the sides or
to attack enemy base camps. The
Rashidun army was, in quality and
strength, below standard compared with the Sasanian and Byzantine
Khalid ibn Walid
Khalid ibn Walid was the first general of the Rashidun
Caliphate to conquer foreign lands and to trigger the wholesale
deposition of the two most powerful empires. During his campaign
Sasanian Empire (
Iraq 633 - 634) and the
Syria 634 - 638) Khalid developed brilliant tactics that he used
effectively against both the Sasanian and
Abu Bakr's strategy was to give his generals their mission, the
geographical area in which that mission would be carried out, and the
resources that could be made available for that purpose. He would then
leave it to his generals to accomplish their missions in whatever
manner they chose. On the other hand,
Umar in the latter part
Caliphate used to direct his generals as to where to stay and
when to move to the next target and who was to command the left and
right wing of the army in each particular battle. This made the phase
of conquest comparatively slower but provided well-organized
Uthman used the same method as Abu Bakr: he would
give missions to his generals and then leave it to them how they
should accomplish it.
Ali also followed the same method.
Relationship with Muhammad
8 June 632 – 22 August 634
Father of Aisha, Muhammad's wife
Uthman Abu Quhafa, ṣaḥābī
Salma Umm-ul-Khair, ṣaḥābīyah
Commonly known as Aṣ-Ṣiddīq (الصديق, "The Truthful")
Reigned until his death
23 August 634 – 3 November 644
Umar ibn al-Khattab
(عمر بن الخطاب)
Father of Hafsa, Muhammad's wife
Khattab ibn Nufayl
Hantamah bint Hisyam
Also known with his epithet Al-Farooq ("the one who distinguishes
between right and wrong")
Assassinated by Persians in response to the
Muslim conquest of
11 November 644 – 20 June 656
Uthman ibn 'Affan
(عثمان بن عفان)
Muhammad's daughters, Ruqayya and later Umm Kulthum.
Muhammad's Second cousin.
'Affan ibn Abi al-'As
Arwa bint Kurayz, ṣaḥābīyah
Also known as Dhun-Nurayn (Possessor of Two Lights) because he married
two Muhammad's daughters
Assassinated at the end of a siege upon his house
20 June 656 – 29 January 661
Ali ibn Abi-Talib
(علي بن أبي طالب)
Muhammad's first cousin
Husband of Muhammad's daughter Fatimah
Husband of Umamah bint Zainab, Muhammad's granddaughter
Abu Talib ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib
Fatimah bint Asad, ṣaḥābīyah
Also known as First Imam of Shia
Assassinated during Fajr prayer in the Great
Mosque of Kufah
Historical Arab states and dynasties
Ancient Arab States
Kingdom of Saba
1200 BC–275 AD
Kingdom of Awsan
800 BC–500 BC
Kingdom of Ma'in
800 BC–100 BC
Kingdom of Qedar
800 BC–300 BC
Kingdom of Lihyan
600 BC–100 BC
Kingdom of Qataban
400 BC–200 AD
400 BC–106 AD
Kingdom of Kindah
200 BC–633 AD
Kingdom of Himyar
200 BC–525 AD
Kingdom of Osroene
132 BC–244 AD
Kingdom of Characene
127 BC–221 AD
Royal family of Emesa
64 BC–300s AD
Kingdom of Araba
Emirate of Crete
Emirate of Córdoba
Emirate of Sicily
Caliphate of Córdoba
Sharifate of Mecca
Emirate of Beihan
Al Qasimi (Ras al Khaymah)
Al Qasimi (Sharjah)
Al Saud (Saudi Arabia)
Al Said (Oman)
Al Sabah (Kuwait)
Al Nahyan (Abu Dhabi)
Al Nuaim (Ajman )
Al Mu'alla (Umm al-Quwain)
Al Khalifa (Bahrain)
Al Thani (Qatar)
Al Maktoum (Dubai)
Al Sharqi (Fujairah)
The Four Companions
The Ten Promised Paradise
Islamic Golden Age
Timeline of Medina
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Uthman ibn Affan
Outline of Islam
God in Islam
Prophets of Islam
Islam by country
Ma malakat aymanukum
Sources of law
Alchemy and chemistry
Geography and cartography
Liberalism and progressivism
Conversion to mosques
Criticism of Islam
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Persecution of Muslims
Quran and miracles
Eastern Ganga dynasty
ancient great powers
medieval great powers