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Commander of the Faithful
The Generous - (Al Ghani)
Commander of the Faithful
The Rightly Guided Caliphs or The Righteous Caliphs (الخلفاء الراشدون al-Khulafā’u r-Rāshidūn) is a term used in Sunni Islam to refer to the first four caliphs after the Prophet Muhammad who established the Rashidun Caliphate: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali. The concept of "Rightly Guided Caliphs" originated with the later Abbasid Dynasty, which was based in Baghdad. It is a reference to the Sunni tradition, "Hold firmly to my example (sunnah) and that of the Rightly Guided Caliphs" (Ibn Majah, Abu Dawood). The implication of the term is that later caliphs were less "righteous" and perhaps lesser examples of Muslim piety.
The first four Caliphs who ruled after the death of Muhammad are often quoted as the Khulafah Rashidun.
- 1. Abu Bakr (632-634 CE) --Bakr is often spelled "baker" in the American scholarship.
- 2. Umar ibn al-Khattab, (Umar І) (634-644 CE) -- Umar is often spelled Omar in some Western scholarship.
- 3. Uthman ibn Affan (644-656 CE)-- Uthman is often spelled Othman (or even Osman) in some Western scholarship.
- 4. Ali ibn Abi Talib (656-661 CE)
In addition to this, there are several views regarding additional rashidun. Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (Umar ІІ), who was one of the Umayyad caliphs, is sometimes regarded as one of the Rashidun and is quoted by Taftazani. In the Ibadhi tradition, only Abu Bakr and Umar are considered to be the Two Rightly Guided Caliphs. Suleiman the Magnificent and Abdul Hamid I of the Ottoman period are regarded by some to be amongst the rightly guided Caliphs.
Abu Bakr 
Abu Bakr (Abdullah ibn Abi Qahafa) (Arabic: عبد الله بن أبي قحافة, Transliteration: 'Abdullāh bin Abī Quhāfah, c. 573 CE unknown exact date 634/13 AH) was a senior companion (Sahabah) and the father-in-law of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632-634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death. As Caliph, Abu Bakr succeeded to the political and administrative functions previously exercised by the Prophet, since the religious function and authority of prophethood ended with Muhammad's death according to Islam. Abu Bakr was called Al-Siddiq (The Truthful) and was known by that title among later generations of Muslims. He prevented the recently converted Muslims from dispersing, kept the community united and consolidated Islams grip on the region by containing the Ridda, while extending the Dar Al Islam all the way to the Red Sea.
Umar ibn al-Khattab 
Umar (Arabic: عمر بن الخطاب, Transliteration: `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, c. 586–590 – 644) c. 2 Nov. (Dhu al-Hijjah 26, 23 Hijri), was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and became the second Muslim Khalifa after Muhammad's death and ruled for 10 years. He succeeded Caliph Abu Bakr on 23 August 634 as the second Caliph, and played a significant role in Islam. Under Umar the Islamic empire expanded at an unprecedented rate ruling the whole Sassanid Persian Empire and more than two thirds of the Eastern Roman Empire. His legislative abilities, his firm political and administrative control over a rapidly expanding empire and his brilliantly coordinated multi-prong attacks against the Sassanid Persian Empire that resulted in the conquest of the Persian empire in less than two years, marked his reputation as a great political and military leader. Among his conquests are Jerusalem, Damascus, and Egypt. He was killed by a Persian captive.
Uthman ibn Affan 
`Uthman ibn `Affan (Arabic: عثمان بن عفان) (c. 579 – 17 July 656) was one of the companions of Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Uthman was born into the Umayyad clan of Mecca, a powerful family of the Quraish tribe. He was a companion of Muhammad who became caliph at the age of 70. Under his leadership, the empire expanded into Fars in 650 (present-day Iran), some areas of Khorasan (present-day Afghanistan)in 651 and the conquest of Armenia was begun in the 640s. His rule ended when he was assassinated.
Uthman is perhaps best known for forming the committee which compiled the basic text of the Qur'an as it exists today, based on text that had been gathered separately on parchment, bones and rocks during the life time of Muhammad and also on a copy of the Qur'an that had been collated by Abu Bakr and left with Muhammad's widow after Abu Bakr's death. The committee members were also reciters of the Qur'an and had memorised the entire text during the lifetime of Muhammad. This work was undertaken due to the vast expansion of Islam under Uthman's rule, which encountered many different dialects and languages. This had led to variant readings of the Qur'an for those converts who were not familiar with the language. After clarifying any possible errors in pronunciation or dialects, Uthman sent copies of the sacred text to each of the Muslim cities and garrison towns, and destroyed variant texts.
Ali ibn Abi Talib 
After the death of Uthman, Medina was in political chaos for a number of days. Many of the companions approached Ali to take the role of Caliph, which he refused to do initially.
After his appointment as caliph, Ali dismissed several provincial governors, some of whom were relatives of Uthman, and replaced them with trusted aides such as Malik ibn Ashter. Ali then transferred his capital from Medina to Kufa, the Muslim garrison city in what is now Iraq. The capital of the province of Syria, Damascus, was held by Mu'awiyah, the governor of Syria and a kinsman of Uthman, Ali's slain predecessor.
His caliphate coincided with the First Fitna or civil war when Muslims were divided over who had the legitimate right to occupy the caliphate. and which was ended, on the whole, by Muawiyah's assumption of the caliphate.
He was assassinated, and died on the 21st of Ramadan in the city of Kufa (Iraq) in 661 CE.
Military expansion 
The Rashidun caliphate greatly expanded the sway of Islam beyond Arabia, conquering all of Persia, besides Syria (637), Armenia (639) Egypt (639) and Cyprus (654). In this, the Rashiduns profited from the devastating Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628 which left both the Roman and the Persian empires weaker than ever before.
Social policies 
During his reign, Abu Bakr established the Bayt al-Mal (state treasury). Umar expanded the treasury and established government building to administer the state finances.
Upon conquest, in almost all cases, the caliphs were burdened with the maintenance and construction of roads and bridges in return for the conquered nation's political loyalty.
Civil activities 
Civil welfare in Islam started in the form of the construction and purchase of wells. During the Caliphate, the Muslims repaired many of the aging wells in the lands they conquered.
In addition to wells, the Muslims built many tanks and canals. Many canals were purchased, and new ones constructed. While some canals were excluded for the use of monks (such as a spring purchased by Talha), and the needy, most canals were open to general public use. Some canals were constructed between settlements, such as the Saad canal that provided water to Anbar, and the Abi Musa Canal to providing water to Basra.
During a famine, Umar ibn al-Khattab ordered the construction of a canal in Egypt connecting the Nile with the sea. The purpose of the canal was to facilitate the transport of grain to Arabia through a sea-route, hitherto transported only by land. The canal was constructed within a year by Amr bin al Aas, and Abdus Salam Nadiv writes, Arabia was rid of famine for all the times to come."
The area of Basra was very sparsely populated when it was conquered by the Muslims. During the reign of Umar, the Muslim army found it a suitable place to construct a base. Later the area was settled and a mosque was erected.
Upon the conquest of Madyan, it was settled by Muslims. However, soon the environment was considered harsh and Umar ordered the resettlement of the 40,000 settlers to Kufa. The new buildings were constructed from mud bricks, instead of reeds, a material that was popular in the region, but caught fire easily.
During the conquest of Egypt the area of Fustat was used by the Muslim army as a base. Upon the conquest of Alexandria, the Muslims returned and settled in the same area. Initially the land was primarily used for pasture, but later buildings were constructed.
Muslim views 
The first four caliphs are particularly significant to modern intra-Islamic debates: for Sunni Muslims, they are models of righteous rule; for Shia Muslims, the first three of the four were usurpers. It is prudent to note here that accepted traditions of both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims detail disagreements and tensions between the four rightly guided caliphs.
Sunni perspectives 
They are called so because they have been seen as model Muslim leaders by Sunni Muslims. This terminology came into a general use around the world, since Sunni Islam has been the dominant Islamic tradition, and for a long time it has been considered the most authoritative source of information about Islam in the Western world.
They were all close companions of Muhammad, and his relatives: the daughters of Abu Bakr and Umar were married to Muhammad, and three of Muhammad's daughters were married to Uthman and Ali. Likewise, their succession was not hereditary, something that would become the custom after them, beginning with the subsequent Umayyad Caliphate. Council decision or caliph's choice determines the successor originally.
Shi'a tradition 
According to Shi'a Islam, the first caliph should have been Ali followed by the Shi'a Imams. Shi'a Muslims support this claim with the Hadith of the pond of Khumm. Another reason for this support for Ali as the first caliph is because he had the same relationship to Muhammad as Aaron had to Moses. Starting with Muhammad to Ali to the grandsons of Muhammad, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali (Muhammad had no surviving sons of his own) and so on.
The Shi'a also argue that if all of these four caliphs were rightly guided, then there should not have been disagreements and differences between them with anything regarding religious jurisprudence and meanings.
The Shi'a also argue that if one follows Sunni thought that a Rashidun Caliph's laws and opinions are always correct, then when Abu Bakr goes against the Sunnah of the Prophet he is still right (like usurping the caliphate and taking fadak). And when Umar does something that contradicts Abu Bakr and the Prophet's sunnah (i.e. institute taraweeh, edit the adhan, ban hadiths of the Prophet, ban mu'tah which is in the Quran etc.) then Umar is to be followed. And when Uthman contradicts the Prophet's sunnah and his two predecessors (such as bringing Hakam ibn Aas, and Marwan in Hakam back and putting them in power, even though the Prophet exiled them) then Uthman is to be followed. Shias argue that since the last of the Sunni Rashidun caliphs is Ali, they should follow him because he went against the ways of Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman, and strictly followed the sunnah of the Prophet.
Please note that the years of Caliphs succession do not necessarily fall on the first day of the new year.
See also 
- Taraweeh: 8 or 20?
- , from Encyclopædia Britannica
- Juan Eduardo Campo, "Encyclopedia of Islam", Infobase Publishing, 2009 
- Ibn Kathir, "al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah", part 7.
- Ahmed, Nazeer, Islam in Global History: From the Death of Prophet Muhammad to the First World War, American Institute of Islamic History and Cul, 2001, p. 34. ISBN 0-7388-5963-X.
- Hourani, p. 23.
- Ochsenweld, William; Fisher, Sydney Nettleton (2004). The Middle East: a history (sixth ed.). New York: McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-07-244233-6.
- Shi'a: 'Ali
- Lapidus (2002), p.47
- Holt (1977a), pp. 70-72
- Tabatabaei (1979), pp.50-57
- Nadvi (2000), pg. 411
- Nadvi (2000), pg. 408
- Nadvi (2000), pg. 403-4
- Nadvi (2000), pg. 405-6
- Nadvi (2000), pg. 407-8
- Nadvi (2000), pg. 416-7
- Nadvi (2000), pg. 418
Media related to Rashidun Caliphs at Wikimedia Commons