Sunday 19 March 2017

Rashidun Caliphate

The Rashidun Caliphate was the Islamic caliphate in the earliest period of Islam, comprising the first five caliphs—the "Rightly Guided" or Rashidun caliphs. It was founded after Muhammad's death in 632 CE. At its height, the Caliphate controlled an empire from the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant, to the Caucasus in the north, North Africa from Egypt to present-day Tunisia in the west, and the Iranian plateau to Central Asia in the east.

Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem 

After Muhammad's death in 632 CE, Abu Bakr thus became the first caliph. 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. He was caliph for only 2 years before he died.

Abu Bakr mosque, Medina

Abu Bakr began his conquest with Iraq, the richest province of the Sasanian Empire. He sent general Khalid ibn Walid to invade the Sasanianan 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.

Roman Theater in Syria

On the death of Abu Bakr in 634, Umar was made the caliph. 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. By 640, he had brought all of Mesopotamia and Ash-Sham (the region of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine) under the control of the Rashidun Caliphate; Egypt was conquered by 642, and the entire Persian Empire by 643.

The name of Umar with Islamic calligraphy

Umar created the Diwan, a bureau for transacting government affairs. The military was brought directly under state control and into its pay. 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.

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Medina

Umar was killed in an assassination by the Persian slave Piruz Nahavandi during morning prayers in 644 in response to Muslim conquest of Persia. Before 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. And the decision was made that Uthman be the next Caliph.

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 Rhodes and Cyprus. Also coastal Sicily was raided in 652. The Rashidun army fully conquered the Sasanian Empire, and its eastern frontiers extended up to the lower Indus River. Caliph Uthman was assassinated in 656 CE.

Tomb of Caliph Uthman

After the assassination of the third Caliph, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, the Companions of Muhammad in Medina selected ‘Ali to be the new Caliph who had been passed over for the leadership three times since the death of Muhammad

The Investiture of Ali, at Ghadir Khumm

In 661 ACE, ‘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, though they failed to assassinate Mu‘awiyah(kinsman of ‘Uthman and governor of the province of Ash-Sham) Mu‘awiyah thus gained control of the Caliphate, and founded the Umayyad Dynasty, marking the end of the Rashidun Caliphate.


As most of the administrative structure of the Rashidun 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 Islam.

A Muslim elite soldier equipped for infantry warfare. 

The 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 Rashidun Caliphate the maximum size of the army was around 100,000 troops.

The cavalry had both horses and camels. The cavalry was the army’s main striking force and also served as a strategic mobile reserve. The common tactic used 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.

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