How did the Rashidun Caliphate end?

History Contributor
Rashidun Caliphate
© Serturvetan | 2 2

Al-Khalufa ar-Rasidun is one of the most important names in the history of Islamic religion. Known in English as the Rashidun Caliphate, it marks the territory over which Islam spread rapidly following the passing away of Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE. It was the first caliphate established. Over the following quarter of a century the territory of the Rashidun Caliphate increased significantly through the military expeditions of over 100,000 brave men.

Rise of Rashidun Caliphate

Following a debate over who should succeed Prophet Muhammad in terms of managing the affairs of the Muslims, Abu Bakr Abdullah Ibn Uthman (RA) was selected as the first Khalifatu Rasuli l-Lah, or Caliph. The Prophets close companions, such as Umar Ibn al-Khattab and Abu Ubaidah Ibn al-Jarrah declared their support to Caliph Abu Bakr. He received almost universal support of the influential leaders among the Muslims, and thus strengthened, quickly focused on the task of spreading the religion far and wide.

The road was far from flower strewn for the first Caliph. Abu Bakr soon faced apostasy in various forms among several tribes in the Arabian Peninsula itself. Therefore, the first task of the Caliph was to subdue these rebels, some of whom had gone to the extent of declaring themselves as prophets, and stabilize the political state of the Caliphate. It took him nearly an year to succeed in this mission. By March 633 CE, however, Abu Bakr was accepted as the undisputed leader in the Arabian Peninsular.

Having secured his base at home territory Abu Bakr set out to expand the territory of the Caliphate, thus spreading the message of Islam far and wide. Although the first Caliph was to live only another year, by 634 his armies had succeeded in subjugating Syria, expelling the Romans from the territory, and taking control large parts of the Sassanian empire.

Succession of second caliph

Upon the death of the first Caliph, following the wish of the departed Umar (Ra) was selected to succeed him. Assuming his responsibilities the second caliph promptly followed the course begun by his predecessor, and started vigorous campaigns to expand the Caliphate. Over the next decade Umar’s astute leadership brought Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and the entire Sassanian empire was brought under the control of the Rashidun Caliphate. Having built a vast Caliphate in terms of territory by 643 CE, Umar now focused on creating a firm edifice for its governance. He created a Diwan, a sort of a cabinet, to manage the affairs of the state. In another significant reform Caliph Umar brought the military directly under state control, being paid by the government. The heroic Caliph was sadly assassinated in 644 by Piruz Nahavandi, a Sassanian soldier captured earlier.

Crushed under rebellion

After Umar’s death Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law and close companion Uthman or Osman Ibn Affan (RA) was elected to be the third Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate. Uthman remained Caliph for fourteen years, and soon after assuming charges became extremely popular across the Caliphate. He ensured peace and stability on the one hand, and on the other continued to expand his territory. Much of north Africa was integrated into the Caliphate expelling the Byzantines, and Rhodes, Cyprus and coastal areas of the Iberian Peninsula was subjugated. Theocratically, one of Uthman’s major achievement was the compilation of the Holy Quran with diacritics, making it easy for non-Arabic people to read it. Unfortunately, Uthman was assassinated by a group of rebels in 1656.

Following Uthman, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, yet another close companion, cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, became the fourth Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate. However, his reign was beset with internal strife right from the beginning. The Caliphate rapidly began to disintegrate in the hit and dust of ceaseless civil war. Within five years he was assassinated in 661 CE. He was succeeded by Hasan Ibn Ali very briefly, and his assassination in the same year marked the end of the Rashidun Caliphate.


(Wriiten by Author and Translator Nilanjan Hajra)