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The Rashidun Caliphate ( ), comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632. At its height, the borders of the Caliphate extended throughout North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Iranianmarker highlands.


After Muhammad's death in 632, the Medinanmarker Ansar debated which of them should succeed the Prophet in running the affairs of the Muslims while the household of the prophet was busy in his burial. 'Umar (who is from Quraish) and Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah pledged their loyalty to Abu Bakr, with the Ansar and Quraish soon following suit. Abu Bakr thus became the first Khalifa Rasul Allah (Successor of the Messenger of God), and embarked on campaigns to propagate the Muslim Religion and Deliver the Message of God.

Expansion of Rashidun Caliphate.

First, though, he would have to subdue the Arabian tribes which had gone back on their oaths of allegiance to Islam and the Islamic community. As a Khalifa or Caliph he was not a monarch and never claimed such a title nor did his three successors do so. They lived in a humble house, milked sheep and goats and roamed in public without any guards and rested sitting beneath a tree when tired. The Ummayyad and Abbasids also did not claim such a title but treated themselves as one.

See also: Succession to Muhammad.

Early history

Succession of Abu Bakr

Troubles emerged soon after Abu Bakr's succession, threatening the unity and stability of the new community and state. Apostasy had actually begun in the lifetime of Muhammad, and the first major action of the apostasy was fought and satisfactorily concluded while Muhammad still lived. But the real and most serious danger of apostasy arose after Muhammad's death, when a wild wave of disbelief-after-belief moved across the expanse of Arabia and had to be tackled by Abu Bakr.

The first major event of the apostasy occurred in the Yemenmarker and is known as the Incident of Aswad Al Ansi, he was killed on May 30, 632 (the 6th of Rabi-ul-Awwal, 11 Hijri) by a Persian Muslim governor of Yemenmarker Firoz. the news of his assassination reach shortly after the death of Muhammad. The chief cause of the apostasy was lack of true faith. Most of the tribes, converted in the ninth and tenth years of the , had taken to Islam for political reasons.

The apostasy had become so general that it affected every tribe in Arabia with the exception of the people in Meccamarker and Medinamarker and the tribe of Thaqeef at Taifmarker. In some cases the entire tribe apostatised. Many had to pay with their lives for their faith. Some withheld the zakat, the alms tax, though they did not otherwise challenge Islam. Many tribal leaders made claims to prophethood, some like Musaylima made it during the life time of Muhammad. The tribes claimed that they had submitted to Muhammad and that with Muhammad's death, their allegiance was ended. Abu Bakr insisted that they had not just submitted to a leader but joined the Muslim religious community, of which he was the new head. Apostasy is a capital offense under traditional interpretations of Islamic law, and Abu Bakr declared war on the rebels.

This was the start of the Ridda wars (Arabic for the Wars of Apostasy). The apostasy of central Arabia was led by self-proclaimed prophet Musaylima, while the other centers were to the south and east in Bahrainmarker, Omanmarker, Mahra and Yemenmarker. Abu Bakr planned his strategy accordingly. He formed the Muslim army into several corps. The strongest corps, and this was the main punch of the Muslims, was the corps of Khalid ibn Walid. This 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. Abu Bakr's plan was first to clear the area of West and Central Arabia (the area nearest Madinahmarker), then tackle Malik ibn Nuwayrah, and finally concentrate against the most dangerous enemy Musaylima. After series of successful campaigns Khalid ibn Walid finally defeated Musaylima in the Battle of Yamama. The Campaign of the Apostasy was fought and completed during the eleventh year of the Hijri. The year 12 Hijri dawned, on March 18, 633, with Arabia united under the central authority of the Caliph at Madinahmarker.According to the Sunni Muslims, by putting down these larger insurrections and defeating the rival prophets among the Bedouin tribes, Abu Bakr was able to solidify the rest of Arabia under Islam, and basically rescue Islam.

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 Iraqmarker, the richest province of Persian empire. He sent his most brilliant general Khalid ibn Walid to invade the Persian empire in 633. He thereafter also sent 4 armies to invade Roman Syria, but decisive operation was only undertaken when Khalid, after completing the conquest of Iraq was transferred to Syrian front in 634.

Succession of Umar

Abu Bakr desired Umar to be his successor and he persuaded the most powerful of the followers of Muhammad to go along. Umar was gifted both militarily and politically.
Abu Bakr 632 634
Umar 634 644
Usman 644 656
Ali 656 661
Umar continued the war of conquests begun by Abu Bakr. He pressed into the Sassanid Persian Empire itself, but he also headed north into Syriamarker and Byzantine territory and west into Egyptmarker. These were some of the richest regions in the world guarded by powerful states, but a lengthy war between the Byzantines and Sassanids had left both states militarily exhausted. Islamic forces easily prevailed in war against the two states. By 640, Islamic military campaigns had brought all of Mesopotamia, Syriamarker and Palestine under the control of Rashidun Caliphate. Egypt was conquered by 642 and the entire Persian Empire by 643.

Umar, however, was one of the great political geniuses of history. While the empire was expanding at a mind-numbing rate beneath his leaderhsip, he also began to build the foundations for a political structure that would hold it together. Umar did not require that non-Muslim populations convert to Islam nor did he try to centralize government, as the Persian had done. Instead, he allowed subject populations to retain their religion, language, custom, and government relatively untouched. The only intrusion would be a governor (amir) and a financial officer called an amil.

Umar's most far-reaching innovations were in the area of building a financial structure to the empire. He understood that the most important aspect of the empire was a stable financial structure for the government. To this end, he built an efficient system of taxation and brought the military directly under the financial control of the state. He also founded the Diwan, a unique Islamic institution. The diwan consisted of individuals that were important to the Islamic faith and the Islamic world, such as the companions of Muhammad. Their contribution to the faith was so great that they were given pensions on which to live, which freed them up to pursue religious and ethical studies, and thus provide spiritual leadership to the rest of the Islamic world.

Umar established many Islamic traditions, including the process of collating the Quran. Among his most lasting traditions was the establishment of the Muslim calendar. Like the Arabian calendar, it remained a lunar calendar, but Umar set the beginning of the calendar to the year in which Muhammad emigrated to Medinamarker. This, as far as Umar was concerned, was the turning point in Islamic history.

Umar was mortally wounded in an assassination attempt by the Persian slave Abu Lulu Fieroz, during morning prayers in 644. Before he died, Umar appointed a committee of six men to decide on the next caliph—they were charged to choose one of their own number.

Election of Uthman

All of the men, like 'Umar, were from the tribe of Quraish the Ansar, had been gradually shut out of power.

This committee would prove to be pivotal, for on its choice would eventually grow Islam's first schism. The committee narrowed down the choices to two: 'Uthman and 'Ali. 'Ali was from Bani Hashim (the same tribe as Muhammad), and he was the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad and had been a companion to the prophet from the inception of his mission. He may also have been named by Muhammad as a successor. Uthman was from Umayyad clan of Quraish, and was also seen as a son-in-law of Mohammad, and was one of the wealthy men of his time.

Uthman, however, was a supremely practical military and political leader while 'Ali was fervently devout religious disciple.

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 constellated around Ali, who would, albeit briefly, succeed Uthman as caliph.Despite internal troubles, Uthman continued the wars of conquest so brilliantly carried out by 'Umar. The Rashidun army conquered North Africa from the Byzantines and even raided Spainmarker, conquering the coastal areas of the Iberian peninsulamarker, as well as the islands of Rhodesmarker, Sicily and Cyprusmarker. The Rashidun army fully conquered the Sassanid Persian Empire, and its eastern frontiers extended up to the lower Indus Rivermarker.Uthman's greatest and most lasting achievement was the formal rescension of the Qur'an.[[File:Mohammad adil rais-Rashidun Caliphate-different phases.gif|thumb|right|300px|Domains of Rashidun Caliphate under four caliphs.


Until 'Uthman, the Qur'an was largely an oral text that was recited by followers who had memorized it. The wars of conquest, however, had thinned their ranks, and the introduction of foreign peoples into Islam threatened the integrity of the text as an Arabic text. So 'Uthman ordered that all versions, written and oral, be collected together and a definitive version written down. It is this definitive version which became the central text of Islam and the bedrock on which all Islamic history would be built. Unrest grew steadily and precipitously. His government mishandled finances in the empire. In 656, rebels entered Madinahmarker, and a riot broke out there. The rebels then laid siege to Uthman's house.

Siege of Uthman

Uthman refused to initiate any military action to avoid civil war between Muslims, and preferred negotiations. His polite attitude towards rebels emboldened them and they broke into Uthman's house and killed him while he was reading the Qur'an.

Crisis and fragmentation

After the assassination of the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, the Companions of Muhammad in Medinamarker selected Ali to be the new Caliph. 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. Ali then transferred his capital from Medina to Kufamarker, the Muslim garrison city in what is now Iraqmarker. The capital of the province of Syriamarker, Damascusmarker, was held by Mu'awiyah, the governor of Syriamarker and a kinsman of Uthman, Ali's slain predecessor. Uthman's death was ironic for many reasons, including the fact that he was the first Islamic caliph to be killed by fellow Muslims. Following the assassination of Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, the first Muslim civil war started, which continued during the brief caliphate of Ali ibn Abu Talib, and ended, on the whole, by Mu'awiya's assumption of the caliphate, an event which then laid the foundation of the Umayyad Empire. This civil war is often called the Fitna, and regretted as the end of the early unity of the Islamic ummah (nation).

In 656, after Uthman ibn Affan was murdered by a group of rebels as he sat reading the Qur'an in his home in Medinamarker, the city fell into chaos and uproar. Citizens flocked to Ali ibn Abu Talib, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, and a respected community leader who had been passed over for the leadership three times since the death of Muhammad. They then urged him to take the caliphate. Initially reluctant due to the circumstances of the caliph's death, he eventually chose to accept.

Ali then had to fight against numerous challengers to his rule. The cry of revenge of the blood of Caliph Uthman grew, and a large army of the Muslims led by Zubayrmarker, Talha and the widow of Muhammad, Ayesha set for revenge from the rebels. As the rebels gathered from Egyptmarker, Kufamarker and Basramarker, their first objective was Basra. The army reached Basra and captured it, 4000 suspected seditionists were assassinated. Ali who had already transferred his capital from Madinah to Kufa, turned towards Basra and a battle was fought between the Caliph Ali's army and the army of Muslims who demanded revenge of Uthman. Though neither Ali nor the leaders of the opposing army Talha and Zubayrmarker wanted to fight, a fight broke out suddenly at night between 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 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. After the Caliphate had won and the dispute was settled, Ali sent his son Hassan ibn Ali to escort Ayesha back to Madinahmarker. The eminent companions of Mohammad, Talha and Zubayrmarker were killed in the battle after they withdrew from the battlefield refusing to fight against Muslims.

After this dark episode of Islamic history, another cry for revenge for the blood of Uthman rose. This time it was by Mu'awiya, kinsmen of Uthman and governor of province of Syria. However it is regarded as more an attempt of assuming the caliphate by Mu'awiya than to take revenge for Uthman's murder from the rebels. Ali fought Uthman's kinsman Mu'awiya, the governor of Syriamarker, at the Battle of Siffin to a stalemate and then lost a controversial arbitration; and he fought his own mutinous soldiers (the first Kharijites). Large sections of the new empire created in the twenty-four years (632-656) were lost due to the civil war, like Sicily, North Africa, coastal areas of Spainmarker and some forts in Anatoliamarker. But Byzantines tended not to re-capture their lost land, particularly areas in the western empire. According to Muslim history, Mu'awiya sent a letter to the Byzantine emperor threatening him not to reclaim Islamic lands or Mu'awiya would make peace with his kinsmen (referring to Ali) and they would both together destroy the Byzantine Empire.

In 661 CE, Ali was assassinated in the Mosque of Kufa by Ibn Muljam, a relative of one of the rebel soldiers he had defeated and killed. His last words were "Fuztu wa rabb al-Ka'bah" - meaning By The Lord of the Ka'bah, I have succeeded.

His son Hasan ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, briefly assumed the caliphate upon being appointed by Ali, but realized that he could not prevail. He came to an agreement with Mu'awiya, of which various accounts are given, while Mu'awiya assumed control of the empire and founded the Umayyad Empire, with it the Rashidun Caliphate dismantled.

Military expansion

The Rashidun empire expanded gradually, with the time span of 24 years of conquest a vast territory was occupied comprising North Africa, the Middle East, Transoxiana, the Caucasus, most of Anatoliamarker, the whole of the Sassanid Persian empire, the Greater Khorasan, the islands of Cyprusmarker, Rhodesmarker and Sicily, Iberian Peninsulamarker were invaded, and Baluchistanmarker was conquered, its eastern frontiers reaching the lower Indus rivermarker in subcontinent and western frontiers up to the Atlantic Oceanmarker.

The Islamic Invasion of Sassanid Persia resulted in the conquest of whole of the Sassanid Persian empire, because the Persians declined to submit and continued striving to re-capture their lost territory. Unlike the Sassanid Persians, the Byzantines after losing Syriamarker, then retreated back up to western Anatoliamarker and as a result, also lost Egyptmarker, North Africa, Sicily, Cyprusmarker, Rhodesmarker and part of the Iberian peninsulamarker to the invading 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 Persian empire

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's conquest of Iraq.
The first Islamic invasion of Sassanid Persian empire was launched by Caliph Abu Bakr in 633 was a swift conquest in the time span of only 4 months led by legendary general Khalid ibn Walid. Abu Bakr sent his most brilliant general Khalid to conquer Mesopotamia after the Ridda wars. After entering Iraqmarker with his army of 18,000, Khalid won decisive victories in four consecutive battles: Battle of Chains, fought in April 633; Battle of River, fought in the 3rd week of April 633; Battle of Walaja, fought in May 633 (where he successfully used a double envelopment manoeuvre), and Battle of Ullais, fought in the mid of May, 633 . In the last week of May 633 , the capital city of Iraq fell to the Muslims after resistance in the Battle of Hira.

After resting his armies, Khalid moved in June 633 towards Al Anbarmarker, 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 got a call of help from northern Arabia at daumat-ul-jandal, where another Muslim Arab general, Ayaz bin Ghanam, 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 CE. Returning from Arabia, he got news of the assembling of a large Persian army. Within a few weeks, he decided to defeat them all separately to avoid the risk of defeat to 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 in three units, and decided to attack these auxiliaries one by one from three different sides at night, starting from the Battle of Muzieh, then the Battle of Sanni, and finally the Battle of Zumail. In November 633 CE, Khalid defeated those armies in his series of three sided attacks at night. These devastating defeats ended Persian control over Iraq. In December 633 CE, Khalid reached the border city of Firaz, where he defeated the combined forces of the Sassanid Persians, Byzantine Romans and Christian Arabs in the Battle of Firaz. This was the last battle in his conquest of Iraq.

After this conquest, Khalid left Mesopotamia to lead another campaign at Syria against the Roman Empire, after which Mithna ibn Haris took command in Mesopotamia. Persians once again concentrated armies to regain the lost Mesopotamia, Mithna ibn Haris withdraw from the central Iraq to the region near Arabian desert to delay war until reinforcement comes from Madinahmarker. Caliph Umar sent reinforcement under the command of Abu Ubaidah Saqfi with some initial success this army was finally defeated by Sassanid army at the Battle of the Bridge in which Abu Ubaid was killed. The other whole scale invasion was delayed until after a decisive Muslim victory against the Romans in Levant at the Battle of Yarmuk in 636, caliph Umar, was able to transfer forces to the east and resume the offensive against the Sassanids. The Caliph Umar dispatched 36,000 men along with 7500 troops from Syrian front, under the command of Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās against the Persian army. The Battle of al-Qādisiyyahmarker 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.

Following the Battle, the Arab Muslim armies pushed forward toward the Persian capital of Ctesiphonmarker (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 space of time, the Arab armies defeated a major Sāsānian counter-attack in the Battle of Jalūlā', as well as other engagements at Qasr-e Shirinmarker, and Masabadhan. By the mid-7th Century, the Arabs controlled all of Mesopotamia, including the area that is now the Iranian province of Khuzestanmarker. It is said that the caliph Umar did not wish to send his troops through the Zagros mountainsmarker 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 an incitement to revolt in the conquered territories and unlike Byzantine army, the Sassanid army was continuously striving to regain their lost territories. Finally Umar decided to push his forces for further conquests, which eventually resulted in the whole scale conquest of Sassanid Persian empire. Yazdegerd, the Sassanid king, made yet another effort to regroup and defeat the invaders. By 641 he had raised a new force, which took a stand at Battle of Nihawānd, some forty miles south of Hamadanmarker in modern Iranmarker. Rashidun Caliphate army under the command of Umar's appointed general Nu'man ibn Muqarrin al-Muzani, attacked and again defeated the Persian forces. Muslims recognized it as the Victory of victories (Fath alfotuh) as it marked the End of the Sassanids, shattering the last strongest Sassanid army.
 was unable to raise another army and became a hunted fugitive. In 642, Caliph Umar sent the army to conquer the whole of the Persian empire. The whole of present day Iranmarker was conquered, followed by the conquest of Greater Khorasan (which included modern Iranian Khorasan province and modern Afghanistanmarker), Transoxania, and Balochistan, Makran, Azerbaijanmarker, Dagestanmarker (Russiamarker), Armeniamarker and Georgiamarker, these regions were mostly re-conquered during Caliph Uthman’s reign with further expansion in the region which were not conquered during Umar’s reign, and the Rashidun Caliphate’s frontiers in the east extended up to lower river Indusmarker and up to Oxus Rivermarker in the north.

Wars against the Byzantine empire

Conquest of Byzantine Syria

Map detailing Rashidun Caliphates invasion of Levant.
After, Khalid captured Iraq and firmly controlled it, Abu Bakr send armies to Syria on Byzantine front. Four armies were sent under four different commanders, Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah acting their supreme commander, Amr ibn al-As, Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan and Shurhabil ibn Hasana. These armies were assigned their objectives. However their advance was halt by concentration of Byzantine army at Ajnadayn. Abu Ubaidah send for reinforcement. Abu Bakr ordered Khalid, who by now was planning to attack Ctesiphonmarker, to march to Syria with half of his army of Iraq. Khalid took hald of his army and rather took a unconventional route to Syria. There were 2 major routes to Syria from Iraq, one passing through Mesopotamia and other one via Daumat ul jandal. Khalid took his route through Syrian Desert, and after a perilous march of 5 days, appeared in north-western Syria.The border forts of Sawa, Arak, Tadmurmarker, Sukhnahmarker. Qaryatayn and Hawarin were first to fell to invading Muslims. Khalid marched to Bosramarker via Damascusmarker road. At Bosra Corps of Abu Ubaidah and Shurhabil joined Khalid, here as per orders of Caliph Abu Bakr Khalid took 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, (seeBattle of Bosra) this effectively ending the Ghassanid Dynasty.
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria.
From Bosra Khalid send orders to other corps comamnders to join him at Ajnadayn, where accodring to early Muslim historians 90,000 Byzantinea army was concentrated to push back Muslims. The figures, however. are not reliable. The Byzantine army was defeated decisively on 30 July 634 in Battle of Ajnadaynmarker, it was the first major pitched battle between Muslim army and Byzantine army and cleared the way for Muslims to capture central Syria. Damascusmarker the Byzantine stronghold was conquered shortly after it on 19 September 634 after Conquest of Damascus, the Byzantine army was given a deadline of 3 days to go as far as they can, with their families and treasure, or simply agree to stay in Damascus and pay tribute.
After the three days deadline was over, the Muslim cavalry under Khalid's command attacked the Roman army by catching up to them using an unknown shortcut at battle of Maraj-al-Debaj.

On 22 August 634, Caliph Abu Bakr died, making Umar his successor. As Umar became caliph, he relieved Khalid from commanding the Islamic armies and appointed Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah as the new commander of Muslim army, the conquest of Syria slow down under him and Abu-Ubaida relied heavily on the advice of Khalid, and he kept beside him as much as possible.

The last large garrison of Byzantine army was at Fahl, which was joined by survivors of Ajnadayn. With this threat at their rear Muslim armies could not more north or south, Thus Abu Ubaidah decided to deal with it, this garrison defeated and routed at Battle of Fahl on 23rd of January 635. This battle proved to be the Key to Palestine. After this battle Abu Ubaidah and Khalid marched north towards Emesamarker, Yazid was stationed in Damascus while Amr and Shurhabil marched south to capture Palestine.

While Muslims were at Fahl, sensing the weak defense of Damascus, Emperor Heraclius sent an army to capture Damascus. This army however couldn't make it to Damascus and was intercepted by Abu Ubaidah and Khalid on their way to Emesa. This army was routed and destroyed in the Battles of battle of Maraj-al-Rome and 2nd battle of Damascus. Emesa and strategical town of Chalcismarker made peace with Muslims for one year, this was, in fact, to let Heraclius to prepare for defances and raise armies. Muslims welcomed the peace and consolidated their control over the conquered territory. As soon as Muslims got the news of reinforcement being send to Emesa and Chalcis, They marched against Emesa and laid siege to it, Emesa was captured in march 636.

Map detailing the route of Muslim's invasion of central Syria.
These prisoners informed him about Emperor Heraclius's final effort to take back Syria. They told him that an army possibly two hundred thousand (200,000) strong would soon emerge to recapture their territory. Khalid stopped there on June 636. This huge army set out for their destination. As soon as Abu Ubaida got the news, he gathered all his officers to plan their next move. Khalid suggested that they should call all of their forces present in Syria (Syria, Jordan, Palestine) to make a powerful joint force and then move towards the plain of for the 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 Yarmuk. The Muslim armies reached there in July 636. A week or two later, around mid July, the Byzantine army arrived. Khalid's Mobile guard defeated Christian Arab auxiliaries of the Roman army in a skirmish.
Map detailing the route of Muslim's invasion of northern Syria.
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 Byzantine army was defeated on October 636 CE. Abu Ubaida held a meeting with his high command officers, including Khalid to decide of future conquests. They decided to conquer Jerusalemmarker. The siege of Jerusalem lasted four months after which the city agreed to surrender, but only to caliph Umar Ibn Al Khattab in person. Amr-bin al-eas suggested that Khalid should be sent as caliph, because of his very strong resemblance with Caliph Umar.

Khalid was recognized and eventually, Caliph Umar Ibn Al Khattab came and the 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 to northern Syriamarker once again to conquer them with a 17,000 strong army. Khalid along with his cavalry was sent to Hazir and Abu Ubaidah moved to Qasreen city.

Khalid defeated a strong Byzantine army in the Battle of Hazir and reached Qinasareen before Abu Ubaidah. The city surrendered to Khalid. Soon, Abu Ubaidah arrived in June 637. Abu Ubaidah then moved against Aleppomarker. As usual Khalid was commanding the cavalry. After the Battle of Aleppo the city finally agreed to surrender in October 637.

Occupation of Anatolia

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria.
Abu Ubaida and Khalid ibn Walid, after conquering all of the northern Syria, moved north towards Anatoliamarker conquering the fort of Azazmarker to 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 Iron bridge. The Muslim army defeated the Byzantine army and Antiochmarker surrendered on 30 October 637 CE. Later within the year, Abu Ubaida sent Khalid and another general Ayaz bin Ghanam at the head of two separate armies against western part of most of which was conquered with out strong resistance, including parts of Anatolia, Edessamarker and area up to Ararat plain. Other columns were sent to Anatoliamarker up to as west as Taurus Mountainsmarker, the important city of Anatolia, Marashmarker, Malatyamarker were conquered By Khalid in autumn 638. During Uthman’s reign, Byzantines recaptured many fort in the region and on Uthman's orders, series of campaigns were launched to regain control of the region. In 647 Muawiyah the governor of Syria sent an expedition against the Anatolia, they entered in Cappadociamarker, and sacked Caesarea Mazacamarker. In 648 the Rashidun army raided into Phrygia. A major offensive into Cilicia and Isauria in 650–651 forced the Byzantine emperor Constans II to enter into negotiations with Caliph Uthman's governor of Syriamarker, Muawiyah.The truce that followed allowed a short respite, and made it possible for Constans II to hold on to the western portions of Armeniamarker. In 654–655 on the orders of Caliph Uthman, an expedition was preparing to attack the Byzantine capital Constantinopolemarker but did not carry out the plan due to the civil war that broke out in 656.The Taurus Mountainsmarker in Turkey marked the western most frontiers of Rashidun Caliphate in Anatolia during Caliph Uthman's reign.

Conquest of Egypt

Map detailing the route of Muslim's invasion of Egypt.
At the commencement of the Muslim conquest of Egypt, Egyptmarker was part of the Byzantine Empire with its capital in Constantinoplemarker. However, it had been occupied just a decade before by the Persian Empire under Khosrau II (616 to 629 AD). The power of Byzantine empire was shattered during the Muslim conquest of Syria, and therefore the conquest of Egypt was much easier. In 639, some 4,000 Rashidun troops led by Amr ibn al-As, was sent by the Caliph Umar to conquer the land of the ancient pharaohs. The Rashidun Caliphate army crossed into Egypt from Palestine in December 639 and advanced rapidly into the Nile Deltamarker. 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 Alexandriamarker, which was surrendered to him by a treaty signed on November 8, 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 [405660], Melchite (i.e., Byzantine/Chalcedonian Orthodox, not Coptic) Patriarch of Alexandria, and the incompetence of the generals of the Byzantine forces, and due to lost of most of Byzantine troops in Syriamarker 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 secretly a convert to Islam.

During the reign of Caliph Uthman, an attempt was made in the year 645 to regain 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, the Christian inhabitants of Egypt were excused 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 Caliph Ali the Egypt was captured by the 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 Sbeitla (Sufetula)
After the withdrawal of the Byzantines from Egyptmarker, the Exarchate of Africa had declared its independence under its exarch, Gregory the Patrician. The dominions of Gregory extended from the borders of Egyptmarker to Moroccomarker. Abdullah Ibn Sa'ad use 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 Majlis al shura, a force of 10,000 soldiers was sent as reinforcement. The Rashidun army assembled in Barqa in Cyrenaica, from there they marched west to capture Tripolimarker, after Tripoli they the army marched to Sufetulamarker the capital of King Gregory, he was defeated and killed in the battle due to superb tactics used by Abdullah ibn Zubayr. After the 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. Ummayad Caliphate, re invaded north Africa in 664.

Campaign against Nubia (Sudan)
At Meroë, in the Sudan, pyramids of the Kushite rulers
A campaign was undertaken against Nubia during the Caliphate of Umar in 642, but failed after the Makurian 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 Dongolamarker. 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 Mediterranean Sea

During Umar's reign, the governor of Syria, Muawiyah I, sent a request to build a naval force to invade the islands of the Mediterranean Seamarker but 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 closely. In 650 AD Arabs made the first attack on the island of Cyprusmarker 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 the Prophet, Umm-Haram fell from her mule near the Salt Lake at Larnacamarker and was killed. She was buried in that spot which became a holy site for both Muslims and Christians and, much later in 1816, the Hala Sultan Tekkemarker was built there by the Ottomans. After apprehending a breach of the treaty, the Arabs re-invaded the island in 654 AD with five hundred ships. This time, however, a garrison of 12,000 men was left in Cyprus, bringing the island under Muslim influence. After leaving Cyprus the Muslim fleet headed towards the island of Cretemarker and then Rhodesmarker and plundered them with out much resistance. In 652-654, the Muslims lunched a naval campaign against Sicily and they succeeded in capturing a large part of the island. Soon after this Uthman was murdered, no further expansion was made, and the Muslims accordingly retreated from Sicily. In 655 Byzantine emperor Constans II led a fleet in person to attack the Muslims at Phoinikemarker (off Lycia) but it was defeated: 500 Byzantine ships were destroyed in the battlemarker, and the emperor himself narrowly avoided death.

First Muslim invasion of Iberian peninsula (Spain)

Rashidun Empire at its peak under third Rashidun Caliph, Uthman- 654
According to the general books of Islamic history the conquest of Spainmarker is attributed to Tariq ibn Ziyad and Musa ibn Nusair in 711 - 712 C.E, in the time of the Umayyad Caliph Walid ibn Abd al-Malik. According to Muslim historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Spainmarker was first invaded some sixty years earlier during the caliphate of Uthman in 653. Other promenient Muslim historians like Ibn Kathir also have quoted the same narration.According to the account of al-Tabari, when North Africa had been duly conquered by Abdullah Ibn Sa'ad, two of his generals, Abdullah ibn Nafiah ibn Husain, and Abdullah ibn Nafi' ibn Abdul Qais, were commissioned to invade coastal areas of Spainmarker by sea. On this occasion Uthman is reported to have addressed a letter to the invading force. In the course of the letter, Uthman said:

No details of the campaigns in Spain during the caliphate of Uthman are given by al-Tabari or by any other historian. The account of al-Tabari is merely to the effect that an Arab force aided by a Berber force landed in Spain, and succeeded in conquering coastal areas of Al-Andalusmarker. We do not know where the Muslim force landed, what resistance they met, and what parts of Spainmarker did they actually conquer. Anyhow it is clear that the Muslims did conquer some parts of Spain during the caliphate of Uthman. Presumably the Muslims established some colonies on the coastland of Spainmarker. There are reasons to presume that these Muslims entered into trade relations with the rest of Spain and other parts of Europe. The areas were lost shortly after because of the general disorder in the empire.

Treatment of Conquered Peoples

The non-Muslim inhabitants of the conquered lands were given the status of Dhimmi according to Islamic law. Those who accepted Islam were treated in a similar manner as other Muslims, and were given equivalent rights in legal matters.

Dhimmi peoples were allowed to "practice their religion, subject to certain conditions, and to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy" and were guaranteed their personal safety and security of property in return for paying tribute and acknowledging Muslim rule. Dhimmis were also subject to pay jizya and kharaj, which was considered material proof of their subjection. Historically, the Dhimmi people were not heavily taxed.The non-Muslims were given full permission to follow their own religions and there has been no signs regarding any forced conversions to Islam.Caliph Umar was the first Caliph to provide Allowance to non-Muslims after they reached old age. The very first Non-Muslim to receive pension from the Rashidun Administration was a Jew from the following documented record:`

This is how non-Muslims were being given relief from Jizya though Jizya was not abolished.

Political Administration

The basic administrative system Of Darul-Islamiah 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 Caliphate.Caliph Umar has been reported to say "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-mumineen (Umar farooq) If you are not straightened by our hands we will use our sword to straighten you" hearing this Caliph Umar said "alhumdulillah (Praise be to Allah) I have such Followers."

In the administrative field Caliph Umar was the most brilliant among the Rashidun Caliphs, it was his dazzling administrative qualities because of which the most of the administrative structure of the empire was thus established.Under Caliph Abu Bakr, the empire was not clearly divided into provinces, though it had many administrative districts, like:
  1. Meccamarker
  2. Madinahmarker
  3. Yemenmarker
  4. Bahrainmarker
  5. Iraqmarker

Under Umar the country was divided into a number of provinces which were as follows:
  1. Arabia was divided into two provinces, Meccamarker and Medinamarker;
  2. Iraqmarker was divided into two provinces, Basramarker and Kufamarker;
  3. the province of Jazira was created in the upper reaches of the Tigrismarker and the Euphrates;
  4. Syriamarker was a province;
  5. Palestine was divided in two provinces: Aylya and Ramlahmarker;
  6. Egyptmarker was divided into two provinces: Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt;
  7. Persiamarker was divided into three provinces: Khorasan, Azarbaijan, and Farsmarker.

In his testament, Caliph 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 latter he made some amendments. Uthman made Egypt one province and created a new province comprising North Africa. Syriamarker, previously divided into two provinces, also become a single division.During Uthman’s reign the empire was divided into twelve provinces. These were:
  1. Madinahmarker
  2. Makkahmarker
  3. Yemenmarker
  4. Kufamarker
  5. Basramarker
  6. Jazira
  7. Farsmarker
  8. Azerbaijanmarker
  9. Khurasan
  10. Syriamarker
  11. Egyptmarker
  12. North Africa
Fars Province landscape
Caliph Ali, during his reign, with the exception of Syriamarker (which was under Muawiyah I's control) and Egyptmarker (That he lost during late years of his caliphate to the rebel troops of Amr ibn Al-A'as), ruled all rest of ten provinces, which kept their administrative organization under Caliph Uthman.

The provinces were further divided into districts. The over 100 districts of the empire, along with the main cities, were administered by a Governor or Wāli. Other officers at the provincial level were:
  1. Katib, the Chief Secretary.
  2. Katib-ud-Diwan, the Military Secretary.
  3. Sahib-ul-Kharaj, the Revenue Collector.
  4. Sahib-ul-Ahdath, the Police chief.
  5. Sahib-ul-Bait-ul-Mal, the Treasury Officer.
  6. Qadi, the Chief Judge.

In some districts there were separate military officers, though the Governor (Wali) 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 them..

Umar's general instructions to his officers were:

During the reign of Caliph 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. Hence Umar felt it necessary that the officers be treated in strict way as to prevent the possible greed of money that may lead them to corruption. During his reign, at the time of appointment, every officer was required to make the oath:
  1. That he would not ride a Turkic horse (which was a symbol of pride).
  2. That he would not wear fine clothes.
  3. That he would not eat sifted flour.
  4. That he would not keep a porter at his door.
  5. That he would always keep his door open to the public.
Caliph Umar himself followed the above postulates strictly. During the reign of Uthman the state become more economically prosperous then ever before; the allowance of the citizens was increased by 25% and the economical condition of the ordinary person was more stable, which lead Caliph 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 to Mecca on the occasion of the Hajj, during which people were free to present any complaint against them. In order to minimize the chances of corruption, Umar made it a point to pay high salaries to the staff. Provincial governor received as much as five to seven thousand dirham annually besides their shares of the spoils of war (if they were also the commander in chief of the army of their sector).

Department of accountability

A special office was established for the investigation of complaints that reached the Caliph, Caliph Umar was first to establish this department. It was for the investigation of the complaints against the officers of the State. The Department was under the charge of Muhammad ibn Maslamah, a man of undisputed integrity. In important cases Muhammad ibn Maslamah was deputed by Umar to proceed to the spot, investigate the charge and take action. Sometimes an Inquiry Commission was constituted to investigate the charge. Whenever the officers raised complaints against him, they were summoned to Madinah, and the case was brought before the Caliph himself. Muhammad ibn Maslamah remained at the charge of this department until the death of Caliph Uthman.

Judicial Administration

As most of the administrative structure of the Rashidun Empire was setup 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.Qadis (Judges) were appointed at all administrative levels for the administration of justice. Umar was the first ruler in history to separate judiciary from the executive. 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

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, who believe that Muhammad's companion Abu Bakr was elected by the community and that this was the proper procedure. They further argue that a caliph is ideally chosen by election or community consensus, even though the caliphate soon became a hereditary office, or the prize of the strongest general.

Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani has said that the leader of the Muslims simply should be from the majority. Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man also wrote that the leader must come from the majority.

Sunni belief

Following the death of Muhammad, a meeting took place at Saqifah. At that meeting, Abu Bakr was elected caliph by the Muslim community. Sunni Muslims developed the belief that the caliph is a temporal political ruler, appointed to rule within the bounds of Islamic law (Sharia). The job of adjudicating orthodoxy and Islamic law was left to Islamic lawyers, judiciary, or specialists individually termed as Mujtahid 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

Traditional Sunni Islamic lawyers agree that shura, loosely translated as 'consultation of the people', is a function of the caliphate. The Majlis al-Shura advise the caliph. The importance of this is premised by the following verses of the Qur'an:

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 Majlis al-Shura include 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, Qutb argued 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, writes that Shura is important and part of the "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 official.

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 Majlis al-Shura. Similarly Al-Baghdadi believed that if the rulers do not uphold justice, the ummah via the majlis should give warning to them, and if unheeded then the Caliph can be impeached. Al-Juwayni argued that Islam is the goal of the ummah, so any ruler that deviates from this goal must be impeached. 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:

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 life.

Rule of Law

The following hadith establishes the principle of rule of law in relation to nepotism and accountability

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, race, colour, kinship or prejudice. There were also a number of cases where Caliphs had to appear before judges as they prepared to take their verdict.

According to Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard Universitymarker, 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:


During the Rashidun Caliphate there was an economical boom in the lives of the ordinary people due to the revolutionary economic policies developed by Caliph Umar and his successor Caliph Uthman. At first it was Umar who introduced these reforms on strong bases, his successor Uthman who himself was an intelligent businessman, had further reforms init. During Uthman's reign the people of the empire enjoyed the most prosper life.


Bait-ul-Maal, (literally, The house of money) was the department that dealt with the revenues and all other economical 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 public level was not felt.In the time of Abu Bakr as well there was not treasury. Abu Bakr 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

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 Governor of Bahrainmarker sent 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 Madinahmarker. Abdullah bin Arqam was appointed as the Treasury Officer. He was assisted by 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 Madinahmarker. According to Yaqubi the salaries and stipends charged to the central treasury amounted to over 30 million dirhams.
The coins were of Persian origin, and had an image of the last Persian emperor, Muslim added the sentence Bismillah to it.

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 guards.In most of the historical accounts it states that among the Rashidun Caliphs Uthman ibn Affan was first to struck the coins, some accounts however states that Umar was first to do so. When Persiamarker was conquered three types of coins were current in the conquered territories, namely Baghli of 8 dang; Tabari of 4 dang; and Maghribi of 3 dang. Umar ( according to some accounts Uthman ) made an innovation and struck an Islamic dirham of 6 dang.

Economic resources of the State

The economic resources of the State were:

  1. Zakat
  2. Ushr
  3. Jazya
  4. Fay
  5. Khums
  6. Kharaj

  • Zakat

Zakāt ( ) 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) for use in only specified categories. 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 wowen jewelry, etc. Zakāt is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and it is obligation on all Muslims who qualify as wealthy enough.

  • Jizya

jizya or jizyah ( ; 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 Zakat. 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 stipneds by the state when they were in need.

  • Fay

Fay was the income from State land, whether an agricultural land or a meadow, or a land with any natural mineral reserves.

  • Khums

Ghanimah or Khums was the booty captured on the occasion of war with the enemy. Four-fifth of the booty was distributed among the soldiers taking part in the war while one-fifth was credited to the State fund.

  • 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 Sassanid empire or, more broadly, any kind of tax levied by Muslim conquerors on their non-Muslim subjects, dhimmis. At that time, kharaj was synonymous with jizyah, which later emerged as a poll tax paid by dhimmis. Muslims landowners, on the other hand, paid only ushr, a religious tithe, which carried a much lower rate of taxation.

  • Ushr

Ushr was a reciprocal ten per cent levy on agricultural land as well as merchandise imported from states that taxed the Muslims on their products. Caliph Umar was the first Muslim ruler to levy Ushr. Ushr as the name implies was an import duty levied at ten per cent on the value of goods imported.When the Muslim traders went to foreign lands for the purposes of trade they had to pay a ten per cent 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 Muslim dominions.Umar issued instructions that Ushr should be levied in such a way so as to avoid hardship, that it will not effect 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 two hundred 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 five per cent and in the case of the Muslims 2.5 per cent. In the case of the Muslims the rate was the same as that of Zakat. The levy was thus regarded as a part of Zakat and was not considered a separate tax.


The allowance was paid only to Muslim citizens, Arabs and non-Arabs, by the state annually.

Beginning of Allowance

After the Battle of Yarmouk and Battle of al-Qadisiyyahmarker the Muslims won heavy spoils. The coffers at Medinamarker became full to the brim and the problem before Umar was as to what should be done with this money. Some one 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 as to what system should be adopted for distribution. One suggestion was that it should be distributed on 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 before hand 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 to Islam.

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 the Holy Prophet.

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 was put and in the third place the clan of Umar was put. Umar accepted the first two placements but delegated his clan lower down in the scale with reference to nearness in relationship to the Holy Prophet.

The members of the clan of Umar objected to the order of Umar but he rebuked them saying;

In the final scale of allowance that was approved by Umar the main provisions were:

  1. The widows of Mohammad received 12,000 dirhams each;
  2. `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, the uncle of the Mohammad received an annual allowance of 7,000 dirhams;
  3. The grandsons of the Muhammad, Hasan ibn Ali and Hussain ibn Ali got 5,000 dirhams each;
  4. The veterans of Battle of Badrmarker got an allowance of 6,000 dirhams each;
  5. Those who had become Muslims by the time of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah got 4,000 dirhams each;
  6. Those who became Muslims at the time of the Conquest of Mecca got 3,000 dirhams each;
  7. The veterans of the Apostasy wars got 3,000 dirhams each.
  8. The veterans of Battle of Yarmouk and Battle of al-Qadisiyyahmarker got 2,000 dirhams each.

In announcing this scale Umar said:

In this award Umar's son Abdullah ibn Umar got an allowance of 3,000 dirhams. On the other hand Usama ibn Zaid got 4,000. Abdullah objected to this distinction and Umar said:

The ordinary Muslim citizens got the allowance between 2,500 - 2000. The regular annual allowance was given only to the urban population, because they formed the backbone of the state's economic resources . The budoein living in the desert, cutting off from the states affairs having no contributions in the developments were given stipends very often. On assuming office, Caliph Uthman ibn Affan increased these stipends by 25 per cent.


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.

Welfare works

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. The Masjid-e-Nabawimarker and al-Masjid al-Harammarker were enlarged first during the reign of Umar and then during the reign of Uthman ibn Affan who not only extended 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 Kufamarker, Basramarker, and Fustatmarker. These cities were laid in according with the principles of town planning. All streets in these cities led to the 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 of 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 under all were equal, although the restrictions was latter revoked by Caliph 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 though out the empire, Uthman himself built a huge palace for himself in Madinahmarker which was famous by the name 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 Medinamarker to Meccamarker, 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 Basramarker Abu-Musa al-Asha'ari ) it was a nine mile (14 km) long, canal which brought water from the Tigrismarker to Basramarker. Another canal known as Maqal canal was also dug from the Tigrismarker. A canal known as the Amir al-Mu'minin canal ( after the title Amir al-Mu'minin that was assumed by Caliph Umar) was dug to join the Nile to the Red Seamarker. During the famine of 639 food grains were brought from Egyptmarker to Arabia through this canal from the sea which saved the lives of millions of inhabitants of Arabia. Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas canal (After the name of governor of Kufamarker Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas) dug from the Euphrates brought water to . 'Amr ibn al-'As the Governor of Egyptmarker, during the reign of Caliph Umar, even proposed the digging of a canal to join the Mediterraneanmarker to Red Seamarker. The proposal, however, did not materialize due to unknown reasons, and it was 1200 years later that such a canal was dug in the shape of the Suez Canalmarker. Shuaibia was the port for Makkahmarker. It was inconvenient. Caliph Uthman selected Jeddahmarker as the site of the new seaport, and a new port was built there. Uthman also reformed the department of Police in cities.


The Rashidun caliphate Army was the primary military body of the Islamic armed forces of 7th century, serving alongside the Rashidun caliphate Navy. The Rashidun caliphate Army maintained a very high level of discipline, strategic prowess, 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 region. At the height of the Rashidun caliphate the maximum size of the army was around 100,000 troops. Rashidun caliphate army fell into the two basic categories of infantry and light cavalry. Reconstructing the military equipment of early Muslim armies is problematic. Compared with Roman armies—or, indeed, later mediaeval 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 helmet that comes from Iraqmarker and was of central Asian type. The standard form of protective body armor was chain mail There are also references to the practice of wearing two coats of mail (dir’ayn), the under 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 Sword that was hanged in baldric. They also possessed spears and the daggers. Caliph Umar was the first Muslim ruler to organize the army as a State Departmentmarker. 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 set out to liberate foreign lands was to exploit every possible drawback of the enemy army in order to achieve victory with minimum losses. The army’s key 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 Damascus utilized 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 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. Once fully engaged the enemy reserves were absorbed by the infantry and archers then 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 quality wise and strength wise substandard versus the Sassanid Persian army and Byzantine army. Khalid ibn Walid, the first general of Rashidun Caliphate to liberate foreign lands and to trigger the whole scale deposition of the two most powerful empires. During his campaign against the Sassanid Persian Empire(Iraq 633 - 634) and Byzantine Empire (Syria 634 - 638) Khalid developed brilliant tactics, that he used effectively against both the Sassanid army and Byzantine army. The Caliph Abu Bakr's way 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 mission in whatever manner they chose, on the other hand Caliph Umar in later part of his Caliphate use to direct his generals as to where they would stay and when to move to the next target and who will be commanding the left and right wing of the army in the particular battle, this made the phase of conquest comparatively slower but provided well organized campaigns. Caliph Uthman used the same method as of Abu Bakr, he would give missions to his generals and then leave it to them how they accomplish it. Caliph Ali also followed the same method.


The state religion was Islam. The non-Muslim people were nominally allowed to practice whichever religion they wanted to follow, but were usually socially and financially pressured by poll tax system. The Sharia Law was exercised by the state, and nominally extended only to Muslims, but in reality had jurisdiction over non-Muslims who had commit offenses against the Muslim community.
This copy of the Qur'an is believed to be the oldest one, compiled during Caliph Uthman's reign.
Islam was the guiding force of the Caliphate. Any act of state was first to be approved by the Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet Muhammed. If there were no such guide lines available then wisdom or Hikmat was used, after which if the act would go against the established principals, norms,system etc. it was not carried on with.Christians and Jews were termed as 'people of the Book'.


See also


  1. Balazuri: p. 113.
  2. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 467.
  3. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 518
  4. 'Ali
  12. John, Bishop of Nikiu: Chronicle. London (1916). English Translation
  13. Nadvi (2000), pg. 522
  14. See:Tarikh al-Tabari
  15. see :Tarikh ibn Kathir
  16. Lewis (1984), pp. 10, 20
  17. Cl. Cahen in Encyclopedia of Islam - Jizya
  18. The Cambridge History of Islam, ed. P.M. Holt, Ann K.S. Lambton, and Bernard Lewis, Cambridge 1970
  19. Gharm Allah Al-Ghamdy
  20. Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 681
  21. Shahid Alam, Articulating Group Differences: A Variety of Autocentrisms, Journal of Science and Society, 2003
  22. Ali (1990), pg. 507
  23. Lewis (2002), p. 72
  24. Military History Online
  25. The Armies of the Caliphs: Military and Society in the Early Islamic State. Contributors: Hugh Kennedy - author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of Publication: London. Publication Year: 2001. Page Number:168
  26. title
  27. title
  28. Augus Mcbride

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