The "Rightly Guided" Caliphs
After the death of Muhammad there were 4 Caliphs i.e. Supreme Rulers of Islam that are considered to be "rightly guided" i.e. they had "God on their side." They were "to call people to the worship of and submission to the One True God". In practice, this meant they sent armies to attack and conquer anyone and everyone they could and demand they convert to Islam or surrender to the Muslims and obey their orders, pay blackmail annually and become oppressed, helpless, fourth-class subjects of the Islamic empires or be killed and have your property stolen, your wives and daughters raped and the survivors become slaves. You have to translate Islamic English into real English to understand what is actually being said.
The 4 caliphs were all very close associates of Muhammad's. Abu Bakr was the father of the child bride Aisha and Muhammad's right hand man.. Umar was the "grey eminence" whose devious tactics and threats of violence got Abu Bakr appointed as the first caliph. Murdered! Uthman was the caliph who set in motion the beginning of Muslim fratricide. Murdered! Ali was his nephew and son-in-law (Ali was the only convert of Muhammad's that was only allowed one wife, think about it). Murdered!
- The First Caliph, Abu Bakr (632-634). Abu Bakr's rule started with a problem. Many Arabs decided they'd
go their own way now that Muhammad was dead and some even decided the "prophet racket" was one they could take advantage
of. Abu Bakr was having none of that and a relentless war against the free Arab tribes began until they were brought
to heel. He then sent Arab armies against the Byzantines and Persians ordering the soldiers (among other things):
- Don't desert or be disobedient … or else
- Don't kill old men (unless they defend themselves), women (better to rape and enslave them) and children (worth good money as slaves)
- Don't damage date palms or fruit trees (unlike Muhammad)
- Don't kill other peoples' animals unless you're going to steal and eat them
- The Second Caliph, Umar (634-644). It was during Umar's caliphate Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and Iran were
conquered. He organised the political, legal and administrative structure and regulations to rule the new empire. He
didn't allow competitors for power and dismissed the victorious Muslim general Khalid, the Drawn Sword of God.
Umar tried to prevent the Muslim conquerors from accumulating wealth and establishing dynasties. A vain hope indeed.
Umar was stabbed to death while on Hajj in Mecca.
- The Third Caliph, Uthman (644-656). During Uthman's role the Islamic empire continued to grow rapidly
and with rich pickings available tribal nepotism, financial mismanagement, corruption, elitism, also grew rapidly. Uthman
pissed off Aisha and she plotted against him. Three large groups of soldiers marched to Medina and Uthman was also stabbed
to death after a siege of his compound. By putting members of his own tribe into positions of power Uthman created an
impossible situation for Ali.
- The Fourth Caliph, Ali (656-661). Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad and was the first young male convert. He had been prevented from becoming Caliph by Umar's tactics and he became Caliph when it was too late for a man unwilling to compromise his principles for the sake of political expediency to successfully rule. It didn't help that Aisha hated him and went to war against him. She probably hated him even more when he forgave her after winning the Battle of the Camel and taking her prisoner. On the point of winning a battle for control of the empire he was stymied by Muawiyah's troops skewering copies of the Quran on the points of their spears. Imagine the hullabaloo if American soldiers stuck spears through the Quran today. Ali was later killed by a poison-coated sword thrust while praying in a mosque at Kufa in Iraq. Real spiritual.
Three out of four of these first Muslim rulers were assassinated. Imagine how bad things might have been if they didn't have God on their side. Within 30 years the Islamic ummah broke up in treachery and warfare. Within 40 years of Muhammad leaving Mecca, Muawiya the son of Abu Sufyan, Muhammad's most bitter opponent, became the first emperor of the Islamic empire. The Ummayads were nor famous for their piety. So much for Muhammad's legacy.