After the sad demise of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), the last and final messenger of Almighty Allah, a debate arose to decide who would lead the Muslim Ummah(Community). While Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) family was busy preparing his burial ceremony, the then wise men pledged loyalty to Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (Radi Allahu Anho). Therefore, the Khilāfah ar-Rāshidah, or Rashidun Caliphate, which means the “Rightly Guided” was founded; it comprised of the first four Caliphs of Islam who succeeded Prophet Muhammad(PBUH), Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (Radi Allahu Anho) being the first of the four.
Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (Radiyallahu Anhu)
It might intrigue you that why was Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (Radiyallahu Anhu) the most worthy to handle the affairs of the Muslim Ummah at such a crucial time. Firstly, he (RA) was the closest companion of the Prophet (PBUH) since boyhood. Just two years younger than the Prophet (PBUH), Abu Bakr (RA) had won his heart many times. His real name was Abdullah Ibn Abi Quhafah and he (RA) was the first man to accept Islam. There are many incidents which evidence of Hazrat Abu Bakr’s (RA) indefatigable faith on Muhammad(PBUH). One exemplary incident is when the Prophet (PBUH) returned from Mi’raj (ascension to Heaven). He (PBUH) talked of it to the people, but the unfaithful mocked him. At that time, Abu Bakr (RA) was the one who instantly proclaimed that he (RA) believed each and every word of the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah. This was the when Holy Prophet (PBUH) gifted him with the title of ‘Siddiq’meaning ‘truthful’.
Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) was mild-mannered and decent in nature; people knew him for his benevolence. In Medina, when the Prophet (PBUH) was striving hard to find ways to collect funds for Jihad, Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA), a wealthy merchant of that era, donated all his wealth. The Prophet (PBUH) questioned him, “What have you left behind for your family?” He (RA) replied, “Allah and His Prophet (PBUH).” Abu Bakr (RA) further strengthened relationships with Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) through the marriage between the Prophet and his daughter, Aisha (RA).
Abu Bakr’s (RA) Caliphate lasted for 27 months. During this time, in the Ridda Wars, he put an end to the rebellions of the Arab tribes throughout the Arabian Peninsula. He (RA) also succeeded to commence campaigns against the Sassanid and Byzantine Empire. State affairs remained stable under Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA), though, he could take little care of state administrations.
Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) had appointed Hazrat Umar Ibn Al Khattab (RA) as the second Caliph prior to his death. Though, many criticized the decision, but Abu Bakr (RA) pronounced:
“His (Umar’s) strictness was there because of my softness. When the weight of Caliphate will be over his shoulders he will remain no longer strict. If I will be asked by God to whom I have appointed my successor, I will tell him that I have appointed the best man among your men.”
Hazrat Umer-e-Farooq (Radiyallahu Anhu)
Hazrat Umar (RA) is said to be the most influential Caliph of Islam. He (RA) was a strict man but possessed a pious and just nature; he (RA) had earned the title ‘Al-Farooq’ which means “the one who distinguishes between right and wrong”. He (RA) had wonderful political and judicial sense.
Initially, he had been hostile to Holy Muhammad(PBUH), even threatening to kill him but six years later he (RA) converted to Islam. He (RA) became close to the Prophet (PBUH) soon. In fact, He (RA) was the blessed person about whom Holy Prophet (PBUH) had prayed to Allah Almighty to embrace Islam.
The Prophet (PBUH) had said,
“Among the nations (who lived) before you there were Muhaddathun (people who were inspired, though they were not Prophets). And if there is any of such a person amongst my followers, it is Umar.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
In Hazrat Umar’s (RA) reign, the caliphate expanded at an extraordinary rate. He (RA) succeeded in ruling the Sasanian Empire and most ofByzantine Empire. His attacks against the Sasanian Empire resulted in the conquest of Persia in fewer than two years. Hazrat Umar (RA) also removed the Christian ban on Jews entering Jerusalem and allowed the Jews to worship there. The Caliphate was also organized by Hazrat Umar (RA) through marvelous administration.
Hazrat Umar (RA), before martyrdom on his deathbed, formed a committee to elect the next Caliph of Islam which later had elected Hazrat Uthman ibn Affan (RA) as the third Caliph of Islam. Born into the prominent clan, the Quraysh tribe, he (RA) played a major role in early Islamic history. He was also the prophet’s son-in-law twice, being married to two of the Prophet’s (PBUH) daughters i.e., Hazrat Ruqayyah (RA) and Hazrat Umm Kulthum (RA).
Hazrat Usman-e-Ghani (Radiyallahu Anhu)
Hazrat Usman’s (RA) great leadership resulted in the empire expanding into Iran, some areas of Afghanistan and the conquest of Armenia was begun. He (RA) was also a renowned trader previously and so, was able to develop the Rashidun Empire socially and economically. The economic reforms introduced by Hazrat Usman (RA) had far-reaching effects; Muslims, as well as non-Muslims of the Rashidun Empire, enjoyed an economically prosperous life during his reign.
Unfortunately, in Egypt, rebellions had risen, and his reign ended when the riots had broken into his house resulting in his martyrdom. Later, Hazrat Ali Ibn Abu Talib (RA) was elected as the Caliph. He (RA) was the fourth and final Rashidun Caliph of Islam.
Hazrat Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu)
Hazrat Ali (RA) had extended the Caliphate from Egypt to the Iranian highlands. He (RA) is not only respected as a great leader and warrior but also as a writer and religious authority.
When Hazrat Ali (RA) was handed the responsibilities of the Caliphate, in Muslim history, it was the most turbulent period. His reign also coincided with the First Fitna. He (RA) was martyred during prayer by Kharijite Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam.
These four men, Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman and Ali (Radiyallahu Anhuma), were great men in the Islamic history. The Muslim Ummah honors them and is grateful to them; under their leadership, the Muslim nation flourished and expanded to a great extent! Even Allah Almighty has shown us how great they were? They are among the ten blessed people who were explicitly granted Heaven.
Narrated by Abdur Rahman bin Awf (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said,
“Abu Bakr is in Paradise, ‘Umar is in Paradise, ‘Usman is in Paradise, ‘Ali is in Paradise, Talhah is in Paradise, Az-Zubair is in Paradise, ‘Abdur Rahman bin Awf is in Paradise, Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas is in Paradise, Sa’id ibn Zayd is in Paradise, and Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah is in Paradise.” [Collected by Muhammad ibn `Isa at-Tirmidhi, Jami` at-Tirmidhi ]