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The Khulafa- ur- Rashiduun
(The Rightly Guided Caliphs)

This page presents the life history of the early companions of the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh], from the rightly Guided Khalifah: Abubakar, Umar, Uthman and Ali [Whom Allah be pleased with], to the contemporary Prominent Muslim Scholars and Leaders in the glimpse of World history.

Their-selves devotions and sacrifices have become the pride and best example to the new generation in the fulfilment of their sacred and devinely responsibility as the vicegerent of Allah on the Earth.


In the appointment of Abu Bakr some Muslims had debated in the courtyard of Bani Sa'ida; the nominees were Sa'd bin Ubada, Abu Ubayda , Umar and Abu Bakr, and as a result of the debate Abu Bakr was given the bay'ah. On the next day the Muslims were called to the mosque and they gave him the bay'ah. As a result of this bay'ah Abu Bakr became the Khalif.

Let's read part of what happened in the courtyard of Bani Sa'ida as narrated in Al-Bukhari on the authority of Ibn Abas in Kitab Al-Hudood (see Fath Al-Bari vol.12) that Umar said in a Jum'a speech (Friday speech):

"... And no doubt after the death of the Prophet we were informed that the Ansar did not gather with us and gathered in the shed of Bani Sa'da. 'Ali and Zubair and whoever was with them, did not come with us, while the emigrants gathered with Abu Bakr. I said to Abu Bakr, 'Let's go to these Ansari brothers of ours.' So we set out seeking them, and when we approached them, two pious men of theirs met us and informed us of the final decision of the Ansar, and said, 'O group of Muhajirin (emigrants)! Where are you going?' We replied, 'We are going to these Ansari brothers of ours.' They said to us, 'You shouldn't go near them. Carry out whatever we have already decided.' I said, 'By Allah, we will go to them.' And so we proceeded until we reached them at the shed of Bani Sa'da. Behold! There was a man sitting amongst them and wrapped in something. I asked, 'Who is that man?' They said, 'He is Sa'd bin 'Ubada.' I asked, 'What is wrong with him?' They said, 'He is sick.'

After we sat for a while, the Ansar's speaker said, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' and praising Allah as He deserved, he added, 'To proceed, we are Allah's Ansar (helpers) and the majority of the Muslim army, while you, the emigrants, are a small group and some people among you came with the intention of preventing us from practising this matter (of caliphate) and depriving us of it.'

When the speaker had finished, I intended to speak as I had prepared a speech which I liked and which I wanted to deliver in the presence of Abu Bakr, and I used to avoid provoking him. So, when I wanted to speak, Abu Bakr said, 'Wait a while.' I disliked to make him angry. So Abu Bakr himself gave a speech, and he was wiser and more patient than I. By Allah, he never missed a sentence that I liked in my own prepared speech, but he said the like of it or better than it spontaneously. After a pause he said, 'O Ansar! You deserve all the qualities that you have attributed to yourselves, but this question (of Caliphate) is only for the Quraish as they are the best of the Arabs as regards descent and home, and I am pleased to suggest that you choose either of these two men, so take the oath of allegiance to either of them as you wish. And then Abu Bakr held my hand and Abu Ubada bin Abdullah's hand who was sitting amongst us. I hated nothingof what he had said except that proposal, for by Allah, I would rather have my neck chopped off as expiator for a sin than become the ruler of a nation, one of whose members is Abu Bakr, unless at the time of my death my own-self suggests something I don't feel at present.'And then one of the Ansar said, 'I am the pillar on which the camel with a skin disease (eczema) rubs itself to satisfy the itching (i.e., I am a noble), and I am as a high class palm tree! O Quraish. There should be one ruler from us and one from you.'

Then there was a huge and cry among the gathering and their voices rose so that I was afraid there might be great disagreement, so I said, 'O Abu Bakr! Hold your hand out.' He held his hand out and I pledged allegiance to him, and then all the emigrants gave the Pledge of allegiance and so did the Ansar afterwards. And so we became victorious over Sa'd bin Ubada. One of the Ansar said, 'You have killed Sa'd bin Ubada.' I replied, 'Allah has killed Sa'd bin Ubada.' Umar added, "By Allah, apart from the great tragedy that had happened to us (i.e. the death of the Prophet), there was no greater problem than the allegiance pledged to Abu Bakr because we were afraid that if we left the people, they might give the Pledge of allegiance after us to one of their men, in which case we would have given them our consent for something against our real wish or would have opposed them and caused great trouble. So if any person gives the Pledge of allegiance to somebody (to become a Khalifah); without consulting the other Muslims, then the one he has selected should not be granted allegiance, lest both of them should be killed." Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Aisha in Kitab Fadha'il Al-Sahabah (see Fath Al-Bari vol. 7)
"...the Ansar were assembled with Sa'd bin 'Ubada in the courtyard of Bani Saida. They said (to the igrants) "There should be one 'Amir from us and one from you." Then Abu Bakr, Umar bin Al-Khattab and Abu Ubaida bin Al-Jarrah went to them. Umar wanted to speak but Abu Bakr stopped him. Umar later on used to say, "By Allah, I intended only to say something that appealed to me and I was afraid that Abu Bakr would not speak so well.

Then Abu Bakr spoke and his speech was very eloquent. He said in his statement, "We are the rulers and you (Ansars) are the ministers (i.e. advisers)," Hubab bin Al-Mundhir said, "No, by Allah we won't accept this. But there must be a ruler from us and a ruler from you." Abu Bakr said, "No, we will be the rulers and you will be the ministers ... you should; elect either 'Umar or Abu 'Ubaida bin Al-Jarrah as your ruler." 'Umar said (to Abu Bakr), "No but we elect you, for you are our chief and the best amongst us and the most beloved of all of us to Allah's Apostle." So 'Umar took Abu Bakr's hand and gave the pledge of allegiance and the people too gave the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr.

In the books of Al-fasil-fil Milal by Ibnu Hazim, Tarikh of Al-tabari, Al-A'kd Al-Farid of Al-Waqidi, Al-Sira of Ibnu Kathir, Al-Sunan Al-Kubra of Bayhaqi and Siratu Ibn Hisham, that Al-Habbab Ibnu Al-Munthir said when the Sahaba met in the wake of the death of the Prophet (SWA) at the saqifa (hall) of Bani sa'ida: One Amir from us and one Amir from you (meaning one from the Ansar and one from the Mohajireen). Upon this Abu Bakr replied: "It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Amirs (rulers)..." Then he got up and addressed the Muslims. And it has been reported in the Sirah of Ibnu Ishaq that Abu Bakr said on the day of Saqifa: "It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Amirs for this would cause differences in their affairs and concepts, their unity would be divided and disputes would break out amongst them. The Sunnah would then be abandoned, the bida'a (innovations) would spread and Fitna would grow, and that is in no one's interest."

Therefore Abu Bakr delivered the Sharia verdict on the unity of the Khilafah, stressing that it is forbidden for the Muslim Ummah to have more than one Amir. The Sahabah heard him and approved and consented, no one disputed the verdict, but submitted to it and accepted it as a law (indication of evidence from the Sunnah). The Ansar then conceded their claim to the Khilafah, and Al-Habbab Ibnu Al-Munthir (who is from the Ansar)was the first to give the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr (RA The public bay'ah took place next day in the mosque. Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Anas bin Malik: That he heard 'Umar's second speech he delivered when he sat on the pulpit on the day following the death of the Prophet 'Umar recited the Tashahhud while Abu Bakr as silent. 'Umar said, "I wish that Allah's Apostle had outlived all of us, i.e., had beenthe last (to die). But if Muhammad is dead, Allah nevertheless has kept the light amongst you from which you can receive the same guidance as Allah guided Muhammad with that. And Abu Bakr is the companion of Allah's Apostle He is the second of the two in the cave. He is the most entitled person among the Muslims to manage your affairs. Therefore get up and swear allegiance to him." Some people had already taken the oath of allegiance to him in the shed of Bani Sa'ida but the oath of allegiance taken by the public was taken at the pulpit.


After giving praise and thanks to Allah (The One True God), Abu Bakr (ra) addressed the Muslims gathered at the Prophet’s mosque:"I have been given the authority over you, and I am not the best of you. If I do well, help me; and if I do wrong, set me right.

Sincere regard for truth is loyalty and disregard for truth is treachery. The weak amongst you shall be strong with me until I have secured his rights, if God will; and the strong amongst you shall be weak with me until I have wrested from him the rights of others, if God will. Obey me so long as I obey God and His Messenger (Muhammad, pbuh). But if I disobey God and His Messenger, ye owe me no obedience. Arise for your prayer, God have mercy upon you."

The second caliph and Muhammad's father-in-law.

Umar began as an enemy to the nascent Muslim movement. According to Muslim tradition, he converted when he overheard the recitation of the Quran in his sister's house. Thereafter, he was a staunch supporter of Muhammad and the Islamic cause.

During the lifetime of Muhammad, he participated in military expeditions and was one of Muhammad's most trusted advisors. At least three Quranic revelations are attributed to his initiative. Upon Muhammad's death in 622, it was Umar who compelled Abu Bakr to accept the caliphate.

Abu Bakr appointed Umar as his successor on his deathbed in 634. During Umar's reign, the Persians were defeated in Iraq and eastern Iran, effectively wiping out the Sassanid dynasty, while the Byzantines were defeated in Syria, Palestine and Egypt. He is credited with the creation of fiscal institutions as well as numerous legal rulings (see "The Four Righteous Caliphs"). He was mudered in 644 by a slave with a personal grudge against him.

Umar was feared rather than loved: he had a harsh disposition and lived an ascetic lifestyle. According to Muslim tradition, he wore patched clothes, ate plain food, and carried a whip while walking in order to chastise those who broke the law.

The Bay'ah of Umar

When Abu Bakr felt that his illness was fatal he called uponthe Muslims to consult them about who would become the next Khalif. He nominated Umar and Ali. Then the Muslims through three months during the life of Abu Bakr, chose Umar by their majority. Based on the consultation and the Muslims' choice he announced to them that Umar would be the Khalif after him. After the death of Abu Bakr the Muslims came to the mosque and gave the bay'ah of Khilafah to Umar so he became Khalif by this bay'ah and not by the consultations nor by the announcement of Abu Bakr. What is surprising is the claim that Abu Bakr chose Umar against the well of the Muslims. As was reported by several historians Abu Bakr consulted Uthman, Abdur-Rahman bin Auf, Ali, Usaid Ibnu Hudhair, Sai'd Ibnu Zaid and many people from Muhajireen and Ansar (see The Islamic History "Al-Tarikh Al-Islami" volume 3 by Mahmoud Shakir, page 100-104, and History of Islam "Tarikh Al- Islam", volume 1, by Hassan Ibrahim Hassan, page 173-174 and the references therein).

What was attributed on this list to Talha that he opposed appointing Umar is baseless. In the references mentioned above it is reported that a man opposed the nomination of Umar (this is used when the person is not known). Moreover, it is an opinion of one person (regardless if it is Talha or not) who opposed appointing Umar while the majority of the Muslims accepted that. How can someone then claim that appointing Umar was against the well of the Muslims just because one person opposed it. What an honest reading of the history?

It is narrated that when Abu Bakr knew the opinion of theMuslims and he wanted to announce the result of his consultations he said: O people... I have nominated a successor would you accept it. Upon that Ali said: We would not accept but Umar. (see Al-Bay'ah Fi Al-Fikr Al-Siasi Al-Islami, Mahmoud Al-Khaldi, page 165).

The third caliph (644-656) and Muhammad's son-in-law.

Uthman was a member of the wealthy Umayyad clan; his early conversion is noteworthy since most members of his clan did not convert until the conquest of Mecca in 630. His aristocratic background may be the reason behind Muhammad's forging an alliance with him through marriage to two of his daughters. Uthman appears to have played only a small role during the lifetime of Muhammad and the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar.

Uthman was chosen caliph by a six-member comittee in 644. The reasons for his selection are unclear; it may be partly due to his willingness to continue Umar's policies, partly due to his Umayyad lineage. During his twelve-year reign, grievances which had been suppressed under Umar's caliphate came to the surface. 3 He was accused of nepotism, favoritism, misadministration, and religious innovation by his detractors, which included the man who would become the fourth caliph, Ali. Uthman was murdered in 656 by a group of discontented Egyptians.

Bay'ah Of Uthman

When Umar was stabbed,the Muslims asked him to appoint a successor for him but he refused. They insisted, so he mentioned six of the Sahabah. After his death, the nominees appointed one of them as a representative who was Abdul Rahman Ibn Auf. He referred to the opinion of the Muslims and consulted them. Then he declared the bay'ah to Uthman. The Muslims stood up and gave their pledge to Uthman, and theirby he became a Khalif by the pledge of the Muslims and not by the announcement of Abdul Rahman. In the following two Hadiths Umar first does not appoint anyone and in the next Hadith Umar mentioned the name of the six people. In Muslim he reported the same thing in a different Hadith. But from both, Al-Bukhari and Muslim, we find that Umar appointed the six people after the Sahabah insisted on him to do so.

Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: It was said to 'Umar, "Will you appoint your successor?" Umar said, "If I appoint a Caliph (as my successor) it is true that somebody who was better than I (i.e., Abu Bakr) did so, and if I leave the matter undecided, it is true that somebody who was better than I (i.e., Allah's Apostle) did so." On this, the people praised him. 'Umar said, "People are of two kinds: Either one who is keen to take over the Caliphate or one who is afraid of assuming such a responsibility. I wish I could be free from its responsibility in that I would receive neither reward nor retribution I won't bear the burden of the caliphate in my death as I do in my life."

Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Amr bin Maimun when Umar was stabbed to death: "The people realized that he would die... The people said (to 'Umar), "O chief of the believers! Appoint a successor." Umar said, "I do not find anyone more suitable for the job than the following persons or group whom Allah's Apostle had been pleased with before he died." Then 'Umar mentioned 'Ali, 'Uthman AzZubair, Talha, Sad and 'Abdur-Rahman (bin Auf) and said,"Abdullah bin 'Umar will be a witness to you, but he will have no share in the rule.

His being a witness will compensate him for not sharing the right of ruling. If Sad becomes the ruler, it will be alright: otherwise, whoever becomes the ruler should seek his help, as I have not dismissed him because of disability or dishonesty." 'Umar added, "I recommend that my successor takes care of the early emigrants; to know their rights and protect their honour and sacred things. I also recommend that he be kind to the Ansar who had lived in Medina before the emigrants and Belief had entered their hearts before them.

I recommend that the (ruler) should accept the good of the righteous among them and excuse their wrong-doers, and I recommend that he should do good to all the people of the towns (Al-Ansar), as they are the protectors of Islam and the source of wealth and the source of annoyance to the enemy. I also recommend that nothing be taken from them except from their surplus with their consent. I also recommend that he do good to the 'Arab bedouin, as they are the origin of the 'Arabs and the material of Islam.

He should take from what is inferior, amongst their properties and distribute that to the poor amongst them. I also recommend him concerning Allah's and His Apostle's protectees (i.e. Dhimmis) to fulfil their contracts and to fight for them and not to overburden them with what is beyond their ability." So when 'Umar expired, we carried him out and set out walking. 'Abdullah bin 'Umar greeted ('Aisha) and said,"'Umar bin Al-Khattab asks for the permission." 'Aisha said, "Bring him in." He was brought in and buried beside his two companions.

When he was buried, the group (recommended by 'Umar) held a meeting. Then 'Abdur-Rahman said, " Reduce the candidates for rulership to three of you." Az-Zubair said, "I give up my right to Ali." Talha said, "I give up my right to 'Uthman," Sad, 'I give up my right to 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf." Abdur-Rahman thensaid (to 'Uthman and 'Ali), "Now which of you is willing to give up his right of candidacy to that he may choose the better of the (remaining) two, bearing in mind that Allah and Islam will be his witnesses." So both the sheiks (i.e. 'Uthman and 'Ali) kept silent.

'Abdur-Rahman said,"Will you both leave this matter to me, and I take Allah as my Witness that I will not choose but the better of you?" They said, "Yes." So 'Abdur-Rahman took the hand of one of them (i.e. 'Ali) and said, "You are related to Allah's Apostle and one of the earliest Muslims as you know well. So I ask you by Allah to promise that if I select you as a ruler you will do justice, and if I select 'Uthman as a ruler you will listen to him and obey him." Then he took the other (i.e. 'Uthman) aside and said the same to him. When 'Abdur-Rahman secured (their agreement to) this covenant, he said, "O 'Uthman! Raise your hand." So he (i.e. 'Abdur-Rahman) gave him (i.e. 'Uthman) the solemn pledge, and then 'Ali gave him the pledge of allegiance and then all the (Medina) people gave him the pledge of allegiance.

The details of what Abdul Rahman did is clear in the next narration. Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Al-Miswar bin Makhrama: The group of people whom 'Umar had selected as candidatesfor the Caliphate gathered and consulted each other. Abdur-Rahman said to them, "I am not going to compete with you in this matter, but if you wish, I would select for you a caliph from among you."

So all of them agreed to let 'Abdur-Rahman decide the case. So when the candidates placed the case in the hands of 'Abdur-Rahman, the people went towards him and nobody followed the rest of the group nor obeyed any after him. So the people followed 'Abdur-Rahman and consulted him all those nights till there came the night we gave the oath of allegiance to 'Uthman. Al-Miswar (bin Makhrama) added: 'Abdur-Rahman called on me after a portion of the night had passed and knocked on my door till I got up, and he said to me, "I see you have been sleeping! By Allah, during the last three nights I have not slept enough.

Go and call Az-Zubair and Sa'd.' So I called them for him and he consulted them and then called me saying, 'Call 'Ali for me." I called 'Ali and he held a private talk with him till very late at night, and then 'Al, got up to leave having had much hope (to be chosen as a Caliph) but 'Abdur-Rahman was afraid of something concerning 'Ali. 'Abdur-Rahman then said to me, "Call 'Uthman for me."

I called him and he kept on speaking to him privately till the Mu'adhdhin put an end to their talk by announcing the Adhan for the Fajr prayer. When the people finished their morning prayer and that (six men) group gathered near the pulpit,'Abdur-Rahman sent for all the Muhajirin (emigrants) and the Ansar present there and sent for the army chief who had performed the Hajj with 'Umar that year. When all of them had gathered, 'Abdur-Rahman said, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah," and added, "Now then, O 'Ali, I have looked at the people's tendencies and noticed that they do not consider anyboy equal to 'Uthman, so you should not incur blame (by disagreeing)."Then 'Abdur-Rahman said (to 'Uthman), "I gave the oath of allegiance to you on condition that you will follow Allah's Laws and the traditions of Allah's Apostle and the traditions of the two Caliphs after him." So 'Abdur-Rahman gave the oath of allegiance to him, and so did the peopleincluding the Muhajirin (emigrants) and the Ansar and the chiefs of the army staff and all the Muslims.

ALI B. ABI TALIB (d.661)

The fourth caliph (655-661) and Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law. Ali converted to Islam shortly after Muhammad's wife, Khadija; he was at that time a boy of eleven years old. When Muhammad emigrated to Medina in 622, Ali was chosen to stay behind and occupy his bed in order to thwart an attempt on Muhammad's life.

Ali later joined the Muslims in Medina and subsequently married Muhammad's youngest daughter, Fatima; of their marriage were born two sons, Hasan and Husayn, and two daughters. He took part in almost all of Muhammad's expeditions, but after Muhammad's death he abstained for reasons unknown.

During Abu Bakr's election, Ali remained in Muhammad's house in order to prepare the funeral. He did not give allegience to Abu Bakr until six months later when his wife died; this may be due to Fatima's quarrel with Abu Bakr over her inheritance.

According to Muslim chronicles, Ali was a trusted advisor of the first three caliphs on legal matters; however, with regard toadministrative and political matters, Ali disagreed vehemently with his predecessors, and during Uthman's reign (644-656) he aligned himself with the opposition. His failure to punish Uthman's murderers after his accession in 656 provoked outrage.

In the last message the bay'ah of Uthman was discussed. It was shown that Uthman was given the bay'ah after long consultation. Later on Uthman was killed and it was clear that Ali is the only candidate. The majority of the Muslims in Medina and Kufa gave their bay'ah to Ali, so he too became a Khalifah by the bay'ah of the Muslims. Ali tried to decline but the Muslims insisted on him and he accepted under the condition he should be given the bay'ah in the mosque.

Muhammad Ibnu Al- Hanafiah (Ali's son) said: I have been with my father (Ali) when Uthman was killed, the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) came to Ali and said: This man was killed (they mean Uthman) and the people should have an Imam, we do not find anyone who deserves this position more than you... Ali said: Do not do it (giving the bay'ah) I am better as a wazeer (minister) than as an Amir. They said we are not leaving until we give you the bay'ah. He said: Then it should be in the mosque, my bay'ah should not be hidden and it should be after the consent of the Muslims. (see Tareekh Al-Tabari, vol. 3, page 450, see also Al-Bay'ah Fi Al-fikr Al- Siasi Al-Islami, "The bay'ah in the Islamic political thinking", by Mahmoud Al-Khalidi, page 107-108).

The detailed study of the bay'ah of the first four Khulafah gives us the outline for a method to choose the Khalifah in our contemporary times. First of all no one can become Khalifah without the bay'ah (pledge) of the people. This bay'ah is valid if it taken without any force. The matter of bay'ah proceeds after debate to establish suitable candidates, then one of them is elected as a Khalifah, then the bay'ah is taken for him from the people. Although this matter was evident in the consultations made for Abu Bakr, it is very clear in the case of the bay'ah given to Uthman as discussed in the previous message. In the case of Uthman the nominees for the Khilafah were limited to the groupnamed by Umar after the Muslims had asked him to do so. Abdul Rahman ibn Auf, after he withdrew himself from the nomination to the Khilafah, took the opinion of the Muslims about who would be the Khalif. He then announced the name of the person who the Muslims wanted after consulting with them. After he announced thename of the person who the people wanted, the bay'ah was given to him and he became Khalif by this bay'ah.

Therefore the Hukm shari'i (Sharia rule) concerning the appointment of the Khalifah is to limit the nominees for the Khilafah by those who represent the opinion of the majority of the Muslims. Then their names are displayed to the Muslims and they are asked to select one of the nominees to be Khalifah for all. Then it is determined whom the majority of the Muslims have chosen, and the bay'ah from all Muslims is taken for him, whether each person had specifically chosen him or not. This is the method because of the Ijma' of the Sahabah (consensus of the Sahabah) about Umar limiting the nominees for the Khilafah to specific number of persons (in that case it is six, but the exact number is not important) and the consensus of the Sahabah that Abdul Rahman takes the opinion of all the Muslims about who will be the Khalif for them, and the consensus to give the bay'ah to the one who Abdul Rahman announced as the person elected by the Muslims as a Khalif is clear when he said "I viewed the matter of the people and did not see them compare anyone with Uthman." All these points clarify the Hukum shari'i concerning the appointment of the Khalif.

Two issues remain to be examined, one of them is who are the Muslims who appoint the Khalif? Are they the influential people or a certain specific number of Muslims? Or do all Muslims appoint the Khalifah? The second issue concerns the actions occurring this century in elections, such as secret ballots, polling boxes and counting votes. Are these matters consistent with Islam, and does Islam allow them or not?

Ali was first faced with a rebellion headed by two of his former supporters and one of Muhammad's former wives, then with the refusal of the governor of Syria, Muawiya, to pledge allegiance to the new caliph.

The first was ended in 656, while the second resulted in a stalemate which caused many of his supporters to abandon him; these seceders became known as Kharijites. Ali was killed by a Kharijite in 661. [Special Appreciatiationto Akhi Shehadeh]

Wallahu A'lamu Bissawab

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