- Islam is a monotheistic religion that was developed in the Middle East in the 7th Century C.E.
- Islam means surrender or submission and it was founded by the prophet Muhammed and his teachings of surrendering to the will of Allah.
- The Islam deity is called Allah.
- People who follow the Islam religion are called Muslim.
- Their bible is the Quran.
The Age of the Rashidun or "Rightly Guided Ones" was the period immediately after Muhammad's death all the way up to the death of his son-in-law Ali (661 C.E) This is the age when Muhammad's closest companions were left to lead the Muslim community. The caliph in Islam is the head of the Islamic society and is responsible in implementing Islamic instructions written in the Quran (Khannou).
Age of Rashidun Timeline
- 632 C.E Muhammad's death: After Muhammad's death, the lack of leadership divided the Muslim community in two. There were the Shi'a who believed that Muhammad left his cousin and son in law ali Ibn Abi Talib and his descendants to succeed him. There were the Sunni who believed that he did not name a successor and that the community elders were responsible for naming a successor.
- 632-634 C.E Caliphate of Abu Bakr: The community of elders chose Abu Bakr who became the first religious and political leader, and he was followed by the Sunni majority of Muhammad's followers. He is remembered as a humble, moral man, and great leader. During his rule Abu Bakr strengthened Muslim rule in Arabia through his campaigns know as the apostasy or Ridda wars. Abu Bakr successfully raided Syria and Iraq.
- 634-644 C.E Caliphate Umar Ibn Al-Khattab: After Abu Bakr's death, it is believed that he left his military advisor Umar Ibn Al-Khattab as his successor. During his 10-year rule, he launched a campaign against the Byzantine Empire. In 636 C.E Muslim armies conquered Byzantine states, Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon in the battle of Yarmouk (BBC). In 637 C.E the Muslim army successfully attacked the Sassanid Empire in the battle of Qadasiya, conquering most of Iraq (BBC). Umar implemented social and legal institutions across all of his territories. In the newly conquered provinces, he appointed provincial judges to settle disputes. He established regulations to oversee Quranic practices like the pilgrimage to Mecca, observance of Ramadan, and the punishment of adultery and drunkenness (Davies-Stofka). Jews and Christians were assigned Dhimmi "people of the book" status. They were not forced to convert but they were required to abide by Jizyah (poll taxes), which were higher than those that were Muslim. It is believed he won many converts through the new regulations. On the other hand, these taxes became a burden for poor Christians and Jews and this was believed to be the cause of resentment toward Umar and later the cause for his assassination by a Christian slave in 644 C.E. Before his death Umar formed a council to select his successor.
- 644-656 C.E Caliphate of Uthman Ibn Affan: Umar's council, the Shura, chose Uthman Ibn Affan as Umar's successor. During Uthman's rule, he continued policies established by Umar and he began the production of an official written version of the Quran. Generals threatened Uthman’s power in surrounding Islamic territory. Generals challenged the central authority, and problems of uneven economic development and distribution did not help Uthman's power. He was often accused of nepotism. In 656 C.E, Egyptian delegates visited Uthman in Medina to discuss economic grievances, however; the talks turned hostile and the Egyptians took siege of Uthman's home. Syrian governor and member of Uthman's family, Mu'awiyah, sent forces to help but Uthman had already been assassinated.
- 656-661 C.E First Islamic War & Caliphate of Ali Ibn Abi Talib: After Uthman's death, the title of Caliph was given to Ali. The Shi'a believed he should have been the first to succeed Muhammad. It is believed that he was reluctant to take the role but eventually accepted. There were Muslims who refused to accept Ali as their leader. Uthman's death and the Caliphate of Ali sparked the first Islamic Civil War (Fitna). Ali spent his five years in power fighting rebel groups and getting them to recognize his right to be in office. He faced Mu'awiya, who demanded that Uthman's death be avenged. Their disagreement was settled by arbitration in 658 C.E and Mu'awiya emerged the winner as the self proclaimed Caliph of Islam. In 661 C.E Ali was killed by a poisoned sword and was buried in Najaf, Iraq, which is now an important pilgrimage site for Shi'a Muslims.
Distinction between Sunni and Shi'a
- Davies-Stofka, Beth. http://www.patheos.com/Library/Islam/Historical-Development/Early-Developments?offset=1&max=1
- Khannoue, Youssef. http://englishtoislam.net/details-146.html#.VHY66lXF_xg