The Rightly Guided Caliphs
Upon the death of the Prophet, Abu Bakr, the friend of the Prophet and the first adult male to embrace Islam, became caliph. Abu Bakr ruled for two years to be succeeded by 'Umar who was caliph for a decade and during whose rule Islam spread extensively east and west conquering the Persian empire, Syria and Egypt. It was 'Umar who marched on foot at the end of the Muslim army into
and ordered the protection of Christian sites. 'Umar also established the first public treasury and a sophisticated financial administration. He established many of the basic practices of Islamic government. Jerusalem
'Umar was succeeded by 'Uthman who ruled for some twelve years during which time the Islamic expansion continued. He is also known as the caliph who had the definitive text of the Noble Quran copied and sent to the four corners of the Islamic world. He was in turn succeeded by 'Ali who is known to this day for his eloquent sermons and letters, and also for his bravery. With his death the rule of the "rightly guided" caliphs, who hold a special place of respect in the hearts of Muslims, came to an end.
The Umayyad caliphate established in 661 was to last for about a century. During this time
became the capital of an Islamic world which stretched from the western borders of Damascus to southern China . Not only did the Islamic conquests continue during this period through France North Africa to and Spain in the West and to France Sind, Central Asia and Transoxiana in the East, but the basic social and legal institutions of the newly founded Islamic world were established.
The Abbasids, who succeeded the Umayyads, shifted the capital to
which soon developed into an incomparable center of learning and culture as well as the administrative and political heart of a vast world. Baghdad
They ruled for over 500 years but gradually their power waned and they remained only symbolic rulers bestowing legitimacy upon various sultans and princes who wielded actual military power. The Abbasid caliphate was finally abolished when Hulagu, the Mongol ruler, captured
in 1258, destroying much of the city including its incomparable libraries. Baghdad
While the Abbasids ruled in
, a number of powerful dynasties such as the Fatimids, Ayyubids and Mamluks held power in Baghdad , Egypt and Syria . The most important event in this area as far as the relation between Islam and the Western world was concerned was the series of Crusades declared by the Pope and espoused by various European kings. The purpose, although political, was outwardly to recapture the Palestine Holy Land and especially for Christianity. Although there was at the beginning some success and local European rule was set up in parts of Jerusalem and Syria , Muslims finally prevailed and in 1187 Saladin, the great Muslim leader, recaptured Palestine and defeated the Crusaders. Jerusalem