Political Ramifications of Muhammad’s death

The Last Decade of Muhammad’s Life:


The hijra (flight) to Medina — marks year 1 on the Islamic calendar


The conquest of Mecca with other Bedouin (pastoral Arab) tribes


Mohammed dies with no clear heir


*All dates are in the Common Era (C.E.)

First two major political crises:

  1. Who should lead the Umma?
  2. What to do about the Bedouin tribes who renounce Islam (apostasy)?

Selection of a leader: Abu Bakr vs. Ali

Abu Bakr


Not a member of the Hashim clan (Muhammad’s clan) or the Umayyad clan

Muhammad’s cousin and member of the Hashim clan

Converted as an adult

First male convert (9 years old)

Muhammad’s friend and father-in-law

Despite the age difference, Muhammad and Ali were raised as brothers by Ali’s father

A respected older Companion

A youthful and respected Companion

Order to lead the last prayer survive before Muhammad died

Some indication that Muhammad might have favored Ali


Four Rightly Guided Caliphs (Rashidun)

Abu Bakr (r. 632-634)

Umar (r. 634-644)

  1. He inquires about the identity of his assassin, and is relieved to learn it was not another Muslim
  2. forms the shura, an electoral college of six, to select the next Caliph

Uthman (r. 644-656)

Ali (r. 656-661)

Umayyad Caliphate or The Arab Empire (661-750)

The Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258)

The Abbasid Caliphate survives until the Mongol invasion, which establishes the Il-Khanid Empire