It is impossible to study the incidents after the Prophet's demise in connection with the leadership of the society without paying attention to the political parties existing in Medina at the time. The Ansar (Helpers) were among the more important political parties who were worried about problems and their future following the demise of the Prophet (S) since the fall of Mecca to Muslims.
They gathered in Saqifa, fearing the rule of the Quraysh, although they had sworn allegiance to Imam 'Ali (a) - who was, they believed, less probable to assume power. Hubab Ibn Mundhir, one of the influential leaders of Ansar, in his remarks in Saqifa, considered the Ansar superior to Quraysh and proclaimed, “It was their sword that gained victory for Islam.”
He addressed the Ansar and said, “These people (Muhajirun (Immigrants)) are your booties and your subjects and dare not stand against you.”1 Hubab's words imply that what led the Ansar do this unwise act was merely their fear from and of competition with the Quraysh. On the other hand, a number of the Muhajirun who had shown suspicious behavior two weeks before the Prophet's passing, hearing about the Saqifa gathering, wasted no time in attending the place and arguing with the Ansar.
The news of the negotiations was revealed later in Medina by the second caliph in one of his sermons. He was in Mecca when he was told that someone had said, “Swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr happened all of a sudden.” This made 'Umar very angry and he decided to talk to the people about it in Mecca.
'Abd al-Rahman Ibn 'Awf said to 'Umar, “You are in a city where all Arab tribes are present. If you say something now, it will be spread in all cities.”
When 'Umar arrived in Medina, he went to the pulpit and addressed the people, “I have been told that some people have said swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr took place suddenly. I swear by my life that it was so. But God bestowed you its good and protected you against its bad side.
After the Prophet's demise, we were told that the Ansar had gathered with Sa'd Ibn 'Ubada in the vicinity of Banu Sa'ida. Abu Bakr, Abu 'Ubayda and I went to them and on our way, we came across two men from the Ansar. They assured us that the Ansar did not intend to do something contrary to our views, but we decided to see for ourselves.”
The spokesman of the Ansar said, “We, the Ansar, are the unified army of Islam and you, O Quraysh, were a small group of us and a minority among us!”
Abu Bakr repsonded to the spokesman of the Ansar and said, “Whatever you say about the Ansar is, of course, true but the Arabs do not recognize “caliphate” except for the Quraysh race. They are the best of Arabs in lineage and in noble birth. I propose swearing allegiance to 'Umar or Abu 'Ubayda (who were the only men of the Muhajirun in the gathering).”
The speaker of Ansar said, “Let there be an emir from us and another from you.”2
I responded, “Two swords cannot be put in a scabbard. Then, I raised Abu Bakr's hand and swore allegiance to him.”
'Umar added, “The Muhajirun and the Ansar swore allegiance to him. (Of course, there were only three men of the Muhajirun in the gathering.) We feared to leave the gathering lest they might swear allegiance to another one and force us to obey him! Or make a tumult with our opposition.
Of course, swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr was impromptu, and it was not other than a divine blessing to repel a bad omen from us, and there is no likeness of. Therefore, whoever swears allegiance with a person without “Muslims' consultation”, neither he nor the sworn one deserves obedience; otherwise, both will be in danger of assassination.”3
The caliph gave a brief report on Saqifa, but it was enough for disclosing part of the realities. The comprehensive report on Saqifa is available in Abu Bakr Juwhari's (323 AD) as-Saqifa.4
Ibn A'tham writes, “Before the arrival of the Muhajirun, serious arguments were raised among the Ansar. One of the Ansar said, “Select someone whose countenance frightens the Quraysh and makes the Ansar feel safe.” A few proposed Sa'd Ibn 'Ubada.
Usayd Ibn Huďayr, one of the nobles of Aws, rose in objection and said, “Caliphate should remain in the Quraysh.” Others spoke against him. Bashir Ibn Sa'd defended the Quraysh and 'Uwaym Ibn Sa'ida said, “Caliphate will be exclusive to the Infallible Household of the Prophet (S). Put it where God has placed it.”5 Ibn A'tham's report illustrates clearly the internal oppositions inside the Ansar.
Usayd Ibn Huďayr from Aws and Bashir Ibn Sa'd who was Sa'd Ibn 'Ubada's cousin, were the first men of the Ansar who swore allegiance to Abu Bakr in Saqifa. We all know that later on, the Ansar became dissatisfied with the rule of the Quraysh.
According to Zubayr Ibn Bakkar, the people of Aws said, “It was Bashir Ibn Sa'd of Khazraj who swore allegiance first. And the people of Khazraj said it was Usayd Ibn Huďayr.” 6
Abu Bakr knew about such a contention, so in Saqifa he said, “If the men of Aws assume power, the people of Khazraj will not accept it and there will be bloody fights among them.”7
According to Ya'qubi, 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn 'Awf, too, was in Saqifa. This however, is not true. Whatever Ya'qubi has quoted from him were told a day later in the mosque.
He addressed the Ansar and stated, “Although you are people of essential excellence (but) there is no likeness of Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Ali (a) among you.”
Mundhir Ibn Arqam stood up and said, “We do not deny excellence of the people you named. If one of these people seeks caliphate (referring to Imam 'Ali (a)), there will be no objection to his request.” Then Bashir Ibn Sa'd and Usayd Ibn Huďayr rose and swore allegiance; and many followed them so that Sa'd Ibn 'Ubada was about to be killed in the stampede.8
Bara' Ibn 'Azib went to the Hashimites and said, “They swore allegiance to Abu Bakr.”
The men of the Hashimites said Muslims would never do that in their absence. “We are the offspring of Muhammad (S) !”
'Abbas said, “I swear by the God of Ka'ba, they did.”
Ya'qubi adds, “The Muhajirun and the Ansar had no doubts on Imam 'Ali (a).”9
Tabari and Ibn Athir have said the Ansar or a number of them present in Saqifa said they swore allegiance only to 'Ali (a).10
According to Ibn Qutayba, Hubab Ibn Mundhir took his sword off its sheath when he saw the Ansar swearing allegiance but they disarmed him.
He addressed the Ansar, “You must wait and see your children begging for a bowl of water and a loaf of bread in the doorsteps of the Quraysh.”11
According to historians, the most important reasoning of Abu Bakr and 'Umar was Abu Bakr's kinship with the Prophet (S) and his age, although there are some references to his merits present in some documents.
Abu Bakr in Saqifa said, نحن قريش والأئمة منا “ We are from the Quraysh and the Imams must be from us.”14
Later on, Imam 'Ali (a) expressed his objections to Abu Bakr and 'Umar about how they had relied on “kinship” knowing that he was closer to the Prophet (S). 'Umar replied to Imam 'Ali's (a) objections and said, “Arabs do not want to see prophethood and caliphate in a single family.15 Prophethood belonged to you, so let the caliphate be for other families!”
There is little element of doubt that upon avoiding allegiance to 'Ali (a) in Saqifa, tribal opposition began and finally, the Quraysh introduced its “tribal superiority” to take advantage of the internal conflicts of the Ansar and win the caliphate despite their limited influence in Medina. Followers of Abu Bakr considered his age as a criterion at a time when Imam 'Ali (a) was young.
When Salman heard the news of the allegiance, he said, “You selected the most aged one but made a mistake about the Infallible Household of your prophet. If you swore allegiance to them, two people would not oppose you.”16
It should be noted that no reliable and documented words were uttered on the issue of Saqifa and the way of the caliph's selection. Of course, we must ignore the false quotations made up to present Abu Bakr as rightful17 for the caliphate which states incorrectly that the Prophet (S) had chosen not only Abu Bakr, but also the succeeding caliphs.18
What is important to us, however, is the Saqifa talks and the sideline incidents. The Ansar considered caliphate to themselves; the Muhajirun - Abu Bakr, 'Umar and Abu 'Ubayda - went to Saqifa and said caliphate was exclusive to the Quraysh.
They did not rely on any traditions such as “The Imams are from the Quraysh,” and said Arabs would not obey any other race than the Quraysh. Among them, some great companions of the Prophet (S) such as Zubayr and Talha19 did not regard Abu Bakr as the right one to assume power.
Therefore, there was no recognized method or preconditions for selecting Abu Bakr except his relationship with the Prophet (S), the so-called “tribal superiority” of the Quraysh and tribal criteria. Being from the Quraysh was not a prerequisite for assuming the title of caliph. Many years after his caliphate, 'Umar wished “Salim” Mawla Hudhayfa Ibn Yaman were alive to rule after him.20
Salim was not a man of the Quraysh. Some segments believe that the prerequisite of being from the Quraysh by descent was introduced in the Sunnites political jurisprudence in the third century.21 The only criteria in Saqifa was linkage to the Quraysh and Abu Bakr's age. These were the only criteria of the Dark Age along with the political conflicts that granted him caliphate, not a combination of the pagan and Islamic criteria that Dr. Khayr al-Din Sawi has stated.22
There are other documents at hand that Abu Bakr attached special significance to the Quraysh and its nobility.
Ibn 'Asakir says, “Some time after the conversion of Abu Sufyan to Islam; Bilal; Suhayb Rumi, and Salman scorned him. Abu Bakr asked angrily why they behaved that way with “the Sheikh and master of the Quraysh”. They complained about this in the presence of the Prophet (S) who upon hearing of the incident, asked Abu Bakr to apologize.23
After the allegiance in Saqifa, they left the place. According to Bara' Ibn 'Azib, they walked in the alleys and rubbed the hands of whoever they met to Abu Bakr's hands, not paying attention to the person's willingness or unwillingness.
Bara' adds, “I rushed to the door of the Hashimites to give the news.”24 Their interest in allegiance was so immense that according to Ibn Abi Shayba, they did not even attend the funeral ceremony of the Prophet (S) and returned to the city after the ceremony.25
Finishing the allegiance swearing, 'Umar stood up and apologized for whatever he had said the day before on the continuation of the Prophet's life until the death of his last companion, and indeed for his claim on offering guidance to the Prophet (S).
He said he believed that the Prophet (S) would live long to organize the affairs, but now he witnessed that the Qur'an was left among them and the people swore allegiance to the best companion of the Prophet (S).26 This demonstrates 'Umar was waiting for the selection of the anticipated caliph.
Some people rose in objection, and in addition to two distinguished personalities of the Hashimites, i.e. Imam 'Ali (a) and 'Abbas, there was other influential people such as Zubayr Ibn 'Awam, Khalid Ibn Sa'id, Miqdad Ibn 'Amr, Salman, Abu Dharr, 'Ammar, Bara' Ibn 'Azib, and Ubayy Ibn Ka'b.27
Abu Bakr's followers went to visit Ubayy Ibn Ka'b but he did not open the door for them.28 'Umar, Abu 'Ubayda Jarrah, Mughira Ibn Shu'ba and Khalid Ibn Walid were the chief organizers of this program. At Imam 'Ali's doorstep, 'Umar severely and seriously asked him to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr.
Imam Ali replied to Umar's request by stating:“Your greed for Abu Bakr's rule today is (in order) to have the caliphate tomorrow.”29
Those who had gathered in Imam 'Ali's house faced the harsh behavior of 'Umar and his followers. 'Umar took Zubayr's sword and broke it, then threatened the residents of the house that he would set the house on fire. For the list of those sitting in Imam 'Ali's house and the names of those who broke into the house, refer to the following sources.30
According to Ibn 'Abd Rabbih, 'Umar had a brand of fire in his hand and threatened to set the house on fire. When Fatima (a) asked him whether he was serious, he replied that indeed he was unless they accepted whatever the nation had accepted.31 Fatima asked the sit-in people to disperse because she was certain 'Umar would set the house ablaze.32
Getting allegiance by force and threatening to set the house on fire, which were followed later on by the other caliphs (such as Ibn Zubayr in his exacting allegiance from the Hashimites) 33 could have stemmed from here.
Of course, the Quraysh started talks in addition to using force. Upon Mughira's advice, they went to 'Abbas to include him and his family, too, in the allegiance move and alleviate their problems by pleasing the Prophet's uncle, but 'Abbas rejected their invitation.34
Imam 'Ali (a) and Fatima did their best to return the right of caliphate from Abu Bakr to Imam 'Ali (a) but it was fruitless. Their efforts have been recorded in the books of Abu Bakr Juwhari and others.35 There is no doubt that Fatima (a) was angry with Abu Bakr and 'Umar for trampling on her right in the issue of the Prophet's heritage, the Fadak case36 and the Imamate of Muslims and she passed away with pain in her heart.37
Zuhri says, “Imam 'Ali (a) buried Fatima's body at night and did not let Abu Bakr know. Until before her death, Imam 'Ali (a) and none of the Hashimites men swore allegiance to Abu Bakr.38 Later on, Imam 'Ali (a) swore allegiance to protect the unity of Muslims against the idolaters and infidels.”39
In his response to Abu Sufyan's request who asked him not to let caliphate remain in the hands of the Banu Taym, Imam 'Ali said, “You have always been an enemy of Islam and Muslims.”40
Regardless, there is no doubting that Imam 'Ali (a) did not swear allegiance to Abu Bakr until after the death of Fatima (a).41
Mada'ini has written that with the beginning of the war against the infidels, 'Uthman came to Imam 'Ali (a) and said, “No one will join you in your fight against infidels unless you swear allegiance to Abu Bakr.” He insisted and took Imam to Abu Bakr's place and 'Ali (a) swore allegiance and it made Muslims very happy.42
Mas'udi says, “Fatima, sitting at the side of the Prophet's grave, recited the following poem”,
قدكان بعدك انباء وهينمة لوكنت شاهدها لم تكثر الخطب
“After you, there appeared events that if you had been alive to see them, you would have never made so many speeches.” 43
Fatima's opposition was considerably important to the caliph as far as his public prestige was concerned. Abu Bakr did his best to come to mutual terms with her, however, she never accepted. This led the caliph to express his deep regret in the final years of his life for invading Fatima's house. Many historians have quoted him as wishing he had never inspected Fatima's house.44
Sa'd Ibn 'Ubada was another opponent of Abu Bakr.45 He did not swear allegiance with Abu Bakr and went to Damascus, and as has been reported, was assassinated there during the time of the second caliph. The common narrative in historical documents is that genies killed him and they composed two verses on this incident. The truth however, according to Baladhuri and Ibn 'Abd Rabbih, is that a man from Damascus was sent by 'Umar to ask him to swear allegiance and when 'Ubada did not accept, 'Umar killed him.46
Abu Bakr's policy differed from that of 'Umar in that 'Umar believed in using force to get allegiance from his opponents, but Abu Bakr did not encourageit although he also believed in the principle. Both had dual policies but 'Umar, according to authentic documents, used force while Abu Bakr said in one of his sermons,
“لا بيعة لي في عنقه وهو بالخيار من أمره ”'
‘Ali has no obligation nor commitment to swear allegiance to me and he is free in his choice.”47
Abu Bakr, son of Abu Quhafa, was the first caliph after the Prophet's demise. There are differing views on his name being either 'Abd Allah or 'Atiq.48 Apparently, many individuals have insisted on saying that his name was 'Abd Allah but he had previously been called 'Atiq. He belonged to the Banu Taym tribe, one of the tribes of the Quraysh.
During the Dark Age, this tribe maintained minimal special standing among the other tribes. This claim is evidenced by Abu Sufyan's words once Abu Bakr assumed power. He said, “How come the government has fallen to the least populated and meanest tribes of the Quraysh?”49
There is a story that one day, Abu Bakr was speaking with Dhaghfal about his lineage and both agreed that Banu Taym was one of the weakest tribes of the Quraysh.50 Another time, Abu Bakr asked Qays Ibn 'Asim why he buried his daughters alive. Qays Ibn 'Asim replied, “So that they do not give birth to children like you.”51
There are different views also on his occupation prior to the advent of Islam.Those who intended to attribute a high position to him in the Dark Age, said he was a merchant. On the other hand, there are documents that say he had menial jobs such as milking and of that nature.52
Another story says Abu Bakr had financial problems and was a teacher in the Dark Age and later, became a tailor following the advent of Islam.53
Abu bakr was two years younger than the Prophet of Islam and he is considered to be among one of the first Muslims. There are however conflicting ideas concerning whether he was the first or the fifty-first Muslim as one quotation has put it.54
Such notions about him are natural considering he was the first caliph. We have not heard about any special pressures he may have faced in the years of invitation to Islam in Mecca. He did not accompany the Muhajirun to Abyssinia, but he found an opportunity to be with the Prophet (S) in the night of Hijra. According to various discussions about Hijra, after the Prophet left the house, Abu Bakr went to see Imam 'Ali (a) and when found out that Prophet Muhammad (S) had gone, he had set off and joined him.
Abu Bakr's relationship with the Prophet (S) grew stronger following the Prophet's marriage with 'Ayisha. 'Ayisha was a clever woman who tried to have a role in all political developments of her time. This helped strengthen Abu Bakr's position to some extent.
Abu Bakr did not have any political or military responsibility during his ten years of stay in Medina, but he could gain power by understanding the situation of the internal wings of the Quraysh and taking advantage of the Quraysh's enmity towards Imam 'Ali (a) as well as the collaboration of the middle wings of the Quraysh. This group was not among the Umayyads nor the Hashimites.
Abu Bakr grasped a serious chance. When he took over the caliphate, a wave of apostasy and opposition to Islam swept across Hijaz and Muslims who all saw the principle of Islam endangered realized that opposing Abu Bakr was not to their interests.
It is interesting to know that immediately after Abu Bakr's coming to power, rifts emerged between the Ansar and the Quraysh over a sarcastic poem composed by Abu Bakr about the Ansar. Afterwards, the Ansar kept some distance from Abu Bakr and 'Amr Ibn 'As who was instigated by the Quraysh spoke against them.
On the other hand, Faďl Ibn 'Abbas and then, Imam 'Ali (a) praised the Ansar. Hassan Ibn Thabit composed poems in praise of Imam 'Ali (a) for his support of the Ansar and implicitly, referred to the efforts of some men of the Quraysh who wanted to take Imam 'Ali's position.55 However, when oppositions heightened, the Ansar moved towards the claimants of prophethood and other apostates.
Abu Bakr reiterated several times that there were some people who deserved the caliphate more than him. After the people swore allegiance to him, he said in a sermon, “I took over the rule over you while I'm not any better than you. If I behave well, help me; if not, guide me. Obey me as long as I am obedient to God; otherwise, you won't need to obey me.”56 This shows that Abu Bakr believed it was not necessary for a ruler to be the best of the people.
It is necessary to admit that Abu Bakr had an eloquent language and we are sure that it was his clam words at the Saqifa more effective than 'Umar's harsh words, though they were complementary.
Later, Abu Bakr once pointed to his tongue and said, “This is what helped me reach this rank.”57
He has been quoted as saying, ” 'Umar is stronger than me and Salim is more pious.”58 But his emphasis on having the rule is surprising. Abu Bakr introduced his government as the “Caliphate of Prophethood” to convey the religious aspect of his caliphate. He considered his rule not as a caliphate from God, but a succession to the Prophet (S) and named himself the “Caliph of the Messenger of Allah”.59
His first measure was dispatching Usama's army, an army which the Prophet (S) had prepared to send to Damascus in the final days of his life. Political opposition caused delays in the deployment of the army under the pretext of Usama's young age. Now that the issues seemed to have been settled, the same people who were opposed, decided to send Usama's army in spite of the critical situation on Hijaz.
Responding to opposition against the army's dispatch, they said they could not ignore doing something that the Prophet had wanted. Abu Bakr said he would send the army even if the beasts would tear him apart in Medina.60 Usama's army left for Damascus and returned after forty days with no serious clashes. Since the Prophet (S) had included 'Umar in Usama's army, Abu Bakr asked Usama to let 'Umar stay with him.
The main problem of Muslims was a move known as “Apostasy”. According to historians, after the Prophet's passing, some people claimed prophethood, some became apostates and put on the royal crown while others refused to pay their tax alms.
It is known that the Bedouin Arabs converted to Islam one after another following the conquest of Mecca. It was mostly due to the ever-expanding power of Islam and they feared that Muslims would confront them any time. Therefore, they had no way but to accept the new path, even if temporarily. They did not know enough about Islam and nor could they give up their old ideas of the Dark Age.
Another serious problem for them was paying the tax alms. In fact, they considered it an act of extortion by Muslims. According to the Bedouin Arabs, Muslims were only the people of the Quraysh, Aws and Khazraj. These currents each had its own motive, but the system of caliphate viewed all of them as apostasy and confronted them from this aspect. However, apostates can be classified into several groups given what has been said so far:
The first group was those who claimed prophethood. Others gave up Islam and returned to their previous faith during the Dark Age. The third group did not recognize the Medina government, but said they abided by Islam. These people did not believe in the Medina administration and so refused to pay tax alms. Among this group, there were people who did not recognize Abu Bakr's rule and did not believe in the Imamate of Prophet's Household, so they did not pay tax alms. Here, we will first discuss the claimants of prophethood.
The news of apostasy has been brought up in several books. Tabari has used Sayf Ibn 'Umar's book as his major source. His book was “al-Futuh al-Kabir wa ar-Radda”. Biographers have all rejected Sayf's authenticity.61 Another independent work is the book of al-Futuh by Ibn A'tham Kufi that fortunately remains to date. Waqidi and Mada'ini had both books on apostasy. More recently, Waqidi's “ar-Radda” was published. It has many commonalities with the al-Futuh of Ibn A'tham. There are other sparse and relatively scattered references to apostasy in other books.
As for the claimants of prophethood, there was a main motive. Some ambitious tribes or individuals thought that they could also rule others by claiming prophethood if others had done so. This move led to the emergence of many claimants of prophethood. Aswad 'Ansa was the first of these who staged a rebellion in Yemen and wrote to the representatives of the Prophet,
” أمسكوا علينا ما أخذنا من أرضنا "
Return to us whatever of our lands you have captured.”62
Hearing this, Prophet Muhammad (S) ordered him to be killed in “any way possible”. It took three months for Muslims to quell the Aswad mutiny and he was killed finally. It is said that the news of his death reached Medina a few days after the demise of the Prophet (S). An Iranian-born man named Firuz, belonging to the Yemeni tribe of Abna', had killed 'Ansa.63 There is also another reference to another Muslim named Dadhwayh who seems to be an Iranian.
Musaylima Ibn Habib from the Banu Hanifa tribe was another claimant of prophethood. He visited the Prophet of Islam in Medina along with the influential men of his tribe and said to have converted to Islam.
Upon his return, he thought about claiming prophethood and said to the people of Banu Hanifa, “I what to know how come the Quraysh is more deserving than you for caliphate and Imamate? I swear by God that their population is not more than yours. They are not braver than you. You have more lands and more properties.”64
Then, he claimed prophethood and wrote to the Prophet of Islam, “I have become your partner in prophethood. Half of the lands belong to us and the other half to the Quraysh, but the Quraysh are aggressive people.” The Prophet responded to him,
إِنَّ الْأَرْضَ لِلَّهِ يُورِثُهَا مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ.
“The earth belongs to Him, He gives it to whomever He wishes and the eternality is for the pious people.” 65
This correspondence took place at the end of the 10th year from Hijra. When the Messenger of Allah passed away, Musaylima found an opportunity to gather some followers around himself. He used to compose rhythmic prose to imitate the Qur'an and recited the prose for his followers.66 Furthermore, he had told people he had exempted them from saying morning and evening prayers.67
Also, Sajah, the daughter of Harith Tamimi68, claimed prophethood but after meeting Musaylima, she married him. It is said that as Sajah's marriage portion, he exempted the people from saying morning and evening prayers.
In al-Futuh we read that when Sajah met Musaylima, she said, “I heard about your excellent traits and chose you. I have come to be your wife so that we can both be prophets, and together, make the world obey us and be our subordinate.”
Musaylima said, “For your marriage portion, I exempted your nation from saying prayers at dawn and dusk.”69
When Muslims went to Yamama with an army led by Khalid Ibn Walid, they came across some of Musaylima's followers and asked them what faith they were in.
They said, “منا نبي ومنكم نبي” “ We have our prophet and you have your prophet.”
It was then that a war broke out between them. The Yamama battle was one of the bloodiest wars of Muslims with claimants of prophethood and apostates. In this war, the Muslim army lost a great number of its men, 58 of whom were from the Muhajirun and the Ansar and 13 men out of them, had fought in the Battle of Badr.70 Ibn A'tham has put the number of Muslim martyrs at 1200 people, 700 of whom had memorized the Qur'an.71
In a text attributed to Waqidi, we read the details about the war and the many pre-battle bragging of the Prophet's companions, including 'Ammar Yasir. Immediately after the battle ended, Khalid married Muja'a Ibn Marara's daughter, who was one of the conspiring heads of Banu Hanifa, and indulged in his own lust and pleasure. Observing this, Muslims wrote a letter to Abu Bakr and said,
أترضى بأنا لا تجف دماءنا وهذا عروس باليمامة خالد
“Do you please with our blood in dryness and this man keeps on living in relief in Yamama.”
The news reached Abu Bakr and 'Umar said, “Khalid always does something which pains our heart.” Abu Bakr wrote a strong-worded letter to Khalid. When Khalid read the letter, he laughed and said he was sure it was 'Umar's work because he knew Abu Bakr was satisfied with him.72
Another claimant of prophethood was Tulayha Ibn Khuwaylad Asadi. He also gathered men from the tribes of Ghatafan and Banu Fazara and tried to compose rhythmic prose to claim prophethood and stand against the Medina government.
In a battle between his men and the Muslim's army, 'Uyayna Ibn Hisn and his tribesmen from Banu Fazarah were defeated heavily and Tulayha fled to Damascus. Thus, another revolt was suppressed.73 'Uyayna Ibn Hisn had repeatedly shown his enmity towards Islam during the life of the Prophet (S) but had finally embraced Islam. However, his presence in this current showed that he, like many others, had never believed in Islam truly.
When he was brought as a captive to Medina, people taunted him and said, “O, enemy of God! Did you become an infidel after converting to Islam?” But he swore he had not believed in Islam even for a moment.74 Abu Bakr pardoned the captives of this war. Tulayha, too, came to Medina at the time of 'Umar and repented.
'Umar told him, “How do you expect to save yourself from hell when you have killed Thabit Ibn Arqam Ansari and 'Ukkasha Ibn Mihsan Asadi?”
Tulayha said, “God had wanted martyrdom for them and I did not kill them with my own hand, so there will be no hell for me.” 'Umar liked his reasoning and pardoned him.
Apart from claimants of prophethood, some other tribes became apostates in the basics. There is no doubt that the situation was prepared for apostasy but it is not clear for sure who were the real apostates and who are those who did not accept the Medina government merely for political or religious reasons.75
For example, one such group was Malik Ibn Nuwayra's clan who were accused and killed mercilessly undoubtedly just because of Khalid's personal issues and his mean moral motives. This is a blot of shame for Khalid and those who defended him. They considered his crime in massacring a number of Muslims and his adultery with Malik's wife after her husband's murder as a wrong interpretation of Ijtihad.76
Hearing about this, 'Umar was seriously incited against Khalid and asked Abu Bakr to oust him but the caliph called him the “sword of God” and refused to do so.77
Among the tribes considered to be apostate, there were some people who did not believe in Abu Bakr's caliphate and favored the government of the Prophet's Household. They said Abu Bakr had no “allegiance” to them so there was no need to obey him. They believed that the Muhajirun and Ansar had prevented the Prophet's Household from coming to power out of jealousy.78
According to Waqidi and Ibn A'tham, a clan from Kinda in Haďramawt was all apostates. Ziyad Ibn Lubayd was responsible for collecting tax alms in the region. Some men of the tribe agreed with paying tax alms while others did not. Once Ziyad chose a camel belonging to Ziyad Ibn Mu'awiya as tax alms, he asked for help from one of the influential men of Kinda named Haritha Ibn Suraqa and asked him to return his camel and take another one.
Haritha made the request from Ziyad but he did not accept. So, Haritha himself went among the camels set aside as tax alms and brought back Zayd's camel, saying, “We obeyed the Messenger of God as long as he was alive.” “لو قام رجل من أهل بيته لأطعناه” “ Today, we will obey anyone from his Household who comes to power.” Abu Bakr has no right of rule and allegiance upon us.
It is said that Ziyad Ibn Lubayd fled from the region overnight and composed poems terming the tribe as apostate.
He said, “We will fight you to make you obey Abu Bakr until you give up infidelity and apostasy and say you shall never return to infidelity.”
Of course, not all tribesmen thought like Haritha. What is important is that all of them refused to pay tax alms to the Medina government because they considered it humiliation for themselves. They believed in distributing tax alms among the poor within their tribe.
Some people of this tribe used to say, “We swear by God that we have come to be enslaved by the Quraysh. First, they send Muhajir Ibn Abi Umayya or Ziyad Ibn Lubayd to collect tax alms. Then, they threaten to fight against us.”79
Ash'ath Ibn Qays, from this tribe, said, “I don't think Arabs would accept the rule of the Banu Taym and leave the men of the Hashimites.”
He said in his poems, “If the Quraysh are to leave the power into the hands of Banu Taym and distance themselves from Muhammad's Household, of course, we are prior to it because we are the descendants of kings.”
Elsewhere in the above narration, we read that Ziyad sent the tax alms camels to Medina along with someone and he, himself, went to a tribe of Kinda named Banu Zuhal.
An influential man of Kinda named Harith Ibn Mu'awiya said, “O, Ziyad! You ask us to obey someone who has no accord with us.”
Ziyad said, “You are right. He has signed no agreement with you, but we have selected him to rule.”
Harith asked, “Why did you take the government away from the Prophet's Household when they deserved it, because God has said, “وَأُوْلُوا الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَى بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ.” “Some relatives are given more priority over others.”
Ziyad answered, “The Muhajirun and the Ansar know the interests of their government better than you.”
Harith stated, “I swear by God, it is not so. You did it out of your jealousy. I cannot accept that the Messenger of Allah has passed away without assigning a successor for himself. Go away from here.”
'Urfaja Ibn 'Abd Allah, another man of the tribe, said, “I swear by God, Harith is right. Expel this man from this place. His master is not eligible to be the caliph and the Muhajirun and Ansar are not better than the Prophet (S) in knowing the expediency of the government.”
Ziyad went to Medina and said, “The people of Kinda have revolted and have become apostate.”80
Ibn A'tham's further explanations on the disputes among the people of Kinda and Abu Bakr reveal their problem was Abu Bakr's caliphate. Making his mind to fight the Kinda tribes, Abu Bakr summoned 'Umar and said, “I want to send 'Ali Ibn Abi Talib to fight them because,
فانه عدل رضا عند اكثر الناس لفضله وشجاعته وقرابته وعلمه وفهمه ورفقه بما يحاول من الامور “
He is just and acceptable more to the public because of his excellence, valour, kinship and knowledge as well as his handling of affairs.”
'Umar said, “You are right. 'Ali is as you say but I fear one thing. I fear he may refuse to fight them. If he does not go to war, no one else will do so unless with disgust.”81
This discussion and 'Umar's consultation with Abu Ayyub show that there were some people among them who opposed fighting Muslims.
The caliph considered these things instances of apostasy, and historians have recorded these fights as the battles of Radda. These wars may be justified as necessary tactics for safeguarding the government but it is hard to prove the tribes' apostasy. When Abu Bakr decided to fight these tribes, some of his men, including 'Umar, objected to his decision. Later on, 'Umar said he opposed Abu Bakr's decision in the beginning but after some time, he learne that caliph was right.
The question was whether or not these tribes were apostate and if fighting them was permissible or not? Abu Bakr believed in their apostasy, so he even took their women and children captive and brought them to Medina.82 It seems that 'Umar, like many Muslims, agreed with fighting them in principle but did not believe in their apostasy. According to Shahristani, it was because of this belief that 'Umar freed their captives83 when he became the second caliph.
Another problem was that even if the tribes were apostate, many considered it illegitimate to take captives from apostates.84
There are numerous documents at hand indicating that some tribes were considered apostate because they refused to pay tax alms. For instance, a group of Yamama people believed in the principle of paying tax alms but refused to pay tax alms to Abu Bakr.
They used to say, “We collect tax alms from the rich in our tribes and distribute it among the poor and needy among ourselves, but we will pay nothing to whom the Book and traditions have not recommended him.”85 Ya'qubi, too, writes, “Some people only refused to pay tax alms to Abu Bakr.”86
As mentioned earlier, 'Umar opposed the idea of apostasy of these tribes. According to Ibn A'tham, when Abu Bakr wanted to kill the captives of the battles of Radda,87 'Umar said, “These people believe in Islam and they swear about it. Imprison them for the time being to see what happens next.”
Abu Bakr jailed them in the house of Ramla, daughter of Harith. After Abu Bakr's death, 'Umar told them, “You know what my opinion was about you. Now, you are all free without any ransom. Go wherever you want.”88
Qays on behalf of 'Asim Minqari was commissioned by the Prophet (S) to collect tax alms from his tribe. After the Prophet's demise, he collected the tax alms but instead of giving it to Abu Bakr, he distributed them among the poor in his tribe. This was considered as a criminal act. Even a proverb was made in this regard which said “More criminal than Qays be 'Asim.”89
Ibn Kathir, too, has reiterated that many Muslims refused to pay their tax alms to Abu Bakr.90 Mawbakhti writes of a group that said they would not pay tax alms until it was known who was holding the government; therefore, they distributed the tax alms among the poor.91
Maqdisi, too, says, “A group of them refused to pay tax alms while others opposed rejected the principle of tax alms.”92
Besides not recognizing Abu Bakr's rule, another problem of the tribes was that after hearing the news of the Prophet's passing, they severed their relations with Medina. They only believed in having a religious connection with Medina, and when the Prophet of Islam passed away, they felt no need for accepting the rule of someone else. Therefore, since they refused to pay tax alms to Medina, they were labeled apostate.93
These tribes believed there was no need to assign a single ruler for all Muslims and that if they obeyed Muhammad, it was because he was a prophet. But, after his demise, there would be no need to obey others. They said:
أطعنـا رسول الله ما كان بيننا فيـــا لعباد الله ما لأبي بكر
إذا مات بكر قام بكر مكانـه وتلكم لعمر الله قاصمة الظهر
We obeyed the Messenger when he was alive but why shall we obey Abu Bakr?
When Abu Bakr died, a man like him came to power, that is - by God - backbreaking. 94
Thus, they did not deem it necessary to obey the rule of Medina and the rulers of Medina counted them among apostates.95
Muhammad Ibn Idris Shafi'i writes, “This was because Arabs living in the outskirts of Mecca knew no rule and resented being ruled by others. The reason they accepted to obey the Messenger of God, was because they did not consider anyone else deserving obedience.”96
This reasoning has been brought in the poetry of Malik Ibn Nuwayra. Addressing his tribe, he said:
وقلت خذوا أموالكم غير خائف ولا ناظـر فيما يجئ من الغد
فـإن قام بالأمر المخوّف قائم منعنا وقلنا: الدين دين محمد
“I told you to take your money (tax alms) with no fear and no worries of what happens tomorrow, If someone assumes power, we will tell him, the only religion is the religion of Muhammad.” 97
Abu Bakr's insistence on collecting tax alms from all tribes was to strengthen his government in Medina.
He said, “If they do not pay me the tax alms they used to pay to the Prophet (S) every year, I will fight them.”98
There is no doubt that the majority of the Prophet's companions did not like Abu Bakr's idea of war99 but they obeyed him regardless because he was the ruler.
Maqdisi said the first dispute among Muslims was leadership while the second was fighting those who refused to pay tax alms. Muslims opposed Abu Bakr's view of tax alms collection but after a while, the majority of them accepted his rule. The opposition remained and some Muslims believed fighting them was a mistake.100
We quoted 'Umar as saying that 'Ali (a) might avoid fighting the Kinda people. Elsewhere, we said Abu Bakr was ready to fight them himself, but Imam 'Ali (a) asked him to stay in Medina101 and send another one to fight them. Obviously, a group of those the caliph fought against were real apostates.
Another quotation from Mada'ini says after Imam 'Ali (a) opposed Abu Bakr, 'Uthman told Imam Ali, “Nobody will join the Muslim army to fight the apostates if you do not swear allegiance to Abu Bakr.” 'Uthman's insistence made Imam 'Ali swear allegiance to Abu Bakr.102
On the other hand, there were some people in Medina who wished for the success of apostates to once again maintain their infidel beliefs of the Dark Age. One day, a man of the Umayya and another man from the Ansar were boasting for each other.
The former said, “When the Prophet of Islam passed away, the majority of his companions were from the Umayya.”
The Ansari man replied, “Yes.” و لكنهم حالفوا أهل الردة على هدم الاسلام 103 “They allied with the atheists to destroy Islam.”
'Ayisha, too, has said about wide-scale discord in Medina in the first days of his father's caliphate.104 Also, Mecca was about to return to absolute apostasy after the Prophet's demise, but Suhayl Ibn 'Amr's remarks stabilized Mecca's situation.
Ibn Athir writes, “After the Prophet's passing, Mecca was on the verge of apostasy and 'Attab Ibn Asid sought a hiding.”
Suhayl Ibn 'Amr stood up and addressed the people of Mecca, لاتكونوا آخر من اسلم وأول من ارتد “ Do not be the last one to embrace Islam and the first one to become an apostate.” 105
At any rate, we must not ignore the fact that Medina's resistance against apostasy helped the administration in the city to be stronger and bring other lands under its control after passing through this tortuous period. Khalifa Ibn Khayyat has listed the apostates as follows,
Tulayha Ibn Khuwaylad, Banu Salim, Banu Tamim, Banu Yamama, Banu Bahrayn, Banu Umman, Banu Najir, Haďramawt and Banu Yemen, Banu Radda.106
It is known to all that 'Umar was Abu Bakr's closest companion and friend. The Prophet of Islam had spelled their brotherhood union along with the Muhajirun.107107
Although Abu Bakr was a major architect of the issue of caliphate and showed he was better than 'Umar in his battles against apostates, accepted 'Umar's views in many cases due to 'Umar's seriousness and toughness. These two were complementary to each other. We wrote that during the Saqifa developments, too, they were always together. It was due to this insistence that during the Saqifa issue, Imam 'Ali (a) accused 'Umar of trying to secure his own future.108
Abu Bakr said of 'Umar, “He is the dearest of people to me.”109
Ibn Abi al-Hadid says, “Abu Bakr could not gain (the) caliphate if 'Umar had not helped him.”110
It is said that Abu Bakr appointed 'Umar as a judge.111 Also, he used to lead congregational prayers when Abu Bakr was absent.112
It was in the 11th Hijra year that Abu Bakr appointed him “emir of the pilgrims to Mecca”.113 Khalifa Ibn Khayyat, listing Abu Bakr's emirs, writes,
Every affair including judiciary one of 'Umar Ibn Khattab.” 114114
'Umar's influence on Abu Bakr was so immense that he dissuaded the caliph from appointing Khalid Ibn Sa'id as the commander of the Muslim army dispatched to Damascus and instead, sent Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan. After returning to Medina and seeing Abu Bakr's choice, Khalid Ibn Sa'id refused to swear allegiance to the caliph for some time.115
'Umar, himself, was aware of his power so he made use of his rank and divided the properties of Mu'adh Ibn Jabal into two halves and took one half for Bayt al-Mal, the Treasury of Muslims.116 He did the same thing later to the governors of cities when he assumed caliphate. Abu Bakr could not do anything in the absence of 'Umar, so when he wanted to send Usama's army to Damascus, he asked Usama, the commander of the army, to let 'Umar stay with the caliph and help him in the administration of affairs.117
Also, once when Khalid had made a mistake and Abu Bakr would not agree to write a letter of protest to him, 'Umar wrote a letter himself, but Khalid paid to attention to it and said he knew 'Umar had done it.118
At any rate, 'Umar's influence and the strong link between the two, made Abu Bakr appoint him as his successor. In other words, people did not consider their caliphate two separate things and from the very beginning, they saw one of them as successor to the other one.119
For the same reason, when Abu Bakr was in coma and wanted to write an agreement about his successor, his scribe, 'Uthman, wrote 'Umar's name in the agreement because he knew whom the caliph was thinking of.
Khalid Ibn Walid was another functionary of Abu Bakr. He belonged to the tribe of Banu Makhzum, a family of the Quraysh, who converted to Islam on Safar 1st, 8th AH.120 He was physically a powerful man but void of ethical values. He committed various faults when the Prophet (S) was alive.
Some documents state it was the Prophet (S) who named him “God's sword” but Ibn Durayd and others say Abu Bakr gave him the title.121 He got the title when he killed Malik Ibn Nuwayra unfairly and when people like 'Umar asked Abu Bakr to punish him. But the caliph said he was a sword hoisted by God and he would never bring it down.122 According to Ibn A'tham, Khalid named himself “Sayf Allah or God's sword” and Abu Bakr approved it.123
It is said that Khalid was a supporter of Abu Bakr and an opponent of Imam 'Ali (a).124 He also accompanied the group who invaded Imam 'Ali's house to force him into swearing allegiance with Abu Bakr.125 He is widely believed to be a person who prepared the ground for Abu Bakr's caliphate.126
The story of Malik Ibn Nuwayra's murder, and the subsequent rape of his wife which Ibn A'tham said he did upon the consensus of people of knowledge displays the weak moral character of Khalid. However, Abu Bakr insisted on keeping him the commander of his army and sending him to crack down on apostates and false prophets.
Abu Bakr defended Khalid with the justification that Khalid had acted on Ijtihad and so he did not deserve punishment. One day Khalid burnt some of the captives of apostates with fire. When 'Umar objected, Abu Bakr said he was God's sword.127
'Umar's objection was why he had appointed a commander who killed people and tortured them with fire.128 Apparently, despite all his attention to 'Umar, the caliph was unwilling to stop backing Khalid, and still, it is interesting to know that when 'Umar, himself, took power as the second caliph, unlike his earlier emphasis on stoning Khalid for raping Malik Ibn Nuwayra's wife, he sufficed to sacking him.129
Khalid was sure his acts would meet no objection on the part of Abu Bakr and if he received a letter of punishment from the caliph, it was from 'Umar; otherwise, Abu Bakr trusted him.130 Sometimes, he committed self-authorized acts because he was sure of Abu Bakr's support.131
Abu Bakr once said, “No mother can give birth to someone like Khalid.”132 Once when he killed two people who had letters of clemency from Abu Bakr, some people complained about it, but Abu Bakr defended Khalid as usual.133 When 'Umar sat on the throne as the second caliphate, he immediately fired Khalid from the command of Damascus's army and replaced him with Abu 'Ubayda Jarrah.
He said, “I sacked Khalid to show that God helps His religion.”134
When Khalid was busy fighting in Iraq and received his letter of abdication to Damascus, he said, ”'Umar's jealousy did not allow me to achieve the conquest of Iraq.”135
According to Anas Ibn Malik, 'Umar used to tell Abu Bakr, “Write to Khalid to ask for your permission before doing anything.”
Abu Bakr wrote but Khalid responded, “You must leave me free in whatever I do; otherwise, I will resign.”
'Umar said, “Dismiss him”, but the caliph did not accept.136 Khalid died in Medina or Damascus137) in the 21st AH and accidentally, he appointed 'Umar as guardian of his will. Ibn Sa'd quoted 'Umar as saying, “We had ill thoughts about Khalid, but we were wrong.”138
'Umar opposed crying over the dead and said he had heard from the Prophet (S) that, إن الميت ليعذب ببكاء اهله “ The dead person suffers when his family cries for him.”
Abu 'Ubayda Jarrah was another pillar of power for Abu Bakr's caliphate. He, along with 'Umar and Abu Bakr were present in Saqifa Banu Sa'ida. He had an oath of brotherhood with Salim Mawla Hudhayfa 141 who was also influential in the issue of caliphate.
'Umar said about him, “If Salim were alive, I would make him my successor.”142
It should be noted that 'Umar said the same thing about Abu 'Ubayda at the time of his death.143 Abu 'Ubayda was first appointed in charge of the Treasury of Muslims but later, became the commander of the Damascus army and served until his death in 18th Hijra year when he died in Amawas plague.
The commanders and functionaries of Abu Bakr were Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan, 'Amr Ibn 'As, Shurahbil Ibn Hasana (18 H)144 and 'Akrama Ibn Abi Jahl. Among his appointees, there were some people serving since the Prophet's time. Mu'adh Ibn Jabal in Yemen, 'Attab Ibn Asid in Mecca and 'Ala' Ibn Haďrami in Bahrayn were some of these people.
According to some documents, Abu Bakr appointed Anas as the ruler of Bahrayn. Perhaps, it was another part of Bahrayn. Muhajir Ibn Abi Umayya ruled in San'a, Ziyad Ibn Lubayd in the coastal regions of Yemen, Ya'la Ibn Umayya in Khawlan, 'Uthman Ibn Abi l-'As in Ta'if, and Sulayt Ibn Qays ruled in Yamama. Also, it is said that 'Uthman was Abu Bakr's scribe.145
It is evident that the list does not include important figures of the Prophet's companions, especially from the Ansar. Apparently, this can be suitable evidence on the caliphate's neglect of the Ansar.
The greater Syria was a land bounded by the Mediterranean Sea, the Western banks of the Euphrates, the northern border of Hijaz, the southern border of the ancient Eastern Rome and modern-day Turkey. Presently, this land includes the countries of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. The new border demarcation was made during the developments following World War I.
The name of Syria has always existed since ancient times and Herodot (425 AD) has called this land Syria. Probably, the name Syria has been taken from the word ”'Ashuriyya” attributed to Assyrians, although some have rejected this notion.146
Before falling to Muslims, the region of greater Syria was a colony of the Eastern Roman Empire. Centuries before the advent of Islam, big tribes of Arabs migrated from Hijaz - mostly from south- to this land. The most important tribes recorded in the early advent of Islam, were, Quďa'a, Salih, Ghasasina, Judham, Lakhm, Kalb, Tanukh, and Bahra'. These tribes were sparse and scattered in the developed land of ancient Syria and each settled in a city or village.
These tribes forgot their Arab rites and rituals due to the many years of life with the Romans and the vast majority of them converted to Christianity.
However, they had retained parts of their Arab nature. The first sign of their conversion to Christianity was mixing their Arab language with Syriac, and basically, Syriac had become their scientific language. Therefore, it was recommended later that Arabic should not be taught from Qaďa'a and Ghassan because they read books in Syriac and naturally, their language had become mixed.147
Shaykhu insists in showing that all Arabs living in the greater Syria had converted to Christianity before the advent of Islam. We believe this is an overstatement. Earlier, we negated his views on the Christianity of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj. At any rate - true of false - he has provided a list of Arab tribes who converted to Christianity.148
Years before the advent of Islam, the Arabs of this land were allies of Romans in their battle against Iranians and fought the Iranian army and its allied Arabs from Iraq. In those years, the Roman army consisted of Arabs and Romans.
Damascus Arabs held different views from Arabs living on Hijaz and they had different social behavior as well. The Arabs of Damascus had left their Bedouin life because they lived in a developed area and had become city dwellers in Damascus, Halab (Aleppo), Hims, etc. Their commonalities with the Romans made some of them migrate to Rome after the advent of Islam.149
Of course, Romans always feared that racial commonality would urge the Arab tribes of Damascus to accept Islam. A more serious problem was difference in religion between the Christians of Damascus and the church of Constantinople in a way that they were greatly persecuted by the Eastern Church.
The Christians of Damascus believed in the Ya'qubi sect150 and it was a heretical practice in view of the Eastern Church.
They believed that Damascus Christianity was excellent in innovation!151 The religious difference of Damascus's Arab Christians with the Eastern Roman Church, to many, was one of the reasons for the consecutive Islamic conquests in the greater Syria.152
In addition to the Arab residents of the greater Syria, numerous Nibtiyan, too, who were descendants of the earlier tribes and rulers in the region, lived in that land. Also, many Jews who are said to be between 100 to 200 thousands lived in that land.153
We mentioned earlier that at the time of the advent of Islam, the greater Syria was under the domination of the Eastern Roman empire. However, since centuries ago, local rulers had the power in that land. The Nibtiyan government ruled first, followed by the Tadmur government and finally, the government of Ghassanid who were from the tribe of Ghasasina. These came from Yemen apparently after the destruction of the Ma'rab Dam.
This tribe converted to Christianity in the 4th century AD. Jafna Ibn 'Amr, from the elders of the tribe, was the founder of the Ghassani dynasty and there are ambiguous quotations that between 11 to 32 rulers of this dynasty ruled in Damascus. There is little we know about a limited number of these more recent rulers. Harith Ibn Jabala was one of their renowned personalities who ruled between the years 529-569.
He fought the Lakhmids -the Arab rivals of the Ghasasina who ruled Iraq - and helped his tribe rise to fame. He won the title of “Philark” meaning chieftain and also Bitriq (Patrick) from the Roman emperor for his services. The Ya'qubiyya sect spread in Damascus in his time. After Harith, his son, Mundhir, replaced him and ruled until 581, when crisis engulfed Damascus.154
Between the years 611 and 614, Iranians fiercely invaded these regions and captured Jerusalem. Later, (Hiraql) Heraclitus could regain Jerusalem from Iranians. The names of Ghassani princes ruling some cities and their command of the battle between the Roman-Arab army and the army of Islam indicates that the Ghasasinah still had great influence in Damascus and Constantinople.
Jabala Ibn 'Ayham Ghassani, a commander of the Roman army at Yarmuk, was one of these influential princes who converted to Islam but became an apostate and went to the Roman emperor for certain reasons mentioned elsewhere.
Heraclitus was the son of Herakleios, whose father ruled in Christian Africa on behalf of the Roman Empire. The Eastern Empire Roman Empire experienced serious crises in the closing years of the sixth century AD and the early years of the 7th century.
The attacks of Awars and Islaws from the West caused problems for this vast land, but most pressing were the civil wars. A sergeant named Fukas united people and revolted against the government of the aristocrats and killed Emperor Mavrikius and all his children. This civil unrest prompted Khusraw Parviz to invade the greater Syria and capture Jerusalem in 614. He continued his assaults on Asia Minor.
The aristocrats of Constantinople sought help from Heraclitos, the ruler of Africa. He sent his son, who was also named Heraclitos, to Rome. The son who was a brave man, succeeded in defeating Fukas and put on the crown of emperor. The capture of Jerusalem was a good pretext for inciting Christians to fight Iranians. After restoring calm, Heraclitos set off to fight Iranians in the year 622 and after six years of sustaining consecutive defeats, he finally managed to pursue Iranians as far as the gate of Ctesiphon and made them accept peace.155 These incidents took place in the 7th and 8th years of Hijra.
When Heraclitos was busy reorganizing his affairs, Muslims made their first attacks on Damascus and captured the city after a while. The last days of the empire coincided with the conquest of Egypt in 640 AD.156
The greater Syria was the first priority for Muslims because they had managed to make the Quraysh sign the Hudaybiyya peace accord after years and get ready for spreading Islam outside Hijaz.
The Prophet of Islam sent a few messengers to these regions. Harith Ibn 'Umayr was one of these messengers who took a letter to the ruler of Basra. He was killed by Shurahbil Ibn 'Amr of the Ghassani dynasty. Then, the Prophet of Islam sent his 3,000-strong army under the command of Ja’far Ibn Abi Talib, Zayd Ibn Haritha and 'Abd Allah Ibn-Rawaha to Muta in southern Damascus.
The army prepared to fight Muslims in Damascus- according to Ibn Ishaq - was a combination of the Roman army and the Arab tribes of Lakhm, Judham, Balqi, Buhra’, and Bali.157 Muslims were unsuccessful and after the martyrdom of their commanders and a number of others, they could only return to Medina. The Tabuk operations were the Prophet's next measure.
This operation, likewise, entailed nothing for Muslims except several accords with some Arab tribes. The Prophet mobilized another army in the final days of his life under Usama Ibn Zayd but it was sent to Damascus after his death and returned home empty-handed. All these army deployments show the importance of Damascus in view of the Prophet.
Damascus was close to Medina and Muslims were quite familiar with its importance. It came out in the following years that Damascus was more important than Iraq to the succeeding caliphs.
With the end of the Radda operations, Abu Bakr wrote letters to the people of Mecca, Ta'if, Yemen and all Arabs in Hijaz and Najd and summoned them for Jihad or holy war.
In his letters, he promised the booties in Rome. Numerous people rushed to Medina from tribes across Hijaz.158 A strong army of Muslims left for Damascus in the 12th AH (633 AD). Abu Bakr divided the army of Islam into three armies with three commanders. The first army commanded by 'Amr Ibn 'As, was to leave for 'Ayla in the Gulf of 'Uqba. The second army's commander was Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan and the third commander was Shurahbil Ibn Hasana.
These two commanders were sent to a region between Tabuk and Mu'an. Khalid Ibn Sa'id was supposed to command one of these armies, but due to his objection to Abu Bakr's caliphate, upon 'Umar's emphasis, they replaced him with Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan.159 A short while later, Abu 'Ubayda Jarrah joined them with his auxiliary men and he commanded all forces when they all operated in the same region. Some people believe he commanded an army from the beginning.
The first clashes of Muslims with Romans occurred in a region called “Wadi al-’Araba”, south of the Dead Sea. Palestinian governor, Sergius, was the commander of the Roman army. He was killed in this war and his army was defeated. The Muslims advanced along the Mediterranean coasts160 and each of the armies fought in a region and joined others wherever necessary.161 In the beginning, the Muslim armies had 3000 men each, but Abu Bakr sent fresh forces and the number of Muslim fighters in each army rose to 7500.
Shortly after, the total number of the army of Islam increased to 24000 men.162
After the 'Araba battle, the second encounter was made in a village of district of Ghazza called Dathin. This battle which took place in the month of Muharram of the 13th year of Hijra,163 ended in Muslims' victory.
Baladhuri has written about the war of Dathin first and then, about the 'Araba battle, but he has mentioned a narration saying the battle of Dathin happened in the beginning. According to historians, the Muslim army did not face any obstacles which required them to use their weapons on their way from Hijaz to Wadi 'Araba. These sweeping victories frightened Heraclitos and made him recruit forces. The news of the Roman army's recruitment reached Medina and the caliph ordered stopping the operations temporarily on the Iraqi border.
He sent Khalid Ibn Walid and his army to Damascus. The Muslims captured Basra and Ma'ab after Dathin in Rabi' al-Awwal of the 13th Hijra year. Then, they moved towards Damascus. Hearing the news of the enemy's concentration in Ujnadayn, Muslims moved towards that place first. This bloody battle ended in the victory of Muslims in the Jumadi al-Awwal or Jumadi al-Thani of the 13th Hijra year although many Muslims, too, were martyred.164
It was after this defeat of the Romans that Heraclitos who was in Hims, left for Antioch. While Muslims were on their way to Damascus, the enemy regrouped and encountered the army of Islam in Marj as-Safar. This war took place in the month of Muharram of the 14th Hijra year and once again, Muslims defeated the enemy. After that, Damascus was totally besieged by the army of Islam.
It is said that while Abu 'Ubayda had managed to open his way into the city, the archbishop of the city signed a peace accord with Khalid Ibn Walid on the other hand and Abu 'Ubayda, too, had to accept it despite Muslims' objection.
The conquest of Damascus forced many residents of the city who were mostly Roman or Arabs affiliated to them, into leaving for Antioch and joining Heraclitos. After their departure, Muslims settled in their unsettled houses.165 Damascus fell to Muslims in Rajab of 14th Hijra year, but Abu Bakr had died in Jumadi al-Thani of the 13th Hijra year after two years and three months and a few days of caliphate.
Iraq is an ancient land with an ancient civilization, known to the world as the Mesopotamian civilization. It is located in the north of Hijaz, East of the greater Syria and West of Iran (behind the Jibal region). Centuries before the advent of Islam, Arab tribes residing on Hijaz immigrated northwards to Syria and Iraq to escape the ever-increasing population.166
Their massive immigration and their many young forces gave them dominance over the native people of the regions and gradually, created an Arab environment. The Nibtiyan of Iraq and Syria were the descendants of the ancient settlers of this land.167
Iraq is known as “Sawad” for its fertile lands. Sawad means abundant farming.168 During the advent of Islam, the Arab settlers of Damascus were said to be from the tribes of Tanukh, 'Ibadiyyin and Ahlaf (different allied tribes). The Euphrates river was the border between Arabs of Damascus and Iraq. The Iraqi Arabs were called “Fars Arab” and Arabs of Damascus were called “Roman Arab”.169
The immigrant Bedouin Arabs began to dwell in cities due to the vastness of fertile lands in Iraq and many of them converted to Christianity under the pressure imposed from the West. The 'Ibadiyyin, the majority of whom lived in Hira, were Christians at large.170
They believed in Nestorian Christianity and they were, indeed, a cultural tribe taught reading and writing to Arabs of Hijaz during the Dark Age.171171
Hira was the chief city of Iraq that time. It is said that the word “Hira” had been taken from Harta, Hirta and Hirtu in Syriac, meaning military camp. According to Arab literature in the Dark Age, this city was highly important in Iraq and was the seat of Lakhmids kings. After the advent of Islam and the establishment of the city of Kufa in the vicinity of Hira, the city turned to ruin and its building materials were used for constructing Kufa.172
Hira was one league (six kms) away from Kufa and before Islam it was a center for interaction of various cultures such as the Persian Sassanids culture, the culture of Byzantium, Nestorian Christianity and local idolatry.173 Remnants of this city still remain today.174
The pre-Islamic history of Iraq is part of the history of Iran from the political aspect. That is why two historians, i.e. Tabari and Dinwari, have mixed the history of this period of Iraq with the story of developments in Iran. The reason for this is the meaning of 'Arab Fars or Persian Arab, similar to the situation of Damascus whose history was mixed with the history of the Roman Empire.
The Al Lakhm dynasty, known also as Al Nasr, Al Nu'man175 and Dawlat al- Manadhara, had a situation like that of the Ghassanids or Al Jafna. Accidentally, both had similar fates, i.e. losing power in the early years of Islam. Iran and Rome jointly imposed pressure on them. Information existing about the Al Lakhm dynasty is ambiguous in history books and Jawad 'Ali has tried to organize these pieces of information.176 The first Lakhmi ruler was Judhayma al-Abrash also known as Shah Tanukh in some inscriptions.
Other famous kings of this dynasty were Imra' al-Qays (d. 328 AD) overstated as the “king of all Arab world”.177 Lakhmi kings were mostly idolaters but due to being influenced by the Zoroastrian culture from the East and the Christian culture from the West, every now and then, they tended towards either direction. What is certain is that Nu'man III of this dynasty who reigned until 602, was a Christian.
We wrote that Nestorian Christianity was predominant in Iraq and Western Iran. The Sassanids kings supported this sect because the government of Byzantium was fighting it and it was politically in favor of Iran to defend this sect of Christianity.178
During this period, the political fate of Iran and Iraq were intertwined because the Iraqi government had practically been installed by Iran and it could not resist the Al Ghassan or powerful Arab rivals from northern Saudi Arabia (like Kinda who claimed to rule the entire region and managed to wrest control of Hira from Lakhm for three years.179) Iran, on the other hand, had to defend Iraq against its enemies because Iraq was a barrier on the way of the invasion of Bedouin Arabs and the Byzantium government and its puppet government in Damascus.
This necessity made the Iranian government deploy soldiers to Hira and its surrounding regions to guard Iranian borders there. Iran had contacts with Arabs not only in Iraq but it was also their neighbor on the eastern Saudi borders in the southern shores of the Persian Gulf. Some historians have reported of Iran's influence in Yathrib180 one or two centuries before the advent of Islam. Sometimes, Iran had to give control of a region like Ubulla to a powerful tribe such as Banu Shayban to defend the invasion of Bakr Ibn Wa'il.
Due to its many interests in Saudi Arabia, Iran once accepted to interfere in Yemen, the southernmost point of Hijaz. In the early sixth century AD, Jews gained some power in Yemen and persecuted Christians. This made the Negus of Abyssinia, Yusti Niyanus, invade Yemen in the year 525 AD. He suppressed the Jews and established a Christian rule there.
Abraha, the commander of the operations and his son, Masruq, ruled for fifty years in Abyssinia until Sayf Ibn Dhi Yazan put an end to their rule over Yemen with an 8000-soldier Iranian army. Many of the Iranian remained in Yemen181 and formed the Abna' or Persian generation of Yemen.
Their number grew to the extent that they joined the army of Islam in the conquest of Egypt. They had a district and a mosque in the name of Persians in Fastat that still existed until the third century.182 When the Messenger of Allah invited the heads of states to convert to Islam, famed Bazan ruled Yemen. He had been installed by the Sassanids in Iran.
At any rate, Iran had important interests in Arab lands, especially in Iraq located on the border between Iran and Rome. Iran's interference in these regions was to the degree that in the year 602, Khusraw Parviz ordered Nu'man III, the last king of the Lakhmi dynasty, to step down step down. After him, the Iranian government replaced him with a local Christian named Iyas Ibn Qubaysa to rule Hira and with him, an Iranian border guard was appointed.183
During a period of 30 years between the resignation of Al Lakhm and the first attacks of Muslims on Hira, drastic upheavals occurred in the relations of Iran and Byzantium, that required Iran's more direct interference in Iraqi affairs. In the years 611 to 614, Khusraw Parviz launched a lengthy attack against Byzantium and captured a major part of the greater Syria including Quds. For many years, this created problems for the Byzantium government. This defeat is referred to in Qur'an as the “Conquest of Rome”.
After a few years, Heraclitos succeeded in reinforcing his army and during six consecutive years of war, defeated the Iranian government until the year 628, when Khusraw Parviz was killed and Iran had to accept peace. It is clear that Iran's defeat opened the way for the invasion of Iraq by the Byzantium government and the most important of all, by the Bedouin rebels.
In the early years of the fourth decade of the seventh century AD, some chieftains of Arab tribes pleaded to the first caliph of Muslims to retake Iraq from Iran. They organized the first attack against Iran in 633 AD or 12th AH.
Muslim Arabs lived in the Western part of Hijaz, but they maintained links with the eastern part of the peninsula as well. Especially, they exchanged visits with Najd and the tribes residing in it. Some time before the Prophet's demise, a large number of these tribes converted to Islam though it was apparently not serious considering that following the Prophet's passing, apostasy spread in the eastern parts of Hijaz, particularly in the land of Najd.
The new government had no option but to quell them; otherwise, the same tribes would soon move towards Medina. Muslim armies were dispatched to those regions in order to suppress the riots. The attack was partially commanded by Khalid Ibn Walid. As he gradually advanced to suppress these tribes, he came to the southern parts of Iraq.
Some of the apostates had fled to Iraq and some of them, like Banu Tamim, lived in that region. The consecutive victories of the Muslim army in those regions made the tribal chieftains of southern Iraq think of using these forces to capture Hira. This was the first attempt for conquests in Iraq and then, in Iran.
One of the influential tribes in southern Iraq was Banu Shayban, a branch of Bakr Ibn Wa'il tribe, Wa'il itself, was a branch of Rabi'a tribe. The region where Bakr Ibn Wa'il resided, started from Iraq and extended as far as Bahrayn in the Persian Gulf.184
Banu Shayban was a rival of Al Lakhm and one of those tribes whom Iranian had to give concessions to in the lands under their rule. One of the last Arabian-Iranian battles was Dhi Qar, in which Banu Shayban fought against Iranians and are said to have defeated them. One of this tribe's leaders was Muthanna Ibn Haritha who is considered the main instigator of Muslims in the conquest of Iraq and then, Iran.
According to Dinwari, ever since Puran sat on the throne in Iran, rumors began to spread that there was nothing left of the Iranian glorious kingdom. Hearing about this, two people from Bakr Ibn Wa'il, Muthanna Ibn Haritha and Suwayd Ibn Qutba 'Ijali, attacked the land of Iranians with their men (the first attacked Hira and the second one invaded Ubulla). They would raid farmers and plunder them. Following these events, Muthanna wrote a letter to Abu Bakr and noted Iran's weakness.185
Abu Bakr who had heard about his assaults on the Iranians, said, “Who is this man, whose “news” reaches us before his “name”?” He was told the man was not an unknown person. After ending the war against apostates, Muthanna came to Medina and asked Abu Bakr's permission to fight the Iranians. Abu Bakr wrote an agreement for him. A few months later, he dispatched his brother to Medina to ask Abu Bakr to send forces to him and the caliph sent Khalid Ibn Walid to Iraq.186
According to Baladhuri, after getting the permission for war from Medina, Muthanna returned to his tribe in Khiffan and invited them to convert to Islam, which they all did. Abu Bakr then sent Khalid to Iraq and asked Muthanna to obey him.187 Muthanna did his best to expand Islam in Iraq for some years until his death. It has been said that he and his tribe had come to the Prophet (S) and therefore, was considered one of the companions.188 The Muslim army in these attacks is said to have been numbered at around 18000.189
It should be noted here that the Iranians' war in the conquest of Iraq was not against Arabs. What has been reported about the conquests indicates that the Iranian armies were the main side of these clashes, although it has been said that some men from Hijaz and Arab Christians. In the conquest of Ubulla, the commander of the enemy's army was a man named Hurmuz whose part of army was commanded by Qubad and the other part, by Anushjan.190
In fact, after the collapse of the Lakhmids, Iranians guarded this land and it was natural that in the Arabic environment of Iraq. Lakhmids could do this better than the Iranians and therefore, it has been said that due to the fall of the Lakhmids, the southern wing of the Sassanids government was left almost without any support.191
We must also add that there are different versions about these conquests. One of the best-known narrators was Sayf Ibn 'Umar who was notorious for fabricating stories. He tried to portray Khalid as an unnatural human being who even sometimes, did some supernatural tasks! Stories of the conquest of Iraq in the Tarikh Tabari, have been taken from his reports.
It is said that Khalid first captured Ubulla, although Waqidi rejects it.192 Another source says this city was captured by 'Utba Ibn Ghazwan. Also, we read that the city of 'Ullays was conquered based on a peace accord and then, Muslims moved toward Hira from there. There are contradictory views on whether Hira resisted Arab Muslims or not.193
The nobles of Hira have said that Ayas Ibn Qubaysa was among them and they gave up the city peacefully provided that they would not destroy churches and palaces. Hira's tributes were the first sent to Medina.194 Hira fell in Dhi Qa'da, 12th AH.
Anbar was another major city of Iraq that fell to Muslims. It had been named Anbar (storehouse) because in the past, it used to be a place for Iranians to store their cereals. In fact, many Iranian forces and border patrols served in this region, and the city was naturally, a warehouse for their food. The city was famous until the second AH century and the establishment of Baghdad.
It should be noted that before the conquest of the city by Muslims, the Romans had burnt the city.195 This indicates that a year before Iraq's conquest, Romans had done serious damage to the region. 'Ayn al-Tamr, in addition to Ubulla and Khurayba, were the places used for the stationing of Iranian border guards. They were either captured by force or peace. One of the captives of this city was Yasar, the ancestor of Muhammad Ibn Ishaq, the author of “Sira Nabawi.”196
The consecutive victories of Muslims all came within a year. This highlights the lack of any serious resistance and fight on the part of Iranians demonstrate how disorganized the state of Iranian forces was in the region. Perhaps, some may claim that the Iranians did not take these attacks seriously and this may be true to some extent.
However, Iranians were aware of the changes in Hijaz and the battles against apostasy, because they had much influence on Bahrayn and Yamama. It is illogical to accept that they were unaware of these incidents and of the state of Muslims. Secondly, Iranians could not do anything even after taking Arabs' assaults seriously.
Therefore, the Iranian army was not a fighting shape during that period. This army suffered from the disorders that had beset the Iranian ruling system after its defeat from the Romans. It had seriously damaged the credibility of the Sassanids government among Iranians, themselves.
Spuler writes on the speedy withdrawal of the Iranian army from Iraq, “The speedy victories of Arabs and fast retreat of Iranian forces from the region had more deep-rooted reasons. On the one hand, Mesopotamia, with its Aramaic or Aramaic-turned settlers which was largely populated by Christians and besides them, followers of Baptism and Jews and limited number of Manicheans, opposed the rule of Iran in the region.
On the other hand, there were few Iranians in the region and villagers showed no resistance against the advance of Arabs, although they did not welcome the invading Arabs as it was done simultaneously in Egypt extremely excited by the acts of Byzantium. However, the situation in Mesopotamia was similar to that of Egypt.”197
When Usayd Ibn Huďayr passed away, ‘Umar paid off all his debts (al-Fa’iq fi gharib al-hadith, vol. I, p. 108) Hubab Ibn Mundhir composed poem in Saqifa in reproaching those two men, part of which is so (Kitab ar-Ridda, p. 38) ابن حضير في الفساد لجاجة وأسرع سعي منه في الفساد بشير Ibn Huďayr much embraced on evil-doings and Bashir did more than him
Waqidi’s report reveals that ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn ‘Awf talked to the Ansar after Saqifa event Evidence of a good number indicates that nobody was present at Saqifa except three people of Muhajirun Later on, Bashir Ibn Sa‘d Ansari, after hearing of Imam ‘Ali’s reasoning said to him, “In case people had heard you speaking this way before, nobody would have disagreed with you and all would have paid allegiance to you But you stayed home and people thought you were not in need of caliphate!
Imam responded, “O son of Bashir ! Should I have left the Messenger’s corpse at home and quarelling with people on succession?” Abu Bakr said, “They have paid allegiance to me now and if I had known your will, I would have never sought after it myself You’re free to swear allegiance to me ” Imam paid allegiance to him seventy five days after departure of the Messenger (S) when Fatimah (a) passed away, Kitab ar-Ridda, p. 47
In this case, we should see how Imam was treated in Badr, they have murdered half of Quraysh totaling seventy people. Certainly, it has to be known that the Ansar felt remorseful of what they had done and so they stood against defending ‘Ali, Quraysh and its political party, from ‘Uthman and Mu‘awiya to Talha, Zubayr and ‘Ayisha in Jamal, Siffin or before by having a hand in ‘Uthman’s murder or staying silent towards it. Even a few days after Saqifa, their remorse was revealed and Hassan Ibn Thabit’s then poems best prove that. Tarikh al-Ya’qubi, vol. II, pp 127-128.
The Qurayshites are the most outstanding and noble ‘Arab dynasty ” Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. II, p. 269; Following above sentence quoted from Abu Bakr, in Nathr ad-Durr, vol. II, p. 13 it is added through Abu Bakr, “وأحسنهم وجوهاً أكثر الناس ولادة في العرب “ The most good-looking people were more among those who were given birth among Arabs ”.Abu Bakr said, نحن قريش والأئمة منا “ We are the Qurayshites and Imams are from us” as a hadith although this was attributed to him later.
Therefore, it is clear that Abu Bakr and his fellow had been busy since Monday till tomorrow when the Prophet (S) passed away and they could not come by his dead body These two people are hardly mentioned among those named in reports concerned with his burial