Tuesday, 7 April 2009

How peaceful has Islam’s Golden Era been?

If this is the Golden Era (the birth of the Khalifat), then imagine the rest…

This is the follow up of the following post (Link), where we analyzed the hatred relationship between Aisha (Muhammad’s preferred wife), and Fatima (Muhammad’s daughter and Ali’s wife) and Ali (his cousin). Let’s now go deeper and give a look to the bloody birth of the Khalifat:

Who had to be the successor of Muhammad? As he died suddenly (unexpectedly), without having organized his succession, the fight to get into his footsteps got very angrily…

This era is called The “Golden Era of Islam”! We are talking about the first 30 years (short indeed to be an “Era”). After that we had the big schism between Sunni and Shi’ia.

We must remember that of the four first “Right Guided” Khalifs, only one (Abu Bakr) died of natural causes. All other three were killed gruesomely. Imagine a Nation, where ¾ of the leaders are massacrated. Just after the death of Muhammad (632), the Arabs of Medina (called al-ansar=supporters), the ones that made the survival of Muhammad possible (after the Hijra), were hoping that they could be recompensated with the election of one of them. But to have an al-ansar leader was not welcomed by the Meccans (called: al-muhajeroon (immigrants)). They were thinking of themselves as superior, because they were of the same tribe of Muhammad (Quraysh). The hopes of the al-ansar disappeared when Umar named Abu Bakr as the first Right Guided Khalifa. Ali, however, had not taken part to this first meeting, and he was reluctant to give his ok to Abu Bakr. As well Fatima (Ali’s wife and daughter of Muhammad) was not happy with his election (Shi’ia say that the reluctance of Ali was for religious issues).

Actually, the first 48 hours after the death of Muhammad were the most critical. The crisis was under control because of the fearless acts of three people (Umar, Abu Bakr and Obada). The first two Khalifs were not elected. Only after the killing of Obada by Umar, elections were held (through a Surah, in harmony with the Arab tradition) (

Abu Bakr died two years later (632-634). During his time, there were the first apostasies. Some tribes didn’t want to pay the zakat any more (they insisted that it was due only to Muhammad). Kahlid al-Waleed was put as chief of the armies and this campaign lasted at least six months, in order to eliminate the apostates (as during this time).

His successor, the
second Khalifa, Umar (634-644), died, killed by a Persian slave, that he had taken in the battle of Nihawand.

Uthman, the third Khalifa (644-656) was a Bani Umayyad. He put in key posts all his friends. Everyone was against Uthman. He was not loved, had been in fight with Abu Bakr and was antagonized by Aisha (who wanted his death). One day, Uthman sat down on the “podium” where Muhammad used to sit, instead of two echelons down, as was usual. The day after, some old Muslims wanted to beat him and probably he would have been massacrated, if Ali had not intervened.

A group of Muslims (Talha, Zobeir and Mohammed (son of Abu Bakr)), went after Uthman (this is known as the “great fitna”). Uthman was killed after to weeks of siege. He was not allowed a “state” funeral, was then buried by his family after some days, secretly. The usurpators however, didn’t succeed in taking his place, so they turned against Ali, by siding with Aisha (they were called hypocrites, because the put themselves as defensors/avengers of Uthman). Then, the partisans of Uthman accused Ali of having been the instigator of his death. These inconsistent views lead to the big schism, just after Uthman’s death. Not even 30 years after Muhammad’s death

fourth Khalifa, Ali (656-661) was accused of being soft with the killers of Uthman. The main accuser was Aisha (that before had publicly asked for Uthman’s killing!). Aisha hated Uthman, but she hated Ali more. Because once Ali had dared to suspect Aisha of infidelity towards Muhammad. And this had aggravated the rivalry between Aisha and Fatima. The final confrontation was “the battle of the camel” (656). Ali won against the army of Aisha, who was then taken as prisoner (finally, she asked to be pardoned). But this was not the end. Muaweya ibn abu Sufyan, Governor of Syria, refused to recognize Ali, taking the killing of Uthman as an excuse. They got to the battle of Siffeen (657), but their dispute found an end only when Ali was finally killed 661.

After 50 years of orgies, battles, assassinations and massacres, a momentary stop was after the events of Kerbala (Ashura), with the heads of the grandson, of the child great-grandson of Muhammad and of other 70 people, taken in baggages as trophies by the victorious Muslim armada.

The period before Islam is called by Muslims “Jahiliya” (Age of Ignorance), but how should we call this “Golden Age” of Islam? There has never been peace in Islam, not even (especially not) during its first 13 years. The Islamic extremism came out very quickly. Even the followers of Ali (the Kharijites) were fanatical, reactionaries and assassins.

The dynasty of the Umayyad: 660-750+, that had an exceptional expansion, with mass conversion, was mainly an anti-Khalifa movement, because finally, its birth was due in order to undermine the authority of the fourth Khalifa. The Abassids (750+), were mainly a counter reaction against the Umayyad. The first Khalifa of the Abassids was Abdullah Alsaffah (known as “the butcher. He ruled until his death in 754).

(*) P.H. Lammens Le "triumvirat" Abou Babr, Omar et Abou Obaida” @ Muhammadanism.org


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