Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mary, the Mother of Jesus [Maryam, Um Isa]

Maryam (Mary), the mother of Isa (Jesus), was a pious Muslim woman during the time of Prophet Zakariyya. She was Maryam daughter Imran from the family lineage of Dawud (David), the offspring of the Children of Israel. In the Quran there is a chapter named Maryam which talks about Maryam, her birth, her story, the birth of her son Prophet Isa (Jesus), and other things. Allah also mentioned the story of her mother's pregnancy with her in Surah Al Imran.

Maryam's mother, Hannah, conceived and delivered Maryam when she was an old woman, at an age when women usually can no longer have babies. With the birth of a son in mind, Hannah vowed that she would dedicate the child to the service of the Sacred House in Jerusalem, dedicate the child for worship, freed from all worldly affairs. Instead Almighty Allah blessed Hannah with a daughter. She named the girl "Maryam," which literally means "maidservant of Allah," and she asked Allah to protect Maryam and her offspring from evil. Maryam could not be devoted to temple service as her mother had intended, due to being a female, under the Mosaic Law at the time. However, as the new born was marked out for a special destiny to be the mother of the miracle-child, Prophet Isa, Allah had accepted her for His service.

The Holy Quran says:

(Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: "O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (free from all worldly work; to serve Your Place of worship), so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing."

Then when she delivered her [child Maryam (Mary)], she said: "O my Lord! I have delivered a female child," - and Allah knew better what she delivered, - "And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam, and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Shaitan (Satan), the outcast." (Surah Al-Imran:35-36)

Since Maryam's father had died, she lived under the care of Zakariyya, who was the husband of Maryam's sister and the father of John “the Baptist”. He was a great man among Children of Israel at the time, to whom they would refer their religious matters. She grew up as a righteous, pure, and pious Muslim woman worshipping Allah and endeavoring greatly in performing obedience to Him. Zakariyya saw astonishing miracles occur from her that amazed him.

So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zachariyya. Every time he entered Al-Mihrâb (a praying place or a private room) to (visit) her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Maryam! From where have you got this?" She said, "This is from Allah." Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit." (Surah Al-Imran:37)

It has been mentioned that he would find her with winter fruit during the summer and summer fruit during the winter.

She became the best of the women in the world. It is mentioned in the Quran that the angels said Allah chose Maryam and preferred her to the other women of the world.

And (remember) when the angels said: "O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah has chosen you, purified you, and chosen you above the women of the 'Alamîn (mankind and jinns)."

O Maryam! "Submit yourself with obedience to your Lord (Allah, by worshipping none but Him Alone) and prostrate yourself, and Irkâ'i (bow down etc.) along with Ar-Râki'ûn (those who bow down etc.)." (Surah Al-Imran:42-43)

And as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Many men reached the level of perfection, but no woman reached such a level except Maryam, the daughter of Imran and Asia, the wife of Pharaoh." (Hadith - Sahih Bukhari 4.643, Narrated Abu Musa Al Ashari )

Maryam was unique in that she gave birth to a son by a special miracle, without the intervention of the customary physical means. This of course does not mean that she was more than human, any more than her son was more than human. When Allah wanted to grant her His servant and messenger, Isa (peace be upon him), Maryam withdrew from her family and secluded herself from them. She retired to the eastern side of the Sacred Mosque in Jerusalem where she prayed. It was in this state that the angel appeared to her in the shape of a man. As she thought the angel was a man, she was frightened and asked him not to invade her privacy:

She withdrew in seclusion from her family to place facing east. (Surah Maryam:16)

Then, Allah sent His Ruh, the angel Jibril (Gabriel), to her.

And he appeared before he in the form of a man in all respects. (Surah Maryam:17)

When the angel (Jibril) appeared to her in the form of a man, while she was in a place secluded by herself with a partition between her and her people, she was afraid of him and thought he wanted to rape her. Therefore, she said,

Verily I seek refuge with the Most Gracious from you, if you do fear Allah. (Surah Maryam:18)

She meant, "If you fear Allah," as a means of reminding him of Allah. This is what is legislated in defense against (evil), so that it may be repulsed with ease. Therefore, the first thing she did was try to make him fear Allah, the Mighty and Sublime.

The angel said to her in response, and in order to remove the fear that she felt within herself, "I am not what you think, but I am a the messenger of your Lord." By this he meant, "Allah has sent me to you." [At-Tabari 18:164]. It is said that when she mentioned the Name of the Most Beneficent (Ar-Rahman), Jibril fell apart and returned to his true form as an angel. He responded,

'I am only a messenger from your Lord, to provide to you the gift of a righteous son.' (Surah Maryam:19)

She said: "How can I have a son..."

Maryam was amazed at this. How she could have a son when she did not have a husband nor did she commit wicked acts like fornication? For this reason she said,

...when no man has touched me, nor am I Baghiyya (unchaste)? (Surah Maryam:20)

He said: "Thus said your Lord: 'That is easy from Me (Allah)..." (Surah Maryam:21)

The angel responded to her "Verily, Allah has said that a boy will be born from you even though you do not have a husband and you have not committed any lewdness. Verily, he is the Most Able to do whatever He wills." Due to this, he (Jibril) conveyed Allah's Words,

And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind (Surah Maryam:21)

This means a proof and a sign for mankind of the power of their Maker and Creator, Who diversified them in their creation. He created their father, Adam, without a male or female. Then he created Hawwa (Eve, Adam's spouse) from a male (from the rib of Adam) without a female (mother). Then, He created the rest of their progeny from male and female, except Isa. He created Isa to be born from a female without a male. Thus, Allah completed the four types of creation of the human being, which proves the perfection of his power and the magnificence of His authority. There is no god worthy of worship except Him and there is no true Lord other than Him.

Concerning Allah's statement:

and a mercy from Us.. (Surah Maryam:21)

This means, "we will make this boy a mercy from Allah and a Prophet from the Prophets. He will call to the worship of Allah and monotheistic belief in Him. This is as Allah, the Exalted, said in another Ayah,

(Remember) when the angels said: "O Maryam! Verily, Allah gives you the good news of a Word from Him, his name will be Al-Masih (The Christ), Isa (Jesus), the son of Maryam, held in honor in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah. And he will speak to the people, in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be one of the righteous. (Surah Al-Imran:45-46)

Finally Jibril completes his dialogue with Maryam, informing her that this matter was preordained by Allah's power and will.

and it is a matter (already decreed (by Allah). (Surah Maryam:21)

This means that Allah determined to do this, so there is no avoiding it. [At Tabari 18:165]

So she conceived him and she retired with him to a remote place. (Surah Maryam:22)

Later, Maryam, being human, suffered the effects of childbirth as any expectant mother would during these times.

And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): "Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!" But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-free): "Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; "And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee. "So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man say `I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.' " (Surah Maryam:23-26)

When Mary showed the baby to her people, they said that this was truly an amazing thing that had happened. The newly born baby (Jesus) replied to the people:

He said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; "And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; "(He) hath made me kind to my mother and not overbearing or miserable; "So Peace is on me the day I was born the day that I die and the Day that I shall be raised up to life (again)"! (Surah Maryam:30-33)

And that is what is reported of the story of Maryam. Even though Maryam is the mother of Isa (Jesus) and occupies a highest position among women, neither Maryam nor Isa have any divine attributes in them. The Holy Quran makes this clear in the following verse:

They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Maryam." But said Christ: "O children of Israel! worship Allah my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah, Allah will forbid him the garden and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.

They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy) verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.

Why turn they not to Allah and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful. Christ the son of Maryam was no more than an Apostle; many were the Apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth makes His Signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!

Say: Will ye worship besides Allah something which hath no power either to harm or benefit you? But Allah He it is that heareth and knoweth all things." Say: "O people of the Book! exceed not in your religion the bounds (of what is proper) trespassing beyond the truth nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by who misled many and strayed (themselves) from the even way. (Surah Al-Ma'idah:72-77)

Say: He is Allah the One and Only; Allah the Eternal Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. (Surah Al-Ikhlas)


Tafsir of Imam Ibn Kathir

Muttaqun Online Islamic Network Center

The Sunnah Islamic Page

Hajar, Mother of Isma'il

from Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi

One of the most prominent distinguishing features of the Muslim woman is her deep faith in Allah (SWT), and her sincere conviction that whatever happens in this universe, and whatever fate befalls human beings, only happens through the will and decree of Allah (SWT); whatever befalls a person could not have been avoided, and whatever does not happen to a person could not have been made to happen. A person has no choice in this life but to strive towards the right path and to do good deeds - acts of worship and other acts - by whatever means one can, putting all his trust in Allah (SWT), submitting to His will, and believing that he is always in need of Allah's (SWT) help and support.

The story of Hajar offers the Muslim woman the most marvellous example of deep faith in Allah (SWT) and sincere trust in Him. Ibrahim 'May peace be upon him' (PBUH) left her at the Ka'bah in Makkah, above the well of Zamzam, at a time when there were no people and no water in the place. Hajar had no-one with her except her infant son Isma'il. She asked Ibrahim, calmly and with no trace of panic: "Has Allah (SWT) commanded you to do this, O Ibrahim?" Ibrahim (PBUH) said, "Yes." Her response reflected her acceptance and optimism: "Then He is not going to abandon us." (Reported by Bukhari in Kitab al-Anbiya)

Here was an extremely difficult situation: a man left his wife and infant son in a barren land, where there were no plants, no water, and no people, and went back to the distant land of Palestine. He left nothing with her but a sack of dates and a skin filled with water. Were it not for the deep faith and trust in Allah (SWT) that filled Hajar's heart, she would not have been able to cope with such a difficult situation; she would have collapsed straight away, and would not have become the woman whose name is forever remembered night and day by those who perform hajj and 'umrah at the house of Allah (SWT), every time they drink the pure water of Zamzam, and run between the mounts of Safa' and Marwah, as Hajar did on that most trying day...

"The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:

'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Ishmael's mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).

When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."

The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."

The Prophet added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?" She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.

After Ishmael's mother had died, Abraham came after Ishmael's marriage in order to see his family that he had left before, but he did not find Ishmael there. When he asked Ishmael's wife about him, she replied, 'He has gone in search of our livelihood.' Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied, 'We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,' complaining to him. He said, 'When your husband returns, convey my salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).' When Ishmael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife, 'Has anyone visited you?' She replied, 'Yes, an old man of so-and-so description came and asked me about you and I informed him, and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.' On that Ishmael said, 'Did he advise you anything?' She replied, 'Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.' Ishmael said, 'It was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.' So, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from amongst them (i.e. Jurhum).

Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ishmael. So he came to Ishmael's wife and asked her about Ishmael. She said, 'He has gone in search of our livelihood.' Abraham asked her, 'How are you getting on?' asking her about their sustenance and living. She replied, 'We are prosperous and well-off (i.e. we have everything in abundance).' Then she thanked Allah' Abraham said, 'What kind of food do you eat?' She said. 'Meat.' He said, 'What do you drink?' She said, 'Water." He said, "O Allah! Bless their meat and water." The Prophet added, "At that time they did not have grain, and if they had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it." The Prophet added, "If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Mecca." The Prophet added," Then Abraham said Ishmael's wife, "When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.' When Ishmael came back, he asked his wife, 'Did anyone call on you?' She replied, 'Yes, a good-looking old man came to me,' so she praised him and added. 'He asked about you, and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told him that we were in a good condition.' Ishmael asked her, 'Did he give you any piece of advice?' She said, 'Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.' On that Ishmael said, 'It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.'

Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished, and called on them afterwards. He saw Ishmael under a tree near Zamzam, sharpening his arrows. When he saw Abraham, he rose up to welcome him (and they greeted each other as a father does with his son or a son does with his father). Abraham said, 'O Ishmael! Allah has given me an order.' Ishmael said, 'Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.' Abraham asked, 'Will you help me?' Ishmael said, 'I will help you.' Abraham said, Allah has ordered me to build a house here,' pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it." The Prophet added, "Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e. the Ka'ba). Ishmael brought the stones and Abraham was building, and when the walls became high, Ishmael brought this stone and put it for Abraham who stood over it and carried on building, while Ishmael was handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, 'O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.' The Prophet added, "Then both of them went on building and going round the Ka'ba saying: O our Lord ! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." [Narrated Ibn Abbas: Bukhari]


Sarah: Abraham's First Wife

Sarah was the only woman of Ibrahim's people to believe in Allah. She afterwards became his wife. She stood by her husband all the time when calling his people to Allah. When Ibrahim realized that no other than his wife and his nephew, Lut, was going to believe in his call, he decided to immigrate to a city caller Ur and another called Haran and then departed for Palestine with them. After Palestine, Ibrahim (peace be upon him) arrived in Egypt.

Abu Hurairah narrated that Ibrahim did not tell a lie except on three occasions: twice for the sake of Allah (Exalted and Almighty) when he said: "I am sick," when his people were holding a festival in honor of their gods, Ibrahim excused himself by saying he was sick, (Ch 37:89 Quran) and when he said: "(I have not done this but) the big idol has done it." The third was while Ibrahim and Sarah were on a journey. They passed through the territory of a tyrant. Someone said to the tyrant: "This man Ibrahim is accompanied by a very charming lady." So, he sent for Ibrahim and asked him about Sarah saying "Who is this lady?" Ibrahim said: "She is my sister." Ibrahim went to Sarah and said "O Sarah! There are no believers on the surface of the earth except you and me. This man asked me about you and I have told him that you are my sister. Do not contradict my statement." The tyrant then called Sarah, and when she went to him, he tried to take a hold of her with his hand, with evil intentions, but his hand got stiff and he was confounded. He asked Sarah: "Pray to Allah for me and I shall not harm you." So Sarah asked Allah to cure him and he was cured. He tried to take hold of her for the second time, but his hand got as stiff as or stiffer than before and he was more comfounded. He again requested Sarah: "Pray to Allah for me, and I will not harm you." Sarah asked Allah to again, and he became all right. He then called one of his guards who had brought her and said: "You have not brought me a human being but have brought me a devil." The tyrant then gave Hajar as a maid servant to Sarah. Ibrahim, gesturing with his hand, asked: "What has happened?" Sarah replied: "Allah has spoiled the evil plot of the infidel or immoral person and gave me Hajar for service."

Sarah had not born any children. Ibrahim had aged and his hair was gray after many years spent in calling people to Allah. Sarah thought she and Ibrahim were lonely because she could not have a child. Therefore, she offered her husband her servant Hajar in marriage. Hajar gave birth to her first son Ishmael (Isma'il) when Ibrahim was an old man.

Time passed. One day Ibrahim was sitting outside his tent, three angels descended to the earth. They came in human shapes and saluted Ibrahim. Ibrahim arose and welcomed them. He took them inside his tent thinking they were strangers and guests. He invited his guests to eat and placed before them a sumptuous meal of roasted calf. They were angels and did not eat. The angels gave Sarah glad tidings of the birth of a son, Isaac (Ishaq). She could hardly believe the news. As a "barren old woman" the news seemed to her too good to be true. Allah Almighty says:

There came Our messengers to Abraham with glad tidings. They said, "Peace!" He answered, "Peace!" and hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands went not towards the (meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They said: "Fear not: We have been sent against the people of Lut." And his wife was standing (there), and she laughed (either, because the Messengers did not eat their food or for being glad for the destruction of the people of Lut). But we gave her glad tidings of Isaac, and after him, of Jacob. She said: "Alas for me! shall I bear a child, seeing I am an old woman, and my husband here is an old man? That would indeed be a wonderful thing!" They said: "Dost thou wonder at Allah's decree? The grace of Allah and His blessings on you, O ye people of the house! for He is indeed worthy of all praise, full of all glory!" (Hud 11: 69-73)

And thus were Sarah and Ibrahim blessed with the miraculous birth of a son in their old age.

Adapted from: Stories of the Prophets by Al-Imam Ibn Kathir

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hawwa (Eve): Mother of Mankind

By Sister Aishah Ho from Hawwa magazine

Hawwa was the first woman and the first Muslimah to be created by Allah (s.w.t).

Hawwa represents, on the one hand, womanhood and, on the other, the source of human population. In fact, her name means "the source of life". Hawwa also has another meaning which is used to denote a reddy colour that is closer to the darker tone. There is an opinion that this could allude to her skin colour.

The name Hawwa itself is not mentioned in the Qur'an but is mentioned in hadeeth literature. For it is there that we get such information as the meaning of her name, how she was created and how many children she had.

For instance, Hawwa, according to the Qur'an, was created from Adam (see Surah an-Nisaa:1 and Surah az-Zumar:6). From Bukhari, this was further elucidated and we find that Hawwa was created from the upper rib of Adam.

Narrated Abu Huraira (r) Allah's Apostle (s) said: "Treat women nicely, for a woman is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion, so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break; but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked. So treat women nicely." (Bukhari) This hadeeth does not literally mean that women are crooked or evil by nature. What it means is that women are delicate and should be treated gently and with care. Furthermore, it has been explained that the breakage of the rib in case one tries to straighten it, stands for divorce which is the natural results of disagreement between the wife and her husband. In the Qur'an, the story of Adam and Hawwa can be found in three places, namely Surah al-Baqara:30-39, Surah al-A'araf:11-25, and Surah Ta-Ha:116-123. As the story goes, Allah created Adam from clay and taught him the names of things, that is knowledge. Then Allah said in the Qur'an (surah Ta-Ha:116-123):

When We said to the angels, "prostrate yourselves to Adam", they prostrated themselves, but Iblis: he refused. Then We said "O Adam! Verily this is an enemy to you and your wife: so let him not get you both out of the Garden, so that you art landed in misery. There is therein (enough provision) for you not to go hungry nor go naked. Nor to suffer from thirst, nor from the sun's heat.

But Satan whispered evil to him. He said "O Adam! Shall I lead you to the tree of eternity and to a kingdom that never decays?" In the result, they both ate of the tree, and so their nakedness appeared to them: they began to sew together, for their covering, leaves from the Garden: Thus did Adam disobey his Lord and fell into error.

But his Lord chose him (for His Grace): He turned to him and gave him guidance. He said "Get you down both of you, all together, from the Garden, with enmity one to another: but if as is sure, there comes to you guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance will not lose his way nor fall into misery.

In all cultures and its religious beliefs, traces of the story of Adam and Hawwa can be found, though it has been greatly distorted. However, it is important to note that the Quranic story of Adam and Hawwa differs from the Old Testament in that :

(i) Both Adam and Hawwa were equally guilty of disobeying Allah by eating from "that" tree. "That" tree does not mean an apple tree. Only Allah knows what fruit "that" tree bears.

(ii) Allah forgave Adam's and Hawwa's sins before their descent to earth.

(iii) It was part of Allah's will that Adam and Hawwa were to reside on earth. For, Allah in surah al-Baqara, ayah 30, He said that He is creating Adam as a vicegerent on earth. Furthermore, from the hadeeth we have: Abu Hurairah reported: The Apostle of Allah (s) said: 'When Adam and Moses held a discussion, Adam won. Moses said: "You are the same Adam who set people astray and had them ousted from Heaven". Adam asked: "Art you the same Moses whom Allah gave knowledge of all things and honoured you with Apostleship?" He replied: "Yes!" Adam said: "And yet you accused me of that which has written in my fate!" (Al-Muwatta')

When Adam and Hawwa landed on earth they were separated. According to traditions Hawwa landed in Jeddah while Adam landed somewhere in India (some say in Sri Lanka). Then on the ninth of Zhuh Hijjah, they met at 'Arafat. Thus, began their life together on earth till they were called back to Allah.

Hawwa gave birth twenty times and each time she had twins with the exception of her last birth, where she gave birth to only a son. In other words, she had thirty-nine children in total. The gap between each birth was two years.


The Fourth Caliph, Ali (656-661 A.C.)

"You [Ali] are my brother in this world and the next." (Hadeeth)

Ali's Election
After Uthman's martyrdom, the office of the caliphate remained unfilled for two or three days. Many people insisted that Ali should take up the office, but he was embarrassed by the fact that the people who pressed him hardest were the rebels, and he therefore declined at first. When the notable Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) urged him, however, he finally agreed.

Ali's Life
Ali bin Abi Talib was the first cousin of the Prophet (peace be on him). More than that, he had grown up in the Prophet's own household, later married his youngest daughter, Fatima, and remained in closest association with him for nearly thirty years.

Ali was ten years old when the Divine Message came to Muhammad (peace be on him). One night he saw the Prophet and his wife Khadijah bowing and prostrating. He asked the Prophet about the meaning of their actions. The Prophet told him that they were praying to God Most High and that Ali too should accept Islam. Ali said that he would first like to ask his father about it. He spent a sleepless night, and in the morning he went to the Prophet and said, "When God created me He did not consult my father, so why should I consult my father in order to serve God?" and he accepted the truth of Muhammad's message.

When the Divine command came, "And warn thy nearest relatives" [26:214], Muhammad (peace be on him) invited his relatives for a meal. After it was finished, he addressed them and asked, "Who will join me in the cause of God?" There was utter silence for a while, and then Ali stood up. "I am the youngest of all present here," he said, "My eyes trouble me because they are sore and my legs are thin and weak, but I shall join you and help you in whatever way I can." The assembly broke up in derisive laughter. But during the difficult wars in Mecca, Ali stood by these words and faced all the hardships to which the Muslims were subjected. He slept in the bed of the Prophet when the Quraish planned to murder Muhammad. It was he to whom the Prophet entrusted, when he left Mecca, the valuables which had been given to him for safekeeping, to be returned to their owners.

Apart from the expedition of Tabuk, Ali fought in all the early battles of Islam with great distinction, particularly in the expedition of Khaybar. It is said that in the Battle of Uhud he received more than sixteen wounds.

The Prophet (peace be on him) loved Ali dearly and called him by many fond names. Once the Prophet found him sleeping in the dust. He brushed off Ali's clothes and said fondly, "Wake up, Abu Turab (Father of Dust)." The Prophet also gave him the title of 'Asadullah' ('Lion of God').

Ali's humility, austerity, piety, deep knowledge of the Qur'an and his sagacity gave him great distinction among the Prophet's Companions. Abu Bakr, 'Umar and Uthman consulted him frequently during their caliphates. Many times 'Umar had made him his vice-regent at Medina when he was away. Ali was also a great scholar of Arabic literature and pioneered in the field of grammar and rhetoric. His speeches, sermons and letters served for generations afterward as models of literary expression. Many of his wise and epigrammatic sayings have been preserved. Ali thus had a rich and versatile personality. In spite of these attainments he remained a modest and humble man. Once during his caliphate when he was going about the marketplace, a man stood up in respect and followed him. "Do not do it," said Ali. "Such manners are a temptation for a ruler and a disgrace for the ruled."

Ali and his household lived extremely simple and austere lives. Sometimes they even went hungry themselves because of Ali's great generosity, and none who asked for help was ever turned away from his door. His plain, austere style of living did not change even when he was ruler over a vast domain.

Ali's Caliphate
As mentioned previously, Ali accepted the caliphate very reluctantly. Uthman's murder and the events surrounding it were a symptom, and also became a cause, of civil strife on a large scale. Ali felt that the tragic situation was mainly due to inept governors. He therefore dismissed all the governors who had been appointed by Uthman and appointed new ones. All the governors excepting Muawiya, the governor of Syria, submitted to his orders. Muawiya declined to obey until Uthman's blood was avenged. The Prophet's widow Aisha also took the position that Ali should first bring the murderers to trial. Due to the chaotic conditions during the last days of Uthman it was very difficult to establish the identity of the murderers, and Ali refused to punish anyone whose guilt was not lawfully proved. Thus a battle between the army of Ali and the supporters of Aisha took place. Aisha later realized her error of judgment and never forgave herself for it.

The situation in Hijaz (thc part of Arabia in which Mecca and Medina are located) became so troubled that Ali moved his capital to Iraq. Muawiya now openly rebelled against Ali and a fierce battle was fought between their armies. This battle was inconclusive, and Ali had to accept the de facto government of Muawiya in Syria.

However, even though the era of Ali's caliphate was marred by civil strife, he nevertheless introduced a number of reforms, particularly in the levying and collecting of revenues.

It was the fortieth year of Hijra. A fanatical group called Kharijites, consisting of people who had broken away from Ali due to his compromise with Muawiya, claimed that neither Ali, the Caliph, nor Muawiya, the ruler of Syria, nor Amr bin al-Aas, the ruler of Egypt, were worthy of rule. In fact, they went so far as to say that the true caliphate came to an end with 'Umar and that Muslims should live without any ruler over them except God. They vowed to kill all three rulers, and assassins were dispatched in three directions.

The assassins who were deputed to kill Muawiya and Amr did not succeed and were captured and executed, but Ibn-e-Muljim, the assassin who was commissioned to kill Ali, accomplished his task. One morning when Ali was absorbed in prayer in a mosque, Ibn-e-Muljim stabbed him with a poisoned sword. On the 20th of Ramadan, 40 A.H., died the last of the Rightly Guided Caliphs of Islam. May God Most High be pleased with them and grant to them His eternal reward.

The Third Caliph, Uthman (644-656 A.C.)

"Every Prophet has an assistant, and my assistant will be Uthman."(Hadeeth)

Uthman's Election
When 'Umar fell under the assassin's dagger, before he died the people asked him to nominate his successor. 'Umar appointed a committee consisting of six of the ten companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) about whom the Prophet had said, "They are the people of Heaven" - Ali, Uthman, Abdul Rahman, Sa'ad, Al-Zubayr and Talha - to select the next Caliph from among themselves. He also outlined the procedure to be followed if any differences of opinion should arise. Abdul Rahman withdrew his name. He was then authorized by the committee to nominate the Caliph. After two days of discussion among the candidates and after the opinions of the Muslims in Medina had been ascertained, the choice was finally limited to Uthman and Ali. Abdul Rahman came to the mosque together with other Muslims, and after a brief speech and questioning of the two men, swore allegiance to Uthman. All those present did the same, and Uthman became the third Caliph of Islam in the month of Muharram, 24 A.H.

Uthman's Life
Uthman bin Affan was born seven years after the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). He belonged to the Omayyad branch of the Quraish tribe. He learned to read and write at an early age, and as a young man became a successful merchant. Even before Islam Uthman had been noted for his truthfulness and integrity. He and Abu Bakr were close friends, and it was Abu Bakr who brought him to Islam when he was thirty-four years of age. Some years later he married the Prophet's second daughter, Ruqayya. In spite of his wealth and position, his relatives subjected him to torture because he had embraced Islam, and he was forced to emigrate to Abyssinia. Some time later he returned to Mecca but soon migrated to Medina with the other Muslims. In Medina his business again began to flourish and he regained his former prosperity. Uthman's generosity had no limits. On various occasions he spent a great portion of his wealth for the welfare of the Muslims, for charity and for equipping the Muslim armies. That is why he came to be known as 'Ghani' meaning 'Generous.'

Uthman's wife, Ruqayya was seriously ill just before the Battle of Badr and he was excused by the Prophet (peace be on him) from participating in the battle. The illness Ruqayya proved fatal, leaving Uthman deeply grieved. The Prophet was moved and offered Uthman the hand of another of his daughters, Kulthum. Because he had the high privilege of having two daughters of the Prophet as wives Uthman was known as 'The Possessor of the Two Lights. '

Uthman participated in the Battles of Uhud and the Trench. After the encounter of the Trench, the Prophet (peace be on him) determined to perform Hajj and sent Uthman as his emissary to the Quraish in Mecca, who detained him. The episode ended in a treaty with the Meccans known as the Treaty of Hudaibiya.

The portrait we have of Uthman is of an unassuming, honest, mild, generous and very kindly man, noted especially for his modesty and his piety. He often spent part of the night in prayer, fasted every second or third day, performed hajj every year, and looked after the needy of the whole community. In spite of his wealth, he lived very simply and slept on bare sand in the courtyard of the Prophet's mosque. Uthman knew the Qur'an from memory and had an intimate knowledge of the context and circumstances relating to each verse.

Uthman's Caliphate
During Uthman's rule the characteristics of Abu Bakr's and Umar's caliphates - impartial justice for all, mild and humane policies, striving in the path of God, and the expansion of Islam - continued. Uthman's realm extended in the west to Morocco, in the east to Afghanistan, and in the north to Armenia and Azerbaijan. During his caliphate a navy was organized, administrative divisions of the state were revised, and many public projects were expanded and completed. Uthman sent prominent Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) as his personal deputies to various provinces to scrutinize the conduct of officials and the condition of the people.

Uthman's most notable contribution to the religion of God was the compilation of a complete and authoritative text of the Qur'an. A large number of copies of this text were made and distributed all over the Muslim world.

Uthman ruled for twelve years. The first six years were marked by internal peace and tranquility, but during the second half of his caliphate a rebellion arose. The Jews and the Magians, taking advantage of dissatisfaction among the people, began conspiring against Uthman, and by publicly airing their complaints and grievances, gained so much sympathy that it became difficult to distinguish friend from foe.

It may seem surprising that a ruler of such vast territories, whose armies were matchless, was unable to deal with these rebels. If Uthman had wished, the rebellion could have been crushed at the very moment it began. But he was reluctant to be the first to shed the blood of Muslims, however rebellious they might be. He preferred to reason with them, to persuade them with kindness and generosity. He well remembered hearing the Prophet (peace be on him) say, "Once the sword is unsheathed among my followers, it will not be sheathed until the Last Day."

The rebels demanded that he abdicate and some of the Companions advised him to do so. He would gladly have followed this course of action, but again he was bound by a solemn pledge he had given to the Prophet. "Perhaps God will clothe you with a shirt, Uthman" the Prophet had told him once, "and if the people want you to take it off, do not take it off for them." Uthman said to a well-wisher on a day when his house was surrounded by the rebels, "God's Messenger made a covenant with me and I shall show endurance in adhering to it."

After a long siege, the rebels broke into Uthman's house and murdered him. When the first assassin's sword struck Uthman, he was reciting the verse,

"Verily, God sufficeth thee; He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing" [2:137]

Uthman breathed his last on the afternoon of Friday, 17 Dhul Hijja, 35 A.H. (June. (656 A.C.). He was eighty-four years old. The power of tHe rebels was so great that Uthman's body lay unburied until Saturday night when he was buried in his blood-stained clothes, the shroud which befits all martyrs in the cause of God.

The Second Caliph, Umar (634-644 A.C.)

"God has placed truth upon Umar's tongue and heart. (hadeeth)"

'Umar's Life
During his last illness Abu Bakr had conferred with his people, particularly the more eminent among them. After this meeting they chose 'Umar as his successor. 'Umar was born into a respected Quraish family thirteen years after the birth of Muhammad (peace be on him). Umar's family was known for its extensive knowledge of genealogy. When he grew up, 'Umar was proficient in this branch of knowledge as well as in swordsmanship, wrestling and the art of speaking. He also learned to read and write while still a child, a very rare thing in Mecca at that time. 'Umar earned his living as a merchant. His trade took him to many foreign lands and he met all kinds of people. This experience gave him an insight into the affairs and problems of men. 'Umar's personality was dynamic, self-assertive, frank and straight forward. He always spoke whatever was in his mind even if it displeased others.

'Umar was twenty-seven when the Prophet (peace be on him) proclaimed his mission. The ideas Muhammad was preaching enraged him as much as they did the other notables of Mecca. He was just as bitter against anyone accepting Islam as others among the Quraish. When his slave-girl accepted Islam he beat her until he himself was exhausted and told her, "I have stopped because I am tired, not out of pity for you." The story of his embracing Islam is an interesting one. One day, full of anger against the Prophet, he drew his sword and set out to kill him. A friend met him on the way. When 'Umar told him what he planned to do, his friend informed him that 'Umar's own sister, Fatima, and her husband had also accepted Islam. 'Umar went straight to his sister's house where he found her reading from pages of the Qur'an. He fell upon her and beat her mercilessly. Bruised and bleeding, she told her brother, "Umar, you can do what you like, but you cannot turn our hearts away from Islam." These words produced a strange effect upon 'Umar. What was this faith that made even weak women so strong of heart? He asked his sister to show him what she had been reading; he was at once moved to the core by the words of the Qur'an and immediately grasped their truth. He went straight to the house where the Prophet was staying and vowed allegiance to him.

Umar made no secret of his acceptance of Islam. He gathered the Muslims and offered prayers at the Ka'aba. This boldness and devotion of an influential citizen of Mecca raised the morale of the small community of Muslims. Nonetheless 'Umar was also subjected to privations, and when permission for emigration to Medina came, he also left Mecca. The soundness of 'Umar's judgment, his devotion to the Prophet (peace be on him), his outspokenness and uprightness won for him a trust and confidence from the Prophet which was second only to that given to Abu Bakr. The Prophet gave him the title 'Farooq' which means the 'Separator of Truth from False hood.' During the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, 'Umar was his closest assistant and adviser. When Abu Bakr died, all the people of Medina swore allegiance to 'Umar, and on 23 Jamadi-al-Akhir, 13 A.H., he was proclaimed Caliph.

'Umar's Caliphate
After taking charge of his office, 'Umar spoke to the Muslims of Medina:

"...O people, you have some rights on me which you can always claim. One of your rights is that if anyone of you comes to me with a claim, he should leave satisfied. Another of your rights is that you can demand that I take nothing unjustly from the revenues of the State. You can also demand that... I fortify your frontiers and do not put you into danger. It is also your right that if you go to battle I should look after your families as a father would while you are away. "O people, remain conscious of God, forgive me my faults and help me in my task. Assist me in enforcing what is good and forbidding what is evil. Advise me regarding the obligations that have been imposed upon me by God..."

The most notable feature of 'Umar's caliphate was the vast expansion of Islam. Apart from Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and Iran also came under the protection of the Islamic government. But the greatness of 'Umar himself lies in the quality of his rule. He gave a practical meaning to the Qur'anic injunction:

"O you who believe, stand out firmly for justice as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it concerns rich or poor, for God can best protect both." [4:135]

Once a woman brought a claim against the Caliph 'Umar. When 'Umar appeared on trial before the judge, the judge stood up as a sign of respect toward him. 'Umar reprimanded him, saying, "This is the first act of injustice you did to this woman!"

He insisted that his appointed governors live simple lives, keep no guard at their doors and be accessible to the people at all times, and he himself set the example for them. Many times foreign envoys and messengers sent to him by his generals found him resting under a palm tree or praying in the mosque among the people, and it was difficult for them to distinguish which man was the Caliph. He spent many a watchful night going about the streets of Medina to see whether anyone needed help or assistance. The general social and moral tone of the Muslim society at that time is well-illustrated by the words of an Egyptian who was sent to spy on the Muslims during their Egyptian campaign. He reported:

"I have seen a people, every one of whom loves death more than he loves life. They cultivate humility rather than pride. None is given to material ambitions. Their mode of living is simple... Their commander is their equal. They make no distinction between superior and inferior, between master and slave. When the time of prayer approaches, none remains behind..."

'Umar gave his government an administrative structure. Departments of treasury, army and public revenues were established. Regular salaries were set up for soldiers. A popuation census was held. Elaborate land surveys were conducted to assess equitable taxes. New cities were founded. The areas which came under his rule were divided into provinces and governors were appointed. New roads were laid, canals were lug and wayside hotels were built. Provision was made for he support of the poor and the needy from public funds. He defined, by precept and by example, the rights and privileges of non-Muslims, an example of which is the following contract with the Christians of Jerusalem:

"This is the protection which the servant of God, 'Umar, the Ruler of the Believers has granted to the people of Eiliya [Jerusalem]. The protection is for their lives and properties, their churches and crosses, their sick and healthy and for all their coreligionists. Their churches shall not be used for habitation, nor shall they be demolished, nor shall any injury be done to them or to their compounds, or to their crosses, nor shall their properties be injured in any way. There shall be no compulsion for these people in the matter of religion, nor shall any of them suffer any injury on account of religion... Whatever is written herein is under the covenant of God and the responsibility of His Messenger, of the Caliphs and of the believers, and shall hold good as long as they pay Jizya [the tax for their defense] imposed on them."

Those non-Muslims who took part in defense together with the Muslims were exempted from paying Jizya, and when the Muslims had to retreat from a city whose non-Muslim citizens had paid this tax for their defense, the tax was returned to the non-Muslims. The old, the poor and the disabled of Muslims and non-Muslims alike were provided for from the public treasury and from the Zakat funds.

'Umar's Death
In 23 A.H., when Umar returned to Medina from Hajj;, he raised his hands and prayed,

"O God! I am advanced in years, my bones are weary, my powers are declining, and the people for whom I am responsible have spread far and wide. Summon me back to Thyself, my lord!" Some time later, when 'Umar went to the mosque to lead a prayer, a Magian named Abu Lulu Feroze, who had a grudge against 'Umar on a personal matter, attacked him with a dagger and stabbed him several times. Umar reeled and fell to the ground. When he learned that the assassin was a Magian, he sid, "Thank God he is not a Muslim."

'Umar died in the first week of Muharram, 24 A.H., and was buried by the side of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him).

The First Caliph, Abu Bakr (632-634 A.C.)

"If I were to take a friend other than my Lord, I would take Abu Bakr as a friend." (Hadeeth)

Election to the Caliphate
The Prophet's closest Companion, Abu Bakr, was not present when the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) breathed his last in the apartment of his beloved wife of later years, Aisha, Abu Bakr's daughter. When he came to know of the Prophet's passing, Abu Bakr hurried to the house of sorrow.

"How blessed was your life and how beatific is your death,"

he whispered as he kissed the cheek of his beloved friend and master who now was no more.

When Abu Bakr came out of the Prophet's apartment and broke the news, disbelief and dismay gripped the community of Muslims in Medina. Muhammad (peace be on him) had been the leader, the guide and the bearer of Divine revelation through whom they had been brought from idolatry and barbarism into the way of God. How could he die? Even Umar, one of the bravest and strongest of the Prophet's Companions, lost his composure and drew his sword and threatened to kill anyone who said that the Prophet was dead. Abu Bakr gently pushed him aside, ascended the steps of the lectern in the mosque and addressed the people, saying

"O people, verily whoever worshipped Muhammad, behold! Muhammad is indeed dead. But whoever worships God, behold! God is alive and will never die."

And then he concluded with a verse from the Qur'an:

"And Muhammad is but a Messenger. Many Messengers have gone before him; if then he dies or is killed, will you turn back upon your heels?" [3:144]

On hearing these words, the people were consoled. Despondency gave place to confidence and tranquility. This critical moment had passed. But the Muslim community was now faced with an extremely serious problem: that of choosing a leader. After some discussion among the Companions of the Prophet who had assembled in order to select a leader, it became apparent that no one was better suited for this responsibility than Abu Bakr. A portion of the speech the First Caliph gave after his election has already been quoted in the introduction.

Abu Bakr's Life
Abu Bakr ('The Owner of Camels') was not his real name. He acquired this name later in life because of his great interest in raising camels. His real name was Abdul Ka'aba ('Slave of Ka'aba'), which Muhammad (peace be on him) later changed to Abdullah ('Slave of God'). The Prophet also gave him the title of 'Siddiq' - 'The Testifier to the Truth.'

Abu Bakr was a fairly wealthy merchant, and before he embraced Islam, was a respected citizen of Mecca. He was three years younger than Muhammad (peace be on him) and some natural affinity drew them together from earliest child hood. He remained the closest Companion of the Prophet all through the Prophet's life. When Muhammad first invited his closest friends and relatives to Islam, Abu Bakr was among the earliest to accept it. He also persuaded Uthman and Bilal to accept Islam. In the early days of the Prophet's mission, when the handful of Muslims were subjected to relentless persecution and torture, Abu Bakr bore his full share of hardship. Finally when God's permission came to emigrate from Mecca, he was the one chosen by the Prophet to accompany him on the dangerous journey to Medina. In the numerous battles which took place during the life of the Prophet, Abu Bakr was always by his side. Once, he brought all his belongings to the Prophet, who was raising money for the defense of Medina. The Prophet asked "Abu Bakr, what did you leave for your family?" The reply came: "God and His Prophet."

Even before Islam, Abu Bakr was known to be a man of upright character and amiable and compassionate nature. All through his life he was sensitive to human suffering and kind to the poor and helpless. Even though he was wealthy, he lived very simply and spent his money for charity, for freeing slaves and for the cause of Islam. He often spent part of the night in supplication and prayer. He shared with his family a cheerful and affectionate home life.

Abu-Bakr's Caliphate
Such, then, was the man upon whom the burden of leadership fell at the most sensitive period in the history of the Muslims.

As the news of the Prophet's death spread, a number of tribes rebelled and refused to pay Zakat (poor-due), saying that this was due only to the Prophet (peace be on him). At the same time a number of impostors claimed that the prophethood had passed to them after Muhammad and they raised the standard of revolt. To add to all this, two powerful empires, the Eastern Roman and the Persian, also threatened the new-born Islamic state at Medina.

Under these circumstances, many Companions of the Prophet, including Umar, advised Abu Bakr to make concessions to the Zakat evaders, at least for a time. The new Caliph disagreed. He insisted that the Divine Law cannot be divided, that there is no distinction between the obligations of Zakat and Salat (prayer), and that any compromise with the injunctions of God would eventually erode the foundations of Islam. Umar and others were quick to realize their error of judgment. The revolting tribes attacked Medina but the Muslims were prepared. Abu Bakr himself led the charge, forcing them to retreat. He then made a relentless war on the false claimants to prophethood, most of whom submitted and again professed lslam.

The threat from the Roman Empire had actually arisen earlier, during the Prophet's lifetime. The Prophet had organized an army under the command of Usama, the son of a freed slave. The army had not gone far when the Prophet had fallen ill so they stopped. After the death of the Prophet the question was raised whether the army should be sent again or should remain for the defence of Medina. Again Abu Bakr showed a firm determination. He said, "I shall send Usama's army on its way as ordered by the Prophet, even if I am left alone."

The final instructions he gave to Usama prescribed a code of conduct in war which remains unsurpassed to this day. Part of his instructions to the Muslim army were:

"Do not be deserters, nor be guilty of disobedience. Do not kill an old man, a woman or a child. Do not injure date palms and do not cut down fruit trees. Do not slaughter any sheep or cows or camels except for food. You will encounter persons who spend their lives in monasteries. Leave them alone and do not molest them."

Khalid bin Waleed had been chosen by the Prophet (peace be on him) on several occasions to lead Muslim armies. A man of supreme courage and a born leader, his military genius came to full flower during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr. Throughout Abu Bakr's reign Khalid led his troops from one victory to another against the attacking Romans.

Another contribution of Abu Bakr to the cause of Islam was the collection and compilation of the verses of the Qur'an.

Abu Bakr died on 21 Jamadi-al Akhir, 13 A.H. (23 August 634 A.C.), at the age of sixty-three, and was buried by the side of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). His caliphate had been of a mere twenty-seven months duration. In this brief span, however, Abu Bakr had managed, by the Grace of God, to strengthen and consolidate his community and the state, and to secure the Muslims against the perils which had threatened their existence.

Meaning of the Word 'Caliph'

The word 'Caliph' is the English form of the Arabic word 'Khalifa,' which is short for Khalifatu Rasulil-lah. The latter expression means Successor to the Messenger of God, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). The title 'Khalifatu Rasulil-lah'. was first used for Abu Bakr, who was elected head of the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet.

The Significance of the Caliphate
The mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), like that of the earlier messengers of God, was to call people to the worship of and submission to the One True God. In practice, submission to God means to obey His injunctions as given in the Holy Qur'an and as exemplified by Sunnah (the practice of the Prophet). As successor to the Prophet, the Caliph was the head of the Muslim community and his primary responsibility was to continue in the path of the Prophet. Since religion was perfected and the door of Divine revelation was closed at the death of the Prophet, the Caliph was to make all laws in accordance with the Qur'an and the Sunnah. He was a ruler over Muslims but not their sovereign since sovereignty belongs to God alone. He was to be obeyed as long as he obeyed God. He was responsible for creating and maintaining conditions under which it would be easy for Muslims to live according to Islamic principles, and to see that justice was done to all. Abu Bakr, at the time he accepted the caliphate, stated his position thus:

"The weak among you shall be strong with me until their rights have been vindicated; and the strong among you shall he weak with me until, if the Lord wills, I have taken what is due from them... Obey me as long as I obey God and His Messenger. When I disobey Him and His Prophet, then obey me not."

The Rightly-Guided Caliphs (Al-Khulafa-ur-Rashidun)
Those Caliphs who truly followed in the Prophet's foot steps are called 'The Rightly-Guided Caliphs' (Al-Khulafa-ur Rashidun in Arabic). They are the first four Caliphs: Abu Bakr, 'Umar, Uthman and Ali. All four were among thc earliest and closest Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him). They lived simple and righteous lives and strove hard for the religion of God. Their justice was impartial, their treatment of others was kind and merciful, and they were one with the people - the first among equals. After these four, the later Caliphs assumed the manners of kings and emperors and the true spirit of equality of ruler and ruled diminished to a considerable extent in the political life of Muslims.

It should be clearly understood that the mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), and hence that of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, was not political, social or economic reform, although such reforms were a logical consequence of the success of this mission, nor the unity of a nation and the establishment of an empire, although the nation did unite and vast areas came under one administration, nor the spread of a civilization or culture, although many civilizations and cultures developed, but only to deliver the message of God to all the peoples of the world and to invite them to submit to Him, while being the foremost among those who submitted.

What About the Present?
The primary responsibility of an Islamic government is still the same as it was in the days of the early Caliphs: to make all laws in accordance with the Qur'an and the Sunnah, to make positive efforts to create and maintain conditions under which it will be possible and easy for Muslims to live an Islamic life, to secure impartial and speedy justice for all, and to strive hard in the path of God. Any government which is committed to such a policy is truly following the message delivered by the Prophet (peace be on him).

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