The Post Muhammadan Wars
Without any doubt, Islam is identified as one of the strongest and most powerful world religion due to its strong belief and unwillingness to accept the existence of other religions. The messenger of Islamic religion Muhammadspread Islam and established its power in the seventh century AD. After the prophets death, Abu Bakr ambitiously decided to spread the Muslim religion across the world.
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Historically, it is known that at the time of Muhammads death in Medina, he had established a new monotheist religion in a region rife with paganism. He developed absolutely new religious system as well as the government opposite to the existing religions. The power was divided among holy men: their spheres of influence as well as empires, and the areas that they had conquered. The acceptable trend at that time was that a holy man could have an area under his direct influence. Muhammad introduced a monotheist religion, the one that had God at its top and Muhammad as his messenger. In this case, Islam was introduced as an absolute and uncompromising monotheism that was against other religions. It is believed that this strong faith in the uniqueness of the Muslim religion was the main step to declare total war against infidel religions. Towards the end of Muhammads life, he was able to establish a community of Arabs that were united by religion. They protected themselves and waged war against infidels as a source of income and as well as a source of the ummas direct aggression outside the group.
After Muhammads death in June 632, Abu Bakr became head of the umma following a period of uncertainty. The reason for this uncertainty was the inner conflict around the issue who would head the Muslim world as the prophet. Since Muhammad had not appointed a successor, prior to his demise, as scholars suggest, he was given the title Khalifat Allah, which roughly translated means the deputy of God.
The new caliph immediately set about establishing and strengthening his authority over the umma applying the strong use of force and power. The death of the prophet created a power vacuum and allowed the tensions that were kept silent during his life to be heard after his death. Many of tribes converted to Islam as a conciliatory measure asked for their freedom either from the practice of Islam, the payment of the tax or both. The first of the tribes trying to win back their independence were the Najd tribes who demanded, although they wanted to remain Muslims, to be exempted from paying taxes to Medina. However, Abu Bakr did not accept the request and immediately ordered the march of the army towards Dhul-Qassa in order to calm the spirits and show the population his authoritative figure. Abu Bakr, being a successful commander, held many victories against the rebelling tribes. After the victories against the tribes, the leadership of the Muslim army was delegated to Khalid who led the battle to subdue and acquire territory all around the area. Soon after the areas of Yemen had been brought under Islamic control the attention was directed towards Syria.
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The Ridda wars also known in the world history as the Wars of Apostasy launched against the apostasy and rebellion by the Caliph Abu Bakr in 632- 633 AD. It is known that after Muhammads death in 632, the period of uncertainty about who would control the Muslim community existed. The heated dispute was divided between
Medinese Ansar and the Meccan Muhajirun. Thus, Abu Bakr established the first Khalifah, known as successor and became the leader of the community. Abu Bakr avenged the Byzantine Empire forces that belonged to the Eastern Roman Empire. However, the most potent threat was seen in Arab tribes who were uprising after the death of the messenger Muhammad. It is evident that a number of tribes refused to pay taxes to the new caliph, while other tribes demanded to establish their own power and proclaim new prophets. Consequently, Abu Bakr declared the beginning of the war against these tribes. Eventually, the Ridda caused global Muslim expansion into Sassanid Persia and the Byzantine Empire.
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There were many significant marches during this period intended to spread the Muslim religion and occupy new territories. The march that led to the conquest of the Syrian peninsula under Khalids guidance of the army was one of the best military maneuvers of Abu Bakrs governing period. The three most significant battles that put up sustained resistance were Damascus, Caesarea, and Tripoli. However, the defeat of these cities led to the end of the Byzantine armys influence and the advancement of the Muslim army into the Syrian territories. Another important event during the Abu Bakrs period was the fall of Jerusalem to the Muslims. The city of Jerusalem, considered a holy city both for Christians and Muslims, represented a tremendous achievement for Abu Bakr and his generals.
The first significant Muslim civil war within the Islamic Caliphate was the First Islamic Civil War during the period from 656 to 661. The common name of the war is the First Fitna and it started as a result of Caliph Uthmans death. The war began due to the numerous rebellions against Ali ibn Abi Talib who was the Sunnis fourth Caliph and the Shias first Imam. Ali was firstly challenged by the Quraysh. This happened due to Alis support of Abu Bakr and identification with Anrar. The main conflict centered around al- Zubayr. Ali ibn Abi Talib ended up being assassinated because not many people favored him. Alis rivals accused him of favoritism, nepotism, and incorrect introduction of reprehensible religious innovations. At the Battle of the Camel, Alis forces suffered defeat and both sides made an agreement of adopting arbitration. Thus, Ali kept his position as caliph; however, he did not manage to bring Muawiyahs territory under his constant control. In 661, Ali was totally stabbed by a Khawarijite dissenter. This defeat brought the hereditary Umayyad caliphate into power.
The Second Fitna is identified as the Second Islamic Civil War. This period is characterized by strong military conflict that dramatically influenced the early Umayyad dynasty. It is known that Muawiya had broken convention and crowned his son Yazid due to the caliphate hereditary. Thus, Muawiya is believed to be the first and the strongest Islamic dynasty. On the contrary, a big number of Muslims were opposed to the new power and speculated that the new caliph should be chosen by members of the community, rather than inheriting the title from his genealogical tree. Also, an opinion existed that the caliph should be chosen from the family of Muhammad, which could not come from Muawiya or his son. The main conflict occurred when Yazid became the caliph. In the nick of time, Alis son Hasan refused to head the caliphate; however, his younger brother Hussein agreed. Rivals of Yazid supported Hussein and claimed him as caliph. As a result, Yazid attacked Husseins family while they were travelling. Thus, the Battle of Karbala began. Yazids forces applied strong and very cruel measures against Husseins family.
Many Muslims strongly opposed the heredity of the caliphate and tried to overthrow the present ruler. Given the fact that Muawiya II was tired of the constant threats and fights, he decided to resign and not long after passed away. However, another predecessor came about from a different side of the Umayyad Dynasty by the name of Marwan who took the throne and rose against Ibn al- Zubayr. The rebellion against Ibn al-Zubayr marked the beginning of the conflicts in Damascus and Mecca. The conflicts represent the beginning of the Second Fitna.
The Third Fitna began in 744 CE after Al-Walid II had been killed by the Kalb tribesmen in Syria. He had gravely offended them by favoring their rival faction, the Qays, to a huge extent and neglected the part of being a spiritual leader as well. Caliph, Yazid III, had a reformatory political agenda; therefore, he gained favoritism and support of the majority of the population.
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It was unfortunate that he passed away unexpectedly later that year because his successor, Ibrahim, proved to be more fragile. Therefore, the rise of the more powerful caliph seeking to take the throne happened to be just a matter of time. Marwan II started a conflict in the north of the territories with the purpose of eliminating Ibrahim and proclaiming himself as the next caliph after conquering Damascus. However, even after Marwan II who was viewed as a strong caliph took the throne, there was another rebellion directed towards the Kufah under the command of Abd-Allah Ibn-Mu`awiyah. The rebellion was unsuccessful and the rebels had to retreat into the western highlands of Iran where they were completely exterminated in 747 due to their disorganization and lack of military tactics. The next rebellion against Marwans rule came from the Syrians in 745 under the Kharijis who thought they were able to overthrown Marwan due to the chaotic situation in the country.
All in all, the essence of the wars that followed the death of the prophet established new government in which the caliph was identified as the main leader. Moreover, the post Muhammadan wars helped Muslims to extend their power globally.