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Early Caliphate, Sectarian Divisions, Islamic law, Cultural Spheres

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University of Toronto St. George
Andre Maintenay

World Religions November 1 , 2011. Early Caliphate, Sectarian Divisions, Islamic law, Cultural Spheres Reading: Ch. 4 The Islamic Tradition, pp. 217-257 Death of Muhammad (founder of Islam) 632 CE Who will succeed Muhammad: Some believed should be member of own family, recounted he had proposed his son-in-law Ali as his successor Others believed Ali was too young at the time and leadership was passed to Muhammads good friend Abu Bakr Abu Bakr begins institution of caliphate first caliph (leader) of Muslim tradition Secular authority, primarily, political and administrative head of community Had very short period of leadership (2 years) before he died Was able to contain community and expanded within Arabian Peninsula Was succeeded by Omar Omar lead community for 10 years Made great many vital military and political decisions Regarded as military genius Expanded influence of Islam militarily, socially in quite significant ways: took Persian Empire through strategizing and during his reign he was able to take the areas of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, modern day Iraq Adopted convention of dating Muslim history from date of Hijrah in 622 migration to Medina The one who decided to adopt Hijery calendar as norm of Islam Was assassinated Succeeded by Uthman His reign marked by corruption Accuses of various types of abuse of authority Accused of favouring family over others, favouring certain ethnicities over others Therefore great deal of opposition to his rule Also assassinated Succeeded by Ali, son-in-law of Muhammad as well as his cousin Together referred to as four Caliphs who are understood as having more or less, close connection with Muhammad and guiding community correctly Sunni community Others held that three first Caliphs were interlopers and didnt merit the leadership of the Muslim community and should have gone to Ali in the first place, he was by all standards the most worthy Shia community Sunni and Shia form two major denominations of Islam, originating from same history Sunni hold four rights guided Shia Ali is the only legitimate heir or Imam of Muslim community and trace their linage to Ali and hence have different understanding of legitimacy of other leaders of Muslim community
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