Rashidun Caliphate Timeline
Timeline Description: The Rashidun Caliphate (632 - 661), which means "Rightly Guided" in Arabic, is the term for the first four caliphs after Muhammad. However, a strict body of Ansar, or companions of the Prophet, used their influence to make sure the caliphs strictly adhered to religious law. The caliphate controlled a vast empire, including large amounts of territory in the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa, making it the largest empire in history up to that time.

Date Event
632 The Prophet Muhammad dies and Abu Bakr becomes the first caliph.

After the death of Muhammad, many Muslims separate themselves from Medina, the seat of Muslim power and Muhammad's burial place. The Ansar in Medina (the ruling class) debate who should succeed him in running Muslim affairs. They finally pledge loyalty to Abu Bakr.
633 Abu Bakr suppresses rebellious Arab tribes.

Abu Bakr leads the Muslim forces against the rebelling Arabian tribes, who claim that they do not owe loyalty to Abu Bakr. He successfully defeats the tribes, however, and reintegrates the caliphate.
633 The Muslim empire expands.

Abu Bakr sends his best general, Khalid al-Walid, to invade the Sassanid Persian Empire and portions of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.
634 Abu Bakr dies and Umar succeeds as caliph.

Despite concerns from his advisors, Abu Bakr passes the caliphate to Umar, who continues to expand the empire into Persia, Byzantine territory, and Egypt. He establishes the Diwan in the conquered states, or a chief official over the local governments, but leaves the rest of the governments intact.
636 The Battle of Yarmouk ends the Syrian rule of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Under Umar, the Rashidun forces decisively defeat the Eastern Roman Empire, ending their rule in Syria and claiming it for the Muslims. This, along with other key victories, brings great wealth to the caliphate. Umar decides to start distributing it in the form of allowances to various important figures, including Muhammad's surviving family and the earliest Muslims.
639 The Muslim calendar is instituted.

Umar institutes the Muslim calendar, which starts in the year 639, in reference to the Hejira, Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Medina.
644 Umar is assassinated.

A Persian slave, captured by Muslim soldiers, assassinates Umar. Before he dies, Umar selects a body of six men to choose the next caliph from among their ranks, all of whom are from the same tribe as Umar. Uthman, one of the six men, ultimately succeeds him.
656 Ali succeeds as caliph after the Siege of Uthman.

Protestors rebel against Uthman because of his nepotism. The rebellion starts in Egypt and eventually reaches Medina. While Ali initially appeases the rebels, they besiege Uthman's home and eventually set it on fire, killing him. Ali is selected as caliph.
656 Ali quells rebellion.(November 7, 656)

Ali is pressured to take revenge on the rebels who killed Uthman, in particular by Muhammad's widow, Ayesha. When his army comes against the rebel army, neither side initially wants to fight, but battle breaks out despite the reluctance. This represents the first time two Muslim forces fight against each other. Ali's forces are victorious and the rebels are put down.
656 The First Fitna (Islamic Civil War) begins.

Anger rises again over Uthman's death. This time, however, it is started by Mu'awiya, a member of Uthman's extended family and the current governor of Syria, as a means of seizing the caliphate from Ali.
657 Hostilities break out in the Battle of Siffin.(July 26-28, 657)

After more than one hundred days camped around Siffin, hostilities finally break out between the two Muslims forces. Neither side is able to gain an advantage.
657 'Amr ibn al-'As negotiates a compromise.

After the inconclusive battle, Mu'awiya sends 'Amr ibn al-'As as an arbiter to reach a compromise between the factions. Amr controversially decides in favor of Mu'awiya.
657 Ali loses control over much of his territory.

Ali is quickly forced to face the Kharijites, a faction of his army who feel that he should not have accepted the arbitration. Due to this rebellion and Ali's lack of popular support in many regions, Ali loses control over many of the caliphate's territory to Mu'awiya and outside forces.
661 Ali is assassinated.

The Kharijites plan to assassinate all the Islamic leaders in order to end the civil war. While they fail to kill Mu'awiya, they kill Ali in 661.
661 Hasan ibn Ali becomes caliph.

Ali's son, Hasan ibn Ali, briefly becomes the next caliph. He comes to an agreement with Mu'awiya to unify the factions of Islam, giving the control of the caliphate over to Mu'awiya, who founds the Umayyad Caliphate.