1104 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
CHAPTER LXXVIII-CONQUESTS OF THE FIRST CALIPHS.
Mohammed died without
a successor. The Arabs,
however, were so fired
with religious enthusiasm,
caught from the spirit of
the Prophet, that there
was no danger of dissolution. Before the death of Abdallah's son four
of his followers-two of them civilians and
two military heroes-had already acquired a
national reputation. The civilians were Mohammed's kinsmen, his uncle, Abu Beker and
his cousin, the noble young Ali, heretofore
mentioned. The two military leaders were
the Prophet's generals, the austere Omar and
the old veteran Khaled. Each of these had
his partisans, and each might have pressed his
claims as the rightful successor of Mohammed.
But the leaders of young Islam were too wise
and full of zeal to indulge in open quarrels.
The succession was allowed to pass quietly to
Abu Beker. Ali could well abide his time,
and the generals were satisfied with carrying
the banners of the new faith into foreign
lands. The remainder of the present Book
will be occupied with the narrative of the
Mohammedan conquests, beginning with Arabia.
The Caliph Abu Beker contented himself
with the title of king or prince, rejecting all
claims to be the vicar of God on earth. He
was surnamed El Seddek, or the Testifier of
the Truth. He was also called the father of
the virgin, the reference being to Ayesha, the
only one of the Prophet's wives who was married a maiden.
Abu Beker soon showed the highest qualities of leadership. His purposes, moreover,
were for the promotion of the cause of Islam
and the general good of the Arabian people.
He was a man of virtue and integrity, little
susceptible to the influence of luxury and indulgence. In the government he received no
emoluments, accepting only a camel and a
black slave. On entering into office he directed
Ayesha to make an inventory of his personal estate, lest any might accuse him of enriching
himself from the Caliphate.
The death of Mohammed was the signal of
great commotion. All Arabia was affected
by the intelligence that the Prophet was no
more. After the bitter persecutions to which,
in the beginning of his ministry, the son of
Abdallah had been subjected, he had proclaimed the propagation of Islam by the
sword. It will be remembered that the larger
part of the ten years of his public career was
devoted to the work of religious conquest.
The establishment of his power in Arabia was
by force; the Arabs feared him as a conqueror. The condition was such as to lead
inevitably to revolt when his death was known.
The Arab tribes, believing that they had
nothing further to fear, now rose in rebellion.
They gave no heed to Abu Beker. They refused to pay the Zacat, or religious tribute,
which the Prophet had imposed. The revolt
spread far and wide, until in a short time
there was nothing left of the empire of Islam
but the three cities of Mecca, Medina, and
The rebels took the field under the lead of
the chieftain Malec lbn Nowirah. He was
noted as a valorous Arab knight, as well as a
poet and man of culture. His popularity,
moreover, was increased by the fame of his
wife, who was reputed to be the most beautiful woman in Arabia. The advance of Malec
against Medina gave notice to Abu Beker
that the insurgents aimed at the entire extinction of his authority and the restoration.
of tribal independence throughout the country.
The Caliph hastened to fortify the city.
The women, the children, the aged, and the
infirm were sent to the mountains to find
freedom and security. The chief reliance of
Abu Beker was upon the veteran Khaled, to
whom the command of the army was entrusted. At the head of four thousand five
hundred men the fiery soldier of Islam went
forth and quickly overthrew Malec in battle.
He had been instructed by Abu Beker to