Page 1104

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

Tayef.

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