The only word on the news that you hear concerning the leaders in the Middle East is “corruption.” Was there always corruption? To answer this question we will take a look at what happened after the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) passed away.
After the devastating decease of the beloved Prophet (pbuh) there were thousands of Muslims that were leaderless and in desperate need of a uniting factor to bring them to their feet again. The one who was designated this new position was Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu ‘anhu, May God be pleased with him). He became the first of the four Khalifa al Rashidun (Rightly Guided Khalifa). A khalifa (successor) is an Islamic religious and political leader that is considered to be a successor of the Prophet (pbuh). Abu Bakr (RA) was the only one to be appointed the name of As-Saddiq (Man of Truth) by Allah (All Praise it to him) himself. His character was such that he used to go to the neighborhood sheep and milk them for everyone. After he became khalifa the neighbors said, “Now he will not milk our animals,” upon which he said, “Nay, I will certainly milk your animals for you. I wish that this matter I went through will not change me.” (At-Tabsirah). He was held with great respect for his piety, sincerity, and justness. He was the first and most eligible khalifa after the prophet passed away. His humility and generosity were unable to be competed with.
The second Khalifa al Rashidun, Umar ibn al Khattab, would try to compete with Abu Bakr. One day the Prophet (pbuh) was collecting charity and Umar took this opportunity to best Abu Bakr. In hopes of giving more than Abu Bakr, he gave away HALF his wealth for the sake of Allah and charity. When asked what he left for his family he said, I left the other half for them. Abu Bakr (RA) on the other hand gave ALL of his wealth other than what he needed to survive. When asked what he left for his family he had replied, “I have left Allah and his Messenger for them.” At that point Umar (RA) decided he would never be able to beat Abu Bakr in anything.
Umar Ibn Khattab (RA) became the second Khalifa and ‘Uthman ibn Affan became the third Khalifa al Rashidun. They were both exemplary in nature and piety. The last Khalifa al Rashidun was Ali ibn Abi Talib.
Ali ibn Abu Talib (Ali son of Abu Talib) was the nephew of the Prophet (pbuh) and was the first child to accept and follow Islam. Ali was ten years old when he came to accept Islam and he grew up to become one of the great Khalifa al Rashidun. He never desired the leadership positon, however, since after ‘Uthman ibn Affan passed away he was the best suited for the role, he was appointed the position in order to unite the Muslims. Ali (RA) is given the archetype of a warrior since he was a man who could take out 27 men or more when he fought in war. He was with the Prophet (pbuh) for every single battle except for the Battle of Tabouk. Ali (RA) was a fierce soldier and a humble leader. His characteristics included being able to put his principles ahead of politics and being the fairest of judges with a ubiquitous understanding of the Quran. He stood out as a prominent leader and distinguished individual in Islam.
The Khalifa al Rashidun were remarkable people that should be considered role models for all leaders of our time. They were pious, just, understanding, intelligent, caring, and so much more. Ali was known as the warrior, ‘Uthman was known as the shy one, Umar was known to be stern and firm, and Abu Bakr was the social and friendly one. Together they represent the greatest types of leadership after the Prophet (pbuh). They showed true compassion and love for their job and responsibilities, a characteristic that all leaders today should learn to emulate.