Rightly Guided: Zaid ibn Haritha and his Rashidun Caliphate

What should the next series of posts be?

  • Following Khalid and Ali's conquest of Syria and the Levant.

    Votes: 27 37.0%
  • Following Zaid and Muthanna's conquest of Iran.

    Votes: 14 19.2%
  • Alternating posts so both plots are updated.

    Votes: 47 64.4%

  • Total voters
    73
The Battle of Mut'ah
"In Ayannid-era hagiographical works of Seerah and modern academic treatments of the Prophet’s life alike, there is a tendency to relegate the Ghazwah of Mut’ah to a role of utter insignificance. This has mostly been due to fact that the confrontation at Mut’ah didn't result in any lasting territorial changes or diplomatic maneuvers, unlike the shocking victory of the small Muslim army at Badr over their Makkan opponents or the later grand campaigns against the Byzantines or the Sasanids. Despite this, Mut’ah retains a unique place in the story of the early Muslim faithful, not only because it represented the first real military confrontation with the “Rum" or Romans that occupied Syria and the Levant, but also because it gives the student of history a good look at two people who would shape the Ummah in years to come.

The first of these men is Saifullah Khalid ibn al Walid, a Makkan nobleman turned zealous follower of his once-enemy Muhammad who brilliantly engineered the addition of vast territories to the lands of the Caliphate. Although religious scholars from later periods would claim that Khalid had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at Mut’ah, destroying the much larger Byzantine army entirely, this is patently untrue. Analysis of the earliest sources, including sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and Khalid himself indicate that Mut’ah was a stinging loss for the Muslims. This is not to say that Khalid did not display his usual acumen for battle here, however. The grizzled general acted quickly enough to turn the Muslim rout into an orderly retreat that inflicted heavy losses on the Ghassanid Christian Arab client-cavalry sent to pursue them. For their part, the Byzantines almost certainly saw Mut’ah as an unimportant repulsion of raiding Arabs. Although stories were floating in Bilad As-Sham about the nature of the Arabs who attacked them, the soldiers of the Caesar had more pressing matters to concern themselves with than the vagaries of deep desert tribal politics.

The second - and even more influential - figure to emerge from this is the charismatic warrior-scholar Zaid ibn Haritha. From slave to adopted son of the Prophet to Commander of the Faithful, few other events so embodied the death of the old Makkan-Tai’fan social system in Muhammad’s Arabia than the new prominence of Zaid, a prominence that would only increase after his return to Makkah. The only Companion of the Prophet mentioned by name in the Qur’an, Zaid is a liminal figure, a man who stood halfway between being a member of the Ahl-ul-Bayt and being an outsider tribesman from Najd. In time, this quality, along with his singular status of being well-liked by almost all the prominent Companions and Mothers of the Believers at the time of the Prophet’s death, would impact not only his rule of the Caliphate, but the whole of Islam itself."

Introducing the TL
Hey, everybody! This is my first TL (huzzah) and you've just seen the POD. In OTL, the Battle of Mut’ah, a Muslim raid sent against the Byzantine Empire in retribution for the death of a Muslim missionary in Basra, ended in the death of Zaid ibn Haritha, Abdallah ibn Rawahah and the Prophet’s uncle Ja’far. When Khalid took command, he conducted an organized retreat and got his remaining men out safely. In TTL, Zaid listens to Khalid’s counsel to only harass the much larger army, retreat, and decimate the Ghassanid outriders who chase them over Abdallah’s advice to enter pitched battle. The TTL Muslims lose many less men thanks to this, with Zaid and Abdallah being among the survivors.


Woah, this is a touchy topic. Much of this history is still really important to a lot of Muslims and inspires some bad blood to this day. Why are you doing this? Yeah, I know. I’m a Muslim myself, from a mixed Sunni-Shia household, so a lot of this stuff can get awkward around the dinner table, so to speak. However, I think the idea of a surviving Zaid as a Rightly Guided Caliph is one that deserves treatment. I'll try my best to not pull too heavily from sectarian sources (although many of the very earliest ones show astonishingly little bias, except of course the obvious pro-Muslim one in theology.) Prophet Muhammad himself will not show up; in fact, the next update will jump to right after his death and take off from there.

Oh, so this is going to be a Rashidun-wank? Not really, but I would be lying if I said that trying to see if the Rashidun Caliphate had the ability to last a while longer than it did OTL wasn't part of the goal here. There's gonna be lots of trouble in the future for our friend Ibn Haritha and he’ll have to deal with many of the same issues that the Ummah faced in OTL as well as some new ones. In fact, if any folks who are well-read on Byzantine and Sassanid Empires want to jump in and pitch their ideas, that'd be more than welcome.

What else can I expect from this thing? Lots! There'll be questions about the role of the Caliph, whether hereditary monarchy ever becomes part of the Islamic tradition, what exactly IS a Muslim at this time and how that shifts, the clash of classism and Arabization vs proto-egalitarian institutions from Muhammad's time and all sorts of other stuff. Also, expect frequent appearances by the Mothers of the Believers. Aisha, Hafsah, and the other Umm al-Mumineen are too interesting to not take a center stage in a TL like this!
 
Last edited:
Prologue - The Death of the Prophet
Prologue

Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, slept on a straw mat and when he got up he had a mark on his side. We said, "Messenger of Allah, we could make a covering for you?" He said to us, "What have I to do with this world? I am only in this world like a rider who seeks shade under a tree and then goes on.
- recorded in Riyadh-as-Saliheen by Imam Al-Nawawi




632 A.D - Madinah Al-Munawwarah

Bathed in the light of the early morning sun, the Radiant City hummed with activity. Moving with the skill that comes from years of experience, Suraqah nimbly clambered down from a tall palm tree he was gathering from and put the ripe dates in a basket carried by his daughter Ruqayyah. As the girl turned to place them in the drying room, the sun-browned farmer ruffled her hair, taking a moment to admire the rows of stately trees laden with fruit. A little farther away, he could see the entrance of the marketplace with the caravans of traders returning from As-Sham and the Yemen, accompanied by delegation after delegation of tribal chiefs coming to give their bayyah - their pledges - to the Prophet, peace be upon him. As he leaned against a tree and watched his small family work the orchard, Suraqah let his mind wander to a time not so long ago when the city faced much darker prospects.

Back then, when Madinah Al-Nabi was still called Yathrib, bloody rivalries were tearing the community apart and every day seemed to bring the Aws and Khazaraj tribes closer to all-out tribal war. The community of Najdi freed slaves were treated with almost contemptuous cruelty; they had no tribe to protect them, so they had no rights to speak of. A young man at the time, he had done his fair share of dueling and boasting through poetry, brandishing his sword at any Khazaraj who dared malign the honor of his clan. Then, word came in the city that the heretics of Makkah and the man of Banu Hashim who led them were coming to seek refuge in their town, sparking intense curiosity amongst all Yathribis. Suraqah himself, like most people in the town, knew about the idea of the prophetic mantle from the Jews they worked and farmed with but had never heard of a living Prophet bearing revelation from God himself. When the first of these religious exiles came to the city, they looked poor and near-starving, but the message they bore was invigorating in its boldness. In words beautiful and somber and joyous all at once - words they said were those of God himself - they proclaimed the age of tribes was over. All people were in one tribe now, the tribe of the Ummah, and there would be justice done within this Ummah. Suraqah and his brothers stayed up late with the Muhajirun of Makkah (who were being cared for by the people of Yathrib and stayed in various homes throughout the city) talking with them about the future that the Prophet Muhammad envisioned for his new society of believers. Both young men said their shahadahs in the presence of a man named Hamzah ibn Abi Talib, the strapping warrior and uncle of the Prophet who was famed for his valor, and they eagerly awaited the sighting of the Prophet’s camel with the rest of the city. When he finally appeared on the horizon one cold night with his faithful companion Abu Bakr, the city erupted into singing and celebration. Suraqah pushed his way through the crowds to get a sight of the man that had borne revelation from above. Finally getting a good place, he spotted him trailing just behind Abu Bakr's camel and greeting those he passed by. The Prophet of God was dusty, robed in poor garments, and just as gaunt as his other followers...but when he smiled that calm smile, Suraqah thought he outshone the full moon itself.

Within three weeks, Muhammad had made peace between the Aws and the Khazraj, foes who had previously been at war for 5 generations. He made a pact, written up by his companion Uthman ibn Affan and stamped with his ring (for the great Messenger was illiterate), that enshrined the rights and duties of the various communities of Makkah. The Najdis walked as equals in the streets of Yathrib, now proudly renamed The Shining City, and indeed his own wife was a Najdi. The next years brought their own tribulations: the unbelievable battle at Badr, the heartrending loss of so many brave brothers at Uhud, the desperate defence of the city against 4 massed armies at the Battle of the Trench, but through it all, the Prophet stood with them. He led them at Badr, wept with them at Uhud, dug the trenches and hungered in the streets with them at the Khandaq; Muhammad was their guiding light ready with a kind word or a wise ruling to clear their hearts. Now that Makkah had been taken without bloodshed, the Prophet’s call seemed triumphant in Arabia and the days of starvation and fear seemed like bad dreams dissipating in the light of morning. Even better, the sickness that had gripped the beloved Prophet these past days seemed to have passed, as Suraqah saw him watch the jama’ah prayer in the Masjid.

The relief and elation to see his face after so many days of worrying for his health had done wonders for not only Suraqah’s mood, but that of the whole city’s, it seemed. Just as he was going to return to work, his other daughter Kulthum pulled on his garment and pointed in the direction of the marketplace. Near the heart of the bazaar, a man was standing on stacked piles of palm wood and yelling something to an increasingly agitated crowd. Suraqah motioned for his daughters to stay behind, looked over to his wife Sumayah who moved to accompany him, and made his way to the entrance of the market. The closer he got, the more chaotic the scene became. People were wailing and screaming, arguments were becoming physical altercations, and a small group of donkeys being taken to market had been loosed, seemingly forgotten by their owner. Suraqah stopped one man who rushed past him and began to scold him harshly. “Brother, what is the meaning of this? Why are you acting so foolishly? Is it the way of our Prophet to strike out at our fellow Muslims?” The man, his face contorted with anger just a moment ago, broke out into heaving sobs. “Muhammad....Muhammad...Ya Allah! Our Muhammad has died!”
 
Al-Siddiqa bint Al-Siddiq - Ayesha and the Succession Crisis
Al-Siddiqa bint Al-Siddiq



Excerpt from “Understanding our Mother”, (Shariati, Ali. "Ayesha is Ayesha and other lectures", Amir-Kabir Publishers, 1979)

"...when rebuking these clerics and their “Islam of mourning", their rigidity and close-mindedness dressed as taqwa, the most instructive example we have available to us is Sayyidna Ayesha, may Allah be pleased with her. Not only was she to become the closest thing to an authoritative master of Islamic theology following the death of the Prophet, peace be upon him, but her bold leadership in the turbulent times of the first Caliphs would help weld the Ummah together when it seemed most in danger of rupturing. Part of this was due to her status as the favorite wife of the Messenger and daughter of his closest companion, but her skill at guiding the believers was mostly a result of her own iron will as well as the remarkable group of confidants she gathered around herself.

The first of these almost-disasters that the Rashidun Caliphate successfully dodged thanks to Ayesha's intervention was the selection of the first successor, but to grasp the fragility of Prophet Muhammad’s community at this time, it is best to consider the period immediately preceding the negotiations around the caliphate. When the Prophet had been confirmed to be dead, moving into the Akhirah as his head rested in Ayesha's lap, many of his companions were in various states of shock and depression: Zaid ibn Haritha was said to have initially been in something of a catatonic state after receiving the news, Ali read Qur’an to himself and paced back and forth in the Masjid nonstop for hours, the stern and trustworthy Umar was completely beside himself and screamed to the crowds that Muhammad had not died but ascended into heaven.

When Abu Bakr had arrived from his trip to As-Sunah and heard about Muhammad’s death himself, he went to see the body. After making his own farewell, Abu Bakr tried to calm his old friend and make Umar see reason, but the man went on yelling that he’d punish anyone who said Muhammad had died. Moving a distance away from him before ascending a date palm stump, Abu Bakr began to shout over Umar, famously stating ‘Indeed, whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die.’ After getting the crowd’s attention with this bold statement, he went on to recite a verse from the Qur’an: ‘Muhammad is but a messenger, messengers have passed away before him. Will it be that, when he dieth or is slain, ye will turn back on your heels? He who turneth back on his heels doth no hurt to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful.’ At this, Umar stopped his yelling, quietly sat down, and cried. The Ummah was one in mourning, but even before the Prophet’s body was lowered into the earth, argument broke out again.

Implicit in the conflict over who should lead the Ummah was the unanimous conviction among all Muslims that some kind of popular sanction was required to approve the candidate. A similarly universal sentiment was the fact that a shura council of prominent companions representing the various groups of Muslims - the Qurayshi tribes, the Banu Bakr tribes, the tribes of Ta’if, the Maadani tribes, the non-Arab converts and others - was the correct method by which to gauge the popular support for each candidate. How truly representative the council would be was the question of the day, with Umar and Abu Bakr stating that the political situation was incredibly precarious and too much time had been lost already to delay the shura until all the possible candidates had been summoned. They moved to hold a shura with the other Makkan delegates and the Khazraj from Madinah without collecting the other two most obvious contenders: Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s son-in-law/cousin and Zaid ibn Haritha, the man who had been raised by the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Although Ayesha and Ali had a chilly relationship at best, she was fond of Zaid ibn Haritha, who she saw as an uncle and took as a close confidant after Zaid and his son Usama were one of the few Companions to publicly swear that they believed Ayesha over her accusers during the earliest days of the infidelity scandal. Besides her regard for Zaid as a person, Ayesha also didn't think that it was prudent to alienate not only one, but two popular men closely associated with the Prophet at one stroke. While Zaid and Ali washed the body of the Messenger in preparation for his burial, Ayesha called on her friend Usama ibn Zaid. She asked him about his father’s stance on the election and where Zaid currently was. When Usama replied that Zaid was not particularly interested in the mantle of the Caliph, but would almost certainly be incensed if he was cut out of the decision-making process, Ayesha dispatched him to collect Zaid (who had only just finished washing the body) and bring him to the shura as quickly as possible. When the ex-slave turned community leader arrived at the shura, he was welcomed by Umar and Abu Bakr, but instead of returning their salams, Zaid loudly commanded the proceedings to halt. Enraged by the fact that he had been summoned to the Shura but his beloved friend and foster brother Ali was not yet there. To avoid open opposition to the ruling of the shura on the part of both Zaid and Ali, the council was forced to wait until Ali had completed the rest of the pre-burial rituals and joined them to begin.

Preferred by many of the companions for his status as Muhammad’s best friend (including Zaid himself) and aided by the fact that those Muslims who felt that someone more familially connected to the Prophet should be picked split their vote between the former foster son Zaid and the son-in-law/cousin Ali, Abu Bakr came out as the Caliph when the shura adjourned. Satisfied that justice had been done and the Ummah’s voice had been heard, both Zaid and Ali immediately pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr, thus ensuring that a non-controversial succession would take place."


Afternotes
Hey, y'all! Hope you're enjoying the TL so far. The ascension of Abu Bakr was covered relatively rapidly, but that's mostly because the plot would be better served dealing with updates in a more sweeping fashion until the Ridda Wars arrive. As far as butterflies, there's a few already flapping, ones that are going to have some very weighty consequences. In OTL, the shura council happens early like Umar and Abu Bakr planned, but Ayesha doesn't interfere since she wasn't about to go to bat for the man who advised Prophet Muhammad to divorce her during the false charges of infidelity scandal. This leads Ali, angry that he'd been left out of the shura's decision, to refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of Abu Bakr's caliphate for about six months, after which Umar's declared intention to war with Ali if he didn't stop fracturing the Ummah and Abu Bakr's impassioned pleas to rejoin the community convinced him to accept Abu Bakr. However, this still left a lot of resentment over the whole episode within Ali's family, resentment that has been butterflied away TTL by Ayesha's timely intervention and Zaid's firm insistence on having Ali (who he saw as a little brother of sorts) present at the shura.
 
This really isn't a period I know a great deal about, and what I do know is mostly related to Byzantine history, but this is incredibly fascinating and well written. I really hope you keep it up.

One suggestion might be to include a summary box or the like at the end of the update, sort of like your afternotes, where you lay out the major developments of the update. It would help ensure that your major points come across as quickly as possible. I find the idea of a more stable succession to Muhammad rather fascinating and look forward to seeing what the impact of this will be.
 
This really isn't a period I know a great deal about, and what I do know is mostly related to Byzantine history, but this is incredibly fascinating and well written. I really hope you keep it up.
Thanks a lot, mate! I'm glad you're enjoying it. I feel you as far as the period goes, though. The history of the Rashidun Caliphate is one of those weird situations where the events themselves are extensively documented by Muslim, Byzantine, Persian, and Jewish sources, but the details are hard to work out amidst all the cherry-picking and soft editing later chroniclers who transmitted the sources did to advance one agenda or another.

I'm a lot less confident on Byzantine history than I am on Sassanid Persia, so if you have any cool ideas, feel free to pitch them. Although a lot of the early Arab-Byzantine conflict will be a semi-retread of OTL, once Caliph Zaid is sitting firmly in the captain's chair, there'll be quite a few battles that never happened in our world. On the other side, Zaid was literate (sorta rare, but not really shocking for someone who worked for a bibliophile like Uthman ibn Affan for years) and according to Sahih Muslim, one of the very few Companions who could speak Greek: any ideas people have for what heavy Rashidun-Byzantine cultural admixture would look like would be very welcome.

One suggestion might be to include a summary box or the like at the end of the update, sort of like your afternotes, where you lay out the major developments of the update. It would help ensure that your major points come across as quickly as possible. I find the idea of a more stable succession to Muhammad rather fascinating and look forward to seeing what the impact of this will be.
That's a solid idea right there. I'll make the summary box/afternotes thing a permanent feature. It's shockingly easy to get lost in the whirlwind of Arabic names :D
 
One possibility might be keeping Constantine alive longer, preventing the instability and weakness of the Byzantines in the period leading up to the fall of the Levant and the loss of Egypt. Having a stable and adult Emperor would also allow for more Arabo-Byzantine relations and exchange earlier rather than the OTL collapse of Byzantine positions.

IIRC the Koran wasn’t written down in final form at this point in time, but a literate Caliph might change that. Having much of the initial religious tenants set out during the Rashidun rather than much later, as happened IOTL (could be me remembering incorrectly, but I seem to recall that many of the Islamic foundational texts were only written down mid-way through the Umayyad Caliphate) would have enormous impacts on theological constructions and religious tenants. That would have some pretty significant effects on what aspects and tenants are emphasized and would likely result in significantly reduced Persian and Christian influence on early Islam compared to OTL.
 
Huh, that's not a half-bad thought right there. With Constantine around, the toll of the Byzantine-Persian Wars on the Byzantine armies could be somewhat mitigated. One thing that isn't often discussed is how...well...fannish the early Muslims were towards "the Romans." Makkan caravans had been trading with Syria for generations by the time of Muhammad and the Byzantines were considered the model of civilized city culture by many Qurayshis. Incredibly, there's a whole surah named for them in the Qur'an (Surah Ar-Rum) that opens with a passage basically telling the Muslims not to be so depressed about the beating that the Romans took from the Persians in the Battle of Antioch (it really shook them up) and Madinah has a day of celebration when news of the decisive victory of Heraclius' Cappadocian campaign makes it to the city. Heraclius himself is widely esteemed by Muslim chroniclers as a wise emperor who was learned in the Scriptures, mostly saddled with foolish advisors and bad generals.

This mixed adoration only really ended with Uthman's reign and the accompanying start of Banu Umayya "Arabization": apocryphally even Khalid ibn al Walid admonished his troops to move silently through captured Byzantine towns in respect for their fellow People of the Book. Even if the Rashidun Caliphate nabs many of the same provinces that they do OTL, a stiffer Byzantine resistance that gives them a couple black eyes paired with Zaid's (and the rest of the Ummah’s tbh) Romanophilia might bring them to the bargaining table much quicker than you'd initially expect. All this Abrahamic buddy-buddy stuff, of course, is very bad news for the Sassanids.
 
Even if the early Caliphate is fascinated with Roman culture I don't see that fascination translating into any form of alliance. Syria and Egypt and even Anatolia will be too tempting to pass up as targets and I think it's important to remember there was no single guiding agent who pulled off the early Arab conquests - policy is mostly going to be dictated by opportunism. Byzantium is too rich and too obvious a target for raids to be left alone, I think.
 
This will definitely leads to no Sunni Shia split. Probably also early written collection of Hadith (Sahih Zaid??) and/or standarized Qur'an orthography (IIRC OTL in Uthman era). Surviving Rashidun Caliphate might probably still use quasi-theodemocracy in caliphal election, so yay
 
Even if the early Caliphate is fascinated with Roman culture I don't see that fascination translating into any form of alliance. Syria and Egypt and even Anatolia will be too tempting to pass up as targets and I think it's important to remember there was no single guiding agent who pulled off the early Arab conquests - policy is mostly going to be dictated by opportunism. Byzantium is too rich and too obvious a target for raids to be left alone, I think.
Hmm, that's a fair assessment. In fact, the bulk of the conquests made by the Rashidun Caliphate will get done while Zaid is still a citizen (if a respected one, probably involved in the conquests as one of Khalid's lieutenants like he often did IOTL.) There's really not much of a way to have Zaid get himself elected as the second Caliph without throwing everything else into wack: Umar was the second-in-command as far as the Companions were concerned and his popularity both before and during his reign are very high. Without the faction of disgruntled Banu Hashim tribesfolk and Madanis that back him following the first shura fiasco, Ali simply isn't enough of a presence to dislodge Umar either. Frankly, I'm OK with this. Umar is the Caliph who really forges the beginnings of a state apparatus for the Rashidun and consolidates the now-huge tribal council into an actual consultative body. Zaid will still make his mark on this period; for example, imagine what the borders of the Empire would look like if ol' Zaid talked Umar into keeping Khalid ibn al Walid as the grand commander instead of replacing him with the decent but uninspired general Abu Ubaidah...

Edit: This is not to say, however, that other movements will begin to emerge in opposition. Even though the Khawarij themselves have been all but butterflied away, the mixture of puritanical traditions and antipathy for the position of the Caliph can most definitely happen here. I did say it wouldn't be all sunshine for Zaid and Co. :p

This will definitely leads to no Sunni Shia split. Probably also early written collection of Hadith (Sahih Zaid??) and/or standarized Qur'an orthography (IIRC OTL in Uthman era). Surviving Rashidun Caliphate might probably still use quasi-theodemocracy in caliphal election, so yay
Yep, the Shia as we know them are gone. The idea of a Shiatul Ali as a religious sect will make about as much sense to Muslims TTL as a Shiatul Umar or a Shiatul Zaid. However, the tent of Islamic orthopraxy will become much wider than OTL in several ways that I don't want to fully spoil for y'all, one of which is that the variant manuscripts of the Qur'an that use letters and words from local dialect will remain a thing in existance. The Qur'an Burnings of Uthman are totally out of character for a Caliph Zaid, who himself was taught a variant reading in the Najdi style by Muhammad alongside the existing Makki style.

As far as semi-democracy and the Caliphate, it's important to remember that of all the prominent Companions to rise to power in this period, Zaid is the only one who isn't Qurayshi. He was kidnapped from his tribe and sold into slavery in Makkah as a child, often suffering some pretty brutal abuse at the hands of wealthy Banu Makhzum and Banu Hashim merchants. Although the Qurayshis will consider him "close enough" to support, especially because he spent a good deal of time as Zaid ibn Muhammad(!!), if they're expecting nepotism, the decay of the Caliphate's newborn welfare state, erosion of democratic appointments and the marginalization of new converts as we began to see in OTL following the death of Umar...well, they'll have to rework some plans.
 
Last edited:
Yep, the Shia as we know them are gone. The idea of a Shiatul Ali as a religious sect will make about as much sense to Muslims TTL as a Shiatul Umar or a Shiatul Zaid. However, the tent of Islamic orthopraxy will become much wider than OTL in several ways that I don't want to fully spoil for y'all, one of which is that the variant manuscripts of the Qur'an that use letters and words from local dialect will remain a thing in existance. The Qur'an Burnings of Uthman are totally out of character for a Caliph Zaid, who himself was taught a variant reading in the Najdi style by Muhammad alongside the existing Makki style.

As far as semi-democracy and the Caliphate, it's important to remember that of all the prominent Companions to rise to power in this period, Zaid is the only one who isn't Qurayshi. He was kidnapped from his tribe and sold into slavery in Makkah as a child, often suffering some pretty brutal abuse at the hands of wealthy Banu Makhzum and Banu Hashim merchants. Although the Qurayshis will consider him "close enough" to support, especially because he spent a good deal of time as Zaid ibn Muhammad(!!), if they're expecting nepotism, the decay of the Caliphate's newborn welfare state, erosion of democratic appointments and the marginalization of new converts as we began to see in OTL following the death of Umar...well, they'll have to rework some plans.
So shit will still come down roughly after Umar's death? Also

Caliph Zaid,
Does this means Caliph Uthman is butterflied and all that implies?
 
Last edited:
Awesome, this is a really interesting time period to look at. Hopefully it'll serve as a nice counter to all the Byzantophilia around here, too, when we get to fighting with them :p
 
So shit will still come down roughly after Umar's death? Also
Yeah, in some ways, the scramble to assemble a proper shura in the wake of Umar's death from such a vastly expanded territory and the politicking that follow will be more cutthroat than in OTL, which was basically just a coronation for Uthman while Ali was left fuming in Kufa. On the bright side, there will be many more capable hands on deck to deal with the shura in TTL and the continued commitment to the shura council election system means that whoever wins out for the position of the third Caliph can probably rely on those passed over to aid his reign as best they can.


Does this means Caliph Uthman is butterflied and all that implies?
Caliph Uthman is still very much a possibility, as are Caliph Ali, Caliph Zaid, or all three of them! For another fun thing to think about, here's one passage from the Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Sermon that was reportedly very close to the heart of Caliph Ali IOTL: "There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white -- except by piety."

Taking into account that in TTL, Zaid heard these words from the Prophet much like Ali did, one can't help but think that maybe some members of the next generation of Rashidun Caliphs won't have Arabic as their native tongue! :D
 
Byzantophilia what does that mean? The Byzantines and persians are natural places for the caliphate to spread, so why wouldn't levant, and Egypt not fall to them. It would be cool seeing islam adopt more greek into it than perisan.

Whats going to happen to muhammad daughter and grandsons, they are pretty important and people will always see them as the heirs to the caliphate hell you could push for fatimah to get it knowing how much muhammad favoured her.
 
Byzantophilia what does that mean? The Byzantines and persians are natural places for the caliphate to spread, so why wouldn't levant, and Egypt not fall to them. It would be cool seeing islam adopt more greek into it than perisan.
Yeah, it seems like the general consensus is that the conquest would be launched as usual with the Byzantines getting mangled like OTL. Umar is going to be the guy at the wheel then and he's smart enough to know to keep grabbing territory while the Byzantines and Persians are still reeling from their wars. What we will begin to see, instead, is the emergence of a proto-Romanate culture in the Rashidun that incorporates elements of Byzantine cultural, legislative, and even military advancements in a more wholesale fashion than OTL. Since this is happening much faster than the cultural exchange IOTL, though, you can expect some people to get angry about how "we conquered them but their kaffir culture is now conquering us!"



Whats going to happen to muhammad daughter and grandsons,
Sadly, Fatimah's death early in Abu Bakr's reign is pretty hard for me to butterfly. She was always especially close to her father and fell into a deep depression following the death of Prophet Muhammad, reportedly refusing food and becoming so weak that Ali had to carry her around to visit relatives. On the bright side, Fatimah won't have to deal with the social ostracization that Ali's family underwent during this period OTL and will remain close friends with Ayesha bint Abu Bakr, Hafsa bint Umar, and Zaynab bint Jaysh till the end of her life. She'll never lose the support of the Umm al-Mu'mineen and instead of being buried quietly at night with only Ali, her sons, and some of his relations to pray over her, Caliph Abu Bakr himself and hundreds of other Companions will conduct her funeral prayers. Ayesha, however, could be a very strong contender for a female caliph. In OTL, she was considered the single best scholar of Islamic jurisprudence during a long period of her lifetime, preached fiery Jumuah sermons in the Prophet's Masjid, and even led soldiers into battle. In TTL, this same Ayesha now has a new ally in the form of a politically active Usama ibn Zaid and a mediating bridge to Ali's camp in Zaid ibn Haritha. Who knows where she could end up?

P.S: Update coming later today, focusing mostly on the fascinating character of Caliph Abu Bakr, the state of the Caliphate at the time of the Prophet’s death, and the start of the Wars of Apostacy.
 
Last edited:
Maybe if there is more of a Abrahamic kinship, the Arabs could invade India? There they have both land and sea options...
 
Maybe if there is more of a Abrahamic kinship, the Arabs could invade India? There they have both land and sea options...
The Caliphate did invade India OTL. A sea invasion is utterly impossible in this time period, I would think. There just isn't the technological capacity for such an enterprise and Persia, Syria, and Egypt are so much closer and so much more appealing. The early expansion of the Arabs was opportunistic and waged based on a risk/reward paradigm where the closest and wealthiest targets get successively attacked and brought down. The Indus valley would start being raided as soon as such a thing is practicable. But the Indian subcontinent is no pushover. By comparison the Romans are about to find themselves in no position to resist the Arab onslaught. The next couple centuries will see them almost completely on the defensive in the East and have to restructure their entire state and military apparatus just to cope with the disaster. That's almost a given, and I doubt our PoD could fix that.

Plus, the people invading Persia and India and the people raiding Anatolia won't necessarily be the same even if they're under authority of the same general polity.
 
The Caliphate did invade India OTL. A sea invasion is utterly impossible in this time period, I would think. There just isn't the technological capacity for such an enterprise and Persia, Syria, and Egypt are so much closer and so much more appealing. The early expansion of the Arabs was opportunistic and waged based on a risk/reward paradigm where the closest and wealthiest targets get successively attacked and brought down. The Indus valley would start being raided as soon as such a thing is practicable. But the Indian subcontinent is no pushover. By comparison the Romans are about to find themselves in no position to resist the Arab onslaught. The next couple centuries will see them almost completely on the defensive in the East and have to restructure their entire state and military apparatus just to cope with the disaster
This, I think. There were Arab naval raids of the Subcontinent proper under Umar, but those were just actions taken to crush pirates that threatened shipping routes. Caliph Mu'awiya oversees the conquest of Sindh and parts of Multan under his commander Muhammad ibn Marwan, but they had a hell of a time trying to push further, and that was after the easy pickings of Syria, the Levant, Persia and Egypt had been already been taken.

To put how lucky the Muslims were that they burst onto the scene when they did into context, recent scholarship has indicated that during some stages of the conquest, the Rashidun Army was actually gaining loyal local soldiers with major engagements: many minority Christian groups facing official persecution under Byzantine rule were quite welcoming of the Caliphate's armies. The jizya tax at the time was a quite low 4 dirhams for the highborn, 2 dirhams for the merchant class, and 1 dirham for artisans (in many cases lower than the taxes they had been previously paying), not counting the exemptions granted to women, kids, the poor, elderly, religious leaders, etc. Pairing that with the reliance of the Rashidun on dhimmi administrators and their full inclusion in the Bayt al-Mal, it's not hard to see why even dhimmi Christian provincial rebellion was a non-issue for them (this shifts with Arabization, but that might not happen here ;).) Tbh, if it wasn't for the Fitna, history itself would be a Rashidun-wank.
 
Very very interesting. I've always been interested in the life of Zaid ibn Haritha as an adopted son of the Prophet and his potential role in the Rashidun era.
 
Top