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Middle Eastern History

            The Islamic realm emerged in a conflict-wrought, tumultuous land and time. Despite this, Islam defied history and was the basis and inspiration for a dynasty of rich tradition and culture that contributed some of the most outstanding architectural, scientific, philosophical, and artistic works in history. From its inception to modern times, it has had brilliant, far-sighted, charismatic and ambitious leaders, but on the same token leadership has forever been a source of conflict. Tribal and religious schisms dating over 1,000 years ago continue to plague the region and the religion to this day. .
             Following the death of Mohammed, Islam was in a precarious position. If it followed the pattern of Middle Eastern history up to that point, Islam would have been virtually discarded after its leader's death. Instead, the Rashidun, the "rightly guided" Muslim leaders who were closest to the prophet, namely Umar, Uthman and Ali, took the reins of Islam, beginning a campaign that would, within two centuries, make Islam the dominant religion in the Middle East. This was not an easy or untroubled undertaking.
             Middle Eastern leadership, prior to Mohammed, was capricious at its best. Within a generation, a tribe or hamlet could achieve regional hegemony and lose it to another. Warring factions were a way of life, so establishing a consolidated and stable state was an ambitious task. The Rashidun caliphate, following Mohammed's lead, began a period of expansion that would stretch from Morocco to India (18.) The difficulty lay, as history maintained, in deciding leadership.
             After the death of Mohammed, the leadership of the expanding Islamic empire smoothly fell into the hands of Umar, Uthman and Ali because they were closest to the prophet. After the end of Umar's rule in 644, Uthman took control and began a campaign to solve internal troubles and create a commonality among fiercely independent Arab tribes.

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