The Talibid Caliphate was the first series of Caliphs of Islam. The first Caliph, or successor, chosen by the Prophet Muhammad on his deathbed and elected by popular acclaim, was Muhammad's cousin Ali ibn Abu Talib - who initially was reluctant to put forward his name before finishing the burial rites, but was encouraged to do so by the Emperor Heraclius, who was in Mecca at the time.

The other main contender, one Abu Bakr, gladly withdrew to avoid strife in the fledgling Ummah and was instead appointed the leader of a religious mission to Syria.

Ali's rule lasted from 632 to 661 AD (10 to 40 AH) and saw the transformation of Arabia into a superpower to rival Rome or Persia. With the former slowly beginning the process of conversion, he was able to negotiate a strong Roman alliance that would help him to defeat the Persian invasion of 634-640. He authorised long voyages of trade and exploration to India and beyond, and to help bring Islam to the inhabitants of far countries he oversaw the compilation of a written version of the Qur'an. He reformed the tax system, built many wells and canals, and founded several new cities. Overall his rule is considered to be a golden age.

However, in 656 a rebellion in the eastern provinces was started by Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, the governor of Bahrain... 658 Ali and Muawiyah came to an agreement but, dissatisfied by this result, many of Ali's allies abandoned him to his own devices. Over the following years the latter's army broke the terms by occupying many cities in Yemen and the Beni Lakhm lands, and in January 661 Ali himself was assassinated by one of Muawiyah's supporters.

After Ali's death his son Hassan briefly succeeded to the Caliphship, but later that year he finally came to terms with Muawiyah and retired to private life. Muawiyah and his son Yazid would form the Umayyad dynasty of caliphs.

In 670 Hassan ibn Ali died in mysterious circumstances, leading to accusations of poisoning against Muawiyah who reportedly wished to pass his position down to his son Yazid. When Muawiyah died in 680 and Yazid used threats and coercion to seize the Caliphship, Ali's second son Hussein refused to pledge allegiance - but while travelling to the city of Kufa to gather support Hussein was ambushed and killed by Yazid's supporters at Karbala. Furious at the murder of a son of their old ally, the great Muslim empires of Rome and Ethiopia declared war on the Umayyads.

As more and more Arab clans abandoned him, Yazid was forced to retreat to his old stronghold of Bahrain, where he was captured and executed by Roman special forces. To this day his name and his father's name are reviled by Muslims all over the those of traitors and oathbreakers.

With none of Ali's surviving descendants in a position to yet assume leadership over the Ummah, Emperor Constantine IV assumed the title of Caliph for himself. Though this was meant to be a temporary measure, ultimately the Caliphship still rests with Roman emperors to this day. Arabia itself was reorganized into a federation of tribes, in order to protect the child Ali al-Asghar ibn Hussein until he came of age.

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