Rashidun Caliphate - Welfare Works

Welfare Works

The mosques were not mere places for offering prayers; these were community centers as well where the faithful gathered to discuss problems of social and cultural importance. During the caliphate of Umar as many as four thousand mosques were constructed extending from Persia in the east to Egypt in the west. The Masjid-e-Nabawi and al-Masjid al-Haram were enlarged first during the reign of Umar and then during the reign of Uthman ibn Affan who not only extended to many thousand square meters but also beautified them on a large scale. During the caliphate of Umar many new cities were founded. These included Kufa, Basra, and Fustat. These cities were laid in according with the principles of town planning. All streets in these cities led to the Friday mosque which was sited in the center of the city. Markets were established at convenient points, which were under the control of market officers who was supposed to check the affairs of market and quality of goods. The cities were divided into quarters, and each quarter was reserved for particular tribes. During the reign of Caliph Umar, there were restrictions on the building of palatial buildings by the rich and elites, this was symbolic of the egalitarian society of Islam, where under all were equal, although the restrictions was latter revoked by Caliph Uthman, because of the financial prosperity of ordinary men, and the construction of double story building was permitted, as a result many palatial buildings were constructed throughout the empire, Uthman himself built a huge palace for himself in Madinah which was famous by the name Al-Zawar, he constructed it from his personal resources. Many buildings were built for administrative purposes. In the quarters called Dar-ul-Amarat Government offices and houses for the residence of officers were provided. Buildings known as Diwans were constructed for the keeping of official records. Buildings known as Bait-ul-Mal were constructed to house royal treasuries. For the lodging of persons suffering sentences as punishment, Jails were constructed for the first time in Muslim history. In important cities Guest Houses were constructed to serve as rest houses for traders and merchants coming from far away places. Roads and bridges were constructed for public use. On the road from Medina to Mecca, shelters, wells, and meal houses were constructed at every stage for the ease of the people who came for hajj. Military cantonments were constructed at strategic points. Special stables were provided for cavalry. These stables could accommodate as many as 4,000 horses. Special pasture grounds were provided and maintained for Bait-ul-Mal animals. Canals were dug to irrigate fields as well as provide drinking water for the people. Abu Musa canal (after the name of governor of Basra Abu-Musa al-Asha'ari ) it was a nine mile (14 km) long, canal which brought water from the Tigris to Basra. Another canal known as Maqal canal was also dug from the Tigris. A canal known as the Amir al-Mu'minin canal ( after the title Amir al-Mu'minin that was assumed by Caliph Umar) was dug to join the Nile to the Red Sea. During the famine of 639 food grains were brought from Egypt to Arabia through this canal from the sea which saved the lives of millions of inhabitants of Arabia. Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas canal (After the name of governor of Kufa Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas) dug from the Euphrates brought water to Anbar. 'Amr ibn al-'As the Governor of Egypt, during the reign of Caliph Umar, even proposed the digging of a canal to join the Mediterranean to Red Sea. The proposal, however, did not materialize due to unknown reasons, and it was 1200 years later that such a canal was dug in the shape of the Suez Canal. Shuaibia was the port for Makkah. It was inconvenient. Caliph Uthman selected Jeddah as the site of the new seaport, and a new port was built there. Uthman also reformed the department of Police in cities.

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