In a comprehensive study of early Islamic history, Wilferd Madelung examines the conflict which developed after Muhammad's death for the leadership of the Muslim community. He pursues the history of this conflict through the reign of the four 'Rightly Guided' caliphs to its climax in the first inter-Muslim war. The outcome of the war, which marked the demise of the reign of the Early Companions, resulted in the lasting schism between Sunnite and Shi'ite Islam. Contrary to recent scholarly trends, the author brings out Ali's early claim to legitimate succession, which gained support from the Shi'a, and offers a convincing reinterpretation of early Islamic history. This book will make a major contribution to the debate over succession. Wilferd Madelung's book The Succession to Muhammad has been awarded the Best Book of the Year prize by the Islamic Republic of Iran for the year 1997.