The Islamic belief in three things: ijtihad-independent judgment; restoration of the Islamic Caliphate and governance by
Sharia--all culminate in a return to the life and practice of Islam in the way of the Salifiyah.
Khulafa ar Rafidin, Rightly Guided Caliphs. Muhammad gathered around him a core of followers that acted as counsel and
messenger to the ummah, but the office of prophet remained and died with Muhammad. This core of believers along with Muhammad
came to be known as the salafiya, the pious predecessors, or Muhammad and his righteous companions. The righteous companions
that became the first four caliphs were Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali ibn Abu Talib. It is these first four caliphs that
Sunni believe were the rightful leaders of Islam in the seventh century.