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A caliphate (in Arabic: ‫ ةفالخ‬khilāfa, meaning "succession") is an Islamic state
led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph – i.e.
"successor" – to Muhammad. The succession of Muslim empires that have existed
in the Muslim world are usually described as "caliphates". Conceptually, a
caliphate represents a sovereign state of the entire Muslim faithful, or the Ummah.
In its earliest days, the first caliphate, the Rashidun Caliphate, exhibited
elements of direct democracy (shura).[1] It was led, at first, by Muhammad's
immediate disciples and family as a continuation of the religious systems he had
The Sunni branch of Islam stipulates that as a head of state, a caliph should be
elected by Muslims or their representatives.[2] Followers of Shia Islam, however,
believe a caliph should be an Imam chosen by God (Allah) from the Ahl al-Bayt
(the "Family of the House", Muhammad's direct descendents). From the end of the
Rashidun period until 1924, caliphates, sometimes more than one at a single time,
real and illusory, were ruled by dynasties. The first of these was the Umayyad
dynasty, followed by the several other sometimes competing claimants and finally
the Ottoman dynasty. In 2014 the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria declared itself a
caliphate and announced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph.[3]
 1 History
o 1.1 Rashidun Caliphate (632–661)
o 1.2 Umayyad Caliphate (661–750)
o 1.3 Abbasid Caliphate (750–1517)
 1.3.1 Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad (750–1258)
 1.3.2 Abbasid Caliphate in Cairo (1261–1517)
o 1.4 Parallel Caliphates
 1.4.1 Fatimid Caliphate (909–1171)
 1.4.2 Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba (929–1031)
 1.4.3 Almohad Caliphate (1147–1269)
o 1.5 Ottoman Caliphate (1453–1924)
o 1.6 Abolition of the Caliphate (1924)
o 1.7 Modern History
 1.7.1 Sokoto (1804–1903)
 1.7.2 Ahmadiyya (1908–present)
 1.7.3 Khilafat Movement (1920)
 1.7.4 Sharifian Caliphate (1924–1925)
 1.7.5 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (2014)
 1.7.6 Prophesied Caliphate of the Mahdî
 2 Religious basis
o 2.1 Qur'an
o 2.2 Hadith
o 2.3 The Sahaba of Muhammad
o 2.4 Sayings of Islamic scholars
 3 Period of dormancy
3.1 Ahmadiyya view
3.2 Islamic call
3.3 al-Qaeda's Caliphate goals
3.4 Opposition
 4 Government
o 4.1 Electing or appointing a Caliph
o 4.2 Sunni belief
o 4.3 Shi'a belief
o 4.4 Majlis al-Shura (parliament)
o 4.5 Accountability of rulers
o 4.6 Rule of law
o 4.7 Economy
 5 Difference between caliphate and democracy
o 5.1 Source of legislation
o 5.2 Selection of the leader
 6 Famous caliphs
 7 See also
 8 Notes
 9 References
 10 Further reading
 11 External links
The caliph was often known as Amir al-Mu'minin (Arabic: ‫نرمم ؤملا ريمأ‬
"Commander of the Believers"). Muhammad established his capital in Medina;
after he died, it remained the capital during the Rashidun period, before Al-Kufa
was reportedly made the capital by Caliph `Ali ibn Abi Talib. At times in Muslim
history there have been rival claimant caliphs in different parts of the Islamic
world, and divisions between the Shi'a and Sunni communities.
According to Sunni Muslims, the first caliph to be called Amir al-Mu'minin was
Abu Bakr Siddique, followed by `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, the second of the Four
Rightly Guided Caliphs. `Uthman ibn Affan and `Ali ibn Abi Talib also were
called by the same title, while the Shi'a consider Ali to have been the only truly
legitimate caliph, of these four men.[4]
After the first four caliphs, the Caliphate was claimed by dynasties such as the
Umayyads, the Abbasids, and the Ottomans, and for relatively short periods by
other, competing dynasties in al-Andalus, North Africa, and Egypt. After the
collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk officially abolished the
system of Caliphate in Islam (the Ottoman Empire) and founded the Republic of
Turkey, in 1923. The Kings of Morocco still label themselves with the title Amir
al-Mu'minin for the Moroccans, but lay no claim to the Caliphate.
Some Muslim countries, including Somalia, Indonesia and Malaysia, were
never subject to the authority of a Caliphate, with the exception of Aceh, which
briefly acknowledged Ottoman suzerainty.[5] Consequently these countries had
their own, local, sultans or rulers who did not fully accept the authority of the
Rashidun Caliphate (632–661)[edit]
Main articles: Rashidun and Rashidun Caliphate
See also: Muslim conquests and Succession to Muhammad
Rashidun Caliphate at its greatest extent, under Caliph Uthman's rule
Abu Bakr Siddique, the first successor of Muhammad, nominated Umar as his
successor on his deathbed. Umar ibn Khattab, the second caliph, was killed by a
Persian named Piruz Nahavandi. His successor, Uthman Ibn Affan, was elected by
a council of electors (Majlis). Uthman was killed by members of a disaffected
group. Ali then took control but was not universally accepted as caliph by the
governors of Egypt, and later by some of his own guard. He faced two major
rebellions and was assassinated by Abdl-alRahman, a Kharijite. Ali's tumultuous
rule lasted only five years. This