in a Caliphate
, and the title for the ruler of the Islam
, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word which means "successor" or "representative". Following Muhammad's
death in 632, the early leaders of the Muslim nation were called "Khalifat Rasul Allah", the political successors to the messenger of God (referring to Muhammad).
644 Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second Muslim caliph, is martyred by a Persian slave in Medina.
680 Battle of Karbala: Hussain bin Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, is decapitated by forces under Caliph Yazid I. This is commemorated by Muslims as Aashurah.
762 Baghdad is founded by caliph Al-Mansur.
786 Harun al-Rashid becomes the Abbasid caliph upon the death of his brother al-Hadi.
1009 The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a Christian church in Jerusalem, is completely destroyed by the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, who hacks the Church's foundations down to bedrock.
in a Caliphate
, and the title for the ruler of the Islam
, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word which means "successor" or "representative". Following Muhammad's
death in 632, the early leaders of the Muslim nation were called "Khalifat Rasul Allah", the political successors to the messenger of God (referring to Muhammad). Some academics prefer to transliterate the term as Khalīfah.
Caliphs were often also referred to as Amīr al-Mu'minīn (أمير المؤمنين) "Commander of the Faithful", Imam al-Ummah
, Imam al-Mu'minīn (إمام المؤمنين), or more colloquially, leader of the Muslim
s. After the first four caliphs (Abu Bakr
, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, and Ali ibn Abi Talib), the title was claimed by the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, and the Ottomans
, and at times, by competing dynasties in Spain
, Northern Africa, and Egypt
. Most historical Muslim governors were called sultan
s or emir
s, and gave allegiance to a caliph, but this caliph at times had very little real authority. The title has been defunct since the Republic of Turkey abolished the Ottoman Caliphate
in 1924, although some individuals and groups have called for its restoration. (Hussein bin Ali
, Sharif of Mecca
and King of Hejaz
, claimed the title briefly in 1924
, and the Imams of Yemen
had been using the title for centuries and continued to use the title until 1962.)
Succession to MuhammadIn his book The Early Islamic Conquests (1981), Fred Donner
argues that the standard Arabian practice at the time was for the prominent men of a kinship group, or tribe, to gather after a leader's death and elect a leader from amongst themselves. There was no specified procedure for this shura
or consultation. Candidates were usually, but not necessarily, from the same lineage as the deceased leader. Capable men who would lead well were preferred over an ineffectual heir.
Sunni Muslims believe and confirm that Muhammad's father-in-law Abu Bakr
was chosen by the community and that this was the proper procedure. Sunnis further argue that a caliph should ideally be chosen by election or community consensus.
Shi'a Muslims believe that Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of Muhammad, should have replaced Muhammad as Caliph and that Caliphs were to assume authority through appointment by God rather than being chosen by the people.
A third branch of Islam, the Ibadi
Kharijites, believes that the caliphate rightly belongs to the greatest spiritual leader among Muslims, regardless of his lineage. They are currently an extremely small sect, found mainly in Oman
Word UsageCaliph is translated from the Arabic word khalifa ( /) meaning "successor
", "substitute", or "lieutenant
". It is used in the Qur'an
to establish Adam's
role as representative of Allah
on earth. Kalifa is also used to describe the belief that man's role, in his real nature, is as khalifa or viceroy to Allah. The word is also most commonly used for the Islamic leader of the Ummah
; starting with Muhammad
and his line of successors.
The precise meaning of Khalifa is "representative". The first four Caliphs: Abu Bakr as-Siddiq
, Umar ibn al-Khattab
, Uthman ibn Affan, and Ali ibn Abi Talib
are commonly known by Sunnis, mainly, as the Khulafā’ur-Rāshideen
("rightly guided successors") Caliphs. Each Caliph was a close companion of Muhammad
during his prophethood.
Succession and RecognitionSunni and Shi'a Muslims differ on the legitimacy of the reigns of the Khulfa-e-Rashideen, the first four Caliphs. The Sunnis follow the Caliphates of all four, while the Shi'ites recognize only the Caliphate of Ali and the short Caliphate of his son Hasan. This schism occurred following the death of Muhammad
According to Sunni beliefs, Muhammad
gave no specific directions as to the choosing of his successor when he died. At this time there were two customary means of selecting a leader: having a hereditary leader for general purposes, and choosing someone with good qualities in times of crisis or opportunities for action.
While Sunni and Shia Islam differ sharply on the conduct of a caliph and the right relations between a leader and a community, they do not differ on the underlying theory of stewardship. Both abhor waste of natural resources
in particular to show off or demonstrate power.
In the initial stages the latter way of choosing leadership prevailed among the leading companions of Muhammad. Abu Bakr
was elected as the first caliph or successor to Muhammad, with the other companions of Muhammad giving an oath of allegiance to him. Those opposing this method thought that Ali
, Muhammad's nearest relative, should have succeeded him. However the appointment of the next two caliphs varied from the election of Abu Bakr. On his deathbed, Abu Bakr appointed Umar
as his successor without an election by the community of Believers. The oath, approving the appointment of Umar, was taken only by the Companions present in Medina at the time. This led to certain groups disputing the authority of Umar. Umar also altered the way his successor would be found. Before he was assassinated, Umar decided that his successor would come from a group of six. This group included Ali and Uthman another companion of Muhammad. These six would have to establish from among themselves Umar's successor. Ultimately Uthman was chosen as Umar successor, becoming the third Caliph. After the assassination of Uthman, Ali was elected as the fourth Caliph.
Ali's Caliphate and the Rise of the Ummayyad DynastyAli's reign as Caliph was plagued by great turmoil and internal strife. Ali was faced with multiple rebellions and insurrections. The primary one coming from Mu'awiyah a relative of Uthman and Governor of Damascus
. Mu'awiyah attacked Ali at the Battle of Siffin
. The battle lasted several months resulting in a stalemate. In order to avoid further bloodshed, Ali agreed to negotiate with Mu'waiyah. This caused a faction of some 4,000 strict traditionalists, known as Kharijites
("Seceders"), to abandon the fight. After defeating the Kharijites at the Battle of Nahrawan
, Ali would later be assassinated by the Kharijite Ibn Muljam. Ali's son Hasan was elected as the fifth Caliph only to concede his title to Mu'awiyah a few months later. Mu'awiyah became the sixth Caliph, establishing the Ummayyad Dynasty.
and into Spain
. To the East, it expanded through Iran
and ultimately to India
. This made it one of the largest empires in the history of West Eurasia, extending its entire breadth.
However, the Umayyad dynasty was not universally supported within Islam itself. Some Muslims supported prominent early Muslims like az-Zubayr; others felt that only members of Muhammad's clan, the Banū Hashim, or his own lineage, the descendants of , should rule. There were numerous rebellions against the Umayyads, as well as splits within the Umayyad ranks (notably, the rivalry between Yaman and Qays). Eventually, supporters of the Banu Hisham and Alid claims united to bring down the Umayyads in 750. However, the , "the Party of ", were again disappointed when the Abbasid
dynasty took power, as the Abbasids were descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib and not from . Following this disappointment, the finally split from the majority Sunni Muslims and formed what are today the several denominations.
The Abbasids would provide an unbroken line of caliphs for over three centuries, consolidating Islamic rule and cultivating great intellectual and cultural developments in the Middle East. But by 940 the power of the caliphate under the Abbasids was waning as non-Arabs, particularly the Turkish
(and later the Mamluks
in Egypt in the latter half of the 13th century), gained influence, and sultans and emirs became increasingly independent. However, the caliphate endured as both a symbolic position and a unifying entity for the Islamic world.
During the period of the Abbasid dynasty, Abbasid claims to the caliphate did not go unchallenged. The Said ibn Husayn of the Fatimid
dynasty, which claimed descendancy of Muhammad through his daughter, claimed the title of Caliph in 909, creating a separate line of caliphs in North Africa
. Initially covering Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, the Fatimid caliphs extended their rule for the next 150 years, taking Egypt
, before the Abbasid dynasty was able to turn the tide, limiting Fatimid rule to Egypt. The Fatimid dynasty finally ended in 1171. The Umayyad dynasty, which had survived and come to rule over the Muslim provinces of Spain
, reclaimed the title of Caliph in 929, lasting until it was overthrown in 1031.
The Fatimid Caliphate or al-Fātimiyyūn (Arabic الفاطميون) was a Berber Shi'a dynasty that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Egypt, Sicily, Malta and the Levant from 5 January 909 to 1171. The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the Egyptian city of Cairo as their capital. The term Fatimite is sometimes used to refer to the citizens of this caliphate. The ruling elite of the state belonged to the Ismaili branch of Shi'ism. The leaders of the dynasty were also Shia Ismaili Imams, hence, they had a religious significance to Ismaili Muslims. They are also part of the chain of holders of the office of Caliph, as recognized by most Muslims. Therefore, this constitutes a rare period in history in which some form of the Shia Imamate and the Caliphate were united to any degree, excepting the Caliphate of Ali himself. The Fatimids, however, are not recognized and counted by all Sunnis as a caliphate.
With exceptions, the Fatimids were reputed to exercise a degree of religious tolerance towards non-Ismaili sects of Islam as well as towards Jews, Maltese Christians and Coptic Christians.
Shadow Caliphate1258 saw the conquest of Baghdad
and the execution of Abassid caliph al-Musta'sim
by Mongol forces under Hulagu Khan
. A surviving member of the Abbasid House was installed as Caliph at Cairo
under the patronage of the Mamluk
Sultanate three years later. However, the authority of this line of Caliphs was confined to ceremonial and religious matters, and later Muslim historians referred to it as a "shadow" caliphate.
OttomansAs the Ottoman Empire
grew in size and strength, Ottoman rulers beginning with Mehmed II
began to claim caliphal authority. Their claim was strengthened when the Ottoman Empire defeated the Mamluk Sultanate in 1517 and took control of most Arab
lands. The last Abbasid Caliph at Cairo, al-Mutawakkil III
, was taken into custody and was transported to Istanbul
, where he surrendered the Caliphate to Selim I
Ottoman rulers were known primarily by the title of Sultan.
in 1774. The outcome of this war was disastrous for the Ottomans. Large territories, including those with large Muslim populations such as Crimea
, were lost to the Christian Russian Empire. However, the Ottomans under Abdulhamid I claimed a diplomatic victory, the recognition of themselves as protectors of Muslims in Russia as part of the peace treaty. This was the first time the Ottoman caliph was acknowledged as having political significance outside of Ottoman borders by a European power. As a consequence of this diplomatic victory, as the Ottoman borders were shrinking, the powers of the Ottoman caliph increased.
Around 1880 Sultan Abdulhamid II reasserted the title as a way of countering creeping European colonialism in Muslim lands. His claim was most fervently accepted by the Muslims of British India. By the eve of the First World War
, the Ottoman state, despite its weakness vis-à-vis Europe, represented the largest and most powerful independent Islamic political entity. But the sultan also enjoyed some authority beyond the borders of his shrinking empire as caliph of Muslims in Egypt, India and Central Asia.
Abolition of the institution
, dissolved the institution of the Caliphate, transferring its powers to the Turkish Grand National Assembly. Although it is widely believed that the Caliphate has been abolished, this is not the case. The powers have been vested in the Turkish Parliament, which in turn has delegated its authority to various Turkish government institutions. Should the Republic of Turkey decide to reinstate the caliphate, it has the legislative power and also the religious authority to do so. The religious authority is derived from its possession of the Islamic relics. These Islamic Relics are housed in the Topkapi Palace
compound and housed in specially designed bomb proof vaults.
Occasional demonstrations have been held calling for the reestablishment of the Caliphate.
- In 19th century Sudan, Mohammed Ahmed "the MahdiMahdiIn Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on Earth for seven, nine or nineteen years- before the Day of Judgment and, alongside Jesus, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny.In Shia Islam, the belief in the Mahdi is a "central religious...
" was succeeded by Abdallahi ibn MuhammadAbdallahi ibn MuhammadAbdullah Ibn-Mohammed or Abdullah al-Taaisha, also known as "The Khalifa" was a Sudanese Ansar General and ruler.-Early years:Abdullah was born into the Ta'aisha Baqqara tribe in Darfur around 1846 and was trained and educated as a preacher and holy man.He became a follower of Mohammed Ahmed "the...
- In the AhmadiyyaAhmadiyyaAhmadiyya is an Islamic religious revivalist movement founded in India near the end of the 19th century, originating with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad , who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies about the world reformer of the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as...
sect, khalifatul MasihKhalifatul MasihKhalifatul Masih sometimes simply referred to as Khalifah is the elected spiritual leader of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and is the successor of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian...
is the title of the successors of its founding MessiahMessiahA messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...
, except in the break-away Lahore branch, which is led by its own Emirs.
Secular officesIn Morocco
, the Sherifian Monarch awarded the title Khalifa or Chaliphe, here meaning 'Viceroy
', to royal princes (styled Moulay
), including future Sultans, who represented the crown in a part of the sultanate:
- especially in the former royal capitals Marrakesh, FesFes, MoroccoFes or Fez is the second largest city of Morocco, after Casablanca, with a population of approximately 1 million . It is the capital of the Fès-Boulemane region....
and MeknesMeknesMeknes is a city in northern Morocco, located from the capital Rabat and from Fes. It is served by the A2 expressway between those two cities and by the corresponding railway. Meknes was the capital of Morocco under the reign of Moulay Ismail , before it was relocated to Marrakech. The...
- also in other mayor cities, e.g. in Shawiya, CasablancaCasablancaCasablanca is a city in western Morocco, located on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Grand Casablanca region.Casablanca is Morocco's largest city as well as its chief port. It is also the biggest city in the Maghreb. The 2004 census recorded a population of 2,949,805 in the prefecture...
, TafilaltTafilaltTafilalt or Tafilet is a region and the most important oasis of the Moroccan Sahara; it is also considered one of the largest oases in the world, the oasis is entirely located along the Ziz River. The oasis is ten days' journey south of Fez, across the Atlas Mountains...
, Tadla, TiznitTiznitTiznit or Tiznet is a town in the southern Moroccan economic region of Sous-Massa-Draa , founded in 1881 by the sultan Hassan I. It has a population of approximately 50,000. Tiznit is well-known for its silver jewelry, daggers and sabres....
TindoufTindoufTindouf is the main town in Tindouf Province, Algeria, close to the Mauritanian and Moroccan borders. The region is considered of strategic significance, and it houses Algerian military bases. Since 1975, it also contains several Sahrawi refugee camps operated by the Polisario Front a guerrilla...
, in the valley of the Draa RiverDraa RiverThe Draa is Morocco's longest river . It is formed by the confluence of the Dadès River and Imini River. It flows from the High Atlas mountains south-ward to Tagounit and from Tagounit mostly westwards to the Atlantic Ocean somewhat north of Tan-Tan...
and in TetouanTétouanTetouan is a city in northern Morocco. The Berber name means literally "the eyes" and figuratively "the water springs". Tetouan is one of the two major ports of Morocco on the Mediterranean Sea. It lies a few miles south of the Strait of Gibraltar, and about 40 mi E.S.E. of Tangier...
- but also, in the 20th century, as irrevocably fully mandated Representative of the Sultan in the Spanish ZoneSpanish MoroccoThe Spanish protectorate of Morocco was the area of Morocco under colonial rule by the Spanish Empire, established by the Treaty of Fez in 1912 and ending in 1956, when both France and Spain recognized Moroccan independence.-Territorial borders:...
, known after him in Spanish as el Jalifato (note the definite article; although the Spanish word can also be applied to other deputies of various Moroccan officials), besides the Alto comisario (de facto governing 'High Commissioner') of the colonial 'protector' Spain, which called his office el Jalifa (not Califa, the word for any 'imperial' Caliph, ruling a califatoCaliphateThe term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...
- 19 April 1913 - 9 November 1923 MulayMulayMulay, Mûlay, Bulay, or Molay for the Franks, was a general under the Mongol Ilkhanate ruler Ghazan at the end the 13th century. Mulay was part of the 1299–1300 Mongol offensive in Syria and Palestine, and remained with a small force to occupy the land after the departure of Ghazan. He also...
al-Mahdi bin Isma'il bin Muhammad (d. 1923)
- 9 November 1923 - 9 November 1925 Vacant
- 9 November 1925 - 16 March 1941 Mulay Hassan bin al-Mahdi (1st time) (born 1912)
- 16 March 1941 - October 1945 Vacant
- October 1945 - 7 April 1956 Mulay Hassan bin al-Mahdi (2nd time)
Other usesKhalifa can have a definition, be a first name, or family or tribe name. Like many titles, Khalifa also occurs in many names.
It is the family name of the Al Khalifa
dynasty, rulers of the peninsular Arab nation of Bahrain
, who are descended from the Bani Utub tribe.
Authority of the successorThe question of who should succeed Muhammad was not the only issue that faced the early Muslims; they also had to clarify the extent of the leader's powers. Muhammad, during his lifetime, was not only the Muslim political leader, but the Islamic prophet. All law and spiritual practice proceeded from Muhammad. Nobody claimed that his successor would be a prophet; succession referred to political authority. The uncertainty centered on the extent of that authority. Muhammad's revelations, supposedly directly from God, were soon codified and written down as the Qur'an
, which was accepted as a supreme authority, limiting what a caliph could legitimately command.
However, there is some evidence that some early caliphs did believe that they had authority to rule in matters not specified in the Qur'an. They believed themselves to be temporal and spiritual leaders even in issues not commanded in the Quran, and insisted that implicit obedience to the caliph in all things not contradicting the Quran, was the hallmark of the good Muslim. The modern scholars Patricia Crone
and Martin Hinds
, in their book God's Caliph, outline the evidence for an early, expansive view of the caliph's importance and authority. They argue that this view of the caliph was eventually nullified (in Sunni Islam, at least) by the rising power of the ulema
, or Islamic lawyers, judges, scholars, and religious specialists. The ulema insisted on their right to determine what was legal and orthodox. The proper Muslim leader, in the ulema's opinion, was the leader who enforced the rulings of the ulema, rather than making rulings of his own, unless he himself was qualified in Islamic law
. Conflict between caliph and ulema, akin to a modern judiciary, was a recurring theme in early Islamic history, and ended in the victory of the ulema. The caliph was henceforth limited to temporal rule only. He would be considered a righteous caliph if he were guided by the ulema. Crone and Hinds argue that Shi'a Muslims, with their expansive view of the powers of the imamate
, have preserved some of the beliefs of the early Ummayad dynasty which ironically, they despise. Crone and Hinds' thesis is not accepted by some scholars.
Most Sunni Muslims now believe that the caliph has always been a merely temporal ruler, and that the ulema has always been responsible for adjudicating orthodoxy and Islamic law (shari'a). The first four caliphs are called the Rashidun
, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, because they are believed to have followed the Qur'an and the way or sunnah
of Muhammad in all things. This formulation itself presumes the Sunni ulema's view historically.
Al-Ghazali on the desired character traits for administrationAl Ghazali wrote the "Nasihat al-Muluk" or "Advice for Kings" to a Seljuq
in which he gave ten different ethics of royal administration:
- The ruler should understand the importance and danger of the authority entrusted to him. In authority there is great blessing, since he who exercises it righteously obtained unsurpassed happiness but if any ruler fails to do so he incurs torment surpassed only by the torment for unbelief.
- The ruler should always be thirsting to meet devout religious scholars and ask them for advice.
- The ruler should understand that he must not covet the wives of other men and be content with personally refraining from injustice, but must discipline his slave-troops, servants, and officers and never tolerate unjust conduct by them; for he will be interrogated not only about his own unjust deeds but also about those of his staff.
- The ruler should not be dominated by pride; for pride gives rise to the dominance of anger, and will impel him to revenge. Anger is the evil genius and blight of the intellect. If anger is becoming dominant it will be necessary for the ruler in all his affairs to bend his inclinations in the direction of forgiveness and make a habit of generosity and forbearance unless he is to be like the wild beasts.
- In every situation that arises, the ruler should figure that he is the subject and the other person is the holder of authority. He should not sanction for others anything that he would not sanction for himself. For if he would do so he would be making fraudulent and treasonable use of the authority entrusted to him.
- The ruler should not disregard the attendance of petitioners at his court and should beware of the danger of so doing. He should solve the grievances of the Muslims.
- The ruler should not form a habit of indulging the passions. Although he might dress more finely or eat more sumptuously, he should be content with all that he has; for without contentment, just conduct will not be possible.
- The ruler should make the utmost effort to behave gently and avoid governing harshly.
- The ruler should endeavor to keep all the subjects pleased with him. The ruler should not let himself be so deluded by the praise he gets from any who approach him as to believe that all the subjects are pleased with him. On the contrary, such praise is entirely due to fear. He must therefore appoint trustworthy persons to carry on espionage and inquire about his standing among the people, so that he may be able to learn his faults from men's tongues.
- The ruler should not give satisfaction to any person if a contravention of God's law would be required to please him for no harm will come from such a person's displeasure.
Single Caliph for the Muslim WorldIt has been recorded that Muhammad
"The children of Israel have been governed by Prophets; whenever a Prophet died another Prophet succeeded him; but there will be no prophet after me. There will be caliphs and they will number many (in one time); they asked: What then do you order us? He said: Fulfil bayah
to them, only the first of them, the first of them, and give them their dues; for verily Allah will ask them about what he entrusted them with"
"When the oath of allegiance has been taken for two Caliphs, kill the latter of them".
Abu-Bakr Muhammad's primary disciple is reported to have said:
"It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Amirs for this would cause differences in their affairs and concepts, their unity would be divided and disputes would break out amongst them. The Sunnah would then be abandoned, the bida'a (innovations) would spread and Fitna would grow, and that is in no one's interests".
Umar bin Al-Khattab another disciple of Muhammad is reported to have said: "There is no way for two (leaders) together at any one time"
the famous 14th century Muslim scholar, economist and historian said:
"It is not possible to appoint two men to the position (of caliph) at the same time. Religious scholars generally are of this opinion, on the basis of certain hadith
(recorded statements) of Muhammad. Those hadith are found in the book entitled, "On Leadership (imarah)," in Sahih Muslim
. They expressly indicate that this is so."
The 10th century Sunni scholar Imam of al-Haramayn (i.e. Makkah and Medinah) al-Juwayni
"Our (scholarly) associates agree on precluding the investing of two different individuals with the imamate at either end of the world. But, they add: If it should happen that two different persons were invested with the imamate, that would be analogous to the situation of two guardians contracting a marriage for the same woman to two different suitors without either being aware of the other's contract. The decision in the matter rests on the application of jurisprudence. My opinion on this issue is that investiture of two individuals with the imamate in a single locality within relatively restricted boundaries and limited provinces is not permitted and the investiture should be in accord with a consensus. But, when the distances are great and the two Imams quite remote from each other, there is room to allow it, although this cannot be established conclusively."
The 11th century Sunni jurist Al-Mawardi
"The investment of two rulers in two different cities is invalid in both cases, for the ummah
may not have two rulers simultaneously, even though there are some dissenting voices who would make that permissible. Jurists are disagreed regarding which one of the two should be sovereign. One party take him to be the one elected in the city where the previous leader died, because its residents are more entitled to make the choice, the rest of the Community in other districts delegating the task to them... Others have suggested that each one of the two must give up the office in favour of his opponent, thus allowing the elections to opt for one or the other.."
Imam Al-Nawawi a 12th century authority of the Sunni Shafi'i
said: "It is forbidden to give an oath to two caliphs or more, even in different parts of the world and even if they are far apart"
Imam Al-Juzairi, a more modern expert on the Fiqh
of the four Sunni madhhab
s said regarding the opinion of the four Imams, "...It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Imams in the world whether in agreement or discord."
- Abu BakrAbu BakrAbu Bakr was a senior companion and the father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632-634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death...
: First rightly guided caliph. Subdued rebel tribes in the Ridda WarsRidda warsThe Ridda wars , also known as the Wars of Apostasy, were a series of military campaigns against the rebellion of several Arabian tribes launched by the Caliph Abu Bakr during 632 and 633 AD, after prophet Muhammad died....
- Umar ibn al-Khattab: Second rightly guided caliph. During his reign, the Islamic empire expanded to include EgyptEgyptEgypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...
, Jerusalem, and Persia.
- Uthman ibn Affan: Third rightly guided caliph. The Qur'anQur'anThe Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...
was compiled under his direction. Killed by rebels.
- Ali ibn Abu Talib: Fourth and last rightly guided caliph, and considered the first imamImamah (Shi'a doctrine)Imāmah is the Shia doctrine of religious, spiritual and political leadership of the Ummah. The Shīa believe that the A'immah are the true Caliphs or rightful successors of Muḥammad, and further that Imams are possessed of divine knowledge and authority as well as being part of the Ahl al-Bayt,...
by Shi'a Muslims. His reign was fraught with internal conflict.
- Muawiya I: First caliph of the UmayyadUmayyadThe Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...
Dynasty. Muawiya instituted dynastic rule by appointing his son YazidYazid-Given name:* Yazid I , second Umayyad Caliph upon succeeding his father Muawiyah* Yazid II, Umayyad caliph* Yazid III, Umayyad caliph* Yazid Kaïssi, French-born Moroccan footballer* Yazid Mansouri, French-born Algerian footballer...
as his successor, a trend that would continue through subsequent caliphates.
- Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan - Fifth caliph of Ummayad Dynasty, translated important records into Arabic, established an Islamic currency system, led additional wars against the Byzantines and ordered construction of the Dome of the RockDome of the RockThe Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...
- Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz: Umayyad caliph considered by some (mainly Sunnis) to be a fifth rightly guided caliph.
- Harun al-Rashid: Abbasid caliph during whose reign BaghdadBaghdadBaghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...
became the world's preeminent center of trade, learning, and culture. Harun is the subject of many stories in the famous work 1001 Arabian Nights.
- Al-Mustansir Billah: Fatimid Caliph who led the Shi'a Caliphate to its zenith; Cairo was a center of trade and intellectual activity during his reign.
- Selim ISelim ISelim I, Yavuz Sultân Selim Khan, Hâdim-ül Haramain-ish Sharifain , nicknamed Yavuz "the Stern" or "the Steadfast", but often rendered in English as "the Grim" , was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to...
the Brave: First Caliph of the Ottoman Empire with the conquest of Egypt and the Holy Cities. Defeated the powerful Shia Safavid Empire.
- Suleiman the MagnificentSuleiman the MagnificentSuleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...
: Early Ottoman Sultan during whose reign the Ottoman EmpireOttoman EmpireThe Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...
reached its zenith.
- Abdul Mejid II: Last Caliph of the Ottoman Dynasty, the 101st Caliph in line from Caliph Abu Bakr. On August 23, 1944, Abdul Mejid II died at his house in the Boulevard Suchet, Paris XVIe, France. He was buried at Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Several Arabic surnames found throughout the Middle East are derived from the word khalifa. These include: Khalif, Khalifa, Khillif, Kalif, Kalaf, Khalaf, and Kaylif. The usage of this title as a surname is comparable to the existence of surnames such as King, Duke, and Noble in the English language.
DynastiesThe more important dynasties include:
- The UmayyadUmayyadThe Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...
dynasty in DamascusDamascusDamascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...
(661–750), followed by:
- The AbbasidAbbasidThe Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....
dynasty in BaghdadBaghdadBaghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...
(750–1258), and later in CairoCairoCairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...
(under Mameluk control) (1260–1517).
- The Shi'ite Fatimid dynasty in North AfricaNorth AfricaNorth Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...
and EgyptEgyptEgypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...
(909–1171). Not universally accepted and not currently included in the list here.
- The Rahmanids, a surviving branch of the Damascus Umayyads, established "in exile" as emirs of CórdobaCórdoba, Spain-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...
, SpainSpainSpain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
, declared themselves Caliphs (known as the Caliphs of Cordoba; not universally accepted; 929–1031).
- The AlmohadAlmohadThe Almohad Dynasty , was a Moroccan Berber-Muslim dynasty founded in the 12th century that established a Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountains in roughly 1120.The movement was started by Ibn Tumart in the Masmuda tribe, followed by Abd al-Mu'min al-Gumi between 1130 and his...
dynasty in North AfricaNorth AfricaNorth Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...
and SpainSpainSpain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
(not universally accepted; 1145–1269). Traced their descent not from Muhammad, but from a puritanic reformer in Morocco who claimed to be the MahdiMahdiIn Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on Earth for seven, nine or nineteen years- before the Day of Judgment and, alongside Jesus, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny.In Shia Islam, the belief in the Mahdi is a "central religious...
(a puritanic reformer in Morocco, bringing down the "decadent" Almoravid emirate) whose son established a sultanate and claimed to be a caliph.
- The OttomansOttoman DynastyThe Ottoman Dynasty ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1299 to 1922, beginning with Osman I , though the dynasty was not proclaimed until Orhan Bey declared himself sultan...
(1517–1924; main title PadishahPadishahPadishah, Padshah, Padeshah, Badishah or Badshah is a superlative royal title, composed of the Persian pād "master" and the widespread shāh "king", which was adopted by several monarchs claiming the highest rank, roughly equivalent to the ancient Persian notion of "The Great" or "Great King", and...
, also known as Great SultanGreat SultanGreat Sultan is one of various informal titles, such as Grand Turk, used to refer to the Ottoman Sultan, known in Ottoman Turkish as Padishah, Hünkar or Hakan, the sovereign of the Ottoman dynasty....
etc.), assumed the title after defeating the Mamluk SultanateMamluk Sultanate (Cairo)The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt was the final independent Egyptian state prior to the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in 1805. It lasted from the overthrow of the Ayyubid Dynasty until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The sultanate's ruling caste was composed of Mamluks, Arabised...
and used it sporadically between the 16th and early 20th centuries.
Note on the overlap of Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates: After the massacre of the Umayyad clan by the Abbassids, one lone prince escaped and fled to North Africa, which remained loyal to the Umayyads. This was Abd-ar-rahman I. From there, he proceeded to Spain, where he overthrew and united the provinces conquered by previous Umayyad Caliphs (in 712 and 712). From 756 to 929, this Umayyad domain in Spain was an independent emirate, until Abd-ar-rahman III
reclaimed the title of Caliph for his dynasty. The Umayyad Emirs of Spain are not listed in the summary below because they did not claim the caliphate until 929. For a full listing of all the Umayyad rulers in Spain see the Umayyad
Claims to the caliphateMany local rulers in Islamic countries have claimed to be caliphs. Most claims were ignored outside their limited domains. In many cases, these claims were made by rebels against established authorities and ended when the rebellion was crushed. Notable claimants include:
- Abd-Allah ibn al-ZubayrAbd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr`Abd Allah al-Zubayr or ibn Zubayr 624 - 692) was an Arab sahabi whose father was Zubayr ibn al-Awwam, and whose mother was Asma bint Abi Bakr, daughter of the first Caliph Abu Bakr. He was the nephew of Aisha, Prophet Muhammad's third wife....
, who held the Hijaz against the Ummayads. Certain scholars considered him a legitimate Caliph, being a close companion of Muhammad. His rebellion, centered in Makkah, was crushed by the Umayyad general HajjajHajjajHajjaj may refer to:*Al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf , military governor of the Umayyad caliphate*Al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf ibn Maṭar , translated Euclid's Elements into Arabic....
. Hajjaj's attack caused some damage in Makkah, and necessitated the rebuilding of the KaabaKaabaThe Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The Qur'an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham, or Ibraheem, in Arabic, and his son Ishmael, or Ismaeel, as said in Arabic, after he had settled in Arabia. The building has a mosque...
- Caliph of the Sudan, a SonghaiSonghai EmpireThe Songhai Empire, also known as the Songhay Empire, was a state located in western Africa. From the early 15th to the late 16th century, Songhai was one of the largest Islamic empires in history. This empire bore the same name as its leading ethnic group, the Songhai. Its capital was the city...
king of the SahelSahelThe Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south.It stretches across the North African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea....
- The Zaydi Imams of YemenImams of YemenThe Imams of Yemen and later the Kings of Yemen were religiously consecrated leaders belonging to the Zaidiyyah branch of Shia Islam. They established a blend of religious and secular rule in parts of Yemen from 897. Their imamate endured under varying circumstances until the republican revolution...
used the title for centuries and continued to use the title till 1962.
- Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of MeccaHussein bin Ali, Sharif of MeccaSayyid Hussein bin Ali, GCB was the Sharif of Mecca, and Emir of Mecca from 1908 until 1917, when he proclaimed himself King of Hejaz, which received international recognition. He initiated the Arab Revolt in 1916 against the increasingly nationalistic Ottoman Empire during the course of the...
, proclaimed himself Caliph on 3 March 1924, two days after the office was abolished by the Grand National Assembly of TurkeyGrand National Assembly of TurkeyThe Grand National Assembly of Turkey , usually referred to simply as the Meclis , is the unicameral Turkish legislature. It is the sole body given the legislative prerogatives by the Turkish Constitution. It was founded in Ankara on 23 April 1920 in the midst of the Turkish War of Independence...
. (see Sharifian CaliphateSharifian CaliphateThe Sharifian Caliphate is the term used to describe the unsuccessful attempts at the beginning of the 20th century to establish an Arab caliphate headed by the Sharifs of Mecca in replacement of the Ottoman Caliphate. The idea had been floating around since at least the 15th century...
) Hussein's claim was not accepted, and in 1925 he was driven from the Hijaz by the forces of Ibn SaudIbn Saud of Saudi ArabiaKing Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia was the first monarch of the Third Saudi State known as Saudi Arabia. He was commonly referred to as Ibn Saud....
. He continued to use the title of Caliph during his remaining life in exile, until his death in 1931.
- Sunni view of the Sahaba
- Amir al-Mu'minin
- CaliphateCaliphateThe term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...
- Khalifatul MasihKhalifatul MasihKhalifatul Masih sometimes simply referred to as Khalifah is the elected spiritual leader of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and is the successor of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian...
- List of Caliphs
- Sheikh ul-IslamSheikh ul-IslamShaykh al-Islām is a title of superior authority in the issues of Islam....
- Succession to MuhammadSuccession to MuhammadThe Succession to Muhammad concerns the various aspects of successorship of Muhammad after his death, comprising who might be considered as his successor to lead the Muslims, how that person should be elected, the conditions of legitimacy, and the role of successor...