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The Caliphate / Khilafah

Sunni Caliphates in the East
Pious CaliphsMedinah570656
Shiia Caliphate In the East
Sunni Caliphates in the West
Sunni Caliphates in India

Caliph, Calif, or Khilafah, Khalif, Khalifah (Arab, khalifa; the lengthening of the a is strictly incorrect), literally "successor," "representative," or "substitute,". In the same sense the term is used in the Koran of both Adam and David as the vicegerents of God.Caliph, "succession" or "substitution," personified as "successor" or "substitute," is from its nature relative, requiring the mention of the person who is succeeded or replaced. Very often such a person is mentioned; the Caliph himself might have a Caliph or deputy, as when the former lived in Samarra, and had a representative in Baghdad; and the historians frequently name Caliphs of governors, viziers and heads of bureaux. When the title is given to the head of the Moslem community, it is implied that there is some one whose substitute or successor he is.

Islam, the community formed by Mohammed, was a political community first and foremost (at any rate, after the Prophet's migration to Medina in 622 A.D.) and only secondarily a social system or a religion; and the officer to whom Mohammed transmitted his own authority over the Moslems (that is, over the people who had submitted to his regulations) must therefore have been invested with political power. This was in fact the case, and the early Caliphs were undoubtedly political sovereigns, whether or no they were anything besides.

The title of Mohammed's successors in temporal and spiritual power, from which the early Empire of Islam is known as the Caliphate. While the first impulse of conquest given to the Arabs by the new faith endured, the power of the caliphs was vast, covering the whole world of Islam; but with time the usual consequence followed the combining of spiritual authority with temporal dominion. The caliphate became the subject of factional strife and a prize for ambitious leaders, and rival dynasties broke Islam up into independent powers united only in enmity to the unbeliever.

The title was borne originally by Abu Bekr, who, on the death of Mahomet, became the civil and religious head of the Mahommedan state. Abu Bekr and his three (or four) immediate successors are known as the "perfect" caliphs; after them the title was borne by the thirteen Omayyad caliphs of Damascus, and subsequently by the thirty-seven Abbasid caliphs of Bagdad whose dynasty fell before the Turks in 1258. By some rigid Moslems these rulers were regarded as only amirs, not caliphs. There were titular caliphs of Abbasid descent in Egypt from that date till 1517 when the last caliph was captured by Selim I.

On the fall of the Omayyad dynasty at Damascus, the title was assumed by the Spanish branch of the family who ruled in Spain at Cordova (755-1031), and the Fatimite rulers of Egypt, who pretended to descent from Ali, and Fatima, Mahomet's daughter, also assumed the name. Some sources report that there was a Shiite caliphate instituted in Persia in 1502. This seems to be not the case. When Shah Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid / Safawid royal house of Persia, took power, he also took many robust titles, but Caliph was not among them.

According to the Shi'ite Moslems, who call the office the "imamate" or leadership, no caliph is legitimate unless he is a lineal descendant of the Prophet. The Sunnites insist that the office belongs to the tribe of Koreish (Quraish) to which Mahomet himself belonged, but this condition would vitiate the claim of the Turkish sultans, who have held the office since its transference by the last caliph to Selim I.

The first four caliphs had their capital at Medina; the fourteen Asiatic Ommiads made Damascus their seat of power; while Bagdad was that of the thirty-seven Abbassides. There was also established at Cairo in Egypt (909-1171) a dissenting caliphate, that of the Fatimites. Twenty-two Ommiads (756-1031) of the Spanish line ruled in Cordova. The Caliphates of Bagdad, Fez, Grenada, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunis, all became successively extinct, and their rights were finally concentrated in the Sultan of Turkey, who was sole Caliph, and thereby Commander of the Faithful.

It is well known that the second, the third and the fourth of the Pious Caliphs were slain by Moslem hands; many of those who afterwards bore the title were victims of violence; one at least took to begging for bread. Muqtadir, the last of the Baghdad Caliphs who ruled over an empire, was slain fighting against his Commander-in-chief, though he wore at the time the insignia which he was supposed to have inherited from the Prophet; insignia which were lost at the time, but were presently replaced.

The Shia minority, who begin with the fourth actual Caliph, Ali, recognise his descendants (who mostly lived as fugitives from Ali's de facto successors) as lawful Caliphs through twelve generations, and believe that the twelfth "Imam" disappeared mysteriously and, though now invisible, has never ceased to reign. Since his disappearance, no living man can be an orthodox Caliph in the eyes of the Shia, and the Shia denomination, though a minority in the Moslem world, is the state religion of Persia, and was followed by perhaps hardly less than 20 percent, of the Moslems of India.

The Al Qaeda Manual [located by the Manchester (England) Metropolitan Police during a search of an al Qaeda members home] states: "After the fall of our orthodox caliphates on March 3, 1924 and after expelling the colonialists, our Islamic nation was afflicted with apostate rulers who took over in the Moslem nation. These rulers turned out to be more infidel and criminal than the colonialists themselves. Moslems have endured all kinds of harm, oppression, and torture at their hands." Bin Laden urged Muslims to find a leader to unite them and establish a "pious caliphate" that would be governed by Islamic law and follow Islamic principles of finance and social conduct.

Caliph Rashidun - 612-750 AD Umayyad Caliphate - 656-750 AD The Caliphate 715 AD The Caliphate 750 AD The Caliphate 750 AD The Caliphate 750-1055 AD The Caliphate 1055 AD Fatimid Caliphate - 909-1171 AD Mughal Empire The Future Caliphate

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Page last modified: 21-02-2016 20:04:19 ZULU