In its earliest days, the first caliphate, the Rashidun Caliphate, exhibited elements of direct democracy (shura). It was led, at first, by Muhammad's immediate disciples and family as a continuation of the religious systems he had introduced.
The Sunni branch of Islam stipulates that as a head of state, a caliph should be elected by Muslims or their representatives. 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 two at a single time, real and illusory, were ruled by dynasties. The first of these was the Umayyad dynasty, followed by the Abbasid, the Fatimid and finally the Ottoman dynasty.
The caliphate was "the core leader concept of Sunni Islam, by the consensus of the Muslim majority in the early centuries".
The caliph was often known as Amir al-Mu'minin (Arabic: أمير المؤمنين "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.
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. Consequently these countries had their own, local, sultans or rulers who did not fully accept the authority of the Caliph.
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 period is known as the Fitna, or the first Islamic civil war. The followers of Ali later became the Shi'a ("shiaat Ali", partisans of Ali. ) minority sect of Islam and reject the legitimacy of the first 3 caliphs. The followers of all four Rashidun Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali became the majority Sunni sect.
Under the Rashidun each region (Sultanate, Wilayah, or Emirate) of the Caliphate had its own governor (Sultan, Wāli or Emir). Muawiyah, a relative of Uthman and governor (Wali) of Syria, became one of Ali's challengers and after Ali's assassination managed to overcome the other claimants to the Caliphate. Muawiyah transformed the caliphate into a hereditary office, thus founding the Umayyad dynasty.
In areas which were previously under Sassanid Persian or Byzantine rule, the Caliphs lowered taxes, provided greater local autonomy (to their delegated governors), greater religious freedom for Jews, and some indigenous Christians, and brought peace to peoples demoralized and disaffected by the casualties and heavy taxation that resulted from the decades of Byzantine-Persian warfare.
Under the Umayyads, the Caliphate grew rapidly in territory. Islamic rule expanded westward across North Africa and into Hispania and eastward through Persia and ultimately to the western lands of Indus Valley, in modern day Pakistan. This made it one of the largest unitary states in history and one of the few states to ever extend direct rule over three continents (Africa, Europe, and Asia). Although not ruling all of the Sahara, homage was paid to the Caliph by Saharan Africa, usually via various nomadBerber tribes. However, it should be noted that, although these vast areas may have recognised the supremacy of the Caliph, de facto power was in the hands of local sultans and emirs.
For a variety of reasons, including that they were not elected by Shura and suggestions of impious behaviour, the Umayyad dynasty was not universally supported within the Muslim community. Some supported prominent early Muslims like Al-Zubayr; others felt that only members of Muhammad's clan, the Banu Hashim, or his own lineage, the descendants of Ali, should rule.
There were numerous rebellions against the Umayyads, as well as splits within the Umayyad ranks (notably, the rivalry between Yaman and Qays). The Shia killed Ali's son Hussein and his family at the Battle of Karbala in 680, solidfying the Shia-Sunni split. Eventually, supporters of the Banu Hashim and the supporters of the lineage of Ali united to bring down the Umayyads in 750. However, the Shiʻat ʻAlī, "the Party of Ali", 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 Ali.
Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba (756–929) and Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba (929–1031)
During the Umayyad dynasty, the Iberian peninsula was an integral province of the Umayyad Caliphate ruling from Damascus. The Umayyads lost the position of Caliph in Damascus in 750, and Abd-ar-Rahman I became Emir of Córdoba in 756 after six years in exile. Intent on regaining power, he defeated the existing Islamic rulers of the area who defied Umayyad rule and united various local fiefdoms into an emirate.
Rulers of the emirate used the title "emir" or "sultan" until the 10th century, when Abd-ar-Rahman III was faced with the threat of invasion by the Fatimids (a rival Islamic empire based in Cairo). To aid his fight against the invading Fatimids, who claimed the caliphate in opposition to the generally recognized Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad, Abd-ar-Rahman III claimed the title of caliph himself. This helped Abd-ar-Rahman III gain prestige with his subjects, and the title was retained after the Fatimids were repulsed. The rule of the Caliphate is considered as the heyday of Muslim presence in the Iberian peninsula, before it fragmented into various taifas in the 11th century. This period was characterized by a remarkable flourishing in technology, trade and culture; many of the masterpieces of Spain were constructed in this period.
The Umayyad dynasty was overthrown by another family of Meccan origin, the Abbasids, in 750. The Abbasids, who ruled from Baghdad, had an unbroken line of Caliphs for over three centuries, consolidating Islamic rule and cultivating great intellectual and cultural developments in the Middle East. By 940, however, the power of the Caliphate under the Abbasids was waning as non-Arabs, particularly the Berbers of the Maghreb, the Turks, and later, in the latter half of the 13th century, the Mamluks in Egypt, gained influence, and the various subordinate sultans and emirs became increasingly independent.
However, the Caliphate endured as a symbolic position. During the period of the Abbasid dynasty, Abbasid claims to the caliphate did not go unchallenged. The ShiʻaUbayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah of the Fatimid dynasty, which claimed descent from Muhammad through his daughter, claimed the title of Caliph in 909, creating a separate line of caliphs in North Africa.
Initially controlling Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, the Fatimid caliphs extended their rule for the next 150 years, taking Egypt and Palestine, 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 Al-Andalus, reclaimed the title of Caliph in 929, lasting until it was overthrown in 1031.
Abbasid Caliphate of Cairo (1258–1517)
In the 9th century, the Abbasids created an army loyal only to their caliphate, composed of of predominantly Turkich Cuman, Circassian and Georgian slave origin known as Mamluks. The Mamluks eventually came to power in Egypt. The Mamluk army, though often viewed negatively, both helped and hurt the caliphate. Early on, it provided the government with a stable force to address domestic and foreign problems. However, creation of this foreign army and al-Mu'tasim's transfer of the capital from Baghdad to Samarra created a division between the caliphate and the peoples they claimed to rule. In addition, the power of the Mamluks steadily grew until al-Radi (934–41) was constrained to hand over most of the royal functions to Mahommed bin Raik.
In 1261, following the devastation of Baghdad at the hands of the Mongols, the Mamluk rulers of Egypt re-established the Abbasid caliphate in Cairo. The first Abbasid caliph of Cairo was Al-Mustansir. The Abbasid caliphs in Egypt continued to maintain the presence of authority, but it was confined to religious matters. The Abbasid caliphate of Cairo lasted until the time of Al-Mutawakkil III, who ruled as caliph from 1508 to 1516, then he was deposed briefly in 1516 by his predecessor Al-Mustamsik, but was restored again to the caliphate in 1517. The Ottoman sultan Selim I defeated the Mamluk Sultanate, and made Egypt part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. Al-Mutawakkil III was captured together with his family and transported to Constantinople as a prisoner where he had a ceremonial role. He died in 1543, following his return to Cairo.
The Fatimids established the Tunisian city of Mahdia and made it their capital city, before conquering Egypt, and building the city of Cairo in 969. Thereafter, Cairo became the capital of the caliphate, with Egypt becoming the political, cultural, and religious centre of the state. Islam scholar Louis Massignon dubbed the 4th century AH /10th century CE as the "Ismaili century in the history of Islam".
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 some Muslims. Therefore, this constitutes a rare period in history in which the descendants of Ali (hence the name Fatimid, referring to Ali's wife Fatima) and the Caliphate were united to any degree, excepting the final period of the Rashidun Caliphate under Ali himself.
Since the 15th century, the Caliphate was claimed by the Turkish Ottoman sultans beginning with Fatih Sultan Mehmed. They gradually came to be viewed as the de facto leaders and representatives of the Islamic world. According to Barthold, the first time the title of "Caliph" was used as a political instead of symbolic religious title by the Ottomans was the peace treaty with Russia in 1774, when the Empire retained moral authority on territory whose sovereignty was ceded to the Russian Empire.
The outcome of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 was disastrous for the Ottomans. Large territories, including those with large Muslim populations, such as Crimea, were lost to the Russian Empire. However, the Ottomans under Abdul Hamid I claimed a diplomatic victory by being allowed to remain the religious leaders of Muslims in the now-independent Crimea as part of the peace treaty: in return Russia became the official protector of Christians in Ottoman territory.
Around 1880 Sultan Abdul Hamid II reasserted the title as a way of countering Russian expansion into Muslim lands. His claim was most fervently accepted by the Muslims of British India. By the eve of World War I, the Ottoman state, despite its weakness relative to Europe, represented the largest and most powerful independent Islamic political entity. The sultan also enjoyed some authority beyond the borders of his shrinking empire as caliph of Muslims in Egypt, India, and Central Asia.
The Sokoto Caliphate was an Islamic spiritual community in Nigeria, led by the, Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio. Founded during the Fulani Jihad in the early 19th century, it was one of the most powerful empires in sub-Saharan Africa prior to European conquest and colonization. The caliphate remained extant through the colonial period and afterwards, though with reduced power.
In the 1920s, the Khilafat Movement, a movement to defend the Ottoman Caliphate, spread throughout the British colonial territories. It was particularly strong in British India, where it formed a rallying point for some Indian Muslims as one of many anti-British Indian political movements. Its leaders included Maulana Mohammad Ali, his brother Shawkat Ali, and Abul Kalam Azad, Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, and Barrister Muhammad Jan Abbasi. For a time it worked in alliance with Hindu communities and was supported by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was a member of the Central Khilafat Committee. However, the movement lost its momentum after the arrest or flight of its leaders, and a series of offshoots splintered off from the main organization.
A summit was convened at Cairo in 1926 to discuss the revival of the Caliphate, but most Muslim countries did not participate and no action was taken to implement the summit's resolutions.
Though the title Ameer al-Mumineen was adopted by the King of Morocco and by MullahMohammed Omar, former head of the Taliban regime of Afghanistan, neither claimed any legal standing or authority over Muslims outside the borders of their respective countries.
The following excerpt from the Qur'an, known as the 'Istikhlaf Verse', is used by some to argue for a Quranic basis for Caliphate:
God has promised those of you who have attained to faith and do righteous deeds that, of a certainty, He will make them Khulifa on earth, even as He caused [some of] those who lived before them to become Khulifa; and that, of a certainty, He will firmly establish for them the religion which He has been pleased to bestow on them; and that, of a certainty, He will cause their erstwhile state of fear to be replaced by a sense of security [seeing that] they worship Me [alone], not ascribing divine powers to aught beside Me. But all who, after [having understood] this, choose to deny the truth – it is they, they who are truly iniquitous!" [24:55] (Surah Al-Nur, Verse 55)
In the above verse, the word Khulifa (the plural of Khalifa) has been variously translated as "successors" and "ones who accede to power".
Small subsections of Sunni Islamism argue that to govern a state by Islamic law (Shariah) is, by definition, to rule via the Caliphate, and use the following verses to sustain their claim.
So govern between the people by that which God has revealed (Islam), and follow not their vain desires, beware of them in case they seduce you from just some part of that which God has revealed to you
O you who believe! Obey God, and obey the messenger and then those among you who are in authority; and if you have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to God and the messenger's rulings, if you are (in truth) believers in God and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the end.
The following hadith from Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal can be understood to prophesy two eras of Caliphate (both on the lines/precepts of prophethood).
Hadhrat Huzaifa narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: Prophethood will remain among you as long as Allah wills. Then Caliphate (Khilafah) on the lines of Prophethood shall commence, and remain as long as Allah wills. Then corrupt/erosive monarchy would take place, and it will remain as long as Allah wills. After that, despotic kingship would emerge, and it will remain as long as Allah wills. Then, the Caliphate (Khilafah) shall come once again based on the precept of Prophethood.[page needed]
In the above, the first era of Caliphate is commonly accepted by Muslims to be that of the Rashidun Caliphate.
Nafi'a reported saying:
It has been reported on the authority of Nafi, that 'Abdullah b. Umar paid a visit to Abdullah b. Muti' in the days (when atrocities were perpetrated on the People Of Medina) at Harra in the time of Yazid b. Mu'awiya. Ibn Muti' said: Place a pillow for Abu 'Abd al-Rahman (family name of 'Abdullah b. 'Umar). But the latter said: I have not come to sit with you. I have come to you to tell you a tradition I heard from the Messenger of Allah. I heard him say: One who withdraws his band from obedience (to the Amir) will find no argument (in his defence) when he stands before Allah on the Day of Judgment, and one who dies without having bound himself by an oath of allegiance (to an Amir) will die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyyah. – Sahih Muslim, Book 020, Hadith 4562.
Leaders will take charge of you after me, where the pious (one) will lead you with his piety and the impious (one) with his impiety, so only listen to them and obey them in everything which conforms with the truth (Islam). If they act rightly it is for your credit, and if they acted wrongly it is counted for you and against them.
Muslim narrated on the authority of al-A'araj, on the authority of Abu Hurairah, that Muhammad said:
Behold, the Imam (Caliph) is but a shield from behind whom the people fight and by whom they defend themselves.
I accompanied Abu Hurairah for five years and heard him talking of Muhammd's saying: The Prophets ruled over the children of Israel, whenever a Prophet died another Prophet succeeded him, but there will be no Prophet after me. There will be Khalifahs and they will number many. They asked: What then do you order us? He said: Fulfil the baya'a to them one after the other and give them their due. Surely God will ask them about what He entrusted them with.
The Sahaba of Muhammad
Al-Habbab Ibn ul-Munthir said, when the Sahaba met in the wake of the death of Muhammad, (at the thaqifa hall) of Bani Sa’ida:
Let there be one Amir from us and one Amir from you (meaning one from the Ansar and one from the Mohajireen).
Upon this Abu Bakr replied:
It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Amirs (rulers)...
It has additionally been reported that Abu Bakr went on to say on the day of Al-Saqifa:
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.
The Sahaba agreed to this and selected Abu Bakr as their first Khaleef. Habbab ibn Mundhir who suggested the idea of two Ameers corrected himself and was the first to give Abu Bakr the Bay'ah. This indicates an Ijma as-Sahaba of all of the Sahaba. Ali ibni abi Talib, who was attending the body of Muhammad at the time, also consented to this.
Imam Ali whom the Shia revere said:
People must have an Amir...where the believer works under his Imara (rule) and under which the unbeliever would also benefit, until his rule ended by the end of his life (ajal), the booty (fay’i) would be gathered, the enemy would be fought, the routes would be made safe, the strong one will return what he took from the weak till the tyrant would be contained, and not bother anyone.
The Imams (scholars of the four schools of thought)- may Allah have mercy on them- agree that the Caliphate is an obligation, and that the Muslims must appoint a leader who would implement the injunctions of the religion, and give the oppressed justice against the oppressors. It is forbidden for Muslims to have two leaders in the world whether in agreement or discord.
The Shia schools of thought and others expressed the same opinion about this However, the Shia school of thought believe that the leader (Imam) must not be appointed by the Islamic ummah, but must be appointed by God.
Al-Qurtubi said in his Tafsir of the verse, "Indeed, man is made upon this earth a Caliph" that:
This Ayah is a source in the selection of an Imaam, and a Khaleef, he is listened to and he is obeyed, for the word is united through him, and the Ahkam (laws) of the Caliph are implemented through him, and there is no difference regarding the obligation of that between the Ummah, nor between the Imams except what is narrated about al-Asam, the Mu'tazzili ...
Al-Qurtubi also said:
The Khilafah is the pillar upon which other pillars rest
(The scholars) consented that it is an obligation upon the Muslims to select a Khalif
Al-Ghazali when writing of the potential consequences of losing the Caliphate said:
The judges will be suspeneded, the Wilayaat (provinces) will be nullified, ... the decrees of those in authority will not be executed and all the people will be on the verge of Haraam
It is obligatory to know that the office in charge of commanding over the people (ie: the post of the Khaleefah) is one of the greatest obligations of the Deen. In fact, there is no establishment of the Deen except by it....this is the opinion of the salaf, such as al-Fadl ibn 'Iyaad, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and others
Once the subject of intense conflict and rivalry amongst Muslim rulers, the caliphate has lain dormant and largely unclaimed since the 1920s. For the vast majority of Muslims the caliph as leader of the ummah, "is cherished both as memory and ideal" as a time when Muslims "enjoyed scientific and military superiority globally". The Islamic prophet Muhammad is reported to have prophesied:
Prophethood will remain with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain, then Allah will raise it up whenever he wills to raise it up. Afterwards, there will be a Caliphate that follows the guidance of Prophethood remaining with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, He will raise it up whenever He wills to raise it up. Afterwards, there will be a reign of violently oppressive rule and it will remain with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, there will be a reign of tyrannical rule and it will remain for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, Allah will raise it up whenever He wills to raise it up. Then, there will be a Caliphate that follows the guidance of Prophethood.
— As-Silsilah As-Sahihah, vol. 1, no. 5
More information can be seen in the article about Caliph Mahdi.
The members of the Ahmadiyya community believe that the Ahmadiyya Caliphate (Arabic: Khilāfah) is the continuation of the Islamic Caliphate, first being the Rāshidūn (rightly guided) Caliphate (of Righteous Caliphs). This is believed to have been suspended with Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad and re-established with the appearance of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908, the founder of the movement) whom Ahmadis identify as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi.
Ahmadis maintain that in accordance with Quranic verses (such as [Quran 24:55]) and numerous ahadith on the issue, Khilāfah can only be established by God Himself and is a divine blessing given to those who believe and work righteousness and uphold the unity of God, therefore any movement to establish the Khilāfah centered on human endeavours alone is bound to fail, particularly when the condition of the people diverges from the ‘precepts of prophethood’and they are as a result disunited, their inability to elect a khalifa caused fundamentally by the lack of righteousness in them. Although the khalifa is elected it is believed that God himself directs the hearts of believers towards an individual. Thus the khalifa is designated neither necessarily by right (i.e. the rightful or competent one in the eyes of the people at that time) nor merely by election but primarily by God.
According to Ahmadiyya thought, a khalifa need not be the head of a state; rather the Ahmadiyya community emphasises the spiritual and religious significance of the Khilāfah. It is above all a religious/spiritual office, with the purpose of upholding, strengthening and spreading Islam and of maintaining the high spiritual and moral standards within the global community established by Muhammad - who was not merely a political leader but primarily a religious leader. If a khalifa does happen to bear governmental authority as a head of state, it is incidental and subsidiary in relation to his overall function as khalifa.
Ahmadi Muslims believe that God has assured them that this Caliphate will endure to the end of time, depending on their righteousness and faith in God. The Khalifa provides unity, security, moral direction and progress for the community. It is required that the Khalifa carry out his duties through consultation and taking into consideration the views of the members of the Shura (consultative body). However, it is not incumbent upon him to always accept the views and recommendations of the members. The Khalifatul Masih has overall authority for all religious and organisational matters and is bound to decide and act in accordance with the Qur'an and sunnah.
A number of Islamist political parties and mujahideen have called for the restoration of the caliphate by uniting Muslim nations, either through political action (e.g., Hizb ut-Tahrir), or through force (e.g., al-Qaeda). Various Islamist movements have gained momentum in recent years with the ultimate aim of establishing a Caliphate; however, they differ in their methodology and approach. Some[who?] are locally oriented, mainstream political parties that have no apparent transnational objectives.
Abul Ala Maududi believed the caliph was not just an individual ruler who had to be restored, but was man's representation of God's authority on Earth:
Khilafa means representative. Man, according to Islam is the representative of "people", His (God's) viceregent; that is to say, by virtue of the powers delegated to him, and within the limits prescribed by the Qu'ran and the teaching of the prophet, the caliph is required to exercise Divine authority.
One transnational group whose ideology is based specifically on restoring the caliphate as a pan-Islamic state is Hizb ut-Tahrir (literally, "Party of Liberation"). It is particularly strong in Central Asia and Europe and is growing in strength in the Arab world. It is based on the claim that Muslims can prove that God exists and that the Qur'an is the word of God. Hizb-Ut-Tahrir's stated strategy is a non-violent political and intellectual struggle.
Al-Qaeda has as one of its clearly stated goals the re-establishment of a caliphate. Its former leader, Osama bin Laden, called for Muslims to "establish the righteous caliphate of our umma".Al-Qaeda chiefs released a statement in 2005, under which, in what they call "phase five" there will be "an Islamic state, or caliphate". Al-Qaeda has named its Internet newscast from Iraq "The Voice of the Caliphate". According to author and Egyptian native Lawrence Wright, Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's mentor and al-Qaeda's second-in-command until 2011, once "sought to restore the caliphate... which had formally ended in 1924 following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire but which had not exercised real power since the thirteenth century." Zawahiri believes that once the caliphate is re-established, Egypt would become a rallying point for the rest of the Islamic world, leading the jihad against the West. "Then history would make a new turn, God willing", Zawahiri later wrote, "in the opposite direction against the empire of the United States and the world's Jewish government".
Scholar Olivier Roy writes that "early on, Islamists replace the concept of the caliphate ... with that of the amir." There were a number of reasons including "that according to the classical authors, a caliph must be a member of the tribe of the Prophet (the Quraysh) ... moreover, caliphs ruled societies that the Islamists do not consider to have been Islamic (the Ottoman Empire)." This is not the view of the majority of Islamist groups, as both the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizb ut-Tahrir view the Ottoman state as a caliphate.
Electing or appointing a Caliph
In his book The Early Islamic Conquests (1981), Fred Donner argues that the standard Arabian practice during the early Caliphates 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, although there was no specified procedure for this shura, or consultative assembly. Candidates were usually from the same lineage as the deceased leader, but they were not necessarily his sons. Capable men who would lead well were preferred over an ineffectual direct heir, as there was no basis in the majority Sunni view that the head of state or governor should be chosen based on lineage alone.
This argument is advanced by Sunni Muslims, who believe that Muhammad's companion Abu Bakr was elected by the community and that this was the proper procedure. They further argue that a caliph is ideally chosen by election or community consensus, even though the caliphate soon became a hereditary office, or the prize of the strongest general.
Traditionally, Sunni Muslim schools of law all agreed that a caliph must be a descendant of the Quraysh tribe.Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani has said that the leader of the Muslims simply should be from the majority. The founder of the biggest Sunni legal school, Abu Hanifa, also wrote that the Caliph must be chosen by the majority.
Following the death of Muhammad, a meeting took place at Saqifah. At that meeting, Abu Bakr was elected caliph by the Muslim community. Sunni Muslims developed the belief that the caliph is a temporal political ruler, appointed to rule within the bounds of Islamic law (Sharia). The job of adjudicating orthodoxy and Islamic law was left to Islamic lawyers, judiciary, or specialists individually termed as Mujtahids and collectively named the Ulema. Many Muslims call the first four caliphs the Rashidun meaning the Rightly Guided Caliphs, because they are believed to have followed the Qur'an and the sunnah (example) of Muhammad.
Shia Muslims believe in the Imamate, in which the rulers are Imams divinely chosen, infallible, and sinless from Muhammad's family – Ahl al-Baytliterally "People of the House (of Muhammad)" regardless of majority opinion, shura or election. They claim that before his death, Muhammad had given many indications, in Ghadir Khumm particularly, that he considered Ali, his cousin and son-in-law, as his successor. As per Twelver/Ithna Ashery Shia, Ali and his eleven descendants, the twelve Imams, are believed to have been considered, even before their birth, as the only valid Islamic rulers appointed and decreed by God.
After these twelve Imams, the potential Caliphs, had passed, and in the absence of the possibility of a government headed by their Imams, some Shi'a believe it was necessary that a system of Shia Islamic government based on Vilayat-e Faqih be developed, due to the need for some form of government, where an Islamic jurist or faqih rules Muslims, suffices. However this idea, developed by the Marja (Ayatollah) Ruhollah Khomeini and established in Iran, is not universally accepted among Shi'as.
Ismailis, Fatimids and Dawoodi Bohra believe in the Imamate principle mentioned above, but they need not be ruler. To safe guard divine authority of Allah the "Din", from politics of World "Duniya" the 'external World', they have instituted office of Dai al-Mutlaq even from the era of their 21st Imam Tayyab (1130 AD), under jurisdiction of Suleyhid Queen, as Imam was under seclusion. In the twelver shia also many Imams were not ruler, and they sacrificed much to upheld "Din".
Traditional Sunni Islamic lawyers agree that shura, loosely translated as "consultation of the people", is a function of the caliphate. The Majlis al Shura (literally "consultative assembly") or parliament was a representation of this idea of consultative governance. The importance of this is premised by the following verses of the Qur'an:
“...those who answer the call of their Lord and establish the prayer, and who conduct their affairs by Shura. [are loved by God]”[42:38]
“...consult them (the people) in their affairs. Then when you have taken a decision (from them), put your trust in Allah”[3:159]
The majlis is also the means to elect a new caliph. Al-Mawardi has written that members of the majlis should satisfy three conditions: they must be just, have enough knowledge to distinguish a good caliph from a bad one, and have sufficient wisdom and judgment to select the best caliph. Al-Mawardi also said that in emergencies when there is no caliphate and no majlis, the people themselves should create a majlis and select a list of candidates for caliph; then the majlis should select a caliph from the list of candidates.
Some modern interpretations of the role of the Majlis al-Shura include those by Islamist author Sayyid Qutb and Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, the founder of a transnational political movement devoted to the revival of the Caliphate. In an analysis of the shura chapter of the Qur'an, Qutb argued that Islam requires only that the ruler consult with at least some of the ruled (usually their representatives) and govern within the general context of God-made laws. Taqiuddin al-Nabhani writes that Shura is an important part of "the ruling structure" of the Islamic caliphate "but not one of its pillars", meaning that its neglect would not make the Caliphate's rule unislamic, hence justifying rebellion. Non-Muslims may serve in the Majlis. Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamist movement and main opposition in Egypt, argue that in the modern age Shura is democracy and that Islam and the caliphate system is inherently democratic without any need to conform to western political notions.
Accountability of rulers
Sunni Islamic lawyers have commented on when it is permissible to disobey, impeach or remove rulers in the Caliphate. This is usually when the rulers are not meeting their obligations to the public under Islam.
Al-Mawardi said that if the rulers meet their Islamic responsibilities to the public the people must obey their laws, but a Caliph or ruler who becomes either unjust or severely ineffective must be impeached via the Majlis al-Shura. Similarly, Al-Baghdadi[clarification needed] believed that if the rulers do not uphold justice, the ummah via the majlis should warn them, and a Caliph who does not heed the warning can be impeached. Al-Juwayni argued that Islam is the goal of the ummah, so any ruler who deviates from this goal must be impeached. Al-Ghazali believed that oppression by a caliph is sufficient grounds for impeachment. Rather than just relying on impeachment, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani stated that the people have an obligation to rebel if the caliph begins to act with no regard for Islamic law. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said that to ignore such a situation is haraam and those who cannot revolt from inside the caliphate should launch a struggle from outside. Al-Asqalani used two ayahs from the Qur'an to justify this:
“...And they (the sinners on qiyama) will say, 'Our Lord! We obeyed our leaders and our chiefs, and they misled us from the right path. Our Lord! Give them (the leaders) double the punishment you give us and curse them with a very great curse'...”[33:67–68]
Islamic lawyers commented that when the rulers refuse to step down after being impeached through the Majlis, becoming dictators through the support of a corrupt army, if the majority is in agreement they have the option to launch a revolution. Many noted that this option is to be exercised only after factoring in the potential cost of life.
Narrated ‘Aisha: The people of Quraish worried about the lady from Bani Makhzum who had committed theft. They asked, "Who will intercede for her with Allah's Apostle?" Some said, "No one dare to do so except Usama bin Zaid the beloved one to Allah's Apostle." When Usama spoke about that to Allah's Apostle Allah's Apostle said: "Do you try to intercede for somebody in a case connected with Allah’s Prescribed Punishments?" Then he got up and delivered a sermon saying, "What destroyed the nations preceding you, was that if a noble amongst them stole, they would forgive him, and if a poor person amongst them stole, they would inflict Allah's Legal punishment on him. By Allah, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad (my daughter) stole, I would cut off her hand."
Various Islamic lawyers, however, place multiple conditions and stipulations on the execution of such a law, making it difficult to implement. For example, the poor cannot be penalized for stealing out of poverty, and during a time of drought in the Rashidun caliphate, capital punishment was suspended until the effects of the drought passed.
Islamic jurists later formulated the concept that all classes were subject to the law of the land, and no person is above the law; officials and private citizens alike have a duty to obey the same law. Furthermore, a Qadi (Islamic judge) was not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of religion, race, colour, kinship or prejudice. In a number of cases, Caliphs had to appear before judges as they prepared to render their verdict.
There are similarities between Islamic economics and leftist or socialist economic policies. Islamic jurists have argued that privatization of the origin of oil, gas, and other fire-producing fuels, agricultural land, and water is forbidden. The principle of public or joint ownership has been drawn by Muslim jurists from the following hadith of the Prophet of Islam:
Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: "All Muslims are partners in three things- in water, herbage and fire." (Narrated in Abu Daud, & Ibn Majah) Anas added to the above hadith, "Its price is Haram (forbidden)."
Jurists have argued by qiyas that the above restriction on privatization can be extended to all essential resources that benefit the community as a whole.
The demographics of medieval Islamic society varied in some significant aspects from other agricultural societies, including a decline in birth rates as well as a change in life expectancy. Other traditional agrarian societies are estimated to have had an average life expectancy of 20 to 25 years, while ancient Rome and medieval Europe are estimated at 20 to 30 years. The life expectancy of Islamic society diverged from that of other traditional agrarian societies, with several studies on the lifespans of Islamic scholars concluding that members of this occupational group enjoyed a life expectancy between 69 and 75 years. Such studies have given the following estimates for the average lifespans of religious scholars at various times and places: 72.8 years in the Middle East, 69–75 years in 11th century Islamic Spain, 75 years in 12th century Persia, and 59–72 years in 13th century Persia. However, Maya Shatzmiller considers these religious scholars to be a misleading sample who are not representative of the general population. Conrad I. Lawrence estimates the average lifespan in the early Islamic Caliphate to be above 35 years for the general population.
The early Islamic Empire also had the highest literacy rates among pre-modern societies, alongside the city of classical Athens in the 4th century BC, and later, China after the introduction of printing from the 10th century. One factor for the relatively high literacy rates in the early Islamic Empire was its parent-driven educational marketplace, as the state did not systematically subsidize educational services until the introduction of state funding under Nizam al-Mulk in the 11th century. Another factor was the diffusion of paper from China, which led to an efflorescence of books and written culture in Islamic society; thus papermaking technology transformed Islamic society (and later, the rest of Afro-Eurasia) from an oral to scribal culture, comparable to the later shifts from scribal to typographic culture, and from typographic culture to the Internet. Other factors include the widespread use of paper books in Islamic society (more so than any other previously existing society), the study and memorization of the Qur'an, flourishing commercial activity, and the emergence of the Maktab and Madrasah educational institutions.
Umar (Umar ibn al-Khattab), second Rashidun Caliph. During his reign, the Islamic empire expanded to include Egypt, Jerusalem and Persia.
Uthman Ibn Affan, third Rashidun Caliph. The various written copies of the Qur'an were standardized under his direction. Killed by rebels.
Ali (Ali ibn Abu Talib), fourth Rashidun Caliph. Considered by Shi'a Muslims however to be the first Imam. His reign was fraught with internal conflict, with Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan (Muawiyah I) and Amr ibn al-As controlling the Levant and Egypt regions independently of Ali.
Hasan ibn Ali, fifth Caliph. Considered as "rightly guided" by several historians. He abdicated his right to the caliphate in favour of Muawiyah I in order to end the potential for ruinous civil war.
Muawiyah I, first caliph of the Umayyad dynasty. Muawiyah instituted dynastic rule by appointing his son Yazid I as his successor, a trend that would continue through subsequent caliphates.
Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (Umar II), Umayyad caliph who is considered one of the finest rulers in Muslim history. He is also considered by some (mainly Sunnis) to be among the "rightly guided" caliphs.
Harun al-Rashid, Abbasid caliph during whose reign Baghdad became the world's prominent centre of trade, learning, and culture. Harun is the subject of many stories in the famous One Thousand and One Nights. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma ("House of Wisdom").
Al-Ma'mun, a great Abbasid patron of Islamic philosophy and science.
Fatih Sultan Mehmed (Mehmed II), an Ottoman caliph highly regarded for his long succession of campaigns which resulted in a tremendous extension of direct Ottoman rule.
Robert Sabatino Lopez, Irving Woodworth Raymond, Olivia Remie Constable (2001), Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World: Illustrative Documents, Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-12357-4.
Timur Kuran (2005), "The Absence of the Corporation in Islamic Law: Origins and Persistence", American Journal of Comparative Law53, p. 785-834 [798–799].
Subhi Y. Labib (1969), "Capitalism in Medieval Islam", The Journal of Economic History29 (1), p. 79-96 [92–93].
Ray Spier (2002), "The history of the peer-review process", Trends in Biotechnology20 (8), p. 357-358 .
Said Amir Arjomand (1999), "The Law, Agency, and Policy in Medieval Islamic Society: Development of the Institutions of Learning from the Tenth to the Fifteenth Century", Comparative Studies in Society and History41, p. 263-293. Cambridge University Press.
Samir Amin (1978), "The Arab Nation: Some Conclusions and Problems", MERIP Reports68, p. 3-14 [8, 13].
Shatzmiller, Maya (1994), Labour in the Medieval Islamic World, Brill Publishers, pp. 63–4 & 66, ISBN 90-04-09896-8, "At the same time, the “demographic behaviour” of the Islamic society as an agricultural society varied in some significant aspects from other agricultural societies, particularly in ways which could explain a decline in birth rate. It is agreed that all agricultural societies conform to a given demographic pattern of behaviour, which includes a high birth-rate and a slightly lower death-rate, significant enough to allow a slow population increase of 0.5 to 1.0 per cent per year. Other demographic characteristics of this society are high infant mortality, with 200–500 deaths per 1000 within the first year of birth, a lower average life expectancy, of twenty to twenty-five years, and a broadly based population pyramid, where the number of young people at the bottom of the pyramid is very high in relationship to the rest of the population, and that children are set to work at an early stage. Islamic society diverged from this demographic profile in some significant points, although not always consistently. Studies have shown that during certain periods, such factors as attitudes to marriage and sex, birth control, birth and death rates, age of marriage and patterns of marriage, family size and migration pattems, varied from the traditional agricultural model. [...] Life expectancy was another area where Islamic society diverged from the suggested model for agricultural society."
"Life expectancy (sociology)", Encyclopædia Britannica, retrieved 2010-04-17, "In ancient Rome and medieval Europe the average life span is estimated to have been between 20 and 30 years."
Shatzmiller, Maya (1994), Labour in the Medieval Islamic World, Brill Publishers, p. 66, ISBN 90-04-09896-8, "Life expectancy was another area where Islamic society diverged from the suggested model for agricultural society. No less than three separate studies about the life expectancy of religious scholars, two from 11th century Muslim Spain, and one from the Middle East, concluded that members of this occupational group enjoyed a life expectancy of 69, 75, and 72.8 years respectively!"
Shatzmiller, Maya (1994), Labour in the Medieval Islamic World, Brill Publishers, p. 66, ISBN 90-04-09896-8
Bulliet, Richard W. (April 1970), "A Quantitative Approach to Medieval Muslim Biographical Dictionaries", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Brill Publishers) 13 (2): 195–211 
Ahmad, Ahmad Atif (2007), "Authority, Conflict, and the Transmission of Diversity in Medieval Islamic Law by R. Kevin Jaques", Journal of Islamic Studies18 (2): 246–248 , doi:10.1093/jis/etm005
Shatzmiller, Maya (1994), Labour in the Medieval Islamic World, Brill Publishers, p. 66, ISBN 90-04-09896-8, "This rate is uncommonly high, not only under the conditions in medieval cities, where these ‘ulama’ lived, but also in terms of the average life expectancy for contemporary males. [...] In other words, the social group studied through the biographies is, a priori, a misleading sample, since it was composed exclusively of individuals who enjoyed exceptional longevity."
Andrew J. Coulson, Delivering Education, Hoover Institution, p. 117, retrieved 2008-11-22, "Reaching further back through the centuries, the civilizations regarded as having the highest literacy rates of their ages were parent-driven educational marketplaces. The ability to read and write was far more widely enjoyed in the early medieval Islamic empire and in fourth-century-B.C.E. Athens than in any other cultures of their times."
Edmund Burke (June 2009), "Islam at the Center: Technological Complexes and the Roots of Modernity", Journal of World History (University of Hawaii Press) 20 (2): 165–186 [177–8], doi:10.1353/jwh.0.0045, "The spread of written knowledge was at least the equal of what it was in China after printing became common there in the tenth century. (We should note that Chinese books were printed in small editions of a hundred or so copies.)"
Andrew J. Coulson, Delivering Education, Hoover Institution, p. 117, retrieved 2008-11-22, "In neither case did the state supply or even systematically subsidize educational services. The Muslim world’s eventual introduction of state funding under Nizam al-Mulk in the eleventh century was quickly followed by partisan religious squabbling over education and the gradual fall of Islam from its place of cultural and scientific preeminence."
Edmund Burke (June 2009), "Islam at the Center: Technological Complexes and the Roots of Modernity", Journal of World History (University of Hawaii Press) 20 (2): 165–186 , doi:10.1353/jwh.0.0045, "According to legend, paper came to the Islamic world as a result of the capture of Chinese paper makers at the 751 C.E. battle of Talas River."
Edmund Burke (June 2009), "Islam at the Center: Technological Complexes and the Roots of Modernity", Journal of World History (University of Hawaii Press) 20 (2): 165–186 , doi:10.1353/jwh.0.0045, "Whatever the source, the diffusion of paper-making technology via the lands of Islam produced a shift from oral to scribal culture across the rest of Afroeurasia that was rivaled only by the move from scribal to typographic culture. (Perhaps it will prove to have been even more important than the recent move from typographic culture to the Internet.) The result was remarkable. As historian Jonathan Bloom informs us, paper encouraged "an efflorescence of books and written culture incomparably more brilliant than was known anywhere in Europe until the invention of printing with movable type in the fifteenth century."
Edmund Burke (June 2009), "Islam at the Center: Technological Complexes and the Roots of Modernity", Journal of World History (University of Hawaii Press) 20 (2): 165–186 , doi:10.1353/jwh.0.0045, "More so than any previously existing society, Islamic society of the period 1000–1500 was profoundly a culture of books. [...] The emergence of a culture of books is closely tied to cultural dispositions toward literacy in Islamic societies. Muslim young men were encouraged to memorize the Qur'an as part of their transition to adulthood, and while most presumably did not (though little is known about literacy levels in pre-Mongol Muslim societies), others did. Types of literacy in any event varied, as Nelly Hanna has recently suggested, and are best studied as part of the complex social dynamics and contexts of individual Muslim societies. The need to conform commercial contracts and business arrangements to Islamic law provided a further impetus for literacy, especially likely in commercial centers. Scholars often engaged in commercial activity and craftsmen or tradesmen often spent time studying in madrasas. The connection between what Brian Street has called "maktab literacy" and commercial literacy was real and exerted a steady pressure on individuals to upgrade their reading skills."
Crone, Patricia; Hinds, Martin (1986), God's Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-32185-3
Donner, Fred McGraw (1981), The Early Islamic Conquests, Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-05327-1
Wright, Lawrence (2007) , The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, London: Vintage, ISBN 978-1-4000-3084-2
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The History of Al-Khilafah Ar-Rashidah (The Rightly Guided Caliphates) School Textbook, By Dr. 'Abdullah al-Ahsan, `Abdullah Ahsan
The Crisis of the Early Caliphate By Richard Stephen Humphreys, Stephen (EDT) Humphreys from The History of al-Tabari
Reunification of the Abbasid Caliphate By Clifford Edmund (TRN) Bosworth, from The History of al-Tabari
Return of the Caliphate to Baghdad By Franz Rosenthal from The History of al-Tabari
Pan-Islamism: Indian Muslims, the Ottomans and Britain (1877–1924) By Azmi Özcan
Baghdad during the Abbasid Caliphate from Contemporary Arabic and Persian Sources By Guy Le Strange
The Fall of the Caliphate of Cordoba: Berbers and Andalusis in conflict By Peter C. Scales
Khilafat and Caliphate, By Mubasher Ahmad
The abolition of the Caliphate, From The Economist Mar 8th 1924
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