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A caliphate (from the Arabic خلافة or khilāfa) is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious as well as political leader known as a caliph (meaning literally a successor, i.e., a successor to Islamic prophet Muhammad) and all the Prophets of Islam. The term caliphate is often applied to successions of Muslim empires that have existed in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Conceptually the caliphate represents the political unity of the entire community of Muslim faithful (the ummah) ruled by a single caliph. In theory, the organization of a caliphate should be a constitutional aristocracy-theocracy (under the Constitution of Medina), which means that the head of state, the Caliph, and other officials are representatives of the people and of Islam and must govern according to constitutional and religious law (Sharia). In its early days, the first caliphate resembled elements of direct democracy (see shura) and an elective monarchy.
It was initially led by Muhammad's disciples as a continuation of the leaders and religious system the prophet established, known as the 'Rashidun caliphates'. A "caliphate" is also a state which implements such a governmental system.
Sunni Islam stipulates that the head of state, the caliph, should be elected by Shura – elected by Muslims or their representatives. Followers of Shia Islam believe the caliph should be an Imam chosen by God from the Ahl al-Bayt (Muhammad's purified progeny). 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 dynasty was the Umayyad. This was 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".
- 1 History
- 1.1 Rashidun, 632–661
- 1.2 Umayyads, 7th–8th centuries
- 1.3 Abbasids, 8th–13th centuries
- 1.4 Fatimids, 10th–12th centuries
- 1.5 Ayyubid rule
- 1.6 Mamluk rule, 13th–16th centuries
- 1.7 Ottomans, 16th–20th century
- 1.8 Sokoto, 19th century
- 1.9 Ahmadiyya Caliphate, 1908-Present
- 1.10 Khilafat Movement, 1920
- 1.11 End of the Caliphate, 1924
- 2 Religious basis
- 3 Re-establishment of the Caliphate
- 4 Leader system
- 5 Famous caliphs
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The caliph was often known as Amir al-Mu'minin (أمير المؤمنين) "Commander of the Believers". Muhammad established his capital in Medina, and after he died it remained the capital for the Rashidun period. At times in Muslim history there have been rival claimant caliphs in different parts of the Islamic world, and divisions between the Shi'a and Sunni communities.
According to Sunni Muslims, the first caliph to be called Amir al-Mu'minin was Abu Bakr Siddique, followed by Umar ibn al-Khattāb, the second of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs. Usman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib also were called by the same title, while the Shi'a consider Ali to have been the only truly legitimate caliph.
After the first four caliphs, the Caliphate was claimed by dynasties such as the Umayyads, the Abbasids, and the Ottomans, and for relatively short periods by other, competing dynasties in al-Andalus, North Africa, and Egypt. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk officially abolished the system of Caliphate in Islam (the Ottoman Empire) and founded the Republic of Turkey, in 1923. The Kings of Morocco still label themselves with the title Amir al-Mu'minin for the Moroccans, but lay no claim to the Caliphate.
Some Muslim countries, including Somalia, Indonesia and Malaysia, were never subject to the authority of a Caliphate, with the exception of Aceh, which briefly acknowledged Ottoman suzerainty. Consequently these countries had their own, local, sultans or rulers who did not fully accept the authority of the Caliph.
Abu Bakr, 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 Abu Bakr and the other Caliphs 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.
Umayyads, 7th–8th centuries
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 nomad Berber 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). Caliphate Yazid I 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.
The Caliphate in Hispania
During the Umayyad dynasty, Hispania was an integral province of the Umayyad Caliphate ruled from Damascus. When the Caliphate was seized by the Abbasids, Al-Andalus (the Arab name for Hispania) split from the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad to form their own caliphate. The Caliphate of Córdoba (خليفة قرطبة) ruled most of the Iberian Peninsula from the city of Córdoba from 929 to 1031. This period was characterized by a remarkable flourishing in technology, trade and culture; many of the masterpieces of Spain were constructed in this period, including the Great Mosque of Córdoba. The title Caliph (خليفة) was claimed by Abd-ar-Rahman III on 16 January 929; he was previously known as the Emir of Córdoba (أمير قرطبة).
All Caliphs of Córdoba were members of the Umayyad dynasty; the same dynasty had held the title Emir of Córdoba and ruled over roughly the same territory since 756. 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.
Abbasids, 8th–13th centuries
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 Shiʻa Ubayd 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.
Fatimids, 10th–12th centuries
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn (Arabic الفاطميون) was an Isma'ili Shi'a Muslim caliphate that spanned a vast area of the Arab world, from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. Originally based in Tunisia, the Fatimid dynasty extended their rule across the Mediterranean coast of Africa, and ultimately made Egypt the centre of their caliphate. At its height, in addition to Egypt, the caliphate included varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, Yemen and Hijaz.
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.
The Ayyubid's founder was Saladin, a Kurdish general who overthrew the Fatimids. He went on to take back Jerusalem from the Crusaders. He did not claim the caliphate, but, rather, recognized the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad as spiritual ruler. The Ayyubid dynasty was defeated by both the Mongols and Mamluks.
Mamluk rule, 13th–16th centuries
1258 saw the conquest of Baghdad, the execution of Abbasid caliph al-Musta'sim by Mongol forces under Hulagu Khan and essentially the end of the caliphate up to that point. A surviving member of the Abbasid house was installed as caliph at Cairo under the patronage of the newly formed Mamluk Sultanate three years later; however, this line of caliphs had little authority over the Mamluk Sultans.
Ottomans, 16th–20th century
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Ottoman Sultans, also known and referred to by the title of Padishah used the title of Caliph only sporadically, before 1517. The title "Caliph" was used symbolically on occasions before, however, the Ottoman rulers began to claim Caliphal authority only after the Ottoman Empire defeated the Mamluk Sultanate in 1517 and took control of most Arab lands, during the reign of Selim I. The last Abbasid Caliph at Cairo, al-Mutawakkil III, was taken into custody and was transported to Constantinople, where he reportedly delivered the symbols of Caliphate to Selim I. 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 Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 war 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 leader 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.
Sokoto, 19th century
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.
Ahmadiyya Caliphate, 1908-Present
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community a messianic movement in Islam, believe that the Ahmadiyya Caliphate established after the passing of the community's founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, is the re-establishment of the Rashdin Caliphate, as prophesized by Muhammad. The current successor to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is Khalifatul Masih V, Mirza Masroor Ahmad residing in London, England.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, who first claimed to be Mahdi, then the Promised Messiah and eventually claimed to be a prophet albeit a 'non-law bearing' (deputy) prophet after Muhammad. After his demise in 1908, his first successor, Maulvi Hakeem Noor-ud-Din became head of the community and assumed the title of Khalifatul Masih (Caliph). The line of successors continues to this day to Khalifatul Masih V Mirza Masroor Ahmad, residing in London, England. From its outset, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been viewed as heretical by mainstream Muslim groups due to the founder's claim to prophethood. Muslims have always held the strong view that Muhammad was the final prophet and no apostle can come after him. Any negation to this has always been taken as blasphemy to Muhammad and calling his teachings insufficient. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims and practice Islam in a form that is based solely on the preachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
The Ahmadiyya Caliphate is not recognized by mainstream Islam because of their differences in Islamic practices. The community continues to operate under this structure, with the Khalifa having overall authority for all religious and organizational matters. According to Ahmadis, it is not essential for a Khalifa to be the head of a state, rather the spiritual and religious significance of the Khalifatul Masih is emphasized. Ahmadis believe that the Ahmadiyya Caliphate is the re-establishment of the Rashidun Caliphate (The Rightly Guided Caliphs).
Khilafat Movement, 1920
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.
End of the Caliphate, 1924
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On March 3, 1924, the first President of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as part of his reforms, constitutionally abolished the institution of the Caliphate. Its powers within Turkey were transferred to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the parliament of the newly formed Turkish Republic. The title was then claimed by King Hussein bin Ali of Hejaz, leader of the Arab Revolt, but his kingdom was defeated and annexed by Ibn Saud in 1925. The title has since been inactive.
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 Mullah Mohammed 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.
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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.
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 Hadith the first era of Caliphate is commonly accepted by the Muslims as 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.
Muslim reported on the authority of Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, who said,
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 sayings of Islamic scholars
It is forbidden for the Ummah (Muslim world) to have two leaders at the same time.
It is forbidden to give an oath to two leaders or more, even in different parts of the world and even if they are far apart.
It is forbidden to appoint two leaders at the same time.
It is permitted to have only one leader (of the Muslims) in the whole of the world.
It is forbidden for Muslims to have in the whole world and at the same time two leaders whether in agreement or discord.
It is forbidden to give the oath to more than one.
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.
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
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
Re-establishment of the Caliphate
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
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 around 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.
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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.
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.
Views of al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda has as one of its clearly stated goals the re-establishment of a caliphate. The late al-Qaeda 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 Lawrence Wright, an Egyptian native, Ayman al-Zawahiri (Bin Laden's mentor and al-Qaeda 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." Once the caliphate is re-established, Zawahiri believes, 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 (the largest) 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-Bayt literally "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.
Shia group of Ismaili/ Fatimid/ Dawoodi Bohra believe in 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".
Majlis al-Shura: Parliament
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.
Rule of law
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.
According to Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University, the system of legal scholars and jurists responsible for the rule of law was replaced by the codification of Sharia by the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century:
During the Muslim Agricultural Revolution, the Caliphate understood that real incentives were needed to increase productivity and wealth and thus enhance tax revenues. A social transformation took place as a result of changing land ownership giving individuals of any gender, ethnic or religious background the right to buy, sell, mortgage, and inherit land for farming or any other purpose. Based on the Quran, signatures were required on contracts for every major financial transaction concerning agriculture, industry, commerce, and employment. Copies of the contract were usually kept by both parties involved.
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)."
Aside from similarities to socialism, early forms of proto-capitalism and free markets were present in the Caliphate, since an early market economy and early form of merchant capitalism developed between the 8th and 12th centuries, which some refer to as "Islamic capitalism". A vigorous monetary economy developed based on the circulation of a stable high-value currency (the dinar) and the integration of previously independent monetary areas. Business techniques and forms of business organization employed during this time included early contracts, bills of exchange, long-distance international trade, early forms of partnership (mufawada) such as limited partnerships (mudaraba), and early forms of credit, debt, profit, loss, capital (al-mal), capital accumulation (nama al-mal), circulating capital, capital expenditure, revenue, cheques, promissory notes, trusts (waqf), startup companies, savings accounts, transactional accounts, pawning, loaning, exchange rates, bankers, money changers, ledgers, deposits, assignments, the double-entry bookkeeping system, and lawsuits. Organizational enterprises similar to corporations independent from the state also existed in the medieval Islamic world. Many of these concepts were adopted and further advanced in medieval Europe from the 13th century onwards.
The concepts of welfare and pension were introduced in early Islamic law as forms of Zakat (charity), one of the Five Pillars of Islam, since the time of the Rashidun caliph Umar in the 7th century. The taxes (including Zakat and Jizya) collected in the treasury (Bayt al-mal) of an Islamic government were used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. According to the Islamic jurist Al-Ghazali (Algazel, 1058–1111), the government was also expected to stockpile food supplies in every region in case a disaster or famine occurred.
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.
- Abu Bakr – First Rashidun (Four Righteously Guided Caliphs) of the Sunnis. Subdued rebel tribes in the Ridda wars.
- Umar (Umar ibn al-Khattab) – Second Rashidun. During his reign, the Islamic empire expanded to include Egypt, Jerusalem, and Persia.
- Uthman Ibn Affan – Third Rashidun. The various written copies Qur'an was compiled and standardized under his direction. Killed by rebels.
- Ali (Ali ibn Abu Talib) – Fourth and last Rashidun, and considered the first Imam by Shi'a Muslims. His reign was fraught with internal conflict.
- Hasan ibn Ali – Fifth Caliph (considered as "rightly guided" by many Sunnis as well as Shias). He ruled for six months only and handed the powers to Muawiyah I in order to unite the Muslims again.
- 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.
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- Abdul Hamid II – The last Ottoman Sultan to rule with absolute power.
- Abdülmecid II – The last Caliph of the Ottoman Dynasty, the 101st Caliph in line from Caliph Abu Bakr and nominally the 37th Head of the Ottoman Imperial House.
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- 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."
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- 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."
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