World History

Caliphate | History, Empire, Meaning, Facts & Definition

What is the Caliphate?

The Muslim authority that ruled the Islamic Empire in the Middle Ages was known as the Caliphate. The Caliphate ruled over areas of Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia for a very long time. Its trade and culture had a significant impact on the civilised world, bringing Islam to new people and advancing science, technology, and education.

Who was the Caliphate’s ruler?

The term “caliph,” which means “successor,” was used to refer to the head of the Caliphate. The caliph, who presided over the Muslim world as both its religious and political head, was seen as the Prophet Muhammad’s successor.

And when did it start?

Following the passing of Muhammad in 632 CE, the Caliphate took effect. Caliph Abu Bakr was Muhammad’s first successor. Rashidun Caliphate is the name historians currently give to the first Caliphate.

Initial Four Caliphs

The first four caliphs of the Islamic Empire formed the Rashidun Caliphate. Rashidun is Arabic for “rightly guided.” The reason why the first four caliphs were referred to be “rightly guided” was because they were all close friends of the Prophet Muhammad and received their education in Islam directly from him.

From 632 to 661 CE, the Rashidun Caliphate ruled for 30 years. Abu Bakr, Umar Ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, and Ali ibn Abi Talib were the First Four Caliphs.

Important Caliphate

Umayyad (661–750) –
The Islamic Empire rapidly grew to encompass much of northern Africa, western India, and Spain when the Umayyad Caliphate was in power. It was one of the biggest empires in global history at its height.

Abbasid period (750–1258, 1261–1517 CE) –
In 750 CE, the Abbasids toppled the Umayyads and founded the Abbasid Caliphate. Early Abbasid dynasty was a period of cultural and scientific advancement. The Islamic Golden Age is another name for it. Baghdad, the Abbasid Caliphate’s capital, was sacked by the Mongols in 1258, and the caliph was assassinated. The Caliphate was then reinstated by the Abbasids, who then relocated to Cairo in Egypt. However, the Caliphate had little influence in politics moving forward.

Ottoman (1517-1924) –
According to most historians, the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of Cairo, Egypt, in 1517 CE marked the beginning of the Ottoman Caliphate. Until Mustafa Ataturk, the first President of Turkey, destroyed the Caliphate in 1924, the Ottomans upheld their claim to be the Islamic Caliphate.

Caliphate collapses

On the fall of the Islamic Caliphate, historians disagree. The Mongols’ victory against the Abbasids in Baghdad in 1258 CE, according to many, marked the end of the Caliphate. Others place the conclusion at the founding of Turkey in 1924.

Sunni and Shia Muslims

Shia and Sunni Muslims are one of the main groups within the Islamic faith. When the first Caliph was chosen, this division got its start very early in the history of Islam. The Caliph should be a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, according to Shia, but Sunnis believed that the Caliph should be chosen.

Interesting information about the Islamic Empire’s Caliphate

The Fatimid Caliphate, the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba, and the Almohad Caliphate were among the caliphs who claimed the caliphate under the Abbasid Caliphate.

The Umayyad Caliphate, the first Islamic dynasty, was when the caliphate was became hereditary.

The English word “caliph” is derived from the Arabic word “khalifah.”

Protecting the Islamic holy towns of Mecca and Medina was one of the Caliph’s duties.