Define Caliphate

Learn about the history and features of a caliphate, with examples and case studies. Explore the statistics on support for a caliphate among Muslims worldwide.

What is a Caliphate?

A caliphate is an Islamic state led by a caliph, who is considered a political and religious successor to the Prophet Muhammad. The caliphate system originated in the early days of Islam and was established to govern Muslim territories and communities.

History of Caliphates

The first caliphate was the Rashidun Caliphate, followed by the Umayyad Caliphate, Abbasid Caliphate, and Ottoman Caliphate. Each caliphate had its own unique characteristics and spanned different regions and time periods.

Features of a Caliphate

  • Political and religious leadership
  • Sharia law as the legal system
  • Expansion of Muslim territories

Examples of Caliphates

One of the most well-known caliphates was the Abbasid Caliphate, which established Baghdad as its capital and was known for its advancements in science, art, and literature. Another example is the Ottoman Caliphate, which lasted until the early 20th century.

Case Studies

The rise of ISIS in the 21st century led to the establishment of a self-proclaimed caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria. ISIS sought to expand its territory and impose its extremist interpretation of Islam on the population.


According to a Pew Research Center report, the majority of Muslims around the world do not support the idea of a caliphate. However, there are still groups and individuals who advocate for the restoration of a caliphate.

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