The caliphate is known as the political-religious state that includes the Muslim community and the lands and peoples that are under its rule in the centuries that followed the death of the Prophet Muhammad . The caliphate, which is ruled by a caliph , which in Arabic is written khalīfah and which means “successor” , possessed a temporal power and sometimes also a spiritual power , causing the empire of the caliphate to grow rapidly through the conquest during its first two centuries to include most of Southwest Asia , North Africaand Spain . Later dynastic struggles led to its  decline  and it ceased to exist as a functioning political institution with the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258 .


What is the caliphate?

It is a political system represented as a sovereign state of the Muslim faith through a caliph and under Islamic law . It is a political system of Islam that represents unity to the leader of the Muslim community.

  • What is a caliphate?
  • History
  • Characteristics of a caliphate
  • goals
  • Advantage
  • Disadvantages
  • How it differs from an emirate
  • Importance
  • Examples of caliphate

What is a caliphate?

A caliphate consists of a type of political system that is based on the ideology of Islam . It is based on the caliph who is the successor of the prophet as the head of the nation and the leader of the ” umma “ or in other words, of the Muslim community and is in charge of applying the law of Islam in the villages.



After the prophet Muhammad died in the year 632, his followers decided to create a caliphate as a new form of government , because Muhammad did not leave any male child as his successor, which caused a crisis to be able to designate his successor . The caliph is then the successor of the prophet as head of the nation and we are the sole leader of the ” umma “, which is the community of Muslims, and it is the caliph who has the power to apply Islamic law in Islam .

This situation generated a political crisis that was resolved with the election of Abu Bakr , father-in-law of the prophet and in charge of leading the prayer as the first caliph . Abu Bakr ruled for two years, and before being assassinated appointed Omar , who was also assassinated ten years later. He was succeeded by Otman and finally Ali, cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, assumed the caliphate.

Historically, the capital of the caliphate has been changing as it expanded. Medina , Kufa , Damascus , Baghdad and Istanbul have been capitals of the Islamic caliphate, and the caliphs have been of several different tribes and races, but always radical Muslims.

Characteristics of a caliphate

The main characteristics that we can see in a caliphate are:

  • It is led through a caliph .
  • The Caliph is the title given to the delegates and successors of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • The caliphs were in charge of leading the Muslim people , but they were not considered as prophets .
  • The first caliphate that existed was the so-called Orthodox Caliphate .
  • Its economy was sustained in many occasions in the minting of the currency , the agriculture and the crafts .
  • On a political level , the caliphate was so important that many kingdoms paid tribute to it.


The aim of the caliphate was to continue the legacy that Muhammad had left when he died. At present, this organization is in charge of collecting taxes, dominating farms and oil facilities with the aim of maintaining and sustaining the war in Iraq .


The main advantage of the caliphate was to be able to unite all Muslims in a single group under the rule of a single chief in order to continue with the teachings of Muhammad . It represents the ideal Islamic state in which saria was the state law of the umma.


The main disadvantage is that now there are struggles among Muslims to determine who has power. These wars have brought great poverty , disease , repression and deaths in many places that today are fighting for power.

How it differs from an emirate

The emirate is a territory that is under the administration and mandate of a prince , it is a type of monarchy  that is very characteristic to observe in the Middle East and the Arab World. The caliphate is a political system that bases its ideology on Islam and is a government regime where a caliph who is a Muslim political leader rules . The emirate then in a political territory ruled by a prince and the caliphate is a political system run by a Muslim .


Its importance to its people is based on the desire of Muslims to create an idealized Muslim community . Furthermore, the long-term religious aspiration of the caliphate focuses on forming strategies against radicalization . In Islamic history it was important because it managed to bring together a large number of peoples of different cultures and formed a single civilization and was also the intermediary between Western Europe and the Asian world.

Examples of caliphate

Currently there are different Muslim groups that are actively seeking to obtain a caliphate, although there are several differences in the way they conceive it. These groups include Al Qaeda, IS, Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the Muslim Brotherhood . Some of the groups are more nationalistic than global in orientation , as in the case of the Taliban and Hamas , who also seek to establish Islamic states .

Leave a Comment