Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 3 months ago

The concept of a caliph confuses me. Can anyone claim caliph? What legitimizes a caliph? Are there multiple in today’s world? ?

Also what does “a successor to Mohammed” mean? Does that mean by lineage? And therefore related to Mohammed through blood? If so, how is that possible with tons of caliphs existing today? 

2 Answers

  • 3 months ago
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    The problem of who was to be caliph was what caused the Sunni / Shia split. The caliph is head of an Islamic State, and also claims to be the politico-religious head of the whole Muslim world. Thus a Muslim could only recognise one caliph existing at any one time.

    Shias believe that the caliph must be a blood relative of Muhammad; Sunnis do not believe this. So they differ on the question of who was caliph of Islam after Muhammad's death.

    According to Sunnis the first four caliphs were Abu Bakr (father of Muhammad's child-bride Aisha), Umar, Uthman (who compiled the Quran) and Ali ibn Abi Talib. Ali was a cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad: he was the son of Muhammad's uncle, and he married Muhammad's daughter (by Muhammad's first wife, Khadijah).

    According to Shias Ali was the first caliph, not the fourth, as the first three were not related to Muhammad.

    The caliphate was in the hands of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century until it was abolished in 1924. There was no caliph for 90 years.

    In 2014 Abu Bakr (head of the Islamic State) became the caliph of all Sunni Muslims. Western Muslim clerics publicly denounced him, while secretly sending money to the Islamic state. Islamic State conquered territory in Syria and Iran, and came close to establishing a proper independent state. But surrounding countries and the USA were opposing the Islamic State.

    In 2019 the Islamic State lost its last remaining territory. Later that year Abu Bakr died when a US team tried to capture him in Syria.

    These days there is no caliph. ISIL does not control any territory, and the successor to Abu Bakr is not a caliph. But many Muslims today were inspired by ISIS and saw it as a resurrection of the golden age of Islam. So we shall probably see another caliphate in our lifetimes, with the Islamic practices of slavery, subjugation of women, execution of non-Muslims and the full literal implementation of Islamic law.

  • 3 months ago

    Anyone can claim it, but few can make a true case for it. But, no worries, since it's actually a fraudulent and totally irrelevant concept, based on falsehoods.

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