by Firas Alkhateeb
6 April, 2013
Throughout Islamic history, one of the uniting aspects of the Muslim world was the caliphate. After the death of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, his close companion, Abu Bakr, was elected as the first khalifah, or caliph, of the Muslim community. His job as leader combined political power over the Muslim state as well as spiritual guidance for Muslims. It became a hereditary position, occupied at first by the Umayyad family, and later by the Abbasids. In 1517, the caliphate was transferred to the Ottoman family, who ruled the largest and most powerful empire in the world in the 1500s.
For centuries, the Ottoman sultans did not place much emphasis on their role as caliphs. It was an official title that was called in to use when needed, but was mostly neglected. During the decline of the empire in the 1800s, however, a sultan came to…
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