Meaning of CALIPHATE in English


the political-religious state comprising the Muslim community and the lands and peoples under its dominion in the centuries following the death (AD 632) of the Prophet Muhammad. Ruled by a caliph (Arabic khalifah, successor), who held temporal and sometimes a degree of spiritual authority, the empire of the Caliphate grew rapidly through conquest during its first two centuries to include most of Southwest Asia, North Africa, and Spain. Dynastic struggles later brought about the Caliphate's decline, and it ceased to exist with the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258. The urgent need for a successor to Muhammad as political leader of the Muslim community was met by a group of Muslim elders in Medina who designated Abu Bakr, the Prophet's father-in-law, as caliph. Several precedents were set in the selection of Abu Bakr, including that of choosing as caliph a member of the Quraysh tribe. The first four caliphsAbu Bakr, 'Umar I, 'Uthman, and 'Aliwhose reigns constituted what later generations of Muslims would often remember as a golden age of pure Islam, largely established the administrative and judicial organization of the Muslim community and forwarded the policy begun by Muhammad of expanding the Islamic religion into new territories. During the 630s, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq were conquered; Egypt was taken from Byzantine control in 645; and frequent raids were launched into North Africa, Armenia, and Persia. The assassination of 'Uthman and the ineffectual caliphate of 'Ali that followed sparked the first sectarian split in the Muslim community. By 661 'Ali's rival Mu'awiyah I, a fellow member of 'Uthman's Umayyad clan, had wrested away the Caliphate, and his rule established the Umayyad caliphate that lasted until 750. Despite the largely successful reign of Mu'awiyah, tribal and sectarian disputes erupted after his death. There were three caliphs between 680 and 685, and only by nearly 20 years of military campaigning did the next one, 'Abd al-Malik, succeed in reestablishing the authority of the Umayyad capital of Damascus. 'Abd al-Malik is also remembered for building the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Under his son al-Walid (705715), Muslim forces took permanent possession of North Africa, converted the native Berbers to Islam, and overran most of the Iberian Peninsula as the Visigothic kingdom there collapsed. Progress was also made in the east with settlement in the Indus River valley. Umayyad power had never been firmly seated, however, and the Caliphate disintegrated rapidly after the long reign of Hisham (724743). A serious rebellion broke out against the Umayyads in 747, and in 750 the last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II, was defeated in the Battle of Great Zab by the followers of the 'Abbasid family. The 'Abbasids, descendants of an uncle of Muhammad, owed the success of their revolt in large part to their appeal to various pietistic, extremist, or merely disgruntled groups and in particular to the aid of the Shi'ites, a major dissident party that held that the Caliphate belonged by right to the descendants of 'Ali. That the 'Abbasids disappointed the expectations of the Shi'ites by taking the Caliphate for themselves left the Shi'ites to evolve into a sect, permanently hostile to the orthodox Sunnite majority, that would periodically threaten the established government by revolt. The first 'Abbasid caliph, as-Saffah (749754), ordered the elimination of the entire Umayyad clan; the only Umayyad of note who escaped was 'Abd ar-Rahman, who made his way to Spain and established an Umayyad dynasty that lasted until 1031. The period 786861, and especially the caliphates of Harun (786809) and al-Ma'mun (813833), is accounted the height of 'Abbasid rule. (See the Map.) The eastward orientation of the dynasty was demonstrated by al-Mansur's removal of the capital to Baghdad in 762763 and by the later caliphs' policy of marrying non-Arabs and recruiting Turks, Slavs, and other non-Arabs as palace guards. Under al-Ma'mun, the intellectual and artistic heritage of Iran (Persia) was cultivated, and Persian administrators assumed important posts in the Caliphate's administration. After 861, anarchy and rebellion shook the empire. Tunisia and eastern Iran came under the control of hereditary governors who made token acknowledgment of Baghdad's suzerainty. Other provinces became less reliable sources of revenue. Shi'ite and similar groups, including the Qarmatians in Syria and the Fatimids in North Africa, challenged 'Abbasid rule on religious as well as political grounds. 'Abbasid power ended in 945, when the Buyids, a family of rough tribesmen from northwestern Iran, took Baghdad under their rule. They retained the 'Abbasid caliphs as figureheads. The Samanid dynasty that arose in Khorasan and Transoxania and the Ghaznavids in Central Asia and the Ganges River basin similarly acknowledged the 'Abbasid caliphs as spiritual leaders of Sunni Islam. On the other hand, the Fatimids proclaimed a new caliphate in 920 in their capital of al-Mahdiyah in Tunisia and castigated the 'Abbasids as usurpers; the Umayyad ruler in Spain, 'Abd ar-Rahman III, adopted the title of caliph in 928 in opposition to both the 'Abbasids and the Fatimids. Nominal 'Abbasid authority was restored to Egypt by Saladin in 1171. By that time, the 'Abbasids had begun to regain some semblance of their former power, as the Seljuq dynasty of sultans in Baghdad, which had replaced the Buyids in 1055, itself began to decay. The caliph an-Nasir (11801225) achieved a certain success in dealing diplomatically with various threats from the East, but al-Musta'sim (124258) had no such success and was murdered in the Mongol sack of Baghdad that ended the 'Abbasid line in that city. A scion of the family was invited a few years later to establish a puppet caliphate in Cairo that lasted until 1517, but it exercised no power whatever.

Britannica English vocabulary.      Английский словарь Британика.