Caliphate: The History of an Idea by Hugh Kennedy

By Hugh Kennedy

In Caliphate, Islamic historian Hugh Kennedy dissects the assumption of the caliphate and its historical past, and explores the way it grew to become used and abused at the present time. opposite to well known trust, there's no one enduring definition of a caliph; fairly, the belief of the caliph has been the topic of continuing debate and transformation over the years. Kennedy deals a grand heritage of the caliphate because the starting of Islam to its smooth incarnations. Originating within the tumultuous years following the demise of the Mohammad in 632, the caliphate, a politico-religious procedure, flourished within the nice days of the Umayyads of Damascus and the Abbasids of Baghdad. From the seventh-century Orthodox caliphs to the nineteenth-century Ottomans, Kennedy explores the tolerant rule of Umar, recounts the nerve-racking homicide of the caliph Uthman, dubbed a tyrant by means of many, and revels within the flourishing arts of the golden eras of Abbasid Baghdad and Moorish Andalucía. Kennedy additionally examines the trendy destiny of the caliphate, unraveling the British political schemes to spur dissent opposed to the Ottomans and the ominous efforts of Islamists, together with ISIS, to reinvent the heritage of the caliphate for his or her personal malevolent political ends.

In exploring and explaining the good number of caliphs who've governed in the course of the a while, Kennedy demanding situations the very slender perspectives of the caliphate propagated by means of extremist teams at the present time. An authoritative new account of the dynasties of Arab leaders in the course of the Islamic Golden Age, Caliphate lines the history—and misappropriations—of one of many world's so much effective political ideas.

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Extra info for Caliphate: The History of an Idea

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Nass had very little theoretical or ideological underpinning compared with either election or heredity, but in practice it was the most common way in which the office was passed down through the generations. It gave the green light, so to speak, for the concept of dynastic succession. The first question – how was the caliph to be chosen – was inextricably bound up with the second: what should the caliph do and how extensive should his powers be? There was a whole spectrum here between those who held that the caliph was essentially a God-king, the equal or even superior of the Prophet Muhammad, and those who believed that he should be more of a primus inter pares or chief executive of the Muslim community, with no more direct connection with the Almighty than any other Muslim.

Or is it a concept that we can interpret and use today? In this book I shall try to answer these questions. The concept of caliphate has had many different interpretations and realizations through the centuries, as we shall see, but fundamental to them all is that it offers an idea of leadership which is about the just ordering of Muslim society according to the will of God. Some have argued that the caliph is the shadow of God on earth, a man whose authority is semi-divine and whose conduct is without blame; many more would accept that the caliph was, so to speak, the chief executive of the umma, the Muslim community, an ordinary human with worldly powers, and there is a wide spectrum of ideas in between.

The exact significance of the word is lost beyond recovery, and the Muslim tradition does not discuss it in any detail, but it is evidence that the caliph had made a deep impression on Muslim and non-Muslim alike. UTHMĀN AND THE FIRST CRISIS OF THE CALIPHA As Umar lay dying, he turned his attention to the arrangements for the choosing of his successor. The choices of Abū Bakr and Umar himself had been, to say the least, informal. Essentially Abū Bakr had been chosen by Umar and others of the muhājirūn while Umar in turn seems to have been nominated by Abū Bakr.

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