Khilafah (Caliphate)

A caliphate (خِلافة‎‎) is a region containing an Islamic steward known as a caliph and a leader of the entire Muslim community. The Rashidun caliphs, who directly succeeded Muhammad as leaders of the Muslim community, were chosen through shura, a process of community consultation. During the history of Islam after the Rashidun period, many Muslim dynasties have claimed to be caliphates the most famous being the Umayyads, Abbasids and Ottomans. The Sunni branch of Islam stipulates that, as a head of state, a caliph should be elected by Muslims or their representatives. Shias believe a caliph should be an Imam from the Ahl al-Bayt (Muhammed's direct descendants).

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