caliphateˈkæl əˌfeɪt, -fɪt, ˈkeɪ lə-
the era of Islam's ascendancy from the death of Mohammed until the 13th century; some Moslems still maintain that the Moslem world must always have a calif as head of the community
"their goal was to reestablish the Caliphate"
the territorial jurisdiction of a caliph
the office of a caliph
A unified federal Islamic government for the Muslim world, ruled by an elected head of state or caliph.
A caliphate is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious as well as political leader known as a caliph. The term caliphate is often applied to successions of Muslim empires that have existed in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Conceptually the caliphate represents the political unity of the entire community of Muslim faithful ruled by a single caliph. In theory, the organization of a caliphate should be a constitutional theocracy, which means that the head of state, the Caliph, and other officials are representatives of the people and of Islam and must govern according to constitutional and religious law. In its early days, the first caliphate resembled elements of direct democracy and an elective monarchy. It was initially led by Muhammad's disciples as a continuation of the leaders and religious system the prophet established, known as the 'Rashidun caliphates'. A "caliphate" is also a state which implements such a governmental system. Sunni Islam stipulates that the head of state, the caliph, should be elected by Shura – elected by Muslims or their representatives. Followers of Shia Islam believe the caliph should be an imam chosen by God from the Ahl al-Bayt. From the end of the Rashidun period until 1924, caliphates, sometimes two at a single time, real and illusory, were ruled by dynasties. The first dynasty was the Umayyad. This was followed by the Abbasid, the Fatimid, and finally the Ottoman Dynasty.