By Hugh Kennedy
In exploring and explaining the good number of caliphs who've governed through the a while, Kennedy demanding situations the very slender perspectives of the caliphate propagated via extremist teams this present day. 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 such a lot effective political ideas.
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Additional resources for Caliphate: The History of an Idea
After the death of Muhammad in 632, the Muslim community was confronted with an unprecedented situation. There were no guidelines to be sought in the past for the mission of Muhammad, and his reception by the Muslims had made the pre-Islamic past irrelevant anyway, except as an awful warning of how not to behave and order society. Equally the practices of the great Roman and Persian monarchies could not be adduced because they had rejected the teachings of the Prophet and been defeated and, in the case of the Persian monarchy, destroyed by the Muslims with God’s support.
Some people, however, disagreed, arguing that the full title was always, and should be, ‘successor of the Messenger of God’ (khalīfat rasūl Allah), which must mean successor of Muhammad. This difference mattered, and still does. If the caliph was deputy of God he had a quasi-divine status and authority which all Muslims should support and respect. If, on the other hand, he was simply the successor to Muhammad, that carried much less weight. He could not be a prophet, since Muhammad had been the last of those, so he must be an ordinary man who fulfilled some of the secular and administrative functions that the Messenger of God had performed in his lifetime.
None of the sources spell this out. No one at this early stage explained exactly what they had in mind in writing. Instead we have to deduce and infer from the evidence presented in the reports we find in later chronicles, records of public discussions, always polemical, letters and poetry. Of these, the poetry is in some ways the most valuable. This is because it probably adheres most closely to the usages of the time. While it is possible to edit both narratives and letters to reflect later language, it is hard to do so within the strict and formal metres of classical Arabic poetry without doing obvious violence to the text.
Caliphate: The History of an Idea by Hugh Kennedy