Most non-Muslims in the United States, when we hear the terms “Caliph” or “Caliphate” think of the current scourge on the Middle East, ISIL, and its murderous leader Al Baghdadi. But in the Muslim faith, “Caliph” simply means a successor, a deputy, to the founding prophet Muhammed. The Islamic world was ruled by a caliph for 13 centuries after the death of Muhammed in 632 until the overthrown of the last Ottoman caliph in 1924.
If you want to know more about that long history, try this two part documentary from Al Jazeera, which I found fascinating:
There is a third section yet to be released. I recognize that any 90 minute overview of a long and complex history is truncated. But given how little any of us know about the origins and belief system of 1.6 billion people around the world, I think it’s incumbent upon us to learn.
I’ve asked a devout Muslim friend of mine to view the documentary and tell me if it comports with his understanding. I’ll let you know what he says.