This chapter discusses the political, historical, and institutional aspects of the caliphate. The term “caliphate” is most commonly restricted to five periods or dynasties: the Rightly Guided Caliphate (632–61), the Umayyad caliphate (661–750), the Abbasid caliphate (750–1258 and 1261–1517), the Fatimid caliphate (909–1171), and the Umayyad caliphate of Córdoba (928–1031). Throughout the centuries, however, various other rulers have made claims to the caliphate or adopted the caliphal titulature—that is, one or more titles usually associated with caliphs. The first four successors of the Prophet Muhammad are usually called the Rightly Guided Caliphs. But those Muslims who do not accept the legitimacy of some of these rulers refrain from applying this expression to them.
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