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Q3. Describe the Caliphate system and its role in the expansion of Muslim Kingdom?

Caliphates (khalīfah, “successor”) was temporal and spiritual authority of the Muslim world. The first four caliphs—Abu Bakr, Umar I, Uthman, and Alī, established the administrative and judicial organization of the Muslim community and expanded the Islamic religion into new territories.

As the empire grew tribal and clan form of government became increasingly inadequate.  Umayyad Dynasty (661-750) instituted some major changes; moved the capital from Mecca to central location of Damascus in Syria, introduced first Muslim coinage, improved bureaucratic changes.

The empire of the Caliphate grew rapidly through conquest during its first two centuries to include most of Southwest Asia, North Africa, and Spain. Arabs were finally stopped by the Franks at the Battle of Tours (733).  Eventually a stable frontier formed in northern Spain between the Muslim and Christian worlds. In 711 the Arabs entered northwestern India and started to establish their power there.  They also extended their rule into Central Asia and beat a Chinese army in a battle near the Talas River and helped establish Islam as the dominant religion in Central Asia.

Abbas, a governor of Persia, overthrew the Ummayads and established the Abassid Dynasty (750-945). They introduced major changes in system of governance and built the magnificent capital of Baghdad. Abbāsid power ended in 945, when the Būyids, a tribesmen from northwestern Iran, took Baghdad under their rule. They retained the Abbāsid caliphs as figureheads.

Ummayad Abd Rahman escaped and established Umayyad dynasty in Spain that lasted until 1031. Spain soon became an independent Muslim country and the Umayyad ruler in Spain, Abd ar-Ramān III, adopted the title of caliph in 928. It caused a division in Caliphate system. Spain was conquered by Christians and the Muslims expelled or converted at the end of the 15th century. The Fāimids proclaimed a new caliphate in 920 in their capital of al-Mahdīyah in Tunisia and castigated the Abbāsids as usurpers.

Though the caliphate splintered, Islam spread under various rulers to Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia, and into Indonesia. In Europe, in addition to Spain the Arabs began attacking Sicily. Muslim rule in Sicily and parts of southern Italy lasted until 1091 when they were finally expelled by the Normans under Roger I.

Dynastic struggles later brought about the Caliphate’s decline, and it ceased to exist with the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258.


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