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A caliphate (Arabic: خِلافة‎{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} khilāfa) is a form of Islamic government led by a caliph (Arabic: خَليفة‎{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} khalīfah About this sound pronunciation )—a person considered a political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire Muslim community.<ref name=":0" /> The Rashidun caliphs, who directly succeeded Muhammad as leaders of the Muslim community, were chosen through shura, a process of community consultation that some consider an early form of Islamic democracy.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> During the history of Islam after the Rashidun period, many Muslim states, almost all of them hereditary monarchies, have claimed to be caliphates.<ref name=":0" />

The Sunni branch of Islam stipulates that, as a head of state, a Caliph should be elected by Muslims or their representatives (in practice, however, this devolved into a hereditary monarchic system soon after the beginning of Islam) and from Quraysh.<ref name="2muslims">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Followers of Shia Islam, however, believe a Caliph should be an Imam chosen by God from the Ahl al-Bayt (the "Family of the House", Muhammad's direct descendants).

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant declared its governmental structure a 'caliphate' on June 29, 2014 after taking control of large swathes of territory in Syria (which for a prolonged period of time comprised over 50% of that country<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>) and Iraq.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }} </ref>

Caliphate sections
Intro   Etymology   Rashidun Caliphate (632\u2013661)  Umayyad Caliphate (661\u2013750)  Abbasid Caliphate (750\u20131258, 1261\u20131517)  Ottoman Caliphate (1517\u20131924)  Sokoto Caliphate (1804\u20131903)  Khilafat Movement (1919\u201324)   Sharifian Caliphate (1924\u201325)   Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (2014\u2013present)  Non-political caliphates   Religious basis    Period of dormancy    Government   Difference between caliphate and democracy    Notable caliphs    See also    Notes    References    Further reading    External links   

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