Choosing the next leader in any organization is a vital part of its growth and future. As demonstrated in history, it may be a rigorous process that can be tainted with rebellion and misunderstandings. but it reinforces the point that everything under the sun is subject to being led.


In relation to this, specifically in Islam, when the word “leader” comes out, we immediately think of a “caliph” or “caliphate”. Caliph or Khalifa in Arabic means “successor”. In the history of Islam, it refers to a Muslim community leader and in the Holy Quran, it means “God’s steward” or vice-regent”. The term “caliph” became eminent during the death of Prophet Mohammad, although he was considered as the first ruler of the Muslims. During his death in 632 AD, the Muslims from Mecca and Medina gathered to choose his successor between Abu Bakr and Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah. In the end, Abu Bakr became elected as the first caliph or ruler of Muslim population. Abu Bakr’s title was Khalifat rasul Allah which means “Successor of the Messenger of God”. He was succeeded by three other caliphs – ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab or ‘Umar I, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, and ‘Ali. All of the first four caliphs were named as Khulafa Rashidin or “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” and also known as “The Perfect Caliphs.”


According to The Conversation website, the Perfect Caliphs were chosen by three different methods: public election, designation by a previous caliph, and assigning a caliph by council. Moreover, according to some Muslim scholars, ancient Arab custom of selecting caliph is by way of selecting the chief of tribe. This was done during the pre-Islamic era. However, in the case of the Perfect Caliphs, the consultation or al-Shura was made. During that time, Muslims heavily relied on this matter in selecting their next caliph. Contrary to this, some of the succeeding caliphs were chosen by way of dynastic rule.


The caliph succession was abolished on March 03, 1924 by the Turkish Republic. The last caliph was Abdulmejid II of the Ottoman Empire and the only Caliph of the Republic of Turkey.