Discuss the period of Islamic history known as the caliphate. What was the crisis of leadership and authority during this period, what challenges and setbacks did the early caliphs face, and what were their achievements?

The caliphate is a political and religious state of the Muslim society after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (632CE). A caliph who held spiritual authority ruled the Muslim community. The caliphate is known to be the purest state of the Islamic religion and it spread rapidly during its first two centuries to North Africa, Spain and Southwest Asia. Power struggles and wars eventually brought the Caliphate’s end in 1258.
After the demise of Prophet Muhammad, there was a need for a new political and religious leader. The Muslim elders chose Prophet Muhammad’s father in law, Abu Bakr to be the caliph. Several factors played into choosing the new caliph including that he had to be from the Quraysh tribe just like Muhammad. Uthman later succeeded Abu Bakr and then Ali took over after Uthman. These four caliphs made many accomplishments during their reign. They managed to establish the judicial and administrative organization of the Islamic society. They carried forward Prophet Muhammad’s policy of expanding the Muslim religion into new regions. Due to these four caliphs, the Islamic faith spread to Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, North Africa, Persia and Armenian. This was all done during the 630s and 640s.

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