Explain the difference between the caliphate and the imamate.
Caliphate refers to a time when the Muslim Empire was led by caliphs. Imamate refers to the divine institution which succeeds prophet hood. Caliph means successor while Imam means leader. The Imam is divinely appointed by Allah while the Caliph is not; rather he is elected by fellow Muslims. The differences between the caliphs and Imams are seen in their roles, in society.
The Caliphs had authority over the Muslims they ruled. They made major decisions concerning war, trading and development. They gave the order on when to go battle and with whom. They ensured that the Islamic religion was spread to other territories. They built cities and mosques. They made trading deals with other caliphs and rulers.
On the other hand, an Imam is the spiritual leader. He is meant to stay in their communities; guiding and giving them spiritual advice. Imams are the protectors of the Islamic Religion. They are should be free from faults and are to be role models to the community. An Imam interprets and teaches the Quran and religious law to the community. They settle any disputes in the community.