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Line breaks: ca¦liph
Pronunciation: /ˈkeɪlɪf
, ˈka-/

Definition of caliph in English:


The chief Muslim civil and religious ruler, regarded as the successor of Muhammad. The caliph ruled in Baghdad until 1258 and then in Egypt until the Ottoman conquest of 1517; the title was then held by the Ottoman sultans until it was abolished in 1924 by Atatürk.
Example sentences
  • The Omayyad dynasty of caliphs ruled from Damascus until 750, when Shiite Muslims, who descended from the caliph Ali, massacred the Omayyad family.
  • In the 7th century the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and his successors, the Umayyad caliphs, spread Islam from India to Spain.
  • The caliphs (successors of The Prophet Muhammad) ruled that couples should not be separate for more than 4 months without permission, and if they were it was grounds for divorce.


late Middle English: from Old French caliphe, from Arabic ḵalīfa meaning 'deputy (of God') (from the title ḵalīfat Allāh), or meaning 'successor (of Muhammad)' (from the title ḵalīfat rasūl Allāh 'of the Messenger of God)', from ḵalafa 'succeed'.



Example sentences
  • His son's general successfully invades Egypt, founding a caliphate there (which becomes known as the Fatimid caliphate, after the Prophet's daughter).
  • It became one of the great Muslim civilisations; reaching its summit with the Umayyad caliphate of Cordovain the tenth century.
  • Iraq subsequently became a province of the Muslim caliphate (A caliphate is the highest office within the structure of Islamic religion).

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