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To: oceanperch
I should explain further. Muhammad the Prophet had a large family, including at least four wives, each of which bore several children. So there was some dispute as to the proper line of succession. These disputes often turned into bloody massacres.

Less than a century after the death of the Prophet, one such bitter division resulted in the splitting of Shia and Sunni Islam. These periodic massacres effectively exterminated most of the descendants of Muhammad, and oftentimes the sole surviving male (willing to do so) would become caliph by default.

Each branch of Islam simultaneously maintained its own caliphate.

After the Turkish invasion, some scholars consider the caliphate to have passed to the Ottoman sultan or some other ecclesiastical official of the Turkish empire. No active caliphate exists today.

The only reigning successors of Muhammad today are the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and they do not use the term "caliphate." The House of Saud definitely is not related to the Prophet Muhammad, despite living in Saudi Arabia.

Nowadays, the term "caliph" is used to describe certain Muslim religious leaders, invariably pro-bin-Laden extremists. Some terrorists in Nigeria and Germany recently have identified themselves as caliphs. Most have thousands of subordinates who they treat like the Taliban treated the Afghan people.

"Caliph" is also used in some smaller religious denominations within Islam. It refers to the leader of the group, who behaves roughly analogously to an Orthodox Christian "patriarch."
15 posted on 05/01/2004 11:01:09 PM PDT by dufekin (Eliminate genocidal terrorist military dictator Kim Jong Il ASAP)
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To: dufekin
Thanks. That explains what I was clueless about the slaughtering of each other and the splinter groups.

I never had an understanding of the history and that is something the news has not explained. I just started getting so confused with all the names of the different groups.

Thanks for adding to the history lesson.
18 posted on 05/01/2004 11:16:27 PM PDT by oceanperch (King Vanity Parking Only all others will be towed)
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To: dufekin
The only reigning successors of Muhammad today are the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and they do not use the term "caliphate."

The only reigning successor or is the head of the House of the Hashemite the most direct male dependency with political power? I thought the House of Saud had a claim, but it wasn't as direct, so may have gone through a female or younger son in the line somewhere.

Then ya got that black turban, white turban deal within the leaders of the faith, with only those claiming to be descendants of Muhammad allowed to wear the black.

To put it into a different perspective, there are supposed to be *millions* of people said to descend from the 102 people on the Mayflower & the trip happened in 1620, well after polygamy was practiced by Christians. In 10 or 11 generations, we have millions of people from 102.

19 posted on 05/01/2004 11:33:53 PM PDT by GoLightly
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