Demystifying the Caliphate


Madawi Al-Rasheed, Carool Kersten, and Marat Shterin (eds), Demystifying the Caliphate (Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2013)

In the Western imagination, the Islamic Caliphate is often linked to acts of beheading, stoning, and discrimination against women and non-Muslim minorities. Rallies in support of resurrecting the Caliphate seem deserving of derision and are believed to be the first steps toward the dismantling of the democratic state. Yet while some Muslims may be nostalgic for the Caliphate, very few are actively making its return a reality. The Caliphate serves more as a powerful symbol and slogan, evoking an imagined past and an ideal Islamic polity. It is also a vastly unstable concept contested by a number of powerful actors within Europe, the Muslim world, and beyond.

The essays in this collection demystify the Caliphate for modern readers, clarifying the historical rumors surrounding the demise of the last Ottoman Caliphate and the contemporary controversies informing the call to resurrect it. Contributors include impartial historians and social scientists who concentrate on the fundamental aspects of the Caliphate and unpack its lingering presence in the minds of diverse Muslims. From London to the Northern Caucasus, from Jakarta to Baghdad and Istanbul, contributors explore the Caliphate within the context of global and globalized publics and against the new reality of the Muslim umma as a multifaceted community.

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