The Caliph

Aug 31, 2023 | History, Videos

Al Jazeera’s three-part documentary series The Caliph offers viewers an exploration of the Islamic caliphate – a practice that has officially been in existence for over thirteen centuries. Throughout history, the caliph has represented an essential part of Islamic culture and identity. This documentary takes viewers on a journey through time, exploring its foundation, divisions, and decline.

The first segment of The Caliph focuses on the tradition’s foundation following Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632. Renowned scholars take us back to this time to explain how leaders chosen as successors (caliphs), spread Islam to regions across the Arabian Peninsula and beyond, leading to the creation of the world’s largest empire. In addition, this segment looks at how disagreements over succession sparked tensions between two sects (Sunni and Shia) which still cause turmoil in the Middle East today.

The third segment details the decline and official end of this empire with its dissolution into the Ottoman Empire in 1300s and its abolishment by the Turkish Republic in 1924. Through archival footage and interviews with historians, The Caliph sheds light on how powerful Islamic populations were scattered throughout various lands after its fall, making it impossible for a unified Islamic society to exist again.

This ambitious documentary brings together centuries of history into an incredibly comprehensive look at one of Islam’s most important traditions. It features insight from renowned scholars as well as archival footage which helps bring this rich history alive on screen. Anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Islam’s past will be deeply engaged by The Caliph – it is an educational experience not to be missed!

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David B