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The History of Government from the Earliest TimesVolume II: The Intermediate Ages$
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S. E. Finer

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207900

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207900.001.0001

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The Empire of the Caliphate (c.900)

The Empire of the Caliphate (c.900)

(p.665) 2 The Empire of the Caliphate (c.900)
The History of Government from the Earliest Times

S. E. Finer

Oxford University Press

The empire of the Caliphate was the Muslim state established by the successors (‘caliphs’) of Muhammad (d. 632). It is quite proper to call it an ‘empire’, since it fulfilled the two conditions that define that kind of polity. In the first place its populations were subjected to particularist domination, first by a tiny group of ethnic and Muslim Arabs, and later by the Muslim minority as such. Secondly, it was immense. It aggregated what had formerly been Visigothic Spain, Byzantine North Africa, Egypt and Syria, all Sassanian Iraq and Iran, and even the lands beyond it up to Samarkand and the Hindu Kush. This chapter discusses the rise and decline of the Empire of the Caliphs, strengths and weaknesses of the Empire, the nature of the polity, the territorial framework, the caliph, the central government, and the nature and limitations of the Caliphal Empire.

Keywords:   Caliphs, Muslims, polity, territorial framework, central government, Caliphal Empire

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