The word caliph comes from the Arabic word khal fah, meaning "successor." Thus, the caliphs, as successors of Muhammad, claimed to rule in his name according to an inherited authority. The caliphs were chosen from members of Muhammad's Quraysh tribe until the 16th century, when Muslim rule was transferred to a Turkish caliph in the Ottoman Empire.

See... Caliphate

Ca"liph (?), n. [OE. caliphe, califfe, F. calife (cf. Sp. califa), fr. Ar. khalifan successor, fr. khalafa to succed.]

Successor or vicar; -- a title of the successors of Mohammed both as temporal and spiritual rulers, now used by the sultans of Turkey,

[Written also calif.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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