caliph(redirected from calif)
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caliph, calif, kalif, khalif
the spiritual and secular head of the Muslim community and of the theocratic Muslim state, or caliphate. The caliphs were regarded at first as deputies of Allah’s messenger Muhammad, and later—from the time of the Umayyads—as deputies of Allah himself on this earth. Beginning with the first half of the tenth century, the title of caliph was adopted by the Fatimids and by the Umayyads in Spain, as well as by the Abbasids. After the fall of the Abbasid caliphate in the 13th century, the title was used by the heads, or sultans, of certain Muslim states (for example, the Turkish sultans) who claimed spiritual sovereignty over all the world’s Muslims. See references under .