Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Currently, one individual, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, claims the title of the Caliph of all Muslims. He also claims descend from Mohammed's tribe.

USA has offered $25 million on his head though. No one has been able to capture him or kill him.
Nov 2016
Quote from a post of mine in another thread ("Historical generalizations of Shiites and Sunnis"):

The original question in the Sunni-Shiite conflict is who is allowed to succeed the religious founder Muhammad and in what way. Mohammed had left no instructions for the mode of succession at his death in 632. Several men competed for the coveted position, including Mohammed's father-in-law, Abu Bakr, and Mohammed's son-in-law Ali. The race was won by Abu Bakr, Mohammed's first supporter and most devoted follower. He called himself "Successor of the Messenger of God", which later gave rise to the Caliph term. A ´Caliph´ was thus a leader of the Muslim community elected by an assembly. Ali, who was regarded by his minority followers as a legal successor because - they believed - Allah had chosen him as Muhammad's son-in-law, did not succeed until the election of the fourth caliph (after Muhammad). He was poisoned five years after he took office.

From this conflict grew the division of the Muslim community into Sunnis and Shiites, the former the followers of a caliphate on the basis of a vote on the ´best´ Muslim, the latter the followers of the so-called Imamat on the basis of the bloodline, starting from Mohammed's daughter Fatima (wife of Ali) as the succession of all imams. A caliph is mainly a secular leader, an imam a spiritual leader. According to Shiite ideology, an imam manifests the ´blissful light´ of Muhammad and Ali, who are seen as incarnations of a pre-existent divine light (nur). Extreme Shiites think Muhammad to have existed already before Adam. So it says in one of their holy books, the Buyruk: "The Messenger of Allāh said: ´I was a Prophet while Adam was still between the water and the clay.´" However, the Sunnis rigorously reject the idea that imams are carriers of heavenly light, they insist on the human leadership of a caliph.
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Mar 2015

From 1516AD when Selim the Grim defeated the Mameluks, the Caliphate was always held by the Ottoman Emperor.

The Ottomans had claimed the title since the 13th Century following the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols - so for a couple of centuries there were two claimants, an Abbasid in Cairo and an Ottoman in Istanbul. Selim carted off the last Abbasid and with his empire now including Mecca, the Ottomans became undisputed masters of the title to the Caliphate.

Fascinating is the fact that in return for British support in propping up the "sick man" of Europe in the 19th Century, the Ottoman Caliph\Emperor gave his spiritual support to assist British relations with their Muslim subjects in India.

This broke down in WW1 and the Kalifat Movement was born in India - see above- with Indian Muslims campaigning to stop the British abolishing the Caliphate.

However their efforts were totally undermined by Kemal Ataturk who intent on founding a secular republic, abolished the Caliphate in 1924 (until ISIL resurrected it!).

Nevertheless it is believed that the movement had some impact on the demand by Indian Muslims for separation from India.
Nov 2010
Well it's a bit like the threads asking if so and so was 'morally right in XXXAD to do so-and-so' etc

There were rules about what a Caliph was, but basically anyone who achieved a certain power and had a very high opinion of themselves could declare themselves a Caliph. Therefore at times there were several in different geographical locations, from different empires.

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