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Islamic caliphate

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Social Studies High School

Muslim Sunnis and Shiites and the History of the Caliphate

The Muslim religion is 1,400 years old and is divided into two major groups: the Sunnis and the Shiites. Sunnis make up almost 90% of the world's Muslims. Sunnis refer to a Muslim kingdom that is ruled by descendants of the prophet Mohammed, as the “caliphate.” The former Ottoman empire was considered a caliphate, and it is generally accepted that there has not been a caliphate in the Muslim world for nearly one hundred years. Recently, the Muslim extremists calling themselves ISIS, or the Islamic State, declared the beginning of a new caliphate and declared a spiritual leader, or caliph. This interview with a historian weighs in on the likelihood of ISIS's claim on religious authority becoming reality. Listen to learn more about what a caliphate is, why ISIS declared a new caliphate, and how likely it is to succeed.

Religion Middle East World History I Politics

Story Length: 4:00

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National Public Radio © 2014 National Public Radio, Inc. Used with the permission of NPR. All rights reserved.

AIR DATE: 07/01/2014

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