The Caliph

The Caliph

2016, History  -    -  Playlist 18 Comments
Ratings: 7.15/10 from 126 users.

Al Jazeera's ambitious new three-part documentary series The Caliph pieces together a rich history that officially endured over the course of thirteen centuries. At times, this history has been perverted for savage purposes, as seen in recent years with the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and their self-aggrandizing resurrection of its own caliphate. In spite of this troubling development, the role of the caliph has long represented an essential and sacred component of Islamic culture.

The film's first segment deals with the foundation of this tradition, which began with the death of the Prophet Muhammad in the year 632. The caliphs, a title whose literal translation means successor or deputy, were chosen to carry on his efforts to build a strong and thriving Islamic State. Renowned scholars of Islamic history recount how these early leaders spread their new religion to various regions within and beyond the Arabian Peninsula, and built the world's largest empire in the process.

Great division enters the equation in the film's second segment. The origins of this conflict were first rooted in the aftermath of the Prophet Muhammad's death as disagreements erupted over his eventual successors. This led to two separate denominations of the religion known as Sunni and Shia. Throughout history, the tensions between these two sects have persisted, and they continue to inspire tremendous turmoil in the Middle East to this day.

The third segment recalls the decline and the official end of the Caliphate. The Ottoman Empire first adopted the Caliphate in the 1300s. But in 1924, as the empire fell, the victorious Turkish Republic abolished the entity and exiled its most prominent and vocal supporters. As these populations dispersed and scattered across various surrounding territories, the notion of a supreme leader for a united Islamic society became untenable.

The Caliph takes viewers on an amazing journey populated by fascinating characters, brutal wars, and a heritage of belief that is often misinterpreted in our present climate of unrest. Clocking in at nearly three hours and packed with dense historical insights, this hugely impressive film provides an exhaustive look inside a topic of great importance.

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cris Sale
2 years ago

What's the difference of Caliphate and the Christian crusade? Of Osama Bn Laden vs. Constantine? I suppose the only difference is that Osama Bn Laden was able to hijack a plane to explode the World Trade Center. I bet, if only aeroplane was available during Constantine's time, he would definitely use it against the Jews instead of the rusty sword. All Religion claims on Love & Peace, but only idiots can now believe it. Religion & God is all about conquer and Power to oppress the powerless. History 101.

Nishant Avasthi
5 years ago

Fighting slaughtering each year each month each day.. Religion of peace indeed !!

5 years ago

I share similar assessments with Sid and Danial with more to be said Christians were definitely more ruthless and barbaric throughout the history, they still are..

5 years ago

I want to write something about Nemesis you’re a person full of hatred very bad person.

5 years ago

This documentary, by Al Jazeera, is nothing but a propaganda that tries to spread lies about the early caliphate that it was a great model of spiritual leadership. The early caliphs were themselves bloody, greedy and very racists in support of their own tribes and family members.

6 years ago

Why there is nothing about the siege of Constantinople 717-718 in this film? This is when the arab expansion in Europe was rely stopped.

6 years ago

Gloria, just to point out, this documentary is in no way, shape or form 'unbiased'. Al Jazeera is state owned (by Qatar) and is hence funded by the state. A state, may I add, that has been linked, directly or indirectly, to funding/arming ISIS and other radical Islamic gangs.

I have not watched the documentary and have no intention to, but people must understand that this ISN'T unbiased.

6 years ago

Islam as a theology and spiritual movement was born with Prophet (pbuh). Power hungry Ummayads, siezed every opportunity to over shadow Prophets (pbuh) legacy once he was gone. They turned Islam into a political anarchy post Prophet (pbuh). The people who attempted to remind the all powerful caliphs the legacy , were crushed and branded as heuristics or Shia. Shia political movement was the direct challenge to caliph's authority to rule in the name of Allah. However we saw what they did, eventually causing chaos that convulated the spiritual and theological message of Quran and proclaimed their political rule as part of Allah's will. What confuses people after centuries is this mix of political corruption into the theology and then they made all attempts under Abbasids caliphate to rewrite history. It's important to detach political Islam from its theological and spiritual teachings (as told by prophet(pbuh)), and then see the clarity. I would say just read history from different sources and make your own judgement as who was who. It's a great religion with worst followers. Read Quran with translations but be careful of interpretations this is where confusions are caused by clergy over centuries. It's just a very simple religion with no complexity at all.

6 years ago

This is a suburb documentary, and an eye-opener and enlightener, If I can say that? Myself, being a Muslim, this documentary perhaps concerns me more than most of the viewers. Viewing the current state of affairs in the Islamic world and all those terrorist groups fighting in the name of Allah and his messenger, I get to know actually where the root of all this happens to exist.

Thankfully, being gifted with a deep philosophical and reasoning mind, the tell-a-tale of Islam which is usually told by the clergies (Mullah) in those Islamic nations where the literacy rate is too low to question anything, is much fabricated and a distorted version of Islamic history.

For my part, I now fully believe and comprehend that Islam, in its full puritanical sense, started at the birth of Prophet Muhammad and ended with his death. Whatever the events and expeditions we have after the Prophet is actually a history of greedy, bloodthirsty, barbaric, political propagandist, and mostly immoral people, using the name of a religion for their own political and financial gains. But then every great civilization on Earth has used the same means to progress their power and influence on a large scale, right? And the descendants of Prophet, contrary to the extra-glorified version, are as similar as any other ruthless barbarians of the Middle Ages or pre-Middle Ages.

I would much like if common people of Pakistan view such enlightening critical studies so that they can come out of those lies which are being fed to them since generations about the glorification of Prophet's companions and early Muslim rulers.

6 years ago

fantastic docu

6 years ago

Where are parts 2 and 3?

7 years ago

Very interesting docu. It seems that Islam is more of a political movement than a religion (without wanting to insult).

7 years ago

I appreciate knowing better the history of others especially presented in an unbiased manner such as documentaries. I spread the word that this resource is here. Thank you Top Documentary Films.

LeeJai Cook
7 years ago

Thanks to this marvelous documentary, I feel that I have a much better understanding of Islam and its stormy history. Many thanks.