Khalīfat Allāh as a Caliph by the Power of God? To the Problem of Legitimation of Political Power in the Caliphate under the Umayyads

Igor Alekseev


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The paper of Igor Alexeyev deals with the problem of religious legitimation of supreme political power under the rule of the early Umayyads. Drawing on historiographical discussion on this problem, the author disproves widely recognized conception of an absolutely secular character of Umayyad politics. He finds additional arguments in support of a view formulated by W. Montgomery Watt and later developed by P. Crone and M. Hinds, who argued that the Umayyads developed an original political discourse to legitimate both of their calif status as mulk inherited from the third "rightly guided calif" 'Uthman b. Affan and their own voluntaristic intervention to the religious affairs and attempts to regulate a shari'a law by their own political decision by changing the title from khalifat rasul Allah (succeder of God's Messenger) to khalifat Allah (deputy of God). Basing on complicated combination of both Islamic and pre-Islamic Arab discourses Umayyads created extremely unstable political equilibrium which had collapsed at the period of the Abbasid revolution. Its collapse, however has not resulted in the absolute abolishment of such conceptions as mulk and khalifat Allah in the Islamic political discourse.


khalifat; Umayyads; political discourse; legitimization of political power; mulk


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