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The Ottoman Caliphate was abolished in 1924 by a reform from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and then the title was claimed by Hejaz. Soon, however, the kingdom was annexed by the neighbor Nejd, the two of them later to form Saudi Arabia.

In a summit in 1926 in Cairo, there was a question of revival of the Caliphate, but no one was interested.

My question is, then, why is the title never again reclaimed by any Muslim state?

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Gamal Abdel Nasser's United Arab Republic in the 1950's was a de facto attempt to form a secular Caliphate. – Pieter Geerkens Mar 14 '14 at 15:44
What do you mean by "the title was claimed by Hejaz"? Who was the specific leader who proclaimed himself Caliph? – Felix Goldberg Mar 18 '14 at 12:47
How about this - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldwide_Caliphate ? – Felix Goldberg Mar 18 '14 at 12:48
@FelixGoldberg I mean by the King Hussein bin Ali, who was at that time the ruler of Hejaz en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – vonPetrushev Mar 18 '14 at 14:44
up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to Shia Muslims the only current legitimate Caliph selected by Allah is Imam Mahdi a.s. but he is now at occultation. so because Muslims recognize him as Caliph so no Shia Muslims claim this title. Shia Muslims believe according to different verses of Quran only Allah has the right to select his own Caliph on earth. because Caliph means deputy and representative of Allah in earth and only Allah can select his own representative.

And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, "Indeed, I will make upon the earth a Caliph." They said, "Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?" Allah said, "Indeed, I know that which you do not know." http://tanzil.net/#2:30

In this verse God says "I" select Caliph.

Also other verses say God selects Caliph.

Shia Mulslims believe during occultation times Wali Faqih undertakes the duties of Caliph. the current Wali Faqih of shia Muslims is Imam Khamenei.

Reference and more study:

Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist

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What is "occultation"? – Mark C. Wallace Mar 19 '14 at 8:47
@MarkC.Wallace means living while being hided from public to not be killed like his 11 fathers: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fourteen_Infallibles – Battle of Karbala Mar 19 '14 at 10:27
Can you also provide the Sunni viewpoint? – vonPetrushev Mar 20 '14 at 18:01
This is a good answer buit I also wonder why none of the Sunni state leaders did that, since they don't face the same religious restriction. – DVK May 9 '14 at 14:34

I have two theories as to why the caliphate was not reclaimed (as of yet). Before stating those i would like to point out that the abolishing of the caliphate by Ataturk has nothing to do with why it is still not reinstated. With that said:

  1. The word caliph actually means successor of mohammad. This would pose multiple problems to an ideology already plagued by them in the form of divisions, sects misinterpretations and so on. Furthermore, religious radical fundamentalists being the heads of most islamic states, it is hard to see how a claim to such a title could peacefully pass unchallenged.

  2. Islam has no (human) authority (like for instance a pope), who can be burdened with unanswered questions pertaining to its doctrines and regulations. This is also one of the biggest problems with islam. Namely, why can't muslims decide who is the "good type" of muslim and who is not? Who can say ? And yet all have the right to claim righteousness.

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How is #2 different from other religions? The pope has very little authority outside his own (very large) Christian sect, after all. – Alex P Mar 18 '14 at 10:32

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