Spawned from this question what is the requirements for becoming and remaining a Caliph (or ruler in general) according to Islam? Is there any requirement at all or whoever could reach the power and get the pledge of allegiance (even through force and intimidation) is righteous to be treated as a Caliph, rebelling against whom being forbidden?

I believe the requirements should be general such that they hold about the 4 first Caliphs as well.

  • I deleted my answer because although it looks beautiful, I think it's just a fabricated, made up list of requirements. The only real requirements that I'm sure of is Muslim and male.
    – user926
    Mar 28, 2013 at 7:19
  • 2
    @Umarbin, I see, thanks, although I believe there MUST be some requirements for those who are to govern a Muslim community. Also about the link you cited about how the Caliphs should be appointed, it says different Caliphs have been appointed differently, true but doesn't say why, or the reasons from Quran and Sunnah
    – owari
    Mar 28, 2013 at 11:27
  • How the caliph of the Muslims is appointed islamqa.info/en/ref/111836 .
    – user926
    Mar 30, 2013 at 8:07
  • see also islam.stackexchange.com/q/13022/6575 What is the difference between “Caliphate” and” Imamate”?
    – qdinar
    Sep 25, 2015 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


The Kalifah is chosen by Ahlul Ikhtiar, and the requirements of the Kalifah are the following:

  1. Must be Muslim

  2. Must be Mature

  3. Must be Sane

  4. Must be a freeman and not a slave

  5. Must be knowledgeable

  6. Must be Righteous

  7. Must be a Male/Man

  8. Have prudence in opinion/ Wisdom

  9. Must have firm qualities, like bravery and fairness

  10. Must have a healthy body and strength

  11. Must not have extreme care or want for the position

إِنَّا وَاللَّهِ لاَ نُوَلِّي عَلَى هَذَا الْعَمَلِ أَحَدًا سَأَلَهُ وَلاَ أَحَدًا حَرَصَ عَلَيْهِ

We do not appoint to this position one who asks for it nor anyone who is covetous for the same

صحيح مسلم (Sahih Muslim 1733 c)

  1. Must be from Quraish

إِنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ فِي قُرَيْشٍ، لاَ يُعَادِيهِمْ أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ كَبَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ، مَا أَقَامُوا الدِّينَ

Authority of ruling will remain with Quraish, and whoever bears hostility to them, Allah will destroy him, as long as they abide by the laws of the religion

صحيح بخاري (Sahih al-Bukhari 3500)

Sources: al-eman.com


As Mujahid (مجاهد) has pointed out, there are various lists of qualifications in old sources. All the Sunni law schools agree that the Imam/khalifa must be from the family of the Prophet (ahl al-bayt), in the sense that he must at the very least be from the Quraysh. This invalidates the spurious claim of the Ottomon sultans to be caliphs (to say nothing of more recent claimants.)

  • "All the Sunni law schools agree that the imam/khalifa must be from the family of the Prophet (ahl al-bayt)". Do you have a proof for that?
    – Artus
    Feb 26, 2015 at 12:54
  • 1
    al-Ghazali discusses it in his المستظهري
    – aasheq
    Feb 26, 2015 at 15:14
  • Ok, but you said all the sunni law schools agree. Do you have any evidence that all the four madhabs agree on this? al-Ghazali (ra) is just one Sunni scholar.
    – Artus
    Feb 26, 2015 at 15:25

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