While the importance of the Caliphate as a political power fluctuated throughout history, the institution survived for over a thousand years. Often acting as little more than a symbolic figurehead, the formal office of Caliph remained from the death of Muhammad in 632 until the Ottoman Caliphate was formally dismantled in 1924. During the medieval period, three major caliphates succeeded each other: the Rashidun Caliphate (632–661), the Umayyad Caliphate (661–750), and the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1517). In the fourth major caliphate, the Ottoman Caliphate, the rulers of the Ottoman Empire claimed caliphal authority from 1517 and maintained Sunni Islam as the official religion. Throughout the history of Islam, a few other Muslim states, almost all hereditary monarchies, such as the Abbasid caliphs under protection of the Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) and the Ayyubid Caliphate, have claimed to be caliphates. The first caliph was Abu Bakr and the last caliph was Abdulmejid II.
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