Weren't some of the early Caliphs "elected" by some sort of Islamic Council? .................
what council and what elections Tonyt?? those alleged rightly guided Caliphs were Mr.Pbuh's father in-laws and son in-laws..
1- Abu Bakr (632-634): Abu Bakr, Muhammad's father-in-law and the father of Muhammad's most beloved wife, 'Aisha, was with Muhammad from the very beginning. Abu Bakr was Aisha's father who gave away his 9 year old child to 52 year old Prophet of Islam in a marriage. After Mohammed’s death, the leadership of the Umma (Muslim Community) was taken up by Abu Bakr, who took the title Caliph. This title, which means "successor," indicates that he was the successor to the Prophet of God. This means that he claimed all Mohammed’s political and administrative power, and that he became the religious leader. Arabia is unified under Islam by 634.
2- Umar (634-644): Hafsa bint Umar, daughter of Umar (‘Umar bin Al-Khattab), was widowed at battle of Badr when her husband Khunais ibn Hudhaifa was killed in action. Muhammad married her in 3 A.H./625 C.E. Umar, the second Caliph, lead the Muslim troops to conquer all of Arabia, and then north into Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Iran, as well as westward into Egypt and North Africa. He was murdered in 644.
3- Uthman (644-656): The third Caliph, was elected over the strong contesting by Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law Ali. Uthman finalizes the Quran Although a pious and humble man, he was a weak ruler and too much influenced by his relatives of the Umayyad clan of the Koreish tribe (who had been "late" converts to Islam). Finally, his supporters turned on him and he was killed by a mob of Muslims in 656. . Uthman thus became the fourth male to convert to Islam, after Ali, Zayd and Abu Bakr. His conversion to Islam angered his clan, the Banu Ummayyah, who strongly opposed Muhammad's teachings. The only two people who supported Uthman's decision were Saadi, one of his maternal aunts, and Umm Kulthum, who was his stepsister and who had also converted to Islam. Because of his conversion to Islam, Uthman's wives deserted him, and he subsequently divorced them. Muhammad then asked Uthman to marry his daughter Ruqayyah bint Muhammad.
4- Ali (656-661): Ali was the husband of Prophets beloved daughter Fatima., Ali became the last Rightly Guided Caliph in 656. Of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs, Ali was the only one who was a close blood relative of Mohammed. From Mohammed’s death, his followers thought that the succession should not be decided by election, but by birth. They thought that the ability to communicate with Allah was passed on in this way.
These followers were known as the "Shia" ("party") of Ali, formed the basis of what later became Shiite Islam. When Ali was elected Caliph, they believed that their views would finally dominate, but after Ali’s assassination, the leadership of the umma moved to the Umayyads.
Ali was assassinated in 661 by Muawiyah, the founder of the Umayyad Dynasty, who took his place as caliph. Muslim loyalties split, but most remained Sunnis, loyal to the Umayyad Dynasty (about 80% of Muslims). Ali's descendant led the splinter group, the Shi'ites (about 10% of Muslims). Islam Religion