with the majority Sunnis over the concept of the caliphate, and asserted thatreligious authority rested with those known as imams, all directly descendedfrom the Prophet’s daughter and son-in-law. Temporal power in Shia-majority Iran was exercised by kings (“shahs”), and the Fatimid offshoot of the Shia in Egypt preferred to call themselves caliphs, like their SunniUmayyad and Abbasid predecessors. The larger Muslim states were ruled by sultans, hereditary autocrats whoderived their legitimacy from the implementation of sharia laws. EarlyMuslims did not accept the divine right of kings and considered the sharia asa means of tempering their rulers’ authority. The Ottoman Empire in Europeand the Middle East, and the Moghul Empire in India, accommodated largenon-Muslim populations within the sultanates. Sultans aided by the Ulema(religious scholars) also ruled parts of contemporary Malaysia and Indonesia.Smaller principalities, such as Yemen and the present-day Gulf States, wererun by imams, emirs, or sheikhs, all of whom paid tribute to the major sultanin the region, especially the caliph in Constantinople after the 15th century. Having lived on its own terms, and with few setbacks (such as the Mongolconquest of Baghdad in 1258), the Muslim world’s ascendancy turned into agradual decline that coincided with the rise of Europe. The Muslim worldfaced modern transformation over a relatively short time and mainly underpressure from the European powers. Unlike Europe and North America,Muslim territories did not get the opportunity to evolve into modern statesover time. The British and the French in the Arabic-speaking lands, theRussians in Central Asia, the Dutch in Indonesia, and the British in India andMalaya penetrated and occupied Muslim lands. Once their authority wasfirmly established, the Europeans governed with an iron fist, with the help of elites trained by the colonial masters. The earliest Western idea borrowed by Muslim modernizers, especially inthe 19th century, was enlightened absolutism. Administrative and militaryreform within the decaying Ottoman Empire, for example, depended largelyon the model of the enlightened despot. Numerous “partial modernizers”emerged in other parts of the Islamic world: primarily rulers who wanted tointroduce selected Western social and economic ideas and technologywithout altering the basis of political power. Some Sultans even followedEurope’s enlightened despots in introducing constitutions and assemblies of nobles, but these efforts did not go far enough for some and went too far forothers within powerful elite groups.