Friday, March 11, 2011

Khalifatullah and Khalifatul Massih

Historically, the institution of Khilafat emerged within the early Muslim community with the election of Hadhrat Abu Baker Siddiq (ra) as Khalifatul Rasul after the death of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa). In the history of Islam, there has been three types of Khulafa. Like, mentioned above, the early Khulafa/Caliphs who upheld the faith and its values with sincere and complete devotion after having been taught by the Holy Prophet (sa) himself and they having spent their lives as his companions during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (sa). These caliphs- Hadhrat Abu Baker Siddiq (ra), Hadhrat Umar (ra), Hadhrat Uthman (ra) and Hadhrat Ali (ra)- are collectively known as the rightly-guided caliphs-Khulafa-ur-Rashidun. 

The second type of Khulafa are those who came after these pious caliphs. Those who came after the Khulafa-ur-Rashidun were also leaders of the Muslim Ummah, having sovereignty and political authority over the nation. While many of them practiced their religion as they understood their faith, but the Ummah in general do not consider them to be spiritual models, to be emulated like the early exemplars. They were a manifestation of the material glory of the Ummah as a political and religious community as against the other-worldly preoccupations of true saints and believers. 

The third type of Khulafa are the Divine Reformers or Mujaddidin who appeared in different lands of Islam at different points of time, in the history of Islam. They were the spiritual deputies of the Holy Prophets (sa) who were Divinely-raised, with revelations, inspirations, visions and dreams to guide the Ummah and to be the practical models of a living Islam in their respective communities. As per the Islamic tradition, Allah (swa) will raise a Mujaddid at the turn of every century to preserve the true spirit of Holy Qur'an and the Islamic teachings among the believers and this Divine scheme will continue to serve the spiritual purpose till the Day of Judgement. As these men are Divinely-ordained, they are also known as Khalifatullah or the Vicegerent of Allah. Hence, one of the titles of the Promised Massih (as) is as Khalifatullah. 

It is interesting to note that for most of Islamic history the two types of Khulafa- those who have temporal authority and those who came with Divine revelations- existed in parallel. Ahmadis are generally familiar with the situation of the Promised Massih (as). When he made the claim of being the Khalifatullah, Mujaddid, Mahdi and Massih of his age, the Turkish Sultans were ruling over many parts of the Muslim world as the Khalifa. [Inset: The Turkish Khalifa Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909)].

Against this historic backdrop, when the Ahmadiyya Khilafat was established after the death of Hadhrat Ahmad (as), the anxiety of the community was to follow in the noble traditions of the early Muslim Khilafat. So, the office of Khalifatul Massih was invented to unite the community of believers who believed in the claims of, and accepted the explanations of the Promised Massih (as) on various spiritual matters of Islam, till the advent of another Khalifatullah who will speak with the help of Roohul Qudus (Holy Spirit).

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad Sahib is the current Khalifatul Massih of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Most Ahmadis today consider him to be a man appointed by Allah Himself, though he has never spoken about being a recipient of Divine revelations, nor has he made the claim of a Divine appointment. They do acknowledge that he is actually elected by a body of believers but still consider that the choice is somehow based on Allah’s wish being reflected in the minds of the members of the electoral college in advance. The unchallenged authority being enjoyed by the office of Khalifatul Massih is precisely because of this doctrinal belief, rather than any evidence that the Khalifa has presented before the world to prove that he is a recipient of Divine mercy and revelations. 

But, is he really appointed by Allah? Has the current Khalifa ever claimed direct revelations from Allah as the source for his guidance and statements to the community and the world at large? Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad Sahib has on his part NEVER claimed that he is the Khalifa of Allah. He has only claimed to be the Khalifa of the Promised Massih (as).The Fifth Khalifa of the Promised Massih, thus, does not seem to think of himself to be a man in the mantle of a Prophet or a Mujaddid. The simple fact is that the current Khalifa has never claimed in the last 8 years that he receives any divine revelations, nor has he started any programme or policy for the Jamaat on the basis of what Allah has told him to do. In short, there is no evidence to suggest that the Khalifatul Massih enjoys divine converse and special Divine help in his mission. 

From the statements of the Khalifa on various occasions, what is evident is that he feels that the institution of Khilafat reflects the Second Manifestation of Divine Power mentioned by Hadhrat Ahmad (as) and that it will endure till the Last Days. From the experience of the Fifth Khalifa, we can understand that the Second Manifestation of Divine Power in the Ahmadiyya Community at the moment does not amount to direct revelations from Allah for the guidance of the community. In his understanding, it seems, it only means that the believers have to remain united and work together in the pursuit of the final victory. The hope is that Allah will help the cause of the Jamaat, even if he is not personally enjoying the divine converse. The current Khalifa is thus only the leader of the organized community of Ahmadi Muslims and not an Elect of Allah

An elected Khalifa is an important position to unite the community when a Messenger of Allah or a substitute Prophet in the form of a Mujaddid is not around so as preserve the teachings of the Holy Prophet (sa) and the Book of Allah. This is so only till the arrival of a new Messenger or a Mujaddid. As Hadhrat Ahmad (as) has pointed out, the status of the Imam of the Age is far above that of even a Wali who lives and enjoys divine revelations from Allah at the same point in time. The presence of a man-elected Khalifa can never be seen as obstructing Allah’s ability to send a Messenger of His choice at the turn of a new Century. Allah's Messengers are of an altogether different league than an Apostle of a Massih. So, the presence of a successor or Khalifatul Massih in the world cannot and should not be seen as a hindrance for Allah to send an Elect of His- be it a Mujaddid, a Massih or even a Non-Law Bearing Prophet in future, just as it happened in the time of the Promised Massih (as) and also through much of Islamic history. The advent of the new Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius confirms this principle.