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Abu Baker Siddique: First Sermon as Khalifa

The Islamic Khilafat of the past began with Hadhrat Abu Baker Siddique (ra) and continued during the time of the other rightly guided Khulafa, Hadhrat Omar Ibn Khattab (ra), Hadhrat Usman (ra) and Hadhrat Ali (ra). These devout companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) were intensely conscious about their material and spiritual mandates as the head of the Muslim community when they were thrust with the mantle of leadership. And also the inherent limitations attached to their specific situation as leaders because of the lack of divine revelations in guiding the community at a time when an Elect of Allah was not among them.

Devout Ahmadis consider that the Ahmadiyya Khilafat is established in the best tradition of the Islamic Khilafat of the early days. Yet, the Ahmadis today are guilty of blurring the subtle and profound distinction that separates the true spiritual and material condition between a Divine servant in communion with Allah (swa), and the actual leaders they elect as Khulafa. For instance, most Ahmadis assume and believe without any shred of evidence that the present Khalifatul Massih Mirza Masroor Ahmad Sahib is a recipient of Divine revelations and that there can never arise anyone with Divine revelations so long as they have the Khulafa elected by the community of people.

‘If I do wrong, set me right’

Hadhrat Abu Baker Siddique (ra) explicitly stated his mandate and its limits in his very first speech after assuming the office of Hazrat Khalifatul Rasul. The first address of the first Khalifa of Islam, whose example was recommended for his community by Hadhrat Ahmad (as) himself, was as follows: 

“I have been given the authority over you, and I am not the best of you. If I do well, help me; and if I do wrong, set me right. Sincere regard for truth is loyalty and disregard for truth is treachery. The weak among you shall be strong with me until I have secured his rights, if God wills; and the strong among you shall be weak with me until I have wrested from him the rights of others, if God wills. Obey me so long as I obey God and His Messenger. But if I disobey God and His Messenger, ye owe me no obedience. Arise for your prayer, God have mercy upon you”.

To err is human. In the absence of divine revelations, how will the Khalifa guide the community? That is why he asked for the co operation of believers: ‘I have been given the authority over you, and I am not the best of you. If I do well, help me; and if I do wrong, set me right’.  The speech also makes it clear that Obey me so long as I obey God and His Messenger. But if I disobey God and His Messenger, ye owe me no obedience”.

What does that statement possibly mean in our times?

The Fifth Khalifa Mirza Masroor Ahmad Sahib certainly believes that a wrong decision can be taken by a Khalifa on the basis of a miscalculation or misunderstanding on the part of a Khalifa.  Hadhrat Musleh Maoud (ra) believed that sometimes their advisors can give them wrong advice’. [Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Conditions of Bai’at and the Responsibilities of an Ahmadi, pp.202-203, (Islamabad, UK: 2006)].  He also warned the community that if ever Khilafat comes under a shadow, it shall be because of the people around the Khalifa’. 

When a believer perceives a break between the teachings of Hadhrat Ahmad (as) and the practical guidance offered by the Khulafa of the Jamaat, what options are open to him? Does he have the right to exercise his spiritual and rational judgement on the issue?  What else is the meaning of ‘If I do wrong, set me right’ ?

Yet, can any one dare to raise a finger and point to a mistake of the incumbent Khalifa as it was possible in the early Islam?  The Ahmadiyya Community loudly proclaims that the Khilafat in the Community is established in the best tradition of the Islamic Khilafat of the early days. It is amazing to note that even after reducing Islamic Khilafat to elected Khalifas in the name of following the example of Hadhrat Abu Baker Siddique (ra), the Community is unwilling to do justice to the finer points of that model as well.

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