Friday, May 20, 2011

Demystifying Ahmadiyya Khilafat

In the April 2011 issue of the Review of Religions, Harris Zafar of USA has written an editorial article: Demystifying ‘Caliphate’.  The article is an eloquent argument in favour of looking at Khilafat as a spiritual phenomenon as against the tendency to look at the whole issue from a political, state-centric, power-oriented prism.

According to Mr. Zafar, the finest example of Islamic Khilafat was in the early era when the rightly guided Khalifas presided over the Muslim Community for a period of 30 years after the death of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa). He argues that spirituality was lost for over a millennium from the Islamic world only to be restored back with the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Khilafat. And he considers that the current Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Community is “God- appointed”.

Mr. Zafar’s argument is, however,  riddled with a major lacuna: in the pursuit of demystifying Islamic Khilafat, he ended up reducing its profound spiritual connotations and mystifying the Ahmadiyya Khilafat. He considers only the rightly-guided Khalifas in the early Islam and the establishment of Khilafat in the Ahmadiyya Community as examples of the spiritual, real Khilafat. In other words, he has reduced Islamic Khilafat to the system of elected representatives presiding over the Community. Thus, he indirectly ends up arguing that in the more than 1400- year old history of Islam, the real Islam was in place for a mere period of 150 years or less if we combine the period of early Islamic Khilafat and the Ahmadiyya Khilafat.

Hadhrat Ahmad (as) considered that the Holy Qur’an offers permanent Khilafat to Muslims till the Day of Judgement. Hadhrat Ahmad (as) thus rejected this perspective of looking only at the first thirty years after the death of the Holy Prophet (sa) as constituting real Islamic Khilafat. He considered that the Mujaddidin (the Divine Reformers) were the Khalifas of Islam and they appeared in every century as per the Divine Plan contained in the prophecy of the Holy Prophet of Islam to secure the faith in every age.

Mujaddidin are the Elects of Allah, they do not have to wait for or be dependent on the material fortunes of the Muslim Community at any point of time, unlike the Man-elected Khalifas, as we have witnessed all through Islamic history. They literally manifested the glory of Islam through countless miracles and other signs displaying the vibrancy and vitality of the Islamic spiritual order in every age. The ebb and flow of political fortunes may have made and unmade Islamic empires all through history. Yet, the Mujaddidin or the substitutes Prophets were at the vanguard of displaying a living Islam in every age. All of history bear witness that through their simple life, humble preaching and unostentatious practice, they attracted millions into the fold of Islam regardless of the fortunes of political Islam at such times.      

It ought to be remembered that Hadhrat Ahmad (as) had come to consolidate and build upon this vital contribution of all those Mujaddidin who appeared before him. Any effort to glorify and mystify Ahmadiyya Khilafat, above and beyond what it actually is, is bound to lead Ahmadis away from Sahih Al Islam. It is precisely because of this ahistoric and anti-historic conception of Islamic Khilafat that Ahmadis have come to look at the current Khalifa as “God- appointed”.

Is the current Khalifa an Elect of Allah?  We shall return to this point in the next installment. To access it, click here.