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Ahmadis: From 'Khalifa' To 'Khalifatullah'

Most Ahmadis today believe that their system of Ahmadiyya Khilafat is the embodiment of Divinely- appointed spiritual leadership, as prophesied for and among the Muslims of the Later Days.  

This 'doctrinal' understanding and inherited belief is essentially based on what they have been taught by their leaders and scholars from the early days of the Khilafat system, invented by the Community. As is mostly typical within the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Qadian, instead of individual Ahmadis thinking for themselves on religious matters, they are content with endorsing what they have inherited from their fathers. Almost every other Qadiani Ahmadi, unfortunately today, belong to this unthinking category of people, like the Qur'an speaks off: ‘We found our fathers following a certain course, and we are guided by their footsteps’ (43:23). So, the spiritual doctrines- their meaning, interpretations, nuances and implications- remain largely un-examined within the Community.

With the appearance of a new Reformer among the Ahmadis, with the grand mandate of being the Messenger of Allah of our times, in the person of Hadhrat Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius, the intellectual landscape of Ahmadiyya theology is increasingly being redrawn. 

Ahmadi youth have begun to question their inherited religious notions and hitherto un-examined understandings and common convictions in the light of the Divine Manifestation and the spiritual light that emanates from his teachings. It is in this backdrop that we should view the recent series of articles/ extracts from the speeches of the previous Khulafa etc. that are being published in the AL HAQ, the monthly organ of the Ahmadiyya youth wing Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya, Kerala. In recent months, the journal is on a campaign mode among Ahmadi youth. The campaign objective is to instill the Ahmadiyya concept of Khilafat among the youth.

In the August 2011 issue of the AL HAQ, one could read an extract from the speech of the Khalifatul Massih I Maulvi Hakkim Nuruddin Sahib on the status of Khilafat. The speech of Hadhrat Khalifa Awwal was occasioned by certain developments within the Jamaat whereby some companions of the Promised Massih (as) pointing to the express words in his testamentary declaration AL WASSIYAT argued that Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya is the representative of God’s Khalifa [Hadhrat Ahmad (as)] after his departure. 

They also thought that the elected Khalifa is only the administrative head and that he has to be subservient to the collective wisdom of the Anjuman which was entrusted by the Promised Massih (as) with the task of determining the future course of the Jamaat. Through the speech, Hadhrat Khalifa Awwal was articulating his conviction that the establishment of Khilafat was a divine blessing on the community of the faithful and the importance of unity and cohesion within the ranks. In the speech, he valiantly defended his concept of spiritual leadership and expressed the opinion that Khalifa is appointed by Allah, the Most High.  

At a time when Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam, Kerala is advocating the original Islamic/Ahmadiyya principle of the continuity of revelations and the coming of Mujaddidin and other elects of Allah from time to time, the Ahmadi youth are being fed a staple diet of such speeches to keep them away from the perceived enemies of Khilafat who are inviting divine wrath!   

The simple fact is that we are no enemies of Khilafat. We believe that the position taken by the Khalifa Awwal was correct in its time and context. At a time when a divinely-raised soul is not present within the community, the believers have every duty to remain united under a single spiritual leadership and do good deeds under the umbrella of that leadership. Moreover, those who were perceived to be opposing the Khilafat were not offering a better arrangement under the circumstances. To put it differently, they were not speaking with the superior guidance of divine revelations on the matter and they had no business creating confusion within.   

The divine appointment mentioned by Hadhrat Khalifa Awwal was only metaphorical and that is why he did not present any revelation to claim the position, but merely pointed to the logical plausibility from a reading of the Qur’anic blessings vouchsafed for true believers. Secondly, the metaphor of “divine appointment” of a Khalifa is also evident from the title he held- Khalifatul Massih. As we know, Hadhrat Ahmad (as) was the Khalifatullah (God-appointed Khalifa). If Khalifa Awwal was indeed divinely-appointed, he would have been Khalifatullah and not just Khalifatul Massih.  

A position and status that is metaphorically attributed to the Khalifa should not be abused of its meaning through taking it literally. That Ahmadis have converted spiritual metaphors into literal concepts is a sign of the times- the decadence within that happens in spiritual communities after a period. 

If the present Khalifa was indeed appointed by Allah the Most High, he would not have been deprived of divine revelations all through his Khilafat years in the last decade.

In short, Ahmadis today cannot cite this speech of 1911 to defend their present Khilafat arrangement, especially when the Khalifatullah has clearly claimed a divine mandate and speaks with the assistance of Rooh-ul-Quddus. The speech was made at an entirely different context. 

What is being questioned is not the need for the position of 'Khilafat' being conferred on a person as the elected leader of a spiritual community like the Ahmadi Muslims. It is indeed a necessary arrangement when a Divinely-raised leader is not present among the believers. However, when such a secular and mundane leadership position is virtually sought to be elevated and placed on very lofty pedestal, even at the cost of rejecting a Messenger of Allah, raised by Allah (swt), then, such a move augurs ill for the larger Community of believers. 

For, the Holy Qur’an clearly instructs believers to follow those who bring “better guidance” than that which they inherited from their fathers. (43:25). Will the Ahmadi youth reexamine what they inherited as spiritual beliefs and embrace the new Divine Manifestation or  would they prefer to tread on a trajectory made familiar to them by their fathers in a different milieu? Spiritual Path requires awakened reasoning, critical subjectivity to existing ideas, a sublime commitment to Tawheed, deep humility, and profound thinking about the subtle and almost incomprehensible trajectories of the manifestations of the Divine Will. Clearly, believers are on tests on faith. 


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