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The Qur'anic Concept of 'Khilafat'

Allah has promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will, surely, make them SUCCESSORS in the earth, as He made Successors from among those who were before them; and that He will, surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them; and exchange security and peace after their fear; They will worship Me, and they will not associate anything with Me. Then whoso disbelieves after that, they will be the rebellious. (Chapter 24 Verse 55)

The following excerpt from the Quran, known as the “The Istikhlaf verse”, forms the basis of the Quranic concept of Islamic Khilafat, and includes the caliphate of Allah (Khalifatullah). A Khalifatullah govern between the people by that which Allah the Almighty has revealed to him, and follow not their vain desires. The Khalifatullah must beware in case the opponent seduce him from just some part of that which Allah the Almighty has revealed to him. 

Let me say a Hadith and this Hadith from Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal prophesies two eras of caliphate (both on the lines/precepts of prophethood). Hazrat Huzaifa (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:“Prophethood will remain among you as long as Allah wills. Then caliphate (Khilafat) on the lines of Prophethood shall commence, and remain as long as Allah wills. Then corrupt/erosive monarchy would take place, and it will remain as long as Allah wills. After that, despotic kingship would emerge, and it will remain as long as Allah wills. Then, the caliphate (Khilafat) shall come once again, based on the precept of prophethood.”

In this Hadith the first era of caliphate is commonly accepted by the Muslims as that of the Rashidun. The era after the Promised Messiah, there has been the Khalifat’ul Massih, a caliphate that the Ahmadiyya Jamaat has elected which would implement the injunctions of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, and this has remained as long as Allah willed. Then corruption took place and the teachings of Islam and the Promised Messiah (on him be peace) were trampled to dust, and the Ahmadies gave Khilafat more importance than Quran, Sunnah and teachings of the Promised Messiah. And especially when they have said “Khilafat is our life”, Allah has removed His Divine Light, favour and raised this humble one as His Khalifatullah, and this humble one has not been elected by men, but, Allah has chosen His beloved one to continue the work of Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Promised Messiah (on him be peace). 

The coming of a Khalifatullah is based only on the precept of prophethood. It is very important to note that the prophethood is chosen by Allah, not by men, and he is working according to the instruction of his Creator only and he gets inspirations, revelations, and instructions only from Allah the Almighty. And whoever takes away his hand when the Khalifatullah makes his proclamation and gives Bai’at (allegiance to God) will meet Him (Allah) on the Day of Resurrection without having any proof for him, and whoever dies whilst there was no Bai’at on his neck (to a Khalifatullah), he dies a death in the days of ignorance (Jahilliya). In this era, it is an obligation upon all the Muslims and humanity in general to accept the coming of a Khalifatullah and the Khalifatullah is the pillar upon which other pillars rest. The Ahkam (laws) of the Khalifatullah are implemented through him, and there is no difference regarding the obligation of that between the Ummah (Ulemas, scholars, mullahs, etc).

Like the other Muslim brothers and their Ulemahs said that, after the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) there will no prophet who will come. For them (like the so-called Mawlana Anas said), the door of prophethood has been closed. These so-called Mullahs have not realized the potential consequences of losing the blessings of prophethood; the judges will be suspended, the wilayaat (provinces) will be nullified … the decrees of those in authority will not be executed and all the people will be on the verge of Haraam. So, the coming of a Khalifatullah in this era is one of the greatest obligations of Islam. In fact, there is no establishment of the Sahih Al Islam except with the coming of a Khalifatullah.

Ideas of 'Khilafat' among the general Muslims

Once, the subject of intense conflict and rivalry amongst Muslim rulers, the caliphate has lain dormant and largely unclaimed since for a long time. In recent years though, interest among Muslims in international unity and the caliphate has grown. For many ordinary Muslim the caliph as leader of the community of believers “is cherished both as memory and ideal” as a time when Muslim “enjoyed scientific and military superiority globally”, though “not an urgent concern” compared to issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Tight restrictions on political activity in many Muslim countries, coupled with the obstacles to uniting over 50 nations-states under a single institution, have prevented efforts to revive the caliphate. Popular apolitical Islamic movement such as the other Jamaat identify a lack of spirituality and decline in personal religious observance as the root cause of the Muslim world’s problems, and claim that the caliphate cannot be successfully revived until these deficiencies are addressed. (Inset: Maulana Maududi Sahib, founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami). 

The Muslim brotherhood advocates Pan-Islamic unity and implementing Islamic law. It is the largest and most influential Islamic group in the world, and its offshoots form the largest opposition parties in most Arab governments. One founder in the Arab governments restoration of the caliphate, but officially sanctioned Islamic institutions in the Muslim World generally do not consider the caliphate a top priority and have instead focused on other issues. Islamists argue it is because they are tied to the current Muslim regimes.

The Sunni and other Muslims believe that immediately following the death of Muhammad (peace be upon him), a secret meeting took place at Saqifah, of which Ali, who was appointed by Muhammad (peace be upon him) as his successor at Ghadir Khumm, had no knowledge. At that meeting Abu Bakr was elected caliph by chiefs of Arab clans. 

Sunni and other Muslims developed the belief that the caliph is a temporal political ruler, appointed to rule within the bounds of Islamic Law (Shariah), and not necessarily qualified in Islamic Law. The job of adjudicating orthodoxy and Islamic lawyers, judiciary, or specialists individually termed as Mujtahids and collectively named the Ulema. The first four caliphs are called the Rashidun meaning the Rightly Guided Caliphs, because they are believed to have followed the Quran and the sunnah (example) of Muhammad (peace be upon him) in all things.

The Shi’a belief – Shi’a Muslim believe in the Imamate in which the rulers are selected from the prophet’s Ahlul Bayt. They believe that before his death, Muhammad (peace be upon him) had given many indications, in Ghadir Khumm particularly, that he considered Ali Ibn Abu Talib, his cousin and son-in-law, as his divinely chosen successor. They say that Abu Bakr had seized power by threatening and using force against Ali, and so Shia Muslims consider the three caliphs before Ali as usurpers. Ali and his descendants, the twelve Imams are believed to have been the only proper leaders. (Inset: The Investiture of Ali at Ghadir Khumm (AD 1309/8 Ilkhanid manuscript illustration). So, when you study the point of view of every group of Muslims about caliphate, each of them has different point of view and if there is an electing or appointing caliph in the Sunni groups, the Wahabi, Hanafi, Shia etc. will not accept him as their caliph.

If the Shia Muslims electing or appointing a caliph in the Shia group, the Sunni and other Muslims will not believe in him; always there will be conflict. For example, Some Shia Muslims believe that the system of Islamic government based on Vilayat-e-Faqih, where an Islamic jurist or Faqih rules Muslims, suffices. However this idea, developed and established in Iran, is not universally accepted among Shias.

Sunni believe that a capable man who would lead well were preferred over an ineffectual direct heir, as there was no basis in the majority Sunni view that the head of state or governor should be chosen based on lineage alone. They further argue that a caliph is ideally chosen by election or community consensus, even though the caliphate soon became a hereditary office or the prize of the strongest general and according to them the caliph must come from the majority.

So, if each Muslim group has their own caliph, this will create big fitna (chaos). My own opinion on this subject, as a Khalifatullah (the Caliph of Allah the Almighty), it is forbidden for Muslims to have two elected or appointed caliphs for this would cause differences in their affairs and concepts, their unity would be divided and disputes would break out amongst them. The Shariah and Sunnah would then be abandoned, the bida’h (innovations) would spread and fitna would grow, and that is in no one’s interests.

So, let me come again to what the Promised Messiah Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (on him be peace), the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat has said. He explained about Qudrat-e-Saniyah, what is Qudrat-e-Saniyah (the second power)?

Ideas of 'Khilafat' among the Ahmadis

In his will, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (on him be peace) has elaborated that after his death his community would be assisted by a second manifestation of divine power and support, just as it was assisted by a first manifestation during his life. The Ahmadi brothers have interpreted this ‘second power’ to mean the establishment of their Khilafat.

My reply to this, the Promised Messiah (on him be peace) has come to continue the work of Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) – work which has been trampled by the so-called Muslim scholars or Ulemas. Then, in order to accomplish that work, the manifestation of the power of God takes place, as it says in the Holy Quran:

“This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you.”

Its manifestation took place in the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). But after him, this continued in the times of his caliphs (four right-guided caliphs), revivers of faith, or Mujjadidin. They were all the ‘second power’. The ‘second power’ cannot be limited to a particular form. 

Whenever any nation or community becomes weak, then Allah the Most High, out of His Wisdom, sends the ‘second power’ in order to strengthen it. It does not mean that there is a chain of caliphs after Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (on him be peace) in the Ahmadiyya Movement who are the manifestation of the second power and I am the first one of these. This is Divine support for the cause of truth in a general sense. Therefore, it is the divine support that this movement receives in various forms which is the Qudrat-e-Saniyah. 

I would like to ask a question to Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad Saheb and to our Ahmadi brothers also:- Do they believe that the ‘second power’ to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is still being manifested and shall exist forever, or do they believe that it has been replaced and superseded by a new second power which came after Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (on him be peace)? This is my question to them, I hope, soon I will get a reply from them, Insha-Allah.

Role of the Khalifatullah

To explain to all of you, what is a Khalifatullah? A Khalifatullah is not elected or appointed by some groups of people. He is the Caliph of Allah, where only Allah chooses him as His Vicegerent (Khalifatullah). Khalifatullah means the Representative of Allah (God), and according to Islam he comes from Allah to guide mankind towards the Creator, thus by this means becomes the representative of the people spiritual and mundane welfare. He is God’s vicegerent, that is to say, by virtue of the powers delegated to him, and within the limits prescribed by the Quran and the teaching of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). The Khalifatullah is required to exercise divine authority, he is not just an individual ruler who has to be restored, but is man’s representation of God’s authority on earth, and also by uniting Muslim nations through divine instructions and peaceful political action.

I hope by the grace of Allah, all of you have understood my message in this sermon, and may Allah bless all of you, and give you the blessings to accept the truth in this era. Ameen.

-Extracts from the Friday Sermon of May 29, 2009 delivered by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius