Khilafat in Islam

No Comments | June 2008

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih(ru), held audiences with people of all nationalities, faiths and beliefs granting them the opportunity of raising questions and issues of interest to them. Presented below are answers to questions that were raised during two separate sessions on MTA during the program Liqaa Ma’al Arab – Meeting with Arabs.
Transcribed by Khullat Munir, New York, USA.


The Shi’ites believe that before the Prophet(saw) died, he appointed Hadhrat Ali(ra) as his Successor. What are the teachings of Islam regarding the appointment of the Khalifa? (Liqaa Ma’al Arab, 17 July 1994)


This issue has been resolved already by no less a person than Hadhrat Ali(ra) himself. Did he not know that he was appointed as Khalifa without break after Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa(saw)? If he did not know, how could the Shi’ites of today know it? And if he knew, why did he give his hand in Bai’at (Pledge of Allegiance) to Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra)? If he knew and then did it, then he would no longer be worthy of being the Imam.

It is against the very character of Hadhrat Ali(ra) to behave like that. He was the bravest man under Hadhrat Muhammad(saw), the Chief of the Prophets, who fought the battles for Islam. It is said and reported very rightly so that the point of [the] highest danger in any battle during the time of Hadhrat Muhammad(saw) was where Hadhrat Muhammad(saw) himself was.  And next to that, [was] where Hadhrat Ali(ra) was. Such a brave man. He did not care, as they say, a fig for his life. How could he become so callous regarding the guarding of his status given to him by the Holy Prophet(saw) himself after divine guidance from Allah? It is impossible. Whatever it was, we don’t go into the details of who concocted this hadith and what the meaning was, etc. – it is irrelevant. The relevant fact, which is not disputed, is that Hadhrat Ali(ra) under whatever conditions Shi’ites believe, gave his hand to Hadhrat Abu Bakr Sadiq(ra) and thereby professed himself that he is the Khalifa and not Hadhrat Ali(ra).

The situation which develops from this is much worse than people can visualise from what I have said. There is another part to this story. If Hadhrat Ali(ra) was destined to be the Khalifa immediately after Hadhrat Muhammad(saw), and as such he was ‘willed’ to be the Khalifa, then what would be the position of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra)? If it is true, then the Shi’ites’ claim could be considered to have some validity; that Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) (God forbid) appears to be chief of munafiqeen – chief of [the] hypocrites. This is what they say. Now Hadhrat Ali(ra) is not giving his hand to a pious man, according to them. Imagine, Hadhrat Ali(ra) is giving his hand of submission in the name of Allah, repeating the words of Bai’at, with which people gave their hands in Bai’at to Hadhrat Muhammad(saw), according to the Shi’ites, to the chief of the hypocrites. It is impossible and unbelievable!


The Holy Prophet(saw) is reported to have said, “Prophethood shall remain among you as long as Allah shall will. He will bring about its end and follow it with Khilafat on the precepts of prophethood for as long as He shall will and then bring about its end. A tyrannical monarchy will then follow and will remain as long as Allah shall will and then come to an end. There will follow thereafter monarchial despotism to last as long as Allah shall will and come to an end upon His decree. There will then emerge Khilafat on precept of prophethood.” Please explain this hadith. (Liqaa Ma’al Arab, 12 March 1998)


Firstly, the hadith and then specifically the questions raised should be addressed. The rulers would appear with no justice in their decisions. Another type of rulers are mentioned, who will be aggressive. First of all the rulers who will not rule with adil (justice), and then they will be aggressive, appropriating their rights and be transgressing against their own people.

There are two mentions to Khilafat alaa min haajan nabuwwat (on the precepts of prophethood). First, immediately after him and the second, after all these three phases would be over. So Malik ul Aaz (tyrannical monarchy) cannot bequeath a system of min haajan nabuwwat at all. That indicates that, like in the first case, true Khilafat was born because of nabuwwat. In the second phase, which will be much later, that Khilafat which will be created by Allah will be alaa min haajan nabuwwat which means that there will be a nabi (prophet) before that Khilafat otherwise that Khilafat will not be born. That reference has to be to Jesus Christ, as he is envisioned to descend upon this earth by non-Ahmadis, and as he is envisioned by us to be born in the Ummah (Community) and tied to Jesus. Either way the new Khilafat alaa min haajan nabuwwat cannot start without his advent. That is understandable. But in the first case, the Holy Prophet(saw) mentioned that that Khilafat will ultimately dissipate and will be lifted. About the Khilafat which will follow in the latter days, he does not mention this. He became silent after this which means that the previous phases will not follow exactly as it followed in the case of the previous Khilafat alaa min haajan nabuwwat. So no Mujaddideen (reformers) will come, as they appeared after the lifting of the first Khilafat. If the Holy Prophet(saw) viewed the second Khilafat as ending up in Mujaddidiyat, he should have mentioned that. He does not mention any immediate decay after the second Khilafat. So whatever solution he offered to the decay after the first Khilafat, he does not refer to that in relation to the second Khilafat which would, of course, be his Khilafat. But it will continue for a long time.


The world in general and the Muslim world in particular, is in need of the system of Khilafat. What is the importance and significance of this system?(Liqaa Ma’al Arab, 13 December 1994)


The whole Muslim Ummah, which really should be one, is divided into so many sects: not only in the religious plane, but in the political plane it is divided. When a people are divided, they cannot attain in the world what a united people can attain because their might is not only divided and split, their might is pushed against one another. When this happens, then sometimes the sum total is even less than zero. However big a people be, if they are opposing each other over big issues or small issues; they are fighting each other; they are dividing their might against each other, and unfortunately call it Jihad, then what would be the outcome of this? What energy will be left to build themselves and to defend Islam and the Muslim interests against their enemies? That is the need for unification and for one Imam to bring order, a single order in all of Islam. This cannot be done without Khilafat because Khilafat is a system whereby the absence of a prophet is somehow compensated by a person who officiates on his behalf and who sits as a deputy and a subordinate; a central authority in a seat which has been vacated by the deceased prophet. This is the principle of Khilafat and as such it is understood by all Muslims. The need for Khilafat was immediately felt after the Holy Prophet(saw)’s demise.

This is displayed in Islam in every part of its teachings. Without unification, without discipline, in fact Islam cannot be practised properly. When you say the prayer five times a day in the mosque, how is it performed? There has to be an Imam and it is behind that Imam that the unity of the people who have gathered there is established otherwise there can be no unity. And that is why there is so much emphasis in the Holy Qur’an on congregational prayers and the importance of the Imam is so great that even if the Imam commits a mistake, then the instruction is that all the followers of that Imam knowing that he has committed a mistake should repeat that mistake behind him. How better could the need for the Imam and the unity of a people be emphasized than this? So if there has to be an Imam in the mosque in a small community, how can you conceive an Ummah without an Imam? And as far as the Ummah is concerned, there is another injunction in the Holy Qur’an that wherever you are face yourself towards the Qiblah. There is one common Qiblah for all the Muslims in the world. Regardless of where you are the Qiblah must remain one. This situation which you find on a global level, is also that which you find in the mosque. In the mosque, one Qiblah is attained with the help of one Imam who leads you and then all the directions and movements of the worshippers are carried out in unison.

This also indicates that it is highly important for the Muslim Ummah to remain one and united under one Iman. If that was not the purpose then there should not have been any Khilafat because at the time of the Holy Prophet(saw)’s demise, Muslims were in a far better state spiritually, religiously and in every respect as well than the Muslims are today. If they needed an Imam to follow, how can we do without an Imam today while we need much more? That is as far as the need of Khilafat is concerned.

Now the problem is that once the Khilafat is lost, then it cannot be recreated by the people themselves again. This is a dilemma which the entire Muslim world is facing, because Khilafat begins after the prophet’s demise and once it is broken then how can it be reinstated? There is no instrument for the reinstatement of Khilafat if there is no prophet. So in the case of [the] Muslims, the problem is twofold because once the Khilafat came to an end, according to most Muslims, at the fourth Khalifa, Hadhrat Ali(ra), after which there was not Khilifat Rashida; there were only sort of kingdoms and sovereignties in the name of Khilafat; after that, how could you bring Khilafat back and reinstate it?

As far as the Shi’ite ummah are concerned, they have no problem because they believe in the continuity of the Imamat up to twelve Imams mostly. Some are to six Imams, some even continuously up to today.

But a much greater majority of the Muslims is without the blessings of one Khilafat. And even if Imamat is considered to be continued, it still cannot make the entire Ummah one. We are discussing the problem of bringing the entire Ummah together under one leadership and that can be done not by partial Khilafat, but by universal Khilafat whereby all the Ummah could be brought together. But they believe there cannot be any prophet at all in any form. So that means the only possibility of revival of the institution of Khilafat is also lost. This is the big problem which the world of Islam is facing today.

The only thing that the non-Ahmadi Muslim leadership can point out is that we are expecting a prophet to come anyway. That will be a low prophet, of course, but when he comes he will be a prophet. So the lost institution of Khilafat will be reinstated through Jesus Christ(as) when he revisits the earth. The problem with this is that fourteen hundred years have passed and there is no sign of any Jesus revisiting the earth at all. The age has changed. The Muslims have gone through the worst possible situations and nobody like Jesus Christ(as) came to their aid from heaven.

It is this vain waiting that has ultimately made a large number of Muslims really pessimistic about it. That is why when you discuss this matter with many Muslims – Arab and non-Arab – they say, ‘Leave this issue alone; it doesn’t make any difference. If Jesus(as) is dead or alive, we are not interested.’ And the Ulema of Jamia Azhar have repeatedly expressed their considered opinion that according to the Qur’an, Jesus(as) is dead. So there is no way he can come back again. That path is also open, if at all it is open, only in their mythology, in their wishful thinking. Practically nobody is going to come from heaven again.

That is the whole problem with the world of Islam. Not only have they lost the most important institution of Khilafat in Islam, but also they have blocked passage of its reinstatement.

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