Khilafat The Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa)

A Glimpse into some of the Qualities of Khilafat-e-Rashida

45The Review of Religions – November 2005 The Holy Prophet( s a ) p r o -phesied about the institution of Khilafat that was to follow him in the following terms: ‘ P rophethood shall re m a i n among you as long as God 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. An unimag- inative kingship shall then follow to remain as long as God shall will and then come to an end. There shall then be a cruel rule which shall remain as long as God shall will and come to an end upon His decree. There will then e m e rge Khilafat on the precept of prophethood… The Holy Prophet said no more.’ (Masnad-i-Ahmad as quoted by Mishqat in Babul Inzar- wa-Tahzir) From this we can draw the conclusion that the Khilafat that was to follow the Holy Prophet(sa) was to be in two parts. The first was to arise immediately after his demise. The second was to arise after a period of kingship and cruel rule. Both periods of Khilafat are in essence Khilafat- e – R a s h i d a or rightly-guided Khilafat. The subject of this article is the first period of Khilafat-e-Rashida which lasted approximately three decades as prophesied by the Holy Prophet(sa) when he said, ‘Khilafat shall reign for 30 years and then there shall be monarchy. ’ ( M i s h k a t , Kitabul Fitn) A glimpse of some of the qualities of KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA By Waleed Ahmad – Gillingham, UK 46 The Review of Religions – November 2005 The fact that this was a rightly- guided Khilafat is not only substantiated by the above statement of the Holy Prophet(sa) but through the conduct of each and every incumbent of the office of Khilafat during this period. If we cast an eye on the behaviour of the Khulafa-e-Rashida we can easily conclude how they are fully deserving of this accolade of truly being the rightly-guided successors of the Holy Prophet(sa). One of the most striking characteristics of the Khulafa-e- Rashida was their firm trust in Allah and absolute obedience to the Holy Prophet(sa). This aspect was displayed time and again by the Khulafa-e-Rashida not least by Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) who was the first successor to the Holy Prophet. Here it is related that when he first took office, there developed widespread disorder in the Arabian Peninsula. Certain tribes, on hearing of the demise of the Holy Prophet( s a ), began to rebel. Some refused to pay the Z a k a t while others began to pledge allegiance to false prophets like Musailma, Aswad ‘Ansi, Tulaihah bin Khuwailid and Sajah bint Al-Harith. This was a critical time. Madinah, the then capital of the Muslim State, could face attack from a number of quarters. The Holy Prophet(sa) had already ordered for an army under Hadhrat Usama bin Zaid(ra) to depart for the Syrian border but the army was still in the outskirts of Madinah when the news of the Prophet’s(sa) demise reached them and they stopped to receive further orders. It was at this juncture that senior Muslims advised Hadhrat Abu B a k r( r a ) to recall the army and since the position of the Muslims still remained weak, not to inflame the rebellious tribes by insisting that they pay the Z a k a t for the time being. Hadhrat Abu B a k r( r a ) was to have none of this. Having firm faith in Allah he said, ‘The marching of the army cannot be postponed even if Madinah becomes as lonely as beasts can enter into it and kill me. I cannot put the sword into the sheath drawn by the Prophet himself.’ He steadfastly ensured that one of the last instructions given by his A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 47The Review of Religions – November 2005 spiritual master were carried out and according to one tradition, Hadhrat Abu Bakr ( r a ) h i m s e l f accompanied the army to the outer limits of Madinah. On this issue of Z a k a t again his steadfastness on a matter of principle shone through when he announced: ‘Under the circumstances, if with re f e rence to Zakat you withhold as much as a string to tie a camel, as the Khalifa of the Holy Prophet, it will be my duty to fight for it, whatever the consequences. I will be p re p a red to face all the risks but I cannot be a party to the c o m p romising of any fundamental issue.’ Such conviction in Allah and determination of preserving the principles of the Islamic faith no matter what were a key characteristic of K h i l a f a t – e – R a s h i d a. In the case of Hadhrat Abu Bakr ( r a ) his conduct bore ample fruit. The army sent to Syria returned intact. The rebellious tribes, uncertain of the true strength of the Muslims, dared not attack Madinah and they were soon brought under control eventually after military intervention. Khilafat is an office that is accorded to the incumbent by Allah and no man or woman has the right to take it away. This is a truth that was patently understood by all the K h u l a f a – e – R a s h i d a. In the case of Hadhrat Uthman( r a ), when the insurgents were bent on deposing him and demanded his abdication, he rightly refused. In doing so he was not only following a basic principle asso- ciated with Khilafat but also a specific advice rendered to him by the Holy Prophet( s a ) who had once said to him: ‘Allah will bestow upon thee a garment which people will try to remove from thy person but take care that you do not allow them to do so.’ (Intrigues Against Khilafat-e- Rashida and their Impact, p.39, by Maulana Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad) Sadly Hadhrat Uthman’s(ra) brave efforts of defending this Divine A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 48 The Review of Religions – November 2005 institution were of no avail. Rebellion and disrespect to the office of Khilafat had run deep among some groups who chose to first abuse the Khalifa in public and then succeeded in killing him. This event drove a death knell into the first period of Khilafat-e-Rashida and broke the unity of the Muslims. The words uttered by Hadhrat Uthman( r a ) moments before his murder ring true to this day: ‘If you succeed in killing me, you shall never be able to remain united, nor able to offer your prayers or face the enemy in unity.’ The unity of the Muslims broken and the very institution of Khilafat was lost within five years of this event. This demonstrated that Khilafat is a Divine bounty. If one shows ingratitude towards it, Allah will remove it. As it is a reward to those who believe and do good works, it brings to the fore for the office such personalities that are truly benevolent to the masses; whose conduct and sense of duty is derived from their fear of God and who act solely for His sake. Hadhrat Umar(ra) used to say, ‘My heart is hard and soft for the sake of Allah only.’ It is, in fact, true of the entire conduct of the Khulafa- e – R a s h i d a that each of their actions could be traced back to their fear of God. Being God-fearing, the rightly- guided Khulafa were averse to the pleasures of this world. In this regard Hadhrat Ali(ra) in warning others of the evil of pursuing the world used to say, ‘The world is a carcass, he who wants to acquire it, should be ready to live with the dogs.’ It is this aversion of the world and the constant seeking of the pleasure of Allah that lay at the heart of the simplicity shown by the K h u l a f a – e – R a s h i d a. It is stated of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) that he tried not to allow his own accession to the office of Khilafat to change his simple ways. For six months after becoming Khalifa he continued to live at al- Sunh, a suburb of Madinah, in a dwelling of palm trunks. He used to walk or ride to the Holy P r o p h e t ’s Mosque in Madinah daily to fulfil his duties. It was A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 49The Review of Religions – November 2005 only as the affairs of the State took more and more of his time, that he moved his residence to his apartment in the Mosque. Similarly of Hadhrat Uthman ( r a ) i t is related that there was no dearth of slaves and servants for him but he would often do his personal work himself. At night, he would manage to take water for ablution himself for his Ta h a j j u d1 p r a y e r rather than give trouble to anyone e l s e . Hadhrat Umar ( r a ), commonly given the title of ‘the Great’, for his outstanding achievements as Khalifa, was a personification of s i m p l i c i t y. His clothing consisted of a simple shirt made of coarse cloth. He would take bread, made of non-sifted flour generally with olive oil. Meat or any other good food would rarely be present on his dining spread. Once a companion, Utba bin Farqad, said that should he choose to take better food the exchequer will not be unduly affected. Hearing this Hadhrat Umar( r a ) replied, ‘I am very sorry Utba that you want to induce me for worldly luxuries.’ Being Head of State, he had to meet foreign dignitaries and emissaries. He was advised to improve his clothing. He declined saying he could not forget and give up the way of life the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) had shown. The Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) never enjoyed a comfortable and luxurious life so how could he? Perhaps his simplicity was best displayed when he was asked to sign the treaty on the fall of Jerusalem. Here it is said when he embarked on this journey he maintained a practice of humility and simplicity throughout. No great caravan was o rganised; no multitude of splendidly dressed guards were designated to accompany him. Instead the travelling party consisted of little more than a camel and a servant. When it came to the issue of who would sit on the camel, Hadhrat Umar( r a ), a stickler for absolute equality, insisted on the servant taking turns to sit while he walked and vice versa. He was simply dressed as an ordinary person of the day. When he was received at Jabia near Jerusalem by the Muslim Chiefs, he was offered a Tu r k i s h A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 50 The Review of Religions – November 2005 horse and better clothes. Hadhrat U m a r( r a ) declined saying ‘Allah has greatly honoured us with Islam and that is quite suff i c i e n t for us.’ It was in this simple austere state that he entered Jerusalem to formally take the city and sign the treaty. This sense of simplicity was also mirrored by Hadhrat Ali(ra). He too would take simple food and wear simple dress. He was known to mend his own shoes. He would always avoid rich food saying: ‘I do not want to make myself habitual of rich food.’ Once in a cold winter night he covered his body with an ordinary sheet but was shivering. People, seeing him in such a condition, asked why he did not fulfil his requirement from Bait-ul-Maal2 adding, ‘You and your family also have some rights over it.’ In reply he said, ‘I do not want anything for myself from your shares. I have brought this sheet from Madinah.’ This reluctance of taking anything from Bait-ul-Maal was also shared by Hadhrat Uthman(ra) before him who not only refused to take anything from B a i t – u l – M a a l but even funded some public projects from his own pocket. Hadhrat Ali’s( r a ) reluctance to allow even a penny from Bait-ul-Maal to be spent on him and his family is demonstrated by another inci- dent. Here it is related that once a tribute from Isfahan of honey and fat along with other items was received. Umme-Kalthum, one of the daughters of Hadhrat Ali(ra) wanted some honey and fat and obtained this from the Bait-ul- Maal. When Hadhrat Ali(ra) heard of this he ordered the immediate return of the casks. When it was noted that some honey and fat had been consumed from it, he paid for the difference from his own pocket. This showed Hadhrat Ali’s( r a ) scrupulous honesty and it was a trait that was shared by Hadhrat Umar(ra). Of him it is written that once, when he became ill, he was advised to take honey. There happened to be some honey in Bait-ul-Maal. Instead of obtain- ing it directly, Hadhrat Umar(ra) waited till people gathered for A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 51The Review of Religions – November 2005 prayers in the mosque and asked them if he could do so. Only then did he take it. (Kanz-ul-Ummal Vol VI, p354) How refreshing it is to learn of such honesty. Khulafa of Khalifat-e-Rashida were, for all intents and purposes, absolute rulers. They reigned over both the religious and temporal spheres of their people’s existence. If they wanted to they could use and abuse any power at their disposal. Yet they chose not to. Inspired by the fear of God in their hearts, they were able to suppress all evil temptations and were driven to rule with responsibility, honesty and compassion. The genuine concern and compassion for others they displayed is heart rendering. Each one of the K h u l a f a – e – R a s h i d a d i s p l a y e d countless examples of this compassion for the less fortunate. For example, it is related that during the Khilafat of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) there lived an old blind woman in Madinah. Hadhrat Umar(ra) would visit her daily but always found that someone had anticipated his visit and supplied all her needs. One day he went early to the house and found the person who visited her was none other than the Khalifa of the time Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra). This sense of compassion for others was in keeping with the character of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (ra). He was, it is said, by nature meek and tender-hearted and his eyes would frequently well up with tears at the news of anyone who was in need or suffering. He would go to the helpless and needy without hesitation. He would make people’s cattle graze in the field and even milk their goats for them. When he became Khalifa, a woman whose goats were milked by him, came and said, ‘You have now become Khalifa who will milk my goats?’ Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) comforted the lady and replied, ‘You need not bother, the responsibility of the Khilafat cannot keep me away from serving the people.’ Thus Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) continued to serve A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 52 The Review of Religions – November 2005 this lady and others in this way personally. This sense of duty of serving the people was vividly displayed by Hadhrat Umar(ra). Tabari writes on the authority of Hudhaifah: ‘It was Umar’s daily routine to visit the home of soldiers who were on the battlefield and ask their womenfolk if they had to make any purchase from the bazaar he would do it for them. They would send their maids and Hadhrat Umar would make the purchases and hand over to them. When a message came from the battlefield, bringing letters from soldiers, the Khalifa would himself deliver them at their homes and tell the inmates that the messenger would return on such and such date, and they should keep their letters ready by that time. He would himself supply paper, pen and ink, and when there was no literate person in a family, he would himself sit outside the door and write to their dictation.’ It is known that so vigilant was he to ensure that everyone under his stewardship was looked after, that he frequently went round at night to tend to people’s woes. Aslam, Hadhrat Umar’s(ra) slave, relates that once they came to a place called Sarar about 3 miles from Madinah. There Hadhrat Umar(ra) saw a woman cooking something and her children crying around her. The woman said that she did not have any food and to help calm the children she was pretending to cook. There was nothing in the pot apart from water. The Khalifa was deeply moved. He immediately returned to Madinah, took a pack of flour, meat, butter and dates from the Bait-ul-Maal and told Aslam to load them on his back. Aslam offered to carry them for him. ‘Yes,’ replied the Khalifa, ‘but on the Day of Judgement you will not be there to carry my burden for me.’ So he carried the load himself and placed the provisions before the woman. She cooked and baked bread while the Khalifa tended to the fire. When the food was ready, the children ate and started to play about. A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 53The Review of Religions – November 2005 Hadhrat Umar(ra) saw their joy and left contented. The woman thanked him and said, ‘May God bless you! In truth you are better fitted to be a Khalifa than Umar.’ (Kanz-ul-Ummal Vol VI, p343) Once Hadhrat Umar ( r a ) w a s feeding some people when he saw a man eating with the left hand. Hadhrat Umar(ra) asked him to use his right hand upon which the man replied that he had lost its use in the battle of Yarmuk. The Khalifa was deeply touched. He sad down by his side, said a few kind words and then asked him if he needed any help on a daily basis. Accordingly, Hadhrat Umar(ra) gave him a servant to wait upon him and attend to his needs of washing and dressing. (Kanz-ul-Ummal Vol VI, p354) On another occasion, Hadhrat U m a r( r a ) was once making his rounds at night when he saw a Bedouin sitting outside the door of his tent. The Khalifa sat down with him and opened a conversation when suddenly a cry issued from inside the tent. Hadhrat Umar(ra) asked who it was and was told that it was the wife in throes of childbirth. Hadhrat Umar(ra) came home, took his wife Hadhrat Umme Kalthum(ra) with him and, with the Bedouin’s permission, sent her into the tent. A little later the child was born and Hadhrat Umme-Kalthum( r a ) called out, ‘Ameer-ul-Momineen3 congratulate your friend!’ On hearing the words ‘ A m e e r- u l – Momineen’, the Bedouin became startled and sat down in a respectful manner. ‘Never mind’, said Hadhrat Umar(ra) ‘come to me tomorrow and I shall give a stipend for the baby.’ This sense of duty to the people is also illustrated by another incident that took place in the Khilafat of Hadhrat Ali(ra). Here it is related that one day while Hadhrat Ali(ra) was walking on a road side near the market of Kufa, a man who had come from outside took Hadhrat Ali(ra) for a labourer and asked him to carry his luggage. Hadhrat Ali(ra) did so. As they progressed along the streets, someone recognised him and addressed him with the words ‘Ameer-ul-Momineen.’ The out- A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 54 The Review of Religions – November 2005 sider, on realising his mistake, began to apologise but Hadhrat Ali(ra) was to have none of it. He said, ‘You need not apologise because I think it is my duty to help them who require help.’ This sense of selfless duty was deeply rooted in all the Khulafa- e-Rashida and was a key feature that made them such outstanding leaders of their day. Another prominent feature was their sense of justice. It should be noted that the Holy Qur’an does not advocate any specific system of Government. What it does advocate is that system of Government, in whatever form, to conduct itself fairly and with a high degree of justice. This sense of fairness and justice was not lost on the K h u l a f a – e – R a s h i d a. They recognised that if fairness and justice was truly to be applied then they were no different to anyone else before the law. This was beautifully illustrated by an incident during the Khilafat of Hadhrat Ali( r a ). Here it is related that once a Jew stole Hadhrat A l i ’s( r a ) a r m o u r. When the Khalifa later saw the offender with his a r m o u r, he could have easily snatched it by force but this would have been unlawful. So Hadhrat A l i( r a ) chose to take the matter through the proper judicial process and made his claim before a Q a d i4. The Q a d i, in accordance with the l a w, asked Hadhrat Ali( r a ) for proof of ownership. Hadhrat Ali( r a ) c o u l d not produce any such proof and so the case was dismissed even though it was being made by the Khalifa of the time. Hadhrat Ali( r a ) had no option but to accept the verdict which hid did. However, the Jew was so impressed with this sense of equality and standard of justice that he accepted Islam. This same sense of justice was also displayed during the Khilafat of Hadhrat Umar( r a ). It is recorded that Hadhrat Umar( r a ) took great care to impress the principle of absolute equality of everyone before the law. He himself went to court on several occasions as a party to suits. Once he had a dispute with Ubayy bin Ka’b who lodged a suit against the Khalifa in the court of Zaid bin Thabit. Hadhrat Umar( r a ) appeared as a defendant. Zaid showed him A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 55The Review of Religions – November 2005 h o n o u r. ‘This is your first injustice’, said Hadhrat Umar( r a ) who then sat down alongside U b a y y. Ubayy had no proof and Hadhrat Umar( r a ) denied the complaint. According to usage, the plaintiff desired that Hadhrat U m a r( r a ) take an oath. In view of the defendant’s position as Commander of the Faithful, Zaid requested Ubayy to waive the right of oath. Hadhrat Umar( r a ) w a s annoyed at this partiality saying to Zaid, ‘If Umar and any other man are not equal in your eyes, you are not fit for the post of a judge.’ It was this kind of sincere, selfless, compassionate and just conduct by K h u l a f a – e – R a s h i d a that exhorted praise even from their enemies. The tributes paid to Hadhrat U m a r( r a ) for his excellence of leadership by non-Muslims is well documented. Of Hadhrat Ali( r a ), the following passage is relevant. Once Amir Muawiya, who had been an implacable foe of Hadhrat A l i( r a ) during his Khilafat, asked Zirar Sadayee about the qualities of Hadhrat Ali( r a ). In his reply Zirar replied: ‘He was noble minded and powerful. Whatever he would say would be decisive. His decisions were always based upon justice. Light of knowledge would come out from his every side. He hated the world and its captivity. He used to live among us as we do. When we would ask something he would reply. He would keep us to him and would keep himself to us. He took care of the poor… He would respect the re l i g i o u s people. He never allowed the powerful persons to have lust for wrong and did never disappoint the weak in getting justice. I often saw him weeping alone at night and uttering ‘O world thou cans’t cheat me, thou art posing as if thou lovest me, but I know. I divorce thee thrice.’ Hearing these words, Amir Muawiya began to weep and said, ‘May Allah have mercy upon Abul Hasan. By Allah he was exactly as you say.’ This then was the golden period of the early Islam surpassed only by the life of the Holy Prophet(sa) itself. These Khulafa, through A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 56 The Review of Religions – November 2005 their righteous conduct, demonstrated the true art of good leadership. They were absolute rulers and had absolute power. Power, it is said, corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolute- ly. This may be true except in the case of Khilafat because here that absolute power is perfectly balanced by another absolute inherent in the incumbent – the absolute fear and love of God. Were this not so, then Hadhrat U m a r( r a ) would not have been driven to go out at night to ensure that his subjects were looked after, Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) would not have milked the lady Bedouin’s goats and were this not so then Hadhrat Uthman(ra) would not have gladly sacrificed his life in defending the institution of Khilafat and Hadhrat Ali(ra) would not have carried the luggage of an ordinary citizen when asked to do so. This overarching sentiment of the fear of Allah that dominates every action of the Khalifa, was vividly expressed by the fourth successor of the second period of Khilafat- e-Rashida, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir A h m a d( r u ). In his first address after becoming Khalifa he said, ‘It is true that I am not answerable to you, nor to anyone else, nor to any individual of the Community. But this is no freedom. For now I am directly answerable to my Lord. You can be unaware of my faults, for you have no access to my heart. You know neither the apparent, nor the hidden. But my Lord sees through the inmost depths of my heart. If any pleas are false, He shall not accept them. Only such decisions will be approved by Him which I take sincerely, with full faith in Him and regardful of His fear. So my neck, freed from the hold of weak mortals is now in the grip of the Sovereign Lord of this universe and is bent low before Him. This is not a light burden. My whole being is tre m b l i n g under its crushing weight. The idea that my Lord be pleased A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA 57The Review of Religions – November 2005 with me overwhelms me. How I wish that He may let me live only to that moment until I am able to walk in the ways of His pleasure! How I wish that He may grant me power to desist f rom thinking and doing anything even for a moment which is against His pleasure and that such a notion may never cross my mind… ’ (Ahmadi Muslims p.123-124) Khilafat is a reward from Allah to those believers who do good. A Divine reward for goodness cannot be one except infused with goodness itself. And so is the case with the reward of Khilafat. It becomes vested in such noble and saintly individuals whose duty to God compels them to lead with compassion, justice, scrupulous honesty and bring nothing but good to the people they serve. That Khilafat-e-Rashida is with us once again and according to the Hadith cited at the opening of this article. It is to remain with us forever. This is because the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) did not speak of it coming to an end and instead remained quiet after mentioning its advent. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to recognise the true value of this noble institution so that we and our future generations, can remain under its canopy and become the recipients of the innumerable blessings associated with this reward of Allah. References 1. Predawn supererogatory prayer 2. The Treasury 3. Commander of the Faithful 4. Judge A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE QUALITIES OF KHILAFAT-E-RASHIDA