Since the creation of man, the advent of a prophet has always been a manifestation of Divine mercy and a source of many blessings. On the demise of the prophet, there is a second manifestation of Divine mercy and bounty in the form of the institution of Khilafat. The institution of Khilafat is a unique Divinely-established religio-political system. Khilafat is the office and realm of the Khalifa or successor to the prophet elected as the supreme leader of the community of believers. He commands the highest moral position of his time and in him is vested absolute authority in all affairs religious.
After the Holy Prophet(saw), through Divine grace, the Islamic empire was united under the leadership of the Khulafa-ar-Rashideen – Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) followed by Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra), Hadhrat ‘Uthman(ra) and Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra). The period of the Khulafa-ar-Rashideen represents a golden era in the history of Islam and manifold blessings emanated from their Khilafat as has been presented in recent editions of this magazine.
However, due to internal disputes which culminated in the martyrdom of Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra), the fourth and final Khalifa of this period, that brilliant beacon of guidance and unity, that glorious fountain of blessings and mercies was lost to Muslims. Muslims discarded the robe of Khilafat and with it all its countless blessings. The system of monarchy, devoid of all spiritual glory, was instituted in the place of Khilafat with various dynasties arising over many centuries. Civil wars and internecine feuds greatly weakened the Muslims. Nations that in the past trembled and bowed before them now confronted them with insolence and invariably succeeded in humiliating the Muslims. Islamic influence and world dominion began to diminish until the time came when other religions, though based on false doctrines, began to dominate the true religion of Islam.
The re-establishment of Khilafat amongst the Muslims has to date been one of the greatest challenges facing the Muslims. Present-day Islam is torn with internal strife and external intrigues and is in dire need of a leader, a man of integrity who would take charge of the institution of Khilafat and under Divine guidance lead the Muslim nation. Various movements to establish Khilafat amongst mainstream Muslims have arisen in the past and recently in our time as well. It is a sad but historical fact that all have met with failure. This is because they are devoid of any Divine guidance and are based solely on human endeavour with self-indulgence and personal desire for power at the heart of their foundation and objective.
Khilafat is a spiritual dominion of Allah Almighty and its establishment is never brought about by any political or pseudo-religious movement. Whenever Khilafat is established by Divine design, it has been through a prophet of Allah. History furnishes not a single instance where Khilafat was established without the advent of a prophet preceding it. The Khilafat promised in the Holy Qur’an (Ch.24:V.56) is in the footsteps of a prophet. 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 precept 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 monarchical despotism to last as long as Allah shall will and come to an end upon His decree. There will then emerge Khilafat on the precept of Prophethood.”1
From this prophecy of the Holy Prophet(saw) it is clear that the Khilafat which would come into being after him would consist of two eras – one would follow immediately after his death and between that and the other would intervene a period of suppressive, oppressive and cruel regimes. On the demise of the Holy Prophet(saw), that blessed institution of Khilafat was established as prophesied. It was to be re-established only with the advent of the Promised Messiah(as) and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam.
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, was a faithful servant of Allah and a devoted follower of the Holy Prophet(saw). He claimed that he had been appointed by Almighty Allah as the voice articulate of this age; that he is the Messiah foretold in the Traditions of the Holy Prophet(saw) and the Mahdi promised in his Sayings. He claimed that the prophecies contained in all the different religious books about the advent of a Divine Messenger in the latter days have also been fulfilled in his person; that God had raised him for the advocacy and promulgation of Islam in our time; that God had granted him insight into the Holy Qur’an and revealed to him its innermost meaning and truth.
By his work, his message and his example, the Promised Messiah(as) glorified the Holy Prophet(saw) and demonstrated the superiority of Islam over other religions so that the Holy Prophet(saw) could be accepted as the Seal of the Prophets by all the peoples of the world. At a time when fanaticism, obscurantism and bigotry had become the hallmark of Muslim thinking, he displayed before the wondering eyes of seekers after truth, a vast and seemingly limitless treasury of knowledge, philosophy and wisdom from the Holy Qur’an. The moral and spiritual values inculcated by the Holy Qur’an and illustrated to their perfection by the Holy Prophet(saw) were revived by him, so that men of their age could profit not only from his precept but also from his example.
Before his demise, he had prophesied in categorical terms that the institution of Khilafat would be re-established among his Community. Intimating that his end was nigh, he addressed his followers in the following words:
“So dear friends! It has always been the way of Allah to show two manifestations of His Power. He thereby demolishes two false joys of the opponents. It is impossible that He should now change this long established Divine practice. Grieve not therefore at what I am telling you. Nor should you be heartbroken as you are destined to witness the second manifestation of His Power. And this second manifestation will be better for you as it is everlasting and will remain unbroken until the Day of Judgement. And this second manifestation cannot occur until after I am gone. But once I have departed Allah will bring about for you the second manifestation of His Power and it will remain with you forever.”2
On his demise, obituaries from open-minded Muslims and non-Muslims alike paid rich tribute to his messianic qualities, purity and righteousness. A champion of Islam had departed from the scene and his death was an irreparable loss. His unthinking opponents, however, rejoiced in his death hoping that what they considered a grave heresy would now die a natural death and be relegated to history. For the members of the Ahmadiyya Movement, notwithstanding numerous prophecies warning of his fast-approaching end, the impact of his demise was filled with grief.
At that critical hour, his most devoted follower – an eminent divine, a reputed physician, a discerning mystic and an erudite commentator on the Holy Qur’an – was unanimously elected to the office of Khalifatul Masih. By the grace of Allah, in that capacity, he navigated the ship of Ahmadiyyat to safe waters fully safeguarding it from disintegration. His name, Nur-ud-Din, that is, the Brilliance of Faith, was synonymous to his brilliant services in the name of faith.
The Promised Messiah(as) who knew him best singled him out for a glowing tribute in the following words:
“Among my many pious friends, there is one far-sighted, gifted with vast knowledge, soft-spoken, polite, steadfast in faith, God-fearing, trusting, a savant, pious, scholar, devout, saintly spiritual, towering Muhaddith, outstanding Hakim, Haji-ul-Haramain [Pilgrim to the two sacred Mosques], Hafiz-ul-Qur’an [could recite the Holy Qur’an by heart], an offspring of Farooq [Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra)]. His name is Maulawi Nur-ud-Din Bhervi. In sincerity, devotion, dedication, loyalty and love, he is foremost among my followers.”3
The rest of this edition looks at the life of Hadhrat Haji Hakim Maulawi Nur-ud-Din, Khalifatul Masih I(ra) – his childhood, his pre-Khilafat days, his Khilafat and the impact of his Khilafat.
1. Musnad Ahmad, by Ahmad bin Hanbal.
2. The Will, by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), p.7.
3. Hamaamatul Bushra, by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), p.6.
• Hadhrat Maulawi Nur-ud-Din(ra) Khalifatul Masih I, Second Edition, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra)