Sarmad Naveed, Canada
Over a century ago, a movement began which would change the world forever.
This movement had modest beginnings, starting from a small hamlet in India known as Qadian. There, a humble man with a quiet disposition by the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) was divinely informed that he was in fact the second coming of Jesus (as) for whom the majority of the world was eagerly waiting; that he was the same long-awaited Messiah foretold by so many of the world’s major religions; prophesied above all by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) himself.
Eventually, this led to the formation of a divine community, which claims to follow Islam in its purest essence, exactly as it has been taught by the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet (sa). As is the case with any divine and truthful movement, it was met with grave, even fatal opposition. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) was the target of countless allegations, fabrications, attacks and assaults, all in an attempt to have him desist and disband the community which was gradually growing in strength.
Establishment of the true Caliphate
The sad time came however, which must be faced by every mortal in this world; Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) passed away in 1908. His opponents jested and jeered, seeing what they thought to be the end of the movement which he had started. They thought that it would be impossible for this community, of such humble beginnings, to flourish further even after the demise of its founder.
However their ignorance blinded them to the fact that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) had in fact been foretold by God regarding his demise. As such, he had informed his community of this fact, and even informed his community of what was to come after:
‘So do not grieve over what I have said to you, nor should your hearts be distressed for it is essential for you to witness the second manifestation also, and its coming is better for you because it is everlasting, the continuity of which will not end till the Day of Judgement. And that second manifestation cannot come unless I depart. But when I depart, God will send that second manifestation for you, which shall always stay with you just as promised by God in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. And this promise is not for my person, rather the promise is with reference to you, as God [addressing me] says: ‘I shall make this Jama`at [Community] who are your followers, prevail over others till the Day of Judgment.” 
This promise of the second manifestation, or successorship, was not anything new; rather, this divine promise given to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) was a reiteration of a promise made by God Almighty recorded in the Holy Qur’an:
‘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 that He will, surely give them in exchange security and peace after their fear; They will worship Me, and they will not associate anything with Me. Then whoso is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious.’ 
Thankfully, the Community of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Promised Messiah, fulfilled the conditions stipulated in this verse for the fulfillment of the promise made by God, as the Promised Messiah (as) himself attests:
‘I am thankful to God Almighty for granting me a sincere and loyal community. I observe that whenever I call upon them for any task or purpose, they swiftly and passionately come forward, in an attempt to excel one another, according to their strength and ability. I can see that they possess a spirit of devotion and sincerity.’ 
This is the reason why the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, this movement continues to flourish in the world; through the second manifestation, through Khilafat.
Purpose of the Caliphate
Khilafat [Caliphate] is an Arabic term referring to the system of successorship that follows after the demise a prophet. After the Holy Prophet (sa), there was successorship known as Khilafat-e-Rashida (The Rightly Guided Successorship). Similarly, after the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) (who became a prophet only under the shadow of the Holy Prophet (sa) and due to complete subservience to him), there is the successorship known as Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya (the Successorship of Ahmadiyyat).
The purpose of this system of successorship is to further the mission of the prophet and propagate the message, thereby bringing it to completion. However, in recent years the term ‘Caliphate’ began taking on a negative connotation in the media, due to the actions of miscreants and divergent factions, which of course have nothing to do with the true essence of a Caliphate, or Islam altogether. This begs the question; what then, is the role of a Caliphate in today’s world?
This question has been answered by the current, Fifth Caliph and Worldwide of Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), who states:
‘Whilst worldly leaders have secular goals, the purpose of Khilafat is to draw the attention of all people towards fulfilling each other’s rights. It is to instill a spirit amongst Ahmadi Muslims of giving precedence to their faith over all worldly matters and Khilafat makes every effort to peacefully establish the Unity of God in the world.’ 
Connection Between a Caliph and His Community
But consider this; light can be of no use if one chooses to keep their eyes shut. Similarly, despite the guiding light of Khilafat being present in the world today, it cannot be of any benefit to a person unless one opens their heart and establishes a connection of love and loyalty with it, as His Holiness (aba) explains:
‘…the mere establishment of this institution does not hold any significance unless there is a relationship between the Khalifa of the time and members of the Community based on sincerity, loyalty, devotion and love and such a bond can only be created by Allah the Almighty. No individual or human endeavour can create or sustain such a bond. It is this very bond that is the guarantor of the unity and progress of the Community. Moreover, this is also evidence for the fulfilment of the promise of Allah the Almighty and of His continuous support of the Promised Messiah (as) and of the truthfulness of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.’ 
Thus, it is the unique bond that millions across the world have with Khilafat that sets it apart. In fact, the level of connection and love which the Community has for Khilafat only adds to the veracity of proof that this Khilafat [Caliphate] is indeed the fulfillment of God’s promise, and the prophecy made by the Holy Prophet (sa). His Holiness (aba) describes the connection which Ahmadis have with Khilafat when he states:
‘The relationship that members of the Community have with Khilafat is possessed by those who have been Ahmadi from birth as well as those who have recently joined, including children, youth, men and women and also by such Ahmadis who live far away and have never even seen the Khalifa of the time.
All these people have excelled in sincerity and loyalty and they continuously try to excel further. Whenever they receive a directive from the Khalifa [the Caliph] of the time, they try to act upon it. They express their love and relationship in such a manner that one is truly astounded.
All these things are a practical evidence for the fulfilment of the promise of Allah Almighty and also the progress of the Community is also dependent upon this relationship. As I said, the relationship that the Community has with Khilafat and in turn, the Khalifa of the time has with the Community, is evidence of the continuous support of Allah Almighty.
These are not just mere claims, rather this is demonstrated through hundreds of thousands of accounts where members of the Community have expressed these sentiments. If those incidents were gathered, they would result in countless voluminous books.’ 
What Makes the Caliphate of Ahmadiyyat Unique?
But as is the case with any true relationship, it cannot be a one way street. Especially when it comes to leadership, what people desire is proximity and accessibility; a response or acknowledgement of some sort. As His Holiness (aba) describes, this is exactly what makes Khilafat unique:
‘Which leader or dictator is there who keeps a personal connection with each of his citizens? On the other hand the Khalifa [Caliph] of the time maintains a personal connection with Ahmadi Muslims from amongst every race and from all parts of the world. It is Khilafat [the Caliphate] alone that cares for and feels the pain of every Ahmadi Muslim and prays for them.’ 
It is when the love from both sides meets, when the bond between a Khalifa and members of the Community is established, that the promise of God, the prophecy of the Holy Prophet (sa) and the vision of the Promised Messiah (as) are fulfilled. Khilafat is indeed the very rope of Allah to which God has commanded all to hold fast.  That would be the wise thing to do, because there is nothing that compares to the love between a Khalifa and his people, and no leadership or love in the world can compare. It is in fact in many ways the primary proponent for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s continued surging success. His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) states:
‘Before sleeping at night there is no country of the world that I do not visit in my imagination and no Ahmadi for whom I do not pray whilst sleeping and whilst awake. I am not doing any favour because this is my duty and may Allah enable me to ever increase in assuming my responsibilities. The only reason I have said this is to make it clear that there can be no comparison between Khilafat and other worldly or secular leaders.’ 
Hence in today’s world, there can be no love truer, than the love between a Khilafa and his people.
About the Author: Sarmad Naveed is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who graduated from the Ahmadiyya Institute for Languages and Theology in Canada. He serves on the Editorial Board of The Review of Religions and coordinates the Facts from Fiction section. He has also appeared as a panelist and host of programmes on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) such as ‘Ahmadiyyat: Roots to Branches.’
 The Will, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20, p. 7
 The Holy Qur’an 24:56
 Malfuzat, Vol. 2, p. 53 (English Translation)
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