Ayyaz Mahmood Khan, UK
‘God has appointed me as the Caliph and God Almighty never errs in His selection. If all the world accepts me, this will not make my Khilafat [Caliphate] greater, and if everyone, God forbid, were to leave me, even then, this would not affect Khilafat. Just as a Prophet is still a Prophet even by himself, so too a Caliph is still a Caliph even by himself. Blessed is the one who accepts the verdict of God. The weight that God Almighty has placed on me is immensely great, and if it were not for God’s support, I could do nothing. But I firmly believe that the holy being of God will most definitely support me.’Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra)
The Esteemed Stature of the Caliphs
These timeless and passionate words of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), the second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, are words which define in the most eloquent of ways, the greatness of Khilafat [Caliphate] – a system of leadership established by God Himself. In fact, the only divinely instituted system of leadership present in the world today. These words of the Second Caliph (ra) are the voice of every Caliph. They are powerful, they are endearing, they are passionate, they are full of sincerity and conviction, they are infused with the fragrance of humility, they are replete with a sense of duty, and more than anything else, they show that the hand of God supports the Caliph. They demonstrate the stark difference between a spiritual leader appointed by God whose only desire is to instil the love of God into the hearts of humanity and other self-proclaimed leaders – spiritual or otherwise. These beautiful words shine a light not only on Khilafat, but also on the pure nature of every Caliph as a person – each one of those pious and godly souls who occupy this august office – the man himself in every age, a man we have in our midst even today – the man who is my heart, and in fact the heart of Ahmadis the world over.
Khilafat [the Caliphate] Was Our Guiding Light
I am a convert. I still vividly remember the day my family accepted Ahmadiyyat – it was the 26th of November 1994. I was nine. I clearly remember the arduous journey my parents took in their search for the truth. I remember the hurdles, the struggles, the self-doubt along the way. But more than anything else – and Allah is my witness that as I write these words I feel my eyes well up with tears – I know, now more than ever, that Khilafat was the guiding light which ultimately helped my parents overcome all odds and embrace Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam. Or perhaps I should say, which enabled them to remove the veils on their hearts so that Ahmadiyyat could embrace us. When I reflect on that time, on that journey, as a nine-year-old boy who knew nothing about religion or theological debates, I can recall one thing in specific. I remember that during the days that my parents were researching Ahmadiyyat, I happened to see the picture of a man whom I fell immediately in love with, simply because his was the most beautiful face I had ever seen in the world. I did not even know his name. In fact, as an ignorant child, I did not even care to know. All I knew was that I had never seen a face so pure in my life, so beautiful, so affectionate, and so angelic. I took the picture and put it up in my room. To this day, I still have that picture. It was a portrait of the Fourth Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), the then Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
A Child’s Love for the Caliph
I remember that as soon as I laid eyes on that photo, even though I did not know his name, Allah had etched his name on my heart – an innocent child of nine. I felt a love for him even before I had met him, even before my family had decided if they were going to join the community or not. It was a love similar to the love one feels for their grandparents, but no, something deeper, more meaningful, something I will never be able to articulate in words, but the warmth of which I can feel even now as I pen my emotions. Over the years, I have asked myself this question often. How could I have felt so much love for a person I did not even know? The reason is simple – he was the Caliph of the time, chosen and appointed by Allah for the spiritual and moral guidance of all humanity. When Allah chooses a man to be His representative on earth, He Himself fills the hearts of people with love for His chosen one.
The Miracle of Love – A Sign that the Caliph is Chosen by God
So without delving into an in-depth academic discussion, I can say from personal experience that the love which Allah Almighty instils in the hearts of ordinary people for his Caliph is a miracle and a sign, which demonstrates in practical terms that it is God Himself who appoints the Caliph. It must be clear that I am not the only one. There are countless others who have had similar experiences. What makes this an even greater miracle and sign from God is that people from all over the world see the Caliph in their dreams even before they have heard of the community. People belonging to diverse nations and from all parts of the world share their experiences. These incidents are not few and far between – there are countless examples and authentic testimonies to this effect throughout the ages; even today. Surely, this cannot be coincidence.
Drawn to Obedience of the Caliph Through Dreams
When the Second Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) was divinely conferred with the robe of Khilafat, in the days immediately after, he said: ‘Hundreds of people have been turned to me in obedience through dreams. Even in these few days that have passed almost 150 dreams were seen by various people.’
When the fifth and current Caliph, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) was raised to the station of Khilafat, people from all over the world came forward and related their dreams about him, in which Allah the Exalted informed Ahmadis that Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, our beloved Imam, would be the next Caliph. In this way, Allah the Exalted strengthens the faith of the believers and makes it clear to them that if they seek spiritual salvation, they must obey this chosen one of God; that they must attach themselves to him, and never let go. These ordinary people are informed by God Almighty through the most manifest signs that even in the most perilous storms, if they remain obedient to Khilafat, they will be protected from every danger.
Khilafat [Caliphate] is Always Triumphant Over Opponents
The Holy Quran states:
‘Allah has decreed: ‘Most surely I will prevail, I and My Messengers.’ Verily, Allah is Powerful, Mighty.’The Holy Qur’an 58:22
As Khilafat is a divine system that advances the mission of the Prophets after they have passed on from this world, the successors of a Prophet are also victorious over their enemies in the face of opposition. Therefore, another practical means by which we determine that the Caliph is appointed by God is that when confronted with even the fiercest onslaughts and the most vigorous opposition, the Caliph is always triumphant, and his adversaries are always met with failure. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has witnessed time and again that when enemies have schemed, plotted and conspired against Khilafat, the nurturing hand of God’s providence and power has protected the Caliph and his community from all harm, and nothing has been able to thwart the progress of this divine community and the divine institution that leads it. In fact, opposition has only served as compost to further enrich the garden of Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam. Is this not evidence that the Caliph is appointed by God and is blessed with divine support?
Is it not extraordinary that without any apparent worldly or political power, even when despotic rulers have sought to destroy the institution of Khilafat, by Allah’s grace, the community has only gone from strength to strength under the divine leadership and guidance of Khilafat?
Khilafat [the Caliphate] Represents the True Islam
Can one ignore that when attacks are made against Islam and the Holy Prophet (sa), it is the Caliph of the time who is first to raise his voice and educate the world about the true teachings of Islam? When the Caliph meets with world leaders and delivers addresses in parliaments throughout the world, he courageously speaks about the injustices that world powers are inflicting upon weaker nations of the world and provides practical solutions to world problems. Through the blessed system of Khilafat countless schools and hospitals are being built throughout the world. A whole host of humanitarian services are being offered to those in need.
It is through Khilafat that the true teachings of Islam are being propagated throughout the world today. People who were once on the verge of losing faith in God completely say that through the prayers and guidance of Khilafat, they have fostered a living relationship with Allah Almighty. Does this not demonstrate that the Caliph is appointed by God?
Today, all Ahmadis can vouch for the fact that we witness signs of the existence of God and see miracles through the prayers of our beloved Imam, the Fifth Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba). Through the nurturing care and spiritual guidance of our Beloved Huzoor [His Holiness], we develop a deeper understanding and love for the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) and Allah Almighty. Through his own pristine example, our Beloved Huzoor guides us on the path that leads to the pleasure of God. Sacrificing every ounce of his being, he prays in the dark of night, for us, so that Allah may remove our pains and sorrows, and so that Allah may bless us with His grace. Let us remember that all our success and all our strength is through our obedience to Khilafat. We too must remember to pray for our Beloved Caliph so that God may soothe his heart from the anguish that he feels for us. We must always be grateful to God for him and never forget the importance of safeguarding this invaluable treasure.
No Other Leadership Like the True Khilafat [Caliphate]
Today, there is no other community in the world that has been able to establish the system of Khilafat by their own human designs. There are various forms of spiritual and worldly leadership throughout the world today, but none have been able to accomplish the feats of Khilafat. It is this practical testimony of God through his support for the Caliph, against all odds, which demonstrates that God appoints the Caliph.
Earlier, when I spoke about my family’s journey to Ahmadiyyat, I mentioned how Khilafat was our guiding light. I mentioned how ordinary people are filled with love for a man, who they do not even know. Among other things, this has always been a sign for me at a personal level which shows that Allah is the One who appoints the Caliph, because God brings people from all the four corners of the earth to his Caliph so that he may purify them, and so that those people follow him, benefit from his guidance, seek his prayers, and join him in doing good works.
My First Time Meeting the Fifth Caliph (aba)
Before I close, I want to reflect also on another defining moment in my life which was the first time I met the Fifth Caliph (aba). On that unforgettable afternoon of 23 April 2003, in Islamabad, Tilford, now a young adult of nineteen, as I stood in line to meet my beloved Master for the first time, all I knew about him was that his name was Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. Ignorant as I was, I knew nothing more. I did know, however, that now, it was in his hands that I had entrusted my soul. As a whirlwind of emotions spiralled in my heart, not knowing what to feel, the moment I walked in and saw Huzoor [His Holiness], I felt the same feelings I had experienced ten years ago as a nine-year-old child. In that office, as I looked at Huzoor’s blessed countenance, I saw the picture of a man whom I fell immediately in love with, simply because his was the most beautiful face I had ever seen in the world. I saw a face so pure, so beautiful, so affectionate, and so angelic. As Huzoor took hold of my hand and his warmth radiated into my being – a warmth that I feel even now as I write these words and my eyes well up with tears – I knew everything would be alright.It was in that moment that I truly realised, ‘God Appoints the Caliph.’
About the Author: Ayyaz Mahmood Khan is an Imam who spent seven years in the International Theological College of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in London where he studied the oriental languages of Persian, Arabic and Urdu, as well as comparative religions specialising in colonial South Asian polemic literature of the nineteenth century. Ayyaz has produced and presented numerous television programs focusing on the interplay of modern society and religion. He has given lectures at UCL and Imperial College in areas of Shariah and the Islamic concept of the Caliphate.