بسم الله الحمد لله و صلاة و سلام على رسول الله و على آله و سلم
Throughout my dialog with current Ahmadis, I have explained why Mirza Masroor and his ilk are not Khulafa’. This criticism has been met with push-back, insistence that he is a khalifah. In this article, I hope to explain why Muslims do not consider the “Khulafa-e-Ahmadiyya” system to be a Khilafah.
In a nutshell: The key historic definition of a Khalifah is the supreme political leader of the ummah (Muslim Nation), with autonomous power over an independent state, whose job is to govern based on the Shari’ah. None of the supreme Ahmadi leaders have ever met this definition and are therefore not Khulafa’.
When most think of the Khilafa, they exclusively think of Saydina Abu Bakr, Saydina ‘Umar, Saydina ‘Uthman and Saydina ‘Ali رضى الله عنهم. This time was one of the few eras in Islamic history when the political and spiritual authorities were vested in the same person, the ideal that the Muslims have always nostalgically looked upon.
Most Ahmadis (and even most Muslims) are only aware of their anecdotes, usually during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم. But after his departure, they do not know the policies and styles of governance any of them implemented. The Ahmadiyya view of Islamic history essentially ends after Imam ‘Ali عليه السلام and does not pick up until British-run India. This creates a skewed view of what the Khilafah is: a purely spiritual figurehead. Unfortunately, this notion is not in line with historical reality.
In this article, we will discuss:
- The historical incongruence of the spiritual Imams and Khulafa’, which highlights that the Khilafah is not a purely spiritual position;
- The role of the khalifah during the vast majority of Islamic rule;
- Do the Ahmadi leaders fit the definition of Khulafa’.
Differences between Imams and Khulafa’
As mentioned, with the exception of the first four rightly guided khalifahs, for centuries, there has been open hostility between the righteous Imams and the Khalifah system. What this shows is that the khalifah was not always the most righteous amongst the believers. Examples include:
- During Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah, the 6th Khalifah. Imam Husayn ibn ‘Ali عليه السلام, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, was widely accepted as the spiritual leader of the Muslims and more befitting of leadership than Yazid. Al-Husayn attempted to take the Khilafah from Yazid, but was repelled and murdered, along with much of the Ahl al-Bayt (family of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم).
- ‘Abdullah ibn Zubayr رضى الله عنه was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, a righteous man, and best befitting of the Khilafah. However, the 9th Khalifah’s deputy had him executed and murdered his followers. The same deputy attacked Makkah with catapults and physically destroyed the Ka’bah.
- All Muslims honor Imam Abu Hanifah as a great spiritual Imam, but many do not know that the Imam supported a revolt against the Khalifah.
- Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, widely accepted as the leader of the Muslim lived through several khalifahs, most notoriously the 26th khalifah Mu’tasim-Billah, who tortured the Imam nearly to death.
Undoubtedly there were good khulafa’, such as ‘Umar bin Abdul ‘Aziz. But, recognize that he was only noteworthy because he attempted to reform the Khilafa’ after it had gone astray, implying corruption amongst the Khalifahs! Other than him, the khulafa’ were generally not spiritual leaders. Rather, they were seen by the spiritual Imams as corrupt.
This establishes that a Khalifah’s role is not always spiritual eminence.
The Role of the Khalifah during the vast majority of Islamic History
So, if the Khulafa’ were not religious personages, what was their dominant role? In short, it was to administer over the affairs of the Muslims and implement the law of Allah in the land. Literally, khalifah is translated to mean vicegerent, “an officer appointed as deputy by and to a sovereign or supreme chief.” The supreme chief is Allah, and the affairs he implements is the Shari’ah.
This was the primary role of the Khalifah: implement the Shari’ah in matters of civil financial disputes, family law, business transactions, criminal codes, religious rites, zakah collection and distribution, diplomacy, and the wide range of matters the Shari’ah speaks on.
This implies that the Khalifah must have autonomous political control over the land he rules. He cannot merely be a “Pope-like” figure, who has no sovereignty and is ultimately subject to a president of prime minister, but must have independent power to command the machinery of the state. Otherwise, he would not be able to fulfill the duties of a khalifah.
Another proof that a khalifah must have state authority is the famous narration by the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم speaking about the stages of the Ummah: First will come a prophet, then rightly guided khalifahs, then kingdoms, then dictatorships, then khilafah upon the prophetic way. The prophet was Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, the rightly guided khalifahs were Abu Bakr through ‘Ali, the kingdoms were Banu Umayyad, Banu ‘Abbas and the Ottoman Empire, the dictatorships is what we are currently living through (but are ending as you read this, in sha Allah) and the rightly guided Khilafah is next. Notice, all of these leadership positions had political and state authority over the Muslims.
These two proofs establish that the Khalifah’s primary role is to run the state affairs of the Muslims.
Do the Ahmadi leaders fit the historic definition of the Khalifah?
To repeat the two conclusion, 1) the Khilafah is not purely a spiritual position, and 2) his role demands political autonomy.
Ahmadiyya give primary stock to Mirza Masroor as a khilafah based on spiritual grounds. But as established, this has no bearing on who is or isn’t the Khalifah – otherwise, Imam Al-Husayn عليه السلام would have been considered the 6th Khalifah!
What about his political authority? In short, he has none. He is subject to the authority of David Cameron and cannot implement the aspects of the Shari’ah that necessitate state power (ie, financial disputes, family matters, no war with Iraq, etc). He only has soft-power over his followers, who are technically free to reject his commandments without legal reprimand if they deem fit.
So, is he a Khalifah? Is he Amir al-Mu’mineen? According to any classical definition of the term Khalifah he is most certainly not the Khalifah on Earth, he is not the Commander of the Faithful. He is merely a pope-like figure living in London with no authority.
Shakespeare said “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I say, call Mirza Masroor by whatever name you wish, he is not a Khalifah anymore than Mohammed Burhanuddin, Karim al-Husayni, Taiyeb Ziyauddin or any of these likes.
May Allah continue to guide Ahmadis away from the false teachings of Mirza Ghulam and to the true teachings of the last prophet sent to humanity, Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم. May Allah end all violence directed against them based purely on their religion. May Allah bring current Ahmadis to Islam and unite us all together in Jannah with the Prophets, The Truthful, the Martyrs and the Righteous.
و صلى الله على سيدنا محمد و على آله و سلم