In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.
Love for All, Hatred for None.
(Surah Al-Nur, Verse 56)
Allah had 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 who so is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious.
The promise of the establishment of Khilafat is clear and unmistakable. As the Holy Prophet is now humanity's sole guide for all time, his Khilafat must continue to exist in one form or another in the world till the end of time, all other Khilafahs having ceased to exist. This is among many others the Holy Prophet's distinct superiority over all other Prophets and Messengers of God. Our age has witnessed his greatest spiritual Khalifa in the person of Ahmad, the Promised Messiah.
The Qur'an has mentioned three kinds of Khalifas:
Briefly, the verse under comment covers all these categories of Khalifas, viz., the Holy Prophet's rightly-guided Khalifas, the Promised Messiah, his Successors and the spiritual Reformers or Mujaddids. Their mission, as the above verse says, is to protect the Law and to bring back "the erring flock into the Master's fold."
The special marks and characteristics of these Khalifas are:
The verse may also be regarded as embodying a prophecy which was made at a time when Islam was very weak and idols were being worshipped throughout Arabia and the Muslims being small in number feared for their very lives, and yet in the course of only a generation the prophecy was literally fulfilled. Idolatry disappeared from Arabia and Islam became firmly established not only in Arabia but also reigned supreme in the whole world and the followers of the Holy Prophet, erstwhile regarded as the dregs and scum of humanity, became the leaders and teachers of nations.
The words, "Whosoever is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious," signify that Khilafat is a great Divine blessing. Without it there can be no solidarity, cohesion and unity among Muslims and therefore they can make no real progress without it. If Muslims do not show proper appreciation of Khilafat by giving unstinted support and obedience to their Khalifas they will forfeit this great Divine boon and in addition will draw the displeasure of God upon themselves.
(The Holy Quran with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. 4, pp. 1869-1870.)