by Mostafa Sabet
This speech was delivered on Khilafat Day, held in Toronto on May 3, 1992 and edited for the Ahmadiyya Gazette by Mostafa Sabet.
The subject of Khilafat in Islam is an important and a vast subject. Today, I will deal with two aspects of it. Firstly, that the Khalifa is appointed by God. Secondly, I will explain what kinds of mistakes the Khalifa is susceptible to make.
I have touched upon this topic last year on Khilafat Day, but the time allowed was too short to deal properly with the subject. This year, the organizers were so kind to allow me to address the same issue and I am indeed grateful to them as they have allowed me one hour to enable me to deal properly with this important subject.
The subject is very important and it is essential for us all to understand it. It is also important for our young people, boys and girls, particularly those who were born and raised in this country, Canada. It is important for the new comer Ahmadis who come to experience real democracy, perhaps for the first time in their life. it is important for those among us who may feel shy to ask questions and bluntly say: “How can a person, who was selected or elected by people, be in the same time appointed by God?”
In short, the subject is very important to us as Ahmadis because Khilafat has been re-established in Ahmadiyya Jamaat and our bai’at (pledge of allegiance) is sworn at the hands of the Khalifa. Thus it is of great importance for us to understand the status of the Khalifa and Who really appointed him.
There may be so many questions in our minds concerning this subject and more questions may come to mind while dealing with the subject. The important question is: Is it possible that a person, who is elected by people, can also be appointed by God? Can we say that Mr. Bush, Mr. Mulroney and other leaders of the world, who were elected by people, are also appointed by God? If we claim that only the Khalifa, who is elected by people, is appointed by God, then what evidence do we have to prove that others who were elected by people, are not appointed by God? Also, if we agree that a Khalifa is appointed by God, then why God does not appoint him without election? Why people should elect him in the first place?
God is the One Who appoints a Prophet; a Prophet is not elected but is chosen and appointed by God; so why does He not appoint also the Khalifa without people participating in the election process? Lastly, if we agree that the Khalifa is appointed by God, then what kinds of mistakes is he susceptible to make? Is he also Ma’soom (protected by Allah like the Prophets)? Is he susceptible to make mistakes related to the Sharia’a (the divine law of jurisprudence) as well as make mistakes related to the welfare and progress of the Jamaat?
All these are genuine questions and I am sure that they are in our minds. We have to bring them out and find answers to them. Some of you who are shy to ask their parents: “Father, what kind of proof you have that the Khalifa is really appointed by God?” They may feel shy, and may not ask the question, but the question will not disappear from their mind. It may be suppressed or set aside or pushed to the back of your mind but it will always remain there, particularly when you study the subject of democracy at school and university or when you discuss with your Canadian friends the election system in Islam vis a vis that in the West.
Thus ignoring these these important questions does not solve any problem. Ignoring these important questions may put our young people, who are living in western democracy, in real danger. Besides, it does not behoove an Ahmadi to be unaware of the answers to these important questions.
Yes, these are not easy questions. The answer is not an easy answer. One has to think about it and seek guidance from Allah and the Holy Quran. Many people have failed to understand the answer to these questions. Many people, even among the followers of the Promised Messiah (A.S. – peace be on him) have failed to understand these concepts and accordingly they have strayed away from the Jamaat. Many people, even from among those who accepted Islam in the time of the Sahabas (the Companions of the Holy Prophet, S.A.W. – peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) have failed to realize that the Khalifa is appointed by God. Out of their ignorance, they rose against the third Khalifa, Hazrat Uthman (R.A. – may Allah be pleased with him), and as we know, the third and fourth Khalifas were killed by Muslims. Consequently, they were deprived of the blessings of Khilafat. Had they readily understood this concept, those crimes against Khilafat would never have been committed.
So it is an important subject. It is indeed a very important subject. Please bear with me in this hour. Lend me your completely attentive ears, and do not take what I say for granted. Listen to it with a critical mind. Criticize what I say. If you have questions at the end of my speech, I would be very glad to answer your questions, not necessarily today, because of shortage of time. But I would be glad to come to you. Invite me to your Halqa. Invite me to your home if you feel that the subject is sensitive and you are shy to ask questions in public. Invite me to your home, I will be satisfied with one cup of tea. If there are some biscuits beside the tea, that will be all right! I will not insist, like the Mulllahs,on having a lot of halwas (sweets). But, if halwas are there, that is all right too!
But please, as I said, take what I say in a critical manner. Criticize it! I like you to criticize it, because when you criticize something you think deeply about it, and when you think you can find the truth. I firmly believe that what I am presenting to you is the truth. When one has the truth, he is confident and has nothing to fear. I would like you also to be convinced of the truth; and I am sure that you will be convinced, Insha’ Allah (God willing).
The question we have to deal with is: How can a Khalifa, who is elected by people, be considered to be appointed by God? There are two ways to approach this question. The first is to show that there are some actions done by man but God considers these actions as His own, and there are actions done by God but are manifested only at at man’s hands. The second approach is to prove that in the process of choosing a Khalifa, it is God Himself Who makes the choice and man is merely casting his vote to manifest God’s Will. We will deal with these two approaches in detail.
Presuming the first approach, we have to seek guidance from the Holy Quran. There in Chapter 56 Allah says:
“Do you see what you sow? Is it you who grow it or are We the Grower?” (56:64-65)
When farmers speak among themselves, they usually speak about the crop they grow. One may say that I am going to grow this or that crop, or the crop which I grew was good this year, and so on. Thus the farmer tills his earth, plants the seeds and grows the crop. But Allah says it is not you who grow. It is We Who are the Grower. In other words, the action which was performed by the farmer is attributed to Allah. Why? The farmer had to follow the system which Allah created for that crop to grow. If the farmer does not follow that system, the crop will not grow. So, the real Grower is Allah. It is He Who created the system and when man follows the system of Allah, in choosing the right soil, in planting the right seeds, in farming at the right time for a particular crop, that crop will grow.
You cannot grow mangoes in Canada during winter time. It is impossible. Unless you build a place where you can have the same environment, the same temperature, the same kind of soil as that located in the Middle East or in India and Pakistan or in the areas where mangoes usually grow. Unless you do all that you cannot grow mangoes in Canada during winter time. When man, through his actions, follows a system created by God to achieve a certain result, that result is the work of Allah.
So you have to follow the system of Allah in electing the Khalifa, and when the result is achieved,by choosing a Khalifa, that result is the action of God.
The Holy Quran says:
“Fight them, Allah will punish them at your hands.” (9:14)
This verse was addressed to the early Muslims who were fighting the aggression of the idolators of Mecca. The aggression and the atrocities committed by the idolators against the Muslims incurred Allah’s anger and made them deserving of His punishment. It has always been the case with the opponents of the prophets that divine punishment befell them when they exceeded in their aggression against the believers.
The people of Noah, Moses, ‘Ad, Saleh, etc., were visited with divine punishment. In the case of the Holy Prophetsaw‘s opponents also, they exceeded all limits in their aggression and divine punishment became imminent. In the above verse, Allah consoles the believers, informing them that the divine punishment is about to descend on their opponents, but instead of visiting them with punishment directly as it happened with other people, here, God’s punishment is going to be applied at the hands of the believers. So, the act is the act of God, but this act of God will be manifested at the hands of the believers. This demonstrates the fact that certain actions done by man in obedience to Allah, following His commandments and in harmony with His Will are in fact the actions of God Himself.
This concept finds further support in the Holy Quran in the following verse:
“You killed them not, but it was Allah Who killed them. And thou threwest not when thou didst throw, but it was Allah Who threw.”
Here again the early believers were addressed in this verse asserting that the killing which took place during their fighting with the aggressor Meccans was attributed to God Himself. It is a well known fact that killing of the Meccans was done by the Muslims, but God says it was He Who killed these Meccans. In other words, because the action taken by Muslims was in obedience to God and following His commandments, then God attributed it to Himself.
There are so many verses in the Holy Quran supporting this concept. With further study of the Holy Quran it becomes clear that when man does certain actions in obedience to God, following His commandments and seeking His pleasure, then these actions become God’s actions. Man in such a case becomes an instrument though which God manifests His Will. Thus the Actual Doer is God. Man serves merely as an instrument. That is the case in the process of electing the Khalifa. Man serves only as an instrument and it is Allah Who makes the choice and appoints the Khalifa.
A question may arise here: If Allah is the One Who appoints the Khalifa, why then He does not appoint him directly as He appoints the prophets? Nobody elects a prophet and God does not use man as an instrument in appointing the prophets so why He does not do the same in appointing the Khalifa? In order to understand the answer to this question we have to understand how Allah manifests Himself through His two attributes: “Ar-Rahman” (The Gracious) and “Ar-Rahim” (The Merciful).
Ar-Rahman is the attribute through which God manifests His blessings for man irrespective of his actions. In other words, if man is a believer or disbeliever, whether he worships God or denys His existence, whether he is worthy or unworthy of that blessing, God will provide for him through His Rahman attribute. Take, for example, the air which Allah provides equally for the righteous and the wicked, for the believer and the non-believer alike. Man did not create the air and did not do any good work to deserve this blessing, but Allah provided it even before man existed. Thus such a blessing is provided through the Rahman attribute.
Rahim attribute is not as general. It is not for everyone. It is confined only to the believers. The Holy Quran says:
“He again turned to them (the believers) with mercy. Surely, He is to them Compassionate, Merciful.” (9:117)
If one is not a believer, then Allah does not manifest Himself to him through the Rahim attribute, he has to become a believer first. There are many divine attributes emanating from the Rahim attribute and all require certain actions from man. If man does not do the actions required, he becomes unworthy to benefit from these attributes.
Appointing a Prophet is done through the Rahman attribute. The question is: When does Allah appoint a Prophet? He appoints a Prophet when evil and wickedness spread in the earth. When all have gone astray and true guidance has disappeared. Thus no one deserves to receive any blessings from Allah. But out of His Grace, i.e., His Rahman attribute, Allah appoints a Prophet. He appoints a Prophet directly.
But after the Prophet has completed his mission and gathered the believers to the right path,then Allah manifests Himself through His Rahim attribute and appoints the Khalifa. For whom? For the believers who believe and do good works. These are the two conditions required by God to appoint the Khalifa. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran:
“Allah has promised to those among you who believe and do good works” (24:56)
These are the two prerequisites: To believe and to do good works. Believing alone is not enough and doing good works without believing is useless. “Good works” here is explained in the context of the verses preceding and following this verse known as Ayatul Istikhlaf or the verse containing the promise of appointing Successors.
Our meeting today started with recitation from the Holy Quran. Seven verses from Chapter Al-Noor (Chapter 24) were recited. You may have noticed that the word “obey” has been mentioned in these seven verses SEVEN times. Why? Because Ayatul Istikhlaf, the verse containing the promise of appointing Successors, is mentioned among these seven verses. Allah wanted to stress and explain that obedience to Allah, His Messenger and to His appointed Khalifa, is the `good works’ required for the promise to be fulfilled.
Open your Holy Qurans and read the verses from 52 till 58 of chapter 24 and count how many times the word `obey’ was mentioned. Without obedience there will be no `good works’ and if there are no `good works’ then the promise will not be fulfilled.
To believe and to do good works through obedience to Allah, His Messenger and his Khalifa, are the TWO prerequisites for this blessing to be manifested. If one prerequisite fails to materialize, the blessing will be taken away. We have seen how in the past, in the early Islamic era, when the Muslims became disobedient to the Khalifa, they were deprived completely of the blessings of Khilafat. They were believers. They believed in Allah. They believed in the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). But they failed to do good works. They failed to obey the Khalifa and the result was that Allah’s blessing of appointing a Khalifa was taken away and thus Khilafat ar-Rashida came to an end.
Appointing a Khalifa by Allah is a very special blessing which is granted only for those who believe and do good works. If people fail to demonstrate that, then Allah will not be the One Who appoints the Khalifa. Allah will not manifest himself through His Rahim attribute. The Rahim attribute is for the believers, and this particular blessing of appointing the Khalifa is for the believers who do good works.
A question may arise in our minds here: A Khalifa is elected by people, but how do we know really that he is ALSO appointed by God? The answer to this question comes also from the Holy Quran where we are directed to pray for ourselves, our children, our wives and also we are directed to pray that Allah may appoint us an Imam or a leader of the righteous. The Holy Quran says:
“… and make us Imam for the righteous” (25:75)
The question is: Does Allah hear this prayer? Of course He does. As long as we are true believers and are obedient.
When a Khalifa passes away, his death brings a great shock to the Community of believers. A death in the family is a great shock. A death of a father is a great shock to his children. Similarly, the death of the spiritual father is a great shock to his spiritual children. Everyone becomes fearful and apprehensive whether Allah will continue to manifest Himself towards them through this blessed institution of Khilafat or not. They become so much grieved and agitated. They question themselves whether they have been obedient to Khilafat or they have gone astray. They turn to Allah. They pray fervently to Him. They repent of all their sins and seek Allah’s forgiveness and beseech Him to guide them. They ask Him: `O Allah! Guide us to choose the person whom You want to appoint’.
The appointment of the Khalifa thus is not their action. It is Allah’s action. They are only instruments in manifesting God’s will. They only cast their votes. As the grower, the farmer who grows crops, only throws the seeds but Allah is the real Grower. As those who participated in the battles against the aggressor Meccans, only did the fighting, but it was the punishment of Allah which was manifested at their hands.
So, the believers pray: `O Allah! Give us guidance. Tell us, whom You want to appoint, and we, in obedience to You, we shall cast our votes for him’.
Here we have to ask the question: What is the purpose of religion? It is not only to make good people and to live in a peaceful and harmonious environment. The main purpose of religion is to bring man in contact with God. It is to establish a relationship between man and his Creator. This is simply the object of religion. If that object does not materialize, then there is no need for such a religion. It is indeed a dead religion which does not bring man in contact with God. Islam is the living religion and through Islam alone can man establish a relationship with God.
This relationship dictates that when man is in difficulty and calls upon God to help him out, when man is in trouble, when man really needs guidance from Allah, then Allah would turn to him, hear his cries, accept his prayers and grant him guidance.
What is more troublesome than the death of a spiritual father, the death of the leader of the Community, the death of the Imam of the righteous? That most righteous person who was leading the Jamaat has passed away and the Community is without a leader. It is like a body without a head. What do the believers do? They go to Allah, throw themselves at His threshold and plead with Him: `O Allah! Help us, guide us to select the person whom You want to appoint as our Khalifa’.
Allah out of His Rahim attribute, manifests this blessing again. He guides the believers and informs them to elect the person whom he wants to appoint. They only cast their votes for that person. Who are those who cast their votes? It is not you and me. It is not anyone and everyone. It is not the majority. It is not everyone who is 16 or 18 years of age and a citizen of a particular country. No! The system of appointing the Khalifa is different from that of Western democracy.
The believers pray that Allah may appoint for them an Imam of the righteous. An Imam of the righteous is THE most righteous person who is fit to be a leader, and it is only the righteous who have the right to cast their votes. It is only the righteous people who would go to Allah and ask Him to guide them and to tell them whom He wanted to appoint. These people must have attained to a high level of righteousness that a relationship between them and God has already been established, that they will ask Allah’s guidance and Allah will answer their prayers and communicate to them His Will of appointing a particular person, the Imam of the righteous. Then they will cast their votes for him.
If this righteousness is not there, the whole system collapses. Without righteousness, Allah does not participate and it is entirely up to the people to choose whomsoever they please according to the majority of vote. Thus everyone elected by people is not automatically appointed by God. A person has to be elected according to the system of God in order to be appointed by God. If a person who is the most righteous is elected to be the leader of the righteous, and only the righteous did cast their votes, then that person is appointed by God.
The election of Mr. Bush and Mr. Mulroney and the other leaders of the world does not satisfy these conditions and accordingly they cannot be appointed by Allah. Yes, they may have been democratically elected but not divinely appointed. In fact, Hitler was democratically elected. He came to power through democratic election. It was not a rigged or phony election as usually happens in the Third World countries. It was genuine, clean, true, democratic election. But it was not done according to the system of Allah. Righteousness was not here. And when righteousness is not there, then Allah is not there also.
The whole matter, then, depends on Taqwa, righteousness. If there is no Taqwa Allah is not there. Here, another question may arise: Who are those people who elect the Khalifa and how can we ensure that they have attained such a high level of Taqwa? For this purpose, an Electoral School is established to elect the Khalifa. There is no fixed number for those who participate in the election process. The only condition is that they must be on a high level of righteousness.
When the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) passed away, the leaders of the Muslim community agreed together to take Hazrat Abu Bakr as the First Khalifa. He himself, being the most righteous, appointed the Second Khalifa. Before his death, the Second Khalifa appointed an Electoral School comprising of six of the leaders of the community to whom the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) had given the glad tidings that they belonged to Paradise.
In the Renaissance of Islam, after the advent of the Promised Messiah, the Second Khalifa, Hazrat Musleh Mawood (R.A. – may Allah be pleased with him), appointed am Electoral School consisting of the Disciples and family of the Promised Messiah (A.S.), those who were holding the highest offices in the community as Nazirs, those who have dedicated their lives to serve the community and have served outside of Pakistan for at least three years; and those who have been elected as National Presidents of the Jamaat in their respective countries.
They all get together, they must get together where the Khalifa has passed away. One cannot send his vote from Canada or the United States. One must go there because there he will be in the company of the righteous. There he will see the effect of the death of the Khalifa and will experience the agony and the grief of the separation which will bring him closer to Allah. There he will participate in the Du’aa (supplication). All his time will be dedicated to renew, purify and strengthen his relationship with Allah. He will pray and pray and pray: `O Allah! Guide me and tell me whom You want to appoint as Khalifa’.
All hose who participate in the election process may not necessarily be on the highest level of righteousness. Not each and every individual participating has necessarily established a relationship with Allah. Besides, a person may be on a high level of righteousness but Allah may not elect to communicate with him. Allah does not have to communicate with each and every individual but He communicates with the majority of them. If the majority is not righteous, then it cannot be a righteous community. And if it is not a righteous community, then Allah is not there.
Those people ask Allah whom He wanted to appoint. The majority among them will receive guidance from Allah relating to a certain person, so they cast their votes, and that person is appointed. By whom? By Allah!
Let us consider this example: If you have a plate containing an orange, a banana, an apple and a pear. Someone told you to select a fruit from that plate for your father. You could have made your own selection and presented it to your father, but instead you went to your father and asked him: `Father, which fruit do you want?’ The father said: `I want the apple.’ Thus, you went and picked up the apple and presented it to him. Who then made the choice? Is it you who picked it up? No! It is your father who made the choice.
The same is the case with the election of the Khalifa. Not with the election of Mr. Bush. Not with the election of Hitler. Not with the election of any other person. It is ONLY with the election of the Khalifa. It is the election which is based on righteousness and that righteousness is based on the relationship between the righteous people and their Creator. So, it is Him Who makes the choice and it is Him Who appoints the Khalifa.
It may be pointed out here that Allah has bestowed a great honour on the believers by allowing them to participate in the process of appointing the Khalifa. In case of appointing a Prophet, the believers do not yet exist, so God appoints the Prophet on His own, directly, without participation from anyone. But once the community of believers is established, Allah wanted to confer this honour upon them by inviting them to participate n the process of appointing the Khalifa. Though the ultimate choice is His, yet they are blessed to take part in the process. Allah could gave chosen to appoint the Khalifa in the same way He appoints the Prophet. No one will participate. The community of believers could have been completely ignored in the process. But it is for the love of Allah to His Community that He invites them to take part. It is through their lips and through their show of hands that the Will of Allah manifests itself and a new Khalifa is appointed by Him to continue to lead the Community of the righteous.
This great honour involves a warning also, that if the standard of righteousness falls below that required by Allah, or if the Community of the believers fail to demonstrate utmost obedience to their Khalifa, then this blessing and honour may be withdrawn and man may find himself alone, without Allah at his side, making the right and proper choice for him.
The second aspect of the topic is related to what kind of mistakes a Khalifa is susceptible to make. Mistakes can be divided into three categories: Mistakes related to worldly affairs; mistakes related to management of the community affairs; and mistakes related to the Shariat’s (the divine law) affairs.
Since a Prophet and a Khalifa are both appointed by God, then both are susceptible to make the same kinds of mistakes. Let us see what kind of mistakes the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was susceptible to make. We all know how one the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was walking and saw some people crossing their date trees. He asked them why they did it this way and not that way. When he left them, they thought that he was directing them to do the crossing the other way so they did it as he suggested. Next year he crop was not so good. They went and complained to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) that the other way he suggested was not good. He told them that they should have known better their own worldly affairs.
In other words, a Prophet is not supposed to be am expert in each and every worldly affair. This is not his mission. A Khalifa also cannot be a scientist, an engineer, an architect or a computer expert. It is not his responsibility. So as a Prophet can make a mistake related to worldly affairs, a Khalifa can also make such a mistake. There is no difference between a Khalifa and a Prophet in this type of mistakes.
Let us now consider the second type of mistakes; i.e., mistakes related to the welfare of the community. Once, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was preparing for the first battle, the Battle of Badr. He, being the Commander-In-Chief, led the army and chose an area for the army to camp in preparation for the confrontation with the army of the enemy. His choice was wrong. It was not in the interest of his army to camp in that particular area. One of his followers suggested to camp near the water and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) agreed. The army moved to the other place and camped near the water.
Bear in mind that this was the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), he was appointed directly by God, he was the military leader, but he made a mistake which is considered to be a tactical mistake. One of his followers suggested the correct action and the correct action was adopted at once. Thus a Prophet can make such a mistake and a Khalifa can also make such a mistake. But, in both cases, the mistake will be corrected immediately. If, theoretically speaking, no one detected a mistake committed by a Prophet or a Khalifa related to the welfare and progress of the community, then Allah, Who appointed that Prophet and that Khalifa, will take it upon Himself to correct the consequences of such a mistake, and the ultimate outcome will be the enhancement and the betterment of the affairs of the community.
Let us now consider the third type of mistakes, i.e., mistakes committed against the Shariat or the divine Law. We all know that according to the Shariat, the obligatory five daily prayers are: the Morning Prayer consisting of two Raka’at, the Zuhr Prayer consisting of four Raka’at, the Asr prayer consisting of four Raka’at, the Maghrib Prayer consisting of three Raka’at and the Isha Prayer consisting of four Raka’at.
This is how the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), the person appointed by God for the purpose of establishing the Shariat has taught the people to offer prayers. They learned the Shariat from him. Yet, once he was leading Zuhr Prayer and instead of offering four Raka’at he offered only two. Then the Muslims asked him whether the prayers have been shortened. Realizing that he had made a mistake, he completed the other two Raka’at.
Such a mistake related to Shariat matters can be committed by a Prophet or a Khalifa alike but such a mistake is based only upon forgetfulness. A human being can forget. A Prophet and a Khalifa are human beings and both can forget. But such a mistake is rectified immediately. Any mistake related to the Shariat affairs can never be made by intention, whether by a Prophet or by a Khalifa.
We frequently hear the expression that a Prophet is Ma’soom (protected by God against sin). This protection is not something conferred on the Prophet beyond his will. It emanates from him as a natural consequence of his obedience to God. He is aware all the time of the presence of Allah and of his obligations towards Him. This state of continuous awareness of God’s presence makes him Ma’soom or divinely protected. How can he intentionally make mistake by disobeying God’s commandments? It is impossible!
Similarly, the Khalifa is the person appointed by God. He is the man who is supposed to be the leader of the righteous. He is the most righteous man on earth, and on his shoulders lies the burden of leading the community towards higher and higher level of righteousness. how can it be possible that such a man will intentionally make a mistake by disobeying God? It is impossible! When Allah appoints a person for the purpose of safeguarding the spiritual welfare of a community, then how can anyone expect that person to go against the Shariat and disobey God intentionally? Never! It is absolutely impossible.
There is no difference, in this regard, between a Prophet and a Khalifa. No difference whatsoever. All the mistakes which a Prophet is susceptible to make, also a Khalifa is susceptible to make. There is NO difference whatsoever.
When we realize this concept, then we will be bale to realize the importance, the magnificence and the greatness of the institution of Khilafat. It is nothing less than a continuation of the blessings of prophethood. How fortunate Ahmadis are to be blessed with this institution of Khilafat. The joy they feel and the happiness they experience is unparalleled as this institution was re-established once again for them and will continue to be established, Insha’ Allah, till the day of Judgment.
Before I close I must address one last question that may arise in some minds. If a Khalifa is protected against committing mistakes against the Shariat intentionally then why in the pledge of Khuddam and also in the Bai’at form, a person will pledge to obey the Khalifa in `every good thing’? Does this mean, or imply, that the Khalifa may give instructions that are not good, i.e., are against the commandments of Allah; and it would be up to the individual that if or when he feels that such instructions were not good then he would be under no obligation to obey them?
The fact is that this expression `to obey in every thing good’ was used by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) in the first Bai’at taken with a few men and women from Medina. The holy Quran also, in the context of Ayatul Istikhlaf, says in one of the seven verse recited at the beginning of the meeting:
Say, Swear not. What is required is actual obedience in what is good. (24: 54)
Thus to obey Allah in what is good, to obey the Prophet in what is good or to obey the Khalifa in what is good does not imply at all that either Allah, the Prophet or the Khalifa may direct you to do what is not good. NO! It means that whatever instructions you receive from Allah, from the Prophet or from the Khalifa are good for you and when you obey, you will always be obeying and following what is good. Nothing but goodness will emanate from Allah, the Prophet and the Khalifa. Thus obedience will always be in what is good. The believers, thus, are assured by this statement `to obey in what is good’ that every command coming from Allah, every instruction coming from the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and every direction coming from the Khalifa is only good and nothing but good. Thus, all what you are required to obey emanating from Allah, or from the person appointed by Allah, being a Prophet or a Khalifa, is good. Thus it is a statement of assurance to the believers that everything directed to them which requires obedience is only good.
This also adds to the greatness of the institution of Khilafat. What a great blessing to know that every order and direction a believer may receive from his Khalifa is good. The Promised Messiah (A.S.) has rightfully named the institution of Khilafat Qudrat-e-Sania, i.e., the Second manifestation. The First Manifestation is manifested through the appointment of the Prophet. The Second Manifestation is manifested through the appointment of the Khalifa. There is NO difference; no difference whatsoever. Except one being done directly by Allah and the other is being done through whom Allah uses to manifest His Will. One is done through the attribute of Rahman and the other is done through the Rahim attribute.
Many of us have visited the area known as `Thousand Islands’ and may have seen there trees grown in an area where nobody can reach. These trees are not planted by a human hand. They grew though the rocks or on very small islands where no man can live or even can stand let alone be able to plant a tree. These trees are planted by God without the intervention of man.
Other trees are also there which are planted by man. Allah is the Grower in both cases. Similarly, Allah appoints the Prophet directly and appoints the Khalifa indirectly and there is no difference between the two appointments. The difference may be in the mission of the Prophet and that of the Khalifa. The Prophet is to lay the foundation for establishing the community of the believers. The Khalifa is to build upon this foundation and to spread the community of believers in the world. It is like building an awesome structure: The prophet lays the foundation, the first Khalifa build the first floor, the second Khalifa builds the second floor and so on until the building reaches high in the sky and becomes like a blessed tree; its roots are firmly established in the earth and its branches reach into the heaven, it brings forth its fruits at all times by the command of its Lord.
Understanding this will enable us to understand the Friday Sermon in which Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV has spoken on `The Rope of Allah’ (dated November 23, 1990). When we understand this then all of us, together, should hold fast to that `Rope of Allah’. In that Rope of Allah is our salvation. In that Rope of Allah is our success. In that Rope of Allah is our progress and protection. We receive all bounties and blessings from Allah through holding fast to that Rope of Allah.
Once I asked Chaudhry Muhamed Zafrulla Khan a question. I said, “Chaudhry Sahib, through all your life you have been very successful and Allah has blessed you so much. Would you tell me why?” Without any hesitation to think about an answer, he said: “Because through all my life, I was obedient to Khilafat.”
What a great answer by a great man!
May Allah enable us to continue to benefit from the blessings of Khilafat. May He enable us to understand this great and magnificent institution. May He enable us, all together, to hold fast to that Rope of Allah, so that His blessings may continue to be showered upon us all the time. Ameen!