“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. Then whoso is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious”. (Ch. 24: 56).
Before proceeding with the exposition of criticism against Khilafat, it is important to bear in mind that the institution of Khilafat is the heavenly means of sustaining the unity of Islam and fostering its spiritual strength. The growth and power which Islam and its followers gained during the times of the Khilafat of Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Omar need no mention, but when during the times of Hazrat Osman certain rebellious elements made the unholy attempt of destroying the institution of Khilafat and killing its occupant, its jugular importance was brought home by Abdallah bin Salam, an ex‑Jewish scholar who had embraced Islam at the hands of the Holy Prophet, who addressed the crowds as follows:
“Hearken ye to my words! The Sword of Allah is still not unsheathed. The angels of heaven have made this town of the Holy Prophet, their abode. Fear God and abstain from creating hardship for Osman. If you are bent upon taking his life, then beware! The heavenly angels will desert this town and the divine sword will be drawn and will remain unsheathed till the end of days”.
The companions of the Holy Prophet may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, held the firm belief that Khilafat was a guarantor for the growth and power of Islam and its followers, without which its unity could not be preserved. How prophetic were the words of Osman when he warned the mutineers:
“If you succeed in killing me, you shall never be able to remain united, nor able to offer your prayers or face the enemy in unity”. (Tabri p. 482 Vol. III). .
Ordinarily speaking, Khilafat‑i‑Rashida is understood to mean the period of succession to the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, beginning with the Khilafat of Abu Bakr in the 12th year after Hijra and ending with the Khilafat of Ali in the 40th year. However, from a saying of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, reported by Huzaifa, it can be construed that Khilafat‑i‑Rashida consists of two eras‑the first as mentioned above and the second to occur in later days. The Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is reported to have said:
Prophethood shall remain among you as long as God shall will. He will bring about its end and follow it with Khilafat on the precepts of prophethood for as long as He shall will and then bring about its end. An unimaginative kingship shall then follow to remain as long as God shall will and then come to an end. There shall then be a cruel rule which shall remain as long as God shall will and come to an end upon his decree. There will then emerge Khilafat on the precept of Prophethood. The Holy Prophet said no more. (Masnad‑i-Ahmad as quoted by Mishqat in Babul Inzar‑wa‑Tahzir).