The third criticism of Khilafat‑i‑Rashida from the so‑called democrats is that how can an elected Khalifa be regarded as having been chosen by God? As is known, after the demise of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his companions gathered together at Banu Saida’s place and elected Abu Bakr as the first Khalifa after considerable discussion. For the Khilafat of Omar, Abu Bakr had various consultations with appropriate people, and similarly the third and the fourth Khalifas came to their offices through various electoral methods. To say therefore that they were chosen by God is, for opponents, very difficult to understand.
Indirect Selection by God
There is no doubt about the accuracy of the argument but we must not forget that the result of elections is in fact indirect selection by God who manipulates the minds of electors to accord with His wishes. It is for this reason that the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has directed his followers not only to follow his own footsteps but also those of Rashid Khalifas who are duly guided by God. Had their election not had the approval of God, the Holy Prophet would certainly not have given such an assiduous instruction for the obedience of Khalifas.
God’s Hand in indirect Selection
It is by no means against the terminology of the Quran to describe something as having been done by God even though it might have been physically performed by human beings. At the time of the battle of Badr, it was the small palm of the Holy Prophet’s hand which threw a handful of dust towards the enemy and which rapidly developed into a sandstorm through the powers of God.
“It was not you who threw the dust but it was God who threw it “ (Anfal verse 18).
The subsequent development of the dust into a sandstorm supports the fact that the throwing of a handful of dust by the Holy Prophet had the full approval of God resulting in the complete annihilation of the enemy which was then at least three times the strength of the believers.
God’s Hand Moves in the Shadows
In the same fashion, through the elective powers of His believers, God manifests His choice and subsequently reinforces His approval by lending support and help to His chosen one and by showing various signs through him. For this reason, even though a Khalifa may be a physically weak and fragile person, he succeeds in his assignments with flying colours, all through the Grace and Mercy of God. There should be no difficulty in understanding this phenomenon but for those who require convincing through tangible arguments, we would venture to quote Quranic verses and their authoritative interpretations from the Holy Prophet, his Companions and from the Reformer of this age, the Promised Messiah, in verity of our case.
Khilafat Ascribed to Allah
A study of the Holy Quran reveals the fact that Khilafat has always been shown to emanate from Allah, whatever description it might take. In the Holy Quran, there are four types of Khilafat and each one of them has been ascribed to Allah.
“O Dawood, We have made you Khalifa on this earth” (Sura Sad)
Dawood was a Prophet chosen by God, but at the same time God had appointed him as Khalifa. Secondly, the people of a Prophet are also described as “Khalifa” in the Holy Quran:
“Your Lord is about to destroy your enemy and make you Khalifas’ in the land, that He may see how you act” (Aaraf verse 130).
Thirdly, the descendants of a people are also described as `Khalifas’.
“He is who made you ‘Khalifa’ in the land” (Al‑Anaam verse 166).
In the fourth place, a section of the faithfuls has also been given the name of ‘Khalifa’ e.g.
“Allah has promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Khalifas in the earth as he made ‘Khalifas’ from among those who were be f ore them”; (Sura Noor).
Thus, all the four types of Khalifas have been ascribed to God.
Quaranic Authority for Khalifa
From the verses just quoted, it is clear that the Holy Quran lends its authority to, the appointment of Khalifas as successors to a Prophet. Firstly, it is a ‘Promise’ from God to appoint Khalifas, secondly the Arabic words used bear the assertive prepositions of LAM and DOUBLE NOON, and this is followed by further assertive promises of giving the Khalifas unusual strength and of transforming disorder into order and peace.
Votes Not Enough
With such ‘promise’ and ‘support’ from God it is a complete mis‑reading of the facts that the appointment of a Khalifa merely depends on the counting of votes. With such vehement assertions from God in regard to the choice of Khalifas by Him, with a view to manifesting His Power and Glory, it is not possible to ascribe their appointment to any other source except that of God. The Promised Messiah, describing the Khilafat of Abu Bakr in ‘Al‑Wassiyyat’ has stated as follows:
“He who remains steadfast throughout witnesses this miracle as happened at the time of the death of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, when his Companions were overwhelmed by grief and many of the desert Arabs resiled from Islam. At that time God Almighty manifested His power a second time and by establishing Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq as the Successor of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, saved Islam from ruin and thus fulfilled his promise: ‘Allah has promised those among you who believe and act righteously that He will surely make them successors in the earth as He made those successor who were bfore them; that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them; and that after their state of fear He will grant them peace and security” (The Will pp. 6‑7).
Thus, although it were the companions of the Holy Prophet, who had gathered together to elect Abu Bakr as their Khalifa, his appointment was regarded as having been made by God under the authority of the Quranic verse in the foregoing.
Authority from the Holy Prophet
From the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, also we derive similar authority. Aisha, who was one of the consorts of the Holy Prophet and about whom he had exhorted his followers to learn half of the tenets of Islam, is said to have related as follows:
“The Holy Prophet said that he had intended to call in Abu Bakr and hand him a writing for his Khilafat, so that after the death of the Holy Prophet, other claimants to the office might not arise, but then the Prophet did not pursue the idea believing that God would not accept the election of any other person besides Abu Bakr as Khalifa, nor would the believers agree otherwise” (Bukhari, Kitabul Ah‑Kam, Babul Istikhlaf).
It is clear therefore that since the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, firmly believed that it was entirely the preserve of God to appoint a Khalifa, he declined to issue any writing for the appointment of Abu Bakr to the office.
Similarly, Hafsa, who was the daughter of Omar and was also one of the consorts of the Holy Prophet is reported to have said:
“The Holy Prophet once said that after him, Abu Bakr shall be the Khalifa and thereafter Omar would be the Khalifa. I asked how did he know this and he replied that God the Omniscient had told him so”. (Tafsir Qummi, Sura Tahreem).
Furthermore, it is related by Osman, the third Khalifa to the Holy Prophet, that the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, once told him:
“God will grant you a robe and hypocrites will try to snatch it from you, but you must never part with it”. (Masnad Ahmad bin Hanbal).
The Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, thus gave the tidings of Khilafat to Osman and at the same time warned him of the demands to step down by certain quarters, but exhorted him to stay steadfast to the office. To the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, therefore, the office of Khilafat belonged to the preserves of God and it therefore commanded an appropriate dignity and decorum.
The Belief of Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr, the first Khalifa also believed in the same way. He is reported to have declared:
“God has appointed me as Khalifa among you in order that I may create brotherly unity among you and to establish the faith”.
Abu Bakr knew full well that after the death of the Holy Prophet, the believers had gathered together and unanimously elected him to be their Khalifa, yet he told them emphatically that his appointment derived its sanction from God as a sign of mercy upon them from Him.
The Belief of Omar
Omar, the second Khalifa, also had the same belief. He is reported to have declared:
“Anyone who needs monetary help, should come to me, as God has made me the Treasurer and Disburser” (Tarikh Omar bin Khatab, p. 87).
The Belief of Osman
The third Khalifa, Osman, held the same belief. He is reported to have addressed a gathering saying:
“And then God appointed Abu Bakr as Khalifa, and by God, I never disobeyed him nor tried to cheat him”. (Bukhari, Kitabul Hijrat‑ul‑Habsha).
When the mutineers reached their climax and demanded Osman’s abdication from the office of Khilafat, he told them emphatically:
“I am not going to part with this robe of Khilafat which God Almighty has bestowed upon me” (Tabri Vol. V p. 121).
Had Osman believed that Khilafat had been won by him through the popular vote, he would have gladly acceded to the demands of the people and left the office at their behest. But he refused to resign the office because he believed it to be derogatory to the dignity of God’s office of Khilafat to leave it except in consequence of the Will of God.
The Belief of Ali
Ali, the fourth Khalifa, held the same belief, i.e., once the people have chosen a person to be their Khalifa, his appointment is then regarded as having been approved by God. He is reported to have written to Amir Mu’awia:
“The people who have sworn their oath of allegiance to me are the same who swore a similar oath to Abu Bakr, using the same formula as before. Those who were witness to the appointment have no option to retract, and those who were absent from the occasion have no right to reject. The consultative voting was effected by Muhajirin and Ansar and once they have agreed to the appointment of a Khalifa as their leader, it attains the seal of God’s pleasure and approval”.
The View of the Promised Messiah
The Promised Messiah, who was raised by God as the Reformer of Islam in this age has also given the same verdict corroborating the fact that a Khalifa is appointed by God. In answer to a question as to why the Holy Prophet of Islam did not appoint a Khalifa in his life time, the Promised Messiah said:
“The reason was that the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, knew full well that God would appoint the Khalifa because it is His prerogative and there can be no flaw in God’s choice. Thus, He appointed Abu Bakr as the first Khalifa just as He had made him the first believer of Islam” (Al‑Hakam 14.4.1908)
In addition, the Promised Messiah says:
“Brethren! As this has been the way of Allah from the beginning that He manifest His powers in two ways so as to wipe out the false joy of the opponents, it is not possible that in this law God Almighty would depart from His established way. Therefore, you should not be grieved by that which I have told you and let not your hearts suffer anxiety, for it is necessary for you to see the second manifestation of Divine Power. Its coming is better for you for it is permanent and will not be cut off till the Day of Judgement. This second manifestation will not happen till after my departure; but when I depart, God will send this second manifestation to you and it will remain with you forever, according to the Divine Promise which is mentioned in Braheen‑i‑Ahmadiyya“. (Al‑Wasiyyat p. 7).
The Second Manifestation is nothing else but Khilafat, as is explained in page 6 of Al‑Wasiyyat already cited earlier (ibid).
Thus, according to the Promised Messiah, Second Manifestation means Khilafat which follows a Prophet and which is established by God so that its occupant has His blessings and who is in fact His nominee.
Stand Taken by Promised Messiah’s Khalifas
Naturally, we are bound by the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet and must also follow the beliefs of the Promised Messiah and other dignitaries of Islam, especially the sayings of the Holy Prophet which he enjoined at the occasion of his last Haj that Muslims follow steadfastly the precepts of his Khalifas. The same stand has in fact been taken by the Khalifas of the Promised Messiah. For instance, Maulana Nur‑ud‑Deen, the first Khalifa emphatically declared:
“I have told you repeatedly and have demonstrated it from the Holy Quran that it is not the part of man to establish a Khalifa; it is the function of God Almighty. Who appointed Adam to the office of Khilafat? God says : ‘I am going to make you a Khalifa on earth’.
“I solemnly declare that God appointed me as Khalifa just as He had appointed Adam, Abu Bakr and Omar as Khalifas” (Badar 4.7.1912).
“It is God Who has appointed me Khalifa, and He knows best. No one has the power to remove a Khalifa appointed by God . . . False is the person who claims that he made the appointment” (AI‑Hakam 21.1.1914).
“You can derive no benefit by agitating this question. No one will make any of you Khalifa, nor can anyone else become Khalifa in my lifetime. When I die it will be only that one concerning whom God so wills who will become Khalifa and God will raise him to this office Himself. You have made a covenant with me. You should not raise the question of Khalifa. God has made me Khalifa and now I cannot be set aside by any of you, nor has anyone the power to set me aside. If you persist in your attitude then remember that I have with me those who like Khalid bin Waleed will chastise you as rebels (Badar 4.7.1912).
The Second Successor to the Promised Messiah corroborates the same belief which he solemnly reiterated in a letter as follows:
“I swear by God at whose command lies my soul and Who is he Master of judgment, disgrace and accreditation that I am the Khalifa appointed by God” (Letter dated 1927).
After this solemn declaration, he remained a Khalifa for another 38 years and God bestowed upon him unusual successes and victories.
Stand of Ancient Dignitaries
The dignitaries of Islam in past ages have always held the belief that a Khalifa is appointed by God and not by people who, although they hold an election, are nevertheless latently controlled and guided by God. Hazrat Shah Wali‑Ullah Shah, Muhadith Dehlavi, one of the top saints and a Reformer of Islam of his times has said:
“The verse of the Holy Quran that God shall make Khalifas out of Believers means that whenever God decrees that there should be someone to undertake reformation of people, He casts in the minds of the people to elect a Khalifa whom He pleases” (Izalatul Kholafa An Khilafatul Kholafa Vol. I P. 9).
Re‑affirming the dogma that Khilafat is a prerogative of God, Hazrat Musleh‑i‑Mauood the Second Successor to the Promised Messiah has elaborated as follows:
“Remember that a Khalifa is appointed by God. False is the person who claims that a Khalifa is a public appointee. The First Khalifa to the Promised Messiah kept stressing the teaching throughout his Khilafat that a Khalifa is appointed by God rather than man. Indeed a study of the Quran reveals that every description of Khilafat has been ascribed to God” (Kon Hai Jo Khuda Ke Kam Ko Rok Sake p. 3).
In his Commentary of the Holy Quran, he states further:
“Khalifa is appointed by God rather than by men. Indeed there are circumstances in which it is impossible for a man to become Khalifa and yet he emerges as a Khalifa in the end. The words in the verse “God has promised to those among you who believe and act righteously” themselves show that God himself appoints a Khalifa, for it is only logical that He who promises to do a thing should appear to fulfil the promise, rather than that a promise should be made by someone and fulfilled by another” (Tafseer Kabir, Surah Nur).
We feel obliged to emphasise this point at some length for the simple reason that once it is firmly established that Khilafat is established by God, many misunderstandings and unjustified criticisms can be dispensed with without further difficulty.