The fourth criticism against Khilafat‑i‑Rashida is that according to its principles it is beyond retrieval. In other words, if a Khalifa becomes incapable of discharging his duties he cannot be removed from the office, whereas the demands of good organisation require that someone more active should take his place. It should be remembered however that Khilafat is a spiritual pedestal and a blessing from God which comes into being as a result of God’s mysterious schemes and revelations in order to consummate a prophet’s mission. Therefore the question of abdication is irrelevant. These blessings do not disappear with the physical incapability of a Khalifa or through his age or incapacity. The Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, instructed Osman not to cast away the robe of Khilafat, which God shall bestow up on him, under any pressure from people, and Osman who knew the true value of the office, the importance which the Holy Prophet attached to it, and the dignity which was conferred upon it by God, held steadfast against the demands for his abdication until he lost his life. There is indeed no logic in their abdication and the only way they can leave their office is through their death. Maulana Hakim Nur‑ud‑Din, the first Khalifa to the Promised Messiah once declared:
“Remember, it is not within your power to set me aside. If you find any fault in me, invite my attention to it, but in a respectful manner. It is not for man to make anyone a Khalifa, it is God’s own business . . . If I have been made Khalifa this is God’s doing, in accordance with His design. It is true that He has made me a Khalifa for your good. No power can set aside a Khalifa appointed by God. No one of you has the power or strength to set me aside. If God Almighty wills to set me aside, He will cause me to die. You must commit this matter to God. You have not the power to set me aside. I am not grateful to any of you. The person who says that He has made me Khalifa utters a falsehood.” (Al‑Hakam 21.1.1914).
Therefore, if an appointment has the sanction from God, there can be no question of interfering with it by man. Islam is a discipline of good faith, so that even in regard to secular leaders the injunctions are to follow them and cause no disobedience unless there are blatant reasons in justification. Khawarij, the opponent of Ali, thought that he should abdicate but he refused to accede to this demand and took up arms to defend the dignity of the institution regardless of the bloodshed which followed in its wake. Hazrat Musleh‑i‑Maood, reiterating the same stand, has said:
“God has made me Khalifa just as he appointed Khalifas in the past, although I am at a loss to understand how a person of my shortcomings could earn His choice. The fact remains that He has chosen me for the appointment and now it is not possible for any human being to make me cast away the blessed robe which God has bestowed upon ‑ It is a bounty from God and no one can take it from me.” (Kaun Hai Jo Khuda Ke Kam Ko Rok Sake, p. 5).
Prayers in the Event of Illness or Incapacity
However, in the event of a Khalifa’s illness causing temporary incapacity, one must bear in mind the prayers of Moses as reported in the Holy Quran:
“Whenever I fall ill, He brings about my recovery”. (Al‑Shoara verse 8)
Thus, the way out of a Khalifa’s illness is not the demands for his removal but incessant prayers for his recovery.