Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih, held audiences with people of all nationalities, faiths and beliefs granting them the opportunity of raising questions and issues of interest to them. Presented below are answers to questions raised during the 13th December 1994 session on MTA in a LiqaaMa’al Arab programme – Meeting with Arabs. Transcribed by Khullat Munir, New York, USA.
Questioner: The world in general and the Muslim world in particular, is in need of the system of Khilafat. What is the importance and significance of this system?
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: The whole Muslim Ummah, which really should be one, is divided into so many sects, not just in the religious plane, but also in the political plane. When a people are divided, they cannot attain in the world what a united people can attain because their might is not only divided and split, their might is pushed against one another. When this happens, then sometimes the sum total is even less than zero. However big a people be, if they are opposing each other over big or small issues, if they are fighting each other, if they are dividing their might against each other, and unfortunately call it Jihad, then what would be the outcome of this? What energy will be left to build themselves and to defend Islam and the Muslim interests against their enemies? That is the need for unification and for one Imam to bring order, a single order in all of Islam. This cannot be done without Khilafat because Khilafat is a system whereby the absence of a prophet is somehow compensated for by a person who officiates on his behalf and who sits as a deputy and a subordinate; a central authority in a seat which has been vacated by the deceased prophet. This is the principle of Khilafat and as such it is understood by all Muslims. The need for Khilafat was immediately felt after the demise of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
This is displayed in Islam in every part of its teachings. Without unification, without discipline, Islam cannot be properly practised. When you say the prayer five times a day in the mosque, how is it performed? There has to be an Imam and it is behind that Imam that the unity of the people who have gathered there is established otherwise there can be no unity. And that is why there is so much emphasis in the Holy Qur’an on congre-gational prayers and the importance of the Imam is so great that even if the Imam commits a mistake, then the instruction is that all the followers of that Imam, knowing that he has committed a mistake, should repeat that mistake behind him. How better could the need for the Imam and the unity of a people be emphasised than this?
So if there has to be an Imam in the mosque in a small community, how can you conceive an Ummah without an Imam? And as far as the Ummah is concerned, there is another injunction in the Holy Qur’an that wherever you are, you should turn your face towards the Qiblah. There is one common Qiblah for all the Muslims in the world. Regardless of where you are, the Qiblah must remain one. This situation which you find on a global level, is also that which you find in the mosque. In the mosque, one Qiblah is attained with the help of one Imam who leads you and then all the directions and movements of the worshippers are carried out in unison.
This also indicates that it is highly important for the Muslim Ummah to remain one and united under one Imam. If that was not the purpose then there should not have been any Khilafat because at the time of the demise of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), Muslims were in a far better state spiritually, religiously and in every other respect as well, than the Muslims of today. If they needed an Imam to follow at that time, how can we do without an Imam today when the need is much greater? That is as far as the need of Khilafat is concerned.
Now the problem is that once the Khilafat is lost, then it cannot be recreated by the people themselves. This is a dilemma which the entire Muslim world is facing, because Khilafat begins after the prophet’s demise and once it is broken then how can it be reinstated? There is no instrument for the reinstatement of Khilafat if there is no prophet. So in the case of Muslims, the problem is twofold: according to most Muslims, Khilafat came to an end with the fourth Khalifa, Hazrat Ali(Allah be pleased with him), after which there was no Khilafat-e-Rashida (the Righteous Caliphate); there were only sort of kingdoms and sovereignties in the name of Khilafat; after that, how could you bring Khilafat back and reinstate it?
As far as the Shi’ite ummah are concerned, they have no problem because they believe in the continuity of the Imamat up to twelve Imams mostly. Some are to six Imams, some even continuously up to today.
But a much greater majority of the Muslims is without the blessings of one Khilafat. And even if Imamat is considered to be continued, it still cannot make the entire Ummah one. We are discussing the problem of bringing the entire Ummah together under one leadership and that can be done not by partial Khilafat, but by universal Khilafat whereby all the Ummah could be brought together. But they believe there cannot be any prophet at all in any form. So that means the only possibility of revival of the institution of Khilafat is also lost. This is the big problem which the world of Islam is facing today.
The only thing that the non-Ahmadi Muslim leadership can point to is that they are expecting a prophet to come anyway. That will be a low prophet, of course, but when he comes he will be a prophet. So the lost institution of Khilafat will be reinstated through Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) when he revisits the earth. The problem with this is that fourteen hundred years have passed and there is no sign of any Jesus revisiting the earth at all. The age has changed. The Muslims have gone through the worst possible situations and nobody like Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) came to their aid from heaven.
It is this vain waiting that has ultimately made a large number of Muslims really pessimistic about it. That is why when you discuss this matter with many Muslims – Arab and non-Arab – they say, ‘Leave this issue alone; it doesn’t make any difference. If Jesus (peace be upon him) is dead or alive, we are not interested.’ And the Ulema of Jamia Azhar have repeatedly expressed their considered opinion that according to the Qur’an, Jesus (peace be upon him) is dead. So there is no way he can come back again. That path is also open, if at all it is open, only in their mythology, in their wishful thinking. Practically nobody is going to come from heaven again.
That is the whole problem with the world of Islam. Not only have they lost the most important institution of Khilafat in Islam, but also they have blocked the passage of its reinstatement.