Caliphate or Khilafat?

Caliphate or Khilafat.png

 Munazzah Chou, UK

The concept of caliphate is the idea of leadership of Muslim society according to the will of God. Many Muslims have embraced the argument that such an institution is the best way of ordering society but the form it should take has been interpreted in many ways. Western writers have referred to caliphate as a ‘many-splendored’ concept, about which ‘there is no one way, no single template or legal framework’ by which to define it. They cite caliphs through history of many different sorts; warrior caliphs, pious caliphs, intellectual caliphs, pleasure-loving caliphs, incompetent caliphs, cruel and tyrannical caliphs. Some suggest that the ‘interpretations of what constitutes a legitimate caliph are so loose that it’s surprising how few caliphates have been declared…’ They suggest that this can be explained by the fact that any declaration would have been ‘Pythonesque in its deluded grandeur.’ That ISIS held control of as much territory as Hadhrat Abu Bakr, the first Rightly-Guided Caliph—the claim to Caliphate made by Baghdadi looks far more credible and the ‘mass executions and public crucifixions have also done much to erase any lingering aura of comedy.’

Caliphate is an English term which may well be nebular or ambiguous but the concept of khilafat, the original Arabic word, in the true Islamic sense has specific application. The Holy Quran refers to khilafat as a favour from God. The Holy Quran lays emphasis on the moral and spiritual requirement for the believers to receive the favour of khilafat. Much of our understanding of khilafat is based on the following Quranic verse:

‘Allah had promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Successors in the earth [khalifas], 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, and they will not associate anything with Me. Then whoso is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious.’ (Surah Al-Nur, Verse 56)

In this verse, the Holy Quran presents the institution of khilafat as a reward for collective piety, i.e. to ‘those who believe and do good works’. Thus God’s promise to establish khilafat as a blessing for mankind is firmly rooted in the moral and spiritual condition of sincere believers. When these conditions are fulfilled they will be made the leaders of nations; their state of fear will give place to a condition of safety and security, Islam will reign supreme in the world, and above all the unity of God will become firmly established.

In the book of Ahadith, Musnad Ahmad by Imam Ahmad bin Hambal, there is a Hadith narrated by Hadhrat Huzaifa (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:

‘Prophethood shall remain among you as long as God wills. Then khilafat on the pattern of prophethood will commence and remain as long as He wills. A corrupt monarchy shall then follow and it shall remain as long as God wills. There shall then be a tyrannical despotism which shall remain as long as God wills. Then once again khilafat will emerge on the precept of prophethood.’
[Masnad-­Ahmad, Mishkat, Chapter Al-Anzar Wal Tahzir].

In this Hadith, the promise of khilafat is connected with Prophethood on two separate occasions. In between the two eras of khilafat, the reference to “the corrupt/erosive monarchy” and “despotic kingship” is what we could term “caliphate” but not khilafat. The Arabic words showing the relationship between khilafat and Prophethood are “khilafat -ala- minhaj-e-nabuwwat”, that is, khilafat on the lines of Prophethood. This explains the principle of khilafat as a continuation of the mission of the Prophet i.e the objectives of khilafat and Prophethood remain the same; moral and spiritual development of mankind.

There is therefore, a clear distinction between khilafat and caliphate. Caliphate deals with civil and political domain of the rulers in Islamic history, but khilafat deals with moral, religious and spiritual leadership of mankind. Therefore, a political ruler who might be called “caliph” may not be a khalifa in the Quranic sense of the word.

Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Messiah and Mahdi (on whom be peace), described khilafat as a second manifestation of God’s power – the advent of Prophets being the first manifestation. This second manifestation is the time of the demise of Prophets of God when the enemy thinks that the followers of a Prophet are in disarray and the community will be destroyed, ‘then God manifests His strong hand of might and sustains the collapsing community.’

After the death of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (on whom be peace) in 1908, after a hiatus of 13 hundred years, the divinely-guided Khilafat in Islam re-emerged in accordance with the prophecies of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam AhmadAS. This, the Ahmadiyya Khilafat differs significantly from the ideas of some Muslim groups with misplaced aspirations of political dominance. The Ahmadiyya Khilafat is apolitical; purely spiritual and religious in nature. While other Muslims wait for a Mahdi who would wage a “bloody” Jihad against the infidels, the Ahmadiyya Khilafat upholds the motto of “Love for all, hatred for none” and expounds the true greater Jihad as that which entails overcoming sinful and immoral temptations of the self.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has reassured us of the unending blessings of this divine institution,

‘You should therefore, neither grieve over what I have told you (that the hour of my demise is nigh) nor should you be heart-broken for it is mandatory that you see God’s second manifestation. The coming of that manifestation is a lot better for you because it is eternal whose succession will not terminate till the end of days. When I go, Allah will send to you the second manifestation and it will stay with you forever.’
(Al-Wassiyat, pp. 6-7)

May Allah enable us to continue with our endeavours to become deserving of this divine blessing. Ameen



Graeme Wood, What ISIS’s Leader Really Wants,

The Holy Quran with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. 4, pp. 1869-1870.

Khilafat and Caliphate, Mubasher Ahmad, M.A., LL.B.



I’m Always Putting Britain First


Sarah Khan, London

I come from a long line of proud Yorkshiremen.  I was raised on a diet of no-nonsense, plain speaking and hard work.  My father regularly made sure to tell us that we had the right to play cricket for Yorkshire (never mind I was born in Berkshire and a woman).  As I grow older and raise my own children those same values permeate into my own parenting style and I realised it’s virtually impossible to divorce yourself from your cultural roots.  Even if I pronounce my vowels in a long fashion rather than with the shorter northern version and I’ve lived my life firmly in the south, I know that Yorkshire values run in my veins.

So while the murder of MP Jo Cox this week was shocking due to its brutal and unexpected nature, the senseless loss of a woman very much in the prime of her life had a personal resonance for me.  I know my father was a native of Leeds and knew Batley and the surrounding areas well.  While he is no longer here to voice his opinion, I know he would have had absolutely no affiliation with the murderer who yesterday gave his name in court as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.

He would have had no affiliation because in 1971 he did the very thing which Britain First and other far right groups fear the most, he became a Muslim.  And I, as his daughter, have been born a Muslim and my children are being raised Muslim too.  So I suppose for some we are living proof of the ‘invasion of Islam, of the conquering nature of this faith’.  My mother, a native of Birmingham, joined him in converting her religion so many years ago.  Three generations of English Muslims, turning their back on their heritage and joining the ranks of the medieval terrorists – according the rhetoric of the far right.  A Facebook video this week showed Jayda Fransen delivering a speech in Dewsbury, a few miles from Batley, telling a crowd Muslims like me were going to Hell for following the religion of the devil.

The tag line for Britain First’s website and literature is ‘Taking Britain Back’.  But the stark reality is that Britain cannot be taken back from me, and other English Muslims like myself.  I am nothing but English.  I have no other nationality or ethnicity and like many English people I’m not fluent in any language other than English.  So when such people talk about traitors, they mean people exactly like me and my family.

I’d like to think that such obvious bigotry should just be ignored.  In failing to give such views airtime or space in my thoughts, they will remain on the fringes of what is acceptable and eventually wither into obscurity.  Surely?  Yet recent events show that exactly the opposite is happening.  First, a leaflet for the London Mayoral Election showing all the campaigning parties landed on my doorstep, happily gaining entry into my personal sphere.  The entry from Britain First outlined how no more mosques would be built in a BF London.  This sent a shiver down my spine and I knew that had a race of people been selected and not a specific religion then more outcry would be heard.  I noted how they had worded it so carefully that it was just within the limits of not being hate speech, but the meaning was clear.  My kind wasn’t welcome or wanted.  Well, I wasn’t going to vote for them anyway and Britain is proud of its freedom of speech and worship, I rationalised to myself.

Then Britain First staged a protest very publically at Sadiq Khan’s victory, their representative Paul Golding turning his back on the new Mayor.  Not good sport old chap I thought as my fellow Brits laughed it off with humour and derision in a truly British fashion.  This was followed by last weekend’s military style training camp for Britain First.  Again we laughed on Twitter at their bumbling Dad’s Army style antics.  But Jo Cox’s murder this week shows that the time has come to stop laughing and to realise that such hate is deep and pervasive and a clear threat to the fabric of British society.  It seeks to divide neighbour from neighbour and, as we have seen, can lead the mentally fragile and vulnerable to extreme acts to express their hate.

So I think that it’s time everyone started putting Britain First.  In my own personal life I have long being doing so.  I’m proud to be British, I love the heritage and values of my country.  I love that I can be a Muslim and worship with full freedom and the protection of the law.  I regularly take a pledge of loyalty to my country.  The exact words are “I solemnly promise that I shall always keep myself ready to serve my faith, my nation and my country and shall always adhere to truth and shall always be prepared to make every sacrifice for the perpetuation of the Ahmadiyya Khilafat”.

This is a pledge I take in my mosque, as part of my faith.  I take it because I am a Muslim, not because I am English.  English law required no such pledge from me but my faith does require loyalty to my nation and my country.  There is no clash between my faith and my country.  This pledge is also taken in loyalty to my Khalifah.  Again, there is no clash between loyalty to Khilafat and Britain.  I know this is true because this Ahmadiyya Khilafat has been based in London for more than thirty years and has been a beacon of harmony and peace.

So, I’ve been putting Britain First for my entire life, I regularly take this pledge of loyalty at every monthly meeting of my faith.  Thousands of others make the same pledge across the UK.  I hope and pray that this hate rhetoric will stop.  I pray that such a senseless murder will give us all pause for reflection that as a society there should be no room for hate.  The motto of my community is ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’, I pray Britain adopts this value into its heart, as I know many British people do.  Because I know that I am not a traitor, far from it, I’m a proud English woman and the hate of a few will cause me to cling to my nation even more in a time of fear and danger for people just like me.  So let’s stop laughing at Britain First and let’s condemn them as the dangerous threat to our national fabric which they truly represent.