On Return of Khilafah

With the gut feeling among the masses, and no less among the Christians, the interest in the return of the Khilafah has risen high. For the Muslims it is because it is he who is expected to terminate the tyrannous modern devilish civilization.

The Prophet has promised the return of Khilafah after the Muslims have been subjected to a variety of governments in the course of their history. He said in a hadith of Ahmad, treated as ‘just acceptable’ by some but quite trustworthy by others:

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ تَكُونُ النُّبُوَّةُ فِيكُمْ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ خِلَافَةٌ عَلَى مِنْهَاجِ النُّبُوَّةِ فَتَكُونُ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ مُلْكًا عَاضًّا فَيَكُونُ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَكُونَ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ مُلْكًا جَبْرِيَّةً فَتَكُونُ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ خِلَافَةً عَلَى مِنْهَاجِ النُّبُوَّةِ ثُمَّ سَكَتَ مسند أحمد (30/  355).

On the authority of Hudhayfa, the Prophet said: ‘There will be (an era of) Prophethood, so long as Allah wills. Then Allah will withdraw it, when He wills to withdraw it, to be followed by (an era of) Khilafah on the lines of Prophethood. It will last as long as Allah wills; then Allah will withdraw it when He wills to withdraw it. Then there will be despotic monarchy and stay as long as Allah wills. Then Allah will withdraw it when He wishes to withdraw it. That will be followed by a tyrannous monarchy which will last as long as Allah wills. Then Allah will withdraw it when He wills to withdraw it. That will be followed by (an era of) Khilafah on the lines of Prophethood. Thereafter he did not speak any further.’

Another report which comes close in sum and substance to the above is declared as having a trustworthy chain, as preserved by Tabarani and others. It reports the Prophet as having said:

أَوَّلُ هَذَا الْأَمْرِ نُبُوَّةٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ ، ثُمَّ يَكُونُ خِلَافَةً وَرَحْمَةً ، ثُمَّ يَكُونُ مُلْكًا وَرَحْمَةً ، ثُمَّ يَتَكادَمُونَ عَلَيْهِ تَكادُمَ الْحُمُرِ ، فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِالْجِهَادِ ، وَإِنَّ أَفْضَلَ جهادِكُمُ الرِّبَاطُ وَإِنَّ أَفْضَلَ رباطِكُمْ عَسْقَلَانُ – مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد . محقق (5/  227) – رواه الطبراني ورجاله ثقات

The beginning of this affair (i.e. Islam) is Prophethood blended with mercy. Then there will be Khilafah blended with mercy. It will be followed by Kingship blended with mercy. Then they will (fall upon it and) chew (i.e. the territories for rule) the way of the donkeys (which fall upon fodder and chew it). So, upon you is Jihad; and the best of your Jihad is to guard a frontier of Islam; and the best of your frontiers is `Asqalan.”

`Asqalan is a famous historical sea-port in Palestine, about 20 km from Ghazza, which gave rise to many renowned scholars (Ibn Hajr was an `Asqalani). Now it is under the occupation by Israel, and thus the best of frontiers has been lost. However, it appears that the whole area could be liberated before the arrival of Mahdi and Jesus Christ.

In addition to the above, there are not other ahadith on this particular topic.

The Time and Place:

It might be noticed that the Prophet did not specify any time, as to when the Khilafah will return. But circumstantial details lead us to believe that it will happen near the end of times.

One of the arguments goes as follows: The hadith predicts five eras:

1. Nubuwwah (Prophethood).
2. Khilafah on the pattern of Prophethood.
3. Despotic rule.
4. Tyrannous rule, and, finally,
5. Khilafah on the pattern of Prophethood.

The first era ended with the death of the Prophet. The second with the end of `Ali’s Khilafah. The Ummah experienced the third kind thereafter, i.e. despotic rules or such families occupying the seats of power. It is now passing through the fourth era, that of tyrannous rulers. It is expected therefore, that when this era ends, it will be followed by the fifth, i.e. Khilafah `alaa minhaaj al-nubuwwah (Caliphate on the pattern of Prophethood).

Apparently, the era of the tyrants is on the decline. But it is difficult to say that it will die off completely. It could revive.

Many people believe wishfully that the end of the tyrannous era is definitely at hand, and consequently, Khilafah is around the corner. They forget that it takes a short time for a Khalifah to appear who can enforce the Shari`ah, but a long time for a people to appear who enforce the Shari`ah on themselves in their private lives. Unless the people return to Islam en-masse, truthfully and completely, in the east and the west, an arriving Khalifah will have little work on his hand.

About the fifth era of Khilafah predicted in the hadith, there are two opinions:

1. It will happen before the Mahdi arrives,
2. The Mahdi’s era will be the era of Khilafah `alaa minhaaj al-nubuwwah.

Between the two, the second seems to be the weightier opinion.

In either case, most scholars, ancient and modern, have believed that it will happen close to the end of times.
This means, one must look into the predictions of the Prophet pertaining to the end of times to locate the time of arrival more precisely. These are called minor signs and most have been fulfilled. In addition to the minor signs, the Prophet has also predicted events. However, the end-of-the-time events predicted by the Prophet seem to cover post-Gun-civilization; so, it might not happen in our present times.

The good news is that according to some thinkers of the present times, mainly non-Muslims (Muslims, in general, are too much in love of this civilization to let it go), the Gun-based civilization is at its fag end. If that is true, then surely Mahdi, or the Khilafah is on the next page of history – provided of course, the mass conversion of Muslims to Islam also takes place.

Similarly, although the Hadith predicts the re-appearance of Khilafah, it does not specify the place where it will. The greater probability of its occurrence is the center of Islam (Hijaz). But it could appear in an adjacent land. In view of a few ahadith, Syria seems to enjoy the position of greater probability. But, one of the other surrounding Arab states cannot be ruled out entirely.

That the Khalifah has to be an Arab should be obvious, apart from the fact this is the opinion of the majority of scholars. But changed political, cultural and civilizational circumstances allow for alternatives.

Multiple Khilafah(s)

A world without Gun-powder allows for the appearance of Khilafah anywhere in the Islamic world, because, primarily, what prevents its return now, in our times, or any meaningful political steps towards it, is not merely internal forces antagonistic to Islam, but strong external forces, that are absolutely opposed to the idea of Khilafah, and have enough gun-powder and delivery system, which they combine with beastly ruthlessness and foxy cunningness, as deterrence.

It is worth mentioning too that there is no reason to believe that the Khilafah regime cannot appear but once. The Prophet could have been speaking of the full and final version of it. After all, wasn’t there the Khilafah on the pattern of nubuwwah during the reign of `Umar ibn `Abdul `Aziz?

This allows for its appearance – even if not in its purest and perfect form – anywhere in the Islamic world. The Arabs have already been told that if they abandon Jihad, they will be replaced (9: 39), “If you do not go forth (in Jihad), He will inflict you with a painful chastisement and replace you with a people other than you.” So, others could qualify themselves – if they so will. There is a hadith that could be quoted at this point, although not very accurately. It says,

“كَانَتْ بَنُو إسْرَائِيلَ تَسُوسُهُمُ الأَنْبِيَاءُ، كُلّمَا هَلَكَ نَبِيّ خَلَفَهُ نَبِيّ، وَإنّهُ لاَ نَبِيّ بَعْدِي. وَسَتَكُونُ خُلَفَاءُ فَتَكْثُرُ”

The (political, social and religious) organization of the Children of Israel was in the hands of Prophets. When one of the Prophets died, Allah replaced him with another. After me, however, there will be no Prophet, but khulafa’ – and there will be many.”

Similarly, the anticipatory Khilafah, and not the full-fledged one promised in the hadith, could appear in several places at a time. Scholars have expressed the theoretical possibility of several Khilafahs in various parts of the wide Islamic lands, all ruling by the Shari`ah, although all independent of each other.

Obviously, the Ummah will have to get rid of the Jihad-shy regimes, and reform the Shari`ah-shy Muslims, before a Khalifah can be looked for. This is because his first duty would be enforcement of the Shari`ah in full. But, (to take an example), if the Islamic world is teeming with people who cannot enforce the family laws of Islam on themselves or on their home folk, if their women are loitering about without Niqab or Hijab, working for their own bread (but denied butter), and if their sons know more about film actors, sportsmen, fashion models, singers and dancers than about Islam, and refuse to acknowledge that they are required to earn bread (and butter) for their women, then by what magic would the Khalifah turn the whole Ummah into an exemplary pious community submitted to Islam?

The Legal Opinion

A question is often asked: Is working for the establishment of Khilafah Wajib upon the Muslims? The answer is: at the Ummah level yes; but at the individual level, no. It is a collective responsibility and not an individual’s responsibility.

Setting up an Islamic government, is another name of setting up Khilafah; and setting up an Islamic government is the duty of the ahl al-hull wa al-`aqd (the releasing and binding authorities), and not that of the common man. The duty of the common people is to obey (see hadith below): they should obey the Khalifah/ Ameerul Mu’mineen/ men in authority and the ahl al-hull wa al-`aqd – with of course the condition that they command not against a Shari`ah rule.

Ahl al-Hull wa al-`Aqd

Who are the ahl al-hull wa al-`aqd? They are the elites of the Ummah: all those who stand out, way from the rest, as able, influential men. They include social leaders, wealthy merchants, high-ranking officials, thinkers, and other prominent persons – in addition to being upright, men of character. It is their duty to set up an Islamic government, led by a Khalifah or not. That is, it might happen that a Fasiq gains control of the reign of power, and removal of him would mean much blood-shed. In such a situation, it is for the ahl al-hull wa al-`aqd to persuade him to enforce the Shari`ah. If he does, there is no need to remove him so long as the Fasiq Amir offers the Prayers – so says a hadith in so many words. Thus, enforcement of the Shari`ah is one thing, while Khilafah is another. The first is the ultimate objective, and a Fard Kifayah upon the Ummah, while the latter is desirable.

To make it clear, establishment of an Islamic government is an obligation of the ahl al-hull wa al-`aqd but not the Khilafah, although ideal.

What the above means is that the ahl al-hull wa al-`aqd need not wait for the appearance of a person qualified to be a Khalifah. Their responsibility is to establish a Shari`ah enforcing Islamic government (which, apart from other things, enforces the Hudud), with or without him.

Qualifications of a Khalifah `ala Minhajun Nubuwwah

Khilafah requires a Khalifah. And a Khalifah (other than a ruler enforcing the Shari`ah) must be endowed with certain qualities and meet with certain conditions:

(a) He should have come through the choice of the ahl al-hull wa al-`aqd,
(b) he should be a male,
(c) a non-claimant,
(d) an `adl (truthful and trustworthy),
(e) a Mujtahid (qualified to issue Shari`ah rulings),
(f) able-bodied and courageous,
(g) man of vision and,
(h) a Qurayshi.

If a Qurayshi of these qualities is not found, then one of the tribes of Kinanah would do, if not found, then one of the descendents of Prophet Isma`il, and, if not found, then a non-Arab would do. (According to the Hanafiyyah, he need not necessarily be a Mujtahid; enough if he has a good knowledge of Islam).

The Nature of the Obligation

With the above preamble, one can state that to work for bringing back the Khilafah cannot be declared Wajib on one and all. A Wajib comes with details of the time-frame say, five times a day (e.g. Salah), once in a year (e.g. Zakah), once in a life-time (e.g. Hajj), etc.

A Wajib also fixes up the minimum that is required, and adds details of how exactly it is to be performed. It also tells about the basis on which it can be attempted; i.e. what are the conditions that must be fulfilled for the acceptance of the deed (e.g. Wudu for Salah). Also, the Shari`ah emphasizes the importance of a Wajib through a number of directives and injunctions, promising specific rewards for accomplishing it or threatening its non-accomplishment with punishments.

To elaborate, the sources do not say in specific terms that the establishment of the Khilafah is Wajib, that not doing it would mean inviting Allah’s anger, or a Shar`ee penalty, etc. It does not say whether every individual is required to attempt it, or it is a duty of the scholars. It does not lay down the procedure for the efforts to establish it. Indeed, it does not even elaborate on what Khilafah is.

What the sources rather emphasize is that the Shari`ah Laws must be enforced on the Muslim state. E.g. (5: 44), “And he who did not rule by what Allah has revealed, they indeed are the unbelievers.” The verse threatens that those who do not enforce Allah’s Laws in the state in which they are in majority, could be equated with non-Muslims. There are other verses of this nature in the Qur’an.

And a hadith of Sahih Muslim says:

مَنْ خَلَعَ يَدًا مِنْ طَاعَةٍ لَقِىَ اللَّهَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ لاَ حُجَّةَ لَهُ وَمَنْ مَاتَ وَلَيْسَ فِى عُنُقِهِ بَيْعَةٌ مَاتَ مِيتَةً جَاهِلِيَّةً

He who withdrew his hand from obedience (of the Amir) will meet Allah on the Day of Judgment with nothing to argue with; and he who died with no allegiance in his neck, died a Jahiliyy death.”

Scholars have pointed out that the injunctions for establishing the Khilafah have not been stated in clear terms by the Qur’an and Sunnah, but rather is an opinion arising out of the consensus of the jurists, with the backing of the Qur’an and Sunnah, in view of several directives such as, for example, the verse and hadith quoted above.

Again, the source for any Wajib is the Qur’an and Sunnah alone. That is, Ijma`, Qiyas, or other sources of Islamic Law cannot declare an act Wajib that has not been declared Wajib by the Qur’an and Sunnah. The Wajibat of Islam, are well-known, and the list does not include working for the restoration of the Khilafah.
Working for restoration of Khilafah is then a religio-political obligation. On the religious plain, it is something akin to attempting al-amr bi al-ma`ruf wa al-nahyu `an al-munkar.

Working for the Cause

Now the question: how is it for a common Muslim to work for the establishment of the Khilafah? The answer is, so long as the case and its surrounding details are understood well, and the objective is clear, there can be no harm, but much to benefit.

That is, one has to be clear about the concept, be sure that his efforts will not create the Khilafah per se, that his exertions might help create the sort of people among whom Khilafah can appear. In other words, those who are working for it, especially in the non-Muslim environments, are creating the atmosphere of acceptance for it. They are clear that they are preparing the grounds for its appearance somewhere in the world – if not immediately, then some time in future, if not at their place, then elsewhere.

The care that is to be observed is that the individuals working for or with any group that endeavors to restore the Khilafah, should not be at the cost of personal development and liberty. In many cases, the groups so working claim the entire time, life, and personality of the individuals who associate with them. The result is, although achievements could or could not be made at the group level, the individual does not develop as he could if all his time and energy were not taken away by the group. In short, the group should not – as has been observed with some other religious movements – be treated as the ‘religion’ of the individual member, requiring him to submit not the best, but all his time, energies, resources, in short, his whole being. (We use religion here in the sense of something for which the individual’s first loyalty is reserved, Islam and Muslims coming next).

A Muslim must learn to differentiate between a political agenda and a religious obligation. The political agenda, even if it is ‘Islamic political agenda’ – limited by its very ideology – endeavors at the fulfillment of the agenda of the party, while a purely Islamic agenda aims at benefiting Islam and Muslims, groups and individuals, in this world and the next – whether of the party, or against the party – a friend or foe, with non-Muslims not missing their benefits. A political agenda assures the success of the party in question, without any assurance of the growth and flowering of the individuals involved, whereas a purely religious agenda assures the success of the individual standing sinless in front of his Lord on the Day of Judgment, while having fully performed his services to Islam, Muslims and mankind in this life.

A political agenda requires a careful study of its literature, ideology, leadership, culture and methodology, to assess its Islam-ness, while a religious agenda requires the study of Islamic sources (primarily the Qur’an and Sunnah), with the Prophet as the role-model, to attain an understanding and undertakings of Islamic causes, independent of outside influences.

About YMD

Past Issues