Thursday, 22 February 2018

Reality of Khilafah (Part 4)

بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم

والعاقبة للمتّقين

The Prophet said:

كَانَتْ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ تَسُوسُهُمُ الأَنْبِيَاءُ، كُلَّمَا هَلَكَ نَبِيٌّ خَلَفَهُ نَبِيٌّ، وَإِنَّهُ لاَ نَبِيَّ بَعْدِي، وَسَيَكُونُ خُلَفَاءُ فَيَكْثُرُونَ

“The Children of Israel were ruled by Prophets. Whenever a Prophet died he was succeeded by [another] Prophet. There is no prophet after me, but there shall be a multitude of Caliphs.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

In explanation of the words of the Hadith “they were ruled by Prophets”, Imam Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani writes:

أي أنهم كانوا إذا ظهر فيهم فساد بعث الله لهم نبيا لهم يقيم أمرهم ويزيل ما غيروا من أحكام التوراة

“That is, when corruption became apparent within them, Allah raised a Prophet for them to establish for them their affair, and remove what they changed of the laws of the Torah.” (Fath-al-Bari)

This indicates that the Prophets were raised up among the Israelites (after Moses) for the purpose of rejuvenation of faith (Tajdid) and restoring the teachings of the Torah. When the great Prophet Moses died he was immediately succeeded by Joshua son of Nun, who was also a prophet: After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates — all the Hittite country — to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Book of Joshua: ch. 1, vv. 1-8) King David was succeeded by his son Solomon,  Elijah was succeeded by Elisha, and John the Baptist (Yahya Yuhanna) by Jesus the Messiah. All of them were Prophets. This does not mean that the Throne of David was continuously occupied by a prophet. A prophet’s authority is always greater than that of any king or judge. The Holy Quran speaks of the appointment of Talut (Saul) as king over the Israelites through the agency of a Prophet (Samuel), but it should be remembered that that Prophet’s authority would always be greater than the appointed king. It was only that the affairs of governing were delegated to the temporal king, but a prophet is always in a position to overrule and veto the temporal king since the prophet is one who speaks on the direct authority of God Himself. Now the Prophet Muhammad being the final Prophet, reassured his followers that though there would be no prophet after him, there would nonetheless be a succession of a large number of Caliphs. He was of course speaking of Khilafah fil-Ard (succession in the land), the caliphate of temporal authority, for he said:

فُوا بِبَيْعَةِ الأَوَّلِ فَالأَوَّلِ، أَعْطُوهُمْ حَقَّهُمْ، فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سَائِلُهُمْ عَمَّا اسْتَرْعَاهُمْ

“Fulfil the Bay’ah [pledge of allegiance] to the first, grant them their rights, for Allah will ask them about their subjects.”

The Caliphs of the Prophet mentioned in the Hadith are therefore those Caliphs who received Caliphate as a result of Bay’ah, and is not a reference to the rulers who enforce their rule through coercion or who inherit power as a result of dynastic rule. Though the Caliphate of Prophecy lasted only thirty years and consisted of four or five Rightly-Guided Caliphs, the Prophet stated that he would be succeeded by a large number of Caliphs. This is an indication of the restoration of the Caliphate upon the Prophetic Way before Judgment Day, perhaps through the agency of the Mahdi, when the seat of the Caliphate will be in the Holy Land. The Hadith is not speaking of the esoteric or spiritual ‘Caliphate’ because reference has been made to fulfilling the Bay’ah of the one to whom the Bay’ah was given first. In other words, Muslims are instructed to disregard all other claimants to caliphate after the first Caliph has already been given the Bay’ah by the Muslims. The others who come forward claiming caliphate and seekings the Bay’ah are in fact rebels creating dissension. Their ‘caliphate’ is invalid and in fact they are to be executed:

إِذَا بُويِعَ لِخَلِيفَتَيْنِ فَاقْتُلُوا الآخَرَ مِنْهُمَا

“When the Bay’ah is given to two Caliphs, then kill the second one from among the two.” (Sahih Muslim #1853)

Whereas the esoteric ‘Caliphate’ means there could be multiple esoteric ‘Caliphs’ present simultaneously, just as there were multiple Prophets present simultaneously in ancient Israel. Nevertheless, this Hadith after the multiplicity of Caliphs after the Prophet Muhammad infers that the Caliphate of Prophecy is upon the same model and pattern of the institution of non-law-bearing Prophecy among the Israelites.

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