By MAZIN ABDULADHIM
[Note: This response is long and very detailed, as I am assuming the audience are students of Shaykh Akram (as well as other students of knowledge), and Shaykh Akram himself. Please take your time reading this, and think about the details carefully, as almost everything here is very relevant to the topic. Also note: I respect Shaykh Akram, and is not meant as an attack or a “refutation” or anything disrespectful. This is simply an explanation of an understanding of the texts of the Qur’an and Sunna,h and an understanding of what the classical scholars said regarding the points raised.]
Shaykh Akram was asked by a sister in the audience: “What do you advise us if non-Muslims ask us if we believe in the Khilafah? Do you advise that we should avoid it? Or what would you say is the right answer?”
He responded: “People ask this question so they can know who is extremist and who is not extremist. Where does Islam say you have to believe in Khilafah? People don’t become Muslim by saying ‘I believe in Khilafah’ (…) The truth of the matter that I follow is the Khilafah Rashidah was a promise from Allah (swt) for the Sahaba: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. He gave them that promise and it’s finished. After that, whether the Khilafah comes or does not come, it is Allah’s favour whether people do it. It was not Allah’s promise forever. (…) …if people come to the right path, Allah can give them. But more likely, to my understanding, is it can only be true when Isa comes to pray. Between that, we can have good kings and nice kings… (…) But this is not part of Iman anyway, whether people believe in this or not doesn’t matter. Tell them no, we don’t believe in these things. We believe in only Laa Ilaha Illa Allah.”
I would like to address the following statements:
#1- “Where does Islam say you have to believe in Khilafah? People don’t become Muslim by saying ‘I believe in Khilafah’…Tell them no, we don’t believe in these things. We believe in only Laa Ilaha Illa Allah.”
#2- “The Khilafah Rashidah was a promise from Allah (swt) for the Sahaba: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. He gave them that promise and it’s finished…It was not Allah’s promise forever.”
#3- “It (the return of the Khilafah) can only be true when Isa comes to pray.”
#1: “We don’t believe in these things (the Khilafah)”
The issue of the Khilafah is not an issue of belief (Aqeedah, i.e. Kufr and Iman), rather it is an issue of Hukum Shar’iee (actions, i.e. Halal, Haram, Fard, etc). While I realize the sister asked “…if we *believe* in the Khilafah,” but I think the sister meant to say “…if we believe *that the Khilafah is an obligation*,” because the topic of the Khilafah is related to the practical actions of man (افعال العباد), not belief in the matters of the unseen (الإيمان بالغيبيات).
So, the question would more accurately be stated as: Is the Khilafah a Fard (obligation) that we must work toward, or is it something we can ignore and wait for the Mahdi to establish it (and Isa, alayhi assalam, to arrive after it is re-established)?
This question is answered by Imam Al-Nawawi in his Sharh of Sahih Muslim, in the Book of Imarah (leadership), where he said: وأجمعوا على أنه يجب على المسلمين نصب خليفة ، ووجوبه بالشرع لا بالعقل translated: “They (the Sahaba) had Ijmaa’ (consensus) that it is a Wajib (obligation) upon the Muslims to install a Khaleefah, and this obligation is a textual obligation (from the Qur’an and Sunnah), not a logical one.”
It is also answered by Imam Al-Mawardi, who said in Al-Ahkaam Al-Sultaaniyyah: الإمامة موضوعة لخلافة النبوة في حراسة الدين وسياسة الدنيا وعقدها لمن يقوم بها في الأمة واجب بالإجماع translated: “The Imamah is established for the succession (Khilafah) of Prophethood in protecting the Deen and the politics of the worldly affairs; contracting it to someone who undertakes (these responsibilities) is a Wajib by Ijmaa’ (consensus).”
Imam Al-Qurtubi also answered it, where he said in his Tafseer: هذه الآية أصل في نصب إمام وخليفة ; يسمع له ويطاع لتجتمع به الكلمة وتنفذ به أحكام الخليفة ، ولا خلاف في وجوب ذلك بين الأمة ، ولا بين الأئمة translated: “This Ayah (Al-Baqarah:30) is a foundation for (the command) to install an Imam and Khaleefah; for him to be heard and obeyed, and for him to unite the word (of the Ummah), and implement the Ahkam of the Khaleefah. And there is no difference of opinion in the Wujoob (obligation) of this between the Ummah or the scholars.”
And countless other scholars have said the same thing over the centuries, including Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi who said: “The Imamah is a Fard”; Ibn Hazm who said: “All of Ahl Al-Sunnah agreed…upon the obligation of of the Imamah”; Al-Ghaazali who said “The obligation of installing an Imam is one of the necessities of the Shari’ah, and there is absolutely no abandoning it”; and so on.
One important detail to consider here: How is it possible for all these scholars to state that having a Khaleefah over all Muslims at all times is an undeniable obligation established through the Qur’an, the Sunnah, Ijmaa’ As-Sahaba, and Ijmaa’ Al-Ulemaa, yet they all wrote volumes upon volumes of books on various Islamic issues but did not once speak about the “fact” that they did not have a Khaleefah at their time? Think about that for a minute. The scholars I quoted range from periods around 400 AH to 700+ AH, so this is well past the 30 year limit mentioned in the Hadith. How is it possible that Imam Ibn Hanbal – who refused to be silent over the truth – would remain silent over the fact that there was no Khaleefah or Khilafah during his time, despite it being an unquestionable obligation according to everyone? Something for everyone to think about carefully.
Another important detail to consider: All the above quotes of the scholars speak of the Khaleefah and Imam over the whole Ummah in singular form. This is because it is forbidden for Muslims to have more than one Khaleefah at any one time, as the Hadith in Sahih Muslim clearly states: إذا بويع لخليفتين، فاقتلوا الآخر منهما translated: “If the Bay’ah is given to two Khulafaa (plural of Khaleefah), kill the latter of the two.” So, we are not ordered to obey “all” rulers in the Muslim lands, as some Muslims incorrectly believe and propagate, since this Hadith explicitly commands us to attack and forcefully remove even a second Khaleefah – even if he is a Khaleefah who implements Islam – so what of an illegitimate tyrant usurper of power who implements clear Kufr laws and divides the Ummah intom 50+ states? I do not believe I need to explain the applicability of من باب أولى (“with greater reason”) here.
So, the Khilafah is unquestionably a Fard (obligation), as agreed upon by all trusted classical Sunni scholars and all trusted Sunni schools of thought. It is an obligation because 1) the majority of the Ahkam of Islam cannot be applied without it, as stated by Abdul-Qahir Al-Baghdadi, Al-Juwayni, Al-Nasafi, Ibn Taymiyyah, and others, who all said that without the Khilafah, most of the Ahkam of Islam would be abandoned, and we can see that today; and 2) due to the implications of the Hadith narrated in Sahih Muslim: من خلع يداً من طاعة لقي الله يوم القيامة ولا حجة له ومن مات وليس في عنقه بيعة مات ميتة جاهلية translated: “Whoever removes his hand from obedience (to the Imam/Khaleefah), he will meet Allah on the Day of Judgement with no excuse. And whoever dies without a Bay’ah (pledge of allegiance to the Imam/Khaleefah) on his neck, he dies the death of Jahiliyyah.” The part about having “no excuse” and “dying the death of Jahiliyyah” are clear and unquestionable Qaraa’in (indicative evidences) that these things are Haram (not obeying the Khaleefah, not having a Bay’ah to a Khaleefah), and therefore it is a Fard to have these two things at all times.
Since we cannot obey someone who does not exist, nor give a Bay’ah to such a non-existent person, and the Shar’iee principle says: ما لا يتم الواجب إلا به فهو واجب translated: “Whatever is required to complete an obligation is itself an obligation,” it is therefore an obligation to work to re-establish the Khilafah and install/elect a Khaleefah so we can fulfil all these conditions required of us.
#2: “(Allah) gave (the Sahaba) that promise and it’s finished”
While the above points in #1 should sufficiently explain that it is a Fard to always have a single Imam and Khaleefah who unites the Ummah and implements Islam over the Muslims, regardless of interpretations of whether the Khilafah is a promise by Allah (swt) to the Sahaba alone or to the whole Ummah, I would like to remind everyone of a known (and obvious) rule when interpreting Ahadith:
Ahadith (and Ayat) come in two forms: In the form of a command (صيغة الأمر, such as “Do” and “Don’t do”), and in the form of newsgiving (صيغة الإخبار, such as “X will happen”). The form of newsgiving can also imply a command (such as “X will happen, and they are the most evil of the people,” which clearly implies a command to not be among them).
To keep things simple, a general rule is: If there is a command (Amr) in one text (whether a direct command or an implied command), and we find a narration with conflicting “news” (meaning a prophecy) that indicates the opposite of the command, we are not permitted to abandon the command simply because of the existence of the news or prophecy.
For example, Rasool Allah (saw) informed us that a time will come when alcohol will be consumed in large quantities (which has already come true), but that does not mean we can abandon the command to abstain from drinking alcohol when this prophecy comes true.
Similarly, when Rasool Allah (saw) informed us that the Khilafah will only be 30 years (as narrated in Al-Tirmithi: الخلافةُ في أمّتي ثلاثونَ سنةً ، ثم مُلكٌ بعد ذلكَ translated: “The Khilafah in my Ummah will be 30 years, then there will be kingship after that”, this does not nullify the obligation of remaining united under a single Khaleefah at all times, as clearly established in the evidences mentioned above in point #1.
Does the news that the Khilafah will only be 30 years imply a command? No, it does not, and therefore we are not permitted to act upon it. It is simply news for us to know. The other Ahadith that do imply a command (“Whoever dies without a Bay’ah…,” for example) must be acted upon.
So, now, what is the meaning of this Hadith of “30 years” then? The question is answered by Al-Qadhi ‘Iyadh, who said: الخلافة ثلاثون سنة: خلافة النبوة translated:”The Khilafah will be 30 years, meaning the Khilafah on (the method of) Prophethood.”
Also, Ibn Katheer says: والدليل على أنه أحد الخلفاء الراشدين الحديث الذي أوردناه translated: “The evidence that he (Al-Hasan) is one of the Khulafaa Al-Rashideen is this Hadith (“…30 years”) that we mentioned.” The fact that he uses this Hadith to prove that Al-Hasan was of the Khulafaa *Al-Rashideen* means he believes that this Hadith is referring to 30 years of Rashideen, not just any Khulafaa, since he would have only said “this Hadith proves that he was of the Khulafaa” if that is what he intended.
Therefore, this Hadith is referring to 30 years of a rightly guided Khilafah on the method of Prophethood, meaning Islam will be implemented in the best way, which includes the fact that the Khaleefah will reach power though a correct Bay’ah rather than a misapplied or forced Bay’ah. After that, there will be flaws in implementation that will resemble kingship, including more specifically the flaws in how the Bay’ah was taken (as we all know happened with Mu’awiyyah onward), which resembled a kingship. But that does not mean the ruler was implementing Kufr laws from Kufr sources, or legislating laws on his whims as a king would. The ruler was still an Ameer over all Muslims, and still held the position of Khaleefatu Rasool Allah (the successor to Rasool Allah in matters of ruling), and only implemented the laws of the Qur’an and Sunnah – even if misapplied or oppressive in applying them – until the fall of the Khilafah in 1924 (and if anyone denies this fact, feel free to bring proof of one law legislated from a Kufr source and implemented by any Khaleefah during the first 1200 years after the Khilafah Al-Raashida – you won’t find any).
And let’s not forget the fact that the classical scholars said that Umar bin Abdul-Aziz was known as the 5th Raashid Khaleefah. How can he be one of the Khulafaa Al-Rashideen if the Khilafah didn’t exist? And what of Muhammed Al-Fatih, who was praised by Rasool Allah (saw) as نِعم الأمير أميرها translated: “A great Ameer that Ameer is…”? Did Rasool Allah (saw) praise a ruler who ruled over Muslims with Kufr laws?
Anyone who unites Muslims under one banner, implements only Islam, and commands the armies of Islam that protect the Muslim lands, he is a Khaleefah ruling over a Khilafah. Therefore the rulers over the Umayyad, Abbasid, and Uthmani Khilafahs were all Khulafaa and they all ruled over Khilafah states.
A final point here is the fact that we today have also been promised a Khilafah on the method of Prophethood (which I can see Shaykh Akram agrees to, alhamdulillah), as narrated in Hadith in Musnad Ahmed: تكون النبوة فيكم ما شاء الله أن تكون، ثم يرفعها الله إذا شاء أن يرفعها، ثم تكون خلافة على منهاج النبوة فتكون ما شاء الله أن تكون، ثم يرفعها الله إذا شاء أن يرفعها، ثم تكون ملكًا عاضًا فيكون ما شاء الله أن يكون، ثم يرفعها إذا شاء الله أن يرفعها، ثم تكون ملكًا جبرية فتكون ما شاء الله أن تكون، ثم يرفعها الله إذا شاء أن يرفعها، ثم تكون خلافة على منهاج النبوة، ثم سكت translated: “Prophethood will be among you for as long as Allah wills it, then He will lift it if He wills to lift it. Then there will be a Khilafah on the path of Prophethood, and it will be what Allah wills it to be, then He will lift it if He wills to lift it. Then there will be biting kingship (or family rule/dynasties), and it will be what Allah wills it to be, then He will lift it if He wills to lift it. Then there will be oppressive/forceful rule, and it will be what Allah wills it to be, then He will lift it if He wills to lift it. Then there will be a Khilafah on the path of Prophethood.” Then he was silent.
Which brings us to the 3rd and final issue:
#3: “(The Khilafah) can only be true when Isa comes to pray”
The idea that we should wait for the Mahdi and Isa (as) not only contradicts the fact that we are commanded to always have a single Khaleefah who implements Islam over all Muslims at all times (and therefore we are commanded to re-establish the Khilafah if it should fall), but this idea of waiting also contradicts the very Hadith that informs us of the coming of the Mahdi:
It was narrated and graded as Sahih in Sunan Abi Dawood, and Hasan in Sahih Ibn Hiban: يكون اختلافٌ عند موتِ خليفةٍ فيخرج رجلٌ من أهلِ المدينةِ هاربًا إلى مكةَ فيأتيه ناسٌ من أهلِ مكةَ فيخرجونه وهو كارهٌ فيبايعونَه بين الركنِ والمقامِ translated: “There will be disagreement after the death of a Khaleefah. So, a man from the people of Madinah will come out and flee to Makkah, where the people of Makkah will bring him out against his will and give him the Bay’ah between the Rukn and the Maqaam…”
This Hadith says “…after the death of a Khaleefah,” which clearly indicates that the Khilafah will exist, and a Khaleefah will have recently died. Actually, to be more accurate, the Hadith more precisely says عند موتِ خليفةٍ or “…at the point of death of a Khaleefah,” indicating immediacy, then followed by the events mentioned in the Hadith.
So, it does not make sense to wait for the Mahdi, because he clearly becomes the Khaleefah only after – shortly after – the death of a previous Khaleefah, therefore the Khilafah state had already been re-established before his arrival. Who re-established it? The Muslims before him: yes, that’s us. And the same goes for waiting for Isa (as), as he only arrives after the Mahdi becomes the Khaleefah.
Therefore, in conclusion, we – all Muslims around the globe – are clearly obligated by the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and the Ijmaa’ of the Sahaba, and the Ijmaa’ of all the Sunni schools of thought, to have – at all times – a Khaleefah who unites us and implements Islam over us. We are forbidden from having two (or more) Khulafaa’, even if they both implement Islam, and therefore by greater reason we are forbidden from having 50+ rulers who implement Kufr, ally with our enemies, and divide us based on tribal or nationalistic borders established on the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
So, we must not sit, idle and complacent, waiting for the Mahdi to arrive. We are obligated to get up and work to resume the Islamic way of life by re-establishing the Khilafah and uniting under it by calling for it, teaching the Ummah its Ahkam and details, and refusing to accept any solution other than it.
The last standing Khilafah was the Uthmani Khilafah, which was invaded and divided by Britain, France, and Russia after losing WW1 in 1918, and it was consequently destroyed 6 years later.
Only through the Khilafah can we implement the abandoned Ahkam of Islam (around 60% of all the laws of Islam are abandoned today), which depend on the existence of a state (ruling system, economic system, unity, military protection, Hudood, and so on). We are also individually obligated (فرض عين) to have a Bay’ah to a Khaleefah at all times. And since “whatever is required to complete an obligation is itself an obligation,” working to re-establish the Khilafah is an obligation for these two reasons (implementing all of Islam, and the Bay’ah).
I hope that this post reaches Shaykh Akram and he takes the time to read it through, and I hope the readers – students of knowledge and otherwise – can benefit from the details in one way or another. And please forgive me for any mistakes that I might have made. Jazakum Allah khair, and assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.