Last Updated on 11th February 2022
First, the point to focus on is that making mistakes is all too human. Allah says in the Holy Quran:
وَخُلِقَ الۡإِنْسَانُ ضَعِيْفًا
“And man has been created weak.” (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.29)
So, showing weakness and committing mistakes is in the God-given nature of man. The Holy Prophetsa said:
كُلُّ بَنِيْ آدَمَ خَطَّاءٌ وَخَيْرُ الْخَطَّائِيْنَ التَّوَّابُوْنَ
“Every son of Adam [i.e. human being] commits mistakes, and the best of those who commit mistakes are those who repent.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Then the Holy Prophetsa also said:
لَوْ أَنَّكُمْ لَمْ تَكُنْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوْبٌ يَغْفِرُهَا اللّٰهُ لَكُمْ لَجَاءَ اللّٰهُ بِقَوْمٍ لَهُمْ ذُنُوْبٌ يَغْفِرُهَا لَهُمْ
“If you did not sin, Allah would have taken you out of existence and replaced you with another people who would sin and then ask Allah for forgiveness and He would grant them forgiveness.” (Sahih Muslim)
Therefore, the Khulafa (plural of Khalifa) and their decisions are to be measured precisely according to this.
Since the Khalifa is a legitimate decision-maker, according to the statement of the Messenger of Allahsa, if his intention is pure – which every pledger of allegiance has to presuppose, otherwise he has practically annulled his pledge of allegiance – he will not be held accountable by Allah for his decisions, e.g. to appoint someone to an office. On the contrary, he will be rewarded for it, even if his choice of persons for certain roles should ultimately prove to have undesired results.
The Messengersa of Allah said:
إِذَا حَكَمَ الْحَاكِمُ فَاجْتَهَدَ ثُمَّ أَصَابَ فَلَهُ أَجْرَانِ، وَإِذَا حَكَمَ فَاجْتَهَدَ ثُمَّ أَخْطَأَ فَلَهُ أَجْرٌ
“If a decision-maker makes a decision according to the best of his knowledge and his decision is correct, he will receive dual reward, and if he makes a decision according to the best of his knowledge and his decision is wrong, even then he will get one reward.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Besides, we should look at history and learn from the mistakes of our forefathers.
If we look into history, we find that a major reason and root cause that set such things in motion – causing a chain reaction – that eventually led to the martyrdom of Hazrat Uthmanra, was that his decisions were publicly and openly questioned, especially his decisions on whom he appointed to office in the Muslim lands.
For instance, the great hadith scholar Ibn Hajar al-Asqalanirh (d. 852 CE) states:
ثم إن قتل عثمان كان أشد أسبابه الطعن على أمرائه ثم عليه بتوليته لهم
“Then, certainly, the weightiest of the reasons for the killing of Uthmanra was the defamation of his amirs and his own defamation on account of his putting them into office.” (Fath al-Bari)
Hence, we should be careful not to fall into the same trap as before if we do not want to lose the divine mercy of Khilafat. As Oscar Wilde said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!”; and as much more eloquently put by the Holy Prophetsa:
لاَ يُلْدَغُ الْمُؤْمِنُ مِنْ جُحْرٍ وَاحِدٍ مَرَّتَيْنِ
“A believer is not stung twice (by something) out of one and the same hole.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
To conclude, we reiterate the fact that Khulafa, when appointing a person for a certain role, base their choice on the information that they have been provided or their own opinion about the person. They do so with the good intention that the person appointed will, to the best of their ability, adhere to Islamic teachings in performing their duty. However, if an office-bearer acts in a manner that breaches this trust, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih – who has never claimed to have knowledge of the unseen – cannot be held responsible for the shortcomings of others.
(Prepared by the Ahmadiyya Archive and Research Centre)