Islam Today: Is a Khalifa infallible?


The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat believes that Khilafat is a divinely established institution which Allah alone protects from any harm – even if the harm could potentially emerge from an error of judgment. This belief is based on the Quranic words of:

 وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ‭ ‬لَهُمْ‭ ‬دِيْنَهُمُ‭ ‬الَّذِی ‬ارْتَضٰی ‬لَهُمْ 

 “And that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them …” (Surah al-Nur, Ch.24: V.56) 

Hence, Allah does not let any mistake happen through the Khalifa that can have adverse effects on the Jamaat. 

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra, states:

“It is possible for a Khalifa to commit an error in his personal matters. However, in matters upon which relies the spiritual and physical progress of the Jamaat, Allah protects His Jamaat from any adverse effects, even if a mistake is made. Allah somehow makes the Khalifa aware of the mistake. Sufis term this as ismat-i-sughra [minor infallibility] and is a characteristic of Khulafa [plural of Khalifa], whereas prophets are bestowed with ismat-i-kubra [major infallibility]. Hence, Allah does not let Khulafa make such an error that can result in adversity for the Jamaat. 

“Their decisions may have minute and negligible mistakes, but the destined outcome is that Islam shall prevail and opponents shall always be defeated. Therefore, their ismat-i-sughra ensures that their policy will always be aligned with the policy of Allah the Almighty. Although they would utter words, their tongues would move, their hands would be in motion, their minds would function, but there would be Allah’s Hand behind it all.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, commentary on Surah al-Nur, pp. 376-377)

A salient feature of the Islamic system is that it places Allah’s divinely appointed Khalifa as the final point of obedience. The Khalifa receives guidance from Allah the Almighty and everyone is answerable to him, who is answerable to Allah the Almighty alone – to the One who has appointed him Khalifa.

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IVrh, states:

“It is true that Allah appoints the Khalifa, and I have always believed so, and will continue to believe so till my last breath. This too is true that no human power has any involvement in this appointment and, hence, I am now, as the Khalifa, not answerable to any member of the Jamaat. But this is no freedom because I am now answerable directly to God, my Lord.” (Address after being elected Khalifa, delivered on 9 June 1982)

So anyone who takes an oath of allegiance at the hand of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih automatically commits to accepting him as the final authority in all matters of faith and religious understanding. 

Some confuse this with absolutism, but that is not the case. We have heard Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa say on many occasions that if this oath, with its binding conditions, does not seem practical to someone, they are free to leave. 

Hence, so long as one believes the Khalifa to be the final authority, they are bound to listen and obey with the firm faith that as Khalifatul Masih, he is divinely guided and his advice can only lead to goodness and not to adverse consequences.

(Prepared by the Ahmadiyya Archive and Research Centre)

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  1. It’s also scientific since truth is judged by repeatability with same outcome every time. We observe that right from first Khilafat all decisions were filled with wisdom and guided. So there is no reason to attribute human weakness to a Khalifa when jamaat is even guided to greater heights.


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