Islam Today: Why do we take pride in saying that Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya has no political agendas when the Holy Prophet and his Khulafa did have a very strong one?


This is a leading question, and what is suggested in the question must first be questioned. The Ahmadiyya Khilafat does have political goals that it pursues.

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra said at one point:

“Therefore, it is our duty to establish the Islamic teachings in the world, to settle people’s disputes according to the Shariah, and to sanction offences in non-penal matters according to the Islamic sentence, unless the government restrains us and says, ‘We do not allow you in these matters to govern them according to your own dictates.’ Apart from this, it is necessary to enact even the smallest Islamic order and establish every possible structure of Islamic rule in the world. But we cannot and will not interfere in those parts which the government holds in their hands. If the enemy calls our efforts and struggle ‘establishing our own rule’, we do not care. We even say that we want to establish an Islamic rule in the world, but it is a spiritual rule, and we have never concealed that we want to establish an Islamic rule in the world; rather we openly say that God willing, we will eventually establish an Islamic rule in the world. What we deny is that we will establish an Islamic rule by the force of the sword and by sedition; rather we will establish an Islamic rule by conquering the hearts. Can anyone imagine that if it were in my power today to convert all the people of England to Islam, to convert the ministers there to Islam and to convert the members of parliament to Islam and to establish an Islamic government there, I would refuse to avail the opportunity? I would not hesitate for a minute and try to convert these people to Islam immediately and establish an Islamic government in England, but as this is not within my power, I cannot do it. Otherwise, I do not deny that I have this idea in my heart and of course it is my heart’s desire that our kings become Muslims, that the ministers also become Muslims, that the members of parliament also become Muslims and that all the people of Britain also become Muslims.” (Friday Sermon, 13 March 1936)

A fundamental conceptual misunderstanding that must be clarified before moving on is the translation and transfer of the premise of the separation of church and state, which originated in Christianity, to Islam as the separation of faith and politics.

Islam is not a religion in the Christian sense of the term, but a holistic concept of life. The Arabic term iman, which is sometimes translated as faith or belief due to the limitations of language, is far removed from the Christian concept, for the components of iman are tripartite:

1. Confirmation by the heart (tasdiq bil-qalb)

2. Pronouncement by the tongue (qaul bil-lisan)

3. Practical or through action (‘amal bi-l-jawarih). 

Furthermore, the Messengersa of Allah has commanded to rectify ills with one’s own hands and has called the mere considering of an ill as evil in the heart as the lowest level of faith. In addition, it is impossible to assume that the Khalifa – the divinely supported supreme religious authority of the world – would merely display that lowest level of faith. The Messengersa of Allah said:

مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَانِ

“Whoever among you sees evil, let him change it with his hand. If he is unable to do so, then with his tongue. If he is unable to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest level of faith.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Imaan, Hadith 49a)

Accordingly, the political is part of the everyday life of every Muslim and every Islamic institution.

What needs to be understood, however, is that the mandate of the Khalifa depends on the mandate of the divinely appointed one (ma’mur) whose successor he is. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra clarifies this in the following words: 

“If God grants kingdom to His Prophet, his Khalifah will also be entitled to it and God will surely vouchsafe the kingdom upon him. But if the Prophet happens to be without a kingdom, from where will it come for his Khalifah? Because God had granted both the worldly and spiritual kingdoms to the Holy Prophetsa, his Khulafa’ too were granted both of these bounties. But now, as God has not vouchsafed a worldly kingdom upon the Promised Messiahas, with whom should his Khalifah fight to have one?” (Blessings of Khilafat, p. 12)

He also was once asked, if sovereignty was necessary for a Khalifa. He answered:

“The meaning of Khilafat is: 1) kingdom and 2) successorship; and whichever domain a person is the Khalifa of, he will work within that, as per the origin [that his authority originates from]. The purpose of appointing the Holy Prophetsa was also spiritual reformation. In the sense of the Arabic language, it is also correct to call a king a Khalifa. Every single sovereign is also a Khalifa but the Muslims have particularised it.” (Al Fazl, 28 November 1921, p. 5)

Here something quite essential has been established, namely that the Messengersa of Allah and his Khulafa primarily had the mandate of spiritual reform, and that material and political rule was altogether secondary in nature. This is also the reason why many prophets and their successors were not granted temporal rule. This is also recognised by the great historian of world renown, Ibn Khaldunrh (d. 808/1406). He writes:

فقد تبين أن الخلافة قد وجدت بدون الملك أولاً، ثم التبست معانيهما واختلطت، ثم انفرد الملك

“It is thus clear that the caliphate at first existed without territorial authority. Then, the characteristic traits of the caliphate became muddled and confused. Finally, territorial authority came to exist alone.” (Al-Muqaddima of Ibn Khaldun, trans. Franz Rosenthal)

When it comes to the welfare of Muslims, it is the divinely conferred duty of the Khalifa to be concerned about it and to interfere in such matters as far as possible, because the spiritual welfare of Muslims is not possible to achieve without also taking care of their physical welfare. Thus, for example, we see that the Khulafa have always been politically active, also in an institutional but non-governmental way, throughout their lives.  

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, for instance, was elected president of the All India Kashmir Committee, which was specifically based on concerns and interests of Muslims in Kashmir. 

Also, under the leadership of the current supreme head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, all political and legal options and contingencies were reviewed in order to restrict the insult and defamation of our beloved Holy Prophetsa in the countries of the world. Moreover, it is a well-known fact that politicians of all stripes frequently appear in person before Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa and take moral guidance from him in political affairs.

Thus, we can observe that the Khulafa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat do interfere in politics where necessary and possible for the welfare of all Muslims and for humanity at large. What is ruled out, however, is that the Khulafa-e-Ahmadiyyat do not aspire to holding political posts or offices and to become directly involved in politics.

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