Al-Imām at-Tirmiẓī narrates in his Kitāb Tafsiril Qurān in Sunan at-Tirmiẓī that ‘Adī bin Ḥātim رضى الله عنه narrates:I came to the Nabī صلى الله عليه و سلم wearing a golden cross around my neck. He called out, “O ‘Adī! Throw this idol off your neck!”I then heard him reciting from Sūrah Barā’ah, “They made their priests and monks lords besides Allāh.”He then commented, “They did not worship them, but if they made something Ḥalāl for them,they took it as Ḥalāl and when they made something Ḥarām for them they took it as Ḥarām.”
One cannot blame a Muslim for being affected by the media fanfare surrounding the Pope and innocently comparing the situation of a divided Islām with a united Catholic Church under a single leader. “Why do we not have a Khalīfah?” he might lament.
The comparison and the lament, whilst born out of sincerity, are however incorrect and naïve.
No comparison between Pope and Amīrul Muminīn
Muslims must desist from seeking points of reference in the West. Our points of reference are Allāh and His Rasūl صلى الله عليه و سلم. If we fail to do this, we unintentionally undermine our own faith. Specifically in this instance, we have not fulfilled the command of Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه و سلم of pledging allegiance to a Khalīfah for close onto a century. The least we can do however, is maintain the intention of a restoration and not contaminate the concept of the institution with alien ideas. If we keep drawing parallels to the Papacy, the danger exists that the day the Khilāfah is restored, the imagery of a Papacy will be permanently imprinted on the minds on the Ummah.
I do not intend my blog to be an academic thesis on any subject, but hope that the following should suffice for the thoughtful:
1. Catholics believe the Pope to be infallible. On the other hand, the first Khalīfah, Abū Bakr رضى الله عنه, clarified in his inaugural address, “Now, it is beyond doubt that I have been elected your Amīr, although I am not better than you. Help me, if I am in the right; set me right if I am in the wrong. Truth is a trust; falsehood is a treason.”
2. The Papacy is an office that is bought, sold and bribed for. Whoever wishes to study the sordid details may peruse the biographies of the Medici and Borgia families. On the other hand, the first Khalīfah, Abū Bakr رضى الله عنه, clarified in his inaugural address, “O people, I swear by Allāh that I never desired the Khilāfah either by day or by night, nor had I any inclination towards it. I never prayed to Allāh openly or secrectly to confer the office on me. I merely accepted this office lest some mischief arise at this critical juncture in the history of the Muslims…”
3. The Catholic Church is largely a compromise and distortion between Christianity and paganism. Thus even the symbols of the Pope, such as the insistence on wearing red shoes, have their origins with idol worshippers and has nothing to do with any heavenly scripture. The Khalīfah is strictly bound by Shari‘ah in his office. Any personal failings have always been recognised as such – his personal failing. It has never been institutionalised in Islām, unlike the Papacy. Popes and priests married for at least three centuries, and then were forbidden to do so. Catholics deny that the prohibition was in order to increase the Church’s land holdings. Be that as it may, the fact remains that in Islām the Khalīfah has no authority to concoct divine law at human whim centuries after the practice of a different law. Again, the first Khalīfah said, “Obey me as long as I obey Allāh and His Rasūl صلى الله عليه و سلم. When I disobey Him and His Rasūl صلى الله عليه و سلم, then obey me not.”
Allāḥ knows best why we needed the medicine of loss of Khilāfah
One of my teachers, Mawlānā Sulaymān Chocksī, warned us against entertaining people’s demands for explanations of Ḥikmah (the divine wisdom behind a certain law or event). Such ventures merely lead to confusing replies and demands for substantiating every injunction, even if the reason might not have been clarified in the Qurān. I would add that in declaring that that is why Allāh decreed something, am I not elevating myself to some kind of consultant to Allāh? Since when did I reach such a status that Allāh explains unto me why He decreed an event?
However, I see no harm in looking at events on the ground and stating what I see.
I first clarify:
1. The Jew Ataturk and the Saudis terminated the Khilāfah and have much to answer for in thus rebelling against Allāh.
2. Khilāfah is a command of Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه و سلم.
3. Had I lived a century ago, I would have been obliged to obey the ‘Ulamā’ who sought to defend the Khilāfah.
Unity of hearts, not authorities
I however say to those who lament that the Catholics have a Pope and we have no Khalīfah:
A problem today is lack of understanding of what Islāmic unity is. Unity is not conformity and uniformity which are the hallmarks of perhaps every single Muslim institute and organisation throughout the world. Islāmic unity means unity of hearts together with respect for difference of opinions. That is why when the King wished to impose the Fatāwā of al-Imām Mālik raḥimahullāh upon all Muslims to ensure “unity,” the very first to oppose him was none other than the venerable Imām himself. The Imām understood what unity really meant and what the consequences of a monolithic, unthinking, robotic Ummah would entail. We however have still not grasped the lesson.
Even the sternest Khalīfah, ‘Umar bin al-Khaṭṭāb رضى الله عنه , was a humble man who accepted differences of opinion. I may be wrong, but I firmly believe that should the Khilāfah be re-established within the next decade, this immature Ummah will produce such an overbearing dictator who will be closer to the “infalliable” Pope than ‘Umar رضى الله عنه . My sympathies then to the wise Imām of al-Madīnah raḥimahullāh. However, there are also signs of progress.
In this global atmosphere of religious dictatorship, the advantage Muslims enjoy of not having a central authority, is that we have the capacity to exercise our minds and submit our conscience only towards Allāh instead of a dictator who uses “religious” blackmail against those who do not tow the party line.
We must accept that the Khilāfah in its last Ottoman days was really not an institute to be proud of, and there was no hope of reform. It is highly likely that the very idealists and activists who now declare that all our problems would be solved had Germany and Turkey won and the Khilāfah preserved, would be the very ones lambasting the Ottomans for not coming anywhere the standard. By terminating the Ottoman state, Allāh has granted us a clean slate, a fresh start and an opportunity to work towards the real Allāh-pleasing goal.
Now, not as a ritual, but truly…. Allāh knows best.