I know you are a busy person and only if you have time I would like to ask you in resolving a query. I would be extremely grateful if you could help in defining the terms “Khilafah” and “Imarah” and their implications. It seems to be a topic on which there are a number of differing opinions i.e. whether the establishment or reestablishment of Khilafah or Imarah is fard or not, I suspect, seems to depend directly upon the perceived definition of the terms.
The reason I ask is because a kind brother who I have learnt a lot from forwarded the following to me:
Fardhiyyah (compulsion) is expressed in several forms in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. It is one important topic discussed among scholars of Islamic jurisprudence. To give some idea of the topic, the following issues are cited:
Is a given command a compulsion or a mere recommendation? (See Quran 5:2; 62:10; 7:31 and try to decide.)
A large majority of scholars agrees that a command normally conveys an obligation unless there are indications to suggest otherwise.
Is a given command to be executed immediately or can it be delayed and still be regarded as having been properly executed? If it is flexible, like the command to perform the obligatory prayers, then performance may be delayed until the last segment of the prescribed time.
Does a command to do something dictate avoiding doing its opposite?
With specific reference to your question about khilafah, let me cite you Sura 8:73. According to great scholars of jurisprudence, this verse leads to the establishment of a single khilafah being compulsory. We find the Final Prophet also making several statements adding weight to this interpretation. For example, he said:
When you all (Muslims) are united (as one block) under a single khalifah, and a man comes up to disintegrate you and separate you into different groups, then kill that man. (Muslim)
If the Muslim world gives bai’ah to two khalifahs, the first one who was given bai’ah must remain as khalifah, and the second one must be killed. (Muslim)
Scholarly analyses of these and several other similar statements underline the compulsory nature of establishment of a khilafah.”
As I see it, there are several questions that come to my mind. What is the definition of Khilafah and Imarah as stipulated by the Qur’an and the Sunnah? Furthermore, how is an injunction from the Qur’an and Sunnah on an issue such as that of Khilafah and Imarah classed as fard? Would you agree with the above statements presented by the brother? Given the definitions and the relevant information, how do the sources given in the above article testify to the learned author’s opinion?
From your extensive knowledge of Islam, what do the famous classical juristic scholars say about the issue of Khilafah being fard?
Could you please throw some light upon this matter?
Thank you kindly.
The two words (‘Khilafah’ and ‘Imarah’1) are used, more or less, as synonymous. Neither of these words is a term. Both are used in their literal meaning and implication, which is ‘rule’, ‘government’ etc2. In the modern times, however, these words have been used to imply a single universal Muslim state. Thus, those who ascribe to this modern implication of the word refuse to use these words for the existing Muslim governments. They hold that only that Muslim government can be called a ‘Khilafah’, which represents the whole Muslim community of the world. In other words, when all the Muslim states (or communities) are united under one rule, only that government or rule can be called ‘Khilafah’. In my opinion, this implication is neither supported by the literal meaning of these words nor by its usage in the classical Muslim literature, including the Qur’an or Hadith.
In view of the above, it is imperative, in my opinion, that those who restrict the implication of these words only to a universal, single Muslim government must first establish the correctness of their interpretation of these words from the Arabic language or from the usage of the word in the Qur’an and Hadith.
To understand the gravity of the difference of opinion, which originates from the difference of interpretation of these terms, let us take up a few examples:
The author has cited two narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), reported by Muslim, as evidence of his point of view. The first narrative reads as:
من أتاكم وأمركم جميع على رجل واحد، يُريدُ أن يشق عصاكم، أؤ يُفرّق جماعتكم ؛ فاقتلوه (مسلم، كتاب الإمارة، رقم ٣٤٤٣)
Whoever comes to you, while you are united under [the rule of] one man, desiring to take your charge or to spread disunity among you, kill him.
The second narrative reads as:
إذا بويع لخليفتين فاقتلوا الآخر منهما
When allegiance is given to two [separate] rulers, kill the latter among the two.
Obviously, having inferred the referred implication of the word ‘Khilafah’, the author would interpret the directive entailed in these narratives to apply even to those situations where two separate Muslim states are ruled by two different rulers. Nevertheless, in their simple implication, these narratives are only a directives for a situation where a person tries to overthrow an established rule to take charge himself or to spread disunity among the Muslims of a particular state. In this sense, these narratives are, in fact, a directive to discourage a state of anarchy and rebellion against the rulers of a state. However, the author, having first presumed a particular meaning for the word ‘Khilafah’, is left with no other option but to interpret these narratives to imply the prohibition of the existence of two separate Muslim states.
Take another example: Ibn Katheer, in his commentary on the Qur’an writes:
وقد استدل القرطبي وغيره بهذه الآية على وجوب نصب الخليفة…
Qurtubi and others have presented this verse as evidence of the obligation of the appointment of ‘Khalifah’…
The author would obviously interpret Ibn Katheer’s statement to support his view. Thus, it should not surprise anyone if he declares (on the basis of this statement) that Ibn Katheer has cited Qurtubi and others to have emphasized the obligation of the creation of ‘Khilafah’ (i.e. a single universal Muslim government). Nevertheless, what Ibn Katheer actually implied by his statement was no more than merely the establishment of a rule. Ibn Katheer’s complete statement reads as:
وقد استدل القرطبي وغيره بهذه الآية على وجوب نصب الخليفة ليفصل بين الناس فيما يختلفون فيه ، ويقطع تنازعهم ، وينتصر لمظلومهم من ظالمهم ، ويقيم الحدود ، ويزجر عن تعاطي الفواحش ، إلى غير ذلك من الأمور المهمة التي لا يمكن إقامتها إلا بالإمام
Qurtubi and others have presented this verse as evidence of the obligation of the appointment of ‘Khalifah’, so that he may give decisions in matters relating to differences of opinions among people and, thereby, remove elements of disharmony among them; to help the oppressed against the oppressors; to implement the [collective] directives of the Shari`ah and to admonish them in case they engage in lewdness. These are [some of] the important matters, which cannot be secured without the appointment of a ruler.
It is obvious that in the cited portion, Ibn Katheer is only referring to the establishment of a rule and, thereby, the formation of collective organization, in place of anarchy. It is not, as the author would like it to be, an opinion in favor of the establishment of a single universal Muslim rule.
This is precisely what the Muslim jurists generally mean, when they say that the establishment of ‘Khilafah’ is obligatory upon Muslims.
Seen from this perspective, as a genuine rule is already established in every Muslim state of the world, it is clear that the referred obligation is already being fulfilled by the Muslims of the world.
In the above paragraphs, I have only given a few examples to clarify the gravity and the extent of the difference that would remain unresolved unless the author establishes the fact that the words ‘Khilafah’, ‘Imaamah’, ‘Imaarah’ and their synonyms are used in the classical Muslim literature, including the Qur’an and the narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), to imply a single universal Muslim rule. In other words, the author is requested to provide evidence to the effect that the establishment of a single universal Muslim rule is obligatory upon the Muslims.
You have cited the author to have written:
Fardhiyyah (compulsion) is expressed in several forms in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. It is one important topic discussed among scholars of Islamic jurisprudence.
I would sincerely appreciate if, rather than discussing the ‘forms’ in which ‘Fardhiyyah’ may be expressed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, the author would simply cite the related verses of the Qur’an (or directives of the Sunnah) which make it obligatory upon me to strive for the establishment of a single universal Muslim rule. In case the author cannot provide any evidence from the Qur’an and the Sunnah to support his view, then I would request him, in all sincerity, to refrain from declaring such an act to be an obligation upon Muslims, as it would then amount to an addition in the corpus of God’s guidance, for which the author shall be held answerable on the Day of Judgment.
December 3, 2000