A Herd Without a Herdsman: The Plight of Muslims and the Need for Khilafat

Khilafat is the heavenly means of sustaining the unity of Islam. It is the Divine institution that fosters the spiritual strength of Muslims.

A Herd Without a Herdsman: The Plight of Muslims and the Need for Khilafat

Khilafat is the heavenly means of sustaining the unity of Islam. It is the Divine institution that fosters the spiritual strength of Muslims.

The article was first published in Weekly Badr Qadian dated 22 May 1975 and is translated from Urdu by Saleeq Ahmed Naik for Light of Islam.


FEBRUARY 2, 2022

You may have beheld the night sky adorned with the scintillating moon and the shining stars, lying on your bed on the rooftop during hot summer, and may even have attempted to count them – in vain. You would have wondered wherefrom this sparkling moon and the shining stars come and whereto they disappear.

Indeed, you must have read about the solar system in your academic books and would have learnt that the moon, the earth and other planets – discovered and undiscovered – are rotating around the sun. The moon acquires its light from the sun and fills the dark night with its radiance. The rotation of Earth around the sun is what determines the occurrence of days, nights, months, years and centuries.

Hence, Sun has a fundamental significance in the solar system. Without Sun, neither Moon nor its radiance nor the planets nor other celestial bodies in the solar system can exist. In this way, God, who is the best of the creators, have placed all planets under the influence of the sun and has designed this grand system.

Similarly, you would have happened to see the honey bees. You may have noticed how methodically they collect nectar and how carefully they preserve it. There is a queen among them who is obeyed by all and under whose command every function is undertaken in an orderly fashion.

Likewise, you must have observed the ants moving in line on the walls of your house and must have noticed how precisely two lines of ants move past each other without creating any hindrance. The ants also have a queen under whose directives they perform their duties.

Hence, you will see a system at work in everything in the universe, and for every system there is an administrator. For a herd there is a herdsman; for a class there is a teacher; for a district a magistrate; for a state a chief minister; and for a country a prime minister or a president.

If all of this is true, as indeed they are, we cannot help asking the question why there is no leader for the seventy crore Muslims. Can a class progress without a teacher? Can a herd survive without a herdsman? Can Moon and planets exist without the sun? How then can a community survive and remain united without a leader?

On the front page of its Friday edition, Al-Jumuah magazine published from Delhi featured an article titled Why Are We Deprived of This Great Blessing and made the following observation in very painful words:

Is this good fortune only destined for railway wagons? While there is engine for railwagons, I wonder why this human caravan is deprived of one? Is it not possible that the members of this Ummah also have an ‘engine’ and we unitedly proceed towards a well-thought-out path?…..

Ah! the crowd that cannot become a caravan. Ah! the caravan that does not submit itself to an ‘engine’.[1]

This yearning desire is nothing but the voice of their souls. I wish these words kindle a zeal in Muslims. I hope they start looking for the leader of the caravan of Muslims as Allah may have already made arrangements in this regard, for upon this depends the survival of the Muslim Ummah. Perhaps, it is this longing that urged Allama Iqbal to write:

So that the foundation of the Caliphate may be once again firm in the world; Search for and bring from somewhere the heart and spirit of your ancestors.[2]

Hence these despaired souls, at times considered the King of Turkey to be the source of their unity and at times set their hopes on King Faisal. But it was never up to man to put on the robe of Khilafat himself or enrobe someone else in this heavenly mantle. Instead, Allah has taken it upon Himself to appoint the man of His choice as the Khalifa. Hence, He promised in Chapter Nur of the Holy Quran that He will cause Khilafat to remain among Muslims until they fulfil the conditions of true faith and good deeds[3]. Therefore, as long as these conditions were present among Muslims, Khilafat-e-Rashida (the Rightly Guided Caliphate) remained among them. When the true faith and the Quran (which is the basis of good deeds) ascended to the Pleiades, Khilafat also discontinued and Muslims were, for a time, deprived of this great blessing. All this came about in complete accordance with the prophecies of the Holy Prophetsa, as he had clearly informed:

Prophethood shall remain among you as long as Allah wills. He will bring about its end and follow it with Khilafat on the precepts of prophethood for as long as he shall will and then bring about its end. A tyrannical monarchy will then follow and will remain as long as Allah shall will and then come to an end. There will follow thereafter monarchical despotism to last as long as Allah shall will and come to an end upon His decree. There will then emerge Khilafat on the precepts of prophethood.[4]

This institution of Khilafat is then to continue until the last day as the Holy Prophetsa did not mention any other institution that would follow Khilafat. Instead, after giving the glad tiding of Khilafat that would be established on the precepts of prophethood, he became silent.

The Promised Messiahas states in his book, Testimony of the Holy Quran:

Thus, the person who believes that Khilafat lasted for only thirty years, disregards, in his ignorance, the raison d’être for Khilafat. Such a one does not know that God Almighty never intended that—after the death of the Holy Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him—the blessings of Messengership should endure for only thirty years in the mantle of the Khulafa, and then He would not care even if the world came to complete ruin.[5]

The history of Islam, like an open book, testifies to the fact that every single word of the aforementioned prophecy was fulfilled. The era of Khilafat-e-Rashida was followed by tyrannical monarchy which was then followed by despotic regime. Finally, with the dawn of the fourteenth century, the preparations for the rejuvenation of Islam were commenced while at the same time the deep longing  in the hearts of the people for Khilafat also started becoming manifest. Hence, these words of the editor of Akhbar Tanzeem Ahle Hadith published from Lahore truly reflect the fervent desire of Muslims:

If we had the good fortune, even in these last moments of our life, to witness the establishment of Khilafat on the precepts of prophethood, the Ummah could be reformed and God, who has become displeased may be pleased again, and the ark of Islam that is caught in whirlpool may be saved and could reach the shore.[6]

In what words should we impress this glad tiding upon these despaired hearts that the 27th day of May 1908 was a day of great joy in the history of Islam Ahmadiyyat. On this day, God showed the Second Manifestation of His Power. According to the Divine promise and the prophecy of the Holy Prophetsa, Khilafat was once again established on the precepts of prophethood after the demise of the Promised Messiahas. Today, under the blessed leadership of this true Islamic Khilafat, the caravan of Ahmadiyyat is engaged in the propagation of Islam all around the world.

It is estimated that around seventy crore Muslims inhabit this world. Of them, 69 crore are prosperous and educated, and possess authority and power. However, they do not have a leader whom they could obey and follow. On the other hand are the one crore Ahmadi Muslims who are mostly poor and have no power or authority, but possess a leader whom they follow. As a result, these 69 crore Muslims – split and divided – are incapable of doing even a tenth of the outstanding services done by the small community of one crore members with respect to propagating Islam and spreading the message of the Holy Quran.

Ah! the caravan that does not submit itself to an ‘engine’.

This is not just a verbal claim but many have acknowledged this fact. Hence, the famous journalist and Muslim leader, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, the editor of Zamindar published from Lahore writes:

It is easy to simply sit at home and abuse Ahmadis. But no one can deny the fact that it is this community that has sent its missionaries to England and other European countries. Is it not possible for Nadwatul Ulama, Deoband, Firangi Mahal and other educational and religious institutions that they partake in the endeavour of propagating the true faith. Are there no prosperous Muslims in India, who could easily meet the expenses of such missions![7]

It is estimated that the Ahle Hadith organization constitutes around one crore members. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community also has a similar strength. Now let us undertake a comparative analysis between these two communities based on some facts which will very well demonstrate that discipline is ineffective without Khilafat[8]. This will also provide the readers with undeniable proof for the truthfulness of Khilafat.

The Ahle Hadith organization had approved a budget of 60,000 rupees for the years 1973 and 1974. The following words of Maulana Abdul Hamid Rahmani, General Secretary, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind clearly demonstrate the response they received from its members in this regard. He says:

The strength of any organization is entirely dependent upon the sincerity of its members and their spirit to offer sacrifices. Despite its great objectives, unparalleled history, and true principles, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind is unable to succeed in its constructive programs owing to the fact that the members of the community are negligent of their responsibilities and the pragmatic requirements needed to fulfil those responsibilities. Visible proof of this negligence is their response to the small budget passed in the Majlis Shura held on September 1973. Even after a long period of two years, not a quarter of the budget has been fulfilled. Worse still, the office did not receive even the promised amount passed in the meeting.

…. As the month of Ramadan is approaching …. extend your cooperation and also appeal to other sincere members to offer contributions so that the budget of sixty thousand rupees passed in the Majlis Amla meeting of 18 August 1974 may be achieved in this blessed month at any cost. It is an easy task for Ahle Hadees Jamaat consisting of around one crore members to accomplish such a small budget.[9]

On the other hand, while announcing a grand project for the victory of Islam, the current Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community appealed to its members to make a contribution of two and a half crore rupees in addition to the annual 2 crore 26 lakh rupee budget of obligatory donations. He also said that he hoped that Jamaat would contribute up to five crore rupees. The members of the Community responded to this appeal from their beloved Imam by collectively promising an amount of twelve and a half crore rupees. The collection of this budget is being undertaken systematically on a monthly basis.

In reply to this, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community reciprocated through a message to the community members. We intend to present an extract from that message so that the object of our comparison may be fulfilled and those with observant minds may realize that this clear distinction is nothing but the blessing of Khilafat. His Holiness said:

During Jalsa Salana 1973, I had announced the launch of a grand project named Centenary Jubilee Plan aimed at enhancing the process of moral training of the Jamaat members residing abroad, accelerating the work of the propagation of Islam, and expediting the victory of Islam. I had appealed to the sincere members of the Community to generously make promises of contributions to the Centenary Jubilee Fund, which they are to fulfil in a period of fifteen years.

I thank God a thousand times that He put influence in my words and the Jamaat members set an outstanding example and made financial promises that were many times greater than the initial budget. All praise is due to God.

Hence, on one side, there is despair, gloom and hopelessness, while on the other, the hearts are filled with happiness, joy and zeal, and tongues are singing hymns of gratitude and people are engaged in constant acts of goodness.

This situation is precisely reflected in the following couplet:

Those who advanced at a brisk pace have reached the destination; Alas! We remained lost in the distractions of the world.[10]

I sincerely pray that Allah grants cognizance to our brothers so that they adhere to the true Islamic Khilafat and join us in our endeavours of propagating Islam and spreading the message of the Holy Quran. Otherwise, to verbally express one’s longing for an ‘engine’ while not willing to submit to it will be a futile act that will bear no fruit.

The author is a senior scholar of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and currently serves as its National Executive Director in India.


[1] Al-Jumuah Weekly 9 May 1969

[2] The Call of the Marching Bell, an English rendering of Bang-e-Dara (Urdu) by Sir Muhammad Iqbal

[3] Holy Quran 24:56

[4] Mishkat al-Masabih, Kitab al-Riqaq (Book of Softening the Hearts)

[5] Testimony of the Holy Quran, an English rendering of Shahadatul Quran in Urdu by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, pp. 91-92

[6] Akhbar Tanzeem Ahle Hadith 12 September 1969

[7] Zamindar December 1962

[8] A line from a couplet by Sheikh Roshan Deen Sahib Tanveer

[9] Noah’s Maulana Abdul Hamid Rahmani served as the General Secretary of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind from 1971 to 1975. https://www.ahlehadees.org/successive-general-secretaries-since-1947/

[10] Couplet by Altaf Hussain Hali

1 Comment

Ali · October 6, 2022 at 11:05 pm

Can you send me the scans for these references?

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