As a Khalifa is God’s vicegerent on Earth, his person becomes the reflection of Divine attributes, and his actions serve as the true demonstration of Islamic teachings.
T A NELOFAR, ERNAKULAM
MAY 27, 2023
“I came here with a very different impression of Islam and Muslims. Before I came here, I was fearful. It’s no exaggeration to say that I thought that this Mosque will destroy the peace of this city and in fact of the United States. I had those fears right up until the moment your Caliph started speaking. But as soon as he started to talk, he immediately put my heart at ease.
“He said that Ahmadi Muslims will be there to wipe away the tears of their neighbors. What he does not know is that when he said these words, I began to weep and had real tears in my eyes. I thought of how my fears were completely wrong and how miseducated I had been.”
This was Annetta Curry, an African American Christian lady, expressing her feelings after attending the inauguration of an Ahmadiyya Mosque in Philadelphia. She was referring to the person who wiped away her fear of Islam.
Annetta is not alone. The talks and speeches of this person have expelled the fear of Islam from the minds of thousands of people across the globe. His unwavering determination to establish peace in the world has influenced millions worldwide. He is Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, the current Worldwide Head and the Fifth Khalifa (Caliph) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
What is Khilafat?
Living in a globalised world, the mere pronouncement of the words ‘Caliph’ or ‘Khalifa’ would turn many heads upon you. Owing to the actions of extremist groups, and a massive amount of false information fed through the internet, many consider Khilafat to be a tyrannical system of leadership that seeks to establish Islamic law in the world by force. However, nothing can be further from the truth.
If this conception of Khilafat is false as it indeed is, what exactly does Khilafat mean? Does it hold any significance in the fast-forward world we live in? Or is it just an outdated governing system?
The Arabic term ‘Khilafat’ means succession. In Islamic terminology, it refers to the spiritual system of leadership that follows prophethood and continues its mission of propagating faith and reforming people. According to a narration of the Holy Prophetsa, every prophethood had been followed by Khilafat. After the demise of Prophet Muhammadsa, God established Khilafat-e-Rashida (the Rightly Guided Caliphate). The Holy Prophetsa had prophesied that this prophethood would be terminated after a short period and followed by oppressive kingship and tyrannical monarchy. However, he also gave glad tidings of the re-establishment of the true Khilafat in the precepts of prophethood in the latter days.
Hence, in 1908, after the demise of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who claimed to be the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, Khilafat was once again established testifying to the words of the Holy Prophetsa. This Khilafat, known as Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya (the Ahmadiyya Caliphate), has been presenting the pristine teachings of Islam to the world for over a century and is now passing through the blessed era of the Fifth Khalifa.
Explaining the role of this Caliphate in today’s world, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba states:
“Whilst worldly leaders have secular goals, the purpose of Khilafat is to draw the attention of all people towards fulfilling each other’s rights. It is to instil a spirit amongst Ahmadi Muslims of giving precedence to their faith over all worldly matters and Khilafat makes every effort to peacefully establish the Unity of God in the world.”
Hence, the purpose of Khilafat is not to build worldly empires but to keep the love of God burning in the hearts of people. As a Khalifa is God’s vicegerent on Earth, his person becomes the reflection of Divine attributes, and his actions serve as the true demonstration of Islamic teachings. A quick glance at the life and character of the current Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba will testifiy to this aspect of Khilafat and explain the true purpose of this spiritual institution.
A selfless and unswerving servant of humanity
Having spent the prime years of his life in the isolated and impoverished regions of Africa as a teacher, headmaster and agriculturist, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba has always strived for the betterment of humanity in all possible manners. After acquiring a Master’s degree in Agricultural Science, he dedicated his life to the service of Islam and humanity, and braced himself to go to any part of the world to fulfil this objective. He was sent to Africa under ‘Majlis Nusrat Jahan’ (i.e. the Service to Humanity Scheme). He offered his services in numerous underdeveloped regions of Africa. He was appointed as teacher and headmaster of different Ahmadiyya schools in the regions.
He was later sent to Ghana, where he spent more than eight years engaging in social, educational and agricultural development projects. During this period, he successfully grew wheat on Ghanaian soil for the first time in the nation’s history.
In many of his speeches, one could see how Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba draws the attention of the developed nations towards the suffering of the people of the remote nations of the world. In one of his addresses in 2018, he said that world leaders should realise that the problems of third-world countries should be tackled with the same passion and urgency as climate change and other issues. He said that children in these parts of the world lack education as they spend hours every day carrying drinking water from miles away, and hence get tangled in the spiral of poverty and illiteracy.
During the International Conference of the charity Humanity First, His Holiness said:
“Stand ever ready to wipe away the tears of those who are in distress or hurting in any way.”
This selfless commitment to serve mankind and prioritise others’ rights over one’s own is a perfect reflection of Islamic teachings and a demonstration of the blessed model of the Holy Prophetsa and his successors.
A determined advocate of global peace
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba has been constantly engaged in serious efforts to eliminate wars. He has repeatedly called world leaders to uphold humanity and justice in a world of stark injustices. He has spoken at numerous parliaments and written letters to various heads of state urging them to make concentrated efforts to save the world from destruction.
Through his various addresses, the Caliph has been drawing the world’s attention to the fact that it is at the brink of another world war. As the threat of nuclear war looms closer than ever, he has emphasised the need for absolute justice and peace at all frontiers.
On 9 March 2019, while addressing the 16th Annual Peace Symposium of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba stated:
“If there is a nuclear war, we will not only be destroying the world today but we will also be leaving behind a lasting trail of destruction and misery for our future generations. Hence, we must pause and reflect on the consequences of our actions. We should not consider any issue or conflict, whether within a country or at an international level, to be insignificant.”
It is this yearning for peace that opens many hearts toward the Khalifa. It is this very embodiment of the beautiful face of Islam that transforms fear into peace.
Khilafat: Dispelling the fear of Islam
In a world that considers religion to be the cause of all problems, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba advocates that true peace can only be established with God and religion.
His Holiness states, “As a religious leader, I firmly believe that instead of being the cause of today’s problems, religion is the answer, and from an Islamic perspective, the solution is quite simple… Islam instructs Muslims to emulate, to the best of their abilities, the attributes of God. A golden principle given by the Founder of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is that a true Muslim should like for others, what he likes for himself. I believe that this simple and profound point, if acted upon, not just by Muslims, but by all people, is the means for everlasting peace in society.”
According to European surveys in 2018 and 2019, nearly four in ten people held unfavourable views about Muslims. In 2017, 30 per cent of Americans viewed Muslims in a negative light. The situation in India is also not any different.
Yet, in the face of these looming clouds of hatred and division, the Ahmadiyya Khalifa continues to advise his followers to be exemplary personalities in their daily life and thus show the true and beautiful face of Islam to the world. His Holiness elaborates on early Islamic history and dispels the myth of Islam being spread by the sword.
On one occasion, His Holinessaba said:
“In this age, when the fear of Islam is on the increase in much of the world, let me reassure all of you that Islam is not what you commonly see or hear portrayed in the media. As far as my knowledge of Islam is concerned, I only know of that Islam whose teachings are based on its name. The literal meaning of the word ‘Islam’ is peace, love, and harmony, and all of its teachings are based upon these noble values.”
An unparalleled source of love
The world has seen many secular and political leaders who made masses of followers. But leaders who share a special bond of love with every person they meet are unheard of its kind. It requires utmost selflessness to prioritise others’ rights over oneself. Yet, one could see the Ahmadiyya Khalifa showing sincere concern for the feelings of each person he meets and each follower across the globe. This unusual way of uniting hearts is testimony to the fact that Khilafat is divine.
Once, a young Syrian girl expressed her love for Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, and he responded with the words, “Allah bless you, and I love you too”.
Farhat Mahmood Sahiba of U.K narrates an incident that shows the high regard of the Ahmadiyya Khalifa towards both young and old. When the headquarters of the Khalifa was shifted to Tilford from London, she felt sad at being separated from him, even by a short distance. As the time approached for the Caliph to leave, and people began to gather around, Farhat Sahiba noticed her son Haris conversing with the Caliph. As she learned later, Haris meant to say to Huzoor, ‘My mother sends you her Salam [greetings]’. But because of his weak Urdu, he ended up saying, ‘Huzoor, go say Salam to my mother’.
Farhat Sahiba writes, “All this happened in a matter of minutes as the crowd stood outside. Keep in mind that the time of the Khalifa is very precious. A child telling him to go to his house and say Salaam to his mother is unheard of. But Huzooraba did just that.
Suddenly, I saw Huzooraba walking in the direction of my house. My heart leaped. Within a few seconds, I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door and my beloved Huzooraba was standing there smiling and he almost jokingly said ‘Your son said go say Salaam to my mother, Asslam-o-Alaikum (peace be upon you).’ In my shock, I just managed to make out the words Salaam, and then Huzooraba closed the door and left. After that, all I can say is that I wept; I wept with tears of gratitude for the Khalifa that takes care of the wants of an innocent child. I wept for the kindness the Khalifa had shown me.”
It is this love and affection shown by the Caliph that unites the hearts of his followers all around the world. Once, in one of his Friday Sermons, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba said:
“It is only Khilafat that is concerned for the problems of every Ahmadi living in all parts of the world; the Khalifa personally prays for them… Before sleeping at night there is no country of the world that I do not visit in my imagination and no Ahmadi for whom I do not pray whilst sleeping and whilst awake.”
Undoubtedly, such a standard of love is unparalleled and becomes possible only as a result of Diving blessings. Even the reciprocal expression of love by Ahmadi Muslims for their Khalifa cannot match the love Khalifa has for his followers.
In short, Khilafat is a source of refuge for the distressed and is the real guarantor of peace and security in the world. It is the true reflection of Islam and its principles, and the Divine institution that fosters the spiritual strength of Muslims.