the successorship of prophethood
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذينَ آمَنوا مِنكُم وَعَمِلُوا الصّالِحاتِ لَيَستَخلِفَنَّهُم فِي الأَرضِ كَمَا استَخلَفَ الَّذينَ مِن قَبلِهِم وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُم دينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارتَضىٰ لَهُم وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِن بَعدِ خَوفِهِم أَمنًا ۚ يَعبُدونَني لا يُشرِكونَ بي شَيئًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعدَ ذٰلِكَ فَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الفاسِقونَ (سورة النور، آیت ۵۶)
Allah had promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Successors in the earth, as He made Successors from among those who were before them; and that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them; and that He will surely give them in exchange security and peace after their fear: They will worship Me, and they will not associate anything with Me. Then who so is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious. (Surah Al-Nur, Verse 56)
The word Khilafat means succession, and the Khalifa is a successor to a Prophet of Allah whose goal is to carry to completion the tasks of reformation and moral training that were seeded by the Prophet. The community of followers of a Prophet of Allah continues to nurture its faith and practices under the blessing of the institution of Khilafat for as long as Allah wishes. Read more
Hazrat Moulana Hakim Nooruddin(ra) was born in the village of Bhera in Punjab in 1841. He was the youngest son of Hafiz Ghulam Rasool of Bhera. The genealogical tree of his family shows that he descended from Hazrat Umar(ra), the second Caliph of Islam. He was a colossal personality – a talented author, eminent scholar, extraordinary virtuous and a theologian par excellence. Being very well versed in medicine, he was royal physician to the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir for many years. He was a seeker after true knowledge in pursuit of which, he travelled far and wide enjoying the privilege of a four-year stay in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Under Divine commandment, when the Promised Messiah(as)initiated the Bai’at on 23rd March 1889, Moulana Hakeem Nooruddin(ra) was the very first person to swear the pledge of allegiance to him. His devotion and dedication to the Promised Messiah(as) was complete and total.
After the demise of the Promised Messiah(as), Hazrat Moulana Hakeem Nooruddin(ra) was unanimously acclaimed as his successor or Caliph on 27th May 1908. He guided the community in this capacity until his death on Friday, March 13, 1914.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) had given the tidings of the advent of a spiritual, pious and promised son of the Promised Messiah(as). He says:
He (the Promised Messiah) shall marry and will have children
This was an indication that this marriage would be of a special nature and, through this, Allah shall grant him such children as would be assisting and co-operating in carrying on his mission.
The Promised Messiah(as) himself received revelations which contained the prophecy concerning the birth of an illustrious son. It was disclosed to him that this son would come with a mission to revive and strengthen the Islamic theology and, through him, Islam, would resurge on the surface of the earth.
In the fulfilment of this prophecy, the promised son, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad(ra) was born on 12 January 1889 in Qadian.
Since childhood, he had developed a strong bond of love with God Almighty. In his student life, he was never interested in routine book knowledge, and could not succeed in the Government Entrance Examination. This was the end of his formal education, which was not merely incidental, rather incidents later proved that God Almighty Himself wanted to be his teacher. Thus the world witnessed that he not only had intrinsic and spiritual knowledge but his insight into basic wisdom was so vast and deep that, however, learned a scholar, armed with whatever worldly knowledge attacked Islam, he would prove to be a mere academic novice. Allah had granted him a deep encyclopedic intrinsic spiritual knowledge and understanding of the Holy Quran, thus fulfilling the prophecy that through him the glory of Islam and the dignity of the Quran would be convincingly established. During his life, he wrote a detailed exegesis of the Holy Qur’an comprising ten volumes namely Tafsir-e-Kabeer which is a truly spectacular source of Qur’anic wisdom.
At the time of the Promised Messiah(as)’s demise, he was only 19 years of age, even at that time, highly convincing and silencing replies to the criticism flowed from his august pen. On 26th May 1908, the Promised Messiah(as) passed away at Lahore. At that moment this promised son stood by the bed of the Promised Messiah(as) and vowed:
“Even if all the people leave you and I am left alone I would stand by you and would face all opposition to and onslaughts on your Mission.”
He very well kept up his covenant, and, all through his life, never cared for anyone’s enmity or opposition and, always actively endeavoured towards the progress of Islam and Ahmadiyyat.
Following the demise of the First Caliph Hazrat Hakim Nooruddin(ra), he was elected as the second Caliph of the Promised Messiah(as) on 14 March 1914.
In the long 52 year span of his Caliphate, apart from the achievements the community gained under his leadership, he also guided the nation in crucial situations. During the Simon Commission and the Round Table conferences, he guided the nation through his valuable writings and speeches.
Furthermore, in order to establish peace, understanding and good-will among the communities he laid the foundation of regular and frequent holding of “Founders of Religions Day” meetings, in which speakers from various faiths were invited to speak about the teachings of their own religion and founders from one platform.
Leaving behind incredible legacies, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad(ra) passed away on 8 November 1965.
In Talmud, there is a passage which indicates that on the death of the Messiah, his spiritual Kingdom will pass to his son and grandson. In one of his books named Haqiqatul Wahi, the Promised Messiah(as) thank God for the grant of four sons and the birth of a grandson at a future date. The much-awaited prophecy was fulfilled when Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad(ra) was granted a son whom he named Mirza Nasir Ahmad.
Hazrat Hafiz Mirza Nasir Ahmad(rh) was born on 16 November 1909 in Qadian.
Hazrat Hafiz Mirza Nasir Ahmad(rh) succeeded as the third Caliph of the Promised Messiah(as) in 1965. Since then he tremendously expanded the missionary activities of the community.
In his historic visit to the six West African countries in 1970 Khalifatul Masih III declared:
“All men are equal; there is no difference between one man and another man. If the world realizes this, there will be far less trouble.”
“The Fazl-e-Omar Foundation”, “The Nusrat Jehan Leap Forward Programme”, “The Jubilee Fund”, only to name a few, are the highlights of the achievements of the third Caliph. But his golden achievement is the guidance he offered to the Community when Pakistan declared this God-fearing Community a non-Muslim minority. The fact that the Community in its totality has not suffered from disintegration, establishes the fact that the Caliph is no paper-tiger and that he can stand trials and tribulations. Equally historic is his sermon that we are Muslims.
“We have passed through painful times and now we are receiving reports that where-ever the number of Ahmadis is small and they are weak they are being boycotted. They cannot obtain food or drink. Shopkeepers are told not to sell even the indispensable necessities of life to them, and water carriers have been told not to supply water to them. We are not worried that we are being afflicted with hunger, as we have been warned of it in the Holy Quran:
“We will surely try you with somewhat of fear and hunger, loss of wealth and lives and the fruits of your labour.” (2:156)
Reports that are coming in indicate that just now the emphasis is on depriving the Ahmadis of food and drink. On receipt of such reports I call to mind and remind those who are in touch with me that our beloved master, the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad Mustafa(sa was during the Meccan period besieged along with all the Muslims in the narrow valley of Abu Taib for a period of 2 and a half to 3 years. They were all sorely tried and were denied the necessities of life. Allah so ordained that they were able to obtain just enough to maintain life with difficulty.”
After over sixteen years of Khilafat, having unqualified success in stepping stones to further triumphs of Islam, Hazrat Hafiz Mirza Nasir Ahmad(rh) passed away on 9th of June, 1982.
Second Caliph of the Promised Messiah(as), Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad(rh) married Hazrat Syeda Maryam Begum on 7 February 1924. In the Nikah sermon, Syed Sarwar Shah Sahib, a venerable companion of the Promised Messiah(as) said:
“I am now advanced in years and would soon pass away, but those who live would witness the advent of servants of the faith born in this wedlock with a Syeda as occurred before. This is my resolute conviction.”
This Servant of the faith, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(rh) was born on 18 December 1928 in Qadian. He grew up as a righteous and virtuous person under the guidance of his illustrious father and devout mother and with Divine blessings.
His erudition encompasses a wide range of knowledge both spiritual and material. After graduation, he obtained the “Shahid” degree from Jamia Ahmadiyya (Theological Academy) at Rabwah. Then he studied in Europe for two and a half years.
Following the demise of Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad(rh) on 9 June 1982, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(rh) was elected as the Fourth Caliph of the Promised Messiah(as). Under his able guidance and with Divine help, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community made great strides. Progress and advancement were evident in every respect – geographically, historically, morally, and spiritually.
In the era of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(rh), the Community came to exercise considerable influence winning more and more adherents, among them eminent personalities and tribal kings. In 1987, two such kings from Nigeria made the covenant and joined the Community. Thus the Promised Messiah(as)’s revelation, “Kings will seek blessings from thy clothes” found fulfilment once again. He bestowed sacred relics of the Promised Messiah(as) on these two kings when they presented themselves during the annual Ahmadiyya Conference in London in 1987.
In 1992, under the guidance of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(rh), the first-ever Muslim Television was launched in London. This channel Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) is watched by millions of people in five continents.
In 1994, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(rh) founded a humanitarian organization. This international aid agency named Humanity First provides aid and assistance to those in need irrespective of race, religion or politics from registered offices now in 53 countries including India.
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(rh) passed away on 19 April 2003.
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba)) was born on 15th September 1950 in Rabwah, Pakistan to the late Mirza Mansoor Ahmad and the late Nasira Begum Ahmad. Upon completing his Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics in 1977 from the Agriculture University in Faisalabad, Pakistan, His Holiness formally dedicated his life to the service of Islam.
From 1977 to 1985, His Holiness served in Ghana, engaged in social, educational and agricultural development projects. He is accredited with successfully growing wheat on Ghanaian soil for the first time in the nation’s history. His Holiness returned to Pakistan in 1985 and served in various senior administrative posts within the Community during the next 18 years, including as Chief Executive of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan from 1997 until his election as Khalifa.
After the demise of the fourth Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) was elected as the fifth Caliph of the Promised Messiah(as) on 22 April 2003 and serves as the worldwide spiritual and administrative head of the Community.