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The Pious Caliphs: Introduction

Meaning of Khalifah
Caliph (ar. Khalifah)a vicegerent or viceroy or a successor of the Holy Prophet who is the Right Vicegerent of Allah Almighty on this earth. Caliph is the temporal ruler of an Islamic State and defender of the Faith. He secures well-being in this world and bliss in the Hereafter. Caliph is the person who holds the delegated authority to enforce the Islamic law and religion (i.e., Shar'ia) in an Islamic State on the one hand and who is the sole executive authority on the other. He is the Amir or Imam, i.e., Ruler or Leader of the Muslims in his time, and for this reason the Caliphs of Islam were commonly known as Amirul-Mu'minin ("The Ruler of the Believers").

The Pious or the Truthful Caliphs

After the Holy Prophet the first four Caliphs - Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman and 'Ali - strictly followed his was. Their time is the "Golden Age" of Islam when Islamic law and religion fully flourished and were perfectly implemented. They were the ideal rulers who guided the Ummah (followers of the Holy Prophet) on the Right Path and discharged their duties faithfully. For this reason they are known as Khulafa-i-Rashidin ("The Rightlyguided Caliphs").

The Holy Qur'an on Khilafat (Caliphate)

Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power) [Khilafat], as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion - the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace. (24:55)
Three things are promised here, to those who have Faith and obey Allah's Law: (1) that they will inherit power and authority on the land, not for any selfish purposes of theirs by way of favouritism, but in order that they may maintain Allah's Law; (2) that the Religion of Right, which Allah has chosen for them, will be openly established, and will suppress all wrong and oppression; (3) that the righteous will live in peace and security, instead of having to suffer persecution, or leave their hearths and homes for the cause of Allah, or practise the rites of their Faith in secret.

O ye who believe! if any from among you turn back from his Faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him,- lowly with the believers, mighty against the rejecters, fighting in the way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault. That is the grace of Allah, which He will bestow on whom He pleaseth. And Allah encompasseth all, and He knoweth all things. (5:54)
Allah's bounty is not confined to one group or section of humanity. He can always raise up people who will follow the true spirit of Islam. That spirit is defined in two ways: first in general terms; they will love Allah and Allah will love them; and secondly, by specific signs; amongst the Brethren, their attitude will be that of humility, but to wrongdoers they will offer no mealy-mouthed compromises; they will always strive and fight for truth and right: they will know no fear, either physical, or that more insidious form, which says: "What will people say if we act thus?" They are too great in mind to be haunted by any such thought. For, as the next verse says, their friends are Allah, His Prophet, and His people, the people who judge rightly, without fear or favour.

Traditions (Ahadith) on Caliphate

The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi waSallam) said: I have put you on a way which is clear, and even its night is like an enlightened day. Nobody, will deviate from that way, after me, but a doomed person. You would come across with differences after me. But you should stick to my Sunnah (ways) and the Sunnah (ways) of my Rightly-guided Khulafa (successors). Hold to those ways with your teeth (i.e., be firm on them), and follow them (i.e., Muslim rulers) even though your ruler is a black slave because a believer is like a camel whose rose has been tied, therefore he is obedient to one who holds him" (Ahmad) This religion has started with prophethood and Allah's Mercy. Then it would pass on to Khilafat and Mercy of Allah, which will be changed into a bitter kingship. Then there would prevail cruelty and injustice and the people will commit evil. They will wear silken clothes, drink liquor and will indulge in adultery. Although they would be committing sins, Allah would provide them sustenance and would continue bestowing His favours upon them
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committing sins, Allah would provide them sustenance and would continue bestowing His favours upon them until they meet Him. Anas (R.A.) has narrated that the people of Banu Mustaliq sent him to the Holy Prophet to ascertain to whom should they pay Zakat after him. The Holy Prophet said, "Pay to Abu Bakr." H. Anas told them what the Holy Prophet said. They again sent him to enquire as to whom should they pay the Zakat if something happened to Abu Bakr. Then the Holy Prophet said, "Then pay to "Umar." When Anas informed them, they again sent him back to the Holy Prophet to find out to whom should they pay Zakat after "Umar. The Holy Prophet said, "Then pay to "Uthman". H. Anas conveyed the reply of the Holy Prophet. They once more sent him to the Holy Prophet to ask whom should they pay Zakat if some thing happened to 'Uthman. Then the Holy Prophet said, "There would be chaos after him" {Hakim). 'Abdullah bin 'Umar said, "During the time of the Prophet of Allah we used to make comparative assessment of the excellence of the companions, and found Abu Bakr (R.A.) the best among all, then Umar and then 'Uthman." The most compassionate of my people is Abu Bakr, the most rigorous regarding Allah's affairs is 'Umar, the most genuinely modest is 'Uthman, the most learned in legal matters is 'Ali. Hearing and obeying is the duty of a Muslim both regarding what he likes and what he dislikes, as long as he is not commanded to perform an act of disobedience to Allah in which case neither listen to him nor obey him.

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