In November of 2012 I published a post entitled, “Kalifs! That’s what we are suppose to be!”. You can find that post at:
This morning during my daily prayers and study I was reading the second Sura entitled al-Baqara and once again paid particular attention to verse 30 which I included in my earlier post. Here’s what it says:
“Behold! The Lord said to the angels, “I will create a Viceregent (Caliph) on Earth.” They (the angels) said, “Will you place on the Earth one who will make mischief and shed blood? While we do celebrate your praises and glorify your Holy Name?” Allah said, “I know what you do not know.”
(Sura al-Baqara 2:30)
Another translation of this same passage says:
“And when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to place in the Earth a Khalif,” the angels said, “What! Will you place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, while we celebrate your praise and extol your Holiness?” He said, I know what you do not know.”
As I mentioned in the previous post the Bible says the same thing. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says that true Christians are suppose to be “Ambassadors for Christ.” Like a Caliph an Ambassador is a representative or a viceregent for a great and powerful Sultan (King) and in this case that great King is none other than Allah Himself.
A Caliph was a head of state ruling over a Caliphate but the title also referred to the ruler of the Islamic Ummah (community of the faithful). That community of believers was under Shariah Law which is the Islamic Holy Law. The wife of a Caliph held the title of Calipha.
A Caliph was also a Lieutenant or, in Islam, the successor of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). The term also refers to a deputy or representative in this case of God. In the Holy Qur’an it is used to establish Adam’s role as the representative of God on Earth. It is also used to point out clearly that man’s role in the earth and his real and true nature is as a Khalif or Viceroy of Allah.
A Caliph is historically and traditionally the Islamic leader of the Ummah (community of the faithful). Therefore, a Caliph was the Grand Imam (prayer leader, clergyman). As such he was also known as the Amir al Mu’minin or Miramolin in Spanish. This title was typically translated as Leader or Commander of the Faithful. It also literally means “Prince of Believers.”
We need to think about the role Allah has handed to mankind and womankind in the earth because this role of Caliph or Ambassador is VERY important. It is something we must take seriously and be ever so aware of in our daily lives. Consider that when Allah created man and woman that he told the angels he was creating a Viceregent on the earth. The Gospels say the SAME thing when they speak of Christians being coheirs with Christ. Thus, the truly faithful among the People of the Book MUST be evermindful of this role given them by Allah Himself and it is a role to be taken very seriously. Yes, the angels questioned God over this role and creation of humankind as the angels said man would create mischief and shed blood on the earth and, indeed, many have. But, Allah simply responded by saying that He knew what the angels did not know when it comes to humans. So what did Allah know? I think that it is this. That in the end the truly faithful WILL TRIUMPH over evil and fully assume our place as Caliphs/Ambassadors!
Al-Ghazali was an Islamic commentator and scholar. He was an Islamic Persian Philosopher as well. He offered some pointers for leaders in his book entitled “Nashihat al-Muluk” (Advice for Kings). Here’s some of that advice he gave.
He adviced that a rule (Caliph, Prince) should understand both the importance and dangers of authority entrusted to him. He pointed out that in authority there is great blessing because he who exercises it wisely and righteously can obtain unsurpassed happiness. But, the prince who fails to understand this incurs torment in the afterlife surpassed only by torment for unbelief. In other words, Allah has given humans great authority and power as Caliphs and He expects us to understand that authority and use it wisely and rightly so that we will have great blessings upon us. But those who fail to understand and use authority properly due to their unbelief in God do so at their own peril and risk eternal damnation in the Hell fires. With authority comes great responsibilty and in this cae that responsibility is great as it is bestowed upon us by Allah Himself.
Al-Ghazali also advices that the Caliph should always desire to meet with devout religious scholars and seek their advise and guidance in his decision making. God makes some men wiser than others. He makes some men more knowledgeable than others. Thus, we should seek out these wise and learned men who know much about the ways of Allah and seek their advice and guidance in our lives in order that we might draw closer to God. Al-Ghazali also advices that the ruler (Caliph) should understand that he must not covet things or people especially the wives of other men. Further, that he must be content with personally reframing from injustice and discipline those who serve under him by never tolerating unjust conduct from them or from himself. Al-Ghazali also points out that in the afterlife on our Judgement Day we WILL be held to account and questioned by Allah about our unjust deeds and those people who served under us. In other words we as Caliphs are responsible for our families, friends, and coworkers. We are responsible for enlightening and educating them by teaching them the ways of Allah and making them wise. If we fail then we shall answer for it. Similarly, the Gospels teach that a pastor is responsible for his flock of the faithful and he too will answer for his unjust deeds and failure to educate his flock in the ways of God through Jesus Christ. I don’t know about you but I want to act justly and taking Al-Ghazali’s advice into account it makes me want to be even more just because I do not want to answer to Allah for my unjust deeds even though I am not a saint as none of us are.
Al-Ghazali also advices that the prince should NOT be dominated by self pride. That means we should not allow our egos to rule over us! Egotism and arrogance are SINS shown first by none other than Satan (Iblis) himself before God and God detests human arrogance and egotism. Pride gives rise to anger, as al-Ghazali points out, and anger causes feelings for revenge against others. He says, “Anger is the evil genius and blight of the intellect.” He advices that if anger dominates the ruler then the ruler must begin to make a habit of generosity and move in the direction of forgiveness and forbearance UNLESS the man desires to be like a wild beast. Yes, anger can make you crazy. Crazy with rage! In the end some men become so angry and crazed that they are like wild beasts with rabies. They will answer for this before Allah on Judgement Day even though they do not think so.
Al-Ghazali advices also that in EVERY situation the prince (Caliph) he should figure that he is the subject and the other person is the holder of authority. In other words, we are to be self disciplined and act with HUMBLENESS not arrogance and pride. Further, we should NOT sanction for others ANYTHING that we would not sanction for ourselves! For, if we do sanction for others what we do not for our own selves then we are acting unjustly and unrighteously and we betray the authority Allah has entrusted to every true believer. Further, when people come to us for help or guidance we should not ignore them or disregard them but, instead, as True Muslims we should enlighten them, help them, and aid believers in settling their arguements and disagreements.
Al-Ghazali says that the Caliph (Believer) should not make a habit of indulging in their passions. That we must be content with what we have in life because by being content it is the only way we can act justly and rightly. If we are not content with what we have then just conduct will NOT be possible. We must not want as many people today want for everything but, instead, we must give thanks to Allah for what we have and be content with what He has given us. We must be grateful not ungrateful. Further, the prince should make the utmost effort to behave gently and avoid being harsh.
Al-Ghazali also advices that the prince should endeavor to keep all of his subjects pleased with him. In other words, we must work to keep our families, friends, and coworkers happy with us and avoid confrontation. We should not be deluded by praise others give us and we must also realize that not all people will always be happy with us. We must learn from our faults and mistakes and we must take the constructive criticism of others into account and correct our behavior in life as well.
Finally, al-Ghazali advices that the prince should NOT give satisfaction to ANY person who seeks to undercut Shaira (God’s Law) and he assure us that no real harm can come to us from such a person (infidel) as Allah already is standing against them. We must be wise and not taken in or conned by those who are unbelievers. As the Gospels teach, we must use our gift of DISCERNMENT especially when it comes to dealing with the unbelievers. God does not want us to be fools or idiots. He wants us to be wise and knowledgeable. Although al-Ghazali’s advice is written for rulers it also is applicable to us as CALIPHS as Allah has made EVERY believer a Viceregent and this is a divinely given duty and responsibility that we CANNOT and MUST NOT ignore or take lightly.
For Part 1 see the following link: