Issue 67 [@1:12:34]: Serge Trifkovic – Author, The Sword of the Prophet – “In Islam the separation between temporal, secular and religious power is not only impossible, it is heretical. Only in the complete blending of all aspects of human activity and all aspects of political and legal functions of the state can we have the Khalafat, the properly organized state that is pleasing to Allah.
Rebuttal 67: The issue of Khalafat raised by Trifkovic or for that matter any Muslim needs a clear understanding of its meanings and philosophy. According to Dictionary of the Holy Quran by Abdul Mannan Omar (p. 162-3) we find the following meanings of the roots of the said term – Khalafat:
Khalafa – To succeed, take the place of, be the agent, substitute of.
Khalîfah: Supreme chief; Successor; Religious head. Ibn Masûd and Ibn ‘Abbas explain this word as one who judges among or rules the creatures of God by his command. The word Khalîfah in 2:30 refers also to the children of Adam, i.e., the whole of mankind, the correctness of their view is corroborated by the Holy Qur’ân itself (6:165).
Khalafa(prf. 3rd p.m. Sing.): He succeeded, acted as a successor.
Khalîfatun (act. pic. n.): Vicegerent; Successor.
Khalâif (plu. of Khalîfatun): Successors.
Khulafâ’(plu. of Khalifatun): Successors.
With the above meanings of Khalafat in mind, lets turn our attention to Quran for the philosophy of Khalafat. Even though Quran draws some of its arguments from history, one must not dwell on Quran as a book of history, rather emphasis of Quran is on the philosophical and moral underpinnings which govern history. These underpinnings are to be understood for their implications in current events and expectations for the future. We start with narrative of Adam:
2:30. And (recall) when your Lord said to the angels, `I am (according to My usual practice) going to appoint a supreme religious head [– Arabic: Khalîfah] in the land (to convey My Message to human beings and to execute My will in the universe).’ They said, `Will You create (also) therein such (people) as will cause disorder in it and shed blood while we already glorify You with Your true praise and extol Your holiness.’ He (- God) answered, `I know that which you do not know.’
Thus, it becomes obvious from the above verse that man was the instrument of Khalafat of God and was to rule the earth despite his shortcomings e.g. – such (people) as will cause disorder in it and shed blood. Quran then answers in the following verse the natural question as to what was that bigger plan in `I know that which you do not know’ of God that made Him make the decision for the mankind as his vicegerent:
6:165. And He it is Who has made you successors (of others and rulers) of the land, and He has exalted some of you over the others in degrees (of rank) so that He may try you by that which He has given you. Surely, your Lord is Quick at retribution; and He is all the same, Great Protector, Ever Merciful.
The above verse lays in the open that the office of Khalafat or the ruler is none but an inherent trial by which He has given you. The same verse also forewarns the office holder that – your Lord is Quick at retribution, for any failure on the part of the successors. This trial may span one government like Hitler, a series of governments of Khulafâ-e-Rashideen, a dynasty like Ottomans, generations like House of Tudors, or a global colonial rule of European powers etc. etc.
While this interplay of the ruler and the ruled goes on in the earth, unless the rule is righteous in both temporal and moral planes, such a rule or Khalafat does not last. In order to fully contextualize the concept of Khalafat for the ‘experts’ of this documentary, it necessitates to explain with the examples of none but their own. One of such example is that of Pharaoh and Israelites that we will build upon till the present times and the expected moral outcomes into the future:
2:49. And (recall) when We delivered you [– the Israelites] from the people of Pharaoh who subjected you to the worst torment. They went on slaying your sons and sparing your women to make them immodest, and indeed that was a great ordeal from your Lord.
2:50. And when We parted the sea for you, and rescued you and drowned the people of Pharaoh, while you were beholding.
17:103. So he [– Pharaoh and his government] resolved to weaken them [– the Israelites] by humiliating them in and thus scare them out of the country [– Egypt]; but We drowned him [– Ramses II] and those with him [– Pharaoh’s army], one and all.
Thus, after centuries of servitude of Israelites and despite all their doubts about emancipation at the hands of Moses, they were settled in freedom for a chance to evolve as a nation abiding by Islam. Of note is that Israelities were factually the Muslim followers of Prophet Moses:
7:129. They (- the persons of superficial thinking of the Children of Israel) said, `We were persecuted before you came to us and (are being persecuted) even after you have come to us.’ (Moses) said, `It is well nigh that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you rulers in the (promised) land and then He will see how you act.’
7:137. And We made the people who were deemed weak (and were oppressed) inherit the eastern and western parts of the (promised) land which We had blessed. Thus was fulfilled the most gracious word of your Lord in favour of the Children of Israel, for they had patiently persevered; and We annihilated all that Pharaoh and his people had wrought and what they had erected.
In the moral framework after the tyranny is removed, the subjugated former subjects get their chance to prove their worth to rule next:
2:47. O Children of Israel! remember My blessings which I bestowed upon you and that I exalted you above (your) contemporaries.
Quran further outlines the principle that the rule of the next successors or Khulafâ is held to the same same moral standards of reward and retribution by which their previous rulers were held to. This is brought to light in Abraham’s prayer for his progeny, that includes both future Israelites and Muslims:
2:124. (Recall) when his Lord put Abraham to test with certain commandments, so he carried them out. (God) said, `Verily, I will make you an Imâm (- a religious leader) for the good of the people.’ (Abraham) said (inquiringly), `And from among my progeny (too, do You promise to raise leaders)?’ (God) said, `(Yes, but) My (this) covenant does not embrace the wrongdoers.’
Abraham’s prayers bore fruit in the case of Israelites, the benedictions on whom started with Moses and continued till Solomon. Both Moses and Solomon and all the intervening Israelite prophets were Muslim prophets. The blessings of Khalafat ended with the Khulafâ of Solomon:
38:34. Behold! We tried Solomon (too) and We placed on his throne (of kingdom) a (mere) body [of his inept sons – Rehoboam and Jeroboam] (without any spirit or faith). Then he turned (to God seeking His mercy).
38:35. He [– Solomon] said (praying), `My Lord! grant me protection and bestow on me a kingdom that belongs to none (by inheritance) after me. You indeed are the Great Bestower.’
Prayers of Solomon only reflect the morality as outlined in God’s reply to Abraham in the verse 2:124 above. His prayers too prevailed when the kingdom of Israel went into disarray due to lack of moral fabric in the Khulafâ or the successors after him:
By the mere body that was put on his throne is meant either his son Rehoboam, who lost the allegiance of all except a single tribe of Israel (1 Kings 12:17), or Jeroboam, who led the revolt against the house of David, and, on becoming king of ten tribes, set up image-worship in Dan and Beth-el, the two calves being supposed to be images of Jehovah (1 Kings 12:28), and also began the worship of molten images (1 Kings 14:9). Thus both Rehoboam and Jeroboam answer the description of a body (without real life) thrown on Solomon’s throne. [excerpt from
the footnote to verse 38:35 – Translation and Commentary of Holy Quran by Muhammad Ali, ed. Zahid Aziz]
Now coming back to Khalafat, be it of Israelites who were originally Muslims under the Israeli Prophets, or Muslim followers of Prophet Muhammad, the prime determinant for successor-ship is their deeds of righteousness, the example of which in history is the rule of Abu-Bakr, Umar, Usman, Ali and the Muslims whom they ruled. This principle is outlined in the following verses:
24:55. Allâh has promised those of you who believe and do deeds of righteousness that surely, He will make them successors (vouchsafed with both spiritual and temporal leadership) on the earth as He made successors (from among) their predecessors [i.e. Israelites], and that He will surely establish for them their Faith which He has approved for them, and that He will surely replace their state of fear with a state of security and peace. They will worship Me (alone) and they will not associate anything with Me. And those who show ingratitude for all the favours done to them after that (His promise is fulfilled), it is they who will be reckoned as the worst disobedient.
24:56. And (believers!) observe the Prayer, keep on presenting the Zakât (purifying dues) and obey the Messenger that you may be shown mercy.
In the above verses it becomes plainly clear that a society has to believe and do deeds of righteousness FIRST, before He will make them successors (vouchsafed with both spiritual and temporal leadership) on the earth. Thus, according to Quran, the office of Khalafat is a logical outcome of a righteous living, both individually and collectively. As stated before, this principle we see in the natural attainment of governorship by Khulafâ-e-Rashideen, who started their humble path to steadfast righteousness while being persecuted in Makkah for no fault of theirs, then fleeing for their lives to Medina, and ended up ruling the Persian and Roman Empires, all within single lifetime. This is unlike Constantine and Christianity who tried to rule first and then hoped all along that they will be able to do deeds of righteousness, which they could not. Same situation we see in modern day Israel. They distorted Torah and promised themselves a land and the rule first and thereafter are now trying to be righteous by their own self-fulfilling standards within the same distortions of Torah and that too selfishly at the cost of others. In the moral laws of Quran, one cannot place the cart before the horse:
24:57. Think not (O reader!) that those who disbelieve [in the principles outlined in the preceding verses] can ever be able to frustrate (Our plan on the earth) and escape Us. Their abode is Fire; what an evil resort!
With the above meaning and philosophy of Khalafat in mind, lets re-read Trifkovic’s statement – “In Islam the separation between temporal, secular and religious power is not only impossible, it is heretical. Only in the complete blending of all aspects of human activity and all aspects of political and legal functions of the state can we have the Khalafat, the properly organized state that is pleasing to Allah.” Fact is that when the term of Khulafâ-e-Rashideen ended, there was a separation of temporal power and spiritual tracts in Islamic governments thereafter. Temporal power got concentrated in the apparent Khalifas, whereas, the spiritual power got its frequent revival from Mujaddids in Sunni tradition and Imams in Shia school of thought. As long as the revivalists of spiritual domain were able to influence the temporal aspect of the government, the governments remained strong and progressive. When the gulf widened between these two required aspects of Khalafat, then history bears witness to the decline of the temporal Khalafat, that finally ended with Ottomans. This all happened so because, irrespective of whether the claimants of Khalafat were Muslims, none can ever be able to frustrate (Our plan on the earth) and escape Us, the Law stated in the verse above.
Trifkovic cannot look farther than his own experience of the West who followed pagan religions for thousand of years (see Issue 64); whose invented God(s) have turned out to be less intelligent than man, hence their consequent rejection by the same West. Therefore, he cannot reconcile the possible blending of temporal, legal and spiritual structure of the society (see Issue 65) that we see in Quran. His knowledge about Quran and Islam is not based upon any critical and objective read, but his reading of Quran is based upon an entrenched blinding hate.
Now, with both Quran and Trifkovic in perspective and turning to our current times, we see that Israelites have been given another chance in modern day Israel by gathering them from various lands:
17:104. And We said after (it was all over with Pharaoh), to the Children of Israel, `Settle down occupying the (promised) land (of Palestine). When the time of fulfillment of the second Prophecy comes, We shall bring you back gathering you (from various lands) [after the fulfillment of the second Prophecy, see below 17:2-10].’
But, the standards of Quran remain the same for all the peoples and all times. The precondition for any rule to establish itself is stated in the next verse:
21:105. We have already stated in the Zabûr (Psalms – the Book of David) after (stating it in) the Reminder (-Torah) that My servants with right capacity (to rule) shall inherit the land.
We leave it to the experts of the documentary as to whether Israelites of our times have demonstrated the right capacity (to rule) and to inherit the land with fairness and justice or the world is already witnessing another making of the rule of Rehoboam and Jeroboam with added twist of pages borrowed from Nazism. Quran in its messages reminds us that be it the British Empire of the yore, or the sole super-power of the present or the super-power by proxy i.e. state of Israel, any rule is none but a trial by which He has given you. As a reminder to Israel from secular and moral history, Quran states:
17:4. And in the Scripture We have conveyed to the Children of Israel with certainty (saying), `Twice you shall create disorder in the land and shall surely become exceedingly overbearing and arrogant.’
17:5. So when (in 588 B.C. the time for) the first of the two warnings came, We roused against you, (O Children of Israel! some of) Our servants possessed of great valour and might in warfare, and they penetrated into the innermost recesses of your country and habitations. Indeed, it was a warning (about the punishment) of Allâh bound to be carried out.
17:6. Then We gave you back the power to prevail over these (enemies of yours through Cyrus and Zerubbabel), and We helped you with (various) possessions and sons and We increased your man-power (militarily).
17:7. (We said,) `If you did good, you did it for your ownselves, and if you did evil it was only to the same end.’ So when (the time for carrying out) the latter warning came (We raised certain other people – Romans under Titus in 70 A.D., against you to destroy your glory), so that they might do evil to (you and) your leading men and invade and enter the Mosque (at Jerusalem) [i.e. Solomon’s temple] in the same way as others (of your enemies) had invaded and entered it the first time, and so that they might destroy utterly all that they had conquered.
17:8. Still it is well-nigh that your Lord will again have mercy on you, (through Islam) but if you return (to mischief, We warn,) We too will return (to Our punishment), We have made Gehenna a prison-house for the ungrateful.
17:9. This Qur’ân, assuredly, guides to that which is most upright and gives to the believers, who do righteous deeds, the glad tidings that there awaits them a great reward,
17:10. And (also warns) that We have grievous punishment in store for those who do not believe in the Hereafter [and as a consequence, commit remorseless atrocities and usurp human dignity and fundamental rights of others].
Sadly, by any temporal, secular and moral standards, Israel was and is becoming more and more of exceedingly overbearing and arrogant towards Palestinians and its neighbors. Only time will validate the truthfulness of either the man written Torah or God revealed Quran in this living example of Israeli ‘Khalafat’ amongst our midst. Since they see no immediate retribution, it only makes them more arrogant:
6:158. Do they await only that the angels should come to them (with wars), or that (complete destruction from) your Lord should come (upon them), or that some of the signs of your Lord should visit them (with earthly calamities). The day when some of the signs of your Lord shall come, no soul, that did not believe earlier or accomplished some good deeds through (his) belief, will ever benefit by his faith. Say, `Wait, we too are waiting.’
If we have to predict the future of Israel through the lens of Quran based on former’s systematic and incessant immoral policies of hegemony, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, all we have to do is to re-quote one of the above verses:
17:103. So he [– Pharaoh before and Israel now] resolved to weaken them [– the Israelites before and Palestinians now] by humiliating them in and thus scare them out of the country [–Egypt before and Palestine now]; but [watch out] We drowned him [– Ramses II before] and those with him [– Pharaoh’s army], one and all.
There was no material way possible under heavens for Israelites to break away from the generations of humiliations and scare at the hands of the Pharaohs, but it happened. Even Pharaoh’s body testifies to these facts. Pharaoh did repent at the last moment, but it was too late as momentum had built up for the retribution for his tyranny:
10:83. None, however, but a few youths from among his people accepted Moses (while others held back), for fear of Pharaoh and their chiefs lest he should persecute them. And surely Pharaoh was ever a tyrant in the land and truthfully he was of those who committed excesses (and high-handedness).
10:84. And Moses said, `O my people! put your trust in Allâh, if you have (really) believed in Him (and) if you have (truly) submitted (to His will).’
10:85. Thereupon they said, `In Allâh alone do we put our trust. Our Lord! do not make us a target of persecution of the wrongdoing people.
10:86. `And deliver us by your mercy from (the evil designs of) the disbelieving people.’
10:87. And We spoke to Moses and his brother (Aaron saying), `You both should prepare lodging for your people (bringing them together from different parts of the country) in the central town (of Egypt) and make your houses so as to face one another [i.e. live in close proximity and develop a Muslim community] and perform worship.’ And (We also revealed to them to) proclaim good tidings (of success) to the believers.
10:88. And Moses said (praying and Aaron joined him in prayer), `Our Lord! You have given Pharaoh and his chiefs pomp and wealth in the present life with the result, Our Lord! that they lead people astray from Your path. Our Lord! destroy their wealth and attack their hearts, so that they believe not until they see the grievous punishment.’
10:89. (The Lord) said, `The prayer of you both has been accepted, so remain you two steadfast and follow not the way of those who do not know.’
10:90. And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his legion pursued them in wanton aggression and for no justified cause till when he (Pharaoh) was about to be drowned, he cried, `I (confess and) believe that there is no One worthy of worship but He in Whom the Children of Israel have believed in, and I am of those who submit (to Him).’
10:91. (The Lord) said, `What! (do you remember) now (while dying), whereas you had (always) disobeyed before (this), and you had been of the miscreants!
10:92. `So, on this day We will preserve you in your body (only) that you may be a sign (to learn a lesson from) for the coming generations, though most of the people are quite heedless of Our signs.’
In light of above set of verses, the natural question arises at to how different is the attitude of Israel towards Palestinians than the manner Pharaoh treated the Israelites? Israelis are doing what Pharaoh was doing to his helpless subjects. So, Mr. Trifkovic take heed with regards to the natural outcome of the prevailing Pharaoh like power and behavior of Israel in the Middle East. If Pharaoh could be annihilated then, so could any rule now. To Trifkovic we have this to say – `Wait, we too are waiting.’ (6:158)
Note: [text enclosed in square brackets above is not part of the original quoted sources]
Dictionary of the Holy Quran – Abdul Mannan Omar
The Holy Quran – Nooruddin [all the above quoted verses]
Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Dr. Zahid Aziz [excerpt from the footnote to verse 38:35]
Early Caliphate (pdf)[Khulafâ-e-Rashideen] – Muhammad Ali
Khilafat in Islam (pdf) – Maulvi Muhammed Ali, M.A., LL.B. p. 147, – Islamic Review and Muslim India, April 1920
The Khalifa Question and the Sultan of Turkey – 1 – Dr. G. W. Leitner – The Asiatic Quarterly Review, Jan-Apr 1896
The Destiny of Israel: Review of “Jerusalem in the Qur’an” – Imran N. Hosein, a review