Meaning of Khilafah
Fatwa No: 87908

  • Fatwa Date:8-6-2004 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 20, 1425
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Question

What does Khalifa & Khilafat mean? Is a Khalifa anywhere now? Khalifa is an Arabic word, so I can't understand it, When I asked the meaning of Khalifa to my friends (Arabs), they told me that Khalifa is a person, who is has a full knowledge about Islam and who will show the right path of Islam to his countrymen. My friends are Palestinians; they believe on this that the present time will be a Khalifa now. For example Yasir Arafat is President so that means he is a Khalifa. Please write me about this...

Answer

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

Linguistically the Arabic word Caliphate is a verbal noun of Calipha, Yakhlufhu, Caliphate, meaning succeeding someone, taking his place.   Any person who takes the position of another person is called Caliph.

In Islamic jurisprudence terminology, as stated by Ibn Khaldoun, Caliphate means ‘to consider everybody under the Islamic jurisprudence perspective in their worldly benefits and interests, as well as in relation to the Hereafter.  He is in reality a vicegerent of the Law-maker in safeguarding the religious and worldly affairs’.

Therefore, a Caliph is a person who succeeds the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) in applying the Islamic jurisprudence and ruling the Muslims in their religious and worldly matters.  A Caliph is a person who safeguards the foundation of Islam according to its well-established and everlasting principles and according to the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) and the consensus of our righteous predecessors, and who established the Shariah and safeguards all the interests of Muslims.  He is the one who executes the rules, applies the punishments, make up for the shortcomings and equips the army with necessary weapons.

Today there is no Caliph on earth with the above-mentioned meaning.  The Muslims have to endeavour to find one, each Muslim according to his ability.  A caliph should have the following conditions:

-         Be a Muslim, mature, free, sane, male, just, and not be physically impaired or handicapped.

Allah knows best.

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