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Further Clarification Establishing a Khilafah

By: admin


In your discussion where you commented on the absence of any reference to the obligation of a universal Islamic State in the Qur’an in Surah Al-Anfaal 8:73, I would like to request, if I may say so, that the commentary by Tabariy regarding the verse be posted by yourself, along with your comments.

If you have the time, I would also like you to clarify something in your responses regarding the issue of Khilafah. In an earlier response you had commented upon this verse:

Ibn Katheer, in his commentary on the Qur’an writes:

Qurtabiy and others have presented this verse as evidence of the obligation of the appointment of ‘Khalifah’

The author would obviously interpret Ibn Katheer’s statement to support his view. Thus, it should  not surprise anyone if he declares (on the basis of this statement) that Ibn Katheer has cited Qurtabiy and others to have emphasized the obligation of the creation of ‘Khilaafah’ (i.e. a single universal Muslim government). Nevertheless, what Ibn Katheer had implied by his statement was no more than merely the establishment of a rule. Ibn Katheer’s complete statement reads as:

Qurtabiy and others have presented this verse as evidence of the obligation of the appointment of  ‘Khalifah’, so that he may give decisions in matters relating to differences of opinions among people and, thereby, remove elements of disharmony among them; to help the oppressed against the oppressors; to implement the [collective] directives of the Shari`ah and to admonish them in case  they engage in lewdness. These are [some of] the important matters, which cannot be secured without the appointment of a ruler.

It is obvious that in the cited portion, Ibn Katheer is only referring to the establishment of a rule and, thereby, the formation of collective organization, in place of anarchy. It is not, as the author would like it to be, an opinion in favor of the establishment of a single universal Muslim rule.

This is precisely what the Muslim jurists generally mean, when they say that the establishment of  ‘Khilaafah’ is obligatory upon Muslims.

Seen from this perspective, as a genuine rule is already established in every Muslim state of the world, it is clear that the referred obligation is already being fulfilled by the Muslims of the world.”

In a follow up question to that you had said:

In exactly the same manner, the warning ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) regarding living a life devoid of obedience (bay`ah) toward the ruler (Khaleefah) is actually conditional upon the existence of the ruler (Khaleefah) as well as the rule (Khilaafah). This warning does not, by itself, impose an obligation upon the Muslims to establish the rule (Khilaafah) and appoint a ruler (Khaleefah). This point is clearly substantiated by the one of the narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh)…

Does this mean that Ibn Katheer and Qurtabiy were referring to the obligation of establishing Khilafah only under very special conditions? What is the correct context and meaning of 8:73 in this regard? I really apologise for getting confused about this and taking so much of your valuable time…


The relevant part of the commentary of Al-Tabariy is reproduced below:

فقال بعضهم معناه إلا تفعلوا، أيها المؤمنون، ما أمرتم به من موارثة المهاجرين منكم بعضهم من بعض بالهجرة، والأنصار بالإيمان، دون أقربائهم من أعراب المسلمين ودون الكفار تكن فتنة، يقول يحدث بلاء في الأرض بسبب ذلك وفساد كبير، يعني ومعاص لله.  ذكر من قال ذلك… وقال آخرون معنى ذلك إلا تناصروا، أيها المؤمنون، في الدين، تكن فتنة في الأرض وفساد كبير. ذكر من قال ذلك… قال أبو جعفر وأولى التأويلين بتأويل قوله والذين كفروا بعضهم أولياء بعض، قول من قال معناه أن بعضهم أنصار بعض دون المؤمنين، وأنه دلالة على تحريم الله على المؤمن المقام في دار الحرب وترك الهجرة… وإذ كان ذلك كذلك ، فبين أن أولى التأويلين بقوله إلا تفعلوه تكن فتنة في الأرض وفساد كبير، تأويل من قال إلا تفعلوا ما أمرتكم به من التعاون والنصرة على الدين ، تكن فتنة في الأرض إذ كان مبتدأ الآية من قوله إن الذين آمنوا وهاجروا وجاهدوا بأموالهم وأنفسهم في سبيل الله. بالحث على الموالاة على الدين والتناصر جاء، فكذلك الواجب أن يكون خاتمتها به. (ج ١٠، ص ٣٩ – ٤٠)

The interpreters have differed in determining the meaning of “if you do it not, there shall be persecution in the land and a great disorder”. Some say that it means that if you do not make the Muhaajirs and the Ansaar inheritors of each other, as you have been directed to do. The Muhaajirs and the Ansaar are related to each other through their Hijrah and through their Imaan unlike those of their relatives who have either not migrated or have not accepted Imaan. Thus, if you do not give them inheritance, there shall be great persecution – implying calamities – and disorder – implying disobedience toward God – in the land. Those who ascribe to this opinion have narrated…

Others say that it means that ‘Muslims, if you do not help each other in the name of religion, there shall be persecution in the land and a great disorder’. Those who ascribe to this opinion have narrated…

Abu Jaafer has said that the best of the two interpretations is his, who says that its meaning is that the rejecters are helpers one of the other and not of the believers. This evidences that God has prohibited for the believers to stay in a land, which is at war with the Muslims and to ignore migrating from such a land… Thus, it is clear that the more appropriate of the two interpretations of “if you do it not, there shall be persecution in the land and a great disorder” is his, who says that ‘if you do not do what you have been ordained to do, regarding helping and cooperating with each other in the name of religion, there shall then be persecution in the land’, specially when the opening part of the verse has already said: “Indeed those, who believed, migrated and the strived with their wealth and their selves”, prompting Muslims to help and cooperate with each other in the name of religion, it was necessary that the verse be ended with the same directive.

This is what Al-Tabariy has written in the explanation of the referred verse.

As far as my citation of Ibn Katheer is concerned, it was only to show that he takes the word ‘Khilaafah’ merely to imply ‘rule’ and ‘government’. The fact that when a collectivity is formed, whether at a small or at a large scale – as in tribes, nations, etc. – they should live in an organized manner and, thereby, secure protection of the rights of the individuals as well as those of the collectivity, it is clearly a natural requirement. Thus, we see that the formation of government and rule and that of forming a collective organization has always been accepted as a norm in almost all human societies, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Even the unlettered Arabs – completely ignorant of divine guidance and revelation – traditionally had their collective organizations and hierarchies.

The formation of such collective organizations – rule and government etc. – is clearly a natural requirement of every collectivity. It can in no way be considered as a religious obligation. Even the verse, regarding which Ibn Katheer has cited Qurtabiy as having derived the obligation of establishing ‘rule’ is not even remotely related to the said ‘obligation’.

I hope this helps.


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