WE LEARN FROM SOME hadiths that the political fortunes of the Muslims shall soon take a turn for the better with the return of tawhid or Abrahamic monotheism being manifested in souls and upon the political landscape, in the form of a righteous caliphate (khilafah).
Hence we read at the start of one hadith: ‘Disagreement shall ensue on the death of a caliph; and a man from Madinah will flee to Makkah. Some Makkans will go to him and bring him out against his will, and pledge allegiance (bay‘ah) to him between the Corner [of the Ka‘bah] and the Station [of Abraham] …’1
In another hadith: ‘Three men, all of whom are sons of a caliph, will fight over your treasure, but none of them shall get to it …’2
Then there is this news: ‘Prophethood will remain among you for as long as God wishes it to, then God will raise it up when He wishes to. Then there shall be khilafah on the way of Prophethood, and it shall remain among you for as long as God wishes it to; then God will raise up whenever He wishes to. Then there will be harsh kingship which will remain among you for as long as God wishes it to, then God shall raise it up when He wishes to. Then there will be tyrannical kingship and it shall remain among you for as long as God wishes it to, then He will raise it up whenever He wishes to. Then there will be khilafah upon the way of Prophethood.’ Then he was silent.3
And perhaps with such a khilafah, the following prophecy about the ultimate triumph of Abrahamic monotheism will come to pass: ‘This affair shall reach wherever night and day reach. And God will not leave a dwelling of brick, nor of fur, except that He will cause this religion to enter it; bringing honour or humiliation: honour which God brings with Islam, or humiliation which He gives to disbelief.’4
Of course, we can question if a medieval-styled khilafah could or should ever be revived in the modern era. Or have deep reservations about whether a khilafah could ever simply be grafted onto the constructs of a modern state: given how the all-invasive modern state monopolises legislation, while a classical Muslim state doesn’t legislate at all (traditionally, legislation belongs to God, as deciphered by the ‘ulema).
But that is not a reason to negate the return of the khilafah or speak in a way to undermine its prophesied return. As for what shape or form the khilafah will take, well that’s an open ended question; and there’s likely to be more than one viable political arrangement. But what’s clear, though, is that secular, liberal democracy isn’t quite the believers’ story, nor really their desired end.
1. Ibn Majah, no.4286. After analysing its various chains, it was given a final grading of weak, da‘if, in al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Da‘ifah wa’l-Mawdu’ah, (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1988), no.1965.
2. Ibn Majah, no.4084. Ibn Kathir said its chain is qawi sahih in al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah (Beirut: Dar Ibn Kathir, 2010), 17:43. Al-Albani criticised its chain and part of its wording, then said: ‘But its meaning is sound.’ See: Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Da‘ifah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1992), no.85.
3. Ahmad, no.18406; Ibn Hibban, no.1631. It was graded sahih in al-‘Iraqi, Mahajjat al-Qarab fi Mahabbat al-‘Arab (Riyadh: Dar al-‘Asimah, 2012), 176; and al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1995), no.5.
4. Ahmad, no.16509, and it is sahih. Cf. al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, no.3.