Question: A person who introduces himself to be of the Party of Allah and who rejects madhhabs says, “Allah is a deity, and He has no caliphs. Whoever says He has, he or she has attributed godhood to caliphs and so has lapsed into disbelief.” Does Allah not have caliphs?
Allahu ta’âlâ certainly has caliphs. This fact has been revealed by âyât and ahâdîth. The purport of two âyât that illustrate the point is as follows:
(O Dâwud (David)! We have made you a caliph on earth. Then judge with justice.) [Sûrat-u Sâd, 26]
(It is He who has made you caliphs on earth. Whoever disbelieves, it is to his own detriment.) [Sûrat-u Fâtir, 39]
Some pertinent ahâdîth declare:
(A just sultan is Allah’s caliph on earth.) [Bayhaqî]
(Mahdî, who will be of my lineage, is Allah’s caliph.) [Daylamî, Hâkim]
(He who enjoins the doing of what is good and forbids the doing of what is evil is the caliph of Allah and His Messenger.) [Daylamî]
Our master the Prophet describes a caliph as follows:
(May Allahu ta’âlâ show mercy to my caliphs! He who revives my sunnah and spreads it is my caliph.) [I. ‘Asâkir]
Dâwud ‘alaihis-salâm was told to judge with justice. This means to say that prophets and sultans are caliphs. If a sultan is just, he serves Allah’s religion. It is declared in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(The sultan is a zillullah on earth. He who reveres him will be revered. He who betrays him will be betrayed.) [Tabarânî]
Zillullah means a caliph who has the authority to implement Allahu ta’âlâ’s rules and orders. This title is also applied to Hadrat Mahdî, who will come at the time period close to Doomsday, because he will spread Allah’s religion. Besides, those who serve Allah’s religion by enjoining the doing of what is good and forbidding the doing of what is evil are called the caliphs of Allah. The Messenger of Allah has caliphs, too. As his caliphs are not prophets, so Allah’s caliphs are not deities.
Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî writes as follows in his Maktûbât, which is a treasure of useful branches of knowledge:
The copy of something is its caliph, deputy. If a thing is not created with the attributes of its origin, it cannot be its caliph. One who is not worthy of being a caliph cannot bear the burden of the trust. The gifts of a sultan are carried only by his vehicles. The 72nd verse of Ahzâb Sûra purports, “We presented the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they did not want to undertake it. They shrank from it. But man undertook it” (vol. I, Letter 287).
The perfections in humans are copies, appearances of the perfections of the grade of Wujûb. The perfections in humans are similar to the perfections in the grade of Wujûb only in name. For this reason, a hadîth-i sharîf says, “Allahu ta’âlâ created Âdam with His own attributes” because everything that exists in the human self is a copy, an appearance. The essence, the origins of these copies exist in the grade of Wujûb. The subtlety of man’s being a caliph is understood from this, for the copy of something is its caliph, deputy. The insidious enemies of religion and those disbelievers who held the belief that Allahu ta’âlâ was a substance gravely erred here. They supposed that Allah was in the shape of a human and claimed that He had anatomical structures and sense organs like humans, thus causing many people to go astray. The Qur’anic verses called mutashâbihât are as such. The seventh verse of Âl-i ‘Imrân Sûra, which purports, “Only Allah knows what these verses communicate,” indicates that mutashâbih verses bear different meanings than their outward meanings. The deeply learned Ahl-i Sunnat scholars who are called Ulamâ-i Rasihîn have been endowed with this other kind of knowledge. Similarly, only Allahu ta’âlâ knows the ghayb. He bestows from this knowledge of His upon the higher ones of prophets. (vol. I, Letter 310)