The blessed person of the Prophet of God (the blessing and peace of God be with him) was endowed with three attributes:
I. The Prophecy Le. the commandments of God were revealed to him.
II. The Communication i.e. he communicated or announced to the people what was revealed to him.
III. Government of the country i.e. he ruled the country, enforced the revealed commandments and looked after their proper observance, protected the people of the country and repulsed the enemy by force.
The first of these attributes being a characteristic of the Prophet ended at his death, and no one ever was or is or can be his caliph or deputy, in this particular. In the second attribute, all the Mohammedan lawyers, and learned men and traditionists who inculcate the articles of Mohammedan faith can be regarded as caliphs or deputies of the Prophet and it is for this reason that some commentators of the Holy Koran include in the words “those who are in authority among you” which occur in the verse: “O true believers, obey God, and obey the Apostle and those who are in authority among you” (Koran Chapter IV—v. 59) the twelve Imams (peace be with them) and the Mohammedan lawyers.
As regards the third attribute those who possess and govern a country and have the power to enforce and keep alive the rules of faith and can through their strength and resources defend the country against its invaders, can be regarded as Caliphs or deputies of the Prophet; provided that they are gifted with the virtues and manners of the Prophet and follow the dictates of the religion and possess external and internal holiness. And some commentators have also included in the words “those who are in authority among you” Mohammedan generals under whom are large multitudes of people.
It is possible from this point of view that Mohammedan sovereigns of a country may regard themselves as Caliphs: but they are Caliphs or Sultans of that country alone which they rule and of those Moslems only who are their subjects. They are not Caliphs or Sultans of that country or of those Mohammedans who are neither their subjects nor are governed by them; because it is necessary for a Caliph that he should be the ruler of the country, able to give orders of punishment and retaliation and to enforce them; that he should be the defender of the faith and that he should protect the country and its people from their enemies and maintain peace and order within. So that if a Moslem sovereign does not possess such power and cannot exercise such authority in a particular country he cannot be and cannot be called the Caliph over that country or its Mohammedan inhabitants.
In deciding the question whether the Sultan of Turkey is the Caliph or not, some people urge that he is not a Quresli; while those who think him to be a Caliph do not believe in the correctness of the tradition which requires the Caliph to be the Quresh descent.
Setting aside all these controversies and even taking for granted that the Sultan of Turkey is the Caliph, we say that if he is the Caliph, he is the Caliph only in that country which he governs and for those Mohammedans only who owe him allegiance; he is Caliph only in that country in which he can inflict punishments of death or retaliation and maintain the laws of religion; he is not Caliph in that country over which he does not hold the supreme authority and control; in which he can neither give orders for death or retaliation nor can he maintain the faith nor can he protect its Mohammedan inhabitants.
Not fulfilling the conditions necessary for the Caliph he cannot be the Caliph over that country or its Mohammedan inhabitants. We, the Mohammedans of India, are the subjects of the British Government under whose protection we live. The Government has given us peace and allowed us all freedom in religious matters. Although our English rulers profess the faith of Christ yet the Government presents no difficulties to a Christian who comes to Mohammedanism, as it does not prevent Mohammedans becoming Christians. The Christian Missionaries have nothing to do with the Government. As they are wandering about preaching their religion so are hundreds of Mohammedans delivering public sermons on Islam. If a Mohammedan becomes a christian, there is, on the other hand, always some Christian converted to Islam. So that the English Government has given to us Mohammedans who live as subjects under their protection, enough liberties in matters of faith.
Over and above that, under the English Government our lives and property are safe and we enjoy all the rights concerning matrimony, divorce, inheritance and wills, gifts and endowments which Mohammedan law allows us, even when Christian judges have to decide upon them; because Christian Judges are obliged to decide according to the law of Islam; so it is our religious duty to remain feithful to and well-wishers of the English Government and not to do or say anything practically or theoretically inconsistent with 0ur loyalty and goodwill with that Government.
We are not the subjects of Sultan Abdul Hameed Khan nor does he possess any authdiity over us or over our country. He is no doubt a Mohammedati sovereign and consequently we sympathise with him as Mohammedans^-happy for his happiness and grieved at his troubles—but he is not our Caliph either according to Mohammedan law or Mohammedan religion. If he has the rights of a Caliph he has them only in the country and over the people that he is master of.
History also proves that whenever a Mohammedan sovereign assumed the title of Caliph his Caliphate extended only to the extent of his dominions and his subjects. A country beyond the range of his government had nothing to do with his Caliphate, Imamate and Sultanate. Herfe we give an account of the Caliphs which will show that the authority as Caliph was confined within the boundaries of their possessions. The Caliph Abu Bakr who succeeded the Prdphet after his death did no doubt like to be called the Caliph or deputy of the Prophet. But when he (Abu Bakr) was succeeded by Omar, it was undesirable for the latter to be called the Caliph of the Caliph or deputy of the deputy of the Prophet. So instead of the appellation of Caliph he took the title of Amir-ul Mominin or 258 Writings and Speeches of Syed Ahmad Khan the commander of the faithful. This was the title of Omar, Othman, Ali and of Hasan.
When Imam Hasan relinquished his right to the Caliphate and Muawiah, son of Abu Sufian, took the reins of the Government and made Damascus his capital in 41 Hijra (corresponding with 661 A.D.) he also was called Amir-ul Mominin (commander of the faithful) and so it is known up to this day; but as the title of Caliph involving the reference of succession to the Prophet was regarded more sacred the Umayyads took from time to time on their coronation the title of Caliph which in fact meant no more than Sultan.
When Abbasids defeated Umayyads in 137 Hijra (corresponding with 754 A.D.) Suffa became the ruler. Then Al Mansur took Baghdad for Damascus as his capital. All the Abbasids assumed the title of Caliph from time to time. The Umayyad Caliphs remained no longer and after them the Abbasid Caliphs held the sway.
When the Abbasid Caliph Al Muktadir Billah reigned in Baghdad, a Caliphate was established in Africa. In 297 Hijra corresponding with 909 A.D.) Abdullah Al Mahdi laid the foundations of a Caliphate in Africa (Qirwan) and in 341 Hijra (corresponding with 952 A.D.) Al Maaz Billah left Qirwan and made his capital in Egypt. Abdullah Al Mahdi and his successors were all Allyites and all assumed the title of Caliph. Now in the Mohammedan world there were two Caliphs, permanent, with power and authority. On the one side there were Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad and on the other the Allyite Caliphs of Qirwan or Egypt.
In 138 Hijra (corresponding with 755 A.D.) Abdul Rahman Al Dakhil entered Andalusia. For a time his successor did not assume the title of Caliph; but when in the time of Al Muktadir Billah the Caliph in Baghdad in 300 Hijra (corresponding with 912 A.D.) Abdul Rahman Nasir ascended the throne he took the title of Caliph. His successors who had made Cardova their capital also called themselves Caliphs.
Now, there were in the Mohammedan world three permanent, independent and powerful Caliphs—the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad, the Allyite Caliph in Egypt and Abdul Rahman Nasir and his successors in Andalusia. Each of these three Caliphs regarded himself the Caliph of the country which was under his control In the court of each there were Kazis and Muftis etc. who administered Mohammedan law under the orders and directions of their respective Caliphs in their own particular country. In the Court of the Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad the Hanafi law was followed, and in the Fatimite Government of Egypt the Ismailia law was in force-while in the courts of the Caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty of Andalusia the Maliki Mohammedan law was acted upon, The Kazis and Muftis regarded the claims to Caliphate of every one of these Caliphs to be lawful within their respective dominions. From these accounts it is clear that Sultan Abdul Hameed Khan is not and cannot be the Caliph for us Mohammedans who are the subjects of the British Government.
It is no doubt true that he is the guardian of the two sacred places; nay he is the guardian of more than two sacred places i.e., of the Holy Kaaba, Madina and of Jerusalem—the last named place being sacred alike for the Jews, the Christians and the Mohammedans—but this guardianship has nothing to do with his being a Caliph.
Some people say that it is necessary that the Imam or Caliph in every age be one for the Mohammedans of the whole world and therefore they regard the Sultan of Turkey such a Caliph for the whole Mohammedan world. But they are quite mistaken in holding such a view. Their assertion that for the whole world there should be one Caliph is neither proved from the Holy Koran nor from any tradition. None has ever ruled the whole world and perhaps none will ever rule in future. The mohammedans inhabit various portions of the globe and when they live in a country where the Sovereign is not a Mohammedan then over those Mohammedans there can be no Mohammedans as their Caliph or the Imam of the time (the word Imam is taken to mean the same thing as the word Caliph). Moreover their assertion contradicts the teaching of history. We have already stated that there have been three Caliphs living at the same time who have been looked upon as lawful Caliphs by the Kazis and Mufts then inhabiting their respective territories.
The Mohammedans believe that near the day of judgment when Christ will come down from the heavens and Imam Mahdi will be born or reappear then the latter will be the Imam of the whole world. Those who will be then living will see what will happen; but in our opinion neither Christ is going to come down from the heavens nor is Imam Mahdi going to be born or reappear; because none of the traditions concerning this point is genuine but on the contrary many of them are apocryphal. It has been argued on the authority of some traditions that it is incumbent upon every Mohammedan to know and swear allegiance to the Imam of the age. Though these traditions also are not genuine and trustworthy yet we do not dispute about this matter and supposing them to be genuine we say that it is the duty of every Mohammedan to know the Caliph under whose Government he lives and to swear allegiance to him. By swearing allegiance we mean to affirm loyalty and faithfulness and every one should obey him whose subject he is. This does not require that even those who do not reside in his dominion as his subjects should own fealty. In short, no Mohammedan sovereign is Caliph for those Mohammedans who do not live in his dominions.