This is the classic Verse that is also referred to as Ayat-e-Istikhalaf. This is the verse that Ahmadis proudly tote when they market their Khilafat to Muslims, ironically, the Lahori-Ahmadis have already refuted their counterparts and this Ahmadi simply never read any of that exchange.
In 1891, immediately after making the claim that Esa (as) was dead, MGA seems to have defined the word “Khalifa”
A few years later, in 1893, MGA quoted 24:55 is in his book entitled “Shahadatul–ul-Quran”
In english this book is called, “Testimony of the Quran“. This book was written in 1893 in Urdu (see pages 107-109). Thanks to the Lahori-Ahmadis for their scholarly english translation, which was completed in 1989 and i read it around 2006.
Here is a what MGA wrote:
“Secondly, the perfect and complete likeness between the khilafat to the Holy Prophet Muhammad and the successorship to Moses renders imperative the coming of the Promised Messiah, as is understood from the following verse: ‘God has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will surely make them khalifas in the earth as He made those before them to be khalifa’ (24:55). This clearly conveys that a mujaddid must come bearing the name of the Messiah in the fourteenth century, because the Muhammadi khilafat can only attain the most complete and total likeness to the Mosaic successorship if the first and the last respective phases have a high degree of mutual conformity.” (p. 363–364) (Ruhani Khaza’in, v. 6, Shahadatul-ul-Quran)
There are many other quotes from this book. However, it is obvious that MGA was telling the world, that 24:55 meant that a mujadid would arise in the 14th century with the name of the Messiah, Esa (As) bin maryam.
In 1894, according to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, in his Arabic book Sirr-ul-Khilafah, this verse applies principally, truly and fully to Hazrat Abu Bakr, who of course was not a mujaddid(See page 136). Here is what MGA wrote:
“In the entire number of the Companions, the position of grandeur of Hazrat Abu Bakr was greater and higher. Without doubt, he is the first Khalifa; and it was in regard to him that the verses in respect of Khilafat came down. If you consider that there is someone other
than him, after his time, to whom these verses apply, then bring a clear prophecy to that effect, if indeed you are right in holding such a view.”
“In the verse of Istikhlaf, Allah has promised Muslim men and Muslim women that, in any case, under His mercy and blessings, some of the believers would be made Khalifas; and Allah would
replace the sense of danger in their hearts with a sense of security and peace. So this is a circumstance, a condition, which does not properly and fully apply to any except the Khilafat of the Siddiq.” (Sirrul Khilafa, page 15).
Lahori-Ahmadis also tell us:
“According to the Promised Messiah ‘Khilafa’ (he seems to mean ‘Khalifas’) are of two kinds. One kind is that which falls under the verse of ‘Succession’, and the second kind falls outside this sphere. At page 20 of his book Sirrul Khalifa, he mentions the caliphate of Hazrat Ali (the fourth Khalifa after the Holy Prophet) during which there was hardly any peace in the land; and Hazrat Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was put into great trouble and difficulties by the people of his time. Muslim community was split into sections and the doors of bickering and unrest were opened. Therefore, Hazrat Ali was, no doubt, a Khalifa, but it could not be
according to the verse of ‘Succession’. Since the selection of Khalifa could not be attributed to God, therefore the question that he cannot be deposed, does not arise.” (Truth Triumphs, 1965, page 43).
However, that was totally against the ijma of islamic commentary on 24:55 since time immemorial. All the mujadids that have came over the first 13 centuries of Islam all agreed that (Suyuti and Ibn abbas and many more) 24:55 is simply a promise to Muslims that if they are living in an islamic country, and they do good works and support the govt. and enlist in the military, they will be promoted and given prosperity, whilst working for their islamic government (Tafsir Ibn Kathir and many others).
Obviously, in 1893, MGA and his team of writers/scribes decided to re-interpret 24:55. As any fair minded person can see, 24:55 is a conditional promise to Muslims in terms of political gains on planet Earth and nothing else. It had nothing to do with Esa (as) or the Mahdi or any Day of Judgement related events.
However, in 1906, MGA seems to have quoted this verse yet again, see pages 6-7, MGA writes:
“that is, after the fear We, shall firmly re-establish them.” He then goes on to quote Musa (as) and how his mission was carried on, and before the quotation he mentioned Abu Bakr (ra) and he carried on Muhammad (saw)’s mission.
After the split, the 2 sects of Ahmadiyya, the Lahori and Qadiani branch seem to have developed their own unique interpretation of 24:55, the Lahoris seem to have mentioned that 24:55 did include MGA, however, it still included mujadids and other spiritual benefactors in the islamic world, which is what Muhammad Ali wrote in his famous english commentary on the Quran, which was published in 1917. However, in 1920, Muhammad Ali wrote an essay entitled “Khilafat in Islam”, wherein he totally forgot about MGA and his connection with 24:55. However, the Qadiani branch began connecting the Khilafat of Mahmud Ahmad with 24:55.
MGA gave a commentary on 24:55 in 1893, however, he gave another commentary on this verse in 1906. MGA never wrote that there would be a Khilafat after him that would fulfill the promise given to Muslims in this verse.
Ironically, one of the sons of MGA, namely, Mirza Bashir Ahmad, the same son who told the world that his dad took opium and never led salaat, Eid Khutbahs, Juma Khutbahs, and a had a disabled right arm, he wrote a book in the 1960’s which implied :
“The khilafat in the Jama‘at will not remain in its pure form forever, but will degenerate into a hereditary institution after the first four khalifas. Apparently, Mirza Bashir Ahmad drew a parallel with the history of the early khalifas of Islam, when after the first four khalifas, who were truly worthy of holding this office, the headship deteriorated into a worldly monarchy in which succession was by descent, and not by the true Islamic worth of a person.” (Translation and quotation directly to the statement of Zahid Aziz, who is a Lahori-Ahmadi top scholar).
This quotation came from a Friday Khutbah by Mirza Masroor Ahmad from 2005 wherein he addresses this entire book which was written by an uncle of his. I quoted in the above a word for word explanation by Zahid Aziz. Zahid Aziz has translated many of MGA’s books into english, he also runs a blog, I discussed the split with him for many years.
There is so much more data to dig into here, I only presented a few quotations, what is ironic about the Ahmadis is that they themselves disagree about the meanings of 24:55. In fact, Mahmud Ahmad was claiming back in 1916, that even during his Khilafat, a prophet could appear (see Anwar-e-Khilafat), however, since that era, the Ahmadi ideas have changed, nowadays they claim that their Khilafat will last forever, and thus indirectly believe that prophethood has ended with MGA and even though they quote 4:69 and argue endlessly that this means that more prophets can come, nonetheless, in practice they believe that MGA is the last prophet, since MGA himself wrote to that effect.
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