Though the evidences for Khilafah are many, we start with a daleel that perhaps better than any other describes our reality today, a time when no Khaleefah exists. The hadith was reported by Imam Muslim on the authority of Nafi’ that the Messenger (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

”The one who removes his hand from obedience he will meet Allah without a proof for himself’ and Whosoever dies without a bay’ah on his neck dies the death of Jahiliyyah.”

From this hadith can be deduced the Hukm Shar’i for a situation when Muslims die without the presence of a Khaleefah to rule over them. Perhaps it is the unusual nature of such a situation that explains why so few Fuqahaa (jurists) addressed this hadith while the numerous other evidences which establish the obligation of Khilafah have received greater attention and scrutiny. They could not have imagined a situation when a Muslim would die without the presence of a Khaleefah. Hence most of their discussions tended to centre on the obligation of appointing a Khaleefah after the death of the previous Khaleefah; or that it was obligatory to obey the existing Khaleefah and so having a Khaleefah must be obligatory. Yet, the unthinkable happened, the Khilafah was destroyed, and consequently generations of Muslims have died while having no Khaleefah over them. This noble hadith of the Prophet SAW assumes a relevance that those scholars did not envisage. 

The process of extraction

What is the Manaat (reality) of the text?

The hadith is describing not one but two types of people since it came in two parts as indicated by the waw al-isti`naaf or ibtidaa` (in English the word ‘and’ is used) (i.e. the disjunctive syntax where the waw begins a new sentence). 

In the first part it says: ‘The one who removes his hand from obedience he will meet Allah without a proof for himself’ This is when the Khaleefah exists and someone withholds his obedience to the Khaleefah. 

In the second part it is not describing the same person since the waw al- isti`naaf indicates it is beginning a new sentence to make a different point. This time he (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) says: And (waw al- isti`naaf) the one who dies without a bay’ah on his neck he dies the death of jahiliyyah’ This is further confirmed by the fact that he repeats the personal pronoun ‘man’ (the one who or whosoever). This also indicates the hadith discusses two types of people in two different situations. 

To appreciate this point better it helps to look at another hadith where exactly the same thing happens. He (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: man maata fee sabeelillah fahuwa shaheed wa man maata bit-taa’oon fahuwa shaheed [Sahih Muslim]. Meaning: ”The one who dies in the Path of Allah he is shaeed and (waw al- isti`naaf) the one who dies in a plague he is a shaeed”

The death here occurs in two states separated by the waw al- isti`naaf. So the first death is in the Path of Allah whilst the second death occurs in a plague. It would be absurd if someone claimed here that the hadith is talking about the same situation.

Thus the hadith in question is talking about two different situations. The first situation as we said is when someone withholds his obedience to the existing Khaleefah. The second part is about ‘the one who dies without a bay’ah on his neck.’ The waw al-Haal (waw of condition) in wa laysa fi ‘unuqihi bay’ah clarifies the state in which the person dies, and in this case it is when he dies ‘without a bay’ah on his neck’.

So what is that state when someone dies without a bay’ah on his neck? It cannot mean giving the bay’ah because the hadith did not say ‘wa lam yu’til bay’ah’ (and he did not give the bay’ah). Giving the bay’ah (pledge) is a kifayah duty (sufficiency) and not an individual obligation as indicated by the Ijma’ as-sahabah (consensus of the Sahabah). The contractual bay’ah does not require every single person to physically give it, rather it is enough for the Ahlul Halli wal ‘Aqd (those who represent the Muslims) to give the bay’ah on behalf of the people. The result of this contracting by the representatives of the Muslims ‘Aqd is that every Muslim, even those living outside the Islamic authority, would have a bay’ah on his neck.  

Thus, the hadith is very precise in its description. It is not talking about giving bay’ah to a Khaleefah but rather having a ‘Bay’ah on the neck for a Khaleefah’ which describes a situation when someone dies without the presence of a Khaleefah having been contracted. Also there is nothing in this hadith that specifies this situation to a selected few so it cannot be said that the hadith is addressing the only representatives of Muslims e.g. Scholars or others in positions of authority. Rather it addresses all Muslims. 

Finally, the use of the expression ‘man maata’ deserves a further comment. The reference to the point of death indicates that the hukm (rule) must exist throughout his life. There cannot be a point in his life when he is in a state without a bay’ah on his neck i.e. without the presence of a Khaleefah. So the hukm is continuous unlike the ahkam of obeying parents where the hukm ends upon their death or the hukm of giving to the poor which ends when poverty ceases. But the obligation of having a Khaleefah over you never ceases because text says ‘the one who dies’ indicating the continuity of the hukm throughout the life of a person for he is not allowed to die in situation where the Khaleefah is not present.

What is the Hukm Shar’I on this issue? 

The above discussion allows us to extract two ahkaam: That it is Fard ‘ayni (individual obligation) to have a Khaleefah present and that it is Fard Kifayah (obligation of sufficiency) to appoint a Khaleefah.

The first hukm is deduced from the request (talab) in the hadith that a Muslim should not die without a Khaleefah present. As we said before ‘bay’ah on the neck’ is not possible to have without the presence of the Khaleefah. So if it is not allowed to die without a bay’ah on the neck, this means it is not allowed to die without the presence of a Khaleefah. This type of indication (dalaalah) in Usul al-Fiqh is known as dalaalat al-Iqtidaa (the required meaning of the text). I.e. this is when the truthfulness or correctness of a statement (sidq al-mutakallim wa sihhatul malfooz bihi) cannot be established unless one understands the lafz (expression) in a certain way.

The mafhoom (implied meaning) of ‘bayah on the neck’ is the presence of the Khaleefah by the required meaning (dalalaatul iqtidaa). Thus for the expression ‘bayah on the neck’ to be truthful we must understand it to mean presence of the Khaleefah.

Thus, the one who dies without the presence of the Khaleefah would be sinful due to the qaraa’in which makes the request decisive. The preposition ‘fee unuqihi’ actually means ‘ala unuqihi ie obligation to have on one’s neck much like when we say in English someone has ‘a debt on his neck’ i.e. he has a debt he has to pay. 

In addition to this is the explicit qareenah (indication) ‘dies the death of Jahiliiayh’. The attribution of a death occurring in the days of Ignorance establishes beyond any doubt the decisiveness of the request. This means the command is a Fard which if neglected would entail sin and punishment. Also, since the personal pronoun ‘man’ is general this means it includes every single Muslim i.e. every individual faces death and therefore the indefinite term ‘maata’ i.e. dies, coupled with the negation is clear that every single individual is addressed and hence it is a Fard ‘ayni (individual obligation) to have a Khaleefah present.

Further proof can be found in other supporting daleel. It is narrated on the authority of ‘Umar that the Messenger (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

”The One who dies without an Imam he dies the death of Jahiliyyah”. [Reported on the authority of ‘Umar by at-Tabarani and Abu Nu’aym. The latter declared the hadith as authentic]

Yet in another hadith narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar by al-Hakim in his Mustadrak we have the following version:

”He who abandons the Jamaa’ah by even so much as a hand span is as if he has taken the knot of Islam off his neck, until he returns.’ And he (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: ‘whoever dies while there was no Imaam of a Jamaa’ah ruling over him, his death would be that of the days of Jahiliyyah.”

It well known the scholars of hadith permitted the narration of hadith by meaning (riwayah bilma’na). So in the above hadiths the raawi (transmitter) narrated the meaning of the saying of the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam). So whilst the extraction of the hukm from the man maata hadith in Sahih Muslim is from the implicit meaning (mafhoom), the above two hadiths however are even more explicit as they make the same point in the uttered meaning (manTooq). Incidentally, the hadith in Sahih Muslim and the one above from al-Hakim are both narrated by Ibn ‘Umar. The first says ‘bay’ah on the neck’ while the second says ‘while there was no Imaam of a Jamaa’ah ruling over him’. The meaning is same but the difference is that the former is understood from the implicit meaning (mafhoom) while the latter is taken from the uttered or pronounced meaning (mantooq).

As for the second hukm which is that it is Fard to appoint a Khaleefah, this is deduced from the dalalaatul Ishaarah (the alluded meaning of the text). The ishaarah is a hukm derived from the text which was not intended directly from the speech. The ‘man maata’ hadith establishes the obligation of having a Khaleefah present; this means by ishaarah that it is an obligation to appoint a Khaleefah. Therefore, when the text says it is Fard to have a Khaleefah present it also alludes to the obligation of appointing a Khaleefah such that he is present over us. 


Thus, this hadith clearly establishes the obligation of having a Khaleefah over us and the obligation of working to appoint a Khaleefah. 

On WHOM does the Hukm shar’i apply? Is it an individual (Fard ‘ayni) or collective obligation (Fard kifaa`i) and what does that mean for the Muslim?

The obligation of having a Khaleefah present is an individual duty. This is because the personal pronoun ‘man’ (which means whoever) is from the general expression (seeghatul ‘umoom) and it encompasses all people. Its nature is such that if the Khaleefah is present then he is present for all and if he is absent then he is absent for all thus the obligation covers all people. It is well known in Usul that the general remains general until there is another evidence to specify it. The insane, non-baligh are excluded from this generality because there is a text to say they are not legally responsible (ghayr mukallaf) and hence they cannot be held responsible for duties they did not have capacity for.

He (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

”Three types of people are exempted from accountability, the one who sleeps until he wakes up, a child until he reaches the age of puberty and the insane until he is cured.”[Reported by Abu Dawood]

Thus, the general remains in its generality unless another text comes to specify it. And in this case the obligation of having a Khaleefah present is on every legally responsible (mukallaf) Muslim whether man, woman, layman or scholar.

As for the obligation of appointing a Khaleefah this is Fard kifaayah (obligation of sufficiency). However this should not be taken as an excuse for inaction. This is because in terms of obligation (wujoob) and removal of the sin (isqaat) the Fard ‘ayn and kifayah are the same. This is because Fard means the Legislator has demanded in a decisive form the performance of an action which if neglected will result in sin. Thus the obligation to fulfil the command is on all. Only if the command has been fulfilled by some then the sin is removed from the rest. This is because the consideration is for the accomplishment of the Fard and not the undertaking of the Fard. Until and unless the Fard is accomplished it continues to be an obligation on all no matter how many people undertook it. That is why the definition of Fard kifayah is: ‘What some have accomplished then the rest are absolved from sin’ (maa aqaamuhul ba’d saqata ‘anil baaqeen) not ‘what some have undertaken …’ (maa qaama bihil ba’d). There is a big difference between undertaking an action and accomplishing it. So until the Fard is accomplished the obligation remains on all. That is why if the kifayah obligation neglected everyone is sinful and not just a few people.

For example it is Fard Kifayah for a group to respond when salam is given to them. The obligation remains on all of them until the obligation is fulfilled. If one responds with the salam and the Fard is accomplished then all are saved from sin because the consideration is the accomplishment of the Fard but if no one respond then all are sinful. Thus Fard kifayah and ‘ayn are the same in obligation and removal of the sin.

So, in our view, it would be incorrect for someone to say the duty to re-establish the Khilafah is Fard kifayah – so let some people do it and we will be saved – because the Fard has not been accomplished and hence the obligation remains on every single neck. The Ummah has only three days and two nights to choose a Khaleefah, if they fail to do this after this time the obligation continues on all and those who undertake the Fard are saved from the sin. But those who neglect will be sinful for not fulfilling their Lord’s command and they will have to explain themselves to Him on the Day when His Account (Hisab) is swift.