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The Term "Khalfa" in Early Exegetical Literature

Author(s): Wadd Al-Q


Source: Die Welt des Islams, New Series, Bd. 28, Nr. 1/4 (1988), pp. 392-411
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Die Welt des Islams XXVIII
(1988)
THE TERM "KHALIFA" IN
EARLY EXEGETICAL LITERATURE
BY
WADAD
AL-QADI
Yale New Haven
The
meaning
of the term "khalifa" has been studied
by
several
modern scholars for almost a
century
now.' This is
quite
under-
standable in view of the
importance
of this term in Islamic
history,
institutions,
political theory,
law and
theology.
Most of these
scholars noted that the term occurs in various forms in the
Qur'an,
and some of
them,
notably
Rudi Paret and W.
Montgomery Watt,2
made this occurrence the
starting point
of their research.
This,
in
turn,
led them to
study
the Muslim
exegetical
literature about
"khalifa'"-now
already
much over a millennium old. The results
of their
investigations
were more often than not
complementary
rather than
contradictory.
But this was not
unexpected.
After
all,
See I.
Goldziher,
Muhammedanische
Studien, II, pp. 52-66, Halle, 1890; idem,
"Du sens
propre
des
expressions
Ombre de
Dieu,
Khalife de Dieu
pour designer
les chefs dans
l'Islam,"
Revue de l'Histoire des
Religions
35
(1897) esp. 137-40;
D.
S.
Margoliouth,
"The Sense of The Titel
Khalffah,"
in A Volume
of
Oriental Studies
Presented to E. G.
Brown,
ed. E. T. Arnold and R. A.
Nicholson,
Cambridge, 1922,
pp. 322-28;
E.
Tyan,
Institutions du droit
public musulman,
vol. 1: Le
califat, Paris,
1956;
A.
Abel,
"Le
khalife,
presence sacree,"
SI 7
(1957)
29-45;
W.
Montgomery
Watt,
Islamic Political
Thought, Edinburgh, 1968;
H. A. R.
Gibb,
"The
Heritage
of Islam in the Modern
World,
(I)," IJMES
1
(1970)
3-18;
R.
Paret,
"Significa-
tion
coranique
de
haltfa
et d'autres derives de la racine
halafa,"
SI 31
(1970)
211-
17;
W. M.
Watt,
"God's
Caliph: Qur'anic Interpretation
and
Umayyad
Claims,"
in Iran and
Islam,
in
Memory of
The Late Vladimir
Minorsky,
ed. C. E.
Bosworth,
Edinburgh, 1971, pp. 565-74;
R.
Paret,
"Halifat Allah-Vicarius Dei:
Ein differenzierender
Vergleich,'"
in
Melanges d'Islamologie,
Volume dedie a la memoire
de Armand
Abel,
ed. P.
Salmon, Leiden, 1974, pp. 224-32;
A. K. S.
Lambton,
"Khalifa,
(In
Political
Theory)"
in
EP, IV, Leiden, 1978,
pp. 947-50;
P. Crone
and M.
Hinds,
God's
Caliph, Cambridge, 1986;
H.
CAtwan, al-Umawiyyun
wa l-
khildfa, Amman,
1986. Several more
general
works on
early
Islamic
history
discuss
the
question briefly.
2
Paret in
"Signification,"
and Watt in "God's
Caliph."
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THE TERM
,,KHALIFA
if the aims of scholars
differ,
what
they
see in the same material is
likely
to be different too.
Paret,
in his
capacity
as a
Qur'an
translator, hoped
to come to some kind of "neutral" but
"homogenous" understanding
of what the term meant in the
Qur'an
in its various forms
(nominal
as well as
verbal)
and he con-
sequently
did not
spell
out his
"supporting
authorities" from the
medieval
period.
Watt,
as a historian on the other
hand,
wanted to
exhaust all the
possibilities
of the
meaning
of the term in the
Qur'an,
in order to see how these
possibilities compared
with the
Umayyad Caliphs'
claim that
they
were "khulafa3 Allah"-God's
caliphs.
This led him not
only
to conduct a
thorough philological
examination of the root
kh.l.f.
in Arabic but also to
study
and cite
the
major exegetical
authorities on the
subject
from the first until
the tenth
Hijri
centuries.
In the
present paper my
aim is still different. I am not concerned
with a
"neutral",
"homogenous"
or "exhaustive"
understanding
of the
meaning
of the term "khalifa" as it
appears
in the
Qur)an.
My purpose
is
"exegetically
historical" and for that reason it is
confined to the earliest era of
Islam,
not
ranging beyond
the
Umayyad period.
What I would like to determine is the
following:
How did the
early
Muslim
exegetes, living
under the
Umayyads,
understand the
QurPanic
term "khalifa" in their own time and
place,
when
they
were
governed by caliphs
who,
in one
way
or the
other,
and at different
points
in their
rule,
not
only
declared
themselves as God's khalrfas but also cited at leas one
Qur'anic
khalzfa-verse
in
support
of their declarations?3 Did
they
also make
the connection between the
political reality
and the Divine Word?
And,
if
so,
how? Or did
they
not?
And,
again,
if
so,
why?
It is
hoped
that such a
study might
shed
light
on how a small but
signifi-
cant sector of Islamic
society intellectually
functioned
during
the
Umayyad period,
a
period
about which we know little definite in
character.
Once
defined, my
aim confined the material to be
examined,
since the
period
in
question
is one in which the
literary output
in
general
was limited and
only very
few of the
exegetical
works
3
The
subject
has been
thoroughly
discussed
by
Crone and Hinds in God's
Caliph
(see
n.
1).
393
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WADAD
AL-QADI
known from it cover the whole
Qur'an.
Moreover,
the state of our
original
sources does not render the work of the researcher
any
easier. There are some
contemporary early
works related to ex-
egesis
which have been lost.4 There are three
early, strictly
ex-
egetical
works which are still in
manuscript
form5
and,
for the mo-
ment,
only
one of them is available to
me,
namely
the
Tafsir
of
Muqatil
b.
Sulayman (d. 150/767).6
On the other
hand,
during
the
past
two decades three
early exegetical
works
appeared
in
print:
Tafshr Mujdhid (21/641-103/721),7 Tafsir Sufydn
al-Thawrz
(95/713-
161/777),8
in addition to the first volume of
Muqatil's Tafstr.9
To
these can be added the
sayings
of the
early exegetes
which have
been
preserved
in later
exegetical
literature,
most of which is
already
in
print.
But,
again, quite
a few of these
early exegetes
were
not
reported
to have commented on the verses which deal with the
term "khalifa" in its various forms in the
Qur'an. Finally,
because
of
my precise purpose,
I cannot use the statements of the
later,
more well-known
Qur'an
commentators,
as Watt did. The
very
last
authority
I can cite is
Sufyan
al-Thawrl,
who lived for 37
years
of
his life under the
Umayyads
and died at the
age
of 66 under the Ab-
basids. Hence the
sayings
of Watt's
authorities,
namely
those of
Suyuti (d. 911/1505),
Tabarl
(d. 310/922),
Zamakhsharl
(d.
538/1143)
and
Baydawi(d. 685/1226)-in
Watt's
order-,'0
are ir-
relevant for
my
work and can even be destructive for its
purpose,
as will be shown below."l The reason for this is clear. All these
"standard" commentators lived and wrote
mainly after
the forma-
tion of the Sunni
creed;
the earliest
among
them, Tabarn,
par-
4
Examples
of those are
Qatada's
and Zuhri's books with the title al-Ndsikh wa
l-mansukh,
and Zuhri's Kitab al-tanzil; see F.
Sezgin,
GAS
1,
20
(Leiden, 1967).
5
These are the
tafslrs
of CAta) b. Abl Muslim
Maysara
al-Khurasanl
(Sezgin,
op. cit., 1,
33),
MaCmar b. Rashid
(ibid., 99)
and
Muqatil
b.
Sulayman (ibid.,
36-7).
6
Ms.
Bursa,
H. Celebi 27. I am indebted to Gerhard
B6wering,
Professor of
Islamic Studies at Yale
University,
for
gaining
access to this
manuscript.
7
Ed. CAbd al-Rahman al-Tahir b. Muhammad
al-Surati,
2
vols., Beirut,
n.d.
8
Rampur,
1385/1965.
9
Ed. CAbdallah Mahmud
Shihata, Cairo, 1969; Muqatil's
al-Ashbah wa l-naza-'ir
Ji
l-Quradn
al-karim
(Cairo, 1395/1975)
and
Tafsir
khamsmi'at
aya (Cairo, n.d.)
do
not have
anything
on the term "khallfa."
10
In "God's
Caliph,"
566.
"
See n. 17 below.
394
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THE TERM
,,KHALIFA
ticipated
himself in this
process
of its final formation. What I wish
to
investigate appears
far
earlier,
at a time when each commentator
was still
struggling independently
to understand the
meanings
of
the revealed text and when the Islamic state was
slowly taking
shape.
Paradoxically enough,
it is Tabari's
Commentary,
or
Tafs-r,12
which is our main source for the
study
of the
sayings
of the
early
exegetes.
For
TabarT
has recorded in his monumental work not on-
ly
his own
exegetical
comments but also those of most of the ex-
egetical
authorities before
him,
right
from the start of the
"discipline" among
the Muslims. It is to him that we owe the
preservation
of material which otherwise could have been lost
forever.
Furthermore,
modern research has shown that
TabarT
was
both
copious
and exact in
reproducing
the
sayings
of the
early
com-
mentators he chose to
cite;
the
recently published Tafsir
of
Mujahid
shows this
point quite clearly.
Using
Tabari as main
source, however,
is not without
hazards,
and
particularly
so when the
topic
under
investigation
is a crucial
one for
Tabarl,
such as the term "khalifa" in the
Qur)an.
This is
evident
immediately
in the material Tabarl
brings
forth
by way
of
commentary
on the
very
first verse in which the term occurs in the
Qurafn,
in sura 2:30. The verse is the first in a series
narrating
the
story
of Adam's creation and the
ensuing
events. The text reads:
(And
when
your
Lord said to the
angels,
"I am
making
on earth a
khalffa," they said,
"Will You make on it one
(or: those)
who will act cor-
ruptly
and shed blood on
it,
whereas we
glorify
You with Your
praise
and
hallow You?" He
said,
"I know that which
you
do not
know.")
In
Tabarl's
lengthy commentary
on this
verse,'3
one encounters
four
major problems.
The first consists of Tabaris
"dogmatic"
position
on the
politico-historical
level. From the
beginning
Tabari
states
clearly
that there is a direct relation between the
Qur'anic
term "khalifa" and the historical
reality
of the
caliphate:
the
Muslim
Caliph
is called "khalifa"
along
the lines of the word in
12
For the
Qur'anic
verses until sura 12
(Yusuf):
18, my
references are to the
edition of Mahmuid Muhammad
Shakir,
15
vols., Cairo, 1954-1960; hereafter,
they
are to the Cairo
print,
30
vols.,
third
ed.,
1954-1968.
13
1,
439-80
(Shakir).
395
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WADAD
AL-QADI
this verse.14 This is based on a
philological
examination
which,
from
my point
of
view,
represents
the second
problem
in Tabari's
material: his
dogmatism
on the
philological
level. Tabari
begins by
examining
the
meaning
of the root
kh.l.f.
and states that it is "to
succeed,"
without
indicating
that this is
just
one of
many possible
meanings.
Furthermore,
he
outrightly rejects
the
interpretation
of
an
early
scholar,
Ibn
Ishaq (d. 151/768),
who
suggested
that the
root
kh.l.f.,
in the context of the same
Qur'anic
verse,
means "to
inhabit and to cultivate."15 Once Tabari
dispenses
with this second
meaning (which
would not have fitted his "historical"
vision),
he
returns to the
original meaning
and asks a
necessarily "consequen-
tial"
question:
So whom did this "khalifa" succeed?16 And he con-
tinues to ask
questions
in this manner until the end of the commen-
tary
on this verse. This is the third
problem:
The
questions
asked
follow a "Tabari
assumption:" They
make the
very "presenta-
tion" of his material
suspect.
The fourth
problem, however,
is the
most serious one. Tabarl indeed
reproduces
the
sayings
of the
early
exegetes,
but he also
"explains"
almost each one of them after
stating
them.
However,
an examination of his
wording
shows that
this
"explanation"
often is in fact an
"interpretation"
rather than
an
"explication."
In some
cases,
especially
where Tabari almost
"twists" the
saying
to fit his initial
understanding
of the term
"khalifa,"17
this can be
tremendously misleading
for the
researcher.
14
"Hence al-sultdn
al-aczam
was called
'khalifa,'
for he succeeded the one before
him...."
(Tafsir,
1,
449. This was
copied by
Ibn Kathir in his
Tafsir, 1,
70
(4
vols.,
Beirut,
1401/1981-1402/1982.)
15
Tafszr,
1,
449-50.
16
Ibid.,
450.
17
Perhaps
the best
example
is Tabari's
"explanation"
of the
commentary
of
Ibn
'Abbas,
Ibn Mas'ud and others on sura 2:30. Their
commentary
is: "God
said,
(I
am
making
on earth a
khalifa); they said,
'Our
Lord,
what about this
khalffa?'
He
said,
'He will have a
progeny
who will act
corruptly
on
earth, envy
and kill each other.'
"
This
simple commentary
"means" the
following according
to
Tabarl,
"The
interpretation
of the verse...
(is):
I am
making
on earth a
substitute
(?)
of Me
(khalifatan minni)
who would
replace
me
(yakhlufuni)
in
acting
as an arbiter
(f- l-hukmi)
among my
creatures. And this "khalifa" is Adam and
whoever acts like him
by obeying
God and
acting justly among
His creatures. As
for
corruption
and unlawful
bloodshed,
(they come)
from
(people)
other than His
"khulafa"' and other than Adam and whoever acts like him
among
God's wor-
shippers...."
(Ibid.,
451-52. This was
copied by
Ibn Kathir in his
Tafsir,
1,
70.)
396
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THE TERM
,,KHALIFA"
397
In order to avoide the
problems
mentioned
above,
one should
dismiss the initial relation between the
Qur'anic
term "khalifa"
and the historical
reality
of the
caliphate.
One must also be
open
about various
possibilities
of the
meaning
of the root
kh.l.f.,
and
hence
"khalifa,"
should
any
of the
early exegetes
be
prone
towards
one or more of them. In
addition,
one should
ignore
Tabarl's "se-
quential" presentation,
be
prepared
to ask new
questions,
set aside
Tabarl's
"explanations"
of the
sayings
of the
early exegetes
and
study
the texts-and
solely
the texts-of those
exegetes.
With these
precepts
in
mind,
I would first like to make some
preliminary
observations.
The term "khalifa" occurs in the
Qurnan
twice in the
singular
and seven times in the
plural,
four of them in the form "khala'if"
and three in the form "khulafa'." In all of these
instances,
it is to
be
noted,
the term has one or more of three contextual characteris-
tics: the word is connected in the various verses with some form of
the verb
jacala (to make);
with the word al-ard
(the earth)
or the
prepositional phrase jf
l-ard
(on
earth);
and sometimes with the ex-
pression
min
bacd
(thereafter).
As for the verb
"khalafa,"
it occurs
in various moods and tenses of forms
1, 2, 3, 4, 6,
8 and
10,
together
with some nominal derivatives of forms
1, 2, 4,
6 and 10.
These last verbal and nominal forms have
many meanings,
not all
of which are related to the word "khalifa" and hence are not all
relevant to our
topic.
Those of them which
are,
not
surprisingly,
are the same forms which are connected in their
corresponding
verses with one or more of the three characteristics mentioned
above,
and
they
are limited to forms 1 and
10,
"khalafa" and
"istakhlafa." These
verses,
together
with the
khalifa-verses,
con-
stitute the core of the material to be examined in this
paper.
In
spite
of the
variety
of methods the
early exegetes
used,
it is
possible
to discern five main
meanings18 they thought
the word
"khalifa" and related words
possessed. They
are:
It is
quite clear,
I
believe,
that Tabari added
major
dimensions to the
commentary
of Ibn 'Abbas and Ibn Mas'ud when
"explaining" it,
dimensions which are not
in their
original, simple saying.
18 I am
setting
aside a "sixth"
meaning
because it is irrelevant to the discus-
sion,
namely
"to
copulate
from
behind;"
see
Tafszr Mujdhid,
1,
387; Tabari, Taf-
sir, 16, 99;
Ibn
Kathlr, Tafsir,
3,
128.
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WADAD
AL-QADI
1. "To
succeed,
to
follow,
to come after another." This is one
of the
very
basic
meanings
of the root
kh.l.f.,
and thus
many
ex-
egetes
followed it. One of them is Ibn CAbbas
(d. 68/687),
the well-
known
Hijazi authority
in
exegesis.
In
commenting
on sura
43:60,
where the text reads:
(And
if We were to will
it,
We would make
of
you angels
on
earthyakhlufuna),
Ibn CAbbas
said,
"It means: one
(or: some) succeeding
the
other(s) (yakhlufu
bacduhum
bacdan),"
ac-
cording
to a transmission
by
Tabar;
Ibn Kathir
added,
"as one
(or: some)
of
you
succeed each other."19 The Basran
exegete,
Qatada (d. 118/736),
used almost the same words in
commenting
on the same verse: "If God
willed,
He would make on earth
angels
that succeed each other
(yakhlufu
ba.duhum
bacdan).20
The
purport
of
Qatad'as commentary
on sura 35:39 is similar.
Commenting
on
(It
is He who made
you (pl.) khaldaifon earth),
Qatada said,
"A nation
(umma)
after a
nation,
and a
generation (qarn)
after a
generation.
21
This
meaning might
also be the
meaning
to which the famous
Basran
authority,
al-Hasan al-Basri
(d. 110/728),
in the recension
of Ibn Sabit
(d. 118/736),
endorsed when he said that the term
"khalifa" in the Adam verse means "the children of
Adam,"22
or
"human
beings"
(al-nds),23
in the sense that one of them follows the
other.24 In this
respect,
this
interpretation
is not dissimilar to what
has been
reported by
the Kufan
exegete,
al-Suddi
(d. 128/745),
on
the
authority
of Ibn
CAbbas,
Ibn
MusCid
(d. 34/654)
and other
Companions
of the
Prophet,
with
regard
to the same verse: what
is meant
by
"khalifa" is that "he will have
progeny (dhurriyya)
which will act
corruptly
on
earth,
envy
each other and kill each
other. "25
19
Tabari, Tafszr, 25, 89; also,
slightly
less
precise,
Ibn
Kathir, Tafstr, 4,
132.
20
Tabari,
Tafszr,
25, 89;
also Ibn
Kathir, 4,
132.
21
Tabarl,
Tafszr, 22,
143.
22
Tabarn,
Tafs?r, 1, 451;
see also Ibn
Kathir, Tafszr, 1,
70.
23
Tabarl,
Tafsir, 1,
463.
24
It is
along
those lines that one should understand the
interpretation
of al-
RabTc b. Anas
(d. 139/756)
of the Adam verse. He
said,
"God created the
angels
on
Wednesday,
the
jinn
on
Thursday
and Adam on
Friday...." (Tabari, Tafsfr,
1,
450-1
(Shakir);
idem,
Ta'rfkh al-rusul wa
l-muluk, I,
84
(ed.
M.
J.
de
Goeje
and
others, Leiden,
1879-1901);
Ibn
Kathir,
Tafs?r,
1,
70-1.)
25
See n. 17
above;-cf.
also al-Hakim
al-Naysaburi, al-Mustadrak, 1,
261
(4
vols., Riyad, [1968]);
Shawkani,
Fath
al-qadir, 1,
63
(5
vols., Cairo,
second
ed.,
1383/1964.)
398
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THE TERM ,,KHALIFA"
2. "To
replace,
to
substitute,
to take the
place
of
another,
mainly
in a
temporary
or
supposed
manner,
to
deputize
for." This mean-
ing
is another
major meaning
of the root kh.
I.f.
and hence
many
ex-
egetes employed
it.
Commenting
on sura
43:60,
which reads:
(And
if We were to will
it,
We would make of
you angels
on earth
yakhlufuina),
the Khurasani then
Iraqi exegete, Muqatil
b.
Sulayman, said,
"(yakhlufuna) [means]:
in
your place (makdnakum);
they
would thus be
replacements
of
you
(fa-kdnui
khalafan
minkum)."26
Suddi said
according
to one recenion: What is meant
is "as
replacements
of
you (khalafan
minkum)"27 or,
according
to a
second
recension,
"replacing you
on it
[i.e.
the
earth]
(yakhlufiinakumfiha)'
.2 This last
saying
can be translated as
"being
your deputies
in
it,"
because there is no indication that the
people
who are
being replaced ("you")
are
necessarily
dead
by
then:
they
are
just
not "on
it",
the earth.
This idea is clearer in two other cases. The first is the commen-
tary
of the Meccan
exegete
Ibn
Jurayj (d. 150/767)
on sura
7:142,
where Moses
says
to his brother Aaron
just
before he went to the
Mount:
(ukhlufni among my people.)
Ibn
Jurayj
said,
"When
[Moses]
wanted to meet his
Lord,
he
istakhlafa
Aaron over his
peo-
ple."29
The fact that Ibn
Jurayj
used the same root in
explaining
the
Qur'anic
"ukhlufni,"
makes his words rather
vague.
In
spite
of
this,
I believe it is
quite
safe to assume that the
meaning
"to
deputize
for
me,"
or
"temporarily replace
me" is understood here.
The second case concerns
Muqatil
b.
Sulayman's commentary
on sira 2:30. His
reference,
though mythical,
is
given
a
philological
guise.
God created the
angels
and the
jinn
before He created the
devils and
men,
i.e. Adam. He made the
jinn
the inhabitants of the
earth and the
angels
the inhabitants of the heavens. The
jinn
fell
into discord and
jealousy,
and
they
started
killing
each
other,
whereupon
God sent to them a host of the inhabitants of the lower
heaven,
headed
by
Iblis,
and so
they
descended to the earth. There
they
were not
required
to do as
many
acts of
worship
as
required
in
heaven,
and thus
they
desired to
stay
on earth. It is then that
26
Muqatil, Tafszr, p.
459
(Ms. Bursa).
27
Tabari, Tafszr,
25,
90.
28
Ibn
Kathir, Tafs?r,
4,
132.
29
Tabari, Tafsir,
13,
88
(Shakir).
399
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WADAD
AL-QADI
God revealed to them: I am
going
to make a "khalifa" other than
you (siwdkum),
and I am
going
to raise
you
back to heaven.30
Man,
then,
was
going
to
replace
the
angels
on
earth,
but the
angels
were
going
to continue to exist elsewhere in the heavens. Man in this
sense is the
deputy
of the
angels:
he
replaces
and succeeds them in-
sofar as he acts on earth like them when
they
were
living
on it
before him. Ibn CAbbas'
isrdailiyydt-based interpretation
of the same
verse,
in the recension of the famous Khurasani
exegete,
al-Dahhak
b. Muzahim
(d. 105/723),
follows the same lines.31
3. It is clear at this
point
that there is a
strong
connection be-
tween the first two
meanings
of kh.
l.f.
since that the second mean-
ing
"to
replace"
almost
always incorporates
in it the first
meaning
"to succeed". After
all,
hardly any replacement
takes
place
without
the one
replacing being
also a successor of the one
replaced.
And
this is the
starting point
for the third
meaning,
which can be
phras-
ed as: "To
substitute,
to
replace,
to take the
place
of
another,
but
normally
after this other is
gone (destroyed,
dead,
etc.), thereby
succeeding
him." This
meaning
is a combination of
meanings
1
and
2,
except
that it tends to
stipulate
that the
party
succeeded or
replaced
does not exist
any longer.
Like the first two
meanings,
it
has its roots in the
language.
The
exegetes'
use of it was extensive
for two reasons.
The first reason is that there are
many
sections in the
Qur'an
which deal with "salvation
history"
and in which a certain motif
recurs: God installs a
people
on earth
(Noah's,
Hud's,
Salih's).
They go astray
and refuse to heed the words of the
messengers
sent
to them. God
consequently destroys
them and
replaces
them with
other
people
to succeed them. These substitutes and successors are
their
khald'if
or
khulafd'.
The
people they
succeed and
replace
are
gone.
Thus,
in sura
7:69,
we read:
(...and
remember how He made
you khulafda
AFTER Noah's
folk,
and
gave you growth
of
stature...).
And in sura
7:74,
the
prophet
Salih tells his
people:
(And
remember how He made
you khulafda
AFTER CAd and
gave
you
station on
earth...).
The
pattern
was thus set
by
the Divine text
itself,
and some
exegetes
reiterated this
pattern frequently, feeling
30
Muqatil, Tafszr, 1,
29.
31
Tabari, Tafszr, 1,
450
(Shakir);
idem, Ta'rfkh, I, 81, 84;
Ibn
Kathir,
Tafsir,
1,
70.
400
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THE TERM
,,KHALIFA
that
they
were
merely obliged
to insert a word or two here and
there.32 Suddi was clearer in
indicating
this
meaning. Commenting
on the Noah verse mentioned above
(7:69),
he
said,
"[It means:]
... He did
away
with Noah's folk and He
istakhlafakum
after
them."
33
There is one
instance, however,
which
requires special
attention
in that the evidence for it is not obvious. It is the
saying
of CUmar
b. Muhammad b.
Zayd (d. shortly
after
145/762)
with
regard
to
sura 2:30-the Adam verse. His comment on this verse is
vague.
It reads:
"[God says]:
I want to create on earth a creature and
make on it a
"khalifa";
but there was not then
for
God
any
creatures
except
the
angels;
as
for
the
earth,
there were no creatures on it. "34 Tabarl was
uncertain about the
interpretation
of this
saying.35
But,
regardless
of
that,
it
appears
to me that Ibn
Zayd's
words fall into this third
meaning.
The man is
obviously puzzled by
the
Qur'anic
statement.
To
him,
apparently,
a "khalifa" is someone who
(1)
succeeds
someone
else,
and
(2) replaces
him in his same
capacity
in the
very
same
place
of
performance:
Whether
(3),
the one
replaced
or suc-
ceeded is defunct or not, is not clear from his statement but seems
to be insinuated. Hence the
problem:
How is it that God
says
to
the
angels
that he is
going
to make a "khalifa" on earth when
(1)
there is no one on earth to be succeeded in the first
place (the angels
being
in
heaven);
and
(2)
how can this "khalifa"
replace
someone
who does not exist where he is
going
to
be;
and
(3)
how is this whole
thing going
to
work,
knowing
that the
angels
not
only
existed but
will also continue to exist? If
my interpretation
is
right,
then Ibn
Zayd
subscribed
implicitly
to this third
meaning
of "khalifa."
The second reason for which this
interpretation gained ground
in
early exegesis
is that there are words in the
Qur'an
from roots other
32
This is a method which was
particularly
used
by Muqatil
b.
Sulayman;
see
his
Tafszr, 1, 410;
and
pp. 164, 167, 210, 215, 342,
401 and 417 of the Bursa Ms.
33
Tabari,
Tafsfr, 12,
505.
34
Tabari,
Tafsir,
1, 451;
Ibn
Kathir, Tafszr, 1,
70.
35
Tabari
said,
"This
saying
makes room for what has been
reported
on the
authority
of al-Hasan
[al-Basri,
that 'khalifa' is a reference to the children of
Adam,
not to Adam
himself);
but it also allows
that,
what Ibn
Zayd
intended was
that God told the
angels
that He was
making
a 'khalifa' in the earth
of
Him,
one
who would
judge
in it with His
judgement among
His
creatures"; Tabari, Tafszr,
1, 451.
401
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WADAD
AL-QADI
than
kh.l.f.
which
convey
the same
meaning,
sometimes in con-
structions similar to its
own,
and some other
times, moreover,
with
one of its occurrences
being coupled
with this
parallel
word,
and
with one
exegete going
as far as to
quote
the other construction in
support
of his
particular interpretation.
This can be seen
clearly
in
the cases of three verbs: adhhaba,
istabdala,
and waritha. In sura
6:33,
we find the words
istakhlafa
and adhhaba side
by
side thus:
(...and
if He
wills,
He can remove
you (yudhhibkum)
and
yastakhlif
after
you
what He
wills,
just
as He raised
you
from the seed of other
folk.)
And there are three other verses in the
Qur'an
where the verb
adhhaba is used with the same
meaning
and in the same construc-
tion,
as Rudi Paret has
already
noted.36
As noted
by
Paret
too,37
the verb istabdala also occurs twice in the
Qur
an in the third
meaning
of
kh.l.f.
One must add that it is
employed
in the same manner of
thought:
If
you
turn
away,
God
will
replace you
with another
people,
or: He will chastise
you
with
a
painful
chastisement. In sura
7:129,
Moses
says
to his
people:
(...Perchance your
Lord will
destroy your enemy
and He will
yastakhlifakum
on
earth,
so that He
may
see how
you behave.)
After
commenting
on this verse in the vein of the third
meaning, Muqatil
b.
Sulayman
cited
by way
of further
proof
the text of two other
verses
(28: 5-6)
in which the verb waritha occurs in the same sense as
istakhlafa
in the above mentioned
example.
He
said,
"Moses said
this to them in accordance with what God said in
"al-Qasas" [i.e.,
sura
28]: (And
We desired to show favor unto those who were
op-
pressed
on
earth,
and to make them
examples
and to make them
the inheritors
(al-wdrithzn))-until
the end of the two verses. God
did that to them: He
destroyed
their
enemy
and
istakhlafahum
on
earth. '"38
4. With the fourth
meaning,
one comes to new
grounds.
It is "to
inhabit,
to cultivate"
(sakana, Camara).
At first
sight
this
meaning
looks
strange
and somehow
unexpected.
However,
when one ex-
amines
many
of the occurrences of the verbs sakana and
Camara
in
the
Qur>an,
one finds that
they
are used in a
quite
similar
way
to
36
In
"Signification,"
214.
37
Ibid.
38
Muqatil, Tafszr, p.
167
(Ms. Bursa).
402
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THE TERM
,,KHALIFA"
403
that of verbs like
istabdala,
adhhaba and
waritha-hence,
istakhlafa
or
to make a
people khald3if
or
khulafda
of a
past
nation. In suira 14:13-
14,
the nonbelievers tell their
prophets
to
drop
their
teaching,
whereupon
God reveals to his
messengers (We
will
surely destroy
the
evildoers,
and We will
surely
make
you
inhabit the earth after
them
(wa-lanuskinannakumu
l-arda min
bacdihim). Similarly,
in sura
30:9,
God asks a rhetorical
question: (Have they
not
journeyed
in
the earth and beheld how the end of those before them was?
They
were
stronger
than themselves in
might,
and
they ploughed up
the
earth and cultivated it more than themselves
[wa-?amarihd
akthara
mimmd
Camaruzhd]
and
yet
their end was
evil,
for
they
did not believe
what God's
messengers taught them).
The earliest
exegete
to have mentioned this
meaning
and to be
followed
by
others in this
respect
is the well-known Meccan ex-
egete, Mujahid
b.
Jabr,
a student of Ibn cAbbas' but an
indepen-
dent mind himself. This
meaning appears
in its
purest
form in Mu-
jahid's commentary
on 57:7:
(And spend (pl.)
from that which He
had made
you mustakhlafina
in
it...).
Two
independent reports
state
that
Mujahid
said:
"(mustakhlafina) [means]:
muCammirzna
fi-hf
bi 1-
rizq,"39
which can be
roughly
translated as
"cultivating
it
by
means
of the fortunes
[God
has
granted you]."
This
interpretation agrees
with
Muqatil
b.
Sulayman's commentary
on the same verse:
"(mustakhlafina fi-hi)
[means]:
from
your possessions (amwdlikum)
which God has
given
to
you."40
But,
as
happened
with
meaning
3 vis-a-vis the two basic mean-
ings
1 and 2 of the root kh.
l.f.,
this fourth
meaning
too came to have
extra
layers
of "to
replace"
and "to succeed."
Hence,
when Mu-
jahid
said that the
interpretation
of
(And
if We were to will it We
would have made of
you angels yakhlufuna) (43:60)
is:
"cultivating
the earth instead of
you
(yacmuruna
l-arda badalan
minkum),
"41 he was
adding
the
meaning
"to
replace"
to the
original meaning
"to
cultivate." Ibn
Zayd
went even further and added still more the
meaning
"to
succeed,"
thereby ending up
with a cluster of three
meanings.
This is clear in his
commentary
on sura
6:165,
where
God
says
that it is He who made the
people
the
khulafda
of the earth.
39
Tafsfr Mujdhid,
2, 656; Tabarl, Tafstr, 27,
218.
40
Muqatil,
Tafsir, p.
503
(Ms. Bursa).
41
Tafstr Mujahid, 2, 583; Tabari, Tafszr,
25, 89;
Ibn
Kathir, TafsFr, 4,
132.
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WADAD
AL-QADI
Ibn
Zayd said,
"It means: He made
you
cultivate it
(1), generation
after
generation
and nation after nation
(2)
and successors after
predecessors (khalafan
baCda
salafin) (3)."
42
The same tri-cluster is at
the basis of Ibn
Ishaq's interpretation
of sura
7:69;
(khulafdaa
min
baCdi
qawmi Nuhin,)
means
according
to him: "the inhabitants of the
earth after the
people
of Noah."43 And it was Ibn
Ishaq's
inter-
pretation
of the Adam verse
(2:30) along
those lines which Tabari
outrightly rejected,
as was mentioned above.44
Furthermore,
Ibn
Ishaq gave
almost a "definition" of
Camara,
connected with suc-
ceeding
and
replacing,
when he
said,
commenting
on sura 7:74:
(And
remember when He made
you khulafda
after
CAd...),
"When
God
destroyed
'Ad and its affair was
over,
Thamuid came to
cultivate the earth after
them,
and
they
were
ustukhlifui
therein;
they
dwelt and
spread
in
it,
then
they
became recalcitrant towards
God.
"45
5. The last
meaning
which the
early exegetes
had for kh.
.f.
is "to
govern,
to
rule,
to be
king."
It was mentioned
by
two
exegetes
on-
ly.
The first one is
Suddi,
who
said,
commenting
on sura
38:26,
where God
says
to David:
(O
David,
We have made
you
a
khalzfa
on
earth,
so
judge (fa hkum) justly
between
people...)
"[It
means]:
He made him
king
(mallakahu)
on earth."46 (It is to be noted that
Suddi was the
only early exegete
to offer an
interpretation
of the
word "khalifa" in this
verse.)
And the second one is our latest
authority, Sufyan
al-Thawri. His
commentary
concerns sura
24:55:
(God
has
promised
those of
you
who believe and do
righteous
deeds that he will
surely la-yastakhlifannahum
on
earth,
as
He
istakhlafa
those who were before
them,
and that he will
surely
establish for them their
religion
which he has
approved
for them
....)
Identifying
those meant
by
the
verse,
Sufyan
said,
"They
are
the
people
in
charge (or:
the
governors-al-wuldt).'47
This last
meaning brings
us back to the main
question
with which
we
began
this
paper:
Did the
early exegetes living
under the
42
Ibn
Kathlr, Tafsfr, 2,
199.
43
Tabari, Tafszr, 12,
505.
44
See
p.
7
above,
and n. 15.
45
Tabari, Tafszr,
12,
528.
46
Tabari, Tafszr,
23,
151.
47
Tafstr Sufyan al-Thawrz, p.
185.
404
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THE TERM
,,KHALIFA
Umayyads
make the connection between the
Qur'anic
term
"khalifa" and the actual
reality
of the
caliphate, by
which the
caliphs
considered themselves God's
khulafda?
The above
exposition
shows that this connection was indeed
made but not before the end of the
Umayyad period
or the
early
decades of Abbasid
rule,
for it was
only Sufyan
al-Thawri who
subscribed to the last
meaning
of
kh.l.f.,
and
Sufyan
died almost
thirty years
after the Abbasids had taken over
political power.
That
Suddi,
who died in 128/745 towards the end of
Umayyad
times,
subscribed to this
meaning
is not of
any political significance
for
two reasons. The first is that he used this
meaning only
in the
David
verse,
while in all other verses he
accepted
the
other,
more
basic
meanings
of
kh.l.f.
The second is
that,
when he said that
"khalffa"
in the David verse meant
"mallakahujfil-ard,
"
he was
just
repeating
what the
Qur'an
itself
literally
said about David else-
where. Thus we read in sura 2:251 that God
gave
David
kingship
(al-mulk)
and
wisdom;
and in 38:20 we find:
(And
We
strengthened
his
kingdom
(mulkahu)
and
gave
him wisdom and
speech decisive).
But
Sufyan
is one
exegete,
and a late one for that
matter,
and he
had
only
one statement to
say
about the
subject.
What about the
rest of the
exegetes,
the earlier
ones,
and the
many sayings they
had
about their
understanding
of the
Qur'anic
term "khalifa?" A
thorough
examination of the above
given
material shows the follow-
ing
conclusions:
1.
Many
of the
early exegetes
were,
paradoxically,
either
puzzled
by
the
Qur'anic
term "khallfa" in the
singular
and did not know
how to handle
it,
or
they
took it so much for
granted
that
they
did
not comment on it. This made them
quite
often
gloss
over the word
and concentrate on other words or
expressions
in the verses in
which it occurs. When
they
did indeed
stop
to comment on some
other form of it
(the plural forms,
the
verbs), they
sometimes ex-
plained
that form with another word
stemming
from the same
root,
kh.l.f., thereby making
their statements rather
ambiguous
and in
need of
reinterpretation.
At other
times,
they simply depended
on
the context of the
term,
and would sometimes seek
help
in under-
standing
it from other occurrences of it or its
synonyms
in the
Qur'an.
One of
them,
Ibn
Zayd, simply
stated his
incapability
of
finding something
conclusive in the
Qurdanic
text of the Adam
verse.
405
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WADAD
AL-QADI
2. The main resort of the
exegetes
for
understanding
was either
isrd'liyydt
material or
philology.
Both sources remained in use
during
the entire
period
under
investigation,
albeit with a
great
dif-
ference in
frequency
of reference. The
isrdazliyydt,
which came
up
very early
with Ibn
CAbbas,
as is
well-known,
proved handy
and
relevant
particularly
because the first occurrence of the term is con-
nected with the
story
of the creation of
man,
and there the
isrdazliyydt
material was extensive
anyway.
All the other instances-which
means: the vast
majority
of them-were based on
philological
grounds.
But,
since the root kh.
.f.
is a
very
rich root and has a
large
number of
meanings,
the
exegetes
were faced with a veritable
challenge.
3. As a
result,
the
early exegetes
subscribed to different
meanings
of the root kh.
I.f.,
and hence reached different conclusions.
Indeed,
some of them subscribed to more than one
meaning
of the root and
resorted to different
meanings
in different contexts. The two mean-
ings
which seem to have dominated the scene were "to succeed"
and "to
replace."
These two
meanings being very
close to one an-
other,
the most dominant
meaning
was a
compound
one made
up
of both of them: "to
replace
in some form of succession." This
meaning
is connected with the fact that the verb
khalafa
is seman-
tically
related to the adverb
khalfa
(after),
be that in
place
or in time.
Since this
meaning
fitted most of the
Qur>anic
"khalifa"
instances,
it was
heavily
relied
upon by
the
early exegetes.
But then
they
had
to face a serious
problem
with
regard
to the Adam
verse,
2:30: so
whom was Adam to
replace
and/or succeed?
Their
problem
was further
complicated by
the fact
that,
neither
in this nor in
any
other
"khalifa"-verse,
singular
as well as
plural,
is the term
phrased
in
construct,
with an
iddfa,
which would in-
dicate
of
whom a certain
person
or
group
is a "khalifa." For sura
2:30,
their choices were limited: either this "khalifa" succeeded
and
replaced
some other
creature(s)
on
earth,
or he was a "khalifa"
of God. The first choice was selected
by
those who relied on
isrda)liyydt
material: Adam was the
successor/replacement
of the
jinn
or the
angels.
But this
proved
to be
only partially convincing.
Anyway,
the
very question
of whether one should take
up isrdailiyydt
as a basis for
understanding
the
Qur'an
was a controversial issue. As
for the second
choice,
that a "khalifa" is God's
"khalifa,"
it is note-
406
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THE TERM
,,KHALIFA
worthy
that
nobody
endorsed it at
all,
unlike the late
exegetes
like
Tabari.
As
such,
many
of the
early exegetes
ended
up
with a "no
comment" on the "khalifa"
part
of this verse.
Perhaps
their attitude
was further
supported by
another
problem
the verse
presented,
namely
that this "khalifa" is "identified" as one who would act
corruptly
and shed blood. How can this creature be God's "khalifa"
then?
Furthermore,
how can he be
Adam,
the first of God's
pro-
phets?
Well,
whereas the second
problem
was circumvented in a
way
which is
syntactically
unsound,48
the first
problem
could
not,
at
least for the
exegetes living
under the
Umayyads.
Other
ways
had
to be
opened.
4. The main
way
found
by
the
early exegetes
was to
adopt
other
meanings
for
kh.l.f.
which would fit the various occurrences of the
term in the
Qur'an.
This was further
strengthened by
the fact that
the
meaning
"to substitute
successively"
tells
nothing specific
about
man,
the first creature to be identified as "khalifa" in the
Qur'an.
In other words: What is clear in all the
Qur'anic
occur-
rences is that "khalifa" is
necessarily
connected with man-and
with his existence on earth. But what is it that makes man
specifically
distinguishable from
other creatures on earth to the
point
of
being
designated
as "khalifa?" More
explicitly:
What is man's
distinguishing function
as a "khalifa" on earth? For this
question
there came two
suggestions:
"to
cultivate",
and "to rule." Since
the first
suggestion
dates from the middle
Umayyad period
and the
second from the late
Umayyad
one
(or possibly
from
early
Abbasid
times),
it can be well
argued
that these two
chronologically
suc-
cessive
meanings
were the result of social
change,
with the ever in-
creasing
urbanization and
complexity
of Islamic societies. This
proposition
can be even further defended on the basis that the
adherents to these two
meanings essentially
came from
complex
metropolises
such as Basra and Kufa. But this is not
enough by way
of
explanation,
nor is the
proposition universally
tenable.
Besides,
these adherents had a serious
problem.
Their foundations were
philologically unsound,
for there is
nothing
in the
language
to
suggest
48
This is the
interpretation
of al-Hasan al-Basri: "khalifa" in sura 2:30 means
the children
of Adam,
not Adam
himself;
see
Tabari, Tafs-r, 1,
451
(Shakir).
Tabari
noted the intention of al-Hasan and
pointed
out to its
implausibility
from a
syntac-
tical
angle (ibid., 452-3).
407
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WADAD
AL-QADI
that
kh.l.f.
meant "to cultivate" or "to rule." The basis of their
conclusions was
mainly
contextual. This is
why
those who subscrib-
ed to the
meaning
"to
inhabit,
to cultivate" often had to
compound
this
meaning
with one or both of the
basic,
philologically
sound
meanings:
to succeed and to
replace. Perhaps
this is also
why
the
meaning
"to
rule,
to
govern"
did not have
any
success. After all
it is
solely
derived
indirectly
from the word
fa'hkum
which
appears
in the David
verse,
and even there this word is not
necessarily syn-
tactically
connected with the term
"khallfa".49
5. But the
exegetes
had to face a further
problem, particularly
with
regard
to the two verses in which the term "khalifa" occurs
in this
particular singular
form. In the Adam verse and in the
David
verse,
there was an
important question:
Who is meant
by
the
term "khalifa"
strictly speaking?
The David verse
poses
no
prob-
lem;
it is
only
David. But this itself has
consequences.
If we under-
stand "khalifa" to mean
"king" only
in this
verse,
as was
sug-
gested by
Suddi,
then the
equation
"khalifa =
king"
does not
apply
except
to David on the basis of the
Qur'an.
The Adam verse is
more
problematic.
I have
already pointed
out the two
problems
of
"succession" and "bloodshed vs.
prophethood."
But there is
more. The verse does not mention
explicitly
that the "khalifa" in
it is
Adam,
but this is inferred from the
following
verse,
and almost
all of the
exegetes accepted
this identification. But Adam can mean
either the
person
of Adam
specifically
or man in
general. Depen-
ding
on the
context,
all the
exegetes
who had
anything
to
say
on the
subject
tended to
accept
the second identification. The net result of
this was that another
equation
came about: "khalifa
=
man" in the
Qur'an. Consequently:
all men are created as khalifas.
Although
this was not
spelled
out
by any
of the commentators on
this
particular
verse,
it did come out in
Qatada's commentary
on
sura
10:14,
in which the
speech
is directed to Muhammad's
followers. The verse reads:
(Then
We made
you khaldaif
on earth
after them so that We
may
see how
you behave.) Qatada
narrated
in his
commentary
a
report
on the
authority
of CUmar b. al-
Khattab,
in which CUmar
said,
"Our Lord
spoke
the
truth;
He did
not make us "khulafa"'
except
in order to see how
[we carry
on
49
See
Paret, "Signification,"
215.
408
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THE TERM
,KHALIFA
with]
our deeds.
Thus,
show
(pl.)
God the
goodness
of
your
deeds
by night
and
day,
in secret and in
public."50 According
to his
say-
ing,
CUmar considered all the Muslims to be
khulafd' according
to
the
Qur'anic
text. And there is no
way by
which we can
interpret
the
saying
to mean that
only caliphs,
such as
CUmar,
are considered
khulafd).
6. This
report
was recorded
by
Tabari.
What is
interesting
is that
immediately
after it
Tabari
brought
forth another
report
in which
CUmar
again
is the main
figure,
but it has a clear
purport.
The
word "khulafa)" in the verse is a reference to the
caliphs:
CUmar
figures
in it in his
capacity
as
caliph.51
Now,
this
report
is
certainly
a
forgery:
It is enshrouded in the dream
motif;
it is based on
foretelling
the
future;
its isndd is
strange,52
etc. But this is not the
problem.
The
problem
is the
following: Why
did Tabarl feel almost
obliged
to
bring
it
up
in the first
place?
The answer
is,
as far as I
can
judge, simple.
He wanted to have at least one
early authority
identify
the
Qur)anic
"khalifa" with the
political "caliph,"
as he
himself believed.
Finding
no one hand done so
(except
for the
David
verse,
but it is too
specific
and cannot serve the
purpose),
he
made room in his book for this
report.
He further
placed
it im-
mediately
after the
previous
one,
the one which is
representative
of
the
early exegetes'
stance on the
subject, thereby coming
to a seem-
ing
balance between the two
positions.
But this does not
change
things.
The
early exegetes
in the
Umayyad period
did not
equate
the
Qur)anic
"khalifa" with the head of the Islamic state. When
Sufyan
al-Thawri came close to
doing
so,
the state was about to
leave the hands of the
Umayyads,
or indeed it had
already gone
away
from them forever.
Besides,
it has to be noted that
Sufyan
did
not
say
that the
Qur'anic
"khulafa)" are the
caliphs.
He
merely
said,
"the
governors/
the
people
in
charge"-a very general
word/expression
which has a rather wide
variety
of
meanings.
It
has to be
kept
in mind too that
Sufyan
had Shili
leanings.
As
such,
50
Tabarl,
Tafszr, 15,
38-9
(Shakir).
51
Tabari,
Tafsir, 15,
39
(Shakir).
It was
copied by
Ibn Kathir in his
Tafszr, 2,
409. Ibn
Kathir, however,
did not
reproduce
the
previous report.
52
There is a different version of the
report
in Ibn
Sa'd,
Kitab
al-tabaqat al-kabir,
3/1,
239
(9
vols.,
ed. E.
Sachau, Leiden,
1904-1940),
where the isndd is a more
plausible one;
but the
report
remains
unconvincing.
409
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WADAD
AL-QADI
he could not have had the
Umayyad caliphs (certainly
not their
governors!)
in
mind,
and his life
history
leaves no room for doubt that
he did not have the Abbasid
caliphs
in mind either.53
7. Is this conclusion an
absolutely
definitive one?
Yes,
but
only
in as far as our available sources can tell us. It
is,
on the other
hand,
not so definitive in the sense that some
contemporary
material has
been lost. In
addition,
an examination of the isndds of the individual
reports
of this
material,
together
with the
exegetical
works that have
come down to
us,
shows that all of them are of
Iraqi,
Khurasani or
Hijazi
provenance.
In other
words,
they
come from areas which are
either centers of
opposition
to the
Umayyads (Iraq
and
Khurasan)
or from the area which still viewed the
Umayyads
with a
great
deal
of
suspicion,
to
say
the least
(jHijaz).
The
question
is,
therefore:
Would
things
not look different if we were to have had at our
disposal reports
from
Syria,
the center of
pro-Umayyad
sentiment?
Again,
it is to be noted that some of the
exegetes
whose
sayings
were
reported
on this
subject
were either
positively against
the
Umayyads
or had fallen out of favor with them.54 Would the
pic-
ture
change
if the two books of Zuhri
(d. 124/741), (a
staunch
defender of the
Umayyad cause), namely
his al-Ndsikh wa l-mansuikh
and Kitdb
al-tanzzl,55
were to have come down to us?
8. Within the limits of what we know of
early exegetical
literature, then,
there was no move on the
part
of the
exegetes
to
find
any Qur'anic
basis for the
Umayyad caliphs
to
justify
their
"rights"
as
they
claimed,
a claim made
by
Walid II in 125/742 for
the first time in
Umayyad history,
in the testament in which he
ap-
pointed
his two sons as his consecutive successors to the
caliphate.56
When the
early exegeters
were not
opposed
to the
state,
they
were
53
Sufyan
died in
hiding
from the Abbasid
Caliph al-Mahdi;
see Ibn
Khallikan,
Wafayat al-aSydn, 2, 390-1,
ed. I.
CAbbas, Beirut,
1970.
54
Al-RablC b.
Anas,
for
example,
fled from
al-Hajjaj
and left Basra to Merv
(Sezgin,
GAS, 1,
34); Mujahid
was recalled from Mecca to
Iraq by al-Hajjaj,
following
the defeat of Ibn
al-Ash'ath,
and he was
kept
in
prison
until the death
of
al-Hajjaj (Tabarl, Ta'r?kh, II,
1262);
al-Hasan al-Basri had to
go
into
hiding
from
al-Hajjaj
until the latter's death after he had criticized him for
founding
the
city
of Wasit
(H.
Ritter,
"Hasan
al-Basri,"
in
EP, III,
247b).
55
See
above,
n. 4.
56
Walid's testament is
preserved
in
TabarT's Ta'rzkh, II,
1756
ff.;
an
English
translation of it is
given
in Crone and
Hinds,
op. cit.,
118-26.
410
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THE TERM
,,KHALIFA
411
simply,
as it
appears,
not interested in the issue. This
they
could
afford.
They
were not
dependent
on the state for their
livelihood,
and the earlier
history
of the
Umayyads
had
taught
them that
they
would be
normally
left alone if
they
did not rise in arms
against
the
rulers. This same
Walld, however,
did not
only
cite and
paraphrase
Qur'anic
verses to assert his and the earlier
caliphs' rights.
He used
the Adam verse to
say
that the title "khalifa" for the
Umayyads
was indeed "khallfat Allah" and thus he himself was
posing
as a
Qur'anic exegete.
But this had no effect on the
exegesis
scholars:
they
were one
group among
several who were
"piety-minded,"
people
who wanted
sincerely
to understand the
meanings
of the re-
vealed text and to
arrive,
through
that,
to a clearer Islamic "sense
of
identity"-regardless
of what the state
thought
or claimed. As
such,
and as I mentioned
earlier,
only
the
exegetes
who resorted to
isrdaFliyyat
material insinuated that "khalifa" in the Adam verse was
the
"khalifa,"
or
successor/replacement
of the
angels
or the
jinn.
The rest of the
exegetes simply
did not indicate whom this "khalifa"
was
supposed
to
succeed,
and
certainly
none of them used the ex-
pression
"khalifat Allah."
Does this mean that
they
did that
intentionally
in order not to be
of
any
assistance for the
Umayyads
in their claims? This is a
very
likely possibility.
There
may
be another
possibility,
however. The
expression
"khalifat Allah" was too well established
by
their time
to be in
any
need for
being spelled
out. And when it was
adopted
as a
caliphal
title,
possibly
even before the
Umayyads,
it was so
done not
necessarily
on the basis of the
Qur'an,
for in the text all
men are "khulafad" and are identified as such
by
God. If
so, then,
the
Qur'an exegetes
had no cause to
explicate
issues which were not
strictly
related to the
Qur'anic
text. But it is still too
early
to
pass
any
final
judgement.
We have to find out much more about the
origin
of the
caliphate
in its earliest
days.
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