A lecture delivered by the Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) on 27th January, 1990 at Kongo Campus, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.
The Duty of Allah’s Vicegerent on Earth
In the same way, an ambassador of the Almighty on earth should execute what Allah says you should do. He has no power of his own to conduct the authority as he wishes. He has to work from the supreme authority. This is what he should do and this is what he should not do, and he has to abide by it. What (would) happen, if an ambassador of a country goes contrary to the rules of the country? He will be recalled back (home) and be punished.
Some ambassadors declare their loyalty to another country and seek political asylum somewhere. Do you think an ambassador of Allah can do that? To Defect from Allah and seek asylum from someone who is an authority from Allah? No, he has to execute what the Almighty Allah said or he has to pay the consequence. No power on earth or anywhere else can save him. Here you have a caliph or representative of Allah on the earth. That means you are supposed to conduct your religion in such a way that whatever you see on the earth like water, water resources, trees, shrubs, air, rocks and these kinds of things (should serve as reminders that you are truly here for some purposes.) Let’s say you are a manager. How are you going to manage your own self first? Because human beings are also managed; you manage yourself first, then your own family and you manage the resources around you but all according to the laws of someone you deputize, that’s someone who created all this and let you serve as a vicegerent. You are like a gardener. For example, someone owns a garden, and he employs you to be his garden’s keeper. He will give you the instructions as regard to how you will water each crop and what you should do to maintain the garden, maybe annually and so on and so forth. But the truth is we do not own the garden. In the same way, man does not own the earth, he is not the master; he represents someone, and he waits for order to come from someone who owns the earth and the resources he was put to look after.
Now, having defined the meaning of (the term) caliph, we would like to talk about representation which can be considered as individual vicegerency and collective vicegerency.
Allah said in the Holy Quran:
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ…
“Allah has made a promise for those ones among you who are faithful and those who commit to good deeds, and He will establish his representation….” Qur’an 24:55.
What does representation mean here? Those who believe and commit to good deeds, (the glad tidings for them is) Allah will make them assume the position of representation? What does that mean then? Is a man not a caliph in general? Everybody is a caliph. But Allah is speaking particularly to those who commit good deeds that they will be made to inherit and assume the position Caliphs, which is the plural of Caliph. The ambassador of Allah which means there is a collective representation also. Here, it refers to leadership role of which you people will be made to look after the whole earth. You will be given the whole of the earth to attend to; you will be in control. Allah has promised those who believe and those who are righteous that he will make them caliphs. He will give them the position of Allah on the earth.
Here we can say that there is individual caliphate or representation which you conduct upon yourself, and there is also a collective representation which is promised only to the believers. Those who believe on the earth are the righteous.
Having seen the meaning of Khalifa, let us now see the duties of the Khalifa.
As I said earlier, a caliph only represents, that is someone who deputizes; he acts on behalf of someone. He has no authority of his own. He has delegated power; the power given to him has certain limits. To execute the role which is given to him by the one he deputizes. In the message of Allah (SWT), we will find the duty of man.
In the chapter, Al-Baqarah, Allah said:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ.
“Oh you who believe, worship your lord who created you and those before you that you attain piety.” Quran 2:21
This is what the Almighty Allah requests from us on the earth or from mankind, to do what? To serve him. In another instance, Allah said:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ. مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ.
“I have not created mankind and Jinn except to serve me. I do not need from them to enrich me neither do I need them to feed me.” Quran 51:56-57.
So what is the service? You know this category of people called civil servants? They offer service, right? And we also know this National Youths Service Corps? All they offer is service.
In short, service will constitute all your movements and utterances. Your utterances and movements constitute some sorts of service. You are serving someone. To serve Allah, the Almighty means to grow. This is to say, you should strive to serve Him.
Some used to say, “Oh Lord you created me, so forgive me.” Has Allah not commanded people to take care of the weak and the orphans? What is somebody doing if he takes care of the weak and the orphan? He said yes, but who commanded him to do so? It is the Almighty Allah. It is not service as well? It is!
When you look after the poor, the Almighty Allah has enjoined everyone to look after the poor. Allah said in the Holy Qur’an:
أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ. فَذَٰلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ.
“Have you not seen the one who denies the Hereafter? It is he who forsakes the orphans.” Quran 107:1-2.
The orphan here means somebody who is in need. He does not care about him. Such a man does not believe there is compensation in the time to come. You see. So, service is not limited to Salat or fasting or pilgrimage. Service constitutes everything you do according to the command of someone.
If someone asks you to sweep this place and you swept it, this means you are serving him. In short service requires that there should be a sort of subservience to somebody. If somebody asks you to do something and you do it, and ask you not to do something and refrain from doing it, then you are serving him. So service actually consists everything you do to your lord on earth, despite the fact that there are many things you do to attend to your own self in order to manage the environment you find yourself and also to manage human affairs. All these, you do should offer this service in accordance with the rules and regulations given to you by your master who created earth and evils, and who placed you on earth.
The ibadat which Allah requests from us is not limited to Salat. It means we are to our life between bad and evils in accordance with the rules and regulations of Almighty Allah. Which man was placed to us on the earth to inspect the compositions of these instructions? It is Imam. This is to say in every nook and corner of your life except this man of Adam has placed a rule and regulation on it. Our ibadat is channeled through a process called deen. The deen itself consists of rules and regulations. This is what to do and what not to do. Reviving these rules and regulations accordingly constitute service. If service should be rendered to the Almighty Allah, then we must ensure that we do it in accordance with the regulation of Almighty Allah. We intend a service to Him.
To be continued…