Rashid Ridla’s Concept on Khilafah and its Relevance in the Modern World

Prof. Dr. Fauzul Iman, M.A.

Reformation movement of Jamaluddin and Muhammad Abduh who proclaim the reformation of Muslims and reorganize the political power of Muslims has much influenced Rasyid Rictfefs thought, as their student. Their movement that has the salafiyah ideology is followed by their student by studying the correct principles of faith and Islamic teachings.

In this context, Ridla observes that it is important to reform the system of Islamic law and to revise/to correct Islamic Governance, i.e. the system of khilafah. The right political system, according to Ridla as quoted by Esposito, is a political system based on the collective agreement (musyawarah) between khalifah and ulama who become the supervisors of Islamic law interpretations.

Ridla defines khilafah as al-imamat al ‘Uzhma and Imarat al-Mukminin, an institution that manages the Islamic government for religious and worldly benefits. He apparently agree with Taftazani’s view, a kalam ulama, who defines khilafah as an institution in the prophet period that functions organize the public interests, both religious and worldly interests.

He seems also agree on al-Mawardi’s definition of khilafah Al-Mawardi argues that khilafah is established to conduct the prophetical functions in protecting religion and the World. Therefore, dealing with establishing Islamic state and appointing imam, Ridla agrees on Salfiyah Ulama’s view that establishing Islamic state and appointing imam are legal obliged (wajib syar ‘i), a law that is not merely based on the reason. Legal basis for this view is: first, the consensus of the companions. It becomes the principle based on the fact that the companions prefer appointing the leader for Islamic government to burying the prophet. Second, something will not perfect unless there is an obligation to establish Islamic government to prevent disorders and violations. Thirdly, by establishing a state, it means that it can realize the social benefits and eliminate something harmful. Hence, based on the consensus of the companions, it is obliged to establish a state.

Dealing with the mechanism of the appointment of the leader, Ridla satisfyingly explains the mechanism of the appointment of the leader conducted by the companions after the prophet’s death historically. According to him, even though the mechanism of the appointment of the leader at the time is very simple, the system of allegiance based on the collective agreement (musyawarah) by several elements essentially has shown that Islam has established democracy. To establish the principle of democracy, the appointment of imam should be conducted by doing collective agreement (musyawarah jama’ah). The allegiance from Umar to Abu Bakar, according to Ridla, is a good example that the appointment of imam should be conducted by doing collective agreement (musyawarah j ama’ ah).

Ridla also argues that collective agreement (musyawarah) is a higher institution for the leader of a state in determining policies for every government’s problem when it is not stated in the nash or legal ijma, especially dealing with problems for public benefits. Indeed, he observes that musyawarah is as a method to apply Islamic teachings in line with the changes of time and place. However, he disagrees to place musyawarah as ‘absolute decision’ (hakiman muthlaqan) that considers every problem can be solved by musyawarah. According to him, musyawarah that becomes the absolute guidance is musyawarah referred to al-Qur’an, the prophetic tradition, and khulafa ar-rasyidin’s ways.

The above explanation shows the encounter between Ridla’s thought and his desires to resurrect the khilafah system in the companion period. He also shows his disappointment to Turkey Government and its highest officials who are submissive to English authority. They have their own government, but they essentially become the puppet ruler of English.

The effective government, according to him, is the government that has legislative and judicative institutions that functions to clamp down on the course of the governance.

In his opinion, Muslims lately has put the system of khilafah in disorder and substitutes it with the system of kingship emphasizing on the ‘ashabiyyat interest and the inheritance system of kingship. The governance no more runs based on the Islamic laws that is controlled by ah! al-hal wa al- Jaqd through musyawarah.

The first step to establish a state based on the khilafah system is, according to him, by creating the laws in compliance with the condition and age in order to protect the religion, the Islamic state, and Muslim benefits. To prepare the state based on the khilafah system, Ridla suggests to establish the centers of Higher education that can create the cadres of great Islamic leaders. From these institutions, it is, then, chosen the leader of special khilafah council, the members of legislative council, and mufti who are all the experts in performing ijtihad.

Political thought on ijtihad of Ridla makes surprised some of Muslim thinkers who previously place Ridla as a reformer, a follower of Muhammad Abduh’s modern thought. However, he return to think traditionally by voicing the important of establishing the system of Islamic khilafah that has ever applied in the salary era, the Khulafa ar-Rasyidin era.


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