What Are the Difference between Wilaya & Khilafa? Religious Priorities and Avoiding Polemics

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani


Please tell me about the difference between’Wilayah” & Khilafah’ in Islam.Further,I want to know about tafdheel /afzaliyat among Sahabah Kiraam radhiAllahu anhum ajmaeen from Ahlus sunnah wal jamaat point of view.


In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate

Walaikum assalam,

I hope you’re doing well, insha’Allah.

What is Electhood?

Wilaya refers to electhood. One definition of electhood (wilaya) is that “The elect servant (wali) is one who chose Allah above all others, so Allah chose them above others.” [Ibn Allan, Dalil al-Falihin Sharh Riyad al-Salhin; Qushayri, al-Risala]

It is attained through striving to perfect one’s faith (iman) and one’s mindfulness of Allah (taqwa).

Allah Most High says,

“There will certainly be no fear for the close servants of Allah, nor will they grieve—those who are truly faithful and are ever-mindful of Him.” [Quran, 11.62-63]

Khilafa has many usages. It appears you are referring to the political leadership of the Muslim community.

The Order of Superiority of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him, his folk, and companions)

According to Ahl al-Sunna, the order of both rank and virtue (fadila) follows the order of the Khilafa. Thus, the best of creation after the Prophets is Abu Bakr; then Umar; then Uthman; and then Ali (Allah be pleased with them all).

This is the position affirmed unequivocally in the major reference works of Sunni theology, including Bajuri’s Tuhfa al-Murid `ala Jawhara al-Tawhid; Taftazani’s Sharh al-Aqa’id al-Nasafiyya; Jurjani’s Sharh al-Mawaqif; Abu Mu`in al-Nasafi’s Tabsira al-Adilla; and many more.

These are matters to learn and understand through the study of the science of Islamic beliefs under reliable, mainstream, qualified teachers. Then, one lives that belief and certitude through devotion and service.

Never argue with others, nor listen to nor engage in any polemics. These harm relations bring darkness to the heart, confuse one’s understanding, and busy one from the pathways of true benefit.

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center