Islamic concepts

Khalīfah — successor, next one in charge, next leader, representative, steward, trustee

appointed one responsible

next one who's responsible

noun singular plural

whose turn is it next? successor, appointed manager, caretaker, benevolent person in charge, trustee, deputy

A Khalīfah (pl. Khulafāʾ خلفاء or Khalāʾīf خلائف) generally means an appointed manager, a successor, steward, governor.

Appointment of human beings: you’re on!

[Prophet], when your Lord told the angels, ‘I am putting a successor on earth,’ they said, ‘How can You put someone there who will cause damage and bloodshed, when we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness?’ but He said, ‘I know things you do not.’ (Qurʾān 2:30)

Allāh tells the angels he will create a species entrusted with the management of the earth. Although angels don’t have free will and are only able to obey Allāh’s decisions. They could, however, ask questions: Will these human beings be responsible? What is the wisdom of appointing such dangerous quarrelsome creatures as trustees of the earth?

Allāh has appointed you this responsibility. If you don’t do it, who will?

Successor to Muḥammad ﷺ

In the history of Islam, Khalīfah also has a political meaning.


  • all human beings on earth
    • Allāh has made you successors in the land to see how you behave 10:14
    • human beings next in line on the earth 2:30 6:165
    • Who is it that answers the distressed when they call upon Him? Who removes their suffering? Who makes you successors in the earth? Is it another god beside God? Little notice you take! 27:62
    • it is He who has made you inherit the earth.35:39
  • people on particular land
  • Allāh made some people next in line after the Noah informed 7:69
  • Allāh made you next after the Ad people 7:74
  • Allāh made those on the ark be the survivors, inheritors, successors 10:73
  • "O David, indeed We have made you a successor upon the earth, so judge between the people in truth and do not follow [your own] desire, as it will lead you astray from the way of Allah ." 38:26