The Conditional Promise
Extracted from the tafāsīr of al-Hāfiẓ Ibn Kathīr and ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī. In explanation of the Promise of Allāh to grant authority and ascendancy to the Muslims.
Give glad-tidings to this Ummah of high position, establishment upon this earth, victory and a lofty status in this world and in the Hereafter.
“Allāh has promised to those of you who believe and do righteous actions, that He will certainly grant them succession (khilāfah) upon the earth, as He granted it to those before them; and that He will grant them authority to practice their Religion, the one that He has chosen for them and He will change their state from one of fear in which they lived, to one of peace and security. They will worship Me alone, not associating any partner with Me. But whosoever disbelieves after this, then they are the rebellious ones.” [Sūrah Nūr 24:55]
Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Kathīr (d.774H) – raḥimahullāh– said: 
After the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) died, Allāh having chosen for him the reward that is with Him, Abū Bakr as-Siddīq was then established as his Khaleefah (successor), taking charge unwaveringly. Abū Bakr took the al-ʿArabīan peninsula and put it in order. He sent forth armies of Islām to the lands of Persia, under the command of Khālid Ibn al-Walīd (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu). They conquered parts of these lands, slaying a number of it’s inhabitants. A second army was sent to the lands of Syria, under the leadership of Abū ’ʿUbaydah (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) and those who followed him. A third army was sent to Egypt under the leadership of ’Amr Ibn al-ʿĀs (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu). It was during his time that the armies sent to Syria conquered the cities of Busra, Damascus and it’s environs from the land of Hawraan and it’s surroundings. Allāh – the Mighty and Majestic – took the soul of Abū Bakr – choosing for him the reward which is with Him. Allāh blessed the people of Islām by inspiring as-Siddīq to chose ʿUmar al-Fārūq as a successor.
Then there was the rule of ’Uthmān, under whom the possessions of Islām extended to the furthest eastern and western reaches of the earth. The lands of the west were conquered to the farthest reaches of what lies there – Andulus, Cyprus, the lands of Qayrawaan and the lands of Ceuta – which is next to the all-encompassing ocean; and to the farthest lands of China. Kisraa was killed and his kingdom totally vanquished. The cities of al-ʿIrāq, Khurāsān and Ahwaaz were conquered and the Muslims slew a large number of Turks. Allāh having humiliated the Turks and their great king Kha-Khān. The wealth of the east and the west was collected and brought to the Ameerul-Mu‘mineen (leader of the Believers) ’Uthmān Ibn ’Affaan (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu). All of this came about as a result of his recitation, study and gathering the Ummah upon the preservation of the Qurʾān.
It is confirmed in the Ṣaḥīḥ that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “Indeed Allāh gathered up the earth for me, so that I saw it’s east and it’s west. Indeed the dominion of my Ummah will reach what was gathered up for me, from it.”  We fluctuate in what Allāh has promised us with and in what His Messenger has promised. Allāh and His Messenger have spoken the truth. We ask Allāh to grant us īmān(faith) in Him and His Messenger, and that we establish gratitude of what Allāh has given us, in the matter that He is please with.
ʿUmar related to us, that Sufyān related to us from ʿAbd al-Malik Ibn ʿUmayr, from Jābir Ibn Samurah who said: I heard the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) say: “The affair of the people will continue to be upright whilst twelve men are in charge in of them.” The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) then said something which I could not make not. So I asked my father: What did the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) say? He replied: “They are all from Quraysh.” This narration is also narrated by al-Bukhārī. 
In this narration there exists a clear evidence that all twelve of these man must be leaders from Quraysh. They are not the twelve imāms claimed by the Shaee’ah, because many of them had no leadership over the Muslims. As for these twelve, they will be from Quraysh and they will be just rulers. The glad-tidings of their appearance have also occurred in the previous scriptures. Furthermore, it is not necessary that they succeed one another. Rather, their appearance in the Ummah could be successive or separate. Four of them were in order, namely, Abū Bakr, ʿUmar, ’Uthmān and ʿAlī (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhum). After these four there was a gap. Others amongst the twelve appeared as and when Allāh willed. It is possible that some of them will appear during a time which only Allāh – the Most High – knows. Amongst them will be the Mahdī whose name will be that of the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), and his kunyaa (nickname) that of his kunyaa. He will fill the earth with justice as it is filled with tyranny and injustice. Imām Aḥmad, Abū Dāwūd, al-Tirmidhī and Sūrah al-Nisāʾī have all reported from the ḥadīth of Saʿīd Ibn Juhmaan, from Safīnah – the mawlā (master) of the Messenger of Allāh (sallʿaláhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “The Khilāfah (successorship) after me will last for thirty years. Then kingship will appear.” 
Indeed ar-Rabīʿ Ibn Anas has said that Abū al-’Āliyah has remarked concerning this āyah: “The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) and his Companions were in Makkah for ten years afraid, secretly calling to Allāh and His worship alone, He has no partner. They remained in such a state that they were ordered to migrate to al-Madīnah. They were ordered by Allāh to fight. Whilst they were (in al-Madīnah) they were in constant fear (of attack). They would go to sleep armed and awake armed. They remained patient upon that state for as long as Allāh willed, until one day when one individual from amongst the Companions said: “O Messenger of Allāh! Will we remain in a state of fear until the end of time? Will there not come a time when we will be in a state of security, so that we may lay down our weapons?” The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) then said: “Be patient for a while, for there will come a time when any man from amongst you will sit in a crowd unharmed.” Allāh sent down this āyah and made his Prophet victorious over the al-ʿArabīan Peninsula. The Companions of the Prophet were now safe and they could lay down their weapons. Allāh – the Most High – then took the soul of His Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) and the Muslims remained in such a state during the leadership of Abū Bakr, ʿUmar and ’Uthmān; until the Muslims fell into what they fell into from discord. So fear entered into their hearts and they took armies and guards for protection. For they had changed, so Allāh changed their state. One of the Salaf has remarked that the khilāfah of both Abū Bakr and ’Uthmān was true. He then recited this āyah, al-Baraa‘ Ibn ’Aazib has said: “This āyah was revealed whilst we were in a state of extreme fear.”
This noble āyah is similar in meaning to His statement – the Most High – :
And the statement of Allāh – the Most High – : “As he granted that to those before them.” This āyah is similar to what Allāh said about Mūsá (ʿalayhi al-Salām) that he said to his people:
“It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you succeed (the present rulers) upon earth, so that He may see how you act.” [Sūrah al-Aʿrāf 7:129]
Allāh – the Most High – said:
And Allāh’s statement: “And that He will change their state after the fear in which they lived to one of security and peace.” This is similar to what the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said to ’Adee Ibn Ḥātim when ’Adee came as a delegation to the Messenger. The Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “Do you know Hira?” ’Adee replied: ‘I have not seen it, but I have heard of it.” The Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) then said: “By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allāh will complete this matter (i.e. Islām) until a woman will be able to travel from Hira, until she goes around the House not needing the protection of anyone. And you will surely conquer the treasure of Kisraa Ibn Hurmuz.” I (i.e. ’Adee) replied: “Kisraa Ibn Hurmuz!” The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) replied: “Yes! Kisraa Ibn Hurmuz. Money will be spent until no one will accept it.” ’Adee Ibn Ḥātim said: “Now here is the woman leaving from Hira until she goes around the House. And I was from amongst those who conquered the treasure of Kisraa. And by Him in Whose Hand is my soul! The third matter will come to pass because the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) has said so.”
Aḥmad reports upon ’Ubayy Ibn Ka’b who said that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) has said: “Give glad tidings to this Ummah of ease of life, exalted stature, establishment of their Religion, and victory and leadership upon the earth. Whoever does acts of the Hereafter for this world, he will have no portion of the Hereafter.” 
And the statement of Allāh: “They worship Me alone and do not associate anything with Me.” Aḥmad reports upon Muʿādh who said: ‘I was sitting behind the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) and I except the end of his saddle. The Prophet said to me: “O Muʿādh Ibn Jabal!” I said: “Here I am O Messenger of Allāh in your service.” The Prophet said: “Do you know what is the Right of Allāh upon His servants?” I said: “Allāh and His Messenger know best.” He said: “The Right of Allāh upon the servants is that they worship Him and do not associate anything with Him.” The Prophet continued to ride on for some time and then he said to me: “O Muʿādh Ibn Jabal!” I said: “Here I am O Messenger of Allāh at your service.” The Prophet said: “Do you know what is the right of the servants upon Allāh if they worship Him alone?” I said: “Allāh and His Messenger know best.” He said: “The right of the servants upon Allāh is that He does not punish whomsoever does not associate anything with Him.” This narration is also narrated in the two Ṣaḥīḥs. 
When the people after the Prophet’s Companions fell short in adhering to some of Allāh’s Commands, their victory accordingly fell short. It is, however, affirmed in both Ṣaḥīḥs (i.e. al-Bukhārī and Muslim) in many ways from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that he said: “There shall not cease to be a group from my Ummah, victorious upon the truth, not being harmed by those who abandoned them or go against them, until Allāh’s favour comes, and they are like that.”  And in a narration: “Until the last of them fights the Anti-Christ (Maseehud-Dajjāl).”  All of these narrations are authentic and there is no contraḍīction between them.” Imām ’Abdur-Raḥmān Ibn Nāṣir as-Saʿdī (d.1376H) said:
“This is one of His true promises whose meaning and accomplishment has been witnessed. He promised those who came with īmān (faith) and ’amalus-saalih (righteous and correct actions) from this Ummah, that He will cause them to be successors upon this earth, so that they are the ones in authority and in charge of the affairs. Further, that He would establish their Religion – that which He was pleased with for them, which is the Religion of Islām, which gained ascendancy over all other religions. He was pleased with it for this Ummah, due to its excellence, nobility and favours upon it, in that He enabled them to establish it, and to establish it’s laws and prescriptions – relating both to manifest and non-manifest matters – upon themselves and upon others, so that the people of other religions and the rest of the disbelievers conquered and humbled.
And that He would change their condition of fear to one of security, since it was previously the case that one of them would not be able to manifest his Religion, and they suffered harm and injury from the disbelievers. The united body of Muslims was very small in number, in comparison to the rest of the people of the earth, who comibned to attack them and hope for their downfall. However, Allāh promised them these things when the āyah was sent down, at a time when they were not witnessing ascendancy and establishment upon this earth, nor the ability to fully establish the Religion of Islām and full security – such as would enable them to worship Allāh, not associating anything with Him – in a state of not having to fear anyone besides Allāh.
 Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Aḥmad (5/134) and al-Ḥākim (4/311), and it was authenticated by al-Ḥāfiẓ al-Mundhirī in Targheeb wa-al-Tarḥīb (1/31).
 Tafsīr Qurʾānil-’Adtheem (3/311-313
 Related by Muslim (8/171) and Abū Dāwūd (no. 4252), from Thawbaan (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu).
 Related by al-Bukhārī (6/416), Muslim (6/3-4) and Aḥmad (5/101), the wording is from Aḥmad.
 Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Abū Dāwūd (no. 4646), al-Tirmidhī (2/35) and others. It was authenticated by al-Tabarī in his Iʿtiqād (p. 8), and by al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar in Fat′h al-Bārī (13/182).
 Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Aḥmad (4/134) and al-Ḥākim (4/311) and it was authenticated by al-Albānī in ṣallallāhu (p. 52).
 Related by al-Bukhārī (6/58) and Muslim (1/232)
 Related by Muslim (6/52-53) and al-Tirmidhī (2/36), from Thawbaan (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu).
 Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Aḥmad (4/492), Abū Dāwūd (1/388-389) and al-Ḥākim (4/450), from ’ʿImrān Ibn Husayn (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu). It was authenticated by al-Albānī in al-Ṣaḥihah (no. 1959).
 Tayseerul-Kareemir-Raḥmān (4/123)