The word 'Khalifah' is a commonly used term referring to the caliphs of the Muslim Caliphate that stretched for close to 1400 years ending only in 1923 with the abdication of the last Ottoman caliph.
Its actual meaning, after extensive 2-minutes search on Google, encompasses 'a civil or religious leader of a Muslim state considered a representative of God on earth'. It can also mean a lieutenant or regent of God, ie mankind as a whole.
I often see the bumper sticker 'Little Khalifah' on cars here in Malaysia. No doubt, placed there by proud Muslim parents. I don't mind, I think it is kinda tacky but it's cute. Nevertheless, I also believe that like most forms, names, words and labels, the meaning must be understood.
For me, the word Khalifah attracts obligations. It does not attract dominion or authority. For in the words of a prose posted earlier -
The Best Master is the Best Servant
The Best Servant is the Best Master
So the term Khalifah is a spiritual designation weighed with responsibility and accountability. It encompasses our obligations to our family, our neighbours, our people, our country and humanity. It encompasses how well we treat the environment, the animals and crop that we have domesticated and cultivated, as well as the wild animals and fauna in the forest and desert, and the fishes and mammals that swim in the seas and rivers. We are responsible for the air that we breath and the water that we use. Every drop of water wasted, every pollutant spilled into the stream, every smoke, smog and pollution our factories spit into the clean air - all these we are responsible for.
Perhaps it is better that our little Khalifah children all remain little, if they but knew the breadth of their responsibilities to mankind and mother nature when they grow older and becomes accountable for their actions and omissions.
I do think that all Muslims should be, by their own definitions, environmentalists... And I do believe that everyone else, by reason, should be environmentalists too. After all, it is not as if we have another Earth to migrate to if we destroy this one...
Something to think about this Friday, sunshine.
wa min Allah at-taufiq
Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way