In the face of this changing world, which was once a universe to us and is now no more than an overcrowded island, confronted with a fundamental challenge to our understanding of time, surrounded by a foreign fleet of cultural and ideological ships which have broken loose, I ask, do we have a clear, firm and precise understanding of what Muslim Society is to be in times to come? And if as I believe, the answer is uncertain, where else can we search then in the Holy Qur’an, and in the example of Allah’s last and final Prophet?
There is no justification for delaying the search for the answer to this question by the Muslims of the world, because we have the knowledge that Islam is Allah’s final message, the Qur’an His final book and Muhammad His last Prophet. We are blessed that the answers drawn from these sources guarantee that neither now, nor at any time in the future will we be going astray.
According to Sunni teaching, the faithful, the companions of the Prophet, the believers, elected Abu Bakr as his successor and his Khalif; but Abu Bakr assumed only the civil and secular power. No one had the authority to succeed to the religious supremacy, which depended on direct Divine inspiration, because the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an declared definitely that he was the final messenger of God, the Absolute.
Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah
The Memoirs of Aga Khan III — World Enough and Time, Chapter 2: Islam, The Religion of My Ancestors, 1954