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Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

The term occurs in the Koran twice in the singular and seven times in the plural as khala'if or khulafa. By far its most prevalent meaning in the Koran is successor, substitute, replacement or deputy, which is clear in the verbal and nominal plural occurrences. The rare meaning of the term is inhabitant or settler on earth. The meaning is most evident in 2:30 where God says to the angels: "I am making on earth a khalifa" clearly meaning Adam. Another meaning has some political and juridical implications; it is "one who exercises authority." It is clear in only one verse (38:26), where David is addressed: "O David, We have made you a khalifa on earth, so judge justly between people and follow not desires lest they should thwart you from God's path."

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