Exegesis of the Verse of Wilayat from the Ahle Sunnah perspective – Part One

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There are numerous Quranic verses proclaiming the guardianship and Imamat of our Master – Ameerul Momineen (a.s.). Of these, some verses allude to his mastership in a manner that makes his Imamat more evident for the Muslims than the splitting of the moon which Allah effected to establish the Prophethood of His Beloved – Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.a.). Put simply, the content and context of such verses so clearly establish the mastership and guardianship of our Master (a.s.) that the subject, although a matter of intense dispute between the two Islamic sects, has reached the level of consensus among the reputed scholars of both sects – Shias and Ahle Sunnah. Of course, some bigoted and arrogant individuals continue to reject these verses, but that is only to be expected from individuals steeped in prejudice and haughtiness.

Among the verses that clearly establish the mastership of our Master – Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) is the 55th verse of Surah Maaidah:

‘Only Allah is your Guardian and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow.’

Let us refer to the exegesis of the Ahle Sunnah scholars regarding this Quranic verse to establish our claim regarding the mastership of Imam Ali b. Taalib (a.s.).

First Tradition

The reputed and illustrious interpreter of the Holy Quran Ahmed b. Muhammad al-Saalabi  records in his Tafseer ‘Al-Kashf wa Al-Bayaan’ that Sadi, Utbah b. Abil Hakeem and Ghaalib b. Abdullah relate that the Quranic verse

‘Only Allah is your Guardian and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow.’

refers to Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) when he offered his ring (as zakaat) to the beggar, while bowing in prayers in the Mosque (of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)).

Then al-Saalabi writes: We were informed by Abul Hasan Muhammad b. Qasim al-Faqeeh, who was informed by Abdullah b. Ahmed al-Sharaani and he was informed by Abu Ali Ahmed b. Ali b. Razeen and he was informed by Muzaffar b. Hasan al-Ansaari and he was informed by al-Sari b. Ali al-Warraaq and he was informed by Yahya b. Abdul Hameed al-Hemaani and he was informed by Qais b. Rabee and he was informed by Amash and he was informed by Ibaayah b. al-Rabee and he was informed by Abdullah b. Abbas (r.a.) while he was standing near the Zamzam and addressing an audience thus

‘The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said…’.

Soon a person wearing a turban rose and repeated the words ‘The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said…’ after Abdullah b. Abbas (r.a.) so as to endorse Abdullah b. Abbas’ (r.a.) claim that the words were indeed narrated by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Since the man’s turban concealed his face, his identity was not apparent to the onlookers.


Finally Ibne Abbas (r.a.) exclaimed – I beseech you in the name of Allah to disclose your identity. The man unveiled himself and addressed the audience:

O people; those who know me know me. Those who don’t know me should know that I am Jundab b. Junaadeh al-Badri – Abu Zarr al-Ghaffaari. I have heard directly from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and if I lie may my ears go deaf and I have seen the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and if I lie may me eyes go blind. I heard him (s.a.w.a.) say – Ali is the leader of the virtuous ones and the killer of the apostates. The one who helps Ali will be helped and the one who abandons him will be abandoned.

Know that once I was praying the afternoon prayers (Salaat-e-Zohr) along with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). A beggar approached the congregation and sought his needs from the praying ones but none entertained him (as they were engaged in congregational prayers). The beggar raised his hands skywards and complained– O Lord, bear witness that I sought from the Mosque of your Prophet (s.a.w.a.) but none fulfilled my need.

At that moment, Ali was bowing in prayers. He pointed the finger of his right hand, which bore a ring, in the direction of the beggar. The beggar advanced towards him and withdrew the ring from his finger. This incident occurred in the presence of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) concluded his prayers he raised his blessed head skywards and beseeched Allah:

O Lord, Moosa requested you – O Lord expand my chest for me, ease my affair for me, untie the knots in my tongue so that my speech is comprehensible for the people and appoint my brother from my family as my vizier. Through him strengthen my back and make him a partner in my affair.

(Surah Taha (20): 25-32)

Then you responded through a revelation on him – We will strengthen your arm with your brother, and We will give you both an authority, so that they shall not reach you; (go) with Our signs; you two and those who follow you shall be uppermost.

(Surah Qasas (28): 35)

O Lord, I am Muhammad, your Prophet and your chosen one. O Lord, expand for me my chest and ease my affair and appoint from my family my brother Ali as a successor and strengthen my back through him.

Abu Zarr (r.a.) narrates – The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had not yet completed his supplication when Jibraeel (a.s.) descended and said: O Muhammad, read! The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) asked: What should I read? Jibraeel (a.s.) answered: Read the verse

‘Only Allah is your Guardian and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow.’

Second Tradition

The respected interpreter of the Holy Quran– Razeen in his book – Al-Jamo Bain al-Sihaah al-Sittah has related from Saheeh al-Nesaai that Ibne Salaam narrates – I was with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) when I said – Some people oppose us staunchly only because we acknowledge Allah and His Prophet. They have pledged that they will ex-communicate us. At that moment this verse was revealed:

‘Only Allah is your Guardian and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow.’

After this, Hazrat Bilaal (r.a.) recited the call for   the    afternoon    prayers     (Salaat-e-Zohr). Muslims congregated for the prayers. They were bowing, when a beggar sought alms. Ameerul

Momineen (a.s.) offered his ring, while he was bowing. The beggar informed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) about this, on which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) recited the two Quranic verses.

(Al-Jamo Bain al-Sihaah al-Sittah, vol. 3 narrated from Saheeh-e-Muslim)


Continued in Part II…….

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