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Al-Mawadda verse (Arabic: آية المودة) is a part of verse 23 of Sura al-Shura which shows the high status of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and considers the reward for the mission of the Prophet (s) nothing except the love of the Ahl al-Bayt (a).
... قُلْ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ...
... Say, "I do not ask you any reward for it except love of [my] relatives"...
|— Quran 42:23|
Meaning of Keywords
"Mawadda" means to love and "Qurba" means blood relatives.
Occasion of Revelation
All Shi'a and most of Sunni exegetes have narrated from Ibn 'Abbas that after the Prophet's (s) migration to Medina, Ansar had discussions about the Islamic government. They decided to go the Prophet (s) and say, "We will submit to you all our small wealth and facilities if you have any financial needs for the progress of Islam and the management of the newly-established Islamic society. In any way you take and use it would be our honor." That was when al-Mawadda verse was revealed to the Prophet (s) to mention the love of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) as the reward for the Prophet's (s) mission, not any material or worldly reward.
There are different exegetical views about who or what "Qurba" refers to:
- Some exegetes, or allegedly most of them, hold that the verse is addressed to the Quraysh. Since the Prophet (s) fought the gods (idols) of the Quraysh, God ordered the Prophet (s) to ask them at least not to be hostile to him because they are his relatives. Thus, "qurba" is a gerund which means being a relative, rather than relatives themselves, and the phrase, "al-mawadda fi l-qurba", means kindness (to the Prophet) because of being relatives.
- According to other exegetes, the verse is addressed to Ansar. They gave some money to the Prophet (s) as a reward, but he refused the offer. Thus, the verse tells them that the Prophet (s) did not want any money from them; his only reward being their kindness to his relatives among them (through his mother, Amina).
- Others maintain that the verse is addressed to the Quraysh or all people, and "relatives" in the verse refers to their own relatives. Thus, the verse means that the Prophet (s) did not want any rewards except their kindness to their own relatives (family ties or Sila al-rahim).
- Others suggest that "qurba" refers to closeness to God, and "al-mawadda fi l-qurba" consists in loving God through closeness to Him (by obedience). Thus, the verse means that the Prophet (s) did not want any rewards except loving God by being close to Him.
Shiite scholars have responded to, and rejected, these four suggestions. (See sources below for more details.)
- Others hold that "al-mawadda fi l-qurba" means love of the Prophet's (s) relatives, that is, his Ahl al-Bayt (a). There are many hadiths in Sunni as well as Shiite sources in which the verse is interpreted in this way. Such mutawatir hadiths in both sources support this view.
Based on several reasons, Shi'a scholars believe that the intended meaning of "relatives" in this verse is "the Ahl al-Bayt (a)" i.e. 'Ali (a), Fatima (a), al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a) and the nine Imams (a) of al-Husayn's (a) progeny.
Also, al-'Allama al-Hilli considers al-Mawadda verse, the fourth verse proving the Imamate of 'Ali (a) and quoted from Ibn 'Abbas that when al-Mawadda verse was revealed, the Prophet (s) was asked, "O the Messenger of God (s)! Who are the relatives, whose love is incumbent upon us?" and the Prophet (s) answered, "'Ali (a), Fatima (s), al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a)". Ibn Hanbal (the Sunni founder of Hanbali School) has narrated this hadith from Ibn 'Abbas, too.
Hakim al-Haskani, one of the Sunni scholars has mentioned seven traditions in the commentary of the verse, suggesting that "al-Qurba" referred to 'Ali (a), Fatima (a), al-Hasan (a), and al-Husayn (a).
Also Ahmad b. Hanbal narrated that, when al-Mawadda verse was revealed, companions of the Prophet (s) asked him, "O the Messenger of God (s)! Who are your relatives, whose love is incumbent upon us?" and the Prophet (s) answered, "'Ali (a), Fatima (a) and their two sons" and he (s) repeated this three times.
In his commentary on Ihqaq al-haq, Sayyid Shihab al-Din Mar'ashi Najafi has enumerated up to fifty great Sunni scholars who have included hadiths about al-Mawadda verse in their books through numerous chains of transmission. Also al-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani has mentioned 17 hadiths from Sunnis and 22 hadiths from Shiites about this verse in his book Ghayat al-maram.
The Reason for the Obligation of Loving Ahl al-Bayt
A careful consideration of hadiths from the Prophet (s) in Shiite and Sunni sources to the effect that people should consult Ahl al-Bayt (a) in order to understand the Qur'an as well as the principles and ancillaries of Islam, such as Hadith al-Thaqalayn and Hadith al-Safina, leaves no doubt that love of Ahl al-Bayt (a) is obligatory as a reward for the Prophet (s) in order to make people consult them to understand the religion. Thus, the love of Ahl al-Bayt (a) is in continuity with prophethood, and thus, the verse is not contradictory to other verses according to which there is no reward for prophethood. Thus, although love of Ahl al-Bayt (a) is taken to be a reward, it is indeed in the interest of people, rather than Ahl al-Bayt (a).
- The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from آیه مودت in Farsi wikishia.