Al-Wilāya Verse (Arabic: آية الولاية) is the verse 55 of Sura al-Ma'ida which has been revealed about Imam Ali (a) and has praised him. Shi'as refer to this verse as a proof for the wilayah of Imam 'Ali (a).
إِنَّما وَلِيُّكُمُ اللَّهُ وَرَسولُهُ وَالَّذينَ آمَنُوا الَّذينَ يُقيمونَ الصَّلاةَ وَيُؤتونَ الزَّكاةَ وَهُم راكِعونَ
Your guardian is only Allah, His Apostle, and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down.
|— Quran 5:55|
Occasion of Revelation
This verse has been revealed about Imam 'Ali (a). This view is unanimously accepted by Shiite exegetes. It is almost the same among Sunni exegetes. In his Mawaqif, Qadi Iji has stipulated that exegetes unanimously believe that this verse has been revealed about 'Ali (a). Al-Jurjani in his commentary on Mawaqif, Sa'd al-Din al-Taftazani in his Sharh-i maqasid and al-'Allama al-Hilli in commentary on Tajrid have confessed to this consensus. There are also some hadiths in some Sunni exegeses that claim this verse has been revealed about 'Abd Allah b. Salam, 'Ubada b. al-Samit, Abu Bakr and all muslims, however, none of them have strong bases.
According to some hadiths:
- Once, a poor man entered al-Masjid al-Nabawi and asked for help, but no one helped him. He rose his hands to the sky and said: O Allah, witness that I asked for help in the mosque of Your Prophet (s) but no one helped me. Meanwhile, Imam 'Ali (a) who was praying and was in ruku', signaled the poor with his right hand. The poor man came and took out the ring; and the verse was revealed.
The occasion of the revelation (sabab al-nuzul) mentioned above has been narrated by the companions including: 'Abd Allah b. 'Abbas, Abu Rafi' al-Madani, 'Ammar b. Yasir, Abu Dhar al-Ghifari, Anas b. Malik, Miqdad b. 'Aswad. From Tabi'un, Muslima b. Kuhayl, 'Utbat b. Abi Hakim, al-Suddi, and Mujahid have narrated this story.
Indication of the Verse
There's no doubt for Shi'a exegetes that in the verse by "the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down" Imam 'Ali (a) is meant, and also in the view of Sunni scholars the fame of the narration about the phrase of the verse being about Imam 'Ali (a) is to the extent that 'Adud al-Din al-Iji, the famous Sunni theologian, affirms in his book al-Mawaqif that the exegetes have ijma' (consensus) that this verse was revealed about 'Ali (a). al-Jurjani in Sharh al-mawaqif, Sa'd al-Din al-Taftazani in Sharh al-maqasid, al-Qushchi in Sharh tajrid al-i'tiqad also have confirmed the ijma'.
Great Sunni muhaddiths have narrated the hadith in their books, like: Hafiz 'Abd al-Razzaq al-San'ani, Hafiz 'Abd b. Hamid, Hafiz Razin b. Mu'awiya, Hafiz al-Nasa'i, Hafiz Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, Ibn Abi Hatam, Ibn 'Asakir, Abu Bakr b. Murdawayh, Abu l-Qasim al-Tabrani, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, al-Haythami, Ibn al-Jawzi, Muhibb al-Tabari, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, and al-Muttaqi al-Hindi. Al-Alusi says: most of the muhaddiths believe that the verse was revealed about 'Ali (a).
Indication of the Wilaya of Imam 'Ali (a)
The verse begins with "Innama" (Arabic: إنّما) which, according to scholars of arab, indicates the exclusivity, so according to the verse, Allah, the Prophet (s) and Imam 'Ali (a) are exclusively considered as wali.
The word "wali" (Arabic:ولي) is derived from Wilaya meaning the administrator and guardian.
Ibn Manzur says: "the wali of an orphan is someone who is responsible for his affairs, and the wali of a bride is her agent in concluding the marriage contract. Al-Fayyumi says: "wali of a person is someone who is responsible for his affairs".
So the very meaning of wali is the administrator and someone who is responsible for someone else. Other meanings are derived from this meaning.
- Allah ordered his Prophet (s) about the wilayah of Imam 'Ali (a) [after the Prophet (s)] and revealed the al-Wilaya Verse and obligated the obedience of uli l-amr [in the Uli l-Amr Verse], and people did not know what is this wilaya. Allah ordered His Prophet (s) to describe them wilaya as he had described prayer, zakat, fasting, and hajj. The Prophet (s) was worried about people turn from Islam and impugn him, so he referred to His God and Allah revealed al-Tabligh Verse: "O Apostle! Communicate that which has been sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, you will not have communicated His message, and Allah shall protect you from the people. Indeed Allah does not guide the faithless lot." So the Prophet (s) publicized the wilaya of 'Ali (a) in Ghadir Khumm and ordered the present to inform the absent.
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