Ḥadīth al-Wilāya (Arabic: حَدیث الوِلایَة) is a hadith from the Prophet (s) which is cited by the Shi'a as evidence for the imamate of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a). The hadith has been cited in different wordings in Shiite and Sunni sources. The best-known version of the hadith is: "he is the wali of every believer after me (هُوَ وَلِیُّ کُلِّ مُؤْمِنٍ بَعْدی)".
The Shi'a take the word, "wali" in this hadith to mean the Imam and the leader, and thus, they appeal to the hadith as evidence for the imamate of 'Ali (a). They believe that this is the literal meaning of the word, "wali", and the word has been used in this meaning by Shaykhayn, some of the Sahaba, some of the Tabi'un and some Sunni scholars as well. However, Sunni Muslims believe that the word, "wali", here is used to mean friend and guardian, which has nothing to do with the issue of imamate.
Ja'far b. Sulayman quoted 'Imran b. Husayn that the Prophet Muhammad (s) sent a group of people to an expedition under the commandership of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a). They gained some booties and 'Ali (a) distributed the booties among them in a way that they did not like. Four of them decided to report the story to the Prophet (s) and complain about 'Ali's (a) action as soon as they saw him. When they met the Prophet (s), they all told him: "O the messenger of God! Do you know what 'Ali did?" The Prophet (s) angrily said: "what do you want from 'Ali? What do you want from 'Ali? 'Ali is from me and I am from 'Ali, and 'Ali is the wali of every believer after me".
The hadith has been cited in Shiite and Sunni sources in different ways. For example, "'Ali is the wali of every believer after me (علی ولی کل مؤمن بعدی)", "he is the wali of every believer after me (هو ولی کل مؤمن بعدی)", "you are the wali of every believer after me (أنت ولی کل مؤمن بعدی)", "you are the wali of every of every male and female believer after me (أنت ولی کل مؤمن بعدی و مؤمنة)", "you are my wali in every believer after me (أنت ولیی فی کل مؤمن بعدی)", "so he is your wali after me (فإنه ولیکم بعدی)", "truly 'Ali is your wali after me (إن علیاً ولیکم بعدی)", "this is your wali after me (هذا ولیکم بعدی)", "truly you are the wali of the believers after me (إنک ولی المؤمنین من بعدی)", "and you are my successor (caliph) in every believer after me (و أنت خلیفتی فی کل مؤمن من بعدی)", and "so he is the most foremost of all people to you after me (فهو أولی الناس بکم بعدی)".
The Shi'a believe that the hadith concerns the issue of 'Ali's (a) imamate and wilaya. They take the word, "wali", to mean a supervisor, an Imam, a leader, and a caliph. However, Sunni Muslims believe that the hadith has no implications regarding the caliphate of 'Ali b. Abi Talib, because they claim that the word, "wali", literally means a friend and a helper. To establish their claim, the Shi'a say that the word, "wali", literally means a guardian, a leader, a caliph, an authority, and an Imam, and the word was used in this way in the early years of Islam and after that. They also appeal to uses of the word, "wali", by the First Caliph, the Second Caliph, the Sahaba, the Tabi'un, and some Sunni scholars to mean a caliph and a guardian.
According to 'Abd al-Qadir al-Baghdadi and Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, the hadith was cited by al-Tirmidhi with a reliable chain of transmitters leading to 'Imran b. Husayn. Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi said that the hadith is reliable. According to al-Hakim al-Nishaburi, the hadith has a reliable chain of transmitters which was not cited by Muslim and al-Bukhari in Sahihayn. Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi and Nasir al-Din al-Albani have also considered the hadith to be reliable.
The hadith was cited in books, such as
- Sahih al-Tirmidhi
- Musnad Ahmad b. Hanbal
- Jami' al-ahadith by al-Suyuti
- Kanz al-'ummal
- Musnad Abi Dawud
- Fada'il al-sahaba
- Al-Ahad wa l-mathani
- Sunan al-Nasa'i
- Musnad Abu Ya'la
- Sahih Ibn Habban
- Al-Mu'jam al-kabir by al-Tabarani
- Tarikh madina Dimashq
- Al-Bidaya wa l-nihaya
- Al-Jawhara fi nasab al-Imam 'Ali wa alih
- Khazana al-adab wa lubb lubab lisan al-'arab
- Kashf al-ghumma
Examinations of the Chains of Transmitters
Al-Mubarakfuri claims that the phrase, "after me", which is missing from some versions of the hadith, was added to it by some Shiite transmitters. To establish his claim, he appeals to Musnad Ibn Hanbal in which the hadith is cited with different chains of transmitters, but in none of which, he claims, the phrase, "after me", appears. However, Ahmad b. Hanbal has cited the hadith in his Musnad as well as Fada'il al-sahaba with the phrase, "after me".
Al-Mubarakfuri also claims that the hadith was only transmitted by Ja'far b. Sulayman and Ibn Ajlah al-Kindi, and since they both were Shi'as, their hadiths cannot be accepted. He takes the Shi'a to be heretics, and believes that hadiths transmitted by heretics should be rejected. However, according to al-Albani, the only criterion for the evaluation of hadiths for Sunni scholars is truthfulness and carefulness in the transmission of hadiths, and a transmitter's religious tendency has nothing to do with accepting or rejecting his hadiths. Thus, al-Bukhari and Muslim have transmitted hadiths from people who were opposed to the Sunni denomination, such as Khawarij and the Shi'a.
According to al-Albani, the hadith was also transmitted through different chains of transmitters none of whom were Shi'as. Sayyid 'Ali Milani claims that the hadith was transmitted by 12 Sahaba, including Imam 'Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a), Abu Dhar, Abu Sa'id al-Khidri, and Bara' b. 'Azib most of which were transmitted by 'Imran b. Husayn, Ibn 'Abbas, and Burayda b. Husayb. The hadith was transmitted by Ibn 'Abbas with phrases such as "you are the wali of every believer after me", "you are the wali of every male and female believer after me", and "you are my wali in every believer after me", and with the phrase, "'Ali is the wali of every believer after me", from 'Imran b. Husayn. Burayda b. Husayb transmitted the hadith with phrases, "truly 'Ali is your wali after me" and "this is your wali after me".
Moreover, Ja'far b. Sulayman is a transmitter of hadiths in Sahih Muslim. Al-Dhahabi referred to him as an "imam" (a leader) and quoted Yahya b. Mu'in as saying that Ja'far was reliable. Al-Albani believed that Ja'far was a reliable transmitter of hadiths who transmitted reliable hadiths and tended towards Ahl al-Bayt (a) without calling other people to his own tendency. He said that the leaders of the religion agreed that if a truthful person was a heretic without calling other people to his views, it will be correct to appeal to his hadiths.
According to some Sunni scholars, Ibn Ajlah was reliable as well, taking his hadiths to be hasan. Al-Albani considered Ajlah's hadiths to be evidence for the reliability of Ja'far b. Sulayman's hadiths.
According to al-Mubarakfuri, Ibn Taymiyya claimed that the hadith was a lie attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (s). Al-Albani, a Sunni scholar, expressed his surprise at Ibn Taymiyya's denial of the hadith.
Hadith al-wilaya, Sayyid 'Ali Husayni Milani, Markaz al-Haqa'iq al-Islamiyya, 1421/2000.
- The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from حدیث ولایت in Farsi wikishia.