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Furu' al-Din

Wajib: Daily PrayersEssentials of PrayerFriday PrayerEid PrayerAl-Ayat PrayerFuneral PrayerIstijari Prayer

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Rulings on Tahara

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See also
FiqhRulings of Shari'aManual of Islamic lawPubertyWajibHaramMustahabMubahMakruh

Shi'a Beliefs
Tawhid (Monotheism)Tawhid of EssenceTawhid in AttributesTawhid in ActionsTawhid in Worship
Other BeliefsTawassulShafa'aTabarruk
Divine Justice
Bada'Amr Bayn al-Amrayn
Infallibility'Ilm al-ghaybMu'jizaIntegrity of the Holy Qur'an
InfallibilityWilaya'Ilm al-ghaybOccultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a) (Minor Occultation,Major Occultation) • Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a)Raj'a
End TimeHereafterBarzakhEmbodiment of ActionsBodily ResurrectionAl-SiratTatayur al-KutubMizanHashr
Other Outstanding Beliefs
Ahl al-Bayt (a)The Fourteen InfalliblesTaqiyyaMarja'iyyaTawalliTabarri

Tawallī (Arabic: تَوَلّی) is a theological term that is the opposite of the term tabarri. In respect to Shi'a terminology, tawalli means to love and associate oneself with the Imams (a) and the leaders of religion and to submit to their Wilaya (guardianship).

Tawalli, together with tabarri, which are two antonymous concepts, are described in the narrations as being an obligatory duty, and even one of the most important obligations;[1] as being an establisher of faith (iman) and one of its most important foundations[2].[3] and is among the items which are prompted to a person approaching death and a deceased person.[4]

In Shiism, tawalli and tabarri are fundamental conditions for the acceptance of good deeds in the eyes of Allah and without them no deed can be accepted. Regarding this matter, many narrations exist in the Islamic sources. Also in the salutations and ziyarahs like Ziyarah 'Ashura confessions of love for the beloveds of Allah and hatred towards the enemies of Allah are presented.

Analyzing the Meaning

Tawalli rhymes with the Arabic word "taraqqi'" and is derived from the root of "w-l-y" which means to accept the guardianship of someone or to choose a person as one's guardian. Wali in the Arabic could mean friend, helper, or guardian.[5].[6] Therefore the word tawalli has the meaning of accepting the friendship or guardianship of another person.

According to Shi'ite teachings, tawalli means to love, testify, follow, submit, and accept the authority and guardianship of Allah, the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a), which is indeed the same love in the way of Allah andis normally accompanied by tabarri which is to hate and dissociate oneself from the enemies of Allah.

Tawalli and tabarri are part of Furu' al-Din and are obligatory according to Shi'a jurisprudence.

In the Qur'an and Hadith

Loving the Prophet (s), his Ahl al-Bayt (a), and the love between fellow believers are concepts that have been emphasized greatly in the Qur'an. The following verses are sample of these verses:

  • Love for the Prophet's (s) family has been described as the recompense for his (s) prophethood.
Say," I do not ask you any reward for it except love of [my] close relatives." (Qur'an 26:23)
  • The acceptance of the guardianship of Allah, the Prophet (s) and those vested with guardianship:
Your guardian is only Allah, His Apostle, and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down. (Qur'an 5:55)
  • In addition, other verses of the Qur'an forbid the befriending of unbelievers:
O' you who have faith! Do not befriend a people at whom Allah is wrathful: they have despaired of the Hereafter, just as the faithless have despaired of the occupants of the graves. (Qur'an 60:13)
  • That guardianship is confined to Allah, the Prophet (s), and specific believers (the Ahl al-Bayt (a)):
Among the people are those who set up compeers besides Allah, loving them as if loving Allah but the faithful have a more ardent love for Allah…(Qur'an 2:165)
  • O you who have faith! Do not befriend your fathers and brothers if they prefer faithlessness to faith. Those of you who befriend them it is they who are the wrongdoers. (Qur'an 9: 23)

In Hadith

Shia Islam

In numerous hadiths and traditions, the love for the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and in particular the love for Imam Ali (a), has been mentioned as being obligatory. Al-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani has mentioned 95 hadiths from Sunni sources[7] and 52 from Shi'a sources[8] in the chapter dealing with the merits of the lovers and followers of Imam Ali (a) and the rest of the Imams (a).[9] In the words of Fadl b. Ruzbahan, Sunnis also believe that loving the Prophet (s) and his Household (a), and disassociating from his enemies is obligatory upon every believer, and that person who does not take the Prophet (s) as his Wali (guardian) and authority, or does not do tabarri towards his (s) enemies, is not a believer.[10]

It has also been narrated from Imam al-Rida (a):[11]

"The completion of religion is in our guardianship and in the dissociation from our enemies."

In some narrations, the different effects and results of loving the Ahl al-Bayt (a)[12] and taking them as guardians has been mentioned, effects such as, blissfulness, success in this World and in the Hereafter, etc. Additionally, other narrations mention the effects of this love on the worldly and afterlife of an individual. Some of the effects mentioned in connection to this world are: asceticism, motivation to perform good deeds, piety, eagerness to worship, repentance before death, energy to worship God after midnight, generosity and obeying the commands and prohibitions of Allah;[13] and in the hereafter the lover of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) will find security from the fire of Hell, his face will be bright, his book of deeds will be given to him in his right hand and he will enter Heaven without being questioned.[14]

The Philosophy of Tawalli

A person who has a specific set of beliefs and tenets and has chosen a specific path for himself, his life will have direction, whether he intends it or not, i.e. he will not be indifferent or impartial. Naturally, such a person cannot share the same path with everyone, whether they are one's friends or enemies. That is why the Qur'an forbids friendship and association with unbelievers. Murtada Mutahhari says in this regard:[15]

"A believer should possess the ability to attract and repel; he should have borders and boundaries that explain and show his stance regarding believers and hypocrites, unbelievers and idolaters.
The philosophy behind tawalli and tabarri is to outline the position and direction of a person in connection with believers and unbelievers, and to proclaim his stance regarding this matter. Tawalli and tabarri means that one is not impartial and indifferent when facing truth and falsehood and that these two realities are not equal for a person who has belief and direction and who is alive and dynamic.
A person cannot have faith (iman) and believe in Allah (set), follow his laws and commands, yet not have direction and a stance; not inform others of his religious position and outlook and associate with and treat all people in the same way. Another reason for tawalli and tabarri is to control the direction of one's beliefs and actions, based upon truth in the course of time and to avoid from leaving the path of truth.
By practicing tawalli and tabarri, a believer always keeps himself in the middle of the straight path and protects himself from deviation and misguidance. Tawalli and tabarri is a reminder of a believer's religious stance, beliefs and responsibilities and a sign that his faith is deep and strong."

The Inseparability of Tawalli and Tabarri

By paying attention to the philosophy and aims of tawalli, it can be seen that this concept is always accompanied by tabarri without which the former would not have the necessary effect. In other words, following a particular path or way means to turn away from detours and deviations. Therefore, one cannot be completely passive and befriend everyone. This meaning has also been emphasized in hadiths and narrations that in order to achieve salvation, one must accept the guardianship and authority of the Imams (a) and associating with them is a necessity and in addition to that one must also dissociate oneself from their enemies.

In Shi'a Beliefs

Tawalli is one of the results and branches of love for the Ahl al-Bayt (a) which itself is one of the essential and fundamental concepts of Shiism. Tawalli is discussed and presented in Shi'a jurisprudence, theology, and ethics. In Shiism, "Tawalli" and "tabarri" are fundamental and crucial conditions for the acceptance of good deeds without which no deed would be accepted; it is as if a person has not performed any good deeds. In this regard, numerous hadiths and narrations can be found within Islamic sources.

In Shi'a jurisprudence, tawalli and tabarri are counted as being among the branches of religion and one of the obligations in jurisprudential law[16] and at the time of death (Ihtizar) a person is prompted to do tawalli and tabarri;[17] This shows the importance of these religious concepts.

In his book Akhlaq-i Muhtashami, Khwaja Nasir al-Din al-Tusi allocates an entire chapter to love and hate, tawalli and tabarriand mentions verses from the Qur'an, hadiths, and sayings from the wise people. In addition to this, a brief booklet entitled, Risale-i Tawalli wa Tabarri (A treatise on tawalli and tabarri) (that has been printed together with Akhlaaq Muhtashami), has been attributed to him. In this book, tawalli and tabarri has been looked at from a philosophical perspective and it concludes by saying that faith is achieved in connection with tawalli and tabarri.

In this book, Khawaja Nasir analyzes tawalli and tabarri in this way that whenever the bestial soul comes under the control of the rational human soul, the two faculties of desire and anger become more refined and are changed into yearning and aversion and because the rational human soul has become subservient to the intellect, yearning and aversion are refined even further and are changed into liking and dislike. Eventually, when the intellect becomes subservient to the controller of reality, liking and dislike are changed into tawalli and tabarri.[18] He believed that the perfection of tawalli and tabarri will be achieved when the four elements i.e. ma'rifa, mahabba (tawalli), hijra and jihad are all realized.[19] He also believed that the perfection of faith has an even higher level i.e. the levels of Rida (submission to God's pleasure) and Taslim (submission to divine will), and this occurs when tawalli and tabarri unify, i.e. tabarri is absorbed into tawalli.[20] At the end, in the opinion of Khawaja Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, faith is finally achieved and realized when all concepts of tawalli, tabarri, Rida, and taslim combine and actualize in a person at one point of time and become a reality. When this happens it can be said that a person has now gained faith and has become a true believer.[21]

Instances of Tawalli

Showing love towards the friends of Allah has many different levels and it is clear that perfect and complete love is accompanied by obedience.

Al-Shaykh Yusuf al-Bahrani says about tawalli that due to the substantial emphasis many Shi'a hadiths put on tawalli and tabarri, it can be inferred that the love for the Ahl al-Bayt (a) is the acceptance of their Imamate and placing them in their due position. Therefore, preferring anyone over the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in this matter, in fact, removes a person from being among the lovers of the Imams (a).[22]

Fundamentally, sincere and truthful love towards a person requires conformity and compliance towards that person.[23] Therefore, a love that does not result in tawalli i.e. the acceptance of the guardianship of the Imams (a) and submission to them as well as theoretical and practical tabarri from their enemies cannot be considered as love at all as based on a narration, completion of guardianship and sincere love in respect to the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his family (a) can only be achieved with tabarri from their close and distant enemies.[24]

Therefore, that love and hatred and tawalli and Tabarri that has been emphasized in numerous traditions must be taken to mean tawalli and the acceptance of the guardianship, authority and leadership of the Imams (a) in all issues and matters. According to this principle, affirmation of the Imamate of the Twelve Imams (a) – a belief which necessitates their infallibility and divine appointment to that position by Allah and the Prophet (s), and their knowledge of the affairs of this World and the next which leads to obligation of following their commands and prohibitions.- is among the fundamentals that establish faith (iman), and is even counted among the requirements of the school of Imamiyya.[25]

In this way, guardianship and its acceptance can be placed next to Prayer, Zakat, Hajj and Fasting as being one of the pillars of religion, and even the most important pillar.[26] In addition, tawalli, together with tabarri, has been described and confirmed as being a fundamental element in any form of pronouncement of correct religion and belief that has been approved and recommended by the Imams (a).[27]

In essence, the concept of tawalli possesses different levels and instances that are as follows:

  • The acceptance of Allah's guardianship and that of the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a)
  • Loving Allah, all prophets , the Imams (a), and Lady Fatima (a)
  • Loving believers and friends of Allah

It has been narrated from Imam al-Baqir (a) that:

"If you would like to know whether you are a good person or not, look into your heart! If you admire and love those people who obey Allah and dislike and hate those who disobey him, know that you are a good person and that Allah loves you. But if you dislike and hate those who obey Allah whilst you love and admire those who disobey Him, you have no worth and Allah also dislikes and hates you. Know that people are always with those whom they love and admire."[28]

Tawalli and Tabarri in Ziara 'Ashura

Ziyarah 'Ashura can be considered as an outstanding example of tawalli and tabarii in Shiite teachings. In this ziyarah, there are passages about accepting the guardianship of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and to love them. There are also passages that reject friendship with and kindness to the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt (a). Here are a few passages about tawalli:

  • "O Aba 'Abd Allah (Imam al-Husayn (a))! I am at peace with those who are at peace with you and I am at war with those who are at war with you up to the Day of Resurrection."
  • O Aba 'Abd Allah! I seek proximity to Allah, His Prophet (s), Amir al-mu'minin (a), Fatima (a), al-Hasan (a) and you through loving you and dissociating from those who fought with you and waged a war against you."


  1. Ṭabrisī, Mishkāt al-ʾanwār, p. 125.
  2. Barqī, Kitāb al-maḥāsin, vol. 1, p. 165.
  3. Baḥrānī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-nāḍira, vol. 18, p. 423.
  4. Kāshif al-ghitāʾ, Kashf al-ghitāʾ, vol. 2, p. 251.
  5. Fayyūmī, Miṣbāḥ al-munīr fī gharīb al-sharḥ al-kabīr li-rāfiʿī, p. 673.
  6. Qāmūs al-Qurān, vol. 7, p. 246.
  7. Baḥrānī, Ghāyat al-marām, vol. 6, p. 46-71.
  8. Baḥrānī, Ghāyat al-marām, vol. 6, p. 72-91.
  9. Ibn Shuʿba al-Ḥarrānī, Ṭuḥaf al-ʿuqūl, p. 196.
  10. Rūzbahān, Wsīlat al-khādim ilā al-makhdūm, p. 300.
  11. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 27, p. 58.
  12. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 27, p. 74, 75, 78.
  13. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 27, p. 78.
  14. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 27, p. 78-79; vol. 26, p. 158.
  15. Muṭahharī, Jāziba wa dāfiʿa ʿAlī, p. 145.
  16. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 16, p. 176, chapter 17.
  17. Kāshif al-ghitāʾ, Kashf al-ghitāʾ, vol. 2, p. 251.
  18. Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, Akhlāq-i muḥtashamī, p. 563.
  19. Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, Akhlāq-i muḥtashamī, p. 565.
  20. Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, Akhlāq-i muḥtashamī, p. 566.
  21. Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, Akhlāq-i muḥtashamī, p. 567.
  22. Baḥrānī, al-Shahāb al-thāqib fī bayān maʿna al-nāṣib, p. 144.
  23. Bihbahānī, Miṣbāḥ al-hidāya fī ithbāt al-wilāya, p. 298-299.
  24. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 27, p. 58-59.
  25. Shahīd al-Thānī, al-muṣannifāt al-arbaʿa, p. 404-405.
  26. Barqī, Kitāb al-maḥāsin, vol. 1, p. 286.
  27. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 66, p. 2, 4, 5, 14.
  28. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 2, p. 167.


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