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Verse of Siqayat al-Hajj

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The Verse of Siqāyat al-Ḥājj or providing water to Hajj pilgrims (Arabic: آية سِقایةُ الْحاج) says that the faith in God and in the day of resurrection (or the Last Day) and jihad on the way of God are superior to providing water to Hajj pilgrims and holding Masjid al-Haram’s key.

The occasion of the revelation of this verse is said to be as follows: 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib boasted about his hosting the Hajj pilgrims, and Shayba b. ʿUthman boasted about holding the Ka'ba’s key. Imam ʿAli (a) said that his faith in God and the day of resurrection and his jihad in the way of God were superior to their achievements. The verse was revealed in confirmation of Imam ʿAli’s remarks.

Some scholars have cited this verse as evidence for the superiority of Imam ʿAli (a) over other companions of the Prophet (s) and his rightfulness for guardianship and succession after the Prophet (s). In the Six-Member Council, Imam ʿAli (a) himself made recourse to this verse to establish his own superiority.

In his peace treaty with Mu'awiya, Imam al-Hasan (a) also appealed to this verse to show the virtue and primacy of Imam ʿAli (a).

Introduction, Text, and Translation

Verse 19 of Quran 9 is called the Verse of Siqayat al-Hajj or providing water to Hajj pilgrims.[1] “Siqaya” here has an infinitive sense; that is, providing water. The verse contrasts the provision of water to Hajj pilgrims, holding the key of the Kaʿba, and protection of Masjid al-Haram to the faith in God and the day of resurrection as well as jihad in the way of God.[2] It disconfirms the view that provision of water to the pilgrims and holding the key of Masjid al-Haram are superior to the faith in God and the day of resurrection as well as jihad in the way of God.[3]

The position of water provision for Hajj pilgrims and that of holding the key of the Kaʿba were among the highest positions in Mecca before the emergence of Islam.[4] They were held by prominent figures in the city.[5] During the period of the Prophet (s), Banu Hashim[6] were in charge of these positions, under the supervision of ʿAbbas b. ʿAbd al-Muttalib.[7] The two positions are confirmed by Islam.[8]

Occasion of Revelation

The occasion of the revelation of the verse is said to be as follows. There was a conversation between Imam ʿAli (a) and ʿAbbas b. ʿAbd al-Muttalib and Shayb b. ʿUthman. The latter two boasted about the positions they held. ʿAbbas bragged about the significance of his position in receiving the Hajj pilgrims, and Shayba b. ʿUthman or Talha b. Shayba expressed their pride in protecting the House of God and holding its key. Finally, they appealed to Imam ʿAli (a) as their arbiter to say which position was more superior. Imam ʿAli (a) rejected the superiority of both positions, saying that he was proud in the faith in God and the day of resurrection as well as jihad in the way of God, which paved the ground for the conversion of people like them. After a while, the Prophet (s) learned about the exchange, and thus the above verse was revealed in which Imam ʿAli’s view was confirmed.[9]

This story about the occasion of the revelation of the verse is cited in different sources, albeit with slight differences.[10] Some people believe that this was a well-known story,[11] believing that the verse was certainly revealed about Imam ʿAli (a),[12] and it counts as an exclusive virtue of his.[13] There are hadiths transmitted from Imam al-Hasan (a),[14] Imam al-Sadiq (a),[15] ʿAbd Allah b. ʿAbbas, and others,[16] in which the verse is said to be revealed about Imam ʿAli (a).

Some people believe that the Verse of Siqayat al-Haj is not a statement of a general law. Instead, it is concerned with a specific event with a particular occasion of revelation.[17] However, others argue that although the verse was revealed about Imam ʿAli (a), it can be generalized to include other cases as well.[18] There are other accounts of the occasion of the verse’s revelation,[19] which appear in Shiite and Sunni sources.[20]

In Sources

The account that the verse was revealed about Imam ʿAli (a) is cited by many scholars and senior figures.[21] It is cited by Shiite exegetes of the Qur'an such as Furat b. Ibrahim al-Kufi (d. 352/963)[22] and Fadl b. al-Hasan al-Tabrisi (d. 548/1153),[23] and Sunni exegetes of the Quran such as Fakhr al-Razi (d. 606/1209),[24] al-Hakim al-Haskani (d. 490/1097),[25] Muhammad b. Jarir b. Yazid al-Tabari (d. 310/922),[26] Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Qurtubi (d. 761/1360),[27] ʿAbd al-Rahman al-Suyuti (d. 911/1505),[28] and Ibn Abi Hatam (d. 327/939).[29] The book, Ihqaq al-haqq, refers to over fifteen Sunni exegetical books in which this account of the occasion of the revelation of the verse is cited.[30] Moreover, in his al-Ghadir, Allama Amini mentions many Sunni scholars who cited the occasion of the revelation.[31]

This occasion of revelation is cited in sources of hadith as well.[32] For example, the same story appears in Sahih Muslim without referring to the names of people involved in the story; that is, it recounts the story as being concerned about “a man.”[33] However, other Sunni scholars mention the names of people involved.[34] Nevertheless, Ibn Kathir, a Sunni scholar, denies that the verse was revealed about the virtues of Imam ʿAli (a).[35] Ibn Taymiyya also believes that the account does not appear in any valid source of hadiths.[36]

Validity

Imami scholars unanimously believe that the Verse of Siqayat al-Hajj was revealed about Imam ʿAli (a).[37] According to Sayyid ʿAli Milani, a contemporary researcher of theology, the chain of the transmission of this occasion of revelation is valid, and its sources are the most reliable sources of hadith and Quranic exegesis. Indeed, it has multiple chains of transmission.[38] Some authors maintain that since the occasion of the revelation appears in many sources of Quranic exegesis, there is no doubt about its accuracy.[39] The author of the book, Ihqaq al-haqq, believes that there is no dispute over the accuracy of this occasion of revelation.[40]

Contrast between Believers and Disbelievers

On one account, the Verse of Siqayat al-Hajj was revealed in Medina after the conversion of 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib to Islam, and thus, the contrast is indeed between two groups of believers.[41] However, some people argue that the verse was revealed before ʿAbbas’s conversion to Islam,[42] and hence, the contrast is between believers and disbelievers,[43] as there is a hadith in which ʿAbbas rejects Imam ʿAli’s request for migration, telling him that the position of providing water to Hajj pilgrims is superior.[44] In another hadith, when ʿAbbas was captivated in the Battle of Badr, he said that if you surpassed us in conversion to Islam, we have surpassed you in providing water to Hajj pilgrims and construction of the Kaʿba.[45] On some accounts, the contrast is said to be between a group of Muslims and a group of Jews who believed that water provision for pilgrims and holding the mosque’s key were superior to the faith in God and jihad.[46]

According to al-Shaykh al-Tusi, this verse is addressed to a group of disbelievers or polytheists who were engaged in providing water to pilgrims and construction of Masjid al-Haram and believed that these practices equaled or surpassed the faith and jihad. The verse notes that these practices do not equal the faith in God and jihad in His way.[47] For this reason, the Verse of Siqayat al-Hajj is said to imply that no action has worth without faith, even if it is good in itself.[48]

Adducing the Verse as Evidence

In the Six-Member Council, which was formed after the Second Caliph’s death to appoint his successor, Imam ʿAli (a) made recourse to this verse to establish his competence for the position of caliphate and his superiority over others.[49] Moreover, there is a hadith in which he was asked about his greatest virtue, and in response, he mentioned this verse.[50]

In the process of his peace treaty with Mu'awiya, Imam al-Hasan (a) delivered a sermon in which he referred to the virtues of his father by appealing to this verse.[51] Moreover, al-Ma'mun al-'Abbasi wrote a letter to Banu Hashim, in which he praised Imam ʿAli (a) and noted his superiority over ʿAbbas b. ʿAbd al-Muttalib, in which he cites this verse.[52] The story of the boasts about water provision for pilgrims and the revelation of the verse is composed as verses by poets such as al-Sayyid al-Himyari, al-Nashi, and a-Bashnawi.[53]

Implication for Imam ʿAli’s Succession

Some scholars believe that the Verse of Siqayat al-Hajj was revealed about Imam ʿAli’s[54] superiority over other companions of the Prophet (s)[55] and his primacy for the position of guardianship and caliphate.[56] Furthermore, the implication of the verse for Imam ʿAli’s guardianship is said to be obvious,[57] since everyone agrees that he surpassed all other companions of the Prophet (s) in his faith, migration, and jihad.[58]

Makarim Shirazi, a Shia exegete of the Qur'an, holds that since Imam ʿAli (a) surpassed others in the faith and jihad, then if God is to choose a successor or caliph for the Prophet (s), He prefers the “superior” (afdal) over the “inferior” (mafdul) and the “less superior” (fadil), since God is wise, and it would be against His wisdom if He preferred the “inferior” and the “less superior” to the “superior.” Moreover, if the caliphate is a matter of elections, then rational people would not elect the “inferior” and the “less superior” over the “superior.”[59]

Notes

  1. Makārim Shīrāzī, Āyāt al-wilāya fī l-Qurʾān, p. 229.
  2. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 9, p. 203-205.
  3. Ṭabarī, Jāmiʾ al-bayān, vol. 10, p. 67; Qurtubī, Al-Jāmiʿ li-aḥkām al-Qurʾān, vol. 8, p. 92; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 323.
  4. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 323.
  5. ʿAskarī, Maʿālim al-madrasatayn, vol. 1, p. 201.
  6. Faḍl Allāh, Tafsīr min waḥy al-Qur'ān, vol. 11, p. 57.
  7. Ziriklī, Al-Aʿlām, vol. 3, p. 262; Ibn ʿAtiyya, Al-Muḥarrar al-Wajīz, vol. 3, p. 17; Thaʿālibī, Jawāhir al-ḥisan, vol. 3, p. 170.
  8. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh-i yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 60; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 61.
  9. Furāt al-Kūfī, Tafsīr furāt al-kūfī, p. 165-166; Qurtubī, Al-Jāmiʿ li-aḥkām al-Qurʾān, vol. 8, p. 91; Ḥusaynī astarabādī, Taʾwīl al-āyāt al-ẓāhira, p. 206.
  10. Faḍl Allāh, Tafsīr min waḥy al-Qur'ān, vol. 11, p. 55.
  11. Makārim Shīrāzī,Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 323.
  12. Furāt al-Kūfī, Tafsīr furāt al-kūfī, p. 165-169.
  13. Makārim Shīrāzī, Āyāt al-wilāya fī l-Qurʾān, p. 209.
  14. Furāt al-Kūfī, Tafsīr furāt al-kūfī, p. 170.
  15. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 1, p. 284; Ḥuwayzī, Tafsīr nūr al-thaqalayn, vol. 2, p. 195.
  16. Suyūṭī, Al-Durr al-manthūr , vol. 3, p. 220.
  17. Makārim Shīrāzī, Āyāt al-wilāya fī l-Qurʾān, p. 229-320.
  18. Faḍl Allāh, Tafsīr min waḥy al-Qur'ān, vol. 11, p. 55.
  19. Ibn ʿAtiyya, Al-Muḥarrar al-Wajīz, vol. 3, p. 17; Thaʿālibī, Jawāhir al-ḥisan, vol. 3, p. 170.
  20. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 321.
  21. Amīnī, Al-Ghadīr, vol. 2, p. 94-96.
  22. Furāt al-Kūfī,Tafsīr furāt al-kūfī, p. 166.
  23. Ṭabrisī,Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 5, p. 24.
  24. Fakhr al-Rāzī, Mafātīḥ al-ghayb, vol. 16, p. 13.
  25. Ḥākim al-Ḥaskānī, Shawāhid al-tanzīl, vol. 1, p. 323.
  26. Ṭabarī, Jāmiʾ al-bayān , vol. 1, p. 67-68.
  27. Qurtubī, -. Al-Jāmiʿ li-aḥkām al-Qurʾān, vol. 8, p. 91-92.
  28. Suyūṭī,Al-Durr al-manthūr, vol. 3, p. 220.
  29. Ibn ʾAbī Ḥātam, Tafsīr al-Qurān al-ʿAẓīm, vol. 4, p. 108.
  30. Shūshtarī, Iḥqāq al-ḥaqq wa izhāq al-bāṭil, vol. 14, p. 194-199.
  31. Amīnī, Al-Ghadīr, vol. 2, p. 93-96.
  32. Kulaynī,Al-Kāfī, vol. 8, p. 204; Ibn Ḥayyūn, Daʿāʾim al-islām, vol. 1, p. 19; Ibn Ḥayyūn, Sharḥ al-akhbār, vol. 1, p. 324; Ṭūsī,Al-Amālī, p. 545.
  33. Muslim b. Ḥajjāj,Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, vol. 3, p. 1499.
  34. Ṭabarī, Jāmiʾ al-bayān , vol. 10, p. 68.
  35. Ibn Kathīr al-Dimashqī, Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 7, p. 358.
  36. Ibn Taymīyya, Minhāj al-sunna, vol. 5, p. 18.
  37. Astarābādī, Al-Barāhīn al-qāṭiʿa , vol. 3, p. 260; Muqaddas al-Ardibīlī, Ḥadīqat al-shīʿa, vol. 1, p. 94.
  38. Mīlānī, Sharḥ minhāj al-karāma, vol . 2, p. 276.
  39. Muzaffar, Dalāʾil al-ṣidq, vol. 5, p. 26; Makārim Shīrāzī,Āyāt al-wilāya fī l-Qurʾān, p. 232.
  40. Shūshtarī, Iḥqāq al-ḥaqq, vol. 3, p. 122.
  41. Ṭabāṭabāʾī,Al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 203-205.
  42. Muqaddas al-Ardibīlī, Ḥadīqat al-shīʿa, vol. 1, p. 95.
  43. Qurtubī,Al-Jāmiʿ li-aḥkām al-Qurʾān, vol. 8, p. 92.
  44. Ḥākim al-Ḥaskānī, Shawāhid al-tanzīl, vol. 1, p. 323; Ibn al-Jawzī, Zād al-masīr, vol. 2, p. 244.
  45. Ṭabarī, Jāmiʾ al-bayān, vol. 10, p. 67; Suyūṭī, Al-Durr al-manthūr, vol. 3, p. 219; Ṭūsī, Al-Tibyān, vol. 5, p. 191; Ibn ʾAbī Ḥātam, Tafsīr al-Qurān al-ʿAẓīm, vol. 4, p. 108.
  46. Qurtubī,Al-Jāmiʿ li-aḥkām al-Qurʾān, vol. 8, p. 92; Ibn ʿAtiyya, Al-Muḥarrar al-Wajīz, vol. 3, p. 17.
  47. Ṭūsī, Al-Tibyān, vol. 5, p. 191.
  48. Jaʿfarī, Tafsīr kawthar, vol. 4, p. 447; Qirāʾatī, Tafsīr-i nūr, vol. 3, p. 394.
  49. Ṭūsī, Al-Amālī, p. 550; Daylamī, Irshād al-qulūb, vol. 2, p. 261;Ṭabarī,Al-Mustarshid , p. 352. Ṭabrisī, Al-Iḥtijāj, vol. 1, p. 140.
  50. Ibn Ḥayyūn, Daʿāʾim al-islām, vol. 1, p. 16; ʿAyyāshī, Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī, vol. 2, p. 83.
  51. Hilālī, Kitāb Sulaym b. Qays, vol. 2, p. 960; Ṭūsī, Al-Amālī, p. 561-563.
  52. Ibn Ṭāwūs, Al-Taraʾif, vol. 1, p. 278.
  53. Amīnī, Al-Ghadīr, vol. 2, p. 96.
  54. Ḥillī, Minhāj al-karāma, p. 85; A group of authors, Fī riḥāb ahl al-Bayt, vol. 22, p. 18.
  55. Mīlānī, Sharḥ minhāj al-karāma, vol. 2, p. 276.
  56. Shūshtarī, Iḥqāq al-ḥaqq, vol. 3, p. 128; Muqaddas al-Ardibīlī, . Ḥadīqat al-shīʿa, vol. 1, p. 95; Mīlānī, Sharḥ minhāj al-karāma, vol. 2, p. 276; Makārim Shīrāzī, Āyāt al-wilāya fī l-Qurʾān, p. 229.
  57. Ibn Ṭāwūs, Al-Taraʾif, vol. 1, p. 51; Mīlānī, Sharḥ minhāj al-karāma, vol. 2, p. 273.
  58. Muzaffar, Dalāʾil al-ṣidq, vol. 5, p. 27.
  59. Makārim Shīrāzī, Āyāt al-wilāya fī l-Qurʾān, p. 234.

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