Shattering the Mirage: A Response to ‘Abdul Hussain Sharaf al Din’s al Muraja’at: Letter 37 and 38

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Letter 37

Thul-Hijjah 29, 1329 A.H.

 

I. “Wali” is a Linguistic Denominator; so Where is the Text?

 

1) The word “wali” is a common denominator between the supporter and the friend, the loved one and the brother-in-law, the follower, the ally, and the neighbour. Whoever takes charge of a matter is its “wali.” The ahadith you have quoted may simply mean: ‘Ali is your supporter, or friend, or loved one, after the Prophet; so, where is the text which you claim?

 

Sincerely,

S
 

Letter 38

Thul-Hijjah 29, 1329

 

I. Explaining the Implications of “Wali”

II. Proving its Connotation

 

1) You have indicated, while explicating the meanings of “wali,” that whoever takes charge of anyone becomes the latter’s wali. This, indeed, is the connotation of “wali” in as far as those ahadith are concerned. It is the same that comes to mind. Its meaning is similar to saying “The minor has had for his wali both his father and his paternal grandfather, then he was put in the custody of either of them, then in the custody of the legal administrator.” This implies that these persons are the ones who are in charge of looking after him and administer his affairs on his own behalf.

 

2) The proofs testifying to the meaning connoted in the word concealed from the discreet. His statement, peace be upon him and his progeny, “And he is your wali after me” clearly restricts “wilayat” to him and only him. This mandates that we should underscore the meaning which we have just attached to this word, a meaning which does not agree with that of any other interpretation.

Support, love, friendship, and the like are not confined to one single person, and the believers, men and women, are walis of one another. What merit, other than what we have just indicated, could the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam have emphasized in this hadith regarding his brother and wali if we say that the meaning of the word wali is something else that differs from what we have indicated above? What a hidden matter has the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam decided to unveil through the medium of such ahadith had the meaning of “wali” been the supporter, the loved one, or the like?

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, is above clarifying what is already clear, or pointing out what is already taken for granted. His wisdom is vast, his infallibility is incumbent, his Message is conclusive and is more than what some people think. Yet these ahadith are quite clear in stating that wilayat is assigned for ‘Ali after the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny.

This, too, requires applying the same meaning which we have suggested. It simply is not conducive to the meanings of supporter, loved one, etc., since there is no doubt that ‘Ali is known to have been supported, loved, and befriended by Muslims due to his being raised in the lap of prophethood, to his contributions to the promotion of its message, till he, peace be upon him, passed away. Supporting, loving and befriending the Muslims, therefore, are not confined to ‘Ali alone after the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, as is quite obvious.

Suffices you for a testimony to this meaning what Imam Ahmed has stated on page 347 of Vol. 5 of his Musnad through the correct path of narrators who cite Sa’id ibn Jubayr quoting Ibn ‘Abbas citing Buraidah saying: “I participated in ‘Ali’s invasion of Yemen, and I found him to be cool to me; so, when I came to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, I mentioned ‘Ali and belittled him; thereupon, I saw the Messenger’s face changing colour, and he asked me: ‘O Buraidah! Do I not have more authority over the believers than the believers have over their own selves?’ I answered: ‘Yes, indeed, O Messenger of Allah’. He salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam then said: ‘To whomsoever I have been mawla, ‘Ali, too, is his mawla.”

This hadith is also quoted by al Hakim on page 110, Vol. 3, of his Mustadrak, where he considers it authentic relying on the authority of Muslim. Al Thahbi has quoted it in his Talkhis, taking its authenticity for granted for the same reason that be Muslim, too, considers it authentic. You yourself know the implication the introductory question “Do I not have more authority over the believers than they themselves have?” carries, a meaning that supports what we have suggested. Anyone who scrutinizes these ahadith, as well as all matters relevant to them, will have no doubt in what we have stated, and praise be to Allah.

 

Sincerely,

Sh

 
 

Discussions

After ‘Abdul Hussain’s undertaking to provide unmistakable evidence proving ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu pre-eminence to the position of leadership; all that he could offer were ambiguous narrations stating ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be the Wali of the believers.

To give credance to his claim he must now prove that the term Wali, or Mawla, meant leadership and authority. At the same time he must discredit any alternate meaning of this term. It is worrisome that such an integral matter of faith be decided upon by debate of the correct meaning of a particular term or phrase. Considering that the nomination of the Khalifah is understood to be a cardinal matter within the Shia paradigm one would expect the evidence to be self-evident; not subject to interpretation.

While the meanings of the term Wali which are ascribed to the pen of Sheikh Salim al Bishri are consistent with the lexical meanings of this term, his apparent lack of confidence is yet another tell when the question of the ficticious nature of the correspondence in brought up. There is one major flaw in the reasoning ascribed to the Sheikh al Azhar though; his conceding to the anomalous version of this narration.

In the opening lines of his response ‘Abdul Hussain rightfully concedes to the array of possible meanings of the term Wali. It would be absurd on his part to challenge the notion that this term potentially applies to the said spectrum of meanings. The experts on language have provided similar meanings.

Al Razi says in Muhktar al Sihah:

 

Mawla means mutiq (the one who sets free a slave), and mutaq (the freed slave), and Ibn al Amm (cousin), and nasir (helper), and jar (neighbour), and Halif (ally)…Muwalat (friendship) is the opposite of muadat (enmity)… Wilayah (guardianship) with a kasrah means sultan (power/authority) and wilayah or walayah with a kasrah or a fathah means nusrah (assistance).[1]

 

Al Fayruzabadi says in al Qamus al Muhit:

 

Al Walyu is from qurb (closeness)… Wali (guardian) is the noun derived from it and it means muhibb (the one who loves), sadiq (friend), nasir (helper). (It is used in the following ways) waliya al shay means he took responsibility for the thing. alayh al wilayah or walayah (It is his responsibility). With the kasrah it means khittah (a plan), imarah (leadership), sultan (authority). (The word Mawla) means malik (owner), abd (slave), mutiq (one who sets free a slave), mutaq (the freed slave), sahib (companion), ibn (son), amm (uncle), nazil (guest), sharik (partner), ibn al ukht (sister’s son), and wali, and Lord (owner), and nasir (helper), and munim (generous), and munamalayh (favoured), muhibb, and tabii (follower), and sihr (in-law).[2]

 

In conceding that the term is Mushtarak [homonym] he immediately ignores all hermanuetic principles and states that the intended meaning is authority. He attempts to make his case stating that it is the first meaning that comes to mind and provides an example of a statement that supports that meaning.

In doing this he has ignored the fact that a word which is Mushtarak cannot be said to mean any of the possible meanings at first instance; it is coined having equal potential to mean any of the possible meanings. The context of the sentence, or paragraph, will determine the intended meaning. So ‘Abdul Hussain’s example was an exercise in futility since he had already given context to the word in the sentence. Instead of it being an argument in his favour, he has unwittingly exposed his own error. Furthermore, it requires stretching the term Mawla for it to mean Wali (governor).

He goes on to charm the reader into agreeing with him; suggesting that such subtelties are easily percieved by people of high intelligence. Not only is his reliance on the wording, “of every believer after me,” problematic as we have demonstrated in the discussions on the previous letter[3] but so is his premise that this term is meant for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu exclusively [Hasr] and is limited to him [Qasr].

He hasn’t realized that in his goal of excluding the three Khulafa’ before ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu from being potential candidates, he has also excluded the sons and grandsons of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu from a position authority. If only ‘Ali is the Wali or Mawla; where does it leave the rest of the 11 Imams? If someone other than ‘Ali could be understood to be a Wali or Mawla, what is there to prevent Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu from being included as well? It stands to reason that since this premise is severely flawed, and the resultant argument of it being only plausible to mean ‘leader’ or ‘authority’ falls away along with it.

‘Abdul Hussain’s admits in this letter, when he cited the narration of Ibn ‘Abbas from Buraidah, that it is authentic. This is consistent with the many authentic versions that we have quoted earlier, which are all phrased, “Whomsoever, I am his Mawla, ‘Ali is his Mawla.” This means that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the Mawla of every believer during the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam life and after.

The complaints, and unfriendly attitude of some of the companions towards ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu clearly indicate the context for this Hadith. Once context is extablished we can unreservedly determine the intended meaning; friendship, love and loyalty.

The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is not merely saying that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu deserves to be loved. He is admonishing all those who were upset with him, instructing them to me friendly, loyal and develop love for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The Prophet is advocating that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is deserving of all of this from all believers.

Buraidah radiya Llahu ‘anhu acknowledges that he disliked ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu initially. After the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam address he clarifies that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu became the most beloved of people to him.

Why else would ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu say, “By He who split the seed and created the living soul, it is the covenant of the unlettered Prophet to me than none shall love me except a believer and none shall hate me besides a hypocrite.”[4]

The most preposterous suggestion is that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam inferred the transfer of authority to ‘Ali with his statement, “Do I not have more authority over the believers than they themselves have?” While the words Mawla and Awla rhyme, they do not share any meaning.

As a matter of fact, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not understand the term Mawla or Wali to mean succession or leadership. Al Bukhari narrates from Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma:

 

‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu emerged from the [home of the] Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam during his final illness and the people said, “O Abu al Ḥasan; How is the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam this morning?” He said, “All praise be to Allah, he is well this morning.”

‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib took him by the hand and said to him, “I swear by Allah, in three days’ time you will be a subject. By Allah, I think that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam will die of this illness. I recognize the look of death in the faces of the Banu ‘Abdul Muttalib when they are dying. Let us go to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and ask him who will take charge over this matter (Khilafah). If it is for us, then we will know that, and if it is for someone other than us, we will know and he can advise him to look after us.”

‘Ali replied, “By Allah, if we ask him for it and he refuses us, then the people would never give it to us afterwards. By Allah, I will not ask it from the Messenger of Allah.”[5]

 

If ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was nominated by the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam explicitly, why would ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu even bother to ask the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about Khilafah since it ought to be known that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was appointed? Furthermore, why did ‘Ali not correct ‘Abbas and acknowledge that he was appointed? Why did ‘Ali fear the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam not granting him the Khilafah if he was already appointed? The reaction of ‘Ali clearly indicates that his understanding of the term Wali or Mawla is consistent with what we have mentioned.

Ibn Taymiyyah disproves the inference that the term Mawla refers to leadership saying:

 

There is nothing in the hadith to prove that the believers have no other Mawla besides ‘Ali. How can that be inferred when the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had many Mawlas, namely, the pious believers – which includes’Ali by way of priority – who took him as their friend? The Prophet said that the tribes of Aslam, Ghifar, Muzaynah, Juhaynah, Quraysh, and the Ansar, had no Mawla besides Allah and his Messenger[6]. Allah made them the Mawlas of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam just as He made the pious believers his Mawlas, and Allah and his Messenger their Mawla.

In summary, there is a slight difference between Wali and Mawla, and a significant difference between these terms and Wali (governor). The meaning of Wilayah (the opposite of enmity) is at one end of the spectrum, and the term walayah referring to leadership is at the other. The wilayah spoken of in the hadith refers to the former and not the latter. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not say, “Whoever I am his wali (governor) ‘Ali is his wali.” The word used (in the hadith) is “whoever I am his Mawla, ‘Ali is his Mawla.”

The word Mawla cannot refer to wali (governor) since friendship is established mutually. Indeed, the believers are the friends of Allah and He is their Mawla (guardian)…

The khilafah of ‘Ali, on the assumption of its existence, only came into being after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam death. It did not exist during the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam life. Therefore, it is not possible for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to have been the khalifah during the era of Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he could not therefore be more worthy of every believer than himself, rather, he could not have been the Mawla of any believer if what is intended is the khilafah. This is one of the factors that prove khilafah was not intended. The fact that he is a friend of every believer is established during the era of the Prophet, whose implementation was not postponed until the Prophet’s demise as opposed to the khilafah which could only come into effect after the demise of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Therefore, it is known that this (what is mentioned in the hadith) is not that which the Rafidah intend.

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu being the Mawla of every believer is true during the life of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, his death, and even after the death of ‘Ali. Even today ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu remains the “Mawla” of every believer even though he is not the governor over the people. In similar manner all the believers are friends of one another living and deceased.[7]

 

Hassan ibn Hassan, the grandson of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was asked whether the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whomsoever, I am his Mawla, ‘Ali is his Mawla.” He responded:

 

Certainly! By Allah, if the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam intended by it governance and authority he would have stated it unequivocally. The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was most eloquent, and most sincere to all Muslims. He would have stated [emphatically], “O people! This is the one in authority and the one deputed to carry out your affairs, so listen to him and obey.”

By Allah, if Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam chose ‘Ali for this matter [succession after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] and appointed him to implement it for the Muslims after him, then ‘Ali disregards the command of Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he would be the first one responsible for disregarding the Allah’s and His Messengers instruction.[8]

 

He is stating that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu conducted himself as a follower of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu during his Khilafah. To suggest that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would bide his time in Taqiyyah is an indictment on ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The Hadith is sound, but it does not mean what the Shia desire it to mean.

 

NEXT⇒ Letter 39 and 40


[1]Mukhtar al Sihah, pg. 306-307

[2] Al Qamus al Muhit, p. 1732

[3] Refer to Letter 35

[4] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Iman, Hadith: 78

[5] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Maghazi, hadith: 4447

[6]  Refer to Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Manaqib, Bab dhikr Aslam, wa Ghifar, wa Muzaynah, wa Juhaynah, wa Ashjaʻ, hadith no. 3321

[7] Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 7 pgs. 322-325

[8] Al I’tiqad by al Bayhaqi pg. 232