Muharram 4, 1330
I. Context Denotes “the Loved one” or the Like
May Allah bless your father! You have, indeed, dispelled my doubts and thus overcome my suspicion, so much so that truth has become manifest. Nothing remains to say other than the fact that the context of the said verse denotes the prohibition of taking the infidels for walis.
The verses which precede and succeed it testify to this fact, and this supports the claim that the connotation of the word “wali” in this verse is the supporter, loved one, friend, or the like; so, what would your answer be? Kindly state it, Wassalam.
Muharram 5, 1330
I. Context is not Indicative of “Supporter” or the Like
II. Context does not Outweigh the Proofs
1) Here is my answer: This verse, if one were to scrutinize it, overlooking the verses which precede it and which prohibit taking the infidels for walis, does not connote praising the Commander of the Faithful or recommending him for leadership and imamate by threatening dissidents with his might or by warning them against being punished by him. This is so because in the preceding verse, if and when scrutinized independently, Allah Almighty states:
“O ye who believe! If anyone of you relinquishes his religion, then Allah will raise a people whom He loves and who love Him, soft-hearted with the believers, mighty against the unbelievers, struggling in His Path, not fearing anyone while doing so. This, indeed, is Allah’s favour; He grants it to whomsoever He pleases, and Allah is vast in knowledge (Qur’an, 5:54).”1
This verse is revealed on behalf of the Commander of the Faithful ‘alayh al Salam, warning others of his might and that of his followers, as the Commander of the Faithful has himself stated on the Battle of the Camel and is stated by Imams al Baqir and al Sadiq.
The same meaning is applied by al Tha’labi in his Tafsir al Qur’an. It is also narrated by the author of Muj’maul Bayan fi Tafsir al Qur’an from ‘Ammar, Huthayfah, and Ibn ‘Abbas. It is interpreted in this way according to the consensus of Shi’as who narrate it consecutively from the Imams of the Purified Progeny ‘alayh al Salam.
The verse of the wilayat will thus come after hinting to his wilayat and referring to the necessity of accepting his imamate. Its context would then be an explanation of that hint, and an elaboration on the hint that preceded it which suggests his government; so, how can it be said that this verse was revealed in the context of prohibiting taking the infidels for walis?
2) The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, has himself equated the status of the Imams among his descendants to that of the Holy Qur’an, indicating that they both shall never separate from each other, and that they are equal in significance to the Book (Qur’an) itself; through them can right be distinguished from wrong. To them, taking this verse as a proof is consecutively reported. The meaning they have always applied to the word “wali” in such a context is identical to the one which I have applied above; therefore, context does not bear any weight if you take it to contradict their texts,2 for all Muslims are in consensus regarding the application of context as a proper argument.
When context and proof collide with one another, they abandon the connotation of the context and yield to the judgement of the proof. This is so due to the fact that the connotation of this verse’s context is not relied upon, since the Glorious Book itself is not arranged in the order of its compilation, according to the consensus of all Muslim scholars, but according to the sequence of the revelation of its verses.
As such, there are quite a few verses which give a meaning that contradicts their context. Take, for example, the Verse of Purification. The fact that the chapter where it exists deals with women is quite clear in restricting its connotation to the five individuals [men and women] who were covered with the mantle. Generally speaking, to interpret a verse in a way which contradicts its context does not in any way violate its miraculous aspect, it does not harm its eloquence, and it does not hurt to resort to it whenever irrefutable proofs demand it, Wassalamo Alaikom.
The narrator continues to say: “‘Ali then had in his hand the Prophet’s sandal which he was mending for the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny.” This hadith has been recorded by many authors of books of traditions, and it is hadith number 610 at the beginning of page 393, Vol. 6, of Kanz al ’Ummal.
Also similar to it is his saying, peace be upon him and his progeny, “Among you is a man who shall fight for the implementation of the Qur’an just as I have fought for its revelation.” Abu Bakr asked: “Am I the one?” He answered: “No.” ‘Umar asked likewise, and the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam answered: “No, but it is the man who is inside mending the sandal,” whereupon ‘Ali came out of the room carrying the Prophet’s sandal after having finished mending it.
This hadith is quoted by Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal in his Musnad as transmitted by Abu Sa’id, and it is narrated by al Hakim in his Al Mustadrak, Abu Ya’li in his Musnad, and by many authors of books of traditions. Al Muttaqi al Hindi quotes it from them on page 155 of the sixth volume of his book.
Considering that we have maintained objectivity throughout these discussions, the reader might appreciate this slight departure from character as we pause to express our amusement at the level of discourse in this round of ‘correspondence’. The confusion in ‘Abdul Hussain’s reasoning appears to have outwitted even the translator. His folly has only drawn him further into the quagmire of his sunken arguments.
The primary level of meaning in any text exists at the word level, it is then expounded on at the sentence level, whilst the preceding and succeeding passages of a larger body of text provide the context.
Structure is a naturally occurring system of meaning in almost every language. Interpreting the verse dubbed, Ayat al Wilayah, as categorical nomination of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is neither supported at a word level, nor sentence level. Furthermore, it appears misplaced if the preceding and succeeding verses are considered. ‘Abdul Hussain realizes this and seeks to remedy the situation.
Firstly, he acknowledges that it does not conform to the general structure and flow of the passage as a whole. Secondly, he seeks out a similar occurrence elsewhere by citing Ayat al Tathir in Surah al Ahzab. Thirdly, he attempts to soften the blow by connecting the previous verse in Surah al Ma’idah with the current verse.
To begin with, let us always keep in mind that he acknowledges that proving the concept of ‘Ismah [Infallibility] and Imamah from both Ayat al Tathir and Ayat al Wilayah respectively, cannot be achieved by way of the Qur’anic verses alone. Furthermore, he acknowledges that both verses do not conform to the general context in which they are placed. It stands to reason that the actual evidence for these doctrines lie beyond the words, textual implications, or context of the verses themselves.
We have demonstrated, in detail, under the discussions on Letter 12 that the mention of purification was not exclusive to the Ahlul Bayt, and that the term Ahl is used for a person’s wives. The change in pronoun in Ayat al Tathir was to accommodate for the inclusion of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. We demonstrated that interpreting such did not compromise the integrity of the passages structure, nor did it depart from the textual implications of the verse. ‘Abdul Hussain’s acknowledgement of the fact that the Shia interpretation of the verse is inconsistent with the context only reinforces our position.
The cohesion in the structure of Qur’anic passages is a positive consequence of the Angel Jibril’s ‘alayh al Salam final rendition of the Qur’an, when he revised it twice with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in his final Ramadan. Had there been no integrity in the context, the rearrangement of verses would have been futile. The arrangement is thus understood to be deliberate; and the cohesion and structure of the verses intended and meaningful.
With the aim of establishing order within his chaos ‘Abdul Hussain alleges that the verse before Ayat al Wilayah is also inconsistent with the verses preceding it, and is the first subtle hint that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is the focal point of reference.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا مَنْ يَّرْتَدَّ مِنْكُمْ عَنْ دِيْنِهِ فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللّٰهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّوْنَهُ أَذِلَّةٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ أَعِزَّةٍ عَلَى الْكَافِرِيْنَ يُجَاهِدُوْنَ فِيْ سَبِيْلِ اللّٰهِ وَلَا يَخَافُوْنَ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ ذٰلِكَ فَضْلُ اللّٰهِ يُؤْتِيْهِ مَنْ يَّشَاءُ وَاللّٰهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيْمٌ
O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion – Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.
To support his claim he provides the following as evidence; the narrations about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu mending the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sandal, a citation for Tafsir al Tha’labi, citations from the Tafsir of al Tabarsi, and finally the alleged consensus of the Ahlul Bayt.
We shall now demonstrate why it does not support the view that considers ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu intended, specifically, by these verses. We have already demonstrated that the statements of the Imam’s are not proof in of themselves, they have to be supported by evidence. The claim of Ijma’ is refuted by the Imams themselves since they consider those whom ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought during his Khilafah believers.
To begin with let us examine the narrations cited. There are two narrations that speak about the one who was repairing the strap on the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sandal.
The first narration mentions it on the occasion of Hudaybiyyah and it appears with the common chain:
Sharik ibn ‘Abdullah al Nakha’i — Mu’tamir — Rib’i ibn Hirash — ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu
Sharīk ibn ‘Abdullah al Qaḍī, Abū ‘Abdullah, the Qadi of Kūfah, is considered weak, especially in that which he narrated from memory after being assigned a post in the judiciary.
This narration refers to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam warning the Quraysh that he will send a man whose faith of heart had been tested by Allah. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu first asks if he is intended and the response is negative, then ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu asks and receives a negative response and it is then that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “It is the one who is mending the sandal,” and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was mending the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sandal.
This narration is an example of those narrations in which he erred since it has been narrated with significant differences with the same chain from Mu’tamir.
Aban ibn Salih — Mu’tamir — Rib’i — ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu
Some slaves (of the unbelievers) went out to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on the Day of al Hudaybiyyah before the treaty. Their masters wrote to him saying, “O Muhammad, they have not gone out to you with any interest in your religion, but they have gone out to escape from slavery.”
Some people said, “They have spoken the truth, O Messenger of Allah, send them back to them.”
The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam became angry and said, “I do not see you restraining yourself from this action, O assembly of Quraysh, but that Allah would send someone to you who would strike your necks [i.e. fight you].”
He then refused to return them, and said, “They are emancipated slaves of Allah.”
Furthermore, the narration by way of Sharik stated that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, whereas the authentic versions of the incident of al Hudaybiyyah describe the vocal reaction of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu when the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam agreed for the son of Sahl ibn ‘Amr to be returned after he escaped to the Muslim camp and he was still in his shackles.
There is another version by way of Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, except in that version the Prophet was warning the Yemeni tribe, Banu Wali’ah. In that version, ‘Umar asks Abu Dhar who is intended; and Abu Dhar responds saying, “It is not you nor is it your companion; it is the one who is mending the sandal.” He went on to say that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was mending the sandal.
The problem with this version is that the scholars differed over its chain, whether or not it was interrupted, as there are versions with an interrupted chain.
As we can see there are significant inconsistencies between both the versions attributed to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and those attributed to Abu Dhar. The one references Quraysh, whilst the other addresses Banu Wali’ah. One version has the Sheikhayn present, whereas the other version infers that they were absent when the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said this. The likelihood of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu mending the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sandals at both instances is very rare.
The second narration is narrated by way of Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu and appears with a common chain:
Ismail ibn Raja’ ibn Rabi’ah — his father, Raja’ — Abu Sa’id al Khudri
There will be some from you who will fight people over the interpretation of the Qur’an just as I have fought over its revelation. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked if it would be him and the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied in the negative, then ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked and again the reply was in the negative. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then responded saying that it would be the person mending the sandal; refering to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who was mending the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sandals.
This is an authentic narration, there are no issues with the Isnad and the text is from the signs of Prophethood. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam predicted that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would deliberately fight the Khawarij, who are believers in the broad sense, based on their flawed interpretation of the Quran; and he would be justified in doing so. Similarly the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam fought the polytheists deliberately over the revelation of the Qur’an by Allah’s instruction.
Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The [final] Hour shall not come until two groups fight each other; their call being one.”
Abu Sa’id al Khudriradiya Llahu ‘anhu related that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “A faction will renegade at a time when there is division among the Muslims; and the party, among two parties, which is closer to the truth will fight them.”
The narration of Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is a prediction of what was to occur between ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu; and the narration of Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu is a prediction that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would raise arms against the Khawarij. There is no doubt that in the matter between ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was closer to the truth.
The verse in al Ma’idah refers to those who would fight the apostates.The Hadith of Abu Sa’id refers to fighting the Khawarij and not the apostates. As such, this narration supports the view that states that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not referred to in the verse of Surah al Ma’idah specifically.
In fact, it is not known that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ever fought the apostates. During his Khilafah, the battles which he fought were against those whom he considered believers. The first major battle was at Jamal against the army of Talhah, Zubair, and ‘Ai’shah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. The second encounter was at Siffin against the army of Muawiyah. The third major battle was against the Khawarij at Nahrawan. The only apostates that he dealt with were the followers of Ibn Saba’, who deified him. He had them burnt at the stake.
Muhammad ibn Nasr al Marwazi states, “‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu took responsibility for fighting the people who rebelled; and he narrated from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding them all that he narrates. Despite that he called them believers, and dealt with them as believers, as did ‘Ammar ibn Yasir.”
He then narrates by way of Ishaq — Abu Nuaim — Sufyan — Jafar ibn Muhammad — from his father who said:
On the day of Jamal or the day of Siffin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu heard a person exceeding the bounds in what he was saying [against the opposing party] so he said, “Do not say anything except that which is good. All that they are is a people who claim that we have rebelled against them, and we say that they have rebelled against us; and on that we have fought them.”
He relates another narration by way of Ishaq — Waki’ — Mis’ar — ‘Amir ibn Shaqiq — Abu Wa’il — who said — a man said:
“Who called to the grey mule on the day the polytheists were fought?”
so ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “It was polytheism from which they fled.”
Then it was said, “Hypocrites?” and he responded, “Hypocrites do not remember Allah, except a little.”
Then it was asked what they were and he replied, “A group of people who rebelled against us and we fought them and were victorious against them.”
He narrates yet again by way of Qais ibn Muslim from Tariq ibn Shihab, who said:
I was with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu when the fighting ended at Nahrawan and it was said to him, “Are they polytheists?”, to which he replied, “It was polytheism from which they fled.”
Then it was said, “Hypocrites?” and he responded, “Hypocrites do not remember Allah, except a little.”
Then it was asked what they were and he replied, “A group of people who rebelled against us and we fought them.”
He brings yet another narration by way of Muhammad ibn Yahya — Ahmed ibn Khalid —’Abdul ‘Aziz ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Salamah – ‘Abdul Wahid ibn [Abi] ‘Awn, who said:
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu passed by the martyrs at Siffin while leaning on al Ashtar and he found Habis al Yamani slain to which al Ashtar claimed, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un, Habis al Yamani is with them, O Amir al Mu’minin, he has the sign of Muawiyah. By Allah, I always assumed him to be a believer!” to which ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “and now he is still a believer. Habis was from the people of Yemen, people of piety and exertion in worship.”
Muhammad ibn Nasr narrates with his chain of transmission from ‘Ammar ibn Yasir that man said that the people of al Sham had committed disbelief and ‘Ammar responded: “Do not say that; our Qiblah is one, our Prophet is one. However, they are a people who have been affected by fitnah and it is our duty to fight them to bring them upon the right.”
He also narrates with his chain of transmission to Muhammad al Baqir who confirmed that they were indeed believers.
All these narrations prove that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not consider those he fought to be apostates or even hypocrites. His view was shared by both ‘Ammar ibn Yasir and Muhmmad al Baqir. ‘Abdul Hussain considers the statements of the Imam’s equivalent to the Qur’an, so these narrations are unequivocal evidence that those whom ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought were believers. How could this apply to the verse which speaks about fighting the apostates?
Among the four rightly-guided Khulafa we know that the major portion of the Khilafah of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was spent fighting the tribes that renegaded and become apostate. What is stranger still, is that al Tha’labi is on record citing ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu, al Hassan al Basri, and Qatadah who all understood this verse to mean Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and it is in this context that the narration refered to as the Hadith of the Pond was mentioned.Not only is ‘Abdul Hussain’s argument debunked, but it is from the very sources which he has cited!
Consider the profoundness in Qatadah’s explanation:
Allah revealed this verse knowing that many people would apostasize. When the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam departed from this world, many Arab tribes became apostate… Abu Bakr was asked to show leniency on this matter but he did not relent.
If one considers the greater plan, the next verse has a subtle connection with those who refrained from discharging their Zakat.
اِنَّمَا وَلِیُّكُمُ اللہُ وَ رَسُوۡلُہٗ وَالَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا الَّذِیۡنَ یُقِیۡمُوۡنَ الصَّلٰوۃَ وَیُؤْتُوۡنَ الزَّکٰوۃَ وَہُمْ رٰکِعُوۡنَ
Your Wali is none but Allah and [therefore] His Messenger and those who have believed – those who establish prayer and give Zakat, and they bow [in submission]
The mention of Ruku’ is symbolic of submission and surrendering oneself to Allah. This is a subtle reference to those who, after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam departed from this world were characterised by these features. Those who prayed, and discharged their Zakat willingly. In Qatadah’s narration above, he also points out that only three regions continued to discharge their Zakat after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passing; Makkah, Madinah and Bahrayn [the tribe of ‘Abdul Qais]. Many of the other beduoin tribes continued to pray but refused to discharge Zakat. This faction was also dealt with by Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he was victorious over them as well.
Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu reported:
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه، قال: لما توفي رسول الله، وكان أبو بكر، رضي الله عنه، وكفر من كفر من العرب، فقال عمر رضي الله عنه: كيف يقاتل الناس وقد قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : “أمرت أن أقاتل الناس حتى يقولوا لا إله إلا الله، فمن قالها، فقد عصم مني ماله ونفسه إلا بحقه وحسابه على الله” ؟! فقال أبو بكر: والله لأقاتلن من فرق بين الصلاة والزكاة، فإن الزكاة حق المال. والله لو منعوني عقال كانوا يؤدونه إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، لقاتلتهم على منعه، قال: عمر رضي الله عنه: فوالله ما هو إلا أن رأيت الله قد شرح صدر أبي بكر للقتال، فعرفت أنه الحق
When the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was appointed as his successor. Amongst the Arabs some men apostatized. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu resolved to fight them.
‘Umar ibn Al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to Abu Bakr, “How can you fight them when the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has declared, ‘I have been commanded to fight people till they testify La ilaha illa Allah (there is no true god except Allah); and if they do it, their blood (life) and property are secured except when justified by law, and it is for Allah to call them to account.’?”
Upon this Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “By Allah, I would definitely fight him who makes distinction between Salah and Zakat because it is an obligation upon the rich to pay Zakat. By Allah, I will fight them even to secure the piece of rope which they used to give to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam!”
‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “I realized that Allah opened the heart of Abu Bakr for fighting those who refused to pay Zakat, and I fully recognized that to be correct.”
While we have not exhausted all the possible responses, what has been mentioned thus far ought to suffice.
 Surah al Ma’idah: 54
 Musnad Ahmed vol. 2 pg. 448 Hadøth no: 1336, Jami’ al Tirmidhi, Abwab al Manaqib, Hadith no: 3715, Khasa’is Amir al Mu’minin by al Nasa’i Hadith no: 31, al Mustadrak vol. 4 pg. 298
 Al Thiqāt of ibn Hibban vol. 6 pg. 444, Al Kāmil of Ibn ‘Adi vol.4 pg.22.
 Abu Dawood, Kitab al Jihad, Hadith: 2700
 Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah vol. 17 pg. 138 Hadith no: 32800, al Sunan al Kubra lil-Nasa’i vol. 7 pg. 434 Hadith 8403
 Fada’il al Sahabah vol. 2 pg. 23 Hadith 966
 Musnad Ahmed vol. 17 pg. 360 Hadith no:11258, vol.17 pg. 390 Hadith no. 11289 vol. 18 pg. 295 Hadith no: 11773, vol. 18 pg. 299 Hadith no: 11775, Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah vol. 17 pg. 105 Hadith no: 32745, Musnad Abi Ya’la vol. 2 pg. 341, al Sunan al Kubra lil-Nasa’i vol. 7 pg. 466 Hadith no: 8489, al Mustadrak vol. 3 pg. 122
 Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Manaqib, Hadith no: 3608
 Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Zakat, Hadith no: 1065
 Ta’zim Qadr al Salah pgs. 543-547
 Al Kashf wal Bayan vol.11 pg. 383
 Al Kashf wal Bayan vol.11 pg. 387
 Paraphrased from Tafsir al Tabari vol. 8 pg. 521
 Surah al Ma’idah: 55
 Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al I’tisam bil-Kitab wal Sunnah, Hadith no: 7285; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Iman, Hadith no:20