Chapter 3: Imamate as Envisaged in the Verse of Aulu al–Amr
﴿ يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَ أَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَ أُولِي الأَْمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنْ تَنازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَ الرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَ الْيَوْمِ الآْخِرِ ذلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَ أَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً ﴾
“O, you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle, if you(truly) believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and fairer in the end”. (4:59)
In the above Qur’anic verse, God, the Most Exalted, orders people to obey Him and to obey the Prophet (saws) and those in authority. It is clear that obedience to God primarily includes obedience to the commands that God has revealed in the Qur’an and imparted to the people through the Prophet (saws) as in the verse,
“Keep up prayers and pay the poor–rate”. (2:43)
Obeying the commands of Prophet (saws) can be discussed under two headings:
These are Divine commands inspired to the Prophet, who imparted them to the people, but in case they begin with such phrases as “I command you to...” and “I forbid you from”, abundantly found in fiqhi sources, they are called Prophetic orders. Obeying them means obeying the Prophet. Acting according to them means obeying God’s commands since they are ascribed to the Divine.
These commands are not classified as “Divine commands”, but they are commands issued by the Prophet as a wali, guardian and ruler of the Islamic community, such as the commands concerning war, peace, administration of the Islamic government and community. The Qur’anic words, “… and obey the Apostle”, in the verse includes both kids of commands.
The irrefutable reasons raised in theology (kalam), prove that the Prophet (saws) is divinely protected against error when issuing any commands or prohibitions. He never orders others to commit sins, nor does he issue erroneous commands or prohibitions.
In the above mentioned Qur’anic verse a mention is made that the obedience to the Prophet is absolute. Had there existed a possibility of his issuing any erroneous command or prohibition, the holy Qur’anic verse would have restricted the obedience to the Prophet (but it has not.)
When ordering that parents should be obeyed which is far less important than obeying the Prophet, God the Most Exalted says,
“And we have enjoined on man goodness to his parents, and if they contend with you that you should associate (others) with me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them”. (29:8)
Because the parents might enjoin (their children) to associate someone with God they must not be obeyed if it comes to association with God. In the verse of Aulu al–Amr, however, obeying the Prophet (saws) is not restricted to any circumstances or situations.
Yet another evidence confirming and emphasizing the unrestricted obedience to the Prophet (saws) is that in many verses the phrase “obedience to the Prophet” comes directly after the phrase “obedience to God”, without repeating the verb اطيعوا meaning “obey”.
For example, in,
“And obey Allah and the Apostle, that you may be shown mercy” (3:132)
the verb “obey” is used only once before the words “Allah” and “the Apostle”, indicating that one has to obey the Prophet in all commands and prohibitions he issues, just as one has to obey God’s commands and prohibitions. Therefore, the obedience to the Prophet (saws) is undoubtedly absolute.
When we want to examine the issues of imamate and inerrancy of the Imams, God bless them all, in the verse of Aulu al–Amr we need to consider the following:
1. What the term Aulu al–Amr means.
2. To whom it is ascribed.
3. Aulu al–Amr, in the traditions of “Manzilah”, “Ita’ah” and “Thaqalayn”.
4. The traditions on “Aulu al–Amr” in Shi’ite and Sunnite sources.
This word is made up of two words “اولی”, meaning “possessor,” and “الامر” meaning “command”, and “affair, authority”, the latter sense is more distinct, because Aulu al–Amr is mentioned in the following verse, which refers to the second meaning
“And when there comes to them news of security or fear, they spread it abroad; and if they had referred it to the Apostle and to those in authority among them, those among them who can search out the knowledge of it would have known it” (4:83)
Thus Aulu al–Amr “اولی الامر” means the possessors of authority who have the right to manage the affairs of all aspects of life, who naturally have the qualifications of becoming guardians of the affairs (of people) and it is God, the Owner of Authority and the Guardian of everything, who has entrusted this responsibility to them, and He has not given it to those who illegitimately and forcibly come to power. It is quite obvious that the owner of a house is the real possessor of the house, not the one who has occupied it by force, deceptions and tricks.
The commentators of the Qur’an introduce various views about the meaning of this word including the following:
2. The Companions of the Prophet (saws)
3. The Immigrants (Mahajrun) and the Helpers (Ansar).
4. The Companions (Sahabih) and the second generation of the Companions (Tab’in).
5. The four Caliphs.
6. Abu Bakr and Umar.
7. The knowledgeable people.
8. Army commanders.
9. The Imams from the family of the Prophet, Ahl al–Bayt, God’s peace and blessing on them all.
10. Ali (as), peace on him
11. Those whom the Shariah has somehow entrusted with guardianship (over people)
12. Ahl al–Hill wa al–Akd “اهل حل و عقد”
13. The rulers of justice “امرا الحق” 1
We will ponder into the points and indications in the Qur’anic verse before judging and evaluating the above statements.
Here it is worth considering how the quoted Qur’anic verse sketches obedience to “Aulu al–Amr”.
The obedience to “those in authority”, as mentioned in the verse, is absolute, that is, it is restricted by no condition, just as is the case the of obeying the Prophet we already discussed. This absolute obedience indicates that no particular command or circumstance has confined it. Rather, obeying their commands and prohibitions is obligatory.
Obeying these three entities knows no bound, as the layout of the verse indicates.
Before the word God and the word Prophet, the verb “obey” is mentioned: “Obey Allah and Obey the Apostle”, whereas the words Aulu al–Amr come directly after to “the Prophet”; thus the same verb embraces both the Prophet and Aulu al–Amr, which shows that the verb “obey”, preceding the word the Prophet, applies to Aulu al–Amr, too.
Just as the Prophet has to be obeyed, so have the Aulu al–Amr, which is a clear proof indicating that the obedience to Aulu al–Amr is identical to the obedience to the Prophet in all commands and prohibitions (they issue). The unavoidable conclusion is that, will be: like the Prophet, “Aulu al–Amr” are inerrant in all their commands and prohibitions.
To expound this point, it can be said that the verb “obey” has been used only once to refer to both the Prophet and to Aulu al–Amr. Logically, it cannot be absolute and a conditioned at the same time i.e. absolute for the Prophet, and conditioned for “Aulu al–Amr” because these two opposites do not go together.
Inasmuch as the verb “obey” which refers to the Prophet is absolute, rendering obedience to Aulu al–Amr must to be absolute, too, with no conditions to restrict it, otherwise, the verb will mean two contradictory things.
Thus, the verse clearly indicates that, like the Prophet (saws) Aulu al–Amr (those in authority), are infallible. Rendering obedience to Aulu al–Amr, who have the mentioned particularities, signifies their inerrancy which has attracted the attention of a number of Sunni commentators of the Qur’an, such as Fakhr al–Razi2, whose argument is briefly stated below.
Fakhr al–Razi, too has recognized the inerrancy of “Aulu al–Amr”, as shown in the summary that follows: “God, the Most Exalted, has definitely made it obligatory to obey “those in authority”. Those to whom obedience is thus made obligatory must be infallible.
If they were not, and if they were liable to err, they according to the verse ought to be obeyed which justifies obeying an erroneous act, whereas it is forbidden to commit wrong deeds. Therefore, such a supposition does not observe the difference between these two opposing points”.3
Having advanced his argument for the inerrancy of those in authority, Fakhr al–Razi refers to the Qur’anic verse, and says about these who are meant to be Aulu al–Amr: “This Aulu al–Amr cannot be taken to mean the Imams, the Shi’ites hold to be infallible. Rather, it denotes the People of Hal and Aqd اهل حال و عقد those who are responsible for taking decisions in important social questions.
These people are free from sin in their decisions and their decisions are absolutely correct and in accordance with reality”.
Fakhr al–Razi’s phrase “those in authority” means people of Hal.and Aqd, who are free from sin in decisions, is not correct for the following reasons:
1) The phrase “Aulu al–Amr”, in the Qur’anic verse, is plural in form, inclusive of individuals (whose decisions ought to be obeyed; that is, each one of them pronounces a decision that ought to be obeyed). If, on the other hand, it means the People of Hal wa Aqd, it will be a collective unit, which opposes the apparent meaning of the verse.
The verse obviously indicates the necessity of obeying those in authority, each of whom has to be obeyed by a special command. They are not a “group” whose members have to be obeyed through a joint decision.
2) Ismah (inerrancy) is a divinely–bestowed immunity, a real spiritual quality, requiring a real referent (to match) who must undertake a genuine affair “the People of Hall and Aqd”, is a collective unit and collective unit is an arbitrary group. It is thus impossible to apply a genuine affair to an arbitrary one.
3) All Muslims agree that other than the Imams of the Shiites and the prophets there are no infallible (m’asum) ones.
As regards Imamiyyah Shi’ites’ views that by Aulu al–Amr they mean the twelve infallible Imams, Fakhr al–Razi has raised the following objections:
The first objection: The necessity of obeying these infallible Imams is either absolute and does not require true knowledge of them or the ability to know them and this would be too demanding, for it would be beyond one’s capacity, i.e. it is impossible for us to obey them if we, presumably, cannot know them or requires true knowledge of them which is not correct, either. It is incorrect to limit their obedience because Qur’anic verse confirms that it is unconditioned”.
Answer: Obedience to the infallible Imams, does not require having true knowledge of them and so one cannot shoulder it aside on the excuse of lack of true knowledge of them, because the obedience to them is, conditioned. It is thus ones duty to know them in order to be able to obey them. These are two different cases.
Conditions are of two kinds: a condition that renders something wajib (obligatory), and a condition which is itself wajib. For example, Hajj becomes obligatory when one can afford it; so, affording it is called wujub condition. Hajj will not be wajib, if one cannot afford it, but, in order to perform prayers, one has to be ritually pure. This means performing prayer, a religious duty, depends on being ritually pure.
Therefore, one cannot perform his prayers without being ritually pure. If one does not get ritually pure, one cannot perform prayer and is said to have sinned because it is incumbent on one to be purify (beforehand). As regards Hajj one cannot afford the expenses it is not wajib (incumbent) on him to go on Hajj, if and such a thing is not an offence.
In the same way, obedience to both the Prophet and the Imams is dependent on knowing them. Therefore, one has to know them in order to obey them. Thus, the necessity of obeying them is an absolute one, but the very obedience to them is dependent (on other factors).
By giving irrefutable arguments, God, the Exalted, has prepared the way for acquiring this knowledge. Just as the Prophet is known by indisputable proofs, so are the Infallible Imams, who are the successors to the Prophet. They are made known to people through detailed conclusive and convincing reasons in Shiite theological books and narrations. Therefore, acquiring knowledge about them is very necessary.
The second objection: “According to Imamiyyah Shi’ites there is only one Imam for every period, but (as we know) the term “Aulu al–Amr” refers to more than one person.
Answer: Although there is only one Imam for every period the obedience to Imams extends to various periods. This, however, does not oppose (the idea that) obedience to an Imam is obligatory during a certain time. The believers are, therefore, bound to obey, in various periods, the infallible Imams, who are made known to them.
The third objection: “If Aulu al–Amr were to mean the Infallible Imams, the verse would read like this: ‘then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle and those in authority” but the verse does not say so.
Answer: Since settling disputes and quarrels by the Infallible Imams is according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah and because they are fully versed in the Book and the Sunnah, referring a problem to them is, in fact, referring it to God and His Messenger. So, it is not necessary to have the phrase “Aulu al-Amr” in the verse.
Another important point in explicating the meaning of “Aulu al–Amr” is the significance of letter fa فا that has the function of, producing an effect. This is clear in the conditional sentence after the statement: “Obey Allah and Obey the Apostle and those in authority”; which reads: then if you quarrel about anything refer it to Allah and the Apostle”.
This sentence means that the necessity of referring cases of dispute to Allah and the Apostle originates from the necessity of obedience to Allah, the Apostle and Aulu al–Amr. The use of the letter fa’ in the conditional sentence reveals two fundamental things: “inerrancy of those in authority” and “their extensive knowledge of the whole Book and the Sunnah”.
Some claim that if “those who are in authority”, err and sin or take wrong decisions on a case of dispute, their judgment will have nothing to do with the Book and the Sunnah.
But, the idea which the Qur’anic verse conveys by using the letter fa’ فا, is that just as the obedience of those “in authority” is obligatory the dispute must be referred to God and Apostle.
Those who are in authority ought to have extensive knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah because if they issued even one particular command which is not according to the Book and the Sunnah, and the command was deviating, this would mean that the principle of “referring the dispute to Allah and Apostle” had, not been put into effect.
The use of the fa’ to express consequence shows, that obedience to those in authority is always the cause of referring disputes to Allah and Apostle. Therefore, the fa’, فا, in the stated verse, is a clear indication that those in authority applies to none except the Infallible Imams.
We can conclude from the above–mentioned observation that:
a) “Aulu al–Amr”, those in authority, in the stated verse, are liable to no sin and error when they issue a command or prohibition.
b) The term “those in authority” does not include Ahl al–Hall and Aqd, though Fakhr al–Razi claims that it does.
c) According to what has been proved, if we reconsider the eleven points about Aulu al–Amr we find that the only plausible meaning of “those in authority” inferred from the Qur’anic verse, is the Shiites’ Infallible Imams and there is a consensus about that: no one other than the Imams is included in Aulu al–Amr.
In explaining the meaning of Aulu al–Amr it was started that this term includes only those who have the right to be guardians and owners of the affairs of the community, and they continue having this right even if they are deprived of it, just as in the case of usurping one’s house and driving its owner out.
Yet, another indication of the dignified position and eminent rank of those in authority is their being mentioned next to God and the Messenger in the Qur’anic verse, thus making absolute obedience to them incumbent on others, a rank assigned to no one except those who are worthy of it.
These two important points (i.e. the meaning of “those in authority”, and their being mentioned next to God and the Messenger with regard to the necessity of obedience to them) tyrants and unjust rulers from the domain of Aulu al–Amr, referred to in the Qur’anic verse.
In his Kashaf,4 a commentary of the Qur’an, referring to the above verse Zamakhshari says:
“God and His Messenger are averse to those who rule with an iron fist; they are not worthy of being related to God and the Messenger as regards the obedience. The most fitting name to them would be “the conquering bandits”.
The above quotation is an answer to Al–Tabari, who includes “those who rule with an iron fist” under Aulu al–Amr, and claims that it is incumbent on people to obey them. Thus his view proves to be groundless.
The following is Al–Tabari’s words:
The best thing said in this regard is, “they (Aulu al–Amr) are the commanders and rulers, as it has been soundly reported from Prophet (saws), and that obedience has to be rendered to imams and governors in things to be obeyed and in things that bring benefits to the Muslims”
Which corresponds to the words of Ali ibn Muslim al–Tusi, who relates from, ibn Abi Fadayik from Abdullah ibn Mohammad ibn Urwah from Hisham ibn Urwah, on the authority of Salih al–Samman on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, who said,
“The Prophet (saws) has said, ‘There will come after me, good governors, with all good, and evil–governors, with all evil. Listen to them and obey them in all that agrees with truth, pray behind them and if they do good, it will do you and them good, and if they do you ill, it will be to your benefit and against them”.
Ibn al–Mothna has reported from Yayha ibn Ubaydillah from Nafi’ ibn Abdullah, who has quoted the Prophet (saws) as saying: “It is incumbent on a Muslim to obey what he likes and dislikes, except if it comes to committing sins. If one commands you to commit a sin, do not obey him”. Ibn al–Mothna relates from Khalid ibn Ubaydillah, on the authority of Nafi, on the authority of ibn Ummar who has quoted a similar account from the Prophet (saws).5
Tabari refers to the above mentioned narration and concludes that “the commanders” in general whether righteous or wicked, are meant by Aulu al–Amr and considers obedience to governor as obligatory.
Besides the real meaning of Aulu al–Amr and its coming next to the Messenger in the Qur’anic verse, other objections are directed to Al–Tabari’s view, which are as follows:
The first objection: The traditions (Tabari has cited) are not authentic because in the chain of transmission of the stated narration we find the name of ibn Abi Fadayik, concerning whom ibn Sa’d, a leader of ilm rijal and hadith, says, “He is said to have reported a large number of traditions, but he is not authentic”.6
Ibn Habban considers him (ibn Abi Fadayik) to be the narrators who make errors.7
Abd Allah ibn Mohammad ibn Urwah says that there is no evidence in the well–known books of rijal, which confirms that he is “authentic”.
The chain of transmission of the second tradition also contains (name of some)weak and unknown narrators, such as Yahya ibn Ubaydillah whom leaders of ilm rijal, such as Abu Hatim, ibn Aiyynah, Yayha al–Qattan, ibn Moeen, ibn Abi Shaybah, Nisa’i and Darquotni consider weak and unreliable.8
The second objection: The traditions have nothing to do with the verse of Aulu al–Amr, nor are they concerned with the interpretation of the Qur’anic verse in question.
The third objection: This Al–Tabari’s interpretation is not consistent with other Qur’anic verses, including the following:
“And do not obey the bidding of the extravagant, which make mischief in the land and do not act aright”. (26:151-152)
The term “Aulu al–Amr” implies “guardianship”, whereas the function of “religious scholars” is simply to clarify things to people.
a) The term “Aulu al–Amr” does not convey the idea of “jurists”, unless there is an indication from outside that assigns them such a position. This, however, has not been referred to by the verse. The reason why some say that by Aulu al–Amr ulama are meant is because regarding their daily affairs, people usually follow and obey ulama.
b) The Qur’anic verse preceding the one we have started (at the beginning of this chapter) says: “…when you judge between people, you have to judge with justice”, which clearly delineates the duties of rulers.
The Qur’anic verse in question points out to the people’s duties towards Aulu al–Amr, which clearly indicates that Aulu al–Amr refers to governors not ulama.
c) If by Aulu al–Amr it means ulama, then two questions will have to be asked: “does it mean ulama in general or every individual (religious scholar) whose opinion has to be accepted and decisions obeyed?
If the first one is meant, then the answer will be the same as that we have given while commenting on Fakhr al–Razi’s objections (pages 52–3 concerning the people of Hal and Aqd). If the second one is meant, then, “how can the Qur’anic verse say that absolute obedience to them is obligatory?” Were it really so, the Qur’an and traditions would have specified the (relevant) conditions.
As we already stated about the effect of the letter (فا–i.e. then) in the previous verse, the other part of this verse is:
“…then if you quarrel about anything refer it to Allah and the Apostle”.
This (part of the verse) shows clearly that the necessity of referring the cases of quarrel to God and the Apostle is undoubtedly related to the necessity of obeying God, the Apostle and Aulu al-Amr.
The reason why word Aulu al–Amr is not reiterated in other part of the verse is because Aulu al–Amr are fully–versed in the Book and in the Sunnah, and so “referring cases of quarrel” to them is actually referring them to God and the Apostle. We know, however, that except for those who are divinely protected from sins and errors, others, are not free from mistakes.
As regards supposing that the term “Aulu al–Amr” means religious scholars there are yet other comments that are worth considering. A deliberation on these comments discloses further problems:
a) “You” in “then if you quarrel” and those addressed in “O you who believe” refer to the same people, and this shows that “the believers” who are thus addressed and Aulu al–Amr are (two) different groups. “Aulu al–Amr” means those who issue commands and “the believers” means those who have to obey.
b) It is thus understood that “the quarrel” eluded to in the aforementioned verse means the quarrels between different groups of believers, not the quarrels between believers and Aulu al–Amr.
c) The assumption that there is a change in address from “believers” to “Aulu al–Amr”, opposes the context of the verse. Besides, there is no evidence for it in the verse.
a) Qortubi and Jasses hold that the verse “then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle…” indicates that religious scholars are meant be Aulu al–Amr, because common people do not know how to refer things to God and the Messenger. Taken this, God addresses religious scholars in the verse ordering them to refer the disputes which may occur to God and the Messengers.9
Abul So’ud has quoted the above mentioned Qur’anic verse in his commentary, but has given a quite different view from what the above mentioned two commentators hold.
He says, “The phrase ‘then if you quarrel’ indicates that Aulu al–Amr cannot mean religious scholars because the followers of a jurist are not qualified enough to argue with him over juridical verdicts, unless we say that the Qur’anic phrase ‘then if you quarrel’ does not concern the followers and only the jurists are addressed which is also impossible.10
a) Qortubi and Jessas both maintain that the jurists are addressed in the phrase “if you quarrel”. But it is obvious that the verse addresses all believers. So, their view stands groundless.
b) Abul So’ud believes that if jurists are meant by Aulu al–Amr, then the word “quarrel” will mean the quarrel between jurists and their followers, whereas it is the believers who are addressed in the verse.
c) Inasmuch as both the “believers” and “Aulu al–Amr” are mentioned in the verse, it can be understood that the quarrel is between the believers themselves not between the believers and Aulu al–Amr if we take Aulu al–Amr to mean ulama.
So far, it has become clear that on the basis of what has been already stated, Aulu al–Amr cannot mean ulama and so Qortubi and Jasses’ claims are not correct and it is clear that Abul So’ud’s statement is unsound.
A deliberation on the holy Qur’anic verse makes it clear that Aulu al–Amr does not mean the Companions, the Tab’in, or the Immigrants, (Muhajirun) and the Helpers (Ansar):
a) The holy Qur’anic verse addresses the believers in general, specifying those whom the believers have to pledge absolute obedience.
The believers are thus ranked among those who obey and submit, while God, His Messenger and Aulu al–Amr, give commands and possess absolute authority. A juxtaposition of these two groups clearly shows that “those who believe” are different from Aulu al–Amr, “those in authority” the believers merely obey God, the Messenger and Aulu al–Amr give commands.
The thing which confirms that they are different is that “Aulu al–Amar” is mentioned next to God and the Messenger, who have to be obeyed. This requires that Aulu al–Amr cannot be the Companions, the Tab’in, the Immigrants, or the Helpers. The believers who were addressed when the verse was revealed were the Companions, the Immigrants and the Helpers.
b) In case Aulu al–Amr is taken to mean the Companions, then the following question will arise: Does this mean that each one of the Companions has authority as a guardian, or all the Companions have such a position? If we accept the second view their words will not be valid unless they all reach a consensus. This opposes the truth of the verse, as we already explained in response to Fakhr al–Razi’s observations.
The first option and that is each one of the Companions has an authority as a guardian also opposes the truth and is not consistent with the life style of the Companions, for in the time of the Companions none of them was so superior to others that the others had to (absolutely) obey them.
In addition, the Companions differed widely in as far as knowledge and practice are concerned and many of them lacked scholarly and morally qualifications so that concerning these people, including Walid ibn Auqba, the Qur’anic verse
“O you who believe! If an evil–doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you have done” (49:6)
Was revealed. So, how can Aulu al–Amr mean all of the Companions, or the Immigrants and the Helpers?
Aulu al–Amr does not mean military commanders of serriyahs, in which the Prophet was not personally present. Besides the already–mentioned proofs –i.e. having in the verse, the phrase Aulu al–Amr next to the Messenger which indicates that obeying Aulu al–Amr is obligatory, the use of the letter فا, meaning “then”, in the Qur’anic statement: “then if you quarrel about anything…”
Which requires an absolute obedience to God and the Messenger and Aulu al–Amr and confirms that Aulu al–Amr are infallible and finally reaching the conclusion that military commanders are not inerrant– what the Companions and the Tab’in have left behind confirms this idea. Here are some of what they have left:
1. Ibn Abbas is quoted to have said that the Qur’anic verse of Aulu al–Amr concerns a person whom the Prophet (saws) had assigned as a military leader of one of the campaigns.11 In the chain of transmission of this hadith mention is made of the name of Hajjaj ibn Mohammad concerning whom ibn Sa’id says, “He suffered from a failing memory in the final stage of his life”. Ibn Hajar says, “He (Hajjaj) was narrating while he was in this condition”.12 Naturally, his reports are not valid.
2. Maymoon ibn Mehran is reported to have said “Aulu al–Amr are those who led campaigns”.13 In the chain of transmission of this hadith, mention is made of the name of Anbast ibn Sa’id Zarees concerning whom ibn Habban says, “He often erred”.14
Tabari has quoted Sadi to have said that15 the verse of Aulu al–Amr refers to the story of the army in which Khalid ibn al– Walid was appointed as a leader and Ammar Yassir, who was present, had disputed with Khalid ibn al–Walid over a promise of protection Khalid had given to one of the Muslims.16
This report is not sound (saheeh) firstly because it is a mursal report and secondly because Yahya ibn Mo’in and ‘Aqili say that Sadi is “weak” (in his reporting narrations) while Jowzjani considers him a big liar.17
3. Below is Bukhari’s account of the interpretation of the verse of Aulu al–Amr
“Sadaqat ibn al–Fazl has reported on the authority of Hajjaj ibn Mohammad, on the authority of ibn Joraij, on the authority of Y’ali ibn Muslim, on the authority of S’aeed ibn Jubayr, that ibn Abbas, may God be pleased with both of them, has said, “the verse Obey God and Obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you” refers to Abdillah ibn Hozafat ibn Qays ibn ‘Adi whom the Prophet (saws) assigned as a military leader to fight a war”.18
As is understood from Fath al–Bari, a book by ibn Hajar, this narration has probably been quoted on the authority of Saneed ibn Dawood Musaysi as is stated by ibn Sekan, not on the authority of Sadaqat ibn Fazl, as most narrators have mentioned and confirmed by Bukhari’s Saheeh. Now, both Abu Hatem and Nisa’i consider Saneed ibn Dawood to be “weak”.19
a) So we can conclude that: We are not sure that this tradition has been reported by Sadaqat ibn Fazl. It may have been reported by Saneed, who is regarded to be “weak”.
b) In the chain of transmission, mention has been made of the name of Hajjaj ibn Mohammad, concerning whom ibn Sa’d says, “He suffered from a failing memory in the final stage of his life”. Ibn Hajar says, “He (Hajjaj) reported traditions while his condition was like that.20
From the discussions previously presented it is clear that Abu Bakr and Umar cannot be regarded as “Aulu al–Amr”. Also, their manifest inability to give (appropriate) answers to questions they were asked and their views which were contrary to the Divine injunctions, as it is recorded in history and hadith literature, confirm our claim. For further elucidation, the reader may refer to volumes 6 and 7 of al–Ghadir.
In some Sunni books of traditions we can find this narration: “Follow those after me: Abi Bakr and Umar” ordering people to follow them. This tradition is open to dispute.
In the chain of transmission of this narration mention is made of the name of Abdul Malik ibn Umayer about whom Ahmad ibn Hanbal says, in his Tahdhib al–Kamal21 “Abdul Malik ibn Umayer is (a person who relates) really confused hadiths”.
Ahmad ibn Hanbal considers him to be “weak”, and Abu Hatim says, “He does not have a good memory; his memory failed him in the final stage of his life”.
In his chain of transmissions of Tirmidhi22 mention is made of the name of salim ibn ‘Ala Moradi, whom ibn Mo’in and Nesaii consider to be “weak”23. In the same source the name of Sa’id ibn Yahya ibn Sa’id al–Omawi is mentioned. Ibn Hajjar quotes Salih Mohammad to have said, “He (Yahya ibn Sai’d al–Omawi) often made mistakes”.24
If such traditions had existed, Abu Bakr and Umar would have cited them in the consultative assembly at Saqifah as evidence of their competence to hold the position of caliphate. But it is definite that this tradition had not been quoted. This confirms that the tradition (in question) cannot be attributed to (the Prophet -S.A.W.-), and it is a faked tradition.
Based on the aforementioned evidence, it is clear that those given authority by Shariah, such as one’s father and grandfather, are not considered as “absolute Aulu al–Amr”.
“The person concerned in the verse “… and those in authority from among you”, is The Commander of the Faithful, Ali (as) and the verse was revealed when the Prophet (saws) appointed Ali (as) as his deputy in Medina. Then Ali (as) inquired, ‘Do you appoint me as your deputy to take care of the women and children?’
The Prophet said, “Are you not content to be to me as Aaron was to Moses when he (Moses) said ‘Take my place among my people, and act well?” When God, the Mighty and the Magnificent, said “and those in authority from among you” he (Mojahid) said Aulu al–Amr refers to no one but Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), who was appointed by God during the Prophet’s lifetime to run the affairs after the demise of the Prophet.
This occurred when the Prophet (saws) appointed him (to represent him) in Medina. Then, God, the Mighty and the Magnificent, ordered His servants to obey him (Ali) and not to oppose him”.
Mojahid, a learned figure, a commentator of the Qur’an and one of the Tab’in, states that the verse (in question) was revealed when the Prophet (saws) appointed Ali (as), peace be on him, to take his place in Medina. According to this hadith Ali (as) was given all that was with the Prophet just as Aaron was given all that was with Moses, including his being the Prophet's deputy.
Accodingly, obedience to Ali (as) is incumbent upon all Muslims.
Besides the occasion of the revelation of the verse, it is worth mentioning that the tradition of Manzilah is, according to both the Shi’ites and the Sunnis, perfectly sound. Having cast light on the tradition of Manzilah and the reason for the revelation of the verse, Hakim Hasakani says,
“The tradition of Manzilah is the tradition concerning which our master, Abu Hazim used to say, ‘I have extracted this tradition attributing it to five thousand narrators”. Thus, there is no doubt that this tradition is authentic and many great narrators of hadith, such as ibn Asaker, have related it on the authority of many Companions.27
This tradition indicates that after the Prophet, Ali (as) is the best and most learned of Muslims, and was the Prophet’s deputy in the lifetime of the Prophet and after his demise.
Another evidence that Ali (as) is meant by Aulu al–Amr is “the narration of obedience”, which has been related through many ways and in different versions. Hakim Nayshaburi has mentioned it in his al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihyan28; Dhahabi has given a summary of the tradition confirming that it is sound. The text of the hadith is as follows:
“The Prophet (saws) has said, ‘Whoever obeys me, has obeyed Allah; whoever disobeys me, has disobeyed Allah. Whoever obeys Ali, has obeyed me, and however disobeys Ali has disobeyed me”.
In this hadith the Prophet (saws) has made obedience to Ali inseparable from obeying himself and has made obedience to himself inseparable from obeying God. He has also made disobeying Ali equal to disobeying himself (the Prophet), and the Prophet has made disobeying himself as disobedience to God.
This hadith explicitly signifies that obedience to Ali (as) is as obligatory as the obedience to the Prophet (saws) and it conveys the same idea as that of the Aulu al–Amr verse. They both state that obeying Aulu al–Amr is the same as obeying the Messenger of God (saws). This tradition which is in fact an interpretation of the verse of Aulu al–Amr, is applicable to the Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).
This tradition also shows that Ali (as) is divinely protected from sin and error. (To prove it logically, we can say that): obedience is consequent on a command; that is, if there is no command, there is no obedience. “Command” (in turn) is consequent on a “will” which is ascribed to “yearning” and “perceiving” the profit of one’s act.
Now that the hadith links “obedience to Ali (as.)” to the “obedience to the Prophet (saws.)” and considers them united, the command of Ali (as) is the command of the Prophet (saws) and his will is the will of the Prophet and the profit he perceives is the profit which the Prophet perceives and this means nothing but Ali’s infallibility.
Yet, another proof which supports the idea that the Household of the Prophet, God’s peace and blessing be on them all, (the infallible Imams), are meant by Aulu al–Amr, is the hadith of Thaqalayn, which both the Shi’ites and the Sunnis confirm strongly. This hadith is mentioned in many hadith sources. Though variously worded, the hadith contains the following two statements:
“I am leaving behind two great and precious things (Thaqalayn): the Book of Allah, and my Ahl al–Bayt (Household). If you hold fast to them, you will not be deviated; the two will never separate until they return to me at the pond (of Kawthar)”29.
In his Al–Sawa’iq al–Muhriqah30, ibn Hajar says the concerning this hadith:
“The hadith of holding fast to of the two precious things has been related in many ways”. It has been related on the authority of more than twenty of the Companions. Some say that the holy Prophet (saws) said these words when he was ill in Medina, at a time when the Companions were gathering around him in his room.
Others say that the Prophet (saws) said it at Ghadir Khumm. Still others say that the Prophet (saws) said it after he had returned from Ta’if. There is no contradiction between reports, because the Prophet (saws) may have said it in all these occasions to emphasize the special status of the Qur’an and his pure itrah”.
Alamah Bahrani, a great Shi’ite scholar, has reported in his Ghayat al–Maram the hadith on the authority of thirty nine Sunni and eighty two Shi’ite scholars.31
Several things can be deduced from this noble narration:
(1) People’s not going astray, will be impossible without holding fast to two great and precious things the Qur’an and the Household of the Prophet (saws). If they do not follow either one or both, they will surely go astray.
(2) The Prophet’s Household and the Qur’an are inseparably joined; they will never separate. This clearly indicates that people must hold fast to the Prophet’s Household .The first of whom is Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), peace be on him and obey them just as they abide by the Qur’an and obey it.
(3) That the members of Household of the Prophet will never separate from the Qur’an clearly shows that they are free from error and sin. Should the Household of the Prophet not be free from error, they will be separated (from the Qur’an); whereas according to the hadith of Thaqalayn they will never be.
Another proof that Aulu al–Amr is applicable to Ali (as) and his eleven infallible progeny (the twelve Imamiyyah Shi’ite Imams), are the reports recorded in Shi’ite and Sunni sources, where Aulu al–Amr is interpreted as Ali, peace be on him and the eleven infallible Imams who came after him.
In his Fara’id al–Simtayn32 Ibrahim ibn Mohammad ibn Mo’ayd Jowayani33 relates on the authority of a number of narrators, and Sheikh Saduq ibn Babwayah Qommi in his Kamal al–Deen34 have (both) reported that Saleem ibn Qays has said:
During the period of the caliphate of Uthman Ali (as), was in the mosque of the Messenger of God (saws), where a group of people were talking about the merits and past records of Quraysh, and what the Prophet (saws) had said about Quraysh, and Ansars’ merits, their illustrious deeds and feat, and God’s praise of them in the Qur’an. Each group mentioned their own merits.
Over two hundred men were gathering including Ali (as) Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Abdul Rahman ibn Owf, Talhe, Zubayr, Miqdad, Abudhar, Imam al–Hasan and Imam al–Husain (as) and ibn Abbas. Ali (as) remained silent throughout the session that lasted until noon.
When he was asked to speak, he said, “You have each given a detailed account of your merits and left nothing unsaid. O Quraysh and Ansar I want you, to tell me why God, the Mighty and High has given you such superiority? Was it because of your own particularities, your tribal characteristics or your family attributes? Or was there other reasons?”
They said, “It is for the Prophet’s (saws) sake that we have been given such a favour”.
“You have said the truth, O you, the assembly of Quraysh and Ansar!” Ali (as) said. “Don’t you know that it is because of us, Household of the Prophet (Ahl al–Bayt) that you have attained good in this world the next?”
Ali (as) then mentioned some of the outstanding merits of Ahl al–Bayt and his own and had the audience affirm it, which they did.
He then asked them, “Do you know when these Qur’anic verses were revealed:
‘O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you’ (4:59)
“Only Allah is your wali and His apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor rate while they bow” (5:55)
‘What! Do you think that you will be left alone while Allah has not yet known those of you who have struggled and have not taken any one as an adherent besides Allah and His Apostle and the believers. (9:16)
Then people asked the Prophet, ‘O Messenger of Allah, do these verses allude only to particular believers or to all of them?’ So, God the Most High had the Prophet make it known who “those in authority” from among them are, give them a clear idea about wilayah just as he had (already) informed them about prayers, zakat, and going to Mecca for hajj, and to appoint me as a guardian over people.
Therefore, he (the Prophet, God bless him and his family,) said to the people, ‘Surely Allah had sent me a message (because of which) I felt my breast became straitened, and thought that people would distrust me.
Then, Allah the Mighty and High ordered me to deliver the message or I would be punished. The Prophet (saws) ordered people to gather together for payer. (When they did), he God blesses him and his family, delivered a sermon and said, “O people! Do you know that Allah is my Master and I am the master of believers, and I have authority over you more than you have over yourselves?”
“Yes, we do, O Messenger of God”. They said.
“The Prophet then said to Ali (as), ‘Stand up, Ali (as).’, and I did. The Prophet, God bless him and his family, said, “For whomever I am mawla (master), Ali (as) is also his master. O God, be friendly with whoever is friendly with Ali (as) and enemy to whoever shows hostility to him”.
Then Salman stood up and said, “O Messenger of God, What is this wilayah like?”
The Prophet (saws) answered, “It is of the type of authority that I have (over the people). On whomever I have more authority than one’s self Ali (as) also has more authority”. It is on this occasion that God the Mighty and High, revealed the verse:
‘This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion’
“God is greater!” cried the Prophet (saws) “Ali’s becoming my successor is the perfection of my prophet hood and the perfection of the Religion of Allah”.
Then Abu Bakr and Umar got up and asked, ‘O Messenger of God! Do these verses mean only Ali (as)?’
The Prophet said, “yes, they mean only Ali (as) and my executors (awsiya’) until the Day of Judgment.’ They said, ‘O Messenger of God, tell us who they are.’ The Prophet (saws) said, ‘They are Ali (as), my brother, my aide, my inheritor, my executor, my vicegerent over my community, and the guardian over every believer after me.
Then comes my sons Al–Hasan (as) and Al–Husain (as) followed by nine descendants from al–Husain (as), one after the other. They are with the Qur’an and the Qur’an is with them. They will never separate from the Qur’an, nor will the Qur’an separate from them until they return to me at the pond (of Kawthar)”.
Ali (as) asked those who had been present at Ghadir Khumm and remembered what the Prophet (saws) had said to stand up and bear witness that it was true. Zayd ibn Arqam, Bara ibn ‘Azib, Salman, Abudhar and Miqdad stood up and said, ‘We bear witness and we remember what the Prophet (saws) had said on a pulpit, and confess that you were beside him.
He said, ‘O People! God the Mighty and High has ordered me to appoint as your Imam, the one who will rise up among you after me to be my executor and successor. He is the one, the obeying of whom God, the Mighty and High, has made obligatory as it is stated in His book, the obeying of whom God has made equal to obeying me.’ (This is an allusion to the verse of Aulu al–Amr.
‘O people! God, the Mighty and High, has commanded you to perform prayers and do your Hajj pilgrimage and I have explained that to you. He, the Mighty and High, has also ordered you to (believe) in wilayah, (an authority God has given to Imams) and I call you to witness that this wilayah belongs to this (person). (At this point, the Prophet pointed to Ali) and to his two sons (al–Hasan and al–Husain), who are his successors.
The above report is very detailed, but we will focus on things related to the verse of Aulu al–Amr. Those interested can refer to the details of this report in the abovementioned sources.
Late Saduq mentions this narration in his Kamal al–Deen35, on the authority of Jabir ibn Yazid Jo’fi. It is as follows:
“I heard Jabir ibn Abdallah Ansari say ‘When Allah, the Mighty and High, revealed the Qur’anic verse
‘O, you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you’,
I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, we know who God and His Messenger are. Would you tell us who ‘those in authority’ whose obedience God, the Mighty and High, has made equal to obeying you are?’
The Prophet (saws) said, ‘Jabir, (you must know that) they are my successors and Imams of the Muslims after me, the first of whom is Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), followed by Al–Hasan (as), Al–Husain (as), Ali ibn al–Husain (as), Mohammad ibn Ali (as), known in Torah as Baqir, whom you will see.
When you do, convey my greetings to him. After him, there will come Sadiq (as), Jaffar ibn Mohammad (as), then Musa ibn Ja’far (as), followed by Ali ibn Musa (as), Mohammad ibn Ali (as), Ali ibn Mohammad (as), al–Hasan ibn Ali (as), and finally the one whose kuniya (name), is the same as mine he is the hujja (argument), of God on the earth, the one whom God has prolonged his life, the son of al–Hasan ibn Ali Al–Askari (as).
He is the one through whom God will conquer the East and the West of the world. He is the one who according to the Shi’ah and his friends has gone into occultation, a period during which no one will remain steadfast in one’s belief concerning his Imamat except those whose hearts God has tested.
Usool al–Kafi36 quotes Bareed Ejli to have said:
“Imam al–Baqir (as) has said, ‘In the verse:
O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you,
God refers to us; He has ordered all the believers from now until the Day of Judgment to obey us (the infallible Imams).’
Besides the aforementioned narrations the books of hadith of Shi’ites and Sunnites include other narrations that interpret “those in authority” as the Infallible Imams. Researchers may refer to such books as Fara’id al–Simtayn, Yanabi al–Mawadeh, (from among the Sunni sources) and Usool al–Kafi, Ghayat al–Maram, and Muntekhab al–Athar (from among the Shi’i sources).
- 1. – Bahr al-Moheet, vol. 3, p. 278; Al-Tafseer al-Kabeer.
- 2. – Nayshaburi’s Qara’ib al-Qur’an, vol. 2, p. 434, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut; Mohammad Abdah and Rasheed Rida’s Tafseer al-Minar, vol. 5, p. 181, by Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut.
- 3. – Al-Tafseer al-Kabeer, the las part of the Qur’anic verse in question.
- 4. – Al-Kashaf, vol. 1, pp. 276–277, Darl–Ma’rifah, Beirut.
- 5. – Tabari, Tafseer, vol. 5, p. 95; Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut.
- 6. – Al-Tabaqat al-Kobra, vol. 5, p. 437, Dar Beirut Liltiba’a wa al-Nashr.
- 7. – Kitab al-Thiqat, vol. 9, p.42, Al-Kotob al-Thaqafiyyah Institute.
- 8. – Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 11, p. 221, Dar al-Fikr.
- 9. – Jami’ Ahkam al-Qur’an, vol. 5, p. 260, Dar al-Fikr; Ahkam al-Qur’an, by Jasses, vol. 2, p. 210, Dar al–Kitab al-Arabi.
- 10. – Irshad al-’Aqil al-Saleem, Abul So’ud’s commentary, vol. 2, p. 193, Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut.
- 11. – Tabari’s Tafseer,vol. 5, p. 92, Dar al–Ma’rifah, Beirut.
- 12. – Tahdheeb al-Tahdheeb, vol.2, p. 181.
- 13. – Tabari’s Tafseer, vol. 5, p. 92, Dar al–Ma’rifah, Beirut.
- 14. – Tahdheedb al-Tahdheeb, vol. 8. p. 138.
- 15. – Tabari’s Tafseer , p. 92, Dar al–Ma’rifah, Beirut.
- 16. – Ibid, p. 92.
- 17. – Tahdheeb al-Tahdheeb, vol. 1, p. 273.
- 18. – Bukhari’s Saheeh, vol. 3, p. 376, al-Tafseer, the section on “Obey Allah…, tradition 1010; Beirut.
- 19. – Fath al–Bari, vol8, p. 253.
- 20. – Tahdheeb al–Tahdheeb, vol. 2, p.181.
- 21. – Tahdhib al-Kamal, vol. 18, p. 373, Al-Risalah Institute.
- 22. – Tirmidhi’s Sunan, vol. 5, p. 570, tradition 3663.
- 23. – Mizan al-I’tidal, vol. 2, p. 112, Dar al-Fikr.
- 24. – Tahdheeb al-Tahdheeb, vol. 4, p. 86.
- 25. – Hakim Hasakani is a great Sunni reporter of narrations concerning whom Dhahabi says, “Ubaydillah ibn Abdullah Mohammad ibn al-Hasan al-Qorashi, al-’Ammeri al–Nayshaburi al–Hanafi, al–Hakim, known as ibn Hadhdhá. He is an adept Sheikh (master) of the science of hadith.
- 26. – Shawahid al-Tanzeel, vol. 2, p. 190, the Institute of al-Tab’ wa al-Nashr.
- 27. – Shawahid al-Tanzeel, vol. 2, p. 195, the Institute of al-Tab’ wa al-Nashr.
- 28. – Al-Mustadrak, vol. 3, p. 121, Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut.
- 29. – Tirmidhi’s Sahih, vol. 5, pp. 621–2, Dar al-Fikr; Ahmad’s Musnad, vol. 3, pp. 17 and 59; also, vol. 5, pp. 181 and 189, Dar Sadir, Beirut; Hakim’s Mustadrak, vol. 3, pp. 190–110, Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut; Khasa’is al-Nisaii, p. 93, Maktabahi Ninavi, there are many other sources quoted in Kitab Allah wa Ahl al-Bayt fi Hadith Thaqalayn.
- 30. – Al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa, p. 150, Makitbah al-Qahireh (Egypt).
- 31. – Qayat al-Maram, vol. 2, p. 304 and 367.
- 32. – Fara’id al-Simtayn, p. 312, vol. 1, the institute of al-Mahmoodi lil–Tiba’a wa al-Nashr, Beirut. Ismail Pasha in his Izah al-Maknoon, p. 182, vol. 4, Dar al-Fikr says, “Fara’id al-Simtayn which deals with the outstanding merits of al-Murtida (Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.), al-Batool, (Hazarat Fatimah Zahra (S.A.), Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husain, peace be on them by Abdillah ibn Ibrahim ibn Sa’d al-Deen Mohammad ibn Abi Bark ibn Mohammad ibn Hamoyeh al-Jowayani; He finished it in 716.
- 33. – On page 65 of his al-Mo’jam al-Mukhtas bil Mohaddtheen, Moktabat al-Sideeq, Ta’if, Dhahabi says, “Ibrahim ibn Mohammad …is a great imam, traditionist, Sheikh of Sheikhs, who was born in 644 A.H. and died in Khorasan in 722 A.H.”.
On page 67, volume 1 of al-Durar al-Kamineh Ibn Hajar says: He attended hadith lectures of (certain) professors in Hilla and Tabriz, and specially favoured it. He was a religious, dignified and good–looking man who recited the Qur’an well.
- 34. – Kamal al-Deen, p. 274.
- 35. – Kamal al-Deen, p.253.
- 36. – Usool al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 217.