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The Verse of Wilayah (Part 4)

the holy quran

Wali meaning Master

Now if we consider Master ruler or possessor of superior authority, as the meaning for Wali, there would be no contrast with other verses of the holy Quran. For mastership, ruling, and superior authority do not belong to all people. In other words, only specific persons can posses these positions, there should be certain people introduced by Allah to be responsible for mastership of the human being. It is obtained from the verse that Wilayat meaning Mastership belongs firstly to the Almighty Allah, and then to His Messenger and the believers who keep up prayer and pay alms (Zakat) while they bow during prayer.

It should be noticed that who the believers, who pay alms (Zakat) while they bow during prayer, are at the time of descent of the verse. For, the important position of Mastership is granted to him after the Almighty Allah Himself and His Messenger. 

Both Shiite and Sonny commentators have said that:

“A poor man came to the mosque and asked the Muslims for help. Nobody helped him except Ali (PBUH) who paid his ring to him, while he was bowing during his prayer. Then this verse (5:55) was descended to the Prophet (PBUH).”

We have two different ways for describing a person. In the first kind, we give a special characteristic of a specific person and we mean just that person and nobody else .In the second description, we give a general characteristic and we mean all who have this characteristic and not a specific person .To explain more, we give an example below:

Suppose a teacher is asked, “Which of your students is the most brilliant? “, and he answers,” The one who is the cleanest”.

Being the cleanest student has nothing to do with being the most brilliant student, but by giving that specific characteristic, the teacher has singled out that student from the rest. Now, if somebody tries to be clean from then on, he is not included in teacher’s answer, because the teacher’s answer was only for that specific date and time. We can also infer from the teacher’s answer that he likes cleanliness and wants his students to be clean; however, they cannot become the most brilliant student. This was an example of the first kind of description.

Now, suppose the teacher answers, “The one who tries more is the most brilliant “.Here, the teacher does not mean a specific student, rather it is said for all students to try harder in becoming the most brilliant. Therefore, the teacher has given a general characteristic and every student who tries more; may become the most brilliant student. This was an example of the second kind of description.

  Now let us discuss the above verse. This verse says that after Allah and the Prophet (PBUH) those who pay alms during the bending state of their prayer are the Masters of other Muslims. Because there is no relation between paying alms during the prayer and Mastership of all other Muslims, the description here is of the first kind. In this description those believers who are masters to all other Muslims, are specified by a special characteristic at a specific time. Considering the case of descent (Shan e Nozoul) about this verse, we infer that the one who had this special characteristic was Ali (PBUH). We may also infer that Allah likes paying alms during praying. So the verse is telling Muslims indirectly that although they cannot become the Master of all other Muslims, try to pay alms during praying and not delay it to the end of their prayer.

  Now this question may be asked that in this verse the word “believers” is in plural form while we said it refers just to Ali (PBUH) who is a single person.

  To answer this question, we should consider that a single word should not be used for more than one thing but a plural word can be used for a single thing. Now, we give some examples from Quran in which a plural form is used for a single person:

When they are told, "Come and let the Prophet of Allah seek forgiveness for you”, they shake their heads and you can see them arrogantly turning away. (Quran, 63:5)

They say, “Give nothing to those who are around the Messenger of Allah so that they will desert him (Quran, 63:7)

These two verses talk about all the hypocrites, who turned away arrogantly in front of the Prophet (PBUH) and told others not to give anything to the Prophet’s followers. Although these verses talk about all the hypocrites, referring to the case of descent (Shan e Nozoul) of these verses shows us that these verses are about Abdullah-bin-Obay.

Thus, to conclude, it does not matter if a word that is used in plural form holds a singular meaning to itself. On the other hand, using a plural word and intending a single person as Master in this verse, will lead minds to a more complete definition. It means that by using a plural word in this verse, the Almighty Allah has indicated indirectly to the believers that, although you cannot be master but you can do the two worships together. Just like Ali (PBUH), who did the two worships; paying and giving alms (Zakat), together and did not postpone one for another (this matter has been discussed in details in the previous part. In the end, we will quote the Zamakhshari’s opinion about this subject. (Zamakhshari is one of the greatest commentators of Sonnies, who has written the text below about the verse mentioned in the Kashaf elaboration).

“Then if we say: How come this phrase (the believers) is about Ali (PBUH) if it is used in plural. I will say although this verse was revealed because of one man, it is stated in plural to encourage such deeds, as of his, in people to gain blessings.  People should notice that the moral values of the faithful should be to such extent of interest and caring for the poor that even if a good deed occurs in the middle of prayer, they should not postpone it until the end of prayer lest the lose the opportunity (to help)." 

 With more precision, we can conclude another result: Although the Almighty Allah considers the Mastership of the believers after Himself for the Prophet (PBUH) and Imam Ali (PBUH), but he has used the word “your Master”, which is singular, instead of your “Masters”, which is plural. From using “your Master”, which is singular, it can be understood that the Almighty Allah has intended to authorize his Mastership to the Prophet (PBUH) and Imam Ali (PBUH) without taking this position away from Him. Their Mastership is as like as Allah’s Mastership. It means that, if Allah had said, “your Masters” it could have been concluded that there are other types of masterships that people have over the believers, but Allah did not say such and has specified only one kind of Mastership.

 In fact, the Mastership of the Almighty Allah, the Prophet (PBUH) and Imam Ali (PBUH) are the same with the difference that the Mastership of Allah is inherent and independent.

It means that the Mastership of Allah is not authorized to Him. (Since Allah is the creator of everything, he should be Master of all the creatures) but the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mastership and the Imam Ali’s (PBUH) are authorized by the Almighty Allah and their Mastership depends on Allah’s Mastership.

 Shiites believe the Prophet (PBUH) and the Infallible Imams (PBUT) are Allah’s creatures.  Whatever power they have has been granted to them by Allah, for they have nothing from themselves.

 1. According to Muslims Quran is the word of the Almighty Allah and is directly descended from Him. To prove this fact, Quran itself has invited the deniers many times to bring few verses like its verses. However, historical evidences show that the deniers were unable to even bring one verse. While considering this characteristic of the Holy Quran, we understand that by contemplating and concentrating more on Quran verses, we will reach higher and deeper concepts and meanings.

   2. We must pay attention to the fact that some words have meanings different from their original meaning and have become an expression among the experts of various fields. For instance, the word “Atom”, which originally means indivisible, has become an expression and is said to be the tiniest particle of a substance among Physicists or Chemists, or the word “Salat”, which originally means invocation, means prayers among Muslims. When we come across these words in different fields (in which the words have expressional meanings), first we should consider the expressional meaning and then refer to the literal meaning or figurative sense supposing that there are indications. For example, wherever the word “Salat” comes in the holy Quran, it means prayers and if there are any indications, we refer to the literal meaning, namely invocation, or the figurative sense. 

Source: roshd.org


Other links:

The Holy Quran, the Eternal Miracle

The Quran in terms of its’ eloquence and fluency

Understanding the miracle of Quran (from the aspect of eloquence and fluency)

Other aspects of the miraculous character of the Holy Quran (Part 1)

Other aspects of the miraculous character of the Holy Quran (Part 2)

The final word & Deduction

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