Station of Mastership (Wilayat) in Islam
Since Wilayat has a fundamental and distinctive role in Islamic teachings, we would have a brief discussion about it here.
Wilayat is introduced in traditions to be the most important pillar of Islam. Imam Muhammad Baqir (a) said: Islam is based on five pillars: Prayer, Zakat, Fast, Hajj and Wilayat. People are not invited to anything with as much emphasis, as they are invited to Wilayat.
In another tradition, Zurarah says: I asked Imam Baqir (a): “Which of these five is the most important?” He replied: “Wilayat is the most important, because it is their key. The Guardian is a guide to them.”
Wilayat is in the meaning of guardianship and taking charge of affairs of others. The world of ‘Wali’ is also from the same root and it describes one in charge of guardianship of an individual or individuals, like Wali of the young and Wali of the mentally challenged persons. The word of ‘Waali’ is also derived from the same root. The governor or governor-general is called as ‘Waali’ since the administration of the city and affairs of citizens are in his charge and they are supposed to obey his commands. The Holy Prophet (s) also has the same type of Wilayat over the Ummah, since he is their guardian and has discretion over them. Almighty Allah says in Quran:
ألنَّبِىُّ أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ
“The Prophet has a greater claim on the faithful than they have on themselves…” (33:6)
The word of Maula is also derived from the same root. That is why the Holy Prophet (s), at the beginning of Ghadeer sermon in Farewell Hajj addressed the people: Do I not have more authority on you more than what you have on yourself? They said: Why not? Then he said: Of whomsoever I am the master; this Ali is also his master.
Umar bin Khattab, who was present in the event of Ghadeer and witnessed the appointment of Ali (a), also derived the same meaning from the word of ‘Maula’, because he remarked to Ali (a): “O Ali, congratulations; you have become the master of every believer man and woman.”
It can be concluded from these statements that Wilayat is an executive position and not only a holy rank.
Wilayat during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet
Now the question arises that what were the circumstances of Muslims during the proclamation of prophethood (Besat) of the Prophet of Islam (s)? Did they live without leaders and social administrator? Or an arrangement, control and rulership existed although in a limited way and in enforcing simple laws? In order to get the replies to these questions, it is necessary to cast a brief glance on the rules and laws of Islam:
Laws of Islam, which are mentioned in Quran and traditions, can all be divided into two types:
A) Individual laws and duties like Prayers, fast, Hajj, observing good manners, refraining from bad morals, purification, impurity and other individual laws.
Such laws are personal duties and they are addressed to each and every duty bound person individually and acting on them does not require presence of rulership and social management.
B) The second type of laws and political duties – are social, like: Struggle (Jihad) to propagate Islam, defending existence of Islam and Muslims, military preparedness, securing social peace, legal judgment and solving of disputes, enforcing penalties, blood monies and retaliations, punishment of criminals, mutual relations between Islamic countries, relations with others, collection of Zakat and its proper use, collection of Khums and its proper use, and tens of other similar social matters. Such social and political laws and rules have are also included in Islam. With a little consideration, we would know that acting on such laws needs formation of institutions headed by a determined and a religious ruler and leader.
That is why it can be said that rulership and Wilayat is included in religion and there should always be a ruler who is in charge of guaranteeing the application of political and social laws. And if it is not so, a great part of Islamic laws would be in suspended condition.
The Holy Prophet; the first Wali of Muslims
Although in Quran we don’t have a verse in which the Messenger of Allah (s) has clearly ordered formation of government, but in some verses he has commanded about some practices and acts, which are concerned with government; for example the following verses can be cited as proof:
إِنَّآ أَنْزَلْنَآ إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَبَ بِالْحَقِّ لِتَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِمَآ أَرَيكَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَكُنْ لِلْخَآئِنِينَ خَصيماً
“Surely We have revealed the Book to you with the truth that you may judge between people by means of that which Allah has taught you; and be not an advocate on behalf of the treacherous.” (4:105)
وَ أَنْزَلْنَآ إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَبَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَبِ وَ مُهَيْمِناً عَلَيْهِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَهُمْ بِمَآ أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ وَ لَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَآءَهُمْ عَمَّا جَآءَكَ مِنَ الحَقِّ
“And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it of the Book and a guardian over it, therefore judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their low desires (to turn away) from the truth that has come to you…” (5:48)
يَأَيُّهَا النَّبِىُّ جَهِدِ الْكُفَّارَ وَالْمُنَفِقِينَ وَاغْلُظْ عَلَيْهِمْ
“O Prophet! Strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them.” (9:73)
يَأَيُّهَا النَّبِىُّ حَرِّضِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَى الْقِتَالِ
“O Prophet! urge the believers to war…” (8:65)
خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَ لِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِم بِهَا
“Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby…” (9:103)
It is clear that arbitration and solving disputes of people, encouraging people to Jihad, collection of Zakat and taxes and expending them in the specific ways are from the duties of the ruler, and since their performance was asked from the Messenger of Allah (s), it is known that he was ruler appointed by Almighty Allah. Therefore, it must be said: The Prophet of Islam in addition to receiving revelation, its protection and propagation to people, also had other duties and it implies formation of government, enforcing of political and social laws, leadership and administration of Islamic Ummah in different matters.
The Holy Prophet (s) in managing the affairs of Islamic state, took advantage of laws, which he received through revelation; he was also authorized to issue commands and apply them in accordance with exigency of the nation. Such laws were named as laws of governance. Muslims also are duty bound to obey his commands.
The Holy Quran says:
يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ أَطِيعُواْ اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِى الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ فَإِن تَنَزَعْتُمْ فِى شَىْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمِ الْأَخِرِ ذَ لِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ 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 believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.” (4:59)
It can be concluded from this verse that it is obligatory on the believers to obey the commands of three persons: Allah, the glorified, the Prophet and those vested with authority (Ulil Amr). Obedience of Allah is in the instances when the Prophet announces the command as revelation and message of God. Obedience of the Prophet is in instances, when he issues commands in the capacity of religious authority and ruler of Muslims and not as divine revelation. Such laws are called laws of government and authority. The third type is obedience of Ulil Amr. Ulil Amr is one who is introduced by the Prophet as a ruler and owner of authority. In many traditions, the Holy Imams (a), who are from Ahle Bayt (a) and progeny of the Holy Prophet (s) are introduced as implications of Ulil Amr. They are also having authority on people and their obedience is obligatory. With reference to books of biography, it would become absolutely clear that the Holy Prophet of Islam since the beginning of the migration (Hijra) to Medina and when the call to Islam became evident, felt the need of establishing a government, which would protect the interests of Islam and Muslims and when he got opportunity, he took the necessary steps. During a period of ten years in Medina, gradually he performed actions, which were necessary to form a simple government and to administer a limited society. Some of them are as follows:
Selection of minister and advisor, selection or appointment of chief and governor for big and small towns, selection of judge, establishment of courts of justice, selection of persons for application of penalties, guarding the prisons and prisoners, selection of chiefs of tribes, selection of persons for gathering information and intelligence, selection of persons to enjoin good and forbid evil, establishment of classes for Quranic education, writing, jurisprudence and laws, selection of individuals for making copies of Quran, selecting individuals to write letters, selecting officials and collectors of Zakat, individuals for collecting taxes, treasurer and treasury in charge, accountants, officials for paying and distributing shares, appointment of commander-in-chief, standard bearer, weapons in charge, selection of security personnel, supervisor of commercial transactions, and other small and big posts of responsibilities. Such types of acts are definitely from the ranks of rulership. On the basis of this, one should not reject the rulership of the Prophet of Islam. He was the first owner of authority (Wali Amr) over Muslims and the founder of the Islamic government, and his Wilayat is proved from revelation and Quran. It should be mentioned that although the position of Wilayat and rulership was given to His Eminence by God, it would not have been possibly realized externally without earnestness, loyalty, sacrifice and preparations through people. From this aspect, responsibility of application of social and political laws of Islam in Quran is placed directly upon the Muslims. For example, Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran:
وَ جَهِدُواْ فِى اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ
“And strive hard in (the way of) Allah, (such) a striving as is due to Him…” (22:78)
وَقَتِلُواْ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَتِلُونَكُمْ وَلاَ تَعْتَدُواْ
“And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.” (2:190)
وَ قَتِلُواْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَآفَّةً كَمَا يُقَتِلُونَكُمْ كَآفَّةً
“…and fight the polytheists all together as they fight you all together…” (9:36)
وَأَعِدُّواْ لَهُم مَّا اسْتَطَعْتُم مِّن قُوَّةٍ وَ مِن رِّبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللَّهِ وَ عَدُوَّكُمْ
“And prepare against them what force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy…” (8:60)
وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُواْ أَيْدِيَهُمَا جَزَآءً بِمَا كَسَبَا نَكَلاً مِّنَ اللَّهِ
“And (as for) the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands as a punishment for what they have earned, an exemplary punishment from Allah…” (5:38)
اَلزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِى فَاجْلِدُواْ كُلَّ وَحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا مِاْئَةَ جَلْدَةٍ
“(As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes…” (24:2)
وَلْتَكُنْ مِّنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ
“And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong…” (3:104)
يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّ مِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ
“O you who believe! Be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness of Allah’s sake…” (4:135)
يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءامَنُواْ لَا تَتَّخِذُواْ الْكَفِرينَ أَوْلِيَآءَ مِنْ دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَتُرِيدُونَ أَنْ تَجْعَلُواْ لِلَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ سُلْطَناً مُّبِيناً
“O you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for friends rather than the believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves?” (4:144)
يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَتَّخِذُواْ الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَرَى أَوْلِيَآءَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَآءُ بَعْضٍ
“O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other.” (5:51)
كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ
“You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah…” (3:110)
From the above verses, which are revealed about the ‘obligatory-ness’ of holy struggle (Jihad) and defense, military preparedness, application of punishments and fines, enjoining good and forbidding evil, obligatory-ness of establishment of social justice, relations of Muslims with others and tens of other similar verses and hundreds of traditions, which are recorded with reference to jurisprudence, political, administrative, economic, dissemination of sciences and popularizing of cultural values and prevention of opposing values, can be nicely concluded that the holy lawmaker of Islam has regarded Muslims to be a proper nation, which should, in order to administer its community and to fulfill its social and political needs, form organizations. And since Muslims have practically accepted the leadership and Wilayat of the Holy Prophet (s) the possibility of formation of government for him is obtained.
Wilayat after the Messenger of Allah (s)
After the passing away of the Holy Prophet (s), although divine revelation (direct contact with Allah and receiving of laws) came to an end, the religion was perfected and legislation of laws reached its conclusion, but with attention to the fact that the Prophet of Islam is the last of the prophets and the religion of Islam is a universal religion and it is to endure till Judgment Day and would always remain as a torch of guidance, it is necessary that after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s) there should be a prominent person to take over his responsibilities and pursue his agenda. He is named as the Caliph of the Prophet and the Imam of Muslims.
The Holy Prophet bore the following four responsibilities:
1. Receipt of divine laws and messages through revelation. 2. Conveyance of divine messages to people. 3. Protection of divine laws. 4. Formation of government and enforcement of political and social laws of Islam. In all these stages, the Holy Prophet (s) was infallible from sins and doubts. In books of theology, it is proved that the Caliph of the Prophet also like him should be immune from mistakes, doubts and forgetfulness so that aims of the Prophet should be pursued and the true religion remains strong.
Imamite Shia, with attention to the need of condition of infallibility in Caliph say: Except for the Prophet, no one can introduce and appoint the Caliph, as except for the Prophet, who is having divine revelation, no one else is aware of the infallibles.
From the same argument and numerous historical evidences and tens of traditions that are present in sources of narrations, it is said: The Messenger of Allah (s) due to his concern for survival of Islam and its spread and greatness of Islamic Ummah was definitely not oblivious of appointing his infallible successor.
Therefore historical testimonies and traditions hint at that great personage during the period of his prophethood and he was always concerned about this important matter and for this purpose had selected Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a). He paid utmost attention to his education and training and entrusted necessary knowledges to him. Imam Ali (a) also with his personal capacity and with divine supports memorized the knowledges and did not forget anything. Moreover, as per the orders of the Prophet, he wrote down all knowledges to leave behind for the Imams succeeding him.
Imam Ali (a), as a result of the special bestowals of the Messenger of Allah (s) mastered all the sciences of prophethood. As the Holy Prophet (s) mentioned about him: I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate; so one who wants to seek knowledge should come to its gate, and tens of other traditions, which are recorded in books of Shia and Ahle Sunnat.
The aim of the Messenger of Allah (s) in stating the excellences and virtues of Imam Ali (a) was to prepare public opinion and prepare the grounds of his introduction and appointment as his successor and for Imamate of Muslims and always looking for opportunity to declare his appointment formally.
These circumstances continued till the 10th year of Hijrat. That year, the Holy Prophet (s) decided to perform the Hajj of the Holy House of Kaaba. He invited all Muslims to participate in the Hajj so that they may witness the rituals of Hajj from close quarters. The Messenger of Allah (s) intended to officially declare the appointment of Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a) as his successor and to introduce him to the pilgrims, who had arrived from various countries to perform the Hajj. The rituals of Hajj came to an end and the pilgrims started returning to their hometowns. When the Messenger of Allah (s) and his followers reached Ghadeer Khum it was almost noon and the climate was extremely hot. At that moment Jibraeel arrived with the following verse:
يَأَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَ إِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِى الْقَوْمَ الْكَفِرِينَ
“O Apostle! deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people; surely Allah will not guide the unbelieving people.” (5:67)
The Holy Prophet (s) halted at that spot. He issued orders to prepare that place for Noon Prayer. Pilgrims gathered. After the prayer, the Messenger of Allah (s) mounted the pulpit. He recited a lengthy sermon, which later came to be known as tradition of Ghadeer Khum. This tradition is reported in various versions and is present in reliable Shia and Sunni sources. Below we mention one such version:
Zaid bin Arqam says: When the Messenger of Allah (s) was returning from the Farewell Hajj he reached Ghadeer Khum. Initially he ordered them to sweep the ground below the trees and then he delivered a sermon: As if I have been called to Allah. I leave among you two important things by way of trust and one of them is greater than another: The Book of Allah (Quran) and my progeny. Try to take care of these two trusts. They would not separate from each other till Judgment Day. Then he said: Allah, the Mighty and Sublime is my master and I am the master of all believers. Then he raised the hand of Ali (a) and said: Of whomsoever I am the master, this Ali is also his master.
O Allah, take under Your guardianship whoever accepts the mastership (Wilayat) of Ali and be inimical to whoever is inimical to Ali.
Baraa Ibne Azib has added the following words in narrating the same sermon that in the beginning the Messenger of Allah (s) asked: Am I not having more authority over the believer than they have on themselves? They replied: Why not, O Messenger of Allah (s)? You are having more authority. At that moment he pointed to Ali and said: Of whomsoever I am the master, this Ali is also his master.
After that Umar Ibne Khattab met Ali (a) and said: “Congratulations Ali, you have become my master and the master of all believer men and women.”
The tradition of Ghadeer is a widely related (Mutawatir) and authentic tradition and there is no doubt in its authenticity.
Thus on that blessed day, the Holy Prophet (s) performed two most important tasks: One was that he declared Quran and Progeny to be complimentaries of each other and left them as two reliable sources of reference for the Muslims as trusts and advised them to refer to them to derive the laws of religion.
Another was introduction of Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a) as master and owner of discretion. In this act he delegated to him the position of his Wilayat and rulership so that he may become the Caliph and Imam of Muslims after him; and that by enforcing the laws of religion about whom he was perfectly knowledgeable, he should administer the Islamic dominions.
On the basis of this, the Messenger of Allah (s) in the tradition of Ghadeer and other traditions transferred three of his duties to Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a): 1. Protection of divine laws. 2. Conveying them to Muslims. 3. Rulership and enforcement of political and social laws of Islam; as he was one of the implications of ‘progeny’ and Ahle Bayt (a).
From the tradition of Ghadeer and tens of similar traditions, it can well be concluded that with the death of the Messenger of Allah (s) the period of his rule has not ended and enforcement of political and social laws of Islam do not remain without an infallible executive. On the contrary, by appointment and nomination of Ali (a), he fixed the duration of the Imamate of the infallible Imams.
Imam Ali (a), as per the orders of the Holy Prophet (s) during his lifetime, appointed Imam Hasan (a) and Imam Hasan (a) appointed his brother, Imam Husain (a) and Imam Husain (a) appointed his son, Imam Ali Ibne Husain (a) to Imamate and in this way Imamate continued till the twelfth Imam.
According to belief of Shia Imamiyah, after the Messenger of Allah (s) the following twelve have been appointed as Caliphs and Imams in sequence:
Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a)
Hasan Ibne Ali (a)
Husain Ibne Ali (a)
Ali Ibne Husain (a)
Muhammad Ibne Ali (a)
Ja’far Ibne Muhammad (a)
Musa Ibne Ja’far (a)
Ali Ibne Musa (a)
Muhammad Ibne Ali (a)
Ali Ibne Muhammad (a)
Hasan Ibne Ali (a)
Hujjat Ibnul Hasan al-Askari (a)
Imamate and Caliphate of these twelve personages in its own capacity is proved through evidence and proofs.
Each of the above mentioned personages were having the two necessary qualifications of Imamate: (1) Infallibility from mistakes, forgetfulness and sins; and (2) knowledge of all the laws of Shariah. That is why they were directly appointed by the Holy Prophet (s) as Imams.
Although except for Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a) and that also after a delay and only for few years, none of them practically reached to the post of Caliphate, but the Caliphate of the Messenger of Allah (s) was their right, which due to ignorance and shortcoming of people in defending Wilayat was trespassed and Caliphate deviated from the path that the Holy Prophet (s) had specified for it. Muslims were duty bound and are duty bound to have faith in Wilayat of the Infallible Imams from the progeny of Prophet and they should make efforts to prepare grounds for the rule of the righteous and to become aloof from the rule of non-righteous. This is in fact the implication of Tawalla and Tabarra.
Wilayat during the period of Occultation
As concluded from a large number of traditions, the authority (Wali Amr) of Muslims is the twelfth Imam, His Eminence, Mahdi (a), who has attained this position from Almighty Allah and through the Messenger of Allah (s) and the Holy Imams (a). But due to the shortcoming of people in preparing the prefaces of his reappearance and establishment of his rule, he is compelled to live in occultation and is in anticipation of the time, which would provide the background of his reappearance, but in this time also the holy lawmaker of Islam (God) has not ignored the enforcement of His social and political laws and establishment of Islamic rule.
Since Muslims during the period of the Messenger of Allah (s) and during the tenure of infallible Imams are duty bound to make efforts and struggle in establishment of their kingdom and to prepare the background of reaching the position of Wilayat, during the time of occultation also, they are duty bound to recognize the most superior of the people; that they accept their leadership, obey their commands and prepare background for enforcement of all Islamic laws and religious rules and regulations. Such persons would be authority (Wali Amr) and representatives of the Imam of the Time (a) and their Wilayat would have the same status as that of the Holy Imam (a) and the Holy Prophet (s). But how and in what manner can one obtain these qualifications is a matter, which requires extensive research and study. In this regard, a large number of traditions have been recorded from the Holy Imams (a), which can be found in reliable sources and they can help us to decide this matter.
In this book, it is not practically possible to study this important subject in detail. But many scholars have published well researched books on this topic; especially after the Islamic revolution (of Iran).
However, in brief, we can say that the authority (Wali Amr) and leader of Muslims should have the following qualities:
1. Academic capability to issue verdicts in various subjects of jurisprudence.
2. Justice and piety, which is necessary for leadership of the community.
3. Right political and social opinion, management, determination and sufficient ability for leadership.
 Al-Kafi, Vol. 1, Pg. 18
 Al-Kafi, Vol. 1, Pg. 18
 Al-Bidaya wan Nihaya, Vol. 5, Pg. 229
 Al-Bidaya wan Nihaya, Vol. 3, Pg. 229
 Refer: Shaykh Abdul Haqq Kattani, At-Tarateebul Idariya
 Mustadrak, Hakim Nishapuri, Vol. 3, Pg. 126
 Mustadrak, Hakim Nishapuri, Vol. 3, Pg. 119; Bidaya wan Nihaya, Vol. 3, Pg. 228
 Al-Bidaya wan Nihaya, Vol. 3, Pg. 229
 Al-Bidaya wan Nihaya, Vol. 3, Pg. 229
 Refer: Allamah Amini, Al-Ghadeer and Ibrahim Amini, Algohai Fazeelat
 Refer: Hurre Amili, Asbatul Huda; Sayyid Muhammad Hadi Milani, Qadatana; Ibrahim Amini, Algohai Fazeelat
 Tawalla means to love Allah and everything and everyone associated with Him and Tabarra means to be aloof from the enemy of Allah and enemy of everything related to Him.