B. Wila' - Imamate
 

Wila' meaning Imamate and leadership; or, in other words, the position of authority in the din (to which matters are referred for decision), that is, a position which others should follow, should take as an example for their actions and behaviour, from whom they should learn the precepts of the din; or yet again, su- premacy (za`amah) . Such a position is necess- arily one of immunity from sin (`ismah ), and the speech and actions of such a person are a guarantee and a proof for others. It is this same position about which the noble Qur'an, when talking of the Prophet, says:

The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah a good example for whosoever hopes for Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much (33:21).

Say: if you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins (3:31). In this ayah, the Messenger of Allah is intro- duced as an examplar to whose behaviour and morality people should conform their own behaviour and morality, and whom they should take as their precedent. And this in itself is a proof of the Prophet's immunity from sin and error, because, if it were possible for sin and error to proceed from him, there would be no purpose in Allah, the Sublime, introducing him as a leader and a precedent.

This position then, after the Prophet, passed to the Household, and, according to a hadith which many Sunni scholars have narrated Wilayah - The Station of the Master in books on the life of the Prophet, in histories, and in their own books on hadith from nearly thirty companions of the Prophet18 , the Proph- et chose his Household for the leadership and Imamate. He said:

I leave among you two precious things: the Book of Allah and my Household. These two will not be separated until they encounter me at the pool of Kawthar (in Paradise). Do not run ahead of them, for you will be ruined; do not neglect them, for you will be ruined. And do not seek to instruct them, for they are wiser than you. Allah appoints, and Allah says about His Book:

The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense Falsehood shall not come to it from before it nor from behind it (41:42). So, if the Household were associates of falseness and unrighteousness and ignorance, and thus ceased to be the complement and twin of the Book, and if they were not, like the Prophet, preserved and free from sin and error, they would not have become the leaders and examplars in his place. The subject matter of the hadith shows that those mentioned in it must be individuals preserved from sin, and, as Khwajah Nasiru 'd-Din at-Tusi said, the others (i.e., the non- Shi 'ahs) neither have anyone who is pro- tected from sin, nor do they claim this protec- tion for anybody, and so, apart from the pure Imams, the hadith has no applicability.

Ibn Hajar (al-Haytami) says:

"This saying of the Prophet - `Do not run ahead of them, for you will be ruined; do not neglect them, for you will be ruined; and do not seek to instruct them, for they are wiser than you' - is a proof that whoever from the House- hold reaches the highest degree of knowledge, and merits the taking on of religious duties, is to be preferred before others." 19 al-Hafiz Abu Nu'aym narrates a hadith from Ibn `Abbas that the Prophet said: .

Wilayah - The Station of the Master " Whoever wishes that his life and death be like mine, and that he rest in eternal Paradise, should choose `Ali as wali after me, and take his wali as wali, and should follow the Imams after me for they are my descendants and were created from my clay. They are gifted with understanding and knowledge. Woe unto those who deny their virtues and who alienate them in kinship from me, for my intercession will never include them." 20 Imamate and leadership in din, in such a sense that whatever the leader says and what- ever he does is taken as a Divine guarantee and a proof, is a kind of wilayah, because it is an example of the right to govern, direct and con- trol the affairs of man.

Anyway, every teacher and mentor, in so far as he is a teacher and mentor, is a wali, an authority and a master of the affairs of the learner and student. What does the teacher and the mentor have, that this right should not be given to someone sent by Allah? The glorious ayah: "Only Allah is your Wali and His Messenger, and those who believe, who keep up prayer and pay zakat while they bow in ruku' " (5:55), is a witness to this kind of wilayah. Of course, this does not mean that The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense this ayah does not contain some other meaning of wilayah which we shall mention later on. It means that this ayah encompasses wila' in the sense of Imamate, leadership and mastery over the din. This word wali, was also used in some of the ahadith that have been quoted in the sense of wali - Imamate.

This kind of wila', then, if it is used in con- nection with the Imam, means the right to leadership and mastery in the din, but if it is used in connection with an ordinary individual, it means acceptance of and compliance with this right.

C. Wila' - Za'amah.

Wila', in the sense of za`amah, is the right to social and political leadership. Society needs a leader. That person who takes the reins of the government of a society and directs the social affairs of man, carries the destinies of the peo- ple, and is the ruler (waliyyu 'l-amr) of the Muslims. The Prophet, during his lifetime, was the waliyyu 'l-amr of the Muslims, and Allah granted him this position; and after him, accord- ing to a great deal of irrefutable evidence, it passed to the Household. Wilayah - The Station of the Master Obey Allah, obey the Messenger, and those in authority over you (4:59). Similarly, the first ayah of surah al-Ma'idah and the hadith of Ghadir, together with the whole of the ayah: "Certainly Allah is your Wali . . ." (5:55) , and the whole of the ayah :

The Prophet has a greater claim on the believers thant they have on themselves (33:6), concern the same kind of wilayah. In so far as the Prophet did have such a rank, and in so far as this unique rank was a Divine one, that it to say, it was a Divine ob ligation with which Allah had favoured the Prophet, and it was not conferred on him by the people, thus far there is no argument be- tween the Shi`ahs and Sunnis; upto this point our Sunni brothers are with us. The problem now arises as to what, after the Prophet, was The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense the commandment concerning wilayah-za` amah. In order that there should be no social insta- bility, and that chaos should not intervene, individual people must submit to someone who is worthy to be called the ruler, the waliyyu 'l - amr. What is the commandment concerning such a position? Did Islam make a specific command- ment about this matter, or did it choose to remain completely silent? And if it did make a specific commandment, what was it? Or did it leave the choice to the people to elect after the Prophet anyone they wanted to, and is obedience to him then an obligation to others (who did not elect him)? Or did the Prophet nominate a specific person before his death to take his place in this great and important position ?

Here we shall go into the Prophet's social dealings among his ummah according to what can be inferred from the Qur'an. From the Qur'an, and from the sunnah as well and the life of the Prophet, it can be shown that in this matter the Prophet held together in his person three positions among the Muslims.

First, he was the Imam, the leader and the authority in the din; he held the wilayah of the Wilayah - The Station of the Master Imamate, and his speech and actions were his guarantee and his proof. Whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back (59:7).

Second, he held juridical wilayah; in other words, his judgement was binding in legal differ- ences and internal disputes. But no, by Thy Lord! they will not believe until they make you a judge of the dis- agreement between them, then they shall find in themselves no impediment touch- ing thy verdict, but shall surrender in full submission (4:65). Of course, it is true that in this case, it is also an example of the previous instance of the use of the term wilayah, but we have not yet The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense seen this term actually used in the meaning of juridical wilayah..

Third, he had social and political wilayah. That is, apart from being the explainer and propagator of the commands, and apart from being the judge for the Muslims, he was the statesman and the ruler of the Muslim com- munity, he was the waliyyu 'l-amr of the Mus- lims and the holder of authority in the Muslim community, as we have said before; The Prophet has a greater claim on the believers than they have on themselves (33:6).

Obey Allah, obey the Messenger and those in authority over you (4:59), are relevant here. Of course, the Prophet held a fourth rank also, which we shall mention later. The Prophet formally governed the people, and he was the leader of the policies of the Islamic community. According to this ayah:

Take of their wealth a freewill offering, clense them and purify them thereby (9:103), he took taxes from the people; he administered the financial and economic affairs of the Islamic community.

This situation, from the three kinds of positions that the Prophet held, is a basis for the discussion of the caliphate.

It is necessary to say here that the word 'Imamate', as well as having the meaning of leadership, is also used to mean a leader in reach ing the ways of the din; that is to say, the word "Imam" is said and understood as `someone from whom one should obtain the ways of the din', and the Sunni Muslims generally apply the word `Imam' to Abu Hanifah, ash-Shafi'i, Malik and Ahmad ibn Hanbal. It is also much used in the sense of social and political leader- ship.

The Prophet said The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense In connection with three things, the heart of a Muslim will never permit treachery and doubt. Purity of intention before Allah, wish- ing good for a leader (Imam) of the Muslims in the way of leading the Muslims, (and) support for the community of Muslims. `Ali, peace be upon him, in one of his letters which are recorded in Nahju 'l-balaghah says:

The greatest treachery is treachery to the community, and the most abominable deceit is deceit with the leaders (Imams) of the community; because the result of this deceit is against the Muslims. If the captain of a ship steers the ship on a good course, and then someone comes who misleads the captain and involves the ship in some danger, he has not only been treacher- ous to the captain, he has betrayed all those on board the ship. In this sentence, then, the word `Imam' is used in the sense of social leader.

In the history of Islam we read that the Muslims, even those who acknowledged the true Imams, addressed the caliphs of their time using the word Imam. The problem is that an Imam in this meaning is sometimes an Imam of justice and sometimes an Imam of oppression, and the Muslims have (different) obligations when faced by each one of these. The Prophet said, in an authentic hadith reported by both schools:

The most excellent jihad is (to utter) a word of justice in front of an oppressor. And, similarly, the .Prophet said The blight of the din is three things. An op- pressive leader (Imam), and ignorant worship- per of Allah, and a sinful `alim (scholar). More important than this, in the Qur'an itself leaders are mentioned who invite people to the Fire of Gehenna, and they are also designated by the word of Imam.

The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense And we made them Imams who call to the Fire (28:41). Of course, there is no doubt that usually the word `Imam' or `Imams' is applied to just and pious leaders, and in Shi'ite parlance, the word is applied to those who lead to Allah who are immune from sin -and these are only twelve.