The Verse of Preaching

Asslam o Alaikum Brother

Some people consider Surah Maidah, Verse 67 as proof of imamate and say that in the verse, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم is asked to announce the imamate of A’li رضی اللہ عنہ. What is your opinion?

Also, do think that the ayah (verse) is question also relates to Muslims especially those living in non-Muslim countries? I was thinking that this ayah is telling the overseas Muslims to practice and preach the religion and Allah will protect them from the ”people” . In USA, many Muslims hesitate practicing dressing or even talking about religion as they are on visas, waiting for green card etc.


Dr. Faraz Siddiqui

New York, USA

Wa alaikum us salam wa Rahmatullah

I have tried to find the answer in the books of people who make this claim but they do not have any except some reports produced by their own narrators. If we read the context of this verse, it is crystal clear that the verse has nothing to do with the imamate of Caliph A’li رضی اللہ عنہ. The verse is mentioned in the red color while its context is in the black color:

وَلَوْ أَنَّ أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ آمَنُوا وَاتَّقَوْا لَكَفَّرْنَا عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ وَلَأَدْخَلْنَاهُمْ جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ. وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ أَقَامُوا التَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنْجِيلَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ لَأَكَلُوا مِنْ فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِنْ تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِمْ ۚ مِنْهُمْ أُمَّةٌ مُقْتَصِدَةٌ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِنْهُمْ سَاءَ مَا يَعْمَلُونَ. يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ ۖ وَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ. قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَسْتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ حَتَّىٰ تُقِيمُوا التَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنْجِيلَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۗ وَلَيَزِيدَنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنْهُمْ مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ طُغْيَانًا وَكُفْرًا ۖ فَلَا تَأْسَ عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ۔

If the followers of the Bible would but attain to [true] faith and God-consciousness, We should indeed efface their [previous] bad deeds, and indeed bring them into gardens of bliss; (5:65) and if they would but truly observe the Torah and the Gospel and all [the revelation] that has been bestowed from on high upon them by their Sustainer, they would indeed partake of all the blessings of heaven and earth. Some of them do pursue a right course; but as for most of them – vile indeed is what they do! (5:66)

O Apostle! Announce all that has been bestowed from on high upon you by your Sustainer: for unless you do it fully, you will not have delivered His message [at all]. And God will protect thee from [unbelieving] men: behold, God does not guide people who refuse to acknowledge the truth. (5:67)

Say: “O followers of the Bible! You have no valid ground for your beliefs – unless you [truly] observe the Torah and the Gospel, and all that has been bestowed from on high upon you by your Sustainer! Yet all that has been bestowed from on high upon thee [O Prophet] by thy Sustainer is bound to make many of them yet more stubborn in their overweening arrogance and in their denial of the truth. But sorrow not over people who deny the truth: (Al-Maidah 5:65-69, translation adopted from the one of Muhammad Asad)

If we analyze the context of the Verse 67, it is crystal clear that it has nothing to do with the question of succession of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم. You can get translation of any scholar to make such analysis by your own. According to the context:

1.     In the V. 65-66, the attitude of those Jews and Christians who did not comply to the teachings of the Torah and the Gospels is described.

2.     In the V. 67, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم is asked to announce something and Allah gives him guarantee of protection.

3.     Then in the V. 68-69 again, the Jews and the Christians are addressed and ushered to follow the Torah and the Gospels. I have not copied the later verses but the address to the people of Book continues to the V. 86.

So, it is clear from the textual analysis that the V. 67 is linked with those people of Book living in Arabia who opposed the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم and even tried to kill him but Allah protected His prophet. Allah asked him to deliver the message to the people of Book and gives him a guarantee of protection against all risks.

For the sake of argument, if it is assumed that the Prophet was asked to announce the imamate of A’li رضی اللہ عنہ, then the verse is out of context as such imamate / succession has nothing to do with the people of Book. If we read the Ahadith, we find that the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم did not make any announcement for his succession. However, he instructed Abu Bakr رضی اللہ عنہ  to lead prayers in the final days of Prophet’s life. At that time, leading prayer was supposed to be the authority of a ruler only, so the other companions deduced that Abu Bakr is the right person to lead the community in worldly affairs as well.

Some people say that the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم announced the succession of A’li in his sermon at Ghadeer Khum while returning from his farewell pilgrimage and the words of announcement were: “Whoever considers me his mawla, he should consider A’li as his mawla.” Various questions arise on this argument:

1.     The word mawla is used in Arabic in different meanings which include: friend, protector, helper, ex-master, ex-slave etc. You can see any Arabic dictionary for that. If the Prophet wanted to announce the succession of A’li رضی اللہ عنہ, he should have made such announcement is a clear way so that no doubt should have remained about the meaning of his announcement. In that cases, the words could be: “Whoever considers me his ruler, he should consider A’li as his ruler after me.” Does it make sense that the most important announcement of Prophet’s life, on which salvation of people depended, was made in in vague terms?

2.     If the Prophet intended to make A’li his successor, he should have asked him to lead the prayers instead of Abu Bakr رضی اللہ عنہما.

3.     If the Prophet wanted to make A’li his successor, the ideal time to do so was the farewell pilgrimage when over 125,000 people attended his last sermon. It is important to note that the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم did not make such an important announcement during the pilgrimage and did so in front of a few people accompanying him on the travel back to Madina.

Regarding your question to preach in the non-Muslim countries, I would say that the verse is primarily addressed to the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم, however, we are also indirectly addressed in it. Not only the Muslims living in the non-Muslim lands but the Ummah as a whole is responsible for delivering the message of Islam to Non-Muslims. I think that people living in North America are doing a great job and they are very active in their Da’wah activities. You can provide some first-hand information on it.

Those waiting for green card etc., should convey the message with wisdom. They should not invoke unnecessary investigation from authorities as it will harm their lives as well as their preaching of Isalm. Instead of that, we should try to do our work in a way that it does not draw attention of authorities or popular media. Da’wah is changing hearts, so it works better on low profile rather than doing so in an ostentatious manner.

The promise of protection is limited to the Major Prophets (Rasool) who served as a divine court on the earth. Even other prophets like Prophet Zakariya and Yahya علیہما الصلوۃ والسلام were martyred. So we should not expect a promise of protection for us, however, if Allah wants to protect someone, He does so.


Muhammad Mubashir Nazir

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The Verse of Preaching
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