Is Allah the only Wali?

The Quran and Ahadith on the Concept of Protection and Friendship

Sam Shamoun

The Quran says that Allah alone is a believer’s wali (protector, helper, friend etc.):

Allah has full knowledge of your enemies, and Allah is Sufficient as a Wali (Protector), and Allah is Sufficient as a Helper. S. 4:45

Verily, Allah! Unto Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, He gives life and He causes death. And besides Allah you have neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper. S. 9:116

Allah it is He Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them in six Days. Then He Istawa (rose over) the Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). You (mankind) have none, besides Him, as a Wali (protector or helper etc.) or an intercessor. Will you not then remember (or be admonished)? S. 32:4

And He it is Who sends down the rain after they have despaired, and spreads abroad His Mercy. And He is the Wali (Helper, Supporter, Protector, etc.), Worthy of all Praise. S. 42:28

The Quran, in many places, outright prohibits Muslims from seeking friends and protectors from any other entity besides Allah, even if they happen to be his servants like the prophets:

Do then those who disbelieve think that they can take My slaves [i.e., the angels, God's Messengers, 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), etc.] as Auliyâ' (lords, gods, protectors, etc.) besides Me? Verily, We have prepared Hell as an entertainment for the disbelievers (in the Oneness of God Islâmic Monotheism). S. 18:102

The two Jalals comment:

Do the disbelievers reckon that they can take My servants, namely, My angels, [as well as] Jesus and Ezra, as patrons, as lords, beside Me? (awliya'a, 'as patrons', constitutes the second [direct] object of [the verb] yattakhidhu, 'that they can take'; the second direct object of [the verb] hasiba, 'reckon', has been omitted). The meaning is: do they suppose that the mentioned 'taking [as patrons]' will not incur My wrath and that I will not punish them for this? No! Truly We have prepared Hell for the disbelievers, these [the ones mentioned above] and others, as [a place of] hospitality, in other words, it has been prepared for them just as a house is prepared for a guest. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, source)

The Quran continues:

The likeness of those who take Auliya' (protectors and helpers) other than Allah is as the likeness of a spider, who builds (for itself) a house, but verily, the frailest (weakest) of houses is the spider's house; if they but knew. S. 29:41

And as for those who take as Auliya' (guardians, supporters, helpers, protectors, etc.) others besides Him [i.e. they take false deities other than Allah (as) protectors, and they worship them] Allah is Hafiz (Protector) over them (i.e. takes care of their deeds and will recompense them), and you (O Muhammad SAW) are not a Wakil (guardian or a disposer of their affairs) over them (to protect their deeds, etc.). S. 42:6

Or have they taken (for worship) Auliya' (guardians, supporters, helpers, protectors, etc.) besides Him? But Allah, He ALONE is the Wali (Protector, etc.). And it is He Who gives life to the dead, and He is Able to do all things. S. 42:9

In front of them there is Hell, and that which they have earned will be of no profit to them, nor (will be of any profit to them) those whom they have taken as Auliya' (protectors, helpers, etc.) besides Allah. And theirs will be a great torment. S. 45:10

The Quran even says that Allah has no wali and partner in his sovereignty:

And say: "All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has not begotten a son (nor an offspring), and Who has no partner in (His) Dominion, nor He is low to have a Wali (helper, protector or supporter). And magnify Him with all the magnificence, [Allahu-Akbar (Allah is the Most Great)]." S. 17:111

Yet the Quran contradicts itself since it expressly says that Allah is not the only wali a Muslim has!

Verily, your Wali (Protector or Helper) is Allah, His Messenger, and the believers, - those who perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat, and they bow down (submit themselves with obedience to Allah in prayer). S. 5:55

The believers, men and women, are Auliya' (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another, they enjoin (on the people) Al-Ma'ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); they perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give the Zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. S. 9:71

In fact, the ahadith say that Muslims will seek the protection of the prophets such as Muhammad from the wrath of Allah, with Allah accepting their aid and intercession on behalf of the believers:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar
The Prophet said, "A man keeps on asking others for something till he comes on the Day of Resurrection without any piece of flesh on his face." The Prophet added, "On the Day of Resurrection, the Sun will come near (to the people) to such an extent that the sweat will reach up to the middle of the ears, so, when all the people are in that state, they will ask Adam FOR HELP, and then Moses, and then Muhammad (p.b.u.h)." The sub-narrator added, "Muhammad will intercede with Allah to judge amongst the people. He will proceed on till he will hold the ring of the door (of Paradise) and then Allah will exalt him to Maqam Mahmud (the privilege of intercession, etc.). And all the people of the gathering will send their praises to Allah. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 24, Number 553)

... 'Surely! Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a smallest ant) but if there is any good (done) He doubles it.' (4.40) The Prophet added, "Then the prophets and Angels and the believers will intercede, and (last of all) the Almighty (Allah) will say, ‘Now remains My Intercession.’ He will then hold a handful of the Fire from which He will take out some people whose bodies have been burnt, and they will be thrown into a river at the entrance of Paradise, called the water of life ... (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s)

This expressly contradicts Sura 18:102 which threatens those who take prophets as their auliya (the plural form of wali)!

The Quran further says that even Allah has many a wali or auliya!

No doubt! Verily, the Auliya' of Allah [i.e. those who believe in the Oneness of Allah and fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which he has forbidden), and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)], no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve - S. 10:62

And that he does have helpers who assist him:

And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the Cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help." S. 4:75

Moreover, Muhammad is said to share in Allah’s dominion since the earth has been given to him:

And whatever Allah restored to His Apostle from them you did not press forward against it any horse or a riding camel but Allah gives authority to His apostles against whom He pleases, and Allah has power over all things. Whatever Allah has restored to His Apostle from the people of the towns, it is for Allah and for the Apostle, and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, so that it may not be a thing taken by turns among the rich of you, and whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in retributing (evil): S. 59:6-7 Shakir

Allah is said to have restored towns and property to Muhammad, with the implication being that these originally and rightfully belonged to him. This view is supported by the following narrations:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
While we were in the Mosque, the Prophet came out and said, "Let us go to the Jews." We went out till we reached Bait-ul-Midras. He said to them, "If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. So, if anyone amongst you owns some property, he is permitted to sell it, otherwise you should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 392)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
While we were in the mosque, Allah's Apostle came out to us and said, "Let us proceed to the Jews." So we went along with him till we reached Bait-al-Midras (a place where the Torah used to be recited and all the Jews of the town used to gather). The Prophet stood up and addressed them, "O Assembly of Jews! Embrace Islam and you will be safe!" The Jews replied, "O Aba-l-Qasim! You have conveyed Allah's message to us." The Prophet said, "That is what I want (from you)." He repeated his first statement for the second time, and they said, "You have conveyed Allah's message, O Aba-l-Qasim." Then he said it for the third time and added, "You should Know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to exile you fro, this land, so whoever among you owns some property, can sell it, otherwise you should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle." (See Hadith No. 392, Vol. 4) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 85, Number 77)

It is quite evident that Muhammad believed that he had a share in Allah’s sovereignty and ownership.

Muslims are also expressly forbidden from befriending unbelievers, specifically Jews and Christians:

Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Auliya (supporters, helpers, etc.) instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them. And Allah warns you against Himself (His Punishment) and to Allah is the final return. S. 3:28

O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya' (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but Auliya' to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as Auliya', then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust). S. 5:51

O you who believe! Take not for Auliya' (protectors and helpers) those who take your religion for a mockery and fun from among those who received the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before you, nor from among the disbelievers; and fear Allah if you indeed are true believers. S. 5:57

And had they believed in Allah, and in the Prophet (Muhammad SAW) and in what has been revealed to him, never would they have taken them (the disbelievers) as Auliya' (protectors and helpers), but many of them are the Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). S. 5:81

Yet Muhammad violated this teaching since he sought the protection and aid of the Christian ruler of Abyssinia. As the late Abdullah Yusuf Ali noted in his comments to Sura 5:82:

"The meaning is not that they merely call themselves Christians, but that they are such sincere Christians that they appreciate Muslim virtues, as did the Abyssinians to whom Muslim refugees went during the persecution in Mecca. They would say: 'It is true we are Christians, but we understand your point of view, and we know that you are good men.' They are Muslims at heart, whatever their label may be." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 268, fn. 789; bold emphasis ours)

Thus, the Muslims had no problem seeking the protection and aid of unbelievers when it was expedient for them!

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All citations were taken from the Hilali-Khan version of the Quran unless noted otherwise.

Contradictions in the Qur'an
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