Part 1: A multi-angular refutation of Shiite views on Ulil-Amr(4:59)

Part 1: A multi-angular refutation of Shiite views on Ulil-Amr(4:59)

Bismillaahi Walĥamdulillaahi waŝŝalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi.

We read in Holy Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا

O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end. (Qur’an 4:59).

This verse is usually misinterpreted and incompletely quoted by Shias. The reason Shias incompletely quote this verse is due to fear that their interpretations will be proven false from the remaining part of the verse itself. Shias usually quote the initial part of the verse to support their false belief, they just quote {“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority (Ulul-Amr) from among you (min kum).” (Qur’an 4:59).} and they deliberately leave the remaining portion of the same verse, which is{ then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end” .(Qur’an 4:59).} As we can clearly see in the second part of the verse which shias avoid quoting,  that Allah(swt) commands believers, that when there arises a dispute between believers and Ulil Amr,  at that time they need to refer back to Allah and the Messenger.


Quranic verse(4:59) itself proves that Unconditional Obedience is ONLY for Allah(swt) and his Prophet(saw).

This verse(59) of Surah An-Nisaa is precisely teaching the criteria for evaluating Deen of a person (i.e) he or she should believe that: “Other than the Prophet himself, there is absolutely no other Human who is perfect enough to be right all the time and whose words or actions could be followed on his own authority, without strong support from the Quran and Sunnah.”.

Several verses of glorious Quran over and over clarify that absolute obedience is for Allah and his Prophet(saw) only:

[Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.” But if they turn away – then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers.] (3:32)

[And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy.] (3:132)

[All who obey Allah and the messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah,- of the prophets (who teach), the sincere (lovers of Truth), the witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah! what a beautiful fellowship!]!(4:69)

[And obey Allah and obey the Messenger and beware. And if you turn away – then know that upon Our Messenger is only [the responsibility for] clear notification.] (5:92)

[So fear Allah and amend that which is between you and obey Allah and His Messenger, if you should be believers.] (8:1)

[O you who have believed, obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn from him while you hear [his order].] (8:20)

[And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient.] (8:46)

[Allah says: “…Obey Allah and His Messenger…”] (33:33)

[One who disobeys God and His Messenger is in plain error.](33:36)

[O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds.] (47:33)

As it can be noticed from the above verses of Quran, that the absolute obedience is always for Allah and his Messenger(saw) only. However, the verse (4:59) adds a new element, it tells us to obey Allah and obey the messenger and those in authority(Ulil Amr), observe that the word “obey(أَطِيعُو)” is placed in front of the words Allah and Messenger BUT NOT in front of the word “Those in authority(Ulil Amr)” . Most importantly, this is to be noted that Allah DIDN’T mention the word “Obey(أَطِيعُو)” before “Ulil Amr” like wa atiu ulil amri minkoom(and obey those charged with authority), rather Allah kept it merely at “and those in authority over you(Ulil Amr minkum)”, without adding the word “OBEY(أَطِيعُو)” before it, as a sign to indicate a conditional obedience. Allah could have said, {“Obey Allah, Obey the Messenger, Obey Ulil Amr”} Or  Allah could have mentioned “Obey(أَطِيعُو)” just once, as in common for the rest, such as, {Obey Allah, the Messenger and Ulil Amr}, but Allah didn’t do this, Allah mentioned the word “Obey (أَطِيعُو)” only for Allah and the Messenger. This is because the obedience of Ulil Amr is conditional and their obedience is tied with the obedience of Allah and his messenger, if the ones in authority(Ulil Amr) obey Allah and Prophet(saw) then we obey them.

Thus, Since this verse is an exception, it is also accompanied by a condition, and the condition is that if we differ with the ones in Authority(Ulil Amr) we should return the matter to Allah and his Messenger(saw), WHY? Because only they are divine and infallible and their obedience is absolute and unconditional, we can differ with the ones in authority(Ulil Amr) but we cannot differ with Allah and his Messenger(saw).


Quranic verse (4:59) itself proves that Obedience to Ulil Amr is Conditional? 

Let us look at the verse(59) of Surah An-Nisaa  carefully and reflect on its contents.

The verse commands believers to obey Allaah, (Who must be obeyed in His own right because He is the Creator, Owner, and Master). Then the verse repeats the command and says, “Obey the Messenger” (who should also be obeyed in his own right as the Messenger of Allaah, because Allaah sent him and ordered us to obey him. He also told us, “Whoever obeys Messenger, he in fact obeys Allaah). In both of these segments the command “obey” (Atee’oo) was repeated, because obedience to both was on their own authority and in their own right, One as the Creator and the second as His Messenger. Then the verse continues: “and those charged with authority”. For this segment the command ‘Obey’ has not been repeated, indicating that the obedience to Ulil Amr (those charged with authority), although necessary for the existence of an organized community, is subservient to the obedience to Allaah and His Messenger. The obedience to Ulil Amr must only be in matters and orders that are in line with and supported by clear injunctions from Allaah and His Messenger. The Ulil Amr cannot demand obedience in their own right or on their own authority, but only in compliance of the teachings of the Qur-aan and Sunnah with clear support from them. That is why the word ‘obey’ (Atee’oo) has not been repeated for them. Had obedience to Ulil-Amr not to be constrained within the provisions of the Qur-aan and Sunnah, the style would have been different: Either it would have only one ‘obey’, i.e., “Obey, Allaah, the Messenger and ulool-amr” ; or, obey for all three parties, “obey Allaah, obey the Messenger and obey uloo-amr”, Not, “Obey Allaah, obey the Messenger, and ulool-amr from among you.

The constraint upon the obedience to Ulil-Amr is further clarified and emphasized by the next segment of the verse, {“If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allaah and His Messenger”}. That is: if their a difference of opinion between rulers (ulil-amr) and ruled (common people) or any segment of the Ummah, then the matter must be referred only to Allaah and His Messenger (Quran and Sunnah). In other words, it must be decided and settled according to the Quran and Sunnah that are the basis of Deen. There is no mention of Ulil-Amr this time because their opinion or order is not on the basis of their own authority but rather it is acceptable only when it is clearly supported by the provisions of the Quran and Sunnah.


Authoritative Narrations from Sunni and Shia books showing obedience to anyone besides Allah and His Messenger is conditional.

Two Authentic Prophetic narrations explaining obedience to “those in authority” is conditional.

1. Sahi bukhari 5.629: Narrated `Imam Ali:The Prophet sent a Sariya under the command of a man from the Ansar and ordered the soldiers to obey him. He (i.e. the commander) became angry and said “Didn’t the Prophet order you to obey me!” They replied, “Yes.” He said, “Collect fire−wood for me.” So they collected it. He said, “Make a fire.” When they made it, he said, “Enter it (i.e. the fire).” So they intended to do that and started holding each other and saying, “We run towards (i.e. take refuge with) the Prophet from the fire.” They kept on saying that till the fire was extinguished and the anger of the commander abated. When that news reached the Prophet he said, “If they had entered it (i.e. the fire), they would not have come out of it till the Day of Resurrection. Obedience (to somebody) is required when he enjoins what is good.”

Comment: From this narration we found that obedience to the one in authority was necessary but when there rose a dispute, the result was given in the favor of the ones who sided with the teachings of Prophet(saw), it wasn’t said that the one in authority should have been obeyed, because what the one in authority commanded was against Allah and his Messenger(saw).

2. Sayyiduna Abd Allah (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: A Muslim must listen to  and obey (the order of his ruler) in things that he likes or dislikes, as long as he is not ordered to commit a sin. If he is ordered to disobey Allah, then there is no listening and no obedience. (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 6725 & Sahih Muslim, no. 1839).

Comment: We find that obedience to ruler is compulsory in general case, as the first part of the verse(4:59) says us, but if the ruler orders to disobey Allah then there is no obedience to him. Thus proving that obedience to rulers is conditional.

The statement of Abu Bakr(RA) when he became Caliph(one is authority).

In Abu Bakr’s first sermon as the First Caliph of the Muslims.

أطيعوني ما أطعت الله ورسوله ، فإذا عصيت الله ورسوله فلا طاعة لي عليكم

Abu Bakr Siddiq(RA) said: Obey me so long as I obey God and His Messenger (saw). And if I disobey God and His Messenger (saw), then I have no right to your obedience. [Recorded by Ibn Sa`d, Bayhaqi, `Abdul-Razzaq, Tabari, Ibn Nasir-ul-Din].

Two Shia Hadeeth:


عِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ خَالِدٍ عَنْ إِسْمَاعِيلَ بْنِ مِهْرَانَ عَنْ سَيْفِ بْنِ عَمِيرَةَ عَنْ أَبِي الْمَغْرَاءِ عَنْ سَمَاعَةَ عَنْ أَبِي الْحَسَنِ مُوسَى ع قَالَ قُلْتُ لَهُ أَ كُلُّ شَيْ‏ءٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّهِ ص أَوْ تَقُولُونَ فِيهِ قَالَ بَلْ كُلُّ شَيْ‏ءٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّهِ ص
From Samaa`ah from Abee Al-Hasan Moosa(as) said, I said to him(as): “Is everything in the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of his Prophet(saw), or do you have a say in it?” He(as) said: “Rather, everything is in the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of his Prophet (saw)”.[Al-Kaafi, vol. 1, pg. 62, hadeeth # 10. Grading: Al-Majlisi said this hadeeth is Muwaththaq (Reliable) à Mir’aat Al-`Uqool, vol. 1, pg. 209].


عن هشام بن الحكم أنه سمع أبا عبدالله عليه السلام يقول : لا تقبلوا علينا حديثا إلا ما وافق القرآن والسنة
It has been narrated from Hisham bin Al-Hakam that he heard Imam Jafar that he said : “Don’t accept from us except which is according to Quran and Sunnah.[Shia book, Tanqih al maqal , Vol. 1 , p. 174].


Asbaab Al-Nuzool for (4:59).

Let us look at the ‘Sabab Al-Nuzool’ (“occasion/circumstance of revelation”) of the Ayah to further strengthen the fact that (4:59) was not revealed for the obedience of some divine infallibles but rather general Muslims who were fallible.

(i). Sahi bukhari  6.108: Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The Verse: “Obey Allah and Obey the Apostle and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority.” (4.59) was revealed in connection with `Abdullah bin Hudhafa bin Qais bin `Adi’ when the Prophet appointed him as the commander of a Sariyya (army detachment).This was narrated by Bukhari from Sadaqah ibn al-Fadl and also by Muslim from Zuhayr ibn Harb and both transmitter related it from Hajjaj.

(ii). Said Ibn ‘Abbas, according to the narration of Badhan: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent Khalid ibn al-Walid in a military expedition to one of the Arab clans. He was accompanied in this expedition by ‘Ammar ibn Yasir. When he drew closer to them at night, he stopped to camp in order to try to conquer them the following morning. Meanwhile this clan was warned about the approaching military expedition which made them flee the area, except for one man who was a Muslim. This man asked his family to get ready to move and then he went to the camp of Khalid and entered in on ‘Ammar. He said to him: ‘O Abu’l-Yaqzan! I am one of you. But my people ran away when they heard you were coming. I stayed because I am Muslim. Is this of any benefit to me, or shall I flee as my people did?’ ‘Ammar said: ‘Stay, for it is beneficial to you’. The man returned to his family and told them to stay. The following morning, Khalid invaded the clan but found no one except this man, and so he imprisoned him and seized his property. ‘Ammar went to him and said: ‘Let the man go, for he is a Muslim and I have already given him amnesty and told him to stay’. Khalid said: ‘You give protection from me to others while I am the leader!’ Ammar said: ‘Yes, I give protection from you to others while you are the leader’. And they exchanged angry words. Then they both went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and informed him about the man. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, gave the man amnesty, sanctioned the amnesty that ‘Ammar had given to the man and then forbade him from giving amnesty to anyone in the future without the express permission of his leader. ‘Ammar and Khalid insulted each other in the presence of Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, and when ‘Ammar spoke very rudely to Khalid, the latter became very angry and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, will you allow this slave to insult me? By Allah, if it were not for you, he would not insult me’. ‘Ammar, by the way, was a client of Hashim ibn al-Mughirah. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘O Khalid, leave ‘Ammar alone, for whoever insults ‘Ammar, Allah will insult him, and whoever hates ‘Ammar, Allah will hate him’. Upon which ‘Ammar left. Khalid followed him, and held him by his cloak and asked him to forgive him, which he did. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed this verse, enjoining obedience to those who are in authority”. ( Asbaab Al-Nuzool’ for verse(4:59) by Abu Al-Hassan Ali Ibn Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ali Al-Wahidi)


Authentic Prophetic narrations proving that the ones in authority would be fallible.

1. Sahi muslm Book 020, Number 4573: It has been narrated on the authority of ‘Auf b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: The best of your rulers are those whom you love and who love you, who invoke God’s blessings upon you and you invoke His blessings upon them. And the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and who hate you and whom you curse and who curse you. It was asked (by those present): Shouldn’t we overthrow them with the help of the sword? He said: No, as long as they establish prayer among you. If you then find anything detestable in them. You should hate their administration, but do not withdraw yourselves from their obedience.

2. It his been narrated through a different chain of transmitters, on the authority of Hudhaifa b. al-Yaman who said: Messenger of Allah, no doubt, we had an evil time (i. e. the days of Jahiliyya or ignorance) and God brought us a good time (i. e. Islamic period) through which we are now living. Will there be a bad time after this good time? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Yes. I said: Will there be a good time after this bad time? He said: Yes. I said: Will there be a bad time after good time? He said: Yes. I said: How? Whereupon he said: There will be leaders who will not be led by my guidance and who will not adopt my ways? There will be among them men who will have the hearts of devils in the bodies of human beings. I said: What should I do. Messenger of Allah, if I (happen) to live in that time? He replied: You will listen to the Amir and carry out his orders; even if your back is flogged and your wealth is snatched, you should listen and obey. [Sahih Muslim #1847]

3. Sahi muslim Book 020, Number 4570: It has been narrated (through a different chain of transmitters) on the authority of Umm Salama (wife of the Holy Prophet) that he said: Amirs will be appointed over you, and you will find them doing good as well as bad deeds. One who hates their bad deeds is absolved from blame. One who disapproves of their bad deeds is (also) safe (so far as Divine wrath is concerned). But one who approves of their bad deeds and imitates them (is doomed). People asked: Messenger of Allah, shouldn’t we fight against them? He replied: No, as long as they say their prayer. (” Hating and disapproving” refers to liking and disliking from the heart.)

Comment: From the above  narrations we find that Prophet(Saw) himself declared that there would be Ameers(rulers) who would be doing bad as well as good deeds, yet prophet(Saw) commanded that they need to be obeyed. Now the point to note is that, these narrations prove that the ones in authority wouldn’t be infallibles nor divinely appointed, rather they would be general Muslims. The shias might say that these narrations talk about general Ameers not divinely appointed ones. But the point they don’t ponder over is that if there existed divinely appointed Ameers apart from these fallibles, who were infallible, then prophet(saw) would have said that you should only obey the divinely appointed Ameers. Or atleast he(saw) would have said that, if anyone besides the divinely appointed Ameer becomes ruler you should withdraw yourselves from their obedience. Prophet(saw) wouldn’t have stopped people from fighting them. But on the contrary Prophet(Saw) said that the Ameers(rulers) even if they are fallible should be obeyed. This itself proves that there was no existence of any sort of divinely appointed or infallible rulers and that, it was mandatory to obey the fallible Ameer(rulers) in a conditional way.

4. Narrated Ma’qil:  Allah’s Apostle said, “If any ruler having the authority to rule Muslim subjects dies while he is deceiving them, Allah will forbid Paradise for him.” (Sahi Bukhari Volume 9, Book 89, Number 265)

Messenger of Allah(saw) said: If God appointed anyone ruler over a people and he died while he was still treacherous to his people, God would forbid his entry into Paradise.(Sahi Muslim Book 33, Hadith 28)

Comment: Had it been that the rulers would be infallible then, Prophet(Saw) wouldn’t have said this.

5. The Prophet added, “He who obeys me, obeys Allah, and he who disobeys me, disobeys Allah. He who obeys the Ameer, obeys me, and he who disobeys the Ameer, disobeys me. The Imam is like a shelter for whose safety the Muslims should fight and where they should seek protection. If the Imam orders people with righteousness and rules justly, then he will be rewarded for that, and if he does the opposite, he will be responsible for that.”( Sahi Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 52, Hadith 204)

6.  Al-Nauman ibn Basheer told us: The Prophet PBUH said: ‘Prophethood will remain in you for as long as God decides for it to remain and then God will remove it when He decides to remove it. After Prophet hood, there will be a Caliphate on the style of prophethood and it will exist for as long as God decides for it to exist, then He will remove it when He decides to remove it. Then there will be a kingdom in which people will face trials and tribulations and it will continue to exist for as long as God decides for it to exist. Then He will remove it, when He decides to remove it. After this, there will be an oppressive kingdom and it will continue to exist for as long as God decides for it to exist. Then He will remove it, when He decides to remove it. Then there will once again be a rule on the style of prophet hood. After saying this, the Prophet (pbuh) was silent.’
source: Takhreej Mishat al Masabih #5306.
grading: SAHIH and famous narrated through many chains.

Comment: This shows that there would be a time when the ones in Rule will be Tyrants and Oppressors.

7. Narrated Mu’adh ibn Jabal: Some companions of Mu’adh ibn Jabal said: When the Messenger of Allah (saw) intended to send Mu’adh ibn Jabal to the Yemen, he asked: “What will you do if a matter is referred to you for judgement?” Mu’adh said: “I will judge according to the Book of Allah.” The Prophet asked: “What if you find no solution in the Book of Allah?” Mu’adh said: “Then I will judge by the Sunnah of the Prophet.” The Prophet asked: “And what if you do not find it in the Sunnah of the Prophet?” Mu’adh said: “Then I will make Ijtihad to formulate my own judgement.” The Prophet patted Mu’adh’s chest and said: “Praise be to Allah who has guided the messenger of His Prophet to that which pleases Him and His Prophet.” (Abu Dawood, Book 24, Hadith 3585).

Amir ibn Al-As reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, say, “If a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning (ijtihad) and he is correct, then he will have two rewards; and if a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning and he is mistaken, then he will have one reward.”[Sahih Muslim, Book 18, Number 4261]

Comment: Here we find that the appointed authority needs to refer Quran and Sunnah to solve a matter and if the solution can’t be found in there, then the appointed authority can make their own judgement. And even in that judgment the authority could error, which shows appointed authority is fallible, and also notice that if resolution isn’t found in Quran and Sunnah, then there is no mention to refer some divine infallible personalities, proving that they don’t exist.


Scholarly explanations of verse(59) of Surah An-Nisaa.

As far as the commentary and meaning of this verse is concerned, the works of Sunnī scholars are replete with fruitful explanations and refutations of the Imāmī Shīa view.

1. Imam Fakhru’d-din Razi in his Tafsir says:

أن أعمال الأمراء والسلاطين موقوفة على فتاوى العلماء ، والعلماء في الحقيقة أمراء الأمراء ، فكان حمل لفظ أولي الأمر عليهم أولى ، وأما حمل الآية على الأئمة المعصومين على ما تقوله الروافض ففي غاية البعد

[The decisions of the rulers rely on the verdicts of the scholars, and the scholars in reality have authority over the rulers, so explaining “ulil-amr” as scholars is given priority, as for the Rafidhah who explained it as the infallible Imams, this saying is very far from the truth…]

وثالثها : أنه قال : ( فإن تنازعتم في شيء فردوه إلى الله والرسول ) ولو كان المراد بأولي الأمر الإمام المعصوم لوجب أن يقال : فإن تنازعتم في شيء فردوه إلى الإمام ، فثبت أن الحق تفسير الآية بما ذكرناه

[He said: “If you differ in anything then return it to Allah and the Messenger” and if what was meant by “ulil-amr” are the infallible Imams, then it would have been necessary to say: “If you differ in anything then return it to the Imam” so it is proven that the correct explanation of the verse is as we stated.] (Tafseer Al kabeer) commentary of verse 4:59)

2. Al-Qurţubī brings up the Imāmī opinion and refutes it in the following words:

وزعم قوم أن المراد بأولي الامر علي والأئمة المعصومون ولو كان كذلك ما كان لقوله فردوه إلى الله والرسول معنى بل كان يقول فردوه إلى الامام وأولي الامر فإن قوله عند هؤلاء هو المحكم على الكتاب والسنة وهذا قول مهجور مخالف لما عليه الجمهور

And a faction claimed that what is meant by ‘those in authority’ are `Alī and the infallible Imāms. Had that been the case, what would be the meaning of ‘revert it back to Allāh and the Messenger’? It would have rather been ‘revert it back to the Imām and those in authority, for indeed his view among these people is consolidated over the Book and the Sunna. This opinion is obsolete and contradictory to what has been opined by the majority.” al-Jāmi` li Aĥkām al-Qur’ān wa al-Mubayyin limā Tađammanah min al-Sunna wa Āy al-Furqān [Tafsīr al-Qurţubī], of Abū al-`Abbās al-Qurţubī (d. 671), volume 6, page 432 [Beirut]

3. Abul A’la Maududi in his Tahfeem ul Quran states:

In the Islamic order of life Muslims are further required to obey fellow Muslims in authority. This obedience follows, and is subordinate to, obedience to God and the Prophet (peace be on him). Those invested with authority (ulu al-amr) include all those entrusted with directing Muslims in matters of common concern. Hence, persons ‘invested with authority’ include the intellectual and political leaders of the community, as well as administrative officials, judges of the courts, tribal chiefs and regional representatives. …In an Islamic order the injunctions of God and the way of the Prophet (peace be on him) constitute the basic law and paramount authority in all matters. Whenever there is any dispute among Muslims or between the rulers and the ruled the matter should be referred to the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and all concerned should accept with sincerity whatever judgement results. In fact, willingness to take the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Messenger as the common point of reference, and to treat the judgement of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the last word on all matters, is a central characteristic which distinguishes an Islamic system from un-Islamic ones.(Tahfeem ul Quranm commentar y for verse 4:59)

4. Mufti Shafi Usmani stated in his commentary:

In the present verse, the obedience to those in authority means obedience to both ‘ulama’ and hukkam (religious scholars and officials). According to this verse, it becomes necessary to obey Muslim jurists in matters which require juristic research, expertise and guidance as it would be equally necessary to obey those in authority in matters relating to administrative affairs… If we look at verse 58 and the command to ‘judge between people with fairness’ along with the command to ‘obey those in authority’ in verse 59, we can see a clear hint to the effect: If the Amir, the authority in power, sticks to ‘adl (justice), obedience to him is wajib (necessary); and should he forsake justice and promulgate laws against the Shari’ah, the amir will not be obeyed as far as those laws are concerned. The Holy Prophet has said: ‘there is no obedience to the created in the matter of disobedience to the Creator,’ which means that such obedience to the created as makes disobedience to the Creator necessary is not permissible.( Ma’ariful Quran commentary of 4:59)

5. Imam Ibn Katheer states in his tafseer:

(And those of you who are in authority) in the obedience to Allah which they command you, not what constitutes disobedience of Allah, for there is no obedience to anyone in disobedience to Allah, as we mentioned in the authentic Hadith, (Obedience is only in righteousness.). ((And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger). Mujahid and several others among the Salaf said that the Ayah means, “(Refer) to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.” This is a command from Allah that whatever areas the people dispute about, whether major or minor areas of the religion, they are required to refer to the Qur’an and Sunnah for judgment concerning these disputes. (tafseer ibn katheer, commentary for verse 4:59)

6. Tafseer Jalalayn :

O you who believe, obey God, and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you, that is, rulers, when they command you to obey God and His Messenger. If you should quarrel, disagree, about anything, refer it to God, that is, to His Book, and the Messenger, while he lives, and thereafter [refer] to his Sunna: in other words examine these [disputes] with reference to these two [sources], if you believe in God and the Last Day.(Tafseer Jalalayn, commentary verse 4:59)

7. Imam AbdhulHay al-Lucknawi said in his book:

Narrated ibn Abi Shaibah, Abd ibn Humaid, ibn Jareer, and ibn Munzir from Mujahid, which said about words of Allah “O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you” (that is mean) – companions of Muhammad, people of intelligence, fiqh and religion.

Abd ibn Humaid, ibn Jareer and ibn Abu Hatim, ibn Asakir narrated from Ikrima, that about words of Allah “ and those in authority” he said: Abu Bakr and Umar.

Saeed ibn Mansoor narrated from Ikrima, that he was asked about (slave women) mothers of children (of their masters). Should they be set free? He said: Yes. When he was asked by what proof he gave such fatwa, he said: By Quran. He was asked by what verse in the Quran? He answered: ”O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you” . Umar was from “ those in authority” , and he use to say: Free them, even if embryo was dropped.

Ibn Hajar al-Haythami mentioned in “Sawaiq al-Muhriqa” and others, that when Hasan ibn Ali made peace with Moawiyah, he (Hasan) wrote a letter to him:  ”Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim. This is upon what Hasan ibn Ali made treaty with Moawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan: He would give him wilayah of Muslims upon condition that he would act among them upon the book of Allah, Sunnah of Prophet, and Life of Rightly Guided Caliphs after him…”(Abdulhay al-Lucknawi “Tuhfatul Ahyar bi Ahya Sunnat Saeedal Abrar” pp 66-67, Darul Bashar al-Islamiyah.)

8. Imam Shawkani in “Fath al-Qadeer” said:

Abd ibn Humaid, ibn Jareer, ibn Abi Hatim narrated from Ata, which said regarding words “and those in authority from among you”, this mean authority in Fiqh, and Knowledge.

Saeed ibn Mansur, ibn Abi Sheiba, Abd ibn Humaid, ibn Munzir, ibn Abu Hatim narrated from Abu Huraira, that under words  ”and those in authority” mean commanders. And in other version commanders of army.

Ibn Abi Sheiba, Abd ibn Humaid, Hakim at-Tirmizi, ibn Jareer, ibn Munzir, ibn Abu Hatim, Hakim which authenticated it, narrated from Jabir ibn Abdullah, which said regarding these words ”and those in authority”, this mean people of knowledge.

Same was narrated by Saeed ibn Mansur, Abd ibn Humaid, ibn Jareer, ibn Munzir, ibn Abu Hatim from Mujahid and by ibn Abu Sheiba and ibn Jareer from Abul Aliyah.(Imam Shawkani in “Fath al-Qadeer”, page 392, Darul ibn Jawzi.).


Imam Ali’s(ra) understanding of the verse(4:59) is same as of Ahlesunnah.

The Islamic sunni interpretation is that the obedience of the ruler(Ulil Amr) is conditional and is tied with his obedience to Allah and his Prophet, because the ruler is not infallible, and  if the believers disagree with the ones in authority then the judge between them is the Quran and the Sunnah.

Let us see Ali’s(ra) understanding and interpretation in the “Nahjul Balagha(peak of eloquence)”, in Letter #53 to al-Ashtar al-Nakha’ee whom He(ra) had appointed as the ruler of Egypt:

“Maalik! You must never forget that if you are a ruler over them than the caliph is the ruler over you and Allah is the Supreme Lord over the caliph. And the reality is that He has appointed you as the governor and tested you through the responsibility of this rulership over them.”

And then He says:

وَارْدُدْ إِلَى الله وَرَسُولِهِ مَا يُضْلِعُكَ مِنَ الْخُطُوبِ(1)، وَيَشْتَبِهُ عَلَيْكَ مِنَ الاْمُورِ، فَقَدْ قَالَ اللهُ سبحانه لِقَوْم أَحَبَّ إِرْشَادَهُمْ: (يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الاْمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْء فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَالرَّسُولِ)، فَالرَّدُّ إِلَى اللهِ: الاْخْذُ بِمُحْكَمِ كِتَابِهِ(2)، وَالرَّدُّ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ: الاْخْذُ بِسُنَّتِهِ الْجَامِعةِ غَيْرِ الْمُفَرِّقَةِ
“When you are faced with problems which you cannot solve or with a difficult situation from which you cannot escape or when uncertain and doubtful circumstances confuse and perplex you, then turn to Allah and the Holy Prophet (s) because Allah has thus ordered those whom He wants to guide: “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger” The way to turn to Allah is to act diligently according to the clear and explicit orders given in His Holy Book and to the turn to the Holy Prophet (s) means to follow those of his Sunnah about which there is no doubt and ambiguity and which have been generally accepted to be correctly recorded.” (Nahjul Balagha, Letter #53)

Comment: So Ali(ra) advices to Maalik, who was appointed in authority over Egypt, that if he faces any problem or difficulty then he needs to turn to Allah(swt) and Prophet(saw), because Allah mentioned in Quran the verse (4:59), and its later part commands to refer Allah and his Prophet during disagreement. It can be deduced from this letter of Ali(ra) that, It is appropriate to believe that Ali(ra) considered Maalik who was appointed in authority over Egypt as Ulil Amr(those in authority), that is why He(ra) directed the one placed in authority over Egypt(Maalik) to the verse(4:59)  which is about, what is to be done when their appears a dispute between Ulil Amr and Believers. Ali could have said if you face any problem refer to divinely appointed Imams or refer me, but He(ra) didn’t say anything as such because He understood Quran the same as Ahlesunnah does. If Ali(ra) considered himself to be a divinely appointed Imam whose Job is to guide people and solve issues, then He(ra) would have said to consult him but He didn’t even hint towards doing so, rather he said what is in line with views of Ahlesunnah.

NOTE: It has come to our notice, that some Shias have removed this verse(4:59) from this letter(#53) of Nahjul Balagha in the English translation, because of the obvious reason. Screen shots of different Shia websites, which tampered Letter # 53. [Screen Shot 1]   ; [Screen shot #2] ; [Screen shot #3].


Esteemed Shia scholar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr admits, a fallible can also be Ulil Amr’.

Shia scholar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr in his book ‘Iqtisaadunaa’ states:

The text of this Quranic verse(4:59) clearly  proves he obligation of obeying the authorities(ulil-amr). There is n difference of opinion among the Muslims that ‘Ulil Amr’(authorities) means those who wield legal authority in the Muslim society, though there exists difference of opinion among them in respect of determining them and their attributes. Thus a high Muslim authority enjoys the right of obedience and interference to safeguard the interest of the society and to maintain Islamic balance therein provided the interference was within the limits of the sacred Shariah. Therefore it is not permissible for the state or the ruler(waliyyu’l-amr) to make usury lawful or allow fraud or too suspend the law of inheritance or to nullify an ownership in the Muslim society established on an Islamic basis. A bona fide ruler(authority) in Islam can only interfere in respect of the activities and deals which are permissible under the Islamic law. (Iqtisaadunaa, vol. 1, part 2, page 56)

Comment: From the above we find that Shia scholar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr believes that in the  verse(4:59) the word ‘ulil amr’ means “those who wield legal authority in the Muslim society”. So al-Sadr admits it can also be a fallible.


Reliable Shia narrations prove that the Quranic verse(4:59) is against Shia belief and they also prove Sunni interpretations to be correct.

The Shias have attributed narrations to Imams from Ahlelbayt where we will find that the Imam adds some words to the verse of current Quran stating that this how it was revealed and in another one Imam explains that the current verse allows believers to differ with Ulil Amr.

In Classical Shia Tafseer Al-Qummi (p. 135), we read:

فرض على الناس طاعتهم فقال: { يا أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم } يعني أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام حدثني أبي عن حماد عن حريز عن أبي عبدالله عليه السلام قال نزلت: { فإن تنازعتم في شيء فارجعوه إلى الله والرسول وأولي الأمر منكم }.

[He made their obedience obligatory on the people, so he said: {Believers, obey Allah, His Messenger, and your leaders} meaning Ameer al-Mu’mineen peace be upon him. My father told me, from Hamad bin Hurayz, from abu `Abdillah (as) that he said: “It was revealed: {refer it to Allah, His Messenger, and the leaders among you.}”]

In a different narration present in Rawdat Al-Kafi #212 we read:

عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ أُذَيْنَةَ عَنْ بُرَيْدِ بْنِ مُعَاوِيَةَ قَالَ تَلَا أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ ( عليه السلام ) أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَ أَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ تَنَازُعاً فِي الْأَمْرِ فَأَرْجِعُوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَ إِلَى أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ ثُمَّ قَالَ كَيْفَ يَأْمُرُ بِطَاعَتِهِمْ وَ يُرَخِّصُ فِي مُنَازَعَتِهِمْ إِنَّمَا قَالَ ذَلِكَ لِلْمَأْمُورِينَ الَّذِينَ قِيلَ لَهُمْ أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَ أَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ

[`Ali bin Ibrahim, from his father, from ibn abi `Umayr, from `Umar bin Udhaynah, from Burayd bin Mu`awiyah that abu Ja`far (as) recited: {Believers, obey Allah, obey His Messenger, and your leaders, if ye fear that you would differ among yourselves then refer it to Allah and the messenger and your leaders} Then he (as) said: “How can he order their obedience then allow you to differ with them? He only meant the ones who are under orders when he said {Obey Allah and obey the messenger}.]

The narration was declared as “Hasan(GOOD)” by Al-Majlisi in his book “Mir’at al-`Uqoul” 26/76.

Esteemed Shia scholar Al-Majlisi adds:

و ظاهر كثير من الأخبار أن قوله:” وَ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ” كان مثبتا هيهنا فأسقط

[It is apparent from many of the narrations that the term “and the leaders among you” was affirmed here, but was then removed.](“Mir’at al-`Uqoul).

So, al-Majlisi declares that Tahreef(alteration) has occurred in the Qur’an.

The same narration we even find in shia book (Hayat ul Quloob 3/165).

In the above reliable narration of Al-Kafi, Imam adds some words to the verse of current Quran, as He considers the current and present verse(4:59) to be incomplete, and then He points that the current verse allows believers to differ with Ulil Amr due to absence of the words which He added. So apparently the current verse of Quran(4:59) is so clear and explicit that it destroys the fundamental Shia belief from its roots, since as per the current verse of Quran(4:59) we can dispute with Ulil Amr, as the Imam understood and even the esteemed Shia scholars whose statements we quoted above. Thus the current verse of Quran(4:59) explicitly destroys fundamental Shia belief and proves that Ulil Amr are neither divinely appointed nor infallible. It was due to this that some of the early Shias fabricated evidence and came up with the excuse that the Qur’an has been manipulated.

Moreover, In the footnotes of Hayat ul Quloob(3/165), the Shia translator Molvi Basharat Hussain states that:

[ “The author(Baqir Majlisi) says, Hazrat(Imam) meant that, If ulil amr is not mentioned in the end(of verse), it would be the evidence that the ummah can disagree with them, and this is against the order of obedience towards them which is in the beginning of the verse”]. (Scan page of Hayat ul Quloob 3/165).

Comment: We know that, in the current verse, Ulil Amr is not mentioned in the end of the verse which implies believers can disagree with them. Thus even according to Baqir Majlisi(author of Hayat ul Quloob) Imam meant the same which we explained.


If Ulil Amr MUST be infallible, then even Imams from Ahlelbayt can’t qualify to be Ulil Amr.

Reliable reports from Sunni sources proving that Imams were not infallible.

1. In his “Siyar A’laam un-Nubulaa” at page 259 Dhahabi narrated:

كتب إلي عبد المنعم بن يحيى الزهري، وطائفة قالوا: أنبأنا داود بن أحمد، أنبأنا محمد بن عمر القاضي، أنبأنا عبد الصمد بن علي، أنبأنا أبو الحسن الدارقطني، حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن إسماعيل الادمي، حدثنا محمد بن الحسين الحنيني، حدثنا مخلد بن أبي قريش الطحان، حدثنا عبد الجبار بن العباس الهمداني، أن جعفر بن محمد أتاهم وهم يريدون أن يرتحلوا من المدينة، فقال: ” إنكم إن شاء الله من صالحي أهل مصركم، فأبلغوهم عني: من زعم أني إمام معصوم مفترض الطاعة، فأنا منه برئ، ومن زعم أني أبرأ من أبي بكر وعمر، فأنا منه برئ “.

From Abdul Jabar ibn Al-Abbas al-Hamadani: ”Jafar as-Sadiq came to them when they were leaving Madinah and told them: You are inshallah from amongst the best of people from your country (or from your Egypt)  So report to them from me: He who claims that I’m an infallible imam who must be obeyed, I disassociate myself from him and he who claims that I disassociate myself from Abu Bakr and Umar, I disassociate myself from him.”

2. Sahi bukhari 4.260: Narrated `Ikrima:Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn `Abbas, who said, “Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’”

Comment: From this hadees of bukhari its clear that even Ibn Abbas(as) acknowledges the mistake of Ali(as), even though Ali(as) was the Caliph that time, this shows the understanding of Sahaba(as) regarding Ulil Amr.

3. Sahi Bukhari 3.784:
Narrated `Ali: The Prophet gave me a silken dress as a gift and I wore it. When I saw the signs of anger on his face, I cut it into pieces and distributed it among my wives.”

Sahi Muslim Bk 39, Number 5162:
‘Ali b. Abu Talib reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) gave me to wear a garment in the form of silk cloak. I went out wearing it, but saw signs of anger on his face, so I tore it and distributed it amongst my women.

Reports from Shia sources proving Imams were not infallible.

1. Below is Ali(ra)’s own admission on his humanly fallibility :

Ali(ra) said: “……….Do not evade me as the people of passion are (to be) evaded, do not meet me with flattery and do not think that I shall take it ill if a true thing is said to me, because the person who feels disgusted when truth is said to him or a just matter is placed before him would find it more difficult to act upon them. Therefore, do not abstain from saying a truth or pointing out a matter of justice because I do not regard myself above erring . I do not escape erring in my actions but that Allah helps me in matters in which He is more powerful than I. Certainly, I and you are slaves owned by Allah, other than Whom there is no Lord except Him. He owns our selves which we do not own. He took us from where we were towards what means prosperity to us. He altered our straying into guidance and gave us intelligence after blindness.” [One of the most sacred Shia book, Nahjul balagha, sermon 215, Delivered at the battle of Siffin. About mutual rights of the ruler and the ruled]

Comment: This sermon of Ali(ra) proves that Ali(ra) admitted his fallible human nature, just as Ahlesunnah believes. The shias can change a day to a night by their commentary and interpretation, but the fact is that hz ali(ra) said these words to the people, shias can make lame excuses when they find their imams supplicating Allah to forgive their sins, and they can say the imams did this out of humbleness, but here Imam Ali(ra) was not directing his words towards Allah, but towards the people. If he taught his followers about his infallibility then in no way he(ra) would have said those words to the people, because those words were against  his own teachings. So, the question which remains un-answered is that, why is Ali(ra) encouraging people to point out the matter of justice, if he can never make a mistake, then what is the point in encouraging people? This shows that the Shia interpretations are wrong and invalid.

2. Esteemed Shia Allama al-Majlisi in “Uyunul Hayat” (1/348) narrated:

Narrated Ali ibn Ibrahim WITH AUTHENTIC CHAIN, in his Tafseer commentary of verse “ O you who believe! do not forbid (yourselves) the good things which Allah has made lawful for you” from Abu Abdullah (alaihi salam): It was revealed about commander of faithful (alaihi salam), Bilal and Uthman ibn Maudhun. And commander of faithful (alaihi salam) promised that he would never sleep at night, as for Bilal, he promised that he never would eat during the day, as for Uthman ibn Maudhun he promised that he never would marry (meaning he would never have intercourse with wife).
And wife of the Uthman ibn Maudhun entered upon Aisha, and she was beautiful woman. Aisha asked: Why I see you upset?…. His wife said: By Allah, my husband didn’t approached me from such and such time….. (when prophet sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam entered to Aisha, she said that to him) He went out, and called to congregational prayer. People gathered, and minbar was set, he praised Allah, then said: What happen with group which prohibited upon themselves pure things? HEAR, I AM SLEEPING AT NIGHTS, MARRY (WOMAN) AND EAT DURING THE DAYS. AND WHOEVER WOULD GO ASTRAY FROM MY SUNNAH IS NOT FROM ME.

Comment: This report shows that Ali(ra) made a mistake by committing, that he would never sleep at night, and thus he was rebuked by Prophet(saw).

3. In al-Kafi vol.7 pg.203 we see al-Hassan (ra) wipe out his own infallibility from existence:

عِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ خَالِدٍ عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ عُثْمَانَ وَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ
جَمِيعاً عَنْ هَارُونَ بْنِ الْجَهْمِ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُسْلِمٍ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا جَعْفَرٍ وَ أَبَا عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ( عليه السلام ) يَقُولَانِ بَيْنَا الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ ( عليه السلام ) فِي مَجْلِسِ أَمِيرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ( عليه السلام ) إِذْ أَقْبَلَ قَوْمٌ فَقَالُوا يَا أَبَا مُحَمَّدٍ أَرَدْنَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ( عليه السلام ) قَالَ وَ مَا حَاجَتُكُمْ قَالُوا أَرَدْنَا أَنْ نَسْأَلَهُ عَنْ مَسْأَلَةٍ قَالَ وَ مَا هِيَ تُخْبِرُونَا بِهَا فَقَالُوا امْرَأَةٌ جَامَعَهَا زَوْجُهَا فَلَمَّا قَامَ عَنْهَا قَامَتْ بِحُمُوَّتِهَا فَوَقَعَتْ عَلَى جَارِيَةٍ بِكْرٍ فَسَاحَقَتْهَا فَأَلْقَتِ النُّطْفَةَ فِيهَا فَحَمَلَتْ فَمَا تَقُولُ فِي هَذَا فَقَالَ الْحَسَنُ ( عليه السلام ) مُعْضِلَةٌ وَ أَبُو الْحَسَنِ لَهَا وَ أَقُولُ فَإِنْ أَصَبْتُ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ مِنْ أَمِيرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ( عليه السلام ) وَ إِنْ أَخْطَأْتُ فَمِنْ نَفْسِي فَأَرْجُو أَنْ لَا أُخْطِئَ إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ

Some of our companions from Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Khaled from ‘Amr bin ‘Uthman and from his father all of them from Haroon bin al-Jahm from Muhammad bin Muslim that he said: I heard abu Ja’afar (as) and abu ‘Abdullah (as) say: When al-Hassan bin ‘Ali (as) was present in the Majlis of Ameer al-Mumineen (as) some folks came near him, he asked them: “What is your need?” they said: “We were searching for Ameer al-Mumineen (as)” He said: “What do you want from him?” they said: “We wanted to ask about an issue.” he said: “Well what is it? tell me.” They said: “A woman had intercourse with her husband and then she went and did it with a virgin female servant of hers, so the sperm of that man was transmitted to that young girl and she was pregnant, what do you say about this?” He (as) said: “This is a problem that abu al-Hassan can handle, I will say that if I am correct then this is from Allah and from Ameer al-Mmineen (as) and if I am wrong then it is from my self so I hope that I will not make a mistake god willing.“(al-Kafi vol.7 pg.203) Grading: Majlisi “Sahih” Miraat 23/309.

4. We read in Al-kafi:

عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ جَمِيلِ بْنِ دَرَّاجٍ قَالَ سَأَلْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِ اللَّهِ (عليه السلام) عَنْ قَتْلِ الْخُطَّافِ أَوْ إِيذَائِهِنَّ فِي الْحَرَمِ فَقَالَ لَا يُقْتَلْنَ فَإِنِّي كُنْتُ مَعَ عَلِيِّ بْنِ الْحُسَيْنِ (عليه السلام) فَرَآنِي وَ أَنَا أُوذِيهِنَّ فَقَالَ لِي يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تَقْتُلْهُنَّ وَ لَا تُؤْذِهِنَّ فَإِنَّهُنَّ لَا يُؤْذِينَ شَيْئاً
Ali bin Ibrahim from his father from Ibn Abi umayr from Jameel bin Darraj: I once asked Abu ‘Abdillah(‘ alaihis-salaam) about killing or hurting khuththaaf(a type of bird) that was it Haraam. Then he answered: “You should not kill it, once I(Abu Abdillah) was with ‘Aliy bin Al-Husain(‘ alaihis-salaam), and then he saw me hurt it(khuththaaf). He said to me: “O my son, you should not kill or hurt them, because they (khuththaaf) does not hurt anyone”. (Shia book, Al-Kaafi, 6/224.This narration graded by al-Majlisi as “Hasan(good)” [Mir’atul-‘Uquul, 21/370].

Thus from the above evidences we find that even Imams from Ahlelbayt were not infallible, So as per the illogical condition set by Shias, that Ulil Amr should be infallible, even the Imams doesn’t qualify to be considered as Ulil Amr.

Esteemed Classical Shia scholar Sheikh Sadooq believed that Imam can make mistakes.

Here is the wordings of grand sheikh sadooq in his book Uyun ahbarul riza- volume 2, page 193

وَفِي حَدِيث آخِرَ: إِنّ الإِمامَ مُؤَيِّد بِرُوحِ القُدُس وَبَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنِ اللَّه عَمُود مِن نُورٍ يَرى‏ فِيهِ أَعمال العِبادِ وَكُلَّما احتاجَ إِلَيْهِ، لِدِلالَةٍ اطلَعَ عَلَيْهِ وَيُبسِطَهُ فَيَعلَمُ وَيُقبَضُ عَنْهُ فَلا يَعْلَمُ.
وَالإمام يُولَدُ وَيَلِدُ، وَيَصِحُّ وَيَمرَضُ، وَيَأْكُلُ وَيَشْرَبُ وَيَبُولُ وَيَتَغَوَّط، وَيَنكِحُ وَيَنامُ وَيَنسى‏ وَيَسهُو، وَيَفرَحُ وَيَحزُنُ، وَيَضحَكُ وَيَبْكي وَيَحْيَى وَيَمُوتُ وَيُقبَرُ وَيَزارُ، وَيُحشَرُ وَيُوقَفُ، وَيُعرَضُ وَيُسأَلُ، وَيُثابُ وَيُكرَمُ، وَيَشفَعُ، وَدَلالَتُه فِي خِصلَتَيْنِ فِي العِلْمُ اِسْتِجابَة الدَّعْوَة وَكُلِّ ما أَخْبَر بِهِ مِنَ الحَوادِث الَّتِي تُحدَثُ قَبْلُ كُونِها فَذلكَ بِعَهْدِ مَعهُود إِلَيْهِ مِن رَسُولَ اللَّهِ‏ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ تَوارَثَهُ وَعَنْ آبائِهِ عَنْهُ‏ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّلاَمُ وَيَكُونُ ذلِكَ مِمَّا عَهِدَ إِلَيْهِ جِبْرَئِيل‏ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ مِن عَلاّمِ الغُيُوبِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.

19-2 In another tradition we read, “The Imam is certified by the Holy Spirit. There is a column of light between him and God through which he sees the deeds of the people. He is informed about what he needs by it. Sometimes that light is shined at him and he gets to know (what he must become aware of). And sometimes it is taken away and thus he will not know (what he needs not know). “The Imam is born. He also has children. He gets ill and he gets cured. He eats and drinks. He urinates and defecates. He gets married. He sleeps.He forgets and he makes mistakes. He gets happy and sad. He laughs and cries. He lives and then dies. He is buried and the people go to visit his shrine. He is resurrected and questioned. He is rewarded and honored. He intercedes. There are two important signs for him: his knowledge and the fulfillment of his prayers. He has heard the news that he gives about the events in the future from his grandfathers from the Prophet of God (s). The Prophet of God (s) has heard them from Gabriel. Gabriel has heard them from the Almighty God.

Comment: It seems this classical Shia scholar was aware of the evidences which we provided and even many more which proves that Imams were not infallible, that is why he didn’t care about the extremist and ignorant Shia, and boldly declared his view.

This also shows that this esteemed classical Shia scholar didn’t understand the verse(4:59) as the Shias interpret, that Ulil Amr must be infallible. Because if he believed in the same illogical condition used by Shias, that Ulil Amr needs to be infallible, then that means as per his belief Imams doesn’t qualify to become Ulil Amr.


Can ‘Those in authority’(Ulil Amr) be the ones who were never in authority?

If Shias consider being leader of state to be one of the aspect of ‘Ulil Amr’, then atleast Nine Shia Imams cannot be considered as Ulil Amr(those in authority), because they never had such authority. Starting from Imam Hussein(ra) till Imam Hasan Askari(rah), none of them possessed authority over the affairs of people of their time. So how could they be considered “those in authority”(Ulil Amr), when they weren’t having authority?

Moreover, present hidden twelfth Shia Imam, doesn’t possess any authority over the affairs of Shias, be it Shias of Iran or any other country. For example: The Shia state of Iran, is run by Shia leaders who call themselves a Wali Al Amr( eg: Ayatollah Khomeini see the scan page of the front page of the book where this shia scholar is given title of Wali Al-Amr Al-Muslimeen), this isn’t a secret, the world knows about it, Wali Al Amr is the one who has authority over the affairs of people of Iranian state and He neither was divinely appointed by Allah, nor by Prophet or Imam and nor is he infallible.

For the benefit of readers we would like to quote some of the articles from the constitution of the Iranian Republic(A Shia state) :

Article 5

During the Occultation of the Wali al-Asr (may God hasten his reappearance), the wilayah and leadership of the Ummah devolve upon the just (‘adil] and pious [muttaqi] faqih, who is fully aware of the circumstances of his age; courageous, resourceful, and possessed of administrative ability, will assume the responsibilities of this office in accordance with Article 107.

Article 107
After the demise of the eminent marji’ al-taqlid and great leader of the universal Islamic revolution, and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatullah al-‘Uzma Imam Khumayni – quddisa sirruh al-sharif – who was recognized and accepted as marji’ and Leader by a decisive majority of the people, the task of appointing the Leader shall be vested with the experts elected by the people. The experts will review and consult among themselves concerning all the fuqaha’ possessing the qualifications specified in Articles 5 and 109. In the event they find one of them better versed in Islamic regulations, the subjects of the fiqh, or in political and social Issues, or possessing general popularity or special prominence for any of the qualifications mentioned in Article 109, they shall elect him as the Leader. Otherwise, in the absence of such a superiority, they shall elect and declare one of them as the Leader. The Leader thus elected by the Assembly of Experts shall assume all the powers of the wilayat al-amr and all the responsibilities arising therefrom. The Leader is equal with the rest of the people of the country in the eyes of law.

— END —

We find that,  the Shia scholars using the title Wali Al Amr have actually hijacked the authority from the non-existiing hidden twelfth Imam of Shias. It’s just an intellectual fraud of Shia scholars when they say, that presently their hidden twelfth Imam is the one in authority, because their hidden Imam neither has authority, nor right which the Ulil Amr would have.

Thus majority of Shia Imams can never be considered as “Ulil Amr”(those in authority).


Double standards in Shiism regarding the Ones in Authority.

A thing contrary to Shia interpretation, is that the verse(4:59) is commanding people of general authority, if only infallibles are these authorities as Shias claim, then infallibles cannot appoint authorities on their behalf, neither can there be an authority in absence of infallibles, which no society can function without.

However we find that Shias give similar authority to fallible Mujtahid Scholars which they argue for infallible Imams. They believe that Mujtahids obedience is mandatory and Mujtahid has authority over Muslims. Let us cite some examples of these double standards of Shias from the books of esteemed Shia scholars.

1. Esteemed Shia scholar Ayatullah Khomeini writes in his book:

“When we say that after the Occultation,the just faqih has the same authority that the Most Noble Messenger and the Imams (‘a) had, do not imagine that the status of the faqih is identical to that of the Imams and the Prophet(‘a). For here we are not speaking of status, but rather of function. By “authority” we mean government, the administration of the country, and the implementation of the sacred laws of the shari‘ah. These constitute a serious, difficult duty but do not earn anyone extraordinary status or raise him above the level of common humanity. In other words, authority here has the meaning of government, administration, and execution of law; contrary to what many people believe, it is not a privilege, but a grave responsibility. The governance of the faqih is a rational and extrinsic  matter; it exists only as a type of appointment, like the appointment of a guardian for a minor. With respect to duty and position, there is indeed no difference between the guardian of a nation and the guardian of a minor. It is as if the Imam were to appoint someone to the guardianship of a minor, to the governorship of a province, or to some other post. In cases like these, it is not reasonable that there would be a difference between the Prophet and the Imams (‘a), on the one hand, and the just faqih, on the other.” (Islamic Goverment, page 45 by Ayatullah Khomeini).

From the above statements of esteemed Shia scholars it must be clear before the readers the how they made double standards, first they object Ahlesunnah who believe that Ulil Amr(those in authority) are fallible, who needs to be obeyed but their obedience is conditional. Shias try to portray that following fallible is illogical because that may lead to error, since fallible could commit mistake. Now this is just theoretical arguments of Shias, whereas when it comes to practical, then they do the opposite, they believe it’s a must to follow Mujtahids , they believe that obedience to Mujtahid is also incumbent, they give them the same authority as of Imams, etc. So we find that fallible Mujtahids having same authority and job of (supposed) infallible Imams, which is contradictory to their former claim that the ones in authority needs to be infallible. This is a height of double standards in the Shia belief, they practise that, which they accuse others of.

The irony is that the shia scholars like Ayatullah Khamenei label themselves as Wali Amr ul Muslimeen, For example click this link to see the scan page of the front page of the book where the shia scholar is given this title ]

2. Shia scholar Muhammad Reza Muzaffar writes in his book:

Doctrine Concerning the Position of mujtahid
We believe that a fully qualified mujtahid is a representative of the Imam, in the case of the latter’s absence. Thus he is an authority over Muslims and he performs the functions of the Imam as regards judgement and administration among the people. Because of this, Imam Ja’far as Sadiq said:
To deny the authority of a mujtahid is to deny the authority of the Imam, and to deny the authority of the Imam is to make an objection to the authority of Allah. and this is tantamount to polytheism (shirk).
Therefore the qualified mujtahid is not only one who issues fatwas, but he also has general authority over Muslims who must consult him if they require judgement, this being obtainable only from him. It is correspondingly wrong for anyone to give judgement except him or one who is appointed by him, as no-one can pass sentence without his permission. Also, all that which belongs to the Imam should be given to the mujtahid.
Such authority has been bestowed upon the qualified mujtahid by the Imam so that he may represent him in his absence; hence he is known as the representative of the Imam (na’ ib al-imam).( Book: Aqaid al imamiya by Muhammad Reza Muzaffar, page 58-59).

3.Ayatullah Sayyid ‘Abd al-Husayn Dastghayb Shirazi in his book states:

Chapter: Authorities Whose Obedience is Commanded by Allah Almighty:

Obedience of the Just Mujtahid : Now we can say that during the Major occultation the obedience of a qualified Mujtahid is also compulsory. His obedience is actually the obedience of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) says,
“Look carefully at those people who relate our traditions with deliberation upon our permitted and prohibited things, and know our precepts and commandments. opt one of them for adjudication, since I have appointed such a person for the said task. If his verdict is rejected then it is as if the command of Allah is deemed light and our ordinance refuted. Certainly the one who refutes our ordinance has refuted the ordinance of Allah. Verily such a person has stepped into the boundary of Shirk (Polytheism).”
(Al Kafi)

The Faqih Who Deserves to be Followed : One of the conditions of a Faqih is that he should be free from worldly desires. He should not be in pursuit of material benefits and worldly honour. The Faqih who is free from such weaknesses is fit to be followed even if there are people more pious (in performing good deeds) than him. In this regard the great scholar Shaykh Ansari quotes a tradition from Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) in his book ‘Ihtejaaj’.

“And among jurists (Fuqaha) those who protect themselves (from sins), guard their religion, defy their carnal desires and are obedient to their Master, it is incumbent upon the people to follow them. Such characteristics are found only in a few of them and not all.”(Source: Greater Sins, vol 1, by Ayatullah Sayyid ‘Abd al-Husayn Dastghayb Shirazi).

4. Ayatollah Ahmad Alam al Hud:

Ayatollah Ahmad Alam al Huda  is a representative in the Iranian Assembly of experts. He also leads the Friday prayer in Mashhad Iran. In one of his speech he said the following:

“You brothers and sisters from whosoever’s mouth you heard saying that the Rahbari (i.e. supreme leader Khameini) is not masoom, the consequence of this statement is opposing the Prophet (saw).” (Source) .

5. Ayatollah’ Qaim Maqami claiming Ismah(infallibility) for  Khameini and his Government: He says the following:

“You should always remember a very important issue, if any kind of mistake takes place in the Islamic government, through whoever it is, be it those who are in charge or not, who are inferior to the supreme leader, who does never make mistake and err, this is our definition of Wilayah.

We say it explicitly and we are not ashamed of it, some might say we are claiming Ismah and so on. Yes, if the inferior to the 14 Infallibles (a.s) who has reached the level of absolute obedience, he can attain Ismah. We are never ashamed of saying this. This Ismah we call it Ismah Al-Dhilliyya in contrast to Ismah Al-Asliyya. for the 14 Infallibles (a.s) it is Asliyya and for the followers it is Dhilliyya, i.e. in the shadow of the original Ismah this Ismah emerges, why not?!

And about this issue we consider that person the Wali Al-Faqih who has reached the Ismah Al-Dhilliyya and we absolutely believe that the friends (Awliya) of the Infallibles (a.s), when they reach the position of Wilayat, they get Ismah Al-Dhilliyya and Ismah Al-Dhilliyya is that position that he does not make mistake and err. Look at the supreme leader, from the beginning up to now, judge fairly to Allah, where can you find that he has ever mistaken? He has never mistaken. This doesn’t mean that it (i.e. his actions) is not watched.

The Assembly of Experts watch it, the scholars watch and people all watch. That supervision is there, but in action we have never seen any mistake and there will be no mistake hereafter as well. However those who are inferior to this position, those who have not reached Wilayat, they make mistakes and when we make mistakes, we should be criticized and opposed and reform ourselves. if someone in charge makes a mistake, he shouldn’t insist in his mistake.” [Source].

6. Ayatollah Abdul-Nabi Namazi: “Disobeying the Wali Faqih (Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei) is equal of committing Shirk (polytheism) with God”!

Ayatollah Abdul-Nabi Namazi, who is also the Supreme Leader’s (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) representative in Kashan [a city close to Qom] addressed University officials in a meeting and said:

“The leader of the Muslim community is not being selected by the people, this is because the Hakimiyyah (judgement/decree) is for God, his Messenger (S) and the pure Imams (S) only, and in the time of Ghaybah (occultation of the 12th Shia Imam) it is for the just Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist i.e. ‘Ayatollah’) …”


Ayatollah Namazi said in response those who have difficulties in accepting the Wilayah Faqih/Guardianship of the Jurist: “According to the narration of Imam Sadiq (S), if anyone deliberately opposes the ruling of Wilayah Faqih, then this is equal of committing polytheism with God. This is because according to the narration the one who belittles the saying of the just Juris (‘Ayatollah’) has in fact rejected the ruling of the infallible Imam”.

He (‘Ayatollah’ Namazi) also did not regard the ruling of the Wali Faqih (‘Ayatollah’ Khamenei) just particularly for one country (Iran), rather he confirmed by saying: “The ruling of the Wali Faqih is binding upon all Muslims, in every corner of the world and he must be obeyed”.[Source: Official website ( of Ayatollah Abdul-Nabi Namazi, news released on 2012-12-29] .{Screen shot}.


Can verse (4:59) be considered as a conclusive proof for Imamate?

The main verse used by Shias to prove Imamate is (4:59). Shias inorder to somehow, prove the non-existing belief of Imamate after Prophet Muhammad(saw) in Quran, resort to use the verses of Quran which are infact a refutation of such belief.

Firstly: As we have discussed in the beginning of this article that verse(4:59) actually destroys the claims of divinely appointed Imams after Prophet Muhammad(Saw). As it allows to differ with the ones in authority(Ulil Amr). This is very reason Shia scholars came up with the excuse of tahreef(manipulation) in Quran, and attributed reports to Imams, where they added few words to current verse of Quran(4:59) which as per those reports was revealed in that way, since the current verse allows believers to differ with those in authority(Ulil Amr).

SecondlySunnis interpret this verse  to refer, to the authorities and see the obedience as conditional. Shias argue that there is no conditional obedience but that it’s an absolute command to believers.  Shias believe that, the ones who are to be obeyed must be infallible, because a fallible person may issue commands that are contrary to God’s Commands. However this is a fallacy of the excluded middle. One option that hasn’t been considered is that a person can only have authority to be obeyed as long as he doesn’t command contrary to God’s Commands. As soon as he commands people to disobey God, then he looses his authority to be obeyed.

Thirdly: Allah(swt) said in Quran(3:7)
[It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] PRECISE – they are the FOUNDATION of the Book – and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah . But those firm in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord.” And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.

Also, `Ali bin abi Talib(as) says in Shia book Nahjul-Balagha, sermon #183, titled:

فإنه لم يخف عنكم شيئا من دينه ولم يترك شيئا رضيه أو كرهه إلا وجعل له علما باديا وآية محكمة تزجر عنه أو تدعو إليه
[You should therefore regard Allah great as he has held Himself great, because He has not concealed anything of His religion from you, nor has He left out anything which He likes or which He dislikes, but He made for it a clear emblem (of guidance) and an explicit verse which either refrains from it or calls towards it.]

So now the question is that, Is the verse(4:59) a clear, precise and explicit verse proving the Imamah of Ali(ra) and his progeny? The answer will be NO! Because this versse is neither precise nor explicit as the Ulil Amr can be anyone, Army leader or Ruler etc. Further, It does not say that the Ulil Amr will come after the Prophet(saw). Moreover, if we look into the second part of the verse; When Allah says “if you disagree over anything” who is Allah talking about? Since it can even mean disagreeing with Ulil Amr, as we found in the authentic Shia report, then atleast Shias should realize that it cannot be considered as explicit or precise evidence for their belief. Thus this verse cannot be used by Shias to prove their (non-existing) belief of Imamate in Quran.

Considering all the above points we can certainly say that this verse is not conclusive a proof for doctrine of Imamate.



Praise be to Allah! It is evident from the above article that, Ulil Amr(those in authority) were not divinely appointed or infallible Shia Imams, as the Shias believe, but rather they were general Muslim authorities who were fallible, also their obedience is conditional, unlike the obedience to Allah(swt) and Prophet(Saw) which is unconditional.

Insha Allah! In the Part 2 of these articles we will be dealing with the various arguments of Shias regarding Ulil Amr and verse(4:59) . So please refer the Part 2 of these articles.

“They will say, Our Lord, we obeyed our chiefs and our elders, and they made us to go astray from the path. Our Lord, give them twice the punishment, and send a curse on them, an enormous curse”.(Al-Ahzaab 33:67-68)

May Allah’s (swt) blessings be upon His Messenger, his household, and companions.

5 thoughts on “Part 1: A multi-angular refutation of Shiite views on Ulil-Amr(4:59)

  1. Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu.

    Jazaakum Allaahu Khairan for your blog. Allaah make this heavy on your scale of good deeds for striving against the Baatil.

  2. This a very rich and well researched article. It is so full of textual evidence from the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah, unlike the misguided writings of the renegade Shia sects who bore us with fairy tales full of weak or concocted traditions of the prophet (S.A.W). Where they quote Qur’anic verses, it is to give them strange meanings never known among respectable scholarship. They refuse to seek knowlege from the true teachings of Ahlul bait but rather chose to follow illusory traditions allegedely obtained from the latter. All the traditions they so pmpously cite to back their wayward beliefs and practices have been proved by dilligent Islamiv scholars to be either false or unreliable, with most of them emanating from famous liars and irresponsible personalities known for habitual distortion of facts!.

    Jazaak Allahu khaira katheera

  3. Excellent article. I was doing research on the Aga Khani views on Ulil Amr Minkum and found this excellent piece. While Shias have their books which are commented on here, Aga Khani Ismailis do not have any largely available books and it is a religion which is just followed on hearsay. This is the reason that all Ismailis will have a variety of beliefs when asked about Ismailism.

    Overall, excellent work, exceptional research and Jazak Allahu Khairan.

  4. Pingback: Aga Khan’s Status as “Ulil Amr” in the Light of Quran and Hadith | Inside Ismailism

  5. Abu Bakr Siddiq(RA) said: Obey me so long as I obey God and His Messenger (saw). And if I disobey God and His Messenger (saw), then I have no right to your obedience. [Recorded by Ibn Sa`d, Bayhaqi, `Abdul-Razzaq, Tabari, Ibn Nasir-ul-Din].

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