The commentary of the word of Allah, the High:

مَْا أَفَاء اللهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَى فَلِلَْهِ وَلِلرَْسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَْبِيلِ

“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…”[1]

In Al-Kaafi, it is narrated from our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), “By Allah! We are those whom Allah has implied by (the phrase) ‘the near of kin’, those whom Allah has associated with Himself and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.). So, the verse ‘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…’ is for us in particular and He has not provided for us any share in charity. Allah has honoured His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and honoured us by prohibiting for us the eating of the dirt (leftovers) of the hands of the people.”[2]

Know that the noble verse proves the confinement of caliphate and Imamate in the Ahle Bait (a.s.) of Prophethood and Messengership. The details of this discussion are dependent on the explanations of the following lines of reasoning:

A)    The meaning of ‘restoration’ and its implication over here;

B)    The meaning of ‘near of kin’ its implication in the verse; and

C)    Explanation of the mode of distinguishing him with restoration; i.e. is it from the aspect of expenditure and usage or by ownership or some other facet that is more complete than these two.

Now, let us elaborate.

A)    In Misbaah al-Muneer, it is said: ‘فاء الرجل’ which means ‘the man returned’. In the Holy Quran, it has come حَتَْى تَفِيءَ إِلَى أَمْرِ اللهِ ‘…until it returns to Allah’s command…’[3] that is, until it returns to the truth. And فاء المولي فئه means he returned from his promise to his wife. [4]

I say: The word ‘الفئه’ implies a group or a congregation, due to the reference of some to others. The word الفيء also means removal and spoils of war that are specific to Allah — High is His Glory — due to their returning to their original position, after it was in the hands of the unbelievers. This was its literal concept.

As for its meaning over here in the context of His saying, ‘from the people of the towns’ whatever is taken from the battlefield without fighting and every land whose people have been evacuated or have fled without fighting or for the people with whom a truce has been made and they give these with their hands.

B)    The word ذو means owner or possessor; and قربي is the infinitive of nearness (قرب) as opposed to distance (بعد). Nearness has five infinitives in Arabic: قرب و قربه و قربان و قرابه و قربي . In Misbaah al-Muneer, he writes, قرب is used for place, قربه و قربان is for position, قربي و قرابه is for relatives. The article لام is for denoting definiteness and is an indication towards the noun, implying close relatives of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), excluding all other probabilities

C)    It is the mode of distinguishing him with restoration. Its information is necessary for the explanation of its distinction whose conjunction it is.

I say with the help of Allah — the High — and His Will: Surely the genitive clause لام denotes a special function in all instances. Its aspects and functions vary with the variation of the functions of the instances.

  • In some cases, it is used for showing cause like ‘ضربت للتاديب’ which means ‘I beat him to train him’ or قعدت للجبن ‘I sat down due to cowardice’. Undoubtedly, the function beating for training cannot be implied for anything except denoting the cause and similarly, the task of sitting due to cowardice does not denote anything but cause.
  • In some other cases, it (the genitive clause لام) is used to denote time like the saying of Allah — the High — أَقِمِ

الصَْلاَةَ لِدُلُوكِ الشَْمْسِ إِلَى غَسَقِ اللَْيْلِ

“Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun till the darkness of the       night…”[5]

Here, the task of keeping up prayer from the declining of the sun is not    appropriate except for showing the time of the prayer.

  • Yet, on some other occasions, it (the genitive clause لام) shows ownership or possession like your saying, المال لزيد ‘the wealth is of Zaid’.
  • It (the genitive clause لام) also denotes eligibility or qualification like your saying, الحمد لله ‘All praise is for Allah alone’.
  • It (the genitive clause لام) also indicates the function of expenditure like the saying of Allah — the High —  لِلْفُقَرَاء إِنَْمَا الصَْدَقَاتُ “Alms are only for the poor…”[6]
  • It (the genitive clause لام) also relates to a situation like you say, ‘This word is for this meaning’ and also denotes clothing or wrapping like ‘الجل للفرس’ ‘The clothing is for the horse’.

So, these were the various functions that changed according to the context in which the genitive clause لام was used.

The most appropriate function in the instance (of the verse under discussion) is the connotation of right of rule, mastership and chieftainship. For, the appropriate functions over here are four at the first glance: Expenditure, ownership (in the meaning of newness or recentness), ownership (in the meaning of creation) and the right to rule. Obviously, in this particular context, the first three are rejected for the following reasons:

1)      The first one (i.e. expenditure) is discarded because of the non-permissibility of need in the case of Allah — the High — forget about Him being needy for the expenditure of wealth.

2)      Again, newness of a thing is impossible vis-à-vis Allah as He is Transcendent from being a place of new occurrences.

3)      Ownership (in the meaning of creation) is also wrong because of its non-application in the meaning of restoration because for Allah — the High — is the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth.

Thus, the fourth meaning i.e. the right to rule is true and applicable.

Objection: What is the meaning of the restoration to Allah — the High — with regards to the right to rule and mastership when His mastership is established over everything?

Answer: The right of mastership is of two kinds: Creative (تكويني) and Legislative (تشريعي). The first one (تكويني) can gather together with freedom, enslavement, ownership or lack of it and no limit or determination can be imagined for it.

But the second one (تشريعي) is limited as per the definitions of the Legislator and ownership for another cannot be gathered with it.

The task of restoration to Allah — the High — can be interpreted only in the second meaning. That is, it is detached from the relation of the ownership of the creatures and is particular only to Allah —the High — and no Muslim has no right of usage over it whatsoever.

When it is clear for you that the restoration to Allah — the High — is not possible except through the right of chieftainship and kingship, it will be manifest for you that this right of restoration belongs only to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and the ‘the near of kin’ through this very channel. For, the use of conjunction requires equal participation of both the preceding and proceeding nouns of the conjunction. It emphasizes this meaning and explains it that He — the High — has brought the Messenger (s.a.w.a.) and ‘the near of kin’ as a conjunction for Himself. Moreover, He has repeated the genitive clause للام for both of them, although it was not necessary to do so in the conjunction, apparently. Moreover, the dropping of this genitive clause in the other conjunctions ‘…and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer…’ explicates that the reference of the restoration to the Messenger (s.a.w.a.) and the ‘nearest of kin’ is in accordance with the reference to Himself, without variation in the mode of reference. The variation in the mode and method is only for the conjunctions that follow later viz. “and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer…” For, had the reference of restoration to the ‘nearest of kin’ been like the reference of the nouns that followed it and unlike the preceding nouns, it would be necessary to make it like its following nouns and not like its preceding nouns. But the presence of the genitive clause makes it clear that it is like its preceding nouns and this is the meaning of the saying of our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) [may our souls and the souls of the worlds be sacrificed for him (a.s.)], “By Allah! We are those whom Allah has implied by the ‘nearest of kin’ those whom Allah has associated with Himself and His Prophet (s.a.).”

This meaning is further endorsed by the usage of the phrase ‘nearest of kin’ as a singular, proving that ‘nearest of kin’ who should be referred to for restoration in every era is only one person because chieftainship and Imamate in every era is not established but through a single individual.

Objection: Had the reference of restoration to the proceeding conjunction been on account of the right to rule and chieftainship — as you have claimed — it would be incorrect to make ‘…and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer…’ its conjunctions for its non-reference to them on the same grounds (of rule and chieftainship). Otherwise, it would be necessary that these (‘…and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer…’) be the rulers and chiefs over the people.

Answer: Reference of restoration to them from the aspect of holding a position is not contrary to their not having authority over the people because reference of the right of rule and authority for a person is from two facets: Firstly, if he is a ruler or a chief like a Messenger and the near of kin, since He has associated them with Himself; and secondly, for him being from the followers of the chief like his family and close relatives.

So, ‘…and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer…’ are from the followers and Allah — the High — has used the change of context and the dropping of the genitive clause to denote that they are from the followers of the nearest of the kin. Thus, they are like nearest of the kin vis-à-vis receiving the restoration but not like them in chieftainship and independence. Hence, it is proved that ‘…and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer…’ in the noble verse are not absolute and it implies only for those who are the followers the ‘nearest of the kin’. And this is the meaning of his (a.s.) [may my soul be sacrificed for him (a.s.)] saying, “‘…and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer…’ are from us in particular.’”

Now, since it has become clear for you that the reference of restoration to the ‘nearest of the kin’ is on account of the right to rule and chieftainship, it will become manifest for you that he (a.s.) is Allah’s caliph and the Imam, the successor of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) after him (s.a.w.a.). Otherwise, He would not have associated him (a.s.) with Himself and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the reference of the restoration, which is from the conditions of sovereignty and chieftainship.

Just as it has become clear for you that the caliphate and Imamate is confined to them only, otherwise He would not have stopped at ‘nearest of the kin’, although it suffices for us in belief that they are distinguished with caliphate, with the proof of their caliphate in the noble verse. For, the caliphate of the first caliph was due to allegiance, the caliphate of the second was through appointment by the first and the third’s through the consultative council formed by the second caliph. Obviously, there was no scope of any of the three in the presence of the divine texts.

All Praise is for Allah Who explained the truth for the one who has a heart or he gives an ear and he is a witness.


[1] Surah Hashr (59): Verse 7

[2] Al-Kaafi, vol. 1, p. 539

[3] Surah Hujuraat (49): Verse 9

[4] Al-Misbaah al-Muneer, p. 585

[5] Surah Bani Israel (17): Verse 78

[6] Surah Taubah (9): Verse 60