The commentary of the word of Allah, the High:

قُل لاَ أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلاَ الْمَوَدَْةَ فِي الْقُرْبَى

“Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives…”[1]

In Ghaayah al-Maraam, it has been recorded from the Musnad of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal who said, “In what Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Sulaiman al-Hadhrami wrote to us, he mentions that al-Haarith Ibn al-Hasan al-Tahhaan narrated to him from Husain al-Ashqar from Qais from al-A’mash from Saeed Ibn Jubair from Ibn Abbas that when the verse, “Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives…” was revealed, they asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who are your relatives whose love has been made obligatory upon us?’ He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘Ali, Fatemah and their two sons (blessings of Allah be on them all).”[2]

Traditions conveying this concept abound from both the sects; in fact, they are almost consecutive. In Ghaayah al-Maraam, he (r.a.) has mentioned seventeen traditions from their sources and twenty-two traditions from our chains of narrators.[3]

From what he (r.a.) has mentioned from their sources is the following tradition:

“What has been recorded by Muhammad Ibn Jurair (al-Tabari) from his narrators in the book ‘Al-Manaaqeb’ that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said to Ali (a.s.), “Go out and annonce, ‘Know that whoever oppresses the wages of a laborer, then upon him is the curse of Allah! Know that whoever accepts anybody else other than his (real) masters, then upon him is the curse of Allah! Know that whoever abuses his parents, then upon him is the curse of Allah.’ Ali (a.s.) duly carried out the announcements. Umar and a group came to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and asked, ‘Is there an explanation for the announcement?’ He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘Yes. Surely Allah says, “Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives…” So whoever is unjust to us, upon him is the curse of Allah. And He says, “The Prophet has more authority upon the believers than they have upon themselves.” So, of whosoever I am his master, Ali is his master too. Thus, whoever takes anybody else other than Ali and his progeny as his master, upon him is the curse of Allah. I hold you as witness that I and Ali are fathers of the believers. So whoever abuses either of us, upon him is the curse of Allah.” When this group left, Umar said (to them), “O Companions of Muhammad! Whatever the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has emphasized today in Ali’s (a.s.) favour is far more than what he (s.a.w.a.) had done in Ghadeer Khumm or on other occasions.’ Hassaan Ibn al-Arat states, ‘This incident took place nineteen days before the death of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).’”[4]

I say: Determining the love for the relatives as the reward and compensation for Messengership proves two points:

A) Necessity of the love for the relatives as a reward for Messengership and Prophethood because it is not rational to prove the reward upon them without the obligation of its fulfillment, and for its extreme clarification and explanation, they asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who are your relatives whose love has been made obligatory on us?’ Yes, it proves that it (love for the Ahle Bait (a.s.)) is the greatest and most complete of religious duties. For, Messengership is the most majestic and strongest affair of religion because after Tauheed, there is no principle that is more majestic and loftier than Messengership. The reward of a thing equals and balances it; so the reward of Messengership must match it in majesty and loftiness.

B) They (Ahle Bait (a.s.)) are the most superior and most beloved near Allah — the High — than the entire Ummah as He has made the love of the relatives obligatory on all of them and has made this love as the reward for the Messengership of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). So, whoever is loyal to this love has actually fulfilled the right of Messengership and its reward and whoever is disloyal has oppressed the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and upon him is Allah’s curse. There is none more beloved and superior in front of Allah — the High — except on the grounds that he was the most obedient to Allah and had the strongest belief in Allah — the High — and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.). Therefore, he deserves Imamate and deputyship of Allah — the High — and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.) and for nobody is it permitted to gain precedence over him (a.s.). Whoever allows an inferior to be an Imam, a reference and a refuge for a superior person has violated the law of nature.

Objection: If the fact would have been as you have mentioned that the verse proves that the relatives of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) are the most beloved and superior near Allah — the High — than the entire Ummah, it would necessitate that none of the relatives of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) should have ever disobeyed Allah — the High — although the oppression of the Abbaside Caliphs, their tyranny and rebellion against the truth is a special testimonial (against your view).

Answer: The noble verse does not prove that the love of all the relatives has been made a reward for Messengership. For, the word القربي is singular and has come along with the definite article ال. So, a singular that comes with a definite article cannot be used in its general meaning. In fact, refraining from adding ‘the love’ (الموده) towards ‘the relatives’ (القربي) and placing an alphabet ‘in’ (في) to connect with the love as used to remove the generality in the order, even if it is assumed that it necessitates generality. So, the noble verse merely proves that the love which is the reward for messengership is only of the closest of relatives, not of strangers.

To make the matter extremely clear that the verse does not imply generality and is meant only for a few special and chosen ones, they (the companions) asked the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) about the exact identity of these relatives, ‘O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! Who are your close relatives whose love has been made obligatory on us?’ He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘Ali, Fatemah and their two sons (peace be on them all).’

This question and answer has come in a number of Sunni traditions as also our traditions. In fact, in some of our traditions, it has also been made amply clear that in this verse, the term ‘relatives’ has not been used in its general sense.

In Ghaayah al-Maraam:

Tradition Two: Again narrating from Muhammad Ibn Yaqoob from Muhammad Ibn Yahya from Ahmad Ibn Muhammad from Ali Ibn al-Hakam from Ismaaeel Ibn Abd al-Khaaleq, who recounts, “I heard Abu Abdillah (Imam Sadeq (a.s.)) say to Abu Ja’far al-Ahwal[5], while I was listening, ‘Did you go to Basrah (Iraq)?’ He replied in the affirmative. Again, he (a.s.) enquired, ‘How did you find the approach of the people vis-à-vis the affair of Imamate and their entering into it?’ He replied, ‘By Allah! They are very few. They did (accept) but they were very few.’ He (a.s.) advised, ‘Approach the youth because they are fastest towards the good deeds.’ Thereafter, he (a.s.) asked, ‘What is the opinion of the people of Basrah about the verse “Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives…” I replied, ‘May I be held your ransom! They suggest that it implies the relatives of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).’ He (a.s.) retorted, ‘They have lied. It is revealed only for us in particular; for the Ahle Bait (a.s.); for Ali, Fatemah, al-Hasan and al-Husain, the people of the cloak (a.s.).”[6]

I say: After it has become clear for you that the love, which is the reward for messengership, is only for some of the close relatives of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), it is determined that it is only for the Ahle Bait (a.s.), those whom Allah has kept away from them all uncleanness and purified them a thorough purification. For, they (a.s.) are the closest to him (s.a.w.a.) in relation and position. So, it is not permissible that the reward of messengership is the love of all the relatives, other than the Ahle Bait (a.s.). In fact, the noun used in the verse القربي is on the scale فعلي is from the infinitives used for denoting attachment to the source. Therefore, the word القربي is in the meaning of the closest of close relatives and is not in harmony with his (s.a.w.a.) general relatives, excluding the Abbasides as they are certainly not his (s.a.w.a.) closest of close relatives.

Despite such (clarity), the whimsical interpreters have construed this verse in the manner most strange. Some of them have interpreted close relatives as those who are close to Allah!!! While others have suggested love as the love of the Messenger (and not of the close relatives)!!!

In Majma’ al-Bayaan, after mentioning the verse, he (r.a.) writes, “There are various views concerning the meaning of this verse:

a)      ‘I don’t ask you for the conveyance of message and teaching of the laws any reward except love and adoration in what will take you nearer to Allah — the High — from the good deeds.’ al-Hasan, al-Jubaaee and Abu Muslim said, ‘It is proximity to Allah — the High — and love towards Him through obedience.’

b)      It means, ‘Love me concerning my relatives from you and protect me for them.’ Ibn Abbas, Qataadah and Mujaahed said, ‘There was closeness between every Qarashiite and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). This was for the Qarashiites in particular. It means that ‘if you don’t love me for the sake of Prophethood, then love me for the sake of the closeness that exists between you and me.’

c)      It means, ‘except that you love my relatives and my progeny and protect me concerning them.’[7]

I say: The first amongst the above mentioned views that the interpretation of ‘close relatives’ is ‘closeness (to Allah)’ is wrong. For surely, the words قربي and قرابه are used for relations, just as قربه and قربان signify position. The details of this have already been discussed from al-Misbaah al-Muneer earlier.[8] Moreover, even it had meant likewise, it would in reality mean, ‘except actions through the close relatives’ because the assumption from the proximities is action, not merely love.

As for the second of the aforementioned views, those who will be questioned about the reward are the believers, not the polytheists. For, the deniers of his (s.a.w.a.) message were his (s.a.w.a.) enemies. So how could he (s.a.w.a.) question them about the reward for his (s.a.w.a.) message? The believers, who believed in his (s.a.w.a.) message, loved the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) because of his (s.a.w.a.) messengership more than they loved his (s.a.w.a.) close relatives. So, there is no point in asking about his (s.a.w.a.) love when as what he has mentioned that it means ‘if you don’t love me for the sake of Prophethood, then love me for the sake of proximity’ is in all actuality ignoring the task of Prophethood and demanding the love of relationship itself, not as a reward for messengership, which is clearly against the apparent meaning of the verse.

Also, the usage of the word ‘in’ (في) in the place of للام — even if it’s correct — is contrary to the apparent. It does not lead to it, without proof, is absolutely wrong.

To attribute this opinion to Ibn Abbas is another mistake because traditions from Ibn Abbas that in this verse the word القربي refers to the Ahle Bait (a.s.) are numerous from Sunni sources[9]. Any whimsical interpretation is wrong in itself, especially those that contradict the hugely abundant traditions from both the sects, which almost reach to the level of consecutiveness.

Therefore, the third view is in consonance with the plentiful traditions as also in harmony with the rules of Arabic grammar and literature.


[1] Surah Shoora (42): Verse 23

[2] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 306

[3] Ghaayah al-Maraam, pp. 306-310

[4] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 306

[5] Also famous as Momin-e-Taaq- Tr.

[6] Al-Kaafi, vol. 8, p. 93; Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 307

[7] Majma’ al-Bayaan, vol. 9, p. 28

[8] Under the 15th Hadith

[9] Refer Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 306