The commentary of the word of Allah, the High

وَتَعِيَهَا أُذُنٌ وَاعِيَةٌ

…and that the retaining ear might retain it.[1]

In Ghaayah al-Maraam, after stating that this verse was revealed in the glory of our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), he has mentioned nine traditions from Sunni and eight from Shia sources.[2]

Tradition One: Abu al-Moayyad Muwaffaq Ibn Ahmad – a highly acknowledged Sunni scholar – from the book ‘Fazaael Ameerul Momineen (a.s.)’ records, “Informed us the pious Shaikh al-Hafiz Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Ahmad al-Aasemi from the teacher of the judges Ismaaeel Ibn Ahmad al-Waaez from his father Ahmad Ibn al-Husain al-Baihaqi from Abu al-Qasem al-Husain Ibn Muhammad Ibn Habeeb al-Maqarri – quoting from his book – from Abu Abdillah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah al-Saffaar from Abu Bakr al-Fadhl Ibn Ja’far al-Saidalaani al-Waaseti at Waaset from Yahya Ibn Zakariyyaa Ibn Hamwayh from Senaan Ibn Haroon from al-A’mash from Ali Ibn Thaabet from Zirr Ibn Hubaish from Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (r.a.), who said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) embraced me and informed, ‘My Lord ordered me that I make you near and not make you far and my ear listens and retains and it is the right upon Allah that you listen and retain. So, this verse was revealed, …and that the retaining ear might retain it.’”[3]

Tradition Two: Again from Al-Muwaffaq Ibn Ahmad through his earlier chain of narrators from Ahmad Ibn al-Husain who chronicles, “Informed us Abu Abdillah al-Haafez from Abu Ali al-Husain Ibn Muhammad al-Safaani at Marv from Abu Rajaa Muhammad Ibn Hamdoon al-Shaikhi from al-Alaa Ibn Muslemah Abu Saalem al-Baghdadi from Abu Qataadah al-Hasan Ibn Abdillah Ibn Raaed from Ja’far Ibn Yarqaan from Maimoon Ibn Merhaan from Ibn Abbas from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), “I asked my Lord – Mighty and Majestic be He – that He makes it (the retaining ear) the ear of Ali (a.s.).’  Ali (k.w.) said, ‘I did not hear from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) anything but that I retained it, memorized it and did not forget it.’[4] 

Tradition Three: al-Tha’labi in his exegesis in the explanation of the His saying, ‘…and that the retaining ear might retain it’ states, “Informed me Ibn Fanjwayh from Ibn Hayyaan from Ishaaq Ibn Majjah from his father from Ibraheem Ibn Eesa from Ali Ibn Ali from Abu Hamzah al-Thumaali from Abdullah Ibn al-Husain, who states, ‘When this verse was revealed ‘…and that the retaining ear might retain it’, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) informed, ‘I asked Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – that He makes this ear (the retaining ear) your ear, O Ali!’.  Ali (a.s.) said, ‘Thereafter, I did not forget anything and it is not possible for me that I forget.’[5]  

Tradition Four: Records al-Tha’labi, “Informed me Ibn Fanjawayh from Ibn Habsh from Abu al-Qaasem Ibn al-Fadhl from Muhammad Ibn al-Ghaaleb Ibn Harb from Bishr Ibn Adam from Abdullah Ibn Zubair al-Asadi from Saaleh Ibn Haitham, who states, ‘I heard Buraydah al-Aslami say, ‘The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said to Ali (a.s.), ‘Surely Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – ordered me that I make you near and not make you distant. And that I teach you and that you retain. It is the right upon Allah that you retain. So the verse descended, …and that the retaining ear might retain it.’”[6] 

Tradition Five: al-Haafiz Abu Noaim al-Isfahaani through his chain of narrators from Umar Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) from his father Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) who said, “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) informed, ‘Surely Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – ordered that I make you near and teach you that you may retain, following which this verse was revealed on me, …and that the retaining ear might retain it.So, you are the retaining ear.’”[7]

Then, he (Sayed Haashem Bahraani (r.a.)) has continued the traditions till the end of what he has narrated from Sunni sources.

As for traditions from our sources, they are truly numerous. In Ghaayah al-Maraam, he has narrated from Muhammad Ibn al-Abbas Ibn Maahiyaar – a reliable person in his exegesis – that he has brought more than thirty traditions from both Shias as well as Sunnis. Some of these are as follows:

What has been narrated from Muhammad Ibn Sahl al-Qattaan from Muhammad Ibn Umar al-Dehqaan from Muhammad Ibn Katheer from al-Harth Ibn al-Hudhairah from Abi Dawood from Abi Buraydah, who informs, “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said, ‘Surely, I asked Allah – my Lord – that He makes Ali the retaining ear. It was said to me, ‘He has already done it.’”[8]

From amongst the Shiite traditions is what has been narrated from Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan al-Saffaar in Basaaer al-Darajaat from al-Asbagh Ibn Nobaatah, “When Ali (a.s.) came to Kufah, he (a.s.) led them in prayers for forty mornings and was reciting the Chapter al-A’laa. The hypocrites scoffed, ‘By Allah! Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) does not know how to read the Quran. Had he known, he would have recited some other chapter too for us.’ This news reached to Ali (a.s.). He retorted, ‘Woe unto them. Surely, I know its abrogating (verse) as well as the abrogated, its clear as well as its allegorical, its distinguished from its distinguishing, its alphabets from its meanings. By Allah! There was not an alphabet that was revealed on Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) but that I know as to concerning whom, on which day and in which place was it revealed. Woe unto them! Do they not recite, “Most surely this is in the earlier scriptures; The scriptures of Ibrahim and Musa.”[9] By Allah! These (scriptures) are with me. I have inherited them from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) who inherited them from (Prophet) Ibraheem (a.s.) and (Prophet) Moosa (a.s.). Woe unto them! By Allah! I am the one concerning whom was revealed the verse …and that the retaining ear might retain it.We used to be with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and he (s.a.w.a.) informed us of the revelation. I used to retain it while they used to lose it. When we used to come out, they used to ask, ‘What did he (s.a.w.a.) say a little while ago?’[10]

I say: The fact that Allah – the High – has informed in His Majestic Book about him (a.s.) being the retaining ear is an eloquent testimony that he (a.s.) has retained the knowledge of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Consecutive traditions (احاديث متواترة) – from the aspects of meaning (معني) as well as in words (لفظا) – narrated by both the sects on the authority of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) that he (s.a.w.a.) said,

I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.”[11]

“I am the city of wisdom and Ali is its gate.”[12]

“I am the house of wisdom and Ali is its key.”[13]

“Ali is the most knowledgeable of you.”[14]

“Surely, Ali is the most judicious of you.”[15]

“Ali is with the Quran and the Quran is with him.”[16]

“Knowledge comprises of five parts. Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) has been given four parts of it while the rest of the people have been given one part and Ali is their partner in this too.”[17]

Such traditions and many more like these establish that the entire knowledge is with Ali (a.s.).

When this is clear for you, then know that the noble verse (under discussion) proves the distinction of caliphate and Imamate for our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.).

Elaboration:  Surely, the saying of Allah – Mighty and Glorified be He – ‘…and that the retaining ear might retain it’, is informing that the Shariah, the religion and the Book are protected from being squandered due to their retention and recording, as is apparent. This – as is proved – is in conformity with his (a.s.) knowledge of all the laws of religion and the impermissibility of forgetfulness in him and as a result, necessitates his infallibility and trustworthiness. For, if he was not safe and protected from deliberate violation, the squandering of the Book and religion would become an imminent possibility due to its retainer and carrier being prone to errors and mistakes. So, the information will not be complete except through the coming together of the two affairs: the retainer is protected from ignorance and forgetfulness and infallibility is a hindrance from following the desire and perpetration of disobedience.

The discussion at this point is the rendezvous observing the usage of both the affairs certainly; hence, each one of them is utilized from the word. Ultimately, the usage of one of them is on account of conformity while the other is due to necessity.

Also, the aim and purpose of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to make Ali (a.s.) as the ear, Allah’s – the High – acceptance of his (s.a.w.a.) supplication, revelation of the verse in the glory of Ali (a.s.) as acceptance of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) supplication all was naught but for the protection of religion and the Book through his its retainer. If he (a.s.) was not infallible from mistakes and errors as also from forgetfulness and inability to recall, the very aim  and purpose would be defeated. Allah is Higher than to commit such a blunder.

The difference between this reason and the earlier one is that while the latter is a rational necessity, the former shows a literal binding.

When this concept is clear for you, it will also become apparent for you that he (a.s.) is the guide towards the truth in all absolute terms, he (a.s.) will never separate from the truth and it will revolve around him (a.s.) wherever he (a.s.) goes.

With such a position and status, he (a.s.) is definitely eligible and worthy for Imamate and Caliphate because the successorship of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) vis-à-vis his Prophethood and Messengership follows the compulsion of his obedience on the Ummah. It is from the affairs of guidance to the upright religion, for which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was raised. The preceding caliphs certainly did not enjoy this position because in numerous instances they referred to our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) in matters that confused them, a fact roundly documented in the books of both the sects. Therefore, Imamate and Caliphate was a distinction only for him (a.s.) and there is no scope to turn to anybody else in the Ummah other than him (a.s.). Allah – the High – says, “Is He then Who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you; how do you judge?[18]

Hence, the noble verse is a proof and document for the distinction of Caliphate and Imamate for him (a.s.) because the documentary evidence of a thing is due to the presence of the its cause and reason in the text, as is the case over here, proving the presence of the effect called as the rational of Limm لم))[19]. This is due to the document of the presence of its necessary consequences like giving the Khums and the booty, which are from the rights of authority and mastership to the near of the kin in accordance with the command of Allah – the High – and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.) – as has come in the verse of Khums and the booty.

It is also proved through the rational of Inn (ان)[20], which is a proof of Imamate and mastership – at the very outset – like the verse of Ulil Amr. Either way, these are proofs for the Caliphate and  evidence in support of it, even if there are differences in the method of reasoning. 


[1] Surah al-Haaqqaah (69): Verse 12

[2] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 366

[3] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 366; Manaaqeb of al-Khaarazmi p. 283 (new edition)

[4] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 367; Manaaqeb of al-Khaarazmi, pp. 283-284


[5] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 367 narrating from Tafseer al-Tha’labi

[6] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 367 narrating from Tafseer al-Tha’labi

[7] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 367

[8] Ibid

[9] Surah al-A’laa (87): Verses 18,19

[10] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 367 narrating from Basaaer al-Darajaat, p. 135

[11] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 520

[12] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 521

[13] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 523

[14] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 510

[15] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 528

[16] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 541

[17] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 511

[18] Surah Yunus (10): Verse 35

[19] A philosophical term for a proof that goes from cause to effect – (Translator)

[20] A philosophical term for a proof that goes from effect to cause – (Translator)