Wali in the Quran

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Wali in the Quran is a guardian over one’s affairs. Of course, the word wali has other meanings as well such as ally or friend. However, in a specific context, it means a person who has right over other people and other people must obey him.

In this article, we will take a look at:

Wali in the Quran: Who Is Our Wali?

Allah has made it clear in the Quran that first and foremost, He Himself is our wali and guardian. However, God needs representatives on earth as it is not His method to speak directly to mankind or vice versa other than by means of a representative such as a prophet. God has said in this regard in the Quran:

وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُكَلِّمَهُ اللَّـهُ إِلَّا وَحْيًا أَوْ مِن وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ أَوْ يُرْسِلَ رَسُولًا فَيُوحِيَ بِإِذْنِهِ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ عَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ ﴿51﴾

It is not [possible] for any human that Allah should speak to him except through revelation or from behind a veil, or send a messenger who reveals by His permission whatever He wishes. Indeed He is all-exalted, all-wise. 1

Who Else Are Our Walis?

God says in the Quran:

إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللَّـهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ ﴿55﴾

Your guardian is only Allah, His Apostle, and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down. 2

It is self-evident who God and His Apostle is, but who is or are the ones who give zakat while bowing down in prayer? There is no dispute among all Muslims that this verse was revealed after Ali ibn Abī Ṭālib (علي ابن ابي طالب) gave his ring to a poor man who was begging in the mosque. He did so while he was in the position of rukū‘ in prayer, which is when one bows down. On countless occasions, the Noble Prophet had said that his successor and the wali of Muslims after his death would be Ali ibn Abī Ṭālib. He made it crystal clear to everyone that he is the wali of Muslims after him at Ghadir Khumm.

Wali in the Quran: God Commands the Prophet to Appoint Ali as His Successor

In the valley of Ghadir, the Prophet did not announce Ali as his successor of his own accord. Rather, it was God who commanded him to do so when He revealed the following verse to him:

يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ ۖ وَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ ﴿67﴾

O Apostle! Communicate that which has been sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, you will not have communicated His message, and Allah shall protect you from the people. Indeed Allah does not guide the faithless lot.

This verse shows the importance of appointing a wali for the people. It also shows that only God can appoint a wali for an ummah and not people themselves. Just as God appointed the prophets as walis, He appointed the successors to the final prophet, too, and it was Prophet Muhammad who introduced them to people after God informed him of them.

Wali in the Quran: Jews and Christians Should not Be Our Walis

God has said in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ أَوْلِيَاءَ ۘ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُم مِّنكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿51﴾

Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification.O you who have faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for allies: they are allies of each other. Any of you who allies with them is indeed one of them. Indeed Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot. 3

This is somewhat of a political verse, in the sense that it forbids Muslim nations from allying themselves with groups who are affiliated with Christians and Jews. If we are to apply this verse to the modern era, it should be said that Muslim countries should try not to be under the influence of western colonialist powers as they are against Islam and Muslims. God knew that in the future, Christians and Jews would wield a great deal of influence yet warned Muslims not to go under their yoke.

Wali in the Quran: Those Vested With Authority Are Walis

God has said in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا ﴿59﴾

O you who have faith! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those vested with authority among you. And if you dispute concerning anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle, if you have faith in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more favourable in outcome. 4

Therefore, there are three sources that we must obey:

  • God
  • Prophet Muhammad
  • Those vested with authority

There has been some dispute as regards who the ones vested with authority really are. However, it is obvious that they must be good people whose obedience is the same as obedience to God and the Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, they cannot be any ruler who comes to power as some have thought. They must be righteous and have the qualifications for being obeyed. As a result, exegetes have said that they are the same walis that God has appointed through the Prophet starting with Ali. They must be chosen by God and not people as God has said:

اللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ حَيْثُ يَجْعَلُ رِسَالَتَهُ

Allah knows best where to place His apostleship! 5

Just as God knows best where to place His apostleship, He knows best where to place the Noble Prophet’s successorship.


  1. Quran 42:51 (Qara’i).
  2. Quran 5:55 (Qara’i).
  3. Quran 5:51 (Qara’i).
  4. Quran 4:59 (Qara’i).
  5. Quran 6:124 (Qara’i).
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