ʿAlī and Walāya

The idea of walāya is also closely intertwined with the concept of gnosis and an entire genre of Shiʿi imamology is constructed upon the fundamental concept of walāya, to the extent that the Shiʿa refer to themselves as ‘the people of walāya’ (ahl al-walāya)

ʿAlī and WalāyaBy Daryoush Mohammad Poor

The use of the term walāya, or spiritual authority, as generally employed by Shiʿi Muslims in connection with ʿAlī as their first Imam or any other descendant of ʿAlī in the line of the imamate (for various Shiʿi groups), is rooted in the event of Ghadīr Khumm. Both Shiʿi and Sunni sources report that when the Prophet returned from his ‘farewell pilgrimage’ (ḥijjat al-wadāʿ) on 18 Dhū al-Ḥijja 10/16 March 632, he asked the people to halt for a congregational prayer. Then he took ʿAlī’s hand and lifted him to his feet to stand next to him and said: ‘O people, know that what Aaron was to Moses, ʿAlī is to me, except that there shall be no prophet after me, and he is my walī to you after me. Therefore, he whose master (mawlā) I am, ʿAlī is his master.’ Then he lifted up ʿAlī’s arm and said: ‘O God, be affectionate to him who is devoted to ʿAlī, show enmity to him who is his enemy, give victory to him who helps ʿAlī and forsake him who forsakes ʿAlī. May the truth encompass ʿAlī to the end of his life’ (al-Kulaynī, 1/342–43, 349–52; Ibn Bābawayh, Man lā yaḥḍuruh, 1/229, 2/559; see also Amīnī alNajafī, 1/12–151, 294–322).

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