Rafed English

Wala of Control

It is the highest stage of Walayat. All the other kinds of Walayat besides being due to the personal purity and sanctity of the Ahl al-Bayt are either related to their kinship to the Holy Prophet or to their own intellectual and social capability. Anyhow, in both these cases, it is not more than a legal arrangement. But the Walayat of Control implies a sort of extraordinary and God-given power and authority. Let us first see what its meaning and significance are according to those who believe in it.

The idea of innate Walayat is related on the one hand to the hidden human capacity to attain perfection, and on the other to the bond which exists between man and Allah. The God-given supernatural Walayat means that man by marching on the path of submission and worship gets closer and closer to Allah and can even reach a position, where his spirituality, which is a reality, gets concentrated in him. He becomes the head of the caravan of spirituality, the master of the conscience of the people, the witness to their deeds and the competent authority of his age. The world has never been without such a spiritual leader. In other words it has never been without a perfect man.

In this sense Walayat is different from Prophethood (Risalat), Caliphate (Khilafat), Executorship (Wisayat) and Imamate (Imamat) in the sense of authority in religious matters. Its non-identity with Prophethood, Caliphate and

The factual non-identity of Walayat with Prophethood, Caliphate and Executorship does not mean that a Prophet, his executor or successor is not a Waly. It means only that the nature of Prophethood and similarly that of Caliphate and Executorship is different from that of Walayat. Otherwise all great Prophets, especially the last one of them, were holders of Divine Walayat in full measure.

When we say that the non-identity of Walayat with Imamate is only conceptual, we mean that both the terms signify the same position, though from different points of view. In Islamic terminology the word "Imamate" has also been used frequently in the sense of this spiritual Walayat. In its wider sense Imamate means leadership. A religious authority, a political or social leader and a spiritual guide are all called Imams.

From the Shi'ah point of view there are three aspects of Walayat and in respect of each of them the word "Imamate" has been used.

Its first aspect is political. The question is as to who was the most competent and eligible person to succeed the Prophet and to be the political and social leader of the Muslim ummah. The Shi'ah believe that Imam Ali was designated by Allah to this position. This question at present has only doctrinal and historical value, and not practical.

The second point is as to who are the authorities to whom the questions of religious law may be referred after the Holy Prophet; through what source do those authorities acquire their knowledge; and whether they are liable to err in giving their verdicts. As we know, the Shi'ah believe that all their Imams are infallible and this belief has a doctrinal as well as a practical value.

The third aspect is ideological. According to the Shi'ah belief in every age there has been a perfect man having a supernatural influence over the world and a sort of control on the hearts and the souls of men and on this account he is called Hujjat. The Qur'anic verse "The Prophet has more authority over the believers than that which they have over their selves", is supposed to be referring to this sense of Walayat as well.

Walayat of Control or supernatural power does not mean, as some ignorant persons believe, that any human being can acquire the power of running the affairs of the universe and carrying out the functions of creating, sustaining, giving life and causing death on behalf of Allah.

Allah has organized the order of the universe on the basis of a system of cause and effect. Though the beings called angels have been described as "governors of the events" (al-Nazi'at, 79:5) and "distributors of the affairs" (al-Zariyat, 51:4), this aspect is not in any way inconsistent with the principle of the Unity of Allah and His having no associate or partner as Creator and true Owner. No one is Allah's Waly in the sense of being His helper, assistant or even His tool. The Qur'an says: "He has no partner in the Sovereignty nor has He any protecting friend because of weakness. Magnify Him with all magnifcence". (Surah Bani Israel, 17:111).

The relationship of the Creator and the created is only that of creation, sustenance and non-entity. The Holy Qur'an describes Allah as fully Independent. But while it says, for example;

Allah takes the souls (of men) at the time of their death". (al-Zumar 39:42),

it also says:

Say: The angel of death is given charge of causing you to die; then to your Lord you will be returned". (al-Sajdah 41: 11).

Similarly while it says:

Surely my Lord is the Protector of all things". (Surah Hud, 11: 57);

it also says:

He sends protectors to watch over you until death approaches you. Then Our angelic messengers will, without fail, take away your souls". (al-An'am 6:61).

In this verse the angels have been described both as protectors and the extractors of souls.

Hence from the monotheistic point of view the existence of any medium is not objectionable, nor is there any harm in ascribing an arrangement to someone who carries out the Will of Allah with His permission.

Anyhow, firstly Islamic decorum requires us not to ascribe creation, sustenance, giving life and causing death, to anyone else but to concentrate our attention on the real source running the universe. The mediums or angels are only Allah's creation and a manifestation of His supreme power and wisdom. And secondly to run the affairs of the universe, Allah has devised a unique system in which angels are employed as mediums. Man occasionally can attain a position higher than that of the angels as a result of his evolutionary advancement but he cannot replace any of them as a medium. Revelation always comes through an angel, and it is an angel who is always detailed to extract the soul of everybody.

We cannot determine exactly the limits of the Walayat of Control and supernatural power of a perfect or virtually perfect man. On the whole the Qur'anic and other religious texts indicate that man can definitely reach a position where he dominates the world. But what is the exact nature of this domination and whether it has any limits or not is besides our scope.

Another point worth mentioning is that the Walayat of Control is attained only by him who is absolutely free from the control of his passions and evil desires. It is not bestowed on any arrogant self-seeker. A man who is swayed by his personal whims and desires is not fit for such a miraculous position. The person who holds this Walayat is so pure that, his will, unlike our will, emanates from an inner motivation and a Divine signal. What the nature of this signal is and how he receives it is not known to us. Such persons are sometimes guided by Divine light but occasionally they appear to be unaware of the most ordinary things .

As for the Qur'anic verse,

Muhammad, say, I have no control over my benefits or sufferings without the Will of Allah". (al-A'raf, 7: 188)

it is evident that it wants the Prophet to say that all favourable and unfavourable circumstances are in reality controlled by Allah. Otherwise it cannot be imagined that while other people are masters of their gains and losses within certain limits, the Prophet is not.

We may mention here three points as a prelude to the fuller discussion of the Walayat of supernatural power. It is to be remembered that it is a subject which is rarely discussed, but as a number of people have shown interest in it, we propose to dwell on it at some length.

We admit that it is somewhat difficult to acknowledge Walayat in this sense. Our liberal minded people are not happy with such questions. They often ask as to the necessity of discussing the question whether the Prophet and the Imams have or have not the supernatural power of domination and control when the Muslims have many other more urgent problems to face. Some of them give a religious colour to their rejection of such a power and say that to believe in this sort of domination amounts to giving the status of demi-gods to the human beings, and hence it is repugnant to the basic principle of the Unity of Allah, which is a cardinal tenet of Islam.

The fact is that we are no body to judge the question as to what is consistent and what is not consistent with the doctrine of Divine Unity. The common people have no idea of the elaborate standards which have been laid down by Islam and the Holy Qur'an in this respect. Similarly the sole criterion of the importance of a question is not its popularity at any particular time. It is wrong to assume that only that should be required the need of which is generally felt.

The importance which the Holy Qur'an attaches to this point should never be overlooked. The Walayat of supernatural power and control is related to the dignity and capability of man. The Qur'an gives much importance to human capability and the extraordinary aspect of man's creation.

For the present it is enough to dwell on this point briefly and to make clear the Qur'anic concept of Walayat.

Sometimes such questions appear to be difficult to comprehend, but it is better to admit our own inadequacy rather than deny the whole idea.

There is no doubt that Walayat in its fourth sense is a mystic subject, but that does not mean that we should reject it off-hand. From Shi'ah point of view it is an Islamic question also. Shiaiism is a doctrine, while mysticism, irrespective of all the myths attached to it, is a system. They both meet at the point of Walayat. If it is necessary to believe that either of them must have borrowed the idea from the other, all historical indications point out that it is mysticism which has acquired it from Shi'aism and not vice versa. Here we mention the basis of the idea briefly.

The most important question which should be considered in this connection is that of nearness or seeking nearness to Allah. As we know, the ultimate aim of all religious acts in Islam and all other heavenly religions is to secure this objective.


Adapted from: "Master and Mastership"

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