8 – Did Ibn `Abbās (ra) Relate the Imāmī View?


Published by SunniDefense © on June 24th, 2009

Answering-Ansar Article:
Imamate; Divine guide in Islam (Revision: 1.0.0)

Allāh (swt) states in the Holy Qur’ān:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ

“O you who believe, obey Allāh and obey the Messenger and those in authority [‘ūlī al-amr] among you. Then, if you quarrel about something, revert it back to Allāh and the Messenger, if you believe in Allāh and the Last Day. That is good, and the best at the end.” [4:59]


The Answering-Ansar team writes concerning this verse in their article ‘Imamate; Divine guide in Islam’:

Quoting Answering-Ansar:

The Sunni scholars of Tafseer in their commentaries of this verse have said that the term Ul’il Amr is of general application, not specific. The Mufassireen have stated that the terminology incorporates various scenarios subject to the Shari’ah and incorporates various aspects of leadership. Since we are discussing the topic of Imamate we will analyse three key positions that the Sunni commentators have incorporated as Ul’il Amr:


  1. Those in army authority positions.
  2. Political Leaders, this incorporates the Head of State down to officers implementing rules and regulation at a ground level
  3. The Ulema – Scholars of Deen.

The following Sunni scholars have added reference to these categories of Ul’il Amr in their commentaries of Surah Nisa verse 59.

  1. Tafseer Mu’allim al Tanzeel Volume 1 pages 444-445 by Imam Abi Muhammad Hussain bin Masud al Baghawi al Shaafi [Multan]
  2. Tafseer Dur al Manthur Volume 2 pages 314-315 by Al Hafidh Jalaladeen Suyuti [Beirut]
  3. Tafseer al Kabeer Volume 4 page 113 by Allamah Fakhradeen Radhi [Multan]
    Ibn Abbas narrates: “… and there is one group who belives that the Ulil’Amr are Ali and the rest of the infallible Imams”.
  4. Tafseer Qurtubi Volume 5 pages 168-169 [Makka]
  5. Tafseer Mazhari (Urdu translation) Volume 3 pages 96-98 by Qadhi Thana’ullah Panee Patee
  6. Tafseer Kashaf Volume 1 pages 535-537

Imamate; Divine guide in Islam, page 285-286

As far as the commentary and meaning of this verse is concerned, the works of Sunnī scholars are replete with fruitful explanations and refutations of the Imāmī Shī`ī view. The most noteworthy of all things here, however, is the verbatim attributed to Ibn `Abbās (ra). The Answering-Ansar team has quoted Tafsīr al-Qurţubī which shows that Ibn `Abbās (ra) related a view that is parallel to theImāmī view—i.e. ‘Those in authority’ in the verse refers to the infallible Imāms.

The question is, did Ibn `Abbas (ra) really relate the Imāmī view about the verse?

The Answer

No. This is yet another instance revealing the intellectual dishonesty and distortion of Sunnī texts by the Answering-Ansar team.

Abū al-`Abbās al-Qurţubī (d. 671) has indeed cited different positions of Ibn `Abbās in his Tafsīr, but none of them relate the Imāmī view as Answering-Ansar deceptively quotes. He has cited a total of five valid opinions about ‘those in authority’ [‘ūlī al-amr]:

  1. It refers to rulers.

  1. It refers to scholars.

  1. It refers specifically to the Companions.

  1. It refers specifically to the Abū Bakr and `Umar (ra).

  1. It refers to people of intellect.

After citing these opinions, al-Qurţubī has discussed all of them. He started with:

قلت وأصح هذه الأقوال الأول والثاني أما الأول فلان أصل الام منهم والحكم إليهم وروى الصحيحان عن ابن عباس قال نزل يا أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الامر منكم في عبد الله بن حذافة بن قيس بن عدي السهمي إذ بعثه النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في سرية

“I say: The first two of these opinions are the soundest. The first one because the root of command is from them and the ruling is towards them. The two Şaĥīĥs have related from Ibn `Abbās that he said: ‘Obey Allāh and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you’ was revealed about `Abd Allāh ibn Ĥudhāfa ibn Qays ibn `Adī when the Prophet (saws) sent him on an expedition.

Further discussing the next three opinions, he continued with the fifth and stated:

وأما الخامس فيأباه ظاهر اللفظ وإن كان المعنى صحيحا فإن العقل لكل فضيلة أس ولكل أدب ينبوع وهو الذي جعله الله للدين أصلا وللدنيا عمادا فأوجب الله التكليف بكماله وجعل الدنيا مدبرة بأحكامه والعاقل أقرب إلى ربه تعالى من جميع المجتهدين بغير عقل وروى هذا المعنى عن ابن عباس

“As for the fifth, the apparent wording disapproves it, even though the meaning is correct. This is because intellect is a foundation for all virtues, a fountain for all disciplines, and it is what was created by Allāh as a principle for the religion and a mainstay for the world. So Allāh obligated its perfection for the authority and arranged the world with his rulings. Thus, the person with intellect is closer to his Exalted Lord than all the strugglers who lack intellect. This meaning was narrated from Ibn `Abbās.”

This is where al-Qurţubī’s discussion of the five valid opinions ends. And it is after discussing all these valid opinions mentioned above that al-Qurţubī brings up the Imāmī opinion in the following words:

وزعم قوم أن المراد بأولي الامر علي والأئمة المعصومون ولو كان كذلك ما كان لقوله فردوه إلى الله والرسول معنى بل كان يقول فردوه إلى الامام وأولي الامر فإن قوله عند هؤلاء هو المحكم على الكتاب والسنة وهذا قول مهجور مخالف لما عليه الجمهور

And a faction claimed that what is meant by ‘those in authority’ are `Alī and the infallible Imāms. Had that been the case, what would be the meaning of ‘revert it back to Allāh and the Messenger’? It would have rather been ‘revert it back to the Imām and those in authority, for indeed his view among these people is consolidated over the Book and the Sunna. This opinion is obsolete and contradictory to what has been opined by the majority.”

As it is obvious from the last two quotes above, al-Qurţubī has first mentioned that the fifth view—i.e. Those in authority’ [‘ūlī al-amr] refers to the people of intellect—has been narrated from Ibn `Abbās (ra), and then he has mentioned the Imāmī view—i.e. ‘Those in authority’ [‘ūlī al-amr] refers to `Alī and the Imāms (ra)—and refuted it.

Now, what the Answering-Ansar team did is that they deceivingly took the statement about Ibn `Abbās (ra) concerning the fifth view, joined it with al-Qurţubī’s mention of the invalid Imāmī view right after it, and fabricated the following:

Quoting Answering-Ansar:

Ibn Abbas narrates: “… and there is one group who belives that the Ulil’Amr are Ali and the rest of the infallible Imams”.

 Tafseer Qurtubi Volume 5 pages 168-169 [Makka]

Imamate; Divine guide in Islam, page 286

Subĥān Allāh

It is amazing to see that the Answering-Ansar team, in their eagerness to falsely attribute their view to a noble Companion, even forgot the fact that the Shī`ī schools were not theologically developed factions at the time of Ibn `Abbās (ra) and so to believe in the existence of a standard offshootImāmī school of exegesis at that time is at most a part of farfetched imagination.

Nevertheless, the above undoubtedly shows that what Answering-Ansar has quoted from Tafsīr al-Qurţubī is, in fact, a serious misquote and another clear example of distorting with texts. When one refers to Tafsīr al-Qurţubī, he can easily see how two phrases are taken out of context and joined together by the Answering-Ansar team to falsely attribute a quote to Ibn `Abbās (ra).

Is There A Guarantee After This Distortion?

This type of deliberate misquoting raises the serious question of whether Answering-Ansar should be even trusted as a reliable source of textual citations.

Is there a guarantee, after this, that the next quote you see on Answering-Ansar is not a result of distorting texts?

It has been evidently shown that the quote from Tafsīr al-Qurţubī is clearly a product of distortion, and no one can deny this except a biased individual who is stubbornly unwilling to accept the possibility of dishonesty in the works of Answering-Ansar.

Conclusion – The Condition of Answering-Ansar

In the end, readers should also know that the quote from Answering-Ansar’s ‘Imamate; Divine guide in Islam’ cited above not only uncovers their deceptive argumentation, but also their knowledge. To mention in points:

  • They referenced al-Baghawī’s (d. 516) commentary—with a scanned image—as “Mu’allim al Tanzeel” [“Teacher of Revelation”], whereas the actual title of the work is Ma`ālim al-Tanzīl [“Milestones of Revelation”].
  • They have also referenced works of al-Suyūţī (d. 911) and al-Rāzī (d. 606) as “Dur al Manthur” [“Pearl of the Scattered”] and “Tafseer al Kabeer” [“Commentary of the Major”] when the actual titles are al-Durr al-Manthūr [“The Scattered Pearl”] and al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr[“The Major Commentary”].

Neither are these examples of “some mistakes” nor is the intention to merely point out such a thing. Rather, this is to outline the Answering-Ansar team’s dishonesty, ignorance about Islamic literature and unfamiliarity with even the extremely basic principles of the Arabic language.

This, unfortunately, is the condition of the pseudo-polemicists who tend to indulge in in-depth debates on issues that require speculative understanding of sciences.

May Allāh (swt) save us from such deception and ignorance.

It is only Allah (swt) that gives success, and blessings and peace be upon the Seal of the Prophets, his Pure Progeny and his Noble Companions

♦        ♦        ♦


Works Cited

Sunnī texts:

  1. al- Jāmi` li Aĥkām al-Qur’ān wa al-Mubayyin limā Tađammanah min al-Sunna wa Āy al-Furqān [Tafsīr al-Qurţubī]

Abū al-`Abbās al-Qurţubī (d. 671)

Mu’assasat al-Risala

Beirut, Lebanon

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