Shia Claim: “The Messenger is the Warner and Ali is the Guide”


A hadith commonly cited in Sunni-Shia polemics is a report pertaining to a Quranic verse where Allah says: “You are only a warner, and for every people is a guide.” (13:7)

Shias appeal to a report where ‘Ali is supposedly quoted interpreting this verse by stating that the “warner” was the Prophet, and that the “guide” is ‘Ali, himself.

The evaluation of the report will address several matters:

  • A presentation of the different versions of the report.
  • An analysis of their transmitters.
  • An analysis of their isnads and contexts.
  • The content of these reports.


  1. Al-Hakem and Ibn al-A’rabi transmit the report through ‘Abdurrahman b. Muhammad b. Mansur al-Harithi, from al-Husain b. al-Hasan al-Ashqar, from Mansur b. Abi al-Aswad, from al-A’mash, from al-Minhal b. ‘Amr, from ‘Abbad b. ‘Abdillah al-Asadi, from ‘Ali that he said:

“The Messenger of Allah is the warner and I (Ali) am the guide.”[1]

  1. ‘Abdullah b. Ahmed, al-Tabarani, Ibn Abi Hatem and others transmitted a similar report through ‘Uthman b. Abi Shaybah, from al-Muttalib b. Ziyad, from al-Suddi, from ‘Abdi Khayr, from ‘Ali that he said:

“The guide is a man from Bani Hashem.”[2]

When studying the status of a transmitter, it is important to comprehensively list all the statements of the hadith critics pertaining to his status and reliability. A selective reading of a transmitter’s status will lead to a limited and incomplete conclusion that is simply inaccurate. If the critics’ verdicts pertaining to the reliability of a transmitter contradict each other, then one must consider several indicators when deciding the reliability of the said transmitter.

For example, if a transmitter was criticized for an explicitly mentioned reason, then general and vague praise cannot be cited to negate that specific criticism. Similarly, critics closer to the transmitter in time may have a more accurate outlook than later critics. However, the reality of the matter is that the critics are mostly in agreement when it comes to the reliability of transmitters.

Transmitter Analysis of 1st Report:

  • ‘Abdurrahman b. Muhammad is not reliable:
    • Al-Daraqutni said: “He is not strong.”[3]
    • Ibn ‘Adiyy said: “He transmits reports that are not corroborated by anyone.”[4]
    • Abu Hatem al-Razi said: “A sheikh”[5]. (This is a known form of criticism according to Abu Hatem.)
    • Maslamah b. al-Qasem declared him to be reliable.[6]
    • Ibn Hibban mentions him in his book, al-Thiqaat, which is an encyclopedia of transmitters that are reliable according to Ibn Hibban.[7]

As seen, ‘Abdurrahman b. Ahmed is a contested transmitter, and one cannot conclude that he is reliable. In fact, he is weak, since the hadith critics that criticized him substantiated their verdicts with actual evidence, such as what Ibn ‘Adiyy had stated. Thus, this criticism takes precedence over the general praise some later critics gave him.

  • Al-Husain b. al-Hasan al-Ashqar is extremely weak:
    • Abu Zur’ah said: “He was a sheikh who was munkar in his hadith.”[8]
    • Al-Nasa’i and al-Daraqutni: said: “He wasn’t strong.”[9]
    • Abu Ma’mar al-Qati’i said: “He was a liar.”[10]
    • Ibn Ma’in said: “There was nothing wrong with him.”[11]
    • Al-Bukhari said: “He has manakir (objectionable reports) .”[12]
    • Abu Ahmed al-Hakem said: “He was not strong according to the hadith critics.”[13]
    • Ahmed b. Hanbal said: “I don’t consider him to be someone who lies.”[14]
    • Abu al-Fath al-Azdi said: “He was weak.”[15]
    • Abu Hatem al-Razi said: “He wasn’t strong.”[16]

As seen, Al-Husain clearly is a weak and unreliable transmitter; however, the debate merely revolves around whether he was a forger or not. Either way, he is extremely weak and cannot be relied upon when exclusively transmitting a report.

  • Mansur b. Abi al-Aswad is generally reliable.
  • Al-A’mash is a well-known Imam and reliable transmitter, however, he was a mudallis. A mudallis is a transmitter who regularly drops the intermediary between him and the transmitter above him, rendering the report disconnected. Thus, a mudallis’ report can only be accepted if he explicitly mentions hearing the report from the transmitter above him. In this case, al-A’mash does NOT state that he heard it.
  • Al-Minhal b. ‘Amr was reliable:
  • ‘Abbad b. ‘Abdillah is not reliable:
    • Al-Bukhari said: “fihi nadhar.”[17] (This, in fact, is indicative of his extreme weakness as stated by several scholars.)
    • ‘Ali b. al-Madini said: “He is weak.”[18]
    • Ibn Hibban mentioned him in al-Thiqat[19], and al-‘Ijli declared him to be reliable.[20]
    • Ibn Hazm said: “He is unknown.”[21]
    • Ibn Hajar concluded that he was weak.[22]

Isnad Analysis of 1st Report:

This report seems to be extremely weak for several reasons:

  • ‘Abdurrahman b. Muhammad’s weakness.
  • ‘Abdurrahman b. Muhammad’s exclusive transmission from al-Husain b. al-Hasan.
  • Al-Husain b. al-Hasan’s extreme weakness.
  • Al-Husain b. Al-Hasan’s exclusive transmission from Masnur b. Abi al-Aswad.
  • Mansur’s exclusive transmission from al-A’mash.
    • In fact, this is a red flag, since al-A’mash had a plethora of major students who regularly transmitted from him, such as Sho’bah, Abu Mu’awiyah,Sufyan al-Thawri etc. The fact that this report is exclusively transmitted through a less known transmitter while none of the greater students of al-A’mash transmitted it could be indicative of the existence of a major defect in the transmission of this report.
  • The tadlis of al-A’mash since al-A’mash does not explicitly mention hearing the report. Thus, we cannot ascertain the connectivity of the isnad between al-A’mash and al-Minhal b. ‘Amr.
  • ‘Abbad b. ‘Abdillah al-Asadi’s weakness

As seen, this report is extremely weak, and it cannot be cited as evidence in any context. In fact, al-Dhahabi states that this reportis a fabrication that was forged by al-Husain b. al-Hasan.[23]

Transmitter Analysis of 2nd Report:

  • ‘Uthman b. Abi Shaybah is reliable.
  • Muttalib b. Ziyad’s reliability is contested:
    • Abu Hatem said: “His hadith should be written but he cannot be relied upon when exclusively transmitting a report.”[24]
    • Ibn Sa’d said: “He is extremely weak in hadith.”[25]
    • Ahmed b. Hanbal, al-‘Ijli, Ibn Shahin. And ‘Uthman b. Abi Shaybah declared him to be reliable, and Ibn Hibban mentioned him in al-Thiqaat.[26]
    • Abu Dawud said: “He is acceptable to me.”[27]
    • ‘Isa b. Shadhan weakened him and said: “He has manakir (objectionable reports).”[28]
    • On one occasion, Yahya b. Ma’in declared him to be reliable. [29] On another occasion, Yahya reportedly declared him to be weak.[30]

As seen, he is weak. The criticism takes precedence over the general praise since the criticism was made for specific reasons (i.e. ‘Isa b. Shadhan’s quote) which cannot be negated with general praise.

  • Al-Suddi is weak:
    • Abu Hatem al-Razi said: “His hadith should be written but he cannot be relied upon when exclusively transmitting a report.”[31]
    • Al-‘Uqaili declared him to be weak.[32]
    • Abu Zur’ah said: “He is layyin (weak).”[33]
    • Layth b. Abi Sulaym and al-Jawzajani declared him to be a liar.[34]
    • Al-Tabari said: “His hadith cannot be relied upon.”[35]
    • Ahmed b. Hanbal, al-Nasa’i, al-‘Ijli, and Ibn ‘Adiyy deemed him reliable.[36]
    • Yahya b. Ma’in declared him to be weak.[37]
  • ‘Abd Khayr is reliable

Isnad Analysis of 2nd Report:

This report seems to be weak for several reasons:

  • Muttalib b. Ziyad’s weakness.
  • Muttalib b. Ziyad’s exclusive transmission from al-Suddi.
  • Al-Suddi’s weakness.

Thus, this report too is weak, even though it doesn’t even explicitly mention Ali anyways. However, it is not as weak as the first report.


Analysis of Content:

As seen, there is a disparity in the content of both reports. In the first report, the name of ‘Ali is explicitly mentioned, while ‘Ali is not mentioned in the second report. Some Shias have presented a conspiracy theory claiming that‘Ali’s name was purposely omitted from the second report by Sunni historians; however, this claim is flawedfor several reasons:

  1. There is not a single bit of evidence to substantiate this claim.
  2. The report that explicitly mentions Ali’s name is much weaker than the other report where ‘Ali is not mentioned.
  3. If the Sunni muhaddithin’s goal was to hide ‘Ali’s relationship with the verse, then there’d be no point in transmitting this interpretation of the verse through him with vague wording that could still apply to him, since he still was a man from Bani Hashem after all.


This interpretation of 13:7 from the Quran is not authentic to ‘Ali b. Abi Taleb. The report that explicitly mentions Ali’s name is a baseless forgery as stated by several scholars. The other report where Ali’s name is not explicitly mentioned is very weak as well; however, it is not as weak as the first report.

As evident, both reports supposedly interpret this verse are inauthentic; thus, one may ask, “What is the actual interpretation of the verse?”

Aside from the baseless opinion that the verse refers to Ali b. Abi Taleb, Al-Tabari lists a variety of potential interpretations of the verse held by classical scholarship. He lists a variety of reports (authentic and weak) pertaining to the opinions listed below:

  • The guide is the Prophet himself.
  • The guide is meant to be Allah, such that Muhammad is the warner and Allah is the guide.
  • The verse refers to how each nation was given a prophet.
  • “Guide” refers to a leader.[38]



[1] Al-Mustadrak 3/140,  Mo’jam Ibn al-A’rabi # 2047

[2] Musnad Ahmed 2/306, al-Mo’jam al-Awsat 2/306, Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatem

[3] Mizan al-I’tidal 2/587

[4] Mizan al-I’tidal 2/587

[5] Al-Jarh wal-Ta’dil 5/283

[6] Lisan al-Mizan 6/127

[7] Lisan al-Mizan 6/127

[8] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/336

[9] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/337

[10] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/337

[11] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/337

[12] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/336

[13] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/337

[14] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/336

[15] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/337

[16] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/336

[17] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 5/98

[18] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 5/98

[19] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 5/98

[20] Al-Thiqaat by al-‘Ijli p. 247

[21] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 5/98

[22] Taqrib al-Tahdhib p. 290

[23] Mawdu’aat al-Mustadrak p. 15

[24] Tahdib al-Tahdib 10/177

[25] Tahdib al-Tahdib 10/178

[26] Tahdib al-Tahdib 10/177

[27] Tahdib al-Tahdib 10/177

[28] Tahdib al-Tahdib 10/177

[29] Tarikh Ibn Ma’in – Riwayat al-Duri 3/272

[30] Al-Kamil fi Du’afaa’ al-Rijaal 8/225

[31] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 1/314

[32] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 1/314

[33] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 1/314

[34] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 1/314

[35] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 1/314

[36] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 1/314

[37]Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 1/314

[38] Tafsir Al-Tabari 16/356

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