Who is “the Guide” in the Qur’an 13:7? Answering Shi’a claims

The Meaning of “the Guide” in Quran 13:7



Allah says in the Qur’an:

وَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوْلَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ مُنْذِرٌ وَلِكُلِّ قَوْمٍ هَادٍ

[Transaltion by Yusuf Ali] And the disbelievers say: “Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?” You are only a Warner, and to every people there is a guide. (Surah Ra’d 13:7)

This is one of the verses which Shi’ites use to establish their belief of Imamah of ‘Ali. They claim that the Guide mentioned in this verse is ‘Ali and other Imams after him. They even quote narrations from books of Sunnah to misinterpret the verse. This article will be an answer to all such claims, In-sha Allah.

If we go back to the books on Tafaseer we can briefly list out the following three main explanations given about the meaning of guide in the verse and all three is based on other verses of Qur’an.

First view: Guide is Allah

This is the view of Sa’eed b. Jubair, the well known student of Ibn ‘Abbas. Ibn Jareer reports it in Tafseer (16/354), Ibn Abi Hatim also in his Tafseer (12149) through Sufyan Al-Thawri from ‘Ataa b. Saa’ib from Sa’eed b. Jubair that he said:

“Muhammad [sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam] is Al-Mundhir (the warner) and Allah is the Guide.”

This interpretation is valid in light of the verse of Surah al-Hajj:

وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَهَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ

“And verily, Allah is the Guide [Al-Haad] of those who believe, to the Straight path.” [Al-Hajj 22:54]

Along with this there are several verses in Qur’an which clearly states that only Allah guides people and the task of the Messenger is only to convey the message.

Second View: Guide is Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)

This is the view of Mujahid, ‘Ikrimah and Abu Duha Muslim b. Subaih.

Based on this interpretation the verse would mean that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is a source of guidance for all human beings and Jinn who existed after him. The English translation of Hilali and Muhsin Khan is based on this interpretation. Hence, they translated it as:

And the unbelievers say: “Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?” But thou art truly a Warner, and to every people a guide.  [13:7]

This interpretation is also based on the verse of Qur’an. Allah says in Surah Shura:

وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِي إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ

((And you are indeed guiding to the Straight Path.))  [42:52]


Third View: Guide is any prophet or caller towards the truth

This is the view reported from Mujahid and Qatadah. This is also based on another verse where Allah says:

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ بِالْحَقِّ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا وَإِنْ مِنْ أُمَّةٍ إِلَّا خَلَا فِيهَا نَذِير

((Verily! We have sent you with the truth, a bearer of glad tidings, and a Warner. And there never was a nation but a warner had passed among them.)) [Al-Fatir 35:24]

وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا

((And We have made them leaders, guiding (mankind) by Our Command…)) [Al-Anbiya 21:73]

As we have seen all the three famous viewpoints is based on other verses of Qur’an and all are valid interpretation since they convey the meaning already found in Qur’an. In fact they all can be true at the same time.


Shi’a Claim

Shi’ites on the other hand claims that the “Guide” in the verse means ‘Ali b. Abi Talib. They even bring narrations from Sunni Hadith literatures to deceive their readers. Let us analyze all such narrations:

First Narration through ‘Ali

عُثْمَانُ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا مُطَّلِبُ بْنُ زِيَادٍ، عَنِ السُّدِّيِّ، عَنْ عَبْدِ خَيْرٍ، عَنْ عَلِيٍّ، فِي قَوْلِهِ: {إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ مُنْذِرٌ وَلِكُلِّ قَوْمٍ هَادٍ}، قَالَ: «رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْمُنْذِرُ، وَالْهَادِ رَجُلٌ مِنْ بَنِي هَاشِمٍ»

It has been reported by Abdullah b. Ahmad in Zawaid al-Musnad (1041), al-Tabrani in “Al-Awsat” (1361, 4923, 7780) and “Al-Sagheer” (739), Ibn Abi Hatim in Tafseer (12152) through ‘Uthman b. Abi Shaiba from Muttalib b. Ziyad from Suddi from ‘Abd Khair:

From ‘Ali regarding the statement of Allah ((And for every nation there is a guide)) that he said, “The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is the Warner and guide is a man from the clan of Hashim.”

There are two way of reading the text of this narration.

The first way of reading it is to assume that the verb “He said” is referring to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and therefore it would mean that he is saying, “The Warner and the Guide is a man from Banu Hashim.” This will make the narration same in meaning with the view of ‘Ikrimah and Mujahid mentioned earlier and hence both the titles, the warner and the guide, will be applicable to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).

The second one is as translated above considering the arabic verb for “He said” [قال] is referring to ‘Ali. This would mean, as clear from the translation, that ‘Ali is saying that the Prophet is the Warner and the Guide is a man from Banu Hashim.

Both of these are possible readings based on the text of the narration. The first one is more accurate with its meaning as it is supported by other verses of Qur’an while the first one very odd and does not fit with the apparent meaning of the verse. We will see why this is not a correct interpretation of the verse later after analyzing other narrations with similar meaning.


Defective Sanad

There is also a possible defect in the chain of this narration. The great scholar of Kufa, Sufyan Al-Thawri has reported through the same Suddi who narrates from ‘Ikrimah regarding the interpretation of this verse. Ibn Jareer al-Tabari reports it in Tafsir (16/353-354) through Sufyan al-Thawri from Suddi from ‘Ikrimah who said Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is the Warner and the Guide.

So here we have two versions in one Sufyan is saying Suddi has narrated from ‘Ikrimah regarding this verse. While in another version Muttalib b. Ziyad is saying that Suddi has narrated from ‘Abd Khair from ‘Ali regarding the interpretation of this verse. It is very much unlikely that both of the versions be accurate as neither Suddi himself nor Muttalib b. Ziyad were of the level of the top level Huffaz.

Hence, it is likely that Mutallib b. Ziyad made a mistake and changed the narration of “Suddi from ‘Ikrima” to “Suddi from ‘Abd Khair from ‘Ali”.

One may say that both of them are separately narrated by Suddi and hence they are not related. The answer to this is that if it had been both reported from Suddi as a different narrations then Sufyan, who was most knowledgeable about the narrations of Kufan Shuyukh, would have been aware of it and narrated it in his Tafseer since he definitely attended the gathering of Suddi when he was interpreting this verse of the Qur’an. If we look the other way, even Muttalib was not aware of the version which Suddi narrates from ‘Ikrimah. If either of the two, Sufyan Thawri or Muttalib, had narrated both the versions then only we could have confirmed the accuracy of both the versions. Since they did not, that means there was an error in chain as well as text from the part of Muttalib bin Ziyad.

The other possibility that could have happened, assuming both are accurate versions, that other students of Suddi would have narrated and backed Muttalib in his narration. Since this is not the case therefore it is safe to assume that there was an error from Muttalib or even from Suddi himself and hence the shaykh of Suddi in this report was changed from Ikrimah to Abd Khair and the narration was connected to ‘Ali. In this way we can save ourselves from misinterpreting the Qur’an.

Here it should be noted that Muttalib is a Thiqah narrator but still there are some criticisms against him which makes us to reconsider his narrations when it differs with the narration of an authority like Sufyan Thawri. Hafiz Ibn Hajar has summarized the ruling regarding Muttalib, hence he said in Taqrib:

المطلب ابن زياد ابن أبي زهير الثقفي مولاهم الكوفي صدوق ربما وهم

“He is truthful (Saduq) but sometimes fall into confusion (wahm).”


Meaningless Interpretation

Another objection that could be raised against Shi’i conclusion from this narration is that this narration does not specify any name in it. The entire conclusions regarding “a man from Banu Hashim” would be a speculation and hence it would be meaningless to argue about it.

There are some reports of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib which explicitly mention ‘Ali as guide, but they are severely weak and hence their existence or absence does not affect the actual discussion.

It has been narrated by Hakim in Mustadrak (4646), Ibn al-A‘arabi in his “Mu’jam” (3/964) and Ibn ‘Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq (42/359) though Husain b. ‘Ali Al-Ashqar who narrates it from Mansur b. Abi al-Aswad from A’amash from Minhar b. ‘Amr from ‘Abbad b. ‘Abdullah from ‘Ali that he said, “The Messenger of Allah is the Warner, and I am the Guide.”

As it is expected Al-Hakim authenticated the narration, and to that al-Dhahabi noted:

“Rather it is a lie. May Allah destroy who fabricated it.”

Al-Dhahabi rightly refuted al-Hakim in this verdict. This chain contains ‘Abbad b. ‘Abdullah al-Kufi who was an unreliable narrator. Al-Bukhari said, “There is a problem in him [فيه نظر].” ‘Ali b. al-Madini said, “He was weak in Hadith.” Al-‘Uqaili and Ibn al-Jarud listed him among weak narrators.

Husain al-Ashqar is also weak narrator who was weakened by Bukhari, Abu Hatim, Abu Zur’ah, Nasai, Daarqutni, Abu Ahmad al-Hakim and others. He is alone in narrating this narration with this specific chain. So the chain itself is not strong enough to be taken seriously. Add to that the incorrect meaning in it, which distort the message of the verse of the Qur’an, which makes the narration to be Munkar if not Batil or falsehood.


Other Source of this narration

Ibn ‘Abbas

It has been recorded by Ibn Jareer al-Tabari in Tafseer (16/357), Ibn al-A’arabi in “Mu’jam” (2328), Abu Nu’aim in “Ma’rifat al-Sahabah” (1/87) and Ibn ‘Asakir in Tarikh (42/359) through Hasan b. Husain al-Ansari who is narrating from Ma’adh bin Muslim from ‘Ata bin Saa’ib from Sa’eed bin Jubair from Ibn ‘Abbas that he said:

“When the verse ((Verily you are a warner, and to every nation there is a guide)) was revealed, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) put his hand on his chest and said, “I am the warner.” Then he directed his hands towards ‘Ali and said, “You are the guide O ‘Ali, people shall be guided through you after me.”

There are basically three main defects in this narration:

  1. Hasan b. Husain al-Ansari al-‘Urani was an unreliable narrator. Abu Hatim said, “He was not a truthful person according to scholars and he was from the leading shi’ites.” Ibn ‘Adi said, “He was Munkar al-Hadith.” Ibn Hibban said, “He would bring made up narrations from reliable narrators and narrate interchanged narrations.” See “Lisan al-Mizan” (3/33)
  2. Mu’adh bin Muslim was unknown as a hadith narrator as pointed out by Al-Dhahabi. Mizan al-I’itidal (4/132)
  3. ‘Ataa bin Saa’ib’s memory deteriorated in his later life and only that narration of ‘Ataa are accurate which he narrated before it. Therefore only those who are identified as his early companions who heard from him earlier are reliable while narrating from him. Mu’adh bin Muslim besides being unreliable, also not identified among his early companions. See “Sharh ‘Ilal al-Tirmidhi” (2/734-738) for a list of those narrators whose narrations are accurate from ‘Ataa.

Adding to these defects, there is a fourth factor which exposes this fabricated narration. Again Sufyan Al-Thawri brought the accurate version of this narration. Hence, Ibn Jareer narrated in Tafsir (16/354) and Ibn Abi Hatim in Tafsir (12148, 12150) through Sufyan who narrated from ‘Ataa bin Saa’ib from Sa’eed bin Jubair who said regarding the meaning of the verse, “The Warner is Muhammad, and Guide is Allah.”

This is the accurate narration of ‘Ataa narrated by one of the most reliable narrator Sufyan Thawri who heard from ‘Ataa before his memory turned weak. What those unreliable narrators did is to change the narration from the statement of Taba’i into the statement of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and then add the name of Ibn ‘Abbas into it.

In conclusion, we can say there is nothing proven from the narrations which suggest that title of “the Guide” in the verse was revealed for ‘Ali. In fact, this theory goes against the apparent of the Qur’an, while other interpretations are mainly based on different verses of Qur’an. And Allah knows best.

‘Atiyyah bin Sa’d Al-‘Awfi: His status as a Hadith-narrator


Following is the complete analysis of ‘Atiyyah al-‘Awfi and his status as a Hadith narrator. It includes refutations of  the arguments raised to strengthen his case. Also includes a brief analysis of arguments raised by the Egyptian Sufi and Tafdili Shaykh Mahmud Sa’eed Mamduh in his book “Raf’a al-Minarah”.
For any correction or objection send email to : ahlussunnah.moin@gmail.com

Download File: https://www.twelvershia.net/2021/01/29/atiyyah-al-awfi-a-full-study
Alternate Link [Read online or download] : https://archive.org/details/atiyyah-bin-sad-al-awfi

Defending Sunnah