Home / All / Article: From Bidʻa to Sunna: The Wilayat of Ali in the Shiʻi Adhan

Article: From Bidʻa to Sunna: The Wilayat of Ali in the Shiʻi Adhan

In this paper, the writer examines the pronouncements of early Shiʻi jurists on the issue of adhan and compares and contrasts their views with the verdicts of later authors.

Although the wilaya of Ali ibn Abi Talib –the attestation of his spiritual and temporal authority- has always been professed by the Shia and has appeared in their ritual and other practices (such as coinage) in various forms, its inclusion in adhan (call of prayer) was once generally rejected by Shia scholars. It is now, however, a distinctive feature of the adhan in use among the Twelver Shia. This paper traces and explains how this change came about and how it was eventually justified by the leading scholarly authorities of the community, especially from the Safavid era and later.

A distinctive feature of the adhan (call to prayer) as recited by Twelver Shiʻis is the inclusion of the wilaya (spiritual and temporal authority) of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib. Thus, after reciting the Shahada (bearing witness to the unity of one God and the prophecy of Muhammad) the muʼadhdhin (caller to prayer) will normally state “Ashhadu anna ʻAliyyan valiyullah” (I bear witness that ‘Ali is the friend of God). In the minds of many Twelver Shiʻis, this popular practice has become an important component of the adhan. However, the wilaya was not recited in the adhan at the time of the Prophet or during the lives of any of the Shi’i Imams.’ In this paper, I trace its provenance and evolution. Initially, I examine the pronouncements of early Shiʻi jurists on this issue and compare and contrast their views with the verdicts of later authors. The judgment of the later jurists, moreover, contrasts starkly with the rulings of their predecessors. A need to assert and propagate the Shiʻi identity in terms of a nascent political state led eventually to the inclusion of the wiliiya in the adhan. At that point the Shiʻi jurists resorted to various forms of hermeneutics to vindicate such a practice.

Bibliographic Information

Title: From Bidʻa to Sunna: The Wilayat of Ali in the Shiʻi Adhan

Author(s): Liyakat Takim

Published in: journal of the American Oriental Society, 120.2 (2000)

 Language: English

Length: 24 pages

From Bidʻa to Sunna: The Wilayat of Ali in the Shiʻi Adhan

About Ali Teymoori

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