I was discussing the verse 4:59 with a brother from the sunni school of thought and particularly the part relating to ‘olil-amr’. We believe that the ‘olil-amr’ is in reference to the Imams whereas the Sunni view is that it relates to leaders. My question is: why in the first part of the verse ‘olil-amr’ is mentioned but in the second part when discussing if there are differences, it says “refer to God and his messenger’ and ‘olil-amr’ is no longer mentioned?
Firstly, the phrase منکم (minkum) in اولی الامر منکم (olil-amri minkum) clearly indicates that the اولی الامر (olil-amr) must be a Mo’men (believer) because the Ayah is addressing the believers, so it definitely doesn’t apply to non-believers, as it doesn’t include the wrong-doers (الظالمین) either, because the almighty God in Surah Baqarah Ayah 124 has made it clear that His covenant of leadership does not include the wrong-doers. Therefore, the Ayah is commanding us to obey leaders who are divinely authorised. Obviously kings like Yazid in the past, and most of contemporary Arab leaders will be excluded. Thus, the assumption that the obedience of anyone who – in any way – leads a Muslim nation is totally foreign to the Ayah. At the time of the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) they were the best examples of اولی الامر (olil-amr) and hence it would only apply to them, and during their occultation a just, pious and learned believer will be the example of اولی الامر (olil-amr) as a representative of the Imams (a.s).
For the same reason اولی الامر (olil-amr) are not mentioned as the points of reference in a matter of dispute, to show that the authority intrinsically rests with Allah and His Messenger, and the اولی الامر (olil-amr) get their authority from Allah via the Holy Prophet (P). The wisdom of this expression is – and God knows best- that when say today, someone argues that so and so are also examples of اولی الامر (as a matter of dispute) we are bound to refer to Allah and His messenger. If that individual is not authorised by them, then he is a fake leader and he has usurped the position.
Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei