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The word Mawlā or patron has two meanings. Mawla is an Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 word "مولی", prominently used in Islamic literature which means protector.
“Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is juster in the sight of Allah. But if you know not their father's(for obvious reasons)they are your Brothers in faith and those entrusted to you. But there is no blame on you if ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts: and Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 chapter 33V:5


Morphologically, the Arabic word mawlâ also transliterated mawla is composed from the morpheme indicating place, lit. 'noun of place' (ism al-makân) and derives from the root word وَلِيَ waliya (masdar/verbal noun: الوِلایة al-wilâyah) classically translated as "to be proximal" [to both parties in a vertical relationship] or "to intercede". Thus the semantic translation of mawla most closely resembles the phrase "place of intercession."

Historically, the word mawla has been interpreted to mean either master, protector or supporter; walî, wilâyah, awliya are its supporting synonyms.

mawla usually means the one who have more authority over believers than they have on themselves
It can also mean a much more elevated person, a "master," "lord," "vicar" or "guardian." (see: maulana
Mawlānā is an Arabic word literally meaning "our lord" or "our master" ....

, "our lord" or "our master")


Quran uses the word Mawla in various meanings and in Arabic language its usage is many fold such as 'protector', ‘master’, 'supporter', ‘slave’, ‘emancipated slave’, ‘helper’, ‘friend’, ‘loved one’ etc.


  • Transliterated: Dhalika bi-anna Allaha mawla allatheena amanoo waanna alkafireena la mawla lahum
  • Pickthall
    Marmaduke Pickthall
    Marmaduke Pickthall was a Western Islamic scholar, noted as an English translator of the Qur'an into English. A convert from Christianity, Pickthall was a novelist, esteemed by D. H. Lawrence, H. G. Wells, and E. M. Forster, as well as a journalist, headmaster, and political and religious leader...

    :That is because Allah is patron of those who believe, and because the disbelievers have no patron.
  • Yusuf Ali
    Abdullah Yusuf Ali
    Hafiz Abdullah Yusuf Ali, CBE, FRSL was an Indian Islamic scholar who translated the Qur'an into English. His translation of the Qur'an is one of the most widely-known and used in the English-speaking world....

    That is because God is the Protector of those who believe, but those who reject God have no protector.
  • Shakir:That is because Allah is the Protector of those who believe, and because the unbelievers shall have no protector for them.
  • Sher Ali
    Maulana Muhammad Ali
    Muhammad Ali was a Pakistani writer, scholar, and leading figure of the Ahmadiyya Movement.-Biography:Ali was born in Punjab, British India, in 1874. He obtained an English and Law in 1899...

    That is because ALLAH is the Protector of those who believe, and the disbelievers have no protector.
  • Khalifa
    Rashad Khalifa
    Rashad Khalifa was an Egyptian-American biochemist, closely associated with the United Submitters International. He was assassinated in 1990.-Life:Khalifa was born in Egypt on November 19, 1935...

    :This is because GOD is the Lord of those who believe, while the disbelievers have no lord.
  • Arberry:That is because God is the Protector of the believers, and that the unbelievers have no protector.
  • Palmer
    Edward Henry Palmer
    Edward Henry Palmer was an English orientalist.Palmer was born in Cambridge as the son of a private schoolmaster. He was educated at The Perse School, and as a schoolboy showed the characteristic bent of his mind by picking up the Romany tongue and a great familiarity with the life of the Gypsies...

    :That is because God is the patron of those who believe, and because the misbelievers have no patron.
  • Rodwell
    John Medows Rodwell
    John Medows Rodwell was a friend of Charles Darwin while both matriculated at Cambridge. He became an English clergyman of the Church of England and a Non-Muslim Islamic scholar. He served as Rector of St.Peter's, Saffron Hill, London 1836-43 and Rector of St Ethelburga's, Bishopsgate, London...

    This - because God is the protector of those who believe, and because the infidels have no protector.
  • Sale
    George Sale
    George Sale was an Orientalist and practising solicitor, best known for his 1734 translation of the Qur'an into English. He was also author of The General Dictionary, in ten volumes, folio....

    :This [shall come to pass], for that God is the patron of the true believers, and for that the infidels have no protector.


The interpretation of the word "mawla" in the hadith of the pond of Khumm
Hadith of the pond of Khumm
The Hadith of the pond of Khumm refers to the saying about a historical event crucial to Islamic history. This event took place on 18th of Dhu al-Hijjah of 10 AH in the Islamic calendar at a place called Ghadir Khumm, which is located near the city of al-Juhfah, Saudi Arabia and was a place...

 has given rise to controversies.

Sunni view

Sunni interpret it to mean "friend" if it is in fact a legitimate hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....


As for the additional material, which is the phrase ‘O Allaah, take as friends those who take him as a friend, and take as enemies those who take him as an enemy,’ etc., this is undoubtedly true.” (Ibn Tayymiah further claimed that many of the ahadith with additions to them as false in his Manhaaj al-Sunnah) Al-Dhahabi
Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Uthman ibn Qaymaz ibn `Abd Allah, Shams al-Din Abu `Abd Allah al-Turkmani al-Diyarbakri al-Fariqi al-Dimashqi al-Dhahabi al-Shafi`i , known as Al-Dhahabi , a Shafi'i Muhaddith and historian of Islam.-Biography:...

 said of the hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, “As for the hadeeth, “If I am someone’s mawla then ‘Ali is his mawla too”, it has jayyid isnaads.”

However there is another group of Sunni scholars from the Ahl Sunnah that state that the hadith is authentic.

عن شعبة, عن سلمة بن كهيل, قال: سمعت أبا الطفيل يحدث, عن أبي سريحة رضي الله عنه — أو زيد بن أرقم رضي الله عنه (شك شعبة) — عن النبي صلى الله عليه وآله وصحبه وسلم, قال: من كنت مولاه فعلي مولاه.

وقد روى شعبة هذا الحديث, عن ميمون أبي عبد الله, عن زيد بن أرقم رضي الله عنه, عن النبي صلى الله عليه وآله وصحبه وسلم.

"Shu‘bah relates it from Salmah bin Kuhayl: I heard it from Abū Tufayl that Abū Sarīhah (رضي الله عنه) — or Zayd bin Arqam (رضي الله عنه) (Shu‘bah has doubts about the narrator) — relates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وصحبه وسلم) said: One who has me as his master has ‘Alī as his master.

“Shu‘bah has related the tradition from Maymūm Abū ‘Abdullāh, who related it on the authority of Zayd bin Arqam (رضي الله عنه) and he has related it from the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وصحبه وسلم).”[1]

‘Asqalānī said in Fath-ul-bārī (7:74): Tirmidhī and Nasā’ī narrated the tradition and it is supported by numerous chains of transmission.

Albānī says in Silsilat-ul-ahādīth-is-sahīhah (4:331 # 1750) that its chain of authorities is sahīh (sound) according to the conditions of Bukhārī and Muslim.

Some of the Sunni references:
(1) Sahih Tirmidhi, v2, p298, v5, p63
(2) Sunan Ibn Maja, v1, pp 12,43
(3) Khasa'is, by al-Nisa'i, pp 4,21
(4) al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, v2, p129, v3, pp 109-110,116,371
(5) Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v1, pp 84,118,119,152,330, v4, pp 281,368,370,
372,378, v5, pp 35,347,358,361,366,419 (from 40 chains of narrators)
(6) Fada'il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Hanbal, v2, pp 563,572
(7) Majma' al-Zawa'id, by al-Haythami, v9, p103 (from several transmitters)
(8) Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Razi, v12, pp 49-50
(9) Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthur, by al-Hafiz Jalaluddin al-Suyuti, v3, p19
(10) Tarikh al-Khulafa, by al-Suyuti, pp 169,173
(11) al-Bidayah wal-Nihayah, by Ibn Kathir, v3, p213, v5, p208
(12) Usdul Ghabah, by Ibn Athir, v4, p114
(13) Mushkil al-Athar, by al-Tahawi, v2, pp 307-308
(14) Habib al-Siyar, by Mir Khand, v1, part 3, p144
(15) Sawaiq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, p26
(16) al-Isabah, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, v2, p509; v1, part1, p319,
v2, part1, p57, v3, part1, p29, v4, part 1, pp 14,16,143
(17) Tabarani, who narrated from companions such as Ibn Umar, Malik Ibn
al-Hawirath, Habashi Ibn Junadah, Jari, Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas,
Anas Ibn Malik, Ibn Abbas, Amarah,Buraydah,...
(18) Tarikh, by al-Khatib Baghdadi, v8, p290
(19) Hilyatul Awliya', by al-Hafiz Abu Nu'aym, v4, p23, v5, pp26-27
(20) al-Istiab, by Ibn Abd al-Barr, Chapter of word "ayn" (Ali), v2, p462
(21) Kanzul Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v6, pp 154,397
(22) al-Mirqat, v5, p568
(23) al-Riyad al-Nadirah, by al-Muhib al-Tabari, v2, p172
(24) Dhaka'ir al-Uqba, by al-Muhib al-Tabari, p68
(25) Faydh al-Qadir, by al-Manawi, v6, p217
(26) Yanabi' al-Mawaddah, by al-Qudoozi al-Hanafi, p297
... And hundreds more. Please see part 3 for more classified references
(traditionists, historians, and commentators).
An explanation of the hadeeth is given assuming it is true by Al-Jazari
Abū al-'Iz Ibn Ismā'īl ibn al-Razāz al-Jazarī was a Muslim polymath: a scholar, inventor, mechanical engineer, craftsman, artist, mathematician and astronomer from Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia, who lived during the Islamic Golden Age...

 in al-Nihaayah:
"The word mawla is frequently mentioned in the Quran

That is because Allah is PATRON (MAWLA) of those who believe, and because the disbelievers have no PATRON (MAWLA). (47:11)

Also read : 22.13, 22.78, 57.15, 8.40, 10.30 WHICH MEANS MAWLA AS PATRON OR PROTECTOR

Shi'a view

Shi'a interpret it as meaning "master".

Shi'a also refer to Sura 5:55 by Shakir
Shakir may refer to:*Ahmad Muhammad Shakir, Egyptian scholar of Hadith *M. H. Shakir, a translator of the Qur'an*Zaid Shakir, a Muslim speaker*Shakir Ali, an artist and teacher...

Only Allah is your Wali and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow.

Where "Allah" is God, "His Apostle" is Muhammad and "those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow" is Ali, supporting their argument on the Hadith of giving Zakat while in Ruku`.

External links