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Ulu l-arḥām verse (Arabic: آیه اُولو الأرحام) refers to verse six of Sura al-Ahzab (Qur'an 33) and verse seventy five of Sura al-Anfal (Qur'an 8). These verses refer to Muslims inheriting from their true relatives.

Some believe that before the revelation of Ulu l-arham verse, Muslims who entered brotherhood covenant with each other inherited from each other based on a temporary ruling given by the Prophet (s). But, after the revelation of this verse, that ruling was abrogated and the inheritance of Muslims from each other was limited to their true relatives.

According to some hadiths, inheritance in this verse is interpreted as wilaya and government as it is transmitted from Imam al-Baqir (a) that here inheritance refers to the wilaya of the progeny of Imam al-Husayn (a).

Another part of this verse is about the Prophet (s) having more authority over believers than their own selves and also introducing his wives as the mothers of believers.


Text of the Verse

Occasion of Revelation

According to a group of exegetes, after the immigration of the Muslims from Mecca to Medina, their relations with their relatives were completely broken. Therefore, by the order of God, the Prophet (s) established the issue of brotherhood covenant among the Immigrants and the Helpers. One of the rules of this brotherhood covenant was inheritance of these new brothers from each other. According to the opinion of most Shi'a scholars, this ruling was observed temporarily due to lack of the expansion of Islam and the low number of Muslims; and after the increase of the number of Muslims, it was abrogated and Ulu l-arham verse was revealed to replace it. According to Ulu l-arham verse, Muslims only inherit from their true relatives.

Content of the Verse

The verse six of Qur'an 33 and also verse seventy five of Qur'an 8 are known as Ulu l-arham verse. In this verse, three issues are mentioned: the issue of inheritance, the Prophet (s) having more authority over believers than their own selves and the wives of the Prophet (s) being as mothers to the believers. Exegetes believe that although the Prophet (s) had more authority over believers than their own selves and his wives were as mothers to the believers, Muslims never inherited from them. Accordingly, definitely brothers who became brother through brotherhood covenant would not inherit from each other either.

First Topic: Inheritance

The main topic of this verse is about the inheritance of Muslims from their true relatives. It clearly states that Muslims who entered brotherhood covenants do not inherit from each other. However, Muslims can help people other than their relatives through the will they make.

Based on some hadiths, inheritance here meant wilaya and vicegerency; as it is transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq (a) about the interpretation of Ulu l-arham verse, "this verse is about government and wilaya." Imam al-Baqir (a) considered this verse about wilaya of the progeny of Imam al-Husayn (a). Some exegetes believe that these hadiths refer to the concept of inheritance which includes both property and concepts other than that, such as wilaya and vicegerency.

Second Topic: Authority of the Prophet (s) over Believers

According to al-Tabrisi, upon the battle of Tabuk, the Prophet (s) ordered all Muslims to move for jihad; but, some of them considered it requiring their parents' permission; therefore, this part of Ulu l-arham verse (the Prophet has more authority over the faithful than their own souls) was revealed which suggested the authority of the Prophet (s) above and over the believers' parents and even their own selves. Al-Suyuti believed that the phrase "and he is father to them" existed after "than their own souls" in the verse which was omitted.

Allama Tabataba'i believed that the greater authority of the Prophet (s) means that he (s) had the authority over Muslims in this world and in the hereafter and obeying him is obligatory. Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi believes that since the Prophet (s) was chosen by God and spoke as His vicegerent, is more merciful than a father to people.

Third Topic: The Honor of the Wives of the Prophet (s)

Exegetes believe that the wives of the Prophet (s) are the same as mothers of Muslims in respect and honor; but, marrying their daughters is permissible. Also, other rulings such as inheritance, being mahram to them, their sister or their daughter are not applicable to Muslims and the wives of the Prophet (s).