In the Name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful
And bless be upon Muhammad and his pure Household, and may Allah's curse be on his enemies from now until the Day of Resurrection! And there is no power or strength except for the Lofty Glorious Allah.
The Wise Allah has stated in His Glorious Book:
هُنَالِكَ الْوَلَايَةُ لِلَّهِ الْحَقِّ هُوَ خَيْرٌ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ عُقْبًا 
‘… there, ‘Guardianship’ belongs to True Allah – He is the Best reward-giver and the Best in results, (Qur’an: 18/44).’
The word ‘Guardianship’ is an infinitive, or a verbal noun or some kinds of derivations that all are in the Qur’an, such as: ولي
the protector, تولّي taking for friend, والي as the governor, اولياء the saint, موالي the kinfolks and the تولِيت declaring one’s solidarity with…
Now, let’s see what the meaning of the origin is and then speak about it in the verse.
But its meaning and the formation as, the “Mesbah-al-Monir” says, is الولي like al-fals which means the nearness; an it is of two words: the first is ولِيه يِليهِ with two ‘ee’ sounds, like ‘حسِب يحسب’ and the second is of the section: ‘وعد يعِد’ such as: ووليت علي الصبِّي والمراهِ, I got authority upon the child and wife; however, it is rarely used. Its subject is والٍ and the plural form is ولاهٌ; and the child and wife are dominated مولّي عليهِ is here. The word ‘ولايت’ with the upper and lower points means the victory. And واستوفي عليهِ means he has been dominated…And it is explained in the “صِحاح اللغه” as the nearness or coming closer. It is said that: تباعد بعد ولى that is: after coming closer he went far away. And و كل مما يليك، اى مما يقاربك that is: eat what is closer to you. He goes on until says: ولي is opposite to the enemy; and from this meaning come تولّي and موالي is one who frees and gets freedom, and the cousin, helper and the neighbour; and then ولي is for bridegroom; و كل من ولى امر واحد فهو وليه which means everybody becomes responsible for the others affairs, and can deal it properly.
It goes on until explains: ‘and the word وِلايت with the lower vowel-point means King, Sultan, while وِلايت with the upper vowel-point means victory. And SIBWEIAH has said: ‘وِلايت, with upper vowel-point means infinitive, while with the lower vowel-point it becomes the ‘verbal noun’, such as: إمارت، نِقابتit becomes a noun because you have authority on it; but if they want to extract the infinitive meaning out of it, they put upper vowel-point on the letters ‘ا’ and ‘ن’.
And it is said in “Aqrab al-Mawari” that the phrase: ولاه و وليه يليه is from the section of ‘Zaraba, yazrebu and haseba and yahsebu’, but the first one is rarely used, and its infinitive is ‘ولى’ which means has come nearer, and it is said that: ‘جلست مما يليه’ that is; I sat where it was closed to him.; and also it is said: ‘الولى حصول الثانى بعد الاول من غير فصل يعنى ولى’ it means something arising immediately after another.
ولى الشىء و عليه ولاية و ولاية that is: he became the owner of that affair, and he stood against it. Although the word ‘ولايت’ in any case means Sultan and government-ship; and ‘ولى فلانا و عليه’ means he is assisted, and ‘ولى فلانا ولاية’ means that he liked him; and ‘ولى البلد’ means he overcame that city.
And ‘والى’ the nominative and it is meant as: ‘والى بلد’an over-dominating and the ruler of the town, that is, he takes the control of the town in his hand, and the plural form of it is ‘ولاة’. The word ‘ولاة’, rhyming ‘سماء’ means property, kindness, victory and nearness.
And ‘ولاءة’ with the upper vowel-point means nearness, however, with the lower vowel-point it is infinitive; and it is used for the rulers who have overtaken the towns – the plural form is ‘ولايات’.
‘وِلايات’ with the lower vowel-point means the territory, states and Sultan, and it is the names of the collective town the ruler has in his own disposal; however it is not the original word but the invented one.
But to rhyme as ‘غنى’ it means the rain that rains in the spring after another course of raining; and it means a rain which rains after the first rain of the spring. The plural form of the word is ‘اولية’ and its allies are ‘و لوى’, it also is used as the lover, friend and helper which in plural it is ‘اولياء’. And it is in “MESBAH” that: ‘ولى’ rhyming as ‘فعيل’ becomes the subject, that is, one rose against a matter. And it is similar: ‘اللهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ’, and its plural is ‘اولياء’; and ibn Fars says: ‘كل من ولى امر احد فهو وليه’ anyone who takes the responsibility to look after someone’s affairs, he is called as being the ‘ولى’ to him. And sometimes this word is used as the reliever, one who releases as ‘معتق’ with the lower vowel-point, and ‘معتق’ with the upper vowel-point; it also means: the cousin, the helper, friend and one who secures – whether they be male or female. However, sometimes their females are used with the sign of ‘هاء’ for the female, and it is said: ‘هى ولية’, which means that woman is the supervisor; and Abu Zeid says: I have heard that some of the Bani Aqil said: ‘هن وليات الله و عدوات الله و اولياؤه و اعداؤه’; and the word ‘ولى’ has been used as the object in a sentence, thus: it is said: ‘المؤمن ولى الله’.
And it is said in ‘مجمع البحرين’, ‘اولى الناس بابراهيم’ that is: ‘احقهم به و اقربهم منه، من الولى، و هو القرب’, means: his nearness to him rather that the other people to the Holiness, it is because the word ‘ولى’ here means the nearness.
And the statement of Allah, the Exalted, ‘هنالك الولاية لله’, is with the upper vowel-point and it means ‘the divinity’, that is: on that Day, everyone will be in shelter of the Guardianship of Allah, they believe in him, and they disgust whatever they have worship in this world.
And the word ‘و ولاي’ with the upper vowel-point means victory, and it is the state with the lower vowel-point, because the infinitive to it is ‘وليت’; and it is said that: both of the words mean wealth, government and state. Therefore, it is said in “Nehayah”: with the upper vowel-point it means ‘kindness’ and with the lower vowel-point it means ‘Sultan’; and it is said that the word ‘ولاء’, with the lower vowel-point is used in the same way.
The two words of ‘ولى’ and ‘والى’ are said to someone who has the control of someone in hand, and is responsible to it.
And ‘ولى’ is said to someone that the assistance and victory come by him. It is also said about someone that the affairs are looked after by him, therefore, it is said: ‘فلان ولى المراة’ the marriage of that women is in his disposal. And the term ‘ولى دم’ is said about someone who is the rightful person to demand the blood-money concerning the criminal.
And Sultan is the ‘ولى امر’ for the nation, therefore, the composite on of ‘Komeit’ about the Commander of the believers, Upon Him be Peace, is of this category:
و نعم ولى الامر بعد وليه و منتجع التقوى و نعم المقرب
The Commander of the believers, Ali bin Abī Tālib, Upon Him be Peace, has been better Sultan and the responsible for the affairs of the nation that the previous one, the messenger of Allah, and he has been a good guide and Leader in the barren land of ignorance, and he could unite the unite the nations.
And the statement of Allah, the Exalted:
. إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ 
‘… indeed your main Guardian is Allah and His Messenger, as well as those who establish prayer and give zakat, (the due welfare tax), and bow with those who bow [to worship Allah].
has been sent down because of Ali bin Abī Tālib, Upon Him be Peace, and the friends and foes unanimously agree that the revelation of the verse is about the Holiness Ali: when he had bowed down to pray, a beggar came to him and demanded for something, then, while the Holiness drew his hand out, pointed to the ring on his finger, the beggar drew out the finger for him and went by.
In his commentary, Tha‘labi has well explained the condition of revelation of this verse.
And Sheikh Abu Ali has said it within a long narrative that: The Messenger of Allah, Bless be to Him and his Descendants, was honoured to implore Allah:
اللهم اشرح لى صدرى، و يسر لى امرى، و اجعل لى وزيرا من اهلى، عليا اخى، اشدد به ظهرى
‘O. Creator! Expand my chest for me and make my affairs easy for me, and from my Household, assign Ali, who is my brother, as a Minister to me – do strengthen my back.’
Abuzar says: ‘By Allah, this supplication and speech of the Messenger of Allah had not yet finished when Gabriel, Upon Him be Peace, descended and said: “O Muhammad, recite:
إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ
And Abu Ali has said that the meaning of the verse is: ‘He, in whose hand your guidance and affairs are is Allah and the Messenger of Allah, as well as those whose attributes are that they say their prayers at the due time and as they bow down in the prayer, they pay their poor due tax (ZAKAT).’
Abu Ali said that Jarullah has said: The story has aurally been brought together – although, in this case, the cause is only a certain person – it is because the people to fulfill it willingly, and because to make the believer to become aware, it is necessary to be ready to do goodness. And after that, Abu Ali has said that I am saying, and it is also the same in the books of behavour when respecting a person the plural form of the verbs must be used; therefore, for the plural case, there is no need for Jarullah’s reasoning.
And according to this, this verse is the most manifest reason for the immediate and rightfulness of the Imamate of Ali bin Abī Tālib, Upon Him be Peace, after the Generous Messenger, Bless be to Him and his Descendants.
And thus it is related that some of the companions of the Messenger of Allah had come together in the Mosque of Medina, and some of them said to the others: ‘If we lose faith in this verse, we will surely lose faith in the other verses of the Qur’an! However, if we believe in this verse, the very verse will direct us to its sense and meaning:
و لكنا نتولى و لا نطيع عليا فيما امر، فنزلت: يعرفون نعمة الله ثم ينكرونها.
‘Therefore, we accept the Guardianship of Ali but we do not obey what he is command us to do;’ then, this verse was sent down: “They know Allah’s blessing and then they reject it.”
And this is Allah’s saying that: ‘النبى اولى بالمؤمنين من انفسهم’. It is from the Holiness Imam Bāqir, Upon Him be Peace, that this priority of the Messenger to the believers than they themselves, has been revealed for the government-ship and the statement-ship, and it means that: The Messenger of Allah is more deserving to the people than they deserve to themselves. Therefore, if the Messenger finds if necessary to get a slave or soothing of them from them and to give it to another needy one he has right to do it.
And on this base, there is a narrative saying:
النبى صلى الله عليه و آلهِ و سلم اولى بِكل مؤمِنٍ من نفسِهِ و كذا على مِن بعدهِ.
‘The Messenger more deserves than any believer deserves his soul; and so is Ali bin Abī Tālib after him.’
It is the statement of Allah, the Highest:
لم يكن له ولِىٌّ مِن الذلِّ. 
‘There is no a guardian for His hardship.’
‘ولِىٌّ’ is said to someone who stands as the deputy to look after someone’s affairs who is unable to do – like a child or an insane guardian. And according to this rule, whoever has a guardian he needs him, and as Allah is the most powerful and needless of anything so He needs no guardian –even if that guardian needs Allah’s help. In any case, Allah needs no guardian nor any partner.
And it is the statement of Allah, the Highest:
اللّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّوُرِ.
‘… Allah is the Caring Guardian of the believers, and He leads them out of darkness into light, (Qur’an: 2/257).’
The Holiness Imam Sādiq, Upon Him be Peace, said:
يعنى من ظلمات الذنوب الى نور التوبة و المغفرة لولايتهم كل امام عادل من الله.
‘Allah takes them out of the darkness of sins into the repentance and forgiveness light; it is because they accept the Guardianship of every Imam [assigned] by Allah.’
وَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أوْليَائُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُمْ مِنَ النُّورِ إلَى الظُّلُمَات
‘… and the masters of the disbelievers are the devil-natured who lead them out of Light into darkness, However, the masters of the disbelievers are the devil-natured who lead them out of Light into darkness, (Qur’an: 2/257).’
The main purpose of this verse is that that they are in the course of [of the rightful] Light of Islam, however, whenever an ungodly and tyrannical Leader takes the control, they head for the darkness of disbelief; thus, Allah has prepared the Fire for them to be burnt with the disbelievers.
And “ibn Kathir’s Hehayah” says: ‘One of the Names of Allah, the Exalted, is‘ولىّ’, meaning the Defender and the Assistant, and it is said that its meaning is: the administrator of the whole affairs and the creatures who stands for Allah.
And among the Names of Allah is ‘والى’ and it is meant the Owner of the entire being and having them changed – He has power and absolute Guardianship over them planning and acting; when the power, planning and acting are not together, the subject does not carry the term of ‘والى’. As he says:
The word ‘مولّي’ has very often been used in the narratives: it is a known which is used about great many people. The origin of the word is ‘ربّ’ that is: ‘the trainer and one who exercise power and control’, and ‘مالِك’ ‘means the owner of the property’, ‘سيِّد’is ‘the master and great man’ ‘منعِم’ ‘the affluent’, ‘معتِق’ ‘the reliever’, ‘ناصِر’ ‘assistance’, ‘محِبّ’ ‘the lover’ ‘تابِع’ ‘the follower’, ‘جار’ ‘neighbour’, ‘ابن عمّ’ ‘cousin’, ‘حليف’ ‘confederate’, ‘‘عقيد’ ‘united by oath’, ‘صهر’ ‘bridegroom’, ‘عبد’ ‘slave’, ‘معتق’ ‘a freed slave or maid’, and ‘منعمٌ عليه’ ‘the blessed one’. And many of these meanings have been used in the narratives; therefore, any of these has its own right meaning in the related narrative.
And one who becomes in charge of an affair, or is going to take the responsibility on doing that is called ‘مولّي’ and he is the master on that affair.
And sometimes, the infinitives of these nouns vary, such as the word ‘وَلَايَت’, with the upper vowel-point, in the words: نَسَبْ, نُصْرَتْ مُعْتِقْ، and وَلَايَتand with the lower vowel-point, it is ‘اِمارات’ and the word ‘مُوَالاة’ is of the ‘وَالَى الْقَوْم’. And, with this formation, there is a narrative from the Messenger of Allah that: مَنْ كُنْتُ مَوْلَاهُ فَعَلِىُّ مَوْلَاه
‘Whoever I am Master to so is this Ali his Master.’
And the term ‘مَوْلَى’, in this narrative, is related to all the words mentioned already.
Sha‘fi‘ee has said: ‘The purpose of the Messenger of Allah of this word ‘وَلآء’ is the ‘وَلآء’ of Islam; as Allah, the Exalted has stated:
ذلِكَ بِأنَّ الَلهَ مَوْلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَ أنَّ الْكافِرينَ لَا مَوْلى لَهُم.
‘And this is because Allah is Guardian of those who believe; for sure there is no guardian for the disbelievers.’
And Omar’s word to Ali bin Abī Tālib is that:
أصْبَحْتَ مَوْلى كُلِّ مُؤمِنٍ، أىْ وَلِىَّ كُلِّ مُؤمِن
‘Now, your position is that you are the Master of every believer, that is: you are the believers’ Master.’
And concerning this narrative, it is said that Osama said to Ali:
لَسْتَ مَوْلَاىَ، إنَّمَا مَوْلَاىَ رَسُولُ الله صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ و آلِه وَ سَلَّم! فَقَالَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِه وَ سَلَّم: مَنْ كُنْتُ مَوْلَاهُ فَعَلِىُّ مَوْلَاهُ.
‘You are not my Master; my Master is the Messenger of Allah, Bless be to Him and his Descendants!’ Then, the Holiness Messenger answered Osama: “Whoever I am Master to thus Ali is his Master.”
And Zamakh‘shari has quoted the very saying, that is, concerning the words: وَلْىْ, وَلآء , و وَلِىّ and .مَوْلى
And it is said in “Taj-ul-Arous” that: وَلِىّ has many meanings and some of them are ‘مُحِب’ ‘loving’, which is opposite to ‘enemy’ and the enmity. It is a noun from ‘ وَالاه’, that is: He loved him; and some of them mean as friends and some others are the helpers, such as: ‘وَالَاه’, that is: he helped him.
And in و وَلِىَ الشَّىْءَ)) and ( (عَلَيْهِ وِلَايَة وَ وَلَايَة it is either with the upper vowel-point or the lower vowel-point, or it is with the infinitive upper vowel-point; or even it is with the lower vowel-point as the noun, such as: إمَارَتْ و نِقَابَت; it is considered a noun for you have been responsible to carrying out that affair. Therefore, if they want to get the infinitive use of it, they put an upper vowel-point on it; and Siyu:ti has stipulated it.
And it has been said that the word ‘ولايَتْ’, with the lower vowel-point, means ‘خِطَّه’ and ‘إمارت’ (territory and states), and due to this rule, it is specified in ‘مُحْكَمْ’ that it is like ‘إمَارَت’; and ibn Sikkit has said: ‘وِلايَت’ with the lower vowel-point means Sultan.’
And now that we have explained the different cases about the word ‘مَوْلى’, he adds that: ‘مَوْلى’ as well as ‘وَلِىّ’ is used as: ‘الَّذِى يَلِى عَلَيْكَ أمْرَك’, which means: ‘One who takes your authority in his hand; he becomes responsible to your affairs.’ And both ‘مَوْلى’ and ‘وَلِىّ’ mean the same. And this narrative is of this class: أَيُّمَا امْرَأة نَكَحَتْ بِغَيْرٍ إذْنِ مَولَاهَا and some have related it as: ‘بِغَيرِ اذنِ وَلِيِّهَا’.
And ibn Salam has narrated Yunus saying: ‘إنَّ الْمَوْلى فِى الدِّينِ هُوَ الْوَلِى’, that is, wherever in the religious affairs ‘وَلِىّ’ is used, it means the Master, the Chief and responsible for the affair; it is because Allah, the Exalted has stated:
ذَلِكَ بأنَّ اللَهَ مَوْلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَ أنَّ الْكَافِرينَ لَا مَوْلَى لَهُم. That means: لَا وَلِىَّ لَهُم the real meaning that ‘the disbelievers have no Master upon them’ is that they have no Guardian upon them in their religious affairs. And it is on this base that the noble narrative announces:
مَنْ كُنْتُ مَوْلَاهُ فَعَلِىٌّ مَوْلَاهُ؛ أىْ مَنْ كُنْتُ وَلِيَّه
That is: ‘whoever I am Master and Guardian to, and am in authority in his religion, Ali is his Guardian and in authority in his religious affairs.’
Then he says: And one of the meanings among numerous meanings of the word ‘وَلِىَّ’ that is used for the Names of Allah, the Exalted, is ‘the Helper’, and it has been said that:
الْمُتَوَلِّى لِامُورِ الْعَالَمِ الْقَائِمُ بِهَا
That is, the custodian is responsible to look after at the whole world affairs and stand for the creatures of the world; and it is said that here the meaning of ‘وَلِىَّ’ is ‘وَالِى’, as: وَ هُو مَالِكُ الْأشْياءِ جَمِيعِهَا الْمُتَصَرِّفُ فيهَا which means, Allah is the Owner of the whole things and He can take the possession of all.
And ibn Athir has said that ‘وَلايت’ is related to the policy of the entire affairs, and over dominates everything; and when theses three-fold meanings (plan, power and the verb) are together the main meaning of the word manifests.
And the guardian of an orphan is someone who looks after the orphan and takes care of him, and the guardian of a woman is one who is responsible to consider his marriage affair with her and not let the woman, with her own opinion and desire to alter the marriage treaty; and the plural form of ‘وَلِىّ’ is ‘أوْلِيَاء’.
‘وَلِىّ’ is either the active participle, the doer, that is: one whose pray and worship to Allah is contuse, without stop or committing a sin, or his case is objective, that is he constantly receives the bounty and blessing of Allah.
As whatever we have explained so far has been explained in ‘LISAN-al-ARAB’, we are not going to repeat it any more.
Raqib Isfahani in ‘MOFRADAT’ says:
الْوَلَاءُ و التَّوالى أنْ يَحْصُلَ شَيْئانِ فَصَاعِداً حُصُولًا لَيْسَ بَيْنَهُمَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُما.
‘وَلَآء و تَوَالِى’ means that two or more things to be so set up that nothing else to be added to them.
Therefore, from the words ‘وَلَآء’ and ‘تَوَالِى’ drown the meanings of ‘the distance nearness, relation nearness, religious nearness, trustworthy and friendship nearness, victory nearness, and the belief nearness.
And the word ‘وِلَايَت’ with the lower vowel-point means victory, and ‘وِلَايَت’ with the upper vowel-point is having authority upon an affair; and it is said that ‘وِلَايَت’ and ‘وَلَايَت’ are similar to ‘دِلَالَت’ and ‘دَلَالَت’ whose fact is having authority over an affair.
And either of these ‘وَلِىّ’ and ‘مَوْلَى’ is used with the same meaning, therefore, in nominative it is ‘مَوَالِى’ and in the objective case ‘مَوَالَى’.
A believer is said to be ‘وَلِىُّ الله’, but never ‘مَوْلَى اللهِ’; it is sometimes said: ‘اللهُ تَعَالَى وَلِىُّ الْمُؤمِنينَ وَ مَوْلَاهُم’.
 Surah 18, "کهف", Verse 44.
 Surah 3, "آل عمران", Verse 68.
 Surah 18, "کهف", Verse 44.
 Surah 5, "مائده", Verse 55.
 Jarullah, "جارالله" is the nickname for Zamakhshari, the famous writer of "کشّاف".
 Surah 33, "احزاب", Verse 6.