Tuesday, July 28, 2015

DIVINE JUSTICE

Justice is the second article of the Roots of Islam in Shi’a faith. The other articles are the Unity (Tauheed), the Prophet Hood (Nubuwwat), the Imamate (Imamat), and the Day of Resurrection (Qiyamat).
In order to fully understand justice, one needs to understand injustice. Causes of injustice are; ignorance, fear, wants, and meanness. Naturally these are not applicable to Allah (s.w.t.) Moreover, Allah says in Surah Ale-Imran Ayah 108: “Allah does not wish injustice for any of His creatures” Similarly, in Surah Al-Nahl Ayah 90: “Allah commands people to maintain justice, kindness and proper relations with their relatives.”
Shi’a believes that Justice is an integral part of the Divinity. The Divine Justice means Allah does no injustice and in both of His Creational and Lawmaking Systems, acts according to what are right and fair. The reason why the principle of justice became an article of faith among the Shi’a was that a section of the Muslims denied it in a way that was totally contrary to human freedom. They believed that Divine Destiny operated direct and not through the medium of “Cause and Effect”. They believed that man did not perform good or bad things; it was Allah who accomplished it through human beings.
Here an important question arises that if a system of “cause and effect” did not exist and man have no power of choice, then why man should be recompensed for evil or good deeds done by him? Why does Allah rewards some people and sends them to Paradise and why does He punish some other one and dispatches them to Hell, when He Himself performs good and bad deeds? If the human beings have no freedom and no choice of their own, it is unjust and contrary to the indisputable Principle of Divine Justice to punish them for the deeds over which they have no control.
Most of the Shi’a and a section of the Sunni Muslims, Mu’tazilah, reject the theory of human compulsion and direct operation of Divine destiny in the world. They consider this view to be contrary to the Principle of Justice, besides advancing arguments based on reason quote from the Glorious Qur’an and the Traditions in support of their belief.
The Principle of Justice is a Divine Principle and is related to one of Attributes of Allah, it is also a human principle because it concerns human freedom and power of choice. Generally, human beings like truth and love a truthful person and dislike lies and abhors a liar. A truthful person had exercised his option of telling the truth and is appreciated by all. And a liar is disliked by all because he made a wrong choice to tell lies.
These days, a question is frequently asked about the social inequalities existing in the world. For example why some people are healthy while others are sick, some are rich and others are poor. Is this inequality contrary to the Divine Justice? Does not Divine Justice demand that all individuals should be equal in regard to wealth, health, duration of life, number of children, social position etc. and there should be no disparity between them regarding these things.
The root of this question lies in not paying attention to the way the Divine destiny operates. The questioner thinks that Divine destiny works direct and not through the medium of causes, and that health, beauty, power, position and other bounties of Allah are distributed to the people at their doorsteps by a hidden hand direct from the Divine treasures.
No bounties, material or spiritual, are distributed direct. The Divine destiny has setup a system and appointed a number of norms and laws. Whosoever wants something, he should seek through that system and according to those laws. Moreover, attention is not paid to the position of man as a responsible being who struggles to improve the conditions of his life, combats the natural factors, and strives against social evils and human tyranny.
The responsibility for this inequality does not lie with the Divine destiny. Man, who is free is himself responsible for this inequality.


Sources used: Lessons from Qur’an by Muhsin Qaraati, Man and Universe by Ayatollah Murtaza Mutahhari

Sunday, July 26, 2015

BATTLE OF UHAD

One year after the defeat at Badr, The Quraysh started their march towards Madina with 3,000 fighters under the command of Abu Sufyan. This time, they had women folks with them to encourage their men to fight and not flee. Uhad is a mountain 5 miles from Madinah. In the month of Shawwal, 3 A.H. the second decisive battle between the Muslims and the idolaters of Quraysh was fought. The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) came out with 700 to 1,000 men and after inspecting the landscape he ordered to camp so that the mount of Uhad was at their back so as to form a natural line of defense. But there was a gap in the mountain where he placed 50 archers with very clear instructions not to leave their place irrespective of who was winning.
In this battle, the elements of Islamic defense were:
                Ideal leadership of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) and his firmness,
                The members of the family of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) and their heroism,
                Muslim army of 700 companions, hearts of many of them were filled with faith and                     sacrifice,
Hostilities started from Quraysh when Talha ibn Abu Talhah, their standard bearer came out and challenged for a duel. The Lion of Allah, Imam Ali (a.s.) responded and swiftly struck his head and he died. The Quraysh replaced their standard bearers one after another and The Lion of Allah sent them to Hell one after another. (Al-Atheer and also Al-Tabari)
The wife of Abu Sufyan, Hind along with other women of Quraysh was singing which lacked spirituality or freedom or moral virtues. Rather it was promoting material comforts e.g. the words were: “We are the daughters of Tariq. We walk on costly carpets. If you face the enemy, we will sleep with you, but if you show back to the enemy and flee, we shall disengage from you.”
After the death of Quraysh standard bearer, the Muslim undertook a general offensive led by Imam Ali (a.s.), Hazrat Hamzah (a.s.), Abu Dujanah and others. The Pagans were forced to flee and the Muslims started collecting the war spoils without any resistance.
Hind had brought her Abissinian slave, Wahshi, and promised him of huge reward of gold etc. if he killed Hazrat Hamzah. He waited behind a rock and at an opportune moment threw his javelin toward Hazrat Hamzah which killed him.
The Muslim victory turned into defeat as the majority of Muslim’s attention changed from fighting for Islam in the path of Allah to the love of war booty. They ignored the orders given by the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) and forty out of fifty archers left their post to join in collecting the war booty. Khalid bin Walid, one of the commanders of Quraysh saw a weak point in the Muslim defenses and quickly attacked the Muslim army who had kept their weapons on the ground and collecting war booty. The Fleeing army under Abu Sufyan also returned and the Muslims were crushed from both sides and started fleeing. Shaytaan cried out that: “Muhammad has been killed.” The number of Muslims martyred was 70 and the Quraysh suffered 45 casualties.
Sir John Glubb wrote in the book: “The Great Arab Conquests” of 1963: “The surprise was not confined to the rank and file of the Muslim army; it was total. Some of the leading companions of the Prophet were also carried away with others before the charge of the enemy. Among the fugitives were both Abu Bakr and Umar.” “When Masaab ibn Umayr, the standard bearer of Muslims fell on the ground, Ali lifted the banner from the ground. Hence, Ali was thus as much a symbol of the destruction of idolatry and polytheism as he was the symbol of the rise and rebirth of Islam.”
Hind also extracted the liver of Hamzah (a.s.) and tried to chew it and in the history, she is known as the “liver eater”
In Surah Al-Imran Ayah 153: “Behold, you were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Apostle in your rear was calling you back, there God gave you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for the booty that had escaped you, and for the ill that had befallen you…”
Imam Ali (a.s.) was the only one who remained with the Prophet. Abu Rafi said in Al-Tabari: “The Prophet saw a group of pagans coming to him, he told Ali to charge them and Ali cleared them away. It went on many times. Jibra’il told the Messenger of God: “What a redeemer Ali is!” The Prophet replied: “He is from me and I am from him”. Jibra’il said: “I am from both of you! They heard at that time, someone saying: “There is no youth (full of manhood) but Ali, and no sword comparable to Zulfiqar.”

Sources used: A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims by Sayyid Ali Asghar Razwy, WIKIPEDIA

Battle of Uhad Shia.org, Brother of the Prophet Muhammad by M Jawad Chirri, Islamic occasions

Saturday, July 25, 2015

THE UNIQUE WITNESS OF THE NOBLE PROPHET (S.A.W.A.S.)

  Surah Ar-Ra’d Ayah 43: “And the unbelievers say, “You are not a Messenger,” say you (O’ Muhammad): Sufficient is Allah as a witness between me and you and him with who is the knowledge of the Book.”
Similarly, the same word “Sha’hid” or witness is used in Suah Hud Ayah 17: “He is the one (The Noble Prophet ) who possess authority from his Lord and from him (his people) a witness who is an Imam (leader) and a blessing recites it (Qur’an) and before it was the book of Moses.
By “the one who has the knowledge of the Book” means the one who is divinely endowed with the fullest of the inner as well as the outer meaning of the Word of Allah. People asked the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) as to who the individual was. The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) replied, “My brother Ali ibn Abi Taleb.” (Tafseer-e-Husainy, Tafsir-e-Tha’labi, Tarik-ul-Khulafa of Jalauddin Suyooti)
The Commander of the Faithful, the Unique Witness of Prophet Hood, Imam Ali (a.s.) said: “Ask me about the Glorious Qur’an, for I know when each and every verse (Ayah) of it was revealed- for whom it was received in particular and to whom it applies in general.” No doubt, the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) was fully justified in declaring “I am the City of Knowledge and Ali is its Gate.” Whenever the caliphs of the time were confronted with any problem they used to refer it to the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.)
The Glorious Qur’an itself is a Miracle of Allah which was revealed on the heart of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.). Moreover, Allah (s.w.t.) is testifying about his prophet hood saying in Surah al-Ya’sin Ayah 1 to 3: “(I swear by) Ya’sin and the (Glorious) Qur’an, the Book of wisdom that you (O Muhammad) are a Messenger.”
In the First invitation by the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) to his people in “Da’wat-e-Zul-Ashirah” in response to the Divine order in Surah al-Shu’ara’ Ayah 214: “Warn your close relatives.”, he proclaimed his Prophet hood and sought help, it was the young Imam Ali (a.s.) who was barely 12 years, who stood up and testified that he was the Messenger of Allah and that he will assist the Messenger in preaching Islam.
Surah al-Baqarah Ayah 207: “And among men there is one who sells his soul seeking the pleasure of Allah and truly, Allah is affectionate to His (such) servants.”
Surah al-Namal Ayah 39-40: “Suleiman said: “Which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission.” Jinn said: “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place.”One, who had some knowledge (of a part) of the Book, said: “I will bring it to you before even you blink your eyes!”
A person who had only part of the knowledge of the Book could that wonder, one can imagine the knowledge of the Gateway of the City of knowledge, Imam Ali (a.s.)
In Nahjul Balagha, Imam Ali (a.s.) described his intimacy with the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.): “I used to follow him (the Prophet) like a young camel following into the foot prints of its mother. Every year he used to go into seclusion to the hill of Hira’, where I saw him no one else saw him.” The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s) said about revelation: “O Ali, You can see what I could see; you can hear what I hear except that there is no prophet after me.”
At many occasions, Imam Ali (a.s.) had said: “Ask me, ask me, before you loose me! Only a man of that paramount knowledge could speak like that. In the Battle of Siffin, when the hypocrites feeling the imminent defeat raised the Glorious Qur’an on the spears (in a way desecrating it) and some of the Muslims fighting for Imam Ali (a.s.) were trapped by the trick, Imam Ali (a.s.) said that do not be mislead by these hypocrites, he was the “talking Qur’an” or “Personified” Qur’an!

Sources used:

Translation of the Glorious Qur’an by Ayatollah Agha Pooya Yazdi & Mir Ahmed Ali (English), by Ayatollah Nasir Makarem Shirazi (Urdu), by Maulana Sayyid Farman Ali (Urdu), Nahj-ul-Balagha, Who is Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) Household of gold.wordpress.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

HAJJAJ BIN YUSUF THAQAFI

Hajjaj was born in Ta’if in 40 A.H. and died in 95 A.H. Hajjaj was the worst person mankind has ever known in history. One of the kings of Umayyad dynasty; Abd al-Malik appointed him the governor of Iraq and gave him limitless powers to consolidate his unlawful rule which was usurped from Bani Hashim. These Umayyad kings except Umar ibn Abdul Aziz did not have any kindness towards the Muslim population. They brutally suppressed any opposition. They slaughtered thousands of Muslims specially the Shias of Imam Ali (a.s.) whoever peacefully opposed their rule.
The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) predicted that his community would be oppressed by Hajjaj. Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, had narrated: “I heard Allah’s Apostle say: “Allah will fill a corner of the corners of the Fire with the hypocrite of Thaqif (Hajjaj). For, he will throw stones at the Ka’ba. May Allah curse him?” (Al-Imamah wa al-Siysa. Vol.2 page 45)
Habib bin Thabit narrated that the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.) said to a man: “You will not die till you see the young man of Thaqif. On the Day of Judgment, it will be said to him: Sit down in a corner of the corners of the fire. He will rule for about twenty years. He will commit all sins to disobey Allah. If there will be only one sin, and there will be a door between him and the sin, he will break the door to commit the sin. He will kill the persons who obey him with the ones who disobey him.”
The Omayyad caliph, Umar bin Abdul Aziz said: “If every community brought its evil one, we brought Hajjaj, we would overcome it.” (Nihayat al-Irab, vol.21 page 334)
Za’dha’n said: “Hajjaj was empty of his religion.” (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol.2 page 311)
Ta’wu’s said: “I wonder at him who calls Hajjaj a believer.” (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib vol.2 page 311)
Hajjaj was distinguished by all abominable qualities and evil inclinations. For, his soul was full of evil and malice towards people. He knew neither kindness nor good. When proceeding for Hajj, he appointed a person Ahmad and introduced to the people saying: “I have appointed Ahmad over you. I have ordered him to treat you contrary to the Allah’s Apostle. He (Allah’s Apostle) ordered (his deputy) to accept from their good ones and to forgive their evil ones. As for me, I have ordered him not to accept from your good ones and not to forgive your evil ones! (Muruj al-Dhahab vol.3 page 86)
Among the most prominent qualities of this tyrannical person was bloodshed. Al-Dimyari said: “Hajjaj was impatient towards bloodshed. He told the people that the best of his pleasures was bloodshed.” (Al-Dimyari, Hayat al-Haywan vol.1 page 86). He killed one hundred twenty thousand parsons. (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib vol.2 page 211)
He disdained the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) and preferred Abdul Malik ibn Marwan to the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.)
(Al-Maqrizi, al-Niza’, wa al-Taqasum page 27)
He punished and mocked the people who visited grave of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) (Ibn Abil Hadid Sharah Nahjul Balagha vol.15 page 242)
The best way to approach Hajjaj was to slander the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.). He mercilessly killed the Shias, imprisoned and tortured them in such prisons which had no roof.
Abdullah ibn Zubair sought refuge in the Sacred House of Allah-Ka’ba. Hajjaj sent a huge army to besiege Ka’ba for six months and seventeen nights and ordered to attack the Sacred House of Allah with catapult (Ibn Asakir, Tahdhib vol. 4 page 50). His predecessor; Yazid ibn Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan, had also desecrated the House of Allah. He is also responsible for the martyrdom of the Companion of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.), Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari.

Allah destroyed this wicked criminal. Canker attacked his stomach. Allah empowered bitter cold over him. He was surrounded by fire but he did not feel the fire. He had attacks of pain frequently. He complained about his pain to Hasan al-Basri, who told him: “I had prevented you from torturing the righteous but you did not listen to me.” Hajjaj told him: “O Hasan, I do not ask you to ask Allah to relieve me, rather, I ask you to ask Him to make me die and not to prolong my torture.” This criminal person suffered from the agony of death till he perished.

Sources used:

WIKIPEDIA, Imamreza.net

Monday, July 20, 2015

THE MAN (A.S.) WHO SOLD HIS SELF (SOUL) TO ALLAH (S.W.T.)

We are referring to the two Ayah of the Glorious Qur’an which refers to the deal of “Buying and Selling” of souls. The buyer is the Omnipotent Allah (s.w.t.) and the sellers are the true mominin who fight for the cause of Allah (s.w.t.) to destroy His enemies and to sacrifice themselves.
Surah al-Tawbah Ayah 111: “”Allah has purchased the souls and property of the believers in exchange for Paradise. They fight for the cause of Allah to destroy His enemies and to sacrifice themselves. This is true promise which He has revealed in the Torah (Taurait), the Gospel (Injeel), and the Qur’an. No one is more true to His promise than Allah. Let this bargain be glad news for them. This is indeed the supreme triumph.”
Surah al-Baqarah Ayah 207: “And among men there is one who sells his self (soul) seeking the pleasure of Allah (s.w.t.) and verily, Allah (s.w.t.) is affectionate to His (faithful) servants.”
The Surah al-Tawbah Ayah 111 refers to all believers who possess those qualities, but the Commander of the Faithful, the hero of all the battles fought during the apparent life of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.) is the prominent addressee of the Ayah. But the Ayah 207 of Surah al-Baqarah refers exclusively to the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.), as all the Shia and Sunni commentators including Tha’labi, Ghazali, Ibn Abil Hadid Mu’tazili, Ibn Abbas and the author of Ahyaul Uloom, are unanimous in saying that Imam Ali (a.s.) was the one in whose praise this Ayah was revealed.
The back ground of the revelation of the Ayah is that when the Polytheists of Makkah out of frustration decided to martyr the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) in his bed at home. They prepared a plan to martyr the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) by joining hands with all the tribes of Polytheists so that no one tribe would be blamed and face the retaliation from Bani Hashim to which the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) belonged. It was night time when the gang of this chosen murderers had surrounded the house of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) and Allah commanded him to leave Ali (a.s.) in his bed and immediately leave Makkah for Madinah. The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) could not leave the house leaving his bed vacant as the enemies were watching from outside frequently. Since one must necessarily lie down in the bed covering him with the same mantle-cloth which the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) used, under the circumstances lying in the bed of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) was nothing but courting death. The one who would agree to offer himself instead of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) must essentially have:
                The safety of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) preferred to his own safety.
                Implicit faith in the duty of man to earn the pleasure of Allah (s.w.t.) and His Noble                     Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) at any cost even at the cost of his own life.
                The courage of surrendering himself willingly with the utmost peace of mind and                         sleep under the swords.
                The confidence and faith in Allah (s.w.t.)’s protection.
                Resemble to the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.)
The mother of believers, Hazrat A’isha had said that when the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) would sleep, a light used to emit from his face beyond the mantle. Hence when Imam Ali (a.s.) slept in the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.)’s bed, the light must have been emitting from the mantle as the murderers continued to watch the bed the whole night presuming the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) was sleeping! Allah (s.w.t.) addressed the Angels Jibr’il and Mika’il and said: “I have formed brotherhood between you and enhanced the age of you. Which one of you will sacrifice his life for the other?” When they did not respond, Allah told them that Ali (a.s.) has sacrificed his life is was sleeping in his cousin (The Noble Prophets.a.w.a.s)’s bed asked them to go on the earth and protect Imam Ali (a.s.).
So in a nut shell, Imam Ali (a.s.) is the seller of his soul, and the buyer is Allah (s.w.t.), the merchandise is the soul of Imam Ali (a.s.), and the price is Allah’s pleasure and Paradise!

Sources used:
Translation of the Glorious Qur’an (Urdu)                        by Maulana Farman Ali
Translation of the Glorious Qur’an (English)                    by Ayatollah Agha Pooya & Mir Ahmed Ali

Translation of the Glorious Qur’an (Urdu)                        by Ayatollah Nasir Makrem Shirazi

THE BATTLE OF BADR

Battle of Badr is one of the greatest and most famous battles of Islam. It proved to be the turning point in Islam’s struggle against the oppressive forces specially the Quraish of Makkah.  Their hostilities increased after the emigration of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) to Madinah. They started raids to the outskirts of Madinah destroying the properties of Muslims and carry away their cattle heads. They also confiscated the houses and businesses of Muslims of Makkah who emigrated to Madinah.
Reports were received by the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) that a trade caravan from Makkah led by Abu Sufyan in which every tribe had invested their wealth estimated about 50,000 dinars of merchandise, was heading towards Syria. Let us remember that Abu Sufyan was the grandfather of Yazid. The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) sought advice from the companions. Some of the senior companions advised him not to proceed with the adventure but Miqdad said: “Unlike the Bani Isra’il’s behavior with Prophet Musa (a.s.), we fully support you and will fight with you.” The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) was pleased with his comments, and left Madinah with 313 Muslims in the Ramazaan of 2 A.H. to confiscate the property of Quraish. Among the 313 Mujahedin there were only 2 horses and 70 camels.
Abu Sufiyan after hearing about the movements of the Muslim army changed the route to avoid their intervention and also informed Abu Jahal to come to their help. When he was out of danger, he informed Abu Jahal to return to Makkah, but Abu Jahal continued to march towards Madinah and encamped at the well of Badr, about 80 miles from Madinah. On the morning of 17 Ramazaan, the Quraish descended from the sandy mound. When the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) saw them, he raised his face towards the sky and said: “O Allah, the Quraish are up, with pride and arrogance, to fight against You and deny Your Prophet! Send the aid which You have promised me and destroy them today.”
The enemy had a force of 1,000 foot soldiers, 100 horses and 700 camels. From the enemy camp three fully armed famous warriors viz.  Utba, Shayba, and Walid came out and challenged the Muslims. When three Muslims were sent to face them, they refused to fight them and asked for their “equals”. The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) sent Ubayda, Hazrat Hamza, and Imam Ali (a.s.). Imam Ali (a.s.) killed Walid, and Hazrat Hamza killed Utbah in a moment and went to help Ubayda to kill his adversary. As their generals were killed, a general attack started. The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.), being the Supreme Commander, ordered to use archery to resist their advance. Imam Ali (a.s.) described the character of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) as: “Every time when fighting became intense, we took refuge with Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.s.). None of us was nearer to the enemy than he.” The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) returned to the seat of command and prayed to Allah as: “O Allah! If this group is annihilated today, none else will worship You on the face of the earth.” Then the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) picked up some dust and throwing towards the Quraish said: “May your faces be metamorphosed.” Thereafter he gave the order for general attack.
Surah al-Imran Ayah 123-124: “Allah had helped you at Badr, when you were a contemptible little force. Then fear Allah in order to show your gratitude. When you did say to the believers: Does it not suffice you that your Creator should help you with three thousands angels sent down.” The signs of the victory began to appear soon. The enemies were stricken with terror and began to flee. The Muslims, who were fighting with the help of their faith, and knew that both killing and being killed were blessings of Allah, were perfectly undaunted and nothing stopped their advance.
War casualties were: Muslims 14 martyrs while enemy lost 72 men out of which Imam Ali (a.s.) killed 36 infidels. The Muslims captured 70 infidels. Among the dead were, Abu Jahal and Umayyah bin Khalaf. The Muslims won the battle and laid the foundation of the Islamic state.
Sources used: Shias.org, Duas.org, Al-Islam.org, WIKIPEDIA, Islamicoccasions, Ziaraat.com


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

THE GUARDIAN WHO PAID ALMS IN SALAAT WHILE BOWING DOWN

Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 55 says: “Verily, your guardian is (none else but) Allah, His Messenger and the true believers, who establish prayers and pay alms, while they bow down during the prayer, are your guardians.”
The famous Muslim narrator, Ibn Abbas narrates in Tafsir Majma-ul-Bayan quoting the companion Abu Zar Ghifari (r.a.) as: “One day I was praying with the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) in the Masjid-e-Nabavi when a needy entered the mosque and asked for charity but no one gave anything. The needy raised his hands and said: “O Allah, be witness that I asked for help in your Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.)’s mosque but nobody even replied to me. The Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.) was praying and was bowing (ruku) extended his right hand towards the needy. The needy came near and pulled away a ring from his right finger. The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) witnessed this and after completing his prayers raised his head towards sky and said: “O Allah! My brother Musa requested You to appoint Harun, his brother, as vicegerent, to help and strengthen his prophetic mission. O Allah! I, Muhammad, Your Messenger also request You to appoint Ali from my family, as vicegerent, to strengthen my back in the pursuit of my prophetic mission.
The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) had barely finished his request to Allah, when the Arch-Angel Jibra’il descended with the above-mention Ayah.
This Tradition had been narrated by more than 30 Sunni Traditionalists including Suyuti, Sibt ibn Jauzi, Razi, Tibri, Qazi Shukani, Shiblanji, Wahidi, Ibn Hajar Asqalani,Ibn Marduya, Nisa’I, Six Sahih Books of Hadis, and Kunz-ul-Amal.
Moreover, Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari, Ammar ibn Yasir, Abdullah ibn Salam, Salma ibn Kuhail, Anas ibn Malik, Atba ibn HakimAbdullah ibn Ghalib, and Ibn Abbas had also reported it.
The Ayah starts with the word “Innama” accentuates the meaning of the Ayah as final and fixed. It describes the decision of Allah is final about the fact that the Guardian of the believers  should be Allah, His Messenger (Muhammad) and the believers who give away charity while praying. The construction of the sentence and the word ‘Vali’ being kept in singular for all the three persons means that the  ‘Vilayat’ or the guardianship of all the three is essentially one in nature as well as in effect and there is not the least difference between them. Hence, the obedience to the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) must be, as it should be to Allah and the obedience to the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.).
The condition required for a person to hold the authority and the guardianship over the believers next only to Allah and His Messenger, is the highest state of spiritual attainment which makes the person able to, at one and the same time, be fully absorbed in witnessing the Glory of Allah and meanwhile, be alive to the needs of His creatures and respond to it.
As for the other meanings of the word ‘Vali’ as helper or friend, the meaning helper cannot be attributed to this Ayah as it is well known that Muslims are each other’s brothers and they should help each other as stated in the following Ayah: Surah al-Anfal Ayah 72: “…..If they ask you for help in a religious cause, you must help them…..”
Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 2: “….Help one another in righteousness and piety….”
Surah al-Hujara’at Ayah 10: “Truly, the believers are each other’s brothers…”
As for the use of plural tense in the Ayah, it is not unusual as in many cases the plural tense was used but in reality only a singular person was accommodated in such Ayahs. In Ayah of Mubahela, Surah al-Imran Ayah 61: “If any one disputes after knowledge has come to you, say, “Let each one of us bring our sons, women, selves and you bring your sons, women and selves and invoke the curse of Allah on the liars.” In this Ayah the word “Nisa” or “Women” was used  which is a plural but only the “Chief of the Women of the World” the Infallible Sayyida Fatima Zahra (s.a.) was taken by the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.). Similaly, the word “Anfusana”is used in the Ayah, plural of Nafs, meaning our selves but only the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.) was taken by the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) 
Imam Ali (a.s.) had earned lot of wealth but distributed immediately among the deserving. It is also reported that Imam Ali (a.s.) had paid for the release of 1,000 slaves in his life time. Moreover, he had received lot of war booty which also he distributed to the deserving. He might have paid alms on it.
Sources used:
Translation of the Glorious Qur’an (Urdu)             by Ayatollah Nasir Makaram Shirazi
Translation of the Glorious Qur’an (English)         by Ayatollah Agha Pooya Yazdi & Mir Ahmad Ali

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