We should know that there is a difference of opinion among the religious scholars whether the appointment of an Imam is essential or not after the passing of the period of Prophethood. If it is obligatory, on whom: on Allah or on the community? Anyhow, its being essential is a demand of reason, that is, does mind call for his essentiality or the essentiality is based on the heard arguments?
All the Shia scholars are unanimous that it is essential for Allah both from the viewpoint of reason and the divine texts that He should appoint the Imam. Some Mutazilite Ahle Sunnah and all Khawarij believe that it is not at all necessary for either Allah or the people to appoint an Imam. While the Ashairah, Ahle Hadith, Ahle Sunnah and some Mutazilites say that people must appoint an Imam as a demand of textual proof and not of intelligence. A group of the Mutazilites is of the opinion that it is necessary for the people to appoint an Imam in the time of peace to save them in the time of turmoil; that if there is a danger of mischief then it is not necessary and some opine contrary to this also.
In the Arab lexicon, Imam means a leader and commander, and in the terminology of the Najiyah Imamiyah group (Shias) mostly Imam means the one who leads the group prayer and according to Scholastic theology (Ilme Kalam) Imam means a man who has been appointed by Allah for the deputyship of the messenger and sometimes this word applies to the prophet too and it will, Insha Allah be known hereafter in the following pages that, according to some reliable traditions the rank of an Imam is higher than that of a messenger as Allah has, after (granting him Prophethood) said to Ibrahim (a.s.):
قَالَ إِنِّي جَاعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا.
“I will make you an Imam of men." (Sura Baqara 2:124)
Some researchers have said that Imam is the one who may be a ruler in the worldly and religious affairs, from Allah through a man like a messenger, but the messenger is one who, without the mediation of man, (directly) quotes Allah’s commandments and that Imam quotes through a man who is a messenger.1
Relevant verses are as follows:
Allah Almighty says:
إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ مُنذِرٌ وَلِكُلِّ قَوْمٍ هَادٍ.
You are only a warner (Munzir) and (there is) a guide (Haad) for every people... (Sura Ra’d 13:7)
Some commentators have said: It means: (O prophet!) You are a warner for every people from the divine punishment and are a guide. In this case ‘Guide’ is connected to ‘Warner’ and some commentators have said that it means that you are a warner for the apostates and the transgressors and for every community there is a guide. In this case one phrase will refer to another one, which proves that no period of time remains without an Imam. According to this explanation there are many traditions among both the Ahle Sunnat and Shias. Hence the Ahle Sunnat have narrated from Ibne Abbas that when this verse was revealed the Holy Prophet (S) said:
I am the warner and Ali is the guide. O Ali, the pathfinders will find the path (will be guided) through you.
Abul Qasim Haskani has, in book Shawahidut Tanzil quoted Abi Buraida Aslami that the Holy Prophet (S) called for water to make ablution. Ali (a.s.) presented it. When the Holy Prophet (S) concluded the ablution he caught the hand of Ali (a.s.) and, placing it on his own chest, said: “I am the warner,” Then placed his own hand on the chest of Ali (a.s.) and said: “After me you are the guide for all the people,” and added, “you will provide light to people, you are the sign of guidance and the king of the reciters of Quran and I give witness that you are so.”
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) is quoted in Basairud Darajat through authentic narrations that the Prophet of Allah is ‘Munzir’ (warner) and that, after him, there is a guide from us for every period that guides the people to those things, which the Prophet (S) has brought from Allah. After the Holy Prophet (S) the first ‘Hadi’ is Ali (a.s.) and after him, the holy Imams will, one after another, be guiding people until Qiyamat.
It is authentically quoted from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that, explaining this very verse, he said that every Imam is a guide for his people among whom he lives.
It is narrated authentically through Imam Baqir (a.s.) that the Holy Prophet (S) is ‘Munzir’ and Ali is ‘Hadi’ and, by Allah, not a guide from us is ever suspended, rather he will always be from us till Qiyamat.
It is authentically reported from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that, explaining this very verse, he said: The Prophet of Allah is Munzir and Ali (a.s.) is Hadi. Then he asked the narrator: Is there any Hadi today among us? That narrator replied: Why not, may I be sacrificed for you, the Hadi is coming one by one from among you until that (rank) reached you. Imam (a.s.) said: May Allah’s mercy be on you. Had it been so that after the revelation of this verse to someone that person died and, after him, there would not have been anyone to know the meaning of this verse and to make this command applicable to the people, verily the Book of Allah would have become dead, that is, meaningless and its command would have been suspended.
But the Book of Allah is alive till Qiyamat, that is, the Divine Command, through the agreement of the Ummah, is to exist till Qiyamat and the duty imposed by Allah is never lifted up from or cancelled for the people and if there is no such conveyer of Divine commands who is sinless (never erring) and if anyone else explains the Divine command to the people the Book of Allah will be rendered fruitless and if duty remains it will entail ignorance and it is injustice and Allah never commits injustice. This is one of the clear arguments, which makes it essential that Allah has to appoint an Imam.
Ibne Babawayh has, in his book, Akmaluddeen, authentically quoting Imam Baqir (a.s.) while explaining the verse (13:7) writes that it means Imams who are the guides of people in their times in which they live. Ali bin Ibrahim has also authentically quoted him saying that Munzir is the Prophet of Allah and Hadi is Amirul Momineen, thereafter the holy Imams, that is, in every age there is an Imam who guides people towards Allah’s path and tells them what is permissible and what is prohibited.
The Lord of the worlds says:
وَلَقَدْ وَصَّلْنَا لَهُمْ الْقَوْلَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ.
And certainly We have made the word to reach them so that they may be mindful… (Sura Qasas 28:51)
That is We joined for them one verse after another and one story after another and the promise with the warning and the admonishments through stories which may provide lessons to them so that they may obtain advice. In this connection many narrations are recorded from the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) to explain that it means the appointment of one Imam after another as Ali Ibne Ibrahim has mentioned in his commentary and by Shaykh Tusi in Majalis with authentic chains. He has said that, explaining this verse; Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said that it means that We appointed one Imam after another.
There are some probabilities in this explanation. First: it might mean that We, by appointing one Imam after another, applied the word, that is, statement of Truth and the propagation of the truthful commands and codes, to the people. Second: By the consecutive appointment of the Imams We made the word, that is, the statement of Truth and the propagation of the truthful commands and the clear code for the people. Third: this may be a hint towards the verse wherein Almighty Allah, at the time of determining to create Adam (a.s.), said to the angels:
إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً.
I am going to place in the earth a khalif. (Sura Baqara 2:30)
That is, this promise of making a caliph in the earth is not exclusively for the time of Adam (a.s.), rather it will continue till Qiyamat and that there will be no period without an Imam therein. But the first reason is clearer and, anyhow, perhaps this may be the explanation of the inner meaning of this verse which, however, is not against the apparent meaning as mentioned by commentators, Allah knows better.
In Basairud Darajat, there is a narration from Imam Baqir (a.s.) in the explanation of the Almighty’s verse:
وَمِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ.
And of those whom We have created are the people who guide with the Truth and thereby do justice. (Sura Araf 7:181)
Its apparent translation is: In the group created by Us there is a batch who guide people with Truth and issue command to them with justice, Imam (a.s.) said that this batch means the truthful Imams. The explanation of this verse, Allah willing, will be given afterwards. According to traditions in this regard, Ibne Babawayh has in his books Majalis and Kamaluddeen, quoted Imam Zainul Aabedeen saying:
We are the leaders of the Muslims and the evidences of Allah for the worlds and we are the Sadat (leaders) and the Mominoon (believers) and the bright faces of Paradise and the chiefs of those having white hands and feet, whose faces and hands and feet will be shining owing to the radiance of Wuzoo (ablution for prayers) that is of the Shias and that the Masters and Chiefs of the Muslims are we and we are the means of protection of the residents of the earth from divine chastisement just as the stars are shelters for the residents of the sky.
It means so long as we are on the earth Qiyamat will not occur and punishment will not rain on people and so long as the stars are in the sky the angels need not fear the occurrence of Qiyamat. Our being lifted up is a sign of the suspension of the earthly arrangement and the death of the people on earth just as the wiping off of the stars in the sky is a sign indicating the upheaval in the skies and of the displacement of angels from their stations.
The Hazrat said again that: We are the shelter: Because of our blessing Allah protects the skies from falling on earth. But at the time of Qiyamat, by His command alone, the skies will also be destroyed. Allah keeps the earth safe because of our blessing from its tumbling and falling along with its residents. And Allah sends rain with our blessings and expands His vast Mercy and Allah shows the bounties of earth due to us and if none of us is there on earth the earth undoubtedly will go underground along with its residents.
In short the earth is never without the evidence of Allah ever since He created Adam (a.s.). Be that argument of proof (Hujjat) apparent and known or hidden and unknown, the earth will not remain without an Imam till Qiyamat. If there is no Hujjat in the earth there will be no worship of Allah because people learn the way of worship only from him and only he orders people to worship Allah. The narrator asked how do people benefit from Hujjat who are hidden from them? He replied: Just as people benefit from the sun even when it is hidden behind clouds.2
Kulaini and Ibne Babawayh etc. have with reliable chains of narrators narrated that Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) once asked Hisham bin Salim, who was one of the scholars of his companions: What questions did you put up before Amr bin Ubaid Basri, a Sunni Sufi scholar? Hisham said: May I be sacrificed for you, O son of the Holy Prophet (S)! I feel ashamed in narrating them to your honour and my tongue has no strength to describe the same to you. The Hazrat said: When I am giving you a command, you should comply with it. Hisham said: Very well. When I knew about the claim of Amr’s “grace” and his sitting in the mosque of Basrah and of his talking nonsense in the matter of religion, it pained me much.
So I went there to Basra on a Friday and attended the mosque where he was sitting in the midst of a very big circle of people. He had wrapped a black cloth on his waist and had also covered himself with a black sheet and people were asking him questions. So I also advanced towards him and sat on by knees in the last row.
Then I said: O scholar! I am an outsider and want to ask you a question if you permit. He said: You may ask. So I asked him: Do you have eyes? He retorted: O boy! What a question is this? I said: My question is only like that. He replied: All right, then ask, though it is foolish to ask such things. I repeated: Have you eyes? He said: Yes. I asked: What do you do with them? He said: through them I see colors and the faces of people. Then I asked: Do you have a nose? He replied: Yes. I asked: What do you do with it? He replied: I smell fragrances.
I asked: Do you also have a mouth. He said: Yes. I asked: What do you do with it? He said: I get tastes of things. I asked: Do you have a tongue too? He said: Yes. I asked: What do you do with it? He said: I talk with it. I asked: Do you have ears? He said: Yes. I asked: What you do with them? He said: I hear things. I asked: Do you also have hands? He said: Yes. I asked: What do you do with them? He replied: I hold things with them.
I asked: Do you also have a heart? He said: Yes. I asked: Of what use is it to you? He replied: I remove with its help if there is anything doubtful to my other organs. I asked: Are your organs not sufficient as you refer matters to your heart? He replied: No.I asked: Why? Why are they not needless of the heart when all of them are hale and healthy? He said: O boy! Whenever these limbs fall in any doubt about anything touched or seen or smelled or heard they refer it to the heart and it decides the matter, removes the doubt and creates certainty. I asked: Then Allah has placed the heart in human body so that it may remove the doubts faced by the limbs and organs. He said: Yes. Then I asked: If it is so, then heart must always be in the body and if it is not there then the knowledge of the organs is not firm and reliable. He said: Of course.
Then I said: O Abu Marwan! Do you believe that the Lord of the universe Who has not left your bodily organs without a leader or chief for the pronouncement of truth, and the removal of doubts, but He has left the entire creation in doubts, differences and bewilderments and did not appoint any leader for them so that they may turn to him and so that he (Imam) may keep them on the right path and may remove their doubts and bewilderment? When I said this he kept quiet and did not give any reply. Then turning towards me, he asked: Are you not Hisham? I said: No. He asked: Did you live with him? I said: No. Then he asked: Where are you from? I said: From Kufa. Then he said: Then you are definitely Hisham.
He got up from his place, lifted me up and placed me in his place and did not utter a word until I sat there. When I concluded the narration of this event, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) became very pleased and asked: O Hisham! From where did you get this argument? I replied: O son of the Holy Prophet (S)! it came to my tongue like that. In another version it is written that Hisham said: I obtained these things from your honour and then joined them approximately with one another. Hazrat said: By Allah! This subject is written in the scrolls of Ibrahim and Moosa (a.s.).3
Kulaini and Shaykh Tabarsi have narrated from Yunus bin Yaqoob that once a Syrian came to Imam Sadiq (a.s.) and said: I am expert in the religious knowledge of Ilme Kalam (Scholastic theology) and Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and Duties and Inheritance and so I desire to have a dialogue with your companions. The Hazrat asked him: Is your knowledge derived from the words of the Holy Prophet (S) or it is what your heart says. He replied: Some things are taken from the words of the Holy Prophet (S) and some are what my heart believes.
The Hazrat then asked: Then are you a partner of the Holy Prophet (S)? He said: Of course not. The Hazrat said: Have you yourself heard the revelation of Allah whereby He has conveyed to you His Commands directly? He said: No. Then the Hazrat asked: Then is obedience to you as compulsory as it is to obey the messenger of Allah. He said: No, please. Yunus says: Then Imam Sadiq (a.s.) turned towards me and said: O Yunus! This gentleman has, before starting his dialogue nullified his talk because, a man on whom Allah’s revelation does not come and whom Allah has not made commander whose commands must be obeyed by the Faithful his talk in the matter of religion will be void, rather, he will be claiming to be a partner of Allah. At that very moment Hisham bin Hakam, who was a very wise and well-informed youth among the Hazrat’s companions, arrived. The Hazrat welcomed him and made him sit in his own place and said: You are our helper through your tongue and pen.
Thereafter when the companions of the Hazrat talked with the Syrian and could not succeed, the Hazrat said to the Syrian: Have a dialogue with this youth. The Syrian then said to Hisham: Talk with me about this man (Imam Sadiq). Hisham became furious hearing such disrespectful words of the Syrian and said: O man! Is Allah more merciful to people or to Himself? He replied: Allah is more merciful. Hisham asked: What did He do to His servants by way of His Mercy? The Syrian replied: He created a Hujjat (argument/proof) and a guide for them so that they may not be disintegrated and no difference may arise between them, and the Hujjat and Guide may keep them disciplined and may inform them about Allah’s Commands, and our duty towards Allah.
Hisham asked: Who is that person (Hujjat or Guide)? The Syrian said: He is the Messenger of Allah. Hisham asked: After the Prophet? The Syrian said: Kitab (Holy Quran) and Sunnah (Prophet’s traditions). Hisham asked: Has Kitab and Sunnah given us any profit in the matter of removing our differences. He said: Yes. Hisham said: Then why even now there is a difference between you and we. It is due to this difference that you have come all the way from Syria unto here to have a dialogue. The Syrian kept quiet, as he could not give any reply.
Hazrat asked him as to why he did not reply? He said: If I say that we have no differences then I will be lying and if I say that the Book and the Traditions will remove the differences, if referred to them, then also it will be wrong because there can be doubts in the minds of both regarding several matters and each one can follow his own opinion. If I say that we do have differences but both of us are on the right then the Kitab and Sunnah have not benefited us at all. But what I can do is that I may return these things to him. Hazrat said: Do it so that you may hear its reply also.
The Syrian said: Is Allah more merciful to people or people are more merciful to themselves then Allah? Hisham said: Allah is more Merciful. The Syrian asked: Has He created someone who may remove difference from people and reform their affairs and make truth and falsehood manifest for them?
Hisham asked: Are you inquiring about the time of the Holy Prophet (S) or regarding today? The Syrian said: In those days, the Holy Prophet (S) was available himself. Tell me who is in that position today? Hisham said: This honourable person (Imam Sadiq a.s.) who is sitting here, and to whom people come from far off places. He gives us news about heaven because of the inheritance, which he has inherited, from his father and forefathers. The Syrian asked: How can I understand this? Hisham said: Ask him whatever you may. The Syrian said: You made me silent. Now I must ask only him.
Hazrat said: May I tell you how was your journey? What happened to you en route? Then the Hazrat told him all that he had passed through during his journey. The Syrian said: You have said the truth. Now I have believed in you and become a Muslim. Hazrat said: Rather you have followed now. Before this when you were reciting the Kalimaate Shahaadatain (attestation of beliefs) you were merely Muslim but Islam (submission) comes always before Imaan (Faith).
Commands regarding inheritance, marriage, etc are based on it and the reward of Hereafter is the result of Imaan. Until they do not have faith in the Imamate of the holy Imams people are not eligible for Paradise. The Syrian said: You have said the truth. Now I attest to the oneness of Allah and the Messengership of the holy Prophet and give witness that you are one of his legatees.
Kulaini, Babawayh and Kishi have, from authentic chains narrated from Mansoor bin Hazim that he said: I said to Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that Allah Almighty is above (the position) than we may recognize Him due to the creation, rather we must recognize or know the creation because of Allah.4 The Hazrat said: You have said the truth. I said: A man who knows that he has a Lord should also know that the Lord also has anger and pleasure, that is, some deeds make Him angry and some make Him happy. Then it must also be understood that His pleasure or unhappiness can be known only through Revelation or a messenger. So the one who does not get Revelation should seek prophets and when he meets them he must accept them as the arguments of Allah along with the miracles and signs given to them by Allah and that it is a must to obey them.
Mansoor says: I told the Ahle Sunnat: Was the Holy Prophet (S) a Hujjat (proof) of Allah for the people? They said: Yes. Thereafter I asked: After his departure who was the Hujjat? They said the Holy Quran. Then I noticed that the fatalists and atheists who do not believe in the Holy Quran also argue with people through this Quran and win. So I understood that Quran cannot be the Hujjat of Allah but it must be through a man who is able to explain the Quranic verses and who is fully aware of their meanings and who can explain it thoroughly.
Then I asked the Ahle Sunnat: Who is such interpreter of the Holy Quran? He said: Ibne Masood knows, Umar knows, Huzaifah knows. I asked: Do they know the explanation of the entire Quran? He said: They know partly. In short, I could not find anybody except Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) who knew the meaning and the explanation of the whole Quran. So when in a community if there is a thing about which everyone of them says: “I do not know the whole of it” and if only one says that “I know it” and he describes it correctly then it is only Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.). Therefore, I testify that he is the protector, explanator and maintainer of the Holy Quran and his obedience is a compulsory duty of the entire creation and he is the Hujjat of Allah after the Holy Prophet (S) and whatever meaning of the Quran he may show or whatever commands he may draw from it are all correct and true. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
O Mansoor! May Allah have mercy on you.
Hearing this I got up and kissed his holy head and said: Imam Ali (a.s.) did not pass away from this world until he appointed a Hujjat behind him and that Hujjat after Ali (a.s.) was Imam Hasan (a.s.) and I give witness that Imam Hasan was a Hujjat of Allah and his obedience was compulsory for the creation. Then Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
May Allah shed His mercy on you.
So I kissed his holy head, and said: I testify that Imam Hasan (a.s.) also did not leave this world without nominating a Hujjat after him just as was done by the Holy Prophet (S) and by his respected father and after Imam Hasan (a.s.) Imam Husain (a.s.) was the Hujjat of Allah and his obedience too was obligatory for the creation. Hearing this the Hazrat again said:
May Allah be kind to you.
So again I kissed his head and said: I testify that Imam Husain (a.s.) also did not depart from this world without nominating a Hujjat of Allah behind him and that he was Ali bin Husain (a.s.) and to obey him also was a must for all. The Hazrat said:
May Allah be Graceful to you.
So I once again kissed his holy head and said: I give witness that Imam Ali bin Husain (a.s.) too did pass away before nominating a Hujjat of Allah behind him and he was Muhammad bin Ali bin Husain (a.s.) and to obey him also was the duty of the creation. Then the Hazrat said:
May Allah be pleased with you.
And I once again kissed his head and he smiled and this continued until his own turn came and he knew that I was about to mention his name. In short, I said: Your respected father did not leave this world until he nominated his legatee as the Hujjat of Allah after him just as his father had done and I give witness that, by Allah, that Hujjat are you and it is the duty of all to obey you. Then the Hazrat said:
This is enough for you. May Allah be pleased with you.
I said: Kindly extend your holy head so that I may kiss it and he smiled and said, “Inquire from me whatever you may want because after this I will not keep anything hidden from you.”
Ibne Babawayh has narrated authentically from Jabir that Jabir said: I asked Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.): Why people need a prophet and an Imam? He said,
“So that the world may continue on the right path because the Merciful Allah keeps the chastisement away from the people of the earth so long as there is a prophet or an Imam among them as He says in the Holy Quran:
وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَأَنْتَ فِيهِمْ.
“But Allah was not going to chastise them while you were among them." (Sura Anfal 8:33)
The Holy Prophet (S) said,
“The stars are the shelter for the inhabitants of the sky so that they may not move from their places and my Ahlul Bayt are shelters for the residents of the earth. When stars will be dispersed the residents of the sky will witness what they do not like and when my Ahlul Bayt will go away from the earth the people of the earth will see what they do not like.”
Ibne Babawayh says Ahlul Bayt means the holy Imams about whom Allah has said that obedience to them is obedience to Allah. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran:
أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ.
Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you. (Sura Nisa 4:59)
They are infallible and clear of defects. They never sin. They are the confirmers and the successful and the obstructers. Allah gives sustenance to His servants because of their blessings and flourishes His cities because of their mediation, pours rain, grows bounties from earth; gives respite to sinners, does not hasten to chastise them. The Holy Spirit does not separate itself from the Imams nor do they depart from it and neither do they separate themselves from the Holy Quran nor the Holy Quran separates itself from them.
There is an authentic narration from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that when the period of the Prophethood of Prophet Adam (a.s.) came to conclusion and his life was about to end Allah Almighty revealed to Him: O Adam! The period of your Messengership has concluded and your age finished. So now whatever you possess of knowledge, faith and prophet’s heritage and the Isme Aazam etc, hand over all of it to Hibbatullah because I will not leave the earth without a scholar through whom people may know about worship and the religion of Muhammad (S) and salvation is for him who may obey that scholar.
It is authentically quoted from Amirul Momineen (a.s.) that in his supplication he said: O My Sustainer! Do not leave the creation on earth without a Hujjat, be he manifest or hidden, so that Your arguments and proofs may not vanish.
It has been mentioned authentically by Yaqoob Sarraj that he says: I inquired from Imam Sadiq (a.s.): Can the earth remain balanced without a living scholar, whose Imamate may be manifest and in whom people may take shelter and from whom they may know what is permissible and what is prohibited? He said: If it so happens then there will be no worship of Allah.
Ibne Babawayh, Saffar and Mufeed have authentically narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that the earth will not remain balanced unless there is a scholar who may know about the benefit or harm to religion so that if the believers make any addition in religion he may make them return towards the divine limits and if they curtail anything in religion he may make it perfect. In short, that scholar will say: Take up the religion totally and perfectly.
If it is not so then the religion of the faithful will become doubtful in their eyes and they will not be able to differentiate between truth and falsehood. Again he has said with many proofs that if the earth is left without an Imam even for a moment it will doubtlessly be pushed down.5
Kulaini and Ibne Babawayh etc. have authentically narrated from the same Imam (a.s.) that if only two men are left on earth one of them will be the Imam and that the one who will die last will be the Imam so that no one may be able to argue with Allah that “You left me without a Hujjat”.
Ibne Babawayh and others have authentically narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that Jibraeel (a.s.) came to the Holy Prophet (S) and brought news from Allah: “O Muhammad! I have not left the earth but in such a condition that there has been a scholar between the period of one prophet’s departure and next one’s arrival so that people may continue to ascertain My Path and may get salvation. I never give total freedom to Satan to misguide people in the absence of My Hujjat. There always has to be a Hujjat calling people towards Me, who may be knowing My religion.
Therefore I have appointed a guide for every community so that I may guide the lucky ones and the unlucky may also have a Hujjat. Moreover he has also narrated authentically from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that people do not get guidance but through an Imam and that even if only two men are left on earth one of them must be the Imam, the Hujjat of Allah.
According to yet another narration Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said: By Allah, by Allah! Allah has never left the earth without an Imam ever since Adam (a.s.) passed away from the world so that people may get the path leading to Allah through that Imam and there may be a Hujjat from Allah and the earth cannot remain without a Hujjat at any time. Who does not obey that Hujjat is destroyed and who obeys him gets salvation. This is a must for Allah. Again the same Hazrat has said that the earth must always have an Imam, either manifest or hidden. Another tradition says that ever since Allah created the earth and skies they have never remained without an Imam nor will they remain so till Qiyamat.
Kulaini, Ibne Babawayh and Shaykh Tusi have authentically narrated from Abu Hamza Thumali that he says: I asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.): Will the earth ever remain in place without an Imam? He said: If it so happens it will be destroyed.
Many authentic sources say that Imam Baqir (a.s.) has said that Allah has never left the earth without an Imam who adds what has been diminished (by wrongdoers) and what has been wrongly added in the religion. Had He not done so, people would certainly remain in doubt all the time.
Sulaiman Ja’fari once asked Imam Ridha (a.s.): Can the earth ever remain without a Hujjat? He replied: If it remains without an Imam ever for a split second it would certainly sink along with its inhabitants.
In another authentic tradition he says: Allah’s argument (Hujjat) is neither established nor concluded but because of a living Imam whom people know.
Humairi has narrated that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said: The Holy Prophet (S) has said: In my Ummat there is, in every age, a just Imam from my Ahlul Bayt who removes the changes made by excessive people, false claims of liars and wrong explanation of the ignorants.
Ibne Babawayh has narrated from Fazl Bin Shazan and he from Imam Ridha (a.s.) that he (Imam Ridha) said that if somebody asks me why Allah has appointed an Ulil Amr (one who is authorized to command) and why has He ordained his obedience I will reply to him that there are several reasons:
First: Allah has fixed for the people of the world a certain limit for utilization so that they may not exceed that limit and thereby cause corruption. Hence it has been necessary that an honest person must be appointed over them who may prevent the people from crossing the limit of permissible and from entering into the impermissible. Had he not been there nobody would give up his self interest and pleasure to save others from loss and trouble. In such circumstances there would be quarrel and hostility among people. Therefore He appointed a strong leader who may prevent mischief and keep people within the limits fixed by Allah.
Second: No community or group can remain lively in the religious and worldly affairs without a chief or a ruler. Hence it was unbecoming on the part of the Most Wise Allah to ignore this, which is essential for the welfare and management of all. So it became incumbent that He may appoint a man who say fight against his enemies and may distribute war booty among people and may establish and maintain Friday and Congregation prayers and may protect people from the oppressions of the oppressors.
Third: Had Allah not appointed for the creation, such a firm, honest and trustworthy Imam who may maintain public affairs and protect the religion of Allah selflessly, and keep the secrets of the trusts of the Holy Prophet (S), verily the society would become old and stagnant and the religion of Allah would be displaced. There would enter changes in the Sunnah and commands of the Prophet and innovators would add new things in the religion of Allah as do the Sufis and the atheists would make curtailments in the religion as did the Ismailis and would make religion doubtful for Muslims who would find the society imperfect and lacking in a proper trainer and incomplete due to differences in thinking and desires.
Therefore, had Allah not appointed among them a Qaem and a protector who may protect whatever the Prophet brought from Allah the people would definitely have been misguided and the Shariats and Sunnahs (traditions) and divine commandments and faith would have been altered and such alterations would have resulted in wide-scale corruption.
It is reported from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that there had been a gap of five hundred years between Isa (a.s.) and the Holy Prophet (S) and for two and a half hundred years there was neither a prophet nor a manifest scholar. The narrator asked: What were then the people doing? He said: They had clinged to the religion of Isa (a.s.). He asked: How was their condition? He said: They were believer, and added that the earth can never remain without a scholar, that is, if the scholar is not manifest, he is hidden.
Kulaini and Ibne Babawayh etc have authentically narrated from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) that he said: If the Imam separates himself from the earth even for a moment, the earth, along with all its inhabitants, would begin to waver just like a sea in storm.
Ibne Babawayh has authentically reported from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that: Had the Hujjat of Allah not been on earth, the earth would certainly have shaken and thrown down with all that is on or in it, because the earth does not remain without an Imam even for a second.
It is also narrated from Imam Ridha (a.s.) that he said: We are the Hujjats of Allah on earth, we are Allah’s trustees with His permission and we are the caliphs of Allah among His servants and we are the Word of Righteousness (Kalimah Taqwa) as mentioned in the Holy Quran:
وَأَلْزَمَهُمْ كَلِمَةَ التَّقْوَى.
“And made them keep the word of guarding (against evil)" (Sura Fath 48:26)
That is to say, our Wilayat is the means of protection from the chastisement of Allah and we are the ‘Urwatul Wuthqa’ meaning our Wilayat and obedience is the strong chain which, if held by people will not break, rather it leads them to Paradise. And we are the witnesses of Allah among the people and the signs of His guidance. Allah keeps the skies and the earth protected from moving or shaking from their places and He pours rain because of our presence and He widens His bounty and the earth can never remain without the existence of any of us and that Imam is either visible or hidden. If the earth remains without an Imam even for a day it will be stormed and it may drown along with all its inhabitants; just as a storm in the sea destroys all.
It is reported with reliable chains of narrators that Imam Baqir (a.s.) said: If the earth remains without an Imam even for a day it may get pushed down along with all living on it and Allah may punish them with His most severe chastisement because Allah has appointed us as His Hujjat for the residents of the earth so that they may not be punished and they may live in safety and peace, and safe from being drowned so long as we are among them. When Allah will decide to destroy them without giving them any respite He will lift us up from them and thereafter He will enact His chastisement or punishment, as He wants.
It is authentically reported that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) has said that ever since the earth was created it has never been without a scholar and a Hujjat who enlivens the truths destroyed by people and then he recited this verse of the Holy Quran:
يُرِيدُونَ أَنْ يُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَيَأْبَى اللَّهُ إِلَّا أَنْ يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ.
They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse. (Sura Tawbah 9:32)
It is mentioned in another narration that the Hujjat of Allah, meaning the guide for the creation, was there before the creation and is with the creation and will be there after the creation.
It also has been authentically reported from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) that the knowledge which Adam (a.s.) had brought did not return because the inheritance of knowledge reaches (is given to) us and whatever knowledge and information is obtained through any sources other than the prophets and messengers and the Ahlul Bayt of the Holy Prophet (S) is false because Ali (a.s.) was the scholar of this Ummah and none from us who are Ahlul Bayt, ever passes away from this world without appointing someone in our place who knows similar knowledge as desired by Allah.
It is reported authentically from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that Allah Almighty has never left the world without a scholar whose knowledge is needed by the people of the world and who needs nothing from their knowledge and who knows what is permissible (Halaal) and what is Haraam (prohibited). The narrator asked: May I be sacrificed for you, from where does he gets that knowledge? He replied: Because of the heritage he acquired from the Holy Prophet (S) and from Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.).
Ibne Babawayh, Saffar and Barqi have narrated from Imam Ja’far (a.s.) that, in the world, there always has been a Hujjat or a messenger or an Imam who knew the permissible and the prohibited and who guided people towards Allah and that the earth will not be without a Hujjat and a guide but for the forty days immediately prior to Qiyamat. In short, when that Hadi will be lifted the door of repentance will be closed and thereafter the belief of a new believer will not give him any benefit. Those who will believe after the passing away of the Hujjat will be the worst of creation and thereafter will be Qiyamat.
It is authentically recorded from Imam Baqir (a.s.) that the Holy Prophet (S) has said that in this Ummat the example of my Ahlul Bayt is like the stars in the sky (for every star that sets another star rises). Likewise whenever anyone of our Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) passes away from this world as Imam, another takes his place.
Ibne Babawayh has authentically narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that Amirul Momineen, in his sermon delivered in the mosque of Kufa said: My Lord! Verily Your earth is in need of a Hujjat who may be from You for the creation and who may guide them towards Your religion and may teach Your knowledge to them so that my Hujjat (argument) may not become nullified and Your obedient friends may not go astray after being guided.
Thereafter that Hujjat will appear and will be obeyed by people or he will remain hidden and awaited for his appearance. Though in the time of the government of falsehood he will remain hidden, his knowledge and his viewpoint will remain firm in the hearts of the faithful and they will act according to it till his appearance and they will cling only to those things which antagonize others from them and because of which the party of the misguided oppose them.
There is a narration from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) in Basairud Darajat that people asked him: Can there be two Imams on earth at a time? He replied: No, but in case when one Imam may remain silent and another Imam may claim Imamate before him and he may be the Imam after his passing away from the world.6
Rational arguments showing that it is incumbent upon Allah to appoint an Imam
The delivered sect of Imamiyah holds many rational arguments to show that it is mandatory on Allah to appoint an Imam and thus arguments have been stated in detail in books like Shafi of Sayyid Murtuza (r.a.) and Talkhees of Shaykh Tusi (a.r.) etc. and here, I suffice with only two of them because the subject of this book is to mention the narratory traditions (Naqali) which have reached us through the Holy Quran and traditions of both the Shias and the Sunnis.
It is a mandatory Lutf (understood divine Mercy) of Allah to appoint an Imam because it is essential for Him to do things which are more beneficial for His servants from the viewpoint that, intelligence demands that all the deeds of Ever-existing Allah should be always based on wisdom and strategy and that a thing which is the best and most preferable and most beneficial when there is no deterrent, giving it up and its replacement except with a better one, is an act of giving preference to a lower thing which, in the opinion of intelligent, does not befit the deeds of the Most Graceful, Wise Almighty Allah.
So now when the incumbency of the best thing has been proved it is also essential that Lutf should also be mandatory for Allah because Lutf means a thing which makes it easy for man to obey the divine commands and to refrain from His prohibited things unless in exceptional difficulties because reward or punishment depends on the existence of optional freedom. Therefore, those who are of the opinion that good and evil are rational things and who believe that the best thing is obligatory say that Lutf and Karam (grace and mercy) are obligatory for Allah.
The argument in its favour is that whatever Allah has made obligatory for His servants in this world is always the cause of many benefits and interests for people. In other words, duty includes grace and grace is undoubtedly the best and better than anything else. So Lutf, being the best, is mandatory for Allah. It is well known that the existence of an Imam is a Grace (Lutf) because everybody knows that people should have a commander who may prevent them from trouble, mischief, corruption, oppression and sins and make them steadfast on obedience of Allah, worship, justice and kindness. In such circumstances, doubtlessly the affairs of the people will be conforming with rules and well managed and nearer to betterment and farther from evils and corruption.
It is necessary that there should be a protector of the Shariat of the Messenger of Allah (S) who may protect it from deviation, change, addition and curtailment and since the verses of the Holy Quran are comprehensive, many of the commands of the Quran are not discernible from their apparent wordings. So it is necessary to have a clarifier or explainer from Allah who can derive divine commandments from the Holy Book. Contrary to this, when the Holy Prophet (S), at the time of his demise, called for a pen and an ink-pot, so that he may write down something for the Ummah so that it may never go astray, Umar said: This man (Allah forbid) is talking senselessly.
The Book of Allah is enough for us, despite the fact he did not know the explanation of even a single verse of the Holy Quran and whenever any problem arose both he and his companions used to remain helpless and they were obliged to get it solved by Amirul Momineen (a.s.). So much so that the Ahle Sunnah have written that on seventy occasions Umar had said: Had there not been Ali, Umar would have been destroyed. Had the Book been enough, why there would have been so much difference of opinion among the Ummah! In short, many arguments will be presented henceforth while explaining the verses and translating the traditions.
What! Did you then think that We had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to us? (23:115)
This verse shows that if there is no reward or punishment on the Day of Qiyamat then the creation of the universe is in vain and also aimless. It is thus known that their creation is for gaining the Hereafter and it is also known that obtaining of that world is not possible by doing anything without understanding. So it is necessary that the Creator of the universe also should appoint guides who may teach people the way of obtaining the Hereafter through knowledge and worship. Therefore, in the time of the prophets the prophets or messengers themselves were such guides. Thereafter it is essential that there must be someone to protect the Shariat and draw commands from the Holy Quran. So every argument, which demands sinlessness and awareness of all commands of Allah in a prophet, also calls for these attributes and qualifications in an Imam too. Hence it is imperative that the Imam must have been appointed by Allah and the entire Ummah is unanimous that such a divine order (Nass) is for none but Amirul Momineen (a.s.). Therefore he is invariably the Imam, and even when the Imamate has become doubtful among Ali (a.s.) and Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman, Imam Ali (a.s.) was the most courageous, pious and honourable among all. Hence it is essential that he ought to be the most suitable person for Imamate because intelligence says that giving a higher rank to one of a lower capability is improper.
Moreover, the Almighty Lord says:
Are those who know and who do not know alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful. (39:9)
Is he then who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you; how do you judge? (10:35)
When the angels had imagined that they were more worthy than Adam for caliphate on earth, the Creator of the world had concluded His argument before them through the knowledge of Adam (a.s.) and when Bani Israel did not accept the kingdom and rulership of Taloot, Allah Almighty had described Taloot’s superiority on the basis of his knowledge and physique which was a must for courage saying:
And He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique. (2:247)
And the traditions of both the Shias and Sunnis have constantly agreed that all the companions and the three caliphs used to approach Amirul Momineen for understanding verses and difficult commandments and that he (the Amir) had never to seek guidance from them for the meaning of any verse or about any Islamic commandment. Similarly, in the time of Imam Hasan (a.s.) when caliphate had become a matter of dispute between him and Muawiyah, then, notwithstanding the disbelief of Muawiyah, no wise person could have any doubt in the matter of Imam Hasan’s wisdom and perfection and about the defects and shortcomings of Muawiyah. Likewise there never was any doubt regarding the difference between Imam Husain (a.s.) and Muawiyah/Yazid and thereafter between the innocent Imams and the oppressive caliphs of their time. So it is on the basis of this argument that the Imamate of all the Imams is proved.