Says the Shaykh Abu Ja'far: Our belief concerning their number is that in all there have been one hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets1 and a like number of awsiya'2. Each nabi (prophet) had a wasi to whom he gave instructions by the command of Allah. And concerning them we believe that they brought the truth from Allah, that their word is the word of Allah, that their command is the command of Allah, that obedience to them is obedience to Allah and that disobedience to them is disobedience to Allah.
They spoke not except on behalf of Allah, and on being inspired by Him. And verily the leaders of the prophets are five in number round whom the heaven revolve3, and they are the masters of the religious path (as habu 'sh-shara'i'), namely Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, on all of whom be peace:
“messengers of inflexible purpose” (Qur'an 46:35)
. Muhammad verily is their leader and the most excellent of them.4 He brought the truth and confirmed (the message of) the apostles.
Those who declared him to be a liar will suffer a painful agony. And those who believed in him and honored and helped him5, and followed the light6 which descended with him they are the successful and the victorious ones.
It is necessary to believe that Allah the Mighty and Glorious did not create any created thing more excellent than Muhammad and the Imams, peace on them, that they are the most loved of creatures in the eyes of Allah, and the most noble and the foremost among them, on account of their acceptance of Him (as their Lord). When Allah took the pledge (mithaq) of the prophets and
“required them to bear witness of themselves (saying): Am I not your Lord? and they said: Yes, verily” (Qur'an 7:172).
And verily Allah sent His Prophet Muhammad (with a message) to the other prophets in the world of atoms (adh-dharr)7 . And verily Allah the Mighty and Glorious gave to each prophet (i.e. knowledge, power, etc.) according to the extent of his cognition (ma'rifa)8, while the cognition of our Prophet Muhammad was greater and more sublime9, for it took precedence in accepting Allah (as the Supreme Being).
We believe that Allah, Blessed and Exalted is He above all, created the whole of creation for him (the Prophet) and for the People of his House, and that but for them, Allah, Glory be to Him, would not have created the heavens or the earth, Paradise or Hell, Adam or Eve, the angels or (any) created thing (shay ') - the Blessings of Allah upon them all.
And our belief is that after His Prophet, the Blessings of Allah upon him, the proofs10 of Allah for the people are the Twelve Imams,11 the first of them being the Prince of Believers 'Ali bin Abi Talib, then al-Hasan, then al-Husayn, then 'Ali bin al-Husayn, then Muhammad bin 'Ali, then Ja'far bin Muhammad, then Musa bin Ja'far, then 'Ali bin Musa ar-Rida, then Muhammad bin 'Ali, then 'Ali bin Muhammad, then al-Hasan bin 'Ali, then Muhammad bin al-Hasan the Proof (al-hujja), who upholds the command of Allah (al-qa'im bi-amri'l-lah), the Master of Time (sahibu'z-zaman), the Vicegerent of the Beneficent One (khalifatu'r-Rahman) in His earth, the one who is present in the earth12 but invisible (gha'ib) to the eyes - the Blessings of Allah on all of them.13
Our belief regarding them is that they are in authority (ulu'l-amr). It is to them that Allah has ordained obedience,14 they are the witnesses for the people and they are the gates of Allah (abwab) and the road (sabil) to Him and the guides (dalil, plural adilla) thereto, and the repositories15 of His knowledge and the interpreters of His revelations and the pillars of His unity (tawhid). They are immune from sins (khata') and errors (zalal); they are those from whom
“Allah has removed all impurity and made them absolutely pure” (Qur'an 33:33).
They are possessed of (the power of) miracles (mu'jizat) and of (irrefutable) arguments (dala'il); and they are for the protection of the people of this earth just as the stars are for the inhabitants of the heavens. They may be likened, in this community, to the Ark of Noah; he who boards it obtains salvation or reaches the Gate of Repentance (hitta).16
They are the most noble slaves of Allah, who
“speak not until He hath spoken; they act by His command” (Qur'an 21:27).
And we believe that love for them is true belief (iman) and hatred for them is unbelief (kufr); that their command is the command of Allah, their prohibition is the prohibition of Allah; obedience to them is obedience to Allah, and disobedience to them is disobedience to Allah; their friend (wali17) is the friend of Allah, and their enemy the enemy of Allah.
We believe that the Proof of Allah in His earth and His vicegerent (khalifa) among His slaves in this age of ours is the Upholder (al-Qa'im) (of the law of Allah), the Expected One (al-Muntazar), Muhammad bin al-Hasan bin 'Ali bin Muhammad bin 'Ali bin Musa bin Ja'far bin Muhammad bin 'Ali bin al-Husayn bin 'Ali bin Abi Talib, on them be peace.
He it is concerning whose name and descent the Prophet was informed by Allah the Mighty and Glorious, and he it is who will fill the earth with justice and equity, just as now it is full of oppression and wrong.20 And he it is through whom Allah will make His faith manifest
“in order to supersede all religion, though the polytheists may dislike (it)” (Qur'an 9:33, 48:28, 61:9).
He it is whom Allah will make victorious over the whole world until from every place the call to prayer will be heard, and all religion21 will belong entirely to Allah, Exalted is He above all. He it is, who is the Rightly Guided (mahdi), about whom the Prophet gave information that when he appears, Jesus,22 son of Mary, will descend upon the earth and pray behind him, and he who prays behind him is like one who prays behind the Prophet of Allah, because he is his vicegerent (khalifa).
And we believe that there can be no Qa'im other than him; he may live in the state of occultation (as long as he likes); and were he to live in the state of occultation for the space of the existence of this world, there would nevertheless be no Qa'im other than him. For, the Prophet and the Imams have indicated him by his name and descent; him they appointed as their successor, and of him they gave glad tidings - the Blessings of Allah on all of them.23