The term imamate or imamah (Arabic: إمامة, imāmah) means "leadership" and refers to the office of an imam or a state ruled by an imam.
Allah, The Glorious is everywhere and He sees everything every moment as we believe and read in Quran (He is with you where you may be) Sura 57, Verse 4.
'The Prophet Muhammad and his successors are granted knowledge by Allah as and when Allah wants. Their knowledge is gifted to them by Allah. Allah's knowledge is His own and never given to Him.
Infallible Imams are the most humble servants of Allah after the Prophet (SAWA).
Imamah is mentioned in many verses in Quran including this verse (2:177). Imamah ( Divine leadership of Islam and Muslims after the Prophet) is mentioned as part and parcel in the faith in The prophets. Believing in the greatest prophet Muhammad means believing in each and every order he gave, and he clearly announced in front of thousands of Muslims ( For whom who believe in me as his master, Verily Ali is his master. ( Bukhari in al-Tareekh al-Kabeer, V.1, P.375 and V.4, P. 193) and hundreds of other Sunni books.
There are thousands of authentic Hadeeths in all main books of Hadeeth ordering Muslims to follow Imam Ali being the real successor of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
Those who believe in Muhammad as a Prophet from Allah, must obey him and follow his real successors about whom he clearly said: My successors will be twelve, all of them will be from Quraish. (Saheeh Bukhari;6682, Saheeh Muslim ;3393, Musnad ibn Hanbal;3593, Tirmithi; 2149, al-Mustadrak Alal- Saheehain ;6586 and many other books of Hadeeth).
Allah, The Glorious is everywhere and He knows everything that happens everywhere on the earth and the whole universe. He gifts His most humble servants (Muhammad and his 12 successors) whatever He wants from His Knowledge whenever and wherever He wants. They know whatever Allah informs them.
The Hadeeth Qudsi says:Allah says: O my servant, obey me, you will like me عبدي أطعني تكن مثلي.
1. The Names of the Twelve Imams of Ahlulbayt (A.S.) were mentioned by the Prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H. and His Holy Progeny) in many authentic Hadeeths narrated in Shia Books and Sunni Books as well. Despite all the efforts of the enemies of Ahlulbayt (A.S.) to delete and hide and destroy any written Hadeeth in favor of Ameerul Mo'mineen (AS.) and Ahlulbayt (A.S.). You find till today many of Sunni Books still contain many Hadeeths in favor of Ahlulbayt (A.S.).
2. The Twelve Successors:
All Muslims believe that the Prophet (SAWA) has said that: My Successors will be twelve. This Hadeeth of Twelve Successors is mentioned in:
⁃ Saheeh Bukhari ( Hadeeth number 6682)
⁃ Saheeh Muslim ( 3393 and 3394 and 3395 and 3396 and 3397 and 3398)
⁃ Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal ( 3593, 3665, 19875, 19887, 19892, 19901, 19914, 19920, 19922, 19925, 19944 and many other Hadeeths in this meaning.
⁃ Sunan Al-Tirmithi 2149.
⁃ Sunan Abi Dawoud 3731 and 3732
⁃ Al Mustadrak Ala Sahihain by al-Haakim al-Nisabouri ;6586, 6589 and 8529.
⁃ Al-Albani in Takhreej al-Hadeeth; 376, 1075 and 3598.
⁃ and in many other Sunni Books. The Hadees states that all the twelve will be from “Quraish”.
4. There is more clear Hadeeth from the Prophet (SAWA) which was been hidden by most of the narrators who where under the pressure of the tyrant rulers of the enemies of Ahlulbayt (A.S.). This Hadees states that all the Twelve Successors of the Prophet (SAWA) will be from “Bani Hashim” as it is narrated by the well known Sunni Scholar Al Qunduzi Al Hanafi in Yanabee’ Al Mawaddah Vol: 2 Page: 315.
5. The names of the Twelve Imams one after another are mentioned in many Hadeeths in the book of well known Sunni Scholar Al Khawarizmi Al Hanafi in his book Maqtal Al-Hussain narrating from Abi Salma from the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H. and His Holy Progeny). (Vol: 1 Page: 146.)
6. The Hadees mentioning the names of 12 Imams also narrated in the book of the well-known Sunni Scholar Al Qunduzi Al Hanafi (The name of the book is Yanadiyeh Al Mawaddah) Vol: 3 Page: 380.
7. There are Hadeeths mentioning the names of Twelve Imams (A.S.) narrated by al Hamaweeni As Shafi’ee.
8. Also you can find the mention of the Twelve Imams in the well known Sunni Book Tazkirat Al Khawas تذكرة الخواص by Sibt Ibne Al-Jawzi (a well known Hanafi scholar in Vol: 2 Page: 373.
9. One of our well known Ulama (Al-Khazzaz Al Qummi) who was one of the students of Sheikh Al Sadooq has compiled a full book ( Kifayat al-Athar Fi al-Nass Akal Etha Ashar)in which he mentioned of Hadeeths stating the names of the Twelve Imams narrating from 30 Companions by their names who mentioned what they heard from the Prophet (PBUH) the names of the Twelve Imams (A.S.)
10. A Sunni scholar by the name of Shaikh Hikmat al-Rahma has compiled a book known as The Imams of Ahlul Bayt in Sunni books. Wassalam.
There is a supplication from Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (a) related to ill health.
His Supplication when Sick or Visited by Distress or an Affliction
1- O God, to Thee belongs praise
for the good health of my body
which lets me move about,
and to Thee belongs praise,
for the ailments
which Thou causest to arise in my flesh!
2- For I know not, my God,
which of the two states deserves more my thanking Thee
and which of the two times is more worthy for my praise of Thee:
3- the time of health,
within which Thou makest me delight in the agreeable things of Thy provision,
through which Thou givest me the joy to seek
the means to Thy good pleasure and bounty,
and by which Thou strengthenest me
for the acts of obedience
which Thou hast given me success to accomplish;
4- or the time of illness
through which Thou puttest me to the test
and bestowest upon me favours:
lightening of the offenses
that weigh down my back,
purification of the evil deeds
into which I have plunged,
incitement to reach for repentance,
reminder of the erasure of misdeeds through ancient favour;
5- and, through all that, what the two writers write for me:
which no heart had thought,
no tongue had uttered,
and no limb had undertaken,
rather, as Thy bestowal of bounty upon me
and the beneficence of Thy benefaction toward me.1
6- O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
make me love what Thou hast approved for me,
make easy for me what Thou hast sent down upon me,
purify me of the defilement of what I have sent ahead,
erase the evil of what I have done beforehand,
let me find the sweetness of well-being,
let me taste the coolness of safety,
and appoint for me
a way out from my illness to Thy pardon,
transformation of my infirmity into Thy forbearance,
escape from my distress to Thy refreshment,
and safety from this hardship in Thy relief!
7- Thou art gratuitously bountiful in beneficence,
ever gracious in kindness,
the Generous, the Giver,
Possessor of majesty and munificence!
First fact: Allah (SWT) orders all Muslims in Quran to obey the Prophet (SAWA) and follow whatever he says. (Whatever the Messenger orders you, you must take it, and whatever he forbids you, you must abstain from it) ( Sura 59, verse 7).
Second fact: The Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) has clearly and repeatedly said that his real successors will be Twelve, all of them will be from Quraish. This authentic Hadeeth has been narrated by all Sunni books of Hadeeth e.g.
1. Saheeh Al-Bukhari :Hadeeth number 6682.
2. Saheeh Muslim : Hadeeth number 3393 and 3394 and 3395 and 3396 and 3397 and 3398.
3. Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal : from abdullah ibn Mas'ood, Hadeeth number 3593 and 3665 and 19875, and 19884 and 19887 and 19892 and 19901 and 19914 and 19920 and 19922 and 19925 and 19944 and 19946 and 19956 and 19963 and 10064 and many other Hadeeths.
4. Tirmithi , Hadeeth number 2149.
5. Abu Dawood: Hadeeth number 3731 and 3732.
6. Al-Haakim Al-Nisabori in al-Mustadrak : Hadeeth number 6586, and 6589 and 8529.
7. Al-Albani who is well known Wahabi Shaikh in Takhreej al-Hadeeth : Hadeeth number 376 and 1075 and 3598 and 3599. He stated than this Hadeeth is Saheeh (authentic).
8. Al-Bayhaqi in Dala'il al-Nobowwah: Hadeeth number 2589 and 2888 and 2889 and 2890 and 2885 .
9. Saheeh Ibn Hibban, Hadeeth number 6786 and 6787 and 6788.
10. Al-Tabarani in Al-Mu'jam Al-Awsat : Hadeeth 871 and 1484 and 3032 and 4085 and 6391 and 6566 .
These are just examples and there are many other Sunni books of Hadeeth wher this Hadeeth has been narrated from the Prophet (SAWA).
Third fact: Those who believe in the Prophet (SAWA) must obey him by order of Allah in Quran.
Fourth fact: The numbers of Rak'ats in our daily obligatory Prayers are not mentioned in Quran but mentioned by the Prophet, so, can any one claim that it is not compulsory to pray Morning as two and Dhuhr as four and ASR as four and Maghrib as three and Isha as four because the number of units is not mentioned in Quran? This argument obviously makes such person away from Islamic teachings.
Fifth fact: The divine leadership of the Twelve Imams from Ahlul Bayt (AS) is the most compulsory order of the Prophet to keep Islam safe and Muslims on the Right Path till the Day of Judgement. No future for Islam and Muslims with out divine leadership to follow up and continue the divine leadership of the Prophet (SAWA).
The status of Ameerul Mo'mineen Ali (AS) is the greatest status after the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), then the status of Fatimah (AS), then the status of Imam Hasan (AS), then Imam Husain (AS) then others Imams. We have narrations that the status of Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) is higher than the eight Imams before him.
No doubt, all the Infallible Imams are from one Noor.
The existence of the Infallible Imam is necessary, but it is not necessary for every one to meet him, especially when certain circumstances of danger require him to be away from eyes of the enemies.
Prophets like Prophet Musa (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and Imams like Imam Musa Al-Kadhim (AS) other Imams during jail periods, were in occultation during times of crisis.That did not mean that they were not existing during such periods of occultation. They always had their own ways to guide people even during being away from the public life.
Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) is also in touch with the Ummah through sincere believers who are entitled to meet him and receive his guidance. Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) is in occultation but he is never absent. His guidance to the Ummah is the guarantee of saving Muslim Ummah from going astray.
No prophet is higher in degree than Muhammad (SAWA), and his 12 successors are from him as Allah said in Quran (Progeny from him and he is from them) (ذريّة بعضها من بعض)3:34
No one is higher than the 12 Imams but only the Prophet
The 12 Imams are not exactly like the Prophet Muhammad in that each of them were separate individuals and had his own life, experiences, personality, features, etc. (That is, they did not share the same soul.)
However, they all shared the same teachings of the Prophet (S). This is the job of the Imams (A) is to correctly explain the teachings of the Prophet (S). According to dominant Twelver Shi'i belief, knowledge of the correct Prophetic teachings is a divine gift transferred to one Imam after the death of the previous Imam; therefore, they do not make mistakes in the teachings or disagree about what the Prophet (S) taught.
Also, the Prophet and 12 Imams are all considered sinless. They all obviously also shared a strong commitment to Islam.
Maybe this is one reason that they tend to appear the same - it is our flaws and faults that oftentimes distinguish us the most from each other!
The rational reason for this is that Allah appointed them to preserve and expand upon the message as was necessary. If you think about it, most Muslims came to Islam in the latter part of the Prophet's life. Many of them really didn't have enough time to learn much about the religion at all, especially because the Muslims were busy fending off attackers and dealing with a lot of practical things. And after the Prophet, not all the Companions agreed on everything. So it makes sense that if Allah is going to appoint a prophet with the final message that Allah would be sure that message is protected; this is done through the imamate.
There is very clear evidence in Quran to follow The Twelve Imams after the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Allah (SWT) says: Obey whatever the Prophet tells you, and avoid whatever he orders you to avoid. (Sura 59, Verse 7). This order includes everything. That is why we don't find in Quran the mention of number of Rak'ats of our obligatory prayers (two for morning, 4 for Dhuhr, 4 for ASR, 3 four Maghrib and 4 for Esha) , but we took it from the Prophet (SAWA).
The Prophet (SAWA) has clearly stated that his successors will be twelve in Authentic Hadeeths narrated in Sunni and Shia books.
The Imamah is the legitimate succession of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). No prophet left his Ummah with out informing them clearly about his legitimate successors who should lead people on the right path and prevent deviation. Quran has mentioned the Imamah in many verses e.g.
(And We made them Imams who call people by Our Order) (Sura 21, verse 73).
(And We made from them Imams who call by Our order) ( Sura 32, verse 24).
Allah (SWT) ordered all Muslims to obey Allah, the messenger and the divine leaders ( the Infallible Imams) (Sura 4, verse 59).
Many books were compiled by prominent scholars in Quranic verses related to Ahlul Bayt (AS) e.g.
Sunni Muslims have no evidence in Quran or authentic Hadeeths to justify the leaders whom they follow from Saqeefa, Bani Umayyad, Bani Abbas and till now.
The names of the Infallible Imams are not mentioned in Quran for a great wisdom known by Allah (SWT) as Allah (SWT) did not openly mentioned many other important matters like the number of Rak'ats of Obligatory Salah. He knows the reason behind that. He ordered in Quran all Muslims to obey the Prophet (SAWA) and the Prophet informed the Muslims about the number of Rak'ats of every obligatory Salah, and informed the names of the Infallible Imams as well.
Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (AS) was asked: Why the names of the Infallible Imams were not mentioned in Quran? He reportedly replied: Ask those who put this question: Where did Allah mention in Quran the numbers of Rak'ats of Salah?
The Prophet (SAWA) only informed about the numbers of Rak'ats and the names of Infallible Imams.