Imamah

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.

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 2 months ago

Yes, it is recommended to pray Maghrib Prayer before breaking fast (Iftar) as Prayers is more important than breaking the fast, but it is not obligatory to do so. It is just recommended if there is no one waiting for you for Iftar and you do not feel weak if you pray before Iftar.

Wassalam.

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 2 months ago

This verse is speaking of whomever one follows in a general sense, whether or not that person is physically near them or they even meet them. So a person's Imam could be the Prophet (S), Imam Mahdi (A), a scholar, or a spiritual leader; or it could be someone else entirely, like a philosopher, author, or political leader. Whoever guides your way of thinking, way of life, and identity, and whomever you obey and associate yourself with and prioritize is your Imam. 

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The Qur'an does mention Imam Ali (a) in numerous places. But it does not mention him by name. Being mentioned in the Qur’an is distinct from being mentioned by name in the Qur’an.

Let's analyse both types of mention and try and determine the style of the Qur'an in these matters.

Mention By Name

Should we believe that being mentioned by name in the Qur’an is an honour? Well, Abu Lahab is mentioned by name in a verse that reprimands him and his wife and assures of their place in hellfire.

Clearly, then, being mentioned in the Qur’an by name is not necessarily an honour.

Now, let’s turn to the virtuous people who are mentioned by name. If it was the mere incidence of them being named that was a token of superior merit, then Prophet ‘Isa (a) - Jesus - is mentioned by name more often than Prophet Muhammad (s) is referred to by his blessed name.

Clearly, then, being mentioned in the Qur’an by name does not mean anything other than that God in His infinite wisdom decided that it was appropriate in the context of the various narratives contained in the Holy Book.

This brings us to the other type of mention in the Qur’an.

Mention By Attribute

Many important people are mentioned by attributes and it is clear from the tafsir literature who those people are. With that certainty, we can say that those people are mentioned by the Qur’an.

Let’s start with two well-known Companions who were the reason why the first few verses of Surah al-Hujurat were revealed.

Abu Bakr and ‘Umar Mentioned In The Qur’an

Narrated `Abdullah bin Az-Zubair: A group of Bani Tamim came to the Prophet (and requested him to appoint a governor for them).

Abu Bakr said, "Appoint Al-Qaqa bin Mabad." `Umar said, "Appoint Al-Aqra' bin Habeas."

On that Abu Bakr said (to `Umar). "You did not want but to oppose me!" `Umar replied "I did not intend to oppose you!"

So both of them argued till their voices grew loud. So the following Verse was revealed: 'O you who believe! Be not forward......' (49.1)

Source - Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 65, Hadith 4847

The full verse that was revealed mentioning by attribute Abu Bakr and ‘Umar was

O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (49:1)

There are others but let’s move on.

Imam ‘Ali Mentioned In The Qur’an

In the same way, Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib is also mentioned in multiple places in the Qur’an but always in a favourable and praiseworthy light.

And this is by absolute consensus of all Muslims, Sunni’s and Shi’a. Nobody is able to show a mention of ‘Ali in the Qur’an that reprimanded him for anything or criticised him.

The number of verses that mention him are really a huge number. Entire books have been written that list the verses in ‘Ali’s favour and the evidence from Sunni sources that prove it.

Here is one example from the occasion of Mubahala

Amir b. Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas reported on the authority of his father that Muawiya b. Abi Sufyan appointed Sa'd as the Governor and said:

What prevents you from abusing Abu Turab (Hadrat 'Ali), whereupon be said:

It is because of three things which I remember Allah's Messenger (s) having said about him that I would not abuse him and even if I find one of those three things for me, it would be more dear to me than the red camels.

I heard Allah's Messenger (s) say about 'Ali as he left him behind in one of his campaigns (that was Tabuk). 'Ali said to him: Allah's Messenger, you leave me behind along with women and children. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (s) said to him: Aren't you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there is no prophethood after me.

And I (also) heard him say on the Day of Khaibar: I would certainly give this standard to a person who loves Allah and his Messenger, and Allah and his Messenger love him too. He (the narrator) said: We had been anxiously waiting for it, when he (the Holy Prophet) said: Call 'Ali. He was called and his eyes were inflamed. He applied saliva to his eyes and handed over the standard to him, and Allah gave him victory.

(The third occasion is this) when the (following) verse was revealed: "Let us summon our children and your children." Allah's Messenger (s) called 'Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain and said: O Allah, they are my family.

Source - Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 5915

Here is the full Qur’anic verse that mentions - as confirmed by Sahih Muslim - not just Imam ‘Ali but also Lady Fatima and Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn.

The truth is from your Lord, so do not be among the doubters. Then whoever argues with you about it after [this] knowledge has come to you - say, "Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly [together] and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars [among us]." (3:60–1)

Th Qur’an not only mentioned Imam ‘Ali (a) but called him the self of the Prophet Muhammad (s). And it also confirmed that they were all on the position of utmost truthfulness and piety.

And those against them are the liars and the curse of God is upon them!

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 2 months ago

First creation was the creation of the Noor of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his holy Progeny (AS). Jaabir ibn Abdillah, the well known companion said that: I asked the Prophet about the first thing which was created by Allah. He replied me: The first which was created is the Noor of your Prophet. Bihaarul Anwaar , V.15, P.24. The creation of the Prophet and his holy Progeny was long before the creation of Adam (AS).

The creation of the Noor does not mean creation of the body which comes later.

Wassalam.

Zoheir Ali Esmail, Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD... Answered 2 months ago

Bismillah

Thank you for your question. We have traditions to the effect that the first light to be created was the light of the Prophet (saw) and thereafter the light of the Imams (as) and Lady Fatimah (as). Their creation from this perspective preceded the angels and the rest of creation. However, this is before the corporeal creation of humans, and therefore Prophet Adam was the first human being created for Earth and placed on it.

May you always be successful

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 2 months ago

We believe that every thing which was stated , said , practice or approved by the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is from Allah ( SWT) and we Must follow it as Allah (SWT) has ordered us in Quran ( Whatever is brought to you by The Messenger, you must take it, and whatever he tells you to leave, you must leave it) Sura 59, Verse 7.

The Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) has very clearly said the : My successors will be twelve, all of them from Quraish.

This Hadeeth is narrated in

1. Saheeh Al-Bukhari , Hadeeth number 6682 .

2. Saheeh Muslim,  Hadeeth number 3393 and 3394 and 3395 and 3396.

3. Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal , 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 many other narrations in this meaning.

4. Sunan al-Tirmithi , Hadeeth number 2149.

5. Sunan Abi Dawood , Hadeeth number 3731 and 3732.

6. Al-Mustadrak Alal Saheehayn by al-Hakim al-Neesabori , Hadeeth number 6586, and 6589 and 8529.

7. Al-Bayhaqi in Dala'il al-Nubowwah , Hadeeth number 2580 and 2888 and 2889 and 2895.

And in many other Sunni books.

Wassalam.

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answer updated 3 months ago

There is a big misunderstanding regarding the knowledge of Unseen. The reason of this misunderstanding is mixing between different degrees of the Unseen. Absolute knowledge of the Unseen is with Allah only and this is the meaning of many Quranic verse which state that the knowledge of the Unseen is for Allah. Allah grants part of the knowledge of the Unseen to His most humble servants as we read in Quran ( They know nothing from His knowledge ( of the Unseen) except whom He wants). (Al-Baqara:255).

The Prophets and their successors including the 12 Imams have from the Unseen knowledge Whatever Allah grants them from His knowledge of the Unseen. There are many Quranic verse that Allah (SWT) granted knowledge to the Prophet Muhammad (And He taught you everything that you did not know) (4:113). Many other verses mentioned other humble servants of Allah who were been granted knowledge from Allah (SWT).

So, the Absolute knowledge of Unseen is for Allah only, and the part of it which is with the Prophet (SAWA) and the twelve infallible Imams is what Allah (SAWA) Has granted them. There is big difference between the Absolute knowledge which is for Allah all the times which does not come from others, and part of it which is gifted by Allah (SWT) to His most humble servants.

Wassalam.

Zoheir Ali Esmail, Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD... Answered 3 months ago

Bismillah

Thank you for your question. Only Allah is the all-Knowing. According to one prevalent view amongst the Shia, God has granted the Imams (as) privileged access to His knowledge as His chosen servants and as spiritual inheritors of the Prophet (saw).

May you always be successful 

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 4 months ago

The authentic Hadeeths from the Holy Prophet (SAWA) and his holy
progeny, the Ahlul Bayt (AS) are confirmed through a very strict
procedure of checking every narrator and every narration which means
that the scholars check every narrator whether he is trustworthy or
not and up to what extent he is trustworthy according what has been mentioned about him in the books of Rijaal. If all the narrators are
trustworthy then the Hadeeth will be taken as authentic. We also study
the content and the text of the Hadeeth which should not contradict
any Qur’anic verse or any other authentic Hadeeth. By this very strict
procedure our scholars are sure that no unauthentic Hadeeth can be
taken as authentic. Now the question of whether all the authentic
Hadeeth are available or not, the answer is that all the authentic
Hadeeths are with infallible Ahlul Bayt (AS). The Imam (AS) of every
time is the authority and he has all the knowledge about every Hadeeth
from the Holy Prophet (SAWA) and the Ahlul Bayt (AS). We cannot say
now that our knowledge or all our scholars’ knowledge today has all
the Hadeeths but for sure, our Imam, Imam al-Mahdi (ATFS) has all that
knowledge and he is guarding and supervising and supporting the
followers of Ahlul Bay (AS) and guiding the scholars to the real
knowledge of Islam.

Wassalam.

Zoheir Ali Esmail, Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD... Answered 4 months ago

Bismillah

Thank you for your question. There certainly was corruption of the hadith from the Prophet (saw) and Imams (as) even during their lifetimes and so at times the companions of the Imams (as) would check hadith that they did not recognise with the Imams themselves. Since the time of the ghayba one of the most important concerns of scholarship is to deal with the corpus of hadith and define benchmarks for deciphering authentic traditions from less authentic ones. There are a number of methodologies for doing that, some of which are quite technical but are discussed in the sciences of usul, hadith and rijal.

May you always be successful 

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Rebecca Masterton, Dr Rebecca Masterton graduated with a BA in Japanese Language and Literature; an MA in Comparative East Asian and African Literature and a PhD in Islamic literature of West Africa. She has been... Answered 5 months ago

The Imams have clarified that only Allah (swt) has 'ilm al-ghayb, but when they wish to know something, Allah (swt) makes it known to them, and then it is no longer classified as 'ilm al-ghayb.

In Nahj al-Balāgha, Imam ‘Alī (as) defines 'ilm al-ghayb by beginning with a prediction of the coming of the Mongol invasion of the Muslim world:

‘I can see a people whose faces are like shields covered with rough-scraped skins. They dress themselves in silken and woollen clothes and hold dear excellent horses.  Their killing and bloodshed shall take place freely til the wounded shall walk over the dead and the number of runners-away shall be less than those taken prisoner.’ One of his companions said to him, ‘O Amir al-Mu’minīn, you have been given knowledge of hidden things.’  Whereupon Amir al-Mu’minīn laughed and said to the man who belonged to the tribe of Bani Kalb: ‘O brother of Kalb!  This is not knowledge of hidden things (‘ilm al-ghayb).  These matters have been acquired from him (namely the Prophet) who knew them.  As regards knowledge of hidden things, that means knowledge of the Day of Judgment, and matters touched upon by Allah in the verse, ‘Verily, Allah is He with Whom is knowledge of the Hour’ (31:34).  Therefore, Allah alone knows what is there in the wombs, whether male or female, ugly or handsome, generous or miserly, mischievous or pious, and who will be fuel for Hell and who will be in the company of the Prophets in Paradise. This is the knowledge of hidden things, which is not known by anybody except Allah.  All else is that whose knowledge Allah passed on to his Prophet and he passed it on to me, and prayed for me that my chest may retain it and my ribs may hold it.’ (Sermon 127, p. 304). 

This is confirmed by the verse in the Qur’an: ‘(He alone is) the Knower of the Unseen, neither does he reveal His secrets unto any (one else) save unto one of the Messengers that He chooses.’ (72:26-27)

Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 5 months ago

There are three types of knowledge:

* The genuine unseen. This is what Allah knows only.
* Knowledge that is restricted but not completely unknown. For instance, when the Prophet (S) went on the mi'raj, he saw things that are generally inaccessible to living human beings. Most human beings also do not directly see or hear the angel Jibra'il. Etc. 
* Knowledge that is conventionally accessible. For instance, a book in a library - it can be read by anyone who can read the language and access the book.

This question seems to hinge on the second and third types of knowledge.

Shi'is have held a range of views regarding the knowledge possessed by the prophets and Imams. It is not necessary to adhere to a specific view on this in order to be a Shi'i, although a general bare minimum view for the Ithna Ashari tradition is that the prophets and Imams do not make mistakes and always offer correct guidance, especially although not only on religious matters. 

However, my understanding of Ithna Ashari Shi'i texts is that the Prophet Muhammad (S), the twelve Imams (A), and Fatima al-Zahra (A) possessed or had the ability to access all the knowledge possessed by the previous prophets, and also had a comprehensive knowledge of the world and worldly matters, religious law, the true meanings of the Qur'an, metaphysical matters (as much as is possible), and knowledge of the past and future. Therefore, they would not make mistakes or misguide people or lose people's confidence by saying something wrong. This persists in their otherworldly condition, although perhaps, since Allah is infinite, their knowledge of metaphysical realities can continue to expand.

This view is based on narrations in books such as al-Kafi with respect to the discussions of their knowledge in this life as well as things such as the world of pre-creation. Of course, in the afterlife, all of our knowledge will expand because we will see new realities and will become aware of the truth of some things that were hidden from us or which we were confused about in this world. 

Here is a short treatment of the subject with some narrations: https://www.al-islam.org/imamate-and-leadership-sayyid-mujtaba-musavi-lari/lesson-21-sources-imams-knowledge

However, if someone is genuinely committed to following the Imams, I think it is good for them to think this over personally rather than to just to take someone's word for it; it is good to spend time reading and pondering over what is narrated, asking Allah for guidance, and coming to their own understanding. We live in an age where these materials are readily available to us.