Reality of reason, as the writer says, is it preferable over the reality of hearing? This is a question well drawn and it can be well answered. The subject of Imamate is like that of prophet hood and the conditions surrounding a prophet. To prove a general Imam-hood, that is, the need for an Imam and the conditions of Imam; reason is enough to prove it.
Had the issue of Imamate been one of those that remained out of the premises conception and reason, not independent enough to have say in it, the hearing of the proof would suffice like that of the Prophet’s (S) teachings. What the Prophet (S) has advocated or instructed is in itself a ground for the reason to be taken in account.
The condition that an Imam should have immunity from any wrong doings, that is, ‘Ismat, and for his appointment people have no part; it is reasonable. On the other hand, what is heard form the Prophet (S) in this regard is also a proof - a ground to establish the truth. What the Prophet (S) said and what we heard from him is alike with reason sufficient to establish the truth.
Reason cannot accept what one accepts by hearing. For some items only hearing of the proof is essential. For example, the existence of an Imam, the benefits, the blessings that ensue there from cannot be proved by reason; they can be established only by audible evidence. This is also applied to the prophet hood.
With regards to a particular Imam, the previous one introduces the coming one, that is his successor - exactly the same as the prophets did. Jesus (as) foretold the prophet hood of Mohammed (S). The predecessor informs the people as to whom his successor is. The testament of one prophet or Imam to the prophet-hood or the Imam-hood of the coming one is a proof to establish the truth of that prophet or the Imam. To explain here we should say that a miracle is a proof for the prophet.
Almost all the prophets were blest with this power to perform miracles by the Greatness of God. The first Prophet cannot establish the truth unless he should show or comply with the demands to show a miracle. God has sent His Prophet with the power to perform miracles because a miracle cannot be denied, and it establishes the truth of his being a prophet. A miracle is a proof that of reason and that of hearing.
The miracle can be seen by those who are there and cannot be witnessed by those who are somewhere else. Here to them only the narration, the hearing is proof authentic enough to establish the truth. The Quran is the only miracle, which does not demand any hearing proof because of its eternality. It is the perfection of Islam and its rules and its morals.
The Imamate of the first Imam. A text that of Divine establishes its truth. It is the Prophet (S) who should establish the Imamate of the Imam he is appointing. The Prophet’s word here is authority because it is God’s command through the Prophet’s word.
Imam too performs miracle. The proof of Imamate is his miracle or the Prophet’s appointment or word. Since the Imam is appointed by the Prophet (S) by the command of God is the proof of his truth.
In other words it is upon the Prophet (S) to establish the Imamate whom he has introduced under God’s order. Supposing the proofs, which are forwarded by the Prophet, were not available to us or they become doubtful or various interpretations had made it dubious, then the one man to turn to would have been Ali Bin Abi Talib.
As there being no one other than him referred to or mentioned by the Prophet. Since the man in guardian is one, the benefit of doubt cannot be availed by anyone else. It was one man, as told by the Prophet (S), instructed and specified by him. Here the truth goes to the favor of Ali Bin Abi Talib because there was no one second to him.
An Imam appointed by God through His Prophet is infallible and immune from sin. He should act as a leader, guide, and guardian of the people in all their religious, social, political and social spheres. Ali Bin Abi Talib was a Divine Imam immune from sin, infallible and impeccable.
The earth should have God’s representative, ‘Hujjat’, that is, the authority, the witness. In no age can the earth remain without one. The claim of Imamate is made to him alone. So he stands as the Imam whether present or absent. The others who made the claim proved themselves liars. In the denial of Imamate we deny justice to God. It is the demand of justice, as reason dictates that God should keep His Authority in the world. If evil grows and is not checked then it could be attributed to God and that is absolutely unreasonable.