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The Twelve Infallible Imams from Ahlul Bayt (AS) did inherit the knowledge of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). That is why, their status is from his status as Allah says in Quran ذُرِّيّةً بَعْضُها مِن بَعض A Progeny (of the Prophet) which part from him. Their status is higher than everyone except the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) who is The Highest over all creatures.


Bismihi ta'ala

I would like to direct you to something I wrote on my website regarding your important question. Although it is long, but it will hopefully explain this misconception in detail.

With prayers for your success.

The status of all the Infallible Imams (AS) is derived from the status of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) which is the highest among all the Prophets before him.
Allah says in Quran: A Progeny every one from them is from the others ذُرّيّةً بَعضُها مِن بَعض

This means that the Prophet's status and his Progeny's status are one from the another.


Allah (SWT) appointed all the prophets and all their successors. Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) informed about the names of his twelve successors (AS). Jaabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansaari, the pious companion of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was among those who were been informed about the names of the twelve Imams after the Prophet (SAWA). 

 Infallible Imam informs some of his most trusted followers about the Imam after him, and that also depends on the situation. Appointment is from Allah (SWT) and informing is from the Imam (AS) about his successor.