Part 3: Imamate is established through the explicit mention

Imamate is established through the explicit mention (Nass) of Allah and His Messenger, not through the choice and allegiance of the community (Ummah)

It is a must for every Imam to give a Nass (explicit mention) about his successor Imam (who must be obeyed after him). Some arguments about this have been mentioned in the First part. It must be remembered that the Imamiyah scholars are unanimous on this point that Imam is always appointed by Allah and His Rasool (messenger).

The Abbasids say that it is through Nass or Meeraas (inheritance) and the Zaidis say either through Nass or through an invitation given by himself (Imam). All the Ahle Sunnat say that Imam is appointed either through Nass or through the choice of the leading people of the community. There are many arguments based on logic in favor of the stand of the Imamites:

First argument

As is known by now that the Imam must be Infallible and Infallibility is an unseen or hidden matter which is known to none but Allah. It is essential that the Nass should be from Allah because only He knows about Infallibility, none else.

Second argument

It becomes known by observing the habits of the children of Adam (mankind) and the nature and leanings of the people of the world that when they do not have, over them, a powerful ruler or a strong king who can prevent them from injustice, oppression, lust and such other evils, many people become desirous of suppressing and exploiting the members of their own species and to overpower others through highhandedness and murder etc. which will cause all sorts of corruption and chaos for the entire society and deprivation of peace and tranquillity. It is certain that Allah Almighty does not like such a situation as He says:

وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْفَسَادَ.

And Allah does not like mischief… (Sura Baqarah 2:204)

So it is for Allah Almighty to remove corruption and this does not occur automatically. Rather it is necessary that the administration and management of the mankind must be entrusted to a person who may never deviate from the path of welfare, truthfulness and justice and fairplay and who may protect the interests of all in the matter of both this world and the Hereafter in accordance with the Divine Shariat (code of life).

So, if Allah does not appoint such an Imam, in every age it would imply that He is pleased with corruption. But corruption is an ugly thing. Allah cannot be pleased with an ugly and improper thing.

Third argument

It has been be proved through both texts and logic that Allah always cares the most, on account of His extremes love for them, for the guidance towards the right path of welfare of His servants, in the matter of their lives in both the worlds (on earth and in the Hereafter). It is mentioned in the Holy Quran:

وَاللَّهُ رَءُوفٌ بِالْعِبَادِ.

Verily the merciful Allah is very kind to the servants. (Sura Baqarah 2:207)

The proof of His being extremely kind and merciful for His servant is that he never allows any shortcoming in the details of acts and deeds. Therefore He has made His servants aware of even little things like depilation and moustache cutting and about cleaning of private parts with stone and water and even about copulating, through His merciful and kind messengers explicitly.

Thus it becomes clear that it is extremely essential for the messenger to appoint his caliph or successor who may protect the laws, rules and regulations of the Shariat after his (messenger’s) departure and who may defend his followers from enemies and opponents and that this is more important and essential than the aforesaid details.

Now when Allah is never slack even in the matter of things of little importance then how can He neglect the most important need of perfecting such great essentiality, which is the greatest pillar of religion? So it must be believed that Allah has appointed such an Imam who is the ruler of all servants. So when He revealed to the Holy Prophet (S) to appoint his successor (Imam) all the Muslims agreed that the Nass was in favor of none but Amirul Momineen (a.s.).

Fourth argument

The Ahle Sunnat agree that, according to the Divine rule, Allah has never called back (made to die) any of His messenger, right from Adam (a.s.) to Khatam (Prophet Muhammad S), without appointing their successor. The same had been the rule of the Holy Prophet (S) too.

He had never left for any travel or any battlefield, without first appointing his caliph. Even when he did not go out of town he used to appoint rulers for every place where Muslims lived either in a small numbers or big. Even while sending someone for a battle he never failed to appoint a chief or leader and this appointment never depended on the liking of the people.

He himself used to make such appointment according to the divine command. This was his rule during his every absence, be it a long or a short one. How then could he leave the administration, according to Shariat rules of all the Muslims of the world till Qiyamat (without appointing an Imam)?

Fifth argument

The office of Imamate is like Prophethood because both have to do with an administration and governance and are concerned with all responsible elements in all the worldly and otherworldly matters. It is not possible for the people to recognize such a person who may qualify for this office, (because), even if it is their unanimous choice about a person that selection will be according only to their defective mind (reasoning) and wrong selfishness (self-interest) which cannot be in accordance with an overall common interest and the divine wisdom. Everyone will propose the name of only that person who will be, in his opinion, useful for him or his community.

Of course such unanimity is possible under pressure such as in the government of tyrant, oppressor kings and dictators. It cannot be Imamate (leadership) of the general public and so not a religious rule.

Again, if the masses can, according to divine strategy, select an Imam they can also select a messenger (prophet), which is wrong unanimously. It is worth noting that, suppose, at some place, a king dismisses the governor but does not appoint anybody else in that post or if the administrator of some place goes out of station but appoints no one in charge of his office to take care of the public but leaves the matter to the choice of the people, then, certainly those who do not believe that an Imam must be appointed by Allah, will criticize the above mentioned governor or ruler severely.

How strange that those who find fault with the above-mentioned situation think that it is all right in the case of Allah and the Messenger and say that the Holy Prophet (S) passed away from the world but he did not appoint anyone as his successor but left such selection to the public.

Sixth argument

Take for granted that the Ummat (community) gives up all selfishness and desires and selects an Imam after a serious and sincere thought. But since to err is human it is possible that someone makes some mistake in selection and they may leave aside a proper person and select an unworthy fellow, as often happens in kingdoms and dictatorships and general elections wherein they elect a person for a period, considering him quite fit but subsequently their choice proves to be erroneous. This matter will, Insha Allah, be discussed in depth in the description of Hazrat Sahibul Amr (a.t.f.s.).

Seventh argument

Take it for granted that the selection of an Imam by an Ummat itself is correct and all right, but it is quite obvious that the Most Merciful Allah is the knower of all open and hidden matters and is most aware of His servants and of who is appropriate for which work or job. Verily this is quite easy for Him. Then despite this fact, to give it up and to entrust it to others who hardly know these things is like preferring a less preferable thing and it is improper and ugly and impossible on the part of the Omniscient, Omnipotent and the All Wise Allah.

Eight argument

If the selection of Imam is at the discretion of the Ummat then there are two possibilities. Their selection will be erroneous. Now since the Creator knew beforehand that they will be making mistakes it will be extremely ugly on the part of the Omniscient and All wise (Allah who is very Kind and Merciful) to entrust such important matters of managing religious affairs and training of the Ummat to those who err and select tyrant rulers. The Omniscient can never do this.

Moreover, when the divine knowledge had encompassed that people would be selecting a worthy person for Imamate, though it is extremely difficult to recognize such a man and to make the people recognize him and to prepare them for his obedience and to remove the enmity of the quarrelling and the envy of the envious for people. But as it is quite easy for the Lord of the Universe, it is extremely ugly on His part to leave so much hard work to others and to appoint a group of weak persons for such a big job. It is totally impossible on the part of the Omnipotent and Omniscient. He Himself asserts:

يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمْ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمْ الْعُسْرَ.

Allah likes ease for you and does not want hardship. (Sura Baqarah 2:185)

Again He says:

وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ.

He has not laid upon you a hardship in religion. (Sura Hajj 22:78)

And what is more difficult than the above-mentioned task? This argument combines the past two arguments.

Verses that mention the appointment of the Imams (a.s.)

The First Verse:

The Lord of the universe asserts:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي.

Today I have perfected for you your religion and have concluded My bounties on you. (Sura Maida 5:3)

The entire Ummah agrees that, after Prophethood nothing is more essential than Imamate (overall leadership) for them because if there is no Imam there will very soon be no sign of either religion or the believers (Islam of Muslims). Thus both the religion and the Ummah (Millat) will still remain in dire need of an Imam without whom they will remain imperfect.

So if Allah did not appoint an Imam and did not inform the Ummah about him and lifted His messenger from this world then it would only mean that both the religion and Ummah (community) would remain imperfect and whoever did so has denied Allah, Prophet and Quran and has become a disbeliever (denier), notwithstanding the widely related tradition which is narrated by both Shias and The Ahle Sunnat, that this verse was revealed after the Nass showing the appointment of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) as the Caliph.

We shall mention them now. Those Verses are: The Almighty has said in many verses that “We have” mentioned everything in the Quran, such as: Surah Anam 6:381 and Surah Nahl 16:892 and similar other verses which convey that there is nothing about which We have not said in the Holy Quran. Now the command about Imamate and his appointment is the most important command and also very essential which has certainly been mentioned and not left out. He must not have left it to others to decide and whoever will say in opposition to this will deny Quran and become an apostate.

There are also many such verses in the Holy Quran wherein Allah has said that all affairs are in the control of Allah that others have no choice in it. For example, when the hypocrites were asking “have we any choice in this matter?” Allah responded: ‘O Messenger! Tell them that the choice (authority) of all affairs is in the control of Allah that you have no choice in any matter.’

So when even the Messenger has no choice, the matter of Imamate is also included therein. So others deserve more to be powerless. It is mentioned through the sources of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) that this verse is revealed in the matter of Imamate. So Ayyashi has, quoting Jabir Jufi, said: I read this (‘O Messenger! Tell them that the choice (authority) of all affairs is in the control of Allah that you have no choice in any matter.) before Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and the Hazrat (a.s.) said:

By Allah, the Holy Prophet (S) had choice over everything that the meaning of this verse is not what you think. I tell you the cause of the revelation of this verse. The truth is that when Allah commanded His messenger to announce the Imamate and Wilayat of Ali (a.s.), the Prophet began to worry about the enmity of his community as he knew that Allah had given Ali (a.s.) preference over all other companions because Amirul Momineen had testified Allah and His Prophet before all others and he was the first to put Faith and it was he who aided Allah and His Messenger and it was he who killed the enemies of Islam before all others and his knowledge was more than all others. His graces were innumerable.

So the Messenger (S) worried about the enmity of the community due to these virtues of Ali (a.s.) and also because of people’s envy against Ali (a.s.) he feared that people would not obey him. At that moment Allah the Almighty informed him that you have no choice in the matter of Imamate and Khilafat. Only Allah has authority in this matter and Allah has made Ali (a.s.) his legatee. Thereafter he (the Prophet) entrusted the Imamate of public affairs to Ali (a.s.). This is the meaning of this verse.

Then with evidence Jabir has narrated that he sought the explanation (meaning) of this verse from Imam Baqir (a.s.). The Hazrat said: O Jabir! The Holy Prophet (S) wanted that caliphate may be with Ali (a.s.) after him and it was in the knowledge that He would leave the people themselves for a test and that He may not apply force in this matter and He knew that they would grab caliphate.

So Jabir asked as to what was the meaning of this verse. The Imam (a.s.) replied: it means that Allah said: O Muhammad! You have no choice in the matter of Imamate and Khilafat of Ali (a.s.) nor in the matter of its being snatched by others. Whatever choice (authority) is, it is with Me, and it is I Who has revealed this verse to you:

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَنْ يُتْرَكُوا أَنْ يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ. وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ.

Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, We believe, and not be tried? And certainly We tried those before them, so Allah will certainly know those who are true and He will certainly know the liars. (Sura Ankabut 29:2-3)

Another Verse is:

وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ هَذَا الْقُرْآنُ عَلَى رَجُلٍ مِنْ الْقَرْيَتَيْنِ عَظِيمٍ.

And they (the unbelievers of Quraysh) say: Why was not this Quran revealed to a man of importance in the two towns (Mecca and Taif)? (Sura Zukhruf 43:31)

That is, to Walid bin Mughira and Urwah bin Masood Thaqafi who are rich in the matter of wealth and pomp. As the office of Prophethood is great it is fit for only high-ranking men. They did not understand that this office or rank is spiritual and that it demands greatness of soul and pious gracefulness not of gathering the trifling material things of this passing worldly life. Therefore Allah Almighty said:

أَهُمْ يَقْسِمُونَ رَحْمَةَ رَبِّكَ نَحْنُ قَسَمْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ مَعِيشَتَهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَرَفَعْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِيَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُهُمْ بَعْضًا سُخْرِيًّا وَرَحْمَةُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ.

Will they distribute the mercy of your Lord? We distribute among them their livelihood in the life of this world, and We have exalted some of them above others in degrees, that some of them may take others in subjection; and the mercy of your Lord is better than what they amass. (Sura Zukhruf 43:32)

That is do they want that they should distribute the mercy of Allah, which is Prophethood, to whosoever they like, just as We have distributed their provision among them in the worldly life and have raised the rank of some over others keeping disparity in their provision (belongings) so that some may take service from others for fulfilling their needs and there may develop love between them and the worldly system may remain in proper order and hence there is no room for any objection to this arrangement of Ours.

The Mercy of your Lord which is Messengership and connected matters is better than what people collect from the worldly wealth and property. The purport of this verse is that Messengership or Prophethood is higher than money and that its rank is also higher. We have not left its distribution to them. Rather We Ourself distribute (allot) it and grant it to whomsoever We like.

Then the rank of Imamate, which is like that of Prophethood and, after Prophethood no other grace and mercy of Allah is greater. Thus when the most insignificant matter like distribution of worldly wealth, is not left by Us to the lowly servants and We keep it only with Us for allotment, then, doubtlessly, Allah will not leave the office of Imamate which, in fact, is similar to Prophethood, to the choice of the Ummat.

The Second Verse

وَرَبُّكَ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ وَيَخْتَارُ.

Your Lord creates whatever He likes and He Himself selects whomsoever He wishes for every job. (Sura Al-Qasas 28:68)

The people of the world have no authority to do whatever they wish by themselves and the Lord of the World is clean and pure of what these people attribute to Him and who imagine that they and others are partners in choice and think that they are in authority.

The commentators (Mufassirin) agree that this verse was revealed when the people of Quraysh said:

وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ هَذَا الْقُرْآنُ عَلَى رَجُلٍ مِنْ الْقَرْيَتَيْنِ عَظِيمٍ.

And they say: Why was not this Quran revealed to a man of importance in the two towns? (Sura Zukhruf 43:31)

As has been explained earlier the cause of arguing on the basis of this verse is clear and there are many traditions explaining it as given below.

Ibne Shahar Aashob has, in Manaqib, quoted Imam Sadiq (a.s.) while explaining the verse: Your Lord creates whatever He likes and He Himself selects whomsoever He wishes for every job, said that Allah has selected Muhammad (S) and his progeny (Ahlul Bayt).

Also according to both The Ahle Sunnat and Shia, Anas bin Malik has narrated and Ibne Tawoos too, has, in Taraif, narrated from Tafsir Ibne Momin, from Anas, who says that I asked the meaning of this verse from the Holy Prophet (S) and he said:

Allah created Adam from earth as He liked and then said: Allah selected me and my household (a.s.) and raised them above the entire creation and granted us authority over all. So He made me the messenger and appointed Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) as my Wasee (legatee) and then said: He did not give to the people the choice of electing whomsoever they like, but I choose whomsoever I like. So I and my household have been selected and raised by Allah over the creation and thereafter said: Subhanallah meaning Allah is clean of all the things which the deniers of Mecca attribute to Him making some His partners.

(O Muhammad!) Your Lord knows all of that what they have hidden in their hearts. (Sura Nahl 16:74)

The Prophet (S) said: The meaning is that (He knows) the enmity and jealously of the hypocrites against you and the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and Wa Maa Yu’linoon means that too of the (fake) friendship and love for you which they express (falsely) by their tongues.

Humairi has, in Qurbul Asnaad, with proofs, quoted Imam Ridha (a.s.) saying that:

It is incumbent for the Imam, to declare clearly, before his passing away, about the Imam who is to follow him making his arguments complete. The Lord of the worlds mentions in His Holy Book:

وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِلَّ قَوْمًا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَاهُمْ حَتَّى يُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ مَا يَتَّقُونَ.

Allah does not mislead any community after showing them the right path until He declared all those things from which they should desist. (Sura Tawbah 9:115)

In short, the narrator asked whether an Imam wills his successor Imam according to his wish. The Hazrat said: In this matter Allah appoints whomsoever He likes (the Imams name the legatee according to Allah’s command). This matter is mentioned with proofs and authentic sources in Basairud Darajat too.

Shaykh Tabarsi etc. have narrated in Darajat that Saeed bin Abdullah went to Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) to inquire about some problems. There he saw a child sitting in the lap of the Hazrat. When he asked about his problems the Imam pointed to the child and said: Ask this Master of yours, that is, ask the Sahibul Amr (a.s.). One of that man’s questions was: O Master! Just let us know why an Ummat (community) cannot select their Imam for themselves? The Hazrat replied: About which Imam are you asking, about the one who reforms the society or the one who corrupts it? He submitted: I am asking about the reformer Imam.

The Hazrat asked: Is it possible that his selection (choice) may result in corruption and in (people’s) opinion he may be a reformer and about whom people may not know whether he has reform in his heart or corruption. He replied: Yes it is possible. The Hazrat said: It is because of this that the selection of an Imam is not in their ability. I am now explaining this thing further with the help of an example. You will then understand it. He said: Please do elaborate.

The Hazrat said: Tell me about those messengers whom Allah chose and gave them a high rank and revealed Holy Divine Books to them and strengthened them through revelation and Infallibility because they are the guides of the Ummah. They include Moosa and Isa (a.s.) also. Is it proper on their part that they may, despite their wisdom and perfect knowledge, select, when they want, a wrong group (which is hypocrite) imagining that they are believers? He said: No it is not so (not permissible).

Then the Hazrat said: Moosa Kaleemullah (a.s.) has, despite all of his a wisdom and divine knowledge, selected seventy people from his community for a term fixed by Allah imaging them as doubtlessly faithful and honest. Yet he knew afterwards that all of them were hypocrites as Allah Almighty has said:

وَاخْتَارَ مُوسَى قَوْمَهُ سَبْعِينَ رَجُلًا لِمِيقَاتِنَا فَلَمَّا أَخَذَتْهُمْ الرَّجْفَةُ...

And Musa chose out of his people seventy men for Our appointment; so when the earthquake overtook them… (Sura Araf 7:155)

The interpretation of which has been written in volume one of this book. Thereafter Imam (a.s.) said: When we come to know that the selection made by a man whom Allah has selected as a prophet resulted in the choosing of the worst corrupted men, while he was thinking them as most righteous and reliable ones, we realize that a man who does not know the things hidden in people’s hearts cannot select properly. So only he can make selection who knows all open and secret things of the people. Now when a prophet could not elect the best ones how could the migrants (muhajirs) and helpers (ansars) elect the Imam? This matter will be presented in detail in the chapter about the events of Sahibul Amr – (Insha Allah).

Ibne Babawayh has, with the authority of reliable sources narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that the Lord of the Worlds took the Holy Prophet (S) above the sky a hundred and twenty times and told him about the Wilayat (guardianship) of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and about his twelve successor Imams and Allah emphasized this matter more than all other issues and duties.

It is narrated from Imam Moosa Kazim (a.s.) in Qurbul Asnaad that Allah Almighty has not put as much emphasis on any matter as He has put regarding the confirmation of Imamate and people did not deny any other matter more than this issue.

Ibne Babawayh and Kulaini etc. have, through reliable sources narrated that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) was asked by some people as to why Imamate was given to children of Imam Husain (a.s.) and not of Imam Hasan (a.s.) when both were the sons of the Holy Prophet (S) and sons of his daughter and both were the best youths of Paradise? The Hazrat replied: Moosa and Haroon (a.s.) too were brothers and also both were sent prophets.

Yet Allah Almighty put prophethood in the lineage of Haroon (a.s.) and not in that of Moosa (a.s.) and no one has any authority to ask as to why Allah did so because Imamate is the vicegerancy of Allah, of none else. So none can also ask why Imamate was put in the progeny of Imam Husain (a.s.) because Allah is knowing more than others and He is the Wisest in all affairs. No one can question His choice whereas others can be asked.

Kulaini, Ibne Babawayh and Saffar and more than twenty others have, with reliable chains of narrators, narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that he said: You people imagine that the authority of Imamate is with the Imams themselves, that is, we may give it to anyone of our choice. No, by Allah, it is not so. Rather Imamate is an oath or undertaking of the messenger of Allah, about each and everyone from the first (Imam) to the last one.

The reliable references from Imam Sadiq (a.s.), narrate that he said: None from us (Imams) passes away from this world unless Allah shows him whom he should make his legatee.

According to another narration, every Imam knows his successor Imam and gives only to him his will.

According to another report, an Imam does not pass away from this world before knowing who is to be his successor Imam.

Ibne Shahar Aashob has, quoting Muhammad Ibne Jurair Tabari, in Manaqib, that when the Holy Prophet (S) presented himself before the Arab tribes and asked for allegiance from them, he went to Bani Kalaab and asked them to embrace Islam and demanded allegiance. They replied: We will accept on condition that you will entrust the Caliphate to us after you. The Holy Prophet (S) replied: This matter is entirely with Allah. If He wishes He will give it to you and if He so desires He will entrust it to others. Hearing these words, they did not give allegiance and said: Should we come and fight in favor of others and you may appoint others as our rulers?

It is also narrated that once Abul Hasan Rafa asked a Sunni scholar: When the Holy Prophet (S) went out of Medina did he appoint anyone as his caliph? He said: Yes, he had appointed Ali (a.s.) as his caliph. Abul Hasan asked: Why did he not tell the people of Medina to select themselves someone as their caliph because you will never agree unanimously on waywardness?

That scholar said: Because the Holy Prophet (S) was apprehensive of those people’s feud among themselves and he feared about the possibility of mischief. Abul Hasan said: Had it been so, he would have reformed the affairs after his return. That scholar said: It was better on the part of the Holy Prophet (S) to appoint his caliph for the protection from any trouble. Abul Hasan said: Did then the Holy Prophet (S) appoint anyone as his caliph finally?

That man said: No. Abul Hasan said: The absence due to death was longer than the absence during any journey for the requirement of a caliph, then why did he not fear of any dispute or mischief among the Ummah? He had made a provision for a lesser evil which was likely to come up during a shorter travel absence? That scholar kept quiet. He could not give any answer.

  • 1. And there is no animal that walks upon the earth nor a bird that flies with its two wings but (they are) genera like yourselves; We have not neglected anything in the Book, then to their Lord shall they be gathered.
  • 2. And We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything, and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit.