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The authentic Prophetic Hadeeth states that Allah (SWT) Has Granted Ali (AS) all the tributes and virtues which He Granted the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) except the prophethood. Ali (AS) was gifted everything the Prophet (SAWA) was gifted but Ali (AS) is not a prophet because Muhammad (SAWA) is the last and final prophet and no phrophet after him.

‘The Prophet gets the message from Allah (SWT) to convey it to people. Imam preserves the religion and the message of the Prophet and protects the religion from deviation and teach people the real Islam. Imam continues and preserves and protects the religion.

‘Imam Ali (AS) was taught by the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) every matter in Islam, that is why, no one can know the real Islam after the Prophet but only by taking the knowledge from Imam Ali (AS). The famous authentic Hadeeth from the Prophet say: I am the city of the knowledge and Ali is it’s gate.( Mustadrak Al-Haakim; Hadeeth number 4693 and 4612 and 4613 and 4614).

Wassalam.

In the modern era, some Muslims have become very sensitive to the question of shirk by considering any number of physical objects to be shirk. This includes sacred objects, shrines, etc.

(This idea primarily comes from Wahhabism and Salafism, but some other Muslims have taken it on board too.)

Similarly, Wahhabism and Salafism reject most forms of intercession as shirk, whereas many Muslims before that accepted the idea of intercession.

The Qur'an itself does not state that the notion of sacred objects is shirk. Rather, shirk is when you directly worship beings other than Allah.

So, keeping an alam, in and of itself, is not shirk.

Possibly, some views are cultural. Since alams are most common historically in Iran and the Indian Subcontinent, it has been more common for Shia in other regions, where alams were not common, to criticize the practice. (That is, it was seen as being culturally different and hence suspicious - man is an enemy of what he does not know.)

On the flip side, some Muslims in the Subcontinent have felt cautious about the cultural influence of Hinduism, and so for this reason try to avoid physical objects in devotional practices. (We tend to be most cautious about the things we are closest to, which might be seen as a competitor.) Although I think this is less common.

The Qur'an speaks of some people other than prophets who receive inspiration or messages from God; for instance, the mother of Moses, who is told to put Moses in the river; or when the angel Jibra'il appeared to the Virgin Mary.

So in and of itself, receiving a message from God does not classify a person as a prophet in a traditional theological sense.

Sometimes, there is an expectation that prophets, by definition, are those who are supposed to take the message and then instruct others to act on it in a new way (such as to encourage people to board Noah's ark), or may present a revealed scripture; for instance, the Qur'an.

According to Twelver Shi'i hadith, the Imams had access to knowledge transmitted through God through various means, and this enabled them to serve as representatives of the Prophet's teachings, to better explain them according to the times, and to demonstrate their authority after the time of the Prophet (S) to those who doubted them.

However, they never claimed to be prophets and throughout Twelver Shi'i hadith, there is an emphasis that the Prophet Muhammad (S) is the final prophet. Rather, their role was to explicate the teachings of the Prophet (S) in the best and most accurate manner. They also did not provide a new scripture to the people. So they are not classified as prophets.

There are many verses in Quran about Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) despite the fact that asking about evidence from Quran only with out the Prophet is not the proper way which we should take because it can mean under estimating the authority of the Prophet and even the Quranic order to take whatever the Messenger says. (Sura Al-Hashr, Verse 7). These are some Quranic verses about Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) e.g.

1. Sura Al-Anbiyaa', verse 105.

2. Sura Al-Qasas, verse 5.

3. Sura Al-Noor, verse 55.

4. Sura Al-Tawbah, verse 33.

5. Sura Al-Saff, verse 9.

6. Sura Al-Israr', verse 81.

7. Sura Al-Anfaal, verse 7 and 8.

and many other Verse.

Wassalam.