Chapter Ten: The doctrine of Imamate from the Qur’an

 

We have in previous chapters outlined the practical and spiritual necessity of Imamate, and as such it is undeniable. According to the teachings of the Prophet (s) and the Imams (as), the office of Imamate is so important that Allah (swt) Himself appoints the Imam at all times. This has always been the way throughout history: not once do we hear of the people ever selecting or nominating their Prophet and Imam, and this is something that even the most superficial reading of the Qur’an will prove. Nonetheless, Ansar.org’s article “The Qur’an and Imamah” is a bizarre attempt to prove that the Qur’an does not speak of Imamate at all, and that the Shi’ite conception of Imamate lacks any Qur’anic basis at all. When this brief historical survey shows the absolute importance of just leadership, something which no Muslim can deny, it is bizarre that a group of Muslims would come along and say that the Qur’an has nothing to say about it. The article revolves around the attempt to prove that the term “Imam” occurs only rarely in the Qur’an, and that the word is rarely used in a way that fits with the Shi’ite conception of Imamate. Afriqi cites the numerous meanings of Imam in the Qur’an, in his efforts to suggest that Imamate as a term carries no significance in the eyes of Allah (swt). He cites there verses wherein Imam refers to a Book.

Afriqi states:

And before it was the Book of Musa, a guide and a mercy.(al-Ahqaf : 12)…Verily, we will restore the dead to life, and we write that which they sent forth, and that which they left behind; and of everything we have taken account in a Clear Book. (Yasin : 12)

The words Imam appears at different places in the Qur’an and it can be understood in terms of its literal meaning. Whilst we accept that the term means book in this verse, but when it comes to our aqeedah the specific concept of Imamte from a Shi’a perspective Imamate means viceregency of the Prophet (s).

Afriqi also provided a partial citing of this verse in his efforts to prove that Imam refers to Book.

Afriqi states:

And before it was the Book of Musa, a guide and a mercy. (Hud : 17)

Reply One

The irony is rather than weaken our stance this further strengthens the Shi’a position on Imamate. As Shi’a we believe that Imam refers to that person appointed by Allah (swt) with the responsibility for providing guidance on the teachings of the Creator to mankind. This can be evidenced from from the story of Ibraheem (as):

002.124
And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He said: “I will make thee an Imam to the Nations.” He pleaded: “And also (Imams) from my offspring!” He answered: “But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers.”

Similarly in Suran Anbiya verse 73 we read

021.073
And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practice regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only).

With this in mind let us now turn to the verses cited by Al Afriqi wherein Imam is used to refer to the Divine Book brought by Musa (as).

If we look at these verses collectively wherein the Imam is used to refer to a person and a book we see a common theme. If the Imam is used to refer to a Book then it refers to that Book revealed by Allah (swt) i.e. the Torah, but this will no doubt include all other Divine Books the last of which is the Qur’an. If the Imam appears in human form, then just like the Book usage of Imam, this is also sent by Allah (swt), as is clear from the words ‘innee jaAAiluka lilnnasi Imaman’ and the words ‘wamin thurriyyatee qala la yanalu AAahdee alththalimeena’ prohibits the contract of imamate for the unjust. In summary we can see that in the Qur’an the term Imam has been used to refer to that Book sent by Allah (swt) to provide guidance for the people, when the term Imam is used for a human being, it refers to that person who has been appointed by Allah (swt) to provide guidance to mankind, who (like the Divine Book) is masum and never falls into the quagmire of injustice.

Reply Two

17.Can they be (like) those who accept a Clear (Sign) from their Lord, and whom a witness from Himself doth teach, as did the Book of Moses before it,- a guide and a mercy? They believe therein; but those of the Sects that reject it,- the Fire will be their promised meeting-place. Be not then in doubt thereon: for it is the truth from thy Lord: yet many among men do not believe!

One needs to understand a little about the background of this verse. It descended at a time when the Makkan Kuffar were mocking Rasulullah (s) asking how a man they deemed illiterate had been appointed by Allah (swt) as a Prophet (s) when educated Arabs existed in that same society. It was in response to such beligning of the Prophet (s) that Allah (swt) sent down this verse.
The crucial part of this verse is the fact that Allah (swt) makes reference a witness taught by Allah (swt) to provide guidance, in the same way that the Torah guided the Jews. This witness is the Imam, in the way that the Torah was a guide for the Isralites, and it is this witness / Imam that Allah (swt) has referred to as a guide and mercy. The witness has been compared to the Book that acted as an Imam for the people of Musa. Of interest is the fact that many Sunni Ulema have stated that this verse had descended in honour of Maula ‘Ali (as), as evidence we have relied on the following books of Ahl’ul Sunnah:

  1. Tafseer Durre Manthur Volume 3 page 324
  2. Tadhkirathul Khawwas al Ummah pages 25-26
  3. Manaqib Ammer’ul Momineen by Ibn Maghazzali, p175

We read in Tafseer Durre Manthur:

“On one occasion ‘Ali said in a gathering of the Quraysh, ‘There exists no Qurayshite about whom Allah (swt) never revealed a Qur’anic verse, whether it was in their honour or condemnation, as a result of which they will end up in Paradise or Hell. One man stood up and asked ‘Which verse came down in your honour?’ ‘Ali replied ‘Have you not read the verse:
‘Can they be (like) those who accept a Clear (Sign) from their Lord, and whom a witness from Himself doth teach, as did the Book of Moses before it,- a guide and a mercy?’
The clear sign is Muhammad and the witness is me”.

Tafseer Durre Manthur Volume 3 page 324

Afriqi states:

A road
One reference is to a clearly discernible road:
And verily, the two (cities) lie next to a clear road. (alHijr : 79)

Reply

One word can have numerous meanings, it would be incorrect that the word can be restricted to this alone. If our assertion is correct we challenge Afriqi to present an example.

The terms Imams association with apostasy in the Quran

Al Afriqi whilst setting out the meaning of Imam in the Qur’an and provides these two meaning given by Allah (swt):

Afriqi states:

In another 2 cases it refers to the champions of kufr:
Fight the leaders of kufr. (at-Tawbah : 12)
And We made them leaders who call towards the Fire. (al-Qasas : 41)

Reply

The term Imam can be used for good and bad Imam as attested in the Qur’an, this does not in anyway refute the concept of divine Imamate. When we the Shi’a talk of Imam we refer to it specifically for the twelve Imams, this does not in any mean that whenever the term Imam is used it will automatically mean the twelve Imams, evidenced from the two verses cited by Afriqi. How we generally use a word does not necessarily mean that it carries the same meaning in all scenarios. Take the example of the term Hadith, it is generally used to refer to the sayings of the Prophet (s), but in the Qur’an the term has been associated with misguidance, we read in Surah Luqman, verse 6 [YUSUFALI]:

“But there are, among men, those who purchase idle tales (Hadith), without knowledge (or meaning), to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah and throw ridicule (on the Path): for such there will be a Humiliating Penalty.”

As we have shown, his chapter entitled ‘Usage of the word Imam’ in the Qur‘an the author cites the different meanings of Imam from the Qur’an’, that includes Prophets, Road, Book etc. Whilst Allah (swt) does indeed use ‘Imam’ in the concept of these terms it needs to be recognised that it is not exclusively referred to these terms, Imam means ‘to lead’, a road, book and Prophet (s) can indeed be our Imams, but so can the successor of the Prophet (s) and this type of divine guidance can be evidenced from the Glorious Book of Allah (swt), as we shall now set about proving.

We read in Surah Aal-e-Imran verses 102-104 [YUSUFALI]:

O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.
And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.
Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.

This verse cannot refer to the entire Muslim Ummah since Allah (swt) make’s reference to a ‘band of people’. In the verse Allah (swt) expresses the importance of not being divided, if all Muslims were given freedom of thought in relation to religious teachings, so that they were entitled to interpret the Qur’an and Sunnah in whichever ay they liked the unity of the Ummah would come to end. No one is free to interpret the Qur’an and Sunnah in such a manner, Allah (swt) has expressed the need for a ‘band of people’ and we need to locate these individuals whose sole purpose for being on the earth is to convey the true teachings of Islam to the masses.

Such individuals act as a focal point on religious guidance, the teachings / interpretation of the Deen are deemed to be the final authority on a matter. It is indeed unfortunate that the division of the Ummah would have been prevented had we held tight to the Rope of Allah, as it was a guarantee against division. The verse tells believers to preserve their Iman and to die as Muslims. To embrace Iman is not as difficult as maintaining it, if you abandon it then the Iman you once had will be of no avail to you in the next world. The verse is a warning signal to Muslims, don’t loose your Iman.

How is Iman lost? The Holy Prophet (s) warned his companions as to how this would happen:

Abdullah Ibne Umar narrates:

“Do not revert to disbelief after me by striking (cutting) the necks of one another”
Sahih al Bukhari Volume 9 Hadith Number 199

The questions that comes to the mind is ‘Why would the Prophet (s) convey these dire warnings to his companions?’ It is logical that he must have foreseen some type of indication that would suggest that problems would arise after him.

The verse was likewise a warning to the people to be careful, it is of course applicable then as it was at the time of its descent. How do we maintain unity and our Iman? The verse makes it clear that we hold tight to the ‘Rope of Allah’, that is the path to unity. There is indeed much strength in unity, but the question that has to be answered honestly is ‘Did our Muslims predecessors, maintain this status quo, this unity?’ The answer is a resounding ‘no’ they did not hold tight to the rope of Allah. If they had done so they would not have been divided, they were divided and what was worse the disunity was so extreme that they declared war on one another, , issued fatwas of Kufr and Innovation on one another and killed one another, a pattern that continues to the present day. The Verse states that Allah had blessed the people by turning enemies into brothers, and it is this Muslim brotherhood that we all talk about when we invite non-Muslims to Al Islam. Unfortunately there is little evidence that it exists in the beautiful form that it is often presented and spoken of. Had it ever existed we would not be in the sorry predicament that we face as a whole. The Holy Prophet said “Your blood, property, honor and skin (i.e. body) are sacred to one another” [Sahih al Bukhari Volume 9 Hadith Number 199]

Has the Muslim world taken any adherence to this hadith? We are saddened to see that the opposite has occurred with scholars sanctifying the shedding of Muslim blood on the premise that those holding differing opinions are apostates. So what is that Rope of Allah? Some assert that it is the Qur’an, but many of the divisions that exist have been based on interpretations of the Book. Islam is divided into many Sects, all of which purport to rely on the Qur’an to uphold their school of thought, to justify their stance. There is no standard commentary of the Qur’an that all Muslims accept, there are countless commentaries of the Qur’an. The Divine Book has become the victim of distorted meanings with differing interpretations of verses, based upon theological schools of affiliation. Rather than act as a source foir quelling Fitnah this Divine Book has been exploited as a source of creating Fitnah! The Qur’an is helpless on it’s own as it is a silent Book, it cannot physically guide any one so the Qur’an can not be exclusively deemed to be the Rope of Allah. Its words of wisdom will only go so far as beacons of guidance without a living Guide to bring them alive in the hearts of the believers. There is also no evidence that the Holy Prophet ever declared the Qur’an would be the sole source of guidance for the Muslim Ummah. It is dependent on a teacher, on a correct interpreter. Had the Qur’an been sufficient, there would have been no reason for Allah to send the Holy Prophet to the Arabs, he could have sent down the Qur’an in one go, in a complete book form. Moreover Allah (swt) in the verse also expresses the importance of a ‘band of people’ i.e. a selected number of personalities from the Ummah, the question is how do we locate these individuals? Those who fall under this category:

  1. Invite the people to all that is good – Individuals unable to decipher between good and bad, cannot meet this requirement.
  2. Enjoin what is right – An individual can only preach this if he practises good deeds in all of his activities.
  3. Forbid what is wrong – Individuals that are aware about what is halaal, Makruh and Haraam and this can only be done by that individual who has a complete grasp of the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of his blessed Prophet (s).

From a partial aspect all persons can so the above, a father will seek to pass this on to his son, a teacher will convey this to his students we can all guide our subordinates in accordance with our knowledge. This verse however refer to that band of people who have a complete command of the teachings of Allah (swt), and they practice what they preach, individuals who only convey teachings theoretically cannot come within this category for Allah (swt) says in Surah Saff verse 2 [YUSUFALI]:

O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not?

The religious duties set out in Surah Aal-e-Imran are exclusively for those that practice what they preach. They possess a knowledge of what is good / bad for you, something unknown to the common man, what better example can there that the words of Allah (swt) in Surah al Baqarah verse 216 [YUSUFALI]:

Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.

This verse supports the requirement of ‘a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong’.

When we seek to locate these special people we need to look no further than the Hadith uttered from the blessed lips of our Holy Prophet (s) who said:

“I have left among you two weighty things, if you follow them you will never be misguided after me, the Book of Allah and my progeny, the people of my house”
Miskat al Masabih, Volume 4 page 468 Hadith number 18 under the chapter “People of the Prophet’s household”.

This band of people are the rope of Allah (swt) that the Prophet (s) told the Ummah to grasp and Allamah Jalaluddin Suyuti in his commentary of the above verse records the following Hadith:

“I am leaving among you two khalifas, the Qur’an and my Ahlul’bayt, they will never become separate until they meet me at the pool ”.
Tafsir Durre Manthur, Volume 2 page 107, printed in Beirut, Lebanon

This narration has also been recorded by Mufti Ghulam Rasool in Jawahir al Uloom page 100 from Sawaiqh al Muhirqa page 149, Ibn Hajr records this from Imam Sadiq:

“We are the rope of Allah, about whom Allah (swt) had said “…and hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah”
Jawahir al Uloom, page 100

The Ahl’ul bayt (as) are the Rope of Allah they are the means of guidance and Maula ‘Ali (as) is at the helm of the group, he was most competent to lead the Ummah which why Rasulullah (s) declared his Wilayah (Mastership) at Ghadir Khumm.he Rope of Allah acts as a means of preventing division, as Allah (swt) says ‘hold fast to the Rope of Allah and do not become divided amongst yourselves.

We had earlier cited the ailments that Rasulullah (s) predicted, such as Sahaba killing each other, falling into the quagmire of division and kufr, originate from one source the disease of Fitnah, a condition that can be avoided by following the Rope of Allah, those that would act as the focal point for the Ummah to turn to after him, thus preventing any risk of Fitnah, which is exactly why Rasulullah (s) said about Imam ‘Ali (as):

“Shortly after me, discord and hatred will arise among you, when such a situation arises, go and search out Ali because he can separate the truth from falsehood”
Kanzul Ummal, by Ali Muttaqi al Hind, Volume 2 page 612 (Published in Multan).

“O ‘Ali you will openly convey to the Ummah those matters that will cause differences after me”
al Mustadrak, Voulme 3 page 122

After Rasulullah (s), Imam ‘Ali (as) was present to lead the Umamh by example because he implemented the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah to the letter.

Maula ‘Ali (as) had acted on every verse of the Qur’an something that no other Sahabi had attained, we read in Surah Mujadilah verse 12 [YUSUFALI]:

O ye who believe! When ye consult the Messenger in private, spend something in charity before your private consultation. That will be best for you, and most conducive to purity (of conduct). But if ye find not (the wherewithal), Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Maula Ali (as) was the only Sahabi who gave Sadaqah following the descent of this order and continued to do so until the order was revoked by another verse. This has been confirmed by Tafseer Durre Manthur, vol. 6, p185, Riyadhul Nadhira, v2, p149 & Tadhkharatul Khawwas, p26.

A group exists that guide people to the right path and we have the testimony of the Prophet (s) confirming that this refers to the Ahl’ul bayt (as) with Maula ‘Ali (as) heading this group.

We read in Surah Araf verse 159-160 [YUSUFALI]:

Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth.
We divided them into twelve tribes or nations. We directed Moses by inspiration, when his (thirsty) people asked him for water: “Strike the rock with thy staff”: out of it there gushed forth twelve springs: Each group knew its own place for water. We gave them the shade of clouds, and sent down to them manna and quails, (saying): “Eat of the good things We have provided for you”: (but they rebelled); to Us they did no harm, but they harmed their own souls.

We can see from this verse that from the Bani Israil a group existed who provided guidance and implemented justice. We see that each tribe was split into twelve, with leaders at the helm of each group proven by Surah Sajdah verses 23-24:

And certainly We gave the Book to Musa, so be not in doubt concerning the receiving of it, and We made it a guide for the children of Israel.
And We made of them Imams to guide by Our command when they were patient, and they were certain of Our communications.

The verse proves that Imams were appointed as Guides for the Israelities, i.e. guides for each of the twelve tribes.

We read in Surah Araf verse 181 [YUSUFALI]:

Of those We have created are people who direct (others) with truth. And dispense justice therewith.

This verse applies to the Muslim Ummah and in the same way Allah (swt) appointed from the children of Israel in Surah Araf verse 159 those who guide and do justice, from the Muslim Ummah Allah (swt) he also had people people ‘who direct (others) with truth. And dispense justice therewith’.

We read Surah Baqarah verse 143 [YUSUFALI]:

Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves; and We appointed the Qibla to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (From the Faith). Indeed it was (A change) momentous, except to those guided by Allah. And never would Allah Make your faith of no effect. For Allah is to all people Most surely full of kindness, Most Merciful.

This verse refers to those that are just and have a form control over their desires; they do not drift in and out of good deeds. One that has successfully disciplined himself by control all his desires is just on himself, whilst one that cannot discipline himself can never be deemed just on others. These individuals are justly balanced in that that they know the limits of what is good / bad for you, they no the fine line between halaal and makruh. Perfection by controlling your desires refers to those individuals who have never perpetuated sins; they are just on themselves and others.

Muslims in general cannot be deemed the Middle Ummah as some Sunni Ulema would suggest, since we are the final Ummah of the Seal of all Prophets Muhammad (s). All Prophets will be witnesses to the Ummah’s in their lifetime on the Day of Judgement, their Imams will be witnesses to the Ummah that existed after their deaths. The twelve Imams will be witnesses to the Ummah of Muhammad (s) that appeared after his death. These are the same individuals that Allah (swt) stipulates the need for in Surah Aal-e-Imran verses 102-104, individuals who invite the people to all that is good, enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. Whilst Allah (swt) expresses his desire for such people to exist in Surah Aal-e-Imran verse 110 he confirms their existence:

Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.

In summary, we see that after the Qur’an there exists the need of those individuals who act according to the will of Allah (swt), and have a comprehensive understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and act on it, their knowledge and actions are perfect. It is logical that such a people exist, people whom the Creator deems ‘the best of peoples’ and this refers to those whose actions fit in with the criteria set out by Allah (swt), individuals whom Allah (swt) signposted for the Ummah at mount Arafat on his first and last Hajj, stating ‘I am leaving two things…’

To further strengthen our position we have relied on traditions taken from Yanabi al Mawaddat pages 503-504 by Shaykh Suleman Qandozi al-Hanafi. who copied them from Mawaddatul Qurba:

Jabir Ibn Abdullah – The Prophet (s) said ‘I am the Chief of Prophets, ‘Ali is the Chief of inheritors. Verily the Saints after me are twelve, the first is ‘Ali, the last is al Qaim Mahdi”.

‘Ali – The Prophet (s) said ‘This world cannot end until someone from my Ummah, from the lineage of Hussain stands up, who will fill the earth with justice when it was previously replete with injustice.

Salman al Farsi (r) narrates ‘One day I appeared before the Prophet (s). I witnessed Hussain in his lap, the Prophet (s) kissed his cheeks and lips and said ‘You are the Chief, the son of a Chief, the brother of a Chief, You are an Imam, the son of an Imam, the brother of an Imam. You are a Proof of Allah, the son of a Proof of Allah, the brother of a Proof of Allah and the father of nine Proofs of Allah (swt), the ninth will be called Mahdi his title is Qaym

Ibn Abbas (r) – The Prophet said ‘I, ‘Ali, Hasan, Hussain and the nine sons of Hussain are pure and infallible’.
‘Ali (r) – The Prophet said ‘Whoever wants to board the boat of salvation, and take the firm handle, and grasp the firm Rope of Allah (swt) should love ‘Ali and be an enemy to his enemies, and from the lineage of ‘Ali he should follow the Imams of Guidance. Verily these are my Khalifas, and the Proofs of Allah (swt) after me. These are the Chieftains of my Ummah and the Leaders of the Pious entering Paradise. This group is my group and my group is the group of Allah (swt). Their enemies group is the group of Shaythan”

YaNabi al Mawaddat pages 503-504

These are the Hadi Imams who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong; they are those on whom Allah (swt) has designated the role of Imams, beacons of light to take the dormant Ummah out from darkness.

Prophetic duties

The duties bestowed on Prophets are set out in the Qur’an. Allah (swt) states in Surah Baqarah whilst telling the story of Adam (as)
002.038 [YUSUFALI]:

We said: “…,there comes to you Guidance from me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

Guidance comes via two sources, the Book and that individual that recites / presents it, in other words the sources are the Qur’an and the Prophet (s). The normal precedent of Allah (swt) is to send his Hadi (Guide) first and his Book second, as is clear from Surah Sajdah verse 23-24:

And certainly We gave the Book to Musa, so be not in doubt concerning the receiving of it, and We made it a guide for the children of Israel.
And We made of them Imams to guide by Our command when they were patient, and they were certain of Our communications.

Guidance for the Israelites came via three chains:

  • Prophet Musa (as)
  • The Book of Allah (swt)
  • Imams to guide the Ummah

If the Book of Allah (swt) is sufficient as guidance, then why did Allah (swt) also appoint Imams as a source of guidance. Allah (swt) had appointed a group of individual from amongst the Ummah of Musa (as) as Imams for the nation. This is made perfectly clear in Surah Araf verse 159:

Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth.

Allah (swt) states in his Glorious Book the similarities between Muhammad (s) and Musa (as):

073.015 [YUSUFALI]:
We have sent to you, (O men!) a messenger, to be a witness concerning you, even as We sent a messenger to Pharaoh.

Along the same lines we read in Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 9.422

Narrated Abu Sa’id al-Khudri:
The Prophet said, “You will follow the ways of those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit (i.e., inch by inch) so much so that even if they entered a hole of a mastigure (lizard), you would follow them.” We said, “O Allah’s Apostle! (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?” He said, “Whom else?”

As the above tradition in Sahih al-Bukhari confirms, the Prophet stated that the history of the Children of Israel will be repeated for Muslims. In fact, Qur’an has mentioned the stories of the Children of Israel to give us a way to understand the true history of Islam itself. There are many striking similarities in this regard written in Quran including the similarities of the leaders and the similarities of the people.

This being the case now compare the special Ummah of Araf verse 159 to the special Ummah of Muhammad (s) set out in Surah Araf verse 181.

Of those We have created are people who direct (others) with truth. And dispense justice therewith.

When Allah (swt) makes a general statement in his Glorious Book, He (set) is making a specific reference to the Ummah of Muhammad (s). Now contemplate the similarities between Musa and Muhammad. Both Prophets were accompanied with a Book and Hadi Imams from their respective Ummahs.We will (inshallah) expand on this further when we address Afiki’s objections to the Shi’a usage of this verse.

The provision of guidance [Hidayah]

Allah (swt) identifies three types of Hadi in the Qur’an

First Hadi – Allah (swt)

We read in Surah al Hajj verse 054 [YUSUFALI]:

And that those on whom knowledge has been bestowed may learn that the (Qur’an) is the Truth from thy Lord, and that they may believe therein, and their hearts may be made humbly (open) to it: for verily Allah is the Guide of those who believe, to the Straight Way.

Second Hadi – Prophets

This is proven by a verse that Afriqi had himself cited, as proof that the Prophets were also referred to as Imams. We read in Surah Ambiya verse 72:

And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practise regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only).

Third Hadi – Imams

Allah has stated in very clear words in Surah Sajdah

[32:23] And certainly We gave the Book to Musa, so be not in doubt concerning the receiving of it, and We made it a guide for the children of Israel.

[32:24] And We made of them Imams to guide by Our command when they were patient, and they were certain of Our communications.

We learn from this verse that the Musa (as) left the following tools of guidance for his people:

  1. The Book of God
  2. Imams who were:
  • Appointed by Allah (swt)
  • Providing guidance via the edicts of Allah (swt)
  • Patient
  • Definite about the Word of Allah (swt)

Does the verse 24 of Surah Sajdah refer to the appointment of Prophets?

Afriqi states:

This unequivocal identification of a’immah as Ambiya’ leads us to conclude that the reference in Surah as-Sajdah too, is to the Ambiya’, and not to any other category of men:
Indeed, We gave Musa the Book, so be not in doubt about meeting him; and We made it a (source of) guidance for the Children of Isra’il. And We made from amongst them leaders who guided by Our command, when they persevered. And they had full certainty in Our signs. (as-Sajdah : 23-24)Even if the scope of a’immah in this verse were to be extended to include people other than the Ambiya’, there is nothing to justify its identification with the elaborate doctrine of Imamah as conceived of by the Shi‘ah.

Reply One – Shah Ismail Shaheed’s acknowledgement that this verse (amongst others) refers to Allah (swt)’s appointment of non Prophets

In Mansab-e-Imamate whilst discussing ‘Maqaam Bashath Ghayr NabiShah Ismaeel Shaheed states that non Prophets were also appointed by non Prophets: Citing verse 12 of Surah Maida he states:

“Allah did aforetime take a covenant from the Children of Israel and we appointed twelve Leaders among them – its clear that these representatives were not Prophets.

Surah Yaseen verses 14-17

When We (first) sent to them two messengers, they rejected them: But We strengthened them with a third: they said, “Truly, we have been sent on a mission to you.”
The (people) said: “Ye are only men like ourselves; and (Allah) Most Gracious sends no sort of revelation: ye do nothing but lie.”
They said: “Our Lord doth know that we have been sent on a mission to you:
“And our duty is only to proclaim the clear Message.”

It is clear that these individuals were from amongst the disciples of Isa (as) they were not Prophets.

Surah Sajdah verse 24:
And We appointed, from among them, leaders, giving guidance under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs.

‘Mansab e Imamate’ by Shah Ismail Shaheed, pages 71-72

We have cited the three verses relied upon by Shah Ismail Shaheed, as evidence that non Prophets from previous nations were also appointed by God as Imams. We likewise say when our Prophet (s) foretold the coming of twelve Khalifas/Imams; this was knowledge of the unseen, conveyed to him by Allah (swt). Rasulullah (s)’s lifting the hand of ‘Ali declaring ‘Of whomsoever I am Maula, ‘Ali is his Maula’ was likewise an order from Allah (swt). Similarly Rasulullah (s) told of the name of his final Khalifa, Mahdi (as) in accordance with the will of Allah (swt).

Reply Two – The criteria for Imamate is set out in this verse

We have established that past Imams were appointed by Allah (swt) as for the criteria of appointment the requirements as cited by late Deobandi scholar Maulana Muhammad Shafi in his commentary of verse 24 of Surah Sajdah verse 24:

And We appointed, from among them, leaders, giving guidance under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs.

He states:

“In this verse some from the scholars of Bani Israil were appointed as Leaders and Guides, two conditions are cited, maintaining patience, the other having complete faith in the verses of God…patience means being firm in adherence to God revealed verses, and refraining from those things that the Creator deemed haraam or makrooh (should be avoided), strict adherence to all the rules of the Shari’ah….in conclusion in Allah’s eyes the only people that are entitled to be Imams or Guides are those whose knowledge and actions are perfect”.
Tafseer Maarif al Qur’an Volume 7 page 74 (published Delhi)

On the next page he writes:

“Ibn Katheer copied the opinions of various Ulema on this verse, i.e. anyone can attain the rank of Imams in the Deen provided they meet the requirement of patience of firm belief”
Tafseer Maarif al Qur’an Volume 7 page 75 (published Delhi)

We the Shi’a that the criteria for Imamate is one whose knowledge and actions are perfect, and we appeal to our opponents to examine the lives of our Imams and you will see that these individual were prefect in actions and knowledge.

To those who mock the Shi’a stance on Imamate we say that is it not simply logical thing that when the Imamate in past nations was restricted to the criteria of perfect knowledge and actions, and those that refrained from haraam and makrooh activities, then what of our Ummah that is after all superior to previous Ummah’s? It is logical that for this Ummah Imamate should go to those that are those that never separate from the Qur’an during their lives, those that are practical examples of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the twelve whom Rasulullah (s) foretold would come. In the eyes of the Shi’a these are our twelve Imams starting from Maula ‘Ali (as) and ending in Imam Mahdi (as). If someone can come up with better names than these twelve then we should remind them then we should remind them that the Qur’an stipulates the criteria for past Imams, perfection in knowledge and actions, protection from haraam and Makrooh actions and whose number totals twelve.

Reply Three-The term Imam should be taken as what it means

Allah (swt) explicitly uses the term Imam in this verse and whilst every Prophet (s) is an Imam, not every Imam was a Prophet (s). Allah (swt) had planned that Muhammad (s) would be the Seal of all Prophets, and that Prophethood was not a permanent station that would exist until Judgment Day, which is why He (swt) made an intentional use of the terminology. In this connection the Ahl’ul Sunnah themselves accept this Hadith ‘Whoever does not recognise his Imam of the time dies the death of jahiliyya”
How can Imams refer to Prophets when we have this e.g. of Musa “and from amongst the people of Musa…”

How can the entire Ummah acts as Hadi’s? The verse refers to ‘a group’ and in this connection we read this Hadith in Mishkat al Masabeeh, Urdu translation, Hadith number 6023:

“Mu’awiya narrates Rasulullah (s) said ‘From my Ummah, there will always remain a group who shall remain on the Hukm (rulings) of Allah (swt). No one will be capable of exposing them to any harm, thet will be unharmed by the insults of their enemies, they will remain on such a state until the Amr [Order] of Allah comes

The concept of Imamate is based on necessity whether one is a Prophet (s) or is his successor. The successor of that Prophet (s) needs to be the Imam with the qualities set out for the Imams in Surah Sajdah, who can correctly understand and implement the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of his Messenger (s). If just understanding Arabic would have sufficed then there would have been no reason for the Prophet (s) to explain the Qur’anic verses since after all the Book came in the native tongue of the Sahaba!3

Reply Four – Allah (swt) has intentionally compared Muhammad (s) and his Ummah to Musa (as) and his Ummah

The Qur’an is an eternal source of guidance for the Ummah of Muhammad. Whilst previous divine texts inform us of stories of the people of the past, the Qur’an provides such stories as a lesson for us all, to ponder and think over matters. Much of the Qur’an informs us about Prophet Musa and his Ummah, the Banu Israil, and these past recollections are for this Ummah to recognise and learn, because Rasulullah (s) was compared to Musa (as)

“We have sent forth to you an apostle to testify against you, just like We sent one (Moses) to Pharaoh (Firaun) before you.” (73:15)
Similarity Prophet Musa (as) Prophet Muhammad (s)
Given a divine book PICKTHAL: Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the prophets who surrendered (unto Allah) 005:044 PICKTHAL: And if ye are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a surah of the like thereof, and call your witness beside Allah if ye are truthful.” 002.023
Endowed with knowledge YUSUFALI: (Moses) said: “O my Lord! expand me my breast; 020.025 YUSUFALI: Have We not expanded thee thy breast? 094.001
Pressure eased through a Vizier YUSUFALI: “Ease my task for me; 020.026 YUSUFALI: And removed from thee The which did gall thy back?094.00-3Rasulullah (s) had this burdened lifted when he first invited his near relatives to Islam with this sermon:“…God has commanded me to summon you. Which of you will aid me in this matter, so that he will be my brother, my Wasi (agent) and successor (Khalifa) among you?” … I said “I will be your helper Oh Prophet of God”. The Holy Prophet then put his hand on the back of my neck and said “This is my brother, agent and successor among you. Listen to him and obey him”.
Tarikh Tabari Volume 6 pages 42-43 see LINKSThe first thing that the Prophet (s) asks of his relatives, is who will help to ease his burden by helping him “fa ayo kum yo wazirney”. Wazirney comes from the root word Vizorka, which in Arabic means to ease one’s burden, the person who ease’s that burden thereby becomes his Vizier, and this matches the du’a that Musa (as) made.
Appointment of a successor “…And Musa said unto his brother Haroon: Take my place (as khalifa) among the people.” (The Qur’an 7:142) Sahih Muslim Book 031, Number 5914:…he (‘Ali) said: Allah’s Messenger, are you leaving me behind amongst women and children? Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Aren’t you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there would be no prophet after me.

Whilst this list displays the similarities between Muhammad (s), Musa (as) the Ummah’s of both Prophets are also similar to one another. We read in Sahih al Bukhari Volume 9, Book 92, Number 422:

Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri:
The Prophet said, “You will follow the ways of those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit (i.e., inch by inch) so much so that even if they entered a hole of a mastigure, you would follow them.” We said, “O Allah’s Apostle! (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?” He said, “Whom else?”

This Hadith demonstrates that the Ummah of Muhammad will trace the same steps as the Ummah of Muhammad (s). The similarities will be so similar that Rasulullah (s) gave this explicit example of how similar they would be:

“This Ummah will follow the steps of Bani Israil to the extent that if one had performed Nikah with his mother in that Ummah, such will exist in my Ummah”
Khasais al Kubra, Vol 2 page 146

This means that both Ummah’s will follow similar practices to one another; their mentality will be the same, as will be their history, decisions and circumstances they faced. Both Prophets and their respective Ummah’s were similar to one another, whether that be in terms of good or bad. Rasulullah (s) practically sought to demonstrate such similarities; the names of his grandsons matched that of the sons of Haroon (as)
‘Tazkirah Imam Hussain’ by Mufti Ghulam Rasul, page 85 (citing Auraq Gham, p 275 & Sawaiq al-Muhriqa)

Here are some similarities:

Gate of Repentance [YUSUFALI]: And remember We said: “Enter this town, and eat of the plenty therein as ye wish; but enter the gate with humility, in posture and in words, and We shall forgive you your faults and increase (the portion of) those who do good.” 002.058 My Ahlul-Bayt are like the Gate of Repentance of the Children of Israel; whoever entered therein was forgiven.”
al-Sawaiq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, page 505
Punishment for rejecting the Divine Guides YUSUFALI: Shame is pitched over them (Like a tent) wherever they are found, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah and from men; they draw on themselves wrath from Allah, and pitched over them is (the tent of) destitution. This because they rejected the Signs of Allah, and slew the prophets in defiance of right; this because they rebelled and transgressed beyond bounds. 003.112 Abdullah ibn Abbas naraates that Allah seizde the kingdom of the Israelites on account of their mistreatment of the Prophets, verily the kingdom of this Ummah will also be seized by Allah on account of their hatred of Ali.
Kanz-ul Muttalib, page 112, citing Meezan al Itidal by Dhahabi Volume 2 page 251

Whilst we have cited just two similarities between the Ummah’s in the table, many others exist such as the division of both Ummah’s in Sects, their misinterpretation of divine texts etc. Another similarity appears in Surah Sajdah. The Ummah of Musa (as) were provided with a divine book as a source of guidance alongside Imams from that same Ummah. When Rasulullah (s) was the example of Musa and his (s) Ummah shall follow that of the Ummah of Musa (as) step by step, then we likewise believe that Rasulullah (s) also left the Ummah with a Divine Book and Imams. If the argument of Afirki is indeed correct, and the Imams of the people of Musa (as) were Prophets, then we will say that Allah (swt)’s intentional use of the term Imams was because this Ummah is a reflection of the Ummah of Musa (as). Rasulullah (s) is the Seal of all Prophets, who came with the Final complete Book of Guidance for his Ummah, the Qur’an. Whilst Prophethood has come to an end this Book (like guidance for the people of Musa) also had to be accompanied by Imams, even if we are to accept Afriki’s assertion that the Isralite Imams in Surah Sajdah were Prophets, we will point out that whilst the inheritors of the mission of Muhammad (s) were not Prophets, they were still Imams for the Ummah of Muhammad who had the same duties of leadership and guidance as the Imams that succeeded Musa (as). Allah (swt)’s usage of the term ‘Imams’ in this verse was to stress the provision of divine guidance, whether that be (according to Afriki) through the appointment of Prophets (for the Ummah of Musa (as)) or non Prophets for the Ummah of Muhammad (s) – both point to the same thing, each Prophet left a Divine Book and Divine Guides for their Ummah. If divine guides succeeded Prophet Musa (as) then this Ummah as an Ummah that would follow the footsteps of the people of Musa (as) would likewise have divine guides, this was merely a continuation of the Sunnah of Allah (swt) and as He (swt) declares in Surah al Fath verse 12:

(Such has been) the practice of Allah already in the past: no change wilt thou find in the practice of Allah.

Whilst the door of Prophethood was shut, this Ummah also needed Imams with the same qualities of excellence / leadership set out in Surah Sajdah, the only difference was that such people were not Prophets. It is for this precise reason that Rasulullah (s) whilst identifying his successor to lead the Ummah also made it clear that he would not be a Prophet, and did this by comparing himself to Musa (as), as we read in Sahih Muslim Book 031, Number 5914:

Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) left ‘Ali b. Abi Talib behind him (as he proceeded) to the expedition of Tabuk, whereupon he (‘Ali) said: Allah’s Messenger, are you leaving me behind amongst women and children? Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Aren’t you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there would be no prophet after me.

In the same way that Musa (as) left a divine Book and Imams for his people, Rasulullah as the example of Musa (as) likewise left a Divine Book and Imams. The above Hadith made it clear that whilst the door of Prophethood had been bolted forever ‘Ali (as) succeeded him as the guide for the nation, this appointment was the exact manner in which Prophet Musa (as) appointed Haroon as Khalifa in his absence:

“…And Musa said unto his brother Haroon: Take my place (ukhulfni) among the people.” (The Qur’an 7:142)

“ukhulfni” translated, as above, as “Take my place…” takes its root orgin from the word “Khalifa”

Thanvi in his commentary of this verse stated:

“Haroon was only a Prophet, he was not a leader which is why it was important to make him a khalifa in his absence”
Tafsir bayan ul Qur’an, by Ashraf Ali Thanvi under the commentary of verse 7:142

This is not surprising, only logical, since if a Premier departs for a substantial period of time without the benefits of modern-day communication his second in command, his vizier, would remain to take up the mantle of leadership.

Along this line we read in Tarikh Kamil Volume 1 page 74:

“Musa appointed his brother Harun as the Khalifa over the Bani Israil”

This mantle of leadership was transferred through the remainder eleven Imams from Imam ‘Ali (as)’s blessed lineage, thus making a total of twelve khalifas. This was in complete conformity with the Prophethood of Musa (as), who was also succeeded by twelve khalifas:

Narrated from Masrooq who said: ‘We were sitting with Abdallah bin Masood while he was reciting the Quran and a man asked him: O Abu Abdul Rahman, did you ask the Messenger of Allah how many caliphs this ummah will have?. Abdallah bin Masood said: No one has asked me this since coming to Iraq except you. He then said: Yes, we did ask the Prophet and He said, “there will be 12, the same count as the chieftans (nuqaba) of Bani Israel”.
Musnad Ahmed bin Hanbal, Volume 1 3593

 

A Guide for every people

It is logical that a system of guidance had to exist to ensure the correct understanding of Allah (swt)’s teachings. This system of guidance through an Imam, is an eternal one and will be provided to all people. In this connection we read in Surah rad, verse 7, as translated by Maudoodi in the Meaning of the Qur’an Volume 5 page 187 [Maudoodi]:

You are a warner only, and to every people has its guide”.

The role of a warner is bring potential risks / hazards to the attention of an audience, he is there to highlists risks and can offer a leave appropriate guidance to counter such risks. Every Prophet (s) was tasked with the duty of a Warner:

035.024 [YUSUFALI]:
Verily We have sent thee in truth, as a bearer of glad tidings, and as a warner: and there never was a people, without a warner having lived among them (in the past).

004.165 [YUSUFALI]:
Messengers who gave good news as well as warning, that mankind, after (the coming) of the messengers, should have no plea against Allah: For Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.

Notice how Allah (swt) does not refer to any of them as Guides. A guide takes on the next role, he is there to take on the teachings of the warner and will correctly interpret the guidance, and will practically assists the audience with regards to how to stay aloof from hazards / dangers, and ensure that the guidance left by the warner is adhered to. Now coing to this verse, if the system of divine guidance terminated with the death of Prophet Muhammad (s), then why would Allah (swt) not refer to Muhammad (s) as a Witness and a Guide? Allah (swt) identified two separate roles in this verse the role of Warner for Rasulullah (s) and a Guide for every people. We see a seperation of roles here, Rasulullah (s) is there to warn the people, whilst a Guide is there to aid the people. When Rasulullah (s) was a warner and for every people there will be a Guide then who is that Guide? We know that Prophethood ended, yet in this verse Allah (swt) still mentions that guidance for the people will continue, it will not just vanish with the death of the Prophet (s). This ayat is a mere reiteration of a key theme of the Holy Qur’an: the constant, living presence of Divine guides who are not chosen by the Muslims of the time, but are appointed by God Himself. Of interest is the fact that Suyuti in his commentary of this verse narrates as follows:

Ibn Jareer narrates from Iqramah, “When this verse descended, Rasul Allah places his hand on his chest and said, I am the Warner, and then placed his hand on the shoulder of Ali and said, Ya Ali! You are the guide, and after me those seeking guidance will attain it through you.”
Ibn Murdayyah narrates from Abi Barzah (r), says, I have heard Rasul (saww) saying, that when this verse was descended, (I am a warner) while first placing his hand on his chest, and then on Ali’s chest (for every people there is a guide).
Ibn Abbas narrates, Rasul (saww) said, I am the warner and Ali is the guide.
Abdulah bin Ahmad in Zawaid un-Musnad, Ibn Abi Hathim in Tabrani fil-Ausat and Hakim in his Sahih, Ibn Marduyyah and Ibn Asakir narrates from Ali (as) saying: “Rasul (saww) read the verse then I said Rasul is the warner and I am the guide.”

Tafseer Dur al-Manthur vol 4, p 87

The following Sunni commentaries have recorded similar narrations under the commentary of this verse.
1. Tafseer Ruh al-Ma’ni, vol 7 page 103
2. Tafseer Tabari, vol 7, p 343 & 344

 

Supplications for Imams

Afriqi under the subheading ‘Leadership of the pious’ analyses further verses wherein the term Imam is used:

Afriqi states:

Allah speaks of the prayer of His exemplary worshippers:
(They are) those who say: Our Lord, grant us the coolness of (our) eyes in our wives and children, and make us leaders of the pious. (al-Furqan : 74)
This verse speaks of normal people who do not belong to a special class like the Ambiya’, asking Allah to make them imams, in the sense of paragons of virtue, whose example others would strive to emulate. It is very obvious that it cannot refer to a group of “divinely appointed Imams”, for the reason that the Imams’ elevation to the rank of Imamah is not on account of their prayers. Since their appointment, like that of the Ambiya’, is supposedly divine in origin, it not attainable by any amount of exertion or devotion.

Reply One

The Sunni Mufassireen are of the opinion that this supplication that all believers can make, since it is a du’a for betterment. It is natural that we all wish to lead in the field of taqwa and this dua provides the faithful with a supplication setting out such a desire. There is however a big difference between making such a du’a and Allah (swt) granting it, the verse cannot incorporate all Muslims, the title Imam of the pious is a special designation for Maula ‘Ali (as) as attested in Sunni books.

“Rasulullah (s) said ‘Three things have been revealed to me about Ali: That he is the Sayyid al Muslimeen (Chief of Muslims), Imam-ul-Muttaqeen (Imam of the Pious), and wa Qa’id ul Ghurrul Muhajj’ileen (Leader of the bright) face people on Yaum al Qiyamah”.
1.Al Mustadrak, by Imam Hakim, Vol 3 p 137 & 138
2.Riyad al Nadira, by Mohibbudin al Tabari, Vol 2, p 122

Since this was a special title given by Allah (swt) to Maula ‘Ali (as) no one else can claim to have such a title. After Maula ‘Ali (as) this designation transferred to Imams Hasan (as) and Hussain (as) and the remaining Imams (as) since these were the Ahl’ul bayb (as), whose special position is reflected by the fact that the Ummah is duty bound to recite Darood on them.

Reply Two – Three Ul’il Azm Prophets supplicated for divinely appointed positions

We read in Surah Baqarah verses 127-129 [YUSUF ALI]:

And remember Abraham and Isma’il raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing.
“Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (will); and show us our place for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in Mercy); for Thou art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.
“Our Lord! send amongst them an Messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”

Comment

Ibraheem (as) made a supplication that he be a Muslim when he was already a Prophet, and was putting up the foundations of the Kaaba. A Muslim is one who submits to Allah (swt) in this verse we have an Ul’il Uzm Prophet praying to be a Muslim. Was he not already a Muslim?

Then we also read that he had prayed for the final Prophet (s) to come from his lineage, which Prophet Muhammad (s) was. Afriqi had argued that you cant make a du’a for a divinely appointed station such as Prophethood, then why did Ibraheem Khaleelullah pray for the Seal of all Prophets to be sent from his lineage? Was Prophet Muhammad (s) appointed as the Seal of all Prophets on account of the du’a of Ibraheem? Clearly not, that is why Ibn ‘Abbas narrates that the Prophet said:

“I was prophet when Adam was between soul and body.

  1. Sharah Fiqh Akbar, page 72
  2. at Tabarani, ak-Mujam al kabir,; al Khasa’is al kubra, vol. 1. p. 4

Similarly we have the du’a of Nabi Musa (as)

Musa said: O Allah! Assign me a Vizier from my family, (that is) my brother Haroon. Add to my strength through him, and make him share my task: that we may celebrate thy praise without stint… (Allah) said: “We granted your requests, O Musa (The Qur’an 20:29-36)

Haroon (as) was appointed a Prophet (s), a divine station, so why would Musa (as) pray for Haroon to be appointed a Prophet and Vizier?

Interestingly Suyuti in his commentary of the above verse sites the following tradition:

“When this verse descended, The Prophet (s) was on a mountain, straight after its descent, The Prophet (s) prayed to Allah, ‘Oh Allah! Through my brother Ali, ease the burden on my back’, and Allah accepted this prayer’
Tafsir Durre Manthur, by Jaladin Suyuti, Vol 4 p 528

Here Rasulullah (s) was making a du’a when Maula ‘Ali (as) had already been appointed as the helper of the Prophet (s) long before any of the battles. Allah (swt) says in his Glorious Book:

Should they intend to deceive thee, Verily God sufficeth thee. He it is that hath strengthened thee, with His aid (Nusrat) and with the company of the believers” Surah Anfal: 62

Suyuti in his commentary of this verse narrated from Abu Hurraira that he heard the Prophet (s) say that the Aid (Nusrat) in this Verse is Ali, for he heard:

The Messenger (s) say, that there is an inscription in the seventh sky of heaven:”There is no God but I alone, There is not any equal or partner to me, Muhammad is my servant and my Messenger,Whom I supported by means of Ali”
Tafsir Durre Manthur, by al Hafiz Jalaluddeen Suyuti, P 199

When Maula ‘Ali (as) had already been attested as the vizier of the Prophet (s) on the Arsh why did Rasulullah (s) still make this supplication?

These du’as are all examples of piety, Prophet make du’as of those things that they have in their possession as an example to the Ummah, with regards to how low one should bow down when supplicating before the creator.

If this du’a was made for divinely appointed Imams, then it is no different to the du’a of Musa and Ibraheem (as) for divinely appointed Prophets and Rasulullah (s) for a divinely appointed vizier,

 

The word ‘Imam’ in Surah Isra verse 17

Afriqi states:

On the Day of JudgementThere remains one place in the Qur’an where the word Imam is used. It is in Surah al-Isra’ where Allah Ta‘ala says:
The day when we will call all people by their leaders. (al-Isra’ : 71)The Imam spoken of in this ayah is recognised by the mufassirun of the Ahl as-Sunnah as either the book of deeds or the prophet to whose Ummah the person belonged. The first meaning is preferred by Ibn Kathir,21 who mentions in support of his preference the ayat where the word Imam was used in the sense of a book (see above). This meaning is further supported by the rest of the ayah:
So those who are given their book in their right hand will read their books.

Reply One – The Nasibi has intentionally confused the term Imam in this verse

Imam is a term commonly understood throughout the Arab world, and throughout Islamic history we have seen Ulema being referred to as Imam, Tabari is referred to as an Imam of Tareekh, Bukhari is the Imam of Hadith, Ghazzali as the Imam of philosophy, this is a term that is clear an unambiguous throughout the Arab speaking world. The only time that you need to look at some alternative meaning is when the term makes no sense in the context in which you are reading a sentence. We would like to know why Afriki has chosen to turn his back on the commonly accepted meaning of term and then offer different ones, and worse than that create ambiguity over what the term means by defining Imam ‘as either the book of deeds or the prophet’ the usage of the terms either / or demonstrates that there is no clear position on the meaning of Imam, thus all that this Nasibi has achieved has been to confuse Sunni readers with regards to exactly what the word means here! To turn away from the accepted / literal meaning of Imam, preferring an alternative meaning, and even then through the ambiguous terms ‘either / or’ is tantamount to clear dishonesty. Perhaps this Nasibi might have been forgiven had he offered similar alternative meanings, but the possible meanings he has offered are completely different to one another!

Reply Two – The literal meaning of Imam is known to all

The author has sought to use maximum deception in interpreting this verse. The Nasibi should know that the term ‘Imam’ is a clear unambiguous term, and means Leader, hence an individual can be an Imam of a Mosque and Institution, a madhab – the bottom line is you ar a Leader, whether you are a Maulana, Mufti or Mujtahid – all three may be varying ranks but in its simplest they are all Imam. The term Imam is therefore all encompassing, if you are a Leader you are an Imam. The term Prophet (s) is restrictive in nature, it refers exclusively to the 124,000 individuals that Allah (swt) appointed as Prophets, it is a restrictive term that provides no possibility to add or substitute anyone else. Whilst every Prophet (as) is an Imam, not every Imam is a Prophet (s), which is why Allah (swt) has used the word Imam here since it is a term that encompasses Prophets and non Prophets. If the verse refers to Prophets (s) exclusively and is hence restricted to them exclusively, then why would He (swt) made this clear via use of the term ‘Nabiyeen’? That would have left no doubt, but Allah (swt) used the term Imam clearly to show that this verse did not mean just Prophets.If there remains any doubt over the meaning of Imam, then perhaps this Nasibi would care to offer his interpretation of Imam in these two Hadith:

“Whoever dies without recognising the Imam of his time dies the death of Jahilyya (ignorance)”
Mansab e Imamate, page 108

Would this Nasibi produce evidence any Sunni scholar that has defined Imam is anything other than leader here? Has anyone defined it as road of his time, or Prophet of his time?

Then we have this Hadith cited by Abu Bakr as Saqifa:

“The imams are from the Quraish”
The Muqaddimah, by Ibn Khaldun, translated by Franz Rosenthal, Volume 1 page 396 (Princeton University Press)

Tell us whether Imam means Prophet here? Since it can also mean road, does it means that the role of road builders is an exclusive right of the Quraysh?

In both Hadith the Sunni Ulema have taken the literal understood meaning of Imam as Leader and not used terms such as Prophet. Why does the term Imam change in meaning when we come to this verse? Hadith often provide a commentary of the Qur’an, when Rasulullah (s) is stating ‘Whoever dies without recognising the Imam of his time dies the death of Jahilyya (ignorance)” then it is logical that Surah Bani Israil ‘On day of judgement….’ Imam means the same thing, i.e. you will be called on the Day of Judgement with those Leaders (Imams) that you associated with yourselves in this one.

Reply Three – The scholars of Tafseer have interpreted the term as Imam not Prophet(s)

Whilst al Afriqi has sought solace in relying on Ibn Katheer’s interpretation of the verse, he has failed to highlight the fact that the Tafseer scholars rather than define the word as ‘Nabi’ have also defined it ‘Imam’ in their Qur’anic commentaries and have not used any brakets as well in order to mention any addional meaning of the word, as Ahl’ul Sunnah do it in the verse of Wudu.

Shah Rafiudeen Dehlawi in his famous Urdu interpretation of the Qur’an, p326, translates the verse as follows:

“On the Day of Judgement when we will call all people with their ‘Peshwa’ [Urdu word for ‘Leader’]
Shah Rafiudeen Dehalwi’s Translation, page 326

Worthy of note is the fact that in the Urdu translation of Tafseer Ibn Katheer, the Urdu translator has (just like Shah Rafiudeen Dehalwi) translated the word Imam in the verse as Peshwa.He in fact transliterates as follows:

“On the Day of Judgement when we will call every ‘Jamaat’ [group] with their ‘Peshwa’

If anything the terminogy ‘Jamaat’ further strenghtnes our position. Prophets did not come to divide people in to ‘Jamaats’, rather they came to unify the people behind them. The spiltting people into ‘Jamaats’ is not the responsibility of Prophets, it has been on account of adherence to Imams.

Maulana Sayyid Abul A’la Maudoodi in his Tahfeeum ul Qur’an, Urdu provides the following translation:

“Remember that day when we will summon all Human groups with their Leaders”
Also see
Tarjuma Quran Majeed, pages 740-741 by Sayyid Abul A’la Maudoodi (published by Idara Tarjumaan al Quran, Lahore)

Allamah Shabeer Ahmad Uthmani in his famed Tafseer Uthmani (rendered into Urdu by Mahmood al Hasan) writes:

“On the Day of Judgement when we will summon every sect with their Leader”

Similarly, Maulana Fateh Muhammad Jalandharee in his transliteration of this verse (like those of Maudoodi, Shabir Uthmani and the Urdu Tafseer Ibn Katheer) also translates Imam as ‘Peshwaa’ [Leader] rather than Prophet. In his commentary of the said verse he states:

“On the Day when all people will be summoned with their Imams, those whose deeds will be in their right hands will be pleased. No injustice / harm will be perpetuated against them”.
Tafseer Qur’an, page 283 Taj Company Publishers

Similarly in his Urdu transliteration of the Quran, Sunni scholar Ahmed Ali, provided the following transliteration of the verse:

جس دن ہم ہر فرقہ کو ان کے سرداروں کے ساتھ بلائیں گے

“On the Day when every Sect will be summoned with its leader”
http://www.searchtruth.com/chapter_display.php?chapter=17&translator=17#71

Abdullah Yusuf Ali whose transliteration of the Qur’an is distributed by the Saudi government worldwide also provides the same meaning for Imam:

One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams: those who are given their record in their right hand will read it (with pleasure), and they will not be dealt with unjustly in the least

It is worthy to note that the Nasibi author’s suggestion that the Shi’a understanding of this verse is immune to Sunni’ism is not supported by his fellow Salafi brethren too, particularly his monarch pay masters. We will quote two transliterations of the Qur’an that are distributed by the Saudi Government throughout the English speaking world. The first is The Holy Qur’an, English translation of the meanings and Commentary, published by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Complex.

In the commentary of this verse, this Kingdom endorsed version contains the following commentary of the meaning of Imam in this verse, he provides three possible meanings, Book, record of deeds but begins with the literal meaning of Imam:

“Some understand the meaning to be that each People or Group will appear with its Leader, who will bear witness to its virtues or sins”
The Holy Qur’an, (published by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Complex)

The second Saudi Kingdom distributed Tafseer is “Interpretations of the meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language – A summarized version of Al Tabari, al Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir with comments from Sahih Bukhari” by Dr Muhummud Taqi ud Din Al Hilali.

And remember) the Day when We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) imam (their Prophets, or their records of good and bad deeds, or their Holy Books like the Quran, the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), the leaders whom people followed in this world)
‘Interpretations of the meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language’ part 15

Unlike Afriki’s claim of two meanings, it provides three possible meanings. It is worthy to note that the online versions of this tafseer, have suffered from tahreef, with the last portion ’the leaders whom people followed in this world’ missing.
http://www.searchtruth.com/chapter_display.php?chapter=17&translator=5#71

Reply Four – A book of deeds can never be defined as Imam

If you pick up any book of Arabic grammar you will see that Imam is defined as ‘leader, that thing which guides you on a subject. According to the Arabic dictionary al-Mawrid [Dar ul Ilm Publishers, Beirut] page 165, Imam means:

“Leader, chief, guide, guideline, index, reference, source, criterion, standard, yardstick’

Examples of an Imam could be:

  1. One that guide on matters of the Qur’an and Sunnah is an Imam
  2. If an electrician is unable to resolve a fault he will utilise a technical guidance manual which will act as his Imam in this context.
  3. If I was to say ‘This road leads to Lahore’ – this road will be an Imam for those traveling to Lahore.
  4. A measuring stick to ensure that a wall is straight, or checks floor level can also be referred to as an Imam.

The common thing from the examples that we have shown is that an Imam is that thing that acts as a source of guidance can be referred to as an Imam. The provision of guidance whether that be from a human being or a Book both fall within the definition of Imam. With this in mind how can Afriki al Nasibi’s argument that one possible meaning of Imam here is ‘Book of deeds’? The provision of guidance whether that be from a human being or a Book both fall within the definition of Imam. A Book of deeds can never be referred to as an Imam because it is a records of your actions, you cannot access this book to attain guidance during your life. The only time that you will see it, will be on the Day of Judgment when it will be presented to you. When the Book of guidance is just a compilation of good / bad deeds that you cannot access, how will this act as an Imam?

Leu us give an example:

‘I am a registered driver. The Highway Code sets out the rules / regulation, signs driving rules that all drivers must abide by whilst on the road. In this context this Book is my Imam. If whilst out driving I ignore the speed signs, go through a green light, drive on the wrong side of the road and then park on a double yellow line, the result of which I am punished, fined and points are docked from my licence, and stamped accordingly, the licence is in effect the record of my deeds, after I chose not to follow the Imam (Highway Code) and drove recklessly. I cannot refer to the information on that licence as the Imam’ the record is the consequence of my not following the Imam’

The same is the case with our record of deeds on the Day of Judgement this is merely a descriptive account of our deeds upon the earth, it never has / or ever can act as a source of guidance for humans. We are now in a better position to understand the verse:

YUSUFALI:
One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams: those who are given their record in their right hand will read it (with pleasure), and they will not be dealt with unjustly in the least.

Afriki logic is that Imam means Book of deeds, which is linked to the next portion of the verse ‘those who are given their record in their right hand will read it (with pleasure)’, that refers to the same thing, if this is indeed the case then would it not have been simpler for Allah (swt) to say ‘One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Kitab’? What is clear is that the term Imam is linked with the record of deeds but they are not the same thing, as we have already proven a Book that serves no use in this world cannot be an Imam. The verse sheds light on the fact that the Imam is accompanied by the Book of Deeds, they are completely different entities but are linked together, your association with the Imam will then be followed by the Book of deeds.

Reply Five – Sunni Tafseer’s have also cited the fact that this verse refers to the Imam of our time

What we see here is the perfect example of how dishonest this Nasibi is. He asserts that the Shi’a concept of Imamate cannot be proven from the Qur’an and then seeks to change the goal post by relying on Sunni interpretations of this verse. It is indeed the height of dishonesty for the author to solely rely on the interpretation of the bigoted Ibn Katheer and no one else? Was he the only Tafseer scholar whose opinion should have valued? Clearly this Nasibi has intentionally sought to rely on the opinion of Ibn Katheer, had he been honest and cited the tafseers from other Sunni scholars of Hadith it would have been clear that whilst they have set out the various interpretations of the verse included Imam meaning Prophet (s) and Book of deeds they have also cited interpretation that would suggest that Imam in this verse means Imam of the time. Let us begin by citing these opinions:

First Commentary – Tafseer Tabari

Imam Ibn Jarir Tabari in his Tafseer Volume 8 page 116 whilst discussing the various meaning of Imam, states:

“The people of interpretation have provided various interpretations of the word Imam in this verse. Some have said that it means Prophets, other that it refers to those that were followed in this world…some say it refers to our deed, the Revealed Books such as the orders within the Torah, Psalms, Gospels and the Qur’an.
In our opinion the best and most correct interpretation is those who were followed in this world, those who lead in this world and were followed by the people. This is the best interpretation since the word ‘Imam’ is common amongst the Arabs and it means ‘to follow’.

Tafseer Tabari Volume 8 page 116

This is the view of major scholars of Tafseer. It is interesting to note how the dispute over this verse had emerged so early on, which is why al Tabari placed emphasis on relying in the common use of the term ‘Imam’ in Arabic lexicon.

 

Second Commentary – Tafseer Qurtubi

Imam Qurtubi in his Tafseer of this verse (Volume 10 page 192) whilst citing the opinions of Tafseer scholars over the meaning of Imam, including the fact some said it means ‘Prophet’, then cites the opinion of one who possessed the greatest knowledge of the Qur’an after the Prophet, Maula ‘Ali (as):

“’Ali (ra) narrates ‘Imam refers to the Imam of our time’. “Prophet said on this verse ‘Every person will be summoned with the Imam of the Time, alongside the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of their Messenger”
…some state that everyone will be called according to their religion, and those whom they turned to in matters of religion, e.g. Hanafi, Shaafi, Muttazali, Qadri, those they followed in good and bad deeds”
…On the Day of Judgement when the people will be gathered, every treacherous person will carry a flag on which will be inscribed ‘He was treacherous to so and so.”

Tafseer Qurtubi Volume 10 page 192 

Third Commentary – Tafseer Mazhari

Hanafi scholar Qazi Thanaullah Panee Patee Uthmani in his commentary of this verse in famous Tafseer Mazhari Volume 7 page 65 writes:

“Ibn Murdawa narrates from Ali (ra) that The Prophet said that every Ummah will be summoned according to their Imam and the Book of Allah.
Saeed bin Jubayr narrates from Ibn Abbas ‘Imam refers to the Imam of the time that guides or misguides the people”

1. Tafseer Mazhari (Urdu) Volume 7 page 65
2. Tafseer Mazhari (Arabic) Volume 5 page 460

 

Fourth Commentary – Tafseer Ruh al Ma’ani

On Vol 8, page 115 (printed in Beirut) Allamah Alusi Baghdadi seeks to try and confuse the entire matter, by giving multiple interpretations:

“The Imam is one who must be followed. It can refer to a religious leader, the Book or the Deen. People will be summoned as followers ‘O followers of such and such a Prophet, such and such an Imam, O believers of the Qur’an, ‘O adherents of Islam’.

“Ibn Murdaya narrates from ‘Ali (ra) that ‘The Prophet said that every Ummah will be summoned according to their Imam, the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of their Messenger

Ibn Abbas narrates ‘Evey person will be summoned with their Imam, whether they be guided, or lead astray”.
Tafsir Ruh al Ma`ani, Volume 8 page 115

 

Fifth Commentary – Tafseer Khazan

We read in Tafseer Khazan Volume 4 pages 119:

Ibn Abbas narrates: “Every people will be summoned with the Imam of their time who shall call them to guidance or misguidance in this world. The reality is like this, every people will be summoned under their guide whether they perform good deeds or bad deeds.”
Tafseer Khazan Volume 4 pages 119

 

Sixth Commentary – Tafseer Baghawi

In Tafseer Baghawi more popularly known as Mu’alim al Tanzeel Volume 3 pages 125-126, the author having discussed the various definitions of Imam, includes these comments:

“Saeed bin Jubayr and Ibn Abbas state ‘Imam means that individual who guides or misguides in this world, as Allah (swt) states ‘And we made them Imams (Aimah) guiding the People by Our Command’ – ‘And we declared them Imams who invite you to Hell fire’
Saeed bin Musayab attests ‘Every person will be summoned with their Leader, who invited them to good or bad deeds”.

Tafsir Mu’alim al Tanzeel Volume 3 pages 125-126

 

Seventh Commentary – Tafseer Fathul Qadeer

We read in Tafseer Fathul Qadeer Volume 3 page 305:

“’Ali (ra) states ‘Imam in this context refers to the Imam of the time, people of every era will be summoned alongside the Imam of the time, who they followed in this world, acting upon his orders”.

Abu Hurrayra (ra) and Ibn Abbas (ra) state ‘Imam refers to the Leaders of Madhabs and religious leaders, we will be summoned ‘O followers of so and so’.
Tafseer Fathul Qadeer Volume 3 page 305

 

Eighth Commentary – Tafseer Durre Manthur

Al Hafidh Suyuti in Tafseer Durre Manthur Volume 4 page 351 commenting on the verse states:

“Ibn Abbas said Imam here refers to one that guides as well as Imams of misguidance.
‘Ali (ra) states ‘The Prophet said that every Ummah will be summoned according to their Imam, the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of their Messenger’

Ninth Commentary – Tafseer Thalabi

In Tafseer Thalabi, properly known as ‘Jawahir al Ahsaan fee Tafseer Qur’an’ Volume 2 page 271 we read:

“Imam refers to one that guides or misguides. Every Ummah shall be summoned alongside its Imam, the Imam that they followed whether that be guidance or misguidance”.
Jawahir al Ahsaan fee Tafseer Quran Volume 2 page 271

 

Tenth Commentary – Tafseer Kabeer

Imam Fakh’radeen Razi writes in Tafseer Kabeer Volume 7 page 376, in his commentary of the verse as follows:

“In Arabic grammar, Imam refers to that individual that a people follow & obey, whether they are on the path of guidance or error. Verily the Prophet is the Imam of his Ummah and Khalifah is the Imam of his subjects. And Qur’an is also the Imam of the Muslims.”
Tafseer Kabeer Volume 7 page 376

We accept all three definitions since the Qur’an is an Imam as it is a divine book of guidance, the Prophet is the practical implementation of the Qur’an and the Khalifah is the manifestor of the divine orders.

 

Eleventh Commentary – Tafseer Tanveer’il Miqbaas better known as Tafseer Ibn Abbas

Renowned Sahabi Abdullah ibn Abbas in his commentary of this verse (Volume 1 page 303) provides the following comments:

“On the Day of Judgement when we will call all people with their Imam, refers to the Prophet, it has also been said it refers to the Imams that summon to guidance or misguidance”.
Tafseer Ibn Abbas, Volume 1 page 303

 

Twelfth Commentary – Tafseer Uthmani

In his commentary of Surah Bani Israil verse 71, Allamah Shabeer Ahmad Uthmani provides the following commentary:

“On the Day of Judgement every sect will be summoned with those things that they followed and obeyed, the believers for example will be summoned with the Prophet, the Holy Book, Religious Leaders, the Kufar will be summoned with their religious Leaders and false deities, as Allah (swt) states “And we declared them Imams who invite you to Hell fire, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall not be helped.
Tafseer Uthmani, page 384

Comment

Uthmani therefore states that the believers will be summoned with three things:

  • The Prophet Muhammad (s)
  • The Holy Qur’an
  • Their Religious Leaders (i.e. Their Imam)

 

Thirteenth Commentary – Tafseer Kanz ul Iman by Imam Sayyid Ahmad Raza

Ahemd Raza Khan Barelivi was the founding father of this group, adherents of the Hanafi madhab they for the largest Sunni group in the Indian subcontinent. Let us site his commentary of transliteration of this verse, as taken from his Tafseer Kanz’ul Iman page 419:

“On the Day of Judgement when will summon every ‘Jamaat’ [Urdu for Group] with their Imam…”

In his commentary of this verse, Ahmed Raza cites this narration:

“Abdullah Ibn Abbas said that this verse refers to the Imam of our time, on whose invitation, the people of the world follow, whether that is an invitation to truth or falsehood”
[Ahmed Raza Barelvi’s comments]: the conclusion is that every people will be summoned with their Leader, upon whose order the world’s affairs are run, the people will be summoned according to his name”.

Tafseer Kanz’ul Iman, page 419

 

Fourteenth Commentary – Tafseer Hussaini

Maulana Abdur Rahman Bukhari in the Urdu translation of Tafseer Hussaini page 446 by Allamah Hussain Wa’iz Kashafi, after going through various interpretations of the verse, including a comment it refers to Imams of Fiqh, the author then proceeds to cite the following comment:

“Hadhrat Ali [k] said ‘On the Day every people will be summoned with the Imam of their time”
Tafseer Hussaini, page 446

Overall summary

We appeal for justice. This Nasibi author stated affirmed his dishonesty by stating:

Afriqi states:

The Imam spoken of in this ayah is recognised by the mufassirun of the Ahl as-Sunnah as either the book of deeds or the prophet to whose Ummah the person belonged

We have cited fourteen commentaries of Sunni Mufassireen who in addition to the above commentaries have also acknowledged that the verse refers to Imams that people followed in this world. There is no room to state that these scholars were referring to Prophets, since a Prophet cannot lead a person to misguidance, whereas these scholars have stated that Imam refers to those who guide and misguide the people. Why has the Nasibi author failed to cite this third opinion from the Sunni mufassireen? Was this just an innocent oversight on his part or has he intentionally sought to hide the truth? The author is not an illiterate and there is no way that he could have missed these comments, what he has done is sought to cover the facts so as to maintain his own weak aqeedah. For the author to suggest that there exist only one position and then stress that is the right position because Ibn Katheer says so proves how dishonest he is. The Tafseers of reputable Sunni Tafseer scholars suffice as evidence that his position is weak, and if we the Shi’a rely on this verse as evidence of Imamate, then the Sunni Ulema have also upheld such a position.

We would like to ask this Nasibi why he has sought reliance in the mufassirin of the Ahl’ul Sunnah and not cited the commentary of Rasulullah (s)? Three of the books of Tafseer that we cited contained a Hadith narrated by Maula ‘Ali (as) wherein Rasulullah had said said ‘every Ummah will be summoned according to their Imam, the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of their Messenger’. Why has Afriqi ignored the Hadith of the Prophet (s) in this regards, preferring the opinion of his Ulema? The Shi’a understanding of this verse is in synergy with the Hadith cited by Maula ‘Ali (as), whilst Afriqi has given precedence to the opinion of Sunni mufassirin. Whose position is most relevant when determining the meaning of this verse a Sunni scholar or Prophet Muhammad (s)? Or should the viewpoint of Sunni mufassirin taken precedence when the position of Rasulullah (s) supports the Rafidah view on Imamate? Is it not incredible that the same Nasibi author that sought to fuel anger by asserting that the Shi’a deem their Imams to be superior to the Prophets, adopts an approach that holds the opinion fallible Sunni mufassirin to be better than the infallible Seal of all Prophets!

The truth is this Nasibi knows that the great Sunni scholars did not corroborate his position, he merely sought to suppress the truth from those yearning to know it, to the point that he was even prepared to re-interpret the term Imam, [a term common in Arab lexicon as Leader to protect his aqeedah], Allah (swt) speaks of people such as Afriki as follows in his Glorious Book, Surah Baqarah verse 159 as follows:

YUSUFALI:
Those who conceal the clear (Signs) We have sent down, and the Guidance, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book,-on them shall be Allah’s curse, and the curse of those entitled to curse,-

Al Afriqi’s efforts at connecting verses to prove the Imam means Prophet

Having stubbornly asserted that Imam in this verse means Prophet the author then seeks to rely in another Qur’anic verse to corroborate his claim:

Afriqi states:

The second meaning also finds ample support in the Qur’an. In another ayah Allah says:
How will it be when We bring forth from every Ummah a witness, and bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness over these? (an-Nisa’:41)

Reply One – The Nasibi has produced evidence that his Madhab rejects

It is here that the dim witted Nasibi has shot himself in the foot. A witness is that individual who can provide direct eye witness corroboration to an event. If for example a murder takes place a witness will be that person who saw one person, shoot the other, that person can be summoned as a witness as he actually saw the incident as and when it happened. When (according to the verse cited) the Prophet (s) will act as a witness for EVERY Ummah (past and present) from now until the Day of Judgement then you have to accept that he is witness to the deeds of every dead until the Day of Judgement. Curiously rather than accept this, Wahabis and Deobandis reject the notion of our Prophet (s) being alive, present and watching over us. You can only be witness to an event, if you are present, how can these Nasibis believe that Muhammad (s) will be witness to the deeds of his Ummah when according to them his physical and spiritual existence came to end with his death in 11 Hijri?

Reply Two – Sunni report: Rasulullah (s) said that his witness testimony would be restricted to those that he saw during his lifetime

We read in Sahih al Bukhari Volume 8 Book 76 Hadith Number 533

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
The Prophet stood up among us and addressed (saying) “You will be gathered, barefooted, naked, and uncircumcised (as Allah says): ‘As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it..’ (21.104) And the first human being to be dressed on the Day of Resurrection will be (the Prophet) Abraham Al-Khalil. Then will be brought some men of my followers who will be taken towards the left (i.e., to the Fire), and I will say: ‘O Lord! My companions whereupon Allah will say: You do not know what they did after you left them. I will then say as the pious slave, Jesus said, And I was witness over them while I dwelt amongst them………. (up to) …the All-Wise.’ (5.117-118). The narrator added: Then it will be said that those people (relegated from Islam, that is) kept on turning on their heels (deserted Islam).

 

Comment

This proves that the witness testimony of the Prophet (s) will be limited to those of his Ummah he saw during his lifetime, as he says ‘I was witness over them while I dwelt amongst them’ – thus proving that he will not be a witness over the later generations.

Afriqi states:

From the way in which the position of the Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam is compared to the position of the “witnesses” of the other Ummahs we can only conclude that the reference is to the Ambiya. It therefore follows that those Ummahs will be called by the names of their Ambiya. Calling the Ummahs of the past by the names of the Ambiya who were sent to them is further a common thing in both the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The ‘Ad, for example, are commonly referred to as “the people of Hud”, just like Banu Isra’il are called “the people of Musa”. Identifying the Imam mentioned in the ayah under discussion with the Ambiya is therefore warranted by both the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Reply One

If previous Prophets will act as witnesses to the deeds of their people, then why the need for a Book of deeds? Such a book because redundant in usage if Prophet (s) Muhammad (s) is himself going to act as witness to the deeds of each of his adherent.

Reply Two – This position contradicts the Qur’an

Surah Baqarah verse 166 paints a vivid picture of the punishment that shall followed the wrong Imams on the Day of Judgement

Then would those who are followed clear themselves of those who follow (them) : They would see the penalty, and all relations between them would be cut off.
And those who followed would say: “If only We had one more chance, We would clear ourselves of them, as they have cleared themselves of us.” Thus will Allah show them (The fruits of) their deeds as (nothing but) regrets. Nor will there be a way for them out of the Fire.

We would ask our readers to ponder over this verse. Afriqi asserts that on the Day of Judgement all people will be summoned with their respective Prophets. How can this be the case in light of this verse? Would a Prophet (s) disown his own followers? Worse, would followers disown their own Prophet (s)? Clearly this cannot be the case; Imam here clearly refers to Imams of misguidance that will lead their adherents into Hell in the next world. The author will have to accept that people of every era will be summoned with those whom they chose to follow as an Imam.

Reply Three – This notion is illogical

An accepted Hadith is that Islam will be split into 73 Sect only one which will attain Paradise. All of these Sects come under the umbrella of Islam, the Prophet (s) did not say they would apostacise, rather he said they would be Sects amongst Muslims. When the 72 Sects will perish in the Fire, it is common sense that they will be lead by an Imam who they followed them into error. It is logical that the Imam will enter fore first followed by his followers. Now our question is simple, will Prophet Muhammad be the Imam of these 73 Sects, including the 72 which will enter Hell? Is Prophet Muhammad (s) the Imam of all 73 Sects?

Afriqi states:

As for the claim of the Shi‘ah that it refers to the Twelve Imams,(22) this claim not only lacks Qur’anic support, it also curtails the general scope of the ayah. The lack of Qur’anic support is evident from the above discussion on the usage of the word Imam in the Qur’an. The restriction of the general scope of the ayah arises from the chronological disparity between the times when the Twelve Imams lived, and the periods during which previous Ummahs flourished. If we say that all Ummahs will be called by the names of the Twelve Imams, then what about the Ummahs that existed before them? By whose name will they be called? After all, the ayah says that all people will be called by their leaders.

There is nothing confusing here. All people will be summoned with the Imam of their time. Throughout history both good and bad Imams existed, the people will be raised alongside the Imams they followed, whether they Ibraheem, Nimrod, Musa or Pharoah.

Afriqi states:

In addition, when for argument’s sake we do assume that the reference is to the the Twelve Imams, we are left with a somewhat incongruous situation. Sayyiduna ‘Ali, the first of the Twelve Imams, died in the year 40. His son Sayyiduna Hasan died nine years later, in 49. If Sayyiduna ‘Ali is the Imam for the people of his time, Sayyiduna Hasan is left with only those people who were born during his nine years. All the other people of his time who were alive during his father’s time will form part of his father’s group, and not his. The tenure of the 3rd Imam lasted for 22 years; the 4th for 34 years; the 5th for 19 years; the 6th for 34 years; the 7th for 35 years; the 8th for 20 years; the 9th for 17 years; the 10th for 34 years; and the 11th for only 6 years. Suddenly, with the 12th Imam, the Awaited Mahdi, we have a tenure of Imamah that has been running for over 1200 years. The group that will supposedly be called by the name of the 11th Imam, for example, will only include people that were born during his Imamah that ran from 254 up to 260, while the numbers of those who will be called by the name of the 12th Imam will be practically incalculable.
Compare this incongruous scenario with the much more orderly and Qur’anic system of having the various Ummahs called by the names of their Ambiya on the Day of Qiyamah, and the absurdity of using the 71st ayah of Surah al-Isra’ to substantiate the doctrine of Imamah as conceived of by the Shi‘ah will be fully exposed. There can be no question that the word Imam in this ayah does not refer to the Twelve Imams.

Reply – The Nasibi has exposed his hypocrisy

If anything this argument proves how contradictory this Nasibi’s argument is. He says that the numbers called by the name of the 12th Imam will be practically incalculable. Of course Afriqi is arguing how we will be called to be with an Imam whose Imamate started from 260 H until the Day of Judgement. If the sheer numbers are confusing this Nasibis mind, then why does he vouch for the fact (earlier) that the verse Isra 71 means that Prophet Muhammad (as) will be a witness to the Muslim Ummah. Clearly this time span is even greater than that of Imam Mahdi (as) and yet Afriqi has no problem with accepting this argument! This Nasibi cannot even remain consistent in his line of argument!

Refuting Afriqi’s baseless conclusion

Afriqi states:

In conclusion, in the usage of the word “Imam” in the Qur’an there is nothing whatsoever to support the belief of Imamah as conceived of by the Shi‘ah.

We will respond to this Nasibi’s conclusion by pointing out that the word Imam may not appear with the same frequency as the word “nabi” or “anbiya”, but this does not negate its importance. There are many titles by which we refer to our Imams (as), of which “Imam” is only one. One of the most common ways of referring to him is the word al-hujjat, the “Proof,” a word which comes up with enormous regularity. The Imam (as) is also the dhikr, the Remembrance; he is an-nur, the Light; he is al-Hadi, the guide, and so forth. It has become more commonplace in the modern Shi’a community to use the word Imam (as), but in the past many other words were used with great regularity. The author has not even attempted to deal with the meaning and usage of words like al-hujjat in the Qur’an, or what their implication is for one’s belief system. This demonstrates an utter lack of knowledge about the Shi’ite belief system.

Furthermore, the crux of the Nasibi’s argument that because a word only occurs a few times in the Qur’an that, therefore, the concept (mafhum) that word indicates upon is islamically irrelevant is entirely invalid. It is a totally flawed premise, as evidenced by the following examples. The following crucial words from the Islamic vocabulary occur relatively rarely in the Qur’an:

  • Islam: Four times
  • Muhammad: Seven times

Furthermore, many terms which are used by Muslims do not occur in the Qur’an at all:

  • Tawheed
  • Five Pillars of Islam
  • Sunnah of the Prophet
  • Companions of the Prophet (s)
  • Spiritual Jihad (jihad an-nafs)

Some issues of vital importance are only mentioned once, far less than the verses that deal with Imamate. An example is the pivotal belief that Prophet Muhammad (s) is the Final Prophet (s). There is only one verse dealing with this:

He is the Prophet of Allah, the Seal of the Prophet (Surah Ahzab verse 40).

The belief in the finality of Islam is what separates Muslims from many other sects claiming adherence or influence by Islam: Sikhs, Baha’is, Ahmadiyyah, and so forth. To believe that there are further prophets after the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) is ultimate kufr, and the belief that Islam is the final revelation to mankind is one of the singularly most important concepts in Islam. It is what separates it from all other world religions: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and so forth, do not even make such claims for themselves. Yet this extremely important subject is only mentioned explicitly once in the Holy Qu’ran. Does this mean, then, that the belief in the finality of the Prophet (s)’s Message is not important to the people at Ansar.org?

The Qur’an also does not deal with many important issues at all. It does not, for example, explain the ahkam of salat, even though the salat is the pillar of faith. By the Wahabbi logic, then, knowing how to pray is not important. The Wahabbi qiyas is, therefore, utterly invalid, for obviously salat is of importance but Allah (swt) left it to the Holy Prophet (s) and his successors to teach the details of its regulations.

The centerpiece of the author’s argument was that the issue of Prophecy and Messengership are dealt with at great length in the Holy Qur’an, but that the concept of Imamate is dealt with hardly at all. His attempt to “prove” that the word Imam hardly occurs in the Qur’an is only used as a support for this general argument. What he is attempting to say is that prophecy is the central means by which Allah (swt) guides and directs the human race from darkness into falsehood, and to this end the Qur’an focuses on the issue of Prophethood above else. It does not, he claims, deal at all with the issue of Imamate: Imamate, in his view, is something else: something alien to the Qur’an, and alien to Islam. By presenting this argument, the author demonstrates a fundamentally flawed understanding of both Shi’ite theology and the Qur’anic text, as well as the basic doctrines surrounding the issue of Prophecy. The Qur’anic emphasis on the role of prophets in the history of mankind is not merely a proof for prophecy; it is also a proof of Imamate as well. For Imamate is nothing but a Divine appointment, by which Allah (swt) selects whom He wills to lead and to guide the human race. It serves the same general function of Prophecy, even if it may differ in the details: a Prophet would bring a new book or revealed law, while our present Imams (as) do not. But the underlying theme is the same: Allah (swt) appoints servants to lead the rest of his servants, purifies those servants, and sends them to enlighten humanity. Such a selection is made in His Justice and Wisdom (not randomly, as many Wahabbis believe), and the humans who are to be guided have no choice in this matter.

What we see in those verses of the Qur’an that deal with history is a continual recounting of Divine Guidance in human form. Imamate is merely the continuation of this Divine Guidance after the death of the Holy Prophet (s). What we learn from the stories of the Qur’an is that always, at all times, and all places, Allah (swt) has appointed guides, guides who were not elected by the people nor decided by baya’h under a tent, but were anointed on the path of prophecy from the very beginnings of their existence. Such people came to warn, teach, and guide. Such people have always existed, and will always exist until the end of this world and the Day of Judgment. This is the sunnah (practice) of Allah (swt). What the Sunni belief-system denies, however, is precisely the constancy and eternality of this sunnah. The author of the article at Ansar.org claims that the Qur’an only talks about prophecy, and never Imamate, but this is to entirely miss the point: What the Qur’an talks about is Divine Guidance in all of its forms, and the eternal presence of such guides amongst the people. Imamate is only an extension of this continual Divine Guidance: it is the form that such guidance took after the end of the cycles of Prophecy, after the death of the Holy Prophet (s). What Sunni Islam is at a loss to explain is why, through all centuries, Prophets and Messengers came, why there always was an Infallible Guide appointed by Allah (swt), and yet for a sudden and inexplicable reason this millennium old sunnah stopped in the middle of the 7th century AD.

Imamate is nothing other than a divinely appointed office, whereby one person is given the task of guiding and leading humanity, and being a witness over them on the Day of Judgment. Imamate, therefore, is only an extension of Prophecy (both logically and in accordance with the shari’ah). When we speak of the Twelve Imams (as), we are speaking of the Twelve Inheritors who come to protect and defend the religion of Islam after the passing of the Prophet (s). They inherit their knowledge, infallibility, and leadership from the Holy Prophet (s), by a command of Allah (swt). They do not hold an office that is independent of Prophecy; without the Prophet Muhammad (s), the Imams (as) would not exist. Imamate is, then, only an extension of the general reality of Divine Guidance. To say that the Qur’an does speaks of Prophecy and not Imamate is to miss the entire point: what all the stories in the Qur’an about Prophets and guides emphasize is the reality of Divine Guides, of specially selected human beings who will lead the human race towards salvation.

The stories of Prophets are designed to make this reality undoubtedly clear, and of course many of the Prophets mentioned were the Imam of their time: Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, and the Prophet Muhammad (as). All of these beings were both Imams and Prophets; the only difference in our era is that new Prophethood (in the sense of the coming of a new law or revealed text) has ceased, and instead Allah (swt) has appointed Imams who are not Prophets. But the reality is still the same: Allah (swt) has appointed a Divine Guide in our time, who is Imam Muhammad ibn Hassan al-Mahdi (as), just as he has appointed an Imam in every time and place throughout human history. In reality, the stories about Prophecy are nothing other than stories about Imamate, about Divinely appointed guides who come to lead humanity. It is impossible, then, to say that Allah (swt) only speaks of Prophecy in the Qur’an, and does not speak of Imamate: they are of one and the same reality, namely Divine Guidance. Now, this Divine Guidance in human form comes in many ways: sometimes it comes with a new revealed law, sometimes it does not. Our present Imams (as) fall into the latter category, but this does not exclude them from the general reality of Divine Guidance.

Allah (swt) does not relate random historical events about peoples, and in this way the Holy Qur’an differs from the Old Testament, where we find often dizzying and unconnected accounts of battles, dynasties, marriages, and so forth that have little or no spiritual benefit. The Holy Qur’an is the final and most glorious revelation of Allah (swt), and because this is a Divine Text (as opposed to the human texts of the Old and New Testaments) it is designed with the utmost wisdom (hikma). To this end, Allah (swt) swears “by the Wise Qur’an (al-Qur’an al-Hakeem) at the start of the glorious Surah Ya Sin. As such, when we are analyzing all the historical accounts of Prophets and Messengers, we must always bear in mind that Allah (swt) has emphasized these accounts for a reason, and that there is a Divine reason why such a large amount of the Qur’anic text deals with these matters. In this we are guided by our belief in the Justice and Mercy of Allah (swt), the Lord of the Heavens and Earth, who is far exalted above any conception. We are not dealing with that being who has been dubbed “Allah” in the Sunni hadeeth literature, and is described with the most insulting and crude language. This is Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, Who guides whom He wills to the straight path.

The reason that Allah (swt) deals with the stories of Prophets so much in the Qur’an is for a very simple reason: Allah (swt) is seeking to demonstrate his sunnah, of which He says:

033.062 [YUSUFALI]:
(Such was) the practice (approved) of Allah among those who lived aforetime: No change wilt thou find in the practice (approved) of Allah.

The sunnah of Allah (swt), with regards to His servants who are awash in forgetfulness, heedlessness, and confusion, is to send Messengers and Prophets for whom he appoints. We read in many verses of the Qur’an that Allah (swt) has sent to every people, at every time, a guide:

016.084 [YUSUFALI]:
One Day We shall raise from all Peoples a Witness: then will no excuse be accepted from Unbelievers, nor will they receive any favours.

016.089 [YUSUFALI]:
One day We shall raise from all Peoples a witness against them, from amongst themselves: and We shall bring thee as a witness against these (thy people): and We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims.

028.075 [YUSUFALI]:
And from each people shall We draw a witness, and We shall say: “Produce your Proof”: then shall they know that the Truth is in Allah (alone), and the (lies) which they invented will leave them in lurch.

017.071 [YUSUFALI]:
One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams: those who are given their record in their right hand will read it (with pleasure), and they will not be dealt with unjustly in the least.

The coming of Prophets, Messengers, and Imams is the single most ancient facet of human existence. We see that there are many things which define the human life: his capacity for political and social organization, his capacity for writing and speaking, his family structures, and so forth. All of these are symbols of the human race, and of the degree to which Allah (swt) has ennobled us. However, none of these institutions are as old as Prophethood and Imamate. This is because the first human being, Sayyidina Adam (as), was also a Prophet. Before Adam (as) had children, before he instituted the first social structures of our human race, he was already a Prophet. Adam was the first creation, and the very act of His Creation was also the beginning of Prophethood:

002.030 [YUSUFALI]:
Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: “I know what ye know not.”

Therefore, before Adam had even placed in the Earth, Allah (swt) was already referring to him as a vicegerent (khalifah). To speak of Adam as a vicegerent is to speak of him as a representative of Allah (swt) Himself. The word khalf, from which the word khalifah is derived, refers to the “back” or “rear” of somebody. As such, the word khalifah is usually meant to mean a successor or a representative, and often times both. The word khalifah is three main definitions in the Hans-Wehr English-Arabic dictionary page 257:

Vicar, deputy; successor

1) Successor. Two types of succession exist.
(a) A son becomes the khalifa if his father when he dies. In this meaning, the word does not have any possible relevance with regards to Allah (swt). This is because it is impossible for anybody to “succeed” Allah (swt), since succession implies the passing away of the one succeeded, which is obviously impossible with regards to Allah (swt). Moreover we know that Allah (swt) does not beget nor is he begotten.

(b) Someone becomes a khalifa when he is occupying someone’s position whilst that person is elsewhere. Adam (as) cannot be the khalifa who will take Allah (swt)’s place in his absence as Allah (swt) is always present.

Clearly the definition of khalifa as successor is not logical in the context of this verse. We are then left with the other definition of khalifa:

[2]: Vicar, deputy. This is the meaning by which the word is most commonly used. Sufi sheikhs, for example, always appointed somebody as their khalifah, who would represent them in other areas. Notice how in this verse the Angels offered theer opinion opposing such an appointment, opinions that Allah (swt) tejected. When the ijmaa of infallible Angles is unacceptable when it comes to the appointment of a Khalifah what credence should there that the concept of Imamate can be decided by the ijmaa of fallible humans?

By designating Sayyiduna Adam (as) as the khalifah, then, Allah (swt) is by definition appointing him as a Messenger. He will be the one who will come to teach his progeny, the first generation of humanity, the religion of Islam, and the means for gaining nearness to Allah (swt). As such, we see that the human race has never been separated from the reality of Divine Guidance. The first moment of humanity’s existence was marked by the light of Divine Guidance, and Allah (swt) has never left the human race in darkness.

After Adam, we see that Allah (swt) has appointed a host of other Divine Guides, totaling some 124,000. This is in line with the verse of Qur’an:

One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams:

We should notice that Allah (swt) has said every people (kulli qaum). This ayat also gives further indication about the reality of Adam’s ancient Prophethood: that every people, including even the first generation of human beings on this Earth, was blessed with a Divine Guide. We then read through the history of the rest of the human race: the story of Noah (as) and the annihilation of his people, the story of Moses (as) coming to liberate the Jews, the story of Jesus (as) coming to prepare the way for the Final Revelation, and finally the Prophet Muhammad (s) himself. The Holy Qur’an recounts the entire history of the human race by recounting the story of the human race’s guides and prophets, all of whom were chosen by Allah (swt) Himself.

One know has to inquire why these guides have figured such a prominent role in human history. This is because there is simply no other way for Allah (swt) to guide the human race except by sending them one of their own. One of the most important rational proofs for the need to have such guides appointed and sent by Allah (swt) was given by Manthur ibn Hazim in a conversation with Imam as-Sadiq (as):

Whoever knows that he has a Lord, then he should know that there are certain things which make this Lord pleased and certain things which make Him angry. However, one does not know what pleases Him and what Angers Him except through revelation (wahy) or through a Prophet (rasul). As such, whoever knows that he does not receive revelation, should therefore seek out the Prophet. If he meets them, then hew ill know that they are the Proof (al-hujjat), and that obedience is owed to them
Usool al-Kafi. Vol. 1, p. 169

The Imam (as)’s words stand by themselves. There must be a means of communication between Allah (swt) and His servants. If Allah (swt) does not communicate with His servants directly, through revelation, than He will communicate to them through a person who does have that direct communication. This is what a Divine Guide is, whether he be an Imam, a Messenger, or a Prophet. All of them share in this fundamental reality: that they communicate to the human race the realities of Islam, which are revealed to them through miraculous revelation. The difference between each type of guide (Imam, Messenger, Prophet) is only in what they bring: an Imam only defends that which was given to the Messenger or Prophet before, whereas a Prophet only brings a new revealed law. As we have seen, the offices are often shared, though this need not be the case. Our present Imams (as) are neither Messengers nor Prophets, but Imams: they bring no new revelation, but rather have come to guide people to the truth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s)’s teachings.

The need for such guides has always been felt and is a constant facet of the human condition. Human beings, upon being thrust into this world, dwell in a state of profound forgetfulness: though their inner nature is that of tawheed, belief in the Oneness of Allah (swt), the heavy weight of the dunya clouds both there minds and their hearts. This is the reality for nearly all human beings, except those blessed with Divine Knowledge from birth (the Prophets, Messengers, and Imams (as)). As such, there is a constant lack and ignorance within the human condition, a disease of forgetfulness, that is only rectified by the coming of Divine Guides. Because human beings are always in this state, they have always been in need of guides, in this era as much as the era of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s). To this end Allah (swt) has said:

103.002-003 [YUSUFALI]:
Verily Man is in loss,
Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.

What Prophets, Messengers, and Imams do is to teach people what it is correct to believe, and what righteous work is to be done. This is to remove people from the state of “loss” (khusr) which they find themselves engulfed in.

Now, once we recognize that forgetfulness and loss is one of the prime facets of human life, and that the Divine Guidance which comes to rectify that loss is the other prime facet, and once we recognize that

Surah Isra verse 17:
One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams:

We have to ask: Why is it, suddenly in the midst of the 7th century AD, Allah (swt) broke this age-old practice? Was the human race no longer in need of Divine Guidance after the Prophet (s)? Clearly, the fighting and violence which broke out after the Holy Prophet (s)’s death prove a golden age had not dawned on the Earth after the Prophet Muhammad (s), contrary to what the Salafi innovators would claim. Rather, we see the same old human demons rising to the surface: bigotry, racism, arrogance, and hatred. After thousands and thousands of years of Divine Guidance, in the midst of all this chaos and fitna, it was then that Allah (swt) decided to not send infallible guides? Obviously not. Rather, the infallible guide, the Imam of that time, was the Prince of Believer Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as). It was he who was the glittering radiance of truth during the time of fitna. It was he who represented the Ark of Salvation (fulk an-najat), and it was he who became the firm handhold (al-‘urwat al-uthqa) by which those who were striving towards Allah (swt) would find deliverance. This is the one whose sermons were collected in two mighty books, Nahj al-Balagah (The Peak of Eloquence) and Nahj al-Asrar (the Summit of Secrets), whose wisdom and depth of knowledge far, far, far outshine any of the statements of other so-called “companions.” Just as Allah (swt) had appointed guides for all people and all times, so after the death of the Prophet (s) he appointed another one: Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. He would not bring a new revelation, but he would guard that which had been sent down, and in this way the sunnah of Allah (swt), the sunnah of Divine Guidance in human form, would persist through the ages. And to this end the Imam (as), quoting the Holy Qur’an, the Imam (as) said:

Allah – May He be Glorified and Exalted – said:
“Indeed you are a warner, and to every people there is a guide.”The Prophet was the warner, and I am the guide.

Yet the Sunni belief system rejects such a premise: they will only accept Imam ‘Ali as a type of caliph, somebody elected by the people, devoid of any Divine nomination. Some Sunnis might respond that there was Divine guidance during that period, in the form of the four “righteous caliphs”: Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and Imam ‘Ali (as). Putting aside the question of how righteous the first three in that list were, we are still faced with a thorny problem: According to the Sunni belief system, all four were selected in some form or another by the people. If we are to accept such individuals as guides, then we must accept that a sudden and abrupt change has occurred in the Sunnah of Allah (swt): guides were no longer appointed by Allah (swt), they were appointed by the people.

Yet such a change in the sunnah of Allah is impossible, at least according to the Holy Qur’an:

033.062 [YUSUFALI]:]
(Such was) the practice (approved) of Allah among those who lived aforetime: No change wilt thou find in the practice (approved) of Allah.

The reason why there would not be any change in the sunnah of Allah, especially with this practice, is the continued need that human beings have towards guidance. A living, present guide is always demanded, and such a person is Imam al-Mahdi (as). Returning to the hadeeth quoted above, we see that Manthur moved on from describing the hikmat (wisdom) in appointing prophets to discussing the hikmat in appointing a successor to Prophet Muhammad (s):

I said to the people; “Do you not know that the Prophet of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, was the Proof sent by Allah to His creation?” The people said: “Yes.” So I said: “So when the Prophet (s) passed, what was the proof of Allah over the Creation?” They said: “The Qur’an.” So I looked in the Qur’an, and we see how so many disagree with it: The Murijities, and the Qadiris, and atheists that do not even believe in it, until such the men are defeated by such disagreements. So I know that the Qur’an is not a hujjat except with a Guardian, one who whatever he says about the Qur’an will be truth. So, who is its Guardian?” The people said: “Ibn Ma’sud, he knew it. And ‘Umar knew it. And Hudhayfah knew it.” I said: “They knew all of it?” They said “No,” and so there was not one from amongst them who could say that he knows all of it, except ‘Ali, peace be upon him. So if there was some issue between the people, and this person says: “I don’t know,” and another person says “I don’t know,” and another says “I don’t know,” but them some says “I do know.” And so I bear witness that ‘Ali, peace be upon him, was the Guardian of the Qur’an, and that obedience to him was mandatory, and that he was the proof of Allah over His Creatures after the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, and that whatever he spoke of about the Qur’an was the truth.” The Imam as-Sadiq (as) then said: “May Allah have Mercy upon you.”

It is not rational for any Muslim to believe that, throughout the history of humanity, Allah (swt) appointed guides, and then after the death of the Prophet (s), when so-called Companions were fighting over power after his death, that Allah (swt) would not have sent another guide to be a Guardian over what was revealed to the Prophet (s), to create a straight path of clear and precise guidance, the path of unity, purity and salvation amidst all this division and conflict which had Muslim brothers slitting each other’s throats and going to hell. The Prophet (s) spent his life in oppression and hard, physical jihad to establish the religion of Islam. Then, after his death, Allah (swt) would have left it in the hands of fallible people, people who did not receive any type of revelation (wahy) or inspiration (ilham) from Allah (swt)? As Shias, we believe in the justice and rationality of our Lord, Allah (swt). We have read in the Holy Qur’an that Allah (swt) does not change his sunnah, and the single most emphasized sunnah in the Qur’an is the sending of Divine, Infallible Guides. If there was anything that was more a part of the sunnah of Allah (swt) then this, it is the sending of Divine Guides. Yet according to the Sunnis, Allah (swt) has, apparently for no reason, severed this contact with humanity. This is against the wisdom of Allah (swt), as explained by Imam ar-Rida (as) in a hadeeth:

Were God not to appoint over men a solicitous, trustworthy, protecting, reliable leader, the community would decline, religion would depart, and the norms and ordinances that have been revealed would undergo change. Innovators would increase and deniers would erode religion, inducing doubt in the Muslims. For we see that men are needy and defective, judging by their differences of opinion and inclination and their diversity of state. Were a trustee, then, not appointed to preserve what has been revealed through the Prophet, corruption would ensue in the manner we have described.

If a Sunni wishes to deny that Imamate is a continual reality, then why does Ibn Kathir write the following in his tafsir of the ayat:

When your Lord said to the angels: Indeed, I am placing a vicegerent in the Earth

Al-Qurtubi, as well as other scholars, said that this Ayah (2:30) proves the obligation of appointing a Khalifah to pass judgements on matters of dispute between people, to aid the oppressed against the oppressor, to implement the Islamic penal code and to forbid evil. There are many other tasks that can only be fulfilled by appointing the Imam, and what is necessary in performing an obligation, is an obligation itself
http://www.tafsir.com/default.asp?sid=2&tid=1561

If this is such an important obligation, why would it be left in the hands of fallible human beings? The continual presentation of the stories of Prophets and Imams in the Qur’an demonstrates that humanity is in constant need of an Imam. Without him, all will be lost, and humanity will be condemned to misery and confusion. We can now turn towards the Qur’anic evidences for Imamate, and prove the fallacy of Ansar.org’s contention that the Qur’an does not deal with Imamate at all.

A challenge to Ansar.Org

Attached are some of the beliefs of Imamate as espoused by your school of thought that we have cited at different points in the article:

“Imamate is prescribed to succeed Prophethood as a means of protecting the Deen, and managing the affairs of this world”
Al-Ahkam al Sultaniyyah page 10 (Ta-Ha publishers, London)

“The Imam is the representative of the Prophet, the system that is run by Allah (swt) for mankind through the Prophets is the same Imams,
Mansab-e-Imamate pages 106-107

The belief in the eyes of Ahl’ul Sunnah and Muttazalites is that the duty to appoint an Imam is a duty of the public… there is a Hadith in Sahih Muslim, narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar ‘He who dies without giving bayah to an Imam dies the death of one belonging to the days of jahiliyya’. This is why the Sahaba viewed the appointment of the Imam as so important that they preferred it to attending the Prophet’s funeral, because the Muslims need an Imam so that orders can be made on Jihad, and so that Islamic Laws can be implemented”.
Sharh Fiqa Akbar, by Mulla Ali Qari, page 175 (publishers Muhammad Saeed and son, Qur’an Mahal, Karachi

“Whoever dies without recognising the Imam of his time dies the death of Jahilyya (ignorance)”
Mansab e Imamate, page 108

… Bahar al Raiq, Volume 5 page 131 published in Egypt states that the rejecter of the Imamate and Khilafat of Abu Bakr or Umar is Kaafir”
‘Imam Ahmed Raza aur Shia Madhab’ page 53 (Ahmed Raza Publishers, Lahore)

When the people of Medina dethroned Yazeed bin Muawiya, Ibn ‘Umar gathered his special friends and children and said, “I heard the Prophet saying, ‘A flag will be fixed for every betrayer on the Day of Resurrection,’ and we have given the oath of allegiance to this person (Yazeed) in accordance with the conditions enjoined by Allah and His Apostle
Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 9, Book 88, Number 227

So Sunni aqeedah on Imamate is as follows:

  • Imamate succeeds Prophethood
  • The Imam is appointed by the public
  • Appointing the Imam was more important than attending the funeral of the Prophet (s)
  • Failure to give bayya to an Imam leads to you dying a kaafor
  • Failure to recognise the Imam of your time leads to you dying a kaafir
  • Rejecting the Imamate of the Shaykhayn makes you a kaafir
  • Those that rebel against the Imam will be raised as baghis on the Day of Judgement

When the nature of Imamate is so important in your Sect, to the point that rejecters of this concept will die as kaafirs, thus bringing it on par with rejecting Prophethood, and opposing such Imams merits the humiliation of being graded a betrayer in the next world, then clearly Allah (swt) should have issued some guidance on this matter in his Qur’an and Sunnah.

When it comes to appointing the Imam from the Sunnah, according the Umar, Rasulullah (s) left no successor. We read in Sahih Muslim Kitab al Amara Book 020, Number 4485, when the dying Umar was asked to appoint a successor he said:

If I would appoint my successor, (I would because) one better than me did so. (He meant Abu Bakr.) If I would leave You alone, (I would do so because) one better than me, i. e. the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), did so. ‘Abdullah says: When he mentioned the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) I understood that he would not appoint anyone as Caliph.

Umar’s testimony is that Rasulullah (s) was completely silent on the matter. The appointment of Abu Bakr at Saqifa is intense explained by the Ahl’ul Sunnah as necessary since Rasulullah (s) neither appointed a successor nor a system of sucession. Curiously 50 years later, during the Caliphate of Yazeed, Abdullah ibn Umar supports his leadership stating ‘we have given the oath of allegiance to this person (Yazeed) in accordance with the conditions enjoined by Allah and His Apostle’. When (according to the Ahl’ul Sunnah) Rasulullah (s) had not set out any such conditions for appointing an Imam in the Sunnah, then such conditions must have been set by Allah (swt) in the Qur’an, otherwise the claim of Abdullah ibn Umar would be a lie. Bearing this in mind, Could Ansar.Org kindly cite those verses that support the Sunni concept of succession to Prophethood, Imamate, a concept set by Allah (swt) and his Rasul (s) that deemed rejecters kaafirs and its opponents rebels?

If you are unable to prove this pivotal concept from the Qur’an why are you attacking the Shi’a concept of Imamate that can be proven from the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet (s)?

 

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