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In the Name of God بسم الله
warisshah2012

Why Stop At Only 12 Imams? An Intellectual Query

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Why have 12 months before a year ends why not having 12 hours in day (not night). Something about the number 12 in my layman opinion has divine meaning. A good example is Quran Surah (5) Verse 12

And Allah had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from among them twelve(12) leaders...

And [recall] when Moses prayed for water for his people, so We said, "Strike with your staff the stone." And there gushed forth from it twelve(12) springs,...

[O believers], "We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the (12) Descendants

of months with Allah is twelve12[lunar] months in the registe

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Had the Imams ...

An Imam was to guide us, which they did, and were really infallible based on Shi'a and Sunni narratives on their pious and generous

mostly ignored

^

lifestyles. But their influence was severely limited (except Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (as) ) and were all murdered ruthlessly.

Reply to my edit?

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Salam

I am reading about Imamate and it is very interesting intellectually but here are some questions I have:

If we have a divinely appointed imam to guide us on the way of the Prophet (s.a.w.) why only stop after 12? Why not continue with one imam after another till Imam Mahdi?

I would like you to answer this without referring to the Sunni hadith books about the hadith of 12 caliphs or similar narrations in your own books but only using intellect and logic. See, I am almost convinced that the idea of a divinely appointed ruler for the Muslim Ummah, who is protected from sin is a good one and it makes sense to my intellect but since we do not know when the Day of Judgement will be and when the world will end, shouldn't there be a continuous line of imams, one after the other, until the last one (whom we can call Imam Mahdi (a.s.) ?

I am a Sunni Muslim and a member of a Sufi tariqah but have recently been reading about Shi'ism as well and this question came to me.

the imams (saw) are all 1, they are all muhamads (saw) all are Ali (saw) all are mahdi (saw). all 12 (saw) speak what each (saw) speaks.

the imam mahdi (saw) are in hiding and have been in hiding since they (saw) went into occultation.

sorry for the most brief and confusing reply, just having breakfast lol, so you have a sufi background, so you must be a spiritual knowledge type seeker?

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Frankly the OP question is stupid, devoid of any reason.

It's asking why there are only 124,000 prophets and why not 376,000 etc.; or why we have four divine books, why not seven.

This topic does not deserve to be in the "thinker's discourse", there is nothing intellectual about this thread.

Edited by Waiting for HIM

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I think it's a valid question. One reason there is twelve is because we don't need more than twelve for what is intended for Imamate, just as was pointed out that we didn't need more than 124,000 prophets, whatever number of divine books, etc.

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Okay thanks for the replies so far. Let me rephrase the question in less philosophical terms: what is the Shia prime-text evidence (I.e. Koran and Hadith ) for th existence of the 12 imams (a.s) and their role as infallible imams. If we accept the number 12 then why is it these 12 and not, for example, someone like Hazrat Imam Zayd ibn Ali or Hazrat Ismail ibn Jafar etc. what is your evidence for exactly these 12 individuals? Can you show it from sources which both Sunni and Shia will accept.

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Okay thanks for the replies so far. Let me rephrase the question in less philosophical terms: what is the Shia prime-text evidence (I.e. Koran and Hadith ) for th existence of the 12 imams (a.s) and their role as infallible imams. If we accept the number 12 then why is it these 12 and not, for example, someone like Hazrat Imam Zayd ibn Ali or Hazrat Ismail ibn Jafar etc. what is your evidence for exactly these 12 individuals? Can you show it from sources which both Sunni and Shia will accept.

Well, I don't believe you're going to find much discussion regarding the 12 Imams in Sunni narrations. I think at most there are ahadith in Sunni books like Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal that state the first three Imams are Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), al-Hasan (as), and al-Husayn (as) and 9 successive descendents from the lineage of Husayn but I haven't verified that. And this would make sense becuase they don't believe in the concept of Imamate, so why would they bother trying to find out the exact identity of the 12 Imams?

As far as the other sects, like Zaydis and Ismailis, they don't even make the claim to be following 12 Imams in the first place. Both Ithna Asheris (Twelvers) and Ismailis agree that the Imamate passed from Imam as-Sajjad (as) to Imam al-Baqir (as). However, Zaydis are of the belief that the brother of al-Baqir (as), Zayd ibn Ali ibn Husayn, was the rightful successor. As far as I know, there is no textual evidence to backup this claim but rather it is based on the fact that Zayd led an uprising against the Umayyads and al-Baqir (as) didn't. They believe that the Imam is the one who revolts against oppression and tyranny like Imam al-Husayn (as). Though, I am not sure how they explain the stance of his father, Imam as-Sajjad (as), since he too did not outwardly rebel against the Umayyads. In regards to the Ismailis, they differ with Ithna Asheris about the identity of the Imam after Imam as-Sadiq (as). They too do not uphold the concept of 12 Imams and there are many sub-sects amongst themselves. They hold that Ismail ibn Jafar was the successor to Imam as-Sadiq (as) whereas Ithna Asheris believe it was Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as). Ithna Asheris hold that since Ismail died before his father that he could not have possibly been designated as the next Imam. Although, I believe most Ismailis were under the impression that he went into occulation.

Nonetheless, Ithna Asheris are the only ones the claim to follow 12 Imams and do have authentic traditions going back to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the earlier Imams (as) that give the exact name and identity of the subsequent ones . I will try and find some quality hadith material online for you.

(wasalam)

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Appointment of Imams and their next succesors

‘Mansoor bin Hazim went to see Imam Abu Abdullah Jaffar Al-Sadiq , and asked him to specify the Imam who would succeed him. ‘May my father and mother be your ransom’, said he, ‘souls shall certainly taste death. If that is to be, then who will succeed you?’ ‘This is your man’, said the Imam, pointing to Abul-Hassan Mousa Al-Kadhim. Then he placed his hand on the shoulder of his son, as a gesture of emphasis. Mousa Al-Kadhim was, at the time, five years old.’ (Al-Kulayni, Usool Al-Kafi, Vol.1, page 309)

Abd al-Ala reported on the authority of al-Fayd b. al-Mukhtar, who said: I (i.e. al-Fayd b. al-Mukhtar) said to Abu `Abd Allah Jaffar, peace be on him: "Take my hand away from the fire (of Hell). Who is (the Imam) for us after you?" Abu Ibrahim (Mousa Al- Kadhim) entered. Then Imam Jaffar Al-Sadiq said: "This is your leader. Keep close to him." (Kitab Al-Irshad)

I (i.e. al-Mufaddal b. Umar al-Jufi) was with Abu Abd Allah Imam Jaffar AL-Sadiq, peace be on him. Abu Ibrahim Mousa Al-Kadhim, peace be on him, came in. He was still a boy. Abu Abd Allah Jaffar, peace be on him, said to him: "Indicate to those of your Companions whom you trust that the position of authority belongs to him Mousa." (Kitab Al-Irshad).

"First Muharnmad al-Hanafiyah talked to the Stone; there was no response. Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) said: "Had you, O Uncle, been the Wasi and Imam, it would certainly have answered you."

Muhammad al-Hanafiyah said "Now, O Nephew, you pray and ask it." Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) prayed to Allah and then asked the Black Stone to declare in clear Arabic as to who was the Wasi and Imam after Imam Husayn bin 'Ali(A.S.).

There was a tremor in the Stone and then Allah made it speak in clear Arabic: "O Allah, verily Wisayah and Imamah, after al-Husayn bin 'Ali is for Zayn al-'Abidin 'Ali bin al-Husayn, son of 'Ali bin Abi Talib and Fatimah bint Rasulillah." Muhammad al-Hanafiyah accepted the verdict and declared his allegiance for Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.).

(al-Ihtijaj of al-Tabrasi, al-Kafi of al-Kulaini, Basa'-erud-Darajat, A'lumul-wara, Manaqib of Ibn Shahr 'Ashob, Biharul-Anwar, Vol. XI, of Majlisi)."

"When `Ali b. `Abd Allah b. al-`Abba`s was born, his father brought him to Ima`m `Ali, peace be on him. The Ima`m said to `Abd Allah: What have you named him?` Is it possible for me to name him before you name him?` asked Abd Allah. So, the Ima`m said: `I have named him with my name and given him my kunya. He will have authority.`(Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 7, p. 358)

1. Zara`ra reported on the authority of Abu` Ja`far (al-Ba`qir), peace be on him, who said: "The Ima`ms are twelve. Among them al-Hasan and al-Husayn, and then the Ima`ms from al-Husayn`s children.

2. Abu` Basir reported on the authority of Ima`m Abu` Ja`far (al-Ba`qir), peace be on him, who said: "We are twelve Ima`ms.(Al-Karajiki, al-Istinsar, p. 17)

3. Abu` Basir reported that the Ima`m said: "There will be nine Ima`ms after al-Husayn. The ninth of them will be their Qa``im (i. e. , the one who will undertake the office of the Ima`mate).(Al-Khisal, p. 388)

Ima`m `Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, peace be on him, numbered the Ima`ms and mentioned their names one by one till he ended at al-Qa``im (the one who will under take the office of the Ima`mate).(Al-Saffar, Basa`ir al-Darajat, p. 108)

He said: [Abu` Ja`far Mohammed looked towards his son Abu` `Abd Allah (al-Sa`diq), peace be on him, and said (to us): "Do you see that man? He is one of those of whom Allah, the Mighty and High, said: We wish to grant a favor to those who have been humiliated in the land and We will make them Imams and inheritors.(Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 306).

When Ja`far (al-Sa`diq) approached, Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S), said: "Here is the best of creatures". (Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 306 )

He said: "Ja`far, I give testamentary enjoinments to you (to treat) my followers well." So, Ima`m al-Sa`diq, peace be on him, replied: "May I be your ransom, I will make them (know their religion so well) that any man among them in the country will not (have to) ask any one (for advice). (Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 306).

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(salam)

I don't think it's that easy to say why there should have been 12 Imams as opposed to 13, 20 or 49. You may as well ask why were there 124,000 prophets and not 126,789. However, it's easier to argue for a continuing line of Imams (eg Nizaris) then it is to say that it's just 'stopped' and the 12th is in occultation. There should also be some thought to as whether Zayd ibn Ali (ra) was an Imam (or perhaps others who are linked to Zaydis) etc.

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Guest Christian

Because there were 12 disiples of Christ. The Catholic Christian church believes their leader, the Pope, to be infallible. The current Pope is in the line of Apostolic succession with the first Pope being Saint Peter, one of Jesus' original 12 disciples. There were 12 tribes of Israel and 12 disciples of Christ.

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