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Jaane Rabb

Do Imams have the authority to legislate law?

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Salaam,

Do Imams have the authority to legislate new and/or amend an existing law?

Quote

Wiki:

Two important functions of Muhammad were to reveal the divine law to humans and to guide them towards God. Twelver Shia believe that with the death of Muhammad, the first function, divine legislation, is completed, but that the second, guiding people and preserving and explaining the divine law, is continued through the Imams.

While the Prophet was a "legislative Prophet" (nabi al-tashri), the continuation of the "esoteric prophecy" (nubuwah al-batiniyah) is through walayah. The role of the Imam in society is equivalent to the role of the mind in the body.

The last part - so the Imam has to operate within the bounds of Qur'an and Sunnah delivered by the Prophet (S)? [I mean it's pretty obvious the Imam must].

There aren't any further Messengers because the divine law has been delivered in full, hence "...today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you..." and Muhammad (S) is the last Prophet. So with the law delivered, surely there should be no change to it, no exceptions added?

Quote

Tabataba'I Tafsir Al-Mizan states [Commentary for 4:59]:

the ‘‘ulu ’l-amr’’ (those vested with authority)... do not have the privilege of revelation; they decide and act according to what is right in their opinion; and their opinion and order must be obeyed just like the Prophet’s opinion and order...

the ulu ’l-amr have no power of legislation, nor do they have any order other than that which Allāh and His Messenger have given in the Qur’ān and the sunnah.

[NOTE: Following its commentary are comments which criticise the commentary, so a bit confused as to which belongs to Tabataba'I if someone can please clarify?]

Please post your proofs and share other scholarly opinion. I've heard A. Sistani believes Imams can legislate law but would like reference and his proof/reasoning if possible.

The crux of the matter is, if Muhammad (S) has said "don't do X", can an Imam come later and add "except when it's Y". Wouldn't this go against the traditions of the Prophet? So should any narrations attributed to an Imam adding an exception to the rule be rejected on those grounds regardless of chain strength?

And if you want an absolute specific situation where this has happened, then it's in relation to latm/matam but PLEASE don't turn this thread into a discussion about that. There's narrations from the Prophet (S) not to slap the face, etc. Then there's narrations from al-Sadiq saying the same but adding an exception - "except on Al-Hussain", which would constitute to change.

Fi Amanillah

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Good question,

I think the key to understanding this question is that we must figure out what is meant by the verse "today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you".

Because, it is not the case that the Prophet (s) delivered every single thing about aqeeda and fiqh during his time.

For example, from my knowledge, there is no hadith of the Prophet (s) which says that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) doesn't have parts, or that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) isn't in a place, or that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) doesn't change, etc. (basically the discussions concerning sifat)

These beliefs were taught by the Imams later on, and the Prophet possibly didn't go into these things because the people of that time would have become confused, or because there was simply no need to (unlike later when people learned about Aristotelian metaphysics and there was a need to reconcile beliefs with logic)

Also, the Prophet only ever publicly announced the Imamah of Imam Ali (a), and not the other Imams. Why? Because there was simply no need to, and what was sufficient was to just announce the next leader. And the assumption would be that Imam Ali (a) would simply tell the people during his time who would be the leader after him.

However, even though the Prophet (s) didn't announce these things and the Imams did, it doesn't mean the Imams are coming up with anything new, the Prophet would have said the same things if he lived during the Imam's times. 

So with regards to latom/chest beating/ wailing etc. for Imam Hussain (a), what I would say was that the Prophet would have announced the same thing if he lived during Imam al-Sadiq's (a) time, however during his (s) time, there was no need to say this, since the tragedy of Karbala hadn't happened yet.  

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4 hours ago, Jaane Rabb said:

Salaam,

Do Imams have the authority to legislate new and/or amend an existing law?

The last part - so the Imam has to operate within the bounds of Qur'an and Sunnah delivered by the Prophet (S)? [I mean it's pretty obvious the Imam must].

There aren't any further Messengers because the divine law has been delivered in full, hence "...today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you..." and Muhammad (S) is the last Prophet. So with the law delivered, surely there should be no change to it, no exceptions added?

[NOTE: Following its commentary are comments which criticise the commentary, so a bit confused as to which belongs to Tabataba'I if someone can please clarify?]

Please post your proofs and share other scholarly opinion. I've heard A. Sistani believes Imams can legislate law but would like reference and his proof/reasoning if possible.

The crux of the matter is, if Muhammad (S) has said "don't do X", can an Imam come later and add "except when it's Y". Wouldn't this go against the traditions of the Prophet? So should any narrations attributed to an Imam adding an exception to the rule be rejected on those grounds regardless of chain strength?

And if you want an absolute specific situation where this has happened, then it's in relation to latm/matam but PLEASE don't turn this thread into a discussion about that. There's narrations from the Prophet (S) not to slap the face, etc. Then there's narrations from al-Sadiq saying the same but adding an exception - "except on Al-Hussain", which would constitute to change.

Fi Amanillah

Interesting question.

Our belief says that no one is better in understanding religion after Prophet (PBUHHP) than Imams. There are instances where Prophet (PBUHHP) issues and specific order with respect to circumstances but it was later on abolished by Imams on the condition that it was related to condition of specific circumstances which is no longer in place. To support this by an example: Imam Ali (عليه السلام) was asked as to why does he not color his hair as it was ordered by Prophet (PBUHHP). Imam Ali (عليه السلام) said: "It was ordered by Prophet (PBUHHP) when there were less youth in our ranks as compared to Infidels so Prophet (PBUHHP) ordered all our men to color their hair so that we may put psychological impression that we have many youths among us and as of now, we have sufficient people". Likewise, enslaving also was abolished as enemy do not enslave Muslims. 

So, if an Imam approves or prohibits a saying of Prophet (PBUHHP), he is actually felt its need in the world as he (عليه السلام) knows the law that he has got from the Prophet (PBUHHP) himself . And, an Imam is never wrong in his feeling because Prophet (PBUHHP) said: "Among us 1st is Muhammad, Middle is Muhammad and last is Muhammad".

Edited by Flying_Eagle

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Guest Pschological Warfare

1) Ghadir Khumm : "For whoever I am his Leader (mawla), 'Ali is his Leader (mawla)."

-----------------------------

2) 

I am leaving among you the Two Weighty Things: the Book of Allah and my `Itrat (Progeny), my Ahlul Bayt. So long as you (simultaneously) uphold both of them, you will never be misled after me; so, do not go ahead of them else you should perish, and do not lag behind them else you should perish; do not teach them, for they are more knowledgeable than you.1

----------------------------

The fact -  "for they are more knowledgeable then you" implies that "You" ( as general you) will read the Mute Book and try to Explain to the Talking Book about the laws as you comprehend them.

If you were present at the time of Hajj, and the Imam(عليه السلام) of your time said I am leaving to Hajj- its two days before you complete the Hajj.

Will you stay as ,Hajj in those particular days is ordained 

or 

will you join the Imam(عليه السلام) of your time? 

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Guest Pschological Warfare
11 hours ago, Jaane Rabb said:

Salaam,

Do Imams have the authority to legislate new and/or amend an existing law?

Imam(عليه السلام) are the custodians and protectors of the Message delivered to Muhammad al-Mustafa( peace be upon him and his pure progeny). 

How the law is applied and in what context is time/situation dependent. 

Its is time for Hajj, and Mecca is attacked- will you continue performing Hajj or defend the City.?  

If the daughter of Muhammad al-Mustafa( peace be upon him and his pure progeny) cry's - Does she(عليه السلام) cry to complain to God - why you took my father or She(عليه السلام) delivering   a message for the ummah? 

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