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In the Name of God بسم الله

Help With Doubts: Imamah in Quran, Seal of Prophethood, Imam Mahdi (as)

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Salam,

I have been a member of this forum gaining valuable information for many years. I am a Shia and wanted to better understand my beliefs and why this is the true correct path. I have been researching the different point of views/opinions/proofs from both Shia and Sunni sources for a long time, while trying to take a step back and be unbiased with my current beliefs. This has led me to a few important questions that I'm seeking answers for. The 3 topics tie together somewhat. I would really appreciate some input to help me with these doubts that I now have:

  1. Shia concept of Imamah In Quran

    • Imamah is considered to be of very high importance and one of the Usul al-din. To be a pillar/fundamental belief, the concept should be explicit/clear in the Quran. The other Usul al-din are clearly mentioned multiple times in the Quran. 

    • I went through all of the verses that use the word "Imam" as well as some of the verses that are used as proofs for Imamah utilizing both Shia/Sunni interpretations and they didn’t seem clear enough to prove the concept of Imamah without imposing a prior belief of Imamah on the verse. The theme in the Quran for the word "Imam" seems to be a "Leader" in the general sense. The word is used to refer to a book for guidance, evil leaders, a road, Leader from Israelites, and Leaders who are Prophets.

      1. What's the main verse in the Quran used to prove the Shia concept of Imamah? 

      2. I know one of the main verses used is 2:124. It mentions Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) being given the title Imam for the people after passing tests. What exactly did he gain that he didn’t have before? 

      3. Does this Imamah of Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) also refer to successorship and safeguarding the religion like the Shia concept of the 12 Imams?

      4. Is this really clear enough proof that it could also be referring to a separate non prophet, non messenger, divine, infallible, successor, position/entity that must be followed

        1. Quran 3:7 - It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the foundation of the Book - and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah. But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.

  2. Imamah and the Finality of Prophethood

    • There were prophets who's only mission was to revive the past Shari`ah from a previous messenger, preserve it from loss or tampering, promote it, spread it and guide people towards it, without bringing new divine laws.

      1. What's the difference between an Imam/Prophet/Messenger? Please provide authentic references

      2. From what I understand of the Shia view from various scholars and hadith in Al-Kafi, the 12 Imam's are ranked higher and are superior to all Prophets/Messengers except Prophet Muhammad ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)). If this is true, why are they ranked higher than Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) who was a Messenger/Prophet/Imam?

      3. Wouldn’t believing that the imams are superior (or equal)/ with the same attributes/characteristics/job as prophets be the same as continuing prophethood and invalidating the belief of the finality of prophethood?

  3. Guidance of Imam Mahdi (عليه السلام)

    • The Shia concept of Imamah is that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) must appoint an infallible leader to guide the nation to the correct path and there must be one at all times until the end of times or the earth will implode. It is not justice from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) to leave us without any divine leadership. 

      1. How does the current hidden/unavailable Imam (عليه السلام) guide us today? 

      2. Isn't the occultation a contradiction with the basis of the reason we claim we need an Imaam?

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1 hour ago, muslim313 said:

From what I understand of the Shia view from various scholars and hadith in Al-Kafi, the 12 Imam's are ranked higher and are superior to all Prophets/Messengers except Prophet Muhammad ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)). If this is true, why are they ranked higher than Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) who was a Messenger/Prophet/Imam?

This point would only be relevant if there was an opposition between the imams and the prophets, which there isn't. They are all on the same line and guiding people towards the same truth. In simple terms, they are all superior to us and they were all nominated by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) to deliver His teachings and/or to guide the people towards the truth. 

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There is no confusion until you confuse yourself. 
 

christianitt doesn’t make sense that’s why it’s confusing. 
 

islam is perfect and is clear till normal people like us try create our own understanding. With the help Of Allah Muhammad his family and companions and wives us Muslims have all understood Islam differently. But what is the truth. The truth is clear in the Quran. 
worship Allah and him alone. 
 

and even tho we all tend to say we do, some don’t, deny, or try make an excuse. 
 

I am not labeling any sects because all sects are in a sect because they want to do it their way rather than open their mind to the truth and put away their pride. 
 

but since you are speaking of the Shia sect, it is no different than what I have to say about the other sects. It’s confusing because you WANT to be a Shia Muslim, instead of just a Muslim. 
 

once you want to be just a Muslim then your mind subhanAllah will read the Quran and hadiths and say, 

“wow I was looking at it the wrong way”

 

- regarding your points, 

1. concept of Imamah in the Quran. 
not to sure. But the word does mean Leader. And yes the Ahlil bayt were in fact leaders. The term might be specified differently tho to Shias. 
at the mosque growing up and even now the leader of the masjid is an imam we call him. 
nobody divine. 

2. I feel my Comments explained this one 

3. From what I understood Imam Mahdi is the one who will fight with prophet Issa to lead the Muslims. 
he doesn’t guide us nor is spiritual. 
allah would have made that more clear for us if he was. 

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1 hour ago, Mahdavist said:

This point would only be relevant if there was an opposition between the imams and the prophets, which there isn't. They are all on the same line and guiding people towards the same truth. In simple terms, they are all superior to us and they were all nominated by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) to deliver His teachings and/or to guide the people towards the truth. 

What I'm trying to derive out of this question is if the Imamah title given to Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) is the same as the Shia concept of Imamah, why would the Imams be considered superior if they are not prophets or messengers? Saying that they are superior would suggest that they have a different/superior type of Imamah, which would invalidate that verse as a proof of the Shia concept of Imamah as an actual separate position being mentioned in the Quran.

This also leads into my follow up questions about the differences between Prophets/Messenger/Imams. Saying that the Imams were equal or superior to prophets with the same attributes and role could be seen as a continuation of prophethood, with just a different name.

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6 hours ago, muslim313 said:

This also leads into my follow up questions about the differences between Prophets/Messenger/Imams. Saying that the Imams were equal or superior to prophets with the same attributes and role could be seen as a continuation of prophethood, with just a different name.

It's already clear that it isn't a continuation through hadith al manzilah, where the prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) tells Imam Ali (عليه السلام) that he is to him as Haroon (عليه السلام) was to Musa (عليه السلام) except that there will be no prophet after him.

 

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8 hours ago, muslim313 said:
  • What's the main verse in the Quran used to prove the Shia concept of Imamah? 

  • I know one of the main verses used is 2:124. It mentions Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) being given the title Imam for the people after passing tests. What exactly did he gain that he didn’t have before?

For understanding what Imamate actually is, you correctly reached to 2:124. And you will find there Imamate mentioned as "divine covenant". The speciality of this divine covenant is that it would not reach to unjust. 

Now whenever anyone discussing Imamate, specifically Imams from Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام), he would be referring to that "divine covenant which would never reach to unjust":

 قال لا ينال عهدي الظالمين

2:124

I don't know how you have missed this important part!! 

Now stay right here with me for a while.

What Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has said is that "My covenant will not reach to unjust" what does that means?

First of all, are we able to find out who is unjust & who is not? I think any sensible person will hands up and will excuse that he cannot judge whether a person is unjust or not. Because it would require knowledge of the unseen, lets go along with Quran.

You must have seen the story of Prophet Musa (عليه السلام) & Khizr (عليه السلام) mentioned in chapter 18 of Quran. Khizr (عليه السلام), although was mentioned as a servant of God on whom God bestowed His mercy & taught him knowledge from Himself, but he appeared as zalim before Musa (عليه السلام) as he made a whole in a boat, killed a boy etc. And Musa (عليه السلام) was unable to remain patient after watching his actions,which apparently, are looking as zulm. And finally they separated after Khizr (عليه السلام) mentioned him the ta'vil of his actions. 

Was Khizr ended up as Zalim before Musa (عليه السلام)? No

What made Musa (عليه السلام) believe that Khizr (عليه السلام) was not a zalim but an obedient servant of God? The "knowledge" in the form of ta'vil which Khizr (عليه السلام) shared with him in the end of story. 

So one need a comprehensive knowledge for knowing whether a person is unjust or not. And this comprehensive knowledge is lacking in common humans so the divine covenant of Imamate cannot be a thing which could ever come under human domain so that they may elect or select Imam for themselves. 

So coming back to the point again, Imamate is a divine covenant which will never reach to unjust. What does that mean? What does it mean to not be unjust? Lets take the opposite, for instance, it means that the the bearers of divine covenant would be the ones who are "just". What that "just" would mean? Infallible??? Or something else? Since we are not discussing infallibility, so I am leaving this subject, but this very verse holds evidence of infallibility too, that's what I wanted to stress. 

So the bearers of divine covenant must be "just". To further show you what is meant by "unjust", I would like to share few verses:

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن كَتَمَ شَهَادَةً 

2:140

 

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن مَّنَعَ مَسَاجِدَ اللّهِ أَن يُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ وَسَعَى فِي خَرَابِهَا

2:114

 

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَى عَلَى اللّهِ كَذِبًا أَوْ كَذَّبَ بِآيَاتِهِ

6:21

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن ذُكِّرَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا وَنَسِيَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ 

18:57

The above are few verses which mentions what is meant by being unjust. Hiding testimonies, hindering people from remembrance of God, liars, turning away from divine signs and even forgetfulness etc. 

What is meant by being Just, if we just summarize the whole Quran, and start negating each and every trait of zalimeen, we would be able to understand what is meant by being Just. And I would like to encourage you to do that research yourself. Insha Allah you will learn a lot and will reach to the truthful ones. 

Now your question, What exactly did he gain that he didn’t have before? 

Apparently, you can say that he gained another station, another divine covenant which apparently, seems greater than Prophethood, that God Almighty has given it after taking a test from his Prophet.

I am needing a break here as my other responsibilities are not allowing me to continue. Will be back after a while Insha Allah. Meanwhile you are free to submit your input to what has been written by me.

Wassalam!

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7 minutes ago, Cool said:

Now your question, What exactly did he gain that he didn’t have before? 

Just came back to add another point which remained in my mind i.e., if you just look at the "apparent" meaning of the verses of Quran, you will find that a Prophet can be a zalim (na'udobillahe min zalik), but an Imam cannot be a zalim according to 2:124

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9 hours ago, Guest Reply said:

3. From what I understood Imam Mahdi is the one who will fight with prophet Issa to lead the Muslims. 
he doesn’t guide us nor is spiritual. 

Salam this is just a sunni coclusion which just sees 'Imam Mahdi '(aj) & 'prophet Issa' (عليه السلام) as warlords in similar  fashion which sunnis wish for another  Salahudin or any other great Sunni commanders & conquerors but in contrast Shia muslims see him & belive to it which both of them will be a mercy to all  people in similar fashion of prophet  Muhammad (pbu) which he was a guide & spiritual leader which due propaganda  of Islamophobs according to portraying of prophet  (pbu) as a warlord by wahabists  & Salafist majority of people  likewise sunnis think that 'Imam Mahdi '(aj) & 'prophet Issa' (عليه السلام) will be a new generation  of warlords instead of being spiritual & devine guide & mercy for whole world.

10 hours ago, Guest Reply said:

1. concept of Imamah in the Quran. 
not to sure. But the word does mean Leader. And yes the Ahlil bayt were in fact leaders. The term might be specified differently tho to Shias. 
at the mosque growing up and even now the leader of the masjid is an imam we call him. 
nobody divine. 

It's just one of & most basic definitions for Imam which shias agree on it but on the other we consider more in depth definitions of it which if we want expan all meaning of it whole life of all of us toghether wiill be not sufficient  for it which all definitions of Imam have been scratching surface of it's meaning  sofar however even for being an Imam as fallible leader prayer being just is essential  prerequisite .

10 hours ago, Guest Reply said:

once you want to be just a Muslim then your mind subhanAllah will read the Quran and hadiths and say, 

“wow I was looking at it the wrong way”

people  say it when they can't find out which sect is with truth & they are too lazy in order of searching for truth.

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14 hours ago, muslim313 said:

Does this Imamah of Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) also refer to successorship and safeguarding the religion like the Shia concept of the 12 Imams?

The verse 2:124 explains it in the words of Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام):

قال و من ذريتي

And Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) never denied his request rather confirmed him that surely this divine covenant will continue in your progeny but it will not reach to the unjust. 

So if you see the saliheen, non-Prophets in the progeny of Ibrahim (عليه السلام), for instance, Hazrat Abdul Muttalib, see how he dealt with Ibraha? What he replied to Ibraha when he told Abdul Muttalib (عليه السلام) that I am going to destroy this Ka'ba? And the Abu Talib (عليه السلام), how he protected the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and helped him not only by himself but also by providing extremely true & devoted followers & helpers to Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), you can understand that the Awliya Allah are there in every era.

14 hours ago, muslim313 said:

Is this really clear enough proof that it could also be referring to a separate non prophet, non messenger, divine, infallible, successor, position/entity that must be followed

If you read the Quran and take out all those verses where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has commanded us to not obey certain people. Then you will understand what does it means when Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) making obligatory on us the obedience of non-prophets in the form of Ulil Amr. Once the qualities & traits of who could be the ulil amr, whom you should o ey, becomes unveiled to you, then the verse of purification will lead you straight to their doorstep. It is that simple. 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً

4:59

Now in the above verse, we are obliged to obey Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the Ulil Amr (عليه السلام). Now lets look at the following verses:

فَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ

25:52

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ اتَّقِ اللَّهَ وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ

33:1

فَلَا تُطِعِ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ

68:8

وَلَا تُطِعْ مِنْهُمْ آثِمًا أَوْ كَفُورًا

76:24

Now the above verse clearly commanding us to not obey certain people. These people are not equal in traits with those whom He has commanded us to obey. If we are commanded to not obey the sinners, liars, musrifeen etc. those whom He has commanded us to obey must not be the sinners, liar, musrifeen etc. 

I hope I am clear. If there is anything you would like to ask, please feel free to do so.

Wassalam!!

Edited by Cool
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21 hours ago, muslim313 said:

If this is true, why are they ranked higher than Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) who was a Messenger/Prophet/Imam?

If you could understand the reason from the words of a person whom we know as Imam ul Anbiya (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم):

انهم مني و انا منهم

If you could understand who was gone with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) in the capacity of his nafs:

فَمَنْ حَآجَّكَ فِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْاْ نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءنَا وَأَبْنَاءكُمْ وَنِسَاءنَا وَنِسَاءكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَةُ اللّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ

3:61 

So these blessed personalities by their nisbat to the Imam ul Anbiya (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) i.e., bearers of his minniyat, are considered greater in station than Prophets except the Imam ul Anbiya (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)

18 hours ago, muslim313 said:

Saying that the Imams were equal or superior to prophets with the same attributes and role could be seen as a continuation of prophethood, with just a different name.

What do you think about the Prophethood of Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)? Is it continued or it ended up with his wafat? If it is continued, who is the Muhammad of our time?

Now if you could digest, here are the ahadith from bihar:

((...الأئمة من أولادي يعلمون ويفعلون هذا إذا أحبوا وأرادوا لأنا كلنا واحد، أولنا محمد وآخرنا محمد وأوسطنا محمد وكلنا محمد فلا تفرقوا بيننا، ونحن إذا شئنا شاء الله وإذا كرهنا كره الله، الويل كل الويل لمن أنكر فضلنا وخصوصيتنا، وما أعطانا الله ربنا لان من أنكر شيئا مما أعطانا الله فقد أنكر قدرة الله عز وجل ومشيته فينا...)) الحديث (بحار الأنوار - العلامة المجلسي - ج 26 - ص 6 - 7)

Another one is this:

وعن زيد الشحام قال قلت لأبي عبد الله عليه السلام: ((أيّما أفضل الحسن ام الحسين؟ فقال: إن فضل أوَّلنا يلحق بفضل آخرنا، وفضل آخرنا يلحق بفضل أوَّلنا، وكلُّ له فضل، قال : قلت له جعلت فداك وسِّع عليَّ فى الجواب فإنِّي والله ما سالتك إلا مرتاداً، فقال : نحن من شجرة طيبة برانا الله من طينة واحدة، فضلُنا من الله، وعلمُنا من عند الله، ونحن أمناؤه على خلقه، والدُّعاة إلى دينه، والحجاب فيما بينه وبين خلقه، أزيدك يا زيد ! قلت نعم، فقال : خلقُنا واحد، وعلمُنا واحدٌ، وفضلنا واحد، وكلُّنا واحدُ عند الله تعالى، فقال : أخبرني بعدَّتكم، فقال : نحن إثنا عشر هكذا حولَ عرش ربنا عزّ وجلّ في مبتدأ خلقنا أوَّلنا محمد، وأوسطنا محمد، وآخرنا محمد)) (بحار الأنوار ج 25 ص 363 ).

Furthermore:

عنه (صلى الله عليه وآله): خلقت أنا وعلي بن أبي طالب من نور واحد، نسبح الله يمنة العرش قبل أن يخلق آدم بألفي عام

http://shiaonlinelibrary.com/الكتب/3866_موسوعة-الإمام-علي-بن-أبي-طالب-ع-في-الكتاب-والسنة-والتاريخ-محمد-الريشهري-ج-٨/الصفحة_61

Wassalam!!

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Salaam,

I think Shias and Sunnis blow the whole Imamah thing out of proportion. Imamah is 1/5 of our core belief system. 

All Imamah is Allah's promise to Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) to protect His message and his hard work from corruption. The role of the Imams is to simply protect the message and explain it to people.

Is Imam higher than a prophet? Does it matter? Does quran explicitly say no one can be higher than a prophet? Hz Musa is one of the higher prophets (ulil-azam). Hz Khidr (prophet or not) taught Hz Musa so who is higher?

These are mere distractions meant to gnaw at people's faith.

 

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