The Vicegerents of Allah and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.)
Source: Ain-al-Hayat, By: Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi
Imam Zainul ‘Abidin (as) has said, “we are the Vicegerents of Allah and the Prophet (S) for the people of this world. We are the Masters of the pious and the shield against the retribution of Allah for them, the same way as the stars are the shields for the inhabitants of the sky. We are the people for whom, and because of whom, Allah has protected and kept the earth intact. With our intercession the rain falls. If the earth were devoid of us, the Imams (as), then it would break and its inhabitants would perish in the debris.”
Then the Imam (as) added, “Ever since Allah created Adam (as), the earth has never been without a Vicegerent (Hujjat). This Hujjat or Caliph of Allah has always been there, either publicly proclaimed or in the state of hiding. If such was not the case, then there wouldn’t have been the worshippers of Allah on this earth.”
The narrator adds that he asked the Imam (as), “O son of the Prophet (S)! If the Hujjat or Imam remains in hiding, then what advantage will be there?”
The Imam (as) replied, “The Imam (as) remaining in hiding is like the time when the sun goes into hiding. You do understand the advantage accruing while the sun remains in hiding!”
Jabir Jaafi narrates that he asked Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) about the need of the people for prophets and Imams.
The Imam (as) replied, “The Prophet (S) or his Vicegerents are necessary for the human race to remain in a constant state of progress and protect them from Allah’s Punishment through their Intercession.”
Therefore, Allah has Himself observed, “O My Habeeb (the endearment Allah has used for the Prophet Muhammad)! As long as you are on the earth, I shall not inflict My azaab (punishment) on its inhabitants” The Prophet of Allah (S) has said, “The stars provide protection to the denizens of the skies so also my Ahl-ul-Bayt, the members of my family, are a guarantee for the protection of the people of the earth. If the stars are obliterated from the sky, the sky wouldn’t exist. Similarly, if my Vicegerents are not on the earth, then the earth too would vanish.”
The Prophet (S)’s Ahl-ul-Bayt is the group of Infallible members of the Prophet (S)’s family about whom Allah says, “O believers! Obey Allah, His Prophet (S) and the Uli al Amr.” Uli al Amr are those Infallible persons who are free of all sin, are pure and Masoom or Innocent, and the chosen people of Allah. Allah provides sustenance to the people with the blessings of these Infallible persons.The Ahl-ul-Bayt are with the Qur’an and the Qur’an is with them.
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) has said, “If only two persons remain on the earth, one of them would be the Imam (as) of the time.” He also said, “Jibrael came to the Prophet (S) and said, ‘Allah has observed that He would not make the earth void of the Imams (as) and the learned (Aalams) who would instruct the people the ways of obeying Me and following My Commands.I shall not allow an interregnum between two Prophets (S) that the people don’t remain without Guidance. I shall not leave the Satan unfettered that he goes about misguiding the people and they remain without the Divine Hadi, the Guide. This Guide, either with his physical presence, or from hiding, would continue to provide guidance and advice to the believers.’”
The Imam (as) also said, “Never shall this earth be without the person who will not warn the people who commit excesses in the Faith or make distortions (thareef) in the words, arrangement and interpretation or commentary of the Qur’an.
Besides everything, it is common sense that to keep the people of the world on the Right Path, an Imam, Guide and Leader is necessary at all times. It is also necessary that the Imam (as) should be appointed by Allah (Mansoos min Allah). When Allah has provided norms for every aspect of human life in the Book, then how would he leave the selection for the august office of the Imam to the discretion of the poor intellects of men.
All the Prophets (S) of the past themselves nominated their Vicegerents or successors. How is it possible that the Last Prophet (S), the Most Immaculate of all the Prophets (S) would keep quiet on the crucial aspect of succession after him. All the earlier prophets (as) were certain that there would be Prophets to follow them. Even if they did not appoint their Vicegerents, their followers would not have remained without Divine Guidance.
But the last of the Prophets (S) knew that after him, till the Day of Reckoning, there would not be another Prophet to come. In these circumstances it was imperative for him to nominate a Line of Vicegerents who would keep his people Guided till the Final Day. The Prophet (S) was so careful about his succession that whenever he was absent on his campaigns, he would take care to nominate a vicegerent to take care of the affairs in his absence. Then how was it possible that he would not prepare for his Ghaebat al-Kubra, The Final Departure, from this world, without nominating his successor and vizier.
For his followers he has given the advice that every individual must draw a will when the time for departure from this world draws nigh, then how is it possible that he himself would have abruptly departed intestate from the world! There is also a condition that the Successor (Wasi) and the Imam (the spiritual and temporal leader) has to be a Masoom (immaculate and infallible) individual. Such Imams are the Chosen of Allah.
Saad bin Abdallah Qummi reports that once he had a discussion with a hardcore imposter. The man said, “Pity on you Rawafiz (dissenters) that you speak ill of the Prophet (S)’s companions and blame them that they had no affection for him. To the contrary, Abu Bakr, because of his eminence being one of the earliest converts to Islam, was better than all other companions of the Prophet (S).
The Prophet (S) used to hold him so close to his heart that on the eve of the Migration (Hegira) took Abu Bakr along in the cave for hiding to save him from the sword of the enemy and later on become his successor and Caliph. ‘Ali (as) was left to sleep in the Prophet (S)\'s bed that even if he was assassinated, it wouldn’t have made any big difference in the matter of succession. Abu Bakr was the first to adopt Islam. Tell me, was his conversion voluntary or under any duress?”
Saad thought for a while, “If I accepted that the conversion was voluntary, then the person would say that there wouldn’t be any question of nifaq (hypocrisy) in the conduct of Abu Bakr. And if I said that the conversion of Abu Bakr was under duress, then it would be a wrong statement that Islam had not become such a big force at that time that one could even imagine any use of coercion.
I was totally confused and sought some time from him to be able to answer his question. Along with some more queries I went to Sammara to meet Imam Hasan Al-’Askari (as). Along with me came Ahmed bin Ishaq, the Representative (Vakil) of the Imam (as) who carried with him 160 sachets of Dinarts and Dirhams as a presentation to the Imam from the Shi’as of our place.
We both went to the presence of the Imam (as) and respectfully greeted him. The Imam (as) reciprocated our greetings and asked us to be seated. The place was aglow with the radiance of the face of the Imam (as). On the lap of the Imam (as) sat a pretty child whose look would put to shame a hundred moons! In the hands of the child there was a pomegranate made of gold, with which he was playing.
Ahmed brought out all the sachets from his bag and put in front of the Imam (as). The Imam (as) put all that money in front of the child and said, ‘Your Shi’as have sent you all this as a gift. Count it.’ The child said, ‘Does the Imam (as) permit me to touch the tainted and dirty money with my pure hands!’ The Imam (as) told to Ahmed, ‘Open one of the sachets and keep the money in front of your Imam (as) in waiting.’ The child looked at the money once and said, ‘This is so much money and is from such and such a person from Qom.
Out of the money so much is legitimate (Halal) and the rest is illegitimate (Haram) Out of the 62 gold sovereigns there are two with faded markings, they are illegitimate.’ Ahmed counted the coins and found them to be exactly 62 in number. He was able to identify the two coins with faded markings. The Imam (as) looked at his son and said, ‘O son! You are absolutely right!’ Then Ahmed opened the other sachets, one after the other and the child correctly told about the number of coins in each and also about the legitimate and illegitimate money in each of them. Then the Imam (as) said, ‘Collect the illegitimate coins and give them back to their owners.’
Then the Imam said, “O Ahmed! Where is the piece of cloth that was sent by a certain person for me?”
Ahmed said, “I have kept that cloth with my luggage. I shall immediately fetch it for you.” When Ahmed went out to fetch the cloth, the Imam (as) turned his attention towards me and said, “What do you want to say?” I said, “I have certain questions for which I seek your guidance.” The Imam (as) said, “You may refer yout questions to this son of mine.”
I said respectfully, “O Master! The son of My Master! We have heard the Prophet (S) had given the right of divorcing his wives to Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as). Therefore, at the Battle of Jamal, Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) sent a message to Um-al-Mu’mineen Ayesha, that she had become the cause of shedding the blood of Muslims. If she didn’t refrain from proceeding further with the conflict, he would be constrained to divorce her from being the wife of the Prophet (S). What sort of divorce was this, that was to become effective even after the demise of the Prophet (S)?”
The Imam (as)’s son replied, “Allah has given the respected title of Umm al Mu’mineen (the mother of the Believers) to the Prophet (S)’s wives. The Prophet (S) had said to Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) that if, after his demise, his wives behaved disobediently towards the Commandments of Allah, and confront you for battle, then you have the right to divorce them. This would mean that such wives would be deprived of the title of Umm al Mu’mineen.”
I said, “O son of the Prophet (S)! Tell me about the tradition that Prophet Musa (as) was ordered by Allah to remove his footwear. Some scholars say that the footwear was made out of the skin of a cadaver and therefore it was unclean (najis) and unfit for wearing to the Holy Place.”
He replied, “This is wrong. Prophet Musa (as) was a Prophet and there is no question of his not knowing whether a thing was najis or not. Prophet Musa (as) used the same footwear while offering his prayers.”
I said, “Then what is the meaning of Allah asking Prophet Musa (as) to remove his naalain (the footwear)?”
He replied, “When Prophet Musa (as) reached the place where one should not have the thought of anyone else in his mind than Allah, Musa (as) was thinking of his wife. Therefore Allah told him, ‘O Musa (as)! This is the Place of Nearness! One should not have the thoughts of love of anyone other than Allah at this Place! Therefor abdicate the love of the Kafsh al-Pa (the footwear) from your mind. (It is a general practice in the East to allegorically refer to wives as Kafsh al-Pa-Therefore if someone dreams of the theft of his footwear, the interpretation of the dream would be that he might be separated from his spouse.
Saad asked, “O son of the Prophet (S)! What is meant by the expression Kaaf-Haa-Yaa-Ain-Suad in the Holy Qur’an?”
He replied, “These are Hidden Message (Akhbare Ghaibat) from Allah. Their interpretation was first given to Prophet Zakaria (as) and then to our Prophet (S).
Prophet Zakaria (as) had prayed to Allah to be taught the names of the Aal al-Aba that he would recite them to ward off evil. Gibrael came and taught to Prophet Zakaria (as) the names of the Five Infallible Persons of the Prophet (S)’s Family.
Whenever Prophet Zakaria (as) uttered the names of Muhammad, ‘Ali, Fatima and Hasan, he used to feel delighted. But whenever he uttered Husayn (as)’s name, he would cry. Prophet Zakaria (as) asked Allah why he felt like crying whenever he took the name of Husayn (as)? Allah narrated about the Tragedy of Karbala and explained to him about the occurrence of the acronym
Kaa-Haa-Yaa-Ain-Suad in the Holy Qur’an:. Kaa stands for Karbala, where the small entourage of Imam Husayn (as) consisting of 72 persons was martyred, Haa stands forHusayn (as), who was the Chief of the Martyrs of Karbala, Yaa for Yazid, the perpetrator of the Tragedy of Karbala, Ain for Atash or Thirst, the thirst of the children, men and women in Husayn (as)’s camp who were denied access to water for three full days when the river Euphrates flowed nearby, and Suad for Sabr, or, patience and forbearance facing the cruelty of Yazid’s men in Karbala, during the battle and, by the surviving members of the family, on the way to Syria and in the court of Yazid.”
When Prophet Zakaria (as) came to know about the Tragedy, he didn’t leave the Mosque for three days. He cried, wailed and repeatedly said, “O Allah! You will put your Beloved Person to such an extreme test. How will Your Habib, the Prophet Muhammad (S) feel about this episode? How will ‘Ali (as), Your Prophet’s Vicegerent bear the great loss? What will be the condition of Husayn (as)’s mother, Fatima Zehra (as)? How will Hasan (as) bear the irreparable loss?
O Creator! For the sake of the Noble Panjatan (the five Immaculate Persons of the Prophet (S)’s family give me one son, equal in looks and qualities to Husayn (as), fill my heart with his love, and put him to as severe a test as you would put Husayn (as)! Make me a witness to this tragedy that I become as sorrowful as your Habib, Muhammad (S)!”
Allah answered prophet Zakaria (as)’s prayers and gave him prophet Yahya (as) as his son. Prophet Yahya (as) was a premature born, delivered in the sixth month of conception, as was Imam Husayn (as), and like Imam Husayn (as) he too was martyred in similar tragic circumstances.”
Then I asked, “O! Son of the Prophet (S)! How is it that the people cannot select their own Imam?”
He replied, “The people would select an Imam who would either turn out to be the reformer of the society or can also turn out to be the enemy of the society and the people.”
I rejoined, “Definitely, people would choose an Imam who would be a well-wisher and reformer of the people!”
The Imam said, “Is is not a possibility that the people unanimously select a person to be their Imam expecting him to be righteous, just and capable of reforming the society. But in practice he might prove himself unworthy of the trust placed in him, proves himself an enemy of the people!”
This is why, an Imam can be Decreed only by One who is Infallible in His actions and choice. And that Selector or Ordainer of the Imamate is none other that Allah. He knows the feelings of the hearts and knows the hidden things.”
Then the Imam (as) asked, “Could Prophet Musa (as), one of the Prophets of Allah, have made an error in selecting his Succesor and Imam?”
I nodded in disagreement.
Then the Imam (as) said, “O Saad! Your opponent has also said that since the Prophet (S) knew that Abu Bakr would succeed him as the Caliph, he took him along on his journey of Hegira, lest he got killed staying back in Mecca and the matter of the succession getting jeopardized.
Why didn’t you reply to the person this way. The Prophet (S) had said,’ The Caliphate after me shall be for thirty years’. According to you people the thirty years’ period saw the terms of the first four caliphs. Then, if the Prophet didn’t want to put the Caliphate in jeopardy, he should have taken all the four along with him to the cave and not only one. Do you people think that the prophet (S) had no concern for the safety of the other three prospective caliphs?”
I asked the Imam (as), “Another question my opponent asked was whether the acceptance of the Faith of Islam by Abu Bakr and Omer was voluntary or was under some sort of duress?”
The Imam (as) said, “Why didn’t you reply to your opponent that the acceptance of Islam by the two persons was neither voluntary nor under duress, but it was motivated by sheer avarice. These persons were in close league with the Jews and infidels and had heard from them of the predictions in the Torah of the coming of Muhammad (S) as the Prophet and that his reign would be farther and wider than the kingdom of Bakht Nasr. These two persons, therefore, adopted Islam that perhaps the State would, at some future time, come in their hands. But in their hearts, they continued with their original beliefs.
Therefore, whenever they felt that their plans were failing, they gave overt and covert indication of their true color. When the Prophet (S) was surrounded by the enemies during the battle of Ohud they thought everything was lost, and flew like the munafiqeen (the hypocrites) to the top of the hillock to save their own lives. There is also the incidence when these people hung empty leather oil containers near the Prophet’s house with the purpose of scaring his camel to run wild and drop him down. But Allah forewarned the Prophet (S) of this foul scheme and saved him from harm.
Similarly, during the temporal Caliphate of Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as), Talha and Zubair professed allegiance to him only with the craving to be nominated governors to important provinces of the realm. But when they failed in this attempt, they terminated the allegiance and prepared for battle with Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as).
Saad says that when the son of Imam Hasan Al-’Askari (as) completed his talk, the Imam (as) left to offer prayers along with his son. Saad came out of the house and found Ahmed bin Ishaq very disturbed and crying. When asked the reason, he said, “The piece of cloth that I had brought for the Imam (as) is not there in my luggage!” Saad told him, “What is the need for crying? Go to the Imam (as) and express your regrets that the cloth was lost or misplaced.”
Ahmed went to the presence of the Imam (as) and immediately returned with a smiling face. Saad asked him about the sudden change of his mood. He said, “When I reached the presence of the Imam (as), I found the same piece of cloth under his feet, in the act of offering his prayer!” They stayed at Sammara for a few more days. Ahmed took two elderly persons from Qom for an audition with the Imam (as) and said, “A thousand salutations to you and your noble ancestors! Now I seek your permission to leave, although I do it with a heavy heart! I pray to Allah that I get another opportunity to meet you soon.
The Imam (as) said, “Ahmed! Don’t pray for the fulfillment of this wish! This is your last journey in this world. After this, you will depart for the Other World.”
When Ahmed heard this, he swooned with shock. When he regained senses, he told to the Imam (as), “O Imam (as)! Give me something of your raimeent that I use it in place of the shroud for my burial!”
The Imam (as) took out 13 Dirhams from under the carpet and gave to Ahmed and said, “Use this money for personal expenses. Your coffin will reach you in time!”
Saad says that on their return journey they halted at the stage of Halwan. At nightfall Ahmed asked them to leave him alone. They all went to every individual quarter to sleep. When they went to Ahmed’s room early next morning, Kafur, the servant of Imam Hasan Al-’Askari (as) was emerging out of the room. He said, “May Allah help you bear the loss with forbearance! With the orders of the Imam (as) I have given the last bath and the shroud to Ahmed. You may now arrange for his burial.”
Bin Babawiyah narrates from Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) that as many times as the Prophet (S) went for the Meraj, the most important order that he received from Allah was about the Imamat, Vicegerency, of Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as). When the time for his death drew nigh, Jibrael brought a missive from Allah on which was recorded the duties of the Prophet (S) and his Vicegerents.
Jibrael, after conveying the Greetings from Allah, asked the Prophet (S) whether the instructions being conveyed are acceptable to him. The Prophet asked all the visitors to leave his presence and called Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) near to him. He then read the instructions given on the missive from Allah and told to Jibrael, “The Master’s instructions are acceptable to his servant. Whatever hardships come in the way of fulfillment of these orders, we; myself and my Ahl-ul-Bayt, shall bear with equanimity as our duty.”
Jibrael then departed. The Prophet (S) called his daughter, Fatima (as), and her sons, Hasan (as) and Husayn (as). He read to them Allah’s instructions. Then he asked Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as), “O Abu Turab! Will you bear the hardships in store for you? You shall have to be patient when the enemies inflict excesses on you. When they deprive you of your rights, you will have to keep your calm. O ‘Ali (as)! When your beard will get smeared with blood, you should not utter a word of protest.”
Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) said, “O Prophet of Allah (as)! When all these things are acceptable to you, then I am only your slave and servant! Insha Allah! You will find me patient and forbearing.” Then the Prophet (S) turned to his daughter, Fatima (as), and said, “O Fatima! Will you bear all the hardships in store for you with patience? Your belongings will be grabbed, the Door of Imamat will be demolished, Mohsin will be martyred. You shall be the witness to the hardships inflicted by his enemies on ‘Ali (as).”
The obedient and loving daughter of the Prophet (S) said, “O father! When you are willing to bear all the hardships, then your daughter would bow her head to Allah’s wishes.But, tell me, what have you read in the missive about my son Husayn (as). What is in store for him? Will he receive 1950 blows on his body after three days of hunger and thirst in the view of his family and children, will he witness his friends and sons martyred before him, and, even the six months old baby, Asghar, becoming victim of the venomous arrow. Will all this happen in your presence?”
The Prophet (S) replied, “No! My daughter! This will happen after me!” She asked, “Will Ab al Hasan, ‘Ali (as), be a witness?” The Prophet (S) said, “No!” She asked, “Shall I be there?’ He replied, “No! You too will not be there.” When Fatima Zahra (as) heard this, she swooned and fell unconscious. The Prophet (S) tried to console his daughter, “Won’t you bow down your head to the wish of Allah!”
Lady Fatima (as) revived and said, “O Baba! How could Fatima go against the wishes of the Creator, Allah! But Baba! I have nourished my child through hard work at the grinding stone. Can you not pray to Allah to spare Husayn (as) of the extreme Sacrifice? I am afraid, my delicate child might not bear the insurmountable hardships!”
The Prophet (S) said, “My Daughter! What can I say to Allah! Even if you lift your hands towards the Heaven and curse the cruel people, then no living creature will remain on the face of the earth. But your son, through this supreme sacrifice, will be the saviour of the True Faith, and shall achieve a highly elevated position. O my daughter! Your two sons, Hasan and Husayn (as), will be the chiefs of the youth of the Heaven, you will be the lady of the Heaven and ‘Ali (as) will be keeper of the Cistern of Kawthar, and your father will be the master of the Heaven and the Intercessor on the Day of Judgement!”
Fatima Zahra (as) replied, “O Baba! If the Faith needs this supreme sacrifice, I accept it. But you must get the consent of Husayn (as) too.” The Prophet (S) then called Imam Husayn (as) near him and said, “O my son Husayn (as)! Are you ready to offer the extreme sacrifice that has been ordered by Allah for you? Are you willing to face this difficult test? This will be in the best interests of the True Faith of Islam!”
Husayn (as) smiled and said, “O Grand-Father! Don’t ask me. When on the sands of Karbala, the weapon of the assassin will be on my throat, there shall be the words of thanks for Allah on my tongue. You will yourself hear about it and witness the forbearance of Husayn!”
The Prophet (S) departed from this world, The Missive remained with Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as). The Prophet (S)’s daughter bore the tribulations caused by her enemies with equanimity and passed away within three months of the demise of her father. Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) faced all the troubles and hardships till Bin Muljim attacked him with a poisoned sword while he was prostrating in prayer.
At that moment Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) said, “By the Lord of Kaaba! I have succeeded! I have fulfilled my promise! I was, till now, the conqueror of Khaiber, now I am the Cupbearer of the Cistern of Kawthar! The Missive that I have will pass from hand to hand of the Imams (as) till it reaches the Last of the Imams! Every Imam will fulfil his duties exactly according to the norms laid forth in the Missive. But the Last of The Imams (as), who will be endowed with long life, will have the opportunity to reform the people of the Faith who have gone astray.
Finding the people disobeying the norms, then the Hujjat (object) of calling the people to reform would be over and the time for Allah sending retribution for the hardships inflicted on the Prophet and the Imams (as) would be ripe. All this will happen during the period of Raj-at (the Resurrection). Every Shi’a has to have Faith in the Institution of Raj-at. It has also to be borne in mind that the trials and tribulations of the Imams (as) were not to test their strong Faith, Allah, Who has the Knowledge of All Hidden Things is fully aware of the Faith of these Immaculate Imams. The trials were with the sole purpose to prove to the people that if Husayn (as) was chosen to be the Leader of the Youth of Heaven, it was because of his supreme sacrifice in the cause of the Faith.
In fact awarding the honor of the leadership of the Youth of Jannat is the Exclusive Prerogative of Allah and the Hasanain (as) were the chosen ones for that distinction.
It is narrated from Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) that Jibrael came to the Prophet (S) and gave him a Missive from Allah that had described the Duties of the Prophet (S) and all his successors. The Prophet (S) opened the missive, read it and said to Jibrael that he totally agreed to the orders of his Lord, the Creator.
Then Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) opened the portion of the Missive meant for him, read it, acted on it and departed after bearing all the tribulations in store for him. Lady Fatima (as) too fulfilled her obligations according to the Missive. Then followed Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (as) who measured up to the norms prescribed in the Missive. The Missive shall pass through the hands of all the Imams (as) till it comes in the possession of the Twelfth, the Last Imam (as). He will take revenge for the hardships inflicted by their enemies on the Ahl-ul-Bayt.