The Logic for Imamah
By: Allamah Syed Muhammad Husain Tabataba'i
A government organization established in a country to handle public affairs cannot operate by itself. Unless a group of competent and experienced individuals endeavor to maintain and run it, it will not survive and will not provide the people with its services.
The same applies to any other organization established in human societies such as cultural and various economic organizations. These organizations will always be dependent upon competent and honest managers; otherwise, they will be liquidated and wound up in a short period. This is a clear fact that can be perceived by a simple deliberation. Many experiences and experiments also substantiate its veracity.
Surely, the organization of the religion of Islam, which could be called the world's largest organization, follows the same principle. It depends upon guardians and directors for its survival and continuity. It always looks for competent individuals to provide the people with Islamic teachings and laws, to carry out its exact provisions in the Islamic society, and to allow no negligence and procrastination in the observance and safeguarding of Islam.
The guardianship of religious matters and the Islamic society is called "Imamah". The guardian and leader is known as the "Imam". Shi'ahs believe that, after the demise of the Holy Prophet (S), the Imam must be appointed by the Almighty Allah to act as a custodian and guardian of the sciences and commandments of Islam and to lead the people onto the right path.
Whoever truly investigates and conducts a thorough study and research on Islamic teachings and fairly uses his judgment will find out that Imamah is one of the unquestionable principles of the holy religion of Islam and that the Almighty Allah stipulates this matter in Qur'anic Ayat introducing the organization of His religion.
As clarified in the discussion of Nubuwwah, the kindness, favor and care of the Creator of the world which He has towards the world of existence calls for His leading every creature towards a specific goal (which is the attainment of ideal perfection).
For instance, a fruit- bearing tree is led towards development, blossom, and bearing fruit. Its course of life differs from that of a bird. Similarly, every bird lives in its own special way and pursues its own specific goal. In this manner, every creature is led only towards reaching its specified goal and pursuing the right path and nothing else. Obviously, man is also one of the creatures of Allah and is bound by the same principle of guidance.
It also became clear that since the ideal perfection and prosperity of man is gained through his own choice and free will, the Divine guidance of man, in particular, should be achieved by way of invitation, propagation, and communication of religion and its rules and regulations through the prophets, so that men could not have any plea against this system of the Almighty Allah.
"(We sent) messengers as the givers of good news and as warners, so that people should not have a plea against Allah after the (coming of) messengers...(4:165)."
This holy Ayah leads to the same logic that necessitated the appointment of prophets and the establishment of the system of religious invitation. After the demise of the Holy Prophet (S), who guarded the religion and led the people with his 'Ismah, it is necessary for the Almighty Allah to assign someone similar to him in 'Ismah and ideal attributes (except wahy and Nubuwwah) as a substitute to preserve the Islamic sciences and commandments without any deviation and lead the people. Otherwise, the program of general guidance will be disrupted and people would have a plea against the system of guidance of Allah.