The Imam is Indispensable
By: Allamah Syed Muhammad Husain Tabataba'i
Due to its error and mistake, men's wisdom cannot enable them to do without the anbiya' of Allah. In like manner, the existence of Islamic 'ulama' among the Ummah and their religious propagation are not sufficient to make people independent of Imams. As clarified earlier, the question is not whether people follow the religion or not, rather the point under discussion is that the religion of Allah must reach the people untouched and without any change, alteration, or mutilation.
It is certain that the 'ulama' of Ummah are not infallible and immune from error and sin, no matter how virtuous and pious they are. It is not impossible that Islamic sciences and laws be ruined and changed by them although it might be unintentionally. The best evidence for this matter is the existence of various sects and discrepancies which have crept into Islam.
Therefore, in any case, the existence of the Imam is necessary to safeguard the real Islamic sciences and laws of the religion of Allah, so that people could benefit from his guidance whenever they find the ability to receive it.
The Holy Prophet's (S) Statement about Wilayah
Describing the Holy Prophet (S), the Almighty Allah states: "Certainly a Messenger has come to you from among yourselves, grievous to him is your falling into distress, excessively solicitous respecting you, to the mu'minin (he is) compassionate, merciful (9:128)."
It can never be believed that the Holy Prophet (S), who, according to the explicit wording of the Holy Book, Qur'an was the most compassionate and merciful of all to his ummah, would remain silent all his life and overlook about mentioning one of the divine orders which is undoubtedly of highest importance and topmost priority for the Islamic society and which is demanded by wisdom and commonsense.
The Holy Prophet (S) knew better than anyone else that the organized and enormous institution of Islam was not a matter of ten or twenty years to be supervised by himself. He was aware that Islam is a universal and eternal organization that must direct the human world forever. Thus, the Holy Prophet (S) predicting the situation of thousands of years after his demise and issued the necessary orders accordingly.
The Holy Prophet (S) was fully aware that Islam is a social organization and that no social organization can exist and survive even for an hour without a guardian and ruler. Therefore, the presence of a guardian is necessary to preserve the Islamic sciences and laws of religion, to manage the affairs of the society, and to lead and guide the people towards happiness in this world and the Hereafter. Thus, how could it be conceived that the Holy Prophet (S) would overlook the situation after his departure and would show no interest towards it?
As a habit, the Holy Prophet (S) used to appoint someone to manage the affairs of people in his absence whenever he left Madinah even for a few days to take part in battles or to perform Hajj. Similarly, he also used to appoint governors for cities conquered by the Muslims and used to assign commanders for every division and group that he dispatched to the battlefield.
Sometimes, the Holy Prophet (S) even said: "Your commander is such and such a person. If he is killed, then such and such will be his successor and if he is also killed, so and so will act as the commander."
With this policy that the Prophet (S) followed, how can it be believed that the Holy Prophet (S) might not have designated anyone as his successor at the time of his death?
In short, by looking deeply into the sublime aims of Islam and the holy objective of its dignified bearer, one will undoubtedly acknowledge that the matter of Imamah and wilayah has been resolved and made clear for the Muslims.