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Imam Reza (A.S.) Elucidates the Reality of Imamate

A narration reported from Imam Ali ibn Musa al–Rida (as), the 8th Imam of the Shi’ah, in which he elucidates the reality of Imamate: “Abdul Aziz ibn Muslim is quoted to have said, ‘On the first days of our arrival at Marv, we assembled in the presence of Imam al Rida, (as) in the great mosque of the city of Marv. Some started talking about Imamate and said that there had been different views over it.
So, I went to my master, Imam al–Rida (as), and informed him about people’s arguing about the subject. He smiled and said ‘O Abdul Aziz, these men do not know the reality and have been deviated from what they believe to be right.
‘God, the All–mighty did not raise his Prophet up (to Him) before He had perfected the religion for him ,sent on to him the Qur’an, which ‘clearly explains everything and delineatedthe lawful, the unlawful, hudood (penal law), divine precepts and all that people need, as he says ‘We have not neglected anything in the Book’. (6:38)
In the Farewell pilgrimage and towards the end of the Prophet’s life; God, revealed the verse: ‘This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed my favour on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion”. (5:3)
Therefore, Imamate is indispensable to religion.
The Prophet did not leave this world before he had clarified to the Muslims the principal features of their religion, pointed out the true path and appointed ‘Ali (as) as their leader, leaving nothing of their problems unsettled.
So, those who suppose that God, the All–mighty has not perfected His religion reject the Book of Allah, and those who reject the Book are disbelievers. Do they know the significance of Imamate and its status in the community to allow themselves to embark on it?
Imamate is too great in worth, too lofty in status, too high in rank, too invincible in nature and too profound in depth for people to fathom it by their intellect or approach it through their thought or elect an Imam according to their will.
Imamate is a position for which God, the All–mighty, has singled out Ibrahim (as) after granting him the rank of prophet hood and taking him as a friend, a favour with which He has honoured him, as he said, “I will make you an Imam for mankind”. Then, God’s friend, Ibrahim, who was highly delighted asked, “and of my offspring?”
God the All–mighty said, “My covenant does not include the unjust”. This Qur’anic verse has nullified the possibility of the unjust ones’ becoming imams until the Day of Resurrection and so Imamate has become a privileged position for the purified. God has honoured Ibrahim when He granted Imamated only to the selected and pure ones from among his offspring, as in the Qur’anic verse: “And We bestowed Isaac and (then) Jacob on him as an additional boon; each We made into honourable man. We made them leaders to guide (others) by Our command and We inspired them to perform good deeds, keep up prayer, and pay alms. They have been serving Us (alone)”. (21:72-3)
Imamate continued as a previledged position for his offspring over the ages until God, the Mighty and High donated it to the holy Prophet, and said, “Most surely the nearest of people to Ibrahim are those who followed him and this Prophet and those who believe and Allah is the guardian of the believers”. (3:68)
Then, by God’s command, the Prophet (sa) placed Imamate in ‘Ali and in his chosen offspring, to whom God, the Mighty and High, has given knowledge and faith, as the Qur’an says, And those who are given knowledge and faith will say: Certainly you tarried according to the ordinance of Allah till the day of resurrection”. (30:56)
This position will remain in Ali’s (as) unerring offspring until the day of resurrection. How can these ignorant people designate an Imam? Imamate is a previledged position for the Prophets and a heritage for the Prophet’s trustees.
Imamate is God’s caliphate and a successor to the Prophet’s caliphate (saws) it is a previledged position of the Commander of the Faithful (saws), and the inheritance of al–Hasan (as) and al–Husain (as). Imamate is the reins of the religion, the Muslims’ order, the soundness of this life and the believers’ might. Imamate is the cornerstone of ever-growing Islam and its highest branch.
It is only through the Imam that prayers, alms, fasting, Hajj and holy war (jihad) can be accomplished; it is through Imam that the divine punishments and laws can be executed and frontiers safeguarded.
It is the Imam who proclaims lawful what God has made lawful and proclaims unlawful what God has made unlawful, defends God’s religion, and summons (people) to the way of Allah through wisdom, good advice and conclusive argument. The Imam is like the sun that lights up the world while it is high up in the sky neither hands can reach it nor eyes can perceive it.
The Imam is the bright moon, the illuminating beacon, the radiant light and the star that (safely) guides people in gathering darkness, (unknown) tracks of towns and deserts and swelling waves of sea. The Imam is like pure drinking water, rainy cloud, a falling rain, a bright sun, and a shading canopy, an expanse of land, a gushing spring, and a brook and a garden.
The Imam is a companion, a friend, a loving father, an equal brother, a kind mother, a shelter to the God–fearing at the time of greate distress. The Imam is Allah’s trustee for His creatures, His proof over His worshippers, His calipha in His land, the one who summons (people) to Allah and defends Allah’s sanctity.
The Imam is purified from sins and kept entirely free from defects, singled out as a man of (divine) knowledge and known for his endurance; hea source of the order of the religion, honour of Muslims, anger of hypocrites, and eradication of disbelievers.
The Imam is a peerless one of his time, whose dignity no one (else) can attain, whose merits are not acquired, but are granted to him by God, the Bestower who can (claim to) have known the Imam thoroughly, or to have the ability of electing him?
What an idea! Intellects are lost, visions are weary, the eminent are little, the sage had bewildered, orators have fallen short to give speech, poets have been togue-tied, men of literature have failed and the eloquent have not been able to describe a single feature or a single merit of the Imam, for the Imam is like a star, too distant for men to reach or for describers to describe.
Do you imagine that these attributes are found in other than the family of the Prophet (saws)? I swear by God that, their souls that have cheated them and their illusion has made dire them deviate (from reality).
They have taken a steep roadwhere their legs take them to degradation. They relyed on their defective minds in their conception of the (office of) Imamate, therefore they have gone astray and deviated (from the divine command) so mach so that they have too far from him, “May Allah destroy them, how they are turned away” (9:30)
Having distanced themselves from the choices of God, His messenger and the Prophet’s Household, they followed their own inclinations, although the Qur’an addresses them as it states: “And your Lord creates and chooses whom He pleases; to choose is not theirs”, (28:68)
“And it behaves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Apostle have decided a matter” (33:36)
“How do you judge?” (10:35)
“Or have you a book wherein you read? That you have surely therein what you choose? Or have you received from us an agreement confirmed by an oath extending to the day of resurrection that you shall surely have what you demand? Ask them which of them will vouch for that. Or do they have associates if they are truthful” (73: 36-41)
Also, the Qur’an states: “Do they not then reflect on the Qur’an? Nay, on the hearts there are locks” (47:24)
“…a seal is set on their hearts so they do not understand”. (9:87)
“…they said, we hear, but they did not obey. Surely the vilest of animals, in Allah’s sight, are the deaf, the dumb, who do not understand. And if Allah had known any good in them He would have made them hear, and if He makes them hear they would turn back while they withdraw”. (8:21-23)
“They said; we hear and disobey”. (2:93)
How can they ever venture to elect the Imam? he is one in whose sphere of knowledge ignorance has no place; he is a leader who knows no fear, nor does he retreat; he is the substance of divinity and sanctity, purity, , asceticism renunciation; knowledge and worshop of God.
He has been singled out in the Prophet’s supplications, he is a descendent of the Pure Fatimah, God’s peace be upon her; he is one whose lineage no one can question, he enjoys a unique honourable stition, he comes from the Quraysh and is the pinnacle of the Hashim clan, a descendant of the holy Prophet, may God’s peace and blessing be on him, and the object of God’s good pleasure the honour of the noble.
The offspring of Abd Monaf, praiseworthy who is known for his thrivingknowledge and endless forbearance, Fully competent in imamate and aware of politics, obeying him is in combenton Muslims, he upholds God’s command, offers counselling to god’s servants, and protects God’s religion.
Surely God gives success to prophets and Imams and grants them of his stored knowledge and wisdom, what he has not given to any, and so their knowledge is beyond that of the people of their time, as God has said, “Is He who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What is the matter with you; how do you judge?” (10:35)
Or, “and whoever is granted wisdom, is given a great good”. (2:269)
Or, referring to saul he has said “Surely Allah has chosen him in preference to you, and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique; and Allah grants His kingdom to whom He pleases, and Allah is Ample–giving, Knowing”. (2:247)
God, the Mighty and High address His Messenger when he says, “And Allah has revealed to you the Book and the wisdom, and He has taught you what you did not know; Allah’s grace to you is very great” (4:113)
As regards the Imams from the Household of the Prophet, God, the Most High, has said, “Or do they envy the people for the greace that Allah has given them? We gave the people of Ibrahim the Book and the wisdom, and we gave them a grand kingdom. So some of them believed in him and some turned away from him; and hell is sufficient to burn” (4:54)
When God appoints someone to manage the affairs of His servants, He expands his breast for it, deposits fountainheads of wisdom gush in his heart, and inspires him with abundent knowledge that enables him to answer any question and not to deviate from the right path.
That is, the Imam is fully immune from sin and error, is singled out for this by God to be God’s proof over His servants, “This is Allah’s grace, He gives it to whom He pleases and Allah is Ample–giving, Knowing”. (5:54)
Do people have the ability to elect such a person? Or does their candidate enjoy such qualities? I swear by the house of God that these people have transgressed the right they have been entitled to, And they threw the Book of Allah behind their back as if they knew nothing” (2:101)
Whereas in the Book of Allah there is guidance and cure. They disregarded the Book of Allah and followed their own whims, and so God blamed them and despised them, as he says: “and who is more erring than he who follows his low desires without any guidance from Allah? Surely Allah does not guide the unjust people”, (28:50)
Or, “for them is destruction and He has made their deeds ineffective” (47:8)
Or, “greatly hated is it by Allah and by those who believe. Thus does Allah set a seal over the heart of every proud, haughty one”? (40:35)
“May God’s abundant peace and blessing be upon the Prophet Mohammad and his descendants”! (Usool al-Kafi, the translation of vol. 1, p. 283 (the original text: vol. 1, p. 198); Oyoon Akhbar al-Reza (A.S.), vol. 1, p. 216).

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