What Imam al-Ridha’ (a.s.) Has Said Regarding Divine Leadership, Its Nobilities And The Rank Of The Divine Leader?
Source: Uyun Akhbar Ar-Ridha Volume 1
20-1 Abul Abbas Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ishaq al-Taleqani - may God be pleased with him - narrated that Abu Ahmad Al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Ali al-Haruni quoted on the authority of Sa’eed Al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Adawi quoted on the authority of Abu Hamid Imran ibn Musa ibn Ibrahim, on the authority of Al-Hassan ibn Al-Qasim Ar-Raqqam, on the authority of Al-Qasim ibn Muslim, on the authority of his brother Abdul Aziz ibn Muslim, “At the times1 of Ali ibn Musa Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) we were in Marv. We had gathered together in the Jami’a mosque where the people were talking about the concept of Divine Leadership and the many differences which the people have with each other in that respect. I went to see my Master and my Friend Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) and told him what the people said in that regard. He (a.s.) smiled and said, ‘O Abdul Aziz! The people are ignorant and have been tricked regarding their religion. The Blessed the Sublime God did not take away the life of His Prophet (S) until after He perfected the religion for him and sent him the Quran in which everything including the allowed, the forbidden, the bounds, the decrees and everything which is needed is clarified. Then the Honorable the Exalted God said, ‘…Nothing have we omitted from the Book…’2.
During the Farewell Pilgrimage, which was made in the last days of the Prophet’s (a.s.) lifetime, God revealed to him, ‘…This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…’3 It is the issue of Divine Leadership which completes the religion. The Prophet (S) did not die until he (a.s.) clarified the knowledge of their religion for them, showed them their way, put them on the straight path, established Ali (a.s.) as their Guide and Divine Leader, and stated whatever the people needed. Whoever thinks that God has not completed His Religion has, in fact, denied God’s Book. Whoever denies God’s Book is an atheist. Are the people aware of the degree and worth of Divine Leadership and its rank amongst the nation so that their choosing a leader be acceptable? Divine Leadership is much more magnificent, nobler in status, higher in position and much more deep-rooted than to be understood by the intellect or views of the people so that they can elect a leader by themselves. Divine Leadership is what has been placed in the third rank by God after Prophethood and Friendship of God and granted to Abraham (a.s.). God has given him great nobility by that and made him well-known.
The Honorable the Exalted God said, ‘…I will make thee an Imam to the Nations…’4 Then Abraham (a.s.) got happy and said, ‘…And also (Imams) from my offspring!…’5 Then the Honorable the Exalted God said, ‘But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers.’6 Thus this verse will forever close any possibility of Divine Leadership for any oppressor up until the Resurrection Day. Therefore, Divine Leadership has been limited to the chosen ones. Then the Honorable the Exalted God honored him by establishing Divine Leadership for the chosen pure ones from Abraham’s (a.s.) progeny. The Honorable the Exalted God said, ‘And We bestowed on him Isaac and, as an additional gift, (a grandson), Jacob, and We made righteous men of every one (of them). And We made them Divine Leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practice regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only).’7
Thus Divine Leadership remained in his progeny from one generation to the next until the Prophet (S) inherited it. The Honorable the Exalted God said, ‘Without doubt, among men, the nearest of kin to Abraham, are those who follow him, as are also this Messenger and those who believe: And Allah is the Protector of those who have faith.’8 Therefore, this Divine Leadership was especially for the Prophet (S) and by God’s orders he (a.s.) handed it down to Ali (a.s.). It then remained in the hands of those of his (Ali’s) progeny who were chosen and who were granted knowledge and faith by God as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘But those endued with knowledge and faith will say, ‘Indeed ye did tarry, within Allah’s Decree, to the Day of Resurrection, and this is the Day of Resurrection…’’9 Therefore, Divine Leadership remains in the hands of the progeny of Ali (a.s.) until the Resurrection Day since there will be no Prophets after Muhammad (a.s.). Now how can these ignorant ones choose? Divine Leadership is the rank of the Prophets, and the Inheritance of the Trustees. Divine Leadership is the position of Vicegerency of the Honorable the Exalted God and vicegerency of the Prophet. It is the position of the Commander of the Faithful. It is the Inheritance of Al-Hassan (a.s.) and Al-Husayn (a.s.). Divine Leadership is the reign of religion, the order for the Muslims, the good of this world and the honor of the believers. Divine Leadership is the firm foundation of Islam and its greatest product.
The perfection of the prayers, paying of the alms-tax, fasting, pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj), engaging in holy wars is done by the Divine Leader. The booties gained without any bloodshed, and charities are blessed by the Divine Leader. The Divine Doctrinal Provisions and the Punishments are put into practice by the Divine Leader, and the borders are safeguarded by him.
The Divine Leader legalizes whatever God deems legal, forbids whatever God deems illegal, and executes the doctrinal provisions that God has decreed, protects the religion of God, and calls to the path of his Lord using wisdom, good advice, and strong proofs. The Divine Leader is like a brilliant sun in the world which is way out in the horizon out of the reach of the hands and the eyes. The Divine Leader is like a luminous full moon shining as a bright lamp and incident light, a guiding star in dark gloom, arid deserts and awesome oceans. The Divine Leader is like delicious water for the thirsty and like a guide to lead away from destruction. The Divine Leader is like the guiding fire on the desert highlands whose heat will warm the seekers of his warmth. He directs us out of dangers. Whoever abandons him will surely perish.
The Divine Leader is like the raining clouds and the torrential downpour. He is like the shining sun and the vast land. He is like a gushing spring, a garden and a creek. The Divine Leader is like a trustworthy companion, a kind father and a real brother. He is like the shelter for the servants.
The Divine Leader is the Trustee of God on His land. He is His Proof for His servants and His Vicegerent in His towns. He is the Caller to God, and the protector of the sanctities of the Honorable the Exalted God.
The Divine Leader is purified from sins and free from defects, is given exclusive knowledge, is characterized with forbearance, is the order of the religion, is the Stronghold of the believers, is the cause of anger of the hypocrites, and the perdition of the unbelievers.
The Divine Leader is the unsurpassed one in his own time. No one can catch up with him and no scholar can equal him. There is no substitute for him and there is no like or match for him. Perfect virtue is dedicated to him without him seeking it or acquiring it. Rather, it is dedicated to him by the Favorer the Endower God.
How is it then possible for anybody to attain the true recognition of the Divine Leader? How impossible this is! Minds are too astray, intellects are too lost, wits are too perplexed, speakers are too mute, poets are too unversed, authors are too impotent, eloquent ones are too wordless, and scholars are too weak to describe a single feature or a single virtue of the features and virtues of the Divine Leader. Consequently, they all confess their shortcomings and inadequacies to do so. How is it then possible to describe him as a whole or portray his manners? How it is possible to find anyone who can act out his role or represent him? How is this possible while the Divine Leader is as far away as the stars are from the reach of the debaters and the describers? Then where does the choice of the people stand and where does this rank stand? Where are the intellects and how can this rank be understood? Where can anyone find such a person? Do they think they can find Divine Leadership in anyone outside of the Household of the Prophet (S)?
By God, they are deceived by themselves and their false claims have led them into indulging in false hopes. They are surely climbing a rugged ascent and a slippery mount that will surely cause them to stumble to the rock bottom with wandering, insufficient, and impoverished intellects and deviating opinions, because they have intended to choose a Divine Leader on their own. They will only get farther away from where they intend to go. ‘The Curse of God be on them! How are they deluded (away from the Truth)!’10 They have decided to go along a difficult road. They have said false things. They ‘…have verily strayed far, far away from the Path…’11 and do not know what to do since they have knowingly abandoned the Divine Leader. Satan adorned their deeds in their own sight and hindered them from following the right path while they were able to see. They have abandoned the choice of God and His Prophet (S) and have considered their own choice. The Quran calls them and says, ‘Thy Lord does create and choose as He pleases: no choice have they (in the matter): Glory be to Allah. and far is He above the partners they ascribe (to Him)!’12
And the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.’13
The Honorable the Exalted God also says, ‘What is the matter with you? How judge ye? Or have ye a book through which ye learn that ye shall have, through it whatever ye choose? Or have ye Covenants with Us to oath, reaching to the Day of Judgment, (providing) that ye shall have whatever ye shall demand? Ask thou of them, which of them will stand surety for that!’14
The Honorable the Exalted God also says, ‘Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur'an, or are their hearts locked up by them?’15 Or has God placed a seal on their hearts and they no longer understand. Or they say, ‘…We hear, but listen not.’16 ‘For the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are the deaf and the dumb - those who understand not. If Allah had found in them any good. He would indeed have made them listen: (As it is), if He had made them listen, they would but have turned back and declined (Faith).’17
Then how could they nominate a Divine Leader while the true Divine Leader is one so versed in knowledge that ignorance never approaches him and is a custodian that never betrays? He is the mine of holiness, purity, worship, knowledge and servitude. In fact, the Prophet (S) himself has especially called upon him to become the Divine Leader.
The Divine Leader is from the progeny of the pure al-Batool (Fatima) (a.s.). There are no flaws in this lineage. There are no honorable ones to equal him (i.e. the Divine Leader). He is from the Quraysh tribe. His clan is the Hashemites and his root is the Messenger of God (a.s.). God is pleased with the Divine Leader. He is the master of the celebrities, and he is of the progeny of Abd Minaf.18 The Divine Leader’s knowledge is ever-increasing. His forbearance is perfect. He is cognizant of politics and is worthy of Divine Leadership. Obedience to him is obligatory. He is the executor of God’s commandments and an adviser for God’s servants. He is the protector of God’s religion. God will grant success to the Prophets (a.s.) and the Divine Leaders (a.s.). God will exclusively grant them a part of His stored knowledge and wisdom so that they become the most knowledgeable of people. The Sublime God says, ‘…is then He Who gives guidance to truth more worthy to be followed, or he who finds not guidance (himself) unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you? How judge ye?’19 Also the Honorable the Exalted God said, ‘He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing…’20
Relating the story of Saul21, the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘God hath Chosen him above you, and hath gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess: God Granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth. God careth for all, and He knoweth all things.’22
About the Prophet David (a.s.), the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘… and David slew Goliath; and God gave him power and wisdom and taught him whatever (else) He willed…’23
Addressing the Prophet Muhammad (S), the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘…And great is the Grace of God unto thee.’24
About the Divine Leaders from the Prophet’s family, progeny, and offspring, the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘Or do they envy mankind for what God hath given them of his bounty? But We had already given the people of Abraham the Book and Wisdom, and conferred upon them a great kingdom. Some of them believed, and some of them averted their faces from him: And enough is Hell for a burning fire.’25
When God selects someone for managing the affairs of His servants, He grants him the will to do so, fills his heart with gushing springs of wisdom, and bestows upon him full knowledge so that he will have the ability to answer any questions and say nothing but the truth. The Divine Leader is Immaculate and Approved of. God will grant him success. He will be immune from erring, slipping and destruction. God will make him especially this way to serve as His Proof for His servants (people), and His Witness over His creatures. ‘Such is the Bounty of God, which He bestows on whom He will: and God is the Lord of the highest bounty.’26 Do they then have such powers or access to such powers to be able to chose the Divine Leader? Or does the one chosen by them have such characteristics to be preferred to others? I swear by God’s House that they have transgressed beyond what is right and have pushed aside God’s Book as if they know nothing. There is healing and guidance in God’s Book and they have put it aside and have followed their own selfish desires. That is why God admonishes them, hates them and destroys them. The Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘…and who is more astray than one who follow his own lusts, devoid of guidance from God? For God guides not people given to wrong-doing.’27
The Honorable the Exalted God also said, ‘…and (Allah) will render their deeds astray (from their mark).’28 The Honorable the Exalted God also said, ‘(a.s.uch) as dispute about the Signs of Allah, without any authority that hath reached them, grievous and odious (is such conduct) in the sight of Allah and of the Believers. Thus doth Allah, seal up every heart - of arrogant and obstinate Transgressors.’”29
20-2 The same tradition has been narrated by Muhammad ibn Isam al-Kolayni, Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Imran al-Daqqaq, Ali ibn Abdullah al-Warraq, Al-Hassan ibn Ahmad al-Mu’addib, and Al-Husayn ibn Ibrahim ibn Ahmad ibn Hisham al-Mu’addib - may God be pleased with them - who narrated it on the authority of Muhammad ibn Yaqoob al-Kolayni, on the authority of Abu Muhammad Al-Qasim ibn al-Ula, on the authority of Al-Qasim ibn Muslim, on the authority of his brother Abdul Aziz ibn Muslim, on the authority of Al-Ridha’ (a.s.).
1. When Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) was in Marv.
2. Qur’an, 6:38
3. Qur’an, 5:3
4. Qur’an, 2:124
7. Qur’an, 21:72-73
8. Qur’an, 3:68
9. Qur’an, 30:56
10. Qur’an, 63:4
11. Qur’an, 4:167
12. Qur’an, 28:68
13. Qur’an, 33:36
14. Qur’an, 68:36-40
15. Qur’an, 47:24
16. Quran, 8:12
17. Qur’an, 8:22-23
18. The father of Hashem from whom the Hashemites are. The grandfather of Abdul Muttalib.
The Prophet Muhammad’s (a.s.) roots go all the way to the Prophet Abraham (a.s.) as follows: Muhammad (a.s.), son of Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib, son of Abd Minaf, son of Qusay, son of Kalab, son of Murra, son of Ka’b, son of Lo’ay, son of Ghalib, son of Fahr, son of Malik, son of al-Nadhr, son of Kinana, son of Khozayma, son of Modraka, son of Elyas, son of Mazr, son of Nazar, son of Ma’ad, son of Adnan, son of Adad, son of Maqoom, son of Nahoor, son of Tarokh, son of Ya’arib, son of Yashjeb, son of Nabit, son of Isma’il, son of Abraham (a.s.). Derived from Nahayat ul-Arb Fi Ma’refat Ansab al-Arab by Abil Ab’bas Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Abdullah al-Qul-Qashandi- Darul Kotob al-Elmieh, Beirut, Lebanon.
19. Qur’an, 10:35
20. Qur’an, 2:269
21. Talut is the Arabic name for Saul, who was tall and handsome, but belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel. His worldly belongings were little, and it was when he went out to search for some asses which had been lost from his father's house that he met Samuel, and was appointed king by him. The people's fickleness appeared immediately after he was appointed king. They raised all sorts of petty objections to him. The chief consideration in their minds was selfishness: each one wanted to be leader and king himself, instead of desiring sincerely the good of the people as a whole, as a leader should do.
22. Qur’an, 2:247
23. Qur’an, 2:251
24. Qur’an, 4:113
25. Qur’an, 4:54-55
26. Qur’an, 62:4
27. Qur’an, 28:50
28. Qur’an, 47:8
29. Qur’an, 40:35