Imam Mahdi an Imam for all Times (3)

Imam Mahdi an Imam for all Times (3)

Rational Proof in Support of the Imamate

After having demonstrated the necessity for general prophethood to guide humanity to its this- and next-worldly goals, it is accurate to hold that the same proof can be utilized to establish the fact that, whenever the prophet dies, there must exist in his place someone who can lead the community to those ends. This person should be someone who can continue the work of the prophet in providing the divine ordinances and reach out to the people in their search for the religious and spiritual path. Almighty Allah's purposes cannot be fulfilled without such a person existing among the people to promulgate those laws without errors of omission or commission.

Thus, in the absence of the prophet, God's benevolence makes it necessary that there should be someone among the people to make sure that divine revelation is protected from human interference and interpolations, and that divine laws are made accessible to the people at all times. This outstanding person must also, like the prophet, be immune and protected from committing any error and mistakes in receiving, recording and delivering the divine ordinances to establish the proof that God's guidance for the people is intact. Moreover, he should be fully knowledgeable about the truth of the religious ordinances and should himself act upon those ordinances so that others can bring their own acts and opinions into conformity with his and follow his example in their search for truth, without falling into doubt and confusion and without resorting to excuses for not having found the proof of religious truth.

Since the Imam must also be protected from committing any error in carrying out this great responsibility, it must be pointed out that the Imam's knowledge is other than that acquired through sense perception. Hence, his knowledge is different from the knowledge of an ordinary person. Through the Prophet's own guidance the Imam possesses clear insights into religious knowledge. Moreover, he is endowed with direct experience of the truth through his inner eyes. It is because of this that he is protected from any error or forgetfulness, and so acts in accord with this experience and direct observation of religious truth. More importantly, it is this attribute that qualifies him to assume the Imamate of the Muslim community.

In other words, there must exist among the people a perfect individual, one possessing absolute faith in God's revelation and exemplifying the best character and personal qualities in order to lead people in the minutest details of God's ordinances. At all these levels he must be protected from error, forgetfulness, and acts of disobedience. He must be ma'süm. It is the coming together of faith and action, knowledge and practice, that makes him the personification of all the possible human potentials of perfection. The realization of these potentials indisputably anoints him the leader of humanity. If humanity, at any point, is deprived of this leadership, the situation could lead to the disappearance of the divine ordinances which were proclaimed for the betterment of humankind. Moreover, it could lead to the discontinuation of divine help and could sever the connection between the divine and human realms.

In other words, there should always be a person among the people who is endowed with special guidance from God and is protected through God's benevolence in order for him to provide the necessary guidance and lead the people to their perfection in accord with their divinely endowed potentials. Moreover, through his knowledge and in any way possible, he should aid them in their journey towards their Creator. It is the existence of the sacred presence of the Imam as the Proof of God and as a perfect example of religious life that can make the divine presence known and divine worship possible in a society. Without the Imam's existence God cannot be known or worshipped perfectly. The inner self of the Imam is the receptacle for God's knowledge and divine secrets. It is like a mirror that reflects the realities of the material world, and people derive benefit from these reflections.

Dr. Jalali: Surely, the protection of religious ordinances and laws is not confined to one person who should know it and practice it all. Rather, if all religious ordinances and laws are distributed among the people and if each group learns and puts into practice part of these ordinances, all of them can be protected both from the perspectives of knowledge about and practice of them.
Mr. Hoshyar: Your hypothesis is refutable from two angles:

First, in our previous discussion we have pointed out that there should always be one outstanding person among the people who should be an embodiment of all the possible benevolent qualities and a personification of the religious existence in all its meanings. Moreover, he should be free from any need of acquiring the necessary sciences and education from any other being than God. If such a person is absent among the people, then humanity will be deprived of God's proof and knowledge about God's purposes.

To be sure, when any species is left without a purpose its destruction is certain. According to your hypothesis, such a perfect person does not exist because each one of these persons, even when he knows and acts upon a number of those ordinances, is not on that straight path of religion and actually has deviated from it. The reason is that religious ordinances are inevitably too interrelated and profoundly interconnected as a whole for them to be taken in part.

Second, as pointed out earlier, since God's ordinances and laws are sent for the guidance of humanity, they should remain not only constant but should also be safeguarded. All ways to their change, distortion or destruction should remain firmly closed, and they should remain safe from all dangers. This goal can be fulfilled only when the person in charge of it is protected from error and immune from forgetfulness and disobedience.

There is nothing in your hypothesis that guarantees this because the problem of error of judgement and forgetfulness is a possibility for each one of the people. Consequently, the divine ordinances and laws are not immune from any change or alteration and neither so the proof of God's immutable guidance nor the elimination of people's excuse is procurable.

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