Imam Mahdi an Imam for all Times (4)

Imam Mahdi an Imam for all Times (4)

Textual Proof for the Necessity of the Imamate

Mr. Hoshyar: All that we have said is further attested in the traditions reported on the authority of the ahl al-bayt. If you are interested in an investigation of them you might refer to the books on hadith. Here we will cite some of these for your benefit: One of the companions of Imam Sadiq by the name of Abu Hamza says: I asked the Imam, "Can the earth survive without the presence of the Imam?" He said, "If the earth is devoid of the Imam it will be destroyed."(1)

Al-Washsha', a close associate of Imam Reza says: I asked the Imam, "Can the earth be without an Imam?" He said, "No." I told him that it has been related to us that the earth cannot be without an Imam, except when God is angry with the people. On that he said, "Nevertheless, the earth cannot be void of the Imam, otherwise it will be destroyed."(2) Ibn al-Tayyar reports that he heard from Imam Sadiq that if there remained two persons on earth one of them would be the Proof of God. In another tradition Imam Baqir is reported to have declared: "By God, from the time God caused Adam to die until this day, God has not left this earth without an Imam through whom His guidance becomes available to the people. It is this Imam who is the Proof of God for the people. As long as there is a need for God's proof the earth will not be without an Imam."(3)

In another tradition Imam Sadiq (a.s) is reported to have said: "Allah has created us in the best form and has appointed us as the caretaker of all the divine knowledge. The tree spoke to us, and through our worship God is being worshipped." The Imam also said: "The vicegerents [of the Prophet] are the gates of divine knowledge. Hence, one should enter religion through them. Without them God cannot be known. It is through the existence of these vicegerents that God will present His argument against His servants."(4)

Abu Khalid, a close associate of Imam Baqir asked the interpretation of the verse that says: "Believe in Allah, His messenger, and the light which We have revealed." The Imam said: O Abu Khalid, by 'the light' is meant the Imams. O Abu Khalid, the light of the Imam in the heart of the believer is more brilliant than the sunlight. They are the ones who enlighten the hearts of the believers. God denies and conceals this light from whomever He wishes, as a result of which the heart of that person turns dark and becomes veiled.(5)

According to another tradition, Imam Reza said: When God wills to appoint someone to look after the affairs of humanity, He expands his chest and makes his heart the source of realities and wisdom. He continuously endows him with His knowledge so that after receiving it he would not be incapable of answering any question. Moreover, in explaining the realities and providing the right guidance he would not fall into any error or falsehood. He is free from any corruption and error, he is ma'süm. He remains all the time the recipient of God's support and assistance, and is protected from sinful deviation. God appoints him to this prominent position so that he becomes the Proof of God's existence on earth. This is God's special favor, which He gives to whomever He pleases. Indeed, God's bounty is extensive.(6)

In yet another tradition the Prophet declared: "Stars are the security for the dwellers of the heavens. If they get destroyed so will the dwellers of the heavens. My family members are the security for the dwellers of the earth. Hence, if they do not exist, the dwellers of the earth will also be destroyed."(7)

In one of his orations Imam 'Ali (a.s) said: The earth will not be void of the Qa'im who will stand by the command of God and will provide the proof of God's existence for humanity. Sometimes that proof is manifest and well attested, and at other times it is in fear and hidden. This is to ensure that God's proofs are not terminated. These proofs are few and their whereabouts is not known. I solemnly declare that although they are few their status is extremely elevated. Through them God protects His proof and evidence until that time when they can implant those proofs in those who are like them and cultivate them in their hearts.
The knowledge [given by God] has led them to the true insight and they have attained the spirit of certainty through it.

That which baffles the lovers of wealth and makes it inconceivable for them appears easy and readily accessible to these proofs of God. That which frightens the ignorant, the proofs of God are intimate with it. Their connection to this material world is because of their physical body whose spirits are connected with the highly exalted places. They are God's caliphs and His callers to faith on earth.(8) In another sermon Imam 'Ali b. Abi Talib has described the excellences of the ahl al-bayt, saying: The elegances of the Qur'an are about them and they are the treasures of God. When they speak they speak the truth, but when they keep quiet no one can speak unless they speak.(9)

They are the pillars of Islam and the sanctuary of [its] protection. With them truth has returned to its proper position and falsehood has retreated and its tongue is severed from its root. They have understood the religion attentively and carefully, not by mere heresy or from narrators, because narrators of knowledge are many but those who understand it are few.(10)

In short, on the basis of rational and textual evidence one can surmise that as long as human beings live on the earth, there must exist a perfect and divinely protected person among them who could personify all the perfect qualities that the human being can possibly attain. Moreover, such an individual must be responsible, both theoretically and practically, to guide humanity. This person is the Imam, the leader of humankind. Having himself ascended on this sacred path of human perfection he takes it upon himself to call others onto those stages and stations. Hence, he becomes the mediator between the hidden world of the spirit and the human world.

The bounties of the hidden world descend upon him first, and through him reach other human beings. It is obvious that the non-existence of such a person among people would inevitably lead to the absence of any goal for humankind. Such an absence would necessarily lead to the perdition of human society. In the final analysis, regardless of any other proof, this rational and textual evidence confirms that there is no period in history, including our own age, without an Imam. Since there is no manifest Imam at this time, we can say that the Imam is in occultation and lives a concealed life. It was quite late in the night. Everyone was tired and it was decided that the discussion would continue at some other time in the near future.



1. Kulayni, Usul al-kafi, Vol. 1/334.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid., p. 333, 335.

4. Ibid., p. 368-69.

5. Ibid., p. 372.

6. Ibid., 1/390.

7. Suyuti, Tadhkirat al-khawass, p. 182

8. Nahj al-balagha, Sermon No. 147, Vol. 3.

9. Ibid., Sermon No. 154.

10. Ibid., Sermon No. 235.