Imamate And Prophethood in Viewpoint of Shia Islam (1)

Imamate And Prophethood in Viewpoint of Shia Islam (1)

The Shia believe that the rank of Imamat (the position of a divinely- appointed leader) is higher than that of prophethood and messengership. Note that here we are comparing the rank of positions and not the rank of persons. As such, two divinely appointed Imams which both have the highest possible position from Allah, may have different ranks. For instance, out of the twelve Imams of Ahlul-Bayt, Imam Ali (PBUH) is the most virtuous. Also Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF) is more virtuous than Imam Ali (PBUH) thought they were both appointed by Allah as leaders. In other words, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF) is has the highest rank among mankind, and is the most virtuous creature of God and the most honored
before Allah. The above belief does not undermine his position since Prophet Muhammad was an Imam during his time as well! However, comparing the * duty * of prophet and Imam is like comparing apples and oranges or is like comparing the duty of a physician and an engineer. Imamat and prophethood are totally different functions though they may gather in one person such as Prophet Muhammad or Prophet Abraham, peace be upon them.
Evidence from Quran
People who are familiar with Quran to some extent, know that this belief is not a weird-thing. In fact, Quran testifies that the position of Imamat is higher than the position of prophethood and messengership. Allah, to whom belong Might and Majesty, said: "And when Abraham was tested by his Lord with certain commands and he fulfilled them. Then He said: Lo! I appoint you an Imam for mankind.".(1) As we can see, Prophet Abraham was further tested by Allah during his prophethood, and when he successfully passed the tests (which were the test on his life, leaving his wife, sacrificing his son), he was granted the
position of Imamat. This shows position of Imamat is higher in degree than prophethood which has been given to him later after acquiring more qualifications. Degrees are always granted in ascending order. We have not seen any person who got his Ph.D. degree first, and then gets his highschool diploma. At least in the administration of God there is no such mess! The first degree of Abraham, may the blessing of Allah be upon him, was becoming a servant of Allah ('Abd), then he became Prophet (Nabi), then he became Messenger (Rasul), then he became a Confident (Khalil), and then he finally became Imam. BTW, the above verse of Quran(2) proves that Allah assigns Imam, and the designation of Imam is not the business of people. Below is the Sunni commentary of Yusuf Ali on the above verse: Kalimat, literally "words", here used in the mystic sense of God's Will or Decree or Purpose. This verse may be taken to be the sum
of the verses following. In everything Abraham fulfilled God's wish: he purified God's house; he built the sacred refuge of the Kaba; he submitted his will to God's (referring to sacrifice of his son) He was promised the leadership of the world; he pleaded for his progeny, and his prayer was granted, with the limitation that if his progeny was false to God, God's promise did not reach the people who proved themselves false. As we see, Quran clearly justifies the Shi'ite point of view in this matter. But again, since Prophet Abraham, Prophet Muhammad, and few others were also Imams, such belief (i.e., Imamat higher than prophethood) does not undermine their position. Imam means a person who is appointed by God as a leader and as a guide(3) to whom obedience is due, and whom people should follow. Messengers are Warners and Imams are Guides.(4) Imams are the Stars of Guidance.(5) Muhammad (PBUH&HF) was a Prophet, a Messenger, and an Imam. By His death the door of prophethood and  messengership was closed for ever. But the door of Imamat (leadership) remained open because he had successors (Caliphs; deputies). Successor means a person who succeeds the position of the previous one. It is the obvious that successors of Prophet Muhammad did not share anything about his position of prophethood and messengership. What remained for them was Imamat (leadership). And the number of these Imams are twelve as the Prophet himself testified. Also note that Quran clearly
says that Imam and Caliph is assigned by God and this designation has nothing to do with people. For more evidence in the assignment of Imam by Allah, see the following verses of Quran (about David), (6) (about Abraham) (7), (about Adam),(8) and (about Aaron).(9)
A Wahhabi contributor implied that the Shia are non-Muslims because they believe the above thing (Imamat higher than Messengership) while he did not present any single evidence from Quran and authentic Hadith against it. However, I have presented a proof from Quran, and as such, better better be their own judge as to whether you are a Muslims or not. As for Angels, Muslims agree that the level of the prophets are higher than that of angels. Quran states that all angels prostrated Adam. This is enough to prove that the rank of the prophets is higher than that of angels. And based on the previous conclusion that the position of Imamat is higher than that of prophethood, the position of Imamat will be higher than
the rank of angels as well.
Evidence from Sunni Collections of Traditions
The Shia further believe that the twelve Imams of the House of Prophet Muhammad have the rank higher than that of ALL the messengers (be Imam or not) except Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF). In other words, the Status of the successors of the Seal of the Prophets is higher than that of the successors of all the previous prophets. (Note that the sucessors of the previous Prophets were themselves prophets).

Imam Ali (PBUH) having the highest virtues of the early great Messengers: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) said: "He who wants to see Noah (PBUH) in his determination, Adam (PBUH) in his knowledge, Abraham (PBUH) in his clemency, Moses (PBUH) in his intelligence and Jesus (PBUH) in his religious devotion should look at Ali Ibn Abi Talib (PBUH)."(10)

- Among those who have admitted that Imam Ali (PBUH) is the store house of the secrets of all the Prophets is the Chief of Gnostics, Muhi al- Din al-Arabi, from whom al-Arif al-Sha'arni has copied it in his al- Yuwaqit wa al-Jawahir (p172, topic 32).
- The Light (Noor) of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) and Ali (PBUH) preceded the creation of Adam (PBUH):
Salman al-Farsi (RA) narrated that: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) saying: "I myself, and
Ali were one light in the hands of Allah fourteen thousand years (14,000) before He created Adam (PBUH). When Allah created Adam (PBUH) He divided that light into two parts, one part is me and one
part Ali."(11)
Remark: "hand of Allah" means His power. The phrase "within the hands of Allah" means in His presence, domain, realm, kingdom. This clearly shows that the rank of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF) and Imam Ali (PBUH) are better than any human being ever created by Allah.

- No one crosses the Path except by a passport from Ali (PBUH): Anas Ibn Malik narrated: "When Abu Bakr neared death,..., Abu Bakr said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) saying: That there is an obstacle on the Path which no one crosses unless with a passport (permission) from Ali Ibn Abi Talib (PBUH). And I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) saying: "I am the seal of the prophets and you, Ali, the seal of the Awliyaa."(12)
Imam Ali (PBUH) narrated: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) said: When Allah gathers the first-ones and the last-ones on the Day of Judgment, and the Path has been erected on the bridge of Hell, no one can cross it unless he had along proof of allegiance (Wilaya) to Ali Ibn Abi Talib."(13)
- Ali (PBUH) is the divider of People to Paradise and Hell: "The prophet (PBUH&HF) said to Ali  (PBUH): You are the divider of Paradise and Hell on the Day of Judgment, you say to Hell: This
one for me and that one for you."(14) "Ali (PBUH) said: I am the alloter/divider of Hell." (15)"The Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) has said: Ali is the divider of Hell."(16) And here is a poem from al-Shafi'i (one of the four Sunni Imams): "Ali will judge mankind and allot them either paradise or hell. He was the leader of men and Jinns, the true Testator of the Holy Prophet. If the followers of Ali are 'Rafidhi' verily I am one of that sect. Ali at the time of breaking of the symbols in the Ka'ba put his feet on that shoulder where God had put his hand on the 'Night of Mi'raj' and verily Ali was that into whose eyes shone the light of God." Do I need to comment?! Now look at what your master Umar said on the virtue of Imam Ali (PBUH): Umar Ibn al-Khattab said: "If all the seven planets, and the all the seven heavens are put in one scale of balance and the faith of Ali in the other, Ali's pan will turn the scales."
- Ali (PBUH) the best of people after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF): "...Jabir said: The messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) said: Ali is the best of humanity (after me), so whoever has doubt is a Kafir."(17)
Here is another one: Zar quoting Abdullah, quoting Ali (PBUH), that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) said: "Whoever does not say that Ali is the best in my people, is a Kafir."(18)
also Barida narrated: The messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) said to Fatimah (PBUH) that: "I gave you in marriage to the best in my Ummah, the most knowledgeable in them, the best in patience in them, and the
first Muslim among them." (19)

Continue in the article: ( Imamate And Prophethood in Viewpoint of Shia Islam (2) )



1. (2:124)


3. (21:73 and 32:24)

4. (13:7)

5. (6:97)

6. (38:20)

7. (2:124)

8.  2:30

9. (7:142, 20:29-36, 25:35)

10. Sharh Ibn Abi al-Hadid, v2, p449 * - Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhruddin al-Razi, under the commentary of the Verse of Impreciation (Mubilah), v2 p288.  "Fat'h al-Mulk al-Ali bi Sihah Hadith-e-Bab-e- Madinat al-Ilm", p34, by Ahmed Ibn Muhammad Ibn Siddiq al-Hasani al- Maghribi.

11. Mizan Al-Ei'tidal, by al-Dhahabi, v1, p235* - Fada'il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v2, p663, Tradition #1130 * al-Riyadh al-Nadhirah, by al-Muhib al-Tabari, v2, p164, v3, p154 *

12. Tarikh, by al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, v10, p356 * - al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar, Ch. 9, subheading 2, p195

13. al-Riyadh al-Nadhirah, by Muhibbuddin al-Tabari, v2, p172

14. al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar, Ch. 9, subheading 2, p195

15. Kanzul Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v6, p402

16. Kunooz Al-Haqa'iq, by Abdul Raouf al-Manawi, p92

17. Kinooz Al-Haqa'iq, by Abdul Raouf al-Manawi, p92 * - Tarikh, by al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, v7, p421

18. Tarikh, by al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, v3, p19 * - Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, v9, p419

19. Kanz al-Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v6, p398