Our Beliefs About Imamate and Our Imams

Our Beliefs About Imamate and Our Imams

Shia Muslims in accordance with the Quran believe that Imamate is one of the most important principles in Islam. Even if a Muslim believes in Allah, Prophecy of The Prophet and the day of resurrection without belief in Imamate, his faith and belief in Islam is not complete and perfect.

Of course, the article is not about to deliver the reasons of Imamate in Islam and Quran but it aims to present a brief introduction of Shia Muslims Belief about Imamate and the features and attributes of Imam in Islam.


WE BELIEVE that as Almighty Allah has decreed to send His apostles with divine Guidance, so also for any age or time Almighty Allah Has appointed an Imam to look after the people, leading them to the righteous path, and to guard the divine Law against any deviation. An Imam has to know clearly, the necessities of the ages, and lead the people to the true path of Almighty Allah. He invites and teaches the people to obey the Prophets and to follow the LAW. If not so, man will fail to obtain the goal for which he is created including prosperity and perfection.

Then the LAW will be abandoned, and people have to wander!

This is why we believe that after our Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP), in any age or time there has always been, and there will be, an Imam to teach and to lead the people. Imam primarily means: HE WHO IS FOREMOST' hence a religious leader, a MODEL, a PATTERN or one who leads the congregational prayer. (The translator).
“O you who have faith! Be wary of Allah, and be with the Truthful”(9:119).
This verse of Quran does not point a certain time or a distinct age. It rather unconditionally orders the people to be the followers of the truthful Imams. All the famous commentators have taken the word: TRUTHFUL to mean an innocent Imam who is free of guilt and sin.


WE BELIEVE that Imamate is not only the apparent ruler ship or leadership of a caliph, but rather a high spiritual or religious position. Besides ruling and governing the Islamic society, an Imam has the overall leadership of this mortal life of people as well as that of Hereafter. He guides the Soul and Mind of people, and guards against any deviation from the LAW, meanwhile he leads at the targets assigned by The Prophet (PBUH&HP). This is the same high rank that Almighty Allah gave to ABRAHAM after passing the stages of prophethood and the steps of apostleship and many other exams. When ABRAHAM asked his Lord to assign the position of Imamate to some of his near kins, he was answered that this title or position will not be given to the oppressors or SINNERS:

“When his Lord tested Abraham with certain words and he fulfilled them, He said, ‘I am making you the Imam of mankind.’ Said he, ‘And from among my descendants?’ He said, ‘My pledge does not extend to the unjust” (2:124).

It is evident that such a high moral and religious position cannot be abridged or lowered to an apparent ruler ship or leadership, or else the verse will not hand over a reasonable meaning or sense. WE BELIEVE that all the Arch prophets had the dignity and grade of Imamate through their prophethood. This is because whatever they decreed by their prophethood they put it to work as an Imam. So was the great Prophet of Islam, when at the beginning of his mission he conveyed the messages of Almighty Allah to His servants, and meanwhile he carried out his leadership, teaching people and leading them to the path of truth. WE BELIEVE that after The Prophet Muhammad, his mission was continued by the innocent Imams who succeeded him from among his nearest kin and their offspring. By the definitions given above, to reach the high rank of an Imam is very difficult and heavy conditions are to be observed, such as piety to the level of innocence, having the highest level of knowledge of religion and the LAW, and also full acquaintance with the human needs in any age or time.


WE BELIEVE that an Imam should be free of any guilt or SIN. As a matter of fact, one who is not innocent, cannot be trusted to teach the realities of the LAW and the tenets of a divine Religion. It is for his innocence that we hold an Imam's word or deed as a religious proof.


WE BELIEVE that an Imam has to know all about the roots and branches, and the commandments of Islam. He has to know the full meanings and the EXEGESIS of Quran, and that he takes his knowledge from The Prophet or the previous Imam; and it is such a knowledge, which is trustworthy among our people. (THE SHIAS).


WE BELIEVE that an Imam who is the successor of The Prophet must be clearly and openly be appointed by the Messenger of Almighty Allah like Imam Ali who Appointed in front of the eyes of thousands of Muslims in Qadir Khom. An Imam's appointment also is like that of The Prophet and has to be decided by Almighty Allah Himself .This is because the distinction of piety at the level of innocence, and such the high level of knowledge needed to make someone an Imam, is at the power of Almighty Allah and His Apostle, and no one else.
We therefore don’t know our Imams as those elected by the vote or choice of people.


WE BELIEVE that The Prophet of Islam appointed all the twelve Imams as his successors, one after another. In SAHIH Muslim, (A FAMOUS SUNNI REFERENCE BOOK), we read: "In a place between Mecca and Medina which is named GHADIR KHOMM, The Prophet made a speech to thousands of Muslims, through which he said: "Iam about  to leave you for good. I am leaving two heavy things among you after me: The Quran is the first one in which you may find light and guidance; and my nearest kins are the second. I advice you all not to forget Almighty Allah in relation to my Kins. Not to forget Almighty Allah in relation to My Kins.
The same tradition is also written in SAHIH TERMADHI, (ANOTHER FAMOUS SUNNI'S REFERENCE BOOK). The Prophet added then: "If you grasp the two heavy things that I leave among you; you will never go astray.

Sunni References:

The above mentioned incident is brought and found in so many famous Sunni books such as:

SONAN TERMEDHI (Jami` at-Tirmidhi)_ VOL.5 _ P.662.

Therefore, No Muslim can deny this tradition which is related by successive witnesses and important writers. WE RELY also on another famous tradition which is narrated in SAHIH MUSLIM and SONAN TERMEDHI, SONAN ABI-DAWOOD and other famous books that our Holy Prophet has said: "Islam will stand up to the resurrection day and until twelve Imams all of whom are from Ghoreish; rule over you as my successors.


WE BELIEVE that the Prophet, in several occasions has introduced and designated Imam Ali (PBUH) as his successor by the decree of Almighty Allah, an instance of which was in the GHADIR KHOMM somewhere near JOHFEH. When The Prophet was returning from his last pilgrimage (HAJJ) he made a speech to a great gathering of his companions and followers, saying: "Do I not have priority over your souls?" "Yes, of course. They all answered.

The Prophet continued: "Then all of you know that The MASTER of whoever I am, Ali shall be his master.

Here we do not intend to go deep through reasoning to prove our ideas; We also do not intend to insist upon our assertion. We may only add here that such an important tradition is not something to be ignored easily, or changing what it means, as by taking the MASTER=MAWLA to mean a friend particularly when we see that The Prophet has put so much stress and emphasis upon the word, so as to make it known to all! .
Is this not the same case that; IBNI ASIR has brought in his important history book saying:
"At the beginning of his Prophetic mission, The Prophet was ordered by Almighty Allah: “Warn the nearest of your kinsfolk”(26:214).

He invited some forty men of them to a dinner, and by a miracle, he fed all of them from a single portion of food! He then made a speech and finally said to them: `which of you is willing to give me a truthful hand in this Divine Mission of mine, and become my brother and executor and successor among all?"
No one answered him there, except Imam Ali (PBUH), who said: I will be your companion and minister: and The Prophet pointed at Imam Ali and said: He is my brother and my executor and my successor among you. Thus, we see The Prophet to have designated his VICEGERENT and Imam, from the beginning of his mission. The same case also happened at the end of his mission when The Prophet was at his death bed. He asked those who were round him to get him a pen and paper to write an order which would prevent them from going astray. One of those who around The Prophet rejected and refused to provide pen and paper and even accused The Prophet of uttering delirious speech!
To repeat again, we hereby only declare our belief in brief and a little reasoning.


WE BELIEVE that each one of the twelve Imams are introduced by the previous one.
The first one was Imam Ali the son of ABUTALIB, then he appointed Imam Hassan his first son as the second Imam, and then Imam Hussain, the MASTER OF THE MARTYRS his second son as the third one. The fourth Imam was Imam Ali Al-Sajjad the son of Imam Hussain, then came to his son Imam Muhammad Al-Baghir as the Fifth Imam. Then his son Imam Jafar Al-Sadigh (the Sixth Imam) then his Son Imam Musa Al-Kadhim as the seventh one. Then his Son Imam Ali Al-Reza as the eighth Imam. The ninth of them was Muhammad Al-Taghi then his son Ali Al-Naghi as the tenth Imam. After him, it was his son Imam HASSAN ASKARI who was the father of Imam Al-Mahdi the twelfth Imam and the last of them all, whom we believe to be already living.

The idea of a SAVIOR who has to come to fill the world with justice, when it has been full of oppression is accepted almost by all the Muslims of different sects, and many of the SUNNI scholars and men of knowledge have declared that in their books many years ago. In answer to a question about the existence of IMAM AL-MAHDI, the Islamic World Relations Society, issued a pamphlet to emphasize on the surety that he will come. In that pamphlet many evidences were presented to prove that many of the Muslims believe that Imam Al-Mahdi will be born in future, but the SHIA Muslims believe that he has already been born, and so far he has lived a long life, and by the decree of Almighty Allah, he shall appear one day to fill the world with justice. 


Based on so many authentic traditions narrated by Shia and Sunni Scholars, WE BELIEVE that none of The Prophet's companions did, or could excel over Imam Ali (PBUH) in any respect. And that Imam Ali (PBUH) after The Prophet (PBUH&HP) was at the highest religious position.


WE BELIEVE that there were many great men of devotion and chastity among the companions of the Prophet; but all of them were not so, because the HOLY Quran declares many among them as being hypocrites!

There were also men who broke their allegiance with the VICEGERENT OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH, after The Prophet and made wars and shed blood of thousands of Muslims just because they have been with The Prophet or they carry the title of COMPANION for themselves?
In another word, how can we judge that both of the two parties who made the battles of Seffain and Jamal were rightful and, on the righteous path? How can both of the two groups of combatants be honest and truthful?

Some bring forth the foot of religious researches and self exegesis on the ground by saying that:_ `Surely one of the two parties was wrong and oppressive, but as they were taking their decisions by their EXEGESIS, both parties were on righteousness in the sight of Almighty Allah. This, we cannot accept easily. How could one with his own exegesis and self comprehensions break his allegiance and loyalty to the VICEGERENT OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH, who is entitled to obedience, and create such fearful wars between Muslims, grouping them and shedding streams of their blood. With the justification that his exegesis and self researches have decreed him to do so? What else then cannot be justified by such personal comprehensions and self commentaries?
Let us be more frank that everyone, even the nearest companions of The Prophet are held in pledge of their deeds and are responsible for what they have done and have to answer for it:
" Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you”(49: 13).
The above holy verse is true for all even for the nearest companions of the Prophet. We therefore have to judge them by their deeds, and we should have a reasonable definition for them all. Those who were truthful at the presence of the Apostle, at his absence too, did their best to guard the religion and to observe his commandments. They remained faithful to their covenant and respected their promises on the other hand, those among his companions who were hypocrites and vexed him, did the same after him. Whatever they did was against Islam and Muslims.

“You will not find a people believing in Allah and the Last Day endearing those who oppose Allah and His Apostle even though they were their own parents, or children, or brothers, or kinsfolk. [For] such, He has written faith into their hearts and strengthened them with a spirit from Him. He will admit them into gardens with streams running in them, to remain in them [forever], Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. They are Allah’s confederates. Look! The confederates of Allah are indeed felicitous!” (58:22).

We believe that those who harmed The Prophet in his presence or absence are not worthy of admiration. Of course, we must not forget that some of the companions of The Prophet showed the utmost truthfulness and sincerity with the greatest self-sacrifices and have been admired by Almighty Allah Himself and so were a group who followed them later.
“The early vanguard of the Emigrants and the Helpers and those who followed them in virtue—Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens with streams running in them, to remain in them forever. That is the great success.”(9:100).

This is our belief about the companions of our prophet.


According to the order of our Prophet to observe the Quran and HIS NEAREST KINS and also to the innocence of the Imams, our jurisprudence of divine Law, is also based upon the words, deeds and consents; (doing something in front of them without having their objection) of the innocent Imams. The three factors, words, deeds, and consent of our Imams are accepted proofs for us. We have to note also that whatever an Imam says, it is a narration of The Prophet through his fathers. So whatever an Imam says, has been said by The Prophet (PBUH&HP). Imam AL-BAQIR told one of his students named JABIR: "That which we convey to you is what we have taken out of a treasure that belongs to our Prophet Muhammad." Through another tradition from Imam JAFAR AL-SADIQ we read:"Someone asked him a question and the Imam answered him. The man began to dispute about the answer. Imam told him: The answer I gave you was that of The Prophet and you have no right to dispute."