Question 619: Aselam akeyikum werahmetullah. Is believing in Imamiya part of an Aqida for Shi’ism? Meaning, any Muslim who doesn’t believe in Imamiya knowngly a Kaffir, otherwise a Fasiq?
Thanks a lot!
Answer 619: Imamate plays a crucial role in Islam. From the Holy Quran’s point of view, imamate is the final stage of human evolution, to which only Messengers of God have reached. The Holy Quran says about Prophet Abraham (a): ”Remember when Abraham’s God examined him with different means, and he successfully passed all those tests, so that God told him that he was appointed as the people’s Imam and leader, and Abraham (a) asked God to appoint his descendents as Imams as well, but God replied that imamate could not be handed over to tyrants, and only those of his offspring who were pure and sinless would deserve such a grace.”.
This verse shows that imamate has a very high status and rank, since Prophet Abraham (a) was appointed as an Imam while he was already a Prophet. This happened only after he passed many difficult tests and trials.
The position of Imamate is sometimes combined with Prophethood, so that an eminent Prophet such as Abraham (a) becomes an Imam. Another evident reason is the combination of Prophethood and Imamate in the Prophet of Islam (s).
It also occurs that Imamate is separated from a Prophetic mission, such as what occurred in the case of the Shia Imams (a) who were only Imams, without being subject to direct divine revelation.
Reasoning for the Imamate of the Infallible Imams
Since the Imams are appointed by God, there is a need of rational reasoning to recognize the individuals who are actually imam. For instance, human logic can distinguish between an Imam and other people by witnessing characteristics such as knowledge, justice, courage, sinlessness and so forth in the Imam, and a lack of such characteristics in others. In addition, Quranic verses and authentic traditions also prove the imamate of an individual.
The following are some verses and their interpretations which are about the issue of imamate:
- «انما انت منذر و لکل قوم هاد», which means, “Your duty is to advise people, and there is a leader for every group.”
Shia interpreters and some Sunni ones, including Imam Fakhr Razi, says, “Here the term advisor refers to the Holy Prophet (s) and the leader to Imam Ali (a), since Ibn Abbas said that the Holy Prophet (s) put his hands on his chest and said that he was the advisor, and then pointed to Ali (a) and added «و انت الهادی یا علی…» that means Ali (a) was the leader and shall continue to lead people after the Prophet (s).”
In Al-Durrul-Manthur, one of the famous Sunni commentaries, several interpretations of the above verse are introduced, in which it is written that upon the revelation of this verse, the Holy Prophet (s) put his hand on his chest and said that he was the advisor, and then pointed to Ali (a) and added that Ali was the leader.
Other similar traditions from other theologians can be found in various other sources such as from Hakem Neyshabouri in “Mostadrak”, Dhahabi in “Talkhis”, Fakhr Razi and Ibn Kathir in their commentaries and Ibn Sabagh Maleki in “Alfusulul-Muhimmah” and Ganji Shafei in “Kifayatul-Taleb”, and Tabari in his commentary, and Ibn Hayan Andolosi in “Al-Bahrul-Muhit” and Neyshabouri in his commentary and Hamvini in “Faraed Olsamtin” and as well as many others. To become familiar with the sources of such traditions and their evidences, see the book Ihghagh Olhagh, Vol. 3, pp 88-92.
- «با ایها الذین آمنوا اتقوا الله و کونوا مع الصادقین Which reads, “O, believers, avoid antagonism (toward God’s commands) and be with the loyal people.”
Imam Fakhr Razi interpreted the phrase ‘loyal people’ as meaning infallibles. He also added, “By infallible the verse refers to the whole nation in its entirety.” This is while no Arab speaker, at the date of revelation of this verse, was using this phrase to refer to the nation; therefore, such an interpretation does not seem to be valid.
We should accept that in every era, there are loyal people who do not make any mistakes in their deeds and speeches, whom we should follow.
Moreover, many Sunni interpreters have quoted Ibn Abbas as saying that the above-mentioned verse is referring to Imam Ali (a). Allamah Tha’alabi in his book of commentary, Ganji in “Kifayatul-Taleb”, Allamah Sibt Jowzi in “Tadhkirah”, all interpret this verse as referring to Imam Ali (a) and his household. Ibn Abbas added, “Ali (a) is the most loyal man.”
Many other traditions quoted from the members of the prophetic household confirm this same interpretation.
- «اطیعواالله و اطیعوا الرسول و اولی الامر منکم», Says: “Obey God and obey the Messenger of God and the Holders of Authority.”
Shia interpreters unanimously believe that by the ‘Holders of Authority’, the verse is referring to the Infallible Imams (a).
In addition, the Hanafi Sheikh Soleiman Qanduzi in his book “Yanabi’ul-Mawaddah” quoted the book “Mujahid” as saying that the verse refers to Ali (a) when the Holy Prophet (s) appointed him as his substitute in Madinah when he himself was involved in the Tabuk war.
It is also quoted from Imam Ali (a) as referring to this verse in a debate with the Mohajerin and Ansar, so that they admitted to the legitimacy of his rule.
In “Shawahidul-Tanzil” of Hakem Haskani, a Sunni scholar, the interpretation of the same verse includes a quotation from Imam Ali (a) as saying that he once asked the Holy Prophet (s) about the meaning of “ruler”, to which the Holy Prophet (s) replied, “You are the first of them.”
Islamic beliefs are like a connected chain, such that if one part is missing, then the whole chain will be useless and have no benefit. In other words, believing in Allah has its entailments; belief in these entailments is what makes the difference and brings about Allah’s satisfaction. If you examine the story of Satan being expelled from heaven, you will find that he asked Allah for the chance to live until the Day of Judgment to deviate man. Therefore, it is understood that Satan believed in Allah and the Day of Judgment but Allah still names him a Kāfir. So just believing in Allah is not enough for one’s belief to be accepted, but one must also stay firm in regard to the results and implications of this belief. One of the results of one’s belief in Allah is belief in His messengers meaning the prophets, in such a way that denying them would be like denying Allah. Also, believing in the Imams, meaning the prophets’ successors, is the inevitable result and reflection of one’s belief in the prophet, because the Imams are the prophet’s successors that were appointed by himself and denying them is like denying the prophet himself. Therefore, one cannot believe in the prophet and not believe in the imams. It is the same between each one of the imams, meaning that denying one of them is like denying all of them, for the reason that proves the Imamate of each one of them is the same and applies to all of them; all of them are the successors of the prophet and each Imam has been approved of by the previous one and has introduced the next Imam. Therefore, denying one of them leads to the denial of the previous one and because all of them were appointed by the prophet, denying them is denial of the prophet.
Finally, we will mention a few ahadith in this regard: Imam Sadiq narrates from his great ancestors, meaning the previous Imams, that they narrated from the prophet that he said: “My successors are twelve individuals, the first is Ali bin Abi Talib and the last is the ‘Ghā’im’, they are my successors, vicegerents, the leaders after me and my Hujjats (reasons) over my Ummah, whoever bears witness to their imamate is a Mu’min (Believer), and whoever denies their Imamate is a kāfir (disbeliever).”
It is narrated in another hadith by Imam Sadiq that: “One who does not follow our words has rejected Allah’s words, and one who rejects Allah’s words is a polytheist”.
Also, it is mentioned in another hadith by Imam Kadhim that: “One who has hate for us resents the prophet of Allah and he actually has hate for Allah, and one who has hate for Allah deserves the hellfire and will not receive help from anyone.”
For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:
Index: The Wilayah of Imam Ali (as) / Political Authority in Ghadir Khumm, answer 470.
Index: “Ashhadu anna aliyyan waliyyullah” in Adhan and Iqamah, answer 276.
Index: Shia Ithna Ashari is Jafari school of thought, answer 111.
Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.
Index: Shia answers: The Term Shia in Quran, answer 129.
 Surah Baqarah, Verse 124
 Tafsir Kabir, Fakhr Razi, Volume 19, Page 14
 Al-Durrul-Manthur, Jalaladdin Suyuti, Volume. 4 Page 45
 Surah Bara’at, Verse 119
 Commentary of Fakhre Razi, volume 16, Page 221
 Ihqaqul-Haqq Volume. 3 Page 297
 Commentary of Noor Al Thaqalain Volume 2 Page 280,
 Yanabi’ul-Mawaddah, Page 114 – 115 – 116
 Shawahidul-Tanzil, Volume 1, Page 148
 “قالَ رَبِّ فَاَنظِرنِي ِالَي َيوِم يُبعَثُون …” Hijr:36; Sād:79.
 Baqarah:34; Sād:74.
 “عَنْ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ آبَائِهِ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ص قَالَ الْأَئِمَّةُ بَعْدِي اثْنَا عَشَرَ أَوَّلُهُمْ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ وَ آخِرُهُمُ الْقَائِمُ فَهُم خُلَفَائِي و أَوصِيَائِي و أَولِيَائِي وَ حُجَجُ اللَّه عَلَي اُمّتِي بَعدِي الْمُقِرُّ بِهِمْ مُؤْمِنٌ وَ الْمُنْكِرُ لَهُمْ كَافِرٌ”، Sheikh Saduq, Man lā Yahduruhū al-Faqīh, vol. 4, book of wasiyyah (i.e., making a will), the chapter on the will of Adam (as), pg. 180,…hadith 5406, Jame’eye Mudarresin Publications, Qom, 1413 AH. Of course, the term ‘kufr here is to be taken in its literal sense, which is to hide and conceal the truth, and not in its common usage.
 “الرَّادُّ عَلَينَا الرَّادّ عَلَى الله وَ هُوَ عَلَى حَدِّ الشَّركِ بِاللهِ…” Kuleini, vol. 1, chapter of difference in hadith, pg. 68, Dār al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah Publication, Tehran, 1365 (solar calendar).
 “ألا يا عبد الرحمن من أبغضنا فقد أبغض محمدا و من أبغض محمدا فقد أبغض الله جل و علا، و من أبغض الله جل و علا كان حقا على الله أن يصليه النار و ماله من نصير” Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 97, pg. 122, Al-Wafā’ Institute, Lebanon, 1404 AH.