IMAMATATE

 
 
 

IMAMAT - THE ESOTERIC DIMENSION
 

     The verses of the Qur'an which clearly speak about the concept of IMAMAT were discussed in the last message. In this text we will discuss the implied meaning of this concept in various Qur'anic verses.

     According to the sayings of the Imams, nearly one-quarter of the Qur'an speaks about the Imams either explicitly, or implicitly. The basis of the esoteric dimension is taken from the following verse:

    
He is Who has revealed the Book to you; some of its verses are decisive (muhkam),  they are the basis of the Book, and others are allegorical (mutashabih); then as for those  in whose hearts there is perversity, they follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation, but none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord; and none do mind except those having understanding. (Q.3:7)  

     This verse can be understood in two different ways. It is quite clear that there are two kinds of verses in the Qur'an, one are  the MUHKAM, those which are clear in meaning and all can understand the commandments contained therein. The other are MUTASHABIH, their meaning are in the form of a metaphor, therefore, they have to be explained further.
     The next clause in the verse is : those who know the meanings this second kind of verse is Allah, and the ones firmly rooted in knowledge. But, the statement actually continues.
        The great majority of Sunni scholars insist that there is a full stop after the word Allah, in other words the word 'and' is not a conjunction, instead it is there to start a new sentence.
        That will give it the meaning that Allah alone knows the meaning of those verses. Some others have said that that is not so. Among them is Zamakhshari, the author of the great Tafseer known as KASH-SHAAF. Zamakhshari reasons that it would really be illogical to give a book to people in which there are parts which no one can understand. Allah might as well have held those verses back.
     The Shi'a scholars (and some Sunni, mainly the Shafi'i) read the verse meaning that Allah and those firmly rooted in knowledge know the real meanings of the MUTASHABIH.
        Those firmly rooted in knowledge, according to the Shi'a belief,  are the Imams after the Prophet (may our salams and Allah's peace be unto them all).
     In fact, the Shi'a Mufassir does not explain any verse of the Qur'an, be it MUHKAM or MUTASHABIH, without referring to the statements of the Imams. According to FIQH JA'FARI, it is a sin to do TAFSEER BIR RA'I. We quote one hadeeth in support of this from Tabataba'i:

The Prophet said:
"Whoever interprets (i.e., explains) the Qur'an according to his opinion, should settle himself in his seat of Fire." (as-Safi)
- Quoted from Al-Meezan Vol 5. p 110.


The same book (Munyatu 'l-murid) narrates that the Prophet said:'Whoever spoke about  the Qur'an of his own opinion (even if) he was right, he committed wrong." Al-Meezan, Vol 5, p111.

     Tabataba'i adds that this hadeeth also appears in Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi and Nasa'i.

     In fact he best discussion on this Qur'anic verse has been done by Allama Tabataba'i in his celebrated work known as AL-MEEZAN. Tabataba'i has taken 102 pages to complete his discussion on this topic. Obviously, we do not have the space to reproduce all that here.

     Now that we have established that there are verses in the Qur'an which require special explanation by people who are established in knowledge and that those people are none other than the members of the holy Ahl al-Bayt, we now give below some examples of those verses. These verses were explained by the Imams and they are pointing to the concept of Imamat in a metaphorical sense.

1.   Nay! these are clear communications in the breasts of those who are granted  knowledge; and none deny Our communications (ayaat) except the unjust. (Q.29:49)
The theme is repeated in 10:7 and 22:57. The Imams are the Signs of Allah (Ayat Allah) on this earth.

2.   Keep us on the right Path (Siraat al-Mustaqeem) (Q.1:6).
Imams are the Sirat al-Mustaqeem.   The theme is repeated in 6:153, 15:41, 20:135, and 43:43.

3.   The Imams are the WAY (Sabeel), the theme is found in Q.25:9, 27; 6:153, 29:69, and in 31:15.

4.   Imams are THE BOUNTY OF GOD (N'emat Allah), as in Q.14:28,  and 16:83.

5.   Imams are the GIFTS OF ALLAH (ALAA'I), as in Q. 7:69 and in 55:13 and many more times in this Sura.

6.   Imams are the FIRMEST HANDLE (Urwat al-Wuthqa) as in Q.2:256.

7.   Imams are the ROPES OF ALLAH (Habl Allah), as in Q.3:102.

8.   Therefore believe in Allah and His Apostle and the Light which We have revealed, and Allah is aware of what you do.(Q.64:9)
The Imams are the Light of Allah. The theme is repeated in 4:174, 6:122, 7:157, 9:32, the most beautiful of all these verses is 24:35.

9.   Lo! We offered the Trust (AMANA) unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! He hath proved a tyrant and a fool. (Q.33:72).  The TRUST is the WALAYA of Imam Ali, and the tyrant fool are those who refused to acknowledge it and usurped his right. 
And again:
     Lo! Allah commandeth you that you restore deposits (AMANA) to their owners, and if you judge between mankind that ye judge  justly. Lo! comely is  this which Allah admonisheth you. Lo! Allah is ever Hearer, Seer.(Q.4:58)  
The AMANA here implies the designation of an Imam by his predecessor.

10.  And of those whom We have created  are a people who guide  with the truth and thereby they do justice.(Q.7:181)  THE GUIDES mentioned in this verse are no one but the Imams.   

11.  And those who disbelieve say: You are not a messenger. Say: Allah is sufficient as a witness between me and you and whoever has the knowledge of the Book.(Q.13:43)
The ONE WHO HAS THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE BOOK is the Imam. The theme of this special knowledge is repeated in 16:27, 29:49, and 34:6.

12.  Imams are the INHERITORS OF THE BOOK, as in Q.35:32

13.  Imams are the POSSESSORS OF AUTHORITY  (ULIL AMR), as in Q.4:59;
therefore, obeying them becomes wajib.

14.  O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and be with the true ones(SAADIQEEN). Q.9:119.  The Imams are the Saadiqeen.

15.  And We did not send before you any but men to whom We sent Revelation -- so ask the followers of the Reminder  (AHL ADH DHIKR) if you do not know.(Q.16:43) The term is repeated in the following verse. The Imams are the Ahl adh Dhikr.

16.  ........... Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it  but love for my near relatives(QURBA)................ (Q.42:23).  The QURBA here are the Imams. Such respected Sunni scholars as Baydhawi and Fakhr Razi agree on this and they say that 'Qurba' here refers to Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn.

17.  The term Aal Yaseen in 37:130 is no one but the Imams, YASEEN is the Prophet of Islam.

18.  I swear by the sun and its brilliance.
     And the moon when it follows the sun,
     And the day when it shows it,
     And the night when it draws a veil over it, (Q.91:1-4)
     The sun is the Prophet of Islam, the moon is Imam Ali and the day represents all the other Imams (in some tafseer it is Imam Mahdi specifically), and the night symbolizes the instruments by which the Imams' authority was usurped by others.

19.  He has made the two seas to flow freely (so that) they meet together:
     Between them is a barrier which they cannot pass,
     Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?
     There come forth from them pearls, both large and small, (Q.55:19-22)
     The two seas are Ali and Fatima, the barrier (in some tafseer) is the Prophet of Islam, and the pearls are Hasan and Husayn. Among the Sunni scholars who agree with this tafseer is Suyooti in his Dur al-Manthoor quoting Ibn Mardwayh.

20.  And whoever takes Allah and His Apostle and those who believe for a guardian, then surely the party of Allah are they  that shall be triumphant.(Q.5:56) Imams are the PARTY OF ALLAH.

21.  And the servants of the Beneficent  God are they who walk on the earth  in
humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say: Peace. (Q.25:63) THe SERVANTS OF THE BENEFICENT (IBAAD AR-RAHMAAN) are the Imams. It truly describes the characters of the Imams, how they reacted to their aggressive enemies all their lives.


             Thank you for reading.

sincerely,

Syed-Mohsin Naquvi

P.S.       Most of the above text draws on hadeeth reports about the Imams preserved in Majlisee's BIHAR-UL-ANWWAR (Volumes 24 & 25).
                                                            

 

 


 

 


 

وَنَجَّيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ {41:18}

But We delivered those who believed and practised righteousness

 

IMAMATE

Concept of Imamat
The perfection of Deen
The Esoteric  Dimension
 

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All rights reserved


وَنَجَّيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ     اللهم صلى على محد و ال محد.... و عجل فرجهم