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Classics

The Imam as Divine Proof

In the most important collection of Shi‘ite hadīths, the imams’ pivotal role emerges already from the choice to report not only the traditions ascribed to Muhammad, but also those attributed to his successors. Not a few of these sayings concern the need for an infallible guide inspired by God. This cannot consist solely in the Qur’an, the object of divergent and conflicting interpretations: a “keeper” is needed, just as sense organs need a heart.

The Need for an Imam-Proof
2. From Mansūr Ibn Hāzim. One day I said to Ja‘far al-Sādiq [the sixth imam], “God is too majestic and lofty to know things in His creatures: it is creatures that know things in God.” “You have spoken truly”. “But those who know that they have a Lord must also know that the Lord is either pleased or angered [by human actions] and that it is possible to know whether he is pleased or angered only through a revelation i.e. a messenger. Those who have not received a revelation must set about seeking messengers and when they find them they will know that they are the Proof and that they owe them obedience. [Having made these preliminary remarks] I asked people, “Do you know that God’s Messenger was the Proof of God for his creatures?” “Of course.” “But when God’s Messenger passed to the other life, who remained as God’s Proof for his creatures?” 

[This article is published in Oasis no. 25. To read all the contents buy a copy or subscribe]

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