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By MuslimAnswers.net Team
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم
The following is basically an addition to the book “Shiaism’s Imamah Doctrine and the Qur’an”. What I wanted to consider in here is what the person who knows about the Twelver Shia claims concerning “Divinely appointed Imamah” will feel as he reads the Qur’an, and compares this knowledge with what the Qur’an says.
There was, by the grace and mercy of Allah, a good discussion in the first work concerning different ways in which the Imamah doctrine was not supported by the Qur’an, but there were still some points that became obvious later on, plus some additional arguments on the existing points that need to be considered. Besides, there is a difference between how a person would respond to a categorized presentation of the relation (or lack thereof) between the Noble Qur’an and the hypothesis of “Infallible Imamah”, ad how such a relationship would play out if one were to read the Qur’an from start to finish without a strong concentration of categories and the like.
As background information concerning what constitutes “Infallible Imamah” and what characteristics are important in this essay, I believe that the first chapter in my book, where this matter is dealt with in more detail, is enough for an introduction of this doctrine means in Twelver Shiaism.
As a very brief recap, I will only mention the following points, which are taken in the main from the Shia Allamah Tabatabai’s Tafsir al-Mizan and the analysis of the sayings of other Shia scholars on this same issue:
o Imamah is a Divinely‑made status. (Imamah is a post separate from Prophethood, even if one person is a Prophet and an Imam at the same time. Also note that in Shiaism, “Infallible Imamah” is an article of faith akin to the belief in Allah and His Messengers; thus, it cannot be considered as a side issue whose discussion may be put off “for another day”).
o The Imam must be ma’sum, by Divine ‘ismah; in other words, he must be protected by Allah from sins and errors.
o The earth cannot remain without a rightful Imam, as long as there is a man on it.
o It is essential for an Imam to be supported by the Divine help.
o The deeds of the people are not hidden from the Imam.
o The Imam must have knowledge of all that is needed by the people for their good in this world and the next.
o It is impossible for any other person to surpass the Imam in any virtue. 
o The Imam is the tool for receiving guidance from Allah, and any attempts to attain guidance without the Imam’s help will end in certain loss. Thus, the people are obliged to turn to the Imam in order to solve all of their practical and spiritual issues, since the supernatural knowledge that the Imam has is only for the good of the people, but he is not responsible for their turning away from him.
o One important corollary of this, taken in conjunction with the fact that Islam is a full way of life and Shariah encompasses every aspect of a person’s life, is that there is no distinction between “worldly” and “religious” matters presented to the Imam, since all that is good for a person in this world within the bounds of Shariah is also good for his Hereafter.
o According to a considerable number of Shia scholars, Imams (and the office of Imamah) have a rank higher than that of the prophets (and the office of Prophethood).
So these are some of the important points that we have to keep in mind concerning the role of Imamah in Twelver Shiaism.
Now, some may ask as to why we have singled out Tabatabai’s presentation of Imamah above the presentations given by other Shia scholars of this same issue. To this, we say that it is necessary to maintain steadiness in our discussion. If we were to consider each and every presentation of the “Imamah Theory”, with its differing wordings and nomenclatures, we would get bogged down in endless terminological hair-splitting. So it is always best to take one definition or exposition as our base and move on from there.
Of course, we also need to remember that Allamah Tabatabai’s Tafsir al-Mizan is highly regarded in modern Twelver Shia discourse, and he presents an “Imamah theory” that includes a wide range of qualities and characteristics under its definition, without such expositions having faced significant backlash from other Shia scholars as far as our knowledge is concerned.
If someone can present to us an alternative self-contained “Imamah theory” from any other Shia scholar, then perhaps we might, in the future, apply the same Qur’an-based study towards it.
So given this background, we can start to consider the Verses of the Qur’an which have some relationship to the “Imamah” doctrine. There is obviously a conceptual hierarchy among the presented Verses, in that some of the Verses present indirect arguments against the Shia doctrine of “Imamah”, while others present a more airtight set of objections against the Twelver Shia views.
At times, we will mention what we believe to be indirect arguments and at others times we will bring what lies at a stronger level of emphasis, but we also hope that the readers themselves may see the different types of Verses that show the problems with the “Imamah” doctrine, and the entire range of issues that are addressed in the Qur’an concerning this topic.
At other times, we will bring out some Qur’anic Verses that are not exactly mentioning Imamah or even pointing to it indirectly, but since they are traditionally brought out by Shias to present their case, it is important for us to make comments about them.
Some people may say that there is repetition in our arguments. This is to true to a certain degree, but we also have to remember that the Qur’an itself is the one where the stories of the Prophets are related in a certain manner. When one notices that such stories are being related again and again in a manner that omits or contradicts many basic principles of Shiaism’s “Imamah” theory, there should be a pause and reflection about why this is so, with the hope that all of the wrong beliefs are discarded for the sake of Allah the Exalted.
From Surah #2: al-Baqarah
ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ ﴿٢﴾ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ ﴿٣﴾ وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَبِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ ﴿٤﴾ أُولَـٰئِكَ عَلَىٰ هُدًى مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ ﴿٥﴾
This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil). (2) Who believe in the Unseen, and establish worship, and spend of that We have bestowed upon them; (3) And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter. (4) These depend on guidance from their Lord. These are the successful. (5)
These Verses are at a very early point in the Qur’anic recitation. What is seen here is that the guidance is given directly by Allah. The most we can say from this series of Verses is that this guidance is tied to following the revelation sent to the Prophets. So we see that there is no mention of “Infallible Imams”. Note that formally speaking, Imams only in their roles as Imams do not receive revelation, as they are not Prophets. Saying that the Prophets who received revelation were also Imams is an artificial addition to this discussion, and it does not truly address the matter at hand, which is that according to the Twelver Shias, guidance is through “Imams”, not necessarily through Prophets.
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ آمِنُوا كَمَا آمَنَ النَّاسُ قَالُوا أَنُؤْمِنُ كَمَا آمَنَ السُّفَهَاءُ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ السُّفَهَاءُ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿١٣﴾ وَإِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا إِلَىٰ شَيَاطِينِهِمْ قَالُوا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ ﴿١٤﴾ اللَّـهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ وَيَمُدُّهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ ﴿١٥﴾ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الضَّلَالَةَ بِالْهُدَىٰ فَمَا رَبِحَت تِّجَارَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُوا مُهْتَدِينَ ﴿١٦﴾
And when it is said unto them: believe as the people believe, they say: shall we believe as the foolish believe? are not they indeed the foolish? But they know not. (13) And when they fall in with those who believe, they say: We believe; but when they go apart to their devils they declare: Lo! we are with you; verily we did but mock. (14) Allah (Himself) doth mock them, leaving them to wander blindly on in their contumacy. (15) These are they who purchase error at the price of guidance, so their commerce doth not prosper, neither are they guided. (16)
The Verses mention that the hypocrites do not believe as the people believe, and that through this, they have traded crookedness for guidance. It seems to imply that guidance is not religiously tied to any one person after the Prophet ﷺ, but is rather in the collective “light”-if we can use such a term- of the community at large.
وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٣٠﴾
And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: Wilt thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee? He said: Surely I know that which ye know not. (30)
This Verse talks about Allah placing a Khalipah on Earth. Now, we do not wish to get into the details of whether this refers to “one leader” or “generations after generations” of people. If we were to suppose that it is indeed a “Divine Khaliphate”, we see even here that the angels know that such an “appointment” will include the spreading of corruption and the shedding of blood.
Also, note that in response, Allah does not say that this angle of the “Divine Khaliphate” is a misattribution, but rather, that there is some angle of this Khilapha that they have not considered.
Of course, many of our scholars say that such an aspect refers to the heights that humanity may reach in closeness with Allah when they come to Allah from their own volition and choice, something that the angels do not possess. There are other interpretations for this as well.
But the important thing in here is that Allah is not saying that the angels’ statement that these “Khulapha” will shed blood and spread corruption is wrong, only that the angels do not have knowledge concerning other aspects of human nature. The upshot of all this is, of course, that Allah can and does appoint (“Ja’ala”) Khulapha on Earth that are very much fallible.
Some may retort and say that this refers to Allah’s “Takwini” commands, not His “Tashri’i” demands. We do not contest this matter, but follow up by saying that if such is truly the case, then “Divine appointment of Infallible Imams” is not alluded to in this Verse at all.
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَقَفَّيْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِ بِالرُّسُلِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ ۗ أَفَكُلَّمَا جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ بِمَا لَا تَهْوَىٰ أَنفُسُكُمُ اسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ فَفَرِيقًا كَذَّبْتُمْ وَفَرِيقًا تَقْتُلُونَ ﴿٨٧﴾
And verily We gave unto Moses the Scripture and We caused a train of messengers to follow after him, and We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs (of Allah’s sovereignty), and We supported him with the Holy spirit. Is it ever so, that, when there cometh unto you a messenger (from Allah) with that which ye yourselves desire not, ye grow arrogant, and some ye disbelieve and some ye slay? (87)
Musa (Alayhi Salaam) is the first Messenger mentioned, and then he was followed by Prophets. Important thing in here is that the guidance of the Israelites is tied to Prophets (not to Imams). If someone wants to say that there is clear succesorship in here, we see that such succession is only through Prophets in their capacity as Prophets. We see that no one can come and say that there is a post or a position called “Imamah” or “Wilayah” which is separate from Prophethood.
Also, note that the Israelites were reproached for killing of Messengers in this Verse… if someone contends that they were also “Imams”, we say this is a biased superimposed assumption that is not to be brought up in such a case.
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ آمِنُوا بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ قَالُوا نُؤْمِنُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَيَكْفُرُونَ بِمَا وَرَاءَهُ وَهُوَ الْحَقُّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ ۗ قُلْ فَلِمَ تَقْتُلُونَ أَنبِيَاءَ اللَّـهِ مِن قَبْلُ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ ﴿٩١﴾
And when it is said unto them: Believe in that which Allah hath revealed, they say: We believe in that which was revealed unto us. And they disbelieve in that which cometh after it, though it is the truth confirming that which they possess. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Why then slew ye the prophets of Allah aforetime, if ye are (indeed) believers? (91)
There is a reproaching of the Jews, this time for the killing of Prophets. Note that there is indeed a difference between Messengers and Prophets, but in no case is there evidence that there were “Imams”.
In fact, what seems to be the case is that the Shias tried to stealthily have a continuation of Prophethood in their religion, in the sense of making up a post and saying that the basis of interactions between Allah and humanity is and has always been through this invented position, rather than Prophets and Messengers.
When we consider the matter a little more deeply, in fact we do find similarities between Twelver Shias and other religions in this regard. For example, Sikhs have their “Gurus”, and if you ask them concerning what a “Guru” is, they will go into a discussion about how a teacher in the Indian tradition (a “Guru”) is head and shoulders superior to a Prophet and Messenger of the “three monotheistic faiths”.
Similarly, Bahais have the concept of “Manifestations of God”, and they say that God has always acted with the Creation by means of these “manifestations”, out which the Prophets and Messengers as understood in Islam is but a facet of this overarching concept.
Of course, Bahaism came out of a Shia milieu, but look at how the Shia concept of “Imamah” and the “Hidden Imam” was transformed into a “manifestation of God”, a distinct technical term that is not fully commensurate with the Shia “Imam”.
We know this is the case since Bahaism openly declares that it is something other than Shiaism. Our contention is that Twelver Shiaism as commonly presented by their scholars is also something quite distinct from the religion present in the Noble Qur’an.
يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَنِّي فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿١٢٢﴾
O Children of Israel! Remember My favour wherewith I favoured you and how I preferred you to (all) creatures. (122)
It is mentioned that the Israelites were favored over the worlds. What this indicates is that there are distinct types of favoring, and one cannot immediately take the meaning of “Divinely Infallible” favoring every time one sees a Verse that mentions “appointment”, “favoring”, “guidance”, or so forth.
This is very relevant to the discussion of – for example- Verse 2:30, where someone may try to show that the appointment of Khulapha is of “Infallibles”, while in fact it is something else.
وَإِذِ ابْتَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ رَبُّهُ بِكَلِمَاتٍ فَأَتَمَّهُنَّ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي جَاعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا ۖ قَالَ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ قَالَ لَا يَنَالُ عَهْدِي الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿١٢٤﴾ وَإِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَأَمْنًا وَاتَّخِذُوا مِن مَّقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى ۖ وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ ﴿١٢٥﴾ وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَـٰذَا بَلَدًا آمِنًا وَارْزُقْ أَهْلَهُ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ مَنْ آمَنَ مِنْهُم بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۖ قَالَ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلًا ثُمَّ أَضْطَرُّهُ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ النَّارِ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ ﴿١٢٦﴾ وَ إِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ ﴿١٢٧﴾ رَبَّنَا وَاجْعَلْنَا مُسْلِمَيْنِ لَكَ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِنَا أُمَّةً مُّسْلِمَةً لَّكَ وَأَرِنَا مَنَاسِكَنَا وَتُبْ عَلَيْنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ ﴿١٢٨﴾ رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿١٢٩﴾
And (remember) when his Lord tried Abraham with (His) commands, and he fulfilled them, He said: Lo! I have appointed thee a leader for mankind. (Abraham) said: And of my offspring (will there be leaders)? He said: My covenant includeth not wrong-doers. (124) And when We made the House (at Makka) a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Abraham stood (to pray). And We imposed a duty upon Abraham and Ishmael, (saying): Purify My house for those who go around and those who meditate therein and those who bow down and prostrate themselves (in worship). (125) And when Abraham prayed: My Lord! Make this a region of security and bestow upon its people fruits, such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day, He answered: As for him who disbelieveth, I shall leave him in contentment for a while, then I shall compel him to the doom of Fire – a hapless journey’s end! (126) And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower. (127) Our Lord! And make us submissive unto Thee and of our seed a nation submissive unto Thee, and show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Relenting, the Merciful. (128) Our Lord! And raise up in their midst a messenger from among them who shall recite unto them Thy revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall make them grow. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Mighty, Wise. (129)
This matter has been discussed at quite some length in other places, but what we need to consider in here is that the Verses seem to place Ibrahim’s (Alayhi Salaam) “Imamah” close to the building of the House in Makkah. And this cannot be taken as evidence of “Imamah” as understood in Twelver Shiaism, since at the end of the joint Dua’ of Ibrahim and Ismail (Alayhima Salaam), the supplication is for a Messenger to come to the people of Makkah, not for uninterrupted guidance from that time up to the Day of Judgment (a “continuous Imamah”), nor for a Messenger plus “Twelve Imams” [or simply “Imams”, we are not concentrating on number in here].
وَوَصَّىٰ بِهَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بَنِيهِ وَيَعْقُوبُ يَا بَنِيَّ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اصْطَفَىٰ لَكُمُ الدِّينَ فَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ ﴿١٣٢﴾ أَمْ كُنتُمْ شُهَدَاءَ إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ إِذْ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن بَعْدِي قَالُوا نَعْبُدُ إِلَـٰهَكَ وَإِلَـٰهَ آبَائِكَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ إِلَـٰهًا وَاحِدًا وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ ﴿١٣٣﴾
The same did Abraham enjoin upon his sons, and also Jacob, (saying): O my sons! Lo! Allah hath chosen for you the (true) religion; therefore die not save as men who have surrendered (unto Him). (132) Or were ye present when death came to Jacob, when he said unto his sons: What will ye worship after me? They said: We shall worship thy god, the god of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, One Allah, and unto Him we have surrendered. (133)
If the Twelvers insist on the term “Wassi” or on “Wisaaya”, they should know that at the end of their lives, the Prophets’ most important rule was to obey Allah and die as Muslims. Any other contention from the Shia side is an artificially added assumption that is not to be entertained in this context.
قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّـهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَمَا أُوتِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ ﴿١٣٦﴾
Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. (136)
Again, we see that the revelation and the guidance are given to Prophets. If it is said that the term “Asbaat” (tribes) is mentioned here, we say that the context of the Verses would indicate the Prophets from amongst them. This is especially when we consider that revelation is mentioned here, while Twelver Shias deny that revelation is sent to “non-Prophet Imams”.
وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا ۗ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلَّا لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ ۚ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّـهُ ۗ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّـهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿١٤٣﴾
Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you. And We appointed the qiblah which ye formerly observed only that We might know him who followeth the messenger, from him who turneth on his heels. In truth it was a hard (test) save for those whom Allah guided. But it was not Allah’s purpose that your faith should be in vain, for Allah is Full of Pity, Merciful toward mankind. (143)
What we notice in here is that the normal people (or we can say fallible Muslims) have been made witnesses over mankind at large. We see that it is not tied down to a special class of “Imams” or anything like that. If someone says that “Infallible Imams” may be intended in this passage, we say that such a thing is impossible, since in this Verse Allah says that He wished to test which of His servants would be true to their covenant of faith, and who would turn away. It is obvious that such hypothetical conditions do not apply to the “Infallible Imams” of Twelver Shia ideology.
If someone responds to this by bringing forth the example of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) in Verse 2:124 and explains that this was a test akin to the test mentioned above, we say that there is no proof indicating that Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) was tried regarding his faith in following a (hypothetical) Prophet, since he was the leader of the monotheists in his time.
In fact, it is perfectly logical to assume that there are different types of tests for different levels of people, and the test of changing the direction of prayers cannot be compared to that of sacrificing one’s son or of being thrown into a burning fire. (More about this issue will follow at a later junction in this essay).
أُولَـٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ ﴿١٥٧﴾
Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy. Such are the rightly guided. (157)
As before, guidance seems to be directly from Allah [in these Verses the “motivating factor” is the patience shown in the face of adversities and calamities], not due to following an Imam. If someone were to say that Prophets or Messengers are not mentioned here either, we say this is not an appropriate point to raise, since “guidance” and the “protection of the message” is supposedly left to the “Infallible Imams”, not to Prophets or Messengers.
لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ ﴿١٧٧﴾
It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the Allah-fearing. (177)
As we can see, in the mention of what constitutes obedience, “Infallible Imams” are not mentioned. We know that it is only a indirect item of evidence, but it is noteworthy within the entire context of the discussion.
وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقًا مِّنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالْإِثْمِ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿١٨٨﴾
And eat not up your property among yourselves in vanity, nor seek by it to gain the hearing of the judges that ye may knowingly devour a portion of the property of others wrongfully. (188)
Some may think that this Verse has no relationship with Imamah. However, it has a strong relationship, in that it shows that there are judges and rulers over the people who are not infallible. This is the main reason why the Muslims have been warned against taking monetary and property matters to the authorities with a bad intention, since it is possible that such authorities may be influenced either by bribes, or by the better argumentation capabilities of one party, so much so that they may give a wrong judgment.
Had the situation been one of “Infallible Imamah”, then there is no way that better argumentation of the wrong side could tip the scales in his way, since the “Imam” would have had the insight to see beyond these verbal presentations.
Some people may raise the objection that even if there are fallible judges, yet the overall final authority in the land is infallible, so this precludes all the hypothetical problems we have raised above. To this we say that even if we were to suppose that the final authority is indeed infallible, then the mere fact that there is a chance that wrong judgments may be made (even if only unintentionally) means that the expanse of the (hypothetical) “Infallible Imam” cannot be fully encompassing, since the possibility of errors is still embedded in the situation.
To this, some people may say that such an answer would seem to denigrate the Prophet ﷺ himself, and the accusation would be that how could we possibly think that there could be wrong decisions being made while Muhammad ﷺ was the absolute ruler in the land. The answer in here is that the Prophet ﷺ judged the people based on the evidence presented, and if there was some cunningness or ill intention on part of those bringing their cases to the Prophet ﷺ, then this would be a problem with those who brought the case in this skewed form, and not on the Prophet ﷺ or subsequently, on any other judge who ruled in the favor of the one who seemed to have the stronger case.
Yet some other people may say that this Verse proves that there are unjust judges who should be avoided, and that only infallible judges (i.e. the “Infallible Imams”) should be approached in order to settle all monetary (and other) issues. However, this seems to be a superadded condition, since according to the Shia understanding of matters, taking any matter to someone other than the “Infallible Imams” is disbelief in and of itself, even if the matter is presented to such judges with the cleanest and most straight-forward of explanations, and even if there is absolutely no crookedness in the explanation or in the judgment passed forth.
But in this Verse, the believers are warned against having bad intentions [which may be externalized either monetarily or verbally] when approaching the judges, which shows that the emphasis is on the common believers, not on the injustice or uprightness of the judges. Moreover, as we mentioned above, even if the judges are upright, the possibility for a wrong judgment based on external factors exists, and it is in this respect where the purport of this Verse most clearly contradicts the tenets of Twelver Shia ideology with respect to “Infallible Imams”.
الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَّعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّـهُ ۗ وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ ﴿١٩٧﴾
The pilgrimage is (in) the well-known months, and whoever is minded to perform the pilgrimage therein (let him remember that) there is (to be) no lewdness nor abuse nor angry conversation on the pilgrimage. And whatsoever good ye do Allah knoweth it. So make provision for yourselves (Hereafter); for the best provision is to ward off evil. Therefore keep your duty unto Me, O men of understanding. (197)
In here, the important note is that the months of Hajj are clear. This points towards the fact that the community of Muslims as a whole knows what the months of Hajj are, and that they can be trusted about this matter without need for an “Infallible Imam” to tell them what these months are every time.
If someone says that this is an argument simply clutching at straws, we say that trusting the community of believers is a very important part of preserving the practices of Islam, particularly in this day and age, when all sorts of conspiracy theories about how practices have been established are rife within the Ummah. For example, if someone comes and says that the days of the week or the months of the year were changed by a non-Muslim community (or by an oppressive Muslim ruler) many centuries ago, and the Muslims quietly followed the example set by such erring leaders, the only reasonable answer that can be provided is that we trust the community as a whole.
Due to this, we know that since the time of the Prophet ﷺ people have prayed their major communal prayers [such as Friday and ‘Eid] and performed their fasting and pilgrimage at certain allotted times, and they have kept track of time faithfully enough so that such practices would not be done outside of their appropriate times.
What is interesting to point out here is that according to some reports in Twelver Shia sources, when the “Twelfth Imam” returns from his “Occultation” he will have to re-establish the correct Islamic practices from the ground up, even to the point of re-establishing the correct Qibla, given that according to such sources, the state of Islamic practice will be such that people would not even be praying in the correct direction. We do not contest that the level of Islamic adherence is getting lower by the day, but to say that people may not even know the basics of prayer and other Islamic rituals is to discard the trustworthiness of the Muslim community in keeping track of the fundamentals of such rituals, something which is contradicted by the spirit of the Verse under discussion.
كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّـهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ فَهَدَى اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ ﴿٢١٣﴾
Mankind were one community, and Allah sent (unto them) prophets as bearers of good tidings and as warners, and revealed therewith the Scripture with the truth that it might judge between mankind concerning that wherein they differed. And only those unto whom (the Scripture) was given differed concerning it, after clear proofs had come unto them, through hatred one of another. And Allah by His Will guided those who believe unto the truth of that concerning which they differed. Allah guideth whom He will unto a straight path. (213)
This is another Verses which has strong implications in our discussion. What we see in here is that people were first a single nation, and that the “dividing event” was the sending of Prophets, their message, and the Book sent with them. We see that the establishing of evidence (the “Bayyina”) is set against the backdrop of the Prophets coming to the people, not that of “Infallible Imams” being appointed by the first Messenger and then being rejected by the population at large.
In fact, we see the general purport of this Verse being repeated literally dozens of times across the Qur’an, where a people living in Jahiliya (ignorance) are approached by a Prophet from amongst themselves, and this event of the Prophet’s coming is what separates the people into the saved and the damned. Had the Twelver Shia hypothesis been correct, the Prophet’s coming may have been important in terms of bringing forth a new Sharia (legislation), but it would not have had the soteriological (salvation-related) implications we see in the Qur’an.
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِن بَعْدِ مُوسَىٰ إِذْ قَالُوا لِنَبِيٍّ لَّهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُّقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۖ قَالَ هَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ أَلَّا تُقَاتِلُوا ۖ قَالُوا وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَقَدْ أُخْرِجْنَا مِن دِيَارِنَا وَأَبْنَائِنَا ۖ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوْا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٢٤٦﴾ وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا ۚ قَالُوا أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِّنَ الْمَالِ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٢٤٧﴾
Bethink thee of the leaders of the Children of Israel after Moses, how they said unto a prophet whom they had: Set up for us a king and we will fight in Allah’s way. He said: Would ye then refrain from fighting if fighting were prescribed for you? They said: Why should we not fight in Allah’s way when we have been driven from our dwellings with our children? Yet, when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, all save a few of them. Allah is aware of evil-doers. (246) Their Prophet said unto them: Lo! Allah hath raised up Saul to be a king for you. They said: How can he have kingdom over us when we are more deserving of the kingdom than he is, since he hath not been given wealth enough? He said: Lo! Allah hath chosen him above you, and hath increased him abundantly in wisdom and stature. Allah bestoweth His Sovereignty on whom He will. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing. (247)
These Verses had been discussed in the main book, but it is important to discuss the main points again. What is noteworthy is that the Twelver Shias try to use these Verses to show that only Allah appoint rulers over mankind, yet a careful analysis of these Verses would show that they do not really conform to Twelver ideology.
The first thing one notices is that the position of Prophethood does not necessarily entail temporal (i.e. monarchical) leadership. This is obvious when we consider that the chiefs of the Israelites asked the Prophet of Allah (Alayhi Salaam) in their time to appoint a king over them to fight their enemies. Had the Prophet had absolute temporal leadership, this request would have been redundant, and the chiefs would have been rebuked for not accepting that Prophet’s (Alayhi Salaam) absolute leadership.
From these facts we can deduce that when the Shias present narrations to the effect that a certain Prophet appointed another Prophets as his “successor” among his people, this cannot be taken as evidence that both spiritual and temporal leadership were combined into that Prophet, for as we see in this Verse, the two posts may not be united in a single person.
Another crucial matter is that the instantiation of Allah’s “appointment of a King” for the Israelites was done at their own request. So before this request, such kingship and temporal leadership were not seen as critically important by Allah and the Prophet at that time, which is why the matter had been left intentionally unaddressed.
We also see that the request was made due to the exigencies of fighting the enemies of Allah, which shows that the “appointment” came out of a specific requirement, not the all-encompassing necessity of divinely-ordained temporal leadership that the Twelver Shias talk about.
This is only reiterated when the Prophet warns the chiefs against the consequences of such a request – this only means that the appointment of a king and fighting under him in such a situation was more of a trial and test for the people rather than an overriding implementation of the Divine Decree envisioned by the Twelvers.
Due to all of these reasons, we see that the Verse does not really fit into the picture of what Shias consider to the “Infallible Imamah”.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا تَدَايَنتُم بِدَيْنٍ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى فَاكْتُبُوهُ ۚ وَلْيَكْتُب بَّيْنَكُمْ كَاتِبٌ بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ وَلَا يَأْبَ كَاتِبٌ أَن يَكْتُبَ كَمَا عَلَّمَهُ اللَّـهُ ۚ فَلْيَكْتُبْ وَلْيُمْلِلِ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ وَلْيَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ رَبَّهُ وَلَا يَبْخَسْ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ فَإِن كَانَ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ سَفِيهًا أَوْ ضَعِيفًا أَوْ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُ أَن يُمِلَّ هُوَ فَلْيُمْلِلْ وَلِيُّهُ بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ وَاسْتَشْهِدُوا شَهِيدَيْنِ مِن رِّجَالِكُمْ ۖ فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُونَا رَجُلَيْنِ فَرَجُلٌ وَامْرَأَتَانِ مِمَّن تَرْضَوْنَ مِنَ الشُّهَدَاءِ أَن تَضِلَّ إِحْدَاهُمَا فَتُذَكِّرَ إِحْدَاهُمَا الْأُخْرَىٰ ۚ وَلَا يَأْبَ الشُّهَدَاءُ إِذَا مَا دُعُوا ۚ وَلَا تَسْأَمُوا أَن تَكْتُبُوهُ صَغِيرًا أَوْ كَبِيرًا إِلَىٰ أَجَلِهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَقْسَطُ عِندَ اللَّـهِ وَأَقْوَمُ لِلشَّهَادَةِ وَأَدْنَىٰ أَلَّا تَرْتَابُوا ۖ إِلَّا أَن تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً حَاضِرَةً تُدِيرُونَهَا بَيْنَكُمْ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَلَّا تَكْتُبُوهَا ۗ وَأَشْهِدُوا إِذَا تَبَايَعْتُمْ ۚ وَلَا يُضَارَّ كَاتِبٌ وَلَا شَهِيدٌ ۚ وَإِن تَفْعَلُوا فَإِنَّهُ فُسُوقٌ بِكُمْ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ ۖ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ اللَّـهُ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٢٨٢﴾
وَإِن كُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ وَلَمْ تَجِدُوا كَاتِبًا فَرِهَانٌ مَّقْبُوضَةٌ ۖ فَإِنْ أَمِنَ بَعْضُكُم بَعْضًا فَلْيُؤَدِّ الَّذِي اؤْتُمِنَ أَمَانَتَهُ وَلْيَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ رَبَّهُ ۗ وَلَا تَكْتُمُوا الشَّهَادَةَ ۚ وَمَن يَكْتُمْهَا فَإِنَّهُ آثِمٌ قَلْبُهُ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٢٨٣﴾
O ye who believe! When ye contract a debt for a fixed term, record it in writing. Let a scribe record it in writing between you in (terms of) equity. No scribe should refuse to write as Allah hath taught him, so let him write, and let him who incurreth the debt dictate, and let him observe his duty to Allah his Lord, and diminish naught thereof. But if he who oweth the debt is of low understanding, or weak, or unable himself to dictate, then let the guardian of his interests dictate in (terms of) equity. And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not (at hand) then a man and two women, of such as ye approve as witnesses, so that if the one erreth (through forgetfulness) the other will remember. And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned. Be not averse to writing down (the contract) whether it be small or great, with (record of) the term thereof. That is more equitable in the sight of Allah and more sure for testimony, and the best way of avoiding doubt between you; save only in the case when it is actual merchandise which ye transfer among yourselves from hand to hand. In that case it is no sin for you if ye write it not. And have witnesses when ye sell one to another, and let no harm be done to scribe or witness. If ye do (harm to them) lo! it is a sin in you. Observe your duty to Allah. Allah is teaching you. And Allah is knower of all things. (282) If ye be on a journey and cannot find a scribe, then a pledge in hand (shall suffice). And if one of you entrusteth to another let him who is trusted deliver up that which is entrusted to him (according to the pact between them) and let him observe his duty to Allah his Lord. Hide not testimony. He who hideth it, verily his heart is sinful. Allah is Aware of what ye do. (283)
This is another one of the Verses that does not seem to have a lot to do with Imamah at first glance, but on closer examination it turns out to be critically related to some aspects of this belief.
What we see in here is the emphasis on the presence of witnesses, and the writing down of financial matters (in this case debts/loans). The salient matter in here is that the supposition is that contracts and dealings of this sort are done within a fallible background. This is why it is mentioned, among other things, that the scribe should fear Allah in what he writes, that a representative of the fickle-minded or weak person should act on his behalf, that there should be two male or one male and two female witnesses, and that this procedure is carried out so that the transaction will be father away from doubt.
All of this shows that the superstructure for these types of dealings is a fallible world, where there is a chance for people to fall into errors, and where even the presence of the ruler or judge is not intended to be of such an absolute nature that the dealings of the people falls into “Infallible Guardianship”.
Some may say that this is a strange argument, since people should be left with enough freedom to act while being under the general infallible supervision of the “Imam”.
We say that such an objection only works in favor of the Sunni point of view at the end of the day, since one of the initial purposes of the “Infallible Imam” according to the Shia ideology is to prevent the masses from falling into any kind of error if they refer their matters to him. This is why the Shia literature stresses that the Imam has all knowledge of what is beneficial for the well-being of the people in this and the next world – and it is obvious that an “infallibly guarded” transaction is to the benefit of people above and beyond a fallible one.
And yet in this Verse, the procedure to be followed is not to forward the cases of loans/debts to the “Infallible Imam” who would supernaturally guard the sanctity and correctness of the transaction, but rather to seek fallible scribes, representatives, and witnesses, and rely on their actions and testimony in order to proceed with the transactions.
There may be an objection to the above paragraph, in that it may be said that we are claiming that Allah the Exalted is letting –at least- some of our transactions be the purview of possibilities and probabilities, while it is impossible that the pure Shariah would allow such a thing. However, this is not a valid excuse, what the Sunni side says generally is that Islam is not a system for angels to act with one another in full peace and perfection, but is rather for normal humans to follow to the best of their abilities until they meet their Lord. The employment of fallible methods is only of the results of this truth, and it should not be seen as a failing of Islam, but rather a pointer towards its open-mindedness and its cognizance of the true human condition, in addition to the fact that it does not burden people beyond what they can do.
آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۚ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ ۚ وَقَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۖ غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ ﴿٢٨٥﴾
The messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers – We make no distinction between any of His messengers – and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the journeying (285)
We would say that this is an “incremental” type of evidence, in that it is conceptually closely related with Verse 2:177 mentioned above. What is important in here is that the “believers” are tied with a number of articles mentioned here, with particular stress on Messengers and how we are not to discriminate against any of them.
It is noteworthy that “Imams” or “Imamah” is not mentioned in here, especially given the fact that in Shia theology, there is a difference between “Muslims” and “Mu’mins” (believers) with the believers being only those who have accepted the Shia dogma. However, the wording of this Verse does not support this contention.
From Surah #3: ‘Aal-Imraan
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اصْطَفَىٰ آدَمَ وَنُوحًا وَآلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَآلَ عِمْرَانَ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٣٣﴾ ذُرِّيَّةً بَعْضُهَا مِن بَعْضٍ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٣٤﴾
Lo! Allah preferred Adam and Noah and the Family of Abraham and the Family of ‘Imran above (all His) creatures. (33) They were descendants one of another. Allah is Hearer, Knower. (34)
These are an important couple of Verses to consider. This is so because it may be said by some people that these passages show that Infallible sucessorship was and has been transferred continually from the beginning of mankind up to the appearance of Muhammad ﷺ an the “Twelve Imams”. However, this presentation would hit several roadblocks, such as:
First, Adam and Nuh (Alayhima Salaam) are mentioned individually. If we were to momentarily assume that the connotation “al-Ibrahim” and “al-Imraan” refer to continuous Imaamah, we would have to then admit that there was no succesorship after Adam and Nuh (Alayhima Salaam). Such an assumption would immediately derail the Imamah theory.
Secondly, if the above point were to be ignored, the Shias would still have the problem that being “chosen above others” (even in succession one after the other) does not necessarily imply “Infallible Imamah”, which as we saw in the beginning of this essay, is a very narrow and technical definition that cannot be neatly equated with being “chosen above others”.
All of these inconsistencies were laid bare in our above discussion of Verses 2:246-247, where there is no doubt that the Prophet mentioned in those Verses (Alayhi Salaam) and Talut had been “chosen”, and yet they did not fulfill the conditions of Shia Imamah. Thus, we see that there are many different types of “appointments” and “choices” that Allah makes for people, but the assumption that they all refer to Imamah is unfounded and contradicts in many cases the available Qur’anic evidence.
فَنَادَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ يُصَلِّي فِي الْمِحْرَابِ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يُبَشِّرُكَ بِيَحْيَىٰ مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ وَسَيِّدًا وَحَصُورًا وَنَبِيًّا مِّنَ الصَّالِحِينَ ﴿٣٩﴾
And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous. (39)
Likewise, in this Verse talking about how Zakariya (Alayhi Salaam) was given the news of the upcoming birth of his son Yahya (Alayhi Salaam), we see that he is described not in terms of being an “Imam”, but rather of being noble, chaste, and a Prophet from among the righteous. If the stress of Verses 3:33-34 above had been with respect to “Imamah”, leaving out such an obvious matter would be inexplicable.
فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وَأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَتَ اللَّـهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ ﴿٦١﴾
And whoso disputeth with thee concerning him, after the knowledge which hath come unto thee, say (unto him): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves, then we will pray humbly (to our Lord) and (solemnly) invoke the curse of Allah upon those who lie. (61)
This Verse is normally brought forth a great deal in order to try to buttress the Shia arguments through the incident of the Mubahala (mutual cursing). However, it is difficult to see how this “proves” Imamah. The only way it would seem to further this view is if it were supposed a priori that Muhammad ﷺ is an “Imam” and since ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) is the same as the Prophet ﷺ, then “Imamah” is to continue through him. Notwithstanding, this is the very thing we are discussing about, and it cannot be brought up as an automatic assumption.
That is, we know that the Prophet ﷺ was the leader of the Muslims during his life and there is no doubt concerning this issue, but to use the title “Imam” with its technical (Shia) meaning is a very big and uncalled for “conceptual jump”. This is even before we get into the next big assumption, that ‘Ali’s (Radhia Allahu Anhu) being “equal to” the Prophet ﷺ makes him the heir to this position automatically – for this assumption is in fact the application of a point brought up by the Shia scholars (that the “Imam” by necessity cannot be outstripped in any goodness whatsoever [whether generally or specifically] by anyone else in this world. But again, this is the very subject matter under discussion, so how did it come up as a fundamental axiom?)
In addition, the assumption of “Imamah” would bring up the issue that if this were truly the case to such an absolutely literal degree, then what is the reason why we should discard Prophethood for ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu)?
The interesting thing in here is that as I had shown in my first book, there are indeed those Twelver Shia scholars who consider that ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) and the remaining “Imams” have reached the level of Prophethood, a view which is to be discarded due to its total unacceptability.
If a side argument is made that this shows how the members of the Ahl ul Bayt (of more specifically, the Shia understanding of the Ahl ul Bayt, which restricts its definition to the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Slalam), Fatima (Radhia Allahu Anha) and the “Twelve Imams) were “Infallible” and that spiritual and temporal authority is only to be invested in such “Infallibles”, I would say that “Infallibility” does not necessarily contain within it the argument of “Imamah”. If such were truly the case, then we would be at loss to explain why Fatima (Radhia Allahu Anha) is included among the infallibles while not holding on to the post of Imamah – being filially related to Imams would be all fine and good, but it would not explain why the post itself is not bestowed upon her.
Not only this, but Shias also openly admit that not all Prophets “reached” the level of Imam – indeed this is one of the main arguments of Verse 2:124 as understood by certain Shia interpreters. And yet, they would not say that Prophets are fallible, since this would open up its own series of problems. Thus, even if we were to suppose that this Verse points to total infallibility for the Ahl ul Bayt, “Imamah” is not necessarily forthcoming from such a Verse.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تُطِيعُوا فَرِيقًا مِّنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ يَرُدُّوكُم بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ كَافِرِينَ ﴿١٠٠﴾
وَكَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ وَأَنتُمْ تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتُ اللَّـهِ وَفِيكُمْ رَسُولُهُ ۗ وَمَن يَعْتَصِم بِاللَّـهِ فَقَدْ هُدِيَ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ ﴿١٠١﴾
O ye who believe! If ye obey a party of those who have received the Scripture they will make you disbelievers after your belief. (100) How can ye disbelieve, when it is ye unto whom Allah’s revelations are recited, and His messenger is in your midst? He who holdeth fast to Allah, he indeed is guided unto a right path. (101)
We again see a number of things in these two Verses: As before, guidance is from Allah through the means of the Prophet ﷺ and the revelation sent down to him. Also, faith has been equated with holding on these three matters, while staying away from the evil of the Jews and the Christians. Again the matter of “following the Imam” does not arise.
A corollary of this is that apostasy from the religion has been equated with leaving of these fundamental aspects of Islam – while in the Shia view, the dividing line between faith and disbelief was always whether one accepted the “Imams” of the “Ahl ul Bayt” as the only legitimate spiritual and temporal successors in this world. The incongruity between what is presented in the Qur’an and what the Twelver Shia view is cannot be lost on the one looking at this matter deeply.
فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ ۖ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ ﴿١٥٩﴾
It was by the mercy of Allah that thou wast lenient with them (O Muhammad), for if thou hadst been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about thee. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And when thou art resolved, then put thy trust in Allah. Lo! Allah loveth those who put their trust (in Him). (159)
This is one of the Verses talking about the comportment that the Prophet ﷺ was to have with the believers in general. On the outset we see the command to consult with them in matters, but beyond that we can deduce that there would be no wisdom behind consulting if the matter had already been decided by the Prophet ﷺ, and the best course of action for the community had already been known by him beforehand [by extension, this argument can be extended to cover any supposed “Infallible Imam”]. Of course, we do see that the Prophet’s ﷺ pre-eminence in deciding upon a course of action is mentioned, but this cannot undo the fact that suggestions from those around could potentially serve as the basis for the final decision that was taken.
So what we see is that within the very fabric of Islam, there was no stipulation for a single person to take decisions in every single matter affecting the community based on supernaturally granted knowledge, and that instead, the fallible members of the community were to be consulted with respect to major issues.
مَّا كَانَ اللَّـهُ لِيَذَرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَىٰ مَا أَنتُمْ عَلَيْهِ حَتَّىٰ يَمِيزَ الْخَبِيثَ مِنَ الطَّيِّبِ ۗ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّـهُ لِيُطْلِعَكُمْ عَلَى الْغَيْبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَجْتَبِي مِن رُّسُلِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۚ وَإِن تُؤْمِنُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَلَكُمْ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ ﴿١٧٩﴾
It is not (the purpose) of Allah to leave you in your present state till He shall separate the wicked from the good. And it is not (the purpose of) Allah to let you know the Unseen. But Allah chooseth of His messengers whom He will, (to receive knowledge thereof). So believe in Allah and His messengers. If ye believe and ward off (evil), yours will be a vast reward. (179)
Here we see that the giving of any knowledge from the Ghayb has been restricted to the Messenger, without mentioning that this knowledge would then be transferred to anyone else from among the community of believers. The primacy of the Messenger in this case has been doubly affirmed by the statement “So believe in Allah and His Messenger”, without mentioning “Imams” or any other post in conjunction with Messengership.
From Surah #4: An-Nisaa
أَمْ يَحْسُدُونَ النَّاسَ عَلَىٰ مَا آتَاهُمُ اللَّـهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۖ فَقَدْ آتَيْنَا آلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَآتَيْنَاهُم مُّلْكًا عَظِيمًا ﴿٥٤﴾ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ آمَنَ بِهِ وَمِنْهُم مَّن صَدَّ عَنْهُ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِجَهَنَّمَ سَعِيرًا ﴿٥٥﴾
Or are they jealous of mankind because of that which Allah of His bounty hath bestowed upon them? For We bestowed upon the house of Abraham (of old) the Scripture and wisdom, and We bestowed on them a mighty kingdom. (54) And of them were (some) who believed therein and of them were (some) who turned away from it. Hell is sufficient for (their) burning. (55)
This is another one of the Verses which has been used in an attempt to say that there are “Twelve Imams” after the Prophet ﷺ. The attempt is worded as follows: “Since the family of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) had received Divine Imamate in the form of the Book, the Wisdom, and the Kingdom, and we pray in every prayer for Al Muhammad (Salla Alalhu Alayhi Wa Sallam) to be blessed in the same manner, it is only logical that Al Muhammad ﷺ would have an Infallible lineage of leaders who would lead mankind until the Day of Resurrection with their own acquisition of the Book, the Wisdom, and the Kingdom”.
The truth is that there are a number of reasons why such a case is not really the suggestion of the above Verses. The reasons are as follows:
Firstly, we will see in future Verses that the “giving of the Book and Wisdom” among the offspring of a Prophet does not mean that those to whom it was given were necessarily of good character, let alone “Infallible”.
Secondly, if we were to consider “kingship” as the actualization of temporal power in the hands of the “Twelve Imams”, then it is clear that apart from ‘Ali and Hasan (Radhia Allahu Anhuma), none of the other “Infallible Imams” was able to rise to the seat of actual temporal dominion over the Islamic lands. If it is said that “kingship” also refers to spiritual authority, then its coming up in this Verse would ve redundant, and such redundancy does not befit the Noble Qur’an.
If instead it is forwarded that this refers to what should happen in the temporal realm, then this would again be incongruous with the message of this Verse, since the Ayah mentions that the Kingdom was actually given to the offspring of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam), not that it should have been given to them but it was barred due to “unjust and hypocritical people”.
In fact, if we were to follow this line of reasoning, we would say that the Book and the Wisdom should have been given to the family of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam), but perhaps they were not handed over to them in reality, a position that is to be discarded immediately.
Thirdly, simply because these three blessings (the Book, the Wisdom, and the Kingdom) are mentioned in one go in relation to the family of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam), it does not mean that there was always someone within his family who possessed these three blessings at once. And if we go back to what was mentioned in Verses 3:33-34 and beyond, we can more clearly see the significance of this issue.
In there, we see that the wife of ‘Imraan, Maryam, Zakariyya, Yahya, and ‘Isa (Alayhima Salaam) are the ones mentioned as having been chosen above others. However, we see that none of these very blessed people were rulers nor did they have any ambitions for temporal authority. This is particularly true since two of them were women confined to praying in their rooms, while the others were prophets who were poor and did not even have the mandate from Allah to seek the means of power.
Of course, we do not deny that there were rulers from among Ibrahim’s (Alayhi Salaam) progeny such as Yusuf, Dawud, and Sulayman (Alayhima Salaam), but this is not to be taken as a basis for the formulation or promulgation of an all-encompassing doctrine unifying spiritual and temporal rule within one individual at every point of mankind’s existence. As an we saw previously, the available evidence from the Qur’an shows that such indeed was not the case, in at least certain explicit situations.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا ﴿٥٩﴾
O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and those of you who are in authority; and if ye have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the messenger if ye are (in truth) believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the end. (59)
Again, we come across an oft-repeated Ayah presented for the promulgation of the Imamah doctrine, at it is maintained that the “Ulil Amr” referred to in here are of necessity Infallible, and the directive to refer things back to Allah and His Messenger ﷺ only means that such Infallibles have the complete understanding of the Qur’an and the Sunna and that in fact all matters are to be referred back to them only.
We will not discuss what seems to be a stretching of the Verse beyond its reasonable limits, but rather say that what we see in here is a number of issues: Firstly, the tense used in the Verse would indicate that the rulers and judges referred to in this Verse are in existence and legitimately carry out functions while the Prophet ﷺ is alive – something that would be awkward if the Shia viewpoint were taken as true, since in the latter case, the Prophet ﷺ is the only (infallible) “Wali ul Amr”, so there can be no issue of anyone else meting out injunctions while he ﷺ is still among the people. Yet, this Verse very explicitly makes the distinction between the Messenger ﷺ and the “Ulil Amr”, so we are forced to accept that there are “Ulil Amr” who exist and act in their capacity as judges, etc., while the Prophet ﷺ is alive.
We also have the fact that the believers (both the judges and the judged, and so forth) have been commanded to go back to the Messenger ﷺ if any dispute were to arise among them. It cannot be said that such an injunction is merely another way to say that the common believer is to refer things back to the (supposedly infallible) “Wali ul Amr”, for in such a case the pre-eminence of Allah and His Messenger in ultimately deciding matters – while visibly excluding the “Wali ul Amr” – would be incongruous with this Shia supposition.
This much we can say concerning the “classical” Sunni arguments regarding this Verse in regards to the Shia presentation. Recently (that is, within the last half-century), we have also seen that due to the emergence of the Wilayat al-Faqih doctrine within Shia political thinking, the likes of Ayatullah Khamenai have also taken up this title for themselves.
We do not wish to get into the details of modern Shia political thought, but it is important to note that this title, which was supposedly meant to be confined to the “Infallible Imams”, has found a usage for the fallible leaders in the Shia world.
Once we see such a situation, we can tie this to the Sunni understanding that the “Ulil Amr” referred to in here in fallible. For there would be no real conceptual difference if someone were to say that there is a fallible leader who has indirectly gained the mantle of leadership from the Prophet ﷺ either though Shura (consultation) or any other means, and those who say that the fallible Shia leader has gained the mantle of leadership directly from the (hidden) Imam; this is even if we were to say that the fallible Shia leader is a temporary placeholder for the “Infallible Imam”.
وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ ۚ وَحَسُنَ أُولَـٰئِكَ رَفِيقًا ﴿٦٩﴾
Whoso obeyeth Allah and the messenger, they are with those unto whom Allah hath shown favour, of the prophets and the saints and the martyrs and the righteous. The best of company are they! (69)
This is another one of the indirect evidences we are presenting in this essay. What we see is that five main groups of blessed people have been mentions – The Messenger, the Prophets (Alayhima Salaam), the truthful ones, the martyrs, and the righteous. Yet, in spite of the supposed importance of Imamah, the group of “Imams” or “Ulil Amr” have not been presented as a separate group – something that is, as always, an important point to consider in the course of this discussion.
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ ۚ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا ﴿٨٢﴾
Will they not then ponder on the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allah they would have found therein much incongruity. (82)
This Verse is addressing the hypocrites as a first audience; but in here we see an important rule being suggested, which is that the fundamental aspects of the religion (those that can be deduced from a reading of the Qur’an) are not the exclusive domain of an ‘Infallible’, but are rather understandable to any person – this is the same reason why the first audience in here is the group of hypocrites. They had the mental and physical capability to understand the Qur’an and to know how it pointed to the Prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ, yet they refused to submit to Islam.
Had the fundamental and basic understanding of the Qur’an been possible only for certain individuals (or let us say, to ‘Infallibles’), then this Verse would be out of place, and would have had no relevance for the theology of Islam.
وَإِذَا جَاءَهُمْ أَمْرٌ مِّنَ الْأَمْنِ أَوِ الْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُوا بِهِ ۖ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَىٰ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ ۗ وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لَاتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا ﴿٨٣﴾
And if any tidings, whether of safety or fear, come unto them, they noise it abroad, whereas if they had referred it to the messenger and to such of them as are in authority, those among them who are able to think out the matter would have known it. If it had not been for the grace of Allah upon you and His mercy ye would have followed Satan, save a few (of you). (83)
This Verse has an importance that is not visible at first sight, but when we combine it with Verse 4:59 which we presented just above, we can start to see a significant point coming up, which reinforces one of the facets of this Verse that is important in our discussion.
We see that the hypocrites are being rebuked for propagating matters that should have in reality been forwarded to the Prophet ﷺ and the “Ulil Amr”, so the truth of the matter could come out after due investigations.
What is immediately obvious from this, is that the knowledge of the Prophet ﷺ and the “Ulil Amr” in these situations is through normal investigation and deduction, unlike what the Twelver Shia concept tries to uphold [that the “Infallibles” should, by definition, have a sort of supernatural understanding of each and every single important matter related to the Muslim community].
Another issue of utmost importance, which had also been raised in the discussion on Verse 4:59, is that “those in authority” exist alongside the Prophet ﷺ while he is alive, showing that the type of “Wilaya” or leadership being referred to in here cannot have any connection with the Twelver Shia concept of “Infallible Imamah”.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَتَبَيَّنُوا وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ أَلْقَىٰ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا تَبْتَغُونَ عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فَعِندَ اللَّـهِ مَغَانِمُ كَثِيرَةٌ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلُ فَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَتَبَيَّنُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا ﴿٩٤﴾
O ye who believe! When ye go forth (to fight) in the way of Allah, be careful to discriminate, and say not unto one who offereth you peace: “Thou art not a believer,” seeking the chance profits of this life (so that ye may despoil him). With Allah are plenteous spoils. Even thus (as he now is) were ye before; but Allah hath since then been gracious unto you. Therefore take care to discriminate. Allah is ever Informed of what ye do. (94)
Again we see that the common believer has been taxed with finding out vital information pertaining no less to issues related with belief vs. infidelity, of life vs. death [the reason in this case being that if a person was deemed to be a Muslim, then his life and possessions were sacrosanct, but if they were deemed to be idolaters they were fought, with the resulting loss of life and property that naturally occurred during warfare].
The important thing is that we cannot imagine issues that would hypothetically require a greater degree of “Infallible guidance” than the matters brought up in this Verse – the reason being that a wrong (or let us say fallible) assessment of the situation where war may or may not be waged could have potentially led to a chain event endangering the Muslim community itself. And yet Allah the Exalted has said that it is up to the common believers, during their campaign travels throughout the land, to investigate this crucial matter through their available fallible means. The way in which the Shia hypothesis has been laid aside could not be more poignant than what we see in this Verse.
رُّسُلًا مُّبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ لِئَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّـهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا ﴿١٦٥﴾
Messengers of good cheer and of warning, in order that mankind might have no argument against Allah after the messengers. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. (165)
This is another Verse of enormous importance. Not only do we see that only Messengers are mentioned as the bearers of goods news and of warnings, but it is also crucially mentioned that the Messengers were sent so that mankind would not have any Hujja (in this case, plea or excuse) after the (coming of) the Messengers.
If we compare this with the Shia ideology, there is an enormous discrepancy: Because how can the Hujja (proof) of Allah be amongst the people in the person of the “Infallible Imam”, while this Verse says that the Hujja is established only after the coming of the Messengers? The discrepancy is, of course, due to the Shia insistence on tying the Hujja (or proof) for the entire world at every time of humanity’s existence. While this is a philosophically entertaining assumption to make, it cannot withstand the Qur’anic evidence, so it must be discarded.
[To briefly talk about the philosophy behind the “Imam at every moment” doctrine, what the Twelver Shias propose is that kindness to the creatures in incumbent upon Allah. Due to this, there should be, at every moment during the existence of the accountable creation, a divinely-appointed guide who can provide perfect guidance to the normal human beings who desire and seek such guidance; for had such a guide not been present, then Allah would be unjust to the creatures, which is simply impossible.
However, there are many holes in the above hypothesis. First of all, the creatures do not intrinsically “deserve” anything to be given to them by Allah, neither of direct or latent guidance. Secondly, the existence of a “guide” as presented above is superfluous, since that guidance could have been provided by Allah directly. Note that the sending of Messengers and Prophets is from the Sunna (or normative way) of Allah, but there is nothing inherently dictating that this is the only possible way that the creation may be guided. Thirdly, such a hypothesis would obviate the possibility of a “hidden Imam” or an “Imam” who is under house arrest, etc., since in such a case the people would be unable to directly contact him – unless it is said that the guidance can be done through solely non-physical means, in which case his existence again becomes superfluous (since in this latter case it hinges on Allah’s providing the “Imam” with supernatural abilities to communicate with his sincere followers).
Also connected to this last point is that if guidance were truly for every person in the world, either the single “Imam” would have to (supernaturally) be able to immediately guide any of his followers wherever they may be in the world, or there would have to be an “Infallible Imam” in every land or city that the common person could directly access. However, we say that both of these possibilities have not been realized, due to their clashing with the theory or practice of the “Imamah” doctrine
There is one final issue that needs to be mentioned, even though it is only tangentially related to the discussion: Some people may say that Allah’s possibility for (hypothetical) injustice is established when we consider that Allah ties the coming of the Messengers with the absolution of excuses from the part of the humans. The response to this is that Allah is closing every possible door through which an excuse may be raised, even if the excuse is rationally invalid, as it is in this case; this is out of Allah’s Mercy upon the people and His delaying their punishment, not because such matters are incumbent upon Him].
From Surah #5: Al-Maida
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ كَثِيرًا مِّمَّا كُنتُمْ تُخْفُونَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ ۚ قَدْ جَاءَكُم مِّنَ اللَّـهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُّبِينٌ ﴿١٥﴾ يَهْدِي بِهِ اللَّـهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ السَّلَامِ وَيُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ ﴿١٦﴾
Whereby Allah guideth him who seeketh His good pleasure unto paths of peace. He bringeth them out of darkness unto light by His decree, and guideth them unto a straight path. (16)
There are a number of important issues in these Verses. First of all, it is mentioned that the Messenger [Muhammad ﷺ] has come to elucidate the matters that were obscure to the People of the Book, due to the hiding and other blameworthy activities they performed in regard to their scriptures.
We see that the coming of guidance is tied directly to Muhammad’s ﷺ coming as a Messenger of Allah, as is the fact that now there has come to them a path away from the darkness and into the light of guidance through the Noble Qur’an.
What should be clear is that had there been an “Infallible Imam” that could be referred to by the People of the Book, it would have been totally incongruent from the Qur’an to tie the guidance of the Jews and Christians and their deliverance from darkness to Muhammad’s ﷺ coming. The only viable conclusion is that the conception of “Imamah” itself is incorrect.
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ عَلَىٰ فَتْرَةٍ مِّنَ الرُّسُلِ أَن تَقُولُوا مَا جَاءَنَا مِن بَشِيرٍ وَلَا نَذِيرٍ ۖ فَقَدْ جَاءَكُم بَشِيرٌ وَنَذِيرٌ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ﴿١٩﴾
O People of the Scripture! Now hath Our messenger come unto you to make things plain unto you after an interval (of cessation) of the messengers, lest ye should say: There came not unto us a messenger of cheer nor any warner. Now hath a messenger of cheer and a warner come unto you. Allah is Able to do all things. (19)
The basic issues considered in the previous Verse are broadly reiterated in here. As we saw in the discussion on Verses 4:154-165, the giving of good news, and the threat of punishment are both tied to the coming of Prophets and Messengers.
In fact, this Verse establishes this matter more strongly, by saying that Muhammad ﷺ has come after a break in the series of Messenger. In terms of the overall discussion, this establishes two things against the Twelver Shias’ doctrine:
(a) There are no “Hujjaj” [divinely appointed “proofs of Allah”] other than Prophets and Messengers.
(b) There was a break in the succession of Messengers until Allah sent Muhammad ﷺ with the message. What this in turn signifies is that the assumption that any type of “divine proofs” (i.e. “Imams” or even Prophets and Messengers) always exist on Earth is faulty from the get-go, and cannot be reconciled with the Verses dealing with the coming of Muhammad ﷺ as a Prophet and Messenger of Allah.
وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ يَا قَوْمِ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ جَعَلَ فِيكُمْ أَنبِيَاءَ وَجَعَلَكُم مُّلُوكًا وَآتَاكُم مَّا لَمْ يُؤْتِ أَحَدًا مِّنَ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٢٠﴾
And (remember) when Moses said unto his people: O my people! Remember Allah’s favour unto you, how He placed among you prophets, and He made you kings, and gave you that (which) He gave not to any (other) of (His) creatures. (20)
This Verse comes immediately after the previous one. Since we had just discussed the contradictions between the “Imamah” theory and the Qur’an, we can easily see that in this Verse, the mentioning of “Kings” cannot be taken as a substitute for “Imams”, nor can it be said that these “Kings” form an uninterrupted chain from Musa’s (Alayhi Salaam) time onwards.
إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللَّـهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ ﴿٥٥﴾
Your guardian can be only Allah; and His messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay the poordue, and bow down (in prayer). (55)
Of course, this Verse is commonly used by Shias in forwarding their positions, the argument being that “those who believe, who establish the prayer, and pay the Zakah and bow down in prayer” refers to ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu).
I do not feel there is any reason to delve into the Ahadith brought up in this respect, since what is to be considered is the final point that is being alluded to. We see the same problem as in the discussion on Verse 4:59, which is that the concurrence of active leadership in two persons at the same time is impossible according to Twelver Shiaism.
If it is said that there is a reference to active and latent (future) leadership, this does not conform to the apparent meaning of the Verse. This is also obviously overlooking the serious problem, always inherent in such Verses, of why the term “Wali” has to be equated with “Infallible Imam”.
Of course, even going to the extreme of accepting concurrent “Wilaya” for both the Prophet ﷺ and ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) does not lead us any closer to accepting the “Infallible Imamah” hypothesis, and in fact leads us farther away from it.
لَقَدْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ رُسُلًا ۖ كُلَّمَا جَاءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ بِمَا لَا تَهْوَىٰ أَنفُسُهُمْ فَرِيقًا كَذَّبُوا وَفَرِيقًا يَقْتُلُونَ ﴿٧٠﴾
We made a covenant of old with the Children of Israel and We sent unto them messengers. As often as a messenger came unto them with that which their souls desired not (they became rebellious). Some (of them) they denied and some they slew. (70)
This is again one the Verses where indirect evidence can be deduced. As we can see, the sending of Messengers is emphasized in relation with the Israelites’ taking an oath with respect to their religion. This is even though the concept of Bay’ah [allegiance] would seem to imply “Imamate”, again strongly suggesting disparity between the Qur’an and the Twelver Shiaism.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْتُلُوا الصَّيْدَ وَأَنتُمْ حُرُمٌ ۚ وَمَن قَتَلَهُ مِنكُم مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاءٌ مِّثْلُ مَا قَتَلَ مِنَ النَّعَمِ يَحْكُمُ بِهِ ذَوَا عَدْلٍ مِّنكُمْ هَدْيًا بَالِغَ الْكَعْبَةِ أَوْ كَفَّارَةٌ طَعَامُ مَسَاكِينَ أَوْ عَدْلُ ذَٰلِكَ صِيَامًا لِّيَذُوقَ وَبَالَ أَمْرِهِ ۗ عَفَا اللَّـهُ عَمَّا سَلَفَ ۚ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَيَنتَقِمُ اللَّـهُ مِنْهُ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَزِيزٌ ذُو انتِقَامٍ ﴿٩٥﴾
O ye who believe! Kill no wild game while ye are on the pilgrimage. Whoso of you killeth it of set purpose he shall pay its forfeit in the equivalent of that which he hath killed, of domestic animals, the judge to be two men among you known for justice, (the forfeit) to be brought as an offering to the Ka’bah; or, for expiation, he shall feed poor persons, or the equivalent thereof in fasting, that he may taste the evil consequences of his deed. Allah forgiveth whatever (of this kind) may have happened in the past, but whoso relapseth, Allah will take retribution from him. Allah is Mighty, Able to Requite (the wrong). (95)
This Verse, like a few ones discussed before, lays out a probabilistic [Dhanni] criterion for determining the compensation for killing a animal while in the state of Ihram.
Thus, the criterion is for (fallible) just persons to be appointed for estimating the value of compensation for this animal. It is important that even though there may be a good approximation made by the just people in this regard, yet their assessment would never reach the exactness of the (hypothetical) “Infallible Imam” – and it is difficult to see how an “Infallible” answer would be reached in here by fallible persons, since there is a very high possibility that an animal that does not even have a market price is killed, in which case only an approximation can be made; we see then that this directive could not have been revealed, with the wording we find in the Qur’an, against a backdrop of infallible rulers and judges dictating the final results (either directly or indirectly).
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا شَهَادَةُ بَيْنِكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ حِينَ الْوَصِيَّةِ اثْنَانِ ذَوَا عَدْلٍ مِّنكُمْ أَوْ آخَرَانِ مِنْ غَيْرِكُمْ إِنْ أَنتُمْ ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَأَصَابَتْكُم مُّصِيبَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۚ تَحْبِسُونَهُمَا مِن بَعْدِ الصَّلَاةِ فَيُقْسِمَانِ بِاللَّـهِ إِنِ ارْتَبْتُمْ لَا نَشْتَرِي بِهِ ثَمَنًا وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَىٰ ۙ وَلَا نَكْتُمُ شَهَادَةَ اللَّـهِ إِنَّا إِذًا لَّمِنَ الْآثِمِينَ ﴿١٠٦﴾ فَإِنْ عُثِرَ عَلَىٰ أَنَّهُمَا اسْتَحَقَّا إِثْمًا فَآخَرَانِ يَقُومَانِ مَقَامَهُمَا مِنَ الَّذِينَ اسْتَحَقَّ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَوْلَيَانِ فَيُقْسِمَانِ بِاللَّـهِ لَشَهَادَتُنَا أَحَقُّ مِن شَهَادَتِهِمَا وَمَا اعْتَدَيْنَا إِنَّا إِذًا لَّمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿١٠٧﴾ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن يَأْتُوا بِالشَّهَادَةِ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهَا أَوْ يَخَافُوا أَن تُرَدَّ أَيْمَانٌ بَعْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَاسْمَعُوا ۗ وَاللَّـهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ ﴿١٠٨﴾
O ye who believe! Let there be witnesses between you when death draweth nigh unto one of you, at the time of bequest – two witnesses, just men from among you, or two others from another tribe, in case ye are campaigning in the land and the calamity of death befall you. Ye shall empanel them both after the prayer, and, if ye doubt, they shall be made to swear by Allah (saying): We will not take a bribe, even though it were (on behalf of) a near kinsman nor will we hide the testimony of Allah, for then indeed we should be of the sinful. (106) But then, if it is afterwards ascertained that both of them merit (the suspicion of) sin, let two others take their place of those nearly concerned, and let them swear by Allah, (saying): Verily our testimony is truer than their testimony and we have not transgressed (the bounds of duty), for them indeed we should be of the evil-doers. (107) Thus it is more likely that they will bear true witness or fear that after their oaths the oaths (of others) will be taken. So be mindful of your duty (to Allah) and hearken. Allah guideth not the froward folk. (108)
In these Verses, we again see the stress put on the normal course of action concerning important matters in a Muslim society. And this is the issue of making a will, something of paramount importance in the health of a Muslim society. Instead of the supernatural abilities of the “Infallible Imam” to unquestionably ensure the correctness of the will, what we have is the summoning of two persons to act as witnesses for the person dictating his will, and the oath-taking associated with such witnesses.
The fallible aspect of these actions is all the more obvious when we consider the exhortations contained in the Verse itself to fear Allah, to detain the witnesses after the prayer so that they will be persuaded to give a true oath due to the sanctity of the time, and the explicit mention that the method furnished will make it “more likely” that the oaths provided will be true.
One more thing is that as per this Verse, the permissibility of non-Muslim witnesses is mentioned, which again shows the day-to-day nature of this directive [of course, there is the issue of the abrogation of this Verse by future Divine directives, but we should remember that even if the witnesses are “only” common Muslims, then it is still very clear that their witnessing is far from infallible].
Thus, we see yet again that the supposed supernatural abilities of “Infallible Imams” have not been taken into consideration in this Verse, but rather the normal process of witnessing, oath-taking, and counter-oath taking are to be followed in order to settle the case of wills, which shows that such supposed considerations are incorrect to begin with.
مَا قُلْتُ لَهُمْ إِلَّا مَا أَمَرْتَنِي بِهِ أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ رَبِّي وَرَبَّكُمْ ۚ وَكُنتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًا مَّا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ ۖ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِي كُنتَ أَنتَ الرَّقِيبَ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَأَنتَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ ﴿١١٧﴾
I spake unto them only that which Thou commandedst me, (saying): Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. I was a witness of them while I dwelt among them, and when Thou tookest me Thou wast the Watcher over them. Thou art Witness over all things. (117)
The important thing to see in here is how the care and protection of ‘Isa1’s (Alayhi Salaam) community has been presented. During his physical stay on Earth, ‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam) says that he was the witness over his people, but once Allah lifted him to the Heavens, it was only Allah who was watching over them.
What this implies is that there is no Divine rule where there has to be a human caretaker for the people at every time – otherwise, there would be no meaning to ‘Isa’s (Alayhi Salaam) statement that the Watcher was only Allah, without mentioning a (hypothetical) “Infallible Imam”.
From Surah #6: Al-An’aam
وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ مَلَكٌ ۖ وَلَوْ أَنزَلْنَا مَلَكًا لَّقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ ثُمَّ لَا يُنظَرُونَ ﴿٨﴾
They say: Why hath not an angel been sent down unto him? If We sent down an angel, then the matter would be judged; no further time would be allowed them (for reflection). (8)
This is another interesting Verse to consider. We see that one of the idolator’s main objections to the coming of the Prophet ﷺ was their total incredulity to the idea that a human being could be sent to other human beings as a Messenger from Allah. In their minds, such a task could only be fulfilled by angels, since they were of a different, supposedly higher, composition that was better suited to the task at hand.
The question here becomes: If “Infallible Imamah” existed, how could the incredulity with respect to humans bringing matters from the Ghayb (unseen) have been present in the first place? The reason for this incoherence is that if the Shias’ hypothesis were true, they would have known, however vaguely, that there were humans close to their time stating that they receive certain favors from Allah through which they guide the masses.
However, as we see from this and other Verses of the Qur’an, such a situation was never present, and the people to whom the Messengers came expressed wonder at the very concept of Prophets and Messengers being sent from Allah to mankind, not about whether the particular Prophet/Messenger was the “correct Infallible Imam” or the “correct pointer to the Infallible Imam”.
There may be two objections to the above. Firstly, it may be said that ignorance of the Arab idolaters about a creedal point does not mean that it was not enunciated by the Prophets and other Men of Allah. The example may be brought of the Resurrection Day, which was foretold by all the Prophets yet was treated with the same incredulity when Muhammad ﷺ brought forth the Verses that talked about it. Secondly, it may be said that the “Imam” was absent from the eyes of the people, and he was ordered to only provide latent guidance to all who would take it from him.
As for the first objection, we do not deny that the teachings of the Prophets may be forgotten by the masses over time. Indeed, there was a great deal of discussion and debate in Jewish and Christian circles about what happens to the dead person in the Afterlife, and the end result is in many cases still quite different from what Islam (and by extension, all the Prophets) have taught.
But the difference between the belief in “Infallible Imamah” and that of the Judgment Day is that the former would have had a tangible, ever-present manifestation in from of the people’s eyes, while the Judgment Day will only happen once, and reminders about it cannot take the place of the supposed physical presence of the “Infallible Imam”.
As for the objection from “occultation”, this is a strange argument to make when we put it side by side with the coming of Muhammad ﷺ. Had such an “Imam” been present, one of the first things the Prophet ﷺ would have ordered the people to do is to seek guidance from such an “Imam”, whether he was previously guiding humanity openly or stealthily. In addition, such declarations, plus the subsequent rejection by the disbelievers, would have been recorded in the Qur’an and in other Islamic primary texts.
At the very least, a Verse like what we discussed above in Sura al-Maidah (5:19), would not have been revealed, since that Verse clearly tells the People of the Book that they did not have direct divine guidance in any individual prior to the coming of Muhammad ﷺ. Again, the Shia doctrine of Imamah suffers from numerous holes when compared to the Qur’an.
ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّـهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ۚ وَلَوْ أَشْرَكُوا لَحَبِطَ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿٨٨﴾ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ ۚ فَإِن يَكْفُرْ بِهَا هَـٰؤُلَاءِ فَقَدْ وَكَّلْنَا بِهَا قَوْمًا لَّيْسُوا بِهَا بِكَافِرِينَ ﴿٨٩﴾ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّـهُ ۖ فَبِهُدَاهُمُ اقْتَدِهْ ۗ قُل لَّا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا ۖ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٩٠﴾
Such is the guidance of Allah wherewith He guideth whom He will of His bondmen. But if they had set up (for worship) aught beside Him, (all) that they did would have been vain. (88) Those are they unto whom We gave the Scripture and command and prophethood. But if these disbelieve therein, then indeed We shall entrust it to a people who will not be disbelievers therein. (89) Those are they whom Allah guideth, so follow their guidance. Say (O Muhammad, unto mankind): I ask of you no fee for it. Lo! it is naught but a Reminder to (His) creatures. (90)
These three Verses may require some discussion. Prior to this are mentioned seventeen Prophets connected in one way or the other to Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam), and these Verses tell us that such noble personages were guided by Allah. What these Verses also say is that the rest of mankind is to follow their guidance, and if they do not, then this has in any case been entrusted to a people who will not disbelieve in it.
Some issues may be brought up, especially concerning the usage of the term “entrust it to a people who will not disbelieve therein”. It may be said that such a phrase refers to the “Infallible Imams” of Shiaism. However, there are a number of problems if such a presentation is forwarded.
Firstly, “entrusting the matter to a people who will not disbelieve in it” means just this, that they will not disbelieve in it. While continued belief can be deduced from such a statement, infallibility is still quite a different matter from continued belief.
Secondly, this point is further reinforced when we consider that there are other Verses in the Qur’an where the care of the Book and Wisdom are said to have been delegated to a people as a whole [such as the entire Bani Israil], or where there is mention of the varying goodness of those to whom the Book and Wisdom have been given. We will discuss this matter in greater detail when the corresponding Verses are encountered.
Thirdly, the guidance being referred to in here cannot be said to revolved around the “Infallible Imamah”, since the Prophet ﷺ have been told to follow the example of the Prophets mentioned in the preceding Verses. It is obvious that such a situation can only refer to general guidance and not following of a particular Shariah code, since such Prophets have already passed from this world. Thus, we see that there is no connection between the Imamah concept and these Verses.
وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَائِفَ الْأَرْضِ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَكُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ سَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿١٦٥﴾
He it is Who hath placed you as viceroys of the earth and hath exalted some of you in rank above others, that He may try you by (the test of) that which He hath given you. Lo! Thy Lord is swift in prosecution, and Lo! He verily is Forgiving, Merciful. (165)
This Verse is another one of the Ayaat related to Allah appointing “Khulafa” on this Earth. In this case we can consider that the Verse says that Allah has raised some above others in ranks, in order to test them in what He has provided for them.
As we can see from the context of the Verse, the address is to mankind at large, so any talk of infallibility is out of the question. But we see that in spite of this, Allah has “appointed” mankind as Khulafa on the Earth. The only conclusion is that “appointing of Khulafa” does not necessarily entail infallibility, in opposition to what Shia dogma preaches.
From Surah #7: Al-A’raaf
وَكَم مِّن قَرْيَةٍ أَهْلَكْنَاهَا فَجَاءَهَا بَأْسُنَا بَيَاتًا أَوْ هُمْ قَائِلُونَ ﴿٤﴾ فَمَا كَانَ دَعْوَاهُمْ إِذْ جَاءَهُم بَأْسُنَا إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ ﴿٥﴾ فَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الَّذِينَ أُرْسِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الْمُرْسَلِينَ ﴿٦﴾
How many a township have We destroyed! As a raid by night, or while they slept at noon, Our terror came unto them. (4) No plea had they, when Our terror came unto them, save that they said: Lo! We were wrong-doers. (5) Then verily We shall question those unto whom (Our message) hath been sent, and verily We shall question the messengers. (6)
This is another one of the series of Verses where the sending of the Messengers is mentioned alongside the destruction of those who disobeyed them. As always, the destruction of a people is tied to their rejection of the Messenger sent to them, without any mention of rejecting “the guidance of the Imams” or any other similar statement.
وَنَزَعْنَا مَا فِي صُدُورِهِم مِّنْ غِلٍّ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهِمُ الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَـٰذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِنَهْتَدِيَ لَوْلَا أَنْ هَدَانَا اللَّـهُ ۖ لَقَدْ جَاءَتْ رُسُلُ رَبِّنَا بِالْحَقِّ ۖ وَنُودُوا أَن تِلْكُمُ الْجَنَّةُ أُورِثْتُمُوهَا بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ ﴿٤٣﴾
And We remove whatever rancour may be in their hearts. Rivers flow beneath them. And they say: The praise to Allah, Who hath guided us to this. We could not truly have been led aright if Allah had not guided us. Verily the messengers of our Lord did bring the Truth. And it is cried unto them: This is the Garden. Ye inherit it for what ye used to do. (43)
Again we notice in this Verse how the dwellers of Paradise have toed their guidance directly to Allah the Exalted, and the only mention is of the Messengers sent by Allah who brought the truth to the people.
وَاذْكُرُوا إِذْ جَعَلَكُمْ خُلَفَاءَ مِن بَعْدِ عَادٍ وَبَوَّأَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ تَتَّخِذُونَ مِن سُهُولِهَا قُصُورًا وَتَنْحِتُونَ الْجِبَالَ بُيُوتًا ۖ فَاذْكُرُوا آلَاءَ اللَّـهِ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ ﴿٧٤﴾
And remember how He made you viceroys after A’ad and gave you station in the earth. Ye choose castles in the plains and hew the mountains into dwellings. So remember (all) the bounties of Allah and do not evil, making mischief in the earth. (74)
In this Verse, we again see the “appointing of Khulafa” being mentioned, even though in this case the people being referred to were the people of Thamud, who were an evil people and who could not be envisioned to embody the principles of infallibility by any stretch of the imagination. This again proves that “appointing” absolutely cannot be taken as a sign pointing to “Imamah”. Also, there is the implicit declaration that before Thamud, the people of ‘Aad had been “appointed” as Khulafa, even though they were also a people inclined to evil and were ultimately destroyed for their disobedience to the Messenger sent to them.
قَالُوا أُوذِينَا مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَأْتِيَنَا وَمِن بَعْدِ مَا جِئْتَنَا ۚ قَالَ عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُهْلِكَ عَدُوَّكُمْ وَيَسْتَخْلِفَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرَ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ ﴿١٢٩﴾
They said: We suffered hurt before thou camest unto us, and since thou hast come unto us. He said: It may be that your Lord is going to destroy your adversary and make you viceroys in the earth, that He may see how ye behave. (129)
The same theme is repeated again in this Verse, in that the Children of Israel as a whole are told by Musa (Alayhi Salaam) during their struggles against Fir’awn that their situation may change and that they may be appointed as “Khulafa” on Earth with Allah watching over their behavior. We need to notice that the appointment is tied with the Israelites as a nation, not to a certain class of “Infallibles” amongst them.
وَأَوْرَثْنَا الْقَوْمَ الَّذِينَ كَانُوا يُسْتَضْعَفُونَ مَشَارِقَ الْأَرْضِ وَمَغَارِبَهَا الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا ۖ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ الْحُسْنَىٰ عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا ۖ وَدَمَّرْنَا مَا كَانَ يَصْنَعُ فِرْعَوْنُ وَقَوْمُهُ وَمَا كَانُوا يَعْرِشُونَ ﴿١٣٧﴾
And We caused the folk who were despised to inherit the eastern parts of the land and the western parts thereof which We had blessed. And the fair word of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of their endurance; and We annihilated (all) that Pharaoh and his folk had done and that they had contrived. (137)
In here we see the fulfillment of the above, that the Children of Israel as a nation were made as “Khulafa” on the Earth. What is important for our purposes is that the patience of the Israelites is highlighted in here as the reason why the vicegerency was given over to them.
There is one point that may be brought up by certain people: Just as the Israelites were weak in the land and then were given the favor of “Khilafa” on Earth, so will the Hidden Mahdi be given inheritance in the land after the Shias were weak and oppressed. But this is not a very strong argument as far as our discussion is concerned, since the conclusion is simply presented without any proofs of how the premise and the conclusion are related.
In fact, if a strong correlation were to be sought in this case, it would only be in favor of the Sunni position, in that the Muslim community as a whole was weak and oppressed by the Quraysh during the Makkan period, but after a few years they were able to overwhelm all of their enemies by the help of Allah due to the faith of the Muslim community as a whole– something which the Twelver Shias find difficult to accept as a tenet of their belief.
وَوَاعَدْنَا مُوسَىٰ ثَلَاثِينَ لَيْلَةً وَأَتْمَمْنَاهَا بِعَشْرٍ فَتَمَّ مِيقَاتُ رَبِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً ۚ وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِأَخِيهِ هَارُونَ اخْلُفْنِي فِي قَوْمِي وَأَصْلِحْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ ﴿١٤٢﴾
And when We did appoint for Moses thirty nights (of solitude), and added to them ten, and he completed the whole time appointed by his Lord of forty nights; and Moses said unto his brother, Aaron: Take my place among the people. Do right, and follow not the way of mischief-makers. (142)
This is another one of the Verses that, even though it does not establish “Imamah”, is brought up a lot in the course of Shia-Sunni discussions.
The main issue is the connection this Verse seems to have with the narration where the Prophet ﷺ tells ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) that he had the same position as Harun had with respect to Musa (Alayhima Salaam), except that there is no Prophet after Muhammad ﷺ.
The first thing we need to determine in here is whether the appointment of Harun (Alayhi Salaam) was done as transference of general vicegerenship or not. It is obvious that it was only a temporary duty to look after the Israelites while Musa (Alayhi Salaam) was away in the meeting with Allah the Exalted; it is indeed very strange to envision how “Infallible Imamah” could have passed back and forth between Musa and Harun (Alayhima Salaam), especillay when Shia doctrine directly precludes such a possibility.
From this we can glean the additional point that the narration of the Prophet ﷺ we pointed towards is only applicable in the sphere of limited, specific and temporal authority – indeed, the narration was declared when ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) was left in charge of Madinah while the Prophet ﷺ went for the campaign of Tabuk. Thus a wholesale generalization of this incident is unwarranted.
This last point is struck home even more forcefully when we consider that even according to the Twelver Shias, Harun (Alayhi Salaam) died before Musa (Alayhi Salaam), thus immediately nullifying any direct link between this narration, the Verse under discussion, and the Shia concept of “Infallible Imamah”. This is also borne out by the fact that nowhere in the Qur’an is there a mention of Musa (AS) appointing his successor (recorded as being Yushua (AS), but this is know from other sources) – this is something that should not be lost on the readers.
الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِندَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُم بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ مَعَهُ ۙ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ ﴿١٥٧﴾ قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الْأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ ﴿١٥٨﴾
Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honour him, and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the successful. Say (O Muhammad): O mankind! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah to you all – (the messenger of) Him unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. There is no Allah save Him. He quickeneth and He giveth death. So believe in Allah and His messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, who believeth in Allah and in His Words, and follow him that haply ye may be led aright. (157-158)
The two Verses above are very important, as they signal the declaration of Muhammad’s ﷺ coming and the concomitant obligation on the People of the Book and humanity at large to follow him. We see that the declaration is couched in terms of Muhammad’s ﷺ status as a Prophet and Messenger, and the confirmation of this truth in the two previous scriptures, the Tawrah and the Injeel.
We also see that the necessity of following the Prophet ﷺ derives from these two positions, and not from any supposed “Infallible Imamah”. This is so, even though the Shia doctrine would have us believe that the highest position any creation has ever attained is the “Imamah” of Muhammad ﷺ – but as we see, this supposed status is curiously missing in this (and all other) Verses of the Qur’an, even though the Prophet is praised many times by Allah the Exalted in the revelation.
وَمِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ ﴿١٨١﴾
And of those whom We created there is a nation who guide with the Truth and establish justice therewith. (181)
This Verse may be used by the Shias in their attempts to push through the “Imamah” concept, with the declaration that the “nation” referred to in here are none other than the “Infallible Imams”.
However, the referent in here is too general and too wide for us to deduce that only the “Infallible Imams” are being referred to in here. [There is also a very similar Verse (Ayah 7:159) revealed with respect to the people of Musa (Alayhi Salaam), that there was a nation amongst them who guided with the truth and established justice with it].
Thus, the only thing mentioned in this Verse is that such people exist among the creation of Allah. It does not say anything about the necessity of the Earth being bestowed with these personages at every moment of its existence. There is also no mention of this “nation” being restricted to only “one Infallible” at any given time [in fact, the wording in this Verse would seem to contradict this notion, as a “nation” is conventionally taken to mean a relatively large number of people guiding and judging with the truth at the same time, a notion which directly goes against the Shia belief.
From Surah #9: At-Tawba
أَلَمْ يَأْتِهِمْ نَبَأُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ قَوْمِ نُوحٍ وَعَادٍ وَثَمُودَ وَقَوْمِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَأَصْحَابِ مَدْيَنَ وَالْمُؤْتَفِكَاتِ ۚ أَتَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ۖ فَمَا كَانَ اللَّـهُ لِيَظْلِمَهُمْ وَلَـٰكِن كَانُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ ﴿٧٠﴾
Hath not the fame of those before them reached them – the folk of Noah, A’ad, Thamud, the folk of Abraham, the dwellers of Midian and the disasters (which befell them)? Their messengers (from Allah) came unto them with proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty). So Allah surely wronged them not, but they did wrong themselves. (70)
This is yet another one of the Verses where the Muslims and non-Muslims have been reminded of the consequences which befell those who denied the previous Messengers. As always, it is salient that Messengership has been highlighted, again showing that the Prophets and Messengers – solely in that capacity – were the vital link between a people and salvation from Allah. This is without mention of an “Imam” who would be preparing the way for the Messengers, or an “Imam” who would be the “preserver of the message” while the Prophet/Messenger was the “conveyor of the message”, or any other similar suppositions which naturally stem from the Twelver Shia doctrines.
وَمِمَّنْ حَوْلَكُم مِّنَ الْأَعْرَابِ مُنَافِقُونَ ۖ وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ ۖ مَرَدُوا عَلَى النِّفَاقِ لَا تَعْلَمُهُمْ ۖ نَحْنُ نَعْلَمُهُمْ ۚ سَنُعَذِّبُهُم مَّرَّتَيْنِ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰ عَذَابٍ عَظِيمٍ ﴿١٠١﴾
And among those around you of the wandering Arabs there are hypocrites, and among the townspeople of Al-Madinah (there are some who) persist in hypocrisy whom thou (O Muhammad) knowest not. We, We know them, and We shall chastise them twice; then they will be relegated to a painful doom. (101)
The present Verse would mostly be presented by the Shias as “evidence” that many of the eminent Companions were in fact hypocrites who wished to harm Islam. Even though this presentation does hurt us deeply, we do not wish to highlight this particular angle of the discussion.
What we do wish to bring up is the explicit mention in here that the Prophet ﷺ was unaware of a certain group of people – while these hypocrites themselves knew of their internal states. We see, as a consequence of this Verse, that such knowledge was not “embedded” with the Prophet ﷺ, but that rather, after some time, the revelation came which elucidated the existence of such hypocrites.
It may be said that a non-issue is being brought up, since such hypocrites were brought out into the open with this Verse, and Allah’s promise to punish them multiple times is also assured. We answer that such a view would still contradict the Twelver Shia view concerning the absolute, overarching knowledge of the “Infallible Imam”, since scriptural revelation should not be the sole means for the “Infallible Imam” to discern important matters of the unseen related to the Ummah (such as the existence of a group of hypocrites).
Rather, immediate extra-scriptural “divine inspiration” would have been expected concerning such matters. However, this Verse (along with others, such as Verse 4:83 discussed above), shows that the idea of “divine inspiration” given to “Imams” at every point in time in order for them to know absolutely everything is simply not coherent with the Qur’anic revelation.
From Surah #10: Yunus
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ يَهْدِيهِمْ رَبُّهُم بِإِيمَانِهِمْ ۖ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهِمُ الْأَنْهَارُ فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ ﴿٩﴾
Lo! those who believe and do good works, their Lord guideth them by their faith. Rivers will flow beneath them in the Gardens of Delight, (9)
This is another one of the Verses where the guidance of the believers in given an “agent”; yet, we see that the reason is traced back to their own faith, rather than the existence of an “Imam who guides them”.
وَلَقَدْ أَهْلَكْنَا الْقُرُونَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَمَّا ظَلَمُوا ۙ وَجَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَمَا كَانُوا لِيُؤْمِنُوا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْقَوْمَ الْمُجْرِمِينَ ﴿١٣﴾ ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ خَلَائِفَ فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ لِنَنظُرَ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ ﴿١٤﴾
We destroyed the generations before you when they did wrong; and their messengers (from Allah) came unto them with clear proofs (of His Sovereignty) but they would not believe. Thus do We reward the guilty folk. (13) Then We appointed you viceroys in the earth after them, that We might see how ye behave. (14)
Here we have a couple of Verses were two matters are being highlighted: That the destruction of the previous generations was due to the wrongs that were done by them when the Messengers came to them, and that the current people have “appointed as Khulafa” so that their actions may be seen by Allah the Exalted. We see that in both cases, the general people are said to be the “Khulafa” (as is also apparent from other Verses we have discussed), and that as a consequence of this, the actions that they commit, the obligation for them to follow the Messengers and the subsequent destruction that befalls those who do not carry out this obligation are all part of this “appointment”, again a contravention to what the Twelver Shias believe with respect to the “appointment of Khulafa”.
قُلْ هَلْ مِن شُرَكَائِكُم مَّن يَهْدِي إِلَى الْحَقِّ ۚ قُلِ اللَّـهُ يَهْدِي لِلْحَقِّ ۗ أَفَمَن يَهْدِي إِلَى الْحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَن يُتَّبَعَ أَمَّن لَّا يَهِدِّي إِلَّا أَن يُهْدَىٰ ۖ فَمَا لَكُمْ كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُونَ ﴿٣٥﴾
Say: Is there of your partners (whom ye ascribe unto Allah) one that leadeth to the Truth? Say: Allah leadeth to the Truth. Is He Who leadeth to the Truth more deserving that He should be followed, or he who findeth not the way unless he (himself) be guided. What aileth you? How judge ye? (35)
The present Verse is brought up for discussion since there are amongst the Twelver Shias those who say that this Verse “proves” that there are those who are guided directly by Allah (i.e. the “Infallible Imams”) and that all other people cannot be guided to Allah except by following the first group mentioned.
To begin with, we have to express wonder at such a presentation, for a number of reasons. First, the context of the Verse shows that it is highlighting the difference between Allah the Exalted and the idols that the pagan Arabs worshipped. This is it is explicitly mentioned that it is Allah who guides to the truth, after which the idolaters’’ sense of intellect is invoked as to whether they should follow Allah or their idols who cannot guide at all.
However, the Shias insist that the one who “does not find the way unless he (himself) is guided” refers to the normal fallible human beings and their relationship with the guides who are the Infallible Imams. But we say that even this supposition is incorrect, since as we have seen and will see in a number of Qur’anic Verses, guidance is many times tied directly to the actions of the believers without any human intermediary.
The most that could be said is that the guidance is tied directly to the coming of the Prophets and the message that comes with the Prophets; but this if anything is an argument against the Twelver Shia view, since it would only show that the Prophets were the first source of guidance for the people they came to, and there were no other personages, either open or hidden, near or far who could be said to be a source of guidance for them just before the coming of the respective Prophet.
وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولٌ ۖ فَإِذَا جَاءَ رَسُولُهُمْ قُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْقِسْطِ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ ﴿٤٧﴾
And for every nation there is a messenger. And when their messenger cometh (on the Day of Judgment) it will be judged between them fairly, and they will not be wronged. (47)
This Verse makes the direct connection between every nation that has existed and the fact that a Messenger has been sent to them. As we know, this is important, since there is no mention in the Qur’an of an analogous relationship between every time-frame and an “Infallible Imam”.
Now, certain Shias may try to wriggle out of this situation by saying that the word “Ummah” in here means “time-frame”, and that this would corroborate the Shia view that there is no time devoid of a “Hujja”, whether this is a Prophet, Messenger or an “Imam”. However, this is a curious change in the meaning of the word, which is not supported even among the Shia exegetes.
But even if we were to suppose this to be the case, it would still not explain why the Qur’an explicitly mentions that there was no true guidance for the People of the Book (or anyone else for that matter) just before Muhammad ﷺ was sent as a Prophet. In such a hypothetical scenario, the primary Islamic texts would have been replete with references to the “previous Prophet”, and we would have known much more about this issue. As it stands though, none of this is available in the Islamic texts, and what all the evidence points to is that a Prophet has been sent to every nation without it necessarily having a connection to every time-frame.
From Surah #12: Yusuf
We can start the discussion on this Chapter by pointing out straight away that there are a number of incongruities between the “Imamah” doctrine and the narrative of this Chapter, particularly as it concerns the relative knowledge and position of Ya’qub and Yusuf (Alayhima Salaam).
Our analysis is as always hampered by the fact that we simply do not have any explicit mention even in the Shia literature of who was the “Infallible Imam” in this period. So just by following the general rule, we are to assume that Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) was the one who occupied this position throughout his life. If this assumption is maintained, we can see the following problems.
وَقَالَ لِفِتْيَانِهِ اجْعَلُوا بِضَاعَتَهُمْ فِي رِحَالِهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَعْرِفُونَهَا إِذَا انقَلَبُوا إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ ﴿٦٢﴾
فَلَمَّا رَجَعُوا إِلَىٰ أَبِيهِمْ قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا مُنِعَ مِنَّا الْكَيْلُ فَأَرْسِلْ مَعَنَا أَخَانَا نَكْتَلْ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ ﴿٦٣﴾
قَالَ هَلْ آمَنُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ إِلَّا كَمَا أَمِنتُكُمْ عَلَىٰ أَخِيهِ مِن قَبْلُ ۖ فَاللَّـهُ خَيْرٌ حَافِظًا ۖ وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ ﴿٦٤﴾ وَلَمَّا فَتَحُوا مَتَاعَهُمْ وَجَدُوا بِضَاعَتَهُمْ رُدَّتْ إِلَيْهِمْ ۖ قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا مَا نَبْغِي ۖ هَـٰذِهِ بِضَاعَتُنَا رُدَّتْ إِلَيْنَا ۖ وَنَمِيرُ أَهْلَنَا وَنَحْفَظُ أَخَانَا وَنَزْدَادُ كَيْلَ بَعِيرٍ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ كَيْلٌ يَسِيرٌ ﴿٦٥﴾
He said unto his young men: Place their merchandise in their saddlebags, so that they may know it when they go back to their folk, and so will come again. (62) So when they went back to their father they said: O our father! The measure is denied us, so send with us our brother that we may obtain the measure, surely we will guard him well. (63) He said: Can I entrust him to you save as I entrusted his brother to you aforetime? Allah is better at guarding, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. (64) And when they opened their belongings they discovered that their merchandise had been returned to them. They said: O our father! What (more) can we ask? Here is our merchandise returned to us. We shall get provision for our folk and guard our brother, and we shall have the extra measure of a camel (load). This (that we bring now) is a light measure. (65)
These series of Verses are important since they show two things: First of all, that Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam) had a certain plan in order to bring his brother Bunyamin to his court while his father Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) was unaware of this plan while it was being devised, and secondly, that the means through which the knowledge of what has transpired to the measure and merchandise was discovered, not through supernatural means, but rather through ordinary speech and investigation. We also see that the apprehension of Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) to send Binyamin along with the rest of his brothers was premised on the normal worry a father would have towards a similar situation based on past experience.
ارْجِعُوا إِلَىٰ أَبِيكُمْ فَقُولُوا يَا أَبَانَا إِنَّ ابْنَكَ سَرَقَ وَمَا شَهِدْنَا إِلَّا بِمَا عَلِمْنَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِلْغَيْبِ حَافِظِينَ ﴿٨١﴾ وَاسْأَلِ الْقَرْيَةَ الَّتِي كُنَّا فِيهَا وَالْعِيرَ الَّتِي أَقْبَلْنَا فِيهَا ۖ وَإِنَّا لَصَادِقُونَ ﴿٨٢﴾ قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا ۖ فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ ۖ عَسَى اللَّـهُ أَن يَأْتِيَنِي بِهِمْ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿٨٣﴾ وَتَوَلَّىٰ عَنْهُمْ وَقَالَ يَا أَسَفَىٰ عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَابْيَضَّتْ عَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْحُزْنِ فَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ ﴿٨٤﴾قَالُوا تَاللَّـهِ تَفْتَأُ تَذْكُرُ يُوسُفَ حَتَّىٰ تَكُونَ حَرَضًا أَوْ تَكُونَ مِنَ الْهَالِكِينَ ﴿٨٥﴾ قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَشْكُو بَثِّي وَحُزْنِي إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٨٦﴾
Return unto your father and say: O our father! Lo! thy son hath stolen. We testify only to that which we know; we are not guardians of the Unseen. (81) Ask the township where we were, and the caravan with which we travelled hither. Lo! we speak the truth. (82) (And when they came unto their father and had spoken thus to him) he said: Nay, but your minds have beguiled you into something. (My course is) comely patience! It may be that Allah will bring them all unto me. Lo! He, only He, is the Knower, the Wise. (83) And he turned away from them and said: Alas, my grief for Joseph! And his eyes were whitened with the sorrow that he was suppressing. (84)
These Verses have the significance that we see the interchange between Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) and his sons, particularly the fact that Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) did not hold their word to be truthful due to what they had previously done to Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam).
It could be said by some objectors that at the very end, what Ya’qub’s (Alayhi Salaam) sons said was only the truth as it was apparent to them, but that Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) knew that their information was incorrect. However, even if we were to accept this explanation, it will only take us up to a certain point. The Verses quoted above clearly show that Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) did not know about the condition of Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam), or else there would not have been so much grief from his side. In fact, one of the biggest morals of this Chapter taken as a whole is the patience through long periods of hardship and grief for Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam). This grief would have been redundant and inexplicable if Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) actually knew where Yusuf was all along.
وَرَفَعَ أَبَوَيْهِ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ وَخَرُّوا لَهُ سُجَّدًا ۖ وَقَالَ يَا أَبَتِ هَـٰذَا تَأْوِيلُ رُؤْيَايَ مِن قَبْلُ قَدْ جَعَلَهَا رَبِّي حَقًّا ۖ وَقَدْ أَحْسَنَ بِي إِذْ أَخْرَجَنِي مِنَ السِّجْنِ وَجَاءَ بِكُم مِّنَ الْبَدْوِ مِن بَعْدِ أَن نَّزَغَ الشَّيْطَانُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ إِخْوَتِي ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي لَطِيفٌ لِّمَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿١٠٠﴾ رَبِّ قَدْ آتَيْتَنِي مِنَ الْمُلْكِ وَعَلَّمْتَنِي مِن تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ ۚ فَاطِرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَنتَ وَلِيِّي فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ ۖ تَوَفَّنِي مُسْلِمًا وَأَلْحِقْنِي بِالصَّالِحِينَ ﴿١٠١﴾
And he placed his parents on the dais and they fell down before him prostrate, and he said: O my father! This is the interpretation of my dream of old. My Lord hath made it true, and He hath shown me kindness, since He took me out of the prison and hath brought you from the desert after Satan had made strife between me and my brethren. Lo! my Lord is tender unto whom He will. He is the Knower, the Wise. (100) O my Lord! Thou hast given me (something) of sovereignty and hast taught me (something) of the interpretation of events – Creator of the heavens and the earth! Thou art my Protecting Guardian in the world and the Hereafter. Make me to die muslim (unto Thee), and join me to the righteous. (101)
These two Verses, at the conclusion of the story are very strong evidences against the doctrine of Imamah. We see that Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) is among those who fell prostrate before his son Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam) as a sign of reverence for the high position granted to him by Allah the Exalted. We also see how Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam), while thanking Allah for the favors bestowed upon him, acknowledges one of these blessings to be the granting of kingship.
From these two Verses then, we can see that Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) could not have possibly had an all-encompassing “Infallible Imamah” as understood by the Shias. We know this because prostration in reverence is an obvious sign that the one prostrated to has a much higher position that the one performing the prostration, at least in the context and circumstances within which the prostration is taking place. That is, even if someone were to say that Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) was higher in position when all things were considered, there is something about the specific circumstances of the kingship of Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam) that led to this prostration being carried out with divine approval. Of course, we also see that Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam) had been given a temporal authority that would have been incomprehensible had the Shia concept been truly operative (because there would be no way that Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) could have been placed at an obviously lower position as far as this relationship of kingship and authority is concerned).
Some people may look at this situation and say that perhaps we got the issue all wrong, that it was Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam) who was leading the world as an Infallible Imam. To begin with, this suggestion would go against what the case normally is, in that in Shiaism the Imamate normally passes from the father to the son. But more important than this point is the fact that early in the story of Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam), he relates the dream he had to his father in Verses 12:4-6
إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ ﴿٤﴾
قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تَقْصُصْ رُؤْيَاكَ عَلَىٰ إِخْوَتِكَ فَيَكِيدُوا لَكَ كَيْدًا ۖ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لِلْإِنسَانِ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ ﴿٥﴾ وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَجْتَبِيكَ رَبُّكَ وَيُعَلِّمُكَ مِن تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ وَيُتِمُّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ كَمَا أَتَمَّهَا عَلَىٰ أَبَوَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَاقَ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ ﴿٦﴾
When Joseph said unto his father: O my father! Lo! I saw in a dream eleven planets and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves unto me. (4) He said: O my dear son! Tell not thy brethren of thy vision, lest they plot a plot against thee. Lo! Satan is for man an open foe. (5) Thus thy Lord will prefer thee and will teach thee the interpretation of events, and will perfect His grace upon thee and upon the family of Jacob as He perfected it upon thy forefathers, Abraham and Isaac. Lo! thy Lord is Knower, Wise. (6)
These Verses show that at this early age, Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam) required spiritual guidance from his father Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam)- as the dream was interpreted as meaning that blessings will be given to Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam) as he grows up and matures, not that such favors have already been given to him in their totality. Of course, this does not mean that all “inspired” knowledge was precluded from Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam), as we see from the subsequent incident where he is thrown in the well, and the revelation mention (what is translated as): “We inspired in him: Thou wilt tell them of this deed of theirs when they know (thee) not.” (Surah Yusuf:15). From this we know that certain information was given supernaturally to him even at an early age, but yet the specific characteristics included within the Imamah doctrine are missing.
Moreover, we learn from Verse 12:22 (the translation of which is): “And when he reached his prime We gave him wisdom and knowledge. Thus We reward the good.”, that the characteristics of full wisdom and knowledge were bestowed upon Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam) only after he reached maturity. Even then, there is no reason to make the jump and say that such completion indicates “Infallible Imamah”, or that it solves the logical inconsistencies we have noticed to be inherent in the Shia doctrine.
Yet another thought may occur to certain people, which is that perhaps the “Infallible Imamah” was given to someone else not mentioned in this or any other story of the Qur’an. But this type of suggestion is a guess made only in order to save the Shia doctrine from the problems we found above. Besides, it would be very strange that there is a person in the background who is holding this very high spiritual position, and yet neither Ya’qub nor Yusuf (Alayhima Salaam) make any reference to him either in this Chapter or in any other place in the Qur’an. So all in all, this Chapter shows many of the contradictions and inconsistencies that come out of a careful analysis of the Shia doctrine of Imamah in relation to the Holy Qur’an.
From Surah #13: ar-Ra’d
وَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ ۗ إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُنذِرٌ ۖ وَلِكُلِّ قَوْمٍ هَادٍ ﴿٧﴾
Those who disbelieve say: If only some portent were sent down upon him from his Lord! Thou art a warner only, and for every folk a guide. (7)
This is one of the Verses used by Shias in trying to prove “Imamah”; the claim is that the Prophet ﷺ is the Mundhir (Warner) an that ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) is the guide referred to in here (and that as an extension of this the guidance of an “Infallible Imam” ill always continue in the Muslim Ummah), on the basis of a narration where the Prophet apparently said: “I am the warner and Ali is the guide. O Ali, through you those who are guided will receive true guidance.”
Without even getting into the reliability of this narration from the viewpoint of its chain of narrators, what we immediately notice is that the narration in question is framing the matter of ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) position as guide in the present tense, and saying that it will extend into the future (the narration does not mention whether this is a few years or for generations and centuries). This is an incorrect rendition especially when viewed from the point of view of Shiaism’s own rules for Imamah, since it is implied that the task of warning and guiding were devolved to two different people, and that the Prophet ﷺ was not the “guide” referred to in this Verse. We also see that since the task of guidance is in Shiaism higher than that of delivering the message, the implication would also be that the Prophet was not the “Imam” in his own lifetime, and that he was in fact receiving guidance from ‘Ali! And this is a position that would in any case destroy the very basis of Shiaism, and it would be immediately rejected by the Ahl us Sunnah.
Now, if the Twelver Shias wish to say that this narration refers to two guides at the same time, Muhammad ﷺ and ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) and that the Prophet was referring to ‘Ali as the currently “silent” Imam who would take on full responsibilities of Imamate after the Prophet’s death, then this is not at all clear from the narration. Besides, we could ask as to why the Prophet would not have said that he is the warner and guide and why he would not have have said to ‘Ali that he will become the “absolute” guide after the Prophet’s passing. That is, the contradiction between the timing as presented in the narration and what Twelver Shiaism formally teaches cannot be dismissed as a minor matter.
Another issue that we have to keep in mind is that just as there is no time limitation for the Prophet’s ﷺ position as a Warner (that is, he is a warner, Prophet and Messenger until the Day of Resurrection), if we were to consider the narration presented as applying to ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) in the same manner, then there should be no time limitation to ‘Ali as a guide for the Ummah until the Day of Resurrection. But then again, if such a view is taken, then it would mean that the “guide” in here has no technical connotations as per what the Shias believe, and it simply refers to general guidance.
Finally, if we consider the Verse in question, we see that it is tying every people with a guide. However, we already know from our previous discussions that this may refer to Prophets having been sent to all the towns and peoples in previous times, but the connection cannot be made between every people and an “Infallible Imam”, since “Imamate” is supposedly tied to every time.
From Surah #14: Ibrahim
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ ۖ فَيُضِلُّ اللَّـهُ مَن يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿٤﴾
And We never sent a messenger save with the language of his folk, that he might make (the message) clear for them. Then Allah sendeth whom He will astray, and guideth whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Wise. (4)
This Verse is of importance, since it shows that the Messengers were sent to their folk in order to elucidate the message to them in their own language. But this shows that for the most part, the people living in that town or settlement must have been ignorant of the core of the message (the Oneness of Allah and the obligation of worshipping Him), at least through transmitted information.
Since this was the case, then the figure of the “Infallible Imam” would be irrelevant, at least as far as the peoples referred to in this Verse are concerned – and we must keep in mind that this in fact refers to the townships of every single Messenger ever sent by Allah. So knowing this case, we can say that while “Infallible Imamah” is not directly disproven by this Verse, its relevance and importance are greatly reduced since (1) there was no guidance at that time for any of the peoples until the Prophet/Messenger came to them and (2) there is no hint that people may have been receiving guidance in some other location at that time through the medium of the “Infallible Imam”.
The objection may arise that we are exaggerating the situation, as there were many instances wherein Prophets and Messengers came to a people who had already received guidance, and the new Messengers were sent only as a way to reinforce the guidance and make things clearer to the people.
We say that even if our initial presentation is an exaggeration, even in the case forwarded by the objector, it is still the case that the Messengers are the ones shown as given the task to elucidate matters for their people. One thing that is of interest is that while the Qur’an does point to the priests and rabbis of the Jews, there is no technical spiritual position granted to them, and whenever “Imams” are mentioned, they are also not shown in a light concomitant to what Shia doctrine would have us believe. Thus, we see that even in “reinforcing” the faith and guidance, there is no hint that “Infallible Imam” is involved in the process.
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا مُوسَىٰ بِآيَاتِنَا أَنْ أَخْرِجْ قَوْمَكَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَذَكِّرْهُم بِأَيَّامِ اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ ﴿٥﴾
We verily sent Moses with Our revelations, saying: Bring thy people forth from darkness unto light. And remind them of the days of Allah. Lo! therein are revelations for each steadfast, thankful (heart). (5)
This Verse shows a specific case regarding the application of the previous Verse, specifically regarding the case of Musa (Alayhi Salam) with his people. The wording in this Verse is important, since Musa is tasked with bringing his people from darkness(es) to light. And such a command would not be applicable except if there was no guidance in the first place amongst the people Musa was sent to – which was one of the main points we touched on in our discussion above.
قَالَتْ رُسُلُهُمْ أَفِي اللَّـهِ شَكٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ يَدْعُوكُمْ لِيَغْفِرَ لَكُم مِّن ذُنُوبِكُمْ وَيُؤَخِّرَكُمْ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۚ قَالُوا إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا تُرِيدُونَ أَن تَصُدُّونَا عَمَّا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ آبَاؤُنَا فَأْتُونَا بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ ﴿١٠﴾
Their messengers said: Can there be doubt concerning Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth? He calleth you that He may forgive you your sins and reprieve you unto an appointed term. They said: Ye are but mortals like us, who would fain turn us away from what our fathers used to worship. Then bring some clear warrant. (10)
This is another one of the Verses from which it is clear that (at least in the case of the Messengers mentioned) the people to whom the message was sent had no previous contact with an elect of Allah before the Messengers came. This is obvious from their total rejection of what the Messengers brought with respect to the necessity of worshipping Allah and doing away with the worship of false “gods” and idols. As usual, there is no mention either by the Messengers sent or by the disbelieving people pointing to a prior existence of an “Infallible Imam”, since in such a hypothetical case, the exchange would have taken on a totally different demeanor and would have highlighted the supposed unceasing guidance of the “Imam”.
وَأَنذِرِ النَّاسَ يَوْمَ يَأْتِيهِمُ الْعَذَابُ فَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا رَبَّنَا أَخِّرْنَا إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ نُّجِبْ دَعْوَتَكَ وَنَتَّبِعِ الرُّسُلَ ۗ أَوَلَمْ تَكُونُوا أَقْسَمْتُم مِّن قَبْلُ مَا لَكُم مِّن زَوَالٍ ﴿٤٤﴾
And warn mankind of a day when the doom will come upon them, and those who did wrong will say: Our Lord! Reprieve us for a little while. We will obey Thy call and will follow the messengers. (It will be answered): Did ye not swear before that there would be no end for you? (44)
This is another one of the Verses were the centrality of the Porphets in terms of the lay masses attaining salvation through the following of these Prophets is abundantly clear. We notice that there is no mention of “Imams” or “Succesors of the Prophets”.
We need to notice that the disbelievers are saying what they are saying in a state of total despair, when the entire truth has been laid bare in front of them and the Hellfire is ready to consume them. In such a case, there is no motivation or even far-off reason why they would hide any essential part of the religion; that we see these disbelievers pleading that they will follow the Messengers for guidance if they are sent back to the world, without any mention of any other personalities, is a very crucial point against the Imamah doctrine of the Twelvers.
From Surah #16: An-Nahl
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ ۖ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ هَدَى اللَّـهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلَالَةُ ۚ فَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ ﴿٣٦﴾
And verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): Serve Allah and shun false gods. Then some of them (there were) whom Allah guided, and some of them (there were) upon whom error had just hold. Do but travel in the land and see the nature of the consequence for the deniers! (36)
Again, this is one of the Verses where Allah informs us that a Messenger has been sent to every nation at some instance in order to convey the message. We will discuss the objection that perhaps “Ummah” in here does not mean nation, but rather means time-period. Even if we were to take this portion of the argument as provisionally correct, there would still be the issue that the Verse mentions Messengers, not “Imams” or “inspired ones”, etc., thus making it very difficult to envisage how this Verse can lead to the desired conclusion for the Twelver Shias.
وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْهِم مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ شَهِيدًا عَلَىٰ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ ۚ وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِّكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ ﴿٨٩﴾
And (bethink you of) the day when We raise in every nation a witness against them of their own folk, and We bring thee (Muhammad) as a witness against these. And We reveal the Scripture unto thee as an exposition of all things, and a guidance and a mercy and good tidings for those who have surrendered (to Allah). (89)
Again, in this Verse, we have the enunciation of one individual (in here referred to as the witness that Allah will raise up, with the later mention of the Prophet ﷺ) and his relationship with a people. And as before, if we take the route of saying that “Ummah” is a time period, this would not solve the Shias’ dilemma. But we also se in here that the tying of “Ummah” to a time period is an even more shaky possibility than before, since the words “أَنفُسِهِمْ” (their own folk) and “هَـٰؤُلَاءِ” (these) are clearly tied to the “Ummah” mentioned earlier in the Verse.
If someone were to say that this Verse only refers to Muhammad ﷺ an the people are those living in his time (and by inference, tha the people of each time have their own witness, their own “Imam”), we say that this is an unfounded superimposition on the Verse. Also, what other Verse (such as Verse 2:143 discussed above) point to is that the fallible Muslim nation as a whole is a witness over mankind. So in all cases, the Shia belief is not borne out.
إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ كَانَ أُمَّةً قَانِتًا لِّلَّـهِ حَنِيفًا وَلَمْ يَكُ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ﴿١٢٠﴾
Lo! Abraham was a nation obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the idolaters; (120)
This Verse is sometimes brought forward by the Shias to say that it is possible for one person to be called an “Ummah”, and that it is within the realm of possibilities that the “Infallible Imam”is only leading himself to the correct path, even if no one else follows him or even knows about his existence.
In order to answer this matter, we need to point out that this Verse, if combined with the Shias’ other elucidations on this matter, would only lead to an auto-refutation of the Shias’ beliefs. Thus, if we take it that Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) was an “Ummah” while alone, then we know from the Shias’ interpretation of Verse 2:124 that he was not an “Infallible Imam” at that time. Recall that in their interpretations of Verse 2:124, the Shia exegesists go through great pains to show that Infallible Imamate was granted to Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) only at the very end of his life, after he had been granted Prophethood, Messengership, along with his sons Ishaaq and Ismail (Alayhima Salaam).
We cannot say that Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) was “alone” in the latter stages of his life, when the alleged descent of “Infallible Imamah” came. So if we follow the Shia analysis, we would say that Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) was not an “Infallible Imam” in the earlier stages of his life, when he was indeed alone and striving for the sake of Allah, and due to which Allah called him an “Ummah” obedient to Allah.
This would naturally lead to the contradiction that Ibrahim (Alayhi Salam) was not independently guiding himself at an earlier stage of his life, and that the term “Ummah” in here has no connotations related to an “Infallible Imam” guiding himself when there is no one else in the world that will accept or take guidance. Or it would lead to the other problem for the Shias, that their interpretation of Verse 2:124 is wrong and that “Infallible Imamah” was not granted to Ibrahim at a later stage of his life and is by all accounts not a separate divinely- appointed post in Verse 2:124.
This view is further strengthened when we consider the following Verses, which say:
شَاكِرًا لِّأَنْعُمِهِ ۚ اجْتَبَاهُ وَهَدَاهُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ ﴿١٢١﴾ وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً ۖ وَإِنَّهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ لَمِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ ﴿١٢٢﴾ ثُمَّ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ أَنِ اتَّبِعْ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا ۖ وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ﴿١٢٣﴾
Thankful for His bounties; He chose him and He guided him unto a straight path. (121) And We gave him good in the world, and in the Hereafter he is among the righteous. (122) And afterward We inspired thee (Muhammad, saying): Follow the religion of Abraham, as one by nature upright. He was not of the idolaters. (123)
What we see is that Allah is ordering the Prophet ﷺ to follow th religion of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) and to take from his example. This is of importance, of course, since it shows that following guidance is not necessarily tied only to following the most learned person at the time or the one that Allah has chosen at a particular time (or as Shias would say, the “Imam of the time”). More importantly, it shows that the “Imamah” of Ibrahim (whether deduced from this Verse or from previous Verses such as 2:124) is not relatd to the Shia concept at all, but it is rather a general type of leadership, and that the full scope of its implementation was materialized many generations after his (Alayhi Salaam) passing from this world.
From our own perspective then, it seems that this Verse, when viewed alongside Verse 2:124, hurts the Shia doctrine the most by showing that Imamah is not a technical term at all – Allah may guide someone at an early stage of their life nd make obedience and guidance through them obligatory and effective, respectively, and that He may, at a later time grant that same person Imamah, this time for a different scope of application. In all cases, the significance of Imam and Imamah is malleable and subject to different general definitions.
From Surah #17: Al-Israa’
وَآتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ هُدًى لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَلَّا تَتَّخِذُوا مِن دُونِي وَكِيلًا ﴿٢﴾
We gave unto Moses the Scripture, and We appointed it a guidance for the children of Israel, saying: Choose no guardian beside Me. (2)
This is a notheworthy Verse, since it shows that Allah can appoint the Book itself as the guide (i.e., the “Imam”) for the nation. We see that even though Musa (Alayhi Salaam) is mentioned in this Verse, yet he is not included as the “human Imam” in this context. In spite of this, there may still be the objection that only through the “Infallible Imam” at any given time can one hope to achieve a true understanding of the Book, and that in the case of the Islamic religion, this means that only the twelve “Imams” are the interpreters of the Qur’an.
The problem with thi presentation is that it is again forwarding the Shia dogma unilaterally. But more importantly, we note that the preservation of the text of the Qur’an has been carried out through the meticulous transmission of the text in mass transmitted form – those readings of the Qur’an that are not mass transmitted are not unquestionably treated as the Qur’an. Likewise, the phrases and sentences uttered by the Prophet ﷺ [or anyone else] that we can trust infallibly as truly being from him are only those that reach the level of Tawaatur. In both the cases [of what is said to be Qur’an and what is said to be the Prophet’s sayings], the methodology for transmission has to be followed, and only then can we say that the text in question is part of the Qur’an or of the corpus of Prophetic sayings.
We should also extend this to the matter of the alleged interpretations or sayings of the “Infallible Imams”. In other words, if it is said that the interpretation of the “Infallible Imams” is the only accepted method for preserving the religion, this itself needs the methodology of mass transmission of their opinions, rules, and sayings to be applied in order for this corpus to have any merit as infallible information – this, of course, in addition to the supposition (Which the Sunnis do not accept) that the personages from whom these statements originally proceed are infallible.
However, the reality is something quite different: the “school” of the “Infallibles” has not been preserved properly, to the point that Twelver Shias themselves acknowledge that some of the closest students and followers of the “Imams” did not know that their teacher/master was claiming “Infallible Imamah” for himself. If we add to this the practice of dissimulation (taqqiya) which was allegedly necessary in order to protect the religion, then we get an extremely muddled picture, of a very small circle of people claiming that the “Imam” handed over to them some (basically) secret knowledge while he was saying something else in public. Unfortunately, such a mindset is more indicative that the small group of people are liars and fabricators, and not that the “Imam” had to resort to dissimulation in order to “protect the religion”.
If it is retorted that this situation was necessary due to the “Sunni-controlled corrupt governments”, we say that the infallible transmission of truth has to follow a certain methodology, regardless of corrupt governments, Sunni encroachment, or any other impediment our Shia opponents may wish to think of. If the impediment is truly successful at stopping the methodology from being implemented, then the blame heaped upon that obstacle cannot obscure the fact that the preservation of the religion was hampered and stopped.
Finally, there is the very important issue that true transmission of information does not clash with infallibility, as the two are accepted methodologies for ascertaining the truth of events. This is why the Muslim scholars will say that the Qur’an never contradicts reality, but they may say that contradiction between Qur’an and (for example) modern science is possible, since the weakness would be with the interpretations and models of modern science, not with the Qur’an itself.
This is connected to the discussion because if we ascertain that a number of Companions (and after them the succeeding Muslim generations) transmitted a particular act of Islam in a certain manner through mass transmitted chains, then this constitutes certain knowledge, and it cannot be turned null and void by the saying of an “Infallible Imam” at a later stage, whether this saying is transmitted en masse or solitarily.
If someone insists that this is actually possible, then the retort through two ways (1) this possibility would throw all of Islam into doubt because it is always possible that the “secret knowledge” includes the overturning of each and every single pillar of Islam held by the masses and transmitted en masse and (2) as mentioned above, the sayings of the Imams themselves would need to be transmitted through some fallible chains of narration. But if there is always a possibility of some “secret knowledge” coming out through unconventional means and through irregular chains of transmission, then the sayings of the “Imams” themselves are in doubt. As far as we are concerned, there may well be progressively nested claims of “Infallable Imamah” for a wide variety of people we have not even heard about, claims that cannot at all be corroborated even at an abstract level.
So the above are some of the issues raised by Verse 17:2 and the attempts of the Twelver Shias to inject some of their beliefs into the meta-interpretation of this Verse.
مَّنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيْهَا ۚ وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ ۗ وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّىٰ نَبْعَثَ رَسُولًا ﴿١٥﴾
Whosoever goeth right, it is only for (the good of) his own soul that he goeth right, and whosoever erreth, erreth only to its hurt. No laden soul can bear another’s load, We never punish until we have sent a messenger. (15)
The present Verse is important since it shows that Allah does not punish a people until a Messenger is sent to them. We had discussed the general significance of this truth earlier, in our discussion of Verse 4:165. Here, the same message is repeated, in that Allah will not punish a people until a Message has been sent – without any mention of an “Infallible Imams” or any other similar personality.
يَوْمَ نَدْعُو كُلَّ أُنَاسٍ بِإِمَامِهِمْ ۖ فَمَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يَقْرَءُونَ كِتَابَهُمْ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلًا ﴿٧١﴾
On the day when We shall summon all men with their record, whoso is given his book in his right hand – such will read their book and they will not be wronged a shred. (71)
This is another of the Verses brought up by the Twelver Shias, with the message being that everyone ill be called by the “Infallible Imam” of his time. However, the Shia interpretation suffers from a number of problems. Firstly, it seems that the “Imam” referred to in here is the book of deeds handed to each person. This is something that may be verified by noting that in other places in the Qur’an, this connection of a book to leadership (i.e. “Imamah”) is specifically mentioned.
However, if it is insisted upon that the “Imam” in here has to be a human, we still do not see how it can refer to “Infallible Imams” only. This is particularly so, when the “Imam” referred to seems to be tied to each particular group of people, and not to the concept of one Imam for a given time frame. Of course, when we consider the matter from this angle, we see that a people may even be called by an “evil Imam” if it so happened that they were following the ways and instructions of an evil leader.
We know that the Shia side may retort by saying than in exchange for an evil leader, the people should seek the “Infallible Imam” that they will be called by on the Day of Judgment, but this is a condition quite superfluous to the text of this Verse, and would need the Shia presupposition in order for it to even be presented as such.
Even if the Shia retort is couched in terms of the “urgency” for everyone as an individual to find the correct Imam to guide him, this is still a repackaging of the overall objection, and it still does not convey any new information – the fact that everyone will be called by the “Imam” (even if it is taken to be a human leader) does not necessarily mean that the leader should have been physically present on Earth at the same time the person was present. The reason why the Muslims of this age cannot be called as the “Nation of Muhammad ﷺ” is unclear, simply because this restriction is an artificial limitation. The artificiality of this restriction is something we saw very clearly in the case of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) and his “Imamah”, and we do not think there is any strong point that the Shias can bring up in this respect.
وَمَا مَنَعَ النَّاسَ أَن يُؤْمِنُوا إِذْ جَاءَهُمُ الْهُدَىٰ إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا أَبَعَثَ اللَّـهُ بَشَرًا رَّسُولًا ﴿٩٤﴾
And naught prevented mankind from believing when the guidance came unto them save that they said: Hath Allah sent a mortal as (His) messenger? (94)
This is yet another one of the Verses that clearly go against the Shia ethos in the matter of Imamah. For what we see is Allah’s saying that the guidance is tied to the coming of the Messengers. Had guidance been tied with “Infallible Imams”, the Verse would have accordingly been quite different. This is particularly so when we see the incredulity of the disbelievers being shown at the coming of human Messengers…because if Imams had already existed among the people as such, they would first of all not been so incredulous that humans came as carriers of the divine message, and any initial shock would have been towards the “Imams” coming to them at a supposedly earlier time.
Now someone might say that the Messengers referred to in here were only those that had reached the level of “Infallible Imamah”, but this seems like a far-off proposition. For if the Shia claims that Imamah is such a high position that may be given to some Prophets only after a long spiritual journey, then how can the Messenger be the Imam just when he is first coming to his people? This is a very problematic situation for the Shias.
If the Shias say that our logic is not exhaustive – insofar that the case of each Prophet or Messenger is different, that for Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) his Imamah was a later stage but for others it may have come earlier – we say that then they should bring us the exact time in the lifetime of each Prophet when they claim that such elects of Allah became “Imams”, and based on this information we can continue the discussion. Otherwise, the initial supposition, deduced from the Shia interpretations of Ibrahim’s (Alayhi Salaam) case is to be applied, due to the lack of any other evidence in this respect.
From Surah #18: Al-Kahf
فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا ﴿٦٥﴾ قَالَ لَهُ مُوسَىٰ هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَىٰ أَن تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا ﴿٦٦﴾
Then found they one of Our slaves, unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and had taught him knowledge from Our presence. (65) Moses said unto him: May I follow thee, to the end that thou mayst teach me right conduct of that which thou hast been taught? (66)
These Verses occur within the story of Musa and Khidr (Alayhima Salaam). We have discussed many things of this story in the main book so we are not showing the entire story as it appears in the Qur’an, but here we want to mention that the basis for the Shias saying that “Infallible Imamah” was passed down among the Isralite Prophets is that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) must have been the first “Imam” of this line. If this is shown to be false in the sense understood by the Shias, then the entire edifice of “Infallible Imamah” is non-existent in this case.
And here is where the relevance of these Verses above, and of the story of Musa and Khidr (Alayhima Salaam) as a whole comes to light. For it is very obvious, and indeed the basis of the whole story, that Khidr (Alayhi Salaam) had the knowledge of certain truths unknown to Musa (Alayhi Salaam), which is why Musa asked to be a follower of Khidr, in order to catch some glimpses of the application of this knowledge.
But as we know from the rules of Shiaism, we can say that this reality irrevocably clashes with the Shia understanding of Imamah as applied in the case of Musa (Alayhi Salaam); there is no way it can be said that Musa was more knowledgeable than Khidr (Alayhi Salaam) in the particular ‘Ladunni’ knowledge the latter had received from Allah.
Of course, once we know this reality, we also know that the Shia claim that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) was the first in the chain of “Infallible Imams” among the Israelites falls apart, as does the claim that Imamah was a reality handed down among the Israelites- for the simple reason that what a person himself does not possess of spiritual rank and favors cannot possibly be conferred to anybody else.
Some people may bring up the objection that Khidr (Alayhi Salaam) was not a human being at all, but rather an angel and thus the contradiction between Musa and Khidr (Alayhima Salaam) in terms of scopes and extent of knowledge does not arise. However, we say that this is not a strong argument, since to our knowledge, no scholar, even from the Shia side, takes Khidr to be an angel, but always a human being, even if there is some scholarly discussion as to whether he was a Walii of Allah or a Prophet. If anything this discussion would conclusively determine that Khidr was a human and could not be any other type of creation of Allah.
A second objection might be that Khidr (Alayhi Salaam) may have conferred the “Infallible Imamah” to Musa (Alayhi Salaam) at some point after the conclusion of this story in the Qur’an. But we say that such a thing is pure speculation, and there would need to be at least some evidence from somewhere to which we can be referred to in order to make any comment about this hypothesis. As far as we know, such evidence has not been forthcoming from the Shia side.
Of course, the above supposition, remote as it may be, has any viable basis only if we suppose that Khidr passed away, which is not the view of the majority of the scholars. For in this second case, there would be the problem that the “Imam” who is alive cannot be superceded by others, even the “latent Imams” until the former ones pass away. This situation would lead to even more problems for the Shias, since then even the “Imamah” of their current “Twelve Imams” would not have any basis whatsoever from this angle.
There may also be the objection that Khidr’s (Alayhi Salaam) scope of application was or is mostly in the realm of the unseen, or in the realm of things that cannot be normally witnessed by people of the outer Sharia, and as such, theer was still a need for Imams who would openly announce their Imamah to those who wished to accept it. If we take up this argument, this would not prove a convincing point for the Twelver Shias, since they claim that their current Imam is in occultation and that he leads people from beyond the eyes of open and visible things, and that his guidance is mostly of a spiritual kind. In this context, it is not at all clear why Khidr (Alayhi Salaam) would be unilaterally divested of applying his “Imamah” even if he were hidden to the eyes of the world, while the “hidden Mahdi” is not divested of this application, especially when Shiaism as a whole is based on the concept that hidden and visible Imamate is of one nature in its application to the masses at large.
From Surah #19: Maryam
ذِكْرُ رَحْمَتِ رَبِّكَ عَبْدَهُ زَكَرِيَّا ﴿٢﴾ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ نِدَاءً خَفِيًّا ﴿٣﴾ قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَهَنَ الْعَظْمُ مِنِّي وَاشْتَعَلَ الرَّأْسُ شَيْبًا وَلَمْ أَكُن بِدُعَائِكَ رَبِّ شَقِيًّا ﴿٤﴾ وَإِنِّي خِفْتُ الْمَوَالِيَ مِن وَرَائِي وَكَانَتِ امْرَأَتِي عَاقِرًا فَهَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنكَ وَلِيًّا ﴿٥﴾ يَرِثُنِي وَيَرِثُ مِنْ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ ۖ وَاجْعَلْهُ رَبِّ رَضِيًّا ﴿٦﴾
A mention of the mercy of thy Lord unto His servant Zachariah. (2) When he cried unto his Lord a cry in secret, (3) Saying: My Lord! Lo! the bones of me wax feeble and my head is shining with grey hair, and I have never been unblest in prayer to Thee, my Lord. (4) Lo! I fear my kinsfolk after me, since my wife is barren. Oh, give me from Thy presence a successor (5) Who shall inherit of me and inherit (also) of the house of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, acceptable (unto Thee). (6)
We had dealt with this set of Verses in the main work. In general, the Shia argument on the basis of thes Verses is mostly centered on the postulate that Prophets do give material inheritance to their offspring, as opposed to the Sunni position.
We will not look at the matter from this angle since it is not related to the discussion at hand, but what we notice that is of relevance to us is that if the Shia narrative of Prophetic history were accurate, we would hav expected from Zakariyya (Alayhi Salaam) to know about the continuity of “Infallible Imamah” as a universal truth, and for him to be fully secure in this belief. Rather, what we find is Zakariyya (Alayhi Salaam) imploring Allah to grant him someone who will succeed him.
Of course, the Sunni says tht this is in terms of Prophethood and the Shia would say it is also with respect to “Infallible Imamah”. But the case of the Shia is weakened since Prophet Zakariyya (Alayhi Salaam) does not seem to be acting within a background wherein “Infallible Imamah” is the norm and a constant reality, but rather within a context where only Prophethood is operative and where the existence of Prophets is not taken as an axiomatic corollary to humanity’s existence on this Earth.
يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي قَدْ جَاءَنِي مِنَ الْعِلْمِ مَا لَمْ يَأْتِكَ فَاتَّبِعْنِي أَهْدِكَ صِرَاطًا سَوِيًّا ﴿٤٣﴾
O my father! Lo! there hath come unto me of knowledge that which came not unto thee. So follow me, and I will lead thee on a right path. (43)
This is another one of the crucial Verses to consider. In here, Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) is telling his idol-worshipping father (Azar) that specific knowledge has come to him (i.e. divinely-revealed knowledge of right and wrong), and that Azar should follow Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam), for Ibrahim will guide him to the correct way.
This verse is important in no small way because it shows that Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) was presenting himself as the human locus through which others could be guided, even long before the incident portrayed in Verse 2:124. Had the Shia view of events been correct, we would not have expected this particular statement coming from Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) at all. It would have been a case either of him not saying anything at all about guidance, or saying that he would point out to his father who the “real Imam” of the time was. That we find all of these points accumulating against the Shia Imamah doctrine should make the reader reflect on the viability of this doctrine as a whole.
From Surah #20: Ta ha
قَالَ يَا هَارُونُ مَا مَنَعَكَ إِذْ رَأَيْتَهُمْ ضَلُّوا ﴿٩٢﴾ أَلَّا تَتَّبِعَنِ ۖ أَفَعَصَيْتَ أَمْرِي ﴿٩٣﴾ قَالَ يَا ابْنَ أُمَّ لَا تَأْخُذْ بِلِحْيَتِي وَلَا بِرَأْسِي ۖ إِنِّي خَشِيتُ أَن تَقُولَ فَرَّقْتَ بَيْنَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَلَمْ تَرْقُبْ قَوْلِي ﴿٩٤﴾
He (Moses) said: O Aaron! What held thee back when thou didst see them gone astray, (92) That thou followedst me not? Hast thou then disobeyed my order? (93) He said: O son of my mother! Clutch not my beard nor my head! I feared lest thou shouldst say: Thou hast caused division among the Children of Israel, and hast not waited for my word. (94)
This series of Verses have an importance, because it shows that there may be difference of opinion even amongst the elects of Allah insofar as how to handle difficult issues and situations. This can be discerned in that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) initially reproached Harun (Alayhi Salaam) for the position he had taken with respect to the calf-worshippers, and that he has not followed Musa’s orders in the matter of informing him immediately when such a thing occurred, and of completely disassociating himself from the calf-worshipping group and joining Musa (Alayhi Salaam) on the Mount of Tur.
What this episode shows us then is that there is a potential for Allah to leave certain matters to the Ijtihaad (scholarly reasoning) of his chosen Ummah. After all, if there was some scope of personal judgment to be applied by both Musa and Harun (Alayhima Salaam) while they were both Prophets of Allah, the situation would naturally be much more open to the Mujtahidun of this Ummah to exercise tier opinion after their consideration of the evidence.
However, the Shia may ignore this point altogether and try to present matters from another angle. They may wish to bring up Harun’s (Alayhi Salaam) statement recorded in Surah al-A’raaf (Verse 7:150) the translation of which is: “He said: Son of my mother! Lo! the folk did judge me weak and almost killed me. Oh, make not mine enemies to triumph over me and place me not among the evil-doers.”
In here, Harun (Alayhi Salaam) mentions that his enemies almost killed him, and as such he had to maintain the peace in order not to totally split up the Israelite nation. The Shias may say that the situation for ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) after the passing of the Prophet ﷺ was similar, as he was extremely weak in terms of physical prowess and supporters, and he had to withstand the onslaught of those whom the Shia term as infidel hypocrites (from among the senior Sahabah), in order for Islam to remain alive, for otherwise the entirety of Islam would have vanished from the face of the earth.
But this presentation has too many problems when viewed unemotionally. Even if we suppose that the narrative the Shias are telling is true, the first problem is that there is no way to know whether ‘Ali’s (Radhia Allahu Anhu) Ijtihad was correct in this respect. If it is said that ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) was infallible and as such all of his decisions were correct, then this assumption runs into the problem that the difference of views between Musa and Harun (Alayhima Salaam) was true, in spite of infallibility. If it is said that Harun (Alayhi Salaam) explained his position of weakness and being close to getting killed to Musa (Alayhi Salaam), and that Musa accepted this explanation, then the issue becomes as to who Musa (Alayhi Salaam), the supposed “Infallible Imam” at that time, did not already have knowledge of this truth, and why did this information come to him from Harun (Alayhi Salaam) [rather than by divine inspiration]. If it is said that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) had already been informed of absolutely everything connected with this episode, then it would show that the difference in Ijtihaad between the two Prophets (Alayhima Salaam) was present, and it would only reinforce the Sunni position.
In addition to this topic, we also see hat to say that ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) was extremely weak and could do very little to turn the tide towards the truth is only damaging to the Imamah doctrine itself. That is because the “Imam” is meant to be the beacon of strength and truth in the face of whatever various types of enemies and falsehoods may arise. If the “Infallible Imam” can be effectively disarmed and defanged from his overaching responsibilities by a well-coordinated plot of the enemies, then the efficacy and relevance of “Imamah” itself suffer irreparably.
But the most important reason given in the Qur’an as to why Harun (Alayhi Salaam) took a relatively conciliatory approach in this case was not present during the time of ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) – the fact that for Harun, he could have hoped that the people would have recognized their mistakes once Musa (Alayhi Salaam) came back from the meeting with his Lord, while for ‘Ali, such a situation would not be possible, since the Prophet ﷺ had passed on to his Lord.
In synthesis, in order to make this type of strict correlation seem feasible, the Shia need to ignore a number of important inconsistencies that would easily undermine their narrative if properly considered. This is, of course, without considering the main point we brought up in relation to this Verse, which is that Ijtihad due to the lack of direct divine inspiration may be possible even in the case of the Prophets of Allah, and much more so after Prophethood has been finished in the world.
وَلَوْ أَنَّا أَهْلَكْنَاهُم بِعَذَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِهِ لَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا لَوْلَا أَرْسَلْتَ إِلَيْنَا رَسُولًا فَنَتَّبِعَ آيَاتِكَ مِن قَبْلِ أَن نَّذِلَّ وَنَخْزَىٰ ﴿١٣٤﴾
And if we had destroyed them with some punishment before it, they would assuredly have said: Our Lord! If only Thou hadst sent unto us a messenger, so that we might have followed Thy revelations before we were (thus) humbled and disgraced! (134)
This Verse is, of course, on the same pattern of meaning of other Verses of the Qur’an where the Makan disbelievers are mentioned, as is the fact that Allah has favored them by sending the Messenger of Allah to them, so that they will not have any route for excuses on the Day of Judgment. And as always, the clear mentioning of Messengers and not “Imams” is noteworthy.
From Surah #21: Al-Anbiyaa’
وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ وَلُوطًا إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا لِلْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٧١﴾ وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ نَافِلَةً ۖ وَكُلًّا جَعَلْنَا صَالِحِينَ ﴿٧٢﴾وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَاتِ وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا عَابِدِينَ ﴿٧٣﴾
And We rescued him and Lot (and brought them) to the land which We have blessed for (all) peoples. (71) And We bestowed upon him Isaac, and Jacob as a grandson. Each of them We made righteous. (72) And We made them chiefs who guide by Our command, and We inspired in them the doing of good deeds and the right establishment of worship and the giving of alms, and they were worshippers of Us (alone). (73)
These Verses need to be discussed in our view, since the word “Aimmah” occurs in Verse 73. What the Shia may try to say is that in this Verse, the mention of Imams is given, showing that “Infallible Imamah” is indeed mentioned in the Qur’an. But while we see the word “Imam” being used, we see that some problems crop up for the Shia interpretation.
First of all, the Prophets mentioned are Ibrahim, Lut, Ishaq and Ya’qub (Alayhima Salaam). We point out that we do not know – at the very least – how Lut (Alayhi Salaam) would be counted among the “Infallible Imams”, since in comparison to Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam), Lut was of a lesser overall rank, and it cannot be imagined that Lut (Alayhi Salaam) was the overarching “Imam” at any period of time – going solely by the Shias’ presentation of “Imamah”.
We also notice that the “Imamah” referred to in here itself seems to be of a general type, since the other actions mentioned (the inspiration of good works, the establishment of prayer, the giving of Zakah, and the strict worshipping of Allah), are not something confined only to the “Infallible Imams”.
But the Shias mat retort by saying that the “guidance by Allah’s Command” is solely for the “Infallible Imams” to carry out and no else can take on this task. We answer that all should then consider the situation of Prophet Lut (Alayhi Salaam) mentioned above, as well as that of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) and his father Azar, where Ibrahim referred to himself as the human guide even though the Shias do not hold that he had formally reached “Imamah” at that time. If we also recall the situation with Ya’qub (Alayhi Salaam) that we analyzed earlier in our discussion of Surah Yusuf above, then we wil come to the conclusion that the Shia portrayal stands on very weak grounds.
وَدَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ إِذْ يَحْكُمَانِ فِي الْحَرْثِ إِذْ نَفَشَتْ فِيهِ غَنَمُ الْقَوْمِ وَكُنَّا لِحُكْمِهِمْ شَاهِدِينَ ﴿٧٨﴾ فَفَهَّمْنَاهَا سُلَيْمَانَ ۚ وَكُلًّا آتَيْنَا حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا ۚ
And David and Solomon, when they gave judgment concerning the field, when people’s sheep had strayed and browsed therein by night; and We were witnesses to their judgment. (78) And We made Solomon to understand (the case); and unto each of them We gave judgment and knowledge…
We have also discussed the main points concerning these two Verses in our main work. What happens in here is that if we suppose that Dawud (Alayhi Salaam) was the “Infallible Imam” through whom all were guided during his “Imamah”, then saying that the new Divine judgment (i.e. the new Divine Law) was granted to his son Sulayman (Alayhi Salaam) is problematic, since it would undermine the very need for all guidance to be solely through one personage as per the Twelver Shia doctrine.
Rather, what these Verses would show us is that Allah may alternate even between His very elect, such as Prophets, in making the whole truth and the comprehensiveness of the situations as per Divine Legislation apparent through their hands to the people at large.
From Surah #22: Al-Hajj
قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّمَا أَنَا لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ ﴿٤٩﴾
Say: O mankind! I am only a plain warner unto you. (49)
Again, this is one of the major Verses where Muhammad ﷺ addresses the entirety of mankind. We see that he presents himself not as the “Imam” for all mankind, but rather as a warner to them. Granted that being a warner does not eliminate the possibility of being an “Infallible Imam”, but the lack of mention of this rank is very striking when it “appears” again and again.
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ وَلَا نَبِيٍّ إِلَّا إِذَا تَمَنَّىٰ أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَانُ فِي أُمْنِيَّتِهِ فَيَنسَخُ اللَّـهُ مَا يُلْقِي الشَّيْطَانُ ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ اللَّـهُ آيَاتِهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ ﴿٥٢﴾
Never sent We a messenger or a prophet before thee but when He recited (the message) Satan proposed (opposition) in respect of that which he recited thereof. But Allah abolisheth that which Satan proposeth. Then Allah establisheth His revelations. Allah is Knower, Wise; (52)
This Verse would seem to suggest that besides the titles of “Prophet” and “Messenger”, there was no other “archetype” the Prophet ﷺ belonged to. Besides, here the Qur’an is talking about the enmity of Shaytan with respect to those whom Allah has chosen and elected, and how Allah obliterated this opposition. Moreover, this Verse establishes continuity between the Prophet ﷺ and the previous men of Allah. If “Imamah” were truly part of the Divine Plan, leaving it out of this presentation is indeed very strange, since continuity between “Imams” is the supposed defining characteristic of this “post”, but in here it is not mentioned at all in any way or form.
وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّـهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ ۚ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَـٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ ۚ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّـهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ ﴿٧٨﴾
And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper! (78)
This Verse has, for the purposes of our discussion, certain similarities with Verse 2:143 mentioned earlier. What we see in here is that Allah is addressing the Muslims en masse, reminding them that they are the (spiritual) descendants of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam), and that they are entrusted with being witnesses over mankind at large.
Only the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) himself has been mentioned as the witness over the Muslims as a group. This is of course, relevant here, since it proves that even foer times coming many centuries after his earthly passing, the Prophet ﷺ is still the leader of this nation, and there is no need for anyone else to fulfill a post of “Infallible Imamah” in order for the Muslims at large to be witnesses over mnkind.
If someone says that the Muslims referred to in here are only the “Infallible Imams”, then it seems very much out-of-place that supposedly, the only Muslims in the whole history since the coming of the Prophet ﷺ are these 12 Imams plus the Prophet himself. It would also seem strange that the exhortations in here seem to be towards common tasks the individual Muslims should commit (such as struggling in the path of Allah, offering prayers, giving Zakaah, remembering that the religion has notbeen made difficelut for them, and so forth). None of these entails “Imamah”, and we very much doubt that such a general declaration that is to be acted upon by every Muslim would suddenly be directed at only twelve individuals, nine of whom were not even born during the Prophet’s ﷺ lifetime.
Not only this, but if we consider the Verse in conjunction with the previous one, the matter becomes even clearer, as Allah says there:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ارْكَعُوا وَاسْجُدُوا وَاعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ۩ ﴿٧٧﴾
O ye who believe! Bow down and prostrate yourselves, and worship your Lord, and do good, that haply ye may prosper. (77)
Again, we seriously doubt that any Shia would dare to say that only the Prophet ﷺ and the “12 Imams” are the only believers and Muslims the world have ever seen since the Prophethood started. Thus, we see that the explanation given by some of the Shias lack rigour and correctness.
From Surah #23: Al-Mu’minoon
ثُمَّ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا تَتْرَىٰ ۖ كُلَّ مَا جَاءَ أُمَّةً رَّسُولُهَا كَذَّبُوهُ ۚ فَأَتْبَعْنَا بَعْضَهُم بَعْضًا وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَحَادِيثَ ۚ فَبُعْدًا لِّقَوْمٍ لَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿٤٤﴾
Then We sent our messengers one after another. Whenever its messenger came unto a nation they denied him; so We caused them to follow one another (to disaster) and We made them bywords. A far removal for folk who believe not! (44)
This is another important Verse in our discussion. We see that Allah is mentioning the sending of Messengers one after the other in sequence and also tying the Messengers with every people they were sent to. It should be taken into consideration that even when Allah mentions the sending of the Messengers in sequence, even then the important feature concerns the people they were sent to, not that the time frame was so close to one another (of course, this is definitely part of the message, but not in the sense of establishing a point of dogma as the Shias would have us believe).
Even if it were said that the importance and emphasis is on the time, this would not affect the argument of the Shia positively, since there is no proof that such Messengers were “Imams” in the technical sense of the word.
From Surah #24: An-Nuur
وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاءَ فَاجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَانِينَ جَلْدَةً وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ ﴿٤﴾ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ وَأَصْلَحُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿٥﴾ وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَاجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُمْ شُهَدَاءُ إِلَّا أَنفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَادَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّـهِ ۙ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ ﴿٦﴾ وَالْخَامِسَةُ أَنَّ لَعْنَتَ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كَانَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ ﴿٧﴾ وَيَدْرَأُ عَنْهَا الْعَذَابَ أَن تَشْهَدَ أَرْبَعَ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّـهِ ۙ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ ﴿٨﴾ وَالْخَامِسَةَ أَنَّ غَضَبَ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهَا إِن كَانَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ ﴿٩﴾
And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony – They indeed are evil-doers – (4) Save those who afterward repent and make amends. (For such) lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (5) As for those who accuse their wives but have no witnesses except themselves; let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies, (swearing) by Allah that he is of those who speak the truth; (6) And yet a fifth, invoking the curse of Allah on him if he is of those who lie. (7) And it shall avert the punishment from her if she bear witness before Allah four times that the thing he saith is indeed false, (8) And a fifth (time) that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he speaketh truth. (9)
Here again, we have a set of Verses that show the practical steps people have to take in order to prove a case of fornication. Indeed, these rules and others in addition to them have been applied from the time of the Prophet ﷺ onwards, and they constitute part of the pure Islamic Sharia. The question then arises is that if the “Infallibles” were meant to have supernatural knowledge about all the matters of the Ummah, the process described above would be superfluous, since the litigants could simply go to the “Infallible” and have their matter resolved right then and there, without the need for this stringent process, nor for any of the other rules related to the witnessing of immoral acts between non-Mahrams.
Now, there are those who may say that we are overblowing the matter, that the “Infallibles” are pure and protected against sin, but all they have to do is to explain the rules of Islam and elucidate any complications based on the rules themselves. However, the argument goes, this cannot extend all the way to supernaturally checking every case and applying the rules through “clairvoyant” means.
This does not seem to be a strong argument from our opponents. The base issue is that the “Infallible Imam” is supposedly present in order to lead his followers and the nation as a whole towards the realization of the apex of positive human potentialities. And there can be nothing more conducive to the realization of this height except that the “Infallible” deals with the problems brought up to him not on the basis of fallible evidence, but rather on the basis of his own alleged divinely provided gifts.
The bottom line is that the Qur’an is basically assuming a world where there are no “Infallibles” in the sense understood by the Shias, but rather what exists are human beings using various fallible means in order to achieve an approximate level of confidence in the matters they are dealing with.
We have to say that there is actually one issue specific to this Verse that we had not considered before, and that is that the method for reaching certainty in the case where fornication occurs is actually extremely strict, almost to the point of practical impossibility. What occurred (especially in the early Islamic history) is that the adulterers themselves would plead to the Prophet ﷺ to have the punishment applied to them.
What we can see from this is that if the worldview of Islam was within the purview of “Infallible Imams”, such would not have been the rule to follow in such cases, since this rule proves that “external evidence” (i.e. from outside those who actually commited the act of fornication) is practically impossible. Rather, the matter would have been directly referred to the “Imams” for immediate judgment.
This Verse is then, a rather big proof that “Infallibility” as presented by the Twelver Shias simply does not exist for anyone [of course, we do say that Muhammad ﷺ was infallible, but as we know, the divergence between us and the Shias with respect to the understanding of this term is significant].
وَعَدَ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَىٰ لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا ۚ يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ ﴿٥٥﴾
Allah hath promised such of you as believe and do good work that He will surely make them to succeed (the present rulers) in the earth even as He caused those who were before them to succeed (others); and that He will surely establish for them their religion which He hath approved for them, and will give them in exchange safety after their fear. They serve Me. They ascribe no thing as partner unto Me. Those who disbelieve henceforth, they are the miscreants. (55)
There are a couple of issues with regards to this Verse. To begin with, we see that the word (منكم) [“such of you”] is being used, which shows tht the Verse refers to those who believe and do good works at the time this Verse was revealed – and this would show the legitimacy of the Guided Khulafa as per Sunni theology as opposed to the view held by the Twelvers. As we know though, Shia history says that the “Infallible Imams” from the time of ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) himself were always oppressed, mistreated, without safety for their religion, and so forth.
So the issue becomes that undoubtedly Shia history itself is wrong, and critically in the part where it propounds that Islam was crushed and its true believers persecuted and killed right from the day when the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) died, and that such is the situation down to our day.
Of corse, the Twelver Shias try to get out of this paradox by saying that the Verse actually refers to the rule of their currently hidden Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi. But this clearly seems to be incorrect, since the Verse is indeed referring to a future series of events, but ones that will take place within the very lifetimes of those in whose presence the Verse was revealed. Besides, the referrants are in the plural (لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ) [“will make them to succeed”], (لَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ) [“surely establish for them”] (and so on), so it is very strange that the plural would be used to refer to only one person. And it is also difficult to say that it refers to the helpers of the “Infallible Imam”, since the Shias are extremely adamant on the assumption that Allah only appoints Khulafa from Infallibles and from no one else at all. Thus, this Verse is important evidence that Allah will appoint multiple people from among the Companions as the Khulafa in such a way that the religion of Islam is on a high pedestal – and all of this is against Shia theology.
Secondly, believing and doing good works are all proper and necessary actions to undertake, but we cannot say that such actions are only done by Infallibles, or in this case the “Last Imam”. So this is another issue close attention to which has to be paid.
The issue of “disbelieving” after this state of events may also come up. The Twelver Shias may say that this refers to those who disbelieve in the reign of the Imam Mahdi after his return. There is a chance that the Verse refers to the type of disbelief in faith – though even here we would not accept that it is restricted to a hidden Mahdi that is to come later, since this “Kufr” would still be towards the congregation of people that have been made Khulafa on Earth while their religion has been allowed to have dominion, and thus it cannot refer to just one person. But there is also a chance that the Verse is in fact talking about lack of appreciation and slackening (taking the word “Kufr” more in its literal meaning rather than actual disbelief) in keeping up the good acts that categorized those who came after the generation of Muslims during which time the spirit of Islam had reached its apex.
When we take all of these evidences together, we see that this Verse is an important bulwark against the Shia idea of “Infallible Imams”.
From Surah #25: Al-Furqan
وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَبَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ قَرْيَةٍ نَّذِيرًا ﴿٥١﴾
If We willed, We could raise up a warner in every village. (51)
We again see in here Allah’s declaration that the men of Allah are tied to their towns and villages, rather than to specific times. For in here, there is an element of showing the greatness of Allah’s Power, and the proof of this is not that Allah could have kept Muhammad ﷺ alive up to the Day of Judgment [emphasizing the time-aspect], but rather there is an emphasis on his being sent at the time he was sent for the entire world. From this then, we see that Muhammad’s ﷺ coming in the specific time and place he did come by the leave of Allah was enough for the entire world, and that neither the place-factor nor the time-factor have to be elongated or covered forever with “Infallibles” – and even if there were a hypothetical “carpet covering”, the preference would be towards every town and village, not towards every day, month, and year.
وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا ﴿٧٤﴾
And who say: Our Lord! Vouchsafe us comfort of our wives and of our offspring, and make us patterns for (all) those who ward off (evil). (74)
We had discussed this matter somewhat at length in the main book, so in here we will only briefly recap what the situation actually is: This is a supplication in order for the supplicants to be made “Imams” for the God-fearing. However, if we read Verses 63-73 immediately preceding this supplication, we see that the characteristics mentioned in these eleven preceding Verses are quite noble and good, but they cannot be said, either individually or collective, to be the sole arena of “Infallible Imams”.
For example, in Verses 68-70, there is an allusion to those who had previously commited enormities but they gone on to repent from their sins and instead started performing good deeds. For in this case, the people under discussion would not be “Infallible”, but rather would be those who turn back to Allah after realizing the true nature of the evils they had commited.
Even if we only consider Verse 74 and nothing else, we see that the supplication would not have been fully answered by Allah, if we go along with the Shia narrative that it refers only to the “14 Infallibles” of Shiaism.
As a very obvious example, the Shias consider Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to have been the top-most “Imam” among all the inhabitants of the Universe. Yet they claim that some of his wives (particularly ‘Ayesha (RAA)) were not at all the comfort for the Prophet’s ﷺ eyes, but were rather extremely evil women who had basically left the circle of Islam in their hearts and were always plotting against Islam. The same supposition can be extended based on what the Shias say concerning some of the wives and offspring of some of the “14 Infallibles”, to the point that we start to seriously consider that if the first part of this supplication was not answered by Allah, there is no reason for us to hold that such personalities supplicating to Allah were made “Infallible Imams” in the sense understood by the Shia.
From Surah #26: Ash-Shu’ara
وَإِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبُّكَ مُوسَىٰ أَنِ ائْتِ الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿١٠﴾ قَوْمَ فِرْعَوْنَ ۚ أَلَا يَتَّقُونَ ﴿١١﴾ قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَن يُكَذِّبُونِ ﴿١٢﴾ وَيَضِيقُ صَدْرِي وَلَا يَنطَلِقُ لِسَانِي فَأَرْسِلْ إِلَىٰ هَارُونَ ﴿١٣﴾ وَلَهُمْ عَلَيَّ ذَنبٌ فَأَخَافُ أَن يَقْتُلُونِ ﴿١٤﴾ قَالَ كَلَّا ۖ فَاذْهَبَا بِآيَاتِنَا ۖ إِنَّا مَعَكُم مُّسْتَمِعُونَ ﴿١٥﴾ فَأْتِيَا فِرْعَوْنَ فَقُولَا إِنَّا رَسُولُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿١٦﴾ أَنْ أَرْسِلْ مَعَنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ ﴿١٧﴾
And when thy Lord called Moses, saying: Go unto the wrongdoing folk, (10) The folk of Pharaoh. Will they not ward off (evil)? (11) He said: My Lord! Lo! I fear that they will deny me, (12) And I shall be embarrassed, and my tongue will not speak plainly, therefor send for Aaron (to help me). (13) And they have a crime against me, so I fear that they will kill me. (14) He said: Nay, verily. So go ye twain with Our tokens. Lo! We shall be with you, Hearing. (15) And come together unto Pharaoh and say: Lo! we bear a message of the Lord of the Worlds, (16) (Saying): Let the Children of Israel go with us. (17)
These Verses, at the beginning of this blessed Chapter, show a number of things. They show, first of all, that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) had a certain situation specific to him that did not allow him to speak as plainly to people as his brother Haarun (Alayhi Salaam). This truth is of importance, since it would show that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) did not possess the conglomeration of the utmost perfection of all qualities within his person, but rather that he asked for help from Allah the Exalted so that his brother Haarun (Alayhi Salaam) could help him to carry out his mission more perfectly.
This is one thing. We also see, more importantly, that Musa and Haarun (Alayhima Salaam) were ordered by Allah to go unto the Pharaoh and proclaim to him, not that they bring something related to “Infallible Imaamah”, but rather, that they bring something related to their position as Messengers of Allah. Since we are talking about the most important messages they had to bring to the worst of the tyrants, it cannot be lost on the readers that the absence of the mentioning of anything to do with “Infallible Imaamah” and “Imaams” is of enormous significance.
قَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ وَمَا رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٢٣﴾
Pharaoh said: And what is the Lord of the Worlds? (23)
This is an important Verse, because it shows yet again that the disbelievers argued based on the “lowest-common denominator” of what the Prophets (Alayhim Salaam) brought forth. In many cases, we see that the disbelieving people would acknowledge the existence of Allah but argue bitterly concerning the possibility that Prophets could be sent. We see in the case of Musa (Alayhi Salaam), that Fir’awn did not even acknowledge that Allah existed, and thus his point of initiation for expressing his disbelief began with the question of Allah’s Existence.
What we never see though, is any from among the disbelievers saying that they disbelieve in the concept of “Imaamah”; that is, we never see anyone in any place of the Qur’an saying that they do not believe that Allah sent an “Imaam”, and that this is too difficult for them to accept. Rather, the arguments of the disbelievers always center on whether there is a thing such as Prophethood and Messengership, and when the stubbornness of such disbelievers reaches its peak, there is a rejection of the Day of Judgment or a rejection of Allah Himself, but never of this alleged position of “Imaamah”. This is another point that we have to keep in mind.
فَإِنَّهُمْ عَدُوٌّ لِّي إِلَّا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٧٧﴾ الَّذِي خَلَقَنِي فَهُوَ يَهْدِينِ ﴿٧٨﴾
Lo! they are (all) an enemy unto me, save the Lord of the Worlds, (77) Who created me, and He doth guide me, (78)
This is from the declarations of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) to his people in the early part of his life, when he is declaring that he is free from all of their false idols they worship and that he turns only to Allah the Exalted. The important thing is that Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) is mentioning Allah directly as his guide, and not through the medium of some “Infallible Imaam”. As we can know, this is very important, since it is a statement directly contradicting the assumption that Ibrahim (AS) was given the formal post of “Imaamah” at a late stage of his life, and it proves that Allah guides those whom He wills directly without the medium of “Imaams”.
From Surah #27: An-Naml
وَوَرِثَ سُلَيْمَانُ دَاوُودَ ۖ وَقَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ عُلِّمْنَا مَنطِقَ الطَّيْرِ وَأُوتِينَا مِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ ۖ إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَهُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْمُبِينُ ﴿١٦﴾
And Solomon was David’s heir. And he said: O mankind! Lo! we have been taught the language of birds, and have been given (abundance) of all things. This surely is evident favour. (16)
It may again be asked as to what is the connection between this Verse and the Imaamah doctrin. In fact, what happens is that Sulayman’s (Alayhi Salaam) inheriting from Daawud (Alayhi Salaam) is mentioned, but it is definitely not clear that this was on the basis of “Imaamah” – we know that it is in terms of Prophethood, but to make the jump to “Imaamah” is uncalled for and without a true basis. Saying that the kingdom had been given to both of them successively is not an evidence, for as we remember from one of our previous discussions above, there was at least one occasion in which the new jurisprudential rule was revealed to Sulayman (AS) and elucidated by him only, even though he was in the presence of his father Daawud (AS).
In fact, what the Twelver Shias use this Verse for is mostly to try to show that Prophets leave material inheritance after their passing away from this world. But if we were to hypothetically take this view as correct, this would only strengthen the Sunni view, since every common man and woman leaves behind material belongings for his heirs, but divinely-appointed positions are not something that is inherited by the rank-and-file among the believers. Thus, by trying trivializing the type of inheritance alluded to in this Verse, the Twelver Shias have only undermined their own fundamental ideology.
From Surah #28: Al-Qasas
وَنُرِيدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَى الَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةً وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ الْوَارِثِينَ ﴿٥﴾
And We desired to show favour unto those who were oppressed in the earth, and to make them examples and to make them the inheritors, (5)
This is one of the few Verses where the word Imam or its plural “Aimmah” is used. As we saw in the discussion we had about this Verse in the main book, there are basically two problems in here if anyone tries to make an analogy between this Verse and the “Infallible Imams” of Twelver Shiaism:
Firstly, the Children of Israel were given this “Imamate” as a whole tribe as per this Verse, not as specific people arising amongst them as “Infallible Imams”. In this sense, the Verse is very similar to the Ayah 7:129, where Prophet Musa (Alayhi Salaam) informs the Children of Israel that perchance Allah might give them dominion on the Earth in order for Him to see how they act.
If we look at the context of the Ayah we also see that it is referring to the inheritance of the possessions on Earth, not to the emergence of “Imams” among the Children of Israel. We can see this more clearly when we consider the following Verses from Surah Ad-Dukhaan (Chapter #44): How many were the gardens and the watersprings that they left behind, (25) And the cornlands and the goodly sites (26) And pleasant things wherein they took delight! (27) Even so (it was), and We made it an inheritance for other folk; (28). It is then very clear that this particular Verse is referring to a type of leadership of something other than spiritual gifts ad heights. Thus, this Verse cannot be taken as a declaration of “Infallibility” by any strectch of the imagination.
Secondly, we see that in comparison with the Twelver Shia claim, the situation of the Israelites is in fact the exact converse of this. This is so, because apparently according to the Shia narrative, the “Imams” and their “Shias” have only lived through torture, suffering, and endless hardships from the time of the Prophet’s ﷺ demise up to now, and will continue to be oppressed and downtrodden until the return of the final Imam. The question is that how can there be appointment of Imams if there has been no deliverance of the Shia nation and of the suffering of their Imams, and all of this is only said to be postponed to an eschatological future?
To this we can add the fact that if the Twelver Shia view was correct, what we would see is that the Israelites would already have had their “Imam” living amongst them, and the only thing that would be necessary would be for Musa (Alayhi Salaam) to bring a new Sharia or legislation, not to start leadership from the ground up as this Verse suggests.
It is clear from these points above that the Verse in question is not referring to the “Infallible Imamah” of the Twelvers, but is rather referring to a different type of leadership and inheritance in the land.
قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَغَفَرَ لَهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ ﴿١٦﴾
He said: My Lord! Lo! I have wronged my soul, so forgive me. Then He forgave him. Lo! He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. (16)
This Verse mentions Prophet Musa’s (Alayhi Salaam) supplication to Allahafter he had accidentally caused the death of an Egyptian Copt. If we were to take the statement of Musa (Alayhi Salaam) only based on its apparent meaning and in comparison with the Twelver Shia doctrine with regards to Imams and the “commiting of Thulm (injustice)”, we would have to conclude that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) could never have been appointed as an “Infallible Imaam”, no matter what he may have done later in his life.
We know that the response to this would be that the ‘Thulm’ referred to in here is only a term that was used by Musa (Alayhi Salaam) as a sign of humility in front of Allah, in that even the unintentional consequences of an act were regarded by him as a sin, not that his action was an injustice in the real sense of the word.
However, this line of thinking (which is in fact correct), would only favor the Sunni side of the argument, since it would show that not every instance of a word can be taken as referring to the formal concept of that word and its doctrinal ramifications, but rather, that there is a requirement to consider each case separately, and that there may be a large number of considerations before determining what a term means in any given Verse.
This principle is as true for this Verse as it is for many of the words and phrases occurring in the Qur’an which the Twelver Shias use casually while trying to advance their Imaamah doctrine.
وَأَخِي هَارُونُ هُوَ أَفْصَحُ مِنِّي لِسَانًا فَأَرْسِلْهُ مَعِيَ رِدْءًا يُصَدِّقُنِي ۖ إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَن يُكَذِّبُونِ ﴿٣٤﴾
My brother Aaron is more eloquent than me in speech. Therefor send him with me as a helper to confirm me. Lo! I fear that they will give the lie to me. (34)
This was mentioned before, but to recap, what we see in this Verse is the explicit declaration of Musa (Alayhi Salaam) that his brother Haarun (Alayhi Salaam) is more eloquent than him in speech, and that this is one of the main reasons why Musa (Alayhi Salaam) needs his help in his mission of Prophethood. As we can deduce, eloquence and sweetness of speech are important assets, especially in divinely appointed posts, where the general people need to be attracted to the Elect of Allah).
But we cannot say, based on this and similar Ayaat, that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) possessed the peak of this virtue among all inhabitants of the Earth in his time; and this would render him unaccaeptable for the post of “Imaamah” as per the Twelver Shia rules. Not only this, but it would render everyone else unacceptable for this alleged role, since it would show that the ultimate peak in every given virtue was not conglomerated in only one individual. If such is taken to be the case, then there would also be no way for this alleged post of Imaamah to be handed down from person to person until it reached Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the “12 Imams” of Shiaism.
There may be a reply to the above, in that there was a deep divine wisdom in keeping Musa (Alayhi Salaam) from being the most eloquent individual in his time, but that such a case would not really affect his status as the one with the foremost virtue and the only possible candidate for Imaamah. But we say that this is an irrelevant reply: We do not doubt that there is great wisdom in whatever Allah decides with respect to His Prophets and Messengers, nor do we doubt that Musa’s (Alayhi Salaam) virtue as a whole surpassed that of all other humans in his epoch. But what we say is that this Verse and many other Verses similar to it (like the ones in Surah al-Kahf concerning Musa and Khidr (Alayhima Salaam)) show that the Shia supposition concerning the coming together of the apex of all virtues and good things in one person, the “Infallible Imaam of the time”, is simply not true, and it openly contradicts many Qur’anic statements head-on.
Thus, this is not a questioning of Allah’s Wisdom and how He disposes of His favors to His Elect, but rather showing that His Favors do not include “Imaamah” in the sense understood by Twelvers.
وَمَا كُنتَ بِجَانِبِ الطُّورِ إِذْ نَادَيْنَا وَلَـٰكِن رَّحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ لِتُنذِرَ قَوْمًا مَّا أَتَاهُم مِّن نَّذِيرٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ ﴿٤٦﴾
And thou was not beside the Mount when We did call; but (the knowledge of it is) a mercy from thy Lord that thou mayst warn a folk unto whom no warner came before thee, that haply they may give heed. (46)
This is again an important Verse to consider from a number of angles. Firstly, we see that there is a mentioning of Muhammad ﷺ being the “Nadheer” (warner) to his people, this after his people had no warners coming to them before the appearance of Muhammad ﷺ.
At this stage, it is important that we tie this Verse with certain other Verses we had discussed before, particularly Verses 5:16 and 5:19. In these two Verses, it was clearly mentioned that the People of the Book also had no one amongst their own to guide them prior to the coming of Muhammad ﷺ, and that the warner [the “Nadheer”] had come to them after a break in the coming of Messengers, something that is most clearly seen in Verse 5:19.
What this combination of Verses would show is that there was no bringer of glad tidings and no Warner prior to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, neither for the Arab idolaters or for the People of the Book.
This is an extremely important point against the Twelver Shia doctrine. For if the task of Imaamah had been kept either within a “successor of ‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam)” or in someone from within the Banu Haashim tribe, neither the present Verse under consideration, nor the Verses in Surah al-Maaidah as shown above could have possibly been revealed.
If someone asks as to why this is so, it is for the simple reason that in such a hypothetical case, it would be the job of every Arab idolater, Jew, Christian, and every one else to seek out the guidance from this alleged “Infallible guide”. Likewise, there would have been no Verse mentioning that the idolater Arabs and the People of the Book (and in fact, everyone in the world) had no one to warn and guide them prior to the coming of Muhammad ﷺ
وَلَوْلَا أَن تُصِيبَهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ فَيَقُولُوا رَبَّنَا لَوْلَا أَرْسَلْتَ إِلَيْنَا رَسُولًا فَنَتَّبِعَ آيَاتِكَ وَنَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿٤٧﴾
Otherwise, if disaster should afflict them because of that which their own hands have sent before (them), they might say: Our Lord! Why sentest Thou no messenger unto us, that we might have followed Thy revelations and been of the believers? (47)
This Verse follows the previous one above, and makes an appeal to the Arab idolaters. What we see in here is that Allah says, that if the disbelievers were face-to-face with disaster, and they were in their most desperate of situations, they would have implored Allah concerning the sending of Messengers, and how this may have averted the punishment from them. Again, we see that there is no mention of an Imam to be followed that would save them from destruction, even though the situation presented is that of the disbelievers in their most desperate of conditions, where they cannot afford to feign ignorance or to dismiss the truth out of arrogance.
وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ مُهْلِكَ الْقُرَىٰ حَتَّىٰ يَبْعَثَ فِي أُمِّهَا رَسُولًا يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ وَمَا كُنَّا مُهْلِكِي الْقُرَىٰ إِلَّا وَأَهْلُهَا ظَالِمُونَ ﴿٥٩﴾
And never did thy Lord destroy the townships, till He had raised up in their mother(-town) a messenger reciting unto them Our revelations. And never did We destroy the townships unless the folk thereof were evil-doers. (59)
This Verse is similar in the context of our discussion to the previous one and to many other Verses that have been presented thus far: The main point being once again that the criteria for a people to be judged as to whether they have obeyed Allah rests with their acceptance of Prophets and Messengers, and not with respect to any alleged “Imams”.
Another point we can see from here is from the use of the word ‘Thaalimun’ as evil-doers who deserve to be punished severely for what they have commited, and not merely that of people who may have commited sins at some point of their lives.
From Surah #30: Ar-Rum
أَوَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ كَانُوا أَشَدَّ مِنْهُمْ قُوَّةً وَأَثَارُوا الْأَرْضَ وَعَمَرُوهَا أَكْثَرَ مِمَّا عَمَرُوهَا وَجَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ۖ فَمَا كَانَ اللَّـهُ لِيَظْلِمَهُمْ وَلَـٰكِن كَانُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ ﴿٩﴾
Have they not travelled in the land and seen the nature of the consequence for those who were before them? They were stronger than these in power, and they dug the earth and built upon it more than these have built. Messengers of their own came unto them with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty). Surely Allah wronged them not, but they did wrong themselves. (9)
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ رُسُلًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِمْ فَجَاءُوهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَانتَقَمْنَا مِنَ الَّذِينَ أَجْرَمُوا ۖ وَكَانَ حَقًّا عَلَيْنَا نَصْرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿٤٧﴾
Verily We sent before thee (Muhammad) messengers to their own folk. Then we took vengeance upon those who were guilty (in regard to them). To help believers is ever incumbent upon Us. (47)
We have placed these two Verses from the same Chapter one after the other, and the message is again the same, that the salvation and destruction of anyone is dependent on the following of Messengers and Prophets, without the mention of any other type of personages.
From Surah #32: As-Sajdah
أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَاهُ ۚ بَلْ هُوَ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ لِتُنذِرَ قَوْمًا مَّا أَتَاهُم مِّن نَّذِيرٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ ﴿٣﴾
Or say they: He hath invented it? Nay, but it is the Truth from thy Lord, that thou mayst warn a folk to whom no warner came before thee, that haply they may walk aright. (3)
The overall message of this Verse is similar to that of Verse 28:46 discussed above. The only difference is that instead of the word ‘يَتَذَكَّرُونَ’ [they (may) give heed], wht is used in here is ‘يَهْتَدُونَ’ [they (may) walk aright.], related to the concept of guidance. This adds yet another proof against the Twelver Shias, in that guidance – the most important benefit an Infallible Imam is supposed to provide to all – is explicitly mentioned in here as lacking among the idolater Arabs, and this shows that these Arabs frankly had no one to guide them properly anywhere in the world until the coming of Muhammad ﷺ.
وَجَعَلْنَا مِنْهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا لَمَّا صَبَرُوا ۖ وَكَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يُوقِنُونَ ﴿٢٤﴾
And when they became steadfast and believed firmly in Our revelations, We appointed from among them leaders who guided by Our command. (24)
We had discussed this Verse in the original main work, and we can reiterate that the main points preventing this Verse from being in favor of the Twelver Shia view are as follows: First, if the Verse is in connection with the Israelites’ patience and perseverance in their faith, then this is something that according to the Shias is not taken into consideration whenever Allah “appoints Imams”, since the existence of the Imaam is, according to them, fundamentally necessary, regardless of whether humanity at large is obedient or sinful; and it does not even matter whether anyone from among the normal human beings even accepts the existence of the “Infallible Imaam” or not, since his existence is allegedly something of cosmic importance that cannot be tied to the faith or disbelief of the common folk.
Second, if the steadfastness and patience is taken to be applied to the Imams themselves, then this is also against the rules of Twelver Shiaism, for the simple reason that the post of Infallible Imaamah according to them is not an acquired position but is rather something that is bestowed upon the people by the unilateral grace of Allah.
As an analogy, we never see in the Qur’an (or even in the Hadeeth literature) any mention of someone becoming a Prophet or a Messenger due to the patience or steadfastness he showed during his life. Such a reality would only advance the Sunni argument, in that the “Aimmah” (leaders) referred to in this Verse have nothing to do with a formal divinely appointed position, but were rather leaders in a general sense, that may have risen or gone away based on the tests that the Children of Israel passed or failed throughout their lives.
There is one objectyion that could arise, which is that this Verse is only expressing the matter in terms of “becoming steadfast” and “achieving firm faith in the Ayaat of Allah”, but that in reality the Infallibles had these qualities all along, and that only the designation was done at the appropriate time.
But we say that this is a rejected argument, since it keeps the designation as a specific event in time with a before and an after [that is, a period with the person being an “Imaam” and a period when the person has become an “Imaam”], while the actions and the perfection of the faith are sid to be only metaphorical statements.
However, even this objection is of no value, since there should supposedly be no time without an Imam for the Children of Israel, while the Verse is not concentrating on any specific person becoming an “Imaam”, but rather points to the existence of “Aimmah” to begin with in the midst of the Israelites.
It is due to these and similar arguments that this Verse cannot be taken to have even a tenuous relationship with the Shia concept of Imaamah.
From Surah #33: Al-Ahzaab
إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
Allah’s wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Folk of the Household, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing. (33)
This is obviously one of the more oft-quoted Verses in connection with the Twelver Shia argumentations. Now, we do not wish to discuss here the various meanings of the word ‘Rijs’ that occurs in here, or whether the Verse was revealed only for the ’14 Ma’sumeen’ or for the Prophet’s (SAW) wives and so forth, since this requires a discussion in and of itself, in what would basically be a separate volume.
But for the sake of argument, let us just suppose that this Verse is informing us of Allah’s Decision to thoroughly purify the Ahl-ul-Bayt, in here referring to the ’14 Ma’sumeen’ and no one else, a declaration of their infallibility. The clear thing that we see is that infallibility as presented in here cannot directly and unconditionally point to Imaamah, since it may include women who cannot be “Imaams” [such as Faatimah (RAA)], plus the type of infallibility mentioned here also encompasses “Prophets who were not Infallible Imaams” as per the Twelver Shia belief.
That is, if we ask whether this type of ‘infallibility’ was also bestowed upon “Non-Imam Prophets”, the answer would be that yes, this same type of infallibility and removal of ‘Rijs’ was bestowed upon them as well. The fact that the Prophet (SAW) was not of this category of Prophets is a coincidental occurrence, not one tied to conforming to the technical definition of “infallibility” as presented in this Verse. This is an important point to consider, since it may lead to some confusion.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا ﴿٤٥﴾ وَدَاعِيًا إِلَى اللَّـهِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَسِرَاجًا مُّنِيرًا ﴿٤٦﴾
O Prophet! Lo! We have sent thee as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner. (45) And as a summoner unto Allah by His permission, and as a lamp that giveth light. (46)
These two Verses are declaring some of the qualities of the Prophet ﷺ. We will not get involved into the deeper meanings these words have when applied to Muhammad ﷺ, but we will need to take notice that there is no place in the Qur’an where it is said that Muhammad ﷺ was an “Infalible Imaam” to the world or to the Universe. He is certainly presented as a Prophet and Messenger, in addition to the special perfect attributes mentioned in this Verse.
And yet, there is no place where his supposed “Imaamah” is presented, which is a very strong indication to the reality that he did not have such a formal title. For if someone can say that there were “Infallible Imams” from among the Israelites, but that they are only mentioned as a group without details [such as is the supposed case of Verse 32:24 above], then how much more necessary would it be for this epithet to be used in order to describe Muhammad ﷺ if he really did possess this status in a technical sense.
Thus, we see Muhammad ﷺ referred to as a witness, a bringer of good tidings, a warner, a summoner unto Allah, amd a luminous lamp, but not as an “Infalible Imaam”. Note that it cannot be said that any of these five special qualities signify “Imaamah”, since they may be used to describe the greatness of his ﷺ Prophethood, but no jump seems possible to a post so different as that of “Imaamah”.
Additionaly, if someone were to bring up the last part of Verse 33:33 [translation: Allah’s wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Folk of the Household, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing] and says that perfect purification denotes Imaamah, we say that this objection is untrue, firstly because even the Prophets and Messengers who were not Imaams were also totally purified from sins according to the Shias, and also because the Prophet’s daughter Faatimah (Radhia Allahu Anha) is considered as one of the perfectly purified, an Infallible without the position of Imaamah. If someone says that this is because Imams can only be male, we say this is something that is not known wth certainty unless we engage in a study of Twelver Shiaism, and such a rule would in any case undermine the “necessary and sufficient” relationship the Twelvers try to establish between Infallibility and Imamah.
There may also be an attempt in saying that the Prophet ﷺ has in many instances been referred to as the ‘Mawla’ of the believers, their ‘Wali’, and so forth, and that this proves his position of Imaamah. To begin with, the use of the ‘Mawla’ term would bring issues in its own right, since then we would get into a discussion on Ahadeeth, its wordings and its conditions for being taken as acceptable, while we know that the Sunnis and the Twelvers disagree vehemently with each other in the fundamentals of Hadeeth science, and we wished to make this a discussion about the text of the Qur’an, not those of the Ahadeeth.
Secondly, the discussions concerning the use of the term ‘Wali’ with respect to the Prophet ﷺ and (additionaly) to ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) have already been dealt with in previous Verses, the main issue being that we do not doubt the leadership of the Prophet ﷺ among this Ummah, but we do not see how this satisfies the definition of “Infallible Imamah” as brought up by the Twelver Shias. The readers may refer to these previous discussions for further clarifications in this respect.
From Surah #35: Faatir
إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ بِالْحَقِّ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا ۚ وَإِن مِّنْ أُمَّةٍ إِلَّا خَلَا فِيهَا نَذِيرٌ ﴿٢٤﴾
Lo! We have sent thee with the Truth, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner; and there is not a nation but a warner hath passed among them. (24)
This is another one of the Verses we are to consider, which has the same general meaning as some of the already discussed Verses. First, Allah the Exalted mentions the qualities of Muhammad ﷺ as a bearer of glad tidings and as a warner. After that, He says that no nation is there save that a warner has passed among them.
As we know, this is an important evidence to keep in mind, since the mention is of nations rather than time periods, an ‘Nadheer’ cannot be taken to be anything other than Prophets and Messengers, thus the meaning of the Verse being that there is no nation save that a Prophet or Messenger has passed among them.
Interestingly though, certain Shias may try to say that this Verse in fact means that no time has been there without an Imaam, taking “Ummah” to be a time period and “Nadheer” to be an Imaam. But this supposition runs into serious problems, particularly in its use of the term “Nadheer”, and how this is used in the context of the coming of the Prophet ﷺ.
As we may see from the discussions we had on the Verses in Suras al-Maaidah, al-Qasas, and as-Sajdah, there are very explicit Qur’anic statements mentioning that there were no Prophets and no warners for the People of the Book or for the pagan Arabs for a time prior to the coming of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Thus, it is basically impossible to say that the present Vere points to “Imaams for every era”, since the contradiction in such a case would be too noticeable to simply ignore.
This is in addition to the fact that the word “Ummah” does not seem to have the meaning of time when considered objectively [and in fact this meaning occurs undeniably only twice in the Qur’an as far as we know]; likewise, “Nadheer” is always tied to the post of a Prophet or Messenger, and we do not know of any Verse in the entire Qur’an that does not follow this [in fact, most of the occurrences are with respect to Muhammad ﷺ himself].
Thus, based on all of these factors, we can safely say that this Verse cannot possibly point to “Infallible Imams” existing at every point in time, but rather refers to Prophets and Messengers that have passed through every town and populace.
ثُمَّ أَوْرَثْنَا الْكِتَابَ الَّذِينَ اصْطَفَيْنَا مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَاتِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْكَبِيرُ ﴿٣٢﴾
Then We gave the Scripture as inheritance unto those whom We elected of Our bondmen. But of them are some who wrong themselves and of them are some who are lukewarm, and of them are some who outstrip (others) through good deeds, by Allah’s leave. That is the great favour! (32)
There is an important matter to consider in this Verse, which is that the Scripture is inherited amongst those whom Allah has elected (or elevated) from among His Servants. Yet, there is also the explicit statement that some of these servants to whom the Book was given were those who commited injustice to themselves, others who were of a middle course, while only some of them were the foremost in the performance of good deeds. But we know that the Twelver Shia doctrine is adamant that the Book and its preservation is truly only for the “Infallibles”, and that all the other people are only to follow this group in gaining knowledge of the Qur’an and its sciences.
So this Verse in here poses a rather big problem for the Shias, since it shows that even those who have commited “injustice to themselves” [something that would invalidate any claims of potential Imamah to the perpetrator of such actions] are still seen by the Qur’an itself as part of those who inherit the Book. Granted, a number of the interpreters have said that as far as the first group is concerned, this comprises those who at times may fall short of the obligatory duties and may also fall short of refraining himself from some of the forbidden things – that is he is not a totally evil person or a disbeliever, but only someone who needs treatment in order to come up to a satisfactory level. But yet, even this description would be unacceptable with regards to whom the Twelvers would accept as inheritors of the Book, and thus the problem would remain with respect to this Verse when compared with the Twelver Shia doctrine.
هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَائِفَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ فَمَن كَفَرَ فَعَلَيْهِ كُفْرُهُ ۖ وَلَا يَزِيدُ الْكَافِرِينَ كُفْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ إِلَّا مَقْتًا ۖ وَلَا يَزِيدُ الْكَافِرِينَ كُفْرُهُمْ إِلَّا خَسَارًا ﴿٣٩﴾
He it is Who hath made you regents in the earth; so he who disbelieveth, his disbelief be on his own head. Their disbelief increaseth for the disbelievers, in their Lord’s sight, naught save abhorrence. Their disbelief increaseth for the disbelievers naught save loss. (39)
As in the case ith many other Verses, this Verse uses the word ‘Ja’ala’ [translted in many of these situations as ‘to appoint’] with Khilaafa. However, the fallibility of the Khulafa’ in this Verse is more obvious than in other Verses, since in here, the root connected to the word ‘disbelieve’ has been used six times, and it shows in the clearest of terms that there are definitely even disbelievers amongst those whom Allah has “appointed as Khulafa’”. This clearly shows yet again that the appointment of Khulafaa has many different connotations, and that the customary usage of this term in the Qur’an (talking into consideration what we find in other Verses as well) is not corresponding to a concept of “Infallibles-only” being appointed as Khulafaa.
وَأَقْسَمُوا بِاللَّـهِ جَهْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ لَئِن جَاءَهُمْ نَذِيرٌ لَّيَكُونُنَّ أَهْدَىٰ مِنْ إِحْدَى الْأُمَمِ ۖ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ نَذِيرٌ مَّا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا نُفُورًا ﴿٤٢﴾
And they swore by Allah, their most binding oath, that if a warner came unto them they would be more tractable than any of the nations; yet, when a warner came unto them it aroused in them naught save repugnance (42)
This is another one of the Verses where we can see that the coming of a warner to the Arab idolaters had not yet taken place before the coming of Muhammad ﷺ. We had already discussed that this could only be a Prophet and Messenger, so there is no need to repeat the discussion in here.
From Surah #36: Yaseen
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا وَآثَارَهُمْ ۚ وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَاهُ فِي إِمَامٍ مُّبِينٍ ﴿١٢﴾
Lo! We it is Who bring the dead to life. We record that which they send before (them, and their footprints. And all things We have kept in a clear Register. (12)
The matter surrounding this Verse is that there are certain Shia narrations saying that ‘Ali (RAA) is the Imaamin Mubeen [clear Imaam (normally translated as register or book, but those Shia narrations presenting ‘Ali (RAA) as the Imaam in connection with this Verse would seem to add this angle to the interpretation of this Verse)].
Now, if ‘Ali’s (RAA) knowledge was basically that of the Lawh al-Mahfuudh, or was a substitute for it, then the Verses stating that there were some things the Prophet ﷺ himself was unaware of before Allah made it known to him [such as, for example, the situation regarding Verse 9:101 covered before] would be incongruent with this alleged narration. For if ‘Ali (RAA) had all the knwoeldge of everything that was, is, and would be until the end of time, why was this knowledge kept from the Prophet ﷺ? This could not possibly be the case, unless the Twelvers would want to say that ‘Ali (RAA) was of a higher status than the Prophet ﷺ, which is something we do not think any Twelver would say.
So this is one problem, and another one is that this Verse is talking about a current Imaam, not a “latent” or “hidden” Imaam. And this again would go against the principles of Shiaism, for how can the Imaam in here be ‘Ali (RAA) while the Prophet ﷺ is alive and receiving revelations? The two situations seem to be irrevocably contradictory.
Finally, there is the issue (covered in more detail in the main book), that the word ‘Ahssaa’ always refers to the recording of matters in a book, and does not have connection with revealing things to people or “recording things within them”. And as we know, whenever there is reference to those whom Allah has elected being given special knowledge, the terms used are in relation to words like ‘Tanzeel’ and ‘Wahy’.
From Surah #37: as-Saafaat
وَبَارَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَىٰ إِسْحَاقَ ۚ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِهِمَا مُحْسِنٌ وَظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ مُبِينٌ ﴿١١٣﴾
And We blessed him and Isaac. And of their seed are some who do good, and some who plainly wrong themselves. (113)
This Verse obviously has some relation with Verse 2:124 tht is brought up many times by the Twelvers in their discuissions. In this Verse, the utter injustice that some people from among the lineage of Ibrahim and Ishaaq (Alayhima Salaam) commit upon themselves has been mentioned. As mentioned by the interpreters of the Qur’an, this Verse was meant to remind the Jews that they should not assume that having and bloodline connection to the previous Prophets would be enough to save them from the torment if they acted against the injunctions of Allah the Exalted.
In the context of the discussion the Shais, it also shows that the “Thulm” (injustice) referred to in Verse 2:124 and expanded upon in here is not a small thing, or a sin that may have been commited at some point of a person’s life, but rather that “injustice” in here refer to something preventing one from entering Paradise altogether, and this can only refer to disbelief.
Moreover, even when we consider the phrase “Muhsin” (the one who does good deeds), we see that there is only a pointer towards doing good generally, but it does not at all imply that such people who habitually do good actions are exclusively doing only good actions, or that they have been elevated to a state of Infalible leadership.
وَلَقَدْ مَنَنَّا عَلَىٰ مُوسَىٰ وَهَارُونَ ﴿١١٤﴾ وَنَجَّيْنَاهُمَا وَقَوْمَهُمَا مِنَ الْكَرْبِ الْعَظِيمِ ﴿١١٥﴾ وَنَصَرْنَاهُمْ فَكَانُوا هُمُ الْغَالِبِينَ ﴿١١٦﴾ وَآتَيْنَاهُمَا الْكِتَابَ الْمُسْتَبِينَ ﴿١١٧﴾ وَهَدَيْنَاهُمَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ ﴿١١٨﴾
And We verily gave grace unto Moses and Aaron, (114) And saved them and their people from the great distress, (115) And helped them so that they became the victors. (116) And We gave them the clear Scripture (117) And showed them the right path. (118)
This is an important set of Verses, because it disproves the idea that only the Imaam is the one through whom Allah guides others, and that Allah only directly guides the “Infallible Imams” and no one else. For if such was indeed the case, the Qur’an would not have mentioned the case of Musa and Haroon (Alayhima Salaam), both being directly guided by Allah.
Rather, if the Shia assertions were correct, the guidance would have been mentioned for Musa (Alayhi Salaam) only, and either Haroon’s (AS) guidance through Musa (AS) would hve been mentioned, or Haroon (AS) would not have been mentioned at all.
And the strength of our argument is further shown when we consider that in the Shia view, Haroon (AS) never had “Infallible Imaamah” at all, since he could never take the mantle of full “succesorship” from Musa (AS), but he died before such a situation could come to pass. So it cannot even be said that the Verse is referring to the time whn each became an Imaam in turn.
If someone says that the import in this Verse is of a general guidance, not the one reserved for “Infallible Imaams”, then we actually have a partial agreement with such a person, in that guidance in here is for both Musa and Haroon (Alayhima Salaam), since Allah’s direct guidance coms to the Prophets and Messengers. But this would severely undermine the Shia position because this Verse would show that “non-Imaam Prophets” and not “Imams” are the intermediaries for guidance between humanity and their Lord.
From Surah #38: Saad
يَا دَاوُودُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاكَ خَلِيفَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعِ الْهَوَىٰ فَيُضِلَّكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَضِلُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ بِمَا نَسُوا يَوْمَ الْحِسَابِ ﴿٢٦﴾
(And it was said unto him): O David! Lo! We have set thee as a viceroy in the earth; therefor judge aright between mankind, and follow not desire that it beguile thee from the way of Allah. Lo! those who wander from the way of Allah have an awful doom, forasmuch as they forgot the Day of Reckoning. (26)
This is again one of the Verses that may be used in order to try to advance the Shia view. But we see in here that the key word in here is “Khaleefa”, not “Imaam”. And as we know from the discussion on Verses we have conducted before, the appointment of “Khulafaa” does not necessarily convey infallibility or even relative purity upon those who reach this status.
And there is another point with respect to Daawud (Alayhi Salaam) as we saw in a previous discussion concerning the Verse in Surah al-Anbiyaa’, there are difficulties that come into the picture when we assume that Daawud (Alayhi Salaam) was given “Infallible Imaamah” as per the definition of the Shias.
From Surah #39: Az-Zumar
وَأَشْرَقَتِ الْأَرْضُ بِنُورِ رَبِّهَا وَوُضِعَ الْكِتَابُ وَجِيءَ بِالنَّبِيِّينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ ﴿٦٩﴾
And the earth shineth with the light of her Lord, and the Book is set up, and the prophets and the witnesses are brought, and it is judged between them with truth, and they are not wronged. (69)
What we see in here is that on the Day of Judgment, the Prophets and the witnesses will be called upon. We note that the witnesses as mentioned in here is a general word, and it has no connotation of “Infallible Imams” behind it. Even if we were to look at other similar Verses of the Qur’an, we would see that the witnesses would be from among the Prophets themselves, the angels, followers of the Prophets (as we saw in our discussions before), even the body parts of a person, yet there is nothing specifically mentioning “Infallible Imams”.
وَسِيقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَىٰ جَهَنَّمَ زُمَرًا ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءُوهَا فُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِّنكُمْ يَتْلُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِ رَبِّكُمْ وَيُنذِرُونَكُمْ لِقَاءَ يَوْمِكُمْ هَـٰذَا ۚ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ وَلَـٰكِنْ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَةُ الْعَذَابِ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ ﴿٧١﴾
And those who disbelieve are driven unto hell in troops till, when they reach it and the gates thereof are opened, and the warders thereof say unto them: Came there not unto you messengers of your own, reciting unto you the revelations of your Lord and warning you of the meeting of this your Day? they say: Yea, verily. But the word of doom of disbelievers is fulfilled. (71)
Of course, the general purport of these type of Verses on the Imamah doctrine has been mentioned before, but we wanted to show another one of this Verses, so that we can understand yet again that it is the Messengers that are placed in front of all humans as the human intermediaries through which the guidance from Allah becomes known to people, rather than Imams.
From Surah #40: Ghaafir
كَذَّبَتْ قَبْلَهُمْ قَوْمُ نُوحٍ وَالْأَحْزَابُ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ ۖ وَهَمَّتْ كُلُّ أُمَّةٍ بِرَسُولِهِمْ لِيَأْخُذُوهُ ۖ وَجَادَلُوا بِالْبَاطِلِ لِيُدْحِضُوا بِهِ الْحَقَّ فَأَخَذْتُهُمْ ۖ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ عِقَابِ ﴿٥﴾
The folk of Noah and the factions after them denied (their messengers) before these, and every nation purposed to seize their messenger and argued falsely, (thinking) thereby to refute the Truth. Then I seized them, and how (awful) was My punishment (5)
Again, it is giving the same signification as the previous Verse, but in here the meaning is intensified in that the “Ummah” is shown to be a group of people to whom a Messenger is sent, rather than a period of time. And again we would have some of the problems for Shiaism we had dealt with earlier (such as the fact that if Imams were there at all times to guide all the people of the world, then why is the argumentation of the people with the Messengers highlighted as something that came up only after the Messengers had arrived, rather than a continuation of the argument they should have supposedly been engaging in with the “Imaam of their time”.)
Now, there may be some people who say that there may be an analogy for this, in that “sending of Messengers for each nation” has a connection with “sending Imams for guidance for each time-period”. But again, this is just a forced supposition that has no connection either with this Verse, or any other Verse we have dealt with thus far in our discussion.
ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانَت تَّأْتِيهِمْ رُسُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَكَفَرُوا فَأَخَذَهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ قَوِيٌّ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ ﴿٢٢﴾
That was because their messengers kept bringing them clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty) but they disbelieved; so Allah seized them. Lo! He is Strong, severe in punishment. (22)
Basically the same general message as the previous two Verses, this time highlighting the connection between Messengers and the punishment of Allah.
وَقَالَ رَجُلٌ مُّؤْمِنٌ مِّنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَكْتُمُ إِيمَانَهُ أَتَقْتُلُونَ رَجُلًا أَن يَقُولَ رَبِّيَ اللَّـهُ وَقَدْ جَاءَكُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَكُ كَاذِبًا فَعَلَيْهِ كَذِبُهُ ۖ وَإِن يَكُ صَادِقًا يُصِبْكُم بَعْضُ الَّذِي يَعِدُكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ مُسْرِفٌ كَذَّابٌ ﴿٢٨﴾
And a believing man of Pharaoh’s family, who hid his faith, said: Would ye kill a man because he saith: My Lord is Allah, and hath brought you clear proofs from your Lord? If he is lying, then his lie is upon him; and if he is truthful, then some of that wherewith he threateneth you will strike you. Lo! Allah guideth not one who is a prodigal, a liar. (28)
This Verse has a tangential relationship with our overall discussion. The reason is that in many cases where the Shias bring up their doctrine of Taqqiya or dissimulation, they say that the believing man shown in this Verse is an example of how dissimulation was practiced before and is to be practiced even today as the circumstances may require. For those who may not be familiar with the larger issue, the practice of dissimulation was allegedly used by the “12 Infallible Imams”, and their direct students in many occasions with the supposed intent of protecting Islam from outright destruction by the tyrant leaders at different times of Islamic history.
What happens is that Taqiyya as presented by the Twelver is a type of calculated outward lie. Obviously this is a very important point when considering the Usool (fundamentals) upon which Shiaism is built, since the necessary guidance that the Imam is meant to provide for all is directly contradicted by the calculated outward lies he may tell to people whenever extreme danger arises – especially when such extreme danger was always around the corner. It stands to reason that in such a case, even the very close followers of the “Infallible Imams” may get confused about the situation, not only with respect to secondary jurisprudential matters, but even about main matters of belief.
This is particularly so, since there are very few areas where Taqiyya is forbidden in cases of necessity, and the Shia literature is replete with examples of the “Infallibles” declaring these sorts of “outward lies” and of the Shia scholars trying to extract the “real truth” from the “false concealed as truth” from the alleged sayings of the Imams. Thus, we can see the importance the Shias have placed in trying to find any Verse of the Qur’an which might buttress their positions.
Now, when we consider this Verse, the believing man is not lying at all; he is first asking Fir’awn whether he will really kill a man simply because he calls to Allah, and later putting the two options in front of Fir’awn and his people, that if Musa (Alayhi Salaam) was lying then the lie is upon him only, and that if he was saying the truth, then the calamities from Allah would strike them.
This last statement is also not something that can be called a lie, but it could have been used even by a believer in different circumstances as a presentation of the options in a rational manner in front of the opponent, in the hopes of guiding the opponent to the truth. And as we see from Verse 34:24, Allah tells the Prophet ﷺ himself to tell the Arab pagans that: ‘Lo! we or you assuredly are rightly guided or in error manifest.’ But one cannot say that this Verse was revealed as part of a measure of Taqiyya, since it is meant to deal with the opponent’s psychological makeup in order to let him consider the truth. Likewise in this Verse of Surah Ghaafir, the situation did call for the message to be delivered in a certain manner, but this was also not within the confines of lying.
All in all, the truth is then that only this person’s Imaan was concealed from the people, but it does not mean that his speech and suggestions to Fir’awn and his people were basically the same as something a disbeliever may have said: he did not simply go along with what the disbelievers were saying while hating it in his heart, but rather, he devised a means through which he could save Musa’s (Alayhi Salaam) life in that difficult situation without uttering words of disbelief. Thus, the difference between Shiaism’s Taqiyya and this case is very big, since Taqiyya would have led this believer to publicly say that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) was a liar, yet find some other reason for averting the punishment that would have been meted out on Musa (AS).
وَلَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ يُوسُفُ مِن قَبْلُ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَمَا زِلْتُمْ فِي شَكٍّ مِّمَّا جَاءَكُم بِهِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا هَلَكَ قُلْتُمْ لَن يَبْعَثَ اللَّـهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ رَسُولًا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللَّـهُ مَنْ هُوَ مُسْرِفٌ مُّرْتَابٌ ﴿٣٤﴾
And verily Joseph brought you of old clear proofs, yet ye ceased not to be in doubt concerning what he brought you till, when he died, ye said: Allah will not send any messenger after him. Thus Allah deceiveth him who is a prodigal, a doubter. (34)
Leaving aside the question of exactly which Prophet Yusuf (Alayhi Salaam) is being referred to in here, again we see that the doubt concerning following the true path is circumscribed with Messengers and the raising up of Messengers amongst a people by Allah the Exalted. We see that the people are not criticized for failing to follow an alleged successor of the Prophet, but rather for saying that Allah will not raise up another Messenger. And this would only fortify the Sunni position, since it would show that proofs, and guidance instead of perdition are tied to Prophets and Messengers alone, rather than connected to any other types of personages.
وَقَالَ الَّذِي آمَنَ يَا قَوْمِ اتَّبِعُونِ أَهْدِكُمْ سَبِيلَ الرَّشَادِ ﴿٣٨﴾
And he who believed said: O my people! Follow me. I will show you the way of right conduct. (38)
This is a crucially important Verse to consider. The believer among Fir’awns’s people is saying in here that the people should follow him, that he himself will how them the right way. As we know, this is in direct contradiction to the Shia rules of “Infallible Imaamah”, as only Musa (Alayhi Salaam) should have been the only direct guide between the people and Allah if we assume such rules – and whoever else claimed to be able to guide other to Allah himself would be a heretic.
Some people might say that this was only an indirect type of guidance that is being referred to in here, due to the exigencies of dissimulation that had to be adhered to at that moment (that is, the argument is that Fir’awn would have killed all the believers if this man had told people to follow Musa (Alayhi Salaam), so instead he told people to follow him, and he would eventually and gradually show them the way to Musa (Alayhi Salaam).)
However, this argument skips the fact that Fir’awn was simply not willing to accept the coming of anyone claiming to show a way other than the way of Fir’awn. It is very difficult to envisage how this believer could have said this statement in Taqiyya, when the most likely thing that could have happened was for him to be executed first, followed by the execution of Musa (Alayhi Salaam) – meaning that the purported point of Taqiyya itself would be lost.
Besides, there were many more statements that could have been said by this believer, and yet the Qur’an presents this particular statement which goes against the very foundations of Shiaism. Thus, it is not only a matter that the believing man said this, but that Allah the Exalted chose this statement among others in order for all mankind to ponder upon it.
But some people might insist, saying that we have not actually answered the Shias’ counter-objection that this type of guidance may very well be of a different genus than the particular Divinely-inspired guidance that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) was receiving at that time. They may say something like: “Just because a man in the street tells you that he will guide you to your destination, it does not mean that he should go to Hellfire just because he used the phrase ‘I will guide you’. You are simply being obsessive about this matter’.
This objection actually brings up an important point to our minds: We know that there is no proof that the “believing man” was an “Infallible Imam” at that time. But we have wonder, what about Musa (Alayhi Salaam) himself, where is the proof that he was the “Imaam for the whole world” at that very moment? After all, we do not see any auspicious moment where the Imaamah was transferred from the previous Imaam to Musa (Alayhi Salaam), but we rather see Musa (Alayhi Salaam) directly receiving the call to go and preach to Fir’awn. It is obvious that there is no actual evidence, except for the Shias’ desire to present him as such in order to round out their ideology in this respect. But if we, as Sunnis, were to push this matter, the Twelvers would have to admit that the clear proof in this regard is lacking.
This is one matter. We also see that the Shia again is indirectly advancing a point that we have been pushing for throughout this work, which is that the terms “Imaam”, “guidance towards Allah”, and so forth have no technical connotations or overtones to begin with in the Glorious Qur’an, and that its development within Shia scholastics is a much later development. This is why such contradiction and inconsistencies can be pointed out, since there is no overarching narrative of “Infallible Imaamah” in the Qur’an to begin with. We hope that the readers will take note of this and ponder upon it.
قَالُوا أَوَلَمْ تَكُ تَأْتِيكُمْ رُسُلُكُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۚ قَالُوا فَادْعُوا ۗ وَمَا دُعَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ ﴿٥٠﴾
They say: Came not your messengers unto you with clear proofs? They say: Yea, verily. They say: Then do ye pray, although the prayer of disbelievers is in vain. (50)
Again, this Verse is close in meaning to many of the others we have presented that tie proofs, evidences, and guidance in a technical sense with Prophets and Messengers to the exclusion of others.
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْهُدَىٰ وَأَوْرَثْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْكِتَابَ ﴿٥٣﴾ هُدًى وَذِكْرَىٰ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ ﴿٥٤﴾
And We verily gave Moses the guidance, and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit the Scripture, (53) A guide and a reminder for men of understanding. (54)
The important thing in here is the mention of the Book given to Musa (Alayhi Salaam), as guidance for his time and times subsequent to that for the Children of Israel. If we were to consider the matter, we would see that it is in fact a negative point against the Shias, since it would show first that the book itself is a guide, an secondly, that this is the guide that was inherited among the Israelites, without mention of inherited guidance among “Human Imaams.”
Of course, the main message of this Verse has also been adduced to in other Verses of the Qur’an that we have already talked about as well as other Verses that are upcoming, and what is important to consider is that the book itself is presented as a guide for the people.
Someone might now say that there is no issue that we Sunnis can actually hold on to, since everyone knows that the books revealed by Allah are full of guidance for humans. But the Shia objects by saying that the Book can only be guidance when it is combined with the guidance of the Infallible human Imam, and otherwise the guidance of the Book is quite limited.
To this, we respond that there is no indication of this theory in this or ay other Verse of the Qur’an. The allusion to ask the “Ahl Adh-Dhikr” [people of remembrance] that we find in a couple of Verses is obviously not sufficient, since it would need many superimpositions before it is made to approximate the Shia concept of Imaamah.
And another thing is that this Verse itself mentions the inheritance of the book being among the Children of Israel as a whole, without mentioning only the Infallibles among them, or any other similar condition. In this case then, this current Verse is very much like Verse 35:32 that we had discussed before, which mentions the inheritance of the book into the Muslim community, the community being divided into three categories, only one of which could conceivably be said to have some relation to infallibility even if we push the interpretation of the Verse to its limit.
And in this Verse, the issue is very much the same, in that there is no way to arrive at the Shias’ point of view unless there is obvious pushing of a certain narrow interpretation.
Some people may still insist, saying that Verse number 53 mentions that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) was given a certain type of guidance that was separate from the guidance contained in the Scriptures given to him, and that it is the Sunnis who insist on hiding this very obvious fact, that this “Non-book guidance” passed down to Musa’s (Alayhi Salaam) successors and viceregents.
In this case, we have to say that there is absolutely no hiding from our side, but that it was rather Allah the Exalted Himself who revealed the Qur’an to say that the guidance of the Book was given to the Children of Israel, but that Musa’s (AS) “special guidance” (if such a term can even be used) was not a matter of inheritance. Whatever the case may be, this is an issue in which serious thought must be given by the readers, since again there are multiple points working against the Twelver Shias in this case.
From Surah #41: Fussilat
وَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ فَاسْتَحَبُّوا الْعَمَىٰ عَلَى الْهُدَىٰ فَأَخَذَتْهُمْ صَاعِقَةُ الْعَذَابِ الْهُونِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ ﴿١٧﴾
And as for Thamud, We gave them guidance, but they preferred blindness to the guidance, so the bolt of the doom of humiliation overtook them because of what they used to earn. (17)
This is yet another one of the Verses showing that whenever the term “ guidance” is mentioned, there is no way that it can be seen to be “automatically” related to Infallibles. The case in here seems to be quite straightforward, that of Thamud rejecting the guidance they were given by Allah, but the salient thing in this Verse is the term “Hadaynaahum” that is used, which would translate as “We guided them”.
And if we were to stick to the Shia-only conception of things, this would lead to an enormous problem for them, since it would show, point-blank, that Allah gave direct guidance [without mentioning the Prophet that was sent to Thamud], but that later on the people of Thamud imply rejected this guidance. And as before, the problem arises to such a level due to the ways in which the critical phrase “We guided them” maps onto Shia beliefs.
From Surah #42: ash-Shuura
وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِّتُنذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَتُنذِرَ يَوْمَ الْجَمْعِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ فَرِيقٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ ﴿٧﴾
Thus have We sent by inspiration to thee an Arabic Qur’an: that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities and all around her,- and warn (them) of the Day of Assembly, of which there is no doubt: (when) some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing Fire.(7)
This is one of the important Verses for our discussion, since it absolutely shows that the revelation of the Qur’an and the appearance of the Prophet (SAW) were the seminal events in bringing the true knowledge of the religion and of its important principles such as the coming of the Day of Judgment. And as mentioned by a number of the exegetes, the phrase “Mother of Cities and all around her” is referring to Makkah and the entire world; and this important, since it would imply that before this, the whole world itself was without an “Infallible” religious guide; otherwise, the coming of the Prophet (SAW) would not have been this very important event in the history of Allah’s sending of His representatives, but would have rather been presented as a continuation of “Imaamah”. So this is a very significant matter we must consider.
وَمَا تَفَرَّقُوا إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى لَّقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُورِثُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِّنْهُ مُرِيبٍ ﴿١٤﴾
And they were not divided until after the knowledge came unto them, through rivalry among themselves; and had it not been for a Word that had already gone forth from thy Lord for an appointed term, it surely had been judged between them. And those who were made to inherit the Scripture after them are verily in hopeless doubt concerning it. (14)
The important matter concerning this Verse is again the mention of the inheritance of the Scriptures, and what we see in here if them having been handed down to those who were unable to maintain certainty about it. Thus, this Verse would show yet again that the inheritance of the Scriptures is connected to the general populace, and is not connected to only those who are “Infallible Imams” among a nation.
From Surah #43: Az-Zukhruf
وَكَمْ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن نَّبِيٍّ فِي الْأَوَّلِينَ ﴿٦﴾ وَمَا يَأْتِيهِم مِّن نَّبِيٍّ إِلَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ ﴿٧﴾
How many a prophet did We send among the men of old! (6) And never came there unto them a prophet but they used to mock him. (7)
Here we have yet another Verse showing the primacy of Prophets, without mentioning any Imams that may have preceded such Prophets, been present alongside them, or succeeded them. The supposition that the previous “Infallible Imams” were in fact Prophets and thus they are not specifically mentiond ia not borne out by the Qur’anic evidence.
وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ إِنَّنِي بَرَاءٌ مِّمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ ﴿٢٦﴾ إِلَّا الَّذِي فَطَرَنِي فَإِنَّهُ سَيَهْدِينِ ﴿٢٧﴾ وَجَعَلَهَا كَلِمَةً بَاقِيَةً فِي عَقِبِهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ ﴿٢٨﴾ بَلْ مَتَّعْتُ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ وَآبَاءَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ جَاءَهُمُ الْحَقُّ وَرَسُولٌ مُّبِينٌ ﴿٢٩﴾
And when Abraham said unto his father and his folk: Lo! I am innocent of what ye worship (26) Save Him Who did create me, for He will surely guide me. (27) And he made it a word enduring among his seed, that haply they might return. (28) Nay, but I let these and their fathers enjoy life (only) till there should come unto them the Truth and a messenger making plain. (29)
This is a set of important Verses for our discussion. What happens is that Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) is in here arguing with his people concerning the idols they worship, and at this junction, he tells them that it is Allah who will directly guide him. Now Twelver Shias might say that this refers to the future guidance he was to receive later in his life, and due to which he became an “Infallible Imam”; and that the other two Verses, according to this interpretation, merely show that the post of “Imaamah” was something that would continue until Judgment Day.
But we say tht such an explanation is incorrect, the main reason being that Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) should not have used words denoting an extremely close relationship between himself and Allah’s “direct guidance” if the Twelver doctrine was indeed true. This would be even more improbable when we consider that according to the Shia scholars, Ibrahim’s (Alayhi Salaam) alleged Imamah was still a few decades off at that point, so why would he not point instead to the living and active “Imaam” from whom people should have supposedly been gaining guidance? The Shia argument does not seem to add up.
And there is also the issue that Verse 29 is using the word ‘Rasool’, referring to Muhammad ﷺ as a Messenger of Allah, and not as an Imaam. If it is said that there were still people both in Makkah and in other areas that still held on to Tawheed properly, it cannot be said that this automatically means that they were being infallibly guided by an “Imaam”, since the Verse definitely does not point in that direction, and the opposite is shown from a consideration of other Verses we have seen above.
وَلَوْ نَشَاءُ لَجَعَلْنَا مِنكُم مَّلَائِكَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ يَخْلُفُونَ ﴿٦٠﴾
And had We willed We could have set among you angels to be viceroys in the earth. (60)
The topic of this Verse is not actually related to Imaamah, but certain Shias may try to make an issue out of the use of words like ‘Ja’alna’ [we have made, set, or appointed] and ‘Yakhlufoon’ which is of the same root as ‘Khaleefa’. They may say that this Verse, by saying that Allah may have made angels as Khulafaa’ but instead made the viceregents humans, proves that the succesorship of Khulafaa is of certain humans succeeding one after the other in an Infallible mode, as per the Twelvers’ doctrine.
But we say that even if we assume that the Verse does talk about Allah appointing Khulafaa, we could just as well turn this argument in a slightly different way, by saying that just as Allah might have but did not appoint sinless aqnd Infallible creatures like angels to rule over us, likewise the humans that are appointed by Allah for Khilaafa do not possess extraordinary qualities or spotless character at every single point in time. And we know that there are a number of Verses stating that Allah has appointed certain people, or people in general, as Khulafaa, in order to test them, and this in itself is sufficient evidence that Infallibility is not included in this appointment. Thus, this Verse is simply saying what Allah may have done, and it is difficult to deduct overarching rulings from such general types of Verses.
However, the truth is that this Verse actually has very little to do with Imaamah. This Verse is within the series of Verses talking about ‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam), and the exaggerations and the wrong views that have been centered on him, particularly concerning the allegations of him being God.
The Qur’an refutes this, and then says that had Allah willed, He could have made angels succeed humans on Earth, meaning that it is within Allah’s Power to make humans give birth to angels. And the pointer in here is that people should not be thinking in terms of ‘establishing Godhood’ for ‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam) when they know that he was born without a father, since this is part of what Allah executed and brought into being in this world – thus an extraordinary type of birth does not signify divinity in any way.
This is what has been mentioned by a number of the scholars of exegesis, and our consideration of the matter shows that this Verse cannot be considered either a direct or an indirect pointer towards the Shias’ concept of Imaamah.
From Surah #45: Al-Jaathiya
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿١٦﴾ وَآتَيْنَاهُم بَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ ۖ فَمَا اخْتَلَفُوا إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَقْضِي بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ ﴿١٧﴾
And verily we gave the Children of Israel the Scripture and the Command and the Prophethood, and provided them with good things and favoured them above (all) peoples; (16) And gave them plain commandments. And they differed not until after the knowledge came unto them, through rivalry among themselves. Lo! thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they used to differ. (17)
These are another set of Verses where the blessings that Allah has granted the Children of Israil have been attributed to the nation as a whole. And the noteworthy thing in here is that ‘Imaamah’ or even governorship (as a general category) have not been mentioned in this Verse, which is very significant.
Some Shias may object that the plain commandments were given to the Israelites, so does this not mean that there must have been an Infallible Imaam guiding them at every junction? This is in fact a weak argument, since the “plain commandments” being given to them does not unquestionably indicate an Infallible guide. And also, only the commandments are mentioned, without any divinely-inspired guides being mentioned who would further explain the commandments being refered to in here, and all of this would only favor the Sunni narrative. Of course, we Sunnis believe that the commandments sent to the Israelites were properly explained to them by the Prophets, but this is why it is necessary to highlight what is missing in these Verses, for if the “Prophets who are not Imams” are the ones charged with guiding the Israelites, then the whole argument of the Shias is rendered void.
There may be another objection, which is that ‘Kingship’ with respect to the Israelites was alluded to in a number of Verses in the Qur’an, and that this must certainly refer to ‘Imaamah’. Our answer is that this is again an imprecise term to use in regards to ‘Imaamah’, since it is clear that kingship may point to a wide variety of things not included, and sometimes even contradictory to, the position of ‘Imaamah’ as Twelver Shias understand it.
أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّـهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ ﴿٢٣﴾
Hast thou seen him who maketh his desire his god, and Allah sendeth him astray purposely, and sealeth up his hearing and his heart, and setteth on his sight a covering? Then who will lead him after Allah (hath condemned him)? Will ye not then heed? (23)
It may be said that we are stretching things a bit too far with the presentation of this Verse, but after all, what we see in here is that the common person, even the common disbeliever, is presented as having no hope of being guided, except if it is directly through Allah. It is important that this Verse presents the case of the obstinate disbeliever, since his situation is the direst of all and he, among all the people in the world, is in the biggest need of help from any alleged ‘Infallible Imam’ in order to be guided to the truth, and yet, we do not find any declaration of their existence or of their connection to the obstinate disbeliever’s potential guidance.
وَتَرَىٰ كُلَّ أُمَّةٍ جَاثِيَةً ۚ كُلُّ أُمَّةٍ تُدْعَىٰ إِلَىٰ كِتَابِهَا الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ ﴿٢٨﴾
And thou wilt see each nation crouching, each nation summoned to its record. (And it will be said unto them): This day ye are requited what ye used to do. (28)
This is a very important Verse for our current discussion, especially when considered in conjunction with other Verses of the Qur’an (particularly Verse 17:71 that we had seen above.) And the reason for its importance is simple, since in here we see tht each nation will be called by its book, and the word ‘Kitaab’ [book] is specifically used in here, leaving no doubt that the people will be called by their book of records. This is what was indeed mentioned even in Verse 17:71, but some people may have tried to paint an ambiguity in this matter; however, this present Verse extinguishes all possible objections there may have been to the possibility of nations being called by their books.
However, there may still be some persistent objections, in that the next Verse, in further explaining the matter says (in translation): ‘This Our Book pronounceth against you with truth. Lo! We have caused (all) that ye did to be recorded.’ The objection might come up that books do not speak, and that the Infallible Imaam is being referred to in here as a ‘Book’.
But we say that this is a far-off interpretation. Firstly, on the Day of Judgment, even the skins and body parts of the people will be made to speak as we know from a number of Verses of the Qur’an, so theer is nothing against holding on to the apparent literal meaning that the books themselves will be the speakers on the Day of Judgment. Secondly, humans have never been refered to as books in any place in the Qur’an or in any other place in the Islamic literature, so this interpretation seems to be an attempt at forcing a certain meaning onto the text, while that meaning does not really fit the context under discussion.
There is also another objection that may come up, which is that the book of records are for each individual person, not for whole nations, and that for such nations when considered as a whole, only the Infallible Imams are to speak for or against them. But our response is that if we take this objection as is, having a book of records for each individual person does not mean that a book does not exist which explains and speaks with regards to nations in general. So we see that this objection is not very strong.
And one thing that is missed in all of these objections is the fact that the nations are the referrant in this case, not a given stretch of time, which is the basic requirement supposedly connecting Imaamah with the world. So this is another big factor to be considered in here, in that the Verse goes against the Shia belief and seems disconnected from it at a number of places, not only a few of them.
From Surah #46: Al-Ahqaaf
وَمِن قَبْلِهِ كِتَابُ مُوسَىٰ إِمَامًا وَرَحْمَةً ۚ وَهَـٰذَا كِتَابٌ مُّصَدِّقٌ لِّسَانًا عَرَبِيًّا لِّيُنذِرَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿١٢﴾
When before it there was the Scripture of Moses, an example and a mercy; and this is a confirming Scripture in the Arabic language, that it may warn those who do wrong and bring good tidings for the righteous. (12)
This is one of the Verses where the word ‘Imam’ itself is used. Its importance to our discussion is that the ‘Book of Musa’ is shown to be the ‘Imam’; yet, we do not find anything in the Qur’an saying that Musa (Alayhi Salaam) was himself the guide during this period. Of course, assumptions are naturally made from the Shia side, but from what we can see, these are assumptions presented post hoc.
There may yet be one objection or comment from the Shia side, which is that the book of Musa was the Imam, and that it is only necessary that there would be infallible human guides in order for the book to be understood and followed properly by the masses. The Shia comment may further state that we know the Israelites went astray even after receiving the Book, and this could not be the result of anything other than the failure to follow the human ‘Imam of the time.’
We believe this has been mentioned before, but we will reiterate it in here: The Shia objection in the case of the Israelites is a repackaging of their objection with respect to us, the Muslim Ummah, and its projection to the previous time period of the Jews. So what we will do is to answer the objection as it relates to our own time period, and then make a few quick points about the Israelites’ situation.
When the Shias mention infallibility in the encompassing way they do, this would lead to a situation where every single matter of belief and of practice (whether big or small) would need to be infallibly resolved, without any scope whatsoever for disagreements or acceptable differences of opinion. This is because the saying of ‘infallibility’ is effective only when it includes both the actual words that are pronounced (and here we mean not only the words themselves, but also every single lexical and exegetical consideration that is tied to these words), plus the transmission of these words to the masses (i.e., the means of transmission should also be infallible, whether by every narration being mass-transmitted, or through a supernatural confirmation of this truth inside every lay follower).
Let us take the second issue, that of transmission. The irony is that the Shias claim that in the actual world, what happened was exactly the opposite of what was supposed to have occurred as per our abstract consideration above. They claim that their Infallibles were persecuted, and their way was put under such tremendous strain to the point that even the Imams’ closest students did not know the Imams’ true divinely-derived status, and that the Imams supposedly had to practice dissimulation in answering all types of religious queries. So instead of having infallible means of transmission, what we have a speculative routes, and that too, of the weakest type.
Note also, that the issue of Taqiyya (dissimulation) adds a highly problematic layer connected more with the first issue of infallibility (that of the meanings associated with the words). That is, when dissimulation is said to be used extensively, then the fallible followers that come later on have to consider whether the purport of the words uttered by the Infallibles is to give true religious guidance, or to avoid persecution. Without a further infallible guideline to separate these two types of potential sayings, what one is left with is only a fallible consideration of what the words may have meant in that situation, or whether there is any real guidance in these words to begin with.
Note that even if it were said that Shias do have the methodology of grading narrations into Saheeh, Dha’eef, etc., yet all of these are fallible techniques brought up in order to approximate as much as humanly possible, the positive probability that the narration in front of us truly came from the Prophet ﷺ, or is otherwise a correct historical saying or event.
Thus, what the Twelver Shias have done is to take the Sunni methodology for Hadeeth verification in order to corroborate the chain of narrators for any given saying of their “Imams”. And it cannot be said to be anything other than borrowing from their side, since the Shia view from an abstract perspective would totally militate against these types of considerations (such as classifying narrations based on the veracity and capability of the narrators), given that infallibility should be encompassing of all religious matters if the Twelvers’ ideas were correct, not only a small portion of them.
What we mean is that even if it is said that Shias pre-empted Sunnis by coming up with these types of Hadeeth classification schemes, these would be useless based on the Shias’ own criteria. It would be like saying that the Muslim scholars were the first experts in undertaking what is termed a “modern historico-critical” approach to the Qur’an, while we know this is definitely false, since no Muslim believes the Qur’an to have been composed by multiple persons over several generations. So this contradiction between the abstract claims of the Shias and some of their practical steps has to be considered seriously.
Or if we were to look at matters from another perspective, when the Usooli Twelvers say that they are required to follow a Marja’ for Taqleed (the Ayatullah the lay Shia is to follow), this automatically involves a certain amount of trust and blind following within the sphere of speculative matters, those issues that do not have an infallible/unquestionable answer.
Thus, the Marja’ is meant to provide a cover so that the layman does not need to investigate the deeper intricacies and differences found in the Twelver religion, not that the Marja’s conclusions are infallible. And we know that a large part of the Shia jurist’s job is to compare and contrast different narrations, to find out the different possibilities that a given saying may contain within itself, and other similar considerations, before giving a final response. It is obvious that if the matter was truly one of infallibility, there would be no need for a specialized class of jurists, since the issues would already be unquestionable, and would only be in need of proper clarification and explanation, not comparison and contrast, elimination of the weak from the strong, counterbalancing of available narrations on a given topic, and so forth.
So basically this is a very small summary of the issue when seen from the point of view of how it applies to the present Muslim Ummah. As it relates to the initial question concerning the Israelites, we can say that the blameworthy deviation of theirs, which is alluded to in the Qur’an, concerns the very basic fundamentals of the religion, such as denying the Prophets of Allah whenever they would be sent to them. But this is, as we have seen many times above, an issue separate than the one of “following the Infallible Imam”, since the denial of one does not automatically imply the denial of the other. And not only this, but even in the presence of Prophets, the epistemological considerations we have highlighted above would still be in play in one way or the other (simply because the existence of the Prophet in one’s ambit does not mean that there are no possibilities that certain small misunderstandings may not occur from time to time). This is obviously something that has a large scope for further writing, but we can leave it at this for the time being.
From Surah #48: Al-Fath
إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا ﴿٨﴾
Lo! We have sent thee (O Muhammad) as a witness and a bearer of good tidings and a warner, (8)
This is similar to the Verses in Surah al-Ahzaab (numbers 45 and 46), where some of the characteristics of the Prophet (SAW) were being shown. Again, we see that the specific title ‘Imaam’ does not appear, in spite of its theological importance in Shiaism.
هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّـهِ شَهِيدًا ﴿٢٨﴾
He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion. And Allah sufficeth as a Witness. (28)
This Verse is in fact very close in meaning to another Verse which occurs in Surah at-Tawbah (Chapter #9), which we had not brought up for separate discussion. But it will be good to just mention this one Verse, and then both the Verse in Surah at-Tawbah and another similar Verse in Surah as-Saff (Chapter #61) can be considered to have been commented on within the constraints of our discussion.
Now, it is obvious that in here, the guidance is again tied to Muhammad ﷺ in his capacity as a Messenger, and this Messengership of Muhammad ﷺ is also the intellectual “point of departure” from which we see that his religion will be made victorious on Earth. So it comes through Prophethood, and not through an alleged position of “Imaamah”, even though according to the Shias, it is only the position of Imaamah which supposedly gives the possessor the divine right to establish Allah’s viceregency on Earth. But as we see in this Verse, that position is reserved for Prophethood and the consequences of Prophethood, not for alleged Imaamah and whatever may come from that.
مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللَّـهِ
Muhammad is the messenger of Allah…(29)
This is obviously a statement of what is extremely obvious and what is one of the pillars of the Islamic religion; but it is the explicit statement of such already clear matters in the Qur’an which should lead us to consider why other allegedly more important tenets (or those tenets that have the same abstract importance) are totally passed over in the Qur’anic revelation.
From Surah #49: Al-Hujuraat
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ ﴿٦﴾
O ye who believe! If an evil-liver bring you tidings, verify it, lest ye smite some folk in ignorance and afterward repent of what ye did. (6)
What we have in here is a command to seek out verification for wht the corrupt people may bring of reports and information [note that there is a discussion as to whether this refers to the technical signification of the word ‘Faasiq’ or not, but this is outside our scope.]
The issue of verification connected with reports is indeed important, since it shows that normal means for transmitting information may and indeed are valid ways of ascertaining the truth of matters if the rules are followed properly. Had the specifics of the ‘Imaamah’ doctrine been true, this abstract principle could have never been present in the Qur’an, and in that hypothetical case, the only truth concerning reports would have been that which a person could directly receive from the Infallibles “in person” [and it should be kept in mind that Ahadeeth are a type of report.]
Again, note that even the report of a fallible concerning what an “Infallible Imaam” said while the Imaam is alibe and fully accessible would not count as indubitable knowledge if we follow the Shia suppositions, since the barrier between the person and the Infallible would not have been lifted. The fact that the Qur’an mentiond verification of the information brought forth by a ‘Faasiq’ is thus tremendous evidence against the Twelver Shias’ overall epistemology.
وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ فِيكُمْ رَسُولَ اللَّـهِ ۚ لَوْ يُطِيعُكُمْ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ لَعَنِتُّمْ وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ ﴿٧﴾
And know that the messenger of Allah is among you. If he were to obey you in much of the government, ye would surely be in trouble; but Allah hath endeared the faith to you and hath beautified it in your hearts, and hath made disbelief and lewdness and rebellion hateful unto you. Such are they who are the rightly guided. (7)
There are two important points from this Verse. First, Allah is addressing the Muslims in general in this Verse and clearly stating that He has made them love good qualities in their hearts, and made them dislike the bad qualities of disbelief, lewdness, and rebellion. How far is this from what the Twelvers say concerning the sincerity and uprightness of the generality of Muslims, both during an after the Prophet’s (SAW) lifetime. This is something for all to consider deeply.
And then there is the issue more germane to our discussion, which is that the existence of the Messenger of Allah in the midst of these people is being emphasized in this Verse, and it is being emphasized with respect to the guidance of the believers and Allah’s placing faith into their hearts. Again, it cannot be emphasized enough that Muhammad’s (SAW) role as a Messenger of Allah in all of this is being mentioned, and not that of other “religious posts”.
From Surah #50: Qaf
بَلْ كَذَّبُوا بِالْحَقِّ لَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ فَهُمْ فِي أَمْرٍ مَّرِيجٍ ﴿٥﴾
Nay, but they have denied the truth when it came unto them, therefor they are now in troubled case. (5)
This is again, one of the Verses from which we can understand that the message had not been around in the world before the coming of Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), and that any talk of there being “Imaams” before his coming is simply not supported by the evidence from the Qur’an.
From Surah #54: Al-Qamar
كَذَّبَتْ ثَمُودُ بِالنُّذُرِ ﴿٢٣﴾ فَقَالُوا أَبَشَرًا مِّنَّا وَاحِدًا نَّتَّبِعُهُ إِنَّا إِذًا لَّفِي ضَلَالٍ وَسُعُرٍ ﴿٢٤﴾ أَأُلْقِيَ الذِّكْرُ عَلَيْهِ مِن بَيْنِنَا بَلْ هُوَ كَذَّابٌ أَشِرٌ ﴿٢٥﴾
(The tribe of) Thamud rejected warnings (23) For they said; Is it a mortal man, alone among us, that we are to follow? Then indeed we should fall into error and madness. (24) Hath the remembrance been given unto him alone among us? Nay, but he is a rash liar. (25)
This is again one of the Verses showing that the coming of the Messenger or Prophet to a people was very significant and route-altering event in the lives of the city they appeared in, and that the disbelievers among the people did not tie the appearance of the Prophets with any other contemporary divinely-appointed figure living in their midst (or any other place for that matter), but rather they saw that the coming of the Prophet or Messenger was something new within their circles. We also notice in every single instance that the Prophet or Messenger did not reprimand them for this view of theirs: There is not a single place in the Qur’an where the Prophet or Messenger says that the truth was already in the world in the form of the “Infallible Imaam”, or that he (the Prophet) had come in order to lead them to guidance through the “Infalible Imaam” or through taking over the mantle of “Imaamah”, or any other similar statements. This is something crucial we see within the Qur’anic stories of the Prophets and Messengers, and we should not pass over this matter is our deliberations concerning the “Imaamah” concept of the Twelver Shias.
From Surah #57: Al-Hadeed
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا وَإِبْرَاهِيمَ وَجَعَلْنَا فِي ذُرِّيَّتِهِمَا النُّبُوَّةَ وَالْكِتَابَ ۖ فَمِنْهُم مُّهْتَدٍ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ ﴿٢٦﴾ ثُمَّ قَفَّيْنَا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِم بِرُسُلِنَا وَقَفَّيْنَا بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنجِيلَ وَجَعَلْنَا فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ رَأْفَةً وَرَحْمَةً وَرَهْبَانِيَّةً ابْتَدَعُوهَا مَا كَتَبْنَاهَا عَلَيْهِمْ إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ رِضْوَانِ اللَّـهِ فَمَا رَعَوْهَا حَقَّ رِعَايَتِهَا ۖ فَآتَيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ ﴿٢٧﴾
And We verily sent Noah and Abraham and placed the prophethood and the scripture among their seed, and among them there is he who goeth right, but many of them are evil-livers. (26) Then We caused Our messengers to follow in their footsteps; and We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow, and gave him the Gospel, and placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him. But monasticism they invented – We ordained it not for them – only seeking Allah’s pleasure, and they observed it not with right observance. So We give those of them who believe their reward, but many of them are evil-livers. (27)
In these couple of Verses, we see a number of things: First, that the Prophethood and the scripture were placed among the progeny of the Prophets Nuh and Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam), but that this fact (particularly with respect to the passing down of the Scripture) did not entail that the inheritors were necessarily infallibles. This is something we had also seen in Verse 35:32 as discussed above (that the passing down of the Scripture does not necessarily confer infallibility to those on whom it is being conferred), and this message can also be seen from the present Verse as well.
A second issue is that the footsteps of these Messengers were followed by other Messengers, in the sense of divinely-sanctioned succession. If it is said that in previous times, the Prophets were in fact the Imaams [so that it would be a sort ‘Imaamah enveloped within Prophethood’] we have already answered this by pointing out that as far as we can see, (1) there is no need for the succession of Prophets to have been continuous in the sense of there being no temporal breaks (while the continuity of Imaamah is of extreme importance in Twelver Shiaism), and (2) that Prophets are not necessarily Imaams according to Shiaism, and the identity of those Prophets who were Imaams plus the exact time when they allegedly reached this position must be provided by the Twelvers themselves [because they are making a claim with respect to a divinely appointed position, and this needs explicit and undeniable proofs, not suppositions and assumptions.]
And a third matter is that “Imaamah” or “love for following the Imaam” are not mentioned in this Verse as one of the qualities of ‘Isa’s (Alayhi Salaam) followers that were to be observed as a commandment by his followers. This would again show that there was no concept of “following a divinely-appointed Imaam”, for otherwise, something of such importance would have surely been mentioned, especially since it had to do with the guidance versus misguidance aspects of ‘Isa’s (AS) followers – the importance of such a hypothetical mention becoming more prominent when we consider the actual mentioning in the Verse of the monasticism invented by some of ‘Isa’s (AS) followers in this Verse.
From Surah #60: Al-Mumtahinah
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا جَاءَكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ مُهَاجِرَاتٍ فَامْتَحِنُوهُنَّ ۖ اللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَانِهِنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ عَلِمْتُمُوهُنَّ مُؤْمِنَاتٍ فَلَا تَرْجِعُوهُنَّ إِلَى الْكُفَّارِ ۖ لَا هُنَّ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحِلُّونَ لَهُنَّ ۖ وَآتُوهُم مَّا أَنفَقُوا ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ أَن تَنكِحُوهُنَّ إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ ۚ وَلَا تُمْسِكُوا بِعِصَمِ الْكَوَافِرِ وَاسْأَلُوا مَا أَنفَقْتُمْ وَلْيَسْأَلُوا مَا أَنفَقُوا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ حُكْمُ اللَّـهِ ۖ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ ﴿١٠﴾
O ye who believe! When believing women come unto you as fugitives, examine them. Allah is Best Aware of their faith. Then, if ye know them for true believers, send them not back unto the disbelievers. They are not lawful for them (the disbelievers), nor are they (the disbelievers) lawful for them. And give them (the disbelievers) that which they have spent (upon them). And it is no sin for you to marry such women when ye have given them their dues. And hold not to the ties of disbelieving women; and ask for (the return of) that which ye have spent; and let them (the disbelievers) ask for that which they have spent. That is the judgment of Allah. He judgeth between you. Allah is Knower, Wise. (10)
Even though this Verse had an application specifically related to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, it still has relevance to our discussion, since the believers as a community have been told to examine the faith of the believing women coming to the Muslim polity in Makkah using the normal means of investigation and verification. This again, is an important piece of evidence against the doctrine of ‘Imaamah’ simply because this Verse would not have been revealed in a way highlighting the fallible human inspection aspect had the ‘Imaam’ (in this case the Prophet (SAW)) supernaturally known this matter – and this was also not a small matter, since it touched on the belief of people coming into the Muslim polity and the intentions of those seeking inclusion within the polity; a serious mistake or oversight, and the polity as a whole may have been compromised. And yet, Allah the Exalted, did not assign this to the realm of infallibility and perfection, but rather to the realm of normal human cognitive functions and fallibility.
From Surah as-Saff: #61
وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُم مُّصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ ۖ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا هَـٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ ﴿٦﴾
And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is the Praised One. Yet when he hath come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic. (6)
This is one of the important Verses we should consider, since in here the Prophet ‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam) is telling his people about who will come after him from among Allah’s chosen ones. And it is extremely important that he speaks of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) [that is, explicitly saying that a ‘Messenger’ will come after him, and giving his exact name ‘Ahmad’, another name for Muhammad (SAW)].
It is very crucial that ‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam) does not mention anything about Imaamah, either in general terms [e.g. ‘You are to follow the appointed Imaam after Allah raises me up’] or by naming anyone to specifically follow after him in terms of receiving Divine Guidance – other than the Prophet (SAW), who came to this world more than 5 centuries after the departure of ‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam).
In this then, there is a strong indication that ‘Imaamah’ as a formal concept is not something that was followed by the previous Prophets nor was it sanctioned by the Qur’an – and this is a state of affairs that the readers should seriously consider.
From Surah At-Taghaabun: #64
فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالنُّورِ الَّذِي أَنزَلْنَا ۚ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ ﴿٨﴾
So believe in Allah and His messenger and the light which We have revealed. And Allah is Informed of what ye do. (8)
This Verse is mentioned in order for us to reiterate what we have mentioned before, that Allah telss us explicitly to believe in Him and in His Messenger, without referring to any Infallible Imam. The mention of ‘light’ in here refers to the Glorious Qur’an, and it cannot refer to any ‘Imaam’ as a separate entity, since the indication is toward the Tanzeel that Allah the Exalted has sent, and this refers to the revelation of the Qur’an [since no person has been referred to as having been ‘revealed’, and this suggestion itself does not seem to have any strength behind it.]
From Surah al-Jinn: #72
عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ فَلَا يُظْهِرُ عَلَىٰ غَيْبِهِ أَحَدًا ﴿٢٦﴾ إِلَّا مَنِ ارْتَضَىٰ مِن رَّسُولٍ فَإِنَّهُ يَسْلُكُ مِن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ رَصَدًا ﴿٢٧﴾
(He is) the Knower of the Unseen, and He revealeth unto none His secret, (26) Save unto every messenger whom He hath chosen, and then He maketh a guard to go before him and a guard behind him (27)
We have skipped a number of Verses that may have some relationship with our discussion, since they were bringing up points that we had already discussed. But the Verses above are particularly important, since in here, Allah is mentioning Himself as the Absolute Knower of the unseen, and saying that only the Messengers whom Allah has chosen are the ones to whom He gives some of the knowledge of the Ghayb. Of course, for this discussion, the important point is that the office of Imaamah or the person of the Imaam is not mentioned at all. And this is important, since knowledge of the Ghayb and the mention of protecting angels denotes a very special rank given to the Messengers. Had the Imams had a similar rank (or according to some Shias an even higher rank) than the Prophets, then this would also have been mentioned with respect to them as well.
In fact, this would be of an even greater necessity to be mentioned, when according to the Twelvers, the office of Imaamah also makes wide use of knowledge of the Ghayb. However, the Qur’an indirectly refutes this assertion made by the Shias wholesale.
From Surah al-Bayyinah: #98
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ ﴿٧﴾
جَزَاؤُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ رَبَّهُ ﴿٨﴾
(And) lo! those who believe and do good works are the best of created beings. (7) Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Eden underneath which rivers flow, wherein they dwell for ever. Allah hath pleasure in them and they have pleasure in Him. This is (in store) for him who feareth his Lord. (8)
Actually, these two Verses are again not crucially related to the topic of ‘Imaamah’, but what happens is that certain Twelver Shias try to extend the scope of this Verse by saying that it refers specifically to ‘Ali (Radhia Allahu Anhu) and to his ‘Shia’. We would have to say that it is indeed a very strange presentation of matters, since the alleged differentiating factor (i.e. ‘Imaamah’) is not mentioned at all, but what is mentioned is the performance of good deeds accompanied by belief, and this is the general criteria that everyone must in fact accomplish and believe in. But from the viewpoint of referring specifically to ‘Imaamah’, this is not a Verse which can at all be used for showing the ‘Imamah’ doctrine in any shape or form.
There were in fact a number of Verses other than this last Verse we included that we had thought to include in our discussion, but on a second glance we decided it was not really going to add a lot of substance to our discussion, mainly because many of the points we needed to make had already been taken care of in whatever we said concerning previous Verses in the Qur’an.
But one thing does become clear for anyone who reads the Qur’an while keeping the Twelver Shia point in mind, which is that is that this concept was brought up in a later period of Islam. This is why the attempt to apply it to previous nations, and even to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) runs into a sort of ‘anachronistic’ roadblock.
We are not talking only about those situations where the introduction of ‘Infallible Imaamate’ into the discussion of the Qur’an seems awkward and artificially superimposed, but also to those cases where a provision for Imaamah seems totally impossible, since it clashes head-on with the message of the Qur’an. We also see that even with the introduction of terms like “Hujjah”, this issue is not at all resolved for the Twelver Shias, since even then the head-on clashes seem to be irreconcilable.
Knowing this to be the case, we urge all the readers to seriously consider the situation of the ‘Imaamah’ doctrine and its relationship with the Qur’an in all seriousness. One final thing we do need to say is that we have not yet been abl to tie the ‘Imaamah’ doctrine with fundamental rule underpinning Islam as a whole (that is, the Usool of Islaam), but perhaps at a later time and with expert help we may pursue that path. If and when we do go down that path, it will become even clearer that the ‘Imaamah’ doctrine is something that does not have a form basis within the framework of Islamic fundamentals.
We end this work then by praying for the guidance of all those who truly seek it, an may Allah bless and send salutations on His chosen Messenger Muhammad (SAW). Ameen
 Tafseer Al Mizan, Volume 1, p.274-275
 This is taken from Tabatabai’s in-depth discussion of Verse 2:124, which was discussed in the work: “(Draft Article) Prophet Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) and the Shia interpretation of Ayah 2.124”
 It is important to stress that there is no intention at all to present a “certified” commentary to any of the Verses presented here, since that requires a very high level of scholarship. Rather, the only thing I am trying to do in here is to present a series of points related to the discussion at hand so that the readers may ponder about how the Qur’an relates or does not relate with the doctrines presented by the Twelver Shias.
 As the Verses come to repeat the same general theme, we will try decrease the commentary on them in the hope that the readers have comprehended the main thrust of arguments already presented. Conversely, if we feel that certain Verses have been overlooked even after the initial completion of this work, then we will include them later on as required.
 It has been mentioned in a number of Tafsir books that it is possible that the “partners” referred to in here were not the idols per se, but rather the heads of the disbelievers who could not possibly have lead anyone to guidance until and unless Allah guided them.
 Of course, this idea is brought up to highlight the supposed “cosmological” dimension of “Infallible Imamah”, in that the existence of the very Universe itself is dependent on the “Imam”. So we cannot take this notion lightly; it is fundamentally important to the Shia psyche
 While forgoing the normal arguments regarding this Verse, and basically agreeing provisionally with the Shias on many points for the sake of this discussion.