Who has to Select the Imam?

Select the Imam

A group of Muslims (Sunnis) believe that the Prophet of Islam (S) died not having selected his successor and they believe that this responsibility belongs to Muslims themselves to select their leader.

They undertake this act through Ijma (consensus) which is one of the reasons given in the Divine Law.

They add that this program was implemented the first time for the first caliph who was selected with the consensus of the Ummah.

And he selected the second caliph and introduced him as such.

And the second caliph selected a council of six people to select the person who should succeed him.

This Council consisted of: Imam ‘Ali, peace be upon him, Uthman, Abdal Rahman ibn Awf, Talha, Zubayr and Sa’d bin Abi Waqas.

This Council, with a majority of Sa’d ibn Waqas, Abdal Rahman and Talha voted for Uthman. (The second caliph had directed that if the Council should be divided three to three, the side that Abdal Rahman ibn Awf (‘Uthman’s son-in-law) was on would be the person selected).

Towards the end of Uthman’s reign, the people arose against him for several reasons and before he had a chance to select his successor or select a Council, he was killed.

At this time, the majority of the people turned to ‘Ali, peace be upon him, and selected him as their caliph.

They pledged their allegiance to him as the successor of the Prophet, other than Mu’awiyah who was the governor of Damascus and who was certain that Imam ‘Ali would not support him. He then raised the flag of opposition which was the beginning of disgraceful events in the history of Islam and caused the shedding of the blood of a great many innocent people.

Here, in order to intellectually and historically clarify what happened, several questions arise, a few of which will be mentioned here below.

1. Can the Ummah select the successor to the Prophet?

The answer to this question is that if we take the meaning of imamate to be external leadership of an Islamic society, the selection of a leader on behalf of society with the vote of the people is possible.

But if we take imamate to mean that which we have previously mentioned and as the Holy Qur’an has described, doubtlessly, no one other than God can chose the Imam and the caliph.

The conditions for imamate, according to the commentaries on the Holy Qur’an, is knowledge of all of the principles and practices of Islam, a knowledge whose base is in heaven and relies upon the knowledge of the Prophet so that he can guard and preserve the Divine Law of Islam.

Another condition is that Imam must be immaculate and infallible, free from sin and error and is the selected of the Divine immaculateness so that the station of imamate and spiritual and material, external and internal leadership of the imamate can be assumed as well as austerity, piety, courage which is necessary to confirm this important post.

The discrimination of these conditions can clearly only be done through God and the Prophet. It is He Who knows in whose spirit immaculateness has shown its rays, and it is He Who knows who has the highest knowledge needed for leadership, the sufficient courage and spiritual strength.

Those who placed the selection of the Imam and the caliph of the Prophet in the hands of the people, in truth, changed the meaning of imamate in the Holy Qur’an and limited it to meaning only leadership and giving organization to the affairs of this world of the people. Otherwise the conditions of imamate in the general and complete sense can only be determined by the Creator and it is He Who knows who has these qualities.

The Holy Prophet, as well, could not have been selected by the vote of the people, but must rather have most definitely been selected by God Almighty, because other than God, no one can discern the necessary qualities in the Prophet.

2. Did the Prophet not select a Person to succeed him?

There is no doubt that the precepts of Islam were universal and eternal and according to the direct verses of the Holy Qur’an, special to no time or place.

There is, also, no doubt that at the time of the death of the Holy Prophet, the precepts of Islam had not moved beyond the Arabian peninsula.

On the other hand, 13 years of the life of the Prophet in Mecca were spent in struggle against polytheism and idol worship and 10 years of the life of the Prophet, which began from the time of the migration to Medina which was the period of the blossoming of Islam, was spent mainly in conflicts and wars imposed upon him by the enemies.

Even though the Holy Prophet spent night and day endeavoring to have Islam be better understood and to teach the precepts of Islam, but is it clear that many of the Islamic issues needed more time and a person similar to the Holy Prophet was needed to be able to do so and to accept this heavy responsibility.

Beyond this, the foreseeing of future events and providing the preliminaries for the school was among the most important tasks which was something that every leader thought about and would never allow himself to forget.

Beyond this, the Prophet of Islam had provided commands for all of the affairs of life from the most simple possible. Could it be, then, that he would not have provided for the important issue of the person who was to succeed him and not determine the imamate for the Muslims?

The totality of these three directions are clear reasons why the Prophet (S) most certainly took steps for the determination of his successor which we will mention in the later lessons so that this logical reality will become more clear, because the Holy Prophet was never negligent in this area even though many political waves, after the Prophet, tried to fill the people’s minds with the idea that he had neglected to select a successor.

Can one really believe that considering that when the Holy Prophet left the city for just a few days for a conflict (like Tabuk), he did not leave Medina empty of his successor and he took steps to assign a person to succeed him and act in his place, he not guarantee the future generations after his death by selecting his successor but rather left the Ummah in the middle of an abundant number of groups who had differences of opinion on the method of the continuity of Islam?

It is clear that the lack of assigning a successor would have been a great error for Islam which was recently formed and developing. Our intellect and logic tells us that such a situation is impossible to have come from the Prophet of Islam.

Those who say that this was the responsibility of the Ummah must at least show that the Prophet directed this issue whereas no such proof of this is offered

3. Consensus and Council

Let us assume that the Prophet of Islam ignored this vital issue and the Muslims themselves were duty-bound to choose his successor, but we know that consensus means the consensus of the Muslims and such a consensus did not exist in relation to the first caliph.

Only a group of the Companions who lived in Medina made the decision to do this and the rest of the cities of Islam were not in agreement and did not participate in this decision. In Medina itself, ‘Ali, peace be upon him, and a large number of the Bani Hashim, did not participate in any way. Thus, such a consensus cannot be accepted as such.

And if this method be correct, why did the first caliph not use the same method in choosing the second caliph?

Why did he personally select his successor? If the determination of one person is sufficient, the Holy Prophet, who was of the highest station should have his method of selection be accepted and if the later allegiance of the people would solve this problem, in relation to the Holy Prophet, they solve it better.

Beyond this, a third difficulty arises as to the third caliph and that is why did the second caliph not use the method which was used to select the first caliph? Why did he ignore it as well as the tradition which had been used in his own case, that is, neither did he choose Consensus nor did he chose election of an individual but chose a council to do so.

If a council or the idea of consultation is correct, then why just six people? And how can the vote of three people out of six be sufficient?

These are questions which arise for every scholar of Islamic history and they have remained unanswered showing that the way to select the Imam was none of these.

4. ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib was the most worthy of all

Let us assume that the Prophet of Islam (S) did not determine who was to succeed him. Let us also assume that it was the responsibility of the people but can it be that at the time of choosing a person, from the point of view of a person who has knowledge and piety and other qualities, and is superior to all others, be put aside and that a person who is lower on this ladder be chosen?

A large group of Islamic scholars, even those who are among the Sunnis, have directly stated that ‘Ali, peace be upon him, was the most aware person of Islamic affairs and the Traditions and traces which have remained from him, bear witness to this truth.

The history of Islam says that he was a place of refuge for the Ummah in all intellectual knowledge and difficulties and even if the other caliphs were asked difficult and complicated questions, they asked ‘Ali to answer them.

His courage, piety and austerity and other outstanding qualities which he possessed were superior to those of any other. Thus, if we assume that the people should select the most superior person, ‘Ali, peace be upon him, was the most deserving.

(Of course, this discussion has many, many documents which are beyond the range of this brief study to be presented here. Students who are interested may study further in this area).

Think and Answer

1. Why can the people not select and choose the successor to the Prophet?
2. Does our intelligence and logic tell us that the Prophet did not select any one to succeed him or not?
3. What method was used to choose the first three caliphs?
4. Was their method of selection based on Islamic precepts and logic?
5. Why was ‘Ali the most deserving of all?

The Conditions and Special Qualities of the Imam


Before anything else, in the discussion of this issue, we must note ore necessary point and that is that:

It can clearly be seen in the Holy Qur’an that the position of leadership is the highest station that a human being can possibly attain and that it is even higher than the station of Prophethood and having a Divine mission because in the story of Abraham, the idol destroyer, peace be upon him, it says,

“And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands which he fulfilled: He said, ‘I will make thee a leader to the nations.’ He pleaded, ‘And also (Imams) from my offspring?’ He answered, ‘But My promise is not within the reach of evil-doers’” (2:124)

In this way, Abraham, after moving through the station of prophethood and his Divine mission and victory in the various Divine tests made of him, is then given the valuable position of external and internal, material and spiritual leadership of the people.

The Prophet of Islam, peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants, also, in addition to the position or station of prophethood and mission, has the station of leadership and imamate as well. Others among the prophets also had this station. This is one point to note.

On the other hand, we know that the conditions and qualities necessary for the receiving of any position relate to the duties and responsibilities which a person must perform in that position or station. That is, however much the station is elevated, the responsibilities are heavier and greater, in the same proportion, the conditions and qualities necessary for the position are greater.

For instance, in Islam, a person who has the responsibility to judge and even to bear witness and becomes the congregational prayer leader must be just. When the necessity for bearing witness arises or the duty to recite the surah Hamd and another verse in the congregational ritual prayer, justice is necessary, it is clear what conditions are honored in order to reach the position or station of imamate, with the extraordinary importance which it has.

In general, the following conditions are vital for an Imam.

1. Infallibility or Being Free From Sin and Error

An Imam, must, like a Prophet, have the station of purity, that is, be free of sin and error, otherwise he cannot lead and be a model for the people and receive the trust of society.

The Imam must consume the heart and soul of the people and his command be accepted without questioning.

A person who has sinned can never receive such trust and from all points of view, be trusted and confirmed.

How can a person who in his daily life commits errors, have his opinions be relied upon in the work of society and be followed without questioning.

Doubtlessly, a prophet must be immaculate and this quality is necessary for the Imam as well, as we pointed out above.

This can be proven in another way as well. That is ‘the law of kindness’ which the existence of the prophet and Imam relies upon requires the infallibility of the prophet or Imam and the mission which we pointed out in the last lesson, will be incomplete.


2. Overflowing with Knowledge

The Imam, like a Prophet, is a place of refuge of knowledge for the people. He must know all principles and practices of the religion, the external and internal meanings of the Holy Qur’an, the Traditions of the Prophet and whatever relates to Islam, and, in a complete way, be aware because he is the preserver and guardian of the Divine Law as well as the leader and guide of the people.

A person who when a complicated issue is presented either becomes conscious or asks another person for the answer, their knowledge and information will not answer the needs of an Islamic society. They can never be given the position or station of imamate and leadership of the people.

In conclusion, the Imam must be the most aware and most knowledgeable person in relation to the religion of God after the death of the Holy Prophet who does not allow Islam to deviate.

3. Courage

An Imam must be the bravest individual of Islamic society because without that courage of the leader, it is not possible to accept him as leader.

He must have courage in face of the difficult events of life and sudden and unexpected happenings, courage before those who use coercion and who are oppressive and courage before external and internal enemies of Islam.

4. Austerity

We know that those who are captives of the gold and attractions of this world, are easily deceived and it is possible that they deviate from the way of truth and justice.

Sometimes this happens by way of greed and sometimes by way of threats, whereby the captive of this world is deviated from the straight path.

Imam must be above the possibilities of gifts of this world and not to be a captive to it.

He must be free from any chains or bonds of the material world, from all whims and lusts, from any ambition, from wealth and position so that he cannot be deceived and influenced and he then surrender and compromise because of these desires.

5. Ethical or Moral Attractions

The Holy Qur’an says about the Holy Prophet:

“It is part of the Mercy of God that you deal gently with them. Were you to be severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee.” (3:159)

Not only the Holy Prophet, but the Imam and any leader of society are in need of goodness so that the people are magnetized towards him.

Without doubt, any kind of harshness and evil intentions towards the people for the Prophet and Imam is a great defect and they are free from any such defect, otherwise, many of the philosophies of existence would not be fulfilled.

These are the most important conditions which the great Ulama have mentioned for the Imam to have.

Of course, in addition to these five qualifies mentioned above, there are other qualities in the Imam, as well, but we have just mentioned the most basic ones.

Think and Answer

1. Why is the station of leadership of the highest station of a human being?
2. Why do the Prophet of Islam and other prophets who brought a divine law have the station of leadership or imamate?
3. If the Imam is not immaculate, what problem will arise?
4. What is all abundance of knowledge necessary for the Imam to have?
5. For what reason must the Imam be brave, austere and the most pure from the point of view of attracting the ethics of the people?

The Philosophy of the Existence of Imams (Guides)

 Philosophy of the Existence of Imams

The discussion which we had about the necessity for sending of the Holy Prophet by God, makes us familiar, to a certain extent, with the necessity for the existence of an Imam after the Prophet because in many of the important issues, they hold things in common, but here it is important to mention other reasons, as well.

1. Spiritual Perfection along with Divine Leadership

Before anything else, we must seek out the goal for the creation of human beings which is the highest creature of the world of Creation.

They take a way which is long and full of twists and turns towards God, towards Absolute Perfection, towards spiritual perfection in all dimensions.

Without doubt, this way cannot be taken and the goal cannot be attained without the presence of a pure leader and it is not possible to undertake this way without a leader who is a heavenly teacher because: It is a way full of darkness and the dangers of becoming lost.

It is clear that God created the human beings with their own free will and choice and gave them a conscience and a heavenly book and sent his prophets to them but it is possible that the human being, in spite of all of these facilities and possibilities, err upon the way.

Clearly, the presence of an infallible leader will help to prevent the danger of deviation and going astray to a great extent, and in this way, all existence of the Imam is necessary to complete the goal of creation of human beings.

This is that very thing which is called ‘the law of kindness’. What is meant by this is that God, the Wise, has seen to all of the affairs of the human being to reach the goal of creation among which is the sending of the prophets and the selection of pure Imams, otherwise there would be an imperfection in purpose. (Note this carefully).

2. Guardian of the Heavenly Laws

We know that the Divine religions, at the time of their descent to the prophets, are like a drop of rain water, pure, life-giving and nurturing, but the moment one enters an environment which is polluted and brains become weak or impure, gradually they are polluted and superstitions are added to them so that the purity of the first day is lost; in this state, neither do they have attractions, nor any educational effects, nor do they quench the thirst, nor do they blossom forth in flowers of virtue.

It is here that an infallible leader must always act as a guardian of the authenticity of a school, and the being pure of the religious programs alongside it so that they guard against any deviation, extremism, alien ideas and superstitions because if religious precepts be without such a leader, in a very short period of time, they will lose their authenticity and sincerity.

For this reason, ‘Ali, peace be upon him, in his Sermon 147 in the Nahj al-Balaghah says, “Yes. The earth will never be empty of a person who has arisen with the proof of God, whether through appearing of being known or being hidden, so that the Divine proof and signs not be falsified.”

In truth, the heart of Imam, peace be upon him, is just like a safety deposit box in which important documents are always placed, so that they be preserved against thieves and other accidents and this is another reason for the existence of the Imam.

3. The Political and Social Leadership of the Ummah

Doubtlessly, no social group or gathering can continue to be alive if it is not led by a strong leader. Because of this, from the earliest times to the present, all tribes and nations have selected a leader for themselves who was, sometimes, a good person and very often, not so.

It was often the case that by making use of the needs of the ummah for a leader, a tyrant, who had coercion and who deceived the people, was imposed upon them and he took the power in hand.

On the other hand, in order for human beings to be able to reach spiritual perfection, they must take this way, not alone, but with a group or a society because the power of an individual from the intellectual, physical, material and spiritual point of view, is very limited whereas the power of a group is very strong.

But for a society, it is necessary that a correct system rule over ‘it and human talents blossom to struggle against deviations, preserve the rights of all individuals and for reaching this great goal, programming and organization is necessary and the motives be mobilized for motion in a free environment in all of society.

It is a fact that human beings sin. Because of this, human beings have always born witness to the political deviation of the world. The necessity for a pure leader, sent on behalf of God Almighty to supervise this important issue and, also, making use of the people’s power and the great thoughts of scholars, prevents any kind of deviation.

This is another of the philosophies behind the existence of the Imam and another, we repeat, is to be a guide.

Thus the duty of the people at the special times when the pure Imam is in occultation has become clear and, with the will of God, we will speak about it in later lessons.

4. The Necessity of the Final Proof

Not only must the heart be guided by the rays of the existence of the Imam, and follow its way towards absolute perfection, but for those who knowingly and consciously follow the wrong way and who have gone astray, there must be a final proof so that if they are promised a chastisement, it will not be without reason and no one can complain that no one had showed them the way and if they had been shown, they would not have gone astray.

In other words, it is to close the way to excuses that the proof of the truth is given to the necessary extent, and awareness is given to the unaware and to the aware, to gain strength of will power.

5. The Imam is a Great Intermediate for Divine Grace

Many of the scholars — following the Islamic Traditions — compare the existence of the Prophet and the Imam in human society in the total world of Creation to the existence of a heart in the body of the human being.

We know that when the heart beats, blood is sent to all the parts of the body and it nurtures all of the cells of the body.

Because the pure Imam, in the form of a perfect human being and leader of human society, is the cause for the descent of Divine Favor or Grace, and every individual, to the extent of their being in touch with the Prophet, and the Imam, can benefit from this Grace or Favor, and the Imam benefits from this very Grace, it must be said that to the same extent that the existence of the heart is necessary for a human being, the existence of this in intermediate for Divine Grace is also necessary for the activities of the world of humanity. (Note this with care).

Let it not be mistaken. The Prophets and Imams have nothing of themselves to give to others, that whatever is given is given by God, but just like the heart is an intermediate for the transmission of Divine Grace to the body. The Prophets and Imams, also, are intermediates for Divine Grace for human beings in all groups.

Think and Answer

1. What is the role of the Imam, peace be upon him, in the spiritual perfection of the human being?
2. What is the role of the Imam, peace be upon him, in the guarding of the Divine Law?
3. What is the role of the Imam, peace be upon him, in the issue of leadership of rule and the system of society?
4. What does ‘final proof’ mean and what role does the Imam play in this?
5. What does the intermediation of Grace mean? What is the best analogy which can be given for the role of the Prophets and Imams from this point of view?

When did Imamology Begin?


We know that after the death of the Prophet of Islam, Muslims were divided into two groups:

One group believed that the Holy Prophet did not designate a successor to himself. This group believes that he left it up to his nation to meet and decide among themselves who their leader should be. This group is called Sunnite.

The other group believes that the Holy Prophet was infallible, immaculate and free of sin and error and had knowledge so that he could spiritually and materially lead the people and preserve the essence of Islam so that it would find continuation.

They believe that selection of such a person could only come from God through the Holy Prophet of Islam and that the Holy Prophet did this and he selected Imam ‘Ali as his successor. This group is called Shiites.
Our goal in these brief discussions is to follow-up these issues by using intellectual and historic reasoning verses, of the Holy Qur’an and Traditions of the Holy Prophet.
But before we begin the main discussion, several points should be mentioned.

1. Will this Discussion cause Differences?

The moment that the discussion centers on imamate, some people immediately say something to the effect that, “Today is not a day for such discussions!”

Today is the day to discuss Muslim unity and any discussion about the successor to the Holy Prophet only causes differences and separation!

Today we have common enemies and we have to do something about them, namely, Zionism and eastern and western colonialism. Conflicting issues must be put aside.

But this way of thinking is completely wrong.

In the first place, that which causes differences and separation is discussions and debates which are based on prejudice, illogic and hatred.

But discussions which are logical and reasonable free of discrimination and quarreling, held in a friendly environment, not only are not a cause for differences of opinion and separation, but rather they decrease the distances and common points of belief are strengthened.

In my journey to the Hijaz, with the intention of the pilgrimage to God’s House, I held many discussions with the scholars and learned Sunni men. Both of us felt that these discussions not only were not ineffective, but that they caused greater unity and understanding; they decreased the distance between the two sects and everyone washed away their prejudices.

The important thing is that which will become clear in these lessons; we have many points in common with one another and we can rely upon them in face of our Common enemy.

Sunnis are divided into four sects: Hanafis, Hanbalis, Shafi’s, and Malikis. Existence of these four groups have not caused separation among them and when they, at least, accept Shi’ism as a fifth school of thought, many of the differences fall away. Recently, the great Muftis and head of the al-Ahzar University (in Cairo), Shaykh Shaltut, took an effective step and formally announced the acceptance of the Shi’ite school of thought among the Sunnis.

This was a step towards the understanding of Islam and establishing friendly relations between himself and the late Burujerdi, the great leader of the Shi’ites.

Secondly, we believe that Islam is crystallized in Shi’ism. While we have respect for all of the Islamic sects, we believe that Shi’ism can better introduce the real Islam in all of its dimensions and solve the problems related to the leadership of the Islamic community.

Why should we not teach our children this school with reason and logic and if we do not do this, clearly we have committed an act of treason.

We are certain that the Holy Prophet selected his successor. What is wrong with following up this belief with reason and logic?

But in these lessons, we must be careful that the religious emotions of others are not slighted.

Thirdly, in order to destroy the principles and unity of Muslims, the enemies of Islam tell such lies and so instigate Sunnis against Shi’ites, tell so many lies and so insult Shi’ites about the Sunnis so that in some countries, in general, they have grown distant from each other.

When we discuss the issue of imamate in the method described above, and mention the points which the Shi’ites emphasize, and we use proof from the books of the Sunnis, it becomes clear that the propaganda was lies and that the common enemy has tried to poison the environment.

As an example, in one of my trips to the Hijaz, I held a meeting with one of the important religious leaders of the Sunnis. He said, “I have heard that the Shi’ites have a Qur’an which is different from our Qur’an.”

I was very surprised. I said: “Proving that this was not true is very simple. I invite you or your representative to come to Iran after the hajj umrah, without any previous notification. You will see that on every street, in every bazaar or mosque or home, there are Qur’ans. We will go into any mosque that you choose, and study the Qur’ans there. So that it becomes clear that our Qur’an and yours are exactly the same. Most of the Qur’ans which we use are printed in the hijaz or in Egypt and other Islamic countries.”

This very friendly conversation clearly did away with the amazing misconceptions which had been planted in the mind of one of the famous religious leaders.

The point is that a discussion on imamate, in this manner, confirms the unity of Islamic society, helps in clarifying the truths and decreasing the differences of opinion.

2. What is Imamate?

Imam means leader, leader of the Muslims. In the principles of belief of the Shi’ites, an immaculate or pure Imam refers to a person who is the successor to the Holy Prophet in all areas, with the difference that the Holy Prophet is the founder of the school and the Imam is the guardian and preserver of it. Revelation was revealed to the Holy Prophet but not to the Imams. They learned from the Holy Prophet and they had an extraordinary knowledge.

From the point of view of Shi’ism, an immaculate Imam does not just mean leader of Islamic rule, but rather, includes spiritual and material, internal and external leadership as well. In other words, they are responsible for leadership on all levels; they are responsible for the preservation and guardianship of Islamic beliefs and ideology, without any errors or deviation and they are the selected people of God.

But the Sunnis do not see imamate in this way. They only understand imamate as leader of the rule of Islamic society. In other words, leadership in every age and time is the caliph of the Prophet and the Imam of the Muslims!

Of course, in the future lessons we will prove that in every age and era, there must be a divine representative; a prophet or a pure Imam must be upon the earth to preserve the precepts of truth and guide those who long for the truth.

If one day this person is hidden from the people, a person, as his representative, is responsible for the preservation of the precepts and the formation of a government.

Think and Answer

1. What is the reason behind people saying that today is not a day to hold such discussions about imamate?
2. In response to this, how many answers can you give for the necessity of this discussion?
3. How does the enemy cause disputes among the Muslims and what is the way to seal these breaks?
4. Can you recall an example of a dispute which is caused by the enemy?
5. What is the meaning of imamate in Shi’ism and what is the difference with the definition given by the Sunnis?

What is the incident of Fadak?


Fadak had been one of the villages around Medinah situated at a distance of 140 kilometres from Khaybar. In the year 7 ah when the forts of Khaybar fell one after another to the soldiers of Islam and the central power of the Jews was smashed, the inhabitants of Fadak approached the Noble Prophet (S) in submission and handed over one half of their land and gardens to him retaining the other half for themselves. In addition, they also agreed to shoulder the responsibility of cultivating his share of the land and used to receive some benefits for this effort of theirs.

In view of the verse of booty (Fai), this land was specific to the Noble Prophet (S) and he could utilize it for himself or use it in other instances as stated in verse 7 of Suratul Hashr and accordingly, he gifted it to his daughter Fatimah (s.a.). This is a fact, which has been emphasized and stated by numerous Sunnite and Shi’ite historians and commentators. In the commentary al-Durrul Manthur, it has been narrated from Ibne ‘Abbas that when the verse:

وَ آتِ ذَا الْقُربـى حَقَّهُ
“Then give to the near of kin his due”1

was revealed, the Noble Prophet (S) gifted Fadak to Fatimah (s.a.)2:

أَقطَعَ رَسُولُ اللٌّهِ فَااَطِمَةَ فَدَکٌَ.
In the chapter of silah rahim (establishing bonds of consanguinity) of the book Kanz al-‘Ummal, written as annotations for the book Musnad of Ahmad ibne Hanbal, it has been reported from Abu Sa’id Khudri that when the above verse was revealed, the Noble Prophet (S) sought Fatimah (s.a.) and said to her:

ياَ فاَطِمَةُ لَکِ فَدَکٌُ.
“O’ Fatimah! Fadak is for you.”3

Hakim Nishaburi has also reported this same meaning in his book, which deals with history.4

Ibne Abil Hadid too, in his commentary of Nahjul Balaghah, has mentioned the incident of Fadak in great detail5 and so too have numerous other books.

But after the Noble Prophet (S) those, who perceived this economic power in the hands of ‘Ali’s (a.s.) spouse as a danger to their political power and were determined to isolate his supporters in every respect, confiscated it on the basis of a fabricated tradition:

نَحْنُ مَعَاشِرَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ لاَ نُوَرِّثُ.
And despite the fact that Fatimah (s.a.) was in official possession of the land – and one in possession of something is not asked to present witnesses – she was asked to present her witnesses (that Fadak belonged to her). She presented them, who testified that the Noble Prophet (S) had personally gifted it to her, but they disregarded these witnesses.

In later periods, those Caliphs who desired to express their inclinations towards the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), would return Fadak to them but soon after another would come up and confiscate it once again! This was repeated on numerous occasions during the time of the Umayyad and the ‘Abbasid caliphs.

The incident of Fadak and the events associated with it during the initial stages of Islam and in the later eras are of the most painful, sorrowful but at the same time, the most admonitory portions of the history of Islam which ought to be placed under meticulous study so that it illuminates various other incidents of Islam.

Significantly, the Sunni narrator – Muslim ibne Hajjaj Nishaburi – has reported the incident of Fatimah’s (s.a.) demand for Fadak in detail in his book Sahih Muslim and reports from ‘Aishah that after the first Caliph’s refusal to return Fadak to Fatimah (s.a.), she was enraged with him and did not speak a word to him for as long as she was alive.6 and 7


1. Suratul Rum (30), Verse 38
2. al-Durr al-Manthur, vol. 4, pg. 177
3. Kanzul ‘Ummal, vol. 2, pg. 158
4. Refer the book Fadak, pg. 49
5. Sharh of Nahjul Balagha of Ibn Abil Hadid, vol. 16, pg. 209 onwards
6. Sahih Muslim, vol. 3, pg. 1380, no. 52 of ‘The Book of Jihad’
7. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 23, pg. 510

What is the philosophy of Raj’at?


From Islamic traditions, it can be inferred that this issue is confined to those righteous believers, who possess an elevated rank with respect to their faith, and similarly disbelievers, who are placed at a low-grade rank with respect to their disbelief. It appears that the return of these two groups into the world is for the purpose of completing a circle of perfection in the case of the first group and tasting worldly chastisement regarding the second group.

The wisdom of Allah (s.w.t.) necessitates that the group of sincere believers – who, in their journey towards spiritual perfection, had come across obstructions in their life due to which their development had been left incomplete – continue their journey towards perfection by being brought back into this world. They shall then witness the universal government of truth and justice, and participate in the establishment of this system. This is because participation in the establishment of such a government is one of the greatest distinctions (for man).

On the contrary, the group of obstinate tyrants, apart from their special chastisement on the Day of Judgment, should also be punished in this world like the punishment tasted by obstinate nations such as ‘Ad, Thamud, the people of Fir’awn and Prophet Lut (a.s.), and the only way to accomplish this is by means of raj’at.

In a tradition, Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:

إِنَّ الرَّجْعَةَ لَيْسَتْ عَامَّةٌ وَ هِيَ خَاصَّةٌ، لاَ يَرْجِعُ إِلاَّ مَنْ مَحَّضَ الإِيـمَانَ مَحْضاً أَوْ مَحَّضَ الشِّرْكَ مَحْضاً.

“Surely the raj’at is not universal, but specific; only those shall be returned, who are downright pure in faith or downright pure in polytheism.”1

It is possible that verse 95 of Suratul Anbiya, which states:

وَ حَرَامٌ عَلى قَرْيَةٍ أَهْلَکْنَاهَا إِنَّهُمْ لاَ يَرْجِعُونَ

“And it is binding on a town which We destroy that they shall not return)” is also an allusion towards this meaning. This is because the issue of non-return is stated in connection with those, who have tasted their punishments in this world; thus, it becomes manifest that those, who have not witnessed their punishments, ought to return and taste it.

Another possibility that exists is that the return of these two groups in that specific phase of human history is to present before mankind two important signs – the power of Allah (s.w.t.) and the issue of Resurrection (the Origin and the End) – in order that by witnessing it they reach the zenith of their faith and spiritual perfection, and do not possess any kind of shortcoming.2
1. Biharul Anwar, vol. 53, pg. 39
2. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 15, pg. 559

What is ‘Raj’at (the Return)? Is its occurrence possible?


Raja’t is one of the popular Shi’ite beliefs and its explanation, briefly, is as follows:
After the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and on the threshold of Resurrection, a group of the sincere mu’mineen and a group of the immensely wicked disbelievers and rebellious individuals shall return to this world. The first group shall subsequently advance several ranks towards perfection whilst the second group would taste a severe chastisement.

The late Sayyid Murtadha, one of the greatly distinguished scholars, explains as follows: “After the reappearance of Hadhrat Mahdi (a.s.), the Exalted Allah (s.w.t.) shall cause group of those, who had previously departed from the world, to return to this world in order that they may be partners in the reward and glory of assisting him (a.s.) and in witnessing Allah’s rule over the entire world; He shall also cause the most obstinate enemies to return in order to extract revenge from them.”

He then adds: “No intellectual person can ever claim that Allah (s.w.t.) does not possess the power to cause this occurrence to happen and, since this cannot be considered to be impossible, it is itself a proof of the truthfulness of this issue. Nonetheless, our opponents reject this so vehemently as if they regard it to be an event that is inconceivable.”

He then further adds: “The consensus of the Twelve-Imam Shi’ites proves this belief, for there is none, from amongst them, who oppose it.”1

Nevertheless, from the statements of some of the scholars and also from the words of late Tabrisi in his book Majma’ul Bayan, it appears that a minority from amongst the Shi’ites had opposed this belief, interpreting Raj’at to mean the return of the rule and government of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and not the return of the people and coming to life of the dead. However, they are few in number and accordingly do not injure the consensus.

There are indeed numerous aspects that need to be discussed which we shall present here, in a few words, so as not to deviate from the subject matter:

1. Without any doubt, for a group of dead individuals to come back to life in this world is entirely possible, just as the coming to life of all the humans on the Day of Judgment is entirely possible. Astonishment over such an issue is akin to the disbelief exhibited by the pagan polytheists over the issue of Resurrection, and mockery with respect to this issue is analogous to their mockery. This is because the intellect does not consider such an occurrence to be impossible; indeed the Power of Allah (s.w.t.) is so extensive and all-embracing that for Him all these issues are simple.

2. In the Noble Qur’an there are five instances of raj’at, occurring with respect to past nations:

A) Regarding a prophet, who passed by a settlement which lay in ruins while the bodies of its inhabitants lay scattered. He asked himself as to how Allah (s.w.t.) would bring them to life after they have died whereupon Allah (s.w.t.) made him to die for one hundred years and then, bringing him to life, asked: “How long have you tarried? He replied: A day or a part of it. He was told: No. A hundred years have passed by you.”2

Whether this prophet had been ‘Uzayr or someone else does not make a difference. The significant point is the explicit declaration of the Qur’an about life after death in this world itself.

فَأَمَاتَهُ اللٌّهُ مِائَةَ عامٍ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ

“So Allah made him die for a hundred years, then raised him to life.”

B) In verse 243 of Suratul Baqarah, the Qur’an speaks about a group of individuals, who, out of fear of death (and according to some commentators, under the pretext of plague had refrained from participating in the jihad) had stepped out of their houses, whereupon Allah (s.w.t.) commanded them to die and then raised them to life again.

فَقَالَ لَهُمُ اللٌّهُ مُوتُوا ثُمَّ أَحْـيَاهُمْ‏

“Allah said to them: ‘Die’: Then He restored them to life.”

Some commentators, who have been unable to digest the occurrence of such an unusual incident, have regarded it as just a presentation of an example. However, it is plain that such interpretations, vis-à-vis the apparent meaning and the explicit statements of the verse in connection with the occurrence of this issue, are unacceptable.

C) In verses 55 and 56 of Suratul Baqarah, which are in connection with the tribe of Bani Isra’il, we read that a group from amongst them, desiring to see Allah (s.w.t.), were overcome by a deadly lightning and died, after which, Allah (s.w.t.) brought them back to life in order that they may thank Him for His bounties.

ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَاكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَوْتِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

“Then We raised you up after your death that you may give thanks.”

D) Verse 110 of Suratul Maidah, while enumerating the miracles of Prophet ‘Isa (a.s.), states:

وَ إِذْ تُخْرِجُ الْمَوْتى‏ بِإِذْنِي

“And when you brought forth the dead by My permission.”

This expression indicates that ‘Isa (a.s.) made use of this miracle (bringing the dead to life) of his; moreover, the imperfect tense of the word تَخرُجُ indicates repetition, which itself can be regarded as a kind of Raj’at (for those whom he (a.s.) brought back to life).

E) And finally, in verse 73 of Suratul Baqarah, when there arose a dispute and disagreement amongst the Bani Isra’il with respect to unearthing the killer of a murdered person, the Qur’an says that they were ordered to sacrifice a cow possessing certain specific features, and to tap a part of its body upon the body of the murdered person in order that the person may return to life (and disclose the name of his murderer thereby putting an end to the dispute)

فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبُوهُ بِبَعْضِهَا كَذٌلِكَ يُحْيِ اللٌّهُ الْمَوْتى‏ وَ يُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

“So We said: Strike the (dead body) with part of the (sacrificed cow), thus Allah brings the dead to life, and He shows you His signs so that you may understand.”

Apart from these five instances, there are other occasions which are observed in the Noble Qur’an – such as the story of the People of the Cave which is also something similar to raj’at, and the story of the four birds of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) that are brought back to life after being sacrificed in order to demonstrate for him the possibility of the resurrection of man – an incident, which is very significant when discussing raj’at.

Accordingly, how is it possible that a person accepts the Noble Qur’an as a Divine book and, despite all these clear verses, suntil denies the possibility of raj’at? Essentially, is raj’at something other than a return to life after death?

Can raj’at not be regarded as a small example of Resurrection, in this small world? How can one, who accepts Resurrection in that extensive scale, reject the issue of raj’at? Or ridicule its concept? Or speak like Ahmad Amin Misri, who, in his book Fajrul Islam, writes:

األْيَهُوْدِيَّةُ ظَهَرَتْ بِالتَّشَيُّعِ بِالْقَوْلِ بِالرَّجْعَةِ.

“Another Judaism has manifested in Shi’ism due to the concept of raj’at!”3

Honestly, what difference lies between this statement of Ahmad Amin and the disavowal of physical resurrection by the pagan Arabs?

3. What we have stated up to this point has proved the possibility of the occurrence of raj’at; and its occurrence is emphasized by numerous traditions which have been narrated from the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), and since it is beyond the scope of our discussion to present them all, it should suffice for us to quote the statistics compiled by the late ‘Allamah Majlisi, who says:

How is it possible that a person believes in the truthfulness of the words of the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) but (at the same time) refuses to accept the ‘successively transmitted’ traditions in connection with raj’at – explicit traditions, which are almost two hundred in number and transmitted by forty odd trustworthy transmitters and eminent scholars in more than fifty books! If these traditions are not ‘successively transmitted’, then which tradition can be such?4 and 5
1. Safinatul Bihar, vol. 1, pg. 511 (under رجع)
2. Suratul Baqarah (2), Verse 259
3. ‘Aqaidul Imamiyyah of Sheikh Muhammad Ridha Mudhaffar, pg. 71
4. Biharul Anwar, vol. 53, pg. 122
5. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 15, pg. 555

whats the five qualities of the Imam according to Quranic ayahs?


[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ubsequent to mentioning the story of rescuing Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Lut and granting Ibrahim (as) righteous children,[1] the Quran reflects on the imamah and leadership of this great Prophet and a number of values, plans and qualities pertaining to this divine position: “And we made them leaders, guiding (mankind) by our command, and we inspired in them the doing of good deeds, performing salat, and the giving of zakat and of us (alone) they were worshippers.”[2]

The above ayah indicates that the five qualities of the imam are as follows:

1. Calling the people to God.

2. Aspiring to do good and righteous deeds.

3. Upholding the ritual of prayer (salat).

4. Giving of zakat (charity).

5. Only worshipping Allah.

Precisely speaking, imamah is the manifestation and fulfillment of all divine plans, in other words, it is the implementation of takwini (generative) and tashri’i (legislative) guidance, which can be portrayed as the sun, that cultivates each and every living creature with its light.

The first quality of the imam is that: he guides the people to our noble cause (یهدون بامرنا), not only does he direct them to the right path; he actually walks those worthy through the path all the way to the final destination.[3]

The second, third and fourth endowment and quality of the imam is that we inspired in them the doing of good, performance of prayer and giving of zakat (و اوحینا الیهم فعل الخیرات و اقام الصلوة و ایتاء الزکاة).

This type of revelation can be a matter of tashri’i revelation, meaning that we included a variety of good deeds, the act of prayer and zakat in their religious doctrine, or it can be a matter of takwini revelation, indicating that we granted them the tawfiq (i.e., the opportunity), ability and strength to perform such things.

And in the fifth and last phrase, the Quran reflects on their obedience, saying: And of us (alone) they were worshippers (و کانوا لنا عابدین).[4]

Additionally, the expression (کانوا), that which implies continuance and persistence on this particular matter, suggests that they were pious and righteous believers prior to becoming prophets or imams and that it was for this very dedication to the divine that prepared them for new blessings from God.[5]
[1] Anbiya’:71 and 72.

[2] “و جعلناهم ائمة یهدون بامرنا و اوصینا الیهم فعل الخیرات و اقام الصلوة و ایتاء الزکوة و کانوا لنا عابدین” Anbiya’:73.

[3] Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 13, pg. 455, with some alteration.

[4] Ibid, pg. 456, with slight alteration.

[5] For further reading, see: Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 13, pp. 451-157; Pasdare Eslam‌ Magazine, no. 298, Sept. 2006, pg. 10, article on the imams and leaders of guidance.

Is Imam Ali capable of reviving the dead?

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]Asserting that someone can independently do so without God’s assistance is in absolute contradiction with tawhid af’ali (oneness in action), for death and life is solely in God’s hand.

However, if one were to carry out this act with God’s consent, it would then be considered probable and possible.

As stated in the Quran, God mentions Jesus (A.S.) saying: “I can make see thee who has been born blind and I can cure leprosy and with God’s will, revive the dead.”

In keeping with the above, not a single Muslim should doubt the occurrence of such a matter.

And since the Prophet of Islam, being the seal of Prophets, consists of a higher position and closer stance to Allah in relation to other Prophets including Prophet Jesus and in light of the Quran stating that Ali is the Prophet’s nafs (self), why would it seem improbable for the Prophet (sa) and Ali (as) to do what Prophet Jesus (as) did?