Who are the Shia Imams

Shia answers: Who are the Shia Imams (AS) and how are they appointed?

Mouood– Quoted from Shafaqna:

Shia answers: Who are the Shia Imams (AS) and how are they appointed?

August 9, 2021 | 6:08 AM

Short Answer: According to the Shia Muslims, in addition to the headship and caliphate, the Imam has two other important dignities:

one is a religious authority free from error which is called Ismah (Infallibility) and the other is the Wilayah (Guardianship). And since it is not possible for the ordinary people to recognize such characteristics in order to assign the caliphate, the appointment of the Imam is done by the order of God and through the Prophet or the previous Imam.

The Shia believe that twelve members of the family of the Prophet (PBUH) have been appointed to this position by God’s decree, and the Prophet (PBUH) has announced this appointment during his lifetime, in the following order: Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), Hassan ibn Ali (AS), Hussain ibn Ali (AS), Ali ibn Hussain (AS), Muhammad ibn Ali (AS), Ja’far ibn Muhammad (AS), Musa ibn Ja’far (AS), Ali ibn Musa (AS), Muhammad ibn Ali (AS), Ali ibn Muhammad (AS), Hassan ibn Ali (AS) and the Mahdi (AJ).

The issue of Imamate has been one of the biggest controversial issues among Muslims. This controversy was not about the principle of the necessity of the existence of the Imam; Because the issue that every society should be run by an Imam is something that everyone agrees on. The main issue is whether the Imamate is elective or appointive.

As regards the Sunnis consider the position of the successor of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as an apparent responsibility at the level of the head of the religious government, they believe that the Caliph and the Imam are elective and think that anyone can be elected through the council and the people and enter this position.

But according to the Shia Muslims, in addition to the headship and caliphate, the Imam has two other important dignities: one is a religious authority free from error which is called Ismah (Infallibility) and the other is the Wilayah (Guardianship) of a perfect human being. And since it is not possible for the ordinary people to recognize such characteristics in order to assign the caliphate, the appointment of the Imam is done by the order of God and through the Prophet (PBUH) or the previous Imam.

We will briefly explain these three characteristics of the Imam. One of the rational reasons that shows that the Imam is appointed by God is the Rule of Grace. The Rule of Grace means that the requirement of God’s special grace for the guidance of human beings is to provide God’s servants with everything they need for the guidance and salvation and to keep them away from what brings them closer to sins; And since the existence of the Imam, like the existence of the Prophet, is considered a grace for individuals, it is proper for God to do such a grace for God’s servants and to appoint worthy leaders and Imams for them. If such an Imam can take the responsibility of the government, the result of the establishment of such a government is the emergence of Islam in all its dimensions, and ultimately brings success in religion and the world and the hereafter.

The second reason that Imamate is appointive is that ordinary people are not able to recognize the attribute of Ismah (infallibility). The Shia Muslims believe that the prominent position of the Imam in interpreting the truth of the religion and expressing the original tradition of Islam requires that he have the attribute of Ismah (infallibility); And Ismah is something that is hidden from people. Therefore, it is God who is able to recognize such an attribute in the entity of the Imam and settles the people’s differences about the person who has this attribute.

The third rational reason for the necessity of appointing an Imam by God’s decree is the necessity of obedience to a perfect human being. A perfect man who has the manifestation of the prominent attributes of God and is the only one who is able to raise the level of human humanity and ultimately the salvation of all. This perfect man is the Prophet and the Imam, and obedience to them is obligatory on others, and since knowing such a degree of perfection is beyond the reach of human beings, then the Imam must be appointed by God.
According to the above, the appointment of the Imam must be done by God’s decree; And just as God knows where to place Divine Prophecy, God knows where to place the position of Imamate for the guidance of mankind.

The Shia believe that twelve members of the family of the Prophet (PBUH) have been appointed to this position by God’s decree, and the Prophet (PBUH) has announced this appointment during his lifetime, in the following order: Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), Hassan ibn Ali (AS), Hussain ibn Ali (AS), Ali ibn Hussain (AS), Muhammad ibn Ali (AS), Ja’far ibn Muhammad (AS), Musa ibn Ja’far (AS), Ali ibn Musa (AS), Muhammad ibn Ali (AS), Ali ibn Muhammad (AS), Hassan ibn Ali (AS) and the Mahdi (AJ).

*The series of articles “Shia answers” has been prepared and compiled by the Shafaqna International News Agency in order to provide short and simple answers to common questions about Islam and Shiism in different parts of the world. Answering these questions are done in collaboration with researchers and Islamic centers and based on online and library resources.

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