20 August, 2018 | 8 Dhu al-Hijjah, 1439 H

"What corrupts generosity is mentioning it."

- The Prophet Muhammad (s)

Learning
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Core Curriculum

Section 1 - God, Religion and Islam: An Introduction
  • Topic 1.1 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 1.2 - God, Allah and Religion

  • Topic 1.3 - Introduction to Islam

  • Topic 1.4 - What is “Religion” and What’s the Point of it Anyways?

  • Topic 1.5 - A Brief Introduction to the Prophet Muhammad (s), the Prophet of Islam

Section 2 - Foundations of Islam - Theology
  • Topic 2.1 - Entering Islam: The Shahada

  • Topic 2.2 - The Usūl al-Dīn: The Fundamental Beliefs of Islam

  • Topic 2.3 - Tawhīd: The Unity and Oneness of God in Islam

  • Topic 2.4 - Adala: Divine Justice in Islam

  • Topic 2.5 - Nubuwwa: The Purpose of Prophethood in Islam

  • Topic 2.6 - Imāmah or divinely guided leadership in Islam after the Prophet Muhammad.

  • Topic 2.7 - Maʿād: The Day of Judgment in Islam

  • Topic 2.8 - The Sharīʿa: Purpose and Practice

  • Topic 2.9 - The Islamic Concept of the Nafs: Battling the Human Ego

  • Topic 2.10 - Satan, Jinns and Angels: Their Influence in the World

  • Topic 2.11 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

Section 3 - Foundations of Islam - Obligatory Acts
  • Topic 3.1 - Accepting Islam: Putting Faith into Action

  • Topic 3.2 - Jihād in Islamic Law and Spirituality

  • Topic 3.3 - Salāt: Obligatory Ritual Prayers in Islam

  • Topic 3.4 - Ritual Purity in Islamic Law: Understanding Tahāra and Najāsa

  • Topic 3.5 - The Five Categories of Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.6 - Tawalla and Tabarra, its Basics and Purpose

  • Topic 3.7 - The Purpose of Zakat and Khums in Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.8 - The Hajj Pilgrimage

  • Topic 3.9 - The Furūʿ al-Dīn: The Fundamental Practices of Islam

  • Topic 3.10 - Fasting in Islam, its Purpose, Dos and Don’ts

  • Topic 3.11 - Other Obligatory and Forbidden Acts in Islam

  • Topic 3.12 - Niyya: Religious Intention as the Foundation of Islamic Practice

  • Topic 3.13 - Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil in Islam

Section 4 - Prophethood in Islam
  • Topic 4.1 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Childhood (PART I of III)

  • Topic 4.2 - Bio: The Prophet Muhammad as a Prophet of God (PART II of III)

  • Topic 4.3 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Character (PART III of III)

  • Topic 4.4 - The Prophet Muhammad (s) as Messenger and Teacher

  • Topic 4.5 - The Prophet and his Relationships

  • Topic 4.6 - The Prophet’s Sunnah and Hadith

  • Topic 4.7 - Ghadīr and Arafah: The Two Last Sermons of the Prophet

  • Topic 4.8 - Jesus and Mary in Islam

Section 5 - The Qur'an and Hadith
  • Topic 5.1 - Islam and Other Religions

  • Topic 5.2 - What is the Qur’an? A Short Introduction to Islam’s Holy Book

  • Topic 5.3 - The Structure of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.4 - The Quran and Islamic law

  • Topic 5.5 - The Qur’an, Allah and Humankind

  • Topic 5.6 - Hadith and Sunnah, difference and variations

  • Topic 5.7 - The Reliability of Hadiths

  • Topic 5.8 - A Reflection on Verses of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.9 - Hadith al-Thaqalayn

  • Topic 5.10 - Imam Ali (as) and Nahj al-Balagha.

  • Topic 5.11 - Taqlid and Tawḍih Al Masail Genre of Literature

Section 6 - Measuring Good and Bad in Islam
  • Topic 6.1 - The Effects of Our Actions in this World

  • Topic 6.2 - The Gray Areas of Islamic Law and Morality

  • Topic 6.3 - Heaven and Hell in Islam

  • Topic 6.4 - Life and Death in Islam

  • Topic 6.5 - Guidance According to Islam

  • Topic 6.6 - Fate and the Consequences of our Choices in Islam

  • Topic 6.7 - The Effect of Culture and Environment in Shaping our Religious Choices

  • Topic 6.8 - Major Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.9 - Why Allah Allows People to Sin

  • Topic 6.10 - Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.11 - The Three Kinds of Rights in Islam

  • Topic 6.12 - Sinning Against Others and their Delayed Punishment

  • Topic 6.13 - Kufr in Islam

  • Topic 6.14 - Trivializing the Harām

  • Topic 6.15 - Benefits of Islamic Law in this World

  • Topic 6.16 - Good and Bad Deeds: The Spiritual Consequences of our Choices

Section 7 - The Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as)
  • Topic 7.1 - Islam and Knowledge: the Importance of Islamic Education

  • Topic 7.2 - The Ahl al-Kisa

  • Topic 7.3 - Imamah in the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.4 - Fatima al-Zahrah (as)

  • Topic 7.5 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam al-Hasan until Imam Muhammad al-Baqir)

  • Topic 7.6 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam Jafar al-Sadiq until Imam Hasan al-Askari)

  • Topic 7.7 - A Brief Look at the Life and Importance of Imam al-Mahdi (aj)

  • Topic 7.8 - Salawat and Atonement in Islam

  • Topic 7.9 - The Companions (Sahaba) of the Prophet According to the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.10 - Clerical Hierarchies in Muslim Communities

  • Topic 7.11 - Mosques in Islam

  • Topic 7.12 - The Philosophy of Karbala and Majalis

  • Topic 7.13 - A Brief Biography of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as)

  • Topic 7.14 - The Battle of Karbala: A Brief History

Section 8 - Islamic Relationships, Sects and Conflicts
  • Topic 8.1 - Misconceptions about Shi’ism

  • Topic 8.2 - Major Sects of Islam

  • Topic 8.3 - Islam and Religious Conflicts

  • Topic 8.4 - Islam and Rights

  • Topic 8.5 - Sunnism and Shi’ism, beginnings and historical developments.

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Special Topics

Section 9 - Independent Topics
  • Topic 9.1 - Muslim Converts – Welcome to Islam!

  • Topic 9.2 - Basic Dos and Don’ts of Being a Muslim

  • Topic 9.3 - Halal Food and Zabiha

  • Topic 9.4 - Family, Parents and Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.5 - Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.6 - Islam and Sex

  • Topic 9.7 - Modesty in Islam

  • Topic 9.8 - Women’s Menstruation in Islam

  • Topic 9.9 - Music, Alcohol, Drugs and Pork in Islam

  • Topic 9.10 - Islam and Science

  • Topic 9.11 - A Reading List of Islamic Knowledge

  • Topic 9.13 - Ritual Prayers and Supplications in Islam

  • Topic 9.14 - Death & Burial Rituals in Islam

  • Topic 9.15 - The Battle of Armageddon: An Islamic View

  • Topic 9.16 - The Muslim Calendar

  • Topic 9.17 - Muslims and non-Muslims in the Shariah

  • Topic 9.18 - A Timeline of Major Events in Islamic History

  • Topic 9.19 - Introducing the Qur’an: Why it is the way it is

  • Topic 9.20 - The School of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq

  • Topic 9.21 - Major Fields in Islamic Studies

  • Topic 9.22 - The Caliphate in Sunni and Shia Islam

  • Topic 9.24 - Islam, Racism and Anti-Semitism

Section 10 - Islam, Religion, and Modern Controversies
  • Topic 10.1 - Modern Fallacies about God: where Theists and Atheists Agree

  • Topic 10.2 - Tawhīd: The Muslim God according to the Prophet Muhammad and the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

  • Topic 10.3 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Being (Wujūd)

  • Topic 10.4 - God’s Existence: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

  • Topic 10.5 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Design

  • Topic 10.6 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 10.7 - Why did God Create Us? The Purpose of our Creation

  • Topic 10.8 - Why Humans Need Religion according to Islam

  • Topic 10.9 - Jahl and Spiritual Ignorance in Islam

  • Topic 10.11 - Do Non-Muslims Go to Hell?

Imamah in the Qur’an

Abstract

Imamah in the Qur’an is a position of divine leadership through which one guides all of mankind.

INTRODUCTION

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts! The central guiding source-text of Islam is the Holy Qur’an. It is in the Qur’an that we find the central themes of salvation for humankind.

 

These central themes are quite vast, they include the importance of belief in one God, the importance of the moral and virtuous life, the centrality of prayer in human salvation, the viciousness of sin and protecting one’s soul from it, the importance of preparing for the Hereafter, the centrality of having a united Muslim community, and many, many other things.

 

We know that the Prophet Muhammad (s) emphasized the importance of Imamah in the salvation of humankind as well as it being a source for authentic Muhammadan Islam. All the topics that we mentioned are, in our common understanding, explicit in the Qur’an. Yet there are some who feel that Imamah is not talked about in the Qur’an.

 

In this lesson, we wish to shed light on this little misunderstanding and demonstrate how Imamah, according to the Qur’anic narrative, is central in the guidance of humankind.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

Ibrahim (as) had been tested on many grounds. One of his first tests was being thrown into the fire. Ibrahim (as) had been preaching Allah’s message to the idol worshipers of his time, but its people weren't too happy about it and threatened to burn him alive if he didn't stop. Ibrahim (as), out of sheer courage and devotion to Allah, continued to preach Allah's message and as a result, was thrown into the fire.

 

Allah says in the Qur’an:

 

He said, "Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you? Uff to you and to what you worship instead of Allah . Then will you not use reason?" They said, "Burn him and support your gods - if you are to act." Allah said, "O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham." And they intended for him harm, but We made them the greatest losers. (Chapter 21, verses 66-70 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

Ibrahim (as) was tested several more times throughout his life, including putting his son in the middle of a desert, or following the command of beheading his own son. The Qur’an says

 

And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, "O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think." He said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast." And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, "O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision." Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. (Chapter 37, verses 102-106)

 

The Prophet Ibrahim (as) had spent a long time yearning for a child, especially a son who would succeed him in righteousness and in guiding humankind after him. At an old age, Allah miraculously granted him the gift of a baby son named Ismaʿil (as). Isma’il was the treasure and fruit of his life, yet Allah, wishing to test Ibrahim’s resolve in Allah, asked Ibrahim (as) to sacrifice him. Ibrahim (as) as obedient as he was, went ahead to carry the task but Allah stopped him, informing him that he had passed the test.

 

After a long series of tests over the years, and having passed them all with flying colors, Allah elevated Ibrahim’s (as) status. God says the following in the Holy Qur’an:

 

And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [ Allah ] said, "Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people." [Abraham] said, "And of my descendants?" [ Allah ] said, "My covenant does not include the wrongdoers." (Chapter 2, verse 124 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

At this point Ibrahim (as) was already a Prophet (s) and in the conventional sense, he was also a leader for humankind for that’s the role that Prophets assume. So the word Imam, although literally understood as leader, cannot mean a leader in the conventional sense. The word Imam also does not mean a political leader, as in a head of state or government.

 

If this was the case, then the Qur’an would have mentioned something about Ibrahim’s (as) life in that capacity. However, from history and Islamic source-texts, including the hadiths, we know that this wasn’t the case.

 

So Imāmah therefore takes on its own meaning. Allamah Tabataba’i, the great commentator of the Qu’ran, explains the verse in the following way:

 

We find in the Qur'an that whenever it mentions imamah it puts guidance side-by-side - it looks as though Allah was using the latter to explain the former.

 

Allah says in the story of Ibrahim: And We gave him Ishaq and Ya'qub as a further gift; and We made (them) all righteous ones; and We made them Imams, to guide (people) by Our command... (21:72 - 73); and He says in another place: And We made of them Imams to guide by Our command as they were patient, and they were certain of Our signs (32:24).

 

Here the imamah is explained, or rather defined, in terms of guidance, and then further qualified with the proviso, "by Our command." Clearly, the imamah does not mean any type of guidance; it is a guidance, which emanates from the command of Allah.

 

And the reality of that command is described in these words: His command, when He intends anything, is only that He says to it: "Be", and it is. Therefore glory be to Him in Whose hand is the kingdom of every thing... (36:82-83); And Our command is but one, as the twinkling of an eye (54:50).

 

He further states:

 

Imam is a leader who guides by a Divine Command, which is closely associated with him.

 

The imamah, in its esoteric sense, is al-wilayah (guardianship, authority) over the people in their actions and activities; and its guidance entails conveying them to the final destination by the command of Allah.

 

(See his full commentary in Tafsir al-Mizan under Chapter 2, verse 124 of the Holy Qur’an. The commentary can be found in almizan.org)

 

The Prophets before Prophet Ibrahim (as) were local Prophets for their own people. By becoming an Imam, Ibrahim became the first Prophet to be a guide for all of humankind instead of being confined to one region only.

 

As a product of having becoming an Imam, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) also assumed power over creation and became the metaphysical light through which humankind could to be guided towards God, either through direct personal guidance, or indirectly through his guiding light without meeting the person.

 

In other words, just like Satan could misguide millions of people through the metaphysical realm, Ibrahim (as), by the permission of Allah, could guide millions of people across the world through the metaphysical realm as well.

 

This was a new status that no one had attained before him. This is then the meaning of Imamah according to the Qur’an and is the status which the twelve Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) inherited.

 

So what’s the difference between Prophethood and Imamah? Prophethood is where a person receives direct revelation from God in order to carry out a particular task in the world, such as conveying a message or fulfilling a specific mission. Imamah is a cosmic status, it is where a person becomes the metaphysical vehicle of guidance for all of the world and acquires power over all of creation.

 

One does not necessarily need to be a Prophet in order to acquire this status but the only non-Prophets who were worthy of this status were the Imams of the Messenger of Allah’s Household. The Prophet Muhammad (s) was the greatest of all Imams.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh

Imamah

Divine leadership

Q1

Name me one example of an Imam in the Qur’an

Ibrahim (as), according to Q2:124

Q2

Is every Prophet an Imam?

No

Q3

Is every Imam a Prophet?

No

Q4

Who is the first Imam ever?

The Prophet Ibrahim (as)

Q5

What is the difference between Imamah and Prophethood?

Prophethood is where a person receives direct revelation from God in order to carry out a particular task in the world, such as conveying a message or fulfilling a specific mission. Imamah is a cosmic status, it is where a person becomes the metaphysical vehicle of guidance for all of the world and acquires power over all of creation. One does not necessarily need to be a Prophet in order to acquire this status.

God
Prophet Muhammad
Messenger of Allah
Allah
Ahl al-Bayt
Salvation
Hereafter
sin
soul
Holy Qur’an
prayer
Muslim community
Imamah
Twelve Imams
Prophet Ibrahim
Prophet Abraham
Allamah Tabataba’i

mamate by Akhtar Ridhewi

Imamate and Twelve Imams by Muhammad Hussein Tabataba’i

Imamate and Wilayah by Mohammad Ali Shomali

Let’s Learn about Imamate by Nasser Makarem Shirazi