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The meaning of Imam and the necessity of his existence in Islam
Imam or leader is the title given to person who takes the lead in a community in a particular social movement or political ideology or scientific or religious from of thought. Naturally, because of his relation to the people he leads, he must con form his actions to their capabilities in both important and secondary matters.
As is clear from the preceding chapters, the sacred religious of Islam takes into consideration and gives directives concerning all aspects of the life all men it investigates human life from the spiritual point of view and guides man accordingly, and it intervenes on the plane of formal and material existence from the point of view the life of the individual. In the same way it intervenes on the plane of social life and its regulation (i.e, on the plane of government).
Thus the imamate and religious leadership in Islam my be studied from three different perspectives: from the perspectives of Islamic government, of Islamic sciences and injunctions, and of leadership and innovative guidance in the spiritual life, shi’ism believes that since Islamic society in dire need of guidance in each of these three aspects, the person who occupies that function of giving that guidance and is that leader of the community in these areas of religious concern must be appointed by God and the prophet, Naturally, the prophet himself was also appointed by Divine Command.
Necessity of existence of Imam with regard to the succession of the prophet
Man through his God- given nature realizes without any doubt that no organized society, such a country or city or village or tribe or even a house hold consisting of a few human beings, can continue to subsist without a leader and ruler who puts the wheel of the society in motion whose will govern each individual’s will and induces the members of that society to perform their social duty. Without such a ruler parts of this society become dispersed in a short time and disorder and confusion reign therefore, he who is the ruler and governor of a society, whether it great or small, if he is interested in his own position and the continued existence of his society, will appoint a successor for himself if he is to be absent from his function temporarily or permanently. He will never abandon the domain of his rule and be oblivious to its existence or annihilation.
The head of a household who bids farewell to his house and household for journey of a few days or months will appoint one of the members of the household or some one else as his successor and leave the affairs of the house in his hands. The head of an institution, or the principle of a school, or the owner of a shop, if he is to absent even for a few hours will select some one to represent him.
In the same way Islam is a religious which according to the text of the Holy Book and the Sunnah is established upon the basis of the primordial nature of things. It is a religious concerned with social life, as has been seen by every observer near and far. The special attention God and the prophet have given to the social nature of this religious can never be denied or neglected. It is incomparable feature of Islam. The Holy prophet was never oblivious to problem of the formation of social grouping wherever the influence of Islam. Penetrated. Wherever a city or village fell into hands he would, in the shortest time possible, appoint a governor or ruler in whose hand he would leave the affairs of the Muslimes (Tarlikh-i Ya’ qubi, VOI, III, PP. 60-61, sirah of Ibn Hisham, IV, P, 197 ). In the Important military expeditions ordered for the Holy war(jihad), he would appoint more than one leader and commander, in order of succession. In the war of Mu’tah he even appointed four leaders, so that if the first were to be killed the second would be recognized as the head and his command accepted and if the second were to be killed, the third, and so on (Tarlikh-i Ya’ qubi, VOI, II,PP 52- 59. sirah of Ibn Hisham, IV, II, P, 223).
The prophet also displayed great interest in the problem of succession and never failed to appoint a successor when necessary Whenever he left Medina he would appoint a governor in his own place (Tarlikh-i Ya’ qubi, VOI, II,PP, 59-60 and P ,44, sirah of Ibn Hisham, IV, II, P, 251, VOI,IV P ,173 and P. 272). Even when he migrated from Mecca to Medina and there was as yet no idea as to what would occur, in order to have his personal affairs managed in Mecca for those few days and to give back to people what had been entrusted to him, he appointed Ali – may peace be upon him –as his successor (Tarlikh -i Ya’ qubi, VOI, II,P, 29, Tarlikh – i – Abi’I – Fida’, VOI, I,P, 126, sirah of Ibn Hisham, IV, II, P 168). In the same way, after his death Ali was his successor in matters concerning his debth and personal affairs (Ghayat al- maram P 664, .from the Musnad of Ahmad and others).
The reasons of shi'ism for necessity of Imam the successor the prophet
The shi’ithes claim that for this very reason it is not conceivable that the prophet should have died without appointing some one as his successor, without having selected a guide and leader to direct the affairs of Muslims and to turn the wheels of IsIamic society.
Man ‘s primordial nature does doubt the importance and value of the fact the creation of a society depends on a set of common regulations and customs which are accepted in practice by the majority the group in that society, and that the existence and continuation of that society depend upon a just government which agrees to carry out these regulations completely .And one who possesses intelligence does not neglect of forget this fact. At the same time one doubt neither the breath and detailed nature of the Islamic shari’ ah. Nor the importance and value the pro phet considered it to possess, so that he made many sacrifices for its application and preservation, nor can one debate about the mental genius, perfection of intelligence perspicacity of vision or power of deliberation of the prophet ( beside the fact that this is affirmed through revelation and prophecy).
According to established traditions in both Sunni and shi’ite collections of hadith (in the chapter on temptation and seditions and others) transmitted from the prophet, the prophet foretold seditions and tribulations which would entangle Islamic society after his death, and the forms of corruption which would penetrate the body of Islam, and later worldly rulers who would sacrifice this pure religion for their own impure, unscrupulous ends, how is it possible that the prophet should not neglect to speck of the details of events and trials of years or even thousands of years after him, and yet would neglect the condition that had to be brought into being most Urgently after his death? Or that he should be negligent and consider as unimportant a duty that is on the one hand simple and evident and on the other significant to such a degree? How could he concern himself with the most natural and common acts such as eating, drinking and sleeping and give hundreds of commands concerning them, yet remain completely silent about this important problem and not appoint some one in his own place?
Even if we accepted the hypothesis ( whichshi’ism does not accept) that the appointment of the ruler of Islamic society is given by the shari’ah to the people themselves, still it would be necessary for the prophet to give an explanation concerning this matter. He would have had to give the necessary instructions to the community so that they would be aware of the problem upon which the existence and growth of Islamic society and the life of religious symbols and observances depended and relied ,Yet there is no trace of such a prophetic explanation or religious instruction. If there had been such a thing, those who succeeded the prophet and held the reins of power in their hands would no have opposed it Actually, the first caliph transferred the caliphate to the second caliph by bequest. The second caliph chose the third caliph through a six- man council of which he was himself determined and ordered, Mu’awiyah forced ImamHasan to make peace and in this way carried away the caliphate. After this even the caliphate was converted into a hereditary monarchy .Gradually many religious observances identified the early years of Islamic rule (such as holy war, commanding what is lawful and prohibiting what is forbidden, and the establishment of boundaries for human action) were weakened or even disappeared from the political life of the community, nullifying in this domain the efforts of the prophet of Islam.
Shi’ism has studies and investigated the primordial nature of man and the continuous tradition of wisdom that has survived among men. It has penetrated into the principal purpose of Islam which is to revivify man’s primordial nature, and has investigated such things as the methods used by the prophet in guiding the community, the troubles which entangled Islam and the Muslims and which led to division and separation, and the life Muslims governments of the early centuries, which were characterized by negligence and lack of strict religion principles,As a result of these studies shi’ism has reached the conclusion that there are sufficient traditional text left by the prophet to ondicate the procedure for determining the Imam and successor by Queanic verses and hadiths of Ghadir, Safinah, Thaqalayn, Haqq, Manzilah, Da’ wat- i ashirah- i aqrabin and others, But of course these hadiths, most of which are also accepted by sunnism, have not been understood in the same way by shi’ism and sunnism. Otherwise the whole question of succession would not have arisen. Whereas these hadith appear to shi’ites as a clear indication of the prophet’s intention in the question of succession, they have been interpreted by sunnis in quite another way so as to leave this question open and unanswered.
Some evidence for intentional banning of Imam Ali’s succession
Much of the argument of shi’ism concerning the auccession to the prophet rests on the belief that during the last days of his illness the pro phet in the presence of some of this companions asked for some paper and ink. (Al. Bidayah, wa’l,nilhayah, VOI, V, p, 227, kamil, VOI, II,P, 217, Tarikh – I Tabari,VOI, II, P, 436, shaarh of Ibn Abi’I. Hadid, VOI, I, p, 133). So that some thing could be written which, if obeyed by the Muslims, would prevent them from going astray, some of those present considered the prophet to be too ill to be able to dictate any thing and said, the book of God is sufficient for us, there was so much clamor raised over this matter that the Holy prophet told those present to leave, for in the presence of a prophet there should not be any noise or clamor.
Considering what has been said above about hadiths concerning succession and events that followed upon the death of the prophet, especially the fact that Ali was not consulted in the question of selecting the prophet’s successor, shi’ites conclude that the Holy prophet had wanted to dictate his definitive views about the person who was to succeed him but was not able to do so.
The purpose of the utterances of some of those present seems to have been to cause confusion and prevent this final decision from being clearly announced their interruption of the Holy prophet’s discourse does not seem to what to be what it appears outwardly, that is concern with the possibility that the prophet might utter incongruous words due to the intensity of his illness, for, first of all, throughout his illness the Holy prophet was not heard to have uttered any meaningless or incongruous words and no such things has been transmitted concerning him, Moreover according to the principles of Islam the prophet protected by God from uttering delirious or senseless words and is inerrant.
Secondly, if the words mentioned by some of those present on that occasion before the prophet were meant to be of a serious nature there would have been no place for the next phrase, the book of God is sufficient for us, in order to prove that the prophet might utter incongruous words under unusual circumstances the reason of his serious illness would have been used rather than the claim that with the Quran there was no need of the prophet’s words. For it could not be hidden from any Muslim that the very text of the book of God considers the obedience to the Holy prophet to be obligatory and his words to be in a sense like the words of God. According to the text of the Holy Quran, Muslim must obey the injunctions of both God and the prophet.
Thirdly, an incident involving illness occurred during the last days of the life of the first of caliph, who in his last will and testament chose the second caliph as his successor. When Uthman was writing the will according to the order of the caliph, the caliph fainted Yet the second caliph did not repeat words that had been uttered in the case of the prophet according to the hadith of pen and paper (al- kamil, VOI,II,P292, sharh of Ibn Abi’I – Hadis, VOI, I, p, 54,). This fact has been confirmed in a hadith related by Ibn Abbas (sharh of Ibn Abi’I – Hadis, VOI, I, p, 134). And it has been accounted of the second caliph that he said Ali deserved the caliphate but the Quraysh would not have been able to bear his caliphate, for had he become caliph he would have forced the people to accept the pure truth and follow the right path, Under his caliphate they would not have been able to transgress the boundaries of justice and would have sought to engage in war with him (Tarikh-I Ya qubi, VOI, II, P, 137).
Obviously according to religious principles one must force him who has deviated from the truth to follow the truth: one must not abandon the truth for the sake of one who has abandon it. When the first caliph was informed (al- Bidayah wa’- nihayahVOI, II,p,311) that some of the Muslims tribe had refused to pay religious tax, he ordered war and said if they do not given me the tithes which they gave to the prophet, I shall fight against them Eventually by this saying he meant most of all that truth and justice must be revived at all costs, Surely the problem of the legitimate caliphate was more important, and significant than tithes, and shi’ism believes that the same principle applied by the first caliph to this matter should have been applied by the would early community to the problem of succession to the Holy prophet.
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