How can it be that the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) rank higher in terms of spirituality when compared to the previous Prophets?
1. The late Allamah Majlesi in his ‘Mer’atul-Oqoul’ (vol.5 p. 200) states: “There is no dispute among the Shi’a that Prophets and Imams (of Ahlul-Bayt) are more virtuous than all the angels.”
2. He also states: “It is proven in the Ahadith that all types of knowledge, realities and information are bestowed to all the creation of God, even the angels and the Prophets, through them (Imams of Ahlul-Bayt) [Ibid, vol.1 p.30].
3. Also, in his encyclopedia of Beharul-Anwar (vol.26, p.267), he narrated 88 ahadith that indicate the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) are more virtuous than the whole creation including angels and the previous prophets.
4. The Quran clearly states that “We have given more virtues to some of the Prophets over others.” (17: 55). There is no dispute among Muslims that the Prophet of Islam (P) is more virtuous than the previous Prophets, and so is his Scripture; the holy Quran. Also, Imam Ali (a.s) as mentioned in Ayah Mubahila (3:61) is Nafsul-Nabi (of the same origin of the Prophet Muhammad). Thus, Imam Ali is the nearest person in the entire creation to the Prophet (P), as Ibn Arabi has well described it when he says that the Prophet of Islam (P) has reached the highest level of proximity to Allah one could possibly reach, and then he says:
و اقرب الناس الیه فی ذلک الهباء علی بن ابی طالب امام العالم وسر الانبیاء اجمعین
“And the nearest of people to him (Holy Prophet) in this honour is Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Imam of the world and the secret of all the Prophets”.
5. The Almighty Allah says: “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?”. Undoubtedly, the Prophet of Islam (P) was more learned than the previous Prophets as what was revealed to him was far more than the previous Prophets. The Prophet of Islam (P) was the city of knowledge, and Imam Ali was its gate.
6. The Almighty Allah states: “Verily, those who believe and do righteous good deeds they are the best creation.” (98:7). Many Shi’a and Sunni narrators indicate that they are the 14 Ma’soomin (Holy Prophet, Lady Fatima, & the 12 Imams). For example:
و أخرج ابن عساكر عن جابر بن عبد الله قال كنا عند النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم فاقبل علي فقال النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم و الذي نفسي بيده ان هذا و شيعته لهم الفائزون يوم القيامة و نزلت إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَ عَمِلُوا الصَّالِحاتِ أُولئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ فكان أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم إذا أقبل علي قالوا جاء خير البرية.الدر المنثور للسیوطی
“Ibn ‘Asaakir has narrated from Jabir ibn Abdillah who said:we were with the Prophet (s) when Ali (as) arrived, so the Prophet (s) said: By the One in whose Hand is my life, surely this (man) and his followers are the successful ones on the Day of Resurrection, and then the following Ayah was revealed: “Verily, those who believe and do righteous good deeds, they are the best of creation”, so the companions of the Prophet (s) would say when Ali would arrive: ‘the best of creation has come'”. (Ref: Ad-Dor Al-Manthoor lis-Suyooti: 6:379)
7. Bukhari and other Sunni narrators have narrated that Prophet Jesus will pray behind Imam Mahdi (a.f) during the reign of Imam Mahdi, when Jesus descends to earth.
8. Many narrations (Sunni and Shi’a) indicate that the prayers of the previous Prophets were granted in honor of the Ahlul-Bayt (a.s), such as Adam, Joseph, Jonah, etc.
9. The Holy Quran has related many minor mistakes or actions that would be better for the Prophets not to do them, yet there is no such thing ever narrated about any of the Ahlul-Bayt (a.s).
10. It is not necessary that a Prophet has to be more virtuous and more learned than a non-Prophet. A prime example of this is mentioned in Sura al-Kahf . Khidr was surely not a Prophet, yet Moses (a great law making Prophet) insisted to be his student to learn his ‘divinely gifted knowledge’.
Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei