Is there any mention of Imams in the Holy Quran?


Is there any mention of the concept of “Imamah” (Divine Leadership) in the Holy Qur’an?


The Imams are definitely mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.

It is firstly interesting to note that the word ‘Imam’ is used 12 times in the Holy Qur’an, with different meanings.

The following ayat of the Holy Qur’an deal with the issue of Imamah:
“And (remember) when the Lord of Ibrahim tried him with (certain) Commands, which he fulfilled. He (Allah) said (to him), “Verily, I am going to make you an Imam”. [Ibrahim) said, “And of my offspring (to make Imams?” (Allah) said, “My Covenant (of Imamat) includes not the Zalimun (wrongdoers)”

This ayah succinctly proves the following points:
• The status of Imamah is higher than the status of Prophethood because Prophet Ibrahim was already a Prophet but he then became an Imam.
• An Imam is appointed by God, not by people.
• A person who is Dhalim (one who has a wrong belief or is a wrongdoer), cannot be appointed as an Imam.

“And We made them Imams, guiding by Our Command, and We revealed to them the doing of good deeds, performing Salat and the giving of Zakat and of Us they were worshippers.”

This ayah shows that:
• The Imams are appointed by God
• All their actions are done under the Command of God and with knowledge of the Reality of (Amr of God)
• All their actions are done in consonance with the Revelation from God, i.e. they do not act independently and all their actions are guided by revelation and inspiration

“And the disbelievers say: “Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?” You are only a warner, and to every people there is a guide.”

The ‘Guide’ mentioned in this ayah is Imam Ali (as). All the other possibilities that have been suggested for ‘Guide’ in this ayah do not make sense. The following narration from a major Sunni source confirms this:

“The Messenger of Allah (P) called for a purifier (water) and Ali Bin Abi Talib was with him. After he performed his Wudu, he took the hand of Ali and put it on his chest saying: “You are only a warner” meaning himself. He then put his hand on Ali’s chest saying to him: “and for every group of people there is a guide”. O Ali! You are the beacon of people…” [al-Mostadrak 3:129]

There are many other ayat which talk about the concept of Imam, as there are many other ayat in relation to Imam Ali (as). Although these ayat do not mention Imam Ali (as) by name, they are clearly indicating him.

Answered by: Dr Ali Alsamail

Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei