Imamat (Divine Leadership)

Is the world ever left without the presence of a representative of God?


In your lecture “The glad tidings of Ahmad’ in the eHawza, you mentioned that there was no prophet/messenger that came between Prophet Jesus (a.s) and Prophet Muhammad (s). Is the world ever left without the presence of a divine representative?




The Almighty Allah in Surah 5, Ayah 19 states:

“O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Now has come to you Our Messenger (Muhammad) making (things) clear unto you, after a break in (the series of) Messengers, lest you say: “There came unto us no bringer of glad tidings and no warner. ” But now has come unto you a bringer of glad tidings and a warner.”
Also, in Ayah 6 of Surah 36 we recite:

“In order that you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are heedless”.
From the above and similar Ayaat, the majority of our scholars conclude that the era between the ascension of Prophet Jesus (a.s) and our Holy Prophet (s) was the era of Fatra (break in series of Messengers). That means during that period God had not sent any Messengers. However, as the abovementioned Ayaat negate the existence of ‘a messenger’ (who would come with a new Message and Scripture) some scholars – such as Sh. Sadooq and Allamah Majlesi – suggested that there have been prophets without any official and public missions. They rely on some narrations to prove their points. For example, Sh. Al-Kolayni narrated from an unauthenticated person called Bashir al-Nabbal that Imam Sadiq (a.s) is quoted to have said:

While Allah’s Messenger was sitting a lady walked in. The Holy Prophet (s) welcomed her, took her hand and sat her down and said: (She is) the daughter of the prophet Khalid Ibn Senan.” (al-kaafi, 8:342)

However, as these narrations lack authenticity there is no unanimity on this opinion.

As for reconciliation between the abovementioned Ayaat and the narrations that confirm the earth will never be vacant of any ‘divine proof’ we need to bear in mind that:

1. The ‘divine proof’ is not limited to ‘a prophet or a messenger’. Their successors are also divine proofs on earth.

2. Besides, ‘the proof of God’ does not have to necessarily live among people. Therefore, Imam al-Mahdi (atfs) has been the ‘divine proof’ for the last 1200 years while in occultation. All Muslims believe that Khidr (a.s) is alive and has been alive since and perhaps before the time of Prophet Moses (a.s). Thus, it is possible for Khidr (a.s) to be the ‘divine proof’ during that era. Imam Ali (a.s) says in the third sermon of Nahjul-Balagha:

“Yes indeed, the earth will never be vacant from ‘someone who stands for Allah’s sake with a proof’ whether he be apparent or hidden.” (Nahjul-Balagha, maxim 147)

3. Also, as Muslims we believe Prophet Jesus (a.s) was not crucified and is still alive though in a kind of occultation.

And God knows best.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

What is Wilayah Takwiniyyah and is it in the Quran and Hadith?


What is the concept of ‘wilayah takwiniyah’ and is there evidence from the Quran regarding it? Why do some scholars reject this belief?

Some people have the belief that the Imams have been given command over every single atom in the universe. If this is true, why do they need this type of power and what are the evidences for it?



The term al-Wali as used in Ayah 55 of Surah al-Ma’edah means:

1. The one who is near (from ‘Waly’ meaning nearness),

2. Guardian, and hence a father is the Wali of his minor children.

We believe that Almighty God has granted the Imams of Ahlul-bayt (a.s), as the true successors of the Holy Prophet (s), four kinds of Wilayah:

1. Wilayah of love: meaning due to their nearness and close relation to the Prophet and to Allah, we are bound to love them (all Muslims agree on this kind of Wilayat)

2. Wilayah of Imamat: meaning again due to their close relation to the Prophet and Allah, and the knowledge they enjoyed, they are the religious leaders of the Muslim community. (Muslims agree on that, but Sunnis do not limit it to them)

3. Wilayah of socio-political leadership: This is a guardianship by appointment and divine legislation. Shi’a exclusively believe that the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) have this Wilayat as granted to them by Allah through His Messenger, again due to their close relation with the Prophet and the Almighty Allah. (note, by close relation we do not mean just a blood relation, it is more of the relation of character)

4. Wilayah Takwiniyyah: which means guardianship by creation. This means God grants certain abilities to certain chosen humans due to their nearness to Him, to influence this world and to perform what we call ‘miracles’, all by the Leave and Permission of God. The Shia believe that the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) enjoyed the highest level of this Wilayah.

All the miracles performed by the Prophet, and which are mentioned in the Quran, are examples of Wilayah Takwiniyyah. This Wilayah is not limited to the Prophets and hence the Holy Quran explicitly mentions that the minister of Prophet Solomon brought the throne of the Queen of Shiva (Belqays) to him in less than the blink of an eye. (Re. Surah al-Naml, Ayah 40).

Imam Sadiq (a.s) says: He (the Minister of Prophet Solomon) had only one Letter of the Letters of ‘the Greatest Name of Allah’, and we have 72 Letters with us!

Please consider the following points to better understand the concept:

1. According to the Quran, man is potentially ‘Khalifatullah’ (vicegerent of Allah).

2. The vicegerent of Allah does not will except what Allah wills, and hence his/her will influences the world by the Permission of Allah.

3. Those who enjoy Wilayah Takwini  are those who are actively the vicegerent of Allah and are called ‘IMAM’ (whether he is a Prophet, or his successor).

4. The IMAM can influence the world by the Will and the Leave (permission) of God. Hence Jesus said: ‘I shall create for you from a clay a bird, and I shall revive dead people by the Leave of God’, and so did Moses in splitting the Nile river, and so did Prophet Muhammad (s) by splitting the moon, etc.

5. From the above examples and many others mentioned in the Quran we can conclude that the IMAM has the command over the universe by the Permission of the Almighty Allah.

6. This ability is the result of their nearness to God. As an example, when you put a metal into fire, it takes the heat of the fire and hence carries its properties like the ability to burn, so the piece of metal becomes hot and burning too. (this is only a physical example to grasp the point).

7. One main reason for this power: to perform miracles to prove their authenticity to disbelievers.

Those who seem to deny Wilayah Takwini assume that it may sound polytheistic. In reply we say: the fact that the Quran has confirmed this kind of Wilayah means that there is no Shirk (polytheism) in it.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

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

About Ayah 4:59: why is the phrase ‘olil-amr’ only mentioned once in the Ayah?


I was discussing the verse 4:59 with a brother from the sunni school of thought and particularly the part relating to ‘olil-amr’. We believe that the ‘olil-amr’ is in reference to the Imams whereas the Sunni view is that it relates to leaders. My question is: why in the first part of the verse ‘olil-amr’ is mentioned but in the second part when discussing if there are differences, it says “refer to God and his messenger’ and ‘olil-amr’ is no longer mentioned?


Firstly, the phrase منکم (minkum) in اولی الامر منکم (olil-amri minkum) clearly indicates that the اولی الامر (olil-amr) must be a Mo’men (believer) because the Ayah is addressing the believers, so it definitely doesn’t apply to non-believers, as it doesn’t include the wrong-doers (الظالمین) either, because the almighty God in Surah Baqarah Ayah 124 has made it clear that His covenant of leadership does not include the wrong-doers. Therefore, the Ayah is commanding us to obey leaders who are divinely authorised. Obviously kings like Yazid in the past, and most of contemporary Arab leaders will be excluded. Thus, the assumption that the obedience of anyone who – in any way – leads a Muslim nation is totally foreign to the Ayah. At the time of the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) they were the best examples of اولی الامر (olil-amr) and hence it would only apply to them, and during their occultation a just, pious and learned believer will be the example of اولی الامر (olil-amr) as a representative of the Imams (a.s).

For the same reason اولی الامر (olil-amr) are not mentioned as the points of reference in a matter of dispute, to show that the authority intrinsically rests with Allah and His Messenger, and the اولی الامر (olil-amr) get their authority from Allah via the Holy Prophet (P). The wisdom of this expression is – and God knows best- that when say today, someone argues that so and so are also examples of اولی الامر  (as a matter of dispute) we are bound to refer to Allah and His messenger. If that individual is not authorised by them, then he is a fake leader and he has usurped the position.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Did the Prophet (s) appoint a successor? (Prove from Holy Quran and Hadith)


Did the Holy Prophet (s) of Islam appoint anyone to succeed him in the matter of leading and guiding the Ummah after his demise? Many Muslims, especially Sunnis, argue that the Holy Prophet(s) did not appoint anyone to take his position after his demise. Is this true? Please provide proofs from the holy Quran and reliable Hadiths.


1. Al-Masoudi; the famous historian narrated that all the previous Prophets had successors. Seth succeeded Adam, Ishmael succeeded Abraham, Joseph succeeded Jacob, Aaron and then Joshua succeeded Moses. Simon succeeded Jesus. Who succeeded the Prophet Muhammad in the matter of leading and guiding the Ummah after the demise of the Prophet (P)?

2. It is an indisputable fact that Abu-Bakr appointed Omar to succeed him (Sahih Muslim p.1455), and so did Omar for Othman although indirectly. Similarly, Mo’awiya appointed his vicious son; Yazid, out of his concern for the Ummah of the Prophet (P)! Then is it possible that the Prophet of Islam (P) had no concern about the future of his Ummah?!

3. Whenever the Prophet (P) left Madina he used to appoint someone to be in charge of the affairs of Muslims. For instance, He appointed Imam Ali (a.s) when he left Madina for the Battle of Tabouk ((Bukhari 4:1602). He was also appointing leaders for different tribes and towns such as Ta’ef, Yemen, etc. Is it possible that he did not appoint any leader for the Ummah to succeed him after his demise?!

Surely he did appoint a successor and that was none other than Imam Ali (a.s). The Shia’ provide three different proofs for this belief:

1. The Holy Quran:

There are a number of Ayat in the Holy Quran which prove the doctrine of Imamat as a divine selection:

1/1: “Verily, your guardian is (none else but) God and His Messenger (Muhammad) and those who believe, those who establish Prayers and pay the charity while they be (even) bowing down (in Prayers).” (5: 55).

The commentators of the Quran unanimously agreed that the Aya was revealed to the Prophet regarding Imam Ali, that whilst he was in Prayers, he offered his ring to a beggar.

1/2: “O Messenger! Proclaim what has been sent to you from your Lord, and if you did not, then (it will be as if) you would not have fulfilled His message.” (5:67).

The Ayah under consideration is one of the most powerful Ayat proving the Imamat of Imam Ali as the successor of the Prophet, and hence, I would like to draw your attention to the following main notes:

a) Chapter five of the Quran is the last chapter revealed to the Prophet of Islam. Therefore, its rules are not subject to any changing.

b) The Ayah seems to be regarding the most important issue in Islam that, if it is not delivered to the people, the whole message of Islam is not delivered.

c) ‘Al-Ghadir’, written by the Late Amini, is a masterpiece in 11 volumes which deals thoroughly with the above Ayah. The author has collected the quotation of more than 100 companions of the Prophet, that the Ayah had been revealed on the occasion of Ghadir in which the Prophet appointed Imam Ali as his Successor.

2. The Hadith

Hadith, or the words of the Prophet, is the second proof of Shiites that Imamat is a divine appointment and not an election. There are so many Hadiths from which the leadership of Imam Ali as appointed by the Prophet can be proven. The following are a few of many:

2/1: Hadith of Welayat:

Abu-Es-Haq in his Commentary of the Quran quoted from Abu-Dhar that: “One day a poor person came to the Mosque asking for help. Nobody helped him except Ali Ibn Abu Talib. Although he was praying, he did not hesitate to help the poor person. He pointed at his ring offering it to the poor man. The man accepted the ring and pulled it off of Ali’s finger. Upon that, the Prophet raised up his hands and said: ‘O my Lord! Increase my tolerance, ease my task for me… and give me a Minister from my family, Ali, my brother.’ ”(1).

As soon as the Prophet finished his supplication, the angel Gabriel descended to the Prophet with Ayah 55 of Chapter 5 of the Quran as mentioned above (2).

2/2: Hadith of Ghadir:

The Hadith is related to the second Aya mentioned in the last meeting. The Aya was revealed on the 18th of Thil-Hajjah in a place called Ghadir of Khom. The Prophet performed his pilgrimage to Hajj which happened to be his final Hajj performance in the year 9 AH. On the way back from Mecca, whilst being followed by hundreds of Muslim pilgrims, Gabriel came to him with Ayah 67 of Chapter 5. Upon the revelation, the Prophet ordered the caravans to stop around a pool named Ghadir of Khom. It was announced that the Prophet had a very important message to deliver.

The crowd surrounded the Prophet getting prepared to listen to his sermon. The Messenger of God delivered a sermon pointing out many important issues. When the sermon was nearly over he asked people if the Prophet’s guardianship on them is more than that of themselves? “Of course”, cried the crowd. Then the Prophet raised up the hand of Ali Ibn Abu Talib saying: “Whoever I am his/her master, this Ali is his/her master. O God! Love those who love him, and have enmity on those who have enmity on him. Help those who will help him and leave alone those who will leave him alone..”

After the sermon was over, the Prophet asked people to come and greet Imam Ali as ‘The Commander of the Believers’. Abu Bakr and Omar were among the first who came to Ali and greeted him saying: ‘Congratulations Ali! You’ve become our Master and the Master of the Believers’(3).

Ghadir in the Book of Muslim

Muslim, in his Saheeh in the chapter of The Virtues of Imam Ali has quoted the story briefly. He quotes from some narrators who had met Zaid Ibn Arqam, a companion of the Prophet.

– “O Zaid! You have met a lot of fortunes. You met the Prophet. You heard his words. You fought with him. You prayed behind him. Such a blessed person you are. Please, tell us some of what you heard from the Prophet.”

– Zaid: “O friends! By God, I’m old and near to death. I’ve forgotten some of what I’ve heard from the Prophet. So, if you insist, just accept whatever I may tell you and do not force me to tell you more.”

– Then he said: “One day, the Prophet stood up to give us a lecture at a pool named Khom. He said : ‘O you people! Verily, I am a human who soon will answer the message of his Lord (I will die soon). However, I will leave two precious things with you. The first is the Book of Allah which contains Guidance and Light. Hold the Book and keep it firm.’ Zaid added: And the Prophet persuaded people to the Quran. Then he continued: ‘and my family, I remind you Allah in my Family, I remind you Allah in my Family, I remind you Allah in my Family.’(4)”


1. It is clear that Muslim has summarized the Hadith.
2. The Hadith mentioned by Zaid must be of great significance, or he would have chosen something else.
3. The contents of the conversation between Zaid and the narrators is vividly the best proof that Zaid was not allowed to openly speak about the virtues of Imam Ali.
4. After all, the Hadith is dealing with Imam Ali, reason being, even the author Muslim has quoted the Hadith in the chapter of the Virtues of Imam Ali, despite the fact that his name is not explicitly mentioned in the Hadith.

2/3: Hadith of Manzelat:

It is quoted from the Holy Prophet on a number of occasions to have said about Imam Ali: “You are to me as Aaron was to Moses, except there is no Prophet after me.” (5). As we already mentioned, the Quran is introducing Haroon to us as the Successor of Moses and the Messenger after him. The Prophet has omitted the second type of relation, i.e. the Prophet-hood and confirmed the Succession.

3. Unique Qualifications

Surely, when Allah selects one of His devotees as a Prophet or the successor of a Prophet, He only so chooses because of their unique qualifications. ” (Allah) said: My Covenant includes not the Zalimeen.” [2:124]. No one in the world could be compared with the unique qualifications that God bestowed upon the pure Family of the Prophet. The following are some examples of the preference of Imam Ali (a.s) over all other companions of the Prophet (P):

1. Faith: “Is then he who is a believer like him who is a Fasiq (disbeliever)? Not equal are they”. [32:18].

Imam Ali (a.s) never prostrated before any idol, whilst Abu-Bakr, Omar and Othman indisputably have been all worshipping idols sometimes in their lives. Eight years had passed since the rise of Islam and Omar was still an idolater! Even after embracing Islam, on various occasions, he questioned if the Prophet of Muhammad (P) was really a Messenger of God?! [For instance see Ibn Hisham, vol.3 p.331].

2. Knowledge: “Say: Are those who know equal to those who know not?”[39:9].

Imam Ali (a.s) was the Gate of the City of the Prophetic knowledge. But Omar did not even know the meaning of ‘Abb’ (80:31). Even Ayasha was more learned about the Hadith of the Prophet (P) than Omar [Bukhari, the Book of Jana’ez].

3. Jihad: “Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit.” [4:95].

Indisputably again Imam Ali (a.s) was the bravest knight of Islam in all the battles. Imam Ali (a.s) was the one “who would sell his life seeking the Pleasure of God” [2:207] by sleeping in the bed of the Prophet (P). During the battle of Ohod, Imam Ali (a.s) was among a very few people who stood fast around the Prophet (P) whilst Abubakr, Omar, and many others had fled the battle. The successful combat of Imam Ali (a.s) against Amr in the battle of Ahzab was equal to the worshipping of mankind and the jinn. And the list goes on. But prior to the peace treaty of hodaybiya, the Prophet (P) asked Omar to enter Makka and inform them that Muslims are not here for fight, his reply was: “Indeed, I am scared of Qoraysh about myself.” [Ibn Hisham 3:329].


Had the divine word of the Prophet regarding Imamat not been neglected, the Islamic Ummah today and throughout history would have had a different destiny. When in the beginning, the ordinary Muslims were allowed to carry the title of ‘The Commander of the Believers’, then, in less than one century after the appearance of Islam, tipplers carry the title too! The so called Commander of the Believers puts his clothes on his slave girl to lead the pray for the believers at a Mosque!!


(1): The Prophet has abstracted the phrase from the story of Moses mentioned in the Quran 20:25-32.
(2): For further references see: Al-Kashaf 1:649, Tabari 6:288, Qortobi 6:219, Al-Dorol-Manthour 2:293.
(3): Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Mosnad: 4:372
(4): Muslim 7:122
(5): Muslim 7:120; Bokhari, Chapter of Virtues of Imam Ali.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei