Safwan ibn Yahya has narrated from Imam Kadhim (PBUH) that, ” Since Adam (PBUH) passed away until now, Allah (SWT) has never left the earth without His representative. This representative guides people to Allah (SWT), and is His argument on His servants. Whoever leaves him (the representative) will go astray, and whoever joins him will be saved (1)”.
The status of Imamate entails various authorities. As Imam Kadhim (PBUH) has stated in the aforementioned Hadith and based on the verses of the Holy Quran and the narrations of the Ahl al-Bayt (PBUT), one of the necessary and inseparable authorities of Imamate is the issue of guidance.
At the first place, guidance is an authority of Allah (SWT), and the name “Hadi” (guide) is one of His beautiful names. Several verses in the Holy Quran refer to Allah (SWT) as the guide of all creatures, and in our prayers, we always ask Him to guide us to the Right path (2). Therefore, at the highest level, guidance is an attribute of Allah (SWT). Then, Allah (SWT) has addressed Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) by saying, ”…You guide to the right path… (3)” In this Holy verse, Allah (SWT) introduces Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) as a guide, since he is Allah’s (SWT) successor and representative. After Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), the Holy Quran refers to the Imams (PBUT) as guides. For instance, in Chapter 23 where Allah (SWT) refers to some Divine men who have been appointed by Him as Imams, He states guidance as their authority by saying, ”And We made them Imams who guide (people) by Our command (4)”.
As such, Allah (SWT), Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and the Infallible Imams (PBUT) are all guides; they all possess the attribute of guidance. However, guidance has different levels in the sense that Allah (SWT) legislates the religious laws and makes the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the Imams (PBUT) responsible for conveying and explaining them.
Based on that, an Imam is the trainer of mankind by the will of Allah (SWT), and training people is the highest level of guidance. A person who possesses this level of guidance would nurture the soul and spirit of mankind; just like shining of the sun and falling of rain which nurture the plants and make the seeds blossoms and become fruitful.
In this regards, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has said the following statement about the Ahl al-Bayt (PBUT), ”The superiority of my family over other people is like the superiority of water over anything else; because the existence of everything depends on water (5)”.
Hence, the functions of Imam are similar to those of the sun and rain; the soul and spirit of mankind moves towards accomplishment by the guidance of the Imams till it reaches the desired level. Nevertheless, this procedure would not be accomplished unless a person qualifies himself/herself and exposes it to the guidance of the Imam, so that he/she would be trained by their reviving guidance.
Indeed guidance is like elixir of life which is poured by the Divine guides in the mouse of mankind, so that they may drink it.
(Selection taken from “Discussions on Imamate”, by Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Zia’ Abadi (with some changes))
The Roshd Website congratulates all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon 7th of Safar, the birthday anniversary of the seventh Divine leader and the resource of Divine knowledge, Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH).
1. Kamaal al-Din wa Tamaam al-Ni’mah, vol. 1, p. 221
2. The Holy Quran, (1:6)
3. The Holy Quran, (42:52)
4. The Holy Quran, (21:73)
5. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 36, p. 36