Imamat of Imams

One of the proofs of Imamat is the Divine knowledge of an Imam and the extraordinary respect that the eminent Alawis and others showed to the Imams while they were still children. When it was said to Ali ibn Jafar, an uncle of Imam Jawad's father: "In spite of being a grand old man and son of Ja'far ibn Muhammad you say so about this chief, " he said: "I think you are a devil." He then took hold of his beard and said: "What can I do, when Allah considered him fit for this position and did not consider me fit in spite of my grey hair?" (Imam as Sadiq p. 150)

Notes

  1. A compromise on principles may be in the name of expedience which includes undue regard for someone. A compromise may also be due to making discrimination in showing favour or accepting an intercession. It is a known fact that the Holy Prophet awarded legal punishment even to prominent men of the Quraysh. He abstained from showing undue favour to anybody. There are three main reasons of a compromise on principles: One is fear; another is greed.

Therefore a reformer must be bold, and must not be liable to be influenced by any kind of bribe including money, flattery, women etc. The third cause of compromise on principles is nepotism and showing undue favour to friends. A reformer's friendship must be for the sake of Allah only. It may be noted that undue favour has been described in the Qur'an as 'idhan' which originally meant lubricating and oiling, and hence includes flattery and deceit, and is used in the sense of compromising also.

Who wish you to compromise so that they may also compromise? A compromise on principles may be conscious but tacit or may be unconscious. Another form of a compromise on principles is the exploitation of the weak points of society instead of combating them, and being carried away by the prevailing trend of society. The examples of this attitude are the acceptance of the kissing of hands and showing too much sensitiveness to the questions of dispute between the Shi'ah and the Sunnis. The story of the late Mirza Muhammad Arbab can be cited as an example. The following Qur'anic verse also refers to this subject:

"My people, I delivered my Lord's message to you and gave you good advice, but you do not like those who give you good advice." (Surah al-A'raf, 7:79)

Sufyan Thawri says: "If you find a scholar having many friends, you can be sure that he is indiscriminate. Had he been telling the truth only, people would not have liked him." Abuzar said: "Enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong have left for me no friends." Imam Ali said: "Do not try to use artificial manners to be intimate with me and do not address me with those words with which the tyrants are addressed." These words of the Imam show that to like flattery and the use of high sounding titles is also a sort of a compromise on principles.

Those who like such cheap things do not succeed in reforming society. Imam Ali further said: "For me the strong is weak till I force him to restore the rights of others." He means to say that he is not one of those who compromise on principles. We frequently meet with the word compromise in connection with the Mu'awiya affair and the proposals put to Imam Ali to come to terms with him. Imam Ali said that a leader must not be a specimen of the depravity of his people. "He should not be an impious man commanding others to piety or an ailing physician treating other people." How can a man who is eating dates himself ask others not to eat them.

"He who puts himself as a leader of the people, should begin the reform with himself...." A leader must not be greedy for avarice means permanent bondage, which is contrary to spiritual and moral freedom. In respect of Christ Imam Ali says: "He had no wife to seduce him, no child to grieve him, no property to divert his attention and no cupidity to disgrace him." (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 160). In short, a man who is morally a materialist cannot be a true reformer and a materialist philosopher cannot morally be a 100 per cent non materialistic. Other qualities of a reformer: Calmness in spite of sensitiveness. An example of calmness in Imam Ali's behaviour.

A woman from Basrah and a Kharijite once abused him, but he paid no attention to their foul language. A reformer must be iron-clad. He should not be delicate, but he should be sensitive. An example of being sensitive without being delicate is the story of Sufiyan Ghamidi, who arrived in Anbar. "If any Muslim dies henceforth on account of sorrow ........ "Should I pass the night while I have overeaten and there are hungry stomachs around me?"

42.It may be noted that these notes were written before Islamic revolution had taken place in Iran.

  1. A part of the life account of the Holy Prophet should be studied from the viewpoint of the principles of leadership.

  2. Item No. 33 deals with signs of immaturity, which have been mentioned in the article on Islamic maturity in the Book, Divine Succur in Human Life.