Life – An Exalted Destiny – Aga Khan III
Fourteen Proofs of the Necessity of lmamat — Kirmani
al–Masabih fi Ithbat al-Imama
-Kirmani’s Lights to Illuminate the Proof of the Imamate (al-Masabih fi ithbat al-imama)
Image: Shia Shahada, Qiblah of Imam Mustansir – La ilaha il Allah, Muhammad-un Rasool Allah, and Ali-un Wali Allah – There is no God but God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God, and Ali is the Saint of God – Inscribed on Fatimid Mosque of Qahira
On the other hand, in proving the necessity of Imamate the Ismailis rely on both reason and Sharia. In his book, al–Masabih fi Ithbat al-Imama (pp.80-95), al-Kirmani produces fourteen proofs of the necessity of lmamate. The following is a summary of them. (Quoted in Makarem, Doctrine, pp. 37-39.)
1. The Messenger was entrusted with conveying the divine Message not only to those who were contemporary to him, but to all mankind. Men, on the other hand, are notable to apprehend this Message at once; furthermore the Messenger, in his limited lifetime, was notable to convey the divine Message to those people who came into existence after his death.
Therefore, an Imam must have been appointed by the Messenger, in order to carry on the Message. Likewise such Imam must appoint as uccessor to himself to continue the guidance of mankind to truth.
2. An Imam must always be present top reserve the divine Message conveyed by the Prophet from distortion and alteration.
3. An Imam must always be present to interpret properly the Quran, the verses of which are liable to be misunderstood in many different ways, due to the fact that Arabic words may have more than one meaning.
4. Since men have different natures and desires, there should always be an lmam among them who would give them the proper judgment, just as the Prophet used to do during his lifetime in conformity with the Quranic verse:
“But no, by the Lord! They will not believe till they make thee the judge regarding the disagreement between them, then they shall find in themselves no impediment touching thy verdict, but shall surrender in full submission.” — Quran 4:65
5. Since God sent a Messenger to the Community to safeguard it, and since the Community during the Prophet’s lifetime was by no means privileged over any other Community after the Prophet; God must then procure to such Communities an Imam who could safeguard and guide them, as the Prophet used to do regarding the Community during his lifetime.
6. Due to his limited lifetime, the Prophet was not able to call all mankind to Islam, yet God has commanded in the Quran that allmankind be called to Islam. He said,
“Call thou to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and good admonition.” — Quran 16:125
Therefore, an Imam should always be present to undertake this task after the Prophet.
7. Also an Imam should always be present so that he may, after the Prophet, fulfill another divine command mentioned in the Quran:
“Take of their wealth a free will offering, to purify them and to cleanse them thereby.” — Quran 9:103
8. The ever-presence of an Imam is imperative so that he may look after the Sharia and implement its enjoinments after the Prophet, especially because of the necessity of implementing the Sharia so that disorder among mankind may be avoided.
9. The following Quranic verse,
“If you should quarrel about anything, refer it to God and the Messenger” — Quran 4:59
necessitates the presence of an Imam after the Prophet so that the believers may refer to him what they have quarrelled about.
10. God said in the Quran,
“And whatever you are at variance on, the judgment thereof belongs to God.” — Quran 42:10
He did not say, ‘Whatever you are at variance on, the judgment thereof belongs to you.’ Hence God forbade the Community to give personal judgments. Therefore, an Imam must be appointed after the Prophet, in order to give the judgment on whatever the Community is at variance on.
11. God also said,
“On the day when We shall call all men with their Imam ...” — Quran 17:71
Therefore an Imam should at all times be present, or else God’s saying would be wrong.
12. By saying,
“O believers, obey God, and obey the Messenger and those inauthority among you” — Quran 4:59,
God enjoined on all the believers three things that are complementary to each other, namely, obedience to God, to the Messenger and to those in authority among the Community. Therefore, an Imam who is in authority among the Community must always be present.
13. Since God created the human souls and made them capable of what is good and bad, and promised them thereby either reward or punishment, an Imam must then be present at all times, so that he may show the Community the good and the bad, in order that the members of the Community may justly deserve reward or punishment in the afterlife.
14. Since God has entrusted every inanimate thing to someone who is able and knowing by himself (He entrusted the Spheres, for example, to the Intellects, and the human bodies to the souls; see al-Kirmani, Rahat al-Aql, pp.255-57), he must therefore entrust the Sharia, after the Prophet’s death, to an Imam so that he may preserve, implement and interpret it.
Therefore, an Imam must always be present, believe the Ismailis, so that he may guide the believers to truth and teach them the real meaning of the divine Message which was revealed to the Messengers, the last of whom was Muhammad.
As the Messengers were necessary to convey the divine Message, so an Imam, say the Ismailis, is necessary in every time to guide the believers along the right path indicated by the divine Message. An Imam should always be present so that he may teach the believers the real and esoteric meaning (batin) of the divine Message.
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