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Question text

Which Quranic verses imply divine appointment of Imam?

Visits 288 categorization: Qur’anic Sciences

Referring and reflecting on the Quranic verses, we find that Imamate and governance is in hands of God, and He may confer it to whomever He may deem appropriate. Here, we will refer to some verses in this regard.
First verse
The Almighty God says: ﴿وَإِذِ ابْتَلى إِبْراهِيمَ رَبُّهُ بِکَلِمات فَأَتَمَّهُنَّ قالَ إِنِّي جاعِلُکَ لِلنّاسِ إِماماً قالَ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي قالَ لا يَنالُ عَهْدِي الظّالِمِين﴾And when his Lord tried Abraham with certain words, which he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make you an Imam of people. Abraham said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust, said He. [1]
It is inferred from several phrases in this verse that Imamate is a divine position, and an Imam shall be appointed by God’s permission and will:
a- In the phrase, “إِنِّي جاعِلُکَ لِلنّاسِ إِمام” (Surely I will make you an Imam of people), God has attributed appointment of Imam to Himself. Therefore, Imam shall be appointed by God.
b- The phrase, “عَهْدِي” (My covenant) has been applied for Imamate, implying that it is a divine covenant concluded between God and an immaculate individual.
Second verse
Moses (a.s.) requests God to appoint his brother, Aaron, as his minister and successor. God narrates from Him:﴿قالَ رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي * وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي * وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسانِي * يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي * وَاجْعَلْ لِي وَزِيراً مِنْ أَهْلِي * هارُونَ أَخِي...﴾(Moses) said: O my Lord! Expand my breast for me; And ease my task for me; And loose the knot from my tongue; (That) they may understand my word; And give me a minister from my family, Aaron, my brother. [2]
The Almighty God did not reply Moses (a.s.) that you shall refer to the people’s votes for selection of your deputy. Rather, He said:﴿قَدْ أُوتِيتَ سُؤْلَکَ يا مُوسى﴾(He) said: Granted is your request, O Moses! [3]
Third verse
The Almighty God addressed David (a.s.):﴿يا داوُدُ إِنّا جَعَلْناکَ خَلِيفَةً فِي الاْرْضِ فَاحْکُمْ بَيْنَ النّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ﴾O David! We did indeed make thee a vicegerent on earth: so judge among people with justice. [4]
In this verse too, God has attributed appointment of caliphate to Himself, and as a result of this appointment, He commands him to judge among people with justice.
Fourth verse
He also says:﴿وَجَعَلْناهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِن﴾And We made them leaders (Imams), guiding (men) by Our Command. [5]
In this verse too, God has attributed appointment of Imamate to Himself.
One may question that the same phrase has been applied for Imams to aberration where God says:﴿وَجَعَلْناهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النّارِ﴾ And we made them (but) leaders (Imams) inviting to the Fire. [6]
We reply:
First: we have already proved that there is no compulsion, and God has never appointed anyone on his behalf for aberration of people. Rather, some people select aberration voluntarily, and lead the others to aberration.
Second: this is one of the equivocal verses, and shall be interpreted based on the clear verses of Quran. However, we can interpret it based on the verse,﴿يُضِلُّ مَنْ يَشاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَنْ يَشاءُ﴾
[7] That is to say, God leaves alone some people as a result of their disobedience and rebellion, and therefore, they will proceed far in aberration, and invite the others to the hell.
Third: Appointment of Imams of aberration may imply confrontation, as God has ascribed trick to Himself for confrontation﴿وَمَکَرُوا مَکْراً وَمَکَرْنا مَکْراً﴾
[8] Fourth: For Imams to truth, God has applied the term, “يَهْدُون” (leading), but for Imams to aberration, the term “inviting” has been applied “يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النّارِ”. There is a clear difference between these two terms.
Fifth: For Imams to truth, their guidance is by Divine Command “يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِن”, but such phrase has not been applied for Imams of aberration. [9]

resources and references

1- Al_Bagharah : 124
2- Ta Ha: 25-30
3- Ta Ha: 36
4- S’ad:26
5- Anbia: 73
6- Alghesas: 41
7- An-Nahl: 93
8- An-Naml: 50
9- Ali Asghar Rezvani, Imamology and reply to the questions (1), p. 75
Ref: www.makarem.ir

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