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Question text

What is the meaning of Imam In the verse of “Ibtila” ﴿إنى جاعِلُکَ لِلناس اِماماً﴾ [1] “Surly I appoint you an Imam for the people”?

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Some people, have interpreted the word of “Imam” as the “prophet” and some as “the messenger” and some other as: obeyed, the successor, the Caliph, the chief and the leader, but all of them are false; because the «نبىّ» “the prophet” have derived from “نبأ” “which means the news”. And«نبىّ» the prophet is someone who gives news from the Almighty God, and it differs from the meaning of Imam. “the messenger” «رسول» is also attributed to the one who has the duty of delivering a message, and it doesn’t mean that people make him their example and follow him apparently and internally, or listen to his word and act on it. Consequently, the meaning of messenger «رسول» also differs from the meaning of Imam. And “the obeyed” «مطاع» is a person obeyed because of his respect and reputation and this is from the necessaries of and it differs from the Imamate.
But «خليفه» and «وصىّ» “the caliph” and “the successor” mean the succession not Imamate. “the chief” and “the leader” is also applied for the one who is at the head of government and it is necessary to be the obeyed, but it differs from the meaning of “Imam”.
Imam is derived from [2] “أَمَّ، يَؤُمُّ” ”Is applied for the one who is the example and so it is necessary for all of the people to look him and follow and obey him in all of the affairs. …
Therefore, it is suitable that the Almighty God places this position after the prophecy and prophetic mission. It means that after informing him from the revelation of God and giving him the mission of delivery of message, and after being successful in the several exams and obtaining the various abilities appoints him as Imam.
Because, the position of Imamate is higher than the position of; the position of prophecy is the position of giving information on behalf of God, but the position of Imamate is the position of guidance and leadership of society. The position of Imamate is the position of guiding of people apparently and internally towards the perfection and prosperity of this world and the next world. This meaning is clearly understood from the verse of [3] “Ibtila” «ابتلاء».

resources and references

[1] - Quran, Al-Baqarah, verse. 124.
[2] - The Almighty God says: “إنى جاعِلُکَ لِلناس اِماماً” “Surly I appoint you an Imam for the people” means the people follow you and they take the solution of their religious and irreligious problems from you, because the people follow the behavior of his highness, يَؤمُّ means whatever is intended and is followed; a clear path is also called Imam. [Majma' al-Bahrain, vol. 6, p. 10].
[3] - Ali Asghar Rizwani, Imamology and answering to the doubts (1), p. 108.
Ref: www.makarem.ir

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