Lets Review The Shia Doctrine of Immamate

Let us review the doctrine of 12er Shia first, this is the doctrine that makes 12er Shia a SECT different from the mainstream Muslims and different from other Shia sects:

“The doctrine of Imaamat: Apart from Prophets, there are another group of God appointed persons called Imams. These are people who are infallible and have access to a knowledge that is not accessible by ordinary people. The world cannot be empty of an Imam otherwise it will be destroyed. In the Islamic context, these individuals are 12 people among the descendants of the Holy Prophet who are appointed by no one but God to lead Muslims. Any one who chooses any leader other than these 12 is misguided and not a complete believer. The twelfth (last) of the above Imams is Mahdi and is alive and in occultation (now) for more than 1000 years and will come out of his occultation when God wants”.

The above is the core belief of 12er Shia. They consider 5 articles of belief as fundamentals of their religion. These are: Tawheed (Oneness of God) – Nabuwwat (Prophet hood) – Ma’ad (Day of Judgement) – Adl (Justice of God) and IMAAMAT (The above doctrine).

In another way to put it they some times refer to 5 pillars of Islam to be: Prayer, Zakat, Fasting, Hajj and Imaamat. They further hold that the latter (Imaamat) is the most important one.

The above shows the importance of Imaamat in Shia doctrine. And when I say Imaamat I don’t mean Leadership. Certainly leadership is an important issue not only for Muslims but also for any group of people. Imaamat here means the above specific doctrine.

Now let me tell you:

When you want to help a Shia to realize how deviated he/she is from Islam or to help a fellow Muslim from the mainstream not to be deceived by Shia, there are TWO QUESTIONS that completely do the job for you:

Question One: Where is the doctrine of Imaamat in Quran ?
Question Two: How does the current Imaam lead Shia?

I elaborate on each of these here:

Question One: Where is the doctrine of Imamat in Quran ?

This is a very sound question. Quran  is the book of guidance and we have been told by the Prophet that whenever we felt lost we can consult Quran  and it will never betray us. The above doctrine is not a minor issue, it is very important. It’s importance is to the extend that Shia holds that because of not believing in this doctrine, 80% of Muslims are misguided and in fact not true believers. Well, which verses of Quran  have given us this doctrine?

Ask Shia to ONLY give you the verses with NO additions to the translation and NO Hadeeth to support a certain interpretation of the verse and NO personal commentaries. Do this and you will see how helpless the arguments will be.

Now when you ask this from a Shia you receive different sorts of answers (and it is interesting that because the discussion is over the net, usually people cannot co-ordinate among themselves and you will receive responses from Shia that are in contradiction to each other and this in turns shows how baseless are the discussions).

Here are the most popular answers that you get:

  1. There are also no verses in Quran  to tell us how to pray. We learn some of our duties from Hadeeth not Quran .
  2. There are certain verses but you need to look at Hadeeth to understand their true meaning cause we are advised to learn Quran  from the Prophet and Hadeeth is his teachings.
  3. Long and complicated analysis of certain verses of Quran  to prove that even without the help of Hadeeth, they are proving Imaamat.
  4. There are no mention of the name of our Prophet in Bible but still Christians need to believe in the Prophet.
  5. The verses of Quran  are usually general and it is not the style of Quran  to name people (i.e. Imaams)
  6. Quran  says “follow the Prophet”. There are Hadeeth from the Prophet that prove the doctrine of Imaamat and this should be enough for a Muslim if he wants to follow the Prophet.
  7. There are not explicit verses because if they were, Quran  was in danger of fabrication
  8. Finally among the classic scholars of Shia at the old times there were some of them who hold that Quran  is changed by Sahabah and that certain verses are removed from it.
  9. Where in Quran  it is said that Muslims should choose a khalifah by themselves?
  10. Show us the names of the prophets between … and … in Quran  if you think that every thing should be in Quran .
  11. It is a test that’s why it is not mentioned in Quran
  12. Arguments that use few verses of Quran  out of the context
  13. Sunnis believe in Mahdi while he is not mentioned in Quran
  14. Imaamat is not the fundamental belief of 12ers, the appointment of Ali is the fundamental of belief.

Now I’m sure most of you realize the weakness of all the above replies but let me write a brief for each of them. Using the same order of numbers:

  1. There are also no verses in Quran  to tell us how to pray. We learn some of our duties from Hadeeth not Quran :
    Prayer has been referred to EXPLICITLY and STRONGLY more than ninety times in Quran . In each of these verses one of the aspects of prayer is covered. Many of these verses talk about the details of prayer, like how to come prepared for prayer (ablution), prayer in travel, etc. Certainly with such a vast and strong reference from Quran , Muslims will refer to the Prophet to know the details. In comparison, the total number of the verses that Shia refers to for Imaamat is no more than 5 or 6 and yet non of them can be interpreted by a non-biased mind in the way that 12ers interpret it. In fact none of them are explicit and strong enough to prove Imaamat doctrine. This is while Prayer is not at all comparable with Imaamat. Imaamat is the fundamental of belief. Shia calls it one of the Osoole Din (Fundamental of religion). Prayer however according to Shia is one of the Foroo’e Din (Subsidiary) Imamat is important enough to convince Shia to separate themselves from the mainstream Islam. If the only difference between Shia and the Mainstream Islam was the way they perform prayer they would never become a sect out of the mainstream Islam.
  2. There are certain verses but you need to look at Hadeeth to understand their true meaning cause we are advised to learn Quran  from the Prophet and Hadeeth is his teachings.
    Why only when it comes to Imaamat, we need Hadeeth to help us? We don’t need a Hadeeth to understand from Quran  that reading prayer, performing Hajj, fasting, Jihad etc. are obligatory upon Muslims. We don’t need Hadeeth to understand from Quran  that a Muslim needs to believe in Oneness of God and his Prophets and the Hereafter. We don’t need Hadeeth to understand from Quran  that God has angels, there were Prophets in the history of mankind and some of them had books, and that the destiny of man is in the hands of God. All of the sudden when it comes to Imaamat, Hadeeth becomes a vital tool to understand Quran . Quran  how ever does not need a tool to be understandable. It is written in Quran  that this book has been made easy to get guidance from. It is true that the Prophet explains certain verses of Quran  but explaining is different from interpreting. Explaining means giving the details. Interpreting means giving the meaning. Quran needs no tool to be meaningful otherwise it wasn’t the book of guidance. Also there are many contradictory Hadeeth in explaining verses of Quran and at the end of the day it is impossible to verify exactly which ones are authentic. How could God expect people of our time to use Hadeeth to understand the MEANING of Quran? Is this the way that God says in Quran that Truth and False are separated and clear evidences have been shown? I don’t think so.
  3. Long and complicated analysis of certain verses of Quran  to prove that even without the help of Hadeeth, they are proving Imaamat.
    Same argument goes here. Quran  is not a book of riddles and puzzles. God does not expect an ordinary Muslim to have a search in Quran  and have a professional analysis of the verses of Quran  to understand what should be his belief and what are his duties as a Muslim. Of course it is very beneficial to analyse the verses of Quran  to understand more from it. Quran  is like an ocean. However to say that our fundamental belief can only derived from Quran  after such an analysis is in contradiction with the use of Quran  as a book of guidance. (For a detailed review of the verses that 12ers usually use and the discussion of the way they attempt to misinterpret these verses please refer to my other article: “The Quran refutes the Shiite concept of Imamate.” and this article also The Qur’ân and The Imamah
  4. There are no mention of the name of our Prophet in Bible but still Christians need to believe in the Prophet
    I appreciate that this justification is very out of line but because I have heard it, I am going to address it here: Firstly we believe that Bible in fact gave the information about our Prophet but these verses were removed (Quran tells us). However the most important thing is that Christians are not expected to accept the Prophet only based on their Bible. Christians along with other human being are given a brand new guidance that is Quran. It is Quran that challenges Christians not merely their own book. The last point is that the comparison is illogical. We are asking for proof of the Shia doctrine from our book of guidance, what does it have to do with the proof of our Prophet in the Bible?! There are many belief that Christians have but are not in their Bible, we however as Muslims have to disregard any belief that is not supported by Quran. On the other hand, another misunderstanding here is that we are not asking about the name of a particular Imaam. We are asking about the CONCEPT of Imaamat. The concept of prophethood is well established in Bible (both old and new testaments). It is only after the establishment of this concept in the Christian holy book that they are expected to believe in ANOTHER prophet that is Muhammad (PBUH). The CONCEPT of Imaam (in the way that 12er Shia put it) however has not even referred to (in a convincing way) in Bible, let alone being established. Therefore from this respect too, the comparison is illogical.
  5. The verses of Quran are usually general and it is not the style of Quran to name people (i.e. Imaams)
    No body asked for names. Only some general verses that give us the above doctrine. Something as simple as: “Oh Muslims, be aware that there will be certain Imaams for you after the Prophet from his generation who are appointed by God and you need to follow them”. It is as if (God Forbidden) God was worried about talking about Imaamat explicitly. Having said that, we have the name of Zaid (Ra) in Quran who was a SAHÂBAH and his name is there to refer to a very minor issue. It is not unfair to ask for a single verse with the name of Ali in it if (according to Shia) he had such an important role (Imaam).
  6. Quran says “follow the Prophet”. There are Hadeeth from the Prophet that prove the doctrine of Imaamat and this should be enough for a Muslim if he wants to follow the Prophet.
    Again why is that only for this article of faith we need to consult Hadeeth? Let’s test something. Take Quran in your hand and open it by chance. I can guarantee that no matter where it is opened, few verses before or after are about one of the Oneness of God, Prophet hood, Day of Judgement, Destiny of Human Being, or Duties of Muslims. Now how far you need to go in order to find a verse that (with the help of certain Hadeeth) could be interpreted as Imaamat in the 12er doctrine? How come for our other fundamental believes Quran is quite direct, even for our main duties as Muslims but when it comes to Imaamat, we need to refer to Hadeeth? This is inconsistency and God is far greater than having inconsistency in his perfect book. Hadeeth is not the second volume of Quran. Authentic Hadeeth is explanation of Quran not a secondith to see what is our religion? This is even more difficult when bare in mind that for every Hadeeth that Shia use to prove Imaamat, there are other Hadeeth that are in contradiction with it. In fact even Hadeeth (as a whole) are not structured in a way that could prove Imaamat. Such a justification is in fact the main reason for having different sects in Islam. Zaidis too have their own Hadeeth, same for Ismailis and same for Bahayees. All have the same problem, they are trying to understand their religion from the sources other than Quran. Please note that I am not denying the importance of Hadeeth (I am not a Quranist). However believing that certain parts of our fundamental belief has to be derived from Hadeeth rather than Quran is far different from using Hadeeth as a source to Prophet’s Sunnah. There are no use of discussing the ahaadeeth of the prophet with 12ers when it comes to the fundamental issues. To all Muslims except those who have made sects the fundamentals of belief need to be derived from Quran, if they are not then either they are wrong or they are not fundamental and thus not acceptable reasons for forming a specific sect to be separated from the rest of the Muslims.
  7. There are not explicit verses because if they were, Quran was in danger of fabrication.
    This is actually guessing God’s intentions and is very close to Kufr. From where one could come to this conclusion? Is there any verse in Quran that says God has not revealed certain things because if he does, you will change Quran? In fact the verses of Quran are supportive to the opinion that nothing has been left out for us from Quran and that God keeps Quran safe and that the Prophet should not be worried about delivering the verses. This is in fact attributing Taqqiyyah to God himself (God forbid).
  8. Finally among the classic scholars of Shia at the old times there were some of them who hold that Quran is changed by Sahabah and that certain verses are removed from it.
    In fact this is the most logical reply that one can get. However no Shia scholar these days refer to this response. They have changed their minds about this opinion (although among them there are still some individuals that do not deny the possibility). However every one knows that this is opposed to the verse of Quran where God promises to keep the book. Also if this is the case then how we know that there weren’t some verses in Quran in support of (say) Baha’ollah or (say) George w. Bush? By this assumption no basis will remain to hold any opinion as a Muslim. On the other hand, God could reveal as much as needed about Imaamat (like 98 verses about prayer). Just imagine how difficult would it be if some one wanted to remove all the verses about prayer from Quran, God could do the same for Imaamat.
  9. Where in Quran it is said that Muslims should choose a khalifah by themselves?
    Firstly it is not appropriate to answer a question with a question. Shia needs to adjust their doctrine with Quran and only after that it is appropriate to ask such a question.

Nevertheless this question only shows the misunderstanding of some brothers about the belief of the mainstream Muslims. Believing in Khulafaaye Raashedin is not a fundamental element of Islam. According to the main stream Muslims, there are only 6 Articles of Faith and 5 pillars of Islam and believing in khilaafath of Aboobakr is not part of either of them.

Any groups of people tend to elect some one as their leader. And the rational and most reasonable way to do so is by election. This is a routine social/political practice. Certainly no system of public election was established at that time and the election of Aboobakr was done through negotiation of present people. You might think that it was not a good choice or that not all qualified people were presented at the time, that’s your opinion but it has nothing to do with looking for evidences in Quran about it. It’s just a routine social practice that was and is and will be done in any society and no logical mind would expect a divine evidence for that.

Having said that, once the SAHÂBAH of the holy prophet agree on a great SAHÂBAH like Aboobakr (RA) to become the Khalifah, then it is the duty of all Muslims to obey him for the sake of Islam and unity.

If a Shia asks me what is my proof about this, I will give him/her a source that Shia holds as a very strong proof:

Nahjolbalaqah, letter No. 6 of Imaam Ali to Mo’aviah (note that in some versions of Nahjul balagha. This letter is few numbers before or after): “People who did Bayat to Aboobakr and Omar, did bayat with me in the same way. So the one who is present cannot select any one else for Khalifah and the one who is absent cannot disobey people in their selection. Shurah belongs to Mohajer and Ansar, so if they gather around a person and appoint him as their Imaam this is to the satisfaction of Allah. If any one disapprove them on this or innovate something about it he should be taken back to the people who he has left (by accepting the appointed Khalifah), and if he refused to do so people has to fight with him as he is going to a path other than of Muslims.”
(Note that in the Shia websites like al-islam.org, certain words have been inserted in the translation -like the word “suppose” – without putting them in the brackets in an attempt to change the meaning of the text.)

Now it’s up to the Shia brothers and sisters whether they want to attribute Taqyah or lie or politics or what ever to their Imam and whether they like to justify his comment in the same way that they justify verses of Quran.
(also please bear in your mind that we have an explicit verse in Quran that says “va amrohom shoora baynahom”, (and their affairs are done by consultancy between them). Surely the question of leadership is one of the affairs of Muslims. However I won’t use this verse to prove anything about Khilaafath in Islam. Unlike the Shia brothers and sisters, I am quite cautious about playing Lego with the verses of Quran)

So let us not compare apple with orange. Imaamat doctrine is a fundamental belief of Shia, election or selection of Khulafaaye Raashedin is just a routine and common socio-political practice.

On the other hand, let’s look at the present situation is Iran. Is there any divine command about how to establish a leadership in the occultation of Mahdi? Let’s remember that there were no religious system of governing after the occultation of Mahdi for about 1000 years after the recent revolution of Iran and emerging of the theory of Welayate Faqih. Those who know about Shia and Iran appreciate that Welayate Faqih of Khomeini was only a theory that he derived from some ahaadeeth. Not all Shia scholars agree with that (like Khoiee and his followers). Among the classic Shia scholars only few had referred to this theory and most like Sheikh Ansari had the opinion that it is difficult to derive such a theory from ahaadeeth (refer to Makaseb of Sheikh Ansari). Also among those recent scholars who accept the theory there are un-agreements about the extend of the theory and that how it could be put in practice (Like Montazeri, late Shirazi, etc.). So again as I referred to in the article, Shia too ended up with the same situation as the mainstream Muslims that is to elect a leader by themselves in the absence of any direct divine command.

  1. Show us the names of the prophets between … and … in Quran if you think that every thing should be in Quran
    The Shia who sends this question cannot realise what is the main issue. The issue is not about NAMES. It is about a CONCEPT.. The concept of prophethood has been addressed in Quran in many verses and there are a few verses that tells Muslims that they need to believe in all the prophets. Allah has given use the story of the main prophets and have left the story of others. There is no need to know the NAME of the (as they say) 124,000 prophets in order to obey Allah. The question is about the concept of Imaamat not the names of Imaams. Quran has established the concept of prophethood and its function for us through many verses. There is however not a single verse in Quran that explicitly tells us that there is another position called Imaamat which refers to infallible God appointed individuals who are not prophets and that their existence are necessary and there will be such Imams after the prophet.
  2. It is a test that’s why it is not mentioned in Quran
    This claim puts the function of Quran as a guidance under a serious doubt. By this claim there is no use to read Quran to get any guidance because who knows maybe there is a fundamental part of your belief that is not mentioned in Quran because God wants to test you! By the same token Bahayees claim that Quran talks about their prophet Baha’Ollah. When you ask them but where in Quran they will show you some verses that have nothing to do with their claim. When you say but these verses are not clear about your claim they say Oh because God is testing you, Nice!
    This is again playing with divinity. Who are we to decide for God that what is a test and what is not a test? The prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) was also a test but there are many verses in Quran that directly tells people that Muhammad (PBUH) is a prophet. A test is different from a puzzle. God says in Quran that he makes things clear for people. Even a teacher first makes it clear for his students that what is the material of exam and then designs a test based on those material. We need to read Quran to see what are the materials that God is going to ask us about in the day of judgement. Is ‘believing in the doctrine of Imaamat‘ one of the materials that Quran commanded us about? God makes things clear for you and sends you enough evidences and then test you to see if you can be humble enough to obey his guidance. The claim that this sorts of answers are making is like we expect Quran to be empty of any verses about the day of judgement and then say that God wants to test people to see if they can GUESS or DEDUCT that there is a day of judgement. No way, God makes it clear in Quran that we need to believe in him and his prophet and to do good things and to pray etc. and the test is whether we obey these commands. God does not play game with us. He does not expect us to solve puzzles and riddles. I wonder why Shia cannot see this in another way around. Imaamat is not explicitly referred to in Quran but still Shia insists to be separate from the mainstream Muslims because of this doctrine. Aren’t they under a test by Allah? Allah knows best.
  3. Arguments that use few verses of Quran out of the context Here Shia tries to refer to few verses in which the words Imaam or Khalifa are used. It is interesting that most of the verses in this category are those that even Shia scholars do not use them to prove their doctrine cause Shia tafasir are clear about the commonly agreed meaning of these verses. There are however non-Scholar Shia youths, those who spend all their youth over internet debating with others that use these verses. To be more specific, these are the verses where the term Khalifa/Kholafa have been used or the verses that the term Imaam has been used in the meaning other than Leader. The Shia friends simply think any reference to Imaam or khalifa means what they think. The best way to answer them in this category is to refer them to their own tafasir like Almizan and Majmaolbayan. Also to remind him of the warning that Allah gives us in Quran about taking the verses out of their context (Arabic: Yoharrefonal Kalema An Mawaze’ehi)
  4. Sunnies believe in Mahdi while he is not mentioned in Quran:
    Firstly the concept of Mahdi for the mainstream Muslims is totally different from the concept that Shia holds for Mahdi. This is another issue discussing of which will extend the length of the article. The Shia who brings this justification has confused his own understanding of the concept of Mahdi with the mainstream’s understanding of the concept. However the more important thing is that we cannot compare the belief of the mainstream Muslims about Mahdi with the belief of Imaamat in Shia. Imaamat is one of the main articles of faith for Shia but belief in Mahdi is not one of the main articles of belief of the mainstream Muslims. The articles of belief of the mainstream Muslims have been listed by the scholars and Alhamdolellah all of them are based on explicit verses of Quran. These are 6 (or 7 depending on the phrasing) articles of belief: Belief in God and his Oneness – Belief in Angels – Belief in God’s books (Bible, Quran, etc.) – Belief in God’s messengers =  Believe in the day of resurrection= Believe in Qadar (i.e. every thing and event has been written). All of these are derived form explicit verses of Quran. The very reason that we cannot see THE BELIEF IN MAHDI being listed among the articles of belief of the mainstream Muslims is that this has not been commanded and explained and established in Quran in the same way that other articles of belief are established in Quran.
  5. Imaamat is not the fundamental belief of 12ers, the appointment of Ali is the fundamental of belief.
    If one cannot appreciate (in line with the conscious of all the scholars of Shia) that Ali being appointed by the prophet is the direct consequence of the concept of Imaamat and that Imaamat is the core belief of 12er Shia that’s fine. I would ask the same question about Ali. The question is a generic one that can be applied to any fundamental of belief:
    Where are explicit verses of Quran without any Tafsir or Hadeeth that clearly command us about what ever is the fundamental of 12ers’ belief that distinguishes them from the mainstream Muslims, being Imaamat or the Khilaafat of Ali after the holy prophet. There is no escape from this question as long as one believes that Quran is the ultimate guidance. And if a Muslim is not able to find this in Quran then by God he/she needs to answer God in the day of judgement that why he/she separate him/herself from the mainstream Muslims.

So as you see, none of the above responses are really answering the question. These responses are actually escaping from the truth. Give Quran (a translation) to an English man with no idea about Islam and ask him to read it and write down 5 important articles of Islamic belief based on his understanding from Quran. I can imagine that he will write down oneness of God, Prophet-hood, the Day of Judgment, perhaps the rewards and punishments, prayer, Zakat, … but is there any chance that he writes the doctrine of Imaamat as 12ers put it? I don’t think so.

The very reason that Shia needs to include lots of explanation and commentaries and Hadeeth to prove his doctrine from verses of Quran proves that Quran is not explicit and direct about Imaamat and when a book of guidance is not explicit and direct about some thing, that “thing” CANNOT be a fundamental of guidance and people who have chosen to be separated from the mainstream Muslims because of that “thing” are responsible for their sectarianism attitude.

The above is the weakest link of 12er Shia and repeating it over and over is the only ways that we could make some of them realize this weakness. Interestingly enough further discussion with Shia about this issue only results in completing this argument by adding more justifications from Shia side to the above. The more the number of justifications the more apparent the gap and the false in the logic of Shia theory of Imaamat. Verily as Quran says (25:30), THE complain of the Prophet about his people in the Day of Judgment is that they put Quran aside and ignored it. While I think that we are all subject to this complain and we all need to re-establish the role of Quran in our belief, I should say that to me 12er Shia are one of the best examples of such complain.

Question Two: How does the current Imaam leads Shia?

The first question should be enough for any one to consider 12er Shia as a group that is biased from the original Islam. However it is helpful to have a word about the concept of occultation of Mahdi.

When you ask a Shia that why we need an infallible Imaam, he says we need it because it is not justice from God to leave us without any divine leadership. When you say okay then where is this divine leader now, the Shia will say: Oh he has been hidden for more than 1000 years and will come out near the end of the world. Nice!

This means that the theory of Justice of God in terms of guidance worked only for about 300 years (before the occultation)!

Imaam means a leader, how can you be led when the leader is not contactable and accessible? It is a conscious of Shia that no one has direct contact with Mahdi during his greater occultation (they believe he had about 70 years smaller occultation during which direct contact was possible). So what is the point of all this debate?

Shia believes in Imaamat and accused others for not having a leadership system, well at the end of the day we all ended up at the same point didn’t we? Shia had no leadership system up to the Iranian revolution and the system of Welayate Faqih that is the leadership system in the current Iran is nothing but a man made system in which people elect certain scholars to elect a leader for them. Well this is exactly what happened in Saqufeye Bani Saedeh when people elected Hazrat Abu Bakr, so, what is all the fuss about? Some of the Muslims have elected Osamah Ben Laden to be their leader, does Khameneyee the leader of Shia has any divine advantages to Osamah?

The point is that if Shia had a live Imaam who was supposedly infallible and had access to extra ordinary knowledge than we did not need this much waste of time. Instead of all these debates I would have asked a Shia to take me to his infallible Imaam and there surely the Imaam could prove me his right by his extra ordinary knowledge and attitude. This is not the case now. If some one becomes a Shia these days, nothing will be changed for him in terms of guidance. He/she will combine the prayers and attend ceremonies for Hussain and pay Khums to scholars and rub his feet in ablution and start a debate over Internet by a user name like Ex-Sunni but nothing in terms of being directed by a divine Imam. So what? Shia says it is obligatory to know the Imaam of your time, but from the so-called Imaam of their time what do they know? Anything more than his name and the fact that he will not come out till near the end of the world? So is it all about knowing a name rather than actual guidance?

We are fighting over a closed file (I hold respect and do not say over a … body).

The occultation of Imaam is in 100% in variance with the very basis of the reason Shia claims we need an Imaam. The Shia belief is in fact not self consistent.

Honestly I have not received any considerable reply for this question to elaborate on, let me only address two semi-replies:

  1. The guidance of Imaam is not restricted to direct guidance. There are other functions of Imaamat that we cannot fully understand except that his existence is a must for universe.
  2. Imaam’s benefit in occultation is like the benefit if sun when it’s behind the cloud.

I answer them in the same order:

  1. The guidance of Imaam is not restricted to direct guidance. There are other functions of Imaamat that we cannot fully understand except that his existence is a must for universe.

This is just a philosophical argument (being affected by pre-Islamic belief) that has absolutely no support from Quran and Hadeeth. We have been told that certain angels are arranging certain things for the universe but we have heard nothing about such an extra ordinary claim. If this is the case then who was the Imaam immediately before the Prophet? Did the Prophet ever meet him?! And why we need some one being alive in the earth to do the job? Imaam Reza the 8th Imaam of Shia said to people (who thought his father is not dead but is alive and in occultation) a very interesting point: “if Allah wanted to extend the life of any of his servants for the need of people to him, he would have extended the life of his Prophet” (Kashshi -a Shia author- Marefatorrejal P. 379).

Furthermore by the above reply in fact the 12ers are stepping down and surrender their main argument that says in every time there is a need for an Imaam to direct and lead people (i.e. tangible direction and leading not philosophical direction). In fact the earlier 12er scholars nearer to the beginning of the time that the 12ers refer to as the greater occultation of Mahdi has used the same argument to prove the existence of Mahdi. They even go as far to say that this ‘obvious’ argument suffices them from referring to any ahaadeeth to prove the existence of Mahdi.

Let’s see what is the argument of one of the classic gurus of 12ers:

“… Rationality tells us that surely there should be an infallible leader at every time who is not relying on people in matters and science -of religion- because it is impossible that people live in a time when there are no leaders to bring them closer to good and farther from bad and every non-complete human needs some one to advise him and every oppressor needs some one to control him … and there should be some one who teaches those who don’t know and waken up ignorant, advise misguided and perform the Hodood (Punishments of Shariat) … and solve the differences of opinion and appoint governors and defend the borders and protect properties … and gather people for Eids and collective prayers. (Ershad by Mofid – Section 36).

As it can be seen, this scholar who was one of the ones who established 12er doctrine clearly says that there always need to an infallible Imaam at all times who could practically (and in a tangible way) direct and guide people (look at the bold words). It seems that to people like Mofid who was quite close to the beginning of what 12ersa refer to as the greater occultation of Mahdi. The expectation was that the occultation will not last for a long period and Mahdi will appear shortly otherwise all the above argument (knowing that Mahdi is not accessible) had no points.

The above is the understanding of other classic 12er scholars as well but I preferred to quote from one of the main ones that is considered as one of the pillars of the 12er scholars.

As you see, the Mahdi that is the subject of our debate with 12ers is the one that the classic 12er Shia believed in as some one who practically and in a tangible way leads people. If an Imaam could be hidden and not available to people then what is the point of arguing for the necessity of having a God appointed leader at the first place?

To change the function of Mahdi to be able to justify his long occultation is nothing but changing the whole story to be able to escape from the truth. It is exactly like changing the function of Quran (from the book of guidance to a book that is only completed by Hadeeth and needs the explanation of 12er Imams) to be able to justify why the 12er theory of Imaamat is not mentioned in Quran.

  1. Imaam’s benefit in occultation is like the benefit if sun when it’s behind the cloud.
    This is nothing but a poetic justification of the problem. What is exactly meant by sun behind clouds? Even sun behind the clouds has many benefits. You can still find your way when the sun is behind the cloud. However is there any clue from Mahdi now days to direct the Shia in Iran in any way? There are lots of controversy issues in Iran these days among the scholars in terms of Islam and modernism, the extend of the power of Walye Faqih (the leader), etc. There are certain Shia scholars (Mojtaheds) that are in home arrest because they are not agree with the current policies and leader. Was there any letters, voices, what ever from Mahdi to clear up a bit of these difficulties? Which one of these Mojtaheds who are in sever disagreement with each other are directed and led by Mahdi and how are the 12er people suppose to realise that?
    There is a difference between a fairy tale and reality and I hope some Shia could realize it.

To conclude, I think by refraining from entering never ending debates about minor issues and sticking to the major issue both Shia and mainstream Muslims will be able to come to conclusions faster. I tried to explain in my article that the main issue in debate with 12er Shia is their doctrine of Imaamat.

I further described that the best never answered question for Shia is to ask them for prove for their doctrine from Quran (simply by pasting the verse with no commentary) and to ask them about the practicability of their doctrine in the absent of an accessible Imaam. These remain as two severe problems with Shia belief and no answer could be given for them unless new verses of Quran come down and their so called Imaam of Time come out of his occultation. As I don’t think that any of these would happen I had no problems in posting this here knowing that Shia brothers and sisters will also read it. There are no hidden plans. These are facts.

And Allah knows best.

May Allah Guide Us All and forgive our sins.