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Scholastic Study of Imamate (Definition of Imamate)

imam ali (a.s)


This article explains some of the important reasons of the Shi’ah scholars in support of their conception of Imamate and it is divided into two basic parts and the second part is also Divided into three parts:

A. Scholastic Study of Imamate (Definition of Imamate)

B. Rational Argument of the Shi’ah: Imamate is the Basis of Islam

1. Imam Means an Expert in Religious Matters & Infallibility

2. Divine Designation

With a view to make clear the basis of the arguments which the Shi’ah scholars advance in support of their conception of Imamate and to show what others say in this respect, we deem it fit to reproduce with some explanatory remarks a passage written by Khwaja Nasiruddin Tusi. This passage is very precise and the Shi’ah and the Sunni scholars alike have been commenting on it since it was written.

Tajrid is a book written by Khwaja Nasiruddin. A part of this book deals with logic and is called the logic of Tajrid. Another part of it deals with scholastic theology and discusses such questions as Monotheism, Prophethood, Imamate, and the Hereafter etc.

The tone of that section which discusses Monotheism is rather philosophical for in this section Khwaja Nasiruddin has followed the style of the philosophers. A commentary on both the parts of this book has been written by Allama Hilli, whose name also must be familiar to most people. He was not only one of the greatest Shi’ah jurists but also one of the greatest jurists of Islam.

In logic, scholastic theology, philosophy, mathematics etc, he was a pupil of Khwaja Nasiruddin. He learned jurisprudence from Muhaqqiq Hilli, the author of Sharaya, who was also one of the most distinguished Shi’ah jurists. Allama Hilli and Khwaja Nasiruddin are counted among the most talented scholars. Khwaja Nasiruddin is considered to be one of the world class mathematicians also.

Recently newspapers have announced that some parts of the moon have been named after certain Iranian mathematicians, such as Umar Khayyam, Ibn Sina and Khwaja Nasiruddin, who centuries ago advanced some very sound theories about the moon. There is no doubt that Allama Hilli is a genius in his own field that is jurisprudence. He is the author of many books, including one in two volumes named Tazkiratul Fuqaha. When one studies this book, one marvels at the mastery of its author.

Muhammad Qazwini says that when he was in Tehran he used to attend the lectures of Mirza Ashtiyani. Later when he went to Europe, and had a chance to meet several European scholars who were specialists in their subjects, he felt that Mirza Ashtiyani was a specialist in the real sense of the word.

The Tazkiratul Fuqaha is a book that deals not only with Shi’ ah jurisprudence, but in regard to every rule of law it also mentions the opinion of the Sunni schools founded by the four Sunni Imams, namely Abu Hanifah, Shafi’i, Malik and Ahmad bin Hambal, as well as the verdicts of the most prominent jurists preceding the formation of these four Sunni schools. Dealing with every question, it says that Abu Hanifah says so, Shafi’i says so and we the Shi’ ites hold such and such opinion. Sometimes he refutes an opinion. Sometimes, for example, he says that Shafi’i first said so and then changed his opinion and said so.

Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Qummi used to say that when it was decided to publish the Tazkirah, an expert of every Sunni school was called. These experts were astonished to find that Allama Hilli knew more than what they knew about the teachings of their schools. Such an extraordinary man Allama Hilli was!

He compiled a commentary on the Tajrid. That part of it which deals with logic is known as al Jawharun Nazid. It is one of the best books on logic. The scholastic part of the book is named Kashful Murad and is now known by the name of Sharhut Tajrid. Both the parts of Allama Hilli’s commentary on the Tajrid are quite brief in expression. That is why they have again been commented upon subsequently and explanatory notes written on them. Perhaps no book in the Muslim world ever attracted so much attention of the scholars as the Tajrid. This book has been refuted by some and supported by others. No other book has been furnished with so many commentaries and annotations as this book. The reason is that when Khwaja Nasiruddin wants to describe a question from the Shi’ah point of view, he touches it only briefly.

In most cases he hurriedly refers to it and then passes away. In the concluding part of the book he has described the question of Imamate in a manner that has been approved by all Shi’ah scholars, and hence from his description of the question it is easy to understand how the Shi’ah scholars think about this subject.

The book which I have at my disposal at present is Mulla Ali Qushchi’s commentary on the Tajrid. Mulla Ali Qushchi is an eminent Sunni scholar. Naturally he puts forward the Sunni point of view and in most cases refutes that of Khwaja Nasiruddin. Thus in this book the Sunni view has been reflected side by side with the view of Khwaja which of course is the Shi’ah view.

Definition of Imamate

The first thing to be mentioned about Imamate is its definition, about which there is no difference of opinion. It is said that Imamate is the general charge of the religious as well as the secular affairs.

Khwaja Nasiruddin uses a scholastic expression and says that the Imam is a Divine favour (Lutf). What he means is that like Prophethood the question of Imamate is also beyond human control. Hence an Imam cannot be selected by a human decision. Like a Prophet he is to be appointed by Divine ordinance. The only difference is that the Prophet has a direct contact with Allah, whereas an Imam is appointed by the Prophet on receiving Divine instructions.

From the book : Imamate and Khilafat

Author: Sheikh Murtada Mutaharri

Other links:

Imamate: a Divine Position

The Qualification Of Holy Imam (A.S)

Prophetic Texts Relating to Imamate of Imam Ali

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