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Two Main Questions about Imamat and Khilafat (Part 1)

imam ali (a.s)

The discussion of the question of Imamat may raise certain queries in the mind of our readers. Here we advance our views about these queries. In this respect the main questions are only two.

I. Every nation tries to project the good points of its history, and as far as possible wants to conceal its weaknesses. The events in which an institution or an ideology may take pride are considered to be the signs of its authenticity and veracity, and the unpleasant events of its history create doubts about its genuineness and are regarded as the signs of the weakness of its creative power. Hence the discussion of the question of Imamat and Khilafat, especially the repeated narration of the ugly events of the early Muslim period is likely to diminish the religious zeal and fervour of the new generation, which is already passing through a spiritual crisis. In the past such a discussion might have produced the desired results and diverted the attention of the Muslims from one denomination to another. But in modern times it only weakens faith in the very fundamentals. When others conceal the ugly aspects of their history, why should we, the Muslims try to bring out the ugly aspects of our history and even magnify them?

We do not concur with the above views. We affirm that should the review of history mean to bring out the undesirable events only, the effect will be as disastrous as stated above. But it is also a fact that if we remain contented with portraying only the bright aspects of our history and suppresses the unpleasant events that would mean a distortion of history, not a review of it.

Basically no history is free from ugly and undesirable events. History of every nation, and basically history of mankind, is a bundle of pleasant and unpleasant events. It cannot be otherwise. Allah has created no people free from sins. The difference between the history of various nations, communities and creeds lies in the proportion of the happy and ugly events and not in the fact that anyone of them has only happy or only ugly events.

The Holy Qur’an has very beautifully expressed the fact that man has good as well as bad points. The summary of what it has said is that Allah informed the angels of His intention to create a vicegerent (Adam). The angels who knew only the weak points of the new being, were astonished and wanted to know what considerations prompted Allah to take such an action. Allah told them that He knew the good and the bad points of that being and that they were not aware of all the characteristics of that being.

If we look at the history of Islam from the view-point of the events manifesting faith and human values, we will find that it has no rival. This history is full of heroic deeds. It is laden with lustre and brilliance and is replete with a display of human qualities. The existence of a few ugly spots does not tarnish its beauty and majesty.

No nation can claim that its history possesses more bright events than the history of Islam, or that the ugly events of Islamic history are more numerous than the ugly events of its own history.

A Jew in order to taunt Imam Ali with the events which took place in the early period of Islam over the question of Khilafat, said:

"You no sooner buried your Prophet, than began quarrelling about him."

What a beautiful reply Imam Ali gave! He said:

"You are wrong. We did not differ about the Prophet himself. We differed only as to what instructions we had received from him. But your feet had not dried of sea water when you said to your Prophet: "Appoint a god for us like the gods they have." He said: "You are an ignorant people." (Nahjul Balaghah)

Imam Ali meant to say:

"Our differences did not relate to the principles of Monotheism and Prophet Hood. What we differed about was whether the Qur’an and Islam foresaw a particular person to be the successor to the Holy Prophet or his successor was to be elected by the people. In contrast you Jews during the very lifetime of your Prophet raised a question which was entirely contrary to your religion and the teachings of your Prophet."

Furthermore, even if it is supposed that in ordinary cases it is permissible to overlook the ugly events of history, how can it be proper to ignore the most basic question affecting the destiny of Islamic, society that is the question of Islam's leadership? To overlook such a question means overlooking the well-being of the Muslims.

Moreover, if it is a fact that some historical rights have been violated and those to whom these rights were due were the most virtuous personalities of the Muslim Ummah, then overlooking these historical facts would mean nothing but cooperation between the tongue and the pen on the one hand and the sword of injustice on the other.


Taken from: Imamat and Khilafat by Ayatollah Morteza Motahari


Other links:

Imamate: a Divine Position

The Qualification Of Holy Imam(A.S)

Scholastic Study of Imamate (Definition of Imamate)

Rational Argument of the Shi’ah (Imamate is the Basis of Islam)

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