Fortieth Verse

Reading Time: 26 minutes

The commentary of the word of Allah, the High:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلاَمَ دِينًا

“This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion;…”[1]

From the Shaikh in his al-Amaali from our master, Imam al-Sadeq Ja’far Ibn Muhammad (a.s.) from his father (a.s.) from his forefathers (a.s.), “Narrated unto us al-Hasan Ibn Ali (al-Mujtaba) (a.s.), ‘Surely Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – on account of His kindness and mercy, when He has made obligatory upon you the duties has not done so because He needs them. Nay, it is due to His compassion. There is no god but Him. (He has done so) that He may distinguish the wretched from the pure and that He may test what is in your chests and to examine what is in your hearts; that you may compete with each other towards His mercy and try to outpace each other in your positions in His Paradise. So, He has made compulsory upon you the Hajj, the Umrah, the establishment of prayers, the paying of the poor-rate, fasting and mastership. He has ordained for you a door that you may open through it the doors of obligations and duties and a key to His path. But for Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and the successors (a.s.) from his descendants, you would be confused and perplexed like animals. You would not be able to know a duty from the duties. Do you enter a village but through its door? When He obliged you by appointing the successors after your Prophet (s.a.w.a.), He declared, “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion;…”. Hence, He has ordained some rights upon you for His successors and ordered you to fulfil them so that your descendants from your wives become lawful for you and so do your wealth, your foods and your drinks. Through this, you will know the blessings, growth and wealth; that it be known who from you obeys Him in secret. Thereafter, He – Mighty and Majestic be He – says, Say: I don’t ask you for it (Prophethood) any reward but love for my nearest kinsfolk.”[2]

Then know that whoever is miserly, he will be miserly only against his own self. Surely Allah, He is the Needless while you are needy towards Him. Thereafter, do what you please, Soon, Allah will see your action and His Messenger and the believers; then you will be returned to the Knower of the unseen and the seen; then He will inform you of what you were doing.” The Hereafter is only for the pious and there will not be any enmity but against the oppressors. I heard my grandfather (s.a.w.a.) say, ‘I have been created from the light of Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – and my Ahle Bait (a.s.) have been created from my light. Their lovers have been created from their light and all the other people are in hell-fire.”[3]    

From al-Ayyashi in his exegesis vide his chain of narrators from Zuraarah from Imam Abu Ja’far (a.s.) who said, “The last duty that Allah has revealed is mastership: “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion;…” He has not revealed anything after it from the duties till the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) departed.[4]

From Ibn Baabwayh from our master Imam al-Sadeq Ja’far Ibn Muhammad (a.s.) from his father from his ancestors (a.s.) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said on the day of Ghadeer-e-Khumm, “The greatest Eid of my Ummah is the day when Allah –High be His remembrance – ordered me to appoint my brother Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) as a standard for my Ummah. They will receive guidance through him after me. It is the day when Allah has perfected the religion in it. I am from Ali. He has been created from my soil and he is the Imam of the people after me. He will explain for them in what they dispute of my Sunnah. He is the Chief of the faithful (Ameerul Momineen), the leader of the handsome, the head of the believers, the best of the successors, the husband of the chief of the women of the universe and the father of the guided Imams.

O People! Whoever loves Ali, I love him and whoever hates Ali, I hate him. Whoever joins Ali, I will join him and whoever cuts off with Ali, I will cut off with him. Whoever offends Ali, I will offend him. Whoever takes Ali as a master, I will accept to be his master and whoever bears enmity against Ali, I will be his enemy.

O People! I am the City of Wisdom and Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) is its door. Wisdom is never approached but through its gate. He has lied who thinks that he loves me but hates Ali.

O People! I swear by the One Who raised me with Prophethood and chose me over all the creatures; I have not appointed Ali as a standard for my Ummah in the earth till Allah extolled his name in His heavens and made his mastership obligatory upon all the angels.”[5]

From the Shaikh in his Amaali from our master Imam al-Saadeq (a.s.) that Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) said, “I have been granted six things which none before me has been granted except the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.): Indeed, the paths have been laid open for me; I know the destinies, the calamities, the genealogies and the decisive statements. Indeed, I looked at the celestial world with the permission of my Lord. So, neither that was prior to me is hidden from me nor what will come after me. Surely, with my mastership, Allah has perfected for this Ummah their religion, completed upon them the bounties and became satisfied with Islam as their religion. When on the day of mastership, He said to Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), “O Muhammad! Inform them that today I have perfected for them their religion, completed upon them the bounties and am satisfied for them their Islam. All these are the bestowals of Allah on me. So Praise be to Him.”[6]

In al-Kaafi from Abd al-Aziz Ibn Muslim, who narrates, “We were with (Imam) al-Reza (a.s.) at Marv. We congregated in the main mosque on the day of Friday at the outset of our arrival. The discussion revolved around Imamate and the copiousness of differences amongst the people concerning it. I went to my master (a.s.) and informed him (a.s.) about the deliberations of the people on the subject. He (a.s.) smiled and said, “O Abd al-Aziz! The people are ignorant and are deceived due to their religions. Surely Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – did not capture the soul of His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) till He perfected for him the religion and revealed to him the Quran “in it is the explanation of all things[7]. He explained in it the lawful and the prohibited, the punishments and the laws, and everything that is required by the people, completely. He – Mighty and Majestic be He – said, “We have not left anything in the Book[8]. And He revealed in the last Hajj which was the last part of his (s.a.w.a.) life, “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion;…

The affair of Imamate is from the completion of religion. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) did not depart till he (s.a.w.a.) explained for his Ummah the signs of their religion, explained for them their paths, left them on the path of the purpose of truth, appointed for them Ali (a.s.) as a sign and an Imam. He has not left anything that the Ummah needs but that he (s.a.w.a.) has explained it. So, whoever thinks that Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – has not perfected His religion has indeed refuted the Book of Allah and whoever refutes the Book of Allah, he is an unbeliever.

Do you know the superiority of Imamate and its position in the Ummah lest their choice be allowed in it? Verily, Imamate is far majestic in value, greater in position, higher in status, loftier in side, distant in deliberation that the people reach it with their intellects or attain it with their views or appoint an Imam with their choice. Surely, Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – has distinguished Ibraheem – the friend – with Imamate, after Prophethood and friendship (خلة), as the third position and an honour conferred on him. He has indicated towards this fact by saying, “Surely, I am appointing you as an Imam for the people.” Ibraheem asked out of delight, “And from my progeny?Allah – Blessed and High be He – replied, “The unjust shall not reach my covenant.[9] Thus, this verse nullified and invalidates the Imamate of every unjust person till the Day of Judgment. And it was selection.

Then, Allah – the High – honoured him by placing it (Imamate) in his progeny: the chosen and pure ones. He declared, “And We gave him Ishaq and Yaqoub, a son’s son, and We made (them) all good. And We made them Imams who guided (people) by Our command, and We revealed to them the doing of good and the keeping up of prayer and the giving of the alms, and Us (alone) did they serve.[10]

So, it was always in his progeny, who inherited it from each other, centuries after centuries, till Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – made the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) its heir. He – Majestic and High be He – said, “Most surely the nearest of people to Ibraheem are those who followed him and this Prophet and those who believe and Allah is the guardian of the believers.[11] So, it was exclusive for him (s.a.w.a.). Then, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) entrusted it to Ali (a.s.) on the command of Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – in the form of what Allah has made obligatory. So, the successors became in his (s.a.w.a.) progeny, those whom Allah has given the knowledge and the belief, vide his saying, “And those who are given knowledge and faith will say: Certainly you tarried according to the ordinance of Allah till the day of resurrection…[12] This is concerning the progeny of Ali, in particular, till the Day of Judgment, since there is no Prophet after Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). So whom do these ignoramuses choose?”[13]

The noble tradition informing about his Imamate is quite detailed but I have taken extracts from it only till this extent.

Traditions in this regard from our sources are numerous. In fact, even from the Sunni references, these are plenty. In Ghaayah al-Maraam, he (r.a.) has mentioned six traditions from their sources[14], all of them ending at Abu Saeed al-Khudri. Let us mention only one of them.

In Ghaayah al-Maraam: Ibraheem Ibn Muhammad al-Hamweeni – a celebrated Sunni scholar – from the chief of the memorizers Mansoor Ibn Shahr Aashob Sheerwayh Ibn Shahrdaar al-Daylami, who narrates, “Informed us al-Hasan Ibn Ahmad Ibn al-Hasan al-Haddaad al-Maqri al-Haafiz from Ahmad Ibn Abdillah Ibn Ahmad  from Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Ali from Muhammad Ibn Uthman Ibn Abi Shaibah from Yahya al-Hamaani from Qais Ibn Rabee’ from Abu Haaroon al-Abdi from Abu Saeed al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) called out the people to Ali (a.s.) at Ghadeer-e-Khumm. He (s.a.w.a.) ordered the shade of a tree to be swept of the thorns and this was the day of Thursday. He (s.a.w.a.) called out to Ali (a.s.), held both his shoulders and raised him (s.a.w.a.) till the people could see the whiteness of the armpits of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). Before they could disperse, the verse “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion;…” was revealed. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) proclaimed, “Allah is the Greatest on the perfection of religion, completion of bounties and the satisfaction of the Lord with my Messengership and the mastership of Ali after me.” Thereafter, he (s.a.w.a.) declared, “Of whosoever I am his master, this Ali is his master too. O Allah! You take him as a slave who takes Ali as his master and take him as an enemy who takes Ali as his enemy. You help him who helps Ali and forsake him who forsakes Ali.

Hassaan Ibn Thaabit said, “O Messenger of Allah! Allow me to recite a few couplets concerning Ali that you may hear it.” He (s.a.w.a.) said, “Say, with the blessings of Allah.” He cried out aloud, “O chiefs of Quraish! Listen to my saying, a testimony from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) concerning the established mastership. Then, he recited a poem that has already passed in the discussions of the previous tradition.

These poems and tradition are very famous in the books of Sunnis as well as Shiites. After citing this tradition and these couplets, al-Hamweeni says, “This tradition has many chains of narrators that terminate at Abu Saeed Sa’d Ibn Maalek al-Khudri al-Ansaari.”[15]

I say: Abu Noaim has mentioned the tradition with the chain ending at Abu Saeed al-Khudri with the addition of two more verses in the last of the earlier poems. These are as follows:

فمن كنت مولاه فهذا وليه

فكونوا أنصار صدق مواليا

هناك دعا اللهم وال وليه

و كن للذي عادي عليا معاديا

Then whosoever I am his master, he (Ali) is his master too

Then be for true friends, accepting his mastership

There he called out, ‘O Allah! Take his friend as a friend

And be an enemy for the one who takes Ali as an enemy


When you have become aware of what we have explained, then know that the noble verse establishes a definite proof upon the appointment of the affair of Imamate and Caliphate from His side because Imamate is from the religion; nay, from its pillars. Had Allah – the High – simply left it, His religion would have remained incomplete and it would be contradictory to His saying, “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion;…” Allah – the High – has rejected all such insinuations as our master Imam Reza (a.s.) has drawn our attention towards it.

Objection: The noble verse proves the perfection of religion and the non-neglect of anything from the affairs of religion. From the issue of non-neglect, it would suffice to delegate the affair of Imamate to the choice of the Ummah – as the Sunnis claim – so it does not establish the appointment of a person in particular, as the Shiites believe.

Answer:  Firstly, the Sunnis do not claim the delegation of Imamate to the choice of the people on account of a divine document from His side or from His Messenger (s.a.w.a.). They simply claim that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) neglected or disregarded it and he (s.a.w.a.) has not provided any evidence in it. As a result, the people have congregated on the allegiance of Abu Bakr and their coming together was correct on the basis of his (s.a.w.a.) saying, ‘My nation shall not gather on a deviation.’

Had they claimed that Imamate was only after the coming together of the Ummah as per the saying of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), Abu Bakr would not have appointed Umar and would not have regretted on his death-bed, ‘I wish I had asked the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) to whom does this affair belong after him (s.a.w.a.)! I wished I had asked him (s.a.w.a.) if the Ansaar had any right in it?’ Thus, the first caliph is clear that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was silent about the matter of Caliphate and had neglected it and he regretted for not having asked him (s.a.w.a.) about the same.

Secondly, Imamate is far majestic in value, greater in position, higher in status, loftier in side that the people become referees in its appointment to select whomsoever they like or they choose, as has been pointed out by our master Imam Reza (a.s.) that essentially, the referee has to be informed of all the boundaries and limits of the referred one. It does not behove Allah – the Wise – to delegate the affair of Imamate, which is in the footsteps of Messengership, nay, even superior to it, in the hands of the people, those who are uninformed of the secrets of the people and their inner selves, ignorant about its limits, high position and the loftiness of its status. So, is this not but neglect? Indeed, Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – says, “Allah knows the best where to place His message.[16] Thus, He has informed His servants that the path is confined to His appointment only.

From what we have explained, it has become clear that what the Sunnis believe and have formed the principles of their religion on it, is not in sync with the  perfection of religion as explained in the noble verse.

Know that the noble verse proves the appointment of all the Caliphs of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and the Imams (a.s.) after him (s.a.w.a.), not merely the appointment of only one caliph of them. Otherwise, it would be tantamount to neglect vis-à-vis the one whose appointment has not been talked about, which is contradictory to the perfection of religion and completion of bounties. So, just as he (s.a.w.a.) has clearly talked about the mastership of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and his appointment at Ghadeer-e-Khumm, he (s.a.w.a.) has also elaborated that the successors (a.s.) after him are from his progeny. In the tradition of Al-Ehtejaaj, he (s.a.w.a.) said, “Then after me, Ali is your master and your Imam with the command of Allah, your Lord. Thereafter, Imamte will be in my progeny from his descendants till the Day of Judgment.”[17]

It has been recorded in the book of Sulaym Ibn Qais that our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) mounted the pulpit in his cantonment in the presence of the Muhaajeroon and the Ansaar. He praised Allah and glorified Him and mentioned a part of his virtues and merits. Approximately, seventy men from the people of Badr, all of them Ansaar and the remaining of the Muhaajeroon, stood up and testified that we have heard this from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) after we have performed the noon prayers behind him (s.a.w.a.) at Ghadeer-e-Khumm. He said, “O People! Surely Allah is my Master and I am the master of the believers. I have more authority upon them than their own selves. Of whosoever I am his master, Ali is his master too. O Allah! You take him as a slave who takes Ali as his master and take him as an enemy who takes Ali as an enemy.” At this juncture, Salmaan al-Faarsi stood up and enquired, ‘O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! ….which kind of mastership?

 He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘Mastership like my mastership. Of whosoever I have more authority on him than his own self.’ So, Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – revealed, “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion;…”

Salmaan asked, “O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! These verses are only for Ali in particular?”

He (s.a.w.a.) replied, “Yes, concerning him and his successors till the Day of Judgment.” Salmaan requested, “Name them for me, O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)!” He informed, “Ali, my brother, my minister, my caliph in my Ummah and the master of every believer after me. The eleven Imams are as follows: my son al-Hasan, my son al-Husain, followed by the nine descendants of al-Husain, one after the other. The Quran is with them and they are with the Quran. They will not separate from each other till they meet me at the Pond.

Twelve people from the people of Badr stood up and testified, “We have indeed heard this from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) exactly as you have quoted, without any addition or subtraction.” The remaining seventy said, “Indeed, we have heard – as you have said – but we don’t remember all of it. These twelve are the chosen ones amongst us and the best of us.” He (a.s.) said, “You have spoken the truth. Everybody does not remember. Some of them have a better memory than others.” Then, four of the twelve stood up: Abu al-Haitham Ibn al-Teehaan, Abu Ayyub al-Ansaari, Ammaar and Khuzayman Ibn Thaabit (famous as) Dhu al-Shahaadatain, and said, “We bear witness that we have memorized the saying of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) on that day, while Ali (a.s.) was standing on his (s.a.w.a.) side, “O People! Surely, Allah has ordered me that I appoint for you your Imam, my successor amongst you, my caliph from my Ahle Bait (a.s.) after me and the one whose obedience Allah has made obligatory in His Book. He has ordered you in it for his mastership. I referred to my Lord about my apprehensions concerning the taunts of the hypocrites and their refutations. He threatened me to either convey it or else, He will chastise me.

O People! Surely, Allah – Majestic is His remembrance – ordered the prayers for you in His Book and He explained it for you and I performed it for you. Similarly, poor-rate, fasting and Hajj; I explained and elaborated them for you. He ordered you in His Book about His mastership and I hold you as witness, O people, that it is only for Ali and his successors from my progeny and his progeny in particular. The first of them is my son Hasan, then my son Husain, followed by nine descendants of Husain. They will not separate from the Book till they meet me at the Pond.

O People! Indeed, I have informed you about the guided one, your master, your Imam and your guide after me. He is my brother Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) and the one who has reached my stage from amongst you. So, follow him and obey him in all your affairs. For, with him is all that Allah has taught me and ordered me that I should inform you that it is with him. Then, ask him and learn from him and from his successors. Don’t teach them and don’t try to go ahead of them and don’t lag behind them because they are with the truth and the truth is with them. They will never squander it.”[18]

In Ghaayah al-Maraam, he (r.a.) has mentioned numerous traditions from Sunni sources that the number of Imams (a.s.) are twelve. We shall reproduce a few of them over here:

He writes in the twelfth chapter[19] concerning the fact that the number of Imams (a.s.) after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) are twelve. Thereafter, he has mentioned that there are nine traditions from the Sunni references, he has continued the traditions.

Tradition Three: Abu al-Muayyad Muwaffaq Ibn Ahmad – a known Sunni scholar – in the book ‘Fadhaael Ameerul Momineen (a.s.)’ has mentioned his chain of narrators till it ends at Abaan Ibn Abi Ayyash from Sulaym Ibn Qays al-Helaali from Salmaan al-Muhammadi (r.a.), who narrates, “I went to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), while Husain (a.s.) was sitting on his thigh and he (s.a.w.a.) was kissing his eyes and his mouth, and saying, ‘You are chief, son of a chief, brother of a chief and father of chiefs; you are an Imam, son of an Imam, brother of an Imam and father of Imams; you are a proof, son of a proof, brother of a proof, father of nine proofs from your progeny; the ninth of them is their Qaem.’”[20]

Tradition Five: What he has narrated from Muwaffaq Ibn Ahmad again vide his chain of narrators till Abu Sulaiman, the shepherd of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), who says, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) say, ‘The night I was taken to the heaven, Allah – Mighty be His Majesty – said to me, The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord,…”[21] I said, “and (so do) the believers”. He said, ‘You have spoken the truth.’ He asked, ‘Whom have you left behind as a successor in your Ummah?’ I replied, ‘The best of them’. He questioned, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.)?’ I said, ‘Yes, O Lord!’

 He said, ‘O Muhammad! I scanned the earth thoroughly then chose you from it. I derived for you a name from My Names. So, I am not remembered in any place but that you are mentioned along with Me. I am Mahmood while you are Muhammad.

Again, I scanned the earth for a second time and chose Ali from it. I derived for him a name from My Names. So, I am al-A’laa while he is Ali.

O Muhammad! Surely, I created you and created Ali, Fatemah, al-Hasan, al-Husain and the Imams from his progeny from My Light. I presented your mastership to the people of the heavens and the earth. Whoever accepted it is from the believers near Me and whoever denies is from unbelievers near Me.

O Muhammad! If any of My servants worships Me till he breaks or becomes like a dried water-skin, then comes to Me denying your mastership, I will not forgive him till he acknowledges your mastership.

O Muhammad! Do you like to see them? I replied, ‘Yes, O Lord!’ He ordered, ‘Turn to the right of the Throne.’ I turned and lo! There was Ali, Fatemah, al-Hasan, al-Husain, Ali Ibn al-Husain, Muhammad Ibn Ali, Ja’far Ibn Muhammad, Moosa Ibn Ja’far, Ali Ibn Moosa, Muhammad Ibn Ali, Ali Ibn Muhammad, al-Hasan Ibn Ali and al-Mahdi (peace be on them all), in a lamp of light, standing and praying. He i.e. Mahdi was in their middle as he was a bright star.’

He said, ‘O Muhammad! These are the proofs and he is the avenger of your progeny. By My Might and My Majesty! He is the Obligatory Proof for My friends and the avenger against My enemies.’[22]

Tradition Eight: Narrated from al-Hamweeni vide his chain of narrators till Saeed Ibn Jubair from Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said, “Surely, my Caliphs, my successors and the proofs of Allah on the creatures after me are twelve: The first of them is my brother and the last of them is my descendant.” He (s.a.w.a.) was asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! Who is your brother?’ He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.).’ Again, he (s.a.w.a.) was questioned, ‘Then, who is your descendant?’ He (s.a.w.a.) responded, ‘The Mahdi, who will fill the earth with justice and equity as it would be fraught with injustice and oppression. I swear by the One Who raised with the truth as a giver of glad-tidings, if nothing remains of the world but one day, Allah will prolong this day till the Mahdi from my progeny emerges. The spirit of Allah, Eesa – the son of Maryam, will descend and pray behind him. He (Mahdi) will illuminate the earth with the light of his Lord. His government will cover the East as well as the West.”[23]

In the twelfth chapter, he has mentioned numerous traditions from Sunni sources, which prove that the number of Imams (a.s.) is twelve.[24]

From Ibn Abbas, who narrates, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) say, “O People! Know that Allah – the High – has door; whoever enters it will be saved from the hell-fire and from the Great Fear.’  Abu Saeed al-Khudri stood up and asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! Guide us to this door that we may know it.’ He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘He is Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.), chief of the successors, leader of the believers, brother of the Messenger of the Lord of the worlds and Caliph of Allah upon all the people.’

O People! Whoever desires to fasten unto the strong rope, in which there are no cracks, he should fasten unto the mastership of Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) because surely, his mastership is my mastership and his obedience is my obedience.

O People! Whoever loves to recognize the proof after me, should recognize Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.).

O People! Whoever desires to follow me should accept the mastership of Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) and the Imams from my progeny because they are the treasurers of my knowledge.”

Jaaber Ibn Abdullah al-Ansaari stood up and enquired, ‘O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! What is the number of the Imams?’ He (s.a.w.a.) informed, ‘O Jaaber! May Allah have mercy on you, you have asked me about Islam – the whole of it. Their number is the number of months and these are twelve in number near Allah in the Book of Allah, the day He created the heavens and the earth. Their number is the number of fountains that gushed up for Moosa Ibn Imraan when he struck it with his staff. So, twelve fountains sprung from it. Their number is the number of the chiefs of Bani Israaeel. Allah – the High – says, And certainly Allah made a covenant with the children of Israel, and We raised up among them twelve chieftains[25]. O Jaaber! The Imams are twelve Imams: the first of them is Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) and the last of them is the Qaaem (peace be on them all).”[26]

Briefly, the traditions from Sunni sources that the number of Imams (a.s.) is twelve is abundant and copious, if not consecutive, hence, enough to be considered as reliable.


Evidences of the Holy Book concerning the distinction of Imamate and Mastership of our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and the infallible Imams (a.s.) from his progeny and the progeny of the Seal of the Prophets (s.a.w.a.) are of three types:

1)      Those verses that were revealed in their glory, as you have known some of them.

2)      Classification of the Holy Book into three kinds: Brief (مجمل), Clear (محكم) and Ambiguous (متشابه).  

Explanation:  Undoubtedly, the purpose and objective of the Holy Quran is the guidance of the people towards the upright religion and that they receive guidance through the true knowledge concerning the intentions, allowances, lawful, prohibitions, punishments, laws, etc. by which their religion will become perfect. Obviously, its aim is not mere recitation and reading without deliberation and comprehension. Evidently, it is a Book that suffices for all that the Ummah needs lest it becomes a Book that lacks something and will not complete their religion for them, which will be a rejection of the divine claim and is tantamount to disbelieving in Him. It is apparent that the clear verses of the Holy Quran are not enough for all that the Ummah needs. Hence, it is necessary that this perfection should be in the Book in its entirety, brief as well as ambiguous and therefore, it is obligatory that the Ummah knows these two aspects too as a necessity.

It is known that the way to know these two aspects is certainly not through conjecture and whimsical interpretation as these two vary with the change of opinions, leading to increased confusion and commotion. It does not behove a wise person to render his aim redundant. Therefore, it is the unmistakable and explicit decision of the intellect that the Prudent Allah – the High – Who has classified the Holy Book into these three classifications has certainly accompanied it with a divine commentator to unfold its realities. There is no doubt whatsoever in the wisdom of this divine commentator, who is the knower of the entire Book from His side and is protected from errors. This divine commentator is none else than the Seal of the Prophets (s.a.w.a.) and his infallible successors (a.s.).

It is also known that the three Caliphs were not aware of the brief and ambiguous aspects of the Holy Quran as is apparent from their constant referrals in most of the cases that were unclear for them to our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), as has been recorded in the books of both the sects. It is not permissible to sideline the bearer of divine secrets – I mean the brief and ambiguous aspects of Quran – from the position of Caliphate and to install somebody who is totally ignorant of these facts as the divine caliph. This act concerning the Majestic Book – as is proved by the statement that with the Quran is a divine bearer till religion subsists and the Quran will not separate from him – establishes that there will be somebody in the Ummah who will claim their position and usurp their place. Otherwise, there was no need to place brief and ambiguous verses in it. The presence of codes and ambiguous verses is essential to conceal the affair for a false claimant. It has been narrated from our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) that Allah – the High – has classified His Book into clear, brief and ambiguous so that one can distinguish His (true) Caliph from the one who has usurped the affair.[27]

3)      The stories of the successors of the Prophets (a.s.) in the Holy Book, the narrations        of their conditions, their attributes and their sciences guide to the recognition of the successors of the Seal of the Prophets (s.a.w.a.). Whoever contemplates in the incident of Aasif Ibn Barkhiya, the minister of Prophet Sulaiman Ibn Dawood (a.s.), about whom Allah – the High – says, “One who had the knowledge of the Book said: I will bring it to you in the twinkling of an eye”[28] will realize that the demand of Sulaiman (a.s.) was not because he (a.s.) was helpless in bringing the throne of Bilqees like his minister Aasif had done, lest the minister becomes superior to the Prophet, which is impossible. The purpose was to make his successor known and that the people acknowledge his superiority and merit and accept that he is indeed eligible for the position of succession. When the successor of Sulaiman (a.s.) enjoys such a position, considering the fact that he (a.s.) was not even amongst the great Prophets (a.s.) and was only a follower of Prophet Moosa Ibn Imraan (a.s.) and acted upon his Shariat, then inevitably, the successor of Moosa (a.s.) was more superior than the successor of Sulaiman (a.s.). Now, since the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) is the greatest of all Prophets (a.s.), it is but necessary that his (s.a.w.a.) successor should be superior and higher than the successors of all the Prophets (a.s.). Hence, it is impossible that the caliph of Sulaiman (a.s.) and his successor possesses the knowledge of a part of the Book by which he has the power to bring the throne of Bilqees before the batting of an eyelid, and the successor of the Seal of the Prophets (a.s.) will be unaware of the esoteric aspects of the Holy Book!! Inevitably, his (s.a.w.a.) successor will be more knowledgeable than the successor of Sulaiman (a.s.). In fact, he (Ali (a.s.)) has the knowledge of the Book in its entirety, as said by Allah – the High – in his glory, “…and whoever has knowledge of the Book.”[29]

Our master Imam Ja’far al-Sadeq (a.s.) was asked as to who of the two is superior: one who has the knowledge of a part of the Book or the one who has the knowledge of the whole Book? He (a.s.) replied, “The knowledge of the one who knows part of the Book when compared to the one who knows the whole Book is like the drop of water the wings of a house-fly can carry from the ocean.”[30] In other words, the position of the one who has the knowledge of the entire Book is that of the ocean and the position of the one who has the knowledge of a part of the Book is that of the drop.  

Know that just as the stories of the successors of the Prophets (a.s.) in the Holy Quran is an indication to the recognition of the successor of our Prophet (s.a.w.a.), similarly, the stories of the Prophets (a.s.) in it are a guide to the recognition of our Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Thus, the explanations of the miracles of Prophets Moosa, Eesa, Ibraheem, Nuh, Saaleh and all other Prophets (peace be on them all) in the course of their stories, is an explicit reminder that our Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was also having the power to perform miracles and the consecutive traditions mentioned in this regard are without an iota of doubt. It does not behove a wise and sagacious person to doubt about it because if he was not true in his Prophethood and was not capable of performing extraordinary feats and miracles, the miracles of all other Prophets (a.s.) too would become null and would not have been mentioned them in His Book. Just as the Baabis (Bahaais) and their ilk – may Allah disgrace them – have forged a lie against Allah and denied the performance of miracles at the hands of the Prophets (a.s.) so that the matter does not become difficult for them (as they too would have to perform extraordinary acts and feats).

Then, know that the verses revealed in the glory of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), which establish the distinction of mastership for them, are not limited to forty. Ibn Maghaazeli has narrated from Ibn Abbas from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who said, “The Quran comprises of four parts: One-fourth is concerning us Ahle Bait (a.s.) exclusively, one-fourth is about the permissible, one-fourth is about the prohibited and one-fourth is about the duties and the laws. And Allah has revealed concerning us the nobilities of Quran.”[31]

In Ghaayah al-Maraam, he (r.a.) has mentioned one hundred and twenty eight (128) verses according to the traditions of both the sects.

Note: Some of the Sunnis have argued that had the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) mentioned for his companions the matter of mastership like he (s.a.w.a.) has informed them about the laws of prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, holy war, etc. they would not have opposed him (s.a.w.a.) or sought to weaken our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.); just as they did not oppose the laws of prayers and all other laws. Their opposition and turning away would be highly improbable had they truly listened from him (a.s.).

Answer: Whoever is aware of the story of the Bani Israeel that most of them turned apostates in the absence of Moosa (a.s.) and sought to weaken Haaroon (a.s.), his successor, took the calf as a god for themselves and were tested through it and did not turn away from their deviated ways till Moosa (a.s.) returned to them, it does not behove him that he should consider as unlikely the opposition of the majority of the companions of our Prophet (s.a.w.a.) from his affair. For, the apostasy of the Bani Israeel was even more improbable for the following reasons:

1)      The Israelis were monotheists from their ancestors and did not accept the Firaon’s claim of divinity. They were waiting for the advent of their Prophet Moosa (a.s.). On the other hand, the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) were born and brought up in Jaahiliyyah (paganism) and the lives of most of them was spent in idol-worship and the majority of them did not accept Islam except due to fear or greed. Allah – the High – informs, “The dwellers of the desert say: We believe. Say: You do not believe but say, we submit; and faith has not yet entered into your hearts….”[32] From them were the hypocrites for whom the Chapter of Hypocrites (Chapter 63) was revealed. Thus, it is clear that the apostasy of the Bani Israeel was more unlikely.

2)      Whatever the Bani Israeel did of taking the calf as a lord was greater and more severe in degrees than what the Muslims did of accepting someone as Caliph who was not appointed by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). For, by taking the calf as the lord, the Bani Israeel went out of the religion altogether; but the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) did not go out of the religion of Islam by what they did and this was something very light and insignificant in their eyes because they thought that the affair of Caliphate and Imamate is from the branches of religion.

3)      The apostasy of the Bani Israeel was during the lifetime of their Prophet (a.s.) while the violation of the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) concerning the Caliphate was after his (s.a.w.a.) departure from this world. It is obvious that the former is more unlikely than the latter. After the occurrence of the first test and mischief, there is no scope to regard the second as unlikely and improbable, to reject clear texts in this regard or to justify their acts. Even Allah – the High – had prophesied about the turning away of the majority of them after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) when He said, “…if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful.”[33]

Moreover, it has been narrated on the authority of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), “Surely, the likeness of my Ummah is like that of the Bani Israeel; they will follow them step by step.[34]

Perhaps, because of the similarity of the condition of this Ummah with that of the Bani Israeel, Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – has repeated their stories in His Book so that the people will gain deep insight in their affairs, deliberate on their situation and the proof is completed upon them.

Thus, to speculate the judgement of mastership with that of prayers and other divine laws is baseless because jealousy arises in matters of mastership only. Allah – the High – says, “Or do they envy the people for what Allah has given them of His grace? But indeed We have given to Ibrahim’s children the Book and the wisdom, and We have given them a grand kingdom.”[35]      

All Praise is for Allah Who guided us to this path and it would not have been possible for us to be guided had Allah not guided us and He gave me the grace to complete what I desired and to perfect my aim. Blessings of Allah be on the best of His creatures Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and his pure and chosen progeny, those whose mastership has perfected for us our religion and is satisfied with Islam as our religion with the acceptance of their mastership.

I have completed this book during my visit to the holy grave of the Chief of the Youth of the Paradise, our master Abu Abdillah al-Husain (peace and salutations be on him, his grandfather, his father, his mother, his brother and the Imams from his progeny and descendants) on Tuesday, the last ten days of the ninth month of the lunar calendar circa 1364 A.H. 


[1] Surah al-Maaedah (5): Verse 3

[2] Surah al-Shura (42): Verse 23

[3] Al-Amaali of Shaikh Tusi (r.a.), vol. 2, p. 667, Chapter 34.

[4] Tafseer al-Ayyashi, vol. 1, p. 292

[5] Al-Amaali of Shaikh Saduq (r.a.), p. 109, Session 26

[6] Al-Amaali of Shaikh Tusi (r.a.), vol. 1, p. 208, Chapter 8

[7] Deduced from the verse, “And We have revealed upon you the Book, an explanation for all things.” Surah al-Nahl (16): Verse 89

[8] Surah al-An’aam (6): Verse 38

[9] Surah al-Baqarah (2): Verse 124

[10] Surah al-Anbiya (21): Verses 72, 73

[11] Surah Aale Imraan (3): Verse 68

[12] Surah Rome (30): Verse 56

[13] al-Kaafi, vol. 1, p. 199

[14] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 87

[15] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 87

[16] Surah al-An’aam (6): Verse 124

[17] Al-Ehtejaaj, vol. 1, p. 74

[18] Kitaab-o-Sulaym Ibn Qays, vol. 2, p. 757

[19] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 27

[20] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 27 narrating from Manaaqeb of al-Khaarazmi

[21] Surah al-Baqarah (2): Verse 285

[22] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 27 narrating from Manaaqeb of al-Khaarazmi

[23] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 28 narrating from Faraaed al-Simtain

[24] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 32

[25] Surah al-Maaedah (5): Verse 12

[26] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 45

[27] Tafseer al-Saafi under the Surah Aale Imraan (3): Verse 7 narrating from Al-Ehtejaaj of Shaikh Tabarsi (r.a.). The author has merely brought the concept of the tradition and not quoted it verbatim.

[28] Surah al-Naml (27): Verse 40

[29] Surah al-Ra’d (13): Verse 43

[30] Tafseer al-Qummi, p. 343; Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 26, p. 160

[31] Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 24, p. 305; vol. 35, p. 356; vol. 36, p. 116; vol. 39, p. 290

[32] Surah al-Hujuraat (49): Verse 14

[33] Surah Aale Imraan (3): Verse 144

[34] Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 28, p. 30

[35] Surah al-Nisaa (4): Verse 54

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