We believe that prophethood is a Divine duty and a mission from Allah; He appoints to it those whom He selects from among His good servants, from those who are exalted among mankind. He sends them to the rest of humanity to be a guide to what is of benefit to them and is in their interest in this world and the next; to purify them from immorality, evil deeds and harmful customs, and also to teach people wisdom and knowledge and the ways of happiness and goodness until they attain to the perfection for which they were created, and reach the highest position in both worlds.
We believe that the Grace of Allah (lutf) requires that He send His messengers to His servants to guide them, to carry out reforming work, and to be intermediaries (sufara', pl. of safir) between Allah and his gerents (khulafa', pl. of khalifah). For we believe that Allah does not allow mankind to appoint, nominate or select a person as a prophet; indeed only Allah can choose and appoint someone as a prophet, because:
Allah knoweth best with whom to place His message. (6;125)
It follows that people have no right to dispute over those whom Allah sends as guides, bringers of good tidings and warners of what is to come, nor over that which they bring, i.e. the commandments and religious laws.
Man is a changeable creature, a complex structure containing his being, his nature, soul and intelligence. Every individual personality is similarly of a complex nature, in which there are causes of good and evil. On the one hand, man has been created with emotions and instincts, such as self-love, desire and pride; he obeys the call of his desires, has a natural disposition to show his superiority over others, to own things, and to take for himself that which belongs to others; he rushes recklessly at the objects and ornaments of this world. As Allah has said:
Lo! Man is in the way of loss. (103;2)
Surely man waxes insolent, for he thinks himself self-sufficient. (96;6&7)
Surely the soul of man incites to evil. (12;53)
There are other verses which clearly talk about and point to the desires and feelings of the human soul which was created with man.
On the other hand, Allah has given intelligence (aql) to man to guide him to what is in his interest and to the way of goodness, and He has also bestowed on him a conscience which prevents him from doing evil and oppressing others, and which also upbraids him when he has sinned.
There is continual enmity and struggle between man's desires and his intelligence. One whose intelligence overcomes his desires will attain the highest position among mankind and a perfect spirituality, but one whose desires to conquer his intelligence will be among the great losers, the lowest of mankind and comparable in nature to the beasts.
The desires and their legions are stronger than intelligence and its armies, and this is why most people go astray and wander far from the straight path of guidance, through obeying their desires and answering the call of their emotions. As is said in the Qur'an:
And though thou try much, most men will not believe. (12;103)
Besides, man is reluctant and unaware of all the facts and secrets of the world around him, and since he is also ignorant of his own self, how can he know all that will make him prosperous and what will make him suffer. how can he know everything that is in his own interest or in the interests of mankind as a whole? Whenever he advances with a new discovery, he sees his own ignorance and realises that he knows nothing. It is because of this that Man has an insistent need for someone to show him the clear, straight path to prosperity and to give support to his intelligence, so that it may overcome its unruly, persistent enemy, and so that he may prepare to fight his emotions.
Man is desperately in need of someone to help him to
the path of goodness and happiness, especially when his
emotions deceive him, disguising his bad actions as good
and his good actions as bad, as a result of which his
intelligence is confused and cannot find the right path
to prosperity and distinguish between the real good and
the real evil.
When all people co-operate and consult with one another and deliberate together they are still unable to understand what is useful and what is harmful for themselves and for society. So Allah through His Grace and Mercy for mankind sends them a messenger. The Qur'an says:
He it is who sent among the unlettered ones a messenger of their own, to recite unto them His signs, and to purify them and to teach them the Book and Wisdom. (62;2)
and he (the messenger) warns them concerning what is evil and gives glad tidings to them about what is good for their welfare.
(The giving of) this Grace is necessary for Allah, because it is a sign of His Perfection, and He is Kind and Generous to His servants. When a man deserves His Mercy and Grace, Allah must grant it to him, because there is no deficiency or withholding in the Being of Allah. The meaning of "necessary for Allah" is not that anyone forces Him to act in this way and that it is necessary for Him to obey, but it means that this is an inseparable attribute of Allah, i.e. Mercy and Grace cannot be separated from Him, in the same way as we say that His Existence is inherent in Him, or that He is Necessarily Existent, i.e. His Existence is co-existent (with Him) and cannot be separated (from Him).
We believe that when Allah appoints someone as a
leader and a messenger for His creatures, He must point
him out to them. In the perfection of His Grace and
Bounty, He must give His prophet some evidence and a
testimony for His message to show to the people, and this
must be of a kind that is only within the capability of
the Creator of all beings and Provider for all creatures,
and beyond the ability of man.
When the men of knowledge and the experts are unable to repeat the miracle, people can understand that it is beyond human ability and that it is 'supernatural', and thus that the prophet, through a spiritual relationship with the Provider of all beings, is above mankind. Consequently, when such a prophet brings his miracle and calls people to his prophecy, it is incumbent upon all to accept his call, believe in his message, and obey his command; but some shall believe and some shall deny him.
We therefore see that the miracles of each prophet are in accordance with the important arts and sciences of his time. For example, the miracle of Musa (A.S.) was a rod which swallowed up the lies of the magicians, for magic was the most popular art of his time. His rod destroyed what the magicians had done, and they understood that it was beyond their ability and their skill, and humanly impossible, and that science and art were worthless in comparison with it. Also the miracle of 'Isa (A.S.) was his curing of those born blind and leprous and his restoring to life the dead, because he lived in times when medical science was well thought of among the people, and scientists and physicians held high esteem in society. But all their science could not equal his miracle.
The miracle of our Prophet, Muhammad (S.A.), is the glorious Qur'an, which silenced by its eloquence and fluency all those who were eloquent, at a time when rhetoric was the art of the day and orators were held in high esteem. The Qur'an humiliated and astonished them, warning them that they were unable to produce anything like it, and they surrendered to it. The occasion for their inability was when the Qur'an challenged them to produce ten comparable surahs, but they could not; then it challenged them to produce one such surah, and they could not. We know that they failed the challenge to produce a surah like those contained in the Qur'an, and we know that they took refuge in fighting with the sword instead of the tongue. We understand that the Qur'an is a miracle and that Muhammad (S.A.) brought it with him calling the people to his message. So we know that he is Allah's messenger, and that he brought the truth.
We believe that all the prophets are infallible, and also that the Imams (A.S.) (the successors to the Prophet of Islam) are infallible, but some non-Shi'a Muslims do not believe in the infallibility of the prophets, let alone of the Imams. Infallibility means purity from all sins, both major and minor ones, and from mistakes and forgetfulness. It is necessary that a prophet should not even do what is contrary to good manners.
that is, he should not behave vulgarly, for example by eating in the street, by laughing aloud, or by doing anything which may be unacceptable to public opinion.
The reason for the necessity of the infallibility of a prophet is that if he commits a sin or mistake, or is forgetful or something similar, we have to choose between two alternatives: either we obey his sins and mistakes, in which case, in the view of Islam, we do wrong, or we must not obey his sins and mistakes, which too is wrong, because this is contrary to the idea of prophethood where obedience is necessary; besides, if everything he says or does has the possibility of being either right or wrong, then it is impossible for us to follow him. The result is that the benefit of his mission is lost; it becomes unnecessary, and the prophet becomes like ordinary people whose acts and speech do not have the excellent worth that we seek, with the result that there will be no obedience and his actions will be unreliable.
The same reason is adduced for the infallibility of the Imams (A.S.), because we believe that the Imam is appointed by Allah as the Prophet's representative (khalifah) to guide mankind. This will be explained in the section on the Imamate.
Just as we believe in a prophet's infallibility, so
also we believe that he must be endowed with the most
perfect human attributes - bravery (ash-shaja'ah),
diplomacy (as-siyasah). sagacity (at-tadbir),
patience (as-sabr), intelligence (al-fitnah)
and quick-wittedness (adh-dhaka'), so that there
is no-one who excels him in such qualities. Otherwise, it
is not fit th at he should lead people and administer the
affairs of the whole world.
We believe, in general, that all prophets follow the right path, are infallible and pure, and that to deny their prophecy, to revile or deride them, results in a loss of faith and insincerity in belief For the denial of them entails the denial of our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.) who spoke concerning them and confirmed them.
As for the prophets whose names and shara'i' (pl. of shari'ah) are well-known, i.e. Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Dawud, Sulayman, Musa, 'Isa and others that are mentioned in the Qur'an, we must believe in each of them. In truth, one who denies one of them has denied them all, and he has especially denied the prophethood of our own Prophet.
Likewise, we must believe in their books and in what has been revealed to them. But the Torah ( Turah - the Book of Musa (A.S.)) and the Gospels such as we have them in our hands now have been proved not to be what was revealed to Musa and 'Isa (A.S.). some persons who were confused by their own desires and by covetousness have changed them by adding to them, so that most of them, or all of them, were compiled after their time by some of the followers of the prophets Musa and 'Isa (A.S.).
We believe that:
The true religion with Allah as Islam. (3;18)
and that it is the true. Divine shari'ah that has abrogated all previous shara'i'. It is the most perfect shari'ah, according with man's happiness and containing all that is in his interest, in this world and in the next. It call never become obsolete. and will last for ever; it is not changeable and will not be transformed in any way; it contains all that mankind needs: individual, social and political rules. For it is the last shari'ah, and there is no hope for another religion to come and reform humanity, which is sinking into oppression and corruption. Therefore the day must come when the Islamic religion will become strong and its justice and laws will be spread over the entire world. When all the people of the world act correctly in accordance with all the laws of Islam. peace and prosperity will increase and spread among mankind, and man will attain the highest peak which he can imagine: well-being, dignity, plenitude, contentment and ideal morality will arise, and oppression. poverty and indigence will disappear from the surface of the earth to be replaced by love and brotherhood among men.
The reason that at the present time we see such a shameful condition among the people who call themselves Muslims is that their behaviour, from the very beginning, has not been truly in accordance with Islamic law. This dishonourable state has continued and has become worse and worse. The acceptance of Islam has not been the cause of this disgraceful situation of backwardness among Muslims. On the contrary, it has been caused by their disobedience of its teachings, their negligence of Islamic laws, the prevalence of oppression and the enmity of their rulers towards the poor and of certain groups towards the common people, and this it is that has paralysed their progress, weakened them, broken their spirit and brought calamity and tragedy upon them. Allah has destroyed them by their sins:
That is because Allah never changes the Grace He has bestowed on any people until they first change what is in themselves. (8;53)
Thus does Allah treat His creatures.
Lo! the guilty never are successful. (10;17)
In truth, thy Lord would never destroy their cities unjustly while as yet their folk were doing right. (11;117)
Even thus is the grasp of the Lord when He grasps the cities while they are doing evil. Lo! His grasp is painful, terrible. (11;102)
How can we expect the religion to save the community from the depths of perdition, when the teachings of the religion are just ink on paper and people do not act one little bit in accordance with them?
The basic foundations of Islam are: faith in Allah, honesty, truthful ness, sincerity. good behaviour and generosity, and a Muslim must want for his brother what he wants for himself But Muslims left this all behind them a long time ago.
Daily we see them (the Muslims) dispersing into various sects and groups. competing for the things of this world, each one attacking and accusing the other of impiety for unknown or imaginary reasons, or for useless purposes, ignoring Islam and the interests of both themselves and society. Thus do they dispute: Is the Qur'an created or not? Have paradise and hell been created or will they be created (in the future)? and so on. The nature of these disputes shows that they have deviated from the right path which they have been shown, and are heading towards ruin and destruction, and day by day they deviate further. Ignorance and perversion surround them, but they Occupy themselves with useless and superficial matters, superstitious and imaginary things. Fighting, bickering and boasting cause them to descend further into the bottomless abyss. At the same time, the West, ever vigilant, but a persistent enemy of Islam, has become powerful and colonised Islamic territory, while Muslims remain unaware and half asleep. Only Allah can know the extent and the end of these misfortunes.
In truth the Lord would never destroy their cities unjustly while as yet their folk were doing right. (11;117)
There is no alternative for assuring the Success of the Muslims either today or tomorrow, but for them to wake up, consider well what they do, educate themselves and their generation by correct Islamic teachings and thus remove the oppression and cruelty. Inn this way can they save . It is their responsibility to establish themselves from this great calamity, justice throughout the world, after having done away with oppression and cruelty, just as was affirmed by Allah and His Messenger. For their religion is the last religion, and the world can not be set right again without it. Of course, people are in need of an Imam to erase imaginings, innovations and deviations from Islam, and to save mankind and rescue them from complete corruption, continual oppression and enmity, and contempt for morality and human life. May Allah hasten his reappearance.
We believe that the message of Islam is contained in the person of Muhammad ibn 'Abdillah (S.A.), and that he is the last prophet, the Seal of the Prophets, the Chief among messengers, and the best of them, just as he is at the apex of all humanity, and none can compare with him in excellence and grace, generosity and intellect, and no-one can approach him in his virtuousness. Verily he has a lofty moral behaviour, and no-one will be like him up to the Day of Judgement
We believe that the Qur'an was Divinely inspired, and revealed by Allah on the tongue of His honourable Prophet, making clear everything, an everlasting miracle. Man is unable to write anything like it because of its eloquence, clarity, truth and knowledge, and no alteration can be made to it. The Qur'an we have now is exactly what was sent to the Prophet, and anyone who claims otherwise is either an evil-doer, a mere sophist or else a person in error, and all of them have gone astray, because it is the speech of Allah, and:
Falsehood cannot come at it from before it or from behind. (41;42)
One of the testimonies to the miraculous nature of the Qur'an is that. as time moves on and the arts and sciences advance, it remains as fresh and harmonious as ever, its supreme aims and ideals preserved. There can be no grounds for dispute with it, nor does it contradict true scientific facts, and there is nothing in it contrary to positive philosophical thinking. On the contrary, it is the books of scientists and even the greatest of philosophers, at the pinnacle of learning, which contain at least a few trivialities and contradictions and even incorrect assertions. Moreover, with advances in scientific research and with modern scientific theories, even the greatest philosophers of Greece, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, whom all those who have come after have recognised as the fathers of science and the masters of thought, have been shown to have made some errors.
We also believe that we must respect and give dignity to the Glorious Qur'an, and this both in word and in deed. Therefore, it must not be defiled intentionally, not even one of its letters, and it must not be touched by one who is not tahir. It is said in the Qur'an:
None can touch it save the purified. (56;79)
This subject is dealt with in books of Islamic law.
Neither is it permitted to burn it or to be impious towards it by any behaviour which is deemed to be insulting, such as throwing it, making it unclean, or putting one's foot on it; nor is it permitted to put it in a filthy place. If someone intentionally does any of these things or anything similar, he is not a believer in the Qur'an and its sanctity, and he is considered to be an unbeliever. In fact he has rejected the Lord of all the worlds.
If someone (a non-Muslim) should argue with us and ask us for reasons to demonstrate the truth of Islam, we could prove it through the eternal miracle of the Qur'an, and by reference to its miraculous nature, as we have explained before.
Here, however, it is our intention to satisfy our own minds, in the event that we should wish to find assurance concerning the truth of Islam; for sometimes it happens that such a question arises on the mind of a liberal-thinking man, when he desires to strengthen his faith.
As for the previous religions such as Judaism and Christianity, there is no way to prove the truth of them or to satisfy ourselves or anyone else who doubts them, without there being faith in Islam; for they have no eternal miracle like the Qur'an. And the miracles of the former prophets which their followers bring forward as evidence are unacceptable, because the verity of the narration is suspect. The books of the former prophets which have been handed down to us, that is to say the books which are related to these prophets such as the Torah and the Gospels, are in no way an eternal miracle which can be put forward as a convincing reason for the truth of their religions, which, nevertheless, have been confirmed by Islam.
It is clear that when we accept and believe in Islam, we must also believe in whatever it has brought and confirmed, and one of its teachings is the prophethood of many previous prophets, as we have described above. It therefore follows that a Muslim, after he has accepted the teachings of Islam, is not required to evaluate the truth of Christianity or Judaism or other such religions, because belief in Islam necessarily entails belief in the former religions and prophets. What is more, the Muslim does not need to verify the truth of the miracles of the former prophets.
However, if someone investigates the Islamic religion,
but is not convinced of it, it is incumbent on him, as a
rational necessity, to evaluate the truth of
Christianity, because it is the last religion previous to
By similar reasoning, it is clear that someone who has grown up believing in Judaism or Christianity must consider other religions to which people have been called by a prophet who came after their own prophet. For example, the Jews must evaluate Islam and Christianity according to what was said previously about the necessity to consider religions rationally, and Christians must consider the truth of Islam. It follows that neither of them can be excused for believing in their own religions while ignoring the subsequent religions because there is nothing in Judaism or Christianity which could contradict these religions, for neither Musa (A.S.) nor 'Isa (A.S.) stated that no prophet would come after them. It is surprising how Christians and Jews can be sure in their belief and in their religions without considering the truth of the subsequent and last religion.
Wisdom dictates that they weigh the truth of the
subsequent religion or religions. And if the truth is not
established, then they should continue with their
original beliefs. The Muslim, on the other hand, as we
stated earlier, because of his belief in Islam, has no
need to consider the truth of the previous religions or
of any future ones. As for the previous religions.
No prophet will come after me.
Since in the eyes of a Muslim the Prophet is honest and truthful, and, as Allah has said:
Nor does he speak from his own desire. This is nought but a revelation revealed. (53;3-4)
there is no need to prove the falsity of any new religion.
Now it is the duty of a Muslim, when a long period has elapsed since the time of the Prophet, and many opinions, beliefs and sects have arisen, to choose the way which he can be sure will guide him to the commandments of Allah as they were sent to Muhammad (S.A.), because the Muslim must carry out all the commandments as they were revealed to the Prophet. So how can he be sure that these commandments are the same as were revealed to the Prophet? Just as Muslims are divided into different sects on the basis of their opinions, so their prayer, worship and behaviour vary. What, then, should he do? What school should he follow in his worship and in such matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance, buying and selling, punishment, blood-money and the like?
It is not correct that he should follow his father, family or friends, for he must be certain of what he believes in. There can be no insincerity, partiality or fanaticism in religion. He is obliged to select rationally the way he believes to be the best, so as to be sure of his religious obligations and his responsibility towards Allah, and so that Allah will not punish him or reproach him for what he has done, believing it to be correct. Also, he should no listen to those who deride him for following the true path. Allah has said:
Does man think that he is to be left aimless. (75;36)
Also he has said:
Nay, man shall be a clear proof against himself. (75;14)
Lo! this is a reminder, that whosoever will, may choose a way unto his Lord. (76;29)
The first question he must ask himself is whether the way of the Household of the Prophet, or another way, should be followed. Then if he chooses the way of the Household of the Prophet, he must choose between the ithna 'ashariyyyah and other sects. Or, if he choose the Sunni path, he must choose which of the four madhahib (pl. of madhhab) he should follow. All these questions arise for a liberal-minded person, so he should keep a clear mind and not be confused.
Let us therefore consider the Imamate, on which the beliefs of the ithna 'ashariyyah depend.