بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Over the next few weeks I will inshaAllah be posting a series of short articles on the doctrine of Imamah in the Qur’an. My intention will not be to cover all the verses that discuss the topic, but only provide the reader with enough proof to show that the doctrine has an undeniable basis in our Holy Book.
There is no single verse that explains all of the dimensions of Imamah in one go, but these different dimensions are explained in many different verses throughout the Qur’an. When all of these verses are taken together, we get a good understanding of what the doctrine means. Many details of the doctrine are not explicitly found in the Qur’an, for example that there are 12 Imams after the Prophet, or that the last Imam is called Imam Mehdi [aj], but this is to be expected. All of our doctrines are explained in more detail in hadith.
A common argument made by non-Shias is that if Imamah is one of the Usul Din (tenets of faith) then we would expect many decisive verses explaining the concept. They argue that these verses should be so clear that no hadith would be required, just like we do not require hadith to prove the other tenets of faith from the Qur’an, e.g. Prophethood. In answer to this,
(i) There are such verses that are clear and do not require hadith, and these will be provided in due course.
(ii) If a particular hadith is accepted by all Muslims, then it is a hujja (proof) for all Muslims and so cannot be rejected. So even if Imamah could not be proven without recourse to hadith, it doesn’t mean that it is not true. It also does not mean that it’s not an important doctrine. If we study Muslim history we find that after the death of the Prophet [sawa] the Ahlul Bayt [a] were cursed, fought and killed. Their enemies tried their utmost to eradicate them completely, but this didn’t happen to the Qur’an. No matter what hardship the Ahlul Bayt [a] were facing, the Muslims always had the Qur’an in their hands. It can be argued that had Allah swt made the successorship of the Ahlul Bayt [a] explicit in the Qur’an, then the enemies would have tried to destroy the Qur’an in the same way they tried to destroy the Ahlul Bayt. This ambiguity would therefore serve as a protection for the Qur’an, and ensure the Muslims always had access to it. Those that read it carefully and understood the contexts and reasons for revelation would see Imamah in the Qur’an, but those that didn’t, wouldn’t. Imam Ali [as] says ”There is enough light for one who wants to see”.