Questions for Shias, who believe that Imams are Superior to Prophets.
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
In this article, we have brought some thought provoking questions and points for Shias as they believe that, Imams are superior to Prophets. We request the Shia brothers and Sisters to read these points in an open-minded and unbiased manner, and ponder over them. We pray to Allah(swt) to guide them to the correct path.
Before presenting the question, we would like to give our readers a brief idea about the belief of Shias, regarding their infallible Imams being Superior to Prophets.
Shia Muhaddith al-Hurr al-`Amili has a chapter in his book “al-Fusoul al-Muhimmah fi Usoul al-A’imah” vol.1 pg.403 called: “chapter 101: The Prophet and the twelve Imams (as) are better than all other creations from prophets and past successors and angels, and that the prophets are better than the angels.” Then he mentioned two narrations in it to prove this.
Ibn Babaweih al-Saduq mentioned in his book “`Uyoun Akhbar al-Rida” vol.1 pg.262 a chapter called: “The superiority of the prophet and the Imams over all angels and prophets (as).”
al-Sayyed Amir Muhammad Kadhim al-Qazwini says in his book “al-Shia fi `Aqa’idihim wa Ahkamihim” mentions the title of this chapter on pg.73: [The Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (as) are better than the prophet (as) according to the text of the Qur’an]
Grand Ayatullah Mirza Jawad al-Tabrizi answers a question posed to him in “al-Anwar al-Ilahiyyah fil-Masa’il al-`Aqa’idiyyah” pg.179:
[Question: Are the Imams superior to the prophets except our messenger (SAWS)? And what is the proof?
Answer: In his name the most high: Our Imams are better than the prophets except for our Prophet (SAWS), Allah knows best.]
Grand Ayatullah Ruhullah al-Khomeini says in “al-Hukuma al-Islamiyyah” pg.47: [It is from the necessities of our Madhab, that our Imams have a rank that no angel or prophet can reach.]
Thought provoking questions to those who believe that Imams are superior to Prophets.
Question 1: If you believe that Imamate is superior to Prophethood, then could you please cite an example from holy Quran, where the best of creation Muhammad(saw) was addressed as Imam in an explicit and clear manner. Like O Imam of Muslims, or O Imam of Mankind. Because we can quote many verses where Muhammad(Saw) was called as Prophet and Messenger in Holy Quran. Or atleast cite an example where the family members of Muhammad(Saw) were addressed with reference to “Imam” , for example, O wives of Imam. Because we find this, with the word “Prophet” for the family members of Muhammad(saw), Like O, wives of Prophet.
Question 2: If you cannot cite an explicit verse for the above question, then atleast present an EXPLICIT verse of Quran where Muhammad(Saw) was made an Imam, Note that his(saw) NAME should be mentioned in that explicit verse, like how it was used for Ibrahim(as) and from his descendants Ishaq(as) and Yaqoob(as). So please cite an explicit verse like these examples.
Question 3: If you cannot cite us even one verse from Quran for the above questions, then don’t you think that Muhammad(Saw) who was the best of creation, deserved to be called “Imam” atleast once in holy Quran in explicit manner? Since you believe that Imams are superior to Prophets. Please ponder over this question in an unbiased manner.
Question 4: The belief regarding Prophets is also present in the books of Ahle Kitab(Jews and Christians), though they were distorted yet, we find that there exists in those books the concept of Prophethood. So since the concept of Prophethood is present in previous books, then could you please produce an evidence from those books about concept of Imamah which is superior to Prophethood?
Question 5: We know from history that, few individuals claimed prophet-hood around the Arabian peninsula, after death of Prophet(saw) since they knew what a Prophet was. But it wasn’t safer for them to claim so, because the possibility of any other Prophet after Muhammad(saw), was destroyed in Quran in explicit manner and this was the belief held by masses, whereas anyone claiming to be an Imam was much easier, they just had to claim that, they were divinely appointed Imams after Muhammad(saw). Yet, why didn’t anyone during that period claimed to be an Imam?
Question 6: If you believe Imamate is superior to Prophethood, then why wasn’t Imamah of Muhammad(Saw) included in the Kalima(testimony of faith) ? Where as we find his Messenger-hood was mentioned in Kalima. Why wasn’t the testimony to the suppoed superior rank of Imamah with the title “Imam” included in Kalima?
Question 7: If you believe that Imams are superior to Prophets, then why were infallible Shia Imams treated on the same level as other believers(Muslims) in Quran, why weren’t they treated distinctly just like Prophets; with a specific mention to them using the term “Imam”; when they supposedly were superior to Prophets. For example we see in the following verses that Prophet or Messengers were treated in a distinct manner , where as Imams who supposedly were superior to Prophets were treated on the same level to believers, they weren’t addressed distinctly with the word “Imam”. Like in Quran (3:68) ; Quran (10:103) ; Quran (2:285) ; Quran (9:88) and Quran (2:214).
Question 8: If Imams are Superior to Prophets, then can you please quote an explicit verse of Quran, where Allah(swt) clearly commanded the Ummah of Muhammad(saw) or the believers to believe in Imams. Like how Allah(swt) commanded to believe in Prophets and Messengers. Example as in Quran (2:177) ; Quran (57:28) and Quran (2:285).
Question 9: If Imams are superior than Prophets, then why the name of even one of your Imam is not mentioned in the Quran? Several Prophets(as) have been mentioned by name. Even one companion of Prophet Muhammad(saw) is mentioned in the Quran by name(refer Quran 33:37). So, why the name of even one of your Imam is not mentioned in the Quran?
Question 10: If you cannot answer the above question, and still if you believe that Imams are superior to Prophets, then atleast can you please quote an explicit verse of Quran, where Allah said to the disbelievers from this Ummah, that the ones who are against the IMAMS or are their enemies will be doomed. Like how Allah says to disbelievers regarding Messengers. Example as in Quran(2:98) and Quran (58:20).
Question 11: If you still believe that Imams are superior to Prophets, then can you please cite an explicit verse of Quran, where Allah commanded the believers to obey the Imams, in an explicit manner, using the word Imams. As how Allah used the term “Messenger” when asking people to obey or follow them. For example Quran (4:13) ; Quran (4:69) , etc.
Comment: If you can’t provide evidence for these questions then, please realize that you are upon serious error.
Please note: Using the verse (4:59) will not be valid because it doesn’t clearly says, to obey “Imam”, rather it uses the word Ulil Amr(those in authority), where as it uses the word “Messenger” clearly. Also it is often half quoted by Shias, as it has an addition, which commands to refer with Allah and Prophet when, We dispute(with Ulil Amr). So it cannot be considered as answer to our question since it is not a definite proof, and even the interpretation of Ulil Amr(those in authority) is disputed, because even a father is the one in authority over a family, same applies to a commander in an army.
Question 12: In Quran we find that, the righteous believers were classed in four levels, that is; The Prophets, Siddiqin(the steadfast affirmers of truth), Shuhada(the martyrs), and Saliheen(the righteous). Why wasn’t Imams mentioned among them?
Those who obey Allah and the Messenger are with those whom Allah has blessed, namely, the prophets, the Siddiqin, the Shuhada‘ and the righteous. And excellent are they as companions. (Quran 4:69)
Question 13: Since you believe that Imams are superior to Prophets, then could you please provide us a difference between Qualities or Job of Imams and Prophets? Also please keep in mind that the difference in Quality or job of Imam which you will provide should be superior than Prophet.
Question 14: If you cannot even provide us a difference, for the above then doesn’t this signifies that there is something wrong in the belief of Shias, because you don’t have definite answers for some important questions. Because we know of difference between Prophet and Messenger, Yet we don’t know a difference in Job or role of Imam and Prophet, Nor was the best of creation Muhammad(saw) addressed with title of “Imam” anywhere explicitly in Quran.
Question 15: In a Shia ahadeeth from the book al-kafi, Shia Imam when talking about the difference between Prophet and Imam states that, Prophet can see the angel, where as Imam just hears the angel but cannot see angel. So from this difference shown by Imam himself, doesn’t it shows that Prophets are superior to Imams? Because Prophets can see the angel in dreams, where as Imams can’t. So what kind of superiority of Imams is this, because apparently this appears to be inferiority?
Question 16: Considering the above hadeeth, How will you explain that Imams are superior than Prophets, because Ibrahim(as) used to see the angels, but after that He was made Imam implies that, He could no longer see the angel according to Shia hadeeth. So what kind of superiority is this, because this appears to be inferiority ?
Question 17: If you say that Ibrahim(as) could still see the angel after becoming Imam, because He was a Prophet too and also a Messenger, then doesn’t this shows that Ibrahim(as) had two ranks or three ranks, where as Shia Imams (supposedly) had one rank. Which makes him superior to Shia Imams, but you believe that your Imams are superior to all prophets accept Muhammad(Saw). How is this justified?
Question 18: Moreover, doesn’t this appears to be a CONTRADICTION, because Prophet is someone who can see the angel, Imam is someone who cannot see the angel. So how could a person be both at same time, like one who can see angel(i.e Prophet) and cannot see the angel(i.e Imam)? Please note that your Imam in hadeeth didn’t tell any other difference between them, and esteemed Shia scholar Shiekh Mufeed said that the intellect of Shias cannot distinguish between Imams and Prophets. So before attempting to answer this, keep in mind these two points.
Question 19: If you believe that Imams are superior to Prophets, then could you please answer us in a clear manner, that who were the Superior Imams during the times of Prophets? And who was the Imam before Ibrahim(as) was made Prophet? Because as per your hadeeth, earth cannot remain without an Imam, so there must have been an Imam who was superior to him before Ibrahim(as) was made an Imam.
al-Kafi vol.1 pg.178:
عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ مَنْصُورِ بْنِ يُونُسَ وَ سَعْدَانَ بْنِ مُسْلِمٍ عَنْ إِسْحَاقَ بْنِ عَمَّارٍ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ( عليه السلام ) قَالَ سَمِعْتُهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّ الْأَرْضَ لَا تَخْلُو إِلَّا وَ فِيهَا إِمَامٌ كَيْمَا إِنْ زَادَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ شَيْئاً رَدَّهُمْ وَ إِنْ نَقَصُوا شَيْئاً أَتَمَّهُ لَهُمْ .
`Ali bin Ibrahim from his father from Muhammad bin abi `Umayr from Mansour bin Yunis and Sa`dan bin Muslim from Ishaq bin `Ammar from abu `Abdillah (as): “The earth does not exist without an Imam in it so that if the believers add anything it is rectified and if they take away anything it is completed for them.”
Majlisi said “Hasan Muwaththaq” ; Behbudi said”SAHIH”.
Question 20: Now, failing to answer the above question, if you say that all Prophets were Imams, then how would you explain your belief that, your Imams are superior to Prophets except Muhammad(Saw)? Because even these Prophets were Imams. Secondly, this point would still be not valid, because Ibrahim(as) was made Imam later, so who was the Imam before that took place?
Question 21: If Imams were superior to Prophets, then how did Sahabi Jabir bin Abdullah(ra) lead the supposed infallible Imam Baqir(rah) in prayer? As evident from hadeeth of Sahi Muslim Book 7 ,Number 2803. It is not possible that Imam Baqir(rah) was in state of Taqiyyah in the house of Jabir(ra), and He(ra) was a lover of Ahlelbayt. How could he agree to lead the person who was superior to Prophets? Note that when Prophet Muhammad(Saw) used to visit the houses of Sahaba(ra), He(saw) used to lead the prayer.
Note: You cannot use the argument of Imam Mahdi leading the prayer when Jesus(as) returns, because at that time, the Caliph would be Imam Mahdi, and the Caliph is the one who leads the prayer, even if there are people superior to him. This is also evident from Islamic History.
Question 22: If you believe that Imams are superior to Prophets, then how could infallible Imam mention a POSSIBILITY that there could be people better than him, as can be seen in the Shia hadeeth below. You might say that “Imams was giving a hypothetical explanation, but no one can be superior to Imams”; but what you need to realize is that, Imam atleast stated a possibility, But if its impossible for a normal believer to be superior to Imams then why did Imam state that possibility? And did Prophet Muhammad(Saw) ever say that a general believer can be better than him?
10 – حَدَّثَنا الْحاكِم أَبُو عَلِي الحُسَيْنِ بْنِ أحْمَد الْبِيْهَقِيُّ قالَ حَدَّثَني مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ يَحْيَى الصُّوليُّ قالَ حَدَّثَني أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّه مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُوسَى بْنِ نَصْرِ الرَّازِيُّ قالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبي يَقُولُ قالَ رَجُلٌ لِلرِّضَا عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ وَاللَّهِ مَا عَلَى وَجْهِ الأَرْضِ أَشْرَفُ مِنْكَ آبَاءً فَقَالَ التَّقْوَى شَرَّفَهُمْ وَطَاعَةُ اللَّهِ أَحْظَتْهُمْ فَقَالَ لَهُ آخَرُ أَنْتَ وَاللَّهِ خَيْرُ النَّاسِ فَقَالَ لَهُ لا تَحْلِفْ يَا هَذَا خَيْرٌ مِنِّي مَنْ كَانَ أَتْقَى لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَأَطْوَعَ لَهُ وَاللَّهِ مَا نَسَخَتْ هَذِهِ الآْيَةَ آيَةٌ وَجَعَلْناكُمْ شُعُوباً وَقَبائِلَ لِتَعارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقاكُمْ.
58-10 Al-Hakim Abu Ali Al-Hussein ibn Ahmad al-Bayhaqi narrated that Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Sowli quoted on the authority of Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Nasr al-Razi that he had heard his father say, “A man told Al-Reza (s), ’By God, considering who your father is, there is no one on the Earth who is nobler than you are.’ Al-Reza (s) replied, ‘Piety granted them this nobility, and obedience to God enabled them to benefit from it.’ Someone else said, ‘By God, you are the best of the people.’ Then Al-Reza (as) said, “Do not swear. Whoever fears God the Sublime more than me is better than I am, and is more obedient than I am. By God, the following verse has not been abolished, ‘…and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you…’” [Qur’an 49:13] (UYUN AKHBAR AL-REZA, page 528)
Question 23: Allah addressed the polytheists of Makkah in Quran reminding them:
(Muhammad), say, “It is only God who deserves all praise. Peace be upon His chosen servants. Which is better God or the idols? (27:59) “(Are the idols worthier or) the One who has created the heavens and the earth, who has sent water from the sky for you, who has established delightful gardens and you could not even plant one tree? Is there any Lord besides God? In fact, the unbelievers are the ones who deviate from the right path. (27:60) “(Are the idols worthier or) the One who has made the earth a resting place, the rivers flow from its valleys, the mountains as anchors and a barrier between the two seas? Is there any lord besides God? In fact, most people do not know. (27:61) “(Are the idols worthier or) the One who answers the prayers of the distressed ones, removes their hardship, and makes you the successors(khulafaa) in the land? Is there any lord besides God? In fact, you take very little heed. (27:62)[Shia translator Muhammad Sarwar]
Here Khulafa is plural of Khalifa. And according to Shias, Khilafah is same as Imamah. So the question is that, Allah is addressing the polytheists as apparent in the context, and saying that He(swt) makes them Khulafa, So would they be superior to Messengers and Prophets then?
Considering all the above questions and points in an unbiased manner, and if Shias have no rational answers for these questions, then why don’t they accept the fact, that they have miss understood the verse of Quran by deducing that, Imams are superior to Prophets? It’s high time that they should contemplate over these questions.
Misconception of Shias:
Shias try to misinterpret the below hadeeth inorder to portray that Imams are superior to Prophets.
Dawud :: Book 23 : Hadith 3520
Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: reported the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) as saying: There are people from the servants of Allah who are neither prophets nor martyrs; the prophets and martyrs will envy them on the Day of Resurrection for their rank from Allah, the Most High.
They (the people) asked: Tell us, Apostle of Allah, who are they? He replied: They are people who love one another for the spirit of Allah (i.e. the Qur’an), without having any mutual kinship and giving property to one. I swear by Allah, their faces will glow and they will be (sitting) in (pulpits of) light. They will have no fear (on the Day) when the people will have fear, and they will not grieve when the people will grieve. He then recited the following Qur’anic verse: “Behold! Verily for the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
Anyone who reads the hadeeth with proper way, will find the foolishness of Shias who used this as argument. We have bolded the important part which has the answer for the envy of Prophets and Martyrs.
Firstly we find that in this report superior rank is not due to being made Imam, like what Shias believe, but its due to certain good deeds and it is applicable for all believers.
Secondly, Prophet(saw) says that those people are NOT prophets, here all Prophets are excluded, but we believe that Prophet Muhammad(saw) is the best of creation and will hold the highest rank on day of Judgment. So if the foolish Shias try to use this hadeeth for their Imams then are they going to say that their Imams are superior to Prophet Muhammad(saw) too ?
Thirdly, It even excludes Martyrs, But Shias believe that Majority of their Imams were martyrs, and this excludes Martyrs too, and infact Martyrs will envy these people.
Fourthly, The hadeeth could simply be interpreted in this way, that Prophets and Martyrs will envy them, because those normal believers with few specific good deeds pleased Allah for which He(swt) granted them a very good rank. In other words, they achieved something very high for few particular good deeds. Here the reason for envy is getting a High(yet not superior to Prophets) rank performing few but valuable(in sight of Allah) good deeds. So its like getting a very good thing for a little price. Where as, though Prophets have the high rank than those people, but they served their whole lives and performed countless good deeds to acheive that status. Unlike those people who got a good rank with few good deeds.And its the Hikma of Allah to reward people in the way He(swt) wishes, in accordance to their deeds, as its in the hand of Allah to forgive a sinner who had lots of Sins, and enter him in heaven. So we see that this hadeeth doesn’t negate the belief that Messengers and Prophets will have a higher rank than the people mentioned in the hadeeth.
Fifthly, If suppose the ones mentioned in this hadeeth are Imams then why would Prophets and martyrs(which include normal believers) envy them? Didn’t the Prophets knew that Imams are superior to them(as Shias believe), So why would they envy on Day of Judgement when they already knew even in this world that supposedly, their were people superior to them.?
We would like to quote a beautiful verse of Quran, which talks about the belief of believers(momineen) and interestingly this doesn’t include Imamah.
The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers; We make no difference between any of His messengers; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course. Quran (2:285).
It is not for any person to believe, except by the leave of Allah, and He will put the Rijs(doubt) on those who do not reason. Quran(10:100).
May Allah’s (swt) blessings be upon His Messenger, his household, and his companions.