Does the position of imam is superior to that of a prophet?
This question inquires about two main aspects of Islamic ideology with regards to the prophets and imams. There is a difference between the task assigned to a messenger and the duty entrusted upon an imam. The messengers acquire awareness, education and knowledge from Allah (swt) through the channel of revelation (wahi). They persuade people to behave righteously and desist from evil practices. With a few exceptions. they only cover -in their teachings- the ideological aspects of guidance, and have very little to do with the jurisprudential affairs of guidance. The imams, on the other hand, are involved in both aspects of guidance, ideological and operational. The imams are also entrusted with preserving the Shari'ah Law from any distortion or change, along with implement-ing the Shari'ah Law in their own contemporary circumstances, circumstances that may have changed since the time of the Prophet (saws). They will give the correct and wise answer to new issues that face the Muslim society.
The status of imam is higher than that of most prophets. This is why Prophet Abraham (as) struggled to be an imam even though he was already a superior messenger. He had to undergo tremendous hardships as a requirement to becoming an imam.37
37. Ibid: pp.15-16
Adapted from the book: "The Awaited Saviour; Questions and Answers"
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