Rafed English

The Imams’ Knowledge

The point which is exploited by Ahl al-Sunnah to revile the Shi’ah being their (Shi’ah’s) saying: “That the Ahl al-Bayt Imams (peace be upon them) have been distinguished by Allah the Glorified with a knowledge that no one shared them with. And that the Imam being the most knowledgeable of his time, with no possibility that he being questioned by someone and fails to give a reply!

Is there any evidence for this claim?

Let’s begin our discussion, as usual, by the holy Qur’àn:

Allah, the Glorified and Most High, says in His Book: “Then made We the inheritors of the Book (Quran) those whom chose We from among Our servants...” (35:32), the verse clealry indicating that Allah, the Glorified, has chosen some servants from among people making them inheritors of the knowledge of the Book. Have we to recognize these upright people?

Previously we stated that the Eighth Imam of Ahl al-Bayt, ‘Ali ibn Musà al-Ridà, has proved that the aforementioned verse was revealed in their (Imams) regard. That was (when the Caliph) al-Ma’mun gathered for him forty famous judges, with every one of them preparing forty questions to put forth to him, for all of which he gave convincing answers that dumbfounded them, making them to admit his knowledgeability.225

If this Imam being only fourteen years during this conversation with the fuqahà’, who admitted his knowledgeability, so how would it be strange then the Shi’ah’s belief in their knowledgeability, while Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamà’ and leaders acknowledge the same for them.

But when intending to interpret the Qur’àn by the Qur’àn, we shall see many verses indicating one meaning, stating that Allah, for an extreme wisdom, distinguished the Imams of the Prophet’s Household with a given knowledge of His own, so as to be leaders of guidance and lights for darkness.

The Almighty Allah said: “He granteth wisdom to whomsoever He willeth, and he who hath been granted wisdom hath been given abundant good; and none shall mind it save those endowed with wisdom.” (2:269)

He also said: “But nay! I swear by the setting of the stars. And verily it is a great oath if ye only knew it. Verily it is Qur’àn honourable. In a Book hidden. Toucheth it not save the purified ones.” (56:75-79)

In this verse Allah the Glorified swore with a great oath, that the holy Qur’àn contains secrets and inner concealed meanings, that can never be comprehended with their real intentions but only by the purified ones, who are the people of the House from whom Allah has removed uncleanness and purified a thorough purification. This verse indicates too the Qur’an’s having an innermost with which Allah, Subhanah, distinguished the Ahl al-Bayt Imams, that can never be recognized but only through them.

To this reality the Messenger of Allah has referred by saying: “Do not outstrip them, for then you shall perish, and do not fall short of them for then you shall perish. Do not teach them for they are verily more knowledgeable than you.”226

Al-’Imàm ‘Ali himself also said: “Where are those who falsely and unjustly claimed that they are deeply versed in knowledge, as against us, although Allah raised us in position and kept them down, bestowed upon us knowledge but deprived them, and entered us (in the fortress of knowledge) but kept them out. With us guidance is to be sought and blindness (of misguidance) is to be changed into brightness. Surely Imams (divine leaders) will be from the Quraysh. They have been planted in this line through Hàshim. It would not suit others nor would others be suitable as heads of affairs.”227

Allah, the Exalted, said: “Ask the followers of the Remembrance if ye know not.” (16:43). This verse also was revealed in the regard of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them).228 It indicates that the Ummah, after the demise of its Prophet, should refer to the Imams of the Household, in order to realize the realities. The Companions, as reported, referred to Al-’Imàm ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib to explain for them the questions they could not solve, and throughout long years, people resorted to the Imams for recognizing the halàl (lawful) and haràm (unlawful), and to acquire from their knowledge and virtues.

And when Abu Hanifah says: Had not been the two years, al-Nu‘màn would have perished (meaning the two years he spent on learning under al-’Imàm Ja’far al-Sàdiq). And when al-’Imàm Màlik ibn Anas says: No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and no heart has ever thought of a human better than Ja’far al-Sàdiq, in respect of virtue, knowledge, worship and godliness.229 When this be the case as admitted by Ahl al-Sunnah Imams, so why all this vilification and disapproval be made against Ahl al-Bayt, after citing all these proofs, and after Muslims history proved that Ahl al-Bayt Imams were the most knowledgeable men of their time. And why to be wondering when noticing Allah the Glorified distinguish His friends (awliyà’) “whom He chose” with wisdom and knowledge of His own, making them an ideal example for the believers and leaders for all Muslims.

Had the Muslims followed up each other’s evidences, they would have been convinced of acknowledging Allah and His Messenger, and would be one community some supporting the others, and neither disagreement nor various schools of thought (madhàhib) would have been there.

But all this is inevitable, so that Allah might conclude a thing that must be done, “that he who perished (on that day) might perish by a clear proof (of His Sovereignty) and he who survived might survive by a clear proof (of His Sovereignty). Lo! Allah in truth is Hearer, Knower.” (8:42)


225. Ibn 'Abd Rabbih, al-'Iqd al-farid, Vol. III, p. 42.

226. Ibn Hajar al-Shàfi'i, al-Sawà'iq al-muhriqah, p. 148; al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-manthur, Vol. II, p. 60; Kanz al-'ummàl, Vol. I, p. 168; Usd al-ghàbah fi ma'rifat al-Sahàbah, Vol. III, p. 137.

227. Nahj al-balàghah, Muhammad 'Abduh, Khutbah No. 144.

228. Tafsir al-Tabari, Vol. XIV, p. 134; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. II, p. 570; Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Vol. XI, p. 272; Shawàhid al-tanzil, of al-Hasakàni, Vol. I, p. 334; Yanabi' al-mawaddah; Ihqàq al-haqq of al-Tustari, p. 482.

229. Manàqib Al Abi Tàlib, "bàb fi ahwàl al-'Imàm al-Sàdiq".

Adapted from the book: "To Be With the Truthful" by: "Muhammad al-Tijani al-Samawi"

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