Dear Mr. Burhan Bhai, Kindly pls let us know the role of Imams who are direct descendants of Prophet (saws). We Shiites believe in 21 Imams, and the 21st Imam has gone in seclusion. Can you explain why? and how did this happen and what is this seclusion? You further state from your various answers to our questions and the archive copies of sabak that lot of innovation has been done to Islam by the present leaders of the communities, but what we believe is, there has been follow-up of the religion through the Fatemi Imams and you very well know they are the direct descendants of the Prophet (saws). Hence, what we follow today is may be what the Imams used to preach. Therefore, unless you specifically and authentically advise the role of all the 21 Imams then only would I believe what you are saying in your sabak is correct. Awaiting your favourable reply by immediate return.
Imam in seclusion
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and who-ever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
Allah, the All Knowing, All Wise revealed the Holy Quran as a guidance to mankind on His Last and Final Messenger Mohamed ibn Abdulla (saws). The revelation of the Holy Quran and the complete religion of Islam was completed in the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (saws). How do we know that? From the very last aayahs of the Holy Quran that were revealed by Allah to the Messenger of Allah (saws).
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 5 Surah Maidah verse 3: Today I (Allah) have perfected your religion for you, and completed My Blessing on you, and approved Islam as the way of life for you.
Thus whatever that is part of the deen of Islam, was revealed in the lifetime of the Prophet (saws). Nothing can be added or removed from the deen of Islam, after the death of the Messenger of Allah (saws). And if anything is added or subtracted from the deen, it will be immediately rejected, as it would not be a part of the deen of Islam.
According to the Dawoodi Bohra sect and school of thought, they believe in 21 imams, who were the direct descendants of the Messenger of Allah (saws). There are other sects in the Shite school, who believe in 5 imams, 7 imams, 12 imams, 17 imams, etc. But one thing to remember here, is that only the Messengers of Allah can come to mankind and proclaim that they are the Messengers of Allah. They receive revelations from Allah and they have been granted ‘signs’ or miracles by Allah. An Imam is a leader chosen by the people themselves. In the history of Islam, none of the 21 Imams ever claimed that they had been appointed the Imams of the people by Allah. Allah appoints only His Messengers; the rest of the names and titles that are given to people are self-invented by man himself.
Anybody who claims himself to be a muslim, has to love, obey and follow the Messenger of Allah (saws). Every muslim loves his (saws) family, his wives, his noble companions, his children, and his descendants. The imams were some of the greatest scholars in the annuls of Islam, and they are loved and respected by all the muslims today for their ‘taqwa’ and God consciousness. The muslims are commanded to worship and invoke Allah Alone. They do not worship or invoke the Messenger of Allah (saws), and they definitely should not invoke or worship any of the descendants of the Prophet (saws).
The role of the Imams was to guide the muslims of their generation, in light of the guidance and teaching of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws), and Allah knows Best, that is exactly what they did. No imam had the power to change anything from the commandments of the Holy Quran or the tradition of the Prophet (saws), and Allah knows Best, they never did. They were some of the best scholars of Islam, and examples for us to follow.
The story of the 21st imam of the Dawoodi Bohras is as follows: When the Fatimid Dynasty came to an end, the 21st imam in succession, Imam Tayyeb was only four years old. His political enemies were determined to kill him, and thus Imam Tayyeb was escorted by his paternal uncle into hiding, to save the imam’s life from his enemies. Then, somehow, a lady by the name of Hurratul-Maleka was apparently given the supposed powers by the imam and she apparently chose the first Dai as Syedna Zoeb.
The Dawoodi Bohras claim that the imam or descendants of the imam are alive and on the earth today and they correspond with the current Dai through ‘ilham’, which means dreams in Arabic. This system of succession and the correspondence with the Dai is never discussed openly, and left to the whims, fancies and imaginations of the leaders of the hierarchy. And Allah Alone knows best the truth (if there is any) behind all this fantasy!!
Even if we were to believe in this fantastic story, that an imam is alive on this planet earth and corresponds with the Syedna by ‘ilhaam’, a few logical explanations remain unanswered: Where is the Imam today? Is he alone living somewhere, or does he too have a following like the Syedna? If he has a following in today’s world, we would definitely know it, as they would be similar in belief and actions to the Dawoodi Bohras. Wouldn’t they? Why is he still in seclusion? Why does he not come out and proclaim himself? There is no apparent threat to his life or belief today. We are made to believe that the Imam and Syedna correspond to each other by ‘ilhaam’, whereby the Imam comes in the Syedna’s dreams. Has Allah indeed given any man the power to come in another’s dream at will and correspond with him? Allah did not even give this kind of powers to His appointed Messengers!!
Is it the same 4 year old Imam Tayyeb alive today after these hundreds of years, or is it his descendants? Today we live in a secular and non-Godly world. There would absolutely be no harm to the Imam’s life or mission if he were to reveal himself to mankind today (if there is indeed one to be revealed!). How come the leadership never mention anything about the Imam, except his name? And the most important question of all…. If this concept of the appointment of the Imam is so important and pivotal to Islam and its survival, how come nothing (absolutely nothing) has been mentioned about it in the Holy Quran? How come the Messenger of Allah (saws) never mentioned anything about this Imam and his seclusion? Did Allah and His Messenger (saws) forget to tell us about this very important aspect of Islam and its survival?
Glory be to Allah! Allah and His Messenger (saws) did not forget anything that was needed for our guidance to Islam. If something is not from the Quran and Sunnah, then it does not form part of Islam… and there is absolutely nothing in either the Holy Quran or the Sunnah about the Imam, his seclusion, about the Dais, about their succession, about their superiority, about their correspondence through ‘ilham’, about …!!!! These are their wishful fantasies and their whims, which have absolutely no basis in the deen of Islam! Can you imagine the deen of Islam being based on these kind of stories….. My dear brothers and sisters, this Islam is the deen of Truth from Allah Subhanah and based on nothing but the Truth. …. Not some mythology story of a four year old boy hiding in seclusion for approximately 800 years and having the power to correspond with the Syedna by coming in his dreams at will!!! Nothing in Islam is illogical, and this fantastic story of the Imam and the Dai does not have an iota of logic around it!!!!
What we do know is that the Holy Quran is the Book of Allah, which was revealed for our guidance. What we do know is that Mohamed ibn Abdulla (saws) was appointed the Last Messenger of Allah. What we do know is that the deen of Islam was revealed in completion before the death of the Messenger of Allah (saws), and no changes are allowed in that deen. What we must realize today, is that to practice Islam, we only need to follow two things … 1. The Holy Quran and 2. The Messenger of Allah (saws). If anyone is guiding from any other source than the above two divine sources, you can be assured of mis-guidance!
If any Imam, Dai, Syedna, Bhaisaheb, Sheikh, Mullah, Aamil, Aayatollah, Moulvi, Peer, Mufti, or scholar is guiding and teaching us from the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws), fine … He is our brother in Islam. But if anybody is teaching or guiding us from any other source, then we leave them immediately and come back to the guidance and teaching of the Holy Quran and traditions of the Messenger of Allah (saws). These two sources are the only sources to learn Islam from … in the past, at present, and in the future until the Day of Judgment, Insha Allah. There will never be a third source.
The second part of your question claims that we should obey and follow the imams, simply because they are the direct descendants of the Messenger of Allah (saws). We should obey and follow anybody who obeys, follows, guides and teaches from the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws). If anybody, no matter who he is related to, tries to guide us from any other source, then we leave him alone. Our allegiance as Muslims is to Allah and His Messenger and not to any family! Our allegiance is to the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Mohamed (saws).
There are millions of people all over the world who claim to be direct descendants of the Messenger of Allah (saws)! Do we have to believe and obey all of them? The Aga Khan is proven to be a direct descendant of the Prophet (saws). But his practices are closer to that of the Shaitaan! The rulers of Jordan claim to be the descendants of the Messenger of Allah (saws). King Hussein was probably one of the biggest enemies of Islam, and his son King Abdulla is a pawn of the American government! And there is absolutely no doubt that they are the direct descendants of the Messenger of Allah! Are these the people we want to follow in Islam?
Please note that there is no family which is ‘Mukaddas’ or holy in the sight of Allah. Please note that no-body, no group, no family, and no religion has any special claims to Paradise! Please note Allah will not admit us into Paradise, just because we claimed to believe and love his Messenger and their families. Please note that in the Holy Quran itself, Allah states very clearly that Prophet Abraham could not help his own father, Azar. Prophet Noah could not help his own son from the fire of hell. Prophet Lot could not help his wife from the punishment.
We will not be judged on the Day of Judgment by whom we know and whom we are related to…. We will be judged by Allah according to our deeds and our piety!
Allah says in the Holy Quran: Chapter 49 Surah Hujurat verse 13: Indeed, the most honorable amongst you in the sight of Allah is he who is most pious (God Fearing) of you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 2 Surah Al Baqarah verse 111-112: The (Jews and Christians) say: “None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian.” These are their wishful fancies! Say to them, “Bring your evidence if you are right in your claim!”. The fact is that no one has any special claim to Paradise! Whoever surrenders himself to Allah in obedience, and is a door of good deeds, shall have his reward with His Lord. There shall be neither fear nor grief for such people.
May Allah take the muslim ummah out of the worship of Personalities, and bring them to the worship of their One and Only Lord and Creator. May Allah make us realize that the only promises that are absolutely true are those of Allah and His Messenger (saws). May Allah guide us to read and understand the Holy Quran so that we can differentiate between the truth and the falsehood. May Allah guide you and us all to the Straight Path of Islam.
May Allah guide you and us all to the Siraat al-Mustaqeem.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your brother and well wisher in Islam,