QUESTION 33:Do the Shia consider the prayer of 'witr' midnight prayer as being obligatory?
ANSWER:The 'witr' is one of the supererogatory night-prayers, and its performance is recommendary for all the Muslims and the followers of the messenger of Allah. However, the Shia jurisprudents, in the light of the book and the tradition, have mentioned certain specific matters as the 'characteristics of the honorable prophet, one of which being the witr prayer that was made obligatory for him'Allama Hilli in the , 'Tathkirat Al-Fuqaha' mentions about seventy things to being unique and exclusive to the prophet (p), it starts by mentioning,"As for the duties obligatory only toward him and not the others in his nation are:a. Brushing of the teeth. b. Al-witr prayer.
Does the belief in the super-natural power of God's friends cause polytheism?
ANSWER:It is quite clear that whenever a human requests something from someone, it is because of his ability of performing that particular thing. This ability is in the framework of natural and material powers, such as asking a person for a glass of water.Sometimes this ability is an unseen power that is beyond the material and natural framework. Such a person's belief in such a super natural power, in case of its dependence, is just as the belief in a natural and material power to humans, in the same manner can God also can also grant supernatural ability to some of his pious slaves.Now in explaining the mentioned answer we say: belief in the supernatural power of God's friends can be imagined in two ways:Belief in the supernatural power of a person by accepting him as an independent and original source for that power such that a Godly work is independently attributed to him.It is inevitable that belief in such a power independent of God's power causes polytheism, because in this case we have considered other than God as an independent and original power and have attributed a Godly work to him, while the source for all powers is only the lord of the worlds Belief in a supernatural power of some upright slaves of God, with the belief that this power has originated from the everlasting power of God, and God's friends, with God's permission, are only the means for the manifestations and appearance of that eternal power, and have no independence for themselves. Moreover, these slaves are dependant on the Exalted God in their presence and also in exercising the supernatural authority.It is evident that such a belief is not the considering of God's friends as God, or attributing Godly works to them because in this case it would mean that the pious slaves are demonstrating their supernatural God given authority by God's permission and non-violated will. The holy Quran states in this regard:And it is not in the power of an apostle to heave a sigh except by Allah's permissionWith this explanation, it becomes clearly evident that such a belief does not cause polytheism, however, has perfect concordance with the principle of unification.Super natural authority of God's friends from the Quranic view:Islam's heavenly book mentions with perfect explicitness that a group of God's upright slaves whom by God's permission had such a great power. Some examples in this field are the following:Super natural power of his holiness Moses: the Exalted God commanded prophet Moses to strike his stick in a stony rock so that springs of sweet water gush out, how? "And when Musa prayed for a drink for his people, we said strike the rock with your staff. So there gushed from it twelve springs,"Supernatural power of his holiness Jesus: the superior authority of Jesus is mentioned in various parts of the Quran that we shall refer to some:"that I determine for you out of dust the form of a bird, then I breathed unto it and it becomes a bird with the permission of Allah and I heal the blind and lepers, and bring the dead to life with Allah's permissionThe Supernatural power of prophet Solomon:The Holy Quran regarding to the supernatural powers of Solomon states the following: "And suleiman was the heir of Dawood and he said: O people, we have been taught the language of the birds, and we have been given all things; most surely this is a manifestation of His grace"It is inevitable that these works such as causing the flow of the springs of limpid water from robust rocks due to the striking of Mose's stick on the rock, creating a real bird from mere clay, healing of incurable diseases, to raise the dead and make them alive by Jesus, or the perception of the speech of the birds by Solomon, are all examples of supernatural powers and these are beyond the natural reach of the natural propensities and are only exercised by a supernatural authority.Thus, if the Holy Quran itself mentions the supernatural authorities of the pious slaves of God accordingly to the mentioned verses among many other verses, then do our belief in the clear content of these verses that clearly dictate about the supernatural power of God's friends, cause polytheism and is it regarded as an innovation in the Religion?!Hence, it becomes clearly evident that the belief in supernatural power of the pious slaves is not in the least considering them as God or attributing Godly works to them. If such divinity as that of Moses, Jesus, Solomon etc. were considered to as the power attained by themselves, then they too would be considered as God's according to the viewpoint of Quran, whilst all the Muslims are aware of the fact that the Holy Quran considers the friends of God as His pious and righteous servants.It therefore becomes clear that the supernatural power of the beloved of God is based on divine and eternal power that was gifted to him and declares them as the means for Gods power, and this does not cause polytheism but rather, has perfect concordance with the real principle of unification considering the criterion for unification being that all the powers in the universe are only attributed to the one and only Lord who is the sole authority and source for all the actions of mankind towards the road of perfection.(Ra'd: 38)(Baqarah: 60)(Ale-Imran: 49)(Naml: 16)
Why is the position of Imamate considered higher that that of Messengership?
ANSWER:In order to give an answer to this question, we shall first start by elaborating the exact meaning of three phrases i.e., 'Prophethood', 'messenger ship' and 'imamate' which are all mentioned in both the Quran and the tradition that makes the fact clear as to why the position of imamate is higher than the other two positions.Position of 'prophethood'The phrase, 'Nabi'-prophet comes from the rood word, 'Naba' meaning important news. Therefore, the meaning of nabi is the one carrying the important news or the one who informs it. The word, Nabi in the dictionary of the Quran is used for the person who receives the divine revelation of the Exalted Allah in different ways and is in other words a reporter from God, without any intermediate of a human being.Thus the duty of the prophet is only limited to receiving and reporting the divine revelation to the people.The Holy Quran says in this regard that, "So Allah raised the prophets as the bearers of glad tidings and warners against hell fire."Position of messenger ship.The phrase 'messenger' is used for the prophets who in addition to receiving the revelation and report form God, have the responsibility of communicating the divine message and the mission of its propagation.The Holy Quran says in this regard, " Then know that only a clear deliverance of the message is (incumbent) on our Apostle."Thus, the position of messenger ship is different from that given to the Prophet. In other words, each of the two concepts of prophethood and messenger ship are referring to the certain properties of the prophets and the way of revelation of the message by God such that the prophets who are receivers of the revelation and the harbingers of news are called 'prophets' and when they have the duty of communicating the message, then they are called 'messengers' of Allah.Form all that has been mentioned so far about the prophet and mes, we come to the following result that the prophets up to the moment that that they are in the domain of prophecy and messenger ship, are only guides who declare the lawful and the unlawful, show the people the ways of happiness and salvation, and have no duty other than getting the information from God or propagating it to the mankind.Position of Imamate:This divine position is different from the two previously mentioned positions according to the Quranic point of view accompanied with various other responsibilities and wider domains in the way of administering the people and the society's leadership.Let us present the bright evidences based in the light of the luminous Quranic verses in this regard:The Holy Quran mentions the position of imamate of prophet Ibrahim in the following way: "And when His lord tried Ibrahim with certain words, he fulfilled them and said, surely I will make you an imam for the men. Ibrahim said; and what about that of my offspring?In the light of this Quranic speech, two realities become clear to us i.e., the difference between the concept of imamate and the concepts of prophecy and messenger ship, because Abraham many years ago before these divine tests among which being his decision to sacrifice his own son Ismail, had attained the position of prophethood, the proof of which is the following. We all know that the Exalted God, granted Ibrahim his two sons Ismael and Ishaac at old age, because The Holy Quran speaking for him says,"praise be to Allah who has given me in old age Ismail and Ishaaq," Thus Abraham attained the position of imamate by the Exalted God after difficult test, which included the decision to sacrifice Ismael, and this was in the last days of his holy life. He attained the position of leadership over the people in the last period of his life, while years before that he had the position of prophethood, because before attaining offspring's, the divine revelation of prophethood was sent upon him.. Also, from this verse, "and when his Lord tried Ibrahim with certain words." One can benefit from the fact that the position of divine imamate, and leadership of the society and mankind as a whole, is in a level higher then the level of prophethood and messengership, because according to the Quranic speech, at the same time that his holiness Abraham had attained the position of prophecy and messenger ship, he had to go through unendurable examinations and it is only after passing these tests that the position of imamate was granted to him. The reason for this is clear because the position of divine imamate, in addition to the mission of receiving the revelation and communicating the message includes the leadership of the society and nation, and the correct management of the affairs of the people in the way of taking them to the peak of perfection and happiness.It is natural that such a position has a special sensitivity and greatness and to attain it is impossible without succeeding in toilsome and successive trials.Considering the previous verse, it becomes clear that the Exalted Lord granted Ibrahim the position of Imamate and the society's leadership after passing through great trials and after that, Ibrahim asked God to bestow this position to his offspring's as well.In the light of other Quranic verses, it becomes evident that Ibrahim's request was granted by God and the fact that after the position of 'prophet hood', the leadership of the society and ruler ship over the nation was granted to his pious and virtuous offspring's. The Holy Quran in this regard, relates the following: ". But indeed we have given to Ibrahim and his children the book and wisdom, and we have granted to them a grand kingdom."One can thus benefit form the aforementioned verse that imamate and the society's leadership is a position other than that of 'prophet hood' which the Lord granted to His Prophet Ibrahim after succeeding in great ordeals such that when Ibrahim requested His lord to grant the same leadership to his offspring's, Allah accepted his request for his just and righteous children and granted that to them in addition to the heavenly book and wisdom which is the sign of prophecy and messenger ship, 'a grand kingdom' (which is the leadership and ruler ship over the people), thereby fulfilling Ibrahim's request, consequently, some of the offspring's of Ibrahim for instance, Joseph, David and Solomon were not only chosen as prophets but in addition to that, allocated for the running of the government and the leadership of the society.Therefore, it becomes evident that the position of 'imamate' is different from the other two positions of 'prophethood' and 'messenger ship' and because of the broadness of the domain of its authorities and responsibilities hold a higher value and a more superior position.Why The Position Of Imamate Is regarded More Superior: From all that was previously mentioned it becomes apparent as to why the domain of the actions of the prophets and the messenger who have their respective missions of prophecy and messenger ship is only the reminding and the clarifying of the path, and whenever a prophet or a messenger reached to the position of imamate, a more important responsibility is assigned to him. Then again, they are also responsible for the enhancing of divine programmes and the execution of the sacred commandments of the religion, for a prosperous and model society until they direct the nation ensuring prosperity for both the worlds.It is clear that the bearing of such important responsibilities need the persistence of a special kind of spiritual requirement and competence. The accomplishment of such a supreme status that is continuously accompanied with the difficulties and struggles of life, demanding more forbearance in the way of God and it cannot be achieved without the love for God and the annihilation of oneself towards attaining God's pleasure. Thus, the Glorious and Exalted Allah granted Ibrahim the position of imamate after a succession of harsh trials and during the last days of his lifetime, the most pious of the servants of Allah such as the honorable prophet of Islam was granted the honor with the position of imamate and leadership of the nation together with the responsibility of leadership and rulership over the society.Is it necessary that there should be any interrelation between 'prophethood' and 'imamate'?There arises yet another question that follows the previously mentioned questions and that is, should every prophet who achieved the position of prophethood necessarily achieve the status of the Imam too, i.e., should the one who is an imam be a prophet too?The answer to both these questions is not in the affirmative. Let us now try to explain this in the light of the logic of revelation referring to the divine book of God.It is evident that the verses that talk about 'Saul' and his combat against the oppressors 'Golaith' saying that after the death of prophet Moses, Allah granted the position of prophethood to one whose name seemed to be 'Eshmoel', whereas the position of imamate and leadership and government was assigned to 'Saul', the narrative began when after the death of Moses, a group of people from the tribe of Bani Israel said to the prophet of their time to choose a ruler for them in order for them to struggle in the way of God under his commandment. Finally their prophet said: "Surely, Allah has raised Talut to be a king over you."They said: "How can he hold kingship over us while we have a greater right to the position than he, regarding the fact that he has not been granted an abundance of wealth? He replied: "Surely, Allah has chosen him in preference to you, and he has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique, and Allah grants His kingdom to whomsoever he pleases, and Allah is Ample-giving, knowing."From the above-mentioned verses, the following points can be extracted:Some peculiarities make it necessary that 'prophecy' be separate from ruler ship and 'imamate' that at one time the prophethood belongs to one person and the rulership to a, and each one of them have a particular qualification and competence for the position allocated to them. Due to the possibility of the separation between the two positions, the people of Bani-Israel never objected to the fact that, "O prophet, you are more competent than him, rather in objection said: "We are more competent than him."The position attained by 'Saul' was directly from God and it was God alone who granted him with this status where he refers to this as: "Allah has raised Talut to be a king,"and also: "Allah has chosen him in preference to you."The divine position to Saul was not only the commandment of the army, but also he was the ruler over the tribe of Bani-Israel, as the verse states: (a king-a ruler and a governor) Although the goal of that leadership on that day was the leadership of Bani-Israel in the struggle in the way of God, however, his divine position permitted him to undergo other works which all concern the affairs of rulership as was referred to at the end of the verse"And Allah grants his kingdom to whosoever he pleases."The most important condition of all is that of the society's leadership, the leadership of the nation and 'imamate' in the broadness of its context, not to mention the necessary physical and spiritual abilities, especially for the rulers during that time who had to strive and move along with the army.Thus, it becomes clear that there is no necessary interrelation between prophethood and imamate, however, it is quite possible that a human may reach the position of prophethood without being the nation's leader (imam), who are supposed to take the responsibility of the commandment over them, on the other hand, a person can be assigned to the guardianship and ruler ship of a society but not be a prophet; yet at other times, both these positions can be granted to one person who is competent for both. As mentioned in the Holy Quran that:"So they put them to flight by Allah's permission. And Dawood slew Jalut and Allah gave him a kingdom and wisdom and taught him of what He pleased."If the linguistic root be in the intrsitive form, it has its first meaning, whereas if in the transitive, it carries the second meaning.Al-rasael Al-Ashr (written by sheikh toosi) p. 111.(Baqarah:213)(Maidah:92)(Baqarah:124)(Abraham: 39)In this regard, refer to the verses 99-102 of the chapter of Saffat verses (53-54) sura Hijr, and verses (70-71) of sura Hud.(Nisa: 55)(Baqarah: 247)Depicted from 'Manshure Jaavidan Quran' written by Jafer Subhani.(Baqarah:251)