Definition and Position of Imamate

Definition and Position of Imamate

Imamate has been a fundamental Islamic belief since Early Islamic Era. It has divided the Islamic Ummah (nation) into two group; the Sunni and the Shiah, each of which having different definitions of Imamate. Abdur Rahman Lahiji, a Sunni scholar, defines Imamate as:

Imamate is not an Islamic fundamental for us; rather it is one of obligatory commandments, unlike the Shiah that consider it as an Islamic principle. Some have defined Imamate as the leadership of the public in worldly and religious issues. However, a better definition of it is the caliphate of Prophet Muhammad (s) in establishing the religion and maintaining the Muslims’ unity. Obeying such a caliph is then obligatory for all the Muslims.[9]

As is clear, the Sunni Muslims consider Imamate a worldly position, and an Islamic fundamental. They regard the necessity of appointing Imam a jurisprudential issue and appointment of him the duty of Islamic Ummah, unlike the Shiah, who know Imamate as an Islamic fundamental, after Prophethood. The Shiah define Imamate as succession and caliphate of the Messenger of Allah (s) in all prophetic duties and ranks, except relation with the invisible world and receiving revelation, which are only for the prophets (`a).

 

[9] Sharhul Mawaqif, Vol 8, p. 344.