The Range of Imam’s Knowledge
The range of Imam’s knowledge is similar to that of prophet hood knowledge for fulfilling the prophet hood mission and conveying Allah’ guidance to human beings. It is understood from the Mercy Theorem that since human is not able to provide his own physical and spiritual salvation he needs divine guidance sent by the prophets (s). Therefore, the prophet receives from Allah everything humans need for seeking the path toward Allah and presents them to humans. The Imam, as the prophet’s (s) successor, continues the prophet’s (s) mission, hence he should know the prophet’s sciences. The necessary prophet hood and Imamate sciences can be divided to six parts, as follows:
First, worshipping issues have the greatest role in guaranteeing heavenly salvation. These are, in fact, religious obligatory and recommended deeds, such as prayer, fasting, hajj, supplication, alms-giving, jihad, etc. The Prophet (s) and the Imams (`a) are completely aware of the quality, prelude, conditions, and other related issues of performing these worshipping duties and they guide the people in this regard.
Second, unlawful worshipping deeds are considered obstacles to seeking the path to salvation. Examples of such deeds are usury, bribery, drinking wine, oppression, usurp, dishonesty in transactions, adultery, etc. The Prophet (s) and Imams (`a) are quite aware of these vices and forbid people from committing them.
Third, belief principles –that are theology and Resurrection– are the basis of the Prophet’s (s) and Imams’ (`a) mission. Although attention to Allah and Resurrection is set in human temperament and can be discovered by thinking, they are often neglected and need to be revitalized and completed in human nature by the Prophet (s) and the Imams (`a). This way Allah’s hujjah (reasoning) is completed for the servants. To this end, the first human on the earth was a prophet. Therefore, the prophet and the Imam should have a firm belief in belief principles and know the related issues to be able to guide the people to it too.
Fourth, attending to ethics as well as avoiding the vices have a major role in human worldly and heavenly salvation. Though, understanding goodness of morality and obscenity of evilness is set in human temperament, he needs a guide in recognizing good and evil and having a desirable behavior, because of his powerful carnal instincts. That is why refinement of the soul has been considered a major purpose of the prophets. The prophet and the Imam should be familiar with virtues and vices. They should be adorned with virtues and away from vices to lead the people in this way by their knowledge and behavior.
Fifth, political and social issues or government-related rules and commandments, such as judgment, retaliation (qisas), hudud, diyat (blood money), ta’zirat (Islamic punishment limits), jihad, defense, khumus (Islamic one-fifth tax), zakat (Islamic statutory levy), war booties, state property, etc. One of the jobs of Prophet Muhammad (s) was governing the Islamic society. This needed certain rules, some of which were descended by revelation and he was allowed by the Exalted Allah to deduct some others and then execute them based on expediency of Islamic system. This type of rules called governmental rules was obligatory for Muslims. After the Prophet’s (s) demise, this duty was put to his successor, who was permitted to deduct and execute necessary rules according to the interests of Islamic ummah. Therefore, the Imam should know all the social and political rules.
Sixth, customary issues that are related to different transactions, heritage, will, matrimony, divorce, etc. Although such issues are customary and have existed in all ages including the Prophet’s (s) era, they are considered Islamic commandments because they have been rejected, validated, modified, or completed by the Messenger of Allah (s). As a result, the Imam should know the related issues. Certainly the Imam can modify such issues too, considering the interests of Islamic ummah and time and place necessities.