The Imams and Guardianship Commandments
The Imams (`a) are successors to Prophet Muhammad (s). They have all the Prophet’s (s) duties and the necessary authority. The Prophet (s) ruled the people and was permitted to issue commandments in the same filed. An Imam, too, has the government position and can issue and execute the necessary commandments related to ruling. Although, none of the infallible Imams (`a) –except Imam Ali (`a)– were formally in office, they were religiously the rulers of Islamic country and had guardianship. They were also permitted to issue commandments in the field of their guardianship. The traditions about minor issues of judgment, testimony, hudud, diyat, qisas, ta’zirat, duties, authority, and qualifications of rulers and judges, jihad, defense, khumus, and zakat, which are narrated from infallible Imams (`a) and have no similar theme in Quran or traditions of Prophet Muhammad (s), are considered guardianship commandments of infallible Imams (`a). Rulers and officials of government should follow these guidelines. The Muslims should ask the rulers to execute these useful principles. This is the least of what infallible Imams (`a) could do in the hard conditions of oppressed governments in their ages to show the true image of Islamic government.
Some jurisprudential commandments transferred to us from infallible Imams (`a), which are not mentioned in Holy Quran or Prophet Muhammad’s (s) traditions. They may be guardianship commandments too. One may say, “Just as the Prophet (s) was permitted to issue these commandments from Allah, the infallible Imams (`a) are allowed to do so from Prophet Muhammad (s). Such commandments are rooted in their guardianship, which is mentioned in Holy Quran and approved by the Prophet (s). If these kinds of commandments are narrated to us with valid religious documents, they are religiously reliable and should be obeyed.”
It should be said that guardianship commandments of infallible Imams (`a) were not issued without regulation and out of carnal desires; rather they were based on real personal and social interests of Muslims in this world and the Hereafter. The Imams (`a) had received general regulations for issuing commandments from Prophet Muhammad (s) and issued necessary commandments based on time and place requirements and presented them to the people. They benefitted from Divine support and their infallibility –as a strong aid– and were away from faults and wrongdoing.