Shia Imams & Infallibility

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The notion of infallibility is very sensitive issue that is viewed differently by all religions and ideologies, since the predominant belief indicates that infallibility is hard to prove, especially when the private life of people cannot be observed and dissected. However, the Shia Muslims are among the few sects on the face of earth that believe in the infallibility of all messengers of God from Adam to Mohammad, and the infallibility of their twelve Imams alongside Lady Fatima Al-Zahra. The notion of infallibility within Shia school of thought is not limited to the missionary role of messengers and Imams, as it includes their whole life, which is their statements, conducts, response, dialogue, actions, morals and even conjecture. Shia Muslims even refuse the notion of omission and heedlessness, when it comes to messengers, prophets and Imams, and believe full awareness is a necessary characteristic of them in all circumstances.

Infallibility & Logic

The necessity of belief and religion is among the invariant fundamentals agreed upon by majority of school of thoughts and philosophers, as the state of supplication is a natural characteristic and attribute of all humans. Therefore, presenting any religion and belief requires several necessities, which from the legitimacy of that religion and whether it holds any accountability. Among the main necessities of presenting and delivering any religion and ideology is the notion of credibility and trust, which must be combined by cognitive awareness and knowledge. The primary response to any new ideology is entirely dependent on the credibility and trustworthy of the bearer of that ideology, which means if that person is known to have no credibility and knowledge, his statements and presented ideas would not even be heard by majority of people.

However, when it comes to the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) the followers of these religions believe their faiths have been directly sent by the almighty, which mandates the presenter and deliverer of these religions must hold an accountability that matches the source of these religions. Therefore, the notion of infallibility insures the credibility and the legitimacy of the ideology and its sponsors.

The logical rationales for the necessity of infallibility of Imams can be presented as follow:

  • The Imam is the guardian of Sharia and religion and therefore, he has to be infallible to ensure there is no imperfection and insufficiency or increment in any aspects of the religion.
  • The Imam is the political leader of Muslims and his subjects, therefore his infallibility will ensure there will be no oppression, aggression and violation against their rights.
  • The Imam must be infallible and sanctioned against any mistakes and wrongdoings, as if he is not infallible, he would require guidance and consultation in his affairs, which means the one who might guide an Imam is more worthy of having this position.
  • Infallibility of an Imam would prevent him from being an adulator or flatterer, as this action would create turmoil and instability in society.
  • An Imam should not commit any sins and wrongdoings, as if this attribute is not given to an Imam the notion of interdiction of wrong and ordering good would be inapplicable since it can’t be implemented on the Imam as the leader of society.
  • An Imam should be a role model and the perfect example in all of his deeds, actions and statements, which affirms the necessity of infallibility.
  • An Imam should be the most credible and trustworthy person at his time, as the notion of legitimizing his message is dependable on his credibility and authenticity, which also affirms the notion of infallibility.
  • An Imam should refrain from doing any indecent, disgraceful and shameful action, as his popularity and legitimacy can be questioned.
  • An Imam should be obeyed at all times, and obedience of a non-infallible is not mandatory.
  • The Imam must hold a higher status than rest of the society through his refrainment from sins and wrongdoings, and his absolute awareness and intellectual superiority. Therefore, without having the attribute of infallibility, an Imam is not different than any random individual of the society.
  • The Imam must be infallible and away from all actions that are considered evil, wrong, impermissible and non-recommended to be in the highest status before the almighty, as anything other than this notion would equalize the Imam with any random individual in society.

To be Continued  

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