Tuesday, November 13, 2018 8:59:28 PM
Why Does Imam al-Ṣādiq (A.S)have the Title of Leader of the Shia School of Thought’?

When we look back into history, we see that Imam al-Ṣādiq (A.S)was given the title of ‘Leader of the Shia School of Thought’; some people may have questions about how and why this came about.

 

GRAND AYATOLLAH MAKAREM SHIRAZI

When we look back into history, we see that Imam al-Ṣādiq (A.S)was given the title of ‘Leader of the Shia School of Thought’; some people may have questions about how and why this came about. Imam al-Ṣādiq (A.S)was the sixth of the Shia Imams and so the question is raised as to why he was given this title, while Imam Ali (A.S)was the first Imam and even before him, the Prophet (S) was the founder of this religion? When we examine history, we see that the Prophet (S) said to Imam Ali(A.S) (A.S)as narrated in the traditions: ‘O Ali(A.S), you and your followers (Shias) will be the saved ones on the Day of Judgment.’ This shows that the title of Shia was given to the followers of Imam Ali(A.S) (A.S)by the Prophet (S) himself. It should be noted that this is a tradition which can be found both in Shia sourcebooks, as well as Sunni ones, so it is not something which can be denied.

At the same time, since Imam Ali(A.S) was not allowed to become the caliph, he didn’t have as much of an opportunity to spread the genuine teachings of Islam amongst the people. Similarly, when he rose to the seat of power and ruled over the Muslim world, his rule lasted for roughly five years and it was beset with a series of wars, alongside many other problems and difficulties. So the era of Imam Ali(A.S) passed in this way and the era of Imam al-Ḥasan (A.S)and Imam al-Ḥusayn (A.S)came. The imamate of these two Imams also coincided with an atmosphere of severe repression from the Umayyad rulers and they were not allowed to spread the teachings of Islam in an open fashion.

The era of Imam al-Sajjād (A.S)was characterized by an even more repressive atmospher where the Umayyads had given the order that the Shias were to be killed wherever they were found. As a result of this order, the Shias were killed in the cities, as well as in the deserts and far flung regions of the Muslim world. Due to this reason, the people were too frightened to say that they were Shias and the followers of Imam Ali(A.S) or to approach Imam al-Sajjād (A.S)for seeking greater knowledge. Sadly enough, the repression had reached the point where if anyone was named Ali(A.S) at that time, he was forced to change his name (hiding his real one) lest the people find out. So it is clear that it was not possible for the Imams (A.S)up until this point to spread their teachings that much.

During the beginning of the era of Imam al-Baqir (A.S), the Umayyad dynasty was in decline and their government was beset by a series of internal problems and conflicts. This gave Imam al-Bāqir (A.S)relatively more freedom to teach his followers and so the light of knowledge and learning began to once again shine bright. Many people who had lived in ignorance and darkness found their way through this beacon lit by Imam al-Bāqir (A.S). This trend continued and reached its peak during the era of Imam al-Sadiq (A.S).

Things eventually reached the point where four thousand individuals would attend the classes that Imam al-Ṣādiq (A.S)taught in theology, Islamic jurisprudence, ethics, Quranic commentary as well as many other Islamic sciences. The people in various cities such as Medina, Kufah, and Mecca all heard about the school of Imam al-Ṣādiq (A.S)and his name became very well-known amongst the masses. A narrator has mentioned that he was sitting in the Mosque of the Prophet (S) one day when he saw nine hundred individuals gathered there and talking amongst themselves all of whom were narrating traditions from [Imam] al-Ṣādiq (A.S). This shows how the Islamic teachings and knowledge was spread by the Imam (A.S)and so it is for this reason that he is known as the ‘Leader of the Shia School of Thought’.

Source:Researched and edited at editorial deputy of his eminence office

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