Some Questions for the Shia


Imamah is the foundation of Shi’ism; the Ahlus Sunnah rejects Imamah because the doctrine makes little logical sense. Indeed, there are many perplexing questions for the Shia as well as several holes in the doctrine of Imamah.

For example, if the Imam Mahdi is really hiding, then why is he doing so? Who or what exactly is he hiding from?

The only response the Shia can come up with is that there is too much injustice in the world and he would be persecuted by these tormentors if he appeared now (like what happened to their previous Imams), so because of this, the Imam is in hiding. So then, couldn’t it be asked why the other eleven Imams didn’t also go into hiding to protect themselves?

The Shia will stress that the twelvth Imam had to go into hiding for fear of tormentors and injustice. There is a Shia Hadith in Al-Kafi, the most reliable book of Shia Hadith, in which the Infallible Imam declares that the Imam Mehdi went into hiding out of fear. says

Al-Kafi, vol 1, p 338. narration 9

- محمد بن يحيى، عن جعفر بن محمد، عن الحسن بن معاوية، عن عبدالله بن جبلة، عن عبدالله بن بكير، عن زرارة قال: سمعت أبا عبدالله عليه السلام يقول: إن للقائم عليه السلام غيبة قبل أن يقوم، قلت: ولم؟ قال: إنه يخاف - وأومأ بيده إلى بطنه - يعني القتل

Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ja’far ibn Muhammad from al-Hassan ibn Mu‘awiya from ‘Abdallah ibn Jabala from ‘Abdallah ibn Bukayr from Zurara who has said the following:

“I heard (Imam) Abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) say, ‘The person who will rise to Divine power on earth will disappear from the public sight before he will do so.’ I then asked, ‘Why will this happen so?’ He said, ‘He will be afraid.’ He then pointed to his midsection meaning he (Mehdi) might be murdered.”

That is awfully strange, since the Shia claim that the Imam Mahdi will come to rid the world of tormentors and injustice. Why would he hide from tormentors unless he is scared of them? The Shia explanation for the necessity of the Imam Mahdi’s return is 100% contradictory to the very reason he went into hiding in the first place! He left because of injustice but supposedly is going to return to destroy it? Why not just get on with it? If anyone was in need of destroying, it would be the supposed killers of the eleven Imams many of whom were alive in the time when the twelvth Imam was supposedly born. So why didn’t the Mahdi go slay them and collect Qisas (blood money)? No, instead he went into hiding thereby letting the tormentors go unscatched.

And why would an Infallible Imam leave his fallible minions to fend for themselves? What kind of leader does this? How will a Hidden Imam hide from his responsibility of settling disputes, explaining the laws of God, and providing guidance to his community? Instead of all this, he went into hiding, leaving his community at the mercy of the fallible ones and the tyrants that he hid from?

Why should he be hiding to even warrant the question of “waiting for him” or “searching for him?”

Also, is it necessary for the Infallible Imams to exist incognito at all times until the end of time? What are the duties and functions of the Imams to demand such a necessity? The Shia will respond that the universe needs the Imam to exist and that all the atoms of the universe submit to the Imam, and without the Imam nothing could survive. If the Imam is so powerful, then how come he cannot protect himself from the tyrant Sunni Nasibis who slayed so many of them? The Shia believe that their Imams know all of Al-Ghaib (the Unseen) and even know how they are going to die. If this is the case, then how come they didn’t know that they were going to be poisoned or stabbed when they were? If they knew, then they surely would have prevented it!

Even if we concede that it is necessary to have Imams, why does it stop at twelve? If we concede we needed an Imam after the death of the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) and that electing Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) or any other person cannot be just of Allah, then shouldn’t that logic continue to hold true? Don’t we always need an Imam and not just a hidden one? If the Imamah was a religious obligation on the community, then why did the Imam just pack up and leave? The truth is that the whole problem was that the eleventh Imam did not have a son and so this ended the chain of Imamah, so of course the Shia invented the convenient story of a mysterious son going into hiding.

Why twelve Imams? Why were eleven Imams just left to be killed by the evil Sunni Nasibis, and then the twelvth decided to jump ship? Wouldn’t it make more sense then for the first Imam to have simply gone into occultation? Why didnt Ali (رضّى الله عنه) go into occultation? Or for that matter, why not the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم)? Surely, Ali (رضّى الله عنه) would be a better Mahdi than some little kid who according to the Shia is hiding naked in a cave!

Why is the Imam hiding? And more importantly, why is the Hidden Imam hiding holy books from us? The Shia believe that the Imams possess special holy books that nobody else can see, and these holy books are what give the Infallible Imams all their immense knowledge. The Imams have the Book of Fatima, Al-Jafr, and Al-Jami. Ask a Shia from what source does the Hidden Imam (who is just a child) get his immense knowledge from, they will respond it is from these books. So how come Allah only gave these books of guidance and immense knowledge to the Imams and not to everyone else? Why would Allah Almighty only give a book of guidance to some people but not others? Did Allah restrict the Quran to only a few people, and hide it from the rest? How can a book of guidance be hidden from the people that it is meant to guide?

Another perplexing question for the Shia is: what was the point of the Lesser Occultation? The Hidden Imam apparently sent communiques to his Four Representatives in the form of Tawqiat. Why didn’t the Imam simply tell everyone himself instead of going through a representative? What function does the representative serve? The truth is that there is no reason, other than the fact that the Hidden Imam was a figment of the representative’s imagination used to get him rich by collecting Khums (religious tax) in the name of this Hidden Imam. “I have an imaginary friend and he demands that you give me money!”

Also, what is the basis of these Tawqiat (hidden communiques that the Imam Mahdi sent his Four Representatives)? Why doesn’t Prophet Muhammad (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) communicate through these Tawqiat?

And how come the whole Shia doctrine throughout the first eleven Imams was that the Sunnis were lacking leadership and did not have an Imam? The Shia would taunt the Sunnis saying that they cannot come up with an explanation for why Allah would leave them without a leader. But then suddenly after the twelvth Imam, the Shia can make up amazing excuses and fascinatingly complex reasons for why they now don’t need an Imam for over 1,000 years.

Again, the most fundamental question: why did the Imam go into hiding? The only semi-response the Shia can give is that Allah is testing the Shia to see who will be strong while the Imam is absent. That is awfully strange. The Shia would always taunt the Sunnis for why Allah would leave the Muslims leaderless after the death of Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم). The Sunnis believe that near the end of time, Prophet Isa (عليه السلام) will return. So couldn’t we argue that the death of Prophet Muhammad (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) was a test for the believers to see who was strong in the absence of a divine leader, until Prophet Isa (عليه السلام) returns? And in the meantime, the Muslims could select their own leader, such as Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه)?

Suddenly, this explanation is invalid to the Shia.

The Shia doctrine of Hidden Imam makes no sense, and the only plausible explanation is the truth: the Deputies of the Imam, from the 4 representatives during the Lesser Occultation to the modern day self-appointed deputees like the Ayatollah Khomeini, are simply using and abusing the concept of some imaginary Imam so that they have the right to be his authority on earth while he is in hiding. This is why it is twelve Imams because the eleventh one did not have a son, so it gave these opportunists a chance to claim to be the Mahdi’s representative, and thereby grow powerful by collecting the Khums (religious tax) and dictating laws to the people.

No other logical explanation can be made why the Ithna Ashari Shia have this concept of Hidden Imam. What would make some sense to the unbiased observor would be like what the Ismaili Shia have, in the form of continuous Imams up until this day; but just twelve doesn’t make sense. Can the Ithna Ashari Shia really think of a reason why they are right and not the other dozens of Shia sects out there who follow another chain of Imams?

The theory of the Hidden Imam and the twelve Imams makes no intuitive sense, nor is it in the Quran. It is thus completely Batil (false).

Article Compiled By: Ibn al-Hashimi, | Email : ahlelbayt[a] | English Version