The topic of divine leadership (imamate) is integral to the Shia creed, exceeded in importance only by tawḥīd and nubuwwah. Its implications are so far reaching that entire schools of thought were built and distinguished based on their differing views on the subject. Part of its significance– as the reader will come to find – comes from its establishment of a divinely appointed and immaculate religious authority. We go back to these immaculate authorities (imams) for guidance not only on matters of religious practice, but to better understand the specifics of Islam’s foundational concepts and theology. It is therefore an essential doctrine in our attempt to understand our faith. How do Shia Muslims understand imamah? Why is it a foundational and integral part of the Shia creed? What does it mean for a Shia Muslim today?

His Eminence Ayatollah Sayyid Jafar al-Hakeem, professor of advanced studies in the Islamic Seminary, answers these questions and more in this book. A core concept shapes the framework presented in this book – that prophethood and imamate are the immaculate embodiment of humankind’s theoretical and practical reason. The countless noble traditions and Quranic verses addressing imamate are understood within this light. This gives rise to a clear understanding of our practical responsibility towards these foundational concepts.

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