PROPHECY AND IMAMATO

In the vision of Islam, man is one of God's creatures, and if he aspires to happiness and bliss he must be realistic and upright and have a faith founded on steadfast and correct principles, an integral character and good conduct, and God he leads him to bliss and salvation through "prophecy". Each existing species remains according to a particular plan that each individual belonging to it performs with its specific way of living. More explicitly, each genus has a well-defined set of duties in the harmony of the worlds, to which it is guided by God. In this regard, Corano states:

"(Moses) said: 'Our God is the One who has given his particular nature to everything and then guided it" (Holy Quran, 20: 50)

All the components of the universe follow this norm, and in general terms, this condition also extends to man. His case, however, presents a fundamental difference, since he presents a peculiar characteristic: arbitrariness. He can refuse to carry out an action that does not involve obstacles and is entirely favorable to him and, on the contrary, commit himself to an action that is completely deleterious to him. Sometimes he refuses to take an antidote, sometimes he drinks a poison to end his days.

It is clear that God, who guides all His creatures to goodness and perfection, will not force a willful creature to follow the right path. This is confirmed by the behavior of the Prophets, sent by Almighty God to guide man towards the good, perfection and bliss.

On the part of God, they proclaim to man the way of good and bliss and that of evil and perdition; communicate to the followers of the religion of God that they will receive from him a generous reward for their righteous act and make them hope for divine mercy. Instead they warn the wicked and sinners of divine punishment; men will then be free to choose between good and evil, between bliss and perdition.

This is what the Lord has ordered to guide man towards the good, the perfection and the beatitude and to save him from evil, vices and perdition.

Now, if it is true that man through his intellect is able to understand good and evil in a general way, it is also true that this same intellect is for the most part overwhelmed by passions and sometimes even falls into error. It is therefore necessary that God, besides the intellect, makes available to man an absolutely infallible and insoggiogabile means. In other words, it is necessary for the Lord to confirm with an invincible means the precepts which he comprehends, in a general way, through the intellect. This insurmountable means is precisely the "prophecy": God the Most High reveals to one of His servants {the prophet} His saving precepts and instructs him to pass them on to men and to induce them (making them hope for His reward and warning them from His punishment) to follow these sacred laws.

To this end the Angels have the function of "heavenly messengers" who connect Heaven to the Earth and manifest in them this Will; affirms in this regard the Imam Ali:

"He made the Angels the keepers of His Revelation and sent them to the Prophets" (Sermon No. 90).

Thus we see, in a providential vision of the flow of human existence, the Angel of the Lord manifest to Abraham, to Moses and to Mary, to whom he announces that he will conceive a son called Jesus; in the "cave" it will be the Angel Gabriel to appear to Muhammad and "to pierce the veil of his knowledge", engraving in his soul the Book of God that he would then reveal to men.

A Koranic verse that is expressed as follows:

"We offered the Deposit of Our Secrets to the heavens, to the earth and to the mountains; all of them refused to take it and trembled. Man is leaning against him. He is indeed a presumptuous and a fool "(XXXIII, 72).

In this "madness" and in this "presumption" lies the "essential" greatness of the human condition, as expressed in the Adam created by God as His Vicar (Khalifa). It is said in sura II that God, after having created Adam and having taught him the "Names of Things", introduced him to the Angels and told them:

Inform me of the Names of these things, if you are truthful. The Angels replied: "Glory to You! We do not possess any knowledge, except that which you have taught us ... ». God then said to Adam: "Adam, enunciate the Names of Things". And when Adam had spoken them with their names, God said, "Did I not tell you that I know the secret of the heavens and the earth?" [XXVIII, 32].

A phrase, the latter, which summarizes the nature of Adam, to contain within itself the whole of the Names, that is to say the "universal qualities", and therefore distinguishing themselves from the Angels for the symbolic integration in him of the whole existence, with the consequent perfect knowledge of God. This Adam is the one who "looks in the face of God", lives in His Light and enjoys the constant divine benevolence; he is the Vicar of God in the whole universe and is therefore placed by Him in a dimension outside of time and space, in the "eternal present" of the Garden.

The Koran states:

We said to Adam: "O Adam, dwell, you and your bride, in the garden and eat some fruits of it; but do not approach this plant, because you do not become iniquitous "[II, 35].

"Death" and "Iniquity" transposed to the metaphysical level, express the idea of ​​the loss of the "paradisiacal" condition of inseparable union with God, with the consequent "fall", which is driven from Paradise and the end of that privileged state for which Adam was chosen as "the best in His creation" and was made as the "first of all creation" (Sermon No. 90).

The Koran is expressed as follows:

... then We said to them: "get off from Heaven, one part of you will be the enemy of the other; on earth you will have a dwelling and a pleasure for a limited time "[II, 36].

Drawn from the Garden and deprived of its central role in the universe, Adam found himself degraded to the condition of normal human being, on a level from which he could no longer "look God in the face", but had to fill the distance that separated him from him and this by appealing to the "divine spark" placed in his heart. It was God himself, after having shown His wrath, to tend to Adam the Hand of Mercy, indicating the way, following which man can recover the paradisiacal condition of the "origins"; so says the Quran:

Adam received words from his Lord and God received his [repentance] [II, 37].

... those who follow My Direction will never have any fear [II, 38].

And Imam Alì provides the "deep meaning" of the two verses:

Then God offered Adam the opportunity to repent, taught him the words of His mercy, promised him to return to the earthly Paradise and sent him to the place of trial and procreation of the offspring [Serm. n. 1].

... God sent him, after accepting his repentance, to populate his land and to serve as proof and testimony for him among his creatures [Serm. n. 90].

In the words of Imam Alì the traditional idea of ​​"restoration" is therefore expressed, which must necessarily represent the natural complementary of the "fall", thus reconstituting the original situation of unity, because this represents the reflection of the Unity divine in the human existential order. In the Koran the idea of ​​"restoration" is expressed at the individual level by the verse that speaks of the "direction" to be followed in order to come again to "look God in the face", and is developed at the level of humanity by the "prophetic chain" that moves from Adam and closes with Muhammad, the last ring of it and seal of the "Cycle of Prophecy".

In the Prophecy lies the possibility for man to "be born" in God and to be kept in the direction that leads to him and the need for these "Descents of the High" in the human order is expressed precisely by the condition of Adam "hunted from the Garden "and model of a humanity subject to the inexorable law of being born, of living and dying:

... you will have on earth a stay and a temporary usufruct. On it you will live, in it you will die and from it you will be let out [VII, 24].

The original Heaven-Earth unit summarized in the Paradise Adam had thus vanished, Heaven was always farther and man more and more caught up in his earthly condition, increasingly dominated by his "heavy side" that prevented him from raising his eyes to God: thus Adam destined to be "immortal" in the shadow of the Tree of Life, comes to death (Sermon No. 89). The Imam Ali says:

Even when Adam came to die, God did not leave men without one to serve as proof and testimony for His divine essence, and to serve as a bond between them and His knowledge, but He provided them with trials through His chosen Messengers and bearers of His Message.

In particular individuals, therefore, the indissoluble union between Heaven and Earth, between divine and human, between Divine Breath and clay, and they represent, in the particular time and in the particular human field chosen by God for them, the Paradise Adamic of the origins and can, in this way, "look God in the face". The Koran says:

... and we sent Apostles of whom we have spoken previously and other Apostles of which we have not spoken to you [IV, 164].

O sons of Adam! Truly, the Apostles will come to you to tell you My Signs! [VII, 35].

These verses include both the five Prophets Ulil'azm (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad), and the innumerable other Prophets (enumerated in the symbolic number of one hundred and twenty-four thousand), whose testimony about God unfolded in the temporal intervals between a Prophet Ulil'azm and the other, or in human areas not interested in the Prophecy. It is this concept of "universal order" that the Imam Ali expresses (Serm.N. 220):

In all the periods and epochs in which there were no Prophets on earth, there were people to whom God, His precious goodnesses, whispered through their inner faculties and with whom He spoke through their minds. With the help of the brilliant awakening of their hearing, their sight and their hearts, they kept the remembrance of the days of God among the others and made it possible that among the peoples there was the fear of God ... In this way they had the function of Lights in these darkness and of Guides through these doubts.

In the Koran it is said:

Men formed only one nation; God sent the Prophets to them [II, 213].

In terms of Great Prophets, this verse alludes to Noah (in the Qur'an Nuh) of which the Bible and the Koran speak about the Flood, when he placed in the ark every species of animal and, after the cataclysm, gave birth to a new humanity, the "adamic" having perished in the waters triggered by divine wrath. Noah was therefore a man to whom God spoke, and he spoke with God, a Prophet, therefore, destined to represent the "backbone" of a human consortium that, as always appears in the Bible, spoke a single language, directly derived from the "heavenly" one, from God taught to Adam to make Praise to His Name. The departure from the paradisiacal condition of the origins also implied the progressive loss of the idea-cardine of the Divine unity, to the advantage of the dispersion in the "distinctive" consideration of the Attributes of God, no longer brought back to Him and unified in His Superior Unity.

It therefore required that a Prophet be manifested and that the Word of God, remotely, returned to be heard by men; it was Abraham who received the order to accomplish this mission. Speaking of Abraham, the Qur'an emphasizes its nature as a prophet, thus expressing itself: "Abraham was hanif, not already polytheist "[VI, 161]. Abraham, therefore, had within himself that inseparable union between Divine Breath and "clay", which would have caused him to rise, as soon as God had wanted, to Heavenly Adam, and the verse testifies of this: "So we showed Abraham the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth "[VI, 75]. Hence, in him, Heaven and Earth returned to be inseparably united, and he became the "center" of an innovated humanity, constituting "a constant doctrine among his descendants, so that they would be converted to the One God" [XLIII, 28].

From Abraham, and through Jacob and Isaac, the story of the people of Israel unfolds, until the moment that the "great famine" pushes him to leave the earth chosen for it by God and to dwell in the Egypt of the Pharaohs, at that particular moment torn apart by the struggle between idolaters and worshipers of the One God. The victory of the first causes the Jews to be enslaved by the Egyptians, in a slavery that is also spiritual, as idolatry begins to infiltrate within them. now that I am outside the Land of Canaan, where the divine Presence dwells constantly.

But in this obscure moment God does not forget the people with whom, through Abraham, he has made a covenant, and a Prophet in him: Moses, a name that means "saved from the waters", a name that, beyond the story of as his cradle arrived, miraculously floating, until the daughter of Pharaoh, designates a privileged spiritual condition, and links it to Noah, he also saved from the waters of the Flood by the intervention of God. Of Moses, the Bible and the Koran narrate as God manifested him in the "burning bush" of the valley of Tuwa, of how he and Aaron presented themselves to the Pharaoh and how they both led the people of Israel out of Egypt, leaving behind then a condition of distance from God, for move towards the Promised Land, where to live in His Light and in His Grace. But this old sinful and idolatrous humanity could not reach such a goal, just as this privilege was not granted to Moses, who, however, could "see God in the face" on Mount Sinai and have from him the Tablets of the Law:

He said [God]: "O Moses! I have chosen you, in preference to all men, honoring you with My Messages and My Words. Take what I give you and be grateful. " We wrote for him, on the Tablets, a warning and a decision for everything. And we said to him: "Receive them with reverence and command your people to follow the Best Precepts" [VII, 144-145].

The "obscure" phase of the "Egyptian captivity" has led to a situation of "hardening of hearts" (Moses himself will tell the Israelites), so it became necessary to prescribe them a whole series of behaviors.

With the two following Prophets, David and Solomon, there is a further phase of "fixation", and this when the Ark of the Covenant, containing the Tablets of the Law, is placed in the Temple of Jerusalem; since then the Law will be the mainstay of the Jewish tradition, but it will increasingly crystallize into an exasperated "literalism" that will kill "the spirit", in a "terrestrial" that will progressively remove the "openness" towards it. 'High". From this derives the idolatry against which the various Prophets will rush, to the painful events of the deportation to Nineveh and to Babylon, and to the heroic ones of the struggle against the Hellenistic sovereign idols of Syria. Then the Jewish nation will fall under the Roman domination, of a Rome whose tradition was in the process of dissolution and increasingly in the grip of idolatry, under the pressure of Eastern divinities, incessantly welcomed into the Roman Pantheon. It was then that the Mercy of God gave birth among men Jesus Christ, whose preaching, the Good News, led to the defeat of idolatry in the Roman world, implementing the spiritual recovery of that world, from the fourth century again believing in the Unico God.

Islam, as we said, considers Jesus among the Great Prophets, speaking of Him, in numerous verses, among which we can remember the following:

In truth, for God Jesus is similar to Adam that He created from dust, then he said: "Be" and he was [III, 59].

... And there will be none of the People of the Book who will not believe in Him [IV, 159].

... The Messiah, the Son of Mary, is the Apostle of God, His Word, whom He threw into Mary, coming from Him [IV, 171].

This is Jesus, Son of Mary, he is the Word of Truth [XIX, 34].

In the Gospels, Christ will say that he has not come to repeal the Mosaic Law, but to complete it and this is reflected in the Qur'an where it is said to him by the Hebrews:

O Children of Israel, I am the Apostle of God, sent to you to confirm the Torah that was given before me [LXI, 6].

The book brought to men by Jesus is the Gospel, of which the sura LVII speaks, thus expressing itself to the 27 verse:

We gave the Gospel to him and placed in the hearts of those who follow him meekness and mercy.

In Islam Christ is the "preparer" of the Prophecy of Muhammad, bearer of a law that incorporates in itself "letter" and "spirit", merging them into an inseparable unity. Jesus says in the Qur'an:

I am the Apostle of God sent to you to announce an Apostle who will come after me, and whose name will be Muhammad [LXI, 6].

The words of Christ, read in a supra-religious perspective, allude to a Messenger who was to follow him in the "prophetic chain" of which Jesus, precisely by virtue of his universal nature of Prophet, speaks in an absolute way, fixing in the "eternal present" as it has a cyclic nature. It should then be noted that the term Consoler is rendered in the Greek text of the Gospel of John by the word Paraklytos, the "Worthy of Being Praised", a title that is expressed in the Arabic name Muhammad.

In the Qur'an Muhammad, as well as being proclaimed by Christ, already appears in the Revelation of Mount Sinai, where, with Moses, the other Prophets are united and all God says:

Whenever I give you a part of Scripture and wisdom and I will send you an apostle to confirm what you have already received, you will have to believe and help him [III, 81].

Still in the Qur'an it is said:

... to those who follow the Apostle, the illiterate Prophet who are clearly mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel [VII, 157].

In Muhammad then culminates the revelation of God, who sends to him the Book through the Archangel Gabriel, the same who had announced to Mary the conception of Jesus. Islam, for its part, considers all the Prophets as an aspect of the divine intellect and expresses this idea with the Everlasting Muhammadic Reality (al-haqiqat al-muhammadiyah) to which the hadith alludes: "He [Muhammad] was Prophet when Adam was still between water and clay."

In the Koranic suras, the name Muhammad is related to God, of whom he is a Servant, Prophet, Apostle and Envoy; he therefore represents the "return to the origins", a primordiality recovered from a particular human context, before him in the grip of idolatry and unbelief; he brought to men a book in which there was a law, a "veil to be torn" to go beyond the "letter" and in the "letter" to grasp the meaning that animates them. The Imam Ali says of him: "[God drew him] from the same trunk of the Tree from which the other Prophets drew and from whom he selected His trusted ones ... He is a lamp whose flame burns continuously, a meteor with a shining light ... (SINT N ° 93) ». If from the archetypal dimension it is lowered in human existence, we can still see how the Imam Ali reconnects Muhammad to the "origin" and that is to the "purity" of his ancestry, that "virginity" that Islam recognizes to Mary, mother of Jesus; so he expresses himself:

Whenever God divided ancestry, he made sure that he was contained in the best [Serm. n. 212].

Also from the Sermons of the Imam Alì, confirming what was shown in the Koranic verses and in-depth analysis of them, the value of the Prophet's mission is clear. He thus describes the situation in existence in Arabia before the Koranic revelation:

... at that time everyone made God similar to His Creation, altered His Name and turned to others different from Him [Serm. n. 1].

At that time people had fallen into vice, the Thread of Religion was broken, the Pillars of the Faith had collapsed, the princes had been the object of sacrilege, the openings were tight, the Unknown Guide and the darkness prevailed ... People obeyed Satan and he walked on his paths [Serm. n. 2].

A situation, this, destined to change with the "descent" of the Koran in the "cave" and with the divine order to Muhammad to begin his preaching, this in the particular moment chosen by God, when, as happened for the other Prophets , time had come to its "fullness". In this regard, the Imam Alì says:

Through him, God led them out of error and with his efforts led them out of ignorance [Serm. n. 1].

... He guided people to bring them back to true Faith and salvation [Serm. n. 33].

And addressing God thus defines Muhammad: He is Your True Sent, the Chest of Your Knowledge, the Announcer of the Day of Judgment, Your Herald of Truth [Serm. n. 71].

This is linked to the Koranic verse that thus plays:

He [God] is the Knower of the arcane, nor will he reveal its contents to anyone except the Apostle in whom he is pleased [LXXII, 26-27].

Summarizing all the previous Prophets in himself, Muhammad occupies the central role in Creation, that role which was of the Paradise Adam, a connoisseur of all created and living things in the continuous and constant divine Light. He says of him a Koranic verse:

Indeed, God and His Angels bless the Prophet. O you who believe! Bless him and call upon him peace [XXXIII, 56].

Of Muhammad he still says the Qur'an: "He is the Apostle of God and the Seal of the Prophets" [XXXIII, 40], this idea that Imam Ali expresses as follows: «... the chain reached, with Muhammad, its last ring and the prophecy was thus completed "[Serm. n. 90]; therefore, for the duration of the present cycle, God will no longer reveal himself to men, since the Prophet of Islam was the last brick necessary to complete the wall and, as the last ring, it was connected to the "origin" , to the Eternal Archetype from which the Prophecy derives.

Now, according to the doctrine of Shiite Islam, it is essential that after the death of the Prophet an imam is designated by God for the people, who preserves and guards religious knowledge and the precepts of Islam and guides men on the right path. As in the case of prophecy, God's attention to creation implies that He guides each of His creatures towards the attainment of his own perfection.

The same reason that makes it necessary to send the prophets and the invitation to religion, makes it necessary for the Prophet, who, thanks to his infallibility, guarded Islam and guided the people on the right path, after his death is replaced by God with a person who, other than being able to receive divine inspiration and possessing a prophetic mission, possesses the same degree of perfection, so that he can guard the knowledge and precepts of the Islamic religion and guide men on the right path. . In the same way that the intellect, because of its fallibility, is not able to make sure that people can do without the prophet, the presence of religious scholars in the Islamic world and their activities of spreading the religion do not he has the power to make people want to do without the Imam. It is evident that the wise Muslims, however fearful of God and probi, are not immune from error and sin; it can not therefore be excluded that they, even if involuntarily, destroy or alter some of Islamic knowledge and laws.

The Imam, like the prophet, must be immune from error and sin. If it were not so, the religious message would arrive incomplete and the divine guide would lose its effectiveness. The Imam must also possess virtues such as courage, audacity, purity, generosity, and justice. Whoever is immune from sin observes all divine precepts and the possession of good moral qualities is one of the necessary consequences of correct religious practice. The Imam must also possess virtues to a greater degree than any other person; in fact it would have no sense and would indeed be contrary to divine justice that a person is a leader, a guide to whoever is superior to himself. From the moment that the Imam and the guardian of religion and the guidance of men, must possess the knowledge necessary to solve the problems concerning the material and spiritual life of the people and to lead the human being to bliss.

The exegesis of the Qur'an and the consequent guide of the Ummah (Islamic society) were therefore the problems that arose after the death of the Prophet and the dissimilarity of solutions given to them are at the base of the division of the Islamic world in the two branches of the Ahl al-Sunnah and Shi'ia.

La Ahl al-Sunnah he implements a sharp division between the exterior and the interior, between religious and super-religious, between esoteric and exoteric, leaving the former to Sufi turuq and only caring that the masses live in the observance of the precepts of the Shari'ah (the Divine Law) , of which the Caliph must be guardian and whose interpretation was the task of the different schools. La Shi'ia, for its part, rejects this dichotomy and maintains unity between interior and exterior, considering the "four senses" of the Qur'an in a Total Integration, as emanations of the Divine Totality, and in this way exposing them to the faithful. , which rise to the various cognitive levels according to their intellectual openness. In the Shia vision, this exegesis is reserved for the Imams, direct descendants of Ali, nephew and son-in-law of Muhammad, and Vicars of the Prophet until the moment in which, after the end of the present cycle, God will create a new Adam and the prophetic chain will return to unravel in the human existential order.

Turning to his companions, that is to say to those who, like the disciples of Jesus, were able to understand it, the Imam Ali appears as the Vicar of the Prophet, the exegete of the Word of God fixed in the Koran and whose meanings were revealed to him. from Muhammad; in fact, the Imam Alì expresses itself:

Whatever I will tell you comes from the Prophet [Serm. n. 88].

The knowledge of secret things (ilmu'l-Ghayb) was entrusted to me by the Prophet ... God transmitted it to the Prophet and he transmitted it to me. He prayed to God that my heart and ribs could contain it [Serm. n. 127].

I am able to tell each one of you where he came from and what his destiny will be, but I fear it will make you consider myself greater than the Prophet. I will reveal these things to those of you whom I consider immune from this danger [Serm. n. 174].

And always with a view to highlighting his nature as Vicar, he adds:

You are aware of my kinship and of my close relationship with the Prophet. He took me with him that I was still a child, he held me close to his chest, made me sleep in his bed and gave me his perfume. He fed me his thoughts and his meditations ... Every day he revealed something to me and ordered me to keep it in mind. Every year he retired to prayer on the mountain of Hira and I alone was able to see him ... I saw the splendor of divine revelation and felt the Perfume of Prophecy ... He said to me: "Ali, you see what I see and hear that that I hear, but you are not a Prophet. You are my Vicar and march on the Right Path »[Serm. n. 191].

Moving from this fixed point, the Imam Alì can therefore place itself at the center of the Islamic Community and therefore at True Guide of believers:

I am the hub on which the wheel turns, and as soon as the hub is removed the rotation ceases ... I have placed you on the right path [Serm. n. 118].

I am aware of the fulfillment of the promises and of the whole Revelation [Serm. n. 119].

I lit the divine Light when the others remained still ... I took the reins [of the Prophet] [Serm. n. 37].

I was created for the True Religion [Serm. n. 56].

It is a knowledge, his, which will not end with him, but will be transmitted to the Imams who will follow him, who, in number of twelve, are called the Descendants of the Prophet and will assure the spiritual exegesis of the Koran throughout the cycle of the Wilayah (ie guide and spiritual authority); they, with the Prophet and Fatima, his daughter and wife of Ali, form the Fourteen Puri, recalling two equally symbolic numbers.

The Imam Ali speaks in his sermons of the descendants of the Prophet, of which he is the forefather, thus expressing himself:

They are the repositories of His secrets, the Source of His Knowledge, the Center of His Wisdom, the Valleys for His Books, the Mountains of His Religion ... They are the Foundations of Religion and the Pillars of the Faith [Serm. n. 2].

They are the backbone of justice, the banners of the faith and the languages ​​of truth [Serm. n. 86].

No one will enter Heaven if they have not known them and they will not have known him. The Door of Virtue can only be opened by their keys [Serm. n. 151].

We, members of the Family of the Prophet, have the Keys of Knowledge and the Light of the Guide [Serm. n. 119].

We are the closest, we are the Companions, the Keepers of the Treasure and the Gates of Wisdom ... The deep sense of the Koran belongs to the Imams, and they are the Treasures of God ... the exteriority of things conceals an equal interiority [Serm. . n. 153].

They are the Life of Knowledge and the Death of Ignorance ... They are the Pillars of Islam, they assure the Truth and they flee the Error. They possess the knowledge of Religion [Serm. n. 237].

It is in all this clearly expressed the idea that in the Imams lies the profound meaning of the Koranic Revelation, drawn from them by the Prophet and guarded by them as a precious treasure, in a room whose door opens only to those who possess the key to it. Knowledge that this symbolic door opens without making them violent.

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