Worship without recognition of Imam (peace be upon him) is in vain

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عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُسْلِمٍ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ اَبَا جَعْفَرٍؑ يَقُولُ اِنَّ مَنْ دَانَ اللَّهَ بِعِبَادَةٍ يُجْهِدُ فِيهَا نَفْسَهُ بِلَا اِمَامٍ عَادِلٍ مِنَ اللهِ فَاِنَّ سَعْيَهُ غَيْرُ مَقْبُولٍ وَ هُوَ ضَالٌّ مُتَحَيِّرٌ وَ مَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ شَاةٍ ضَلَّتْ عَنْ رَاعِيهَا وَ قَطِيعِهَا فَتَاهَتْ ذَاهِبَةً وَ جَائِيَةً يَوْمَهَا فَلَمَّا اَنْ جَنَّهَا اللَّيْلُ بَصُرَتْ بِقَطِيعِ غَنَمٍ مَعَ رَاعِيهَا فَجَاءَتْ اِلَيْهَا فَبَاتَتْ مَعَهَا فِي رَبَضِهَا فَلَمَّا اَنْ سَاقَ الرَّاعِي قَطِيعَهُ اَنْكَرَتْ رَاعِيَهَا وَ قَطِيعَهَا فَهَجَمَتْ مُتَحَيِّرَةً تَطْلُبُ رَاعِيَهَا وَ قَطِيعَهَا فَبَصُرَتْ بِسَرْحِ قَطِيعِ غَنَمٍ آخَرَ فَعَمَدَتْ نَحْوَهَا وَ حَنَّتْ اِلَيْهَا فَصَاحَ بِهَا الرَّاعِي الْحَقِي بِقَطِيعِكِ فَاِنَّكِ تَائِهَةٌ مُتَحَيِّرَةٌ قَدْ ضَلَلْتِ عَنْ رَاعِيكِ وَ قَطِيعِكِ فَهَجَمَتْ ذَعِرَةً مُتَحَيِّرَةً لَا رَاعِيَ لَهَا يُرْشِدُهَا اِلَى مَرْعَاهَا اَوْ يَرُدَّهَا فَبَيْنَا هِيَ كَذٰلِكَ اِذَا اغْتَنَمَ الذِّئْبُ ضَيْعَتَهَا فَاَكَلَهَا وَ هَكَذَا يَا مُحَمَّدَ بْنَ مُسْلِمٍ مَنْ اَصْبَحَ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ لَا اِمَامَ لَهُ مِنَ اللهِ عَادِلٌ اَصْبَحَ تَائِهاً مُتَحَيِّراً اِنْ مَاتَ عَلٰى حَالِهِ تِلْكَ مَاتَ مِيتَةَ كُفْرٍ وَ نِفَاقٍ وَ اعْلَمْ يَا مُحَمَّدُ اَنَّ اَئِمَّةَ الْحَقِّ وَ اَتْبَاعَهُمْ عَلٰى دِينِ اللهِ اِلَى آخِرِهِ

Muhammad Ibn Muslim (r.a.) reports, “I heard Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqer (peace be upon him) say, ‘Surely, the one who believes in Allah with a worship in which he exerts himself but without a just Imam from Allah, then his efforts will not be accepted and he is deviated and confused. His example is like that of a sheep which has separated from its shepherd and its flock. Whole day it keeps wandering, coming and going, lost. When night descends, it sees a flock with its shepherd, comes to it and spends the night with it in its pen. When the shepherd drives its flock, it does not recognize its shepherd and its flock and hence, flees in confusion and seeking its shepherd and its flock. On departing, it sees another flock of cattle. It intends to go towards it and is about to reach it when its shepherd cries, ‘Go towards your flock. You are lost and confused.  You are deviated from your shepherd and your flock’. So, it flees in panic and confused. It does not have any shepherd to guide it towards its pasture or return it. In the meantime, a wolf seizes this opportunity, kills it and devours it. O Muhammad! This is exactly the case of the one from this nation who does not have a just Imam from Allah. He gets up in the morning, all lost and confused. If he dies in this condition, dies the death of disbelief and hypocrisy. Know, O Muhammad, the Imams of truth and their followers are upon the religion of Allah till its end.”  

Note:

The first phrase, ‘who believes in Allah’ means that he believes but not the religion sent by Allah. He exerts himself implies that like the Kharjiites he worships a lot but since his worship is not in the right direction, it is not only not beneficial for him but even harmful.

Look at the youth who don’t believe in Islam and religion. They spend their lives in wasteful things and finally, when their death comes near, they realize that they have lost everything. 

References:

1.    Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 23, p. 86, H. 29

2.    al-Mahaasen, vol. 1, p. 92, H. 47

3.    al-Kaafi, vol. 1, p. 374, H.2

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