عَنْ جَابِرٍ عَنْ اَبِي عَبْدِ اللهِؑ قَالَ سَاَلْتُهُ عَنْ قَوْلِ اللهِ اتَّخَذُوا اَحْبارَهُمْ وَ رُهْبانَهُمْ اَرْبابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللهِ قَالَ اَمَا اِنَّهُمْ لَمْ يَتَّخِذُوهُمْ آلِهَةً اِلَّا اَنَّهُمْ اَحَلُّوا حَلَالًا فَاَخَذُوا بِهِ وَ حَرَّمُوا حَرَامًا فَاَخَذُوا بِهِ فَكَانُوا اَرْبَابَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللهِ
Jaabir Ibn Yazid al-Jo’fi (r.a.) chronicles, “I asked Imam Abu Abdillah [al-Sadeq] (peace be upon him) about the word of Allah, ‘They took their scholars and their worshippers as lords other than Allah’ (Surah Taubah (9): Verse 31). He (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Take note that they did not take them as gods; rather, they (the scholars and worshippers) made things permissible, so they (the people) accepted it and they prohibited things, so they (the people) took it. Thus, they were their lords (deities) other than Allah’.”
1) In other traditions, there is a slight variation. They made prohibited things permissible and people accepted it and vice-versa.
2) It implies that the followed one is in reality the worshipped one. If we follow a divine leader whose instructions are from Allah the Almighty, then we have worshipped Allah the High by obeying and submitting to that leader. If he is not from Allah the Almighty, then certainly he is a Satan and in reality we have worshipped the Satan. As the famous tradition from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir says, َ مَنْ أَصْغَى إِلَى نَاطِقٍ فَقَدْ عَبَدَهُ فَإِنْ كَانَ النَّاطِقُ يُؤَدِّي عَنِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ فَقَدْ عَبَدَ اللَّهَ وَ إِنْ كَانَ النَّاطِقُ يُؤَدِّي عَنِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَقَدْ عَبَدَ الشَّيْطَانَ
“Whoever listens to a speaker, then indeed he has worshipped him. If the speaker is from Allah, then he has worshipped Allah and if the speaker conveys from the Satan, then he has worshipped the Satan.” (Al-Kaafi, vol. 6, p. 434, H. 24)
1. Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 26, p. 246, H. 9
2. Tafseer al-Ayyaashi (r.a.), vol. 2, p. 86, H. 47