People cannot select an Imam for themselves

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The following narration is a very lengthy one reported on the authority of Sa’d Ibn Abdillah al-Ash’ari al-Qummi (r.a.) in which he has asked several questions from our master the twelfth Imam, al-Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). One of these was as follows:

قُلْتُ فَاَخْبِرْنِي يَا مَوْلَايَ عَنِ الْعِلَّةِ الَّتِي تَمْنَعُ الْقَوْمَ مِنِ اخْتِيَارِ اِمَامٍ لِاَنْفُسِهِمْ قَالَ مُصْلِحٍ اَوْ مُفْسِدٍ قُلْتُ مُصْلِحٍ قَالَ فَهَلْ يَجُوزُ اَنْ تَقَعَ خِيَرَتُهُمْ عَلَى الْمُفْسِدِ بَعْدَ اَنْ لَا يَعْلَمَ اَحَدٌ بِمَا يَخْطُرُ بِبَالِ غَيْرِهِ مِنْ صَلَاحٍ اَوْ فَسَادٍ قُلْتُ بَلَى قَالَ فَهِيَ الْعِلَّةُ أُورِدُهَا لَكَ بِبُرْهَانٍ يَثِقُ بِهِ عَقْلُك‏

I (Sa’d) said, ‘Inform me, O my master, about the cause which prohibits the Imam from selecting an Imam for themselves.’

He (a.t.f.s.) asked, ‘Good (Imam) or bad (Imam)?’

I said, ‘Good’.

He (a.t.f.s.) argued, ‘Is it possible that they select a corrupt Imam as none knows about the thoughts of others, whether he is thinking good or bad?’

I replied, ‘Yes (it is possible).’

He (a.t.f.s.) reiterated, ‘This is the reason that I have brought for you as an argument on which your intellect can rely.’


The above tradition in its entirety can be found in Muntakhab al-Athar (English), vol. 2, H. 809 narrating from Kamaal al-Deen, vol. 2, pp. 454 -465, Chapter 23, H. 21 and Dalaael al-Imaamah, pp. 274 – 281]

Sa’d Ibn Abdillah was Ash’ari. The Ash’ariyoon were a Yemeni tribe which accepted Islam. Initially, most of them were Umavis and became staunch opponents of the Ahle Bait (peace be upon them). Later, some of them accepted Shiaism and settled in the holy city of Qom. Sa’d was one of them who became a Shia and a very strong Rafedi as the beginning of this narration clearly proves beyond doubt. (For the beginning of this narration, see Muntakhab al-Athar).


1.    Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 23, p. 68, H. 3 أن الإمامة لا تكون إلا بالنص و يجب على الإمام النص على من بعده‏

2.    al-Ehtejaaj, vol. 2, p. 464 احتجاج الحجة القائم المنتظر المهدي صاحب الزمان صلوات الله عليه و على آبائه الطاهرين

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