عَنْ اَبِي الْمَغْرَاءِ عَنْ اَبِي ذَرِيحٍ عَنْ اَبِي حَمْزَةَ عَنْ اَبِي عَبْدِ اللهِؑ قَالَ مِنَّا الْاِمَامُ الْمَفْرُوضُ طَاعَتُهُ مَنْ جَحَدَهُ مَاتَ يَهُودِيّاً اَوْ نَصْرَانِيّاً وَ اللهِ مَا تَرَكَ اللهُ الْاَرْضَ مُنْذُ قَبَضَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ آدَمَ اِلَّا وَ فِيهَا اِمَامٌ يُهْتَدَى بِهِ اِلَى اللهِ حُجَّةً عَلَى الْعِبَادِ وَ مَنْ تَرَكَهُ هَلَكَ وَ مَنْ لَزِمَهُ نَجَا حَقّاً عَلَى اللهِ
Abu Hamza al-Thumali (r.a.) reports from Imam Abu Abdillah al-Sadeq (peace be upon him), “From us is the Imam whose obedience is obligatory. Whoever denies him will die as a Jew or a Christian. By Allah! Allah has not left the earth since Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – caused Adam (peace be upon him) to die except that in it is an Imam through whom people are guided towards Allah as a Proof upon the servants. Whoever abandons him will be destroyed and whoever fastens unto him will be saved. This is binding upon Allah.”
Here, there is one important point. One person is like another. Why should one person obey another? There should definitely be something in the obeyed one which the obeying one does not have. For example, when you have a toothache you go to a dentist. He tells you to open your mouth, you do. Whatever he orders you oblige. Why? He is a specialist in that field. Likewise, in religion, there should be someone who has knowledge from Allah so that his obedience is compulsory. When Allah appoints someone, He orders for his complete and absolute obedience. This appointment should be from the side of Allah. Just as in the case of the dentist, if he does not have a certificate and degree from the Medical Council, how can he practice his trade and why will anyone go to him? Whoever disobeys this divine appointee will die the death of a Jew or a Christian. Here, Jew or Christian are merely examples. It means that he dies the death of an infidel. جحود means to deny after knowing.
Another example: Government builds roads and highways between cities. It also makes some rules and regulations so that there is road discipline and speed on these roads. Whoever follows these rules and discipline will be saved. If somebody does not follow these rules, he will meet with an accident and perish. Both these consequences are logical and rational. Ships and birds also have paths charted out in oceans and air. They don’t sail or fly as they please. If they don’t follow the charted route, they will run into problems.
1. Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 23, p. 85, H. 27
2. al-Mahaasen, vol. 1, p. 92, H. 45
3. Sawaab al-A’maal, p. 205