The Just Leader of Humanity 6
Al-Imam al-Mahdi, The Just Leader of Humanity
Can a Five Year Old Boy Become an Imam?
The session began on time. Everyone was anxiously waiting to begin the discussion. Dr. Fahimi formulated his question thus.
Dr. Fahimi: Let us assume that Imam Hasan 'Askari did have a son. But how can one believe that a five year old lad is appointed to the position of wilayat and Imamate? How is it possible that he is given the charge of protecting and effecting the laws of God at that young age and is made the Imam, the leader of the people and God's Proof on earth?
Mr. Hoshyar: It appears that you have imagined the position of the Prophethood and the Imamate to be a trivial thing not requiring any precondition or criterion for anyone who is supposed to protect and effect the divine laws! Moreover, it would seem that you do not require any qualifications or personal character and perfection in a person who is to assume such a divinely ordained position --even to the extent that it is possible that Abu Sufyan could take the position of the prophethood occupied by Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah and Talha and Zubayr could assume the Imamate instead of 'Ali b. Abi Talib.
However, a little attention will lead you to the traditions reported on the authority of the ahl al-bayt that the matter of the leadership and guidance of the community is not that simple. Indeed, Prophethood is a divine office that requires a qualified individual to be designated to carry out its functions derived from a special spiritual relationship between God and His emissary, a prophet. More importantly, such an individual is endowed with hidden knowledge, and knowledge about God's laws and injunctions which have been revealed to him through God's special favor on him and, hence, both he and the message are free from any error or falsehood.
Similarly, wilayat and Imamate are extremely important offices. The person occupying that position is required to preserve the divine laws and teachings of the Prophet without committing any error or inadvertence in their transmission and their promulgation in the community. Moreover, that person has to be in contact with the hidden source of divine knowledge so that he may receive God's guidance in understanding and illuminating His revelation for humanity. It is because of his knowledge and the actions based on divine guidance that he attains the position of being proclaimed God's Proof (hujjat) and His manifestation on earth.
It is obvious that not every person on this earth is capable of fulfilling these requirements and effecting the laws of God in human society. It is necessary that the person assuming this sensitive position should be endowed with a spiritual and human perfection so as to establish proper contact with the divine source and receive the knowledge and retain it for the community. Moreover, this person must possess both physical and mental qualities most appropriate to the execution of his functions as the leader and guide of the Muslim community. He cannot afford to be fallible and erroneous in conveying the religious truth necessary for the well being of humanity.
Hence, it must be maintained that the Prophet and the Imams are the best in creation. More importantly, it is because of these personal qualities that God, the Almighty, appoints them in the position of a Prophet and an Imam. These qualities are present in them from the time they come into this world. At the appropriate time and as the situation demands, and provided there are no obstacles, they become manifest. It is only then that these individuals become selected and appointed as Prophets and Imams with the mission to carry and effect God's ordinances for humanity. This manifest designation may occur at times after they attain the age of maturity, and at other times even while they are younger in age.