Principle of Imamat: The Rope of Allah
The Holy Qur’an, Ayah an-Nur (the Light) 24:35 reveals that “Allah sets forth parables for humankind.” It uses many metaphors and symbols to refer to spiritual concepts and ideas. From the early days of revelation we come across a number of metaphors in the Qur’an that helps us better understand the principle of Imamat. Three among them are: habl Allah (the Rope of God), yad Allah (the hand of God), and nur Allah (the Light of God).
In Sura al-Imran Ayat 103, Allah reminds us: “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah and do not separate. And remember Allah’s favor unto you: how you were enemies and He made friendship between your hearts so that by His grace you become as brothers;… Thus Allah makes His signs clear to you, that you may be guided.”
In the Shia tradition, the Rope of Allah refers to the Imams from the Prophet (pbuh)’s family. The line of Imamat serves as the sources of inspiration, hope and salvation for believers. The command “hold fast to the Rope of Allah” is understood to mean giving loyalty and devotion to the Imam of the Time.
The Quranic metaphor of abundance in Surah al-Kausar is another symbol interwoven with the Rope of Allah. According to many accounts of the occasion of the revelation of three short verses in this Surah in the Qur’an, when the enemies of the Prophet accused him of being without a male offspring, the Quran revealed,
“Indeed, we have given you (Muhammad) abundance/bounty/plenty (Kausar), So pray to your Lord and offer sacrifice [to Him alone]. Indeed, the one who provokes you, it is he who shall be without posterity! (Sura al-Kausar 108).
Most Shia interpretations refer to “al-Kausar” as the abundance of the descendants from the Prophet through his daughter, Hazrat Bibi Fatima al-Zahra (a.s). In Shia Ismaili tradition “abundance” continues through the line of Imamat with our present living Imam Mawlana Shah Karim al-Husayni. Within the Ismaili Muslim devotional literature we find the word Kausar alluding to the river of paradise and the metaphor of kausar-e-saki applied to Imam Ali (a.s).
We can call on the name of any of the Imams to find that abundance. Whether it is through the name of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a.s) who after the death of his father Imam Hussain (a.s) in Karbala continued to guide the community or Imam Ismail (a.s) at the start of the first Dawr al-Satr, from whom we get our name “Ismaili.” It was the same Rope of Allah that sustained the Ismaili community with the establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate to the Castle Kingdoms of Central Asia and the Middle East. Over the past 14 centuries, Ismaili Imams have endured many difficulties to protect and guide the community. Sometimes even sacrificing their own lives, but there was no stopping the presence of the Rope of Allah in our lives.
Month of Rabi’ al-Awwal:
–On 12th day of Rabi’ al-Awwal, we celebrate Milad an-Nabi, birth anniversary of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
–Marriage of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.b) to Khadijah tul Kubra (a.s), – she is often referred as “Mother of the Believers”.
–Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s) was also born in this month.
In this article, as I reflect on the grace of abundance bestowed upon each one of us, let us also endeavor to strengthen our commitment to hold fast together, to the Rope of Allah with our heart, words and good deeds.