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As salaam aalaikum,

Many Shias say that being an "imaam" is greater than being a prophet. They normally quote the following verse where Ibrahim(pbuh) prays to be an "imaam" after he became a prophet.

And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [Allah] said, "Indeed, I will make you an imaan for the people." [Abraham] said, "And of my descendants?" [Allah] said, "My covenant does not include the wrongdoers." (Quran 2:124)

But in the following verse I feel that any Muslim believer can be an imaam.

And those who say, "Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an imaam." (Quran 25:74)

From the above verse it seems that any muslim can make the dua of being an "imaam". Even Ibrahim(pbuh) was making a similar dua.

Furthermore, if we start reading the above verse in context of the 4-5 verses before, we notice it talks about repentance and turning a persons life around from sin and then making this dua to be an imaam.

This simply implies that ANY sinner who turns his life around can make dua to be an "imaam" as opposed to the concept of infallibility of imaams.

So how does one bring together the idea that an "imaam" is greater than a prophet when any Muslim can make dua to be a imaam ?

I would prefer shia view, but the others are welcome to chime in.

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related question: islam.stackexchange.com/questions/2559/… –  Battle of Karbala Sep 16 '12 at 13:02
    
it is worth mentioning that The Holy Prophet (saws) has a greater status than all the imams –  Nerrve Sep 16 '12 at 18:46
    
This question is about us doing dua to become imaams. i am not comparing status. –  islam101 Sep 16 '12 at 19:40

2 Answers 2

Imaam is both an Arabic world meaning a general leader and a title given to specific persons by Allah. The same is true also for Rasul, which can be both a prophet of Allah, one of a kind (as Rasul is usually considered different from Nabi), and anyone who has a Resalah. For example in the Surah Yasin there are talks about a number of Rasul's being send to one group of people and in Hadith they are introduced as some apostles of the Christian religion. The same is also for Imaam, and you know we have had many of such Imaams (not the same as the 12 innocents of Shia Islam) being called Imaam: Imam Muhammad Ghazzali, Imaam Musa Sadr, Imaam Khomeini, Imaam khamenei and etc., they are not innocents in the sence of the Shia's Imaams, but are people quilified such to be able and accepted to lead their people at their times.

That Ibrahim A.S. was chosen as Imaam after many examinations passed while he was already a grand prophet of Allah shows that the title "Imaam" is more ranked than the title "prophet" and it is quite intuitional as well, a prophet by definition is one who shows the way and Imaam is one who accompanies the believers to their destination. Also note that being infallibile is a pre-requisite of becoming prophet so that the title "imaam" needs also the infallibility of the one candidate for it.

According to Shia Islam the prophet Muhammad S.A. is both prophet (both Rasul and Nabi, see Al-Nesaa':163,164, according to which verses even God has spoken to our holy prophet directly as he had talked with Moses PBUH) and Imaam (*e.g. according to a Hadith from Imaam Ali A.S. our prophet is Imaam, be him alive or death, Bahar-ol-anvar, vo.22, p.536, as is referenced here, or also according to some duas that state the prophet was given a rank not given to anyone else *). But if you also want a sign from Quran I bring you this verse:

… But thou art truly a warner, and to every people a guide. (13:7)

Also note that the holy prophet had Vilayah over Imaam Ali, A.S., holiness Fatimah, S.A., And all their after Imaams, so that they all was expected to obey the prophet S.A. and this shows he must be ranked higher than them, the imaams.

Proving the tile of Imaam for the Shia's Imaams is not very difficult, but as Shia Islam is almost based on this point you can study any Shia text to understand their reasons better, I am not an expert to show you all the required proofs in order.

Hope that this will help

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(Shia View)

According to Shia Yes.

Although anyone can make any dua but this verse says clearly in response that Imamat is covenant of Allah and does not include the wrongdoers (wrongdoers include who do sin)

Please note making dua is completely different of its acceptance by Allah.

And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [Allah] said, "Indeed, I will make you an imaan for the people." [Abraham] said, "And of my descendants?" [Allah] said, "My covenant does not include the wrongdoers." (Quran 2:124)

Also when the verse says prophet Ibrahim a.s. become Imam after passing exams it is clear the level of Imamat is grater than prophet unless no exam was needed to reach rank of Imam by prophet Ibrahim a.s.

If Imam is not greater than prophet so why Allah mentions passing exams before becoming Imam in this verse?

Also this exams is for ends of life of prophet Ibrahim a.s. when he was already prophet. because he did not have child until ends of his life and in this verse he mentions his own children.

Please note this does not mean 12 Imams of shia are greater than prophet Muhammad PBUH because according to Shia Islam prophet Muhammad PBUH is the greatest human in all times. and all other prophets and all 12 Imams of shia have lower ranks than him.

Regarding verse 25:74

Yes this verse says there are some special people who make this dua. so what? but it needs to be accepted. and Allah said a required term for accepting this dua in above verse (My covenant does not include the wrongdoers). the verse 25:74 never says anyone who make this dua will pe appointed as Imam by Allah. but says some people make this dua. only this. but this dua can be accepted or rejected by Allah. and for acceptance needs fulfilling its requirement terms. also Imam does not always mean the specific Imam. some times Imam means general leading.

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