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While discussing the no. of imams with a friend of a different sect, we had this friendly argument. She says that the no of Imams are not clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur'an.

Whereas, I for sure know it is and the number is 12. I'm looking for the sura and ayat no. (And the translation too, if possible) which confirms the existence of the 12 Imams.

Which Quranic ayat state the number of Imams is 12?

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No verse in the Qur'an mentions the number 12 in the way you think.

The closest reference from Quran is:

Chapter Ma'ede, 12:

وَلَقَدْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَبَعَثْنَا مِنْهُمُ اثْنَيْ عَشَرَ نَقِيبًا ۖ وَقَالَ اللَّهُ إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ ۖ لَئِنْ أَقَمْتُمُ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَيْتُمُ الزَّكَاةَ وَآمَنتُم بِرُسُلِي وَعَزَّرْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَقْرَضْتُمُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا لَّأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَلَأُدْخِلَنَّكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ فَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ مِنكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاءَ السَّبِيلِ

And Allah had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from among them twelve leaders. And Allah said, "I am with you. If you establish prayer and give zakah and believe in My messengers and support them and loan Allah a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow. But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way."

The number 12 holds a significance in Islam. There are narrations that say the number of Imams are like the 12 leaders of Bani-Israel or 12 Apostles of Prophet Jesus:

انّ عدة الخلفاء بعدی عدة نقباء موسی

From: سیوطی، الجامع الصغیر، Vol.1. Pg. 350, (Sunni reference)

متقی هندی، کنزالعمال، Vol. 6, Pg. 89 (Sunni reference)

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الخلفاء بعدی اثنا عشر کعدد نقباء بنی اسرائیل

From: قندوزی، ینابیع الموده، Vol. 2, Pg. 315 (Sunni reference)

صدوق، امالی Pg. 387 (Shia reference)

سید هاشم بحرانی، غایه المرام Vol. 2, Pg 271 (Shia reference)


For non-Quranic references:

From Sahih Muslim

Chapter 1 : THE PEOPLE ARE SUBSERVIENT TO THE QURAISH AND THE CALIPHATE IS THE RIGHT OF THE QURAISH

لا یزال هذا الدین عزیزاً منیعاً إلی اثنی عشر خلیفة کلّهم من قریش

Book 20, Number 4480:

It has been narrated on the authority of Jabir b. Samura who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: Islam will continue to be triumphant until there have been twelve Caliphs. Then the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) said something which I could not understand. I asked my father: What did he say? He said: He has said that all of them (twelve Caliphs) will be from the Quraish.

There are many other narrations which have mentions of the 12, a complete list of it can be found here

As for pure Shia references that relates to the verse:

See Hadith of Fatima tablet. It's one of the most important narrations about this subject.

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Initially, it might be needed to point out that occasionally there might be a series of facts/orders which are not directly mentioned in the Qur’an, but we cannot deny/reject their Wojub due to the lack of their direct or indirect presence in the Holy Quran. E.g.:

The Quran has mentioned the concept of prayer and the times it should be performed in, but has left the rest of the details like the number of rak’ats to the prophet to explain, and the prophet has done so. Therefore the number of rak’ats for each prayer has been mentioned by the Ma'someen (The fourteen infallibles) which are the "Speaking Quran" (by the will of Allah).

But, as a brief answer by responding based on Quran (apart from this fact that the numbers of Imams can easily be inferred/seen based on diverse hadiths): you can see there are numerous noteworthy secrets in the Holy Quran which can be proved by evaluating/probing, such as:

  • (E.g.), the word Yawm (day) has been repeated 365 times which denotes the number of the days of a year.
  • The word Shahr (month) has been repeated 12 times which donates that there are 12 months in a year.
  • And many other such similar/secret numbers and facts which could demonstrate it.

And simply, intellect individuals are able to figure it out that such interesting matters are not by chance or accidentally but are the fact …, anyhow, but in regards your precise question: in regards to the numbers of Imams, this word (and actually the words which come from this word (derivations) are available also 12 times in the Quran, that likewise are purposed as the 12 Imams that according to a narration of Prophet Muhammad that mentions: it is began by Imam Ali, Imam Hassan, Imam Hussain and the 9 offspring of the third Imam of Shia …

The 12 verses of the Quran which have been mentioned the word Imam (and its derivations) are as follows:

:1- سورة البقرة، الآیة 124: {وَإِذِ ابْتَلَى إِبْرَاهِیمَ رَبُّهُ بِکَلِمَاتٍ فَأَتَمَّهُنَّ قَالَ إِنِّی جَاعِلُکَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَاماً قَالَ وَمِن ذُرِّیَّتِی قَالَ لاَ یَنَالُ عَهْدِی الظَّالِمِین}.2- سورة التوبة، الآیة 12: {وَإِن نَّکَثُواْ أَیْمَانَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ عَهْدِهِمْ وَطَعَنُواْ فِی دِینِکُمْ فَقَاتِلُواْ أَئِمَّةَ الْکُفْرِ إِنَّهُمْ لاَ أَیْمَانَ لَهُمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ یَنتَهُونَ}.3- سورة هود، الآیة17: {أَفَمَن کَانَ عَلَى بَیِّنَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّهِ وَیَتْلُوهُ شَاهِدٌ مِّنْهُ وَمِن قَبْلِهِ کِتَابُ مُوسَى إَمَاماً وَرَحْمَةً أُوْلَـئِکَ یُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ وَمَن یَکْفُرْ بِهِ مِنَ الأَحْزَابِ فَالنَّارُ مَوْعِدُهُ فَلاَ تَکُ فِی مِرْیَةٍ مِّنْهُ إِنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّکَ وَلَـکِنَّ أَکْثَرَ النَّاسِ لاَ یُؤْمِنُونَ }.4- سورة الاسراء، الآیة70: {یَوْمَ نَدْعُو کُلَّ أُنَاسٍ بِإِمَامِهِمْ فَمَنْ أُوتِیَ کِتَابَهُ بِیَمِینِهِ فَأُوْلَـئِکَ یَقْرَؤُونَ کِتَابَهُمْ وَلاَ یُظْلَمُونَ فَتِیلا}.5- سورة الانبیاء، الآیة 72: {وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً یَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا وَأَوْحَیْنَا إِلَیْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَیْرَاتِ وَإِقَامَ الصَّلاةِ وَإِیتَاء الزَّکَاةِ وَکَانُوا لَنَا عَابِدِین}.6- سورة القصص، الآیة 5: {وَنُرِیدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَى الَّذِینَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا فِی الاَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةً وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ الْوَارِثِین}.7- سورة الحجر، الآیة 79: {فَانتَقَمْنَا مِنْهُمْ وَإِنَّهُمَا لَبِإِمَامٍ مُّبِینٍ }.8- سورة السجدة، الآیة 24: {وَجَعَلْنَا مِنْهُمْ أَئِمَّةً یَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا لَمَّا صَبَرُوا وَکَانُوا بِآیَاتِنَا یُوقِنُون}.9- سورة یس، الآیة 12: {إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْیِی الْمَوْتَى وَنَکْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا وَآثَارَهُمْ وَکُلَّ شَیْءٍ أحْصَیْنَاهُ فِی إِمَامٍ مُبِینٍ }.10- سورة القصص، الآیة 41: {وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً یَدْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ وَیَوْمَ الْقِیَامَةِ لا یُنصَرُون}.11- سورة الفرقان، الآیة 74: {وَالَّذِینَ یَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّیَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْیُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِینَ إِمَاماً}.12- سورة الأحقاف، الآیة 12: {وَمِن قَبْلِهِ کِتَابُ مُوسَى إِمَاماً وَرَحْمَةً وَهَذَا کِتَابٌ مُّصَدِّقٌ لِّسَاناً عَرَبِیّاً لِّیُنذِرَ الَّذِینَ ظَلَمُوا وَبُشْرَى لِلْمُحْسِنِینَ}.


Reference:

http://www.islamquest.net

https://www.tasnimnews.com

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The answer to this question is that your friend is incorrect, as are you yourself, insomuch as you apply yourself exclusively to the Qur'an, whereas Allah, blessed be He, points you in another direction, within the Qur'an, and this is readily apparent. Amongst the Shia, some claim that the word transliterated as imam appears a dozen times within the Qur'an. This is true, but somewhat misleading, when the meaning of this form also includes meanings other than leader/s (7x); guide (2x), record/register (2x), highway (1x). Some people note that the sons of Jacob are worthy of mention, being twelve (Genesis29:31-30:24, 35:16-18,22-26). If they were classed as imams then this would make some kind of a case, on a comparative basis. This is not the case though, however we look further, and consider the twelve apostles of Yeshua ben Miriam (Matthew10:2-4/Mark3:14-19/Luke6:13-16, John6:67-S3:52-3/61:14-John6:68-71). So we see numbers of note appearing, such as twelve, but why not seven, or nineteen? There is no firm case from these matters. Yet the pro-Shia site, Al-Islam.org, under the header of The Holy Qur'an and the Pure Imams, does cite two verses which uphold the claim of twelves imams for the house of Ishmael (S16:43, 21:7). Those verses are a recommendation, for men of reason who seek confirmation, to seek the words of those who were given the scripture to remind mankind of that which was before them, in dramatic examples. Then the verse, which stands alone in the remnant of the Abrahamic Scroll reads thus: Yishmael... He shall bring forth twelve imams, and I will make him a great nation (Gen.17:20). The word that I have translated as imams comes from the primitive Hebrew root nun-samech-heh, which means that carried off, taken, supported, or exalted. The word is transformed to the Hebrew nun-shin-aleph, meaning vapour/rising, exalted, prince, chief, leader, captain. Now, the common thought amongst the Jews and Christians points to this matter of prophecy being fulfilled in that period in the manner of the sons of Jacob (Gen.25:16). Then compare this to the word of Allah; That is a nation which has passed on; it will have what it earned, and you will have what you earned... (S2:141), as regards the descendants of Abraham, Yitzhak, and Jacob. So, we see a harmony now between the definitions of a nation, within the Judeo-Christian text, and that of the Qur'an. Twelve leaders emerged for the bani Yishrael (S5:12). Even if this word in Arabic (naqib) was read in Hebrew (naqab), it could still be read as appointed ones. Twelve leaders emerged for the Netzerim (S61:14). Then, did twelve leaders emerge for the children of Ishmael, or was it more, or was it less?

  • I take one look at this and think preaching; it's not worth my time to read it. – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 2 '17 at 12:44

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