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Imam of the Age: Qualities and Faculties

More than a century back, the Promised Massih Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) wrote an important essay on the Need for the Imam. This tract provides illuminating insights into the spiritual order of Imamat that Islamic ethics prescribes for perpetual Divine guidance for the common folks who seeks to strive in the straight and narrow path of pure spirituality.

Read the Extracts from the Book:
"Now, an important question arises: Who is to be called the Imam of the age? What are his hallmarks? And why is he to be preferred over other recipients of revelations, dreams and visions? The answer to this question is that the Imam of the age is the one for whose spiritual training God Almighty Himself assumes charge. He imbues his nature with such a light of Imamat that he takes on all the rationalists and philosophers of the world, and vanquishes them in a comprehensive debate.

Sustained as he is by God Almighty, he answers all subtle and abstruse questions in such an excellent manner, that one has to admit that he has come to this transient world equipped with all the provisions for its reform. As a result, he does not have to suffer embarrassment before an opponent. Spiritually speaking, he is the Commander-in-Chief of the forces of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) and it is God Almighty’s Will that through him faith should once again become victorious. All those who gather under his flag are also vouchsafed with capabilities of the highest order. He is blessed with all the necessary conditions essential to reform, and all the knowledge necessary for refuting objections, and for presenting the beauties of Islam.

Furthermore, as God Almighty knows that this Imam will have to confront the insolent and foul-mouthed people of the world He also gives him moral strength of the highest order. His heart is full of genuine compassion for mankind. But moral courage does not mean that he exercises clemency on every occasion without rhyme or reason, for it would be against moral wisdom. What it means is that these men are not like malicious and quick-tempered people who seethe with anger at every insult, and their faces betray the ugly signs of inner torture, also known as rage, and continue to rant and rave regardless of time and occasion. This is not the condition of those who are moral.

True, they do sometimes use harsh words for the purpose of reform and in keeping with the demand of the occasion, but they do not get angry at heart, nor do they fly into a rage or froth at the mouth. Sometimes they do feign anger in order to overawe someone, while all the time their hearts are relaxed and happy and satisfied. That is why Jesus (as), on a number of occasions addressed others with harsh words, like 'swine', 'dogs', 'faithless', 'adulterous', etc., but we dare not say that he lacked the high moral qualities, for he himself taught these high morals and enjoined compassion. These words, which he frequently used, were not due to some fit of anger or frenzy; rather they were used with a calm and cool mind, and only on appropriate occasions.

In short, it is essential for Imams to possess a perfect standard of moral excellence. A harsh word is not contrary to moral condition if it is not the result of any bitterness of temper and wild frenzy, and if it is appropriate and necessitated by the occasion. It is worth mentioning that the one whom God makes an Imam with His Own hands, is also invested with the capabilities of Imamat.

As mentioned in the verse:

He gave unto everything its proper form”- Surah Ta Ha, [20:51].

Divine providence has equipped all animals and birds with every faculty which, in the knowledge of God, they would ever need. Similar is the case of those whom God, in His eternal knowledge, wishes to entrust the task of Imamat; they are given beforehand many spiritual faculties that are necessary for Imamat, and the seed of all the capabilities that they might need in the future is sown in their pure nature".

[p. 10-12, The Need for the Imam, London: Islam International Publications Limited, (2007)].

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