The Scholars as the Heirs of the Prophets

  January 30, 2022   Read time 1 min
The Scholars as the Heirs of the Prophets
The vicegerency of the Immaculate Occulted Imam is specifically for those who have reached the highest level of knowledge and are known as the men of episteme. These scholars are the true heirs of the prophets.

There are several matters that must be explained at this point. First, who are “the scholars”? Is it intended to mean the scholars of the Muslim community or the Imāms (‘a)? Some people are of the opinion probably the Imāms are intended. But it would appear that, on the contrary, the scholars of the community—the ‘ulamā—are intended. The tradition itself indicates this, for the virtues and qualities of the Imāms (‘a) that have mentioned elsewhere are quite different from what this tradition contains.

The statement that the prophets (‘a) have bequeathed traditions and whoever learns those traditions acquires a generous portion of their legacy cannot serve as a definition of the Imāms. It must therefore refer to the scholars of the community. In addition, in the version narrated by Abū’l-Bukhtūri, after the phrase: “The scholars are the heirs of the prophets,” we read: “Therefore, see from whom you may acquire this knowledge.” It seems that what is intended here is that, indeed, the scholars are the heirs of the prophets, but one must be careful in the choice of a person from whom to acquire the knowledge the prophets have bequeathed.

It will contradict the obvious meaning of the tradition, therefore, to maintain that the Imāms are intended by the expression “heirs of the prophets” and that it is from them that people must acquire knowledge. Anyone acquainted with the traditions that relate to the status of the Imāms (‘a) and the rank accorded them by the Most Noble Messenger (s) will immediately realize that it is not the Imāms but the scholars of the community who are intended in this tradition. Similar qualities and epithets have been used for the scholars in numerous other traditions; e.g., “The scholars of my community are like the prophets preceding me,” and “The scholars of my community are like the prophets of the Children of Israel.”

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