Imam MubÐn (Ýa)
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Imam MubÐn (Ýa)

Question: What is the meaning of ‘ImÁm MubÐn’ as mentioned in verse 12 of Surah YÁsÐn?
Concise answer:
Detailed answer: In the aforementioned verse, it is mentioned that “…and We have figured everything in a manifest Imam.”[1] The majority of commentators have understood the ‘ImÁm MubÐn’ here to be a term for the ‘Protected Tablet’; this is the same book which will have all of the actions and events that will take place in this world inscribed within it. The term ‘ImÁm’ may have been used here because this book will be a sort of leader during the Day of Judgement, where it will be the criterion of all the actions that people have performed and the measure of their reward and punishment.

What is interesting is that this term (ImÁm) has been used in some other verses of the Quran in regards to the Torah. For example, one verse mentions: “Is he who stands on a manifest proof from his Lord, and whom a witness of his own [family] follows? And before him there was the Book of Moses, a guide and mercy. It is they who have faith in it, and whoever defies him from among the factions, the Fire is their tryst. So do not be in doubt about it; it is the truth from your Lord, but most people do not have faith.”[2] The term ‘ImÁm’ is used for the Torah due to the laws and knowledge that the book contains, as well as the signs of the Prophet (Ò) which are mentioned in it. Due to this reason, the Torah can be considered as a leader and guide for creation and the term is used in this verse under this context.

An interesting tradition from Imam ÑÁdiq (Ýa) has also been narrated in this regards. It mentions: The Prophet (Ò) entered a land that was devoid of water and vegetation, and he said to his companions: Bring firewood. The companions asked him: Oh Prophet (Ò), this is a dry land devoid of vegetation that can be used for firewood. The Prophet (Ò) replied: Head out and each one of you should bring back what he can.

The companions did as they were asked and each one brought what he was able to find in the way of brush and twigs; they put all of these in a pile in front of the Prophet (Ò). This pile of dry vegetation was then set on fire. At this point, the Prophet (Ò) said to them:  (Small) sins accumulate in such a manner (while you do not consider them to be of any importance). He then said: Fear the small sins… for everything will be written down in a ‘Clear Book’. This tradition shows how the small sins can accumulate and end up being of a significant amount over a period of time. The large fire that was kindled was the end of result of each individual gathering a few small twigs and pieces of vegetation.

Another tradition mentions the following: The tribe of the BanÙ Salmah was located in an area away from the city of Medina and due to this reason, they decided to move to an area closer to the mosque of Medina. During this time, the following verse was revealed: «اِنّا نَحْنُ نُحْیِ الْمَوْتى...» and the Prophet (Ò) told them that: Your steps towards the mosque will be written in your book of deeds (and you will be rewarded). When the BanÙ Salmah heard these words, they changed their minds and remained where they were living. It is clear that this verse has a wide ranging span of meaning and many such examples can be applied to it.

There are also some traditions narrated from the Ahl al-Bayt which mention the ‘ImÁm MubÐn’ as being a reference to Imam ÝAlÐ (Ýa) and this may initially seem like a contradiction to what we have been mentioning previously. In another tradition narrated from Imam BÁqir (Ýa) from his father, who narrated from his father, that: When the verse: «وَ کُلَّ شَیْء اَحْصَیْناهُ فِی اِمام مُبِین» was revealed, AbÙ Bakr and ÝUmar stood up and said: Oh Prophet (Ò), is this verse referring to the Torah? The Prophet (Ò) said: No. They again asked: The Bible then? He replied: No. They again asked: Is it the Quran then? He again replied: No. At this point, Imam ÝAlÐ (Ýa) was seen coming towards the Prophet (Ò). When the Prophet (Ò) saw him, he said: This man is the ‘ImÁm MubÐn’! He is the Imam within whom God the most High has placed the knowledge of all things.

In a commentary ÝAlÐ ibn IbrÁhÐm has narrated from Ibn ÝAbbÁs who has in turn narrated from AmÐr al-MuÞminÐn that: I swear by God that I am the ‘ImÁm MubÐn’ who reveals the truth from the falsehood. I inherited this knowledge from the Prophet of God (Ò). Some commentators like ÀlÙsÐ have shied away from narrating such traditions (due to a Shia chain of narration) and have considered them to be statements made in ignorance of the Quranic verse. In spite of this, with only a slight amount of diligence, it is clear that such traditions are not in contradiction with the understanding of the ‘ImÁm MubÐn’ as being a ‘Protected Tablet’ The reason for this is that the heart of the Prophet (Ò) and the hearts of his successors (Ýa) were so pure and lofty that they can be considered as reflections of the ‘Protected Tablet’. Therefore, the application of the term ‘ImÁm MubÐn’ in such a manner can be seen as a branch of the original root concept. In addition to this, the existence of a perfect human being (InsÁn KÁmil) is a microcosm of the macrocosm.[3]

[1] «وَ کُلَّ شَیْء أَحْصَیْناهُ فِی إِمام مُبِین»

[2] Surah HÙd, verse 17: «أَ فَمَن کانَ عَلى بَیِّنَة مِّن رَّبِّهِ وَ یَتْلُوهُ شاهِدٌ مِّنْهُ وَ مِن قَبْلِهِ کِتابُ مُوسى إِماماً وَ رَحْمَةً»

[3] TafsÐr NemÙneh, vol. 18, p. 350.
Published on: « 1393/02/21 »


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