Concerning the Imamate there are two issues:
First issue: on affirmation of the Imamate of the Four Khulafā, may God be pleased with them. The proof of the Imamate of all of them has three aspects:
First, each of them united the conditions of the Imamate completely;
Second, the Muslims who lived in the time of each one of them were unanimous in pledging allegiance to him and in coming under obedience to him, and consensus is a proof;
Third, that companionship (with the Prophet ﷺ) which each of them had, emigration, majestic deeds, God’s praise of them, and the Truthful One’s bearing witness of the Garden for them. Moreover the Messenger of Allah ﷺ indicated the Khilāfah of Abū Bakr and ‘Umar, and he commanded that people model themselves on them. He put Abū Bakr in charge of the Farewell Hajj and made him lead the prayer in his final illness which is an indication of his being appointed Khalīfah. Then Abū Bakr appointed ‘Umar as Khalīfah, then ‘Umar made the matter the business of consulation among six [people] and they agreed on putting ‘Uthmān forward. He was wrongfully killed, for which there is the testimony of the Prophet ﷺ and his promise to him of the Garden for that. Then the man with most right to it was ‘Alī because of his noble rank and his sublime virtues. As for that which happened between ‘Alī and Mu’āwiyah and those Companions with each of them, then the most fitting thing is to withhold oneself from mentioning it, and that they should be remembered in the best way, and that one should seek the best interpretation for them, because it was a matter of ijtihād. As for ‘Alī and those with him, they were on the truth because they exercised ijtihād and were correct [in it] and so they will be rewarded. As for Mu’āwiyah and those with him, they exercised ijtihād and were mistaken, and they are to be excused. It is required that one respect them and all of the Companions and love them because of the praise of them that occurs in Qur’ān and because of their accompanying the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. He ﷺ said, “Allāh! Allāh! concerning my companions. Do not make them a target after me. Whoever loves them, then it is for love of me he loves them. Whoever hates them, it is because of hatred of me that he hates them. Whoever harms them has harmed me, and whoever harms me has harmed Allāh.”
The Second Issue: the pre-conditions of the Imamate are eight:
- maturity (puberty),
- intellect (i.e. sanity),
- and that his descent should be from Quraysh, but on this [last] there is a difference of opinion,
so that if people agree [on pledging allegiance] to one who does not meet all of the conditions then it is permitted, from fear of causing dissension and sedition.
It is not permitted to rise up against people in authority even if they are tyrannical, unless they openly display clear disbelief. It is obligatory to obey them in whatever a man loves and dislikes, unless they order disobedience [to God] for there is no obedience due to a creature if it involves disobedience to the Creator.