In the Quran in 2:154 and 3:169 Allah (swt) says that those who are martyred in the way of Allah (swt) are not dead rather they are alive, and we know that it is not shirk to ask for help from those who are alive. Keeping that in mind, how is it shirk to ask for help from the Imams (as)?
We will answer this question in 3 parts.
1) Let’s for some time assume that the verse proves that the Prophet (Saww) and Imams (as) are alive like anyone else is alive in this world. But does that make them “All hearing”? Does being alive make a person “All hearing”? No it doesn’t, we are all alive, but we can’t hear thousands of people speaking at the same time, from thousands of kilometers (which is what we assume about the Imams (as) while calling upon them).
Now someone might say that how can we compare the Imams (as) with normal people? This question is an emotional one; do we have any proof that the Imams (as) were given supernatural power of being “All hearing” or being present everywhere? No, there is no such authentic proof. And it is also apparent from their lives, we hear every year in Musaib in majalis, when Muslim ibn aqeel was going to be killed, he was desperate to send the news to Imam Husain (aS) that people have turned their backs, he was so desperate that he even asked Umar ibn sa’ad to convey his message to Imam Husain (as). Surely Muslim ibn Aqeel had more ma’arefat of Imam (as) than us, he should have just called out “My dear master Imam Husain (as), people have turned their backs on you, don’t come towards Kufa”, as simple as that, rather than trying to take help from their staunch enemy Umar ibn Sa’ad, but did that happen? No it didn’t.
So the summary of point 1 is that even if we assume that they are alive like us, still it wouldn’t be logical to call upon them, as being alive is not = all hearing.
2) In the first point we assumed that the Prophet (saww) and Imams (as) are alive like us, but is that what the verse of the Quran means?
Refer to any popular Tafseer of the Quran, for example Tafseer al Mizan of Allama Tabatabai, or Tafseer Namuna of Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi, or the Tafseer of Aytullah Kamal Faghih Imani etc, all of them say that this verse is talking about Barzakh, which means that the “Shaheed being alive” does not mean that they are alive like us in this physical realm within the natural cause and effect.
Rather, they are alive in a realm that is ghayb (unseen) to us. Just like the Angels and Jinn are also in a realm that is ghayb (unseen) to us. We are not allowed to call upon any of them. We call only upon God from the realm of the unseen. A person typically calls out to an entity from behind the curtain of ghayb when they are not confident of succeeding in a task in this world, so they seek support from a superior power above this world, that can effect change from outside into this world. That for us is Allah (swt). To call upon any other from behind the curtain of ghayb, is to do dua to them, & give a partner to Allah (swt).
3) Even logically it would be incorrect to believe that they are alive like normal people, because if they were alive like normal people, then all the laws of normal people should apply to them, which means
– their wives should not become widow, and should not be allowed to marry anyone (but on the contrary, Imams (as)’s wives became widow and married others)
– their wealths should not be distributed among their children and wives etc like its distributed for dead people (on the contrary it was indeed distributed, and Imams (as) wrote their will (wasiyat) as to how things are to be handled after them)
– you cannot have two Imams (as) at the same time, therefore every Imam became Imam only after the death of the previous Imam, which shows that their previous Imams really died.
So how can we say that only some laws of alive people apply to them (like asking them to supplicate) but other laws don’t apply (like the ones stated above) ?
If this was the case, we should have a special hadith which tells us that they are alive after death, but since their life is a bit different, therefore the above laws will not apply to them, but some laws (like asking them to supplicate) will still apply. Unfortunately there is no such hadith.
– In Quran Allah (swt) warns the people not to turn back after the Prophet passes away, 3:144
“Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all; but Allah will reward the grateful.”
All this clearly shows that Prophet (saww) and Imams (as) really passed away, and are not in the normal cause and effect of this physical world.
Summary of Answer 3:
- Even if Imams (as) are alive, that doesn’t mean they are “All hearing”.
- The verse of Quran does not mean that Imams (as) are alive like us.
- It’s logically incorrect to consider them alive like us, since the laws of shariat which apply to people who are alive do not apply to them.
- Hence this argument in no way justifies calling upon the Imams (as).