Decoding the Numerical Analogizing of Imams to the Chieftains (naqīb) of Israelites, in the Prophetic Tradition: "ka iddat-e nuqabā'-e bani Israel"

Document Type : Original Article



This article studies the hadiths analogizing the successors of the Holy
Prophet to the naqībs (chieftains) of the Children of Israel, apostles of Christ,
months, and eventually aims to highlight the possibility of a wider meaning
beyond the mere numerical equality. The study is going to find an answer
to the inquiry whether Number 12 bears the burden of Simile or there is
another Simile between the Vehicle and the Tenor?
To reply to this question, the position of Chiefs described in Torah and the
etymology of the terms (indicating ‘naqīb’) in the Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac,
and Greek manuscripts have been studied. It is proposed that the semantic
concept of naqīb appertains to "divinely chosen". In this way, it is shown
that “being divinely chosen and appointed by God” can be regarded as the
common characteristic of the two parallel groups.
Due to this study, deeper understanding of numerical analogizing Hadiths
is culminated and the concept of Imam as “being divinely chosen” in Shiite
Thought is greatly strengthened. Furthermore, the fact underlines that the
Hadith of twelve successors after Prophet Muḥammad (PBUH) is perfectly
matched Shiite Imams.