As for those who strive in Us,
We surely guide them to Our paths (Quran)
First, here is the verse:
O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً
In the verse, Allah ordered us to unconditionally obey ulil Amr just as we unconditionally obey Allah and his prophet Muhammad. The following is the comment of al-Fakhri al-Razi regarding this verse from his book al-Tafseer al-Kabeer:
"The type of obedience that Allah (swt) has ordered is unconditional obedience, it must relate to that individual who is masum, if he was non masum and could make mistakes, then Allah (sw) would be telling us to follow such a person and adhere to him…Allah (swt) told us to follow the Ul il Umr unconditionally, he MUST be Masum, a fact that is testified to by this verse".(1)
Then he adds: "... we proved that Allah commanded the absolute obedience of Ulil Amr. Absolute obedience to them is possible if we know them, we can reach them and benefit from them and we know that we are incapable to know who they are in our time...
Those who say that the ulil amr are the imams of Ahlul Bayt, as the Rafidha believe, is far-fetched because the people must know before hand that these imams are the ones meant by the verse.
Allah commanded us to obey Ulil Amr and the term Ulil Amr is plural, while the Rafidhi claim that there is one Imam at a time. So using the plural for one person is problematic.
If Allah meant the ulil amr to mean the infallible imam, then Allah would have said "then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to the infallible Imam rather than to Allah and the Messenger. “(1)
[Now let us look closely at the above quotes:]
According to Fakhri al-Razi, the ulil amr must be infallible. Who besides the prophet is infallible? Neither the companions nor the scholars nor the caliphs are infallible. Who are the infallibles besides the prophet?? Who else could they be other than those that Allah has purified a perfect purification, made them the second of the Thaqalayn and the Safina of Nuh, and the inheritors of the Sunnah of the prophet? Indeed, they are Ahlul Bayt. Bear in mind that Fakhri al-Razi is one of the well-known and respected Sunnis scholars.
However, al-Razi did not acknowledge that those ulil amr were the imams of Ahlul Bayt because (he claimed) no one knew for certain who ulil amr were. In other words, the prophet did not clarify their identity! Rather, they remained mysterious as the number of the members of Ahlul Kahf! Is it conceivable that Allah would issue such a strict command (to obey Ulil Amr) without actually clarifying their identity? Did Allah want us to find them out on our own? Can we?? And how would we know them? […] Will this not create division, confusion and tension among the Muslims as each one will define them as they see it? In fact, is this not what happened when each scholar gave them an identify based on his own opinion and ended up differing about who they were? In that case, no one will ever know who they really are. What would be the point then of the verse? Is this how Allah cares about us?
Certainly, Allah has clarified their identity to His messenger and the prophet conveyed the information to the companions in order for us to benefit from them and adhere to them. Allah commanded us to obey Ulil Amr so we can remain on the right path. He made them our guides after the prophet. Therefore, the prophet must have introduced them to the companions in order to cling to them and benefit from them after him, and he certainly did as we are discovering [here]. So to claim that no one knew about them is impossible, invalid and is pure denial of the truth and an insult to the prophet! Did not the prophet make clear to everyone every verse of the Quran, as it was his decreed responsibility? He certainly made clear to the companions how to pray, how to perform Zakat, al-Hajj, charity, Salat al-Janaza, al-Wudu and al-Ahdan, among all other things. Then how could anyone claim that the prophet did not clarify this one? Did he leave it to the Ummah to figure it out as you claim that he left the matter of the caliphate to the Ummah??? Is this a rational thing to say?? How could you say that no one knew about them when Allah made Islam a complete religion?? Indeed, this is a ludicrous thing to say. Knowing their identities was an integral part of remaining guided after the prophet. In my opinion, they were well-known to many people, such as al-Razi, but they did not want to admit it so they would not be accused of being a Rafidhi!
It now becomes clear that you will resort to any justification, no matter how unsound it is, to deny the true members of Ulil Amr, just like you have denied the prophet's proclamation of the caliphate at Ghadeer Khum. In my opinion, the day the Christians will admit that the trinity is a lie and a human doctrine, the majority of the Muslims will also return to their senses to admit that the prophet declared his true successor throughout his lifetime and that he clarified that ulil amr are none but Ahlul Bayt, as it has been proven by logical reasoning and the Sunnah.
al-Razi gave three reasons to refute the idea that these ulil amr are the imams of Ahlul Bayt. First, he claimed that the belief that the ulil amr are the imams of Ahlul Bayt is far-fetched because the people must know before-hand that these imams are the ones meant by this verse. As I mentioned above, this is a false argument. The verse would be useless if Allah did not define who they were.
The second is the most ridiculous of the three. He claimed that the idea of the Rafidhi, that the Ulil Amr are the imams of Ahlul Bayt, cannot be right because they (the Rafidhi) believe that there will be on Imam only for a defined time-frame while the verse talks about Ulil Amr, which is in plural form. In my opinion, al-Razi is just looking for excuses to deny this merit to the imams of Ahlul Bayt. This plural does not necessitate that they all exist during the same time-frame. There will always be one for every time frame so that the different generations are guided through time. As the prophet said in the Hadith of the twelve caliphs: there will be twelve caliphs after me. Did he mean that all twelve will exist in the time-frame?? Of course not.
Finally, his third reason is if Allah meant by ulil amr the infallible imams, then Allah would have said in the verse: "then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to the infallible Imams" rather than to Allah and the Messenger. [Not mentioning Ulil Amar here can be understood, because it can be grasped from the context, and from the other verses, such as verse 83 from the same Surah which Says: “when there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they divulge it. if they had only referred it to the messenger, or to ‘Ulil Amar’ among them, the proper investigators would have tested it from them (direct). Were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah unto you, all but a few of you would have fallen into the clutches of Satan.”].
Hence, Al-Razi confession certainly proves that Imamate is an essential part of the Islam, as the Shia believe.
Now here is sumarised Arabic version of this article, with original quotes of al-Fakhri al-Razi:
الفخر الرازي يقر بأن "أولي الأمر" في آية (أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم..) لا بد وأن يكونوا معصومين
نحن نورد العبارات المطلوبة وما قبلها وما بعدها لسد الذرائع على من يكابرون أمام الحق الواضح، فلا يستطيعوا القول بأننا بترنا العبارات من سياقها...أما ادعاء الفخر الرازي بأن هؤلاء هم أهل الحل والعقد أو أهل الإجماع فوهنه واضح...فلا ننقل قول من أوضح هذا الوهن من أمثال السيد محمد تقي الحكيم في كتابه القيم "المدخل لدراسة الفقه المقارن".
"اعلم أن قوله : ( وأولي الأمر منكم ) يدل عندنا على أن إجماع الأمة حجة ، والدليل على ذلك أن الله تعالى أمر بطاعة أولي الأمر على سبيل الجزم في هذه الآية ، ومن أمر الله بطاعته على سبيل الجزم والقطع لا بد وأن يكون معصوما عن الخطأ ، إذ لو لم يكن معصوما عن الخطأ كان بتقدير إقدامه على الخطأ يكون قد أمر الله بمتابعته ، فيكون ذلك أمرا بفعل ذلك الخطأ ، والخطأ لكونه خطأ منهي عنه ، فهذا يفضي إلى اجتماع الأمر والنهي في الفعل الواحد بالاعتبار الواحد ، وإنه محال ، فثبت أن الله تعالى أمر بطاعة أولي الأمر على سبيل الجزم ، وثبت أن كل من أمر الله بطاعته على سبيل الجزم وجب أن يكون معصوما عن الخطأ ، فثبت قطعا أن أولي الأمر المذكور في هذه الآية لا بد وأن يكون معصوما ، ثم نقول : ذلك المعصوم إما مجموع الأمة أو بعض الأمة ، لا جائز أن يكون بعض الأمة ؛ لأنا بينا أن الله تعالى أوجب طاعة أولي الأمر في هذه الآية قطعا ، وإيجاب طاعتهم قطعا مشروط بكوننا عارفين بهم قادرين على الوصول إليهم والاستفادة منهم ، ونحن نعلم بالضرورة أنا في زماننا هذا عاجزون عن معرفة الإمام المعصوم ، عاجزون عن الوصول إليهم ، عاجزون عن استفادة الدين والعلم منهم ، وإذا كان الأمر كذلك علمنا أن المعصوم الذي أمر الله المؤمنين بطاعته ليس بعضا من أبعاض الأمة ، ولا طائفة من طوائفهم . ولما بطل هذا وجب أن يكون ذلك المعصوم الذي هو المراد بقوله : ( وأولي الأمر ) أهل الحل والعقد من الأمة ، وذلك يوجب القطع بأن إجماع الأمة حجة ."1
1. الرازي، فخر الدين أبو عبد الله محمد بن عمر بن حسين القرشي الطبرستاني: التفسير الكبير،ج ()، (سورة النساء، الآية 59)، ص 117،دار الكتب العلمية – بيروت، الطبعة ()،2004م . (Fakhruddin Razi, al-Tafsser al Kabir)
Source: The English materials are from (.al-hadi.us) with some editions.
The known Sunni scholar al-Fakhri al-Razi concluded from the Quranic verse 4:59, which talks about ulil Amr (those in authority), that ulil Amr must be infallible.