What Good is the Imam?

“Whoever says, ‘What good is the Imam? God without an intermediary is enough for me’ plainly forgets that, in speaking of this God who is immediate for him, he can never speak save of the God who reveals Himself to him, of God as he knows Him, in and through the form in which God reveals Himself to him.  Even if he speaks of God as of something impersonal or transpersonal, he does so only of the form shown to him or withheld from him.  Without this mazhar, without this ‘theophanic form’ in which God manifests Himself – in the widest sense of the term – it is impossible even to speak of God.  This form is the “Face” of God, and several texts have already shown us the importance of this theme for Shi’ism.  We have been told that this “Face of God” is the Imam.”

Corbin, Henry. “The Meaning of Imam for Shiʿi Spirituality.” In Shiʿism: Doctrines, Thought, and Spirituality, edited by Seyyed Hossein. Nasr, Hamid Dabashi, and Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, 167-187. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988. at pg. 170