It is the duty of every one who has given a pledge of loyalty to the Imaam that he should fulfill the terms of his pledge and always keep them in view. He should never act contrary to the orders of the Imaam. In carrying out his orders he should never exceed the limits nor fall short of them. He should not budge an inch from the right course. He should not put his interpretation on what he hears from the Imaam. He should say nothing on his own account. He should stall his imagination to influence his mind in these matters.
It is said that once Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (as) said to some of his followers, “You should be our silent propagandists.” When the people asked him how they should carry on the propaganda by silence? He said in reply, “Carry it on by your good deeds.” He gave a long sermon on this topic and said in the end, “When people find you doing the right things they will know that it is we who have guided you in this matter. Thus they will run to us and you will prove to be the medium of their coming to us.”
It follows that it is the bounded duty of every one who is the follower of the Imaam to do good things and keep away from the evil. He should be devoted to Allah and he should discharge the duties that have been enjoined on him. He should commit no sins and should do nothing which leads to Allah's wrath.
It is for these reasons that the Imaam orders us to be silent and have implicit faith in them. None, but the one who is selected by them and is permitted by them to carry on the discussions is allowed to pursue this course. One of the Imaam said to on of his Da'i, “if you find your opponent a better debater than yourself then take the help of the inner knowledge, stop him saying that you are not prepared to initiate him into the depths of the inner meaning. Do not prolong the discussion to give your opponent a free hand. It will create a bad result and make your opponent firmer in his stand. Keep him in suspense, if you are afraid of continuing the discussion. On the other hand if you know at the very beginning that your opponent is a better debater, do not discuss with him and stop him by saying that you believe in inner things. For, very often, discussion with those who are on the wrong path leaves the impression on the audience that your opponents are right. This is exactly what happened when Sorcerers challenged Moses by bringing their ropes and the sticks and making them look like snakes. Moses got frightened of the wrong impression they had created on the mind of the audience, although in the long run truth prevailed and the falsehood was eradicated.”
It is out of these considerations that we have been ordered by the Imaam to be silent and secretive. Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (as) is reported to have said to some of his followers who offered their services for his support, “We asked you to do something easier than this but you did not do it.” They said, “What is that? O the grandson of the Prophet. He said, “We asked you to keep silence. If you had kept silence we would have been pleased with you but you did not do so.”
We must bear in mind that in doing the work of the Imaam, we have to follow some specific rules that are prescribed for us. We have to do things by degrees and we have to proceed with caution step by step. If we do not stop at the first step and jump to the higher step and try to reach the destination earlier than we are required to reach it we shall be ruined. It will be like feeding a new born baby to death.
In short, these are the things which have prevented the Imaam from making their inner knowledge accessible to none but those whom they have found fit. Had they allowed everyone to have a free access to it, people would have ruined one another like a new born baby who is killed by feeding or like an embryo who tries to come out before it is fully developed.
Hence, the Imaam have purposely kept this knowledge secret in order to test their followers. Had they given full publicity to it and informed everyone of what it is, none would have opposed them. But Allah wants to test His devotees by asking them to have faith in the ‘ghayb'. The Qur'an says, “This book is undoubtedly a guide to the Allah-fearing people who have faith in the ‘ghayb' i.e. the hidden thing.” These are the people who according to the Qur'an have been guaranteed success. If Allah had desired He could have forced all man to be devoted to Him. He could have easily asked some angel to shout from above and call people to devotion. It would not in that case have been necessary for Him to send one of His apostles to guide people. Had he done so none would have been superior to one another and there would have been no room for execution. In that case there would have been no reward and no punishment. All the people would have been of one type and knowledge and accomplishments and such other gifts of Allah would have been evenly distributed amongst them. Allah knows best what he does and His ‘Awliyaa' who are the masters of the divine secrets know best what they do. There is no Allah but He and there is no partner to Him.