Basra is a big city and the main port of Iraq. It is situated at the mouth of river Euphrates.
There, in a big mosque, people used to assemble to discuss various subjects on Islamic rules and laws. A famous learned priest/clergyman by name Amr Bin Ubeid was once preaching on the subject of Imamate (An Islamic term referring to "leadership" of Imams who followed Prophet Muhammad (saw) in leadership of Islam, according to Shi'a belief). He was surrounded by a big crowd of people who were asking various questions on the subject. Suddenly, a young and intelligent student of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (AS) by name of Hesham, entered the gathering and sat down in the first row. He addressed the priest saying that he was a stranger and would like to ask some questions. On getting the permission to do so, he asked the following:
Hesham: First, Sir! May I please know if you have eyes?
Amr: Young Boy! Is this a question to ask?
Hesham: Whatever it may be, this is my question to which I shall appreciate your answer.
Amr: Alright! You are at liberty to ask, even though it is a foolish question.
Hesham: As I have already asked, Sir, may I please know if you have eyes?
Amr: Yes, I have.
Hesham: For what use are they?
Amr: With eyes, I can see faces of people and color of various things.
According to a verse (2:124) of Noble Qur'an, Imamate is a station that was granted to prophet Ibrahim al-Khalil (pbuh) after that great test, trial by Kalimat (words). According to traditions that are consecutively narrated (mutawatir) and which both Shi'a and Sunnis have related, this station was also placed in Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet Muhammad (saw).
Hesham: And you have a nose also?
Amr: Yes. I do have one.
Hesham: What is its function?
Amr: I smell the scent and odor by it.
Hesham: And do you have a mouth?
Amr: Yes I do have.
Hesham: For what use is it?
Amr: I can talk to people or taste food and drink with it.
Hesham: Do you have ears?
Amr: Yes, I have two ears.
Hesham: What is their function?
Amr: I can hear voices by them.
Hesham: And do you have a mind?
Amr: Almighty has bestowed me with that also.
Hesham: What is its use?
Amr: With that I am able to distinguish things whatever is felt by the other senses like hands, eyes, ears, nose, tongue etc. In case of a difference, I am able to solve with its help. In case of a doubt, I can dispel with it and be sure.
Hesham: So, does it mean that despite being sound and healthy, all these organs cannot function independently without the help of the mind.
Amr: No, No! None of the organs can function independently without the help of the mind.
Hesham: Why is it so? After all, the organs are perfect and strong enough to differentiate between things?
Amr: Young Boy! When any organ has some doubt about a thing, which it smells, sees or tastes, it brings the matter to the mind and it is the mind, which confirms the truth and removes the doubt.
Hesham: So, from what you have said, do you want me to understand that Almighty Allah (SWT) has created and designed the mind to guide the organs and remove doubts?
Amr: Yes! It is so.
Hesham: So the mind is a necessity, otherwise the organs could not work independently.
Hesham: Please Sir! Proclaim your opinion with fairness and justice on this point also. If Almighty Allah (SWT) has not left the organs of man's body without the guidance of the mind, how is it possible that Almighty Allah (SWT) could leave millions of His creatures without an IMAM to guide and solve their problems arising out of doubts and conflicts? Should not our common sense accept this fact?
On hearing this logic argument, and having no answer to give, Amr Bin Ubeid kept silent and went into deep thinking.
Hesham was a deeply learned person and one of the closest companions of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (AS) from whom he had obtained his knowledge.
Note: There is a Hadith, according to which Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "If (as few as) three persons go on a journey, they must appoint one out of themselves as their leader." From this one may infer to what extent our Prophet Muhammad (saw) regarded as harmful the disorder and absence of an authority that could resolve social conflicts and serve as a unifying bond among individuals.