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Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

The word nass is derived from nasaba meaning to raise a thing so that it is visible. Thus, nass means designation, referring to the designation of the successor of the Imam. The Imam has his authority to appoint his successor, and it is not from any human electors or from the pledge of ordinary people. The Imam is considered to be mansus (designated), and his absolute decision to appoint his successor is also called nass al-jali (explicit designation), nass wa-ta'yin (explicit invetiture), nass wa tawqif (explicit appointment) or nass al-sarrih (clear designation), which cannot be revoked or altered. Imam Jafar Sadik is reported to have said, "Verily, God makes changes in every thing except in the matter of Imam" (Inlillah fi kullo shain bida illa imamah). The appointment of an Imam by nass does not return by retrocession an convention reversed from whence it came is impossible. Imam Jaffar Sadik says, "Each Imam knows the Imam who is to come after him and so he appoints him as his successor" (Bihar al-Anwar, 23:73). The Imam also said, "None of us die until God has informed us of the one who is to succeed us" (Ibid. 23:71). Hence, the noor and ilm which a Imam is meant to possess by virtue of nass renders him ma'sum (infallible).

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