Is it Obligatory to believe and follow the Imam (as) of your time? What is the Status of a Person who believes in the Prophet (sawa) but does not believe in the Imam (as) of his time?

“Once I said to abu Ja’far (as) ‘Is recognizing the Imam from among you obligatory on all creatures?’ The Imam (as) said, ‘Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, sent Muhammad to all people as His Messenger and as His authority over all creatures on earth. Those who believe in Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger and who have followed him and acknowledged his message, on such people it is obligatory to recognize the Imam from us. Those who do not believe in Allah and in His messenger and who do not follow him and do not acknowledge him knowing about the rights of Allah and His messenger then how can recognition of the Imam (as) be obligatory on them? They do not believe in Allah and in His messenger, do not follow him while they know about their rights.’
“I then asked, ‘What do you say about those who believe in Allah and His messenger who acknowledge His messenger in all the matters that Allah has sent, is it obligatory for them to recognize the Imam (as) from you?’ The Imam (as) said, ‘Yes, it is obligatory. Do they not recognize so and so (fake caliph)?’ I said, ‘Yes, they do.’ The Imam (as) then said, ‘Do you think Allah is the one who has placed such recognition (of fake caliph) in their hearts? I swear by Allah that no one other than Satan has placed such recognition in their hearts. I swear by Allah that no one other than Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, has inspired the hearts of the believers with (the recognition of) our rights.’”

Source: Al-Kafi, Volume 1, Hadith #462

Sanad: Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from al-Hassan ibn Mahbub from Hisham ibn Salim from Zurara

Grading:
– Majlisi, Sahih – Mira’at Al-uqool, Volume 2, Page 302 (image)
– Bahboody, Sahih

محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن الحسن بن محبوب، عن هشام بن سالم، عن زرارة قال: قلت لأبي جعفر عليه السلام: أخبرني عن معرفة الامام منكم واجبة على جميع الخلق؟ فقال: إن الله عز وجل بعث محمدا صلى الله عليه وآله إلى الناس أجمعين رسولا و حجة لله على جميع خلقه في أرضه، فمن آمن بالله وبمحمد رسول الله واتبعه وصدقه فإن معرفة الامام منا واجبة عليه، ومن لم يؤمن بالله وبرسوله ولم يتبعه ولم يصدقه ويعرف حقهما فكيف يجب عليه معرفة الامام وهو لا يؤمن بالله ورسوله ويعرف حقهما ؟! قال: قلت: فما تقول فيمن يؤمن بالله ورسوله ويصدق رسوله في جميع ما أنزل الله، يجب على أولئك حق معرفتكم؟ قال: نعم أليس هؤلاء يعرفون فلانا وفلانا قلت: بلى، قال: أترى أن الله هو الذي أوقع في قلوبهم معرفة هؤلاء؟ والله ما أوقع ذلك في قلوبهم إلا الشيطان، لا والله ما ألهم المؤمنين حقنا إلا اله عز وجل

10420391_730056927081778_6696773401572583200_n