Therefore, if a robber steals your property, you should bring your complaint to the authorities appointed by the Imām (‘a). If you have a dispute with someone concerning debt or a loan and you need the truth of the matter to be established, again you should refer the matter to the judge appointed by the Imām (‘a), and not to anyone else. This is the universal duty of all Muslims, not simply of ‘Umar ibn Hanzalah, who, when confronted by a particular problem, obtained the ruling. This decree issued by the Imām (‘a), then, is general and universal in scope.
For just as the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), while he exercised rule, appointed governors and judges whom all Muslims were bound to obey, so, too, Imām as-Sādiq (‘a), holding absolute authority and empowerment to rule over all the ‘ulamā, the fuqahā, and the people at large, was able to appoint rulers and judges not only for his own lifetime, but also for subsequent ages. This indeed he did, naming the fuqahāas “rulers,” so that no one might presume that their function was restricted to judicial affairs and divorced from the other concerns of government.
We may also deduce from the beginning and end of this tradition, as well as from the Qur’anic verse to which it refers, that the Imām (‘a) was not concerned simply with the appointing of judges and did not leave other duties of the Muslims unclarified, for otherwise, one of the two questions posed to him that concerned with seeking justice from illicit executive authorities would have remained unanswered. This tradition is perfectly clear; there are no doubts surrounding its chain of transmission or its meaning. No one can doubt that the Imām (‘a) designated the fuqahā to exercise the functions of both government and judgeship. It is the duty of all Muslims to obey this decree of the Imām (‘a).
In order to clarify the matter still further, I will adduce additional traditions, beginning with that of Abū Khadījah.