Remembrance of The Beloved
Questions and Answers
Imam Mahdi (p.b.u.h)
Seyed Husain Husaini
Edited and Reviewed by
Naba Cultural Organization
سرشناسه: حسینی، حسین،۱۳۲۵
عنوان و نام پديدآور:
The Remembrance of the beloved: questions and answers about Imam Mahdi (p.b.u.h.)-/by Husain Husaini; translated by Jalil Dorrani.; edited and reviewed by Hamid Farnagh
=1387. , 2008: Naba Cultural Organization Tehran
وضعیت فهرست نویسی: فیپا
يادداشت: عنوان دیگر: یاد محبوب: مجموعه نود پرسش و پاسخ درباره امام مهدی(ع).
عنوان به زبان دیگر: یاد محبوب: پرسش و پاسخ درباره آخرین مصلح آسمانی امام عصر علیهالسلام.
عنوان دیگر: یاد محبوب: مجموعه نود پرسش و پاسخ درباره امام مهدی(ع).
موضوع: محمدبن حسن (عج)، امام دوازدهم، ۲۵۵ق -
Muhammad ibn Hasan, Imam
شناسه افزوده: فرناق، حمیدويراستار
شناسه افزوده: درانی، جلیل ، مترجم
رده بندی کنگره: ۲۰۴۹۵۲۱۳۸۷ ی ۵ح / ۵۱ BP
رده بندی دیویی: ۲۹۷/۹۵۹
شماره کتابشناسی ملی:1293070
تاريخ درخواست : ۱۳۸۷/۰۶/۰۴
تاريخ پاسخگویی : ۱۳۸۷/۰۶/۱۱
کد پیگیری :1292785
Rememberance of The Beloved
Questions and Answers About Imam Mahdi (p.b.u.h)
Author: Seyed Husain Husaini
Translator: Jalil Dorrani
No. of Copies: 1000 / First Edition: 2008
Publisher: Naba Cultural Organization
Address: P. O. Box: 15655-377 / Tehran. Iran
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
During the period of the holy prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) appointment and proclamation, he entrusted the people with two precious souvenirs out of divine inspiration.
“I leave with you two weighty things: the Book of Allah and my offspring.”
This he said at the time when he himself bore the responsibility of explaining and interpreting the commandments and doctrines and he acquainted the Muslims with different levels from various angles of religion. However, he entrusted the task of interpretation and explanation of diverse religious matters to his successors after him and named them the other weighty thing (ثقل) on par with the Qur’an.
The pure and honourable Imams (a.s.) too took charge of this divine mission in line with the holy Qur’an and the prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) Sunnah and prevented distortions in belief, wrong interpretations of holy Qur’an and Islamic doctrines. For this reason, along side the holy Qur’an, we must search the Islamic matters and the prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) Sunnah in the sayings of the holy Imams (a.s.). These sayings are commonly known as “Hadith or traditions”.
At a short glance, we can classify the sayings of the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams as follows:
1- In the form of preliminary Hadith and sayings: They (p.b.u.t.) would explain to one or more people matters concerned with belief or ethics or Tafsir (interpretation) or Fiqh (jurisprudence) or history etc. These traditions was at times in the form of Hadith-e-Qodsi that was narrated from the Almighty Allah (except Qur’an) or in the form of simple Hadith.
Example for the first category: Hazrat Reza (a.s.) said: Musa-ibn-Jafar narrates from Jafar-ibn-Muhammad from Muhammad-ibn-Ali from Ali-ibn-Husain from Husain-ibn-Ali from Ali-ibn-Abi Talib from the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) from Gabriel from Meka’eel from Israfeil from Luh from Qalam that Allah says:
“The Vilayat (authority) of Ali-ibn-Abi Talib (a.s.) is My castle. Anyone who enters My castle is safe from My chastisement.”
As an example for the second category, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“O Ali you are the best of all men; anyone who doubts about you is an unbeliever.”
2- In the form of speeches and sermons: Amongst the numerous specimens are the invaluable sermons of Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) just as he says in one sermon :
“The Imams are from Quraish; from sub-tribe of Hashim; and except for them nobody is qualified for the post of Imamate.”
Other Imams too have presented their sermons on various topics where some of them can be seen in the form of collective traditions.
3- In the form of debates and discussions with one or more people (in matters of belief, Tafsir etc)
An example of such debates is the case of Imam Sadiq’s (a.s.) debate with the atheists. One example: The opponents said: How does Allah become pleased and angry for the happiness and anger of Fatemah (a.s.)? Imam (a.s.) replied: You narrate tradition that says Allah becomes pleased because of His faithful slave’s happiness and turns angry because of his anger. Isn’t the holy prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) daughter a woman of faith? They replied: ‘You have spoken the truth!
4- In the form of invocation: Its worthy to mention that most of the lofty and sublime sayings of the noble Imams have been presented in the form of invocation and supplication.
Imam Sajjad (a.s.) would place his face on the earth at mid-night and would say:
“O Allah! Thou are Magnificent who does not turn back hopeless the one who calls Thee and Thou are aware of the one who seeks proximity towards Thee and only Thou fulfill their needs.”
Also, he (a.s.) says:
أسألك الروح و الراحة عند الموت والعفو عني حين ألقاك
5- In the form of Ziarat: Our divine leaders have described numerous matters pertaining to belief like monotheism, recognition of Imam etc in the form of Ziarat:
In Ziarate-Amin’allah which has come down about Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) and is recited for all the Imams, it begins as such:
السلام عليك يا أمين الله في أرضه و حجته علي عباده. السلام عليك يا أمير المومنين
“O Allah make my soul firm with respect to Your decree and make me pleased with Your decision and judgement.”
6- In the form of inscription, letters and treatise: Many a times, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the noble Imams (a.s.) would note down points on belief, ethics, jurisprudence etc in the form of letters and dispatch them to near and far places. For instance, Imam Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) wrote for his representative about charity:
“Set out on the path of piety of the Unique Allah (Who has no partner). Do not create fear in any Muslim and do not collect charity from him by force and do not ask more than the required right of Allah in wealth….”
7- In the form of question and answers: Question and answers is one of the best and most natural way for understanding and explanation and the holy Qur’an gives prime importance to this matter. On the one hand, Allah addresses the people and says:
“So ask the followers of the Reminder if you do not know”. (Qur’an, 16:43)
On the other hand, in fifteen instances, He reminds the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) that: “يسألونك” They ask you and you reply them in such and such manner.
In the noble traditions too, on numerous occasions, the Imams (a.s.) were questioned on matters like belief, ethics and jurisprudence and they replied the people accordingly.
Now, we shall set forth as a good luck, two such specimens of question and answers by Imams (a.s.):
a) Ma’mun asked Imam Reza (a.s.): O Abul-Hasan explain to me how your great grandfather Ali-ibn-Abi Talib is the distributor of paradise and hell? Imam (a.s.) replied: ‘O leader of believers. Didn’t your father narrate from his fathers from Abdullah-ibn-Abbas who said: I heard the prophet (s.a.w.a.) saying: Love of Ali (a.s.) is belief (faith) and enmity to him is infidelity?”
Ma’mun said: Yes.
Imam (a.s.) said: So he is the distributor of paradise and hell.”
Ma’mun said: O Abul-Hasan, may Allah not make me live after you. I bear witness that you are the heir to the prophet’s knowledge.
Aba Sult Herawi says: When Imam Reza (a.s.) returned to his residence I said: O the son of Allah’s messenger, how nicely you replied the caliph (Ma’mun)! He said: ‘O Ab Sult, I replied him from the same angle and motive he set forth his query. Certainly, I heard my father narrate from his fathers that Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) said: ‘The prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed me: ‘O Ali, you are the one distributing heaven and hell on the day of resurrection. You would say to the Fire: He is from me and that one for you.”
b) Abdul-Azeem Hasani said: I asked Hazrat Javad (a.s.): My master, I hope you are that Qaem from the prophet’s Ahl’ul-bayt who would fill the earth with equity and justice just as it would be filled with injustice and tyranny. Hazrat (a.s.) replied: “All of us rise (are Qaem) to Allah’s commands and guide (the people) towards His religion. But the Qaem through whom Allah will cleanse the earth off infidelity and disbelief and fill it with equity and justice is someone whose birth is hidden and he is concealed from the people and they are forbidden from uttering his name. His name and agnomen is the same as the prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) name and agnomen. He is someone for whom the earth will unfold its treasures and every hardship would be managed by him and his companions numbering 313 men equal to the number of people of Badr would gather around him from near and far and these are Allah’s words Who says: “And wherever you are, Allah will gather you; verily Allah is Powerful over all things.”
When this number of people would collect with utmost sincerity, Allah will manifest the Qaem’s affair. At that moment, his soldiers would number ten thousand and he will rise by Allah’s command. He will fight Allah’s enemies until the Almighty Allah becomes pleased.”
It’s worthy to mention that imparting and explaining matters in the form of question and answer has the following advantages:
a) It’s beneficial to the questioner because the reply is mooted at his level of knowledge and understanding.
b) Due to face-to-face discussion between addresser and addressee and brief reply, the matter remains in the mind of questioner.
c) Any extra saying that is not concerned with the questioner is avoided unless he personally requests for such additional information.
d) This manner enables the seeker of knowledge to learn better the style of questioning and he acquires his reply much quicker.
e) Usually, in question and answer form, the “matter under consideration is mooted as per time or era”. In some scholarly matters, its roots and contents may be old but the style and form of question varies from time to time. For instance, question and answer acquaints a student about a matter that is appropriate of that time.
f) Very often, tens of questions of one questioner is solved and replied from various angles in one sitting.
g) In session of questions and answers, the questioner finds courage of setting forth his question and problem and take steps for finding their solution.
h) By question and answer, an affectionate relationship is established, particularly if conducted in oral and face-to-face manner. By friendly relation between the teacher and student, both can come to an intellectual agreement in a much better manner. The learner pursues the teacher and reaches perfection.
Respected readers, these and other unrevealed points have forced scholars throughout history to possess detailed writings in reply to questions of the people of their respective time. For instance, the late Shaikh Agha Bozorg Tehrani in Vol 5 of his book “Az-Zariah” has recorded 424 books under the title ‘Reply’ and 250 books named as “Replies”.
One specimen of such book of the past is the writing of Shaikh Mufid named “Al-Masael al-Okbariyah” which in Vol 6 of his collection of literary works, on page 25 till 135, he has arranged 51 questions and answers on various topics like belief, tafsir, hadith and fiqh. Amongst the recent works, we can name the book “Al-Muraje’at” written by Sayyed Abdul-Husain Sharafuddin Musavi wherein is found questions and answers, discussions and debates in the form of 112 letters on Shia and Sunni sect, Imamate and caliphate exchanged between him and Shaikh Sulaim Bushri, the head of Al-Azhar university of Egypt of that time.
By following the path of Qur’an and Imams as well as past scholars, this writer was instigated to set forth matters in the form of question and answers for the addressees. Thus, I hope the scholars give their guidelines and I hope Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) assists me and even though I don’t find myself worthy of such work, nevertheless, I only intend to serve and express my gratitude towards my holy master and I hope for forgiveness and generosity.
Sayyed Husain Husaini
Verse 285 from Chapter Baqarah lays down the principles of a believer’s faith. However, amongst these principles, nothing is mentioned about belief in Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Similarly, verse 136 from Chapter Nisa talks about infidelity and faith. But we find no command about belief in Imam’s existence nor does it specify that disbelief in Imam (a.t.f.s.) amounts to infidelity. Is belief in Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) one of the principles of faith and would disbelief in him lead one to infidelity?
We set forth below the two verses referred to in the query:
“The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his God, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah, and His angels and His books and His apostles; We make no difference between any of His apostles; and they say: We hear and obey, our God! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course.” (Qur’an, 2:285)
“O you who believe! Believe in Allah, and His Apostle, and the Book which He has revealed to His Apostle and the Book which He revealed before; and whoever disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His book and His apostles and the last day, he indeed strays off into a remote error.” (Qur’an, 4:136)
Verse 285 of Chapter Baqarah:
It’s necessary to mention that the points stated in this noble verse do not specify the entire divine belief and faith. For instance, it does not mention about one of the fundamentals and necessities of faith i.e., ‘Ma’ad’ and belief in resurrection. But, its absence does not abate its importance. It can be said: Belief in the Book and the messenger involves belief in resurrection and belief in ‘Ma’ad’ is integral to belief in the Book and messenger and it is part of the necessities of divine religions.
Just as absence of ‘Ma’ad’ in the above verse cannot become a reason or proof for non-acceptance of ‘Ma’ad’ as a fundamental belief, the same applies to belief in the Imams (a.s.) and Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Besides, we have various other verses that talk about Imams (a.s.) and Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
Verse 136 of Chapter Nisa:
This verse consists of two parts: Positive and negative aspect. In the positive aspect, principle of faith is set forth. The All-Wise Allah commands to believe in four principles: Allah, apostle, book of apostle and books of previous apostles.
In the negative aspect, it says: Those who disbelieve in Allah, His angels, His Book and apostles and the last day have strayed into a remote error.
In this noble verse, we find ‘Ma’ad’ while talking about disbelief in fundamentals of faith. But concerning belief in fundamentals of faith nothing is mentioned about ‘Ma’ad’. It’s clear that each verse in every Chapter is not bound to describe every principle and every aspect of fundamentals and branches of religion. In Sunni and Shia traditions, principles like Salat, fasting, Haj etc form the religious teachings but none of these have come down in this noble verse. Their importance has come down in other verses and traditions.
The same applies to belief in the Imamate of Imams. This vital principle is pointed out in hundreds of verses, in diverse forms, and the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) have interpreted and explained them to imply Amir-ul-Mu’minin’s (a.s.) ‘Vilayat’ and Imam-e-Zaman’s (a.t.f.s.) rule. Among them, we may mention the following verses: (Qur’an, 5:55), (Qur’an, 5:4), (Qur’an, 41:24), and (Qur’an, 5:64)
إنما وليكم الله…………………….. (Qur’an, 5:55)
اليوم اكملت لكم دينكم……………. (Qur’an, 5:4)
و جعلنا منهم ائمة………………. (Qur’an, 41:24)
يا ايها الرسول! بلغ ما انزل………..(Qur’an, 5:46)
Aside from numerous traditions, our leaders have explained and interpreted these verses too.
To sum up, the holy Qur’an has explained some issues like principle of Imamate, prophethood, monotheism and resurrection clearly and openly but with regards to other issues like introduction of Imam, explanation of practical commandments etc it has left its explanation and interpretation with the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.). Thus, one cannot expect all the matters to have come down in the holy Qur’an in clear and decisive terms (considering its apparent limitation in size too) and still further, expect one to believe that all the fundamentals of belief have come down in one verse only.
Is there any verse or verses in the Qur’an about Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?
All the Islamic sciences have their sources in the holy Qur’an and as per Shia belief; the fundamental of everything has its root in this divine book. The ‘Vilayat’ (authority) of Amir-ul-Mu’minin, the status of Imams (a.s.) and the Imamate, and rule of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) all have their root in the holy Qur’an. As such, scholars of Hadith, from past and present have left writings revealing traditions that have interpreted and explained the Qur’anic verses in honour of Ali (a.s.) and pure Imams particularly Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
Amongst them, the verses interpreted in all its dimensions concerning Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has been written down in the book “Al-Muhajjah-Fi-Ma-Nazala-Fi’l-Qaem al-Hujjah” (a.t.f.s.) written by Sayyed Hashim Bahrani, a scholar of 11th and 12th century A.H. He has set forth 120 verses from the Qur’an and below each verse, narrated traditions that talk about the characteristics of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and program of his government. Here, suffice it is to mention three such verses:
1. “Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will most certainly make them rulers in the earth……………….” (Qur’an, 24:55)
Under this verse, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“This saying of Allah: “Allah has promised……” has been revealed about the ‘Qaem’ and his followers.”
Similarly, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) after reciting this verse said:
“I swear by Allah, they are our Shias. By means of a man from us (who is the Mahdi of this Ummah), Allah will make them rulers in the earth. In same regard, the prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: ‘If not more than one day remains from the life of this world, Allah will extend that day so much that a man from my progeny would gain authority over it. His name is the same as my name. He will fill the earth with equity and justice, just as it would be filled with cruelty and tyranny.”
2. “What remains with Allah is better for you if you are believers, and I am not a keeper over you.” (Qur’an, 11:86)
Under this verse we read as follows:
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) was asked: ‘Will the Qaem be greeted by the title ‘Amir-ul-Mu’minin? Imam (a.s.) replied: “No, this title is reserved by Allah for Ali (a.s.) only…..”
I said: Then how will the Qaem be greeted?
Imam (a.s.) replied: People will say:
السلام عليك يا بقية الله
Thereafter, Imam (a.s.) recited (this verse):
“بقية الله خير لكم…”
3. “This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a guide to those who guard (against evil) and those who believe in the Unseen…….” (Qur’an, 2:2)
Below this verse, it is stated that Yahya-ibn-Abi’l Qasem says: “I requested Imam Sadiq (a.s.) to explain this verse.” He (a.s.) said:
“In this verse, ‘those who guard (against evil) are Ali’s Shias and ‘Ghaib’ (Unseen) refers to the hidden Hujjat.”
Have other religions, too, given glad-tiding about the manifestation of a just saviour? Or this belief restricted to Islam only? What are the specialities, of this saviour and the promised Mahdi, in Islam and particularly so in Shia?
As per information at hand, all the religions and books have given glad-tidings about the “world saviour and reformer” in some way or the other. We have explained some of the prophecies in our reply to other queries.
The other religions and past divine books have discussed the saviour’s qualities and characteristics to the same extent, as they have discussed about his ‘Zuhoor’ (Reappearance).
In this regard, it’s a great honour that Islam and particularly Shia, has in hand all the dimensions concerning the saviour’s qualities, ranks, concealment, manifestation at individual and social level, and all these narrated from the immaculate Imams (a.s.). We have information about the saviour before birth, after birth, during childhood period, his life with his father and after his father’s departure from this world, the lesser concealment period, the greater concealment period, ‘Zuhoor’ (manifestation) etc. All these can be found in detail in numerous reliable traditions.
In this regard, you may refer to Muntakhab-ul-Athar: 251, 284, 286, 290, 300, 302, 304, 305…………
In other sects of Islam, the Sunni books, their scholars too have written exclusive books on Hazrat like “Al-Arfo-Wardi”, “Eqdud-Durar” and “Al-Wahmul-Maknun”.
Numerous traditions concerning this matter have also come down in Sihahe-Sitta and other books written by non-Shia scholars. Index of such books appears in the first section of “Muntakhab-ul-Athar” as well as “In search for the Qaem”.
The holy Qur’an has not confined the Imams to twelve in number. In a ‘Dua’ come down in the Qur’an we ask Allah about Imamate. It says: “O Allah…and make us guides to those who guard (against evil).” (Qur’an, 25:74) In another place it says: “And We made them Imams who guided (people) by Our command.” (Qur’an, 21:74). At another place, it calls the prophets as Imams and still further mentions that the unbelievers too have Imams: “Then fight the leaders of unbelief – surely their oaths are nothing.” (Qur’an, 9:12) In one way, all the oppressed ones during Firaun’s era are Imams. So the Imams are not twelve in number. How can we say Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the 12th Imam?
In these set of verses, the status of Imamate is used. In the holy Qur’an, two types of Imamate are mooted. Imamate of “fire” and Imamate of “light”.
About the Imam of fire, it says:
“And We made them Imams who call to the fire” (Qur’an, 28:41)
About the Imams of light, it says:
“And We made them Imams who guided (people) by Our command.” (Qur’an, 21:73)
If someone casts a glance into the Qur’an, he will accept Imamate. The holy Imams (a.s.) too have rationalized this very matter and said: “This lofty status is exclusively earmarked for a few because Allah says:
“O Abraham, surely I will make you an Imam of the people. Abraham (very enthusiastically) said: And of my offspring? (Allah said): My covenant does not include the unjust.” (Qur’an, 2:124)
Here, Imam Reza (a.s.) says:
“The status of Imamate is so lofty that Allah bestowed it to Abraham only after consistent tests and after bestowing him with the position of prophet hood and messenger ship and after earning the title “Khaleel” So how can people select this position for themselves!?”
For this reason, this status is especially reserved for divine saints. The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) have declared them to be twelve in number after the prophet (s.a.w.a.) and specified their names as well. In the Shia and Sunni traditions, their number is stated to be equal to the number of Bani-Israel leaders; equal to number of Christ’s disciples, equal to number of zodiacs, equal to number of months (which are twelve in number).
These traditions come down in Shia and Sunni books are all ‘Mutawatir’ (i.e., widely transmitted). The vital question is that who are these twelve specified persons? It’s mentioned in Shia and Sunni traditions that “all of them are from Quraish” About the twelve Imams, there are two explanations: The Sunnis speak in a scattered manner. But the Shias say: ‘As per ‘Mutawatir’ traditions from the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), the names and specifications of these twelve persons till Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) are known and clear. We can find few of such Shia traditions, in detailed form, in “Usul-e-Kafi” Vol 1, pages 525-535 and pages 286-328.
This brief discussion clarifies that the Imamate of light, come down in the noble verses, is a special status and an exceptional station selected by Allah and nobody can acquire it by himself. The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) has expressed in various forms their number to be twelve. All of them are from the Quraish and according to Shia and some Sunni traditions (like the ones come down in Yanabi’ul-Muwadda, page 440 as per narration of Muntakhab-ul-Athar, page 97) all their names too are specified.
Consequently, the noble verse: “و اجعلنا للمتقين إماما” (Qur’an, 25:75) differs from whatever we have said about the special status of Imamate in Qur’an. The Imamate discussed in the preceding verses is a special status and position and the Imamate in verse 75 from Chapter Furqan has been used in the literal sense to denote leadership for the pious ones.
Besides, assuming that in this verse, Imam is used in technical and not literal sense, yet it applies to the immaculate Imams (a.s.) who were specified by the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). In other words, the esoteric interpretation of this verse concerns the holy Imams (a.s.). A tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) substantiates our viewpoint. Imam (a.s.) says:
“In verse: “و اجعلنا للمتقين إماما” (Qur’an, 25:75) Allah has meant us.”
Please give a detailed explanation about the names of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?
Aside from name (which is common amongst all), the Arabs also use title and agnomen. Among the Arabs, it was and still is a custom for an individual to have a name, title and agnomen.
Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) possesses one special name: “م ح م د” Some believe that during his concealment, one should use his special name and a few say: ‘The prohibition of using his name goes back to the “short concealment period” when Hazrat feared he would be recognized. We have narrated the related tradition in our reply to another query.
Hazrat (a.t.f.s.) possesses various titles such as Mahdi, Hujjat, Qaem, Saheb-al-Zaman, Muntazer, Muntazar. A title is given after considering its meaning.
He has one ‘Kunya’ (agnomen) too. In the Arab culture, ‘Kunya’ is related to ‘Ab’ (اب)”father” or ‘Umm’ (ام)”mother”. In case of ladies,اُم appears before ‘kunya’ and in case of men, اَب is used. For example, they say: Abu-Zar- Abu-Abdullah- Abu’l-Qasi- Abu’l-Fazl and in case of women: Umm-Salma- Umm-ul-Baneen- Umm-Kulsum- Umm-Abiha. ‘Kunya’ does not necessarily require that for example a father should have a son named ‘Abdullah’ so that he can be given the ‘kunya’: Abu-Abdullah..
One of the Imam-e-Zaman’s titles is (Aba-Saleh)
ابا صالح. It does not necessarily mean that he should possess a son named Saleh.
‘Abu-Saleh’ (or ‘Aba-Saleh’ or ‘Abi-Saleh’) means someone who possesses abundant goodness as if goodness is borne from him.
Thus, in case of children, ‘Kunya’ is used for two reasons: One reason may be in hope that they would have a child so that they are given that name. Another reason is that some outstanding qualities may be seen in him which is expressed in the form of ‘Kunya’. The one who distribute food among the poor is called ‘Abul-Qasim’; the one who helps is called ‘Abu-Hashim’ and an eatable that is refreshing and tasty (like falooda) is named ‘Abu-Sa’egh’ (Sa’egh means very refreshing).
One of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) ‘Kunya’ is “Abu-Abdullah”. It does not mean he should necessarily possess a son named Abdullah though he did possess one. “Abdullah” means Allah’s slave. It means he has reached the peak in serving Allah and he is the father of Allah’s slaves.
This was one matter about names, titles and agnomens. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) possesses many titles and agnomens because the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), the Imams (a.s.) and Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) [right from the time he gave glad-tiding about the existence of last Imam] have used various titles for him. The famous traditionist Haj Mirza Husain Nuri had narrated 182 names and titles for Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
In Ziarat-e-Aale-Yasin, we recite:
السلام عليك يا داعي الله…. (Salutation be upon you O the one inviting (people) towards Allah!) where as the holy Qur’an says Allah’s messenger is the one inviting people towards Allah!
Undoubtedly, one of the qualities and specialities of Allah’s messenger is to invite people towards Allah. He (Allah) says:
“O prophet! Surely We have sent you as a witness, and as a bearer of good news and as a warner, And as one inviting to Allah by His permission, and as a light-giving torch.” (Qur’an, 33: 45&46)
In spite of this, the aforesaid verse does not draw any limitation and exclusivity and does not say that ‘invitation’ is confined merely to the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). Besides, in the following verses this state (of inviting people towards Allah) is applied to others too. For example:
“And who speaks better than he who calls to Allah while he himself does good and says: I am surely of those who submit.” (Qur’an, 41:33)
Moreover, in Shia and Sunni traditions, great emphasis is laid to invite people towards goodness. For instance:
“Call the people towards religion; not with your tongue (but deeds).”
We see our noble Imams commanding us to invite the people towards goodness. In reality, every missionary of religion and inviter of goodness is “داعي الي الله” (inviter towards Allah) and the most perfect exemplar are the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) who call the people towards none but Allah.
In Ziarat-e- Jame’ah, we read about the immaculate Imams (a.s.):
“Peace by upon the inviters towards Allah.”
To sum up, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) calls the people towards Allah. This attribute is not confined to any prophet or Imam but all the Apostles and Imams call the people towards Allah.
When was Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) born? There exist diverse sayings about 15th Shaban. In Vol 51 of Bihar-ul-Anwar, various dates are mentioned like: 24th Ramazan, 9th Rabi’ul-Awwal, 15th Ramazan, 3rd Shaban, 8th Shaban and Thursday night of Ramazan. Anyhow, what is the date of his birth?
There exists difference of opinion in numerous vital historical events and incidents such as births, martyrdoms, wars and reign. Difference about birth of someone who was born at the time when tyrant rulers kept strict vigilance over him is something natural. It is likely that in order to save Hazrat’s life and out of dissimulation, the Imams (a.s.) celebrated his birth with such differences and they didn’t reveal its actual truth. Obviously, if the Imams (a.s.) had exactly specified the date before Hazrat’s birth or even at the time of his birth, then the state of Imam Hasan Askari’s family who were severely besieged would still worsen. But the Imams (a.s.) wished to keep secret Hazrat’s (a.s.) date of birth. Thus, there arose differences after Hazrat’s birth
This difference reveals the strict control exerted by the Abbasid caliphs. They would send agents to Imam Hasan Askari’s house and search the women to find out if any among them was pregnant. They feared the birth of the promised one of Islam who would destroy their throne and crown.
Now that we are passing the stage of major concealment after the lapse of minor concealment and Hazrat continues to thrive and live, today, the Shias have investigated and reached a decisive conclusion that 15th Shaban is more evident and correct. For this reason, in spite of differences in the day, month and year of birth, the Shias have selected and supported only one date.
Thus, at the start, the idea was to keep Hazrat’s birth concealed and one way for it was to keep difference in the date of birth where none would realize its exact date. The same is the case with Hazrat Zahra’s (a.s.) grave. Some say her grave is in Baqi; some say she was buried in her own house and yet others say she was buried besides the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). So it’s obvious that when something is concealed, differences would come up.
Can this difference in date of birth lead one to believe that Hazrat didn’t exist at all?!
Such reasoning is like saying, ‘Difference of opinion about Hazrat Fatema’s grave is a proof that she wasn’t martyred and that she doesn’t possess a grave at all.’
If it’s decided to keep an event concealed, then this ambiguity will certainly rise. There exists difference in the holy prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) birth as well. Majority of the Sunnis believe his date of birth to be 12th Rabi’ul-Awwal while the Shias believe it to be 17th Rabi’ul-Awwal.
If we look at history, we fill find many differences concerning birth, death and numerous other historical events. Are they proofs that such personalities did not live in history? Or is this difference itself a proof that such personalities did live but with some difference in opinion about some events related to them.
Please explain about this tradition or saying:
“كلهم نور واحد ” all the Imams are one light. If this saying is correct then how can one justify the difference of Imam Mahdi’s position with other Imams (a.s.)?
The wordings that appear in tradition says:
كلنا واحد من نور واحد
(Bihar-ul-Anwar 26: 16 & 281)
It implies that they nurture from one source of light. In their original creation, they are from one light. In the world of spirits and shadow, their derivation is from one source leading to one truth. That “نور واحد” one light refers to the light of Allah’s Greatness.
Traditions say that the souls or spirits of Imams (a.s.) are higher than “Elliyeen” and their bodies from “Elliyeen”. The souls of Shias are from “Elliyeen” and their bodies lower than “Elliyeen”. Moreover, the programs and responsibilities of Imams (a.s.) all belong to the world of revelation and their beliefs, ethics and deed are all divine and human. Their main policy in life is perfect devotion and submission before the Almighty Allah even though their eras differ from one another and their duties varies from one another.
Thus, Imam-e-Zaman’s (a.t.f.s.) duty differs from all other Imams (a.s.), mainly due to his implementation of the Islamic commandments in the entire world.
Their appointment by Allah, and their immaculateness is something common in all of them. Also, all of them are medium or channels through which the living creatures derive benefits. Besides, they are all deeply rooted in knowledge and are interpreters of the holy Qur’an. Lastly, they bear the responsibility of safeguarding religion from heresy.
Is ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment) specific to the 12th Imam (a.t.f.s.) or it has precedence in the past Imams and prophets?
‘Ghaibat’, in the sense of absolute concealment from human perceptive senses (the faculty, intellect, illusion and imagination) is exclusive to God only. Aside from this, we also have relative ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment) and in this regard, none among the prophets and Imams had constant presence for all the people in all the societies and each one had a relative presence and relative concealment. Basically, any human-being falls in this category. A group of people meet and associate with him while another group do not do so.
In traditions, Imam-e-Zaman’s (a.t.f.s.) state during concealment is likened to the past prophets. In this regard, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“In our Qaem are signs of Musa- ibn- Imran (Moses).
Narrator says: I asked: What are the signs?
Imam (a.s.) replied: “His secret birth and his concealment from others …..”
Also, narrator says: I heard Imam Baqir (a.s.) who said: “The master of the affairs possesses signs of four prophets (a.s.): ….his sign from Musa is fear and ‘entezar’ (awaiting) [during concealment].”
Therefore, the story of concealment and secret living has precedence among the past prophets and messengers.
Shaikh Saduq has set forth traditions about concealment of past prophets like Andreas, Noah, Saleh, Abraham, Joseph and Moses (a.s.) and has proven their ‘Ghaibat’ in some way or the other.
Among the Imams (a.s.) why only Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment)? What is the reason and philosophy behind this ‘Ghaibat’?
It is not always easy for the human to understand the real cause and nature of the Islamic commandments. When the Imams (a.s.) were asked about the reason for ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment), they replied: ‘Allah knows’ or they quote this verse: “Do not put questions about things which if declared to you may trouble you.”(Qur’an, 5:101)
This is because the absolute reason and various dimension of any affair is unknown to all but Allah.
Thus, the reason (cause) for ‘Ghaibat’ is a matter which either present or absent, ‘Ghaibat’ revolves around that matter. By its presence, ‘Ghaibat’ continues to prevail and by its absence or removal, ‘Ghaibat’ comes to an end. Such thorough knowledge concerning what is the matter of ‘Ghaibat’ and when it would come to an end is not known to anyone but Allah or someone chosen by Him. In spite of this, our immaculate Imams (a.s.) have pointed out in traditions several philosophies behind ‘Ghaibat’. They never engaged in explaining the complete and ultimate cause and instead brought witness from the holy Qur’an by reciting this verse:
“And do not put questions about things which if declared to you may trouble you”
Philosophy is that first and foremost phenomenon in which the second phenomenon, in its initial formation, revolves around it. But in the world of non-existence and continuation of life, it doesn’t revolve around it. It’s possible that philosophy might get destroyed and the second phenomenon still continue to live or the philosophy might have existence but not so the second phenomenon.
Therefore, the main reason for ‘Ghaibat’ will be known after ‘Zuhoor’ (manifestation) [Bihar-ul-Anwar 52:91]. This lofty and concealed reason has been likened to the incident of Khizr (a.s.) and Moses (a.s.) where after completion of Khizr’s mission, its philosophies became clear for Hazrat Moses (a.s.)
In order to make the questioners understand that it’s not possible to have thorough knowledge of all the commandments and phenomenon, the Imams (a.s.) have used the term “حكمت” (philosophy) and reminded us of a few points:
1) Testing and sifting the people
2) Fear of being killed. If Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) had constant appearance and consequently would lead to non-implementation of his responsibilities.
3) Various human schools of thought coming into existence and their failure and defeat and the preparedness of the people in accepting Hazrat’s manifestation and global government.
4) Living securely and remaining aloof from giving allegiance to the tyrant rulers.
While remembering Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), why don’t we utter his real name (due to strict prohibition found in few Shia traditions) and we call him by titles like “Mahdi”, “Qaem Aale-Muhammad”, “Hujjat’ullah”, “Baqiyat’allah, etc?
Prohibition from uttering his special name has its roots in traditions. In Kafi, book of Al-Hujjah, Kulaini has opened a chapter named باب في النهي عن الاسم (chapter concerning prohibition from uttering name). He has narrated four traditions in it and Allamah Majlisi, while commenting on these four traditions has authenticated two of them.
Mohaddes Nuri has brought 13 traditions in second chapter of his book “Najm-e-Saqeb” which all show that it’s impermissible to utter the special name. Here, we shall set forth only one tradition:
Aban-ibn-Salt narrates from Imam Reza (a.s.) that he was asked about the “Qaem”. Imam (a.s.) replied: “His body wouldn’t be seen and his name wouldn’t be uttered.”
The certain and decisive point is that utterance of Hazrat’s special name was prohibited till the end of “short concealment” considering the requirements of that period. In the past, the immaculate Imams refrained from disclosing his name except to a few special Shias and content themselves with various titles and agnomens. However, after the start of greater concealment, some scholars and jurisprudents have considered it permissible to utter Hazrat’s name although they consider its abandonment a precautionary measure as a form of respect for those set of traditions that prohibit it.
Today, our duty is to act upon the traditions, and the views of majority of the jurisprudents and scholars of Hadith. Although as per a few, the philosophy for prohibition of uttering name has ceased; yet the endless interests and harms stated in divine commandments and man’s meager knowledge and lack of complete dominance over all of them necessitates us to take precautionary measures and not to utter Imam’s name.
For this reason, we too follow the steps of high-ranking scholars on Hadith and refrain from uttering Imam’s special name “م ح م د” and remember and call him by various titles and seek his help by saying:
“O chief! distress has afflicted us and our family and we have brought scanty money, so give us full measure and be charitable to us; surely Allah rewards the charitable.” (Qur’an, 12:88)
Please describe the names, number and specifications of Imam-e-Zaman’s envoys.
As per historical narration, the reliable and trustworthy persons who frequently visited Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) mainly during the lesser concealment were manifold. But the most famous amongst them were four in number:
Abul-Hasan Ali-ibn-Muhammad-Samori (or Samari or Semmari)
These envoys of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and their deputyship possessed the same power and authority as the one given to them by Imam Hadi (a.s.), and Imam Askari (a.s.). In order to make the people habituated with Imam-e-Zaman’s concealment, they too would fulfil the people’s task and affairs through their own appointed agents.
During the 69 years of Imam’s minor concealment period, these envoys, while protecting the secrets of Imamate, would fulfil the needs of the Shias related to their beliefs and ordinances through Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). During this period, the place of Hazrat Mahdi as well as the envoys was never revealed and thus nobody was arrested. These envoys kept secret this matter to such extent that it’s said if their flesh was cut to pieces so that they would reveal Imam’s place, they would never do so.
Aside from their secret-keeping and trust worthiness, these envoys were special friends of the household of Imamate and Vilayat and they were wise, intellectual and pious. The people would put forward their queries and receive correct replies from their living Imam through these envoys and via letters. Besides, by means of some letters that were written by pen without ink, they would gain certainty about the connection these envoys had with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Now we shall set forth a short description about each of these envoys:
1. Uthaman-ibn-Saeed was among the students and followers of the tenth and eleventh Imams and had the mandate from those Imams (a.s.). He gained the honour of serving the prophet’s household from age eleven and won the confidence and trust of three Imams (a.s.). He lived in a military place close to Imam Hadi and Imam Askari. He was Imam-e-Zaman’s envoy for several years. He died and was buried in Baghdad. It is said he died after 260 A.H.
2. Muhammad-ibn-Uthman son of first envoy. He died in 305 A.H. and was buried in Baghdad. He was amongst the followers of eleventh and twelfth Imam and was praised by both Imams (a.s.). He held the post of deputyship for approximately forty years.
Hazrat Baqiyat’ullah (a.t.f.s.) issued several ‘Tauqeehs’ (decrees) in honour of the second envoy and his father which can be found in their proper sources. These ‘Tauqeehs’ reveal the lofty position of these two envoys in the eyes of Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.).
3. Husain-ibn-Rouh-Naubakhti belonged to the family of Bani-Naubakht. This envoy of Iranian nationality died in 326 A.H. He won the confidence of Muhammad-ibn-Uthman and helped him during the last two years of his life. As per Imam-e-Zaman’s (a.t.f.s.) instructions, Muhammad-ibn-Uthman assigned him the post of deputyship.
4. Ali-ibn-Muhammad-Samori died in 329 A.H. (start of major concealment) and was buried in Baghdad. He is contemporary to Muhammad-ibn-Yaqub Kulaini author of Al-Kafi.
These envoys would receive queries and problems from the Shias and present them before Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Later, they would submit the replies to the people. Due to fear from the ruling caliph’s tyranny they lived in dissimulation and didn’t reveal their relationship with Imam (a.t.f.s.) except to the noble Shias and wise secret-preserving followers. During the last stage of the fourth deputy’s life, he received a letter from Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) stating: “…….the major concealment has begun and there wouldn’t be any deputyship any longer. Do not appoint anyone to the post of deputyship and you would die within six days.”
The following is the text of this letter (‘tauqeeh’):
“In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
“O Ali-ibn-Muhammad Samori,
May Allah give rewards to your brothers in the matter of your death! You will depart from this world within six days. So arrange and complete your affairs and do not appoint anyone as your successor because, ‘The major Ghaibat’ (concealment) shall commence and ‘Zuhoor’ (Reappearance) wouldn’t occur except if the Almighty Allah gives permission and that would be after long years of darkness when hearts will turn into stones and the land filled with injustice and cruelty. Soon, some will claim to our Shias about our meeting. Before the rise of Sufyani and the heavenly cry, such malicious claimers will fabricate lies and there is no power and might but that of Almighty Allah.”
On the one hand, the content of this ‘Tauqee’ closes the chapter of special deputyship and informs the people about the commencement of major concealment. On the other hand, it rejects the claims during major concealment by those claiming to know Hazrat’s place and their ability in visiting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) whenever they desire so. Of course, this does not mean that Hazrat wouldn’t manifest himself before his fascinated lovers and the door of visitation would come to a close.
After six days, Imam’s prediction turned into a reality. He departed this world and from that day (329 A.H.) the major concealment commenced.
Can one meet Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) during the major concealment? If the answer is in the affirmative, then how does it reconcile with Hazrat’s ‘Tauqee’, wherein he addresses his last special envoy Ali-ibn-Muhammad Samori and says, ‘Anyone claiming to meet me prior to the rise of Sufyani and the heavenly cry is a liar and scandalmonger.
Undoubtedly, there exists the possibility of meeting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) during the major concealment. The best proof is the occurrence of such incidents in the length of history of the major concealment. The writings of scholars of Hadith, right from the oldest books till the current ones, are full of narrations about such meetings that have occurred during minor and major concealment period.
The vital point lies here that whether such meetings and contacts occur as per our wish and intention, or the discretion lies with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?
Experience reveals as well as the sentence of Imam’s ‘Tauqee’ addressed to Ali-ibn-Muhammad Samiri shows that such contacts occur due to Imam’s will and permission and not because of people’s wish. This is exactly one of the meanings of minor and major concealment (‘Ghaibat’). That which has been negated in Imam’s ‘Tauqee’ is bilateral contacts by the will of the common people (so that the door of deputyship etc is closed).
In ‘Tauqee’ we find these words:
“‘Zuhoor’ (Reappearance) wouldn’t occur except if the Almighty Allah gives permission” which shows that there wouldn’t be any ‘Zuhoor’ (manifestation) except if Allah wishes. Such type of meeting is negated otherwise there isn’t the least doubt about the direct unlimited favours and generosities of Imam (a.t.f.s.) whether apparent or concealed to the common man in general and his Shias in particular.
To conclude, in conformation of the fact that Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) constantly exhibits his favours to his Shias and sometimes even manifests himself, we set forth here a sentence from Imam’s ‘Tauqee’ to Shaikh Mufid:
“We have news about you. We are aware of your hardships and we are not neglectful in observing your state. We aren’t forgetful of you, otherwise you would live a difficult life and the enemies would destroy you.”
Observance, remembrance, and collection of news constantly occur together with apparent favours and grace. In one quick and short research one can see that the most pious and trustworthy figures in history like Sayyed Bah’rul Ulum, Allamah Hilli, Muqaddas Ardebeli and many others have succeeded in meeting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) thus leaving no place for any doubt.
At which places the probability is more for seeing Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)? Is he present in public places too, or he can be seen at special places only?
Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) visits few special places and does not visit certain other places. He does not step in places of diversion and amusement although he has control and oversees them and Allah makes him aware about them. One cannot find him in unlawful, immoral and corrupt places. He is particular about recommendable acts. He visits Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave especially on every Thursday night. He attends the Umra in month of Rajab and visits the grave of holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and other Imams (a.s.). His special grace and kindness extends over all the religious gatherings of the Shias. The more beneficial and constructive these gatherings and the more nearer they are to Allah’s satisfaction, the greater is Hazrat’s care and attention for such gatherings.
Reason and experience dictate that he cares and extends his favour for gatherings that remember Imam Husain’s (a.s.) virtues and misfortunes. The criterion in gatherings is not the number of attendants. The good heart of the speaker, the sincerity of the listeners, the pure intention of the house-owner, the prayers recited for Hazrat in that gathering and the attendants’ good manners are fully effective in attracting Imam’s attention. In fact, on numerous occasions, Hazrat has been seen in such gatherings. I emphasise once again that chances of seeing Hazrat are more in gatherings commemorating Imam Husain (a.s.). He has also been seen many times in Mecca, in the holy prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) shrine, in holy places and the shrine of Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.).
We narrate here one memoir:
About twenty-five years ago, a group amongst our sincere friends living in Shiraz collectively left one Thursday night for the outskirts of the city for a holiday rest. In the mountainous region, amidst the several trees and besides a spring, they recited Dua-e-Kumail on that Thursday night and were all in good mood. They called upon Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) numerous times. Usually, a state of forgetfulness overtakes those who are fortunate in meeting Hazrat. If not, then they would scream out drawing the attention of others thus making open the event whereas only a few are supposed to experience this grace. After that incident, one of them (who is still alive) narrates as such:
Since we rested in an open and mountainous region, we planned to keep guard every two hours over others who would sleep so as to protect the group from wild beasts. It was now my turn for keeping guard and it was past midnight. I walked on the border line where my friends lay asleep. I noticed a lantern lit near a spring that was at short distance from us and I saw someone drinking water. I went forward. I saw a splendid and dignified figure besides the spring. I greeting him and said: ‘What are you doing here during this part of the night? He replied, ‘I visit my friends wherever they gather. Those who reached here last night are our friends and we care for them. I have come here for their sake.
During that state, this youth had turned completely heedless and inattentive. The next morning, the group recited Dua-e-Nudba and at intervals, would call upon Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). During the last hours when the group started packing their things for departure, this youth suddenly jumped up and his state transformed completely. His friends inquired about his change of attitude and he said, ‘Sit down, I have something to narrate.’ Thereafter, he narrated the event of the last night.
Those who call him and implore for his help in young age receive greater attention from him. To sum up, the probable place Hazrat visits is the gatherings in which the Shias engage themselves in worship and remembrance of Allah.
I recommend the youth to have good manners and perform ablution while attending such gatherings. One should have purity of heart and attend for Allah’s sake. That kind Imam (a.t.f.s.) shows greater favour towards the youth as their sins are lesser and their burden much lighter, and if any special grace is to be showered it would be showered upon the youth, Inshallah.
It is said that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has said, “We aren’t forgetful of our Shias and we remember them.” Does he mean the entire Shias and even the sinful amongst them or he refers only the pious ones? If it is the latter case, then what would be the state of the sinful?
In the lexicon of Ahl’ul-bayt traditions, the Shias are a group of special people. However, no term, concept and spiritual meaning is assigned to any single special group but instead encompasses various grades and levels. Although the truth of any term and its concept are more easily grasped if applied to outstanding figures nevertheless the same concept is also true at lower levels. In other words, all phrases are analogical and in definition, it’s not that the first level category only is taking into account.
In our divine lexicon, terms such as ‘Aalem’, ‘Mu’min’, ‘Faqih’, ‘Saleh’ and ‘Muttaqi’ are used numerously. But these terms are not used for a few special class or exclusive people only even though special categories constantly come to one’s mind. For example, the term ‘Faqih’ denotes “someone well-versed in religion”. It does not merely refer to someone who is top-most in ‘Fiqh’ (for instance Shaikh Tusi) but rather also applies to lower categories.
Thus, Imam-e-Zaman’s (a.t.f.s.) statement (in ‘Tauqee’ of Shaikh Mofid) that:
“We aren’t neglectful in remembering you and aren’t forgetful of your affairs” does not merely apply to the top-most Shias only. Rather it applies to lower categories too with the condition that they don’t remain aloof from Shia ethics so much so that they exit from the real meaning of ‘Shia’.
If only the lofty and eminent Shias are considered in the eyes of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) then it would apply only to a few limited people of every era and the common people would no longer strive to traverse from inferior to superior level and our Imam’s grace and kindness would not embrace and encompass all. But, from Imam’s great ocean of love, we see everyone drawing the water of life and enjoying spiritual bliss each one to the capacity of their cup.
This is the rule of Divine Mercy and affection and the Imams (a.s.) are the perfect manifestation of Divine Mercy and affection. They don’t withhold a bit from expressing their kindness and assisting the helpless and weak and numerous pages in history have recorded their noble temperament.
Shaikh Saduq narrates in “Savaab ul-A’maal”: Mo’alla-ibn-Honais says:
“In one rainy night, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) left his house and intended to visit the umbrella-stand of Bani-Sa’eda (a place ascribed to Bani-Sa’eda and the poor would sleep at night in that place). I followed Imam (a.s.). On the way, something fell from Hazrat’s hand. He said, ‘In the name of Allah. O Allah! Bring back whatever has fallen.’
In the darkness of night I went near and greeted him. He said, O Mo’alla, is it you? I replied, ‘Yes, may my life be sacrificed for you.’ He said, ‘Search with your hands and whatever you find give it to me.’ As I lay my hand on the ground, I realized that a few pieces of bread had fallen down. I picked them up and handed over to him. Meanwhile, I realized that a bag full of bread accompanied him as well. I said, ‘May I be sacrificed for you. Will you allow me to carry this bag? He said, ‘No I must carry it myself but you can accompany me.’
We reached the umbrella-stand of Bani-Sa’eda. I saw people sleeping at this place. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) went forward. He quietly kept beneath the baggage of everyone one piece and two pieces of bread. Thereafter, we returned. On the way, I asked, “Were they all the followers of true religion?” He replied, “If they were followers of the true religion, I would have made them my partners in everything even salt and pepper.”
Thus, people who were not followers of truth were meted out with such grace and kindness. Besides, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) reckons the followers of truth (i.e., the Shias) to be his partners even in salt and pepper. Truly, his great son Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) too is kind and graceful to the Shias and he allows the same magnanimity and generosity to prevail.
As such, we can conclude and say in brief:
Everyone, whether pious or wicked can expose themselves to Hazrat’s grace and kindness and on this basis, it is advisable for the pious to strive more in his piety and for the wicked to refrain from evils and instead turn to piety with the hope that Imam’s boundless grace encompasses them all.
How is the position of Imam(s) in the creation of this world, and what is meant by ‘Vilayate-Takvin’ (authority over creation)? What does it imply when we say, ‘Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the medium for receiving bounties and blessings?
‘Vilayate-Takvin’ (authority over creation) implies that Imam (Allah’s Hujjat) plays a fundamental role in creation. Just like the sun, which plays a vital role in giving material bounties to living creatures, Imam (a.t.f.s.) receives the blessings of existence with all its perfections, from the divine world, and bestows it to all other creatures.
Considering that the blessing of existence and its perfections descends from top to bottom, the Almighty Allah bestows this bounty by means of superior and noblest creature down to the other creatures. In the traditions of immaculate Imams (a.s.), we read:
“If the earth is devoid of an Imam, it would swallow its inhabitants.”
“The existence of ‘Hujjat’ (Imam) is a must before the creation, with creation as well as after creation.”
As per substantial and sound traditions concerning the manner of creation, the Almighty Allah, in the preceding world created the light of holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) from His own magnificence light. Then, from the holy prophet’s light, He created the light of Amir-ul-Mu’mineen and Fatemah (a.s.). Thereafter, from the light of these two figures, He created the light of Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (a.s.) and later the other Imams (a.s.). The illuminating light of immaculate ones (a.s.), the first of its stages in creation, started glorifying and praising the Almighty Allah. Then, in the world of spirits, their pure souls were created and after formation of the world of body, the soul got attached to body and their elemental bodies were formed. Thereafter, from their light, the Almighty Allah manifested the rest of creation.
It’s interesting to point out that there exist a general resemblance between their bodies and the souls of Shias. Their bodies are from the world of “Elliyeen” and their souls higher than “Elliyeen”. On the other hand, the souls of Shias are from the world of “Elliyeen” and their bodies from a lower world.
Thus, medium of blessing via Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) implies receiving the ‘light of existence’ from higher levels and giving it to the lower levels i.e., transfer of blessing of existence to lower creatures. Such type of creation is something in accordance with Divine Wisdom and Allah has made it a custom in all His creations. In philosophical terms, this type of creation (which is certain and conclusive as per traditions) is named as the principle of ‘Emkan-e-Al-ashraf’o-Fal-Ashraf’. Those interested for a detailed account can refer to books on traditions in the chapter related to creation of light of holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.).
Some of the benefits of Imam’s existence during major concealment are like the benefits of the sun concealed behind the cloud. As per narration in Bihar-ul-Anwar narrated from Muhammad-ibn-Ya’qub Kulaini, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) himself says:
“The manner one benefits from my existence (my place in creation and society) during the concealment era is like the manner one benefits from the sun concealed behind the cloud. Verily, I am a respite and comfort for the inhabitants on earth just as the stars are for the inhabitants in heaven…..”
Jabir-ibn-Abdullah Ansari inquired the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.): ‘Will the Shias benefit during concealment of the ‘Qaem’? The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) replied:
“Yes, I swear by the One who appointed me as prophet that they shall derive benefit from him and will find brightness from the light of his ‘Vilayat’ just as they benefit from the sun that is hidden behind the clouds.”
Under this tradition, Allama Majlisi has described eight aspects of similarity between benefits derived from Imams during concealment and sun hidden behind clouds. We have explained them in detail in the book ‘Mehre-Mahboob’ and all of these are discussed from the viewpoint of creation and existence.
But from the viewpoint of divine legislation and guidance and bid for good and forbid of evil, Imam is the protector of religion, guide for mankind, very sympathetic, a compassionate father for them, a radiant sun emitting life and a pleasant limpid ocean.
Imam is the model of servitude before Allah and the caravan leader of worshippers and devout people taking mankind towards the desired divine goal.
This level of guidance, showing the way, is related to divine guidance (Hedayat’e-tashri’ee). Rather, it makes one reach the desired perfection which is named as ‘esoteric guidance in creation’ (Hedayat’e-takvin)
In invocations we say:
” آللهم إني اسالك بحق محمد و علي و فاطمة و الحسن و الحسين…………
The reason we swear by their names before Allah is because they are the medium of elevation of our deeds and prayers to the Divine threshold. For this reason, Imam Reza (a.s.), while describing the position and rank of Imamate says in a tradition come down in Kafi as follows:
“Completion of prayers, zakat, haj and……….is by means of Imam” (belief in Imamate)
How would be the physical appearance of Imam (a.t.f.s.) at the time of his Reappearance? Considering his long age, would he look old or young?
Some of the traditions concerning Imam-e-Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) describe that time would not turn him old, and he would continue to look young. In one of the traditions it has come down as follows:
“Aba Salte Haravi I asked Imam Reza (a.s.): ‘What is the sign of your Qaem (so that one can recognize him)? Hazrat Reza (a.s.) replied: Amongst the signs is that he would be old age, but would look young in appearance. Anyone looking at him would imagine him to be forty or even less. Amongst his other sign is that time would never turn him old until death meets him.”
In another tradition, Imam Hasan-ibn-Ali (a.s.) says:
“When Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will rise, the people would deny him because he would approach them with the face of a youth, while they would imagine him to possess an aged face.”
Again in another tradition come down in the book ‘Ghaibat-e-Tusi’, Imam (a.t.f.s.) resembles prophet Jonah (a.s.) by possessing a youthful face.
It’s worthy to mention that all the fortunate ones who have met Hazrat, during minor or major concealment, have seen him with a youthful face; and appearing as a man of forty. We pray to Allah to make us fortunate too, Inshallah.
If Imam’s Reappearance is connected to the earth getting filled with injustice and oppression, then is it useful to pursue the goodness, beneficence and piety?
Firstly, the earth getting filled with oppression is not the only decisive and unchangeable course for ‘Zuhoor’ (Reappearance). Rather, Reappearance has another course too, which lies in the people’s readiness in accepting the just and universal government of Imam.
Secondly, the two realities of ‘oppression’ and ‘filled’ are “relative” issues.
Thirdly, the mind, the innate nature as well as the civilized call of all prophets and Imams have always been this:
‘Even if the entire world is engulfed in corruption and oppression, one should never withhold from reforming the individual and society.’
Experience too reveals the fruits of these great personalities’ endeavours at such sensitive times by delivering to the corrupt and vicious societies numerous pure and lofty individuals.
Fourthly, the reformers and guides of humanity recommend:
1. The pious people must strive and endeavour to influence the society and not allow the environment and society to affect them.
2. Enjoining good and forbidding evil should be given top priority and never forsaken.
3. “One shouldn’t lose hope of Divine mercy” and support for such despair is itself a major sin. (Qur’an, 12:87)
4. In describing the duties of ‘those awaiting’, it has come down in a tradition as follows:
About this verse, ‘O you who believe! Be patient and excel in patience and remain steadfast’ (Qur’an, 3:200), Imam Baqir (a.s.) says: It means, you should show forbearance in performing the obligatory acts; must adopt patience in the face of your enemies and should establish connection with your awaited Imam.’
Also, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“The one who desires to be among the companions of our ‘Qaem’ must await him and must adopt piety and good manners…..”
To sum up, Imam Mahdi’s (a.t.f.s.) ‘Zuhoor’ and rule possess two background or position. The first position that pertains to good people is reform and piety and the selection rests with them. The other position is oppression resulting from lack of effort and endeavour on the part of common people and is the normal trend in the society. Here, there is no choice and the environmental conditions are forced on them. As per reason and divine commandments, people living during concealment are responsible for selecting and setting firm the first course, first for themselves and then for others.
Despite the presence of numerous pious and religious figures who are involved in good deeds and affairs in the entire world, why doesn’t Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) manifest himself?
The existence of good and pious people is not the absolute condition for ‘Zuhoor’, though it paves the way for it. The very basis of ‘Zuhoor’ depends on Allah’s Will and Wisdom. Allah’s Will is the absolute and decisive cause of ‘Zuhoor’ that fixes measures and ratifies it. The people’s mental and spiritual preparedness is the groundwork for that ‘Zuhoor’. Whenever they are prepared and pray and Allah also Wills so, Hazrat will manifest himself. We cannot say, “Why doesn’t he come despite the presence of pious people? Rather it’s our duty to pray and supplicate. The pious ones must pray for hastening his reappearance.
On the other hand, the saying that people are pious and virtuous holds doubt! Do we really have numerous numbers of pious and upright persons in our society? The presence of such people at our times is even less than (as per traditions) red sulphur. Religion too is scarcely found with people (like red sulphur) and its protection is like holding fire in hand. If the pious ones and pious deeds are deeply analysed and are measured on the basis of Qur’an, traditions and ethics of Ahl’ul-bayt (a.s.) and the thoughts, beliefs and deeds are very minutely scrutinized at individual and social levels, we will then realize how rare are pious people. Here, we shall narrate an incident said by the father of one Marjae:
One pious and peace-loving man of a city often pleaded before Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) saying, ‘O master! Why don’t you come despite the presence of so many virtuous men? He cried and pleaded over this matter many times until Imam appeared before him. Imam said, ‘In order to test how many are really pious, you may gather on Thursday night, forty most virtuous men in the house of the best pious one of the city. You may also call a butcher (who was amongst the best and pious people). Procure three goats and take that butcher and the goats on top of terrace of that house.
This pious man selects forty of the best and pious people and gathers them in the courtyard of that house. All sit down and pray and supplicate. (Meanwhile, Hazrat had asked that pious man not to disclose anything about the butcher and three goats). All of a sudden, they saw a light appearing above them from the terrace. They became certain that he is Imam-e-Zaman. Imam calls one of the virtuous men (who was indeed very virtuous) on top of the terrace.
He goes on top. After few moments, people in the courtyard see blood flowing down from the terrace! They become certain that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has beheaded that pious man and hence this flowing blood. A group flee away. Minutes later, Imam (a.t.f.s.) calls up another pious man.
He obeys and goes up. Moments later, they once again see blood flowing down the drain pipe and they gain surety that the second pious man too has been beheaded by Hazrat. All run away and only three men stay behind. Hazrat calls the third pious man. At this moment, except for this called person, the rest too run away. He too (who was very pious) goes up. Later, blood flows down the drain pipe.
Thereafter, Imam (a.t.f.s.) says to that restless man, who would often plead for his coming: “People are such. Just because they imagined (and weren’t even certain) that they were being beheaded, they fled away; whereas the blood flowing down belonged to the goats that were slaughtered by the butcher!”
People must be tested and must pass their test. Apart from this incident there are numerous other incidences too in history which shows that people are not yet prepared for Imam’s ‘Zuhoor’ (manifestation). By tongue, they plead for ‘Zuhoor’ but by heart, they possess a different colour. The truth is known only when they are tested.
“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, We believe, and not be tried? And certainly We tried those before them….” (Qur’an, 29:2&3)
One of Allah’s unchangeable laws is test and examination. When there is test, most people fail and are cast aside. Those who pass in the first stage are very insignificant. That which is necessary is to turn towards the real goodness (not by tongue and deceit) and then pray and plead in that very state. Our heart and reflection should be directed towards Imam’s ‘Zuhoor’ until perhaps the Beneficent Allah takes pity on the prayers of the afflicted ones and rescues the people form perplexity and state of wandering. Verily, our duty is to pray and plead before Allah and adopt goodness and reform.
Today, most people say that majority of the signs of reappearance of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have already occurred. Is this true? Basically, to what extent are the signs of reappearance influential in Imam’s advent?
The precise reply calls for preliminary traditions concerning various topics as follows:
First: Traditions that talk about signs and groundwork for Imam’s ‘Zuhoor’:
Once, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) addressed the attendants as follows:
“How would it be when your women turn lewd and your youth adulterers and you will forsake enjoining the good and forbidding the evil?”
The attendants said:
O messenger of Allah! Will such an incident ever occur?!
“Yes, even worse than this would occur! How you would be when good shall be presented as evil and evil as good….?”
Also, Asbagh-ibn-Nubateh narrates from Amir-ul-Mu’mineen (a.s.):
“At the end of time and approach of the hour (resurrection or reappearance), [which is the worst of all times], women would come out devoid of clothes and decorated with various ornaments. People would be seen exiting from religion, entering into troubles, inclining towards lust, hastening towards pleasures, making lawful the unlawful and they would be the everlasting hell-dwellers.”
Besides, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“A time would come when filling the stomach would become people’s aspiration and materialistic life their dignity. Women would become the direction to which people would turn to and money and wealth would become their religion. They are the worst of human-beings who possess no goodness before Allah.”
Second: Traditions that strictly prohibit fixing the time of Reappearance (Zuhoor) and likens it to the Resurrection Day.
I approached Imam Baqir (a.s.) and asked: When will the Qaem Aale-Muhammad rise? He replied: “The same question was asked before Allah’s apostle who said: His rising is similar to the time of setting up of resurrection which will not occur but all of a sudden.”
Similarly, Fuzail says:
I asked Imam Baqir (a.s.): Is the hour of ‘Zuhoor’ known? He replied: “Those who fix the time are liars; those who fix the time are liars; those who fix the time are liars.”
Also, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“Those who fix the time are liars. We have neither fixed any time in the past nor shall do so in the future.”
Third: Traditions that lay stress on invocations for hastening ‘Zuhoor’ and calling upon Allah for help. If invocations weren’t effective, the holy Imams (a.s.) wouldn’t have emphasised to such extent. Invocation is effective for any affair that is capable of delay or acceleration. In ‘Tauqeeh’ of Shaikh Ahmad-ibn-Ishaq, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) says:
“Close the door of useless queries and refrain from putting yourselves at pain. Suffice yourselves to the extent necessary. Furthermore, pray excessively for accelerating the ‘Faraj’ (deliverance) because your deliverance lies in this (i.e. excessive prayers).”
Also, Imam Kazem (a.s.) prays as follows:
“O Allah, I swear by Your concealed Name……that You send salutations on Muhammad and Aale-Muhammad and make haste in ‘Faraj’ of the avenger and make his specified day reach fulfilment….”
Fourth: Traditions stress that the work of ‘Zuhoor’ would be settled in one night, and Allah would permit him to rise.
Zaris Kenani says:
I heard Imam Sadiq (a.s.) saying: “In Saheb’ul-Amr (Imam Mahdi) there exists a similarity with Joseph and that is Allah would rectify his rise in one night.”
Fifth: Traditions that talk about Bad’a’ (change of previous Divine Will, plan and beginning of something new). This change of destiny is explained by Imam Baqir (a.s.) as such:
“Allah has not been worshipped to such degree as (belief in) ‘Bad’a’; or Allah has not been honoured to such extent as considering ‘Bad’a for Him’.”
Thus, the traditions come down from the immaculate ones (a.s.) have declared the matter of ‘Zuhoor’ and rise of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s) as a changeable affair.
From the above five groups of traditions, we can conclude as follows:
It is likely that the entire signs of ‘Zuhoor’ could be subject to ‘Bad’a’ (change) such that Allah would give permission for Hazrat’s rise without the occurrence of those signs. We should realize that the affair of ‘Zuhoor’ lies in Allah’s hands and does not depend on the decisive and definite occurrence of signs. As per Divine wisdom, this affair would be corrected in one night. Verily, our duty at this time is to create a sound creed (belief) and ethics at individual and social levels and before that to pray excessively for ‘Faraj’.
Some traditions talk about new religious laws and commandments during Imam-e-Zaman’s rule. Does it mean he would bring a religion different from that of the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.)?
Many of the Islamic teachings and religious precepts have been changed by wrong interpretations and explanations. The factor behind these changes and distortions are the malicious motives and mean desires of people and governments, who in the course of history, have paved the way for establishing their authority and opening the path of playing with religious creed and realities. The ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment) of the ‘Hujjah’, who is the genuine interpreter of Qur’an, has turned into an appropriate opportunity for the wrongdoings. Distortion of most of orders began just after from the holy prophet’s era and would continue till the time of ‘Zuhoor’. One of the vital steps of Hazrat Mahdi would be his campaign against distortions and wrong interpretations that have kept the human mind engaged for centuries.
Thus, his religion would not be different from the religion preached by the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). Rather, it would be a return to the logic of pure and true original Islam and the same heavenly and everlasting Book.
As such, in numerous instances, it would differ with what people used to practice in the long history. During ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment), its likely people haven’t acted upon the true Islam and some have even interpreted wrongly Islam and Qur’an so much so that at the time of ‘Zuhoor’, people will imagine that Hazrat has brought a new creed.
In many traditions it has come down that Hazrat would give a new start to Islam:
” يستانف الإسلام جديدا…..”
Similarly, it has come down in the holy Qur’an:
“And to Him shall submit whoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly.” (Qur’an, 3:83)
This verse reveals that Islam and monotheism would turn widespread; the holy prophet’s Islam and the Qur’anic laws would be implemented. Most of the sciences too would follow the realities and Hazrat would explain and interpret truly the verses of Qur’an and divine rules.
While talking about Mahdi’s ‘Zuhoor’, Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) says about Hazrat’s reforms as follow:
“After replacement of Allah’s worship with capricious desires, He shall restore worship of capricious desires with worship of Allah. After restitution of Qur’an with personal opinion and understanding, he shall restore Qur’an in place of personal judgements and opinions.”
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says as well:
“…when our Qaem rises, everyone would set forth before him reason from Allah’s Book and they would interpret and explain Allah’s book (Qur’an)….
The wrong interpretations and explanations of Qur’an is the problem Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) would face during ‘Zuhoor’. These distortions and personal views would turn upside down the divine book and sunnah till the time of ‘Zuhoor’ to such extent that Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.), in continuation of the aforesaid sermon interprets the divine book and Sunnah as dead:
“He (Mahdi during ‘Zuhoor’) shall give life to the dead Book and Practice of the holy Prophet…”
Therefore, during the time of ‘Zuhoor’, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) would cast aside the decorations put on divine religion and precepts, and remove all sorts of distortions and interpretations levied against the Qur’an and religion. He shall establish monotheism and Qur’anic justice in the human society. He would gather the whole world under one banner, one creed, one heavenly book (Qur’an) and one doctrine. He would set up one nation from the human society.
It is said in the Islamic traditions that justice will be dominant during Imam-e-Zaman’s rule. Does refer to mere social justice or covers individual aspects too?
Justice implies that everything is set in its proper place and maintains equilibrium. Social justice is the movement of society towards the correct goal. Injustice is just its contrary. Thus, like injustice, justice is not mere governmental and social justice, but enjoys a wider meaning.
First, it represents one of the prominent divine attributes, and in this regard Imam (a.s.) says:
“The bases of religion are ‘Tauhid’ (monotheism) and ‘Adl’ (justice).”
Secondly, it is amongst man’s individual virtues. A just person is someone who does not commit major sin nor repeats minor sins.
Thirdly, at times, it is used as a scale. A true and correct saying is called a just saying.
Consequently, justice means to be moderate and to refrain from sins and implications. Social justice is reckoned to be only one of its most evident applicability. Under the circumstances, in reply to the above-mentioned query, one can say: During the time of Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.), the government training programs would drive human-beings towards individual justice and the social programs would set up a just system and its evident proof can be found in the famous statement:
“يملا الارض قسطا و عدلا كما ملئت ظلما و جورا”
Manifestation of religion and the prophet’s traditions, and severance of the oppressors’ arms is the duty of all Muslims. So how do we recite in Dua’e-Nudba: ‘O Allah! Through him, manifest Your religion, and make evident Your prophet’s traditions. Also, we recite, ‘Where is the one stored-up for severing the arms of the oppressors?
All the duties that Muslims are charged with are undertaken by Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) in their highest forms. He fulfils the best of it, and personally performs whatever he invites others towards it. In Islam, a deed performed by one for another is not accepted. Rather, every Muslim has an independent and separate duty, aside from few exclusive duties borne by the holy prophet and Imams.
The level and work of anyone depends on his responsibility, ability and duty. Imam-e-Zaman’s exclusive responsibility is to implement the Islamic ordinances all over the earth; uproot tyranny and oppression from the earth and hoist the banner of Islam and monotheism in every nook and corner of the earth. All the Muslims bear this responsibility but their global leader in this affair is Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.) who would lead them. As such, the common duty of the Muslims doesn’t in any way contradict the global duty of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) as an Imam, leader and commander. The same is true to all the other qualities we attribute to him in Dua’e-Nudba . For example:
“Where is the awaited one, for the correction of the bent and crooked….?”
“Where is the object of hope for demolishing tyranny and hostility?”
“Where is the one safely stored-up for the revival of precepts and ordinances?”
In all these expressions, Imam Hujjat-ibn’l-Hasan (a.t.f.s.) is looked upon as a leader and guide. Such remark exists in all cultures where the work of one executing the command is ascribed to the commander too because he bears the responsibility of drawing the plan, managing its implementation and harmonizing the forces.
Will Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) judge the Ahl’e-kitab (people of the Book) by their own books?
Imam (a.t.f.s.) would invite them to their own Books, and would judge on the basis of their Books till the time they bring faith in Hazrat and turn Muslims. Verily, his reasoning would be based on divine Books but the un-distorted ones. It has come down in traditions that he would draw out the Torah, Injeel and other past divine books from the cave of Entakia and would argue by them.
However, the rule would be an Islamic rule. The government would be taken care by Islamic rules and regulations. Everything would be with Islam and Imam (a.t.f.s.) would debate with the people in the most desired manner. In the un-distorted books, glad tidings about Imam’s reappearance has come down in more clear terms though such glad tidings can be found in the distorted books as well. We have referred to them in reply to another query.
The ‘Fiqh’ (jurisprudence) during Imam-e-Zaman’s era would be the pure ‘Fiqh’ of Islam and Ahl’ul-bayt. The administration would be based on justice. In fact, justice would prevail in all the circles of Mahdi’s government. All affairs would be run on the basis of holy Qur’an. Verily, social justice would prevail in every nook and corner of the society and widespread all over the earth.
After ‘Zuhoor’, will Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) make use of modern technologies or not? Also, will technology continue its advancement at that time or will its progress come to a halt?
There is no verse or tradition saying that Imam (a.t.f.s.) would cast aside advanced technology, or whenever he reappears the technology at man’s disposal would fail to function. Besides, it wasn’t the practice of holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) to avoid using technology or craft prevailing at their respective times. So Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) too would follow the practice of his forefathers.
On the basis of traditions that talk about the power and strength of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and his companions, we can say: Other than the unseen powers, they would also benefit from prevailing means. But we can not pass any definite judgement in this regard. For instance, we read in one tradition:
“He (in whatsoever part of the world he may be residing) would establish contact with each of the agents and members of his government (who are 313 in number). He would see them and converse with them.”
From this tradition, we draw the probability that Hazrat’s companions would employ new and advanced crafts. Another tradition says:
“When Imam (a.t.f.s.) rises, he would lean upon the holy Ka’ba and then say:
آلا يا اهل العلم ! بقية الله خير لكم إن كنتم مؤمنين و انا بقية الله
“And Hazrat’s voice would be heard by all the people of the world.”
From this tradition too we can draw this conclusion that he would probably employ mass media and his voice would reach the whole world. However, in all Imam’s affairs, there also exists the probability of usage of Unseen powers.
About the query whether progress and advancement would continue during Imam’s time or not, traditions say that during his time, knowledge and know-how would advance by leaps and bounds. However, whether knowledge would definitely move in direction of high technologies or in some other direction is not precisely clear.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“Ilm (knowledge) consists of twenty-seven parts. All the prophets and Imams have brought two parts of Ilm and when our Mahdi comes, he will bring the other twenty-five parts of it.”
Please ponder over the contents of this tradition. It’s not that Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) knows twenty-five parts of knowledge and the prophets and other Imams were unaware. Rather it says, “The entire knowledge brought by prophets are two parts from the twenty-seven parts and Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) shall bring twenty-five parts.”
The matters revealed by the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) till Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.), Hazrat Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all preceding prophets were two parts from the twenty-seven parts. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) shall bring the other twenty-five parts of knowledge. If we take into account this proportion, it shows whatever Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s) would bring would be something extraordinary in all fields of knowledge.
Besides this noble tradition, we have another tradition narrated from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.):
“When our ‘Qaem’ shall come, he shall place his hand over the head of (Allah’s) slaves and their intellect shall turn perfect and their ethics completed.”
Also, Imam (a.s.) says:
‘When Hazrat reappears, the earth shall emit out its bounties.”
What are the earth’s bounties? They are treasures, precious stones, useful and needed growths all over the earth. Besides, one cannot neglect the divulgence of spiritual bounties. It’s come down in a tradition that:
“At the time of ‘Zuhoor’, there would be no land but fruitful and flourishing.”
To sum up, various traditions show the existence of extraordinary progress and unparallel spread of knowledge during Imam’s time. But it’s not clear whether it would be definitely due to technology and with today’s concept in mind or not.
How would be the economic condition during Imam-e-Zaman’s rule and how would the economy run during his reign?
Traditions do talk about the economic welfare and people’s means of livelihood during Imam’s era. It should be noted that his economic model would differ from the well-known models of today. Islam is independent in all its rules and precepts and except for a sound natural disposition it does not rely on any human system. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), who is the complete Islam and Qur’an will fully put into practice the very true and real Islam.
The verses of Qur’an and traditions teach us points which we shall set forth here along with some introduction. In the Islamic system and order, there exist three main foundations: Belief, ethics, and jurisprudence. These three rings are inseparable from one another. The economic system of Islam is not separate from the political system; the political system isn’t separate from ethics; and the system of ethics is not detached from the beliefs (creed). This is a very vital issue. It is wrong to consider the economic system of Islam to be irrelevant from other rings. Rather, we should examine the system collectively.
Imam-e-Zaman’s rule is founded on the basis of contents of Qur’an, “They shall serve Me, not associating aught with Me” (Qur’an, 24:55). Monotheism is its main pillar and foundation. Therefore, the economic system cannot be designed as one independent system, either in Islam, or during Imam-e-Zaman’s rule. Rather, it is a ring in the chain of rings.
Keeping in view this introduction and the subsequent points, we now say:
The holy Imams (a.s.) have set forth various matters related to the economic system during Imam-e-Zaman’s rule. For instance, during of his reign, no spot on the earth will remain but that it would manifest its bounties and nobody will step on any spot but fully cultivated and flourishing. Moreover, he will distribute wealth equally. Here, equally means equality and justice and distribution takes place on the basis of need.
By justice, we do not mean mathematical evenness. Rather, observance of proportionality in society is justice and equality. The one living as a bachelor is not the same as the one who supports two in a family. Mathematical evenness is neither rational nor just. Besides, traditions say that the economic state, high-mindedness and people’s freedom from want would be to such extent that Hazrat would call the needy and say, “Pick up the money?” The people in turn will act honestly and pick up to the extent of their need. During Imam-e-Zaman’s government, the people would enjoy the divine bounties that were blockaded by (past) governments.
We have still another set of traditions. For instance, a woman would carry a tray of gold and travel from Iraq to Syria. She would not step but only on grass. She would use ornaments without anyone disturbing her!
Although this tradition reveals the security that would prevail during Hazrat’s era, it also talks about people’s freedom. It’s this freedom that would prevent anybody from looking at a lonely woman’s ornaments, and economic and financial security would be thus established.
Abundant bounties from one side and implementation of social justice on the other side will uproot poverty to such extent that as per other set of traditions, there will remain no needy and indigent person.
Is Hazrat Mahdidependent on our ‘Sadaqa’ (alms and charity) that we pay for his safety and well-being? In the same way, does he need the recommendable prayers or other deeds that we perform and gift to him, or perform on his behalf? Basically, what is the consequence of such actions for Imam (a.t.f.s.)?
To provide spiritual reward of good deeds (other than obligatory acts) to Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), gifting of recommendable acts, or their performance on behalf of Hazrat or other Imams (a.s.) and holy prophet (s.a.w.a.); financial servings like giving alms or serving food to the poor for gaining Hazrat’s satisfaction; ‘Nazr’ (vows and oblations) for Imam Husain (a.s.) and Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) are all from one class and category. Regarding this issue, one must pay attention to few important points:
1. In performing a good deed and presenting its reward to an immaculate Imam, we are only following the directives of traditions. Traditions specify that people had informed the Imams (of their time) that they performed deeds on behalf of the past Imams (a.s.). Then Imam (a.s.) would approve their acts. For instance, pay attention to this tradition:
A person approached Imam Kazim (a.s.) and said: When Eid-e-Fitr approaches, I finish one full recitation of Qur’an (out of about forty recitation I did in the blessed month of Ramazan) for the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), one full recitation for Hazrat Fatemah (a.s.), and one full recitation for the holy Imams (a.s.). At the end, I finish one full recitation on behalf of you. Does this act bring me any reward? Imam (a.s.) replied: ‘The reward you earn is that you would accompany them on the day of resurrection.’ I said, Allaho-Akbar! Will I be given such a reward? Imam (a.s.) uttered thrice: “Yes”.
2. In this earthly world, no movement or action takes place without any reaction or effect. The smallest physical action, like twinkling of eyes, leaves its effect. So how can one consider a spiritual action and deed (that takes place in the spiritual world and its effect is incomparable with that of the physical world) to be effect-less. Although the holy prophet and Imams are needless of such spiritual rewards, nevertheless the All-Graceful and All-Mighty God does not leave any action ineffective; especially if it is done for the sake of His best creatures.
3. As far as sentimental relations are concerned, reward is the best tool for attracting one’s love and affection. People, no matter how great and praiseworthy they are, get pleased by gifts, whether material or spiritual. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), the spiritual axis of the universe and the one needless of others whether spiritually or materially gets pleased with gifts like one flower, one chapter of Qur’an etc. Naturally, he exhibits his reaction to the person presenting the gift and honours him to express his love once again.
4. There still exist a scope for advancement and perfection for the holy prophet and Imams, even if they possess lofty positions. The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) worshipped Allah and behaved as His servant till his last breath. He was the best of Allah’s creations, and superior of all the creatures, but his acts of worship made him perfect.
A noteworthy point that is said about Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is that his prayers, fasting, Haj, Umra, Ziarat of Imam Husain (a.s.), alms-giving etc leave a deep effect on his soul and makes him perfect spiritually. This very movement and permanent advancement gives him so much strength and power that it prepares himself for fulfilling the heavy universal and divine task (which is unparallel and none except he has to fulfil). It gives him spiritual strength to fulfil his exceptional and onerous divine-universal duty very easily and all alone.
Thus, gifting of any good deed to him or performing any good deed on his behalf supports him and prepares him better to face the difficulties in forming the universal government based on Qur’an and monotheism.
5. A sentimental relationship and affection is set up between the donor and receiver of gift. This act will make us pay attention to him and his attention too would focus towards us. It would acquaint us with his customs; it would make our cry for help reach him and would bring for us the fatherly reply. It will link our insignificant heart with his magnificent and shore-less heart; it will connect the brook of our worship with the ocean of his servitude; it will plant the petty sapling and the delicate stem of our life under the shade of that lofty and divine tree and it will give the star of our existence the brightness from the moon and sun of his existence….
In short, it will make his Imamate (leadership) over us more steadfast and make ourselves more firm in following him. All these are effective if we sincerely and submissively obey their commands.
6. According to traditions, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) lives an ordinary, natural and usual life. Hazrat too is exposed to natural illness, physical calamities, problems and mental sorrows just like all other people. Thus, alms-giving, invocation, prayers and spiritual gifts (which as per the sayings of Imams discards calamities) keeps away Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) from calamities and leaves their effect on his health.
It is well-known that Hazrat Mahdiwill rise at the time when the earth is filled with tyranny and oppression until he would fill it with justice and equity. So, should we encourage oppression and corruption so that Imam’s ‘Zuhoor’ (manifestation) draws near? Consequently, if oppression and tyranny in the earth is the pre-condition to his coming then what is the duty of the one awaiting him? Should he strive to pave the way for such oppression?!
The sentence: يملأُ الأرض عدلا كما ملئت جورا has come down in traditions in various forms. In the noble book ‘Bihar-ul-Anwar’ alone, 31 cases have been recorded with slight variations in their expressions. However, the contents and contexts of expression of none of these traditions reveal that oppression is pre-condition to ‘Zuhoor’. Rather it expresses one of the two positions: The first position is the position of goodness and piety and the second one the position of oppression and corruption. Position or background is one thing and pre-condition another thing. The below example brings nearer the concept of tradition:
You inform your friend, ‘I will visit you on Friday evening.’ Does this sentence imply that your visit depends on Friday and if you fail on Friday, your visit is cancelled or it implies that Friday is the course (of time) and not pre-condition of your visit with your friend? Thus, there exists the possibility and probability of visit on another day and if we wished to set conditions we would say, “My condition for visiting you is approach of Friday.”
Secondly, there exists a clear difference between man’s duties and the natural and forcible occurrences. From the viewpoint of Islam, Qur’an, traditions of Ahl’ul-Bayt and reason, prevention of corruption, training and development on the path of servitude, observance of piety and purity, recognition of God, prophethood, Imamate and Ma’ad and acting on one’s creed are man’s duties. Thus, numerous traditions have come down concerning man’s duties during the concealment period and these traditions lay great emphasis on acting upon these aforesaid duties.
To sum up, the matter of earth getting filled with oppression and corruption is one of the two courses of Imam Mahdi’s ‘Zuhoor’, and not a single course, nor a pre-condition. It is our duty to create the other course i.e., goodness and piety. In other words, these traditions reveal the state and common social events at the time of ‘Zuhoor’ and the traditions about ‘Entezar-e-faraj’ determine an individual’s responsibility during ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment) where the person doing ‘Entezar’ (awaiting) must be good and pious and it is never right to mingle these two matters together.
How do the companions of other Imams differ from the companions of Imam-e-Zaman?
The companions of Badr possessed special purity. They enjoyed extraordinary faith, patience, and supported the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). At that time when Islam was left in isolation, they defended Islam and the holy prophet with their small number and meagre means. They achieved intuitive faith. They witnessed the truth with their very eyes. They numbered 313. They became a good example of sacrifice for others.
Imam-e-Zaman’s (a.t.f.s.) companions would number the same as the companions of Badr. Their high and lofty position is so great that the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) sends greetings upon them and longs to meet them. A day the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) was sitting inside the mosque. A few of his companions too were present. He said: ‘I wish I could meet your brethren.’
“يا ليتني لقيت إخواني”
Abu-Bakr stood on his feet and said, ‘Aren’t we your brethren? Aren’t we your believers? Didn’t we migrate along with you? The holy messenger (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘You all do believe in me, you all have migrated with me too, nevertheless (you are not my brethren) I wish I could meet my brethren!’
This time Omar stood up. He repeated the same remarks and heard the same reply.
For the third time, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: ‘My brethren are those who have not seen me but believe in me.’ At the end, he once again said: “يا ليتني لقيت إخواني”
They possess numerous special qualities. They enjoy strong faith and belief. At times of test and examination in lawful and unlawful matters, they take utmost care. They cling on to the Qur’an and Ahl’ul-Bayt. If they happen to die while awaiting their master, they will return to life during his ‘Zuhoor’. Their guts and courage is as strong as iron. Each one possesses the power of forty warriors. Their physical strength is not their only power; they also possess spiritual strength and will-power. Each one sees himself in the existence of others.
No Imam possessed this number of loyal and faithful companions. Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) said: ‘If I possessed forty warriors, I would have revolted.” If Imam Hasan (a.s.) too possessed the required number of companions, he would have fought and not entered into peace treaty with Muawiya. Imam Husain (a.s.) had 72 loyal companions and they became famous world-wide for their will-power, faith and martyrdom. None of the subsequent Imams (a.s.) possessed 313 loyal companions. From Imam-e-Sajjad (a.s.) onwards, the Imams (a.s.) only got the chance of spreading Shia creed and jurisprudence and this was more so during the time of Imam Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Sadiq (a.s.).
Situation became more severe during the time of Imam Musa-ibn-Jafar (a.s.). They imprisoned Hazrat for 14 years. Thereafter, they sent Imam Reza (a.s.) into exile to Khorasan. The eight Imam (a.s.) found little opportunity in spread the Shia thought. He held a vital debate with followers of various religions and in that debate he defended the true Islamic thoughts based on the method set by Ahl’ul-Bayt (a.s.).
Thereafter, the pressure on Imams (a.s.) gained momentum such that Imam Hadi (a.s.) and Imam Askari (a.s.) were kept in garrison under the vigilance of the caliph’s military. For this reason, they were given the title ‘Askari’ (military) simply because they were under military siege. Thereafter, there arose no opportunity for the Shias and their Imams (a.s.) until the rise of the promised Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
Although for all phenomenons, the Divine Will is a condition, yet, as per Divine Wisdom, the ready ground-work too is very important. The read ground-work for Imam-e-Zaman’s rule comprises of pure, loyal, upright, pious, brave and self-sacrificing companions who prepare the world for the just government of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and we await them:
Is it possible to establish connection with Hazrat Mahdiin the usual and normal manner? Or the condition for such meeting is abandonment of worldly life and engaging oneself in spiritual life and in short leading a monastic life?
What is meant by connection? Do you mean spiritual and heartily connection or physical connection? By apparent connection is meant we should have relationship and social mingling with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) (who lives in the society and sees us and we too see him but do not recognize him). This type of connection is not possible during “major concealment”. It has come in traditions that people see him, but do not recognize him. So anyone claiming that he can have apparent connection as per his own free-will is something unacceptable.
About spiritual connection, the Almighty Allah describes it in the following verse from the holy Qur’an:
This noble verse that has been interpreted in traditions in connection with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) gives the following meaning:
“O you who believe! Be patient and excel (over others) in patience and establish a link.” (Qur’an, 3:200)
In interpretation of the last part of verse, traditions say:
“And establish a link with your Imam, the awaited Imam.”
This tradition does not inform how one can establish apparent connection and link with Hazrat during his concealment. The commanded connection is spiritual; while apparent connection is not possible, except by Imam’s own guidance and permission.
Secondly, as per traditions, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) walks in the market-places, and on carpets of people. It is likely he purchases his requirements from their shops and stores. He participates in their social gatherings.
Such expressions reveal that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) lives an ordinary life (even though he enjoys a lofty position in existence). He travels; he visits mosques; he goes for pilgrimage to Karbala; and he performs pilgrimage to Mecca by making use of the means at his disposal. Thus, he lives a special type of ordinary and normal life.
Thirdly, the holy prophet and Imams had two aspects: human and divine. They were human-beings and also had links with the world of revelation. Looking at the human and apparent aspect, they were innate and normal human-beings. Imam-e-Zaman, too, is the same. Regarding human qualities and characteristics, he is similar to other human-beings, except he possesses the highest human perfections and virtues.
When we greet an ordinary human-being, he replies our greetings. When we take one step out of love and affection for him he reacts back. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) [whose heart is filled with love and affection] is the heir to the affectionate prophet; he possesses the love and affectionate that Imam Ali possessed; the bravery that Imam Husain possessed and the steadfastness that Imam Hasan possessed. He is extremely kind and sympathetic; and the complete and perfect proof of the famous tradition of Imam Reza (a.s.) who while describing an Imam says:
“The Imam is like an affectionate friend; like a sympathetic father; like a mother who is compassionate and cares for her infant child.”
“Verily, Imam is like a pool. Imam is like the blessed rain. Imam is like the glowing moon that brings comfort. Imam is like the sun that gives life.”
Thus, Imam surely reacts to our actions.
Hazrat Mahdi pure ocean of love is so immense that anyone who establishes the minutest relationship with him even as narrow as one string of hair will arouse his sentiments, and his grace and favours will shower upon him like a blessed rain.
The prophets and Imams are lofty and superior human-beings and in kindness and affection unparallel. They care and devote their efforts in guiding mankind. Thus, relationship during the concealment period is of spiritual nature; it is connection of heart.
This type of spiritual relationship is possible by two means: One is taking guard of one’s deeds and behaviour and the other is inner make-up or creation of inner resemblance. For instance, if a person wishes to visit an eminent religious personality or visit a devout ‘Marja’h’, he should perform two tasks. One that he should prepare his apparent clothes suitable for such an occasion and secondly create a resemblance in thoughts and feelings. He should match his temper and manners with his temperament and should have sincerity and heartily inclination towards him, so that he can gain the maximum knowledge and spirituality.
If such circumstance is created, a connection can be set with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) too. For this reason, we should strive on his path. We should pray for his ‘Faraj’. We should recite the ‘Ziarats’ that have come to our hands. We should give charity for Hazrat’s well-being. We should provide spiritual presentations to him. On his behalf, we should perform Haj, Umra and Ziarat of Imam Husain (a.s.), help the needy people and visit the Shia orphans. By such means, one can gain spiritual relationship with him.
Hazrat too has promised that whoever establishes relation with him would not be forsaken or forgotten by him. It has come in books of traditions that Hazrat informs Shaikh Mufid that:
“We are not heedless of assisting our Shias and we aren’t forgetful of you.”
This famous sentence reveals Hazrat’s affection and also shows that he takes care of the Shias. In short, how to establish relation with Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.)? Inwardly and outwardly, one should observe the lawful and unlawful command. One should have love towards Imam (a.t.f.s.) so that the spiritual connection is set. One should never forget Hazrat and rather remember him in all spheres of life. Hazrat too has said, ‘Anyone who lives in such manner shall be guarded and supported by us and we shall never forsake him.’
Consequently, during the major concealment period, we see many who were eager to meet Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have indeed met success. Similarly, those who strived to gain Hazrat’s satisfaction and have set spiritual relation with him (even though they weren’t fortunate to see him by the physical eye) have seen their life showered by Divine Grace.
At the end, we remind you of some necessary points that are tools for establishing relation with Hazrat. Anyhow steadfast on implementing these points can lead him in establishing a spiritual link and connection with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
A desirous and enthusiastic person should observe the following:-
1. Recite verses from the holy Qur’an every day and gift it to Hazrat.
2. In daily prayers, he should pray for Hazrat’s ‘Faraj’ particularly recite ‘Dua’ of “Allah-humma-Kun-le-Waliyek….” which is the ‘Dua’ of night of destiny (23rd Ramzan, Lailat’ul-Qadr). It is worthy to mention that the night of 23rd Ramzan in all probability is ‘Laitat’ul-Qadr’ and earmarking this ‘Dua’ to such a night reveals the loftiness and profundity of this ‘Dua’.
3. He should give out charity no matter how small every morning for Hazrat’s well-being.
4. Once or twice a week, he should address Hazrat by the famous ‘Ziarat-e-Aale-Yasin’ and express his beliefs before him.
5. On Fridays, he should recite the ‘Ziarats’ that are exclusive to Hazrat.
6. He should invite the people to the best of worships during major concealment which is ‘Entezar-e-faraj’ (awaiting deliverance).
7. He should notify Hazrat’s friends and followers to have love and affection for him.
8. He should enjoin the good, and forbid the evil (with this motive that he wishes to prepare the ground and society for Hazrat’s manifestation).
9. He should endeavour and make utmost effort in performing the obligatory acts, and keeping distance from the unlawful acts.
It is highly hoped that the one who remains steadfast in performing the above deeds will attract Hazrat’s attention, and will pave the way for establishing a firm spiritual relation with his noble master.
The Almighty Allah reckons Himself to be Sufficient as the Helper of mankind. In this regard, verse 31 from Chapter Furqan explicitly sas,
“And sufficient is your Lord as a Guide and a Helper.” (Qur’an, 25:31) Or verse 36 from Chapter Zumar says, “Is not Allah sufficient for His servant?” (Qur’an, 39:36) But, in Dua’e-Faraj of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), we recite,
“Suffice me (solve my affairs) for you both are sufficient (as solver of my affairs); and help me for you both are my helpers.”
In continuation of this ‘Dua’, we say:
“O my master, O the master of the age! Help me, help me, help me.” In other words, we seek help from Allah’s messenger (s.a.w.a.), Amir-ul-Mu’mineen (a.s.) and Saheb-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) and we reckon all of them to be sufficient as our helpers. Don’t these two issues contradict one another?
The point that Allah is Sufficient, as a Helper for His servants, does not contradict with the fact that man seeks help from his fellow human-beings. Allah helps mankind in two ways: One in direct form, without any medium, and the other through some creature who has been created and bestowed power by Himself.
By Essence, Allah’s help is independent and He is the source of every power and might. On the other hand, help from others takes effect by His Will and Power. Some examples of help via medium: Allah helps the living creatures to subsist via the sun; helps vegetation to grow via the rain; helps man to move from one place to another via the animals. In all these cases, Allah is the Helper but via some medium. The holy verse 71 from Chapter Yasin says:
“Do they not see that We have created cattle for them, out of what Our hands have wrought, so they are their masters?” (Qur’an, 36:71)
These creatures are helpers too; but nobody says their help contradicts Allah’s Help. Rather their help is by Allah’s Will, and they derive the power of help from the Beneficent Allah. Thus, we find in the holy Qur’an verses that exclusively declares help to be from Allah “And victory is only from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise” (Qur’an, 3:126) or “Thee only we worship and Thee only we beseech for help” (Qur’an, 1:5). At the same time, the holy Qur’an also talks about seeking help from creatures and other means like, “Seek help through patience and prayer” (Qur’an, 2:45) or “And help one another in goodness and piety” (Qur’an, 5:2) or “And if they seek help from you in the matter of religion, then help is incumbent on you”.(Qur’an, 8:72)
Such verses clearly reveal that there exists no contradiction between exclusive help from Allah, and the power bestowed by Allah to other helpers.
Help from the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) and Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.) is exactly Allah’s Help. That which contradicts divine monotheism is the belief that someone can possess “independent” power without having to rely on Allah’s Will and Authority. In our daily routine affairs, we seek help from one another; as well as, from nature and industry. Nobody considers this to contradict Allah’s Help. In beseeching help by Allah’s Will, it makes no difference whether it is the world of nature or the supernatural world.
How do the Imams as well as Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) know the deeds, thoughts and reflection of others? Are they acquainted in the same manner as Allah has dominance over the thoughts of human-beings? Are they aware of the smallest thought that can pass in one’s mind? If the reply is positive, then how does their knowledge differ with Allah’s Knowledge?
On the one hand, this query is related to monotheism; and from the other side, related to prophethood and Imamat. About the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.), the Shias believe that the power of Prophet and Imams are from Allah, and by His Will. They have learnt this monotheistic matter from the holy Qur’an. According to verse 49 from Suran Aale-Imran, prophet Christ says, “I heal the blind and the leprous, and bring the dead to life with Allah’s permission”. Thus, on the basis of the Qur’an, possession of such divine power and knowledge is not impossible if Allah Wishes to bestow to whomsoever He desires.
The holy Qur’an narrates that one around Hazrat Soloman had some knowledge of the Book (partly). Allah bestowed him with such power and knowledge that he brought before Hazrat Soloman, the throne of the queen of Saba from the country of Saba in the twinkling of an eye. In another similar incident, the Qur’an authenticates the power of one Jinn . The same applies to the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the immaculate Imam (a.s.). It is not impossible, nor beyond Allah’s Power, to bestow such knowledge to whomsoever He wishes.
The precise and monotheistic point lies in the very concept and meaning of the phrase, “Allah’s permission”. We know that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) do not possess any “independent power and knowledge” by themselves. Whatever they possess is from Allah and by His permission. We should be clear on whether power and knowledge is possessed independently or not. Whether they are inherent in human beings or not. In such a case, numerous issues related to monotheism and Qur’an would become clear for us. As per the Qur’an and Shia belief, all power and knowledge are inherently and independently possessed by Allah only, and is bestowed to other creatures by His permission.
The honourable Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and immaculate Imams (a.s.) have traversed on this very path in all the dimensions of their life. They strived to explain to the people that every possession is by Allah’s permission in order that people do not deviate from serving Allah.
At one place, (the Prophet) says :
“Had I known the unseen, I would have had much of good and no evil would have touched me”. (Qur’an, 7:188)
On the other hand, it has come down that:
“Then he drew near, then he bowed, So he was the measure of two bows or closer still. And He revealed to His servant, what He revealed………….Certainly he saw of the greatest signs of His Lord”. (Qur’an, 53:8)
About the holy Prophet’s knowledge and power, you may refer to Bihar-ul-Anwar vol.17. p.130 onwards.
The answer to the question whether it is possible for Allah to give the whole knowledge (of the first and the last) to them is obviously positive. Otherwise, we have tied Allah’s hands. Based on this rational reasoning, Imams (a.s.) have argued and said, “Is not it possible for Allah to bestow abundant knowledge to an ant? Then, they continue and say, We are no less than an ant!”(Qur’an 16:68).
However, from the viewpoint of narrations from the holy Qur’an and hadith, the Almighty Allah, His Prophet, and Imams have narrated a lot about their respective knowledge. In the book of Kafi, Vol 1, we find a chapter concerning knowledge of the Prophet and Imams.
Thus, bestowing knowledge does not necessarily create a partner for Allah. His Knowledge is independent and inherent. While their knowledge is gifted and bestowed. Another vital point, worthy of mention, is that the key of their knowledge and power has been handed over to them by Allah. Whenever they wish, they apply the key and gain knowledge. However, the master key is with Allah, and by His permission. In a hadith, it has come down as follows:
“The knowledge of Imams is such that whenever they desire to know something, they know”.
In numerous other hadith, they say:
“We have knowledge of the past, present and future”.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says,”I possess knowledge of the heavens and the earth just the way I see the palm of my hand”.
To sum up, Allah’s Knowledge is independent and inherent, and the knowledge of the Prophet and Imams is gifted by Allah. Rationally too, such gifted knowledge and power is not impossible and the holy Qur’an and hadith authenticate this matter. Besides, their knowledge is a key that is in their hands by Allah’s permission. Such talks never leads to partnership and similarity between Allah and His servants.
What is the meaning and explanation of the following verse, well-known about Hazrat Mahdi’s advent and government ?
The concerned holy verse says:
“And We desired to bestow a favour upon those who were deemed weak in the land, and to make them the Imams, and to make them the heirs”(Qur’an, 28:5).
Under the aforesaid verse, Sayyed Hashim Bahrani writes in the book “Al-Mahajjah” as follows:
“Imam Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Sadiq (a.s.) have narrated that in this verse, Firaun and Haaman are the two Quraish tyrants who would be given life by Allah during the rising of the “Qaem” at the end of time and Hazrat Mahdi would take vengeanc from them.”
This as well as other hadith clarify that by “Imams” and “heirs” in the holy verse is meant Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and his followers, who would rule in the entire land and hoist the flag of monotheism.
Can one find any prophecy about Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) in the past heavenly Books?
Just as mentioned by the holy Qur’an, though the Old and New testament ,as well as, other Books have been distorted, nevertheless glad tidings about Hazrat can still be found in such distorted books. In other words, the hands of distorters have failed to reverse the entire truth. For instance, about the global divine saviour, it had come down in the Old testament, psalm 37, line 8 onwards as follows:
“Cast aside anger and desist from rage; do not agitate yourself……..as the evil ones would be severed and the divine ones awaiting would inherit the land”.
In the Old Testament, chapter 2, verses 7-9, it has come down as follows:
“I will turn shaky all the nations and (then) virtue would grace the entire nations and Jehovah would say, I will fill this house with splendour. The Jehovah would say, Gold and silver is from me. Jehovah would say, The last glory of this house would be more magnificent than its first glory”.
In the Old Testament, chapter 3 verse 9 says:
“Because at time, I would give pure tongue to all the nations until the entire lot of them would call the name of Jehovah and would worship him with one heart”.
In the New testament (Bible), Gospel of Mathew, chapter 25, line 34 onwards, we read:
…..come O the ones who have found grace from my Father, inherit the celestial kingdom that has been prepared for you, right from the beginning of the world
Moreover, in the revelation of John, chapter 2, line 26-27:
“The one who prevails and uphods my deeds in practice, I would make him dominant over other nations until he would rule with an iron fist”.
Below the word “Sushiyant” it has come down in the Persian encyclopedia (1:1373) :
It is the title of each of the three promised ones in Zorasterians particularly pertaining to the last promised one named as Astutert in Avesta. He is remembered as Sushiyant the victor. Sushiyant Mazdeyasnan is like the Krishna of Brahmins; Buddah the 5th of Buddist; Massiah of Jews; Paraclete of Christians and Mahdi of the Muslims. The Zorasterians await three promised ones.
We notice that the Old Testament (Torah) and the New Testament (Bible) give glad tidings about the promised one, in spite of the distortions therein. It shows the program of the promised one i.e., Mahdi of Islam.
What customs and resemblance does Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has in common with the past prophets?
“Verily, the master of the affairs (i.e. Hazrat Mahdi) possesses the characteristic of the prophets; he bears resemblance with Moses and………” (Muntakhab-ul-Athar: 301, Hadith 5)
This is the most famous remark revealing the resemblance of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) with Hazrat Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the holy Prophet.
He bears a similarity to Adam and Noah in longevity. It has come down in the holy Qur’an that before the occurance of storm, Hazrat Noah had lived for 950 years. As per historical evidences and traditions, he lived a long life even after the event of storm. His likeness to Abraham (a.s.) is his secret birth and his isolation from the people. The trait similar to Moses (a.s.) is his fear and hope. In explanation of this fear, two points have been discussed: One that when Moses abandoned his tribe and left the city he disappeared for a while and then, entered the city with “fear”. He feared lest the people would recognise him. For this reason, Hazrat Mahdi’s disappearance is likened to the period of disapperance of Hazrat Moses (a.s.). Another similarity is the fear for Moses’s secret birth. By Allah’s Will, Moses (a.s.) was born safe and sound and grew up in Pharoah’s palace. Just like Pharoah who was in search for Moses (a.s.), the Abbassid Caliphs too were on the track of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) but failed to find him. They had news that someone from the holy Prophet’s progeny would come and destroy the tyrants and their government. Nevertheless, Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.) took birth in the military campus of the ruling government under divine protection.
His similarity with Jesus Christ(a.s.) lies in this that a few say, “Jesus has been born and killed”. Another group says, “He has not been born…….” The same talks are uttered about Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.) too. A few say, “He is not yet born” while others say, “He is born and has died”.
He resembles the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in two things: One is his uprising with the sword and the other is that he would re-establish Islam from its very pillar. When he would come and present Islam before the people, they would say, “This appears to be a new religion” This is because during the length of time, the Islamic ordinances would undergo a change and the meanings and concepts of Qur’an would be so distorted that when he would introduce Islam and Qur’an to the people, they would say, “This is a new faith; these are new sayings and a new religion”. In reality, this is not true. Rather, it would be presentation of the real Islam which appears new to the people. The holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“Mahdi shall follow my way, and he shall never forsake my sunnah”.
The holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) also said:
“He (Mahdi) shall be the follower (of my sunnah); not a heretic………”
Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.) bears resemblance to other prophets, like Joseph, who remained concealed from the people including his brothers and the matter of people seeing him but not recognising his identity; or like Job (a.s.) in patience and deliverance.
How is Imam’s dressing at present and what would be his dressing during his advent? Does he wear modern and common clothes, like the common mass, or does he wear some special clothes?
About the garb and appearance of all the Imams (a.s.) suffice it is to say that they never appeared and dressed in a manner to earn for themselves special distinctions. In all their affairs, they lived a moderate life. The essential condition of moderation is to live among the common society, and to proceed along with them (as long as it doesn’t lead to sin).
To elaborate this matter, it is necessary to remind the following points:
1. Whenever the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) would sit together with a group of people, none could tell one from the other. He would not earmark a special place for himself. When a stranger would arrive, he couldn’t distinguish the Prophet among the crowd. From this practice, it becomes clear that his apperance and dress was like the common people.
We conclude from the Prophet’s sunnah that Hazrat Mahdi’s dress is in harmony with the clothing of the common people (as long as it is not forbidden, or disapproved, and is not inappropriate with Imam’s lofty position). Imam avoids clothing that may attract the attention of hundreds of thousands of people. During his Reappearance, he will dress like the people of that time except if that dress is inappropriate with Islamic principles. In such a case, his followers too would wear clothes like their Imam.
2. About his dress, it has come down in a tradition in Bihar-ul-Anwar 52:11
“His dress is coarse and his food is very simple”.
From this noble tradition, we conclude that his dress is not soft and comfortable, but rather rough, thick and coarse. Besides, its colour, quality and design are not in a manner that gives special distinction over other peoples’ dress. The immaculate Imams (a.s.) have themselves recommended that: “Live in the society while not making yourself conspicuous”. In confirmation with this saying, it has come down in Shia Fiqh that it is unlawful and forbidden for a male to wear a female dress, or a female to wear a male dress; or for anyone to wear any distinctive clothes. The jurists have given a decree that it is unlawful to wear distinctive clothes. Distinctive clothes means a dress worn by someone, who makes himself conspicuous among the people such that they say, “Look at him, he is wearing such and such dress!”.
From this point, one can understand that Imam’s dress is an ordinary and common dress.
Those who were fortunate in visiting him, have seen him in ordinary and sober native dress. In the hajj journey, he has been seen in the dress of the Arabs. In Najaf, in the dress of the clerics and at other places in ordinary clothes, so that he has not attracted the people’s attention.
All these are probabilities acquired from general rules and principles. But its exact details specially at the time of his advent is only known to Allah.
In Ziarat of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), we read, “Salaamun-ala-Aale-Yasin”. By virtue of verse 130 of Chapter Saffat (Salaamun-Ala-El-Yasin), “Aale-Yasin” is interpreted to be the holy Prophet’s progeny and Hazrat Mahdi. Please elaborate on this subject.
One recitation is “Aale-Yasin” and the other recitation is “El-Yasin”. The difference in recitation does not imply distortion of the holy Qur’an. Distortion takes place when there is a major change, or additions in the verses by the fabricators. While difference in recitation (that is normally rooted in dialect and accent of various tribes) occurs in less significant cases. The common Sunnis have different ways of recitation with respect to most of the verses.
In the beginning of Ziarat Aale-Yasin we read, “Salaamun-Ala-Aale-Yasin” and we mean Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). The proof that Aale-Yasin refers to the holy Prophet’s progeny and in this particular Ziarat to Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is that “Yasin” is a name of the holy Prophet and “Aale-Yasin” are his progeny.
Shias and Sunnis have both narrated that “Yasin” is a name of the holy Prophet.
We shall review the following references:
(1) Ibne-Abbas has narrated that “Yasin” is Muhammad (p.b.u.h) and verbally has said, O Muhammad!
(2) Imam Baqir (a.s.) said, “Allah’s messenger has twelve names, that five of them appeared in the Qur’an: Muhammad, Ahmad, Abdullah, Yasin, and Noon”.
In Tafsir (interpretation) of verse 130, chaptor Saffat, it is said that this verse is in honour of Ali (a.s.), and he is from the progeny of “Yasin”, the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Amir-ul-Mumineen (a.s.) says:
“The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is “Yasin” and we are “Aale-Yasin”.
Hafiz Hasakani has related from various narrators:
“By Aale-Yasin” is meant “Aale-Muhammad”, and Ali (a.s.) is among “Aale-Muhammad” (progeny of Muhammad).
Thus, it becomes clear that the term “Aale-Yasin” appearing in the traditions refers to the holy Prophet’s progeny.
How can it be proved that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is alive and not died ?
Basically, if someone’s birth, life and living is proved; then his death requires proof and not his living. Thus, when we meet someone we never ask him, “why are you still alive? ” To be alive after birth is a rational principle. If we hear the death of someone, we immeadiately inquire about the reason of this death – no matter whether he or she is young or old, healthy or sick; we always wish to know the cause of his or her death. In other words, death requires a cause.
However, this principle varies in various instances depending upon its dimensions and length of time. For example, the existence of one stone may continue for hundreds of years while that of a rose flower may last for few weeks only.
About Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), the matter concerns special divine confirmation, and Hazrat’s extraordinary power possessed by divine permission. Hazrat enjoys loft power and strenght and in this regard numerous glad tidings and indications have come down like, “He bears resemblance to prophet Noah in longevity. Reliable traditions about the birth, life and visitation of numerous people with Imam-e-Zamam (a.t.f.s.) proves that he is alive and is endowed with powers far above the human power.
So reason deduces that he is alive unless his death is proved by strong evidences and who can dare make such a claim!? On the contrary, his life, existance and protection of the Islamic community and the Shias, during major concealment, is as clear as broad daylight.
For the sake of finalizing the argument, the All-Knowing and Wise Allah has shown this luminous moon to a few special, pure and sincere followers right from the time of Hazrat’s birth till today.
Why did Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have two occultation: ‘Sughra’ (minor) and ‘Kubra’ (major)?
The holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the Imams (a.s.) have said: “One of the characteristics of the twelfth Imam, Qaem Aale-Muhammad (a.t.f.s.) is that he would have two occultation: Ghaibat-e-Sughra and Ghaibat-e-Kubra”.
We do not know the real reason behind occultation. However, we can guess that Allah has set the minor occultation for habituating and preparing people for the major occultation. This guess is supported by traditions where Muhaddith Qomi has brought down in the second chapter of “Muntahi-ul-Aamal” in the discussion concerning biography of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.). Besides, the tenth and eleventh Imam concealed themselves from the people as much as possible in order to prepare them for the major occultation.
If Hazrat had major concealment right from the beginning, then perhaps Allah’s argument wouldn’t be finalized for the people.
In the minor concealment, a group of people would visit Hazrat; his Imamate would be proved for some; his miracles were made apparent; he would help the people directly and people would recognize him. However, if Hazrat was not in the company of his father for five years and right from the year 260 A.H. (martyrdom of Imam Hasan Askari), the major concealment would have began, it was possible that the argument would not have been finalized for the majority.
Perhaps we can say that by Allah’s Grace and for the sake of finalizing the argument, he spent 69 years of his life in minor concealment i.e., from the year of Imam Askari’s martyrdom in 260 A.H., till the year 329 A.H. In that year, his special envoy, Ali-ibn-Muhammad Samori passed away. By his death, the major occultation began. If we count the minor concealment from the start of Imam Mahdi’s life, it would be 74 years and if we count from the start of his Imamate, it would be 69 years.
The minor concealment is named so because its duration is shorter and while he remained concealed from the common people, yet a few special figures were fortunate enough to visit him. His envoys (four among them being very famous) used to visit him. At times, by acting as an intermediary, others would get chance of meeting Imam. These envoys were reliable figures who would never disclose Imam’s place to anyone. They would take only a very few in the presence of Imam (a.t.f.s.). For this reason, this period was named as minor occultation. From 329 A.H. began the major occultation. Imam (a.t.f.s.) sent a letter (Tauqee) to his envoy and therein declared:
“The absolute (kubra and full) occultation has started”.
During this period, nobody could claim the special envoy-ship or claim to meet Imam by his free will.
The major occultation is longer and Imam is concealed from majority of the people. If anyone is fortunate to see Imam it is by Imam’s own desire and will.
About this matter, one may refer to “Kamaluddin” of Saduq (pp. 434-478) and “Esbaat-ul-Huda” of Shaikh Hur Aameli. In them, they have brought down traditions and narrated incidents of those who have visited Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) during the minor concealment or even before; either during Imam Askari’s era of those five years; or after the termination of Imam Askari’s Imamate; either through an intermediary (i.e., the envoys) or without them.
Doesn’t Hazrat Mahdi’s existence in the society, during occultation, contradict the very meaning of occultation (Ghaibat) and his concealment? Doesn’t such appearance in gatherings nullify ‘Ghaibat’?
Such existence does not contradict ‘Ghaibat’ because people see him but do not recognize him. Hazrat appears only before few exclusive people; and majority of the people do not see him. ‘Ghaibat’ means that people do not recognize Imam (a.t.f.s.) and are unaware of his special place. It does not give the meaning of non-existent. The best explanation and meaning of ‘Ghaibat’ is the very one narrated by Imam Sadiq (a.s.):
“They see him but do not recognize him”.
Also, Zurarah-ibn-A’yan narrates from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that the “Qaem” would have two ‘Ghaibat’. He explained that while in one his place would be known only to a special few, in case of the other, his whereabouts would not be known. Imam continues to say that during hajj, he appears; he sees the people but the people do not see him”.
Imam Husain (a.s.) said:
“Except for the servant who looks after his affairs, his place cannot be known”.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) addressed Sudair:
“How can you deny that Allah acts with him in the same manner as Joseph? He walks in their market, and steps on their rugs. But people do not recognize him except if Allah permits him to introduce himself”.
About the meaning of verse 16 from chapter Takwir, “But nay! I swear by the stars that run their course (and) hide themselves”, Imam Baqir (a.s.) said:
“O Umm-Hani, it refers to an Imam who would conceal himself (while he would be among the people) until people would not have news of him”.
Imam Reza (a.s.) said:
“He attends the hajj ceremony every year. He performs all the hajj rites. He stands in the desert of Arafat. He says “Amen” to the prayers uttered by the believers…….”
During occultation, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has recommended the Shias to refer to the narrators of traditions:
1- Are the narrators of traditions ‘Faqihs’ and ‘Mujtahids’?
2- How is the relationship between Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and the narrators and jurisprudents? Do they enjoy special relation or are they like the common people? (In other words, do they meet Imam?)
It’s necessary to know the meaning of ‘Ghaibat-Sughra’ (minor occultation) and ‘Ghaibat-Kubra’ (major occultation). ‘Ghaibat-Sughra’ was shorter as compared with the later Ghaibat. In ‘Ghaibat-Sughra’, the common people could not see Imam; but a few special men could meet and establish relation with him. By means of Imam’s special envoys, they could gain access to Imam (a.t.f.s.). Among them, four envoys were very famous, who could meet Imam Mahdi regularly.
‘Ghaibat-Kubra’ is a period wherein none have access to Imam in the ordinary way. There is no precise information about him, and nobody has any permanent or normal relation with him. However, it does not necessarily leave people without any duty during this period. Discerning the duties, implementing the ordinances and the Shias’ creed are the responsibility of narrators of traditions and the Faqihs. In this regard, people have been recommended to refer to them because explanation of Fiqh (jurisprudence), Ahkam (precepts), and beliefs is held in high esteem by Imam (a.t.f.s.). Right now, whom should we approach for acquiring such knowledge? We have no alternative but to pay heed to the instructions of our Imams and refer to those who are well versed in the Imam’s traditions.
Recourse to the Faqihs and narrators of traditions was something in vogue during the lifetime of Imams too. During the Imamate of Imam Sadiq (a.s.), Hazrat lived in Medina. Those residing in Marv and still many others who lived far away (who weren’t fortunate enough to see their Imam even once) were forced to solve their religious problems by referring to the narrators of traditions. However, during those days, books on precepts (Ahkam) were much in brief.
The length of time created an extensive basis in Fiqh. During the lifetime of the Imams (a.s.), people directly or indirectly set forth their limited queries before their Imam and hence solved their problems in a very quick manner. However, during major occultation, things are different, and it is the experts who have to examine the existing traditions in a very scholarly manner.
During occultation, except for the holy Qur’an and traditions, we do not have any other source or authority in religious matters and precepts. The common people too lack the understanding and expertise for deriving the realities and for this reason, they have recommended us to refer to the Faqihs (who are experts in deducing a decree) for understanding the religious precepts. In this regard, Imam says:
“The people can follow a Faqih who possesses self-control; who safeguards his religion; who opposes his carnal desires and obeys his master (Allah and His Hujjat)”.
Also, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) says:
“During events and happenings, refer to the narrators of our traditions for they are my Hujjat upon you and I am Allah’s Hujjat”.
During occultation, those people who have familiarity and liking for Imams’ words and sayings are close to them in thoughts, reflection and mentality. It’s possible that among the philosophers, poets, critics, mystics, physicists, scholars, physicians, historians etc someone can be found who has a strong inclination towards Imam (a.t.f.s.) but mental and spiritual proximity is enjoyed only by those who are familiar with their words and sayings.
Their sayings and interpretations form the real framework of his creed and they are the carriers of his knowledge. A Shia should refer to them because they have much deeper knowledge in religious matters and precepts. They have been named as Imam’s Nayeb-e-Aam.
Regarding the second query about the Faqihs’ connection with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) it is better to say that their connection is the same as other common people. It’s possible that pious Faqihs (who bear Ahl al-bayt’s knowledge and are themselves dignified figures) may meet Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). People like Muqaddas Ardebeli, Allamah Bahrul-Uloom, and other great Faqihs and scholars were fortunate in meeting Hazrat Mahdi. However, the Shias refer to them not simply because they have met Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). There are numerous renowned Faqihs and Muhaddiths whose connection with Hazrat Mahdi is not proved or clear for us. For example, it’s not clear whether Seqat’ul-Islam Kulaini had ever met Hazrat Mahdi. Or whether Shaikh Saduq had visited Hazrat Mahdi in wakeful state. Yet, their books are first hand Shia works and are an old source of reference for the Faqihs.
Their connection with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is based on mental and scholarly relationship. They are acquainted with Imam’s thoughts and reflection by means of the traditions and the more they are well versed in the traditions, the closer they are to their Imam. History, too, supports this point. Imam (a.t.f.s.) has constantly expressed special grace and kindness to dignified Faqihs and narrators of traditions. He has helped them in sensitive matters and has been a strong support for them.
The great Muhaddith Haji Nuri has narrated as follows:
One non-Shia scholar, who was Allamah Hilli’s teacher, had written a book against the Shia religion. He used to read out this book in gatherings and misguide the people. He would not give his book to anyone for this fear that some Shia scholar might disprove his book. Allamah constantly thought of acquiring this book so that he would write and refute this book. Anyhow, he utilized the teacher-student relationship and asked for the book. As his teacher didn’t wish to reject his request out-rightly, he said, “I have taken promise not to give anyone this book for more than one night”. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Allamah took away the book to his house to note down its contents as much as possible. He began writing but at mid-night sleep overtook him. Hazrat Mahdi entered his house and said, “Give me the book and you may continue your sleep”. When Allamah awoke he realized that the full book was noted down by the grace of Imam (a.t.f.s.).
Now that we are living at the time of occultation, we should refer to those who have been recommended by themselves (… who possess self-control…….).
To sum up, we should refer only to those Faqihs who promote Imam’s school of thought; have love for Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), and are active as students of Imam’s school and who call the people towards him (and not themselves). We should follow the most learned of them in Ahkam (Islamic precepts).
Should we accept or reject those who claim to have seen Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?
In reality, one cannot absolutely refute the possibility of seeing Imam during occultation. There are testimonies to the truthfulness and correctness of this matter in many instances. Renowned and trustworthy figures like Abraham Mahziyar, Allamah Hilli, Sayyed-ibn-Tavoos, Allamah Bahr’ul-Uloom, Majlisi, and several others have indeed visited Imam Mahdi. However, they never spread news of their meetings in the society, and would divulge only to a few of their close followers. Besides, they would take an undertaking from their intimate friends not to disclose the matter to anyone during their lifetime and if they wanted and if need arose, they could reveal it after their death and that too only for the sake of finalizing the argument.
However, these are exceptional cases that were divulged by the fortunate ones and resulted in ethical and spiritual benefits.
It’s worthy to mention that it was the custom of great religious figures not to misuse religious privileges for achieving worldly gains or consider them as a means for promoting their material life.
During our times, it has been heard that a few unknown characters have gathered around themselves certain people (particularly illiterate ladies) by the claim that they have direct relation with Imam (a.t.f.s.). They narrate unreliable and unauthentic matters by means of which they brighten up their gatherings and reap material benefits. However, they never involve themselves in discussions and reasoning and close the way of wise people for any type of research and investigation. Also, certain writers exhibit such meetings with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) to be so easy, low and insignificant that perhaps Hazrat is anxiously waiting to show himself or present some gift to any rouge in exchange for his two unit prayers or one line Ziarat.
We have ourselves seen great personalities who have spent most of their blessed life in propagating the Ahl al-bayt creed and promoting Hazrat Mahdi’s name. But they never referred to the matter about visiting Imam (a.t.f.s.). Instead, they encouraged their friends and near ones to recognize and serve their Imam (a.t.f.s.). One witness that brings to light the custom followed by great scholars in their meeting with Imam (a.t.f.s.) is a memento that Sayyed Mahdi Tabatabai Bah’rul-Uloom has experienced with Mirza Qomi.
Mullah Zain-ul-Abedin Salmasi (student of Bah’rul-Uloom) narrates:
After visiting the House of Allah and the graves of Imams (a.s.) in Iraq, Mirza Qomi attended Sayyed Bah’rul-Uloom’s class. When all the students left the class, he requested Sayyed to donate a few of the innumerable bounties that he has acquired.
Without any hesitation, Sayyed said, “The night before or two nights before (doubt from narrator’s side), I visited the Kufa mosque for performing the supererogatory prayer. I intended to return to Najaf at dawn. I left the mosque very eager to visit the Sahlah mosque. However, I changed my mind from going because I feared my class would close down. On the other hand, my eagerness grew more than before. In such state of uncertainty, a strong wind blew and dust rose in the air. I was driven in that direction. Moments later, I found myself near the door of Sahlah mosque. I entered the mosque and found nobody save a noble man engaged in invocation. His words made one’s heart calm and eyes tearful. My state transformed and my heart took off. Tears rolled down. I had never heard such words before. I realized that the one reciting himself composes and wasn’t reciting out of memory.
I stopped and listened to him. I was extremely delighted. He finished his invocation. He turned towards me and said, “Come Mahdi”. I went few steps forwards and then stopped. He ordered me to still come forward. Once again, I went a few steps ahead and then stopped. He again asked me to come forward and added, “To obey is good manners”. Moments later, I went forward until my hands could reach him. Thereafter, he uttered some words.
Here, Mullah Zain-ul-Abedeen Salmasi says:
When the talk reached this stage, Sayyed refrained to continue and instead started to reply a query that Mirza had inquired before. However, Mirza asked him what words that man had uttered and Sayyed replied, “It is from the concealed secrets.”
Such is the custom of our scholars in safeguarding the secret of meeting. They disclose to the people only to the extent of finalizing the argument before them.
We see how often noble men, scholars and the elect see Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) but divulge this news with great difficulty to others. Of course, their melting state itself reveals that they have been among the fortunate ones. But they have acted in such manner that others are prevented from taking any undue advantage or any illusion or suspicion is done away with.
We know people who have prayed the Almighty Allah for years to allow them to meet Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) or at least yearned to see him. Why such enthusiastic persons have remained unfortunate?
We always expect an immediate reward for the one step we take forward. Among the seminary students, there is a famous saying: “An ignorant is the one who when he recites 2 units of prayers, expects to receive revelation”. In reality, we should evaluate the size of our expectation. Have we strived and struggled to the same extent? How far have we acted upon our religious duties?
An invocation (named as Dua during occultation), has come down in the books of Hadith with expression like,
“اللهم عرفني نفسك”
A part of this Dua says,
“O Allah! Make me such that I do not turn hasty in that which You have postponed and I do not postpone that which You have given preference.”
As a result, firstly, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) himself commands that, “Pray excessively for hastening Faraj (Deliverance) and resolving the affairs.
Secondly, we are duty bound to pray constantly and should strive to fulfill our duty.
Thirdly, besides praying, we are eager to see his reappearance.
Fourthly, we are desirous of meeting him. This desire is out of love and not in the form of pressing for something as one’s due. It may seem impolite to express such sentences like, “Why don’t you come? Where are you? Why don’t you appear? We are ready!
On the contrary, it would be more correct to remain satisfied with the Divine destiny while at the same time, we eagerly pray before Allah for Imam’s early Reappearance.
The holy Imams trained people in a special manner. The eagerly desire to meet is one issue, while pressing for something as one’s due is another matter.
When Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) was struck with the sword, Imam Hasan (a.s.) came to the door and said to the gathered audiance: “Our master’s condition is very unstable, so please disperse.” The people left the place except for a few. One of them was Asbagh-ibn-Nobateh. Imam Hasan (a.s.) said, Why don’t you go away?” He replied, “Your command to depart is clear. But my legs are unable to move until I see my kind master! Courtesy too, does not allow me to willfully enter the house.”
Imam Hasan (a.s.) went inside and returned, and then said, “Come inside”. Asbagh entered and threw himself on Hazrat’s feet.
We should behave in this manner before our Imams (a.s.). While keeping intact our manners, we should also express our love and devotion. May Allah shower His Mercy upon one of our great teachers. He possessed a very good ring in his finger. He gifted it to my friend. Another friend said, why didn’t he gift that to us?” One said, “If he deemed it advisable, he would have gifted it to you as well”.
Always, grace descends from top to bottom. He should gift it himself and not that we count on receiving something. The same teacher said, “I never asked anything from my teacher (in spite of possessing strength and ability). Whatever he gave me was out of grace.”
A Shia person should be keen and eager to meet Hazrat Mahdi. But this eagerness is not in the form of claim for some due. We are very insignificant and no figure to claim something as our due. We should pave the background of our heart and life so that he himself showers his grace, as we are unaware of what is to our interest.
It’s likely that some problem may lie ahead of the person who meets Hazrat Mahdi. For example, he may fail to preserve this secret or pride and self-conceit may overtake him in such manner that he would lag behind in all goods deeds and would start imagining that he has achieved high ranks.
Is there a difference between the common man and the scholars in their meetings with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)? If so, what is the difference?
First of all, the more the knowledge (Ma’refat) of a person, the more benefit he would reap. Obviously, there exists a vast difference between the request of an ordinary man and the request of a great scholar. The former seeks bread and butter; while the latter (like Allamah Hilli) would request Hazrat to provide the key to his scholarly problem, and consequently open for him hundreds of doors of knowledge.
Another point is that if a person has several children, he would act with each of them in a different manner. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) treats Shaikh Hasan Iraqi (who accompanied Hazrat for one full week) in one way, and behaves with the fascinated youth who met him in Mashad in another way. He even writes letter to Shaikh Mofid and addresses him as “honourable brother”. Thus, Imam’s way of behaviour depends on the visitor’s state of heart; his nature of love and affection and also on the type of grace that Imam deems fit. That which is needed is purity of heart and the one who possesses this quality possesses a great capital.
The position of religious leaders is intact. They have been named as Imam’s “Nayeb-e-Aam” (common deputies). They are Imam’s special servants. They run Imam’s divine school of thought during his occultation. Besides them, there are few others too who are the servants and slaves of this kind master. They see him everyday and are besides him. Imam too showers his special grace upon them.
Thus, true religious scholars and Jurisprudents (Faqihs) guard the Wilayat( Leadership) and religion of Hazrat Mahdi. They are his sincere lovers and special servants. Naturally, their dignity and position holds special importance as compared to the common people.
During occultation, how does Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) look into the affairs of all the people of world? Does he recognize each and every individual? How would this be during his reappearance?
This matter comprises of two aspects: One aspect is the esoteric divine deeds and capabilities of Hazrat, and the other is his apparent and natural power. Each of these should be explained separately.
By virtue of his Imamate knowledge, Imam is aware of the deeds of people. He possesses the first and the last; and the present and future knowledge by Allah’s permission. He has acquaintance over all of them just as he sees the palm of his hands. About Imam, it is said he is the universal pole; the heart and focal point of this world and by Allah’s permission, he controls the world.
In a class that was run by the famous liberal (Mu’tazilite) theologian Amr-ibn- Ubadi, a vital point was raised by Imam Sadiq’s (a.s.) distinguished student, Hisham-ibn-Hakam. Later, while reporting to Imam Sadiq (a.s.) the matter, Imam (a.s.) approved his action. The gist of it is as follows:
Man as a living creature possesses numerous tools in his body: His eyes function; his ears function; his tongue functions; his digestive system builds bones out of the digested food; it composes blood; it produces skin, it makes veins; it forms nerves etc etc. Thus man possesses organs and limbs. Amongst them, who is the commander-in-chief? How is the soul supreme over all the organs at one and the same time? How at one and the same time, it commands the eyes to see; the ears to listen; the tongue to talk; the brain to take photographs and so on. In the same manner, Imam (a.s.) is the heart and focal point of this universe. He is supreme over all the organs of this universe and manages them by Allah’s permission.
This is Imam’s divine powers. Thus, by divine power, Imam, at one and the same time, attends to hundreds of people all over the world and his help and assistance flows constantly. By virtue of his Imamate, Imam dominates over all of them by Allah’s permission just as the soul and heart manages all the organs of a human body and assigns each of them some special work. He has a hand in the kingdom. By Allah’s permission, he has acquaintance of the concealed things. Allah has given him the key of the unseen treasure and he has dominance over them the way he wills (verily, his will is the same as Allah’s Will).
From apparent aspect:
During Reappearance and his manner of managing the world and attending to the people, one should look into the various dimensions of the characteristics of the 313 first hand companions of Hazrat Mahdi. They are Imam’s pure and obedient followers. They are reliable and trustworthy figures. They are those who have killed their carnal desires. They are not loyal to their beastly desires. They are Imam’s hands and eyes. They are spread in this extensive world. They lend their ears to Imam’s command and in this regard are likened to the autumnal clouds (as per hadith). Within few minutes, they shall gather together and sit besides Hazrat and receive commands from him. They shall not hesitate even a bit in fulfilling his commands. They have no will power before him just as Hazrat has no will power before the Almighty Allah.
They are the members of Imam’s government. They too, in turn, would select other virtuous men to run the affairs. Thus, Hazrat Mahdi possesses apparent sovereignty too over the entire world and has at his disposal precise information of every nook and corner of the world and its inhabitants.
As a result, in apparent terms, running the affairs of the world is linked to Imam’s extensive and precise management; his power and finally his follower’s sincere and absolute obedience.
It’s worthy to mention that during the period of occultation too, Imam through his agents, looks into the affairs of the people wherever and whenever he deems fit.
How can one prove longevity of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) from the viewpoint of science and reason? Doesn’t his long life contradict the law of nature?
Today, the question of longevity is solved because numerous concealed realities and mysteries of the world have been discovered.
In philosophy, the matter of “Umm-ul-Ma’sael” is very famous. It is the base for all rational reasoning. All the rational impossibilities goes back to this very principle which says, “Rejection of union of two contradictions”. In other words, two opposites cannot combine together at one time and place and in one direction. In philosophy, all the impossibilities go back to the principle of “rejection of union of two opposites” otherwise nothing is impossible.
Now, does Imam’s long life contradict the law of “Umm-ul-Ma’sael”? Does it involve the union of existence and non-existence in one thing?
What about experimental science? Has the natural science acknowledged a limit for human age? If so, then why in the 20th century, the average age has surpassed the past years? Man has succeeded in lifting the average age of human-beings. Mortality was more in the past. The death rate that ruled high in the past generation (due to lack of hygiene) has now almost vanished. Currently, man is still engaged in making medicine by which human age can be increased. From the viewpoint of experimental sciences, no limit has been fixed for human age.
Experimental science says: If someone observes the rules of hygiene and nutrition and performs certain exercises and takes care, his life would be prolonged.
Besides, it is now two centuries that most of the universities around the world are striving hard to discover some medicine for adolescence. This itself is another proof that no limit has been fixed for human age However, nobody claims that the noble age of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is normal and natural. Our claim is that his long life no way contradicts reason and science while at the same time; his long life is due to Allah’s Will.
Another factor to be seen is that whether this query is raised by a Muslim or non-Muslim? If raised by a non-Muslim, then this matter is a secondary one and he should investigate into the principles and essentials. If he is a Muslim, he should refer to the holy Qur’an that stipulates 950 years as only a part of prophet Noah’s (a.s.) life. This afore-mentioned age was before the event of storm and only Allah knows how long prophet Noah (a.s.) lived after the storm!
“…..and so he (Noah) remained among them a thousand years save fifty years.” (Qur’an, 29:14)
As per the holy Qur’an, Ashab-e-Kahf (people of the cave) slept for 300 years. Thereafter, they awoke and lived for several years.
“And they remained in their cave three hundred years and (some) add (another) nine”. (Qur’an, 18:25)
Also, it is said Salman Farsi, the holy Prophet’s famous companion lived for approximately three hundred years. He had heard that a prophet would emerge in Mecca and Medina and the period of the disciples would come to an end. (About biography of Salman Farsi, you may refer to the book, “Nafas-ur-Rahman Fi Fazael Salman” written by Muhadith Nouri, and Dehkhoda encyclopedia below the word, “Salman”)
To sum up, from the viewpoint of reason, Imam’s long life doesn’t involve any contradiction or impossibility. From the viewpoint of experimental science too, no limit has been fixed for human age. Moreover, scientists are striving hard to increase man’s life span and are trying to find a medicine for adolescence. The point is that currently, it is customarily hard to imagine such a long life for Imam (a.t.f.s.). On the other hand, we do not claim too that his longevity is customary and usual. Rather, we believe this to be one of the manifestations of Divine Power and His sunnah.
As per traditions, it is said that when Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) reappears, he would kill the enemies of Islam and Qur’an to such extent that blood would flow to the level of his horse’s knee. On the other hand, we see reliable traditions mentioning that Hazrat would spread justice, equity, love, and kindness among people. How do we reconcile these two issues?
We shall reply this query by going back still further. As per the holy Qur’an, the aim of prophets, messengers, divine saints and reformists is that “men conduct themselves with equity”. (Chapter Hadid, verse 25) They rise up to establish justice. This rising would be widespread and universal only during Hazrat Mahdi’s time and by his hands.
So the ultimate aim of the Prophets and Imams is to create such an atmosphere in the entire world wherein all the people turn monotheist and pure Muslims and the cry: “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; Ali is the Wali of Allah” rings throughout the world. This is the ultimate aim. This hope and aspiration has remained unfulfilled right from the time of Hazrat Adam (a.s.) till the last prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) era though all the prophets and the last prophet did prepare its background to some extent.
The Imams (a.s.) have strived on this path and the reformists, preachers, writers and poets have been active too. However, as of today, justice and monotheism (where Allah has promised that these would become universal) have not yet become widespread. The person in charge of this vital task is the twelfth Imam, Hujjat-ibn-l’Hasan (a.t.f.s.). His introduction has come down in the holy Qur’an and Shia traditions, as well as, in numerous Sunni traditions. (the Sunnis accept the doctrine and originality of Mahdaviyat though they have not set forth some of Hazrat Mahdi’s precise characteristics)
To sum up, the ultimate aim of mankind, right from the beginning of existence is to see through Imam Mahdi’s rule and government. All along, all religions, groups and intellectuals have had hopes and aspirations in some way or the other.
When Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will rise to establish the universal government, a group will stand to oppose him out of ungratefulness and egoism and will create obstacles on his path. What is the remedy? What does reason command? Should this human hope and aspiration remain unfulfilled and instead turn into despair just for the sake of these few individuals!? Its here that defense and war (but after finalization of argument and call for peace) becomes necessary so that Hazrat can easily rule.
To achieve this aim, he has no alternative but to wage war. But it isn’t true that right from the beginning of this advent, he would start killing his opponents with the sword. For long, he will call the people towards Islam and Qur’an. The period of stability of his government would take a long time. By period of stability, we mean the period during which Hazrat would acquaint the people. The first sentence that he would utter is:
بقيةٍ الله خيرٍ لكم ان كنتم مؤمنين و انا بقيةٍ الله
Such a kind invitation shows that like his great grandfather, he too is an ocean of kindness and mercy. After he presents the true Islam to all nations and tribes and completes the argument for them, he will inevitably draw his sword against the stubborn enemies. This is because stability of Imam’s government is Allah’s indispensable Will and so, after finalizing the argument, he must inevitably fight against the enemies of monotheism and justice.
Actually, I have not seen any tradition pinpointed at the beginning of this query, nor did I find any by a short glance.
On the other hand, it has come down in numerous traditions that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is victorious by the fear and is assisted and confirmed (by Allah). (fear would overtake all the governments and his government would be assisted by Allah). By reflecting over the traditions, any sound mind and pure heart will accept that defense and war is inevitable.
Thirdly, we can say that such type of traditions is applicable to the period just before Imam’s reappearance because it has come down in certain traditions that just before his reappearance, several wars would take place and numerous people in the world would get killed.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said, “Before the rising of the “Qaem”, there would be two deaths: The red death and the white death; such that five out of seven would perish. The red death is the death by sword (war) and the white death is plague.”
Consequently, if its war and destruction of human-beings, it would occur before reappearance. This too is a sign of reappearance but capable of divine alteration.
Hazrat would rise with the sword of his grandfather, the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), and after inviting the people he would fight just a few who wish to stand against the truth.
About Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), we read in Dua-e-Nodba that:
“Where is the distressed one, whose request is answered by Allah”?
Has Allah promised that He would respond positively to the one who prays? About His prophet, Allah says,
“Ask forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them; even if you ask forgiveness for them seventy times, Allah will not forgive them”. (Qur’an, 9:80)
So how can we say that Hazrat Mahdi’s requests are definitely answered? Why is he called the distressed one? Why doesn’t he requests for his distressed state?
In certain instances in the holy Qur’an, the Almighty Allah has guaranteed to answer the requests of His creatures.
For instance, in chapter Mu’min (Ghafer), verse 60 says:
“And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you”. (Qur’an, 40:60)
Again, in chapter Hud, verse 3 says:
“And you that ask forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him; He will provide you with a goodly provision….” (Qur’an, 11:3)
Another case can be found in Chapter Naml verse 62:
“Or, Who answers the distressed one when he calls upon Him and removes the evil?” (Qur’an, 27:62)
This noble verse says: “The prayer of the distressed one (whosoever he or she may be) is answered by Allah. It is Allah’s promise to a special group. For this very reason, at times of difficulties, the Shias often recite this verse very desperately and plead before Allah to remove their distress (mainly the occultation of Imam). Besides, according to traditions, “Muztarr” (the distressed) refers to Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
Imam Baqir (a.s.) says:
“I swear by Allah that he (Qaem Aale-Muhammad) is the “Muztarr” referred to in Allah’s Book that says, Who answers the distressed one when he calls upon Him and removes the evil.”
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) too said:
“This verse is revealed about our Qaem. By Allah, he will recite two unit prayers at Abraham’s station (Allah’s House) and will pray and call Allah. He (Allah) shall answer his prayers and remove the evil from him and will make him successor on the earth.”
Respected readers should refer to the book “Naame-Mahboob” (saying No 4, page 87-113) and “Najm-e-Saqeb” (section concerning Hazrat Mahdi’s names and titles).
Thus, the claim that Allah has not promised to positively answer the prayers is disregarded by virtue of the verses of Qur’an.
What was said about the holy Prophet that his request for forgiveness of certain individuals is of no use, it is worthy to note that about the holy Prophet, the following verse has been revealed:
“And had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Apostle had (also) asked for forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-returning (to Mercy), Merciful.” (Qur’an, 4:64)
Besides, it has come down in numerous traditions that requests of parents for their children, and requests of the oppressed in favour of their helpers, etc are answered.
Regarding the verse that says, “O Prophet, whether you ask forgiveness for them or not, Allah will not forgive them”, it refers to the hypocrites who because of their hypocrisy, even the prophet is not allowed to seek forgiveness for them. This only lays stress on Allah’s Wrath upon them and has no relation with the Prophet’s prayers that are answered.
Hazrat Mahdi’s prayers for others would be answered.
The reason he is called “Muztarr” (distressed one) is because of the distress and hardships arising from Ghaibat (occultation) which is also the result of people’s sins. By Divine Wisdom, he is concealed and would reappear one day. Thus, Hazrat himself is supposed to pray for his Faraj. Anyhow, his Reappearance is in Allah’s Hands and whenever He Wills, that particular prayer, too, would be answered as it has come down in traditions that in one of the instances when Hazrat would be standing besides the Ka’ba reciting the verse, “Who answers the distressed one when he calls upon Him and removes the evil?” suddenly, the divine command for his Reappearance would be issued.
Is it correct that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will reappear at a fixed near future time, and most of the “signs of his Reappearance” have already been fulfilled, and the requirements are nearly prepared for his coming?
About the “signs of Reappearance”, and the fact that most of the signs have already occurred and only a few remain to take effect, we have explained that the signs of reappearance are only groundwork and not the absolute reason for reappearance. Occurrence of these signs does not make certain the matter of reappearance. Traditions on “Ba’da” (change of Divine decision) testify that the signs of reappearance are all worthy of change, and what is indispensable is the very essence of reappearance of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). One matter in which Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) bears resemblance to Hazrat Joseph is the following:
“Allah would correct the task of his reappearance (‘Zuhoor’) in a night’s time.”
Besides, numerous traditions say that:
“Those who fix the time of Reappearance are liars and have uttered lies”
Imam’s Reappearance is likened to the setting up of the judgement Day. Just as the time of judgement Day is unclear, the time of Imam’s reappearance too is not known to anyone.
Moreover, the immaculate Imams (a.s.) have stressed that no time has been fixed for reappearance and Faraj and so, we too cannot fix any time.
From the traditions we understand that the Almighty Allah hasn’t fixed or decreed the time of reappearance. Its knowledge is only with Allah, and He has not conveyed this even to the holy Prophet and Imams. Thus, if someone says that Hazrat would reappear during such and such year, it would imply that until that year, Hazrat would certainly not reappear. This itself is an open lie, and against the aforesaid traditions; as our traditions teach us that:
“Await the reappearance of your master every day and night.”
Another result that would arise by fixing time of reappearance is that its occurrence later than the fixed time is impossible. This too has been rejected by traditions.
Therefore, those who fix the time of reappearance are liars because he will reappear whenever Allah wishes.
What does it imply when we say that the earth will be filled with tyranny before Imam’s reappearance? Is it that there wouldn’t be any justice left? Will the common people too ill-treat and oppress one another? Is the claim made by the Western countries that the rule of justice prevails in their countries true and correct?
Two points would pave the way for replying this query:
1. In certain instances, “filled” is a relative matter, and in few cases an absolute matter. When we say, “the pool is filled with water” it implies that “filling” is used in the true and absolute sense and may even denote that water is overflowing from it. However, in the sentence, “the hall is filled with people”, the term “filled” is used in a relative sense; because only the floor and seats are filled. But a few empty seats here and there wouldn’t contradict this sentence and besides, the space till the ceiling is empty too. Thus the sentence, “the hall is filled with people” is quite different from the sentence, “the pool is filled with water.”
That the earth is filled with cruelty and tyranny conveys a relative meaning. Of course, tyranny can be seen in all the human societies and though all the societies are morally disintegrating, yet, in the midst of all such tyranny, goodness and justice can still be found.
2. From the view of the holy Qur’an and Islamic terminology, injustice and tyranny is not restricted to social injustice and tyranny of the rulers. Instead, any sin and opposition to the divine commands and prohibitions is considered as injustice. One of the terms most used in the holy Qur’an is the word, “unjust to self” like:
“Our Lord! We have been unjust to ourselves.” (Qur’an, 7:23)
“And had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah…………………..” (Qur’an, 4:64)
Also, the holy Qur’an interprets polytheism as a major offence:
“(Luqman says): “O my son! Do not associate with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grave iniquity.” (Qur’an, 31:13)
Consequently, the sentence, “the earth will be filled with injustice” implies that the earth will be filled with sin and corruption individually and collectively. This would open up the way for social tyranny by the hands of oppressive rulers.
The talk that the Westerners reckon their countries to be filled with justice due to implementation of their social laws is nothing but exaggeration. Firstly, individual crimes and moral degradation are rampant in these countries. Secondly, drug addiction, spiritual sickness, and depression in such countries are increasing day by day. Are not the unlimited financial transgression and individual violence, in the West, the sign of injustice? Where and in which country can we find security and complete peace? Can we label the collective transgression, colonial rule, and exploitation by countries for personal gains as justice? Is the conquest of the Islamic and the third world countries justice?
If the apparent rules prevail in the West, it is due to their success in exploiting other countries and attracting their wealth and manpower for themselves. Otherwise, not only true justice is absent in these countries, but there remains truth-seeking people who are still thirsty of justice and long for an ideal society.
What do we mean by saying that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) would invite the people towards their own respective books and beliefs? Wouldn’t he invite the people to Islam and Qur’an?
Hazrat Qaem Aale-Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) will invite all nations towards their own respective books. To the Jews, he would say, “In the Torah, it has come down about my Reappearance as such.” To the Christians, he would say, “In the Bible, my rule has been introduced in such and such manner.” To the Zoroastrians, the Hindus, and all people of other religions, he would argue and reason out by referring to their books and thus prove the rightfulness of Islam and his Imamate and rule.
In a tradition, it has come down as follows:
“Verily, the Mahdi will bring out the coffin of the Ark of the Covenant from the cave of Entakia and draw out the Pentateuch from a mountain in Syria. With them, he would argue and reason out with the Jews and majority of them would bring faith in Islam.”
In this manner, the argument shall be finalized for the followers of all divine religions and human schools of thought and everyone would gather under the banner of monotheism, Islam and Qur’an with one belief. At this time, Qur’an would be the divine book and Islam would be the religion.
Hazrat Baqiyat’ul-allah (a.t.f.s.) would teach this heavenly religion to the people and interpret the Book of Allah for them. The people would continue to live with hearts and tongues united under one rule and leader.
Will Jurisprudence (Fiqhahat and Ijtihad) that is practiced in our time, continue to prevail during the Hazrat’s time, or would they vanish completely?
In reply to this query, we shall analyze some points:
First, we should know why Fiqhahat and Ijtihad came into practice? The term “Ijtihad” has been taken, by the Shias, from the Sunnis. Otherwise, in the Shia culture, the term “Tafaqquh” is used instead of “Ijtihad”.
During Hazrat’s era, Fiqhahat would not be as prevalent as it is today, and its level would thus differ.
Ghaibat (absence) of our immaculate Imams (a.s.) has given entry to Fiqhahat and Ijtihad. As Imams (a.s.) are not present amongst all the people, the door of Fiqhahat is opened for implementing the divine ordinances. This is because the honourable Faqihs measure the diverse traditions, remove any contradictions if any and deduce the necessary decree. For this reason, from the viewpoint of the Shia Fiqh, the Ahkam (decrees) of Faqihs are exoteric.
It should be known that during occultation, the door of knowledge and certainty for attaining real Ahkam (ordinances) is closed and the people practice the exoteric Ahkam (decrees) only. However, during Hazrat’s era, due to direct contact with him and widespread communication means, the uncertainties in Ahkam would not be like in the past and the Ahkam would be the divine and real Akham. Imam himself shall say, “Such is the decree of so and so matter”. His words (that are Hadith and Vahy) would be heard and practiced by all and “Taqiyyah” (dissimulation) would cease to exist during his time.
This hasn’t been the case before reappearance. The Faqihs have been in charge of explaining the ordinances based on their inference from the Usul (principles). Thus, during Imam’s era, there wouldn’t be any more need for such Fiqhahat and inference. Instead, there would exist certain phases of Fiqhahat and inference but different from the past. For instance, Imam’s representatives and his successors would explain to the people the Ahkam. Of course, a tenderly type Fiqhahat and inference would exist at that time, but not as extensive as our time because in every nook and corner of the world, detailed explanation of ample decrees depends on a Faqih’s inference and his acquaintance with the subject.
In traditions, Hazrat Mahdi’s government is likened to Hazrat Dawood’s government. From what viewpoint, their governments resemble one another?
As per the holy Qur’an, exclusive earmarked for Hazrat Dawood was that he was made the ruler by Almighty Allah:
“O Dawood! Surely We have made you a ruler in the land; so judge between men with justice.” (Qur’an, 38:26)
Hazrat Dawood was the first one in history who ruled esoterically in matters of litigations and disputes. In other words, whenever disputes took place between two people, they would be taken before Hazrat Dawood (a.s.) who would solve the problem by virtue of his divine knowledge (i.e., based on his knowledge of the hidden and concealed realities).
It was not the case during the time of holy Prophet and the Imams. They would judge exoterically (apparently). But, at the time of Hazrat Mahdi’s (a.t.f.s.) reappearance, people would approach him with their disputes and claims and he would solve them very simply.
It should be known that such a judgment destroys any violation and transgression (which is witnessed today amongst majority of the people) because, everyone realizes that nobody can nullify the truth with the help of feigning and excuses. In other words, they fully realize that the judge is supposed to judge esoterically and his judgment is based on divine knowledge and Hazrat would act by this divine knowledge.
The similarity of Hazrat Mahdi’s (a.t.f.s.) government with Hazrat Dawood’s (a.s.) government lies in this that Imam (a.t.f.s.) would judge esoterically without calling for any witness or evidence.
What difference does Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have with other prophets and Imams such that amongst all the prophets and Imams it is only Hazrat Mahdi who can fulfill Allah’s Will and meet the peoples hope? Is it that the other prophets and Imams couldn’t fulfill this aim? Will Hazrat Mahdi compel the people to accept his rule? Doesn’t the holy verse say, “There is no compulsion about religion?”
The question is that why the other Imams did not implement this universal plan which would be put into action by Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) only? Also, considering that there is no compulsion in religion, how Imam (a.t.f.s.) would force people to accept his plans?
The first part itself comprises two points: First, the Almighty Allah has not wished so. Secondly, the people before Hazrat Mahdi’s rule weren’t prepared for implementation of such plan. Thus during Amir-ul-Mu’mineen’s rule too, the Islamic plans could not be implemented in full. The people couldn’t tolerate Imam Ali’s rule. They even failed to accept Imam Hasan’s government otherwise Imam Hasan (a.s.) would never have entered into peace treaty with Muwaiya. The people invited Imam Husain (a.s.). Thereafter, they changed the political situation so fast that they closed Imam Husain’s path at Karbala. Before, Imam Husain (a.s.) had sent Muslim-ibn-Aqeel and people swore allegiance to him. Later, they abandoned him such that only a few remained in the Kufa mosque. At night, they did not give Muslim any shelter and left him all alone.
Thus, all the invitations and movements were all a show and weren’t based on their recognition of Imam. For this reason, with one political move, the enemies turned the situation against Muslim-ibn-Aqeel.
During Hazrat Mahdi’s (a.t.f.s.) rule, all groups would come to Imam’s assistance and would approve his rule. This is because all the governments would come to this conclusion that they are incapable of ruling the world. Thus, they would have full preparedness in accepting Hazrat Mahdi’s rule and would accept so whole heartedly.
Besides, if Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) rule extends all over the land, it doesn’t contradict the verse, “there is no compulsion in religion.” This is because it is Allah’s Will and the desire of the common people to see the universal government set in motion. However, only a limited number (who would refuse to accept the truth) would wish to raise the banner of opposition and perhaps say, “We wish to put up our own tribal and religious organization.”
The entire citizens around the world would say:
اشهد ان لا اله الا الله و اشهد ان محمدا رسول الله و اشهد ان عليا ولي الله
Is it possible to cancel the universal plans just for the sake of a limited few?
About Hazrat Mahdi’s rule, it is worthy to mention that unlike his judgments in litigations and disputes where he would judge esoterically, he is not charged to rule esoterically. His divine knowledge has nothing to do with his ruling and acceptance of government and he would act exoterically.
Thus, the society at that time would be a Muslim society and the government an Islamic government. The slogans would be Islamic slogans. No place would be found wherein a non-Muslim would reside. No individual would be found by the name of Jew, Christian, Zorastrian Buddha, Brahmin etc. All the people would submit themselves before the truth and would say, “La-Illaha-Ilallah” though their inner freedom and authority would remain intact.
To sum up, the Will of the All-Wise Allah and the people’s preparedness during the end of time makes it expedient for only Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) to shoulder this enormous duty of forming the universal government, and this is the same about which all prophets and Imams have given glad tidings.
The holy Qur’an says:
“Is it then other than Allah’s religion that they seek (to follow), and to Him submits whoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, and to Him shall they be returned.” (Qur’an, 3:83)
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“When our Qaem shall emerge no place would remain void of the cry, ‘I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger’.”
As per some traditions, Jesus Christ will accompany Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) during the Reappearance. Would the Christians bring faith in Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and turn Muslims, or would they rebel against him?
From the viewpoint of the holy Qur’an and authentic Shia traditions, Jesus Christ is not dead, and wasn’t crucified at all. He is alive and the Christians, of that time, were led into error about him while Allah took him up to Himself:
“And they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so………nay! Allah took him up to Himself.” (Qur’an, 4:157&158)
In the Shia traditions it has come down that he lives in the fourth heaven. What is the fourth heaven? It isn’t very clear.
Secondly, according to the context of numerous Shia and Sunni traditions, Jesus Christ is Hazrat Mahdi’s vizier (minister). This messenger of Allah would follow Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and pray behind him.
Thirdly, right from the time of the holy Prophet’s appointment, Jesus Christ acts upon Islam, the holy Qur’an and the way of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The fact that he shoulders Imam Mahdi’s ministry supports this matter as well.
Fourthly, the Christians, too, are like other nations, and majority of them would positively respond to the call of monotheism and justice given by the promised saviour. Like few others, few amongst them would show resistance.
Based on traditions, the interpreters have interpreted verse 159 from Chapter Nisa (“And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death”) as follows:
Before the resurrection day (at the time of rising of Imam Mahdi), Jesus Christ would descend and no Christian or Jew would remain but that they would bring faith in him.
Therefore, as per this interpretation and some traditions, the people of the Book would all bring faith in him during the end of time and Hazrat Mahdi’s rule.
Based on verses 14 and 64 from Chapter Maeda, considering that polytheism and blasphemy would remain until the day of resurrection, would the land become free from polytheism and blasphemy during Hazrat Mahdi’s rule?
The two afore-mentioned verses say:-
“And with those who say, We are Christians, We made a covenant, but they neglected a portion of what they were reminded of; therefore We excited among them enmity and hatred to the day of resurrection; and Allah will inform them of what they did.” (Qur’an, 5:14)
“And the Jews say: The hand of Allah is tied up! Their hands shall be shackled and they shall be cursed for what they say. Nay, both His hands are spread out. He expends as He pleases; and what has been revealed to you from your Lord will certainly make many of them increase in inordinacy and unbelief; and We have put enmity and hatred among them, till the Day of resurrection; whenever they kindle a fire for war Allah puts it out, and they strive to make mischief in the land; and Allah does not love the mischief makers.” (Qur’an, 5:64)
We should see who is referred to as “بينهم” (among them) in both the verses? Amongst which group is enmity, anger, and hatred? And what is meant by ’till the day of resurrection’?
In our daily conversation, we say, ‘Our friendship will last till the day of resurrection’. In Ziarat-e-Ashura, we say to Imam Husain (a.s.):
“Peace be upon you from my side, until the day of resurrection”.
Am I alive till the day of resurrection!? Certainly not! But the contents of this sentence only wish to express that this friendship is so deep, profound, and steadfast that if we continue to live together, it would last till the day of resurrection.
These two verses say: Enmity and hatred are so deep among them that if they ever live till the day of resurrection, such enmity would continue to persist in them. This part of verse 14 is exactly the same as that of verse 64, except that instead of “القينا” (we put) the term “اغرينا” (we excited) is used.
Another point is that during Hazrat Mahdi’s Reappearance, man would not give away his free-will and it is possible that his carnal desires as well as Satan would tempt him to evil. But the society would be a just and pious Islamic society just as the Qur’an has given glad tiding about it and everyone would be a monotheist. The holy Qur’an says:
“Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will most certainly make them rulers in the earth as He made rulers those before them, and that He will most certainly establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them, and that He will most certainly, after their fear, give them security in exchange; they shall sever Me, not associating aught with Me.” (Qur’an, 24:55)
The promise given is that fear would be taken away from the people; the earth would be at the disposal of the oppressed ones; good actions would take place and people would worship Allah and not associate anyone with Him.
In another verse, we read:
“And certainly We wrote in the Book after the reminder that (as for) the land, My righteous servants shall inherit it.” (Qur’an, 21:105)
It is recorded in the Zaboor after the Torah that the righteous servants would inherit the land. So during Hazrat Mahdi’s (a.t.f.s.) rule, the land would belong to the righteous ones and the end is for the pious ones.
“And the End is for the Pious people (against evil).” (Qur’an, 7:128); (Qur’an, 28:83)
“And We desired to bestow a favour upon those who were deemed weak in the land, and to make them the Imams, and to make them the heirs.” (Qur’an, 28:5)
The weak would become Imams and heirs. They are the believers and people of good deeds. Their goodness will leave its effects on others too, willy-nilly.
These were the verses from the Qur’an clearly specifying that the people will worship Allah and would not associate aught with Him.
In the traditions, it is stated that no place would remain void of the cry, “I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger”. This matter has been noted down by the Sunni scholars too. In spite of all this, personal jealousy and spite might remain in individuals as after all, we are human-beings possessing freedom and authority as well as desires. But its clear that their number is very limited and the majority would be trained by Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
To sum up, the face of the human society would turn pure and remain free from filth, blasphemy, polytheism, injustice and tyranny; all this due to the blessings of divine government and leadership of an immaculate figure. From the other side, the human-beings would not be devoid of free will. Rather, they would use their free will either in the right or wrong way:
“اما شاكرا و اما كفورا”
We know that Hazrat Mahdi’s satisfaction and happiness, with respect to us, lies in our true and correct belief (creed) and virtuous deeds. How and by what means can one achieve this momentous issue?
Right from the past till today, reason and experience have confirmed the issue of expertise. History talks about expertise in arts and science. The spread and expansion of sciences, arts and know-how is all the result of expertise and specialty in diverse branches. Reason too guides us to accept this fact that we must refer to the focal point of science and knowledge. Obviously, in acquiring knowledge on religion, one must return to the real focal point and fountainhead.
In this connection, the real pivot is the Qur’an and Ahl ul-bayt (a.s.) [who also possesses the knowledge of Qur’an]. It’s necessary to acquire all the sciences and learn the creeds, ethics and precepts from them. Aside from numerous reliable and widely transmitted traditions from them, they have explained and interpreted the fundamentals and principles that have been complied and explained in several books like:
Nahjul-Balagha: Sermons, maxims and letters of Amir-ul-Mu’mineen (a.s.)
Sahifa-Sajjadia: Invocations and prayers by Imam Sajjad (a.s.)
Usul, Furu and Rauzah Kafi: written by Seqat’ul Islam Kulaini.
La-Ya’zural-Faqih: written by Shaikh Saduq.
Al-Estibsar: written by Shaikh-ul-Ta’efa Abu Jafar Tousi.
Al-Tahzeeb: written by Shaikh-ul-Ta’efa Abu Jafar Tousi.
Tafsir by Ali-ibn-Abraham Qommi.
Tafsir by Muhammad-ibn-Masoud Aiyashi Samarqandi.
Tafsir by Furaat-ibn-Abraham-ibn-Furaat Kufi.
Basa’er al-Darejaat, by Muhammad-ibn-Hasan-ibn-Farrokh Saffar and tens of other books on hadith and tafsir
Thus, in matters of Usul and Furu, as well as, ethics one must refer to these books.
About the matter that we should seek knowledge from them, Imam Baqir (a.s.) says about the verse:
(“Then let man look to his food”: Chapter Abasa:24): “So it is necessary that man looks to his food”
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) too said, “It means man should look at his knowledge and to see from whom he is acquiring it?”
Knowledge and understanding is the main spiritual food, which must be nourished from its main source.
About the fact that we must refer to the Imams (a.s.) and the narrators of their traditions, it is quoted from Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) as saying:
“At the times of new events, refer to the narrators of our words and traditions (and acquire your knowledge from them that is supplied from the limpid fountainhead of Ahl’ul-bayt).”
In this connection, refer to Usul-e-Kafi, Kitab-ul-Hujjah.
Besides, our reasoning and innate intellect dictates that in gratitude for the All-Beneficent, and as a form of servitude, we must believe and remain steadfast about Oneness of Allah, the need for a prophet, the presence of the Day of Judgment, reckoning and divine justice and the existence of guardians of religion i.e., Imamate and Wilayat.
The Knowledge and sciences must be acquired from its focal point and fountainhead. That which lifts the curtain from the human nature and essence (Fitrat) are the holy verses of Qur’an, and the explanation given by its interpreters. Numerous verses guide us to those scholars. The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) has determined and introduced them. He has given them the knowledge of the Qur’an, and commanded the people to follow them.
Consequently, about the exposition and explanation of innate creed, the words and sayings of the immaculate leaders are Hujjat (divine proof). They are reliable leaders in matters of Fiqh and ethics. And the more closer a Faqih (or narrator) is to them, the more is his reliability.
To sum up, the Book and the Sunnah, in their true interpreted forms, are the best and the worthiest source for acquiring the genuine Islamic doctrines and their carriers (immaculate ones) are the most reliable ones for presenting and explaining them.
The more a person becomes familiar with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) the more he desires to acquire his Imam’s satisfaction. What should we do to attract our Imam’s satisfaction more and more?
This query arises more for the youth, because the key for gaining proximity to Allah and perfection of faith lies in Imam’s satisfaction. All are aware that what deeds pleases Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.).
He is pleased with us, the followers, if we act as true Shias. The concept of Shia is summarized as true beliefs and deeds. The true spirit of these two also is love for Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Literally, Shia means follower. The requisite for following Imam is to pursue his path. So love for Imam is the main source for attracting his satisfaction.
True creed and true deeds too cannot be acquired except from his prolific school. We must learn our true creed from him and practice our true deeds by following him. Contrary to the views of the majority, one cannot acquire true beliefs and true deeds from the books written by eastern and western philosophers; the past and recent mystics and from schools of psychology and psychoanalysis. We can neither acquire them from the political dignitaries or historical reformers. We must look for them only and only in the school of Ahl’ul-bayt (which is the school of Qur’an and hadith). The Qur’an and Ahl’ul-bayt are two souvenirs that the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) has left behind and about them, he says:
“Your consideration for me lies in your guarding these two things. Protect me by these two.”
I advise the youth that true creed and true deeds are no worldly goods that can be easily bought from the market. These two are the whole and sole of one’s worth. It calls for precision and carefulness. It requires day to day effort. It calls for constant endeavour.
In this connection, one must lament and resort to him (for being Bab’ullah) for gaining faith, Ma’refat, certitude and protection. Our acquaintance with books that increase our Ma’refat and our company with virtuous and upright people who care for us (and do not call people towards themselves.) moves us closer to him.
Thus, the basis and foundation for attracting his satisfaction is to remain a true Muslim and believer; to have good deeds and correct reflection; to possess the spirit of perseverance and to strive and endeavour.
Now for some points which we can benefit from traditions:
Kulaini has narrated a tradition , summary of which is as follows:
Ammar Saabati says: “I asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.), ‘Which is better? A secret worship under the rule of a false government during the concealed Imam’s time, or worship under the Just government of Imam? He replied, ‘Ammar! By Allah, a secret charity is better than an open charity! A secret worship during your Imam’s time (who is concealed during the wicked government) with fear from the enemies, is better than worship during the days of Reappearance of the truth: know that if anyone amongst you perform the obligatory prayers in congregation and in hiding from the enemies, Allah would bestow him the reward of fifty obligatory prayers in congregation, and the one who possesses good deeds and behaviour, and controls his tongue, would be rewarded several times more..”
Also, it has come down that once, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said to Abu Basir: ‘Should I inform you of a deed, by virtue of which Allah accepts all other deeds?’ Abu Basir said, ‘please inform me.’ Imam said, “To bear testimony to the monotheistic word, “La-Ilaha-Illallah”; to bear witness to Muhammad’s messengership; to confess whatever Allah has commanded; to acknowledge our Wilayat; to grow weary of our enemies; to submit before the Imam; to remain pious; to endeavour; to keep calm and sober and to await the Qaem.”Thereafter, he said, ‘By Allah’s Will, we would have a government. Anyone counted to be amongst the followers of the ‘Qaem’ would remain pleased. He should await him; he should be pious and hold good morals and uphold constantly the spirit of awaiting him. If anyone dies in this state, he would earn the reward of Imam’s companion. O blessed group! Strive seriously and await him. May it be pleasing for you!”
Now for the words of this compassionate Imam (a.t.f.s.) that have come down in Tauqee:
1. Adopt piety (fear Allah)
2. Resign yourselves to us.
3. Return your affairs to us (and push ahead on our basis)
4. Do not make effort to divulge the secrets.
5. (Act moderately and) do not tread on the right or left path (avoid going to extremes).
6. Approach us and act upon the Sunnah (of prophet and Ahl’ul-bayt) with love.
7. During phenomenon (for understanding our duty), refer to the narrators of our traditions.
8. Pray excessively for hastening the faraj.
9. Assist us in delivering you from troubles and conspiracies.
10. Cling on to dissimulation.
11. Behave in such manner that is appropriate to our love and keeps away our anger.
12. If our Shias (may Allah grace them with the honour of obedience) unite their hearts and remain loyal towards their covenant, they would succeed in meeting us.
We hear that the Imams (a.s.) had the desire to see the twelfth Imam. Was it because they believed the twelfth Imam possessed a much higher spiritual status, or it was their enthusiasm for a universal Islamic government, monotheism, and justice that created that desire in them?
All the prophets and Imams strived constantly in upholding religion and monotheism, and wiping off polytheism and blasphemy from the human societies. Thus, they persisted on this path and sacrificed their lives and wealth. For the well-being of the people and their piety, they went so far that they never had a rest. On the other hand, based on divine glad-tidings, they realized that its complete accomplishment would be fulfilled by the hands of the promised Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). For this reason, they were in anxious state, in hope for achievement of this ultimate desire, and encouraged the people to wait for that day.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“If I happen to meet him, I would serve him my entire life”.
Also, Imam Reza (a.s.) had stood up whenever he heard special title of Mahdi,i.e.”the word ‘Qaem'” and after placing his hand over the head, he had said:
“O Allah! Hasten his Faraj and make easy his rise.”
Sodair Sairafi says:
“One day Mufazzal, Abu-Basir, Aban-ibn-Taghleb and I visited Imam Sadiq (a.s.) at his residence. I saw Hazrat sitting on the ground wearing a woolen cloak and was crying just like a mother who has lost her child. Sorrow and grief was visible on his face and tears rolled down his cheek. In such a state he groaned and said, ‘O my master! Your concealment has taken away my sleep, seized my comfort and made my sufferings to last forever………”
If we look into the traditions, we will see that all the Imams (a.s.) have shed tears and were desirous of such meeting. Such eagerness exhibited by the immaculate leaders displays a way which not only the Shias but rather all the human-beings of the world should pursue if they wish to attain salvation. Similarly, just like their divine leaders, they should pass their moments life by growing enthusiastic and yearning to see the heavenly saviour and his government.
The text of supplications and invocations narrated by Imams (a.s.) too reminds us of this zeal and anxiousness and moves our heart in desire for meeting him. In Dua-e-Ah’d we read:
“O Allah count me amongst the helpers of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Among those who defend him; who hasten to fulfil his goal; who obey his commands, and assist him…
In this wordly life, those whose sorrow, grief, endeavours, and struggles rotate around this sacred goal, come under the cover of the glad-tidings given by Imam Sadiq (a.s.) who said:
“….blessed are the Shias of our Qaem, who during the occultation wait for his reappearance and who obey his commands when he rises! They are Allah’s favourites who have no fear and grief.”
After Reappearance, the world would become attractive and lovable and the human society would turn into an ideal society. Before Reappearance and during occultation, what are the main duties for preparing such an enviournment and society?
It is clear that if man prepares himself for the future and looks forward to a special phenomenon, he will sacrifice his present life for that future event. For instance, if a secondary school student looks forward to become a doctor, he will learn his lesson in such manner that right from the first year, he will utilise every page of his book and every moments of his life for that future goal. One who desires to become an architect and a distinguished designer in the future, will give such value to his secondary school classes, today, as if he is sitting besides the designing table in a university!
The condition of one awaiting Hazrat Mahdi’s Reappearance is the same. Such a person must arrange his present life, as if, he is just now in the presence of his just Imam (the government of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is a human and just government). Training and rectification of one’s self and the community are the preliminary steps.
So, for setting up that monotheistic community, and a world full of justice, it is our duty to prepare ourselves right today and strive for its achievement by rectifying our religious beliefs and fulfilling the consequent deeds.
We should remember that when we ask Allah, by way of the following supplication, it is necessary to make ourselves worthy of such utterances via Ma’refat and action.
“O Allah! We ask You for an exalted and generous government wherein You bestow honour to Islam and its followers and bring disgrace to hypocrisy and the hypocrites; and count us among those who call others towards You and show them Your way.”
For acquiring correct faith, we should consider the Imams (a.s.) as good exemplars, and learn from them and their outstanding companions, which thereafter should be acted upon. We should strive hard and exert all our efforts on this path.
For acquaintance with the affairs related to beliefs, particularly Imamate and Mahdaviyat, what are the sources? To what extent can one rely on the Islamic sources, the holy Qur’an and the ‘Ahadith’ (traditions)?
It is necessary to pay attention to the following points:
(1) The sound mind of any human being accepts that knowledge of the past and present, and its utilization is absolutely necessary. By innate nature, he relies on a series of news and information concerning rules and ethical issues. A minute observation reveals that man’s individual and social life is indebted to the collection of information on various subjects where he has personally neither investigated nor experienced all by himself. Basically, it is not possible for any individual to investigate and experience all the aspects. Rather, by relying on the information of the past and present, he arranges his ordinary and scholarly life and avails himself of its results.
Without reliance on information, can anyone gain certainty about the past sciences, historical events and happenings, existence of personalities, cities and places?
Who can witness by himself the smallest as well as the most important of information and news of the past? Has every individual experience(s) the formula for all the various sciences? How has man succeeded in benefiting from the past sciences? Was it from individual experience? Who recognizes the parents of children out of experimental and scientific reasoning? In the entire human societies, how many have witnessed birth and delivery of children so that they acquire certainty that so and so are their parents!?
All these are possible, only and only, through narration by reliable persons. Most of the phenomena of human life, and civil and religious laws, are the outcome of experimental information, all acquired through narrations.
(2) Islam is a religion based on divinely granted consciousness (Fitrat). While it is the basis of acquiring the principles of human Fitrat, it also calls the people to keep this Fitrat awake. Its lucid principles and doubtless precepts call us to rely on the sayings of the prophets and Imams that were famous as trust and confidence during their respective lives.
During the length of history, the believers and others who weren’t stubborn, relied on Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and believed Muhammad as a prophet who from his youth was famous as “Muhammad-e-Amin”. They reckoned his sayings to be revelation and accepted and acted upon his warnings regarding the Day of Judgment and chastisement!
(3) The same innate path exists for acquiring Islam and whatever has been taught by the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). For a research and study about Islam, there exists no way save the Qur’an and traditions; although these sayings are pondered over and appreciated by the mind.
The basis and foundation of the lofty structure of religion is formed by innate rational mind. In this regard, the holy Qur’an (the first source for the Muslims for acquiring the concepts of religion) has confirmed this innate path and leads its readers towards it. In various verses, the holy Qur’an has given validity and authority to the holy Prophet’s sayings, deeds, and advises so that the Muslims follow him. For example verse 7 from chapter Hashr says:
“Whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back.” (Qur’an, 59:7)
It’s clear that aside from commands and prohibitions, the holy Qur’an sets forth other matters too; and intends to strengthen the Prophet’s position. Undoubtedly, these sayings and deeds too amount to Divine command and alongside the Qur’an, they form the total set of religious teachings and realties.
“Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those in authority from among you.”
It is cleat that obedience to the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and those vested with authority, is different from obedience to Allah’s commands (as the word ‘obey’ is repeated). Although the words of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) are only based on revelation and just as mentioned before, the aim for obeying them is only to strengthen their position, nevertheless, the wordings and interpretation of the verse opens the door for acting upon the Hadith and sayings of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.).
It’s necessary to remind that while the holy Qur’an is guidance and light; by Divine Wisdom, the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his true successors have been made responsible for explanation the numerous ordinances, stories and matters pertaining to belief. Thus, the holy Prophet has introduced the whole Islam by referring to the two weighty souvenirs.
Therefore, traditions (Ahadit) are the fundamental pillar for understanding Islam, and have been introduced on par with the holy Qur’an.
(4) Our time is separated from the holy Prophet’s time by 15 centuries. Nobody during our time lived or experienced the events during that era. As was pointed out earlier, the only rational, reliable, and accessible reference for understanding religion is the transmitted narrations, the top-most being the holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah. Apart from the Qur’anic text, the Muslims have two ways for gaining access to the events of that era:
First: The way selected by the Sunnis by following the caliphate system.
Second: The path pursued by the Shias in following the Ahl’ul-bayt and infallible Imams (a.s.).
We know that both groups possess books on hadith, Tafsir (interpretation of Qur’an) and history. The book named “Sahih” by Bukhari, Moslem, Tirmidhi, and Nesaee; another named Musnad by Ahmad, etc belong to the Sunnis. While Kafi, Basaer al-Darejat, Tahzeeb, Estibsar, Man-La-Yahzoro’-Faqih etc are compilations of the Shias.
If a Hadith is narrated by both groups, through the same narrator, that narrator is considered reliable by both groups, and we name him/her as a narrator having mutual approval. However, if a narrator is unacceptable by one of the groups, he is considered as “disputed” narrator.
(5) While the Shias consider the holy Imams and Hazrat Fatemah (a.s.) as the narrators having mutual approval, and the Sunnis consider them as “reliable and truthful” narrators. The Shias also believe that they are divinely gifted with the position of infallibility, Wilayat (divine authority) and Imamate (divine leadership). Thus, their narration about the Prophet’s era is considered as reliable by both groups. So, if anyone from either group had lived during any of these Imams’s time, would have accurately traced the Prophet’s era without any distortion and acquired the commandments and other matters with full confidence.
(6) Consequently, in the Shia culture, the period for examining the narrators is about 250 years (from the holy Prophet’s era till the martyrdom of Imam Askari). Now, the chain of transmission of the narrated Hadiths should be analyzed in the length of about 1150 years (starting from today and going back to 260 A.H.). On the other hand, the Sunnis should examine them in the length of more than 1400 years (counting from today going back to the Prophet’s demise). As a result, there exists more reliability in the chain of narration of Shia narrators (provided the parameters for correctness of hadith are the same).
If we take into account the divine position of Imams as well, then the whole issue would change drastically. This is because its no secret that their knowledge is linked to the Prophet’s knowledge as well as the holy Qur’an and their immaculate status is confirmed by the Qur’an. Besides, the Shia scholars possess special precision and parameters with regards to narrators because of their inclination towards the school of immaculate Imams (a.s.). For example, parameters like conformity of Hadith with reason, their non-contradiction with the holy Qur’an, or other widely transmitted Hadith.
(7) We accept that there exist weak traditions too. But their presence cannot affect the credit of thousands of authentic and reliable traditions. Is not in the Sunni collection of traditions any weak tradition? A review of Sahih-Moslem and Sahih-Bukhari would give its reader an idea about the extent of traditions that exists in non-Shia books, that contradict the holy Qur’an, reason, or other widely transmitted traditions. In this connection, you may refer to “Elm’ul-hadith” (Zain-ul-Abedeen Qorbani, pages 349-375), “Sairi-dar-Sahihain” (Najmi, third section, pages 66-73) and “Azvao-lal-Sunnat-ul-Muhammadiah” (Mahmood Aburiah).
Just for the sake of good luck, we shall now set forth a hadith concerning Imamate of Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) and about Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)
The holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“Of whomsoever I am his master (Maula), Ali is his master too.”
(Ehtejaj: Tabarsi: 58-67)
Also, Abu-Zar said: Allah’s messenger (s.a.w.a.) said:
“The one who obeys my command has obeyed Allah’s command; and the one who disobeys me has disobeyed Allah; the one who obeys Ali has obeyed me, and the one who disobeys him has disobeyed me.”
About Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) the holy Prophet said:
“Ali is from me; his spirit is from my spirit, and his clay from my clay. He is my brother, and I am his brother. He is my daughter’s husband, the lady who is the chief of the ladies from the first to the last. The two leaders of my nation, the two masters of the youth of paradise viz., Hasan and Husain, and nine offspring from Husain are all from Ali. The ninth from them is “the Qaem” who will fill the earth with equity and justice, just as it would have been filled with injustice and tyranny.”
Similarly, the messenger of Allah said:
“The land shall overflow with injustice and tyranny. Then, a man from my progeny shall rise. He will fill it with equity and justice.”
We see the Shia, as well as, the Sunni traditions throw light on the Imamate and Wilayat of Ali (a.s.), and Mahdaviyat and Qaemiyat of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
To sum up:
1. The innate and intellectual way open to man concerning the past era and generation is narration and traditions only.
2. This is the only solution in all the dimensions whether it is history or sciences, or doctrines or precepts.
3. In narrating Islamic and religious realities, the only reliable references are the holy Qur’an and traditions.
4. The structure and arrangement of the holy Qur’an shows that it requires interpretation, explanation and commentary by the teachers of Qur’an (the holy Prophet and immaculate Imams).
5. By adhering to the divine interpreters, the Shias pursue the path of Sunnah and traditions.
6. Today, if we wish to acquire the realities of religion and the true interpretation of the Qur’an, we must follow Ah’l al-bayt and their traditions only.
7. About Imamate and Wilayat, as well as, Mahdaviyat and Qaemiyat, we must search for them in the Qur’an and traditions of Ah’l al-bayt.
Why the Imams (a.s.) are twelve in number and not more? If their number were more and they were always present and active amongst the people, the phenomenon of ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment) would cease to exist with the result that all the problems arising from ‘Ghaibat’ would fail to appear and people would not go astray.
(a) Out of Grace and Bounty, the Almighty Allah appoints prophets for man’s guidance. With regards to their number, Allah appoints them as per His Wisdom and Knowledge. We read in the holy Qur’an:
O children of Adam! If there comes to you prophets from among you relating to you My communications….. (Qur’an, 7:35)
Verily, appointment of an Imam for Imamate is a divine affair just as appointment of an Apostle is a divine affair. Even the Prophets have no right of selection. Likewise, their number is fixed by Almighty Allah as per His Wisdom and Grace.
(b) Whatever the number of the prophets or Imams, this question would still exist and you may again ask, ‘What is the logic behind this number? Why not more or less?
Thus, any affair whose very basis is in Allah’s Hand, its dimensions and other aspects are finalized by His Will and Wisdom; and we should surrender to His Will.
Isn’t the verse 5 from chapter Qasas about the story of Sons of Isreal and Pharaoh?
“And We desired to bestow a favour upon those who were deemed weak in the land, and to make them the Imams, and to make them the heirs.”(Qur’an, 28:5)
So why do we say it concerns Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?
We observe one point in the Islamic traditions that is supported by reason and the Book. That though the holy verses are restricted, their applicability and reign are unlimited (would continue to prevail until the Day of resurrection). So how can we say that its meanings and concepts are confined to the ‘occasions of revelations’ only?
The holy Prophet and Imams have said:
“If a verse from the holy Qur’an concerns a particular nation, and that nation passes away and with it that verse, then nothing would remain from the Qur’an. This is because occasions of revelation of verses are restricted. A verse may have been revealed on the occasion of some specific event but with the termination of that event, Qur’an is not rendered null and void. The holy verses have been revealed in connection with some specific events and stories but their precepts and commandments continue to prevail. Therefore, although the occasion of revelation of the above-mentioned verse concerns Firaun and the oppressed ones during his era, yet its meaning and applicability are one common rule and esoterically, it concerns Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
The one who explains (interprets and comments) the holy Qur’an is none other than the holy Prophet and those appointed by the Prophet. They are the pure and immaculate Imams. These teachers and interpreters have esoterically interpreted this verse to be related to Hazrat Mahdi’s government. In this regard, you may refer to:
– Tafsir Nur al-Saqalain 4:107, hadith 6 & 9-15
– Tafsir Nemunah 16:15-21
In addition to the apparent meaning, the holy Qur’an possesses another meaning named as ‘Ta’veel’ (esoteric interpretation)? The matter of esoteric interpretation is discussed in the holy Qur’an. In verse 7 from Chapter Ale-Imran, it has come down as follows:
“Some of its verses are decisive, they are the basis of the Book, and others are allegorical; then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity…” (Qur’an, 3:7)
Thus the allegorical verses are to be interpreted esoterically. In continuation of the verse, it says:
“But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge.”
This shows that undoubtedly, there exist those who are firmly rooted in knowledge and know the esoteric interpretation. This verse proves the very basis of ‘Ta’veel’ (whatsoever its meaning) as well as ‘those firmly rooted in knowledge’ (whomsoever they may be) who know the ‘Ta’veel’. Now we should find out who are those firmly rooted in knowledge.
After research, we shall realize that the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) [who has brought and taught the Qur’an], has entrusted its esoteric interpretation only to the Imams [from Imam Ali (a.s.) till the Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)]. These are evidences based on history and narration . They have esoterically interpreted the verse in the sense that the occasion of revelation has been about Pharao’s nation, but esoterically, it refers to Hazrat Mahdi’s government.
Can we find any traditions or sayings about Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) in non-Shia books? Moreover, is Mahdi a known and specific personality or it’s merely a title given to the one who would rise and save the world?
The matter of saviour and reformer has been discussed under different names, in religions and ideologies, and numerous writings exist, in this regard, with different explanations.
In the holy Qur’an too, numerous verses substantiate this point, a few of theme were pointed out while replying to the preceding queries. In the Sunni books, discussions can be found about Mahdaviyat and the promised Mahdi. Numerous traditions have been narrated in books on Hadith, as well as, the ‘Sihah’. Considering the importance of this subject, exclusive books too have been compiled on this subject. An accurate look into these traditions will lead a researcher to believe that the Mahdi is a known and specific figure with known characteristics.
Amongst the traditions narrated from the holy Prophet (that has come down in Sihah and other Sunni books), we set forth the following:
The holy Prophet said:
1. “The world would not terminate until a man from my progeny (whose name is the same as my name) would rule over the Arabs, and would become the king.”
2. “Mahdi lives amongst my nation……To the one who shall ask from him something, he would bestow him so much wealth that he wouldn’t be able to take it away.”
3. “Allah shall appoint someone from my progeny, who will fill the earth with equity and justice, just as it has been filled with injustice and tyranny.
4. “Mahdi is from the progeny of Fatemah.”
5. “Mahdi possesses a broad forehead and a slender nose.”
6. “The son of Maryam shall descend with the Imam from you.”
7. “Mahdi is from our progeny. Allah shall set right his affairs in one night.”
8. The inhabitants of the earth and heavens shall turn pleased with Mahdi and during his rule, neither the earth shall withhold its treasures nor the sky its rain.”
In the Shia traditions, the promised Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is introduced as a known and specific person. What has been said about his qualities and signs?
The Shia’s link and connection with the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) through the Ahl al-bayt (a.s.), the matter of Mahdaviyat and Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is very clear and his characteristics have precisely come down in numerous traditions.
Since long, scholars have gained spectacular success in narrating various traditions related to Mahdaviyat, Qaemiyat, and the personality of Hujjat-ibn-Hasan (a.t.f.s.).
In the Shia books and writings, this matter has been clearly analysed in its various dimensions, since Mahdaviyat is one of the main pillars of faith, and Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the twelfth Imam and the successor to the holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.). Following are few Shia traditions that clearly throw light on Mahdi’s identity: (here, we shall summarise only from one of the reliable Shia sources namely Kamaluddin written by Shaikh Saduq)
1. The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: “Mahdi is from my progeny. His name and agnomen are similar to my name and agnomen. In creation and morals, he resembles me the most…
2. Hazrat Amir-ul-Muminin (a.s.) said: “The eleventh from my descendent would be the Mahdi, who would fill the earth with justice, just as it would have been filled with injustice…
3. In a Sahifah (scroll) with Hazrat Fatemah Zahra (a.s.), it has come down: “…Abul-Qasim Muhammad-ibn-Hasan is Allah’s Hujjah upon His creatures and the Upholder. His mother is a slave girl named Narjis.”
4. Imam Hasan (a.s.) said: “Aren’t you aware that except for our Qaem, all of us are compelled to swear allegiance to the illegitimate ruler of the time? Ruhullah Jesus-ibn-Maryam would pray with him. Verily, Allah shall keep secret his birth and shall conceal his existence until his rise so that he swears allegiance to nobody. He is the ninth from the descendant of my brother Husain. He is the son of a female slave. He possesses a long life and a youthful face…
5. Imam Husain (a.s.) said: “The ninth from my descendant shall possess the sign of Joseph, and the sign of Moses-ibn-Imran and he is our Qaem. Allah shall set right his affairs in one night.”
In spite that the promised Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is a fully known and specified figure, how is it that a few have ascribed and a few have claimed the post of Mahdaviyat?
The fact that the characteristics of a person are clear and known does not prevent falsehood to take the seat of truth and the false claimants to claim the truth which actually arises from selfish motives. In the adventurous history of mankind, we find enormous number of people who have claimed Imamate, Prophethood, and even godhood and divinity; and even today, we find them with many followers!
All around the world, there live people who follow false prophets and worship man-made gods! All the prophets were in clash with the idol-worshippers. This face to face clash between truth and falsehood has constantly prevailed. However, the main and fundamental point is that the All Wise God has finalized His argument for the people through clear argument and proof, so that they may either seek guidance, or else go astray.
Chapter Dahr (or Insaan), verse 3 says:
“Surely, We have shown him the way: he may be thankful or unthankful.” (Qur’an, 76:3)
Chapter Anfal, verse 42 says:
“That he who would perish might perish by clear proof, and he who would live might live by clear proof.” (Qur’an, 8:42)
The motives behind such ascription or claim to the post of Mahdaviyat can be summarized as follows:
(1) Over-ambitiousness and desire to rule: Man within himself possesses the urge to dominate and rule and considering that the post of the twelfth Imam and universal reformer is a matchless and unique global post, the claimants have made such claim so that they can satisfy their desire of domination for a few days in this world.
(2) Cooperation with the Caliphs and Kings: The Umayyid and Abbasid Caliphs, who usurped the caliphate of the Imams falsely, recognized themselves as being Allah’s representative and the representative of the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). For the sake of survival and continuity of their own rule, they encouraged those claiming Mahdaviyat and by this way made strong their own position. For example, Mansoor Dawaniqi the Abbasid caliph who supported his own son Muhammad-ibn-Abdullah who claimed Mahdaviyat or people like Al-Naser-Le-Din’allah Abbasi (born in 553 A.H.) who themselves claimed the position of Qaemiyat and Mahdaviyat.
(3) Greed for wealth and love of the world: Out of obedience, the people in every era, refer their religious and monetary affairs to their own Imam and the main authority for utilizing the obligatory or recommendable legal treasury is the lofty position of Imamate. Thus, certain groups have claimed this post out of greed for gathering this wealth and achieving their worldly desires.
(4) Spread of corrupt and deviated beliefs: Considering that the true Islam of the Ahl’ul-bayt (a.s.) ruptures any kind of polytheism and deviation, takes a hard stance for any kind of prejudice in prophethood and resurrection, and supports the ethics of the Qur’an, a group by claiming Mahdaviyat, have strived to spread corrupt and deviated beliefs among the people. Through such claims as well as claim of prophethood and Godhood, they wish to replace the true Islamic creed with such unjust beliefs. Taking into account the fact that the mass hold a special belief about the universal reformer and consider him to be the only one to reform the creed and beliefs and reckon him to be the last life-saving ship amidst the endless stormy sea, certain groups have taken advantage and claimed for themselves prophethood and even Godhood like Sayyed Muhammad Bab Shirazi from Iran in the thirteenth century.
(5) Diverting the people from awaiting for the true universal reformer: The sinister policies of colonial countries fear the unity, consolidation of the Shias and Muslims. Thus, by all possible means, they have always strived and still continue to create division and differences among the Shias. By strengthening and paving the way for the claimants, they desired (and succeeded to a certain extent) to create divisions among the Shias and Muslims so that they could rule and achieve their motives. As an example, we can name the colonial policies of England and Russia in supporting and guiding Sayyed Muhammad Bab.
(6) Jealousy towards the Imams: The people’s pure faith and love and affection for their Imam are another reason for making bright the business of these claimants. Out of jealousy, they desired to occupy this divine position.
(7) People’s annoyance and weariness arising from oppression of rulers: Whenever the pious people turn weary from the oppression of the rulers, they pacify their sorrows by remembering Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and creating a spiritual connection with him. Thus, in history, we see the mercenaries have exploited this path and claimed for themselves Qaemiyat and Mahdaviyat.
Respected readers! In certain instances, those who ascribed prominent figures with Mahdaviyat were themselves more or less possessing such motives and not the prominent figures themselves who were sometimes among the virtuous people or the Imams. For example Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) who was ascribed to be the Mahdi (a.s.) by some specific group.
At times, a group ascribed this title to someone with the motive of fighting against injustice. Amongst those who have been ascribed with the title of Mahdi but themselves did not make such a claim was Muhammad-ibn-Hanafia, son of Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.). Mokhtar-ibn-Abi-Obaidah-Saqafi revolted under his name and introduced him as the Mahdi and took revenge from the killers of Imam Husain (a.s.). After Mokhtar’s murder and death of Muhammad-ibn-Hanafia, his followers denied ibn-Hanafia’s death and believed he resided in the mountain of Rizwa and would return back.
Another one was Zaid-ibn-Ali-ibn-Husain (a.s.) who revolted against the Umayyid. His followers too called him the promised Mahdi. Yet another figure is Muhammad-ibn-Abdullah-Nafs-Zakiyyah who revolted against the initial rule of the Abbasids. His followers thought him to be the Mahdi.
The next group claimed the post of Mahdaviyat. Amongst them, we may name Muhammad Ahmad (Mahdi of Sudan) from Africa, Sayyed Ali Muhammad Bab from Iran (his followers well known as Babiyah), and Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani from India.
Does Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) possess a name and family name (surname) just like the common man? If so, what is his name and surname? Has any sketch made of his face and apparent appearance?
About his name and surname, it’s necessary to mention the following points:
1. Name implies proper name or proper noun that is kept for an individual at time of birth or at time of manufacture without keeping in mind its meaning.
2. Family name or surname is a recent custom from France. Under the term Fumille, (in English, Family) household, kin, near ones, relatives & family.
In Iran, family name or surname has become customary only in recent half-century.
3. The lexicon of holy book of Mr Hoax, page 59:
It had become the practice of the Jews to keep names by considering its meaning, considering the person’s character, or considering the events at the time of birth. During birth or circumcision of the infant, either the mother or father or both would consult friends and then name their infant accordingly…..Sometimes, inspired by prophetic names and meanings, names were selected…..and at times, due to the above reason, someone’s name would be changed during his lifetime. For example such names as Abraham, Saraa and Jacob. Sometimes the name is derived from the special event that occurred during his life-time like Samuel, Jesus, Jacob, Moses etc. Many a time, they would select divine names. For instance, they would add to a name such words as El, Yah, and Ya hoo etc and select such names as Samuel, Ya hoosh’a and Advinah. At times, one sentence was selected as name.
4. As per religious creed, the names of outstanding figures, such as the prophets, have been made by way of inspiration or revelation.
5. Among the Arab tribes, three types of names were common:
(b) Title (Laqab): comprising of a meaning that denotes some perfection.
(c) Agnomen (Kunyah): used with such terms as اب and ام and such words as اخ، اخت، ابن، بنت (which mean the father of, the other of, the son of, the daughter of) like (ابو القاسم) Abul-Qasim and (ام سلمه) Umma-Salamah.
6. Regarding the Shia holy Imams, name title and agnomen were used by inspiration, revelation and divine command and each one selected for specific reason. Traditions from the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) support this view.
7. About Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), we shall set forth traditions that show his names, titles, and agnomens:
• Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) said to his wife (Hazrat Narjis Khatoon): “Soon you shall carry a son whose name is Muhammad and he is the Qaem after me.”
• In 256 A.H, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) was honoured with a son and he named him “م ح م د” (Muhammad)
• Abu-Ghanem, the servant, says: “Hazrat Abu-Muhammad Hasan Askari (a.s.) was honoured with a son, and he named him Muhammad. On the third day, he showed his son to his companions and said, ‘he is your master after me, and my successor…”
• Abu-Haroon says: “I saw Saheb-uz-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) step into this world on a Friday 256 A.H..”
• Mahdi (a.s.) was born on Friday…His mother is Raihaneh, who is also called as Narjis, Seeqal and Susan… .
• “Al-khalaf-us-Saleh” was born.
Hasan-ibn-Husain Alawi says: “I approached Abu-Muhammad Hasan-ibn-Ali (a.s.) in Samerra and congratulated him for the birth of his son “Al-Qa’em”.
• He was given the title of “Al-hujjah”, “Al-khalaf-us-Saleh” and “Al-Muntazar”.
Name, title, agnomen:
• Hazrat Jafar-ibn-Muhammad (a.s.) said: “Khalaf-us-Saleh is from my progeny. He is the Mahdi (the one guided). His name is
“م ح م د” His agnomen is Abul-Qasim. He shall rise during the end of time.”
Hazrat’s visage and appearance:
The holy Messenger (s.a.w.a.) said:
“Among all the people, he resembles me the most in creation.”
“He looks like me and his way is the same as my way.”
“Mahdi is from my offspring. He is like a sparkling star; his colour is the colour of the Arabs, and his body as the body of the Israelite.”
About his description, we quote from “Khorshid-e-Maghreb”, page 28 as follows:
“His face is tawny; his eyebrows crescent-shaped and elongated; his eyes big, black and attractive. His shoulders are broad, his teeth shining and wide. He possesses a narrow and beautiful nose. His forehead is broad and bright; his bones strong like a rock, and his hands and fingers magnified. His cheeks display less flesh and are slightly yellowish (due to sleepless nights). A black spot appears on his right cheek. His muscles are curved and strong; his hair curls over his ears. His limbs are perfect and beautiful; his figure is good-looking and charming; his face covered with halo of modesty and drowned with splendour. His appearance gushes with splendorous leadership; his looks metamorphic; his cry roaring and breath-catching.”
Is there any authentic tradition(s) specifying the characteristics of Imams, and in particular, the twelfth Imam?
In reply to this proper and appropriate query, we have to say that not only one but numerous traditions have come down from the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in which one can find the names and qualities of Imams. Even in some cases, the characteristics of their companions are described too.
For the sake of brevity, we confine ourselves to the precious book, “Usul-Kafi”. This book, that was written during the minor concealment i.e., between 260 A.H. and 329 A.H., was thus closer to the time of scholars of Hadith and narrators, and the traditions narrated therein are reliable and authentic.
In this book, twenty traditions have come down about the twelve Imams and their characteristics. However, we shall restrain ourselves by only one famous tradition named as Hadith-e-lauh:
Abu-Baseer quotes from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that:
“One day, my father said to Jabir-ibn-Abdullah Ansari, ‘I have some private work with you.”
‘Jabir replied, ‘Whenever you wish, I am at your service.’
So one day, when my father found Jabir alone, he said, ‘O Jabir, inform me about the Lauh (tablet) that you saw in the hands of my mother, Hazrat Fatemah (a.s.). What did Fatemah (a.s.) say and what was written in that Lauh (tablet)?
Jabir said, ‘I swear by Allah that during the holy prophet’s time, I entered Hazrat Fatemah’s house and congratulated her on the occasion of Imam Husain’s birth. I saw in her hands a green emerald coloured tablet (Lauh) with sparkling white writings, like the colour of sun. I said, ‘May my father and mother be your ransom, O the daughter of Allah’s Messenger. What is this Lauh?
She replied, ‘It’s a Lauh gifted by the Almighty Allah to my father. There is mentioned the name of my father, my husband, my two sons, and the names of my offspring who are the divine Guardians. My father has gifted this to me.”
Jabir said, ‘(O Baqir al-Uloom) Thereafter, your mother, Hazrat Siddiqah (a.s.), gave that tablet to me. I read that tablet and made a copy of it.
My father (Imam Baqir) said to him, ‘O Jabir, show it to me.’
He replied, ‘I will do it with pleasure’.
Then my father accompanied Jabir to his house. Jabir brought a writing inscribed on a deer’s hide (or paper) and showed it to Imam Baqir (a.s.). Hazrat said, ‘Jabir! Look into your writings and I will read out to you whatever is written in it.
Jabir checked his writings while my father read its contents. Not a single word was missed out. Jabir said, ‘I take Allah as witness that I found the same in Fatemah’s Lauh with the following contents:
“This is writing from the Almighty and Wise Allah to Muhammad, His prophet, envoy, and guide. The Trusted Spirit (Ruh’ul-Amin) descended on him, on behalf of the Lord of the universe. Muhammad! Honour My Names, and be grateful for My bounties, and do not deny them. I am “Allah”, with no partner- Who shall shatter the oppressors, overcome the difficulties of the oppressed ones, and requite on the Resurrection Day.
Verily, I am “Allah” with no partner. I shall punish severely the one who has hope but not in My Grace; and fears but not from My Justice! My punishment would be unprecedented.
O Muhammad! Worship Me only and rely on Me only. Verily, I did not appoint a prophet nor completed his task until I set for him a Wasi (legatee). I made you superior over all other messengers and your successors exceed over all other successors. I honoured you with two lion cubs named Hasan and Husain, your daughter’s two sons.
I made Hasan the fountainhead of My Knowledge after his father, and set forth Husain as treasurer of My revelation. I gave him deliverance with the throne of martyrdom and he is the most superior of all martyrs. I have placed in him the ‘Kalemah-Taammah” (the lofty realities of Imamate and Ma’aref) as well as all My clear proofs. My reward and punishment would revolve around his kin and offspring. The first of his kin is Ali, the master of all worshippers and the ornament of My past friends. His offspring is Muhammad, with same name as his great grandfather. He is the splitter of knowledge and the treasure of wisdom. Soon, the doubters in the Imamate of Ja’far (Sadiq) would perish. Denying him is like denying Me. It’s My firm decree that I would honour his position and I would please him with his followers and friends. After him, a conspiracy would gloom over Moses; My covenant would never tear apart and My Proof never concealed. (Imamate and Wilayat) and My friends would be satiated with overflowing cup. Anyone rejecting them has rejected My Favour and anyone changing a verse from My Book has labelled Me a liar.
After My slave and My chosen one i.e., Moses, would come Ali, My friend and patron. Woe to those liars who deny him. He is one upon whom I would lay the heavy burden of prophethood (in Imamate) and would test him through their (i.e. the enemies) triumph. He would be killed by the arrogant demon (Ma’mun) and would be buried besides the worst creature (Harun-ul-Rashid) in a city built by a virtuous slave (Zul-Qarnain). Verily, I will please him through his son Muhammad, his successor and inheritor of his knowledge. Thus, he is the treasure of My knowledge and the place of My secrets for the people. I would make his followers dwell in paradise and will accept his intercession for seventy of his follower’s family-members while they were all worthy of the Fire. And I will raise salvation for him through his son Ali, My Wali, My friend, My proof among the creatures and My trust in revelation.
I will create from his offspring Hasan, the one who would call (the people) towards Me, and the one who is the treasurer of My knowledge.
I will perfect him by his son “م ح م د” such that love and affection would cover the whole world. He possesses the perfection of Moses, the radiance of Jesus and patience of Job.
During his era (his concealment), My friends will be despised and their severed heads would be gifted like the heads of Turks and Deylam (atheists and polytheists). They would be killed and burned and fear and terror would constantly accompany their lives. Their blood would colour the land their women would wail and cry aloud.
Truly, they are My friends. I shall cast aside the gloomy curtains of conspiracies and lift away the earthquakes and heavy chains of burden. Greetings of their Lord be upon them and they are the guided ones.”
Abdul-Rahman-ibn-Salem related from Abu-Baseer that, ‘If you hear no other tradition save this one, it would suffice you. So protect and keep it secret except from the deserving ones.
How does Hazrat Mahdi’s position and station differ from that of other Imams? Similarly, how does his companions’ position differ from other Imams’ companions’? What does this tradition imply that ‘Hazrat Mahdi is the peacock of the dwellers in paradise’?
The simile drawn between him and peacock displays the beauty and attractiveness of the spread of Islam by his hands because when a peacock spreads its wings it displays a beautiful scene. He, too, who bears the responsibility of spreading religion all over the earth, will trim up and give beauty to the farthest end of the earth with the banner of monotheism. Just like a peacock which gives beauty to its own surrounding, he would dazzle all eyes and perplex all wisdom. However, this interpretation, as per our capacity is indeed a deficient one because the Imams (a.s.) words carry tens of other interpretations and meanings.
With regards to his rank and station, Shia and Sunni traditions have separated the five holy ones (Muhammad, Ali, Fatemah, Hasan and Husain) from others. Among the five holy ones, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) takes the lead. After him is Amir-ul-Mu’min (a.s.) and Hazrat Fatemah (a.s.) on par with each other, followed with Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.). But, with regards to Imam Mahdi (a.s.), traditions say, ‘He is the ninth from the offspring of Imam Husain (a.s.)’. Some among them say:
“The Qaem amongst them excels all.”
However, a few traditions introduce all the nine Imams as equal in superiority and excellence.
Considering the responsibility for forming the government lies with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), and the onerous nature of this task calls for more strength and perfection, the period of his concealment is an opportunity for gaining special and lofty spiritual qualities. By worship, prayers, invocations, etc during this lengthy period, he gains more proximity to Allah and so gains more strength and power for carrying the burden of this mighty task.
His worship and supplications as well as his endurance vis-à-vis the severe problems facing his Shias has earned for himself a lofty position and prepared himself in fulfilling the divine goals.
Hazrat Mahdi is a personality praised and lauded by Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.). To Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) and Fatemah Zahra (a.s.) his existence is a great solace. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) longs to be at his service and sheds teas for his isolation and separation. Imam Reza (a.s.) stands on his feet in respect for his blessed name and prays for his advent. In fact, every immaculate Imam (a.s.) has highly honoured him in one way or the other.
On our part, it’s our duty to pray for him more than our prayers for our personal needs. We should pray for his well-being and early advent and strive for gaining his satisfaction. Our hearts should become fond of him through constant remembrance. We should make effort to attract all human-beings towards him and prepare ourselves for self-sacrifice. We should review our duties and always remember him. Due to separation, our eyes must burst with tears and we must await his coming. We should pray to the Almighty Allah for his advent and request Him to make easy his onerous task. Inshallah
Does Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have a spouse? Does he have children? Are his children aware that their father is Hazrat Mahdi? Is his wife aware that his husband is Allah’s Wali? In general, what information we have, in hand, about Hazrat’s family and his private life?
If we had accurate information about Imam Mahdi’s private life, then ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment) would had no meaning. ‘Ghaibat’ means that we have no exact information about him.
We are aware that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the immaculate Imam, and the noblest exemplar amongst all in practicing Islam. He is the embodiment of Islam. He puts into practice all the Islamic regulations within himself. Later on, he would implement these regulations world-wide. One of the Islamic regulations (and the prophet’s practice) is marriage. So Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) surely marries and, at present, he may have children. But we don’t have any details in this regard.
A few who were honoured of visiting Hazrat have, in certain instances, seen him at some specific places, with certain people besides him. This possibility cannot be completely negated that Hazrat lives in some particular city, village, or place that is unknown to the common man. It’s also possible that Hazrat has no specific place. This too is possible that Hazrat possesses a family, spouse, and children; but they aren’t aware of his Imamate.
Suppose he possesses family and children the question arises whether they too have a long life like Hazrat? Reply: Traditions only talk about Imam’s long life and nothing is mentioned about longevity of his family members. About his children, in some Ziarat, we come across the word ‘household members’. For example, in Ziarat on Friday, we read:
” السلام عليك صلي الله عليك و علي أهل بيتك الطيبين الطاهرين
About this topic, you may refer to ‘Discussions on Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) : 73
The following phrase is from Khaja Nasiruddin Tusi:
“The existence of Imam is a grace, and his authority (and his precise presence for guiding the people) is another grace. His absence is due to us.”
Is the sins on part of Harzrat’s Shias and the sins of his friends and near ones the only reason for his concealment and absence or are there other reasons too?
In reply to another query about the reason and wisdom behind concealment, we mentioned certain reasons. We explained the difference between reason and wisdom (philosophy). We had said that we don’t know the reason of concealment but we know that one of its philosophies is test and examination of the people. The peoples’ sins are yet another factor. However these are not exclusive factors because, without reliance on the spiritual world, man cannot know all the dimensions of decrees and divine incidences. On the other hand, a lot of emphasis is laid on abstinence from sins; individual and social reform will bring near Hazrat’s coming. Any talk about desire for Hazrat’s coming is followed by prayers for his ‘Faraj’, and still followed by talks on morals and piety. By virtue of piety and pure soul, one can ask the Almighty Allah to hasten Hazrat’s coming. But it does not mean that our reform would turn into an indispensable cause for his coming. Piety and purity of human beings pave the ground for Hazrat’s coming, but is not an exclusive or binding cause.
With respect to the Shias’ complain about long period of concealment, the Imams (a.s.) have recommended prayers for ‘Faraj’ and observance of piety. Those recommendation has been in vogue during the entire life of the Imams, as well as, after them. Even those who were honoured of meeting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) during the major concealment have heard such recommendation.
If a Shia believes truly that commitment of sins pains Imam’s heart, and affects his concealment, he will certainly not indulge himself in sins and instead would strive to reform himself.
Have any details come down in the Islamic traditions concerning the era of concealment? If yes, please mention a few of them.
Traditions about the era of major concealment can be divided into four groups:
1) Traditions that talk about the spread of oppression, tyranny, immorality, prevalence of polytheism and sins, corruption and crime, isolation of Islam and Qur’an.
2) Traditions that speak of the signs before his manifestation (Zuhoor), like the revolt of Sufyani, the heavenly cry, split in the earth etc.
3) Traditions that describe the qualities of faithful believers of that time.
4) Traditions that enumerate the duties of Shias during that era.
Now, we shall set forth a tradition for each of the above groups:
1) Imam Hasan-ibn-Ali (a.s.) said:
“The case that eyes await shall not occur until the time when each will grow weary of one another, and one would spit over the other. Everyone would charge the other with infidelity, and some among you would curse the other.”
I said: Wouldn’t there be any goodness at that time?
He said: The entire goodness can be found at that time because our Qaem would arise and destroy all wicked people.”
The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“How would it be during the era when your wives would turn impure, your children corrupt, and you would refrain from enjoining the good and forbidding the evil?”
They said: O the Messenger of Allah would it ever happen!?
He said: Yes, even worse. How would it be when you would enjoin the evil and forbid the good?”
They said: O Messenger of Allah, would it ever happen!?
He replied: Yes, even worse would occur. How would it be when good will be acknowledged as evil and evil, as good!?”
2) Muhammad-ibn-Moslim says, ‘Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“Before the coming of our Qaem, there would be certain signs from the Almighty Allah for the faithful ones”.
I said, ‘May I be sacrificed for you, what are those signs?
He said: “Allah says, ‘And surely We shall test you… (referring to the believers before Imam’s manifestation) with fear, hunger, and loss in wealth and life. Glad- tidings are for the patient ones.’ Allah says, ‘Verily, I shall test you with fear from so and so Bani….kings at the end of their rule, and shall test you with hunger arising from exorbitant prices and with loss in wealth due to corrupt trade. Similarly, we shall test you with loss in life (referring to sudden death) and loss in fruits arising from loss in first crop. Glad tidings for the patient ones for our Qaem’s manifestation during that time…..”
Also, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“Before the rise of the Qaem, there would be five signs: The revolt of Yamani, the revolt of Sufyani, the heavenly cry, split in the earth and the killing of Nafs-e-Zakiyah.”
3) One day, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
‘I wish I could meet my brothers!’
Abu-Bakr and Omar said: ‘Aren’t we your brothers? We who have brought faith in you, and migrated along with you?
He said: ‘You are severe Muslims who have indeed migrated. But I wish I could see my brothers!’
Once again the same question was repeated. The holy prophet said:
‘You are my companions. My brothers are those who will come after you. They would have faith in me, and would love and assist me though having not seen me at all. Thus, I wish I could see them!”
4) Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
The one who dies with faith in our affair (Imamate) is like the one who has set up his tent besides the ‘Qaem’; rather he is like the one who fights on his side; rather like the one who achieves martyrdom on his path. Instead, his position is like the one who achieves martyrdom with the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Also, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“Piety, chastity, morals,… and patiently awaiting for ‘Faraj’ are parts of the religion of the Imams.”
The aforesaid traditions clarify the severity of the “concealment period” and the heavy responsibility of a Shia during this era.
Therefore, we have been trained to pray:
اللهم عرفني حجتك فانك ان لم تعرفني حجتك ضللت عن ديني
Please describe the difference(s) between the time of Imam’s presence and absence (Ghaibat).
Before describing the difference(s), it is necessary to know that Hazrat Mahdi has presence in the society, but has no manifestation and is not in the public. So it’s better to say what is the difference between ‘Zuhoor’ and ‘Ghaibat’?
While explaining the difference between the two occasions, it’s better to recognize the similarity between the two and then describe their aspects. However, similarity and difference are worthy of review and examination from two aspects: From the viewpoint of Imam’s existence, and from the viewpoint of people during those times.
From the first aspect, a few of Imam’s dignities during the concealment period are as follows:
1. A medium for imparting the grace of existence from the Almighty Originator to the worldly beings.
2. Guidance for the beings, a leader for them, and the one perfecting the human souls on the path of devotion and bondage and shielding them via indirect training.
3. Redresser of grievances, a haven for those seeking shelter, and a help for the helpless either directly or indirectly via some special companions.
4. Worship and servitude in the path of endless perfection for Imam; implementation of the obligatory and recommendable acts as well as abstinence from unlawful and abominable deeds; transfer of ‘Mubah’ acts (that may or may not be performed) into recommendable acts with the intention of servitude and devotion.
From second aspect:
1. Fulfillment of the above-mentioned instances on a wider scale and perfect manner.
2. Religious authority and the one replying to matters related to belief, ethics and day-to-day affairs.
3. A perfect specimen in all individual and social ranks in diverse dimensions.
4. Establishment of global and divine just government and complete fulfillment of the aspirations of the prophets.
5. Training the inclined souls directly and extending them to the level of perfection of devotion.
6. Supervision and guidance of social, political and economic systems leading to complete justice.
7. Active presence in the societies and direct contact with officials, governors and managers of diverse states.
Now, from the viewpoint of people:
If people pay attention to the dignities in concealment period, they can reap the benefits during this period, save, the following:
1. They see their Imam but do not recognize him.
2. For acquiring knowledge related to beliefs, ethics and duties they cannot refer to their Imam (a.t.f.s.) but instead turn to his common representatives (Fuqhaha) in ‘Ahkam’ (religious precepts).
3. Submission before the ordinary governments and being far from the universal, divine and just government.
4. They are deprived of the direct training of that teacher who is a perfect exemplar and cannot sit to listen to his divine and pleasant speeches.
5. None can meet him out of one’s free will and desire.
6. They perceive the sun (Imam’s existence) behind the clouds (of ‘Ghaibat’).
Here, it’s appropriate to mention some of the common duties of the people during Imam’s ‘Ghaibat’ and ‘presence’ so that their special duties during ‘Ghaibat’ become clear.
1. Necessity of recognizing Imam (a.t.f.s.)
من مات و ليس له امام مات ميتة جاهلية
2. Obeying, following and adhering to Imam (a.t.f.s.)
3. Referring to the Imam (a.t.f.s.) for resolving differences in matters of belief, interpretation of Qur’an and its esoteric meanings.
4. Considering Imam (a.t.f.s.) as the perfect exemplar in all individual, social and divine respects which necessarily calls for comprehensive ‘Ma’refat’ (gnosis) of God.
5. Presentation of beliefs, thoughts and deeds before Imam (a.t.f.s.) and adjusting and correcting them by his belief and thought via invocations and ‘Ziarat’ like Ziyrat-e-Aale-Yasin.
6. Prayers for his safety, ‘Zuhoor’ (manifestation) and greater perfection.
7. To express willingness to help and assist him.
8. Constant and complete readiness for obeying his commands.
What is ‘Tauqee’ and how can one know that it is from Imam (a.t.f.s.)?
In dictionary, ‘Tauqee’ gives the meaning of signature or seal of a letter.
In Shia terminology, it denotes letters signed by Imam Mahdi. Some of them are Imam’s own writings, and some others are Imam’s dictation and written by his reliable companions.
During the two difficult periods of minor and major concealment, direct contact with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has not been possible. A few of Imam’s companions would convey his message to people via the ‘Tauqee’.
For instance, the trustworthy Shaikh Abu-Amr Amri (p.b.u.h.) says:
Ibn-Abi-Ghanem Qazvini and a group of Shias debated and disputed over Imam Askari’s successor. Ibn-Abi-Ghanem said: ‘Abu-Muhammad (Imam Askari) has departed this world and has no successor. Later on, they wrote a letter in this regard and mentioned therein their differences. They sent the letter to the holy place. They received reply to their letter in Imam Mahdi’s handwriting as follows:
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
“May Allah protect you and us from conspiracies, and bestow you and us with the spirit of faith and certitude. May He safeguard us from a bad and evil end! Verily, news has come to me about a group who has doubt and uncertainty in religion and we have been informed of their doubt concerning their Master in the affairs. Therefore, we have become sorrowful, for you and not for ourselves and our condition have turned unpleasant for your sake and not for ourselves; since, God is on our side and so we do not need anybody, and we do not care anyone turning back from us! We have been created by Allah and after us; all creations have been created from us.”
Here, we observe how Imam (a.t.f.s) has emphasized about the legitimacy of his Imamate and succession.
Another example belongs to the recent century where a ‘Tauqee’ was issued for Sayyed Abul-Hasan Esfahani, and delivered via Shaikh Muhammad Shariat Shushtari as follows:
“Inform him: ‘Lower yourself before the people (i.e., all the people should have access to you). Your place of sitting should be the entrance of your home, and you should fulfill the people’s needs; we shall assist you.”
The proof that such ‘Tauqee’ belongs to Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the reliability and trustworthiness of the deputies and the narrators of ‘Tauqee’. All scholars and contemporaries have confirmed on their trustworthiness.
The narrator of the first ‘Tauqee’ is “Abu-Amr Uthman-ibn-Saeed Amri”. About him, you may refer to ‘Kalemat’ul Imam Mahdi’ page 139; and regarding the second narrator, “Sayyed Abul-Hasan Esfahani”, you may refer to page 559 of the same book.
Another reason to believe that such ‘Tauqee’ has come from Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the predictions that have come down in some of them.
For example, Shaikh Kulaini has narrated from Qasim-ibn-Alaa as follows:
“I wrote three letters to Hazrat Baqiyatullah (a.t.f.s.) about my needs and informed him that I am an aged man having no children. Hazrat (a.t.f.s.) replied about my needs but did not mention anything about children. In my fourth letter to him, I requested him to pray to God to offer me a child. Hazrat (a.t.f.s.) replied me and he put down my wish as follows:
“O Allah! Grant him a son so that he may rejoice and make the current pregnancy of his wife a son!”
“I received the letter of Hazrat (a.t.f.s.) but I was unaware of my wife’s pregnancy. I went to home and inquired her about that matter. She explained that her problem is over. After some time, she delivered a son.”
This tradition has also been narrated by Hemyari.
Ali-ibn-Husain-ibn-Babewai met Husain-ibn-Rouh and set forth certain queries. Thereafter, he wrote a letter and dispatched it to Husain-ibn-Rouh via Ali-ibn-Jafar-ibn-Aswad. He requested Husain-ibn-Rouh to deliver that letter (wherein he had expressed his desire of having a child) to Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
In reply, Hazrat (a.t.f.s.) wrote:
“We have prayed to Allah for you in this matter. Soon you would be blessed with two beneficent and righteous sons.”
Thereafter, Abu-Jafar and Abu-Abdullah were born. Abu-Abdullah Husain-ibn-Obaidullah says: I heard Abu-Jafar (Shaikh Saduq) saying, ‘I was born by blessings and prayers of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), and he considered that an honour and glory.
Abu-Ghalib Ahmad-ibn-Muhammad-ibn-Sulaiman Zurari said:
Some time ago, I wrote a letter to Hazrat (a.t.f.s.) requesting him to accept from me a piece of land (as gift). My intention was not for gaining proximity to the Almighty Allah, but wished to associate with the ‘Naubakhtis’ and thus come on par with them in worldly ranks. I didn’t receive any reply. I insisted and repeated my request. Hazrat wrote:
“Appoint someone whom you trust and register you land in his name because you would fall in need of it.”
Thereafter, I registered this land in the name of Abul-Qasim Musa-ibn-Hasan Zajuzji, cousin of Abu-Jafar. I was confident in him and was aware about the magnitude of his honesty and belongings.
After a while, when the Bedouins took me captive and plundered my property and took away about my cattle and belongings worth a thousand dinar. I was taken captive for some time. Then I released myself by paying one hundred dinar and one thousand five hundred dirham. Besides, they took from me approximately five hundred dirham as a fee for the agents who accompanied me. When I became completely free, I felt in need of that land and then sold it.
In all those instances, we see Imam’s predictions have turned true and so the authenticity of ‘Tauqee’ is well established.
Is it possible to narrate with documentary proof one of the meetings of Imam (a.t.f.s.)?
It’s not possible to count the number of the meetings of the fortunate ones who have had with Imam (a.t.f.s.) either during the minor or major concealment. Because, it requires complete acquaintance of everything in this world including Imam’s programs. Such knowledge and acquaintance is only with Imam (a.t.f.s.) himself.
Now, we shall set forth one of such meetings with Imam (a.t.f.s.) from the invaluable book “Kamaluddin” written by Shaikh Saduq:
Ahmad-ibn-Ishaq-ibn-Sa’d Ashari says: I approached Abu-Muhammad Hasan-ibn-Ali (eleventh Imam). I was in thought of asking him about his successor. Before I could speak, he took the initiative and said:
“Ahmad-ibn-Ishaaq! Verily, right from the creation of Adam till today and till the day of resurrection, the Almighty Allah has never kept and will never keep the earth devoid of His “Hojjat”. It is due to Allah’s ‘Hujja’ that the calamities are lifted from the earth; the rain pours from the sky; the bounties are drawn out from the land.”
Ahmad-ibn-Ishaaq replied, ‘O son of Allah’s messenger, then who is the Imam and your successor?”
Imam (a.s.) stood up instantly and went inside the room of his house. Moments later, he came out with a three year old child in arms resembling the fourteen-night moon in beauty. He said:
“Ahmad-ibn-Ishaaq! It’s only because of your special dignity before the Almighty Allah and His Hojjat(s) that I am now showing my child to you. His name and agnomen is the same as that of Allah’s Messenger. He is the same who would fill the earth with justice and equity just as it would be filled with cruelty and injustice.
O Ahmad-ibn-Ishaaq! He is like Khizr and Zul-Qarnain amongst this ‘Ummah’ (nation). I swear by Allah, that he would be concealed. During the concealment period, none would be delivered from this test and destruction save those whose faith in Imamate has been set firm by the Almighty Allah and has made them fortunate in praying for Hazrat’s ‘Faraj’ and ‘Zuhoor’ (Reappearance).”
Ahmad-ibn-Ishaaq said: “O my Master! Is there a sign so that my heart finds comfort?”
Here, the child started to speak in eloquent Arabic and said:
“I am Baqiyat’ullah on Allah’s land and the avenger of Allah’s enemies. (O Ahmad-ibn-Ishaaq) After this visitation, do not look for any other sign and trace!”
Ahmad-ibn-Ishaaq says: “I left Imam Askar’s house with great joy and happiness. The next morning, I again visited Imam Askari and asked: “O son of Allah’s Messenger, I am extremely pleased for casting me this favour. How does your successor resemble Khizr and Zul-Qarnain?
Imam (a.s.) replied: ‘His living in concealment for a very long time!’
I said: Does it imply that his ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment) would be a long one?
Imam (a.s.) said: By Allah, it would be so long that the majority of his followers wouldn’t remain steadfast and would abandon their faith save those from whom Allah has taken an agreement regarding our ‘Wilayat’ and has strengthened their faith in their hearts.
O Ahmad-ibn-Ishaaq! This is a mysterious affair and the ‘Ghaib’ (unseen) from Allah! Preserve and conceal it and be amongst the thankfuls so that on the day of resurrection you would be among the ‘Elliyeen’ accompanying us.”
Respected readers, we have selected the above visitation because it contains numerous points. Those interested in reading about other visitations during major and minor concealment can refer to the books that were introduced in the foregoing pages.
It’s necessary to remind that Shaikh Saduq is one of the greatest and most reliable Shia ‘Muhaddis’ (scholar of Hadith). His book “Man-La-Ya’hzorul-Faqih” is one of the four main reliable Shia reference books of traditions. His other book “Kamaluddin” was written by the Hazrat Mahdi’s instructions; and his own birth took place by Imam’s prayers. (Refer to Introduction of Kamaluddin).
The ‘Tauqees’ that have been issued talk about what topic(s) or subject(s) and are they useful for the common man?
We should know that just like all other traditions from our Imams (a.s.), the ‘Tauqees’ issued by Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) too contain different matters related to beliefs, origin of creation, resurrection, ethics, jurisprudence, history, science and queries about claimants, deputyship, etc. Therefore, though they have been issued in special, they are useful for all the Shias.
About the fact that we cannot fix any name and attribute for Allah :
“Allah is far above what one can describe or attribute and I purify Him (attribute inviolability to Him) by praising Him.”
Or about Allah’s Grace:
“And Allah shows the path of guidance and rectitude and makes easy your prosperity by His Mercy.”
Or concerning the fact that eternity of truth and destruction of falsehood is Allah’s way and custom:
“Allah has safeguarded truth along with its seekers and has set it firm in its place.”
About the necessity of having ‘Ma’refat’ (gnosis) of Imam:
“If our Shias (may Allah grant them success in their obedience) were unanimous in carrying out their promise that lies on their shoulders, our auspicious meeting with them would not have been delayed.”
About the fact that Imam’s existence is the source of peoples’ protection:
“We are witness and observe your supplications. May Allah protect you by that medium which Allah has bestowed upon you via His favorites (immaculate ones)”
About the certainty of ‘Zuhoor’ (manifestation):
“Allah would complete His light even though the polytheists may dislike it”.
About Imam’s aid and assistance to his Shias:
“Anyhow, we have news about you and are aware of your condition and nothing is hidden from us about yourselves. We are aware of the wretched and helpless state that you have fallen into; from the time majority amongst you have pursued some unworthy deeds (that were abstained by your virtuous predecessors) and have broken the divine promise and pact in such manner that as if you are unaware about the existence of such pact”.
About repentance and forgiveness:
“You have erred by refusing our favours and if your seek forgiveness from Allah, surely Allah will forgive you.”
About fulfilling the peoples’ needs:
“Inform him: ‘Lower yourself before the people (i.e., all the people should have access to you). Your place of sitting should be a corridor and you should fulfill the people’s needs. Besides, we shall assist you.”
About the deputies:
“And Muhammad-ibn-Uthman Amri, may Allah be pleased with him as well as his father before him. He is trustworthy and reliable to me and his writings are of the same value as my writings.”
About the third deputy:
“We are acquainted with him (May Allah bestow him with goodness and happiness and make him fortunate). We are informed of his letter and we are confident in it. He enjoys good status and position before us which has become a source of his happiness. May Allah increase His bounty for him as he is an able guardian. And all praise is for Allah, without any partner and salutations be upon His Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad and his progeny!”
About the fourth deputy:
“O Ali-ibn-Muhammad Samori, may Allah give rewards to your brothers in the matter of your death! You will depart from this world within six days. So arrange and complete your affairs and do not make any will to appoint anyone as your successor because, ‘the major Ghaibat’ (concealment) shall commence and ‘Zuhoor’ (Reappearance) wouldn’t occur except if the Almighty Allah gives permission and that would be after long years of darkness when hearts will turn into stones and the land filled with injustice and cruelty.”
Thus we see that a great portion of the invaluable religious heritage of our affectionate Imam (a.t.f.s.) has appeared in the form of letters and treatise.
In diverse traditions of the immaculate Imams as well as ‘Tauqees’ of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) it has come down that the holy Imams pray and seek forgiveness for their Shias. How does the effect of these prayers and forgiveness manifest in our day-to-day life? Basically, do such prayers have any influence in our worldly life or do they leave their effect on us only spiritually on the Day of Resurrection?
The prayers of the holy prophet, the Imams and Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have common and absolute effects in this world as well as the hereafter. This is because, from the viewpoint of Islam, this world and the hereafter are not separated from one another. However, one should be careful to note that none of the works related to physics and metaphysics are ineffective in this world particularly so the efforts and endeavours of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) who is the most perfect human-being. The Imam and the All-Wise Allah’s ‘Hojjah’ (who is also wise) will never perform any useless act. All their actions are effective and aside from leaving its effect in their own worship, they have their influence on others too. This matter bears numerous and precise evidences which can be seen in the history of Imams. One of the responsibilities of Imams (a.s.), in general, and Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) in particular is the responsibility of praying for the Shias. In their invocations and supplications, they aren’t neglectful of praying for their partisans.
At times of hardship, they have prayed for them and solved the greatest of their problems. The story of Sayyed-ibn-Taoos is well-known when on the footsteps of the holy ‘Sardab’ in Samerra, he hears at dawn the pleasing voice of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) saying:
“O Allah! allow our Shias to live during our reign and glory.”
Also, in one “Tauqee”, Hazrat says:
“We pursue for their protection and pray to Allah (so that) our partisans’ hearts are at ease and comfort.”
Another point: Not only the Imams’ prayers are effective and responded to, but, as per divine teachings and Islamic evidences, the prayers of others too are influential and answerable. For instance, prayers of an oppressed for his helper, prayers of parents for their children, prayers of virtuous children for their parents and prayers of a believer for another believer. Aside from the responsibility of leadership, Imamate and Prophethood, the prophet and Imams bear the responsibility of being the father of their nation.
“I and Ali are the two fathers of this nation.”
Therefore, their prayers for us (being their spiritual sons) are effective and responded to.
Besides, the more perfect the spiritual state of the one praying, the more effective are his prayers. The effectiveness of each one’s prayers is diverse. The loftier a person the more supreme are his prayers. Similarly, the more superior a person’s servitude and worship, the faster are his prayers answered. So the prayers of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) [who is the most perfect man and the ‘Hujjah’ on the land] are never left unanswered. Many of the bounties we receive are the result of Imam’s prayers.
As such, it’s worthy to prepare ourselves to attract our Imam’s prayers because the chances of their prayers being answered are very high.
During ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment) what benefits can people obtain from Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)? What is the advantage of Hazrat during this concealment period?
This query springs from a limited insight. Perhaps, it’s taken for granted that the Imams and holy personalities must be useful and beneficial for the people. We never ask ourselves, ‘what is our use and benefit for them?’ whereas, it’s worthy to know whether he is for us or we are for him? (this point requires explanation in its proper place).
Anyhow, the answer to the query, ‘what is the benefit of a concealed Imam?’ is to be searched by analysing the benefits of Imam’s existence (whether concealed or apparent) and then enumerating the difference between ‘concealment’ and ‘presence’.
Describing the benefits of Imam’s existence has direct connection with recognition of the dimensions of his personality. As per Shia view, Imam has at least four outstanding dignities:
(a) “Wilayat-e-Takvini” (authority over creation) and bestowing benefits to the creatures by Allah’s permission.
(b) Religious authority
(c) Political ruling and government.
(d) Giving shelter, protection and assistance to the helpless and distress people.
During the Imams’ presence, all those ranks save political rule have been fulfilled for a number of Imams even though for a short period. The people benefited from their diverse dimensions. Not only have they taken care of the peoples’ belief, ethics and jurisprudence but also bestowed to them spiritual benefits. Besides, during sensitive times too, they have helped them out. While the concealed Imam (a.t.f.s.) is not charged with religious authority and apparent rule (though in certain sensitive instances, he has also aided a few traditionists and jurists) his ‘Wilayat-e-Takvini” and help and assistance always prevails. The book “Najm-Saqeb” written by Muhaddis Nuri is a clear witness to our talks. You may refer to the section concerning visitation and meetings with Imam (a.t.f.s.). Here we shall set forth one such case revealing Imam’s aid:
Shaikh Ali Rashti, student of Shaikh Ansari and Mirza Shirazi has stated:
“When I returned from ‘Ziarat’ of Abi-Abdullah (a.s.) and was Mirza Shirazi on my way to Najaf via the Euphrates river, I embarked on a small ship. Everyone travelling in that ship was from Hilla. The way to Hilla and Najaf separate from Tuyarj. Except for one person, everyone in this group engaged in pleasure and jest. Signs of soberness and dignity were visible in him. He neither laughed nor joked. The group taunted his religion and rebuked him. Nevertheless, they ate and drank together. I was taken by surprise and opportunity did not arise to raise a question until we were asked to disembark the ship due to shallow waters.
We walked besides the river. Opportunity arose to converse with that person.
I asked: ‘Why have you isolated yourself from your friends and why do they mock at your religion?
He replied: ‘They are my relatives from the Sunni sect. My father was a Sunni but my mother a faithful one. I too was like my mother and by blessings of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) became a Shia.
I asked him the reason and he replied” ‘My name is Ya’qut, I sell oil near the bridge of Hilla. Once I left Hilla for procuring oil from the Bedouin Arabs at the outskirts. I bought the required oil and returned to Hilla along with a few local people. We resided in one place. I slept. When I awoke, I did not find anybody. All had left. Our way passed a dry and arid desert place full of wild animals. No habitable place was near us but kilometres away.
I picked my luggage and pursued their path. I lost my way. I remained dazed. I feared from the wild animals as well as thirst. I called upon the caliphs and sheikhs and pleaded their intercession before Allah. Nothing happened. I remembered my mother’s words who once said, ‘We have a living Imam whose agnomen is Abu-Saleh. He shows the way to those who are lost and helps the helpless and weak ones.
I made a promise to Allah that I would call upon him and if he saves me I will accept my mother’s religion. So I called upon him. Suddenly, I saw someone walking along with me. He wore a green turban on his head just like this colour (he pointed out to the green grass besides the river).
Thereafter, he showed me the way and ordered me to accept my mother’s religion. He uttered words which I
( i.e., Mirza Nouri, author of Najme-Saqeb) have forgotten and then said: Soon you will reach a village whose people are all Shias. I said: My master! Will you not accompany me till that village? He replied: ‘No because a thousand people in certain towns have called upon me for help and I must save them.’
These were Hazrat’s words that have remained in my memory. Then, he vanished from my sight….
In the traditions of immaculate Imams (a.s.), the concealed Imam (a.t.f.s.) and the benefits from him are likened to the sun hidden behind the clouds.
Does there exist any known source from traditions about the phrase “Ya Aba-Saleh al-Mahdi Adrekni”
(يا اباصالح المهدي ادركني) that is usually uttered by those seeking help from Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?
Among the Arabs, agnomen is used for men and women for two reasons:
1. Because of possessing some perfection. For example, a person who is very obedient to Allah is named as “Abu-Abdullah”; a person with extreme virtues and superiority as “Abu’l-Fazl” and a pious and righteous one as “Aba-Saleh”.
2. Because of his/her son’s name. In hope that he/she would possess a son in the future who would be named so. The agnomen of “Abu-Fazl” is given to him at the time of his birth or thereafter. The agnomen of “Umma-Fazl” is given to a woman in a similar position.
“Abu-Saleh” is one of the agnomens of our affectionate Imam and is more popular among the Arabs. While calling upon Imam and imploring help from him, they use this name. Muhaddis Nouri writes:
Ahmad-ibn-Muhammad-ibn-Khaled Barqi narrates in his book “Mahasin” from Abu-Baseer that Imam Sadeq (a.s.) said: “Whenever you lose your way, call out:
يا صالح! يا ابا صالح! ارشدنا الي الطريق! رحمكم الله
The word آدركني (= help me) is uttered by the one seeking and imploring for help. Therefore, the name “Aba-Saleh” used for Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) takes its roots from traditions.
Is Imam Mahdi’s long life natural or is it a miracle?
In reply to this query, it’s necessary to pay attention to few points:
1. Natural phenomena are of two types:
a) Ordinary and general natural happenings that occur very often like wind, rain, sunrise, change in season etc.
b) Uncommon and lesser natural happenings like meteor, solar and lunar eclipse, severe thunder and lightening, earthquakes etc.
These two categories differ in numbers occurrences. The matter of Imam Mahdi’s longevity belongs to the uncommon and lesser category that is unusual among the people; but does not come in conflict with any law.
2. All the sciences related to life and nature like biology, physiology, physics, medicine, etc have not determined any limit for human life although as of today, they reckon the maximum ordinary age of a person to be 115-120 years. The proof that all the nature related sciences haven’t fixed any exact age for human-beings is the following matter:
a) Man is making all efforts to delay senility and old age that leads to death:
Today, life expectancy (which in the beginning of the current century was less than 20 years) in some countries like Japan has reached 76 years for men and 82 years for women. The population of old people in the world is on the rise such that the number of people above 65 years in America alone has reached more than 33 million people. The rate of growth of people above 85 years in this country is 6 times more than the total growth of population in that country.
…..It appears that in the future, vital steps can be taken in preventing senility of cells by employing genetic and gene-therapy in hindering the leaps and in-effecting the envirournmental factors that cause such leaps in genes.
b) The exact and historical meaning of old age is not known and varies from person to person:
We still do not have a clear and complete definition of old age. Why and by which mechanism we turn old? This is a query with no clear answer. Gerontology is a science in which the process of senility is discussed. It’s a science in its embryonic stage. Despite man’s constant eagerness in knowing the reason for senility and death, it is only decades that scientific research has begun in this field. In spite of this short experience, vast discoveries have been achieved about the manner of this human process and assumptions have been made about their cause.
The mean life span of every individual can be determined by means of some factors like style of living, diet, environmental conditions and genetic abilities. By changing some of these factors, one can subsequently increase the life-span (or average life) of an individual without any increase in man’s maximum life span.
With the discovery of the causes of common old-age diseases (like heart disease and cancer) and the ways for their prevention as well as cure, we can increase the life expectancy. Also, with the discovery of genetic and biochemical shortcomings (that leads some to experience a shorter life span), we can reduce the gap between life expectancy and maximum life span and allow a great number of people to acquire maximum life span.
c) Hygiene and nutrition has increased the average life span of human-beings.
…5000 years before 1900 A.D., life expectancy was 26 years and in the beginning of recent century, life expectancy reached only 29 years. Better living conditions, medical care and decrease in death rate caused by infectious and child diseases has lead to increase in life expectancy and today in Japan a country that enjoys the highest life expectancy, the level of life expectancy has reached about 81.8 years for women and about 75.9 for men.
….In 1900 A.D., only 4% of the population comprised people with over 65 years old. In 1986, this level reached 11.6% and it is predicted that in 2030, it would reach 20% of the total population. It means at that time, out of every 5 Americans, 1 would be over 65 years of age.
…In recent years, the death rate has declined for all the age groups. However, this decline in death rate was more so in case of age group of above 85 years.
…..one should note that the average life-span of man (which in recent years has reached 70 years) was 35 years twenty years ago. With development of science and technology, the mean life-span is on the rise.
…With new discoveries, those familiar with the art and science of diet and nutrition have worked miracles which were something unimaginable for their predecessors in the past. Today, with the help of food and its application, one can set sex, colour, eyes, hair, face, height, growth, health, resistant power and the life-span of foetus in mother’s womb. In reality, one can deliberately alter the foetus as per one’s desire and bring changes in his or her creation and way of life in the future.
d) Scientists have enumerated the factors that prolong life-span:
….It is delightful to note that man’s success in enjoying long life and good health is no more dependable on one’s predecessors (like the matter of genetic). By precise exploitation of nutritional affairs, man can achieve this privilege all by himself because nutritional power and opportunity is the best gift of nature enabling man to achieve perfect health. By acquainting him with the type, quality and magnitude of nutrition, man has achieved long life and most of the hereditary flaws have been done away with.
….Alexander Abvagumultz, a Russian researcher and scholar has proved that a person of 65 to 70 years old is young and is living at least in the middle stage of his life. Scientists believe that scientifically, all the living creatures have natural potentiality to live in good health about seven to fourteen times more than the life period from birth till puberty. A precise review shows that all the creatures enjoy this rule. By nature, the age of animals is no less than seven times their puberty period. In case of human-beings, the period of puberty differs in different regions due to ecological conditions. In most cases the puberty age is reckoned to be twenty years.
…From the viewpoint of life expectancy, the safest period is near puberty age, when death risk arising from diseases is one in two-thousand people. Statistically, if this risk is maintained at same level, then life expectancy at time of birth would be about 1200 years.
It should be known that physiological capabilities differs from person to person and are controlled genetically. Even if we assume the senility growth to be same for all human-beings….the more the primary capability in someone, the slower the decline and deterioration in the physiological reserves and the more would be the life-span.
…Firstly, the spread of primary physiological capabilities (that are determined by genetic factors) is very diverse in the society. In other words, the vital ability and potentiality of each individual varies from one another due to genetic reasons.
Secondly, environmental conditions and a personal style of living….can leave a positive or negative effect on this primary potentiality.
….it is seen that royal honey prolongs life by 50 times in honey-bees. In other words, the difference in life-span of the queen-bee (6 years) with that of the workers (3 to 6 weeks) springs from the fact that the queen-bee nourishes from the royal honey. Such findings are a motive encouraging human-beings to discover ways for prolonging man’s life-span.
It has been observed that physical activity in the beginning of life prolongs life-span and life expectancy.
In its study on this subject, WHO (World Health Organization) has reported that long life has been witnessed in people whose weight was lesser than the average population under control.
….A study was conducted on 2000 participants in a skating competition in 1956 in a place stretching 2000 kilometres. That study lasted for 33 years and it was observed that they had a longer life expectancy than other ordinary people. It was thus concluded that people with severe and lengthy activity possess longer life expectancy.
The sports under consideration in this study comprised of walking, climbing stairs and games.
e) Although there is no reason for man’s immortality, nevertheless man by nature, pursues to find ways for remaining immortal:
Man….is in search of a way through which he can succeed in terminating the domain of death. However, is it possible to achieve immortality? At the moment, it’s not possible to reply to his query.
f) Many people lived a long life and their names have come down in divine books, historical books and books on hadith. For instance, we can name Hazrat Adam, Shais son of Adam, Anush son of Shais, Qainan son of Anush, Mahlal’eel son of Qainan, Yared son of Mahlal’eel, Khunukh son of Yared, Mutushaleh son of Khunukh, Lahak son of Mutushaleh and Noah son of Lahak who lived for 930 years, 912 years, 905 years, 910 years, 895 years, 962 years, 365 years, 969 years, 777 years and 950 years respectively.
g) During our time, there lived people with unusual long life either. In a Persian magazine printed in 1933 A.D., it was reported that, there lives a Chinese man named “Li-Ching” whose age is 252 years and till now 23 women have spent their lives in his home.
To sum up, divine means, special care, adherence to the laws of nature, prevention from senility and divine protection are the causes for Imam’s longevity. He has a long life and a youthful appearance which is natural but unusual. While this does not contradict reason it does not oppose the laws of nature as well.
It’s worthy to mention that scientific evidences are set to resolve the improbability of Hazrat’s longevity and stress is laid on the fact that scholars have not fixed any limit for human life. Otherwise, in the divine doctrine, the matter is far superior with no doubt seeping into it. This is because Hazrat’s longevity comprising of birth, life, manifestation (Zuhoor), global program etc are all managed by Allah’s Will and the slightest doubt cannot find any way in them.
At the end, we shall terminate our discussion by narrating one tradition as follows:-
Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) said:
“My son is the ‘Qaem’ after me and he is the same who shall rise while possessing the way and characters of the prophets (p.b.u.t). He possesses a long life and concealment. Hearts will turn into stones due to his long concealed living. None would remain steadfast in their belief in him save those whose faith is set firm by the Almighty Allah….”
How would be the manifestation and Reappearance of Imam Mahdi?
As per the traditions, when Imam would be on his way to Mecca, severe heat and fatigue would force him to rest a tree. Gabriel would descend with a letter (while its ink still wet). In that letter, Allah commands him to rise. He will come to Mecca. In Mecca, between ‘Rukn’ and ‘Maqam’ he would lean besides Hajar-ul-Aswad and the door and call out:
“الا يا اهل العالم! بقية الله خير لكم ان كنتم مومنين و انا بقية الله
(Muntakhab-ul-Athar: 575, tradition 6 and 580, tradition 2 and 3, new edition).
Thus, he will call the people in this manner. When all of his 313 special companions (whether those of that time or those from the past who have returned to life) would gather around him, they would depart for Medina and then towards Kufa. They shall settle in Kufa and manage the affairs of the world from this very place.
In traditions, we find that the period of Imam Mahdi’s state would last for 7 or 9, or 20 or 30 or 40 or 70 years. Regarding these figures, we had explained in our reply to another query that possibly seven or nine years refers to the period for setting up the government otherwise if seven or nine or even thirty years of rule, after so long waiting will be too short to satiate the justice lovers. Thus, it’s appropriate for Allamah Majlisi to say that probably the holy Imams didn’t wish to specify the exact duration of Imam’s rule and Allah is All-Aware of the realities.
In the writings about Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), we find sayings concerning ‘Raj’at’ (return to life). What is its precise meaning? Can we find any decisive evidence about this matter in the holy Qur’an and traditions?
1. Literally, ‘Raj’at’ means “return” and “reappearance”. In religious terminology, it means to return to life in this world after death. One experiencing ‘Raj’at’, will become alive and would continue to live once again in this material world until death overtakes him.
2. The holy Qur’an is the main documentary proof on ‘Raj’at’. There, the Almighty Allah has talked about ‘Raj’at’ of prophet Uzair, the youth in the Cave, and a group from Bani-Israel.
About Uzair, we find this matter in Chapter Baqarah:259, about the Youth in the Cave in Chapter Kahf: 25, about the Bani-Israel group in Chapter Baqarah:56, about the dead becoming alive by hands of Jesus (a.s.) in Chapter Maeda:110 and about a group from Shaam in Chapter Baqarah:243. Here, we shall set forth only about the group of people from Shaam (Syria).
The Almighty Allah says:
“Have you not considered those who went forth from their homes, for fear of death, and they were thousands, then Allah said to them, Die; again He gave them life.”
…They were residents of a city in Shaam (Syria)….for fear from plague disease; they fled to a deserted city (all its residents had died of plague). They reached that city and died there instantly. Some time passed and their bodies turned into bones. “Ezekiel”, a Bani-Israel prophet passed besides them. By witnessing this city, he wept and shed tears and prayed: ‘O God, make them alive at this very moment just as Thou have made them die; so that they develop Thy cities and they bear slaves who would worship Thee.’
Here, Allah commanded him to recite Allah’s Exalted and Great Name. He called Allah by His Exalted Name. All became alive and while staring at each other, they praised Allah and said ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ and ‘La-Ilaha-Illallah’.
At that moment, “Ezekiel” said:
اشهد ان الله علي كل شيء قدير (Qur’an, 2:244)
(Tafsir Al-Safa 1: 115 below the verse 244 of Chapter Baqarah.
3. In various verses, the holy Qur’an talks about ‘Raj’at’ during Hazrat Mahdi’s rule:
“And on the day when We will gather from every nation a party from among those who rejected Our communications, then they shall be formed into groups.” (Qur’an, 27:83)
In interpretation of this verse, we shall narrate a tradition from Tafsir-Kanz-ul-Daqa’eq:
Hammad says: Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘What do people say about this verse “We will gather from every nation a party”? I said: ‘they believe it is about resurrection.’ Imam (a.s.) replied: ‘It is not so! Instead, this verse is about ‘Raj’at’. How can it be that Allah will gather on the day of resurrection only a party or group from every nation and leave behind the rest of the people!? (It cannot be so). The verse that talks about resurrection is the one that says: ‘We will gather them and leave not any one of them behind.’
4. Numerous traditions have come down about ‘Raj’at:
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“Following the split in the earth, the first one to return to life (Raj’at) in this world would be Hazrat Husain-ibn-Ali (a.s.). Raj’at does not concern every people. Rather, pure believers and absolute polytheists would return to life.”
To sum up, promise and glad-tiding about Raj’at (return to life) in future and at the time of Hazrat Mahdi’s rule is something having a past record among the past nations and tribes.
During Hazrat Mahdi’s (a.t.f.s.) rule, who would enjoy the privilege of ‘Raj’at’ (return to life)? Does the authority lies with those who return to life or the authority lies only with Allah or does it have a fixed and determined time?
Undoubtedly, ‘Raj’at of people involves specific time and occurs as per Allah’s Will. In ‘Dua-e-Ahd’, the followers of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) plead before Allah that if death separates them from ‘Zuhoor’ (Imam’s manifestation), He should raise them from their graves with their body shrouded and sword in hand so that they can answer their master’s call.
It’s likely that Allah would fulfil this request of the worthy and deserving ones and they would return to this world. Regarding who would return to this world, suffice it is to mention the following few traditions:
1) Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“The first to return to life (Raj’at) in this world would be Hazrat Husain-ibn-Ali (a.s.). ‘Raj’at’ does not concern every people. Rather, pure believers and absolute polytheists only would return to life.”
2) Imam Baqir (a.s.) said:
“Verily, the prophet (s.a.w.a.) would soon have a ‘Raj’at’ (return to life).”
3) In interpretation of verse 84 from Chapter Nahl, [“And on the day when We will raise a group from every nation” (Qur’an, 16:84)] Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“Among the believers none would be killed but that he would return to life and experience natural death and there is none among the believers who has died a natural death but that he would return to life and get killed.”
4) In interpretation of verse 81 from Chapter Aale-Imran, [“And when Allah made a covenant through the prophets” (Qur’an, 3:81)] Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“With faith in Allah’s messenger, they would assist Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.). Narrator says: I asked ‘Would they assist Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.)? Imam (a.s.) replied: ‘Yes, By Allah, right from Adam till………everyone! Allah has not chosen any prophet or messenger but that all would return to this world and fight on the side of Ali-ibn-Abi Talib (a.s.).”
5) Mufazzal-ibn-Omar says:
In the presence of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) talk arose about the ‘Qaem’ and his friends who would die while awaiting his coming. Imam (a.s.) said: “When our ‘Qaem’ will rise, the dead believers would be called upon over their graves by their names; ‘Your Master has appeared. If you wish, you can join him and if you wish to remain in the domain of your Lord’s Generosity, you may remain so.”
What is the reason and philosophy behind ‘Raj’at (return to life)?
Before looking into the reasons for “Raj’at”, it’s important to note that with regards to the divine laws and commandments, no common man can understand all their dimensions and reasons except if the All-Wise Allah or one of the prophets or Imams have talked on the matter. Anyhow, by pondering over the numerous traditions on ‘Raj’at’, one can derive several guidelines though its dept can only be achieved from the treasure-house of knowledge of the holy Imams.
1. ‘Raj’at’ partly fulfils the aspirations and wishes of prophets and Imams that could not be achieved during their initial lives and that is their presence in a community spread with monotheism and justice. In this connection, you may refer to traditions No. 1, 2, 3 and 39 of the book “Ar-Raj’at” written by Mirza Muhammad Mo’min Astarabadi (11th century).
2. The past people and nations especially the believers have not reached their long and innate goal of a just society filled with piety, goodness and knowledge. Refer to tradition Nos: 6, 7 & 8 of same book.
3. Similarly, those awaiting the rule of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) who died while they looked forward for their master’s manifestation. They expressed their love for Imam (a.t.f.s.) by reciting ‘Dua-e-Ahd’ with such words:
“O Allah, if death which is Thy slaves’ indispensable destiny, creates separation between him and me, then raise me from my grave….”
With such sincerity in prayers, the believers haven’t achieved their goal.
4. Finalization of argument and putting on trial the atheists, hypocrites and tyrants who oppressed the prophets and particularly the immaculate Imams. Refer to traditions Nos: 21, 38 & 41 of “Ar-Raj’at”.
5. Proving and demonstrating Divine Power by making the dead alive for some honourable prophets and nations. Refer to verse 110 of Chapter Kahf about the dead returning to life by hands of Jesus (a.s.) and verses 21 and 25 of Chapter Kahf about the people of the cave returning to life.
6. Partial establishment of the greater resurrection within the limits of this world and retribution of a few among the pious believers and pure disbelievers.
What does it imply when we say the sword of Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) would accompany and assist Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?
Amir-ul-Mu’minin’s special sword is part of the precious heritages of the holy Imams, which is now in the hands of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Besides, the hand-written Qur’an by Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.), the walking stick of the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), the rings of Imams and the heritages of past prophets, all in all, are in the protection of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). This is so while his inheritance from the past prophets and Imams takes the colour of material as well as spiritual aspect. He is the inheritor of material belongings as well as spiritual knowledge and powers.
Each of the material heritages of prophets is a sign among the Divine signs by means of which Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) exhibits his powers and manifests the miracles of all the prophets and Imams (a.s.).
Imam Baqir (a.s.) said:
“When the ‘Qaem’ rises, he shall do so while possessing the flag of the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), ring of Soloman (a.s.) and stick of Moses (a.s.).”
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) too has said:
“There is no miracle of any prophet or Imam but that Allah will manifest it through our “Qaem” until the argument is finalized for the enemies.”
In the battles that took place in the beginning of Islam, divine and mysterious powers supported the Muslims. The holy Qur’an, too, has narrated such incidents. Will the same occur during the rise of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?
Regarding Hazrat Baqi’yatallah (a.t.f.s.), traditions say that it is Allah’s indispensable Will to establish his government in the entire land. For this reason, he would be assisted by means of fear that would be cast in the hearts of enemies. Allah’s help to Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is a special one and would be more than that which prevailed during the time of other prophets or Imams.
We read in the holy Qur’an:
“He it is Who sent His Prophet with the guidance and the true religion that He may make it prevail over all the religions.” (Qur’an, 48:28)
Traditions appearing below this noble verse have esoterically interpreted this verse to refer to the period of Hazrat Mahdi’s (a.t.f.s.) rule.
Of course, considering the vastness of Imam Mahdi’s government (which would be global), its success is not possible but by special divine help and in this regard, other verses and numerous traditions are clear witnesses.
According to verse 5 of Chapter Qasas, too, the establishment of global government by Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is an indispensable Will of Almighty Allah that would definitely occur.
What would Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) bring with himself at the time of his Reappearance? In other words, what would be the consequences of his Reappearance?
Whatever has come down in the Qur’an and the Islamic traditions about Hazrat’s souvenirs is divided into two sections. Considering that the infrastructure of beliefs and deeds are effective in rectification of a society, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) too would rely on the infrastructures and would entrust the main foundations of his government to eminent and superior people.
The beliefs of these exalted people hold special importance. They (who are God-worshippers, pious and pure person would start their task based on real and innate values under complete training of Islam and Qur’an.
The holy Qur’an has many words about them like:
“They shall serve Me, not associating aught with Me.” (Qur’an, 24:55)
“(As for) the land, My righteous servants shall inherit it.” (Qur’an, 21:105)
“And the good end is for those who guard (against evil)” (Qur’an, 28:83)
Pondering over these verses and their likes shows that the vital souvenirs of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) would be pure monotheism, abandonment of polytheism and idol-worshipping, piety and devotion before Almighty Allah and elevation of knowledge and insight. Of course, justice at individual and social level is a natural and logical consequence of ‘Tauhid’ (monotheism) and piety.
Traditions too reckon monotheism of that era to be widespread; the message of the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) to be global and Hazrat’s rule to be extended all over the land.
Since the diverse chains of society in forming justice and goodness are connected to one another, every part of the Islamic system is linked to monotheism, equity and piety. In other words, true belief and monotheism forms the foundation and infrastructure of good politics, welfare economy, healthy society, trained human-beings, abundant knowledge, tranquil life etc.
The below-mentioned traditions reveal the profound realities in this regard:
1. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“When the ‘Qaem’ will rise, no land would remain but in it the cry of ‘La-Ilaha-Illallah’ and ‘Muhammadun-Rasul’allah’ would be heard.”
2. Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) said:
“…..hypocrisy, adultery, wine-drinking, and usury would die away; people would turn to devotion, divine laws, piety and congregational prayers. There wouldn’t remain any hatred against Ahl’ul-bayt.”
3. Imam Baqir (a.s.) said:
“The verse: “Those who, should We establish them in the land, will keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and enjoin good and forbid evil; and Allah’s is the end of affairs.”(Qur’an, 22:41) concerns Aale-Muhammad where Allah would bestow them with rewards of lands from the East to the West and religion would turn dominant. Through them, Allah would destroy heresy ….and there wouldn’t remain any sign of tyranny.
4. Imam Kazim (a.s.) said:
“Only the monotheists and God- worshippers would remain.”
5. The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“He will extract the treasures, divide the wealth and set firm the religion of Islam.”
6. Also, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“….the inhabitants of earth and sky, the birds and wild animals and fishes in the sea would turn glad because of his manifestation. During his era, water would be found abundant; rivers would flow…
7. Once again, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“….During the end of my nation’s era, Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will rise. Allah will quench him via rain. The earth will give out its vegetation. He will bestow wealth correctly. Fruits will become abundant. The ‘Ummah’ (nation) will turn great……”
Verily, these are fulfillment of “Ziarate Aale-Yasin”, as we recite’:
“O Allah, make Your cites thrive and give life to Your slaves by his hands.”
What is the meaning of ‘Entezar’ and what are its signs? In its true sense, is ‘Entezar’ one of the duties of those awaiting him? What are its effects in lowering the problems during the concealment era?
‘Entezar’ means ‘to look forward to’ or ‘to wait’ (anxiously). ‘Awaiting’ requires attentiveness and sensitiveness towards the ‘awaited one’. ‘Awaiting’ reveals a person’s ‘throbbing heart’ who tolerates every inconvenience on the path leading towards the beloved ‘awaited one’. ‘Entezar’ reveals ‘belief’, ‘endeavour’ and haste towards the ‘awaited one’. The one ‘awaiting’ learns from his heart, the obligation of fulfilling the duties because this ‘Entezar’ and the obligation has taken roots in his heart.
It can be said that the ‘one awaiting’ possesses the following qualities:
1. Longing for perpetual true monotheism and making all efforts for wiping off polytheism.
2. Supporting justice and training for spreading justice.
3. Living a simple, non-luxurious and incorrupt life.
4. Endeavour towards development of the lands, and people.
And those awaiting him have the following responsibilities:
1. Ma’refat (profound knowledge) of the ‘awaited one’.
2. Love and friendship towards him.
3. Obedience and submission to him.
4. Training one’s heart, house and society for setting up that ideal community.
5. Gaining nearness to Imam (a.t.f.s.) and preparedness for that community.
6. Praying for his well-being and ‘Zohour’ (manifestation) and calling upon him for help.
The result of such awaitness would be:
1. Mental and spiritual peace and tranquillity of the individual and the community;
2. Partial establishment of an utopian community;
3. Creation of happiness for the ‘awaited one’.
4. Establishment of strong relationship with the holy “awaited Imam”.
At what places or times, the possibility of visiting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is more? Is it our duty or not to take steps and endeavour to meet him?
Opposite to the belief of the leaders of ‘Shaikhiya’ sect, the Shias do not believe that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) lives in a separate world. Rather, they believe he lives in this very land. Thus, it’s possible to see and visit him. But nobody can claim that he or she has an appointment with him tomorrow, or next week and none can dare say that he can meet him whenever he desires so!
Numerous eminent personalities have met Hazrat Mahdi during the concealment period which has been narrated in such books like ‘Ghaibat-Tousi’; ‘Esbat’ul-Huda’; ‘Bihar-ul-Anwar’, Vol 52, and Vol 53, Najme-Saqeb, chapter 7. In the last mentioned book 100 warranted incidents or special attention are quoted through reliable intermediaries.
Books like ‘Muntakhab-ul-Athar’, ‘Re’aayat’ul-Imam al-Mahdi’ (a.t.f.s.) and ‘Tajalliyate Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have narrated other reliable incidents as well. Thus, meeting of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is not negated; particularly as the compassionate Imam has said, ‘we are watchful and take care of our Shias’.
It should be emphasised the all these favours are taken by Imam’s authority and attention; and not due to the one visiting him. Also, out of Imam’s grace, those who were to told a meeting, have never informed anybody about it before the actual meeting (except in rare cases and that has been for conveying a notice, etc.)
As far as we are aware, any effort to visit Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) during his concealment is not mooted as an obligatory or recommendable act. Since the common man, by himself, is unable to succeed and it’s only Imam himself who manifests before the fortunate ones and casts his great shadow of salvation over him. Therefore, any effort and endeavour for personal contact with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is not counted a recommendable act so that a person may make the preliminary preparations for that spiritual journey like the way one is recommended to endeavour for visitation (pilgrimage) to other Imams (a.s.) and the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.).
That which has been said is hearty and spiritual preparation (i.e., ‘Ma’refat’ of Imam’s position and observance of piety) not in the form of any expectation or due but rather with feeling of hope followed by prayers that:
“O Allah! Show me that upright and handsome face.”
What is recommended is to recite ‘Ziarat’ of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) at the holy ‘Sardab’ and other ‘Ziarat(s)’ in different places. From the above-mentioned prayers, we conclude that we must pave the way with our hearts and then request Allah to show him to us if He deems advisable.
It’s necessary to point out that to some hypocrites, the claim of meeting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has become a means of earning fame in the eyes of simple-minded people and has brought splendour to their worldly life. It’s likely that some make such claims but there isn’t any evidence for proving their claim.
Personally, I accept the possibility of true dreams, but, since most of them cannot be investigated, I do not rely on such narrations. One can never rely upon the contents of a dream unless it is related from a reliable believer or supported by strong evidences. Thus, the concerned person must be reliable and must possess true faith and one should gain certainty that his narration is not for worldly reasons. If someone narrates from another reliable person, the chain of authority must be authentic.
I have come across simple-minded people who if bestowed with few favours, link the matter to visitation of Imam (a.t.f.s.). On the other hand, I have also come across eminent personalities who never uttered such words. Particularly one of them who spent more than eighty years of his life in service and spreading the name of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). He lit the flames of love for Hazrat in my heart. I was with him at home or at journey for 34 years and participated in hundreds of his lectures; but I never heard him claiming to have met or seen Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). His only encouraged people to serve Hazrat; gain his ‘Ma’refat’ and spread his doctrines.
It shows that even if someone is fortunate enough to meet Hazrat, he will not sell that fortune so easily and cheap; unless if its narration will lead to peoples’ guidance and not brighten up his worldly life. Consequently, our divine duty is to perform and present such deeds before Hazrat in such manner that we prepare the background for God’s Grace in providing us the opportunity of meeting him.
During this concealment period when conspiracies are rampant against beliefs and doctrines, I recommend everyone to perform proper and worthy deeds leading to attracting our compassionate Imam’s grace and favour. We should spread Imam’s ethics, beliefs, spiritualities, ‘fiqh’, religion and style of living by action and then by speech. Such endeavours pave the way for attracting Hazrat’s special grace until he places his hands on our head and increases our intellect and religion.
In 1963 or 1964 when I was a young student of seventeen, I came across a mindful and sincere person in Qom. He was a Sayyed and elder than me. He was a new student or pious and noble one. On recommendation of a friend, I taught that Sayyed Arabic grammar. He was extraordinary in spirituality and morals. Whenever I visited him at his residence, I gained marvellous spirituality. One day, I asked him: ‘What should a person do so that he could meet Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)? He replied: ‘Act in such manner that he may look for you! Because he possesses greater means and abilities.’
Verily, during concealment, it’s our duty to endeavour to increase his friends and lovers. We should protect his ‘Wilayat’ and teach his Imamate, concealment, and life in our community. We should acquaint the people about his manner, behaviour, love, thoughts, qualities and his influence on our day-to-day life. We should establish spiritual relationship with him. All these would result in casting his shadow of grace over us, whether he reveals his face or not.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that if we tried but failed to see him it’s not because of his carelessness toward us. In such cases, we aren’t aware of God’s Will and whether it would lead to our benefit or not. We should know that God desires whatever is beneficial for us. Anyhow, every lover desires to see and meet his beloved one.
“It’s all my desire to see you,
What’s the harm if I achieve my desire!?”
What are the responsibilities of Shias during the period of Hazrat Mahdi’s concealment?
This is the most important query on Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) because of its practical aspects in the commandments and doctrines of Islam. Islam never supports mere theoretical matters. In one tradition, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“The faith should completely be materialized in behavior and practice”
Thus, we can say that during ‘Ghaibat’ (concealment), the duties of Shias are linked to action. They should endeavour during this period of severe test and conspiracies. A Shia should keep himself from the dangers and then play the role of rectifying the affairs in the society as much as he can.
In this regard, the Imams have given 3 important recommendations:
1- ‘Entezar’ (awaiting), looking forward for ‘Zohour’ (manifestation), that will result in rectification of the global affairs.
2- Being careful about one’s deeds and one’s special responsibilities.
3- Reciting some of the supplications and invocations
Regarding the first order, the Imams have praised very much the act of ‘Entezar’. One tradition says:
“The most excellent worship is to await ‘Faraj'(Reappearance).”
“The one who awaits ‘Zohour’ and ‘Faraj’ is like a martyr soaked in blood on the way of Allah.”
About the second duty, the Imams have laid stress on belief in Allah, acceptance of the holy prophet’s message, acknowledgment of divine commandments, submission before the ‘Wilayat’ (authority) of Imams, growing weary of their enemies, adopting piety, endeavouring on path of worship etc. For instance, Imam Baqir (a.s.) has said:
“Worship of Allah is the offshoot of His Ma’refat.”
Narrator asks: ‘What is Ma’refat of Allah?’
Imam replied: ‘Belief in Allah, and His Apostle and Wilayat of Ali and following him and the guided Imams and growing weary of their enemies. Allah is recognized in this manner.”
About the third duty too, we may mention such recommended invocations like:
اللهم كن لوليك………
اللهم عرفني نفسك…….
سلام علي آل ياسين….
The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) has called the believers during the period of ‘Ghaibat’ as his brothers and praised them excessively.
During ‘ghaibat’, we should get ‘Ma’refat of Allah, Ma’refat of His Prophet and Ma’refat of Imam. We should also act upon their commands and exalt the name of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and spread his thoughts.
We can summarize most of the duties into two fundamental fields: (comprising of belief and practice)
1. To accept in the necessity of Hujjat (a.t.f.s.)
2. Recognition of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), striving to increase this recognition and reciting the Dua-e-Ma’refat
(اللهم عرفني نفسك)
3. Renewal of covenant to acknowledge monotheism, prophethood and Wilayat and presenting one’s belief before him (Ziarate-Aale-Yasin).
4. Following and obeying Hazrat Mahdi strictly.
5. Looking forward for his ‘Zohour’ and ‘Faraj’ and reciting Dua-e-Faraj in prayers.
6. State of carefulness in safeguarding the bounds of Allah and the immaculate ones.
7. Seeking his help at times of hardship and reciting the Dua “إلهي عظم البلاء”
8. To endeavour and recite prayers for remaining steadfast and recitation of Dua-e-Ah’d at dawns.
9. Creating love and affection in one’s heart and expressing true love before him:
a) To honour him by sending salutation and reciting prays on Friday and other days.
b) Standing on feet after hearing his special title (Qaem) and requesting Allah for hastening his Zohour.
c) Giving priority to Hazrat Mahdi in one’s prays.
d) Reciting Ayat’ul-Kursi after every salat and giving charity for his health and well-being.
e) Gifting him with prayers and recommendable acts like recitation of Qur’an, Haj-e-Umra, Ziarat of Imams, etc.
All of these can be summarized in the term “Readiness”. Since this term implies preparedness in all aspects, which the waiting person should always preserve, until he acts whenever the need arises.