مهدويت | Mahdawiyat
Discussion on occultation is a vast topic and traditions in this regard are many. what is necessary for us to know is the following:is there anyone to ask about the philosophy behind occultation and is there anyone who can say: since I do not know the reason behind occultation, I do not believe as you do in the existence of Mahdi and I further say: if as per what you say, Mahdi is the imam, then it is necessary for him to appear amongst the people and walk in the market-places!
We say: concerning the numerous 'mustafiza' traditions which we previously mentioned and few more of which we shall inform you about later on, Mahdi the expected one is Abul-Qasim Muhammad-ibn-Hassan Askari who was born on 15th Shaban 256 a.h. besides, we have also mentioned to you the names of those learned scholars who have approved the above point.
Since Allah is all-wise, he would never command nor forbid any matter or action except out of prudent knowledge. The same is true for this particular matter. all that prudent knowledge is referred to those charged with a duty because, in the holy presence of god, there exists no want and his holy self is needless and all-sufficient. Thus every action of god is in conformity with prudent interests whether we realize those interests or not and whether we perceive those reasons or not.
From the known affairs where not even a single person dispute is this that every voluntarily and in-voluntarily incidents and affairs which occur in this world should be as per the divine prudency and rather as per the divine will. Amongst these affairs, the most important of them is the occultation of Mahdi (a.s.). Based on this principle, the occultation of Mahdi must be as per prudency and wisdom, whether we perceive it or not and whether we understand its reason or not.
If we do not believe in what we have said, we are helpless in denying an affair for which we do not possess any reason of its denial - firstly that Mahdi is the same Muhammad-ibn-Hassan Askari. secondly that he is hidden from the views. (its meaning will be mentioned later on).
thirdly that his occultation has taken place by the will and decree of Allah.
If you pay attention and deliberate over each of these three affairs, you will realize that denying any one of them will not be rationally and traditionally permissible. So we are bound to believe that the event of Mahdi's occultation is in accordance with prudency. Otherwise, we have to deny one of the three afore-said affairs.
Saduq in his book 'Elalush - Sharayeh' has narrated from Abdullah-ibn-Fazl Hashami as saying: «I heard Sadeq aal-e-Muhammad saying: 'for the 'saheb-e-amir (master of the affairs) there shall occur an occultation during which every men of vanity will fall into doubt and skepticism.'»
I said: may I be sacrificed for you. for what reason?
He replied: for a reason which we are not at liberty to divulge.
I asked: what is the reason for hazrat's occultation?
he replied: the reason for hazrat's occultation is similar to the reason for concealment of the past divine proofs.
The reason behind Mahdi's occultation will not be disclosed but after his emergence just as the reason of Khizr's actions (meaning the drilling of a hole in the boat, the killing of a lad and the repairing of the wall) was not divulged until Musa and Khizr decided to part company. O son of Fazl. This affair is a divine affair, this secret is a divine secret and this concealment is a divine concealment. we must accept that all his actions are based on wisdom, even if the reason for them is not known to us.'
This saying is the truth which should be confessed and certified by every Muslim.
Verily, very often a person seeks the reason and philosophy for some of the divine acts for the sake of gaining certainty and tranquility of his own self and not that he wishes to use his confirmation and rejection as a means for perceiving the reason of divine actions or not.
Therefore, before mentioning the philosophy and reason for occultation we are bound to briefly present certain preliminaries. Those interested to know its details should refer to books which have been written in this regard. The preliminaries are as follows:
An invitor who invites the people towards his call is bound to take resort to the apparent and ordinary channels. For achieving his aims it is not permissible for him to refer to the unseen and supernatural channels because doing so would destroy the essence of reward and punishment. rather the coming of prophets and messengers would all come to vain.
A prophet and 'wasi' (legatee) are the same as far as the afore-said matter (invitation) is concerned and this matter is in fact one of the essential conditions of an evangelist (whether he may be a prophet or an imam). However there exists a difference between a prophet and an imam from another view-point and it is as such: as a prophet is the establisher and founder of religion it is obligatory for him to start his invitation and mission in a customary manner and notify the people about the ordinances (as against an imam).
Since argumentation has been completed upon the people through a prophet, it is necessary for the people to ask and inquire from an imam. It is not obligatory for an imam to invite the people and then guide them.
Rather it is obligatory upon the people to approach the imam and receive the religious commandments from him, protect him and ward off the enemies from him just as it was obligatory, for the people to protect their prophet and receive the religious commandments from him. When the people begin to lapse such duties and forsake their imam and the imam in turn fears from being killed by his enemies and finds none to defend him from his enemies it is permissible for him to isolate himself from the people and leave aside the duty of invitation and propaganda. This responsibility is directed towards the people and not the imam.
The views of 'muhaqqeq' i.e. Khawja Naseer Tusi too are the same. In his book 'Tajreed' he says: 'the presence of imam is one grace and his domination is another and his absence is due to our sake. Now that you have understood this matter, we say. We may mention the following as the reasons and philosophy behind the occultation of Imam-e-Zaman:
firstly: for rectifying and punishing the Shias and rather all the others:
If a prophet or an imam is present among a nation and that nation does not rise for his obligatory rights or does not obey his commands and in short, the prophet's invitation leaves no impression on the nation and rather they exceed the limit and cause harm to their prophet, it is permissible for the prophet to abandon and isolate his nation so that in this manner he rectifies his nation. Perhaps in this manner, the nation concerned would stop its rebellion and begin to adopt the path of guidance. Perhaps they would seek benefit from the prophet existence and an imam too would act as a preacher, guide, leader and the one inviting the people. The divine saying: ---
Stems from this very aspect.
When isolation and abandonment of invitation becomes the means for rectifying a nation then it is prudent to do the same even though people may be unaware of this matter. Moreover it would be beneficial to them even though they may not possess understanding of the same. This isolation and abandonment of invitation does not possess any fixed limit and boundaries and in fact, one cannot say anything about their limit. Rather its limit and duration depends on the nation turning back from its deviated path and becoming enlightened after heedlessness. it depends on the people's awareness of the benefits of the presence of the prophet or an imam.
History bears witness that Ahl-e-Bayt, revelation, messenger ship and Aal-e-Muhammad had to face too many calamities such as: hardship, suffering and non-revolt for the sake of the people instead of that right which Allah had set as the reward of his messengership. surely, they were always subjected to severe persecution and pressure such as being taken captive, imprisoned, hanged, expatriated, exiled and dispersed here and there.
Mahdi, the expected one is aware of all such matters and knows that he too would be subjected to such cruelties and oppression. Rather, it would be much more sever, greater and bitter in nature because people are aware of hazrat's objectives and are aware that hazrat would give orders to rise with their arms. Thus Mahdi has isolated himself from the nation because he knows that he would receive the same treatment as his father, fore-fathers, cousins, and relatives had received. besides, hazrat's objectives are nothing but to train the nation, make them aware, bring them back on the path of guidance and to seek his own just right. The author of Elalush-Sharaye has narrated a tradition from Imam Muhammad Baqer (a.s.) as such: 'when allah does not wish that we should remain amongst a group, he holds us back from them.'
Secondly: freedom in invitation and freedom in actions
Anyone who wishes to rise for rectifying a nation in either worldly or religious matters should possess friends and companions and have a pact with some of the superior men so that they either remain his helpers or at least do not create any obstacles for him. the essential condition of this pact and agreement is this that he should stop interference and invitation (of the people) and be congenial with them (so) that he may have remained loyal to his pact until his affair and the time of pact and agreement come to an end and he deals with them in the same manner as he deals with others. This means that some of the commandments should not be implemented with respect to those who have concluded a pact with him and he deals with them contrary to the realities because of fear and dissimulation. Thus Allah says: ---
... Except the polytheist with whom you have a valid peace treaty and who have not broken it from their side or helped others against you. You (believers) must fulfil the terms of the peace treaty with them.
When Mahdi (a.s.) shall emerge, he is bound to invite (the people) through ordinary channels and his duty would be to judge according to the realities and not to fear anyone just as the same can be found in most of the traditions. This is because Mahdi's period is the period of emergence of truth, the most sparkling emergence and so, fear and dissimulation are inconsistent with this matter. This requires that he should not have allegiance of anyone upon his neck. Indispensably, he should be needless of any pact and agreement which would result in dissimulation. This would occur only when the ordinary channels for his assistance come to halt.
Shaikh Saduq in «Kamaluddin» has directly narrated from Hashim-ibn-Salem who in turn has narrated from Imam Sadeq (a.s.) as such: 'the 'qaem' shall emerge without having allegiance of anyone on his back.
In the same book, Shaikh Saduq directly narrates from Hazrat Ali-ibn-Musa ar-Reza who said: I am as though seeing my Shias - at that time when they will have lost my fourth offspring - then, they will search for him like the cattles pursuing grazing lands but will not find him.
Narrator says: i asked: 'for what reason 'o son of messenger of Allah?'
he replied: it is because their imam will disappear.
I said: why will he disappear?
He replied: 'so that when he emerges with the sword, he will not have anyone's allegiance on his neck.
Thirdly: making perfect the people and improving their lot
Amongst the well-known facts which is not a subject of dispute is this that there exists differences in people's aptitude with regards to tolerance of duties, acquisition of knowledge and various other sciences. Differences in levels of faith, differences in recognition of prophets and legatees and differences in the divine laws too are the result of differences in people's aptitude. Verily, god does not make anyone responsible but as per the level of his aptitude.
Rather, how often it happens that when duties exceed a person's ability and teachings his aptitude the very purpose (for which the duties and teachings were given) is lost. moreover, he would resort to disobedience or would become an apostate or still further, his ignorance would increase more than before. the verse of the holy Quran says:---
('O lord, do not burden us with that which we cannot bear).
It is said that if Abuzar knew what was going on in Salman's heart, then he would have become an apostate or would have died.
Shaikh Kulaini in «Kafi» has narrated from Imam Sadeq (as.) as such: in Ali's (as.) book it is written: Dawoud said: 'o lord reveal to me the truth as it is (with thou) so that i can judge accordingly. It was replied: 'you do not possess the strength to bear this affair.'
hazrat insisted until god accepted.
One day a person approached Hazrat Dawoud with a complaint about another person and said: this man has taken away my wealth. God revealed to Dawoud that the claimant had killed the defendant's father and plundered his wealth. Hazrat Dawoud ordered for the claimants death until he was killed. His wealth was seized and given back to the defendant. People were amazed by this incident and word on this matter went around until it reached Hazrat Dawoud's ears. He became worried by these talks and requested god to relieve him from this uneasiness. Afterwards, god revealed to Dawoud as such: 'you should judge amongst the people by means of witness and evidence and persuade them to swear in my name....
Imam Sadeq (a.s.) said: 'if people knew how Allah has created them, then none amongst them would find fault with the other.' Imam Muhammad Baqer (a.s.) said: 'the believers possess (various) ranks and positions - some of them have one rank, while some others have two, three, four, five, six or seven ranks. if faith of the second level is conveyed to a person having faith of the first level, he will be unable to keep guard over it and if faith of the third degree is conveyed to a person possessing faith of second degree, he will be unable to bear it....
It has come down from traditions that when Mahdi emerges, he will rule as per his own knowledge; he will spread the true 'ma'aref' (divine sciences) amongst the people; he will remove the curtain obscuring the realities; he will enliven the holy religion of Islam and will annul all that is not in Islam and has been added to it such that people will imagine that Mahdi (a.s.) has brought a new religion and a new book.
Verily, the execution of such reforms and dissemination of the realities the way it should and must be carried out requires much more perfect aptitudes and intellects than what we have today.
Perhaps, postponement of Mahdi's emergence and continuation of his occultation is because of the hope of achieving perfection and development which, by the blessings of various sciences, is on the increase day by day.
The magazine 'Al-Helal' published an article about resurrection a few years ago under the title «does there exist a world after (the end of) this world?» and while replying to this question, it emphasised that a day will come when the literary and scientific world will reach its perfection like the material world.
Surely, very soon men shall become aware of the literary, scientific and ethical world - more than today when he is cognizant of the material world. Why shouldn't it be so especially when man has already perceived that the material world has ruined his rights and has put him in pressure and torment. Soon man shall witness how the earth will be illuminated by the divine light and by means of Mahdi's emergence.
Fourthly: test and examination for the people:
Amongst Allah's ways which is still prevailing amongst his servants - right from the time he appointed the prophet - (and Allah's ways never alter or change) is the matter of human evaluation and examination so that the one who is destroyed is done so on the basis of witness, and proof and the one who is enlivened is done so on the basis of witness and proof and the level of their faith and reality is manifested - rather their own condition becomes known to themselves. Verily, it often occurs that man's condition is unknown and remains a secret even for himself.
The divine shariats (laws) contains literary, material, wordly, spiritual, individual and social programs and teachings. This world is a school and the prophets are teachers and evangelists. Every school or lesson requires an examination appropriate to it. The phenomenon, which occur in this world are a sort of examination. The effect of those lessons on the people can be ascertained predominantly be means of such examination. as Allah says:---
Alif lam mim.
Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, we believe, and not be tried?
The holy Islamic shariat (religious law) is the most perfect of all the other shariats. In the Islamic shariat we find such divine sciences and instructions which cannot be found in other shariats. so all that was prevalent amongst the previous nations such as the various tests and examinations should, out of necessity, prevail in this nation too because this general rule comprises those lessons and even more than that.
Amongst the most important matters by which the previous nations were subjected to evaluation and examination was the matter of occultation of some of their prophets. Then, the same occultation should occur for the leaders of this nation too just as the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) went into concealment in the mountain pass of Abu-Talib for a period of thirty years. Amongst the concealment of Mahdi so that the path of guidance is distinguished from the path of deviation and a believer is distinguished from a hypocrite. Like some of the prophets' concealment, the concealment of Mahdi is the greatest test and examination for Shi'ites and rather for the non-Shi'ites making no difference as far as the duration of concealment is. concerned.
Shaikh Saduq in «Kamaluddin» has imputably narrated from Sadir Sairafi as such:
'I along with Mufazzal-ibn-Omar, Abu Basir and Abaan-ibn-Tughlab got the honour of meeting Imam Jafar Sadeq (a.s.). We saw hazrat, sitting on the ground having put on a collarless cloak which had two short sleeves. He was weeping like a woman weeping over her lost dear one. The signs of grief and sorrow were visible on his blessed face and tears were flowing from his eyes. He was moaning and saying: 'my master, your occultation has snatched away the sleep from my eyes. It has taken away my comfort and has deprived tranquility from my heart. My master, your occultation has fastened my grief and sorrow forever. Due to loss of friends one after the other, our gathering has been broken. I do not feel the tears of my eyes and the yelling and crying of my heart which result from the past calamities and hardships but that I see the same in my imagination which is greater, more sorrowful, severe and unknown than all other difficulties.
Sadir says: our mind became perplexed (by witnessing imam's condition) and our hearts became upset as a result of imam's terrifying words about the destructible events. We thought that the calamities and misfortunes of the day which had befallen on imam had brought him to this state of grief and sorrow.
So we said: 'o son of the best mankind. May Allah not cause you to cry. For what reason are you weeping and what has made you to moan to such earnest?
Narrator says: Hazrat Sadeq (a.s.) heaved a sad sigh which caused pain to his heart and then said: 'this morning when I was looking at the book of «jafr» (the book which contains knowledge on deaths, calamities, misfortunes and knowledge about the past and future and which was exclusively given to Muhammad and his progeny by the exalted god) I came across such matters like the Qaem's birth, occultation, delay in reappearance, his long-life, the sufferings of the believers at that time, the appearance of doubt and uncertainty in their hearts because of hazrat's prolonged occultation, the deviations that will occur for majority of them and shirking of the Islamic obligations on their part whereas Allah says:---
«And we have made every man's actions to cling to his neck».
(«--» Here refers to the 'wilayat of the holy prophet's progeny).'
These events have overpowered me with grief and sorrow.
We said: 'o son of the messenger of Allah, we will be honoured if familiarized us with some of those things over which you have knowledge.
Imam Sadeq (a.s.) said: the three characteristic which Allah has assigned for three of his prophets has been assigned for our 'qaem' too.
First of all, the qaem's birth is the same as was the birth of Musa. Secondly, his occultation is the same as was the occultation of Isa and thirdly his delay is the same as was the delay in the coming of Hazrat Nuh (noah).
I n addition Allah has set the long-life of Hazrat Khizr as a proof for the qaem's long-life.
Narrator says: i said: 'o son of messenger of Allah, explain these affairs so that they become clear for us. He replied: with regards to Musa's birth, it should be said that when Firaun (pharaoh) realized and feared that his kingdom would fall by Musa's hand, he summoned the wizards. the wizards guided Firaun in the genealogy of Musa and said: Musa shall come from Bani-Israel'.
As a result, Firaun always ordered his men to slit the bellies of the pregnant women belonging to the tribe of Bani-Israel. For this purpose, (i.e. for killing Hazrat Musa) they murdered more than twenty thousand new-born babies. However they failed to kill Hazrat Musa as all-mighty Allah protected him.
Similarly, when Umayyads and Abbasids realized that the downfall of their cruel kingdom and empire would take place by Mahdi's hand, they set up enmity with us and engaged in killing and exterminating the descendants of the holy prophet (s.a.w.) with this idea that amongst them, they would be killing the 'qaem' too. However Allah does not let anyone from the oppressors to know his task save he shall complete and perfect his light even though the polytheists may dislike it.
With regards to Isa's (Jesus') occultation, the Jews and Christians arrived at a mutual agreement that Hazrat Isa had been killed. However allah, the glorified refuted their view as per these divine words:---
(And they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so)
Similarly, during the occultation of our 'qaem', the Islamic 'ummah' (nation) will at any time deny him due to the length of his occultation. Then, some of the deviated amongst them shall say: the 'qaem' is not yet born. Some others will say the 'qaem' not only is born but also dead. Others who shall say that the eleventh imam was barren will become apostates. Still others who would say that imams are more than thirteen will deviate from the true religion. Yet others will disobey Allah because of their saying that the qaem's soul has become manifest in the body of another one.
The incident of Hazrat's Nuh delay is that since he asked Allah for his nation's punishment, Allah sent Gibra'eel (Gabriel) with seven date-seeds.
Gibra'eel said: 'O Nuh! Allah, the exalted says: "these people are my slaves and my created ones. i do not wish to destroy my slaves in a lightening but after underlining invitation and completion of argumentation. So continue inviting your nation until I bestow my rewards upon you. Plant these seeds because you will attain salvation and deliverance after they become trees and bear their fruits. Give glad-tidings about this matter to your believing followers".
When a long time passed and those seeds turned into strong trees possessing leaves, branches and stalks and the trees began to bear dates, Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) asked Allah to fulfill his promise.
For the second time, Allah ordered Nuh to sow fresh, date-seeds yet again. He ordered him to strive and adopt patience in this regard and to inform this matter to his believing followers. When Hazrat Nuh followed these instructions, three hundred of his men turned apostates and they said: 'if what Nuh claims happens to be the truth his lord would not have broken his promise'.
Each time a group turned apostates, Allah commanded Hazrat Nuh to sow seeds from the dates of the previous trees. This continued until the number of true believers remained only seventy or above.(100)
Allah revealed to Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) as such: now, the brightness of dawn has obviated the darkness of night since the truth has been established and faith has been purified except those whose nature are malicious and gloomy. If I had destroyed the un-believers and spared this group who had brought faith in you and then turned apostates, I would not have been true to my previous promise made to your true believers - those whose monotheistic belief was based on sincerity and who had cling to the rope of your prophethood. My promise is to make them vicegerents over the earth, give strength to their religion and turn their fear and anxiety into tranquility so that doubt and uncertainty is obviated from their hearts and they become sincere in their worship for me.
How could it be for me to make them successors, give them strength and turn their fear into security while being aware of the shaky faith and evil nature of those who had turned apostates. If at the time of giving succession to the disbelievers I had given the kingdom to the believers, pride and discord would have overtaken them. A series of afflictions would have become strong in their hearts and they would have created enmity with their brothers and battled with them for gaining power.
If seditions had arisen and battles had taken place how was it possible for the believers to issue commands and how was it feasible to follow the religion? Such was not possible.
Now, by our commands you may start building a ship.
Imam Sadeq (a.s.) said: the same condition shall prevail for our 'qaem'. the period of his occultation will be a long one until absolute truth appears and faith gets clearly distinguished from the evils of discord so that any of the Shias who are evil in nature and have feelings of discord will exit from the religion at the time when caliphate and the affair is divulged and comes into view.
Mufazzal says: I said: 'O son of messenger of Allah, the navasebs (a group belonging to Sunni sect) reckon that this verse (*) has been revealed in honour of Abu bakr, Omar, Osman and Ali.
(*) Ayat 55, Sura Nur.
He replied: 'no. may Allah not guide the navasebs. During whose period was it that the religion of Allah had been established and had become the object of satisfaction of the holy prophet? In which period was it that the divine command had been divulged amongst the people with no fear in hearts and no doubt in minds? During which era of theirs time it was as such notwithstanding the fact that the Muslims returned back from the religion and seditions occurred during their time and battles took place between them and the disbelievers!?
Then Imam (a.s.) recited this verse:---
(Until the time when the apostles despaired and the people became sure that they were indeed told a lie, that our help came to them)
About the incident of 'Abdus-Saleh' (virtuous slave) reference is made to Hazrat Khizr. verily, Allah, the exalted has not prolonged his life for the sake of his prophet hood or for the book which he must have revealed or for the divine law given to him by which he could annul the divine laws of the previous prophets or for his imamat (leadership) which was necessary for his servants to follow or for any commands which Allah must have made obligatory for him to follow. rather as Allah is all-aware that the qaem's age would become lengthy during the period of his occultation such that his servants would start denying him. he prolonged the life of Hazrat Khizr. there is no reason for his longevity but that it is set as an argumentation for the qaem's long-life so that in this way, the proofs and reasons of the enemies and obstinate people is severed and people will not have any plea against Allah.
The author of «Raudhat-ul-Wa'yezeen» has narrated from Jabir Juafi as such:
i asked imam muhammad baqer (as.): 'when will be your 'faraj' (deliverance)?
imam (a.s.) replied: alas! alas! there shall be no 'faraj' until you all become a mesh (and he repeated this sentence three times) so that impure believers are exterminated and only the pure believers remain.'
Again, in the same book, its author narrates imputedly from Ali-ibn-Jafar who narrates from his brother Hazrat Musa-ibn-Jafar (a.s.) as saying: 'when the fifth one (i.e. Mahdi) from the progeny of the seventh one (i.e. Musa-ibn-Jafar) disappears, then fear Allah with regards to your faith and be careful to see that nobody ruins your religion. This is because the master of the affair will be compelled to conceal himself until a group who have faith in his imamate will turn back from their belief. This occultation is a test from Allah who wishes to examine his servants by this means.
Fifthly: fear of getting killed
One of the reasons of seclusion of the prophets was the fear of being killed. Thus, they would conceal themselves so that in this manner they could protect themselves and hence achieve their aim later on.
About Hazrat Musa, Allah says:- ---
'So i fled from you when i feared you'
Again, about Hazrat Musa, another verse says:- ---
'Surely the chiefs are consulting together to slay you, therefore depart (at once)....'
Verily, fear and anxiety was one of the reasons which solicited Musa-ibn-Imran (a.s.) to flee from Egypt and go to Shuaib (a.s.). It was fear and apprehension that caused the Holy Prophet of Islam to take retreat first in the mountain-pass of Abu-Talib and then to seek shelter in a cave.
The un-believers decided to kill him and Allah commanded him to flee towards medina along with Ali (a.s.).
Due to absence of the ordinary channels through which Mahdi (a.s.) could invite the people and also due to the strength of the enemies, Hazrat fears from such matters as imprisonment, exile, murder and the gallows. thus he has no alternative but to retire and go into occultation until the time when the divine command is issued. Besides, Allah has set a limit for all matters.
Minor and Major Occultation
For our master, Mahdi - the expected one, there has been two occultation, the minor occultation and the major occultation.
the minor occultation started from the time of Hazrat's birth and continued till the end of the special deputyship which lasted for seventy-four years.
The major occultation commenced after the minor occultation and will continue as long as god wills Hazrat to emerge and revolt with his might.
In the book of «Esbath-ul-Wasiyah», Ali-ibn-Hussein-ibn-Ali Masoudi says:
'it is narrated that Imam Ali an-Naqi (a.s.) disappeared from the Shias' views but for a small group of his special Shias. When the affairs of imamate were entrusted to Imam Hassan Askari, he used to converse with his special circle of Shias and others from behind the curtain except when he was mounted and would travel towards the kings house.
Imam Askari (a.s.) and his father were acting in this manner so as to prepare the ground for Hazrat Mahdi's concealment. This was so that the Shias would become familiar with the matter of occultation and would not deny it and would become habituated with imam's absence and concealment.
Verily, right from the time of Amir-ul-Mumineen Ali (a.s.) till the period of Imam Ali an-Naqi (a.s.) and Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) it was customary for the Shias to meet their imam whenever they wished. If they were deprived of this bounty all at once then doubt and hesitation would have overtaken them. Rather the faith of some of them would have become shaky. Thus imam Ali an-Naqi (a.s.) and Imam Askari (a.s.) adopted this path as mentioned by Masoudi so that the Shias would gradually and gradually become
Acquainted with Imam's concealment.
Imam Ali an-Naqi (a.s.) and Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) took up this excellent path for this very reason. Strict alertness of the rulers who were contemporary to the afore-mentioned two imams confirms this matter. This resulted in fewer meetings and contacts with them especially so in the case of well-known Shii'tes.
The apparent glory and magnificence of the afore-said two imams (a.s.) and the great number of servants and slaves and their greatness and eminence (which would naturally become the cause of fewer meetings of the common Shias and rather their special Shias except at fixed and special times) too confirms the matter of occultation.
Later on, the policy of Bani-Abbas changed with regards to the twelve imams and their policy demanded respect and honour of the imams and this path was first put into practice by Ma'mun Abbasid.
Those who cast a glance over history of Hazrat Ali-ibn-Musa ar-Reza Imam Muhammad Taqi, Imam Ali An-Naqi and Imam Hassan Askari will realize the way of association of the caliphs with imams. this is because they believed in the greatness and magnificence of Imams (a.s.) and had kept at their disposal house, goods, feather, dress, servants, slaves and wealth for such motives which they had in mind. The main motive of the caliphs, as per their own imagination was to receive more ease and attention when in the company of the Imam especially so in the case of the afore-said two Imams.
The reason why Imam Ali An-Naqi concealed himself from the views of the Shias on much lesser occasions than Imam Hassan Askari (a.s.) was that there was to be two occultation for our master Mahdi - one was the minor occultation during which period the deputies and special representatives of Mahdi (a.s.) were having access to hazrat until the time when the Shias became familiar with the absence and concealment of imam (a.s.) and the period of major occultation started wherein the special deputyship was cut off and unlike the Shias who had the privilege of meeting Hazrat's great fathers, none have the opportunity of meeting the imam officially.
How people benefit from the Hidden Imam
The benefits of Imam-e-Zaman's existence from our view-point (i.e. Shi'ite view-point) are of two types:
firstly, Hazrat like other people is alive and the common people derive benefit from his existence whether present or absent and whether apparent or concealed.
Secondly, the benefits which is derived from Hazrat's occupation (of the earth) was previously reasoned that due to fear and insecurity it is not obligatory for Hazrat to carry out the second type. However benefits of the first type will necessarily be derived from Hazrat's existence.
The simile which has come in the tradition of Jabir-ibn-Abdullah Ansari is as follows:
'imam is like a sun hidden behind the clouds'
this simile is one of the most elegant and beautiful kinds of simile.
Various benefits and effects are derived from the sun's existence even though it may be covered by a cloud. Moreover, other benefits are derived from its rays if it is not covered by a cloud or rather anything else. Imam too is the same.
I believe, this comparison has been made from two aspects and there exists two reasons for this (one aspect when the sun is covered by clouds and the other aspect when the sun is not covered by any object and its light glimmers) deriving benefit from the sun and making use of it by the living and rather the non-living creatures is something prevalent whether it is manifest or concealed under the clouds. Every creature derives its own pleasure and share from it with the difference that when it is manifest and glimmering, the benefit derived is more than when it is covered and concealed. Imam (a.s.) too is like the sun in these two afore-said cases.
This is the view of the Shia-Imamiyahs about imam (a.s.). However the Sunnis believe that the benefits and effects derived from imam's existence is confined to the second type (i.e. non-absence of imam).
to this, we reply as such:
some of the Sunnis reckon Mahdi's occultation to mean that he is invisible and cannot be seen. However, just as mentioned before, their reckoning is far from truth. Rather, his occultation means that he cannot be individually recognized and seen.
Thus, it has come down in some traditions that after Mahdi's emergence people will say:- 'we used to see him before too.'
Verily Mahdi is absent (amongst us) but attends the gatherings and meetings. He also speaks to the travelers and other people. Rather, very often he presents himself during the Haj season.
He wears the 'ehram' (pilgrim's garb), recites the call of 'labbaik', performs the 'tawaaf' (circumbulation) and concludes his haj by visiting his honoured grand-father and great fathers' shrines especially at times of special 'ziarats'. Thus Mahdi is present amongst the Islamic community but is not physically recognized.
One the contrary, we say: who can dare say that during the major occultation it is not possible to come in contact with Mahdi (a.s.) whereas historical and other books provide us with evidences that a section of people have received the honour of seeing and meeting him. This matter is not inconsistent with the tradition which says: 'if anyone claims that he has seen Mahdi, they reject his saying'.
This is because by context of the first part of the tradition it only means that anyone who claims the special deputyship should be denied.
Rather we can say: Mahdi is one of the members of society and rather the most important member. It is possible that he acts upon his responsibility even though it may not be obligatory for him.
Verily, it is possible that Mahdi may come in contact with the kings, rulers, princes and ministers and make some recommendations to them about reforms, maintenance of order and running of the affairs whether they follow his recommendation or not.
He sits with the jurists, scholars, writers and the learned people and discusses with them such topics as divine theology, moral rectifications and literary matters. in every field, he guides them towards the truth and right way irrespective of whether they act upon his sayings or not. he meets the traditionalists, historians, gene and scholars of 'rijal' and guides them to the true saying, truthfulness of the concerned matter, authenticity of relation (of narration) and their incorrectness irrespective of whether they approve his sayings or not.
Talks takes place with the preachers, inviters (towards the divine path), clergymen and guides too and he reveals to them the way of reaching their objective in an easier way be it they act upon it or not.
He visits the helpless, needy, sick and afflicted people and fulfills the wishes of the needy and cures the sick. Mahdi (a.s.) strives for all these affairs without being recognized and he is never stingy in doing good to others. So it's absurd to say: how people benefit from the hidden imam!?
Verily, very often Mahdi (a.s.) replies to matters having to do with principles and other secondary matters; very often he solves the religious or worldly affairs; very often he cures the sick; how often he delivers the poor; very often he helps the helpless; very often he quenches the thirsty and very often he holds the hands of the disabled.
This book and other books which have been written by reliable scholars (who were not recognizing each other and were living in different places and different times) contain such evidences which bear testimony to the truthfulness of what we have written. A person, after going through the particulars and contexts of these kind of evidences will gain certainty in the veracity of some of them.
Final Victory of Islam is Very Near
Islam interprets history as a constant struggle between right and. wrong. This struggle goes on at various levels of society between the forces of right, virtuousness, love of Allah, faith, justice, equality, sacrifice, correct thinking, purity and truth on the one hand, and those of falsehood, egoism, materialism, pragmatism, tyranny, selfishness, injustice, faithlessness, discrimination, corruption, infringement of others rights and wretchedness on the other.
The real source of the struggle between right and wrong exists within man himself. (vide Surah al-Shams 91:7) It is manifested sometimes in the form of the flames of selfishness, venality and licentiousness and sometimes in that of higher sentiments of God-seeking, righteousness and love of mankind.
The impact of these sentiments on society creates power waves which cause a strife sometimes culminating in corruption and wretchedness, and sometimes bringing about changes towards happiness and prosperity of the society. There is no doubt that changes for the better are brought about by Divine help, but the role of human effort and struggle cannot also be denied.
A Prophet is raised. He awakens the hearts potentially ready to accept the truth. Faith of a group of converts matures. They along with him fight against corruption and evil. They continue to make gradual progress and do not falter at any stage till at last the society undergoes a basic change.
Polytheism, myths, injustice and corruption collapse. Belief in Allah, truth and justice takes root. Before long again from within the same society selfishness, licentiousness and aristocratic tendencies shoot forth.
Occasionally the same society, though still maintaining the traditional form, so deviates from the way introduced by the reformer that it begins to rot from within and once again returns to its pre-reform ways, of course, in a new garb of hypocrisy and new forms of injustice. and corruption.
Sometimes external factors with the aid of their internal agents effectively work for spreading corruption and disruption. These agents for their selfish ends readily co-operate with the external enemy.
This state of injustice, corruption, myth and fraud stimulates the sagacious and the downtrodden to launch a new movement. Thus a process of struggle between right and wrong continues.
Islam believes that all pomp, show and power of the evil have been transient over history. It regards all kinds of intrigues, frauds, hypocrisy and falsehood as froth of water. They have no roots and are bound to disappear finally. (Surah al-Ra'ad, 13:17, Surah al-Isra, 17:81, Surah al-Anbiya, 21:18, Surah al-Shura, 42:24 and many other verses).
Truth always maintains its positive effect either in individual action or social movement even when it is threatened by falsehood and needs supporters to defend it.
Islam recognizes the need of human efforts, perseverance and faith in bringing about a social change, and regards weakness, lack of faith and licentiousness as the causes of the domination of falsehood.
Anyhow, it is this struggle which makes history. As for the future, it is bright. In the end right will be victorious and justice will prevail. Every form of wrong will be annihilated and oppression and tyranny will disappear finally.
Advent of the Mahdi
Complete and final supremacy of right, and universal victory of justice will materialize during the period of the appearance of Muhammad al Mahdi ? the twelfth imam. At that time an ideal Islamic society will be established under the aegis of an ideal government.
In the following pages we give a short perspective of the society and the system of that time drawn from hundreds of traditions describing the characteristics of that period. It must be remembered that this society will be a true Islamic society and its system will be in no way different from that prescribed by Islam.
We propose to divide this study under several headings:
At the threshold of appearance
The holy Prophet is reported to have said:
"He will rise at a time when chaos will be prevailing in the world. Various countries will be engaged in the night attacks on each other. Neither the elders will be having mercy on the younger, nor will the strong be showing kindness to the weak".
Imam Muhammad al Baqir (A.S.) has said:
"The Mahdi will rise at a time of great anxiety, when people will be deeply plunged into crises, disturbances, disasters and diseases, and when wild massacres, violent dissensions and religious discord will be the order of the day. At that time people will be feeling distressed and dejected, and will be at daggers drawn with each other. They will be wishing themselves dead day and night. He will appear at a moment of utter want of hope".
"He will rise to establish justice at a time when the world will be full of injustice and tyranny".
There is no doubt that he will rise at a time when the whole world will be plunged into injustice and corruption, and to fight against these evils he will have to make awful struggle. He will require faithful and self?sacrificing supporters, possessing all the qualities of a true champion.
Revolutionary leader and his supporters
The Holy Prophet(S.A.W.) is reported to have described the Imam of the Age in these words:
"He is an Imam who is pious, pure and delightful. He is an admirable leader, who is rightly guided and who enjoins justice. Allah acknowledges him and he acknowledges Allah".
Concerning the faith and perseverance of his companions, Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (A.S.) said:
"Everyone of his companions will be so strong as if he had the strength of forty men. Their hearts will be as solid as a piece of steel. If they pass over a hill of iron, they would pierce it. They will not lay down their arms till they have pleased Allah".
From another report we learn that at that time there will be some people who will be faithful, virtuous, sincere, religious, pious, conscientious, tolerant, firm, constant, temperate and God-loving. They will be thankful to Allah who made them heirs to power and wealth in the earth and established their chosen faith therein. They will be worshipping none but Allah, offering their prayers on time and paying zakat when due. They will be exhorting to good and restraining from evil".
About the true followers of the Mahdi, Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (A.S.) is reported to have said:
"Fear has been removed from their hearts and put into that of their enemy. Everyone of them is more rushing than a spear-point and more daring than a lion".
Undergoing hardships for achieving success
It must be understood that success will not be gained easily. It will be achieved only after undergoing a lot of trouble and discomfort.
Mufazzal, one of the companions of Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (A.S.) says: "Once we were talking about the Mahdi in the presence of the Imam. I said that I hoped that he would succeed easily. The Imam said:
"No, it will not be so. Success will not be attained except through sweat and blood".
In other words success will be attained after making great efforts and undergoing heavy losses.
A companion of Imam Muhammad al Baqir (A.S.) says:
"I told the Imam that it was said that the Mahdi would have a smooth sailing and would not have to shed a single drop of blood". The Imam said: "No, it will not be so. If the things could run so smoothly, by Him in whose hands my life is, the Prophet of Islam would not have been wounded and his teeth would not have been broken in a battle. No, that's not possible. By Allah! there is no way out, but that you and we are submerged in our own sweat and blood".
This means that the leaders as well as their supporters have to make sacrifices before they are successful.
Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (A.S.) is also reported to have said:
"I see the Mahdi and his companions as if they are threatened by danger from all sides: their supplies have exhausted; their clothes have worn out; their foreheads bear the mark of prostration; during the day they are as courageous as a lion and during the night they are busy in the adoration of Allah; and their hearts are like solid pieces of iron".
Anyhow, all these sacrifices and hardships will have a happy end.
Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (A.S.) has said:
"It is true that the righteous always lead a hard life. But the end of their hardship is not far off".
Nevertheless the success of the Mahdi will be largely due to invisible Divine help. Many traditions bear witness to that.
As a result of these sacrifices and the Divine help real Islamic rule will be established. These are some of the reports which throw light on the doctrinal and social system which will follow.
Explaining the Qur'anic verse, It is Allah who sent His Messenger with guidance and true religion that He might make it victorious over all religions, howsoever the unbelievers might be averse, Imam al Sadiq (A.S.) said: "This verse will come true only during the time of the Mahdi, when the unbelievers will no longer exist".
At present Islam has been surrounded by some people with so many myths and doubts that it appears to be some different religion. This position will continue till the Mahdi rises.
Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (A.S.) has said:
"As soon as the Mahdi rises, he will introduce a new system as the Prophet had done in the beginning of Islam".
Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (A.S.) is also reported to have said:
"The Mahdi will do what the holy Prophet had done. He will smash the existing system in the same way as the holy Prophet had shattered the pre-Islamic pagan system, and replaced it by Islam".
The new system introduced by the Mahdi will be so queer to some of those who claim to be the champions of religion and to be having full knowledge of it, that they will pick up a row against him, but they will not be able to resist the divine world movement and will be annihilated.
At the end of a detailed talk, Imam Baqir (A.S.) said:
"On an occasion when the Mahdi will be busy narrating Divine commands and speaking about the practice of the holy Prophet and the Imams, an attack on him will be arranged from within the places of worship. The Imam will order his followers to arrest the insurgents and put them to death. This will be the last hostile action against the Mahdi".
When the evil-doers will have been crushed and the correct Islamic attitude popularised, the atmosphere will become conducive to intellectual growth and expansion of knowledge.
Imam Ali (A.S.) is reported to have said:
"I see a large number of tents pitched, and people under them being taught the Qur'an in the same order in which it was revealed".
In the course of a talk about that period Imam Muhammad al Baqir (A.S.) said:
"Knowledge will become so common that even women will give decisions on the basis of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the holy Prophet".
Knowledge in various fields will expand. The total of the discoveries of the past will bear no comparison to the discoveries made during that period.
According to a report, Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (A.S.) explained the position allegorically. He said: "If the total of possible human knowledge is supposed to be seventy two letters, two letters will have been known up to that time and the remaining seventy will be discovered gradually during that period".
In respect of the intellectual and moral development of the people, Imam Muhammad al Baqir (A.S.) has said:
"When our Qaim will rise and the people will come under his protection, their intellectual faculties will bloom and their human qualities will be perfected and will bear fruit".
During that period the under-privileged masses will be the masters of the power and wealth of the world. Many reports say that the following verse relates to that period: "We willed to show favor to those who were persecuted in the land and make them rulers and heirs o f the land, and give them power and wealth of the earth ". (Surah al-Qasas, 28:5).
Thus the power and authority of the tyrants and the self-seekers will come to an end and justice will be restored everywhere under a new system.
"He will fill the earth with justice after it had been filled with injustice and tyranny".
"The Qaim will enjoin justice. During his time injustice will be done away with. Roads will be safe. Rights will be restored".
Complete Equality Will Be Enforced.
Imam Muhammad al Baqir (A.S.) said:
"Immediately on his appearance the Qaim will distribute wealth equally, and will restore the rights of the masses".
When the right job will be entrusted to the right man and all-round justice will prevail, naturally the whole world will prosper in every respect.
"Blessings will pour forth from the heaven on the earth. The land will put out its best produce. Trees will bear copious fruit. The atmosphere on the earth will be verdant and fragrant".
It is also evident that in such an atmosphere minerals and natural resources should be exploited to the maximum extent. Reports say: "Allah will reveal for him the treasures of the earth ".
At last all the natural forces will be controlled by the people and they will have all the means to use them to their own advantage. Gradually there will be so much wealth that no one will be left poor or needy.
"Double salaries will be paid to the workers. Equality will be observed among all the people. There will be no one eligible to receive zakat. Money will be offered to the people, but they will decline to accept it, because they will not be requiring it. All underground and above-ground natural resources will be at the disposal of the imam. Addressing the people he will say: "This is the wealth for which you were fighting, severing relations with your kith and kin and shedding the blood of each other". Then he will give them money in unprecedented quantities".
In such circumstances there will prevail complete peace and law and order.
"At that time complete peace will prevail all over the world. None will harm anyone. Fear and anxiety will not exist. Even the wild animals will be moving among the people, but will not be harming anyone. People will have love and sympathy for each other. They will equally distribute wealth among themselves. There will no longer exist any poor or needy. No group of people will seek to dominate another group. The elders will show kindness to the youngers and the youngers will respect the elders. All people will be conscientious in their actions and decisions".
Love, kindness, righteousness and brotherhood will prevail. There will be no question of deceiving or ill-treating anybody; complete sincerity and cordiality will exist.
"When the Qaim will rise, such genial sincerity and cordiality will come into being that one will take out whatever one requires from the pocket of another person and that person will not mind it at all".
Every kind of weakness, disease and disability will disappear.
"As regards those who will be living during the time of the Qaim, their sick will recover and their weak will gain strength".
"All the blind and the crippled will be cured and the sufferers will be relieved of their suffering".
"A world government characterised by justice and righteousness will be established. It will extend from the East to the West. All people will live under it in an atmosphere of peace, justice and prosperity".
"Cordial relations will exist among the believers all over the world. It will appear as if from one end of the world to the other they see each other, speak to each other and co-operate with each other".
These relations will be different from the present day relations and peace agreements, which are concluded only to safeguard the interests of the powers concerned and have no stability. All such agreements will be annulled with the appearance of the Qaim and will be replaced by an all-pervasive just system".
At that time there will be no question of hypocrisy, intrigue, mere show of courtesy or any under-hand method. Everybody will have to submit earnestly to the rightful government. All defaulters will be annihilated.
This government marked, with the final and complete restoration of justice and all-round development, will be the last stage of human history. The Divine Government will be established after the failure of all other systems to achieve the desired results. Though it will be of limited duration, it will be the last word in justice and righteousness. It will be the end of history.
The Major Occultation and Our Responsibilities
The series of divine messengership that commenced from Hazrat Adam (a.s.) till the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), was completed on the 28th Safar, 11 A.H. Thereafter, the chain of prophethood was replaced with that of Imamat that was openly announced in Ghadeer-e-Khumm. Where the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) handed over the Islamic Ummah to Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.), marking the commencement of a new chain of guidance in Islam. This new series traversed eleven stages till it reached Imam-e-Asr Hazrat Hujjat Ibn al-Hasan al-Askari (a.t.f.s.) who was born on 15th Shabaan, 256 A.H. At the age of four, he lost his noble father, after which he went into occultation on divine command. Now, he was in touch with only a few of his reliable, special deputies who conveyed his messages and orders to his followers and the responsibility of guidance continued through these esteemed personalities. This chain of special deputyship continued till the year 329 A.H. during which there were four special representatives who were famous as "Nawwaab-e-Arb’a" and this period became famous as the era of Minor Occultation. After 329 A.H. a new form of occultation started that became known as the Major Occultation in which Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) announced the termination of special deputyship. Now the heavy responsibility of Islamic laws and injunctions rested on the religious jurists and scholars who will acquire the laws with their efforts and hard work and inform the Shias. The latter, in turn, by acting on these edicts and orders will express their love and obedience towards us.
THE ERA OF THE MAJOR OCCULTATION
During the major occultation, the apparent and general possibility of a direct meeting with Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) came to an end, but the fulfillment of Islamic obligations and duties continued. Just as, after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), prophethood was terminated, but the medium of acquiring the religious laws viz. the Holy Quran and the Ahle-Bait (a.s) remained. This was so to enable the Muslims could gain access to the knowledge of the divine laws through them and act on them. Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) has ordered that during the occultation, the duty of the scholars and jurists is that they try to make the people aware of the laws of Islamic Shariah. The period of major occultation is not of frivolity and uselessness. In fact, it augments our religious responsibilities, because when the Imams (a.s.) were present, they bore the entire burden of divine answerability. At least psychologically, the Shias did not feel much of a load. But during his occultation, it is our duty to see to it that his religion remains safe and to express our love for him by performing our religious obligations. The scholars and jurists have explicitly stated that "Awaiting" does not imply idleness and despair and that everyone should wait for that time when the world is fraught with oppression and tyranny and Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) arrives to cleanse it and fill it with justice and equality. Such a view stinks of ignorance and absolutely against Islam because Islam is not a religion of despair and inactivity. Awaiting implies that a person strives to protect Islam during the period of occultation and sees to it that his efforts don’t go in vain. When our attempts and endeavor begin bearing fruits, only then will somebody emerge from the veil of occultation to announce his revolution and ensure complete security for Allah’s religion. The opinion of some that during the major occultation we should wait for the world to be replete with oppression and tyranny and even pray for the same so that Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) reappears is absolutely wrong and meaningless. For, Islam demands the performance of duties and does not tolerate indifference in face of oppression and injustice. It is our duty that we refer to the learned scholars and be attached to them because they are well informed of religious laws and are the interpreters of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.)’s likes and dislikes. Only through them can we know the Islamic injunctions, thereby paving the way for performing our duties. This action is called as Taqleed (imitation).
DISPELLING OF A MISUNDERSTANDING
The truth is that Taqleed is an open invitation to adhere to divine orders as opposed to uncontrolled freedom and one’s own opinions. Therefore, in every era, some learned people, under the banner of intelligence, have opposed Taqleed. Especially today one group has raised its head who considers isolating the people from their religious scholars and jurists as their holy responsibility. Their objection is that Taqleed was not existent in early Islam. The question that arises is that what is the essence of Taqleed? What does it imply? If Taqleed means that the ignorant rely on the learned to acquire the knowledge of Islamic laws on the basis of Quran and traditions in order to act on them, then this practice has been followed at all times. And will continue to be so till the world is divided in two- the learned and the ignorant who do not possess the capability to derive the laws from Quran and traditions. And if Taqleed means something else, then it is neither connected with Islam nor has any Mujtahid ordered its practice. The second objection is that Taqleed has no base, either in the principles (usul) of religion or its fundamentals (furu’). Hence, it can only be deemed as an innovation (bid’at) in Islam. Unfortunately, these uninformed people are not even aware of the status of Taqleed in Islam. Taqleed is not a separate duty that should be enumerated in the fundamentals of religion. Nor is it a distinct creed that should be counted among the principles.
Taqleed is in fact a way to know the fundamentals of religion. That is, if somebody desires to know the method of performing namaz, fast, go for hajj, and pay zakat and intends to discharge all the aforementioned duties according to Allah’s Will and Satisfaction, then there is no other way for him to know these but through the Quran and traditions. He has to shed away all customs, rituals, family practices, etc. in this regard. Now, when he has to execute these obligations in the light of Quran and traditions, there are only two options. One, he himself acquires expertise in the above sciences or to rely on experts in these two fields. If he himself strives and struggles, then his striving will be called as Ijtehaad. And if relies on somebody else to know the intricacies of his obligations, then this practice is called as Taqleed. Taqleed is not a separate and distinct duty or worship like Namaz, fasting, Hajj, etc. Rather, it is a method to give worship its true form. For, if worship is done according to divine satisfaction, then it is worship in every sense of the word. But if somebody performs these according to his own whim and fancy, it will be considered as following the desires of the self and not divine devotion. It is for this very reason that it is a well-known fact among religious circles that worship without Taqleed is null and void. It does not mean that such action does not have any reality. It only implies that these are worth being presented in the presence of the Almighty. Because when these actions will be presented to the Lord saying that we have performed these actions in concordance with Your order, the first query that will be put to him is, ‘How did you know about this order? If you were ignorant about the laws of Quran and traditions and you also did not trust those who were well-versed with them, then it only means that you have acted according to your desire or have imitated your society and environment’. We had not granted any status to your whims and desires in religion nor did We regard the customs and rituals of your society as the Shariah. We had ordered you to acquire the Islamic laws from the Quran and traditions. And if you are not able to do so, then rely on those who can do this work. "Then ask the people of remembrance, if you know not." This intellectual and religious principle is termed as Taqleed. If somebody simply dislikes the term, then he can do away with the term and use some other word instead. Its essence is that an ignorant relies on a learned scholar and this is an Islamic action. Through it, one can discharge his religious duties according to Allah’s satisfaction. If someone turns away from it, then his claim that his actions are in agreement with divine decree will not hold water. Even if actually his deed may be in agreement because the real matter is not the physical correctness of the action but the intention, contentment and satisfaction underlying it that we are discharging our obligations as per His commands and satisfaction only to gain proximity and nearness to Him. Otherwise, without knowing the satisfaction of Allah, the intention to gain proximity to Him is nothing but wishful imagination. May Allah grant all the learned scholars of this nation to grasp the reality and the fortune to act in concordance with divine satisfaction.
WHAT DID WE DO?
The moot point is that have discharged our obligation and did we resort to Taqleed as method to get acquainted with the divine laws? As far as Indian conditions are concerned, the majority are unaware of even the term Taqleed, and those who are aware have restricted its interpretation to contact with particular individuals on occasions of marriages and divorce. The thought that Taqleed is the name of information of divine laws, is farthest from their minds and that without Taqleed all actions are rendered null and void is beyond them. Today, we perform namaz, fast and perform other good actions under influence from our parents and neighbours. Do such persons really exist among us who refer to the Tauzeehul Masaael, the book of edicts, of some Marja-e-Taqleed before doing any deed and perform our namaz and other actions in the light of their judgements? We remember the A’lam (the most learned jurist) only during controversies, when we intend to grind to dust the view of others and to establish the truth of our opinion. But, if the edict of the A’lam is contrary to our view, then perhaps his knowledge and status is in danger in our estimation!
AN ANALYSIS OF OUR LIVES
When we analyse our lives, our condition appears pathetic and horrific. Our ignorance and inaction is truly miserable and wretched. Thanks a million to the Almighty that the memory of Karbala still survives due to which some form of expression in religion does exist. Otherwise, only Allah knows where we would stand? But dear brothers and sisters! Keeping the incident of Karbala in the right perspective, it should be borne in mind that the religion of Islam had been completed during the life of the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.). Imam Husain (a.s.) had sacrificed all that he possessed at Karbala only and only for the protection and continuation of this religion. He (a.s.) did not invent a new religion at Karbala. Rather, he saved the religion of Islam which the opponents were hell bent on destroying. Now the question that arises is, ‘What was that religion that existed before Karbala whose devastation Imam Husain (a.s.) could not tolerate and for whose safety, he had to sacrifice his entire household?’ From Da’vat of Dhul Asheerah till the 11 A.H., a glance at Islam reveals the following facets: Divine Unity, Divine Justice, Prophethood, Imamate, Resurrection, Quran, Ka’bah, importance of Namaz, Fasting, Hajj, Zakat, Khums, Jehaad, etc. Yazid, the accursed, intended to destroy these very aspects of religion which Imam Husain (a.s.) saved through his sacrifices. It is our duty to consider these very principles and fundamentals as religion. For the sake of Imam Husain (a.s.), all our thoughts should focus on the protection of these because religion is nothing except them. If we are ignorant of our beliefs, have no relation whatsoever with Quran and kA’bah, and prayers and fasting have no links with our lives, then we are not connected with the religion Imam Husain (a.s.) Saved and which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) conveyed unto us by treading a path full of thorns.
No doubt, our Majaalis is a great bounty and anybody who raises objections against them or finds faults with them, certainly has some malafide intention concealed behind it. But these Majaalis are not aimless. In fact, they are the best form of religious propagation. If we don’t learn religion from these Majaalis and do not regard them as a means of communicating divine teachings, then we have indeed nullified its aim and will definitely be answerable in the presence of Imam Husain (a.s.) and the other infallible Imams (a.s.) of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). We really feel like crying for our sisters who during the entire Majlis, are either preparing food for the guests or while away their time chatting, thereby depriving themselves of the benefits of this blessed gathering. The same applies for those organisers or audiences who don’t gain anything from these Majaalis. By roaming outside the Majaalis halls, they feel as if they have done their duty and made the souls of the Imams (a.s.) happy. One should bear in mind that lighting the halls and adorning them with flowers is not the way to make the Ma’oomeen (a.s.) Happy They are needless of such things nor have they asked these from us. These are simply our emotions that we express in these ways. The Ma’soomeen (a.s.) have only demanded from us to tread the path of religion and act upon its laws, and unfortunately our negligence for these is on the rise. The greatest tragedy is that one of the main aims of these Majaalis was ‘mourning’ but that too unfortunately is being lost on us. Most of our youth are busy with making new Anjumans, indulging in factionalism and reflecting on better tilting tunes for the elegies. They think that crying in Majaalis is the work cut out for the elderly and that the love of the Ahlebait (a.s.) is only for them. Alas! Those elegies that were said with the sole aim of making people cry, have been sacrificed on the altar of appreciation and praises. In some cities, one can even hear Salawaat during these elegies. Is this the way to express our condolences for Janab-e-Zehra (s.a.)? Or does one mourn for an oppressed martyr in this manner? Even worse and shocking is that if in some city some ignorant practice is initiated, others too imitate blindly instead of criticising and rectifying them. They behave as if it’s a divine command and an order of the Prophet (s.a.)! When we talk about Taqleed of Marja’-e-Taqleed, a hundred questions will crop up and somehow the entire concept seems beyond them. But they do not hesitate at all in imitating the ordinary folks and in fact, their actions are put to use right away.
During the major occultation, our society has distanced itself from religion itself to such an extent that ‘Madness is called as intellect and intellect, madness’. To put it simply, customs and rituals are called as religion and vice-versa. Our ignorance has reached to such depths that a large chunk of our society comprising of the elderly, the youth and the children, are unaware of Sifaat-e-Sabootiyyah and Sifaat-e-Salbiyyah in Tauheed. Concerning divine justice (adl), they are more bothered of their demands being fulfilled, otherwise they don’t hesitate to complain and object against Allah, the Almighty. They do not know anything about Prophethood or its types. They are so uninformed about Imamat that they consider an Imam as a godly person, whose job is only to sit in a corner and worship the Almighty. They think that governing and ruling is not an Imam’s cup of tea. As far as Qiyaamat is concerned, their thoughts do not even tread near it and are absolutely incognisant as to what on earth is going to happen over there? In the field of deeds, the number of worshippers in the mosques is evidence enough for the enthusiasm of worship. Quran’s recitation, memorisation and teaching is as good as nonexistent. Hajj has become the exclusive responsibility of a few believers while the remaining of the populace is only concerned about the augmentation of their bank balances.
Zakaat and Khums have become topics that should not be talked about. Consequently, along with the poor and the Saadaat, even Imam-e-Asr (a.s.) Has become Mazloom (oppressed)! Their rights are being usurped without an iota of hesitation. Nobody even stops to think that what sort of love is this that the right of the beloved is being usurped? Preventing evil is simply out of question because evil itself has become the symbol of nobility. Hence we observe that the more a person possesses the traits of shamelessness, hypocrisy, irreligiousness and heedlessness, the more he is regarded as a greater leader of the community! The condition of our religious schools is extremely pitiable and pathetic. Our community has decided that to go to such schools to acquire education is the exclusivity of orphans and helpless children. As Islam was brought by the "Orphan of Abdullah", hence its propagation too is the responsibility of the orphans, never mind if this results in the entire community becoming "intellectually orphaned". It is better not to discuss at all about the state of religious organisations and trusts. Their condition is there for all to see. It’s a totally different issue that all are absolutely indifferent to it. Everybody is only waiting for it to die so that they can unleash a hundred whips on it.
THE FOUR ELEMENTS
In the present era, when we have lost religious values, and the majority of us are almost completely ignorant about religion, our religious life survives on account of four elements that have withstood the oppression of time. It is due to these four factors that today we are enumerated among the religious people and these are as follows: Majaalis and Mahaafil, Nazr and Niyaaz, Mannat, and Nauha (elegies) and Maatam (breast-beating). But the truth is that our negligence and unworthiness have not permitted the sustenance of their sanctity. To the best of our abilities, we have attempted to besmirch and defame them…Had we not been unworthy, none would have had the courage to raise any objections at our religious ways and practices. But alas! When we wash dirty linen in public by indulging in infighting by the Anjumans on roads and public places and even draw daggers at each other for petty matters in as holy places as Shab Bedaaris, the opponents will definitely get a chance to object at our mode of worship. When they observe the unhealthy competition in our Majaalis and the desperate attempts to make the gatherings of other believers unsuccessful, obviously tongues of mockery will definitely wag. Of course, we don’t have any answer against their objections. The enemy takes support of our weakness and attacks the essence of our religion. He does not care to reflect that Majlis is different from its organiser or an Anjuman is different from the elegy. And why should he think at all? When we being the followers of Husain (a.s.), do not bother to stop and ponder for a while as to what will be the effects of our deeds and acts on the remembrance of Husain (a.s.), then why will others think at all? Their intention is sheer objection, nothing else. With each passing day, our Majaalis are losing their effectiveness.
From every nook and corner, one can hear cries that these Majaalis are of no use and that they should not be organised any more. Of course, this is not true. They are advantageous and will always remain so. The only condition is that they should be conducted with their conditions and not beyond them. Otherwise, we will be solely responsible for all the notoriety and we will be answerable in front of Imam Husain (a.s.). Some clever believers prepare the ground for public opinion by claiming that none has the right to criticise these Majaalis and that this is the sign of Yazeedeeyat. But my dear friends! Truth can never be decided with word play. Public opinion is not divine satisfaction. If raising objection against Majaalis is Yazeedeeyat, then to throw these holy gatherings to the clutches of notoriety is nothing less than Yazeedeeyat, regardless of the slogans of Husainiyyat attached to it. In Nazr and Niyaaz too, customs and rites have replaced sincerity. It is common practice that the niyaaz that is less belongs to Imam (a.s.) And the one which is more, belongs to our deceased relatives. One is forced to assume that the right of Imam (a.s.) Is incidental and that of our relatives, original. In the present generation, another misunderstanding that has cropped up is that the Nazr of Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) Is only for women and that of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) Is merely for men. Such misplaced rituals display nothing but a lack of recognition of these two outstanding individuals and has got nothing to do with sincerity and reverence. Otherwise, both these illustrious personalities enjoy equal status for believing men as well as women. The question of distinction does not arise nor have they ever categorised their relations, attachments, generosity, and ethics to either men or women. To believe in Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) Is as much the duty of men as it is of women and the same applies for Hazrat Abbas (a.s.). As far as Mannat is concerned, we have fallen to such pits that we are solely interested with our needs and wants. We are quite distant from reality.
There are innumerable instances when the believers have gone to the non-Shias or even non-Muslims to get their desires fulfilled. They do not consider such acts as contradictory to the teachings of Islam. Here, the case of the women is even more pathetic. They are known to be responsible for the survival of religion. Notwithstanding the presence of the Holy Quran and the books of traditions in their house, they, with their children in tow, go to some enemy of Ahle Bait (a.s.) for getting their aims fulfilled! They think that their prayers will be answered in such places, and not through Quran and Hadis, neither from Ahlebait (a.s.) nor the great scholars of Islam. If this is religion, then it is better to be irreligious. If this is the love of Ahlebait (a.s.), Then pray, what is enmity? Ahlebait (a.s.) are not bothered about their names. They are more concerned about the deeds. They feel hurt the most when their aim is being lost or abused. If there exists true love of the Ahlebait (a.s.) in the heart of a person, he will never go at the doorsteps of others, irrespective of the fact whether his child lives or dies, he gets his job or not, his work is done or otherwise, etc. This is the character of the Ahlebait (a.s.) And the true spirit of Shiism. Besides this, everything is ostentation and show-off but not religion. The world of Nauha and Matam is different from all. Throughout the Majlis, they are outside the Imam Bargah. The moment the Majlis comes to an end, they barge in and occupy the entire place. They behave as if they are fully informed of other religious obligations from before and are not in need to learn anything. Just for a few minutes they will display their talents and its sufficient to express their love for the Ahlebait (a.s.). The state of mourning has reached to such pits that in some books of Nauhas it is explicitly mentioned that this Nauha will sound more effective in the tune of such and such song. This too is considered as a part of the love of Ahlebait (a.s.). If someone objects, driving him outside the realm of Islam and religion is not beyond contemplation. Is this the love of Ahlebait (a.s.)? Did Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) ask us of such tunes and such songs?!! Previous problems had yet remained unsolved when a new problem altogether surfaced in the society. That is, to convert Quranic verses and hadis into Nauhas. They way the poets maim the Quranic verses and traditions, its revenge can only be taken by the Ahlebait (a.s.). I cannot speak anything in this regard. It is really unfortunate that even the word Islam has become an elegy (Nauha) and has been contorted and twisted to defame it. Through such Nauhas, Islam is not propagated. On the contrary, it is being defamed and brought to disrepute. How good it would have been had these poets checked their elegies and poems with the Islamic scholars in order to cross-check whether their Nauhas are in violation with the Islamic laws or not? Is our good work being converted into evil, and consequent punishment, due to our ignorance? But the poets think of themselves nothing less than the Islamic jurists that they should go the scholars for the rectification of their poems. And its not their fault either. When every deviated person of the society claims to be a Mujtahid in religion and is hell bent on criticising the religious scholars and tearing apart their personalities, then the poets are considered as "the students of the beneficent".
The only cure for all these diseases is to increase the awareness for the acquisition of knowledge in the community. They should be made acquainted with religion and brought out from the cave of ignorance. If the above is done, then a scientific life is a logical consequence without much of a struggle and effort. Our community does not lack the passion for action. It lacks the enthusiasm for knowledge. In the field of deeds, this community is far ahead of all other nations of the world. Being awake the entire night, constant participation in Majaalis, crying, mourning, reciting elegies, breast-beating, etc. are actions that make other communities tremble at their very thought. Unfortunately the only lacunae is the correctness of these actions and the performance of other obligatory actions. Otherwise, there does not seem any reason as to why they should not be attentive towards other actions and not strive to act on them. There is only one way to create an environment of knowledge and that is to train as many knowledgeable people as possible and to concentrate on increasing their numbers. Our biggest misfortune is that religious knowledge is no longer a subject of our lives. We neither gain religious knowledge ourselves nor do we encourage those who make an attempt to do so. Please speak the truth. How many of you come forward to help a student of religious sciences in any form whatsoever? Have you ever given it a thought that the wasteful expenditures on fire-crackers in weddings can be used in a more discerning manner on religious students? The amount of money spent on vermicelli in Eid can be reduced but slightly and be spent on the young seekers of knowledge! The same can be thought vis-à-vis the goats during Eid al-Azhaa, the Koondas of Rajab, the sweets of 15th Sha’baan, etc. If this is done, these young students will be encouraged in their quest for knowledge and even others will think of adopting this path. On occasions of joy and sorrow, we only think of purchasing sweets and reciting Faateha and no other religious duty enters the domain of our thought.
It appears as if religion is entirely based on eating and drinking and our Lord is only satisfied with our sweetmeat. On and off, we do think of the orphanages and orphans. But religious schools are completely beyond us. Therefore, it is but natural that our religion becomes an orphan. Thank the Lord that the inheritor of religion is still alive in occultation otherwise we had left no stone unturned in making our religion helpless and orphan through our actions. The worst follows when a child, despite his indigence and poverty, acquires knowledge at the expense of his parents and gains the status of a religious scholar, the entire shameless community considers him to be its personal property and purchased slave. That is, it is his duty to perform all our obligations and that it is not required from us to fulfill his needs. When I compare the conditions prevalent in India to those in Iran, I see a world of a difference. In the latter, every pilgrim is occupied with the thought of bringing some gifts and souvenirs for the religious students and scholars of his city or village. While in our beloved country, every pilgrim thinks that if he has some relative in the holy cities, he will reside with them and the problem of food and accommodation will be taken care of. They will eat to their stomachs full at his little abode and stay with him without giving a thought to his condition whether he starves or begs thereafter. In Iran, the people will one third of their property for charity and welfare. They make the religious scholars as trustees of such property so that the expenditures of religious education is met without much ado. While in India, people are on the look out for the school building to collapse so that they can usurp its land. I don’t deny that there absolutely no philanthropists in India and there is nothing but total darkness. If it was so, so many religious schools would not be present and thousands of madrasas would not run. The only complaint is that we have still not developed the necessary mental attitude towards religion. It should be the duty of the native of every city and village that he should serve the religious students and scholars alike. This will encourage the new generation to take up religious education. Taking some work from the religious scholar should not be the precondition to reward him in cash or kind. It is necessary to serve him because Islamic matters are related to him and he is responsible for the reformation of our hereafter. It is through him that religion is propagated and it is his personality that inspires others to take up religious education. But alas! In our country, people hesitate to reward a religious scholar even after taking some work from him, so rewarding him without any work is out of question. We are willing to pay hundreds of rupees to a doctor for consultation although the liability involved is only a single physical life. On the contrary, when an Aalim recites a Nikaah, then if the person involved belongs to a very affluent family, he will compensate with a very big thank you, and if he belongs to a middle class family, he will be very glad to pay him fifty or hundred rupees. Notwithstanding the fact that the validity of this Nikaah involves the legality of an entire generation. We even go to the extent of thinking that if there is no religious scholar available, then we ourselves will recite the Nikaah from the Tohfatul Awaam without bothering that we are making one entire generation illegitimate. Let us save a few pennies regardless of the fate of an entire generation. This pain is felt neither the parties involved in the Nikaah nor those shameless people who proceed with the recitation of the Nikaah without knowing its literal nuances. They just open the book and recite the Nikaah as if they are reciting the Dua of Aqeeqah.
Remember, our duties during the major occultation are very severe. One day, we will be answerable and accountable to the one who is hiding behind the veil of occultation. If our condition continues to remain the same, and the same indifference prevails in our society, it will be very difficult for us to answer our Imam (a.s.). He is evaluating our deeds even today and is observing how much attention we are paying to our religious obligations and how well related and connected we are to our religion. It is very easy to ask the relation between religion and paying money to religious students and scholars who can survive by consuming air and swallowing anger. But it will indeed be very difficult for us to answer that Imam (a.s.) Who has kept his share (Khums) in every wealth only for this reason that religion be propagated and more and more religious students and scholars are trained. We pray to the Almighty Allah to grant us the taufeeq to do good and perform charity for the sake of Hazrat Baqiyatullah (may Allah hasten his reappearance). May He grant us the grace to understand religion correctly and act on its dictates and commands. Peace be on the one who follows guidance