Discussion on Imam-e-Zaman (A.T.F.S)

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Discussion on Imam-e-Zaman (A.T.F.S) Author:
Translator: Dr. Shabeeb Rizvi
Publisher: Naba Publication (www.nabacultural.org)
Category: Imam al-Mahdi

Discussion on Imam-e-Zaman (A.T.F.S)

Author: Dr. Sayyed Hasan Eftekharzadeh
Translator: Dr. Shabeeb Rizvi
Publisher: Naba Publication (www.nabacultural.org)
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Discussion on Imam-e-Zaman (A.T.F.S)
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Discussion on Imam-e-Zaman (A.T.F.S)

Discussion on Imam-e-Zaman (A.T.F.S)

Author:
Publisher: Naba Publication (www.nabacultural.org)
English

The perfect personality of Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.)

This discussion is about Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) himself with regards to his personality in relation with Allah and his perfection, whether divinely endowed or acquired.

Initially, it should be borne in mind that Allah the Almighty has not created all humans equal, and all that has b1een granted to mankind is not in uniform measure. Of course, from one aspect- in their generality- they are all same but in most of the perfection and virtues, Allah has not created them similar. All humans are created on the nature of monotheism (fitrat-e-tauheedi ), thereby enabling them to know Allah and worship Him. Therefore, in this regard, they are all responsible. But spiritual capabilities and attraction vary from person to person.

What is the basis for this difference? One facet of this difference is related to two points that should be borne in mind. One of them refers to the world termed in our traditions as the world of pre-existence(aalam-e-dhar) [42] . The second refers to divine grace and bestowal, whose unequal grant will not affect justice. What will be deemed to violate norms of justice is differentiation in rights, but as far as ‘grace ’ is concerned, distinction does not enter the domain of justice.

Therefore, one differentiation is in rights and the other is in grace. If partiality is observed in rights, it is injustice. For instance, if a person owes each one of us fifty dollars, but while repaying, he pays me only thirty but pays the other person, seventy dollars. Then, this is injustice because I had an equal right on him.

Another instance can be as follows: None of us present could demand from the host to bring various kinds of fruits like orange, pineapple, bananas, etc. for us. So, had he not brought all these, he would not have meted any injustice to us because he did not owe it to us. On the morrow, had he invited other guests, and served them water only, they would not have the right to question him as to why did he differentiate between the two. He would be told that ‘you don’t enjoy any right over me. I just wanted to shower my grace and bounty on the previous day’s guests and hence the unequal treatment.’ If the guests question as to what was the basis of your disparate treatment? Was it baseless and meaningless? He will reply that certainly it was neither. My treatment did carry some wisdom but it is not necessary for me to disclose my reasons to you. For, it was sheer grace that made act in this manner. This is just an indication and if this discussion is dealt in detail, it will solve quite a few questions on divine justice.

Allah the Almighty has created the creatures on the basis of grace. Therefore, one He has made the sun, the other moon, the third as the earth, one ocean he has made as sweet and the other, salty, etc.

« ذلك فضل اللّه يؤتيه مُن يشاء ».

“This is the grace of Allah. He gives to whosoever He pleases.[43]

The sun is the source of energy and light. The earth does not possess the energy of its own, thereby depending on the sun. One is sand, the other, water and the third, herbs. These differences are due to Allah’s grace. One is a wild animal devoid of all understanding while another is a human being, with abundant comprehension and understanding. These divine bounties emanate from zero and continue infinitely. At the moment, Allah the Almighty has given preference to one creature over another on the basis of His wisdom and rendered one as superior over another.

It should be borne in mind that as Allah created the creatures differently, their responsibilities vary as well. Had their accountability been equal (despite their differences in creation), it would tantamount to injustice. Hence, as endowments differ so do obligations and hence the declaration,

« لا يكلِّفْ اللّه نفساً الّا وسعُها ».

“Allah does not impose a burden on any soul except as per its capacity.[44]

He has not bestowed intellect to the animals and therefore, has not imposed any responsibility on them. But as He has endowed man with wisdom and intelligence, as per their levels, He has imposed obligations and duties on them.

So, on the basis of the aforementioned premises, Allah the Almighty on the basis of His prudence, which is one of the aspects through which He deals with the creatures on the earth, desires to make the earth slush green and vegetative. Hence, He makes the clouds carry water, the fruits ripe and juicy, the air blow smooth winds, guide mankind, etc. Among mankind, He also intends to create a man who is worthy of leading other human beings. That is, for this task, He creates a man who is more perfect than others.

The initial perfection that Allah has endowed on the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), He has not granted to you and me. Similarly, the duties and obligations that He has imposed on him (s.a.w.a.), He has not placed on us either. We are relieved of the heavy burden of prophethood and messengership that He has decreed for His Messenger (s.a.w.a.).

Therefore, when Allah the Almighty intends to execute a task, He creates a creature, which is capable of performing it. Now, if it performs the work involuntarily, then there is no virtue for him in it. But if it undertakes the task with the help and assistance of the perfection granted to him by his Lord but with its own volition, then certainly it is his achievement.

The sun shines involuntarily and performs many a task for the Almighty but it is not said that the sun enjoys superiority over the earth in the eyes of Allah. But the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) discharges his responsibilities voluntarily. That is, Allah endows him (s.a.w.a.) with perfection and orders him to go and render a particular obligation. Hence, when he (s.a.w.a.) does perform that task, his position is higher than that of others. Therefore, the conclusion is as follows: Allah creates people for the tasks that He intends to execute. He gives them the power to do that job, after which He declares,

« اللّهْ اعلمْ حيثُ يجعلُ رِسالته ».

“Allah knows best where to place His message [45]

Because He is the One Who has created that particular creature for the task.

Among the divine tasks, the most significant one is that one man should be able to carry His spiritual grace and convey it to the creatures. This spiritual grace has two stages: one is the general spiritual grace in existence itself, and the second is in the guidance of the people and to enforce the laws of His religion among them.

The first level i.e. general spiritual grace requires an independent philosophical discussion. Philosophers have established this discussion on metaphysical grounds, while the holy Quran and traditions have also talked about it. That is, between Allah and the creatures there should be a link or a medium[46] . Between the infinite greatness of Allah and this insignificant and small existent, there should be somebody who takes the grace and distributes it.

We observe this tradition in nature as well. If we connect this small electric lamp directly to the hydroelectric power station, it will burst instantaneously as it cannot bear the power of the station. This does not indicate the weakness of the power station but displays the feebleness and incapability of the small lamp. If you place a small pearl against the force of a powerful dam, it will split because it does not have the capacity to bear the force of such strong water current. Hence, there is a medium that acts as a link between the two extremes. Such links and media are found in everything as per their proportion to grasp the grace and then distribute it among the other creatures, as per their capacity. This is the case with the electric stations and sub-stations and the same is for water dams, canals and turbines in controlling the flow of water. In all types of works, there should be such a medium that takes the grace and distributes it.

This link should have some proportion with the source and some proportion wth those who derive benefits from the source and philosophically, such a link is termed as “mumkin al-wujood al-ashraf ” (the most honorable creation). This argument has come in various philosophical works, especially those of Muslim philosophers like Mulla Sadra, and in the books of gnosis, by the name “Imkaan-e-Ashraf ”. That is, among the creatures, there should be a noble creation that is the noblest of them all, which receives grace from the infinite Being of Allah and disburses it among the creatures. In gnostic terms, he should possess two facets: one towards Allah and the other towards the creation.

The work of this intermediary creature (link) is to apportion the grace to the creatures. It is an existent that enjoys divine attributes like knowledge, power, holiness, etc. Of course, it is NOT God because God does not have any partner. Nevertheless, notwithstanding it being a creature of God, it possesses a certain level of purity, spirituality and perfection due to which it possesses the ability to obtain divine grace.

In Islamic terminology, this creation is called as “the light of Muhammad ”, based on the saying of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.),

« اولُ ما خلق اللّهْ نوري »

The first thing that Allah created was my light [47] ”. Another term that is used for it is “the first intellect(aql-e-awaal ). Yet another name is “the first produce ” (saadir-e-awwal ). In the traditions of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), it is termed as “the light of mastership ” (noor-e-vilayat ). That is, Allah endows it with the light of existence and this light, as per the levels, keeps granting existence to other creatures, conferring this all-important grace on them. Now, if this bond between the Creator and the creature is removed, the entire creation will cease to exist.

By these explanations, it is clear that this link has the right of existence over other existents or creatures. That is, he can say that if I were not there, you too would not exist. He does not pose before the creatures but the creatures too should recognize him and know that if he were not there, they (creatures) would not exist. For example, Allah the Almighty, addresses His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declaring,

« لولاكُ ما خَلَقتُ الافلاك ».

“If you had not been there, I would not have created the spheres.[48]

Such traditions are available aplenty in the collections of traditions, narrated by both Shias as well as Sunnis.

Now, the point that we should appreciate is that this noble existent and light reality manifests himself on this earth. This lightface was first personified in the holy physical persona of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), followed by Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.), trailed by Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) and the other infallible Imams (a.s.). In the lifetime of the Imam (a.s.), he is the link between Allah and His creatures as well as the proof between Allah and His creatures. According to a number of traditions, if the earth would be void of a divine proof, it would be destroyed[49] . Why? In reply, we submit that because the role of a divine proof is that of a medium. InDua-e-Adeelah , one can find,

« بِيْمنِه رْزِق الوري و بوْجْوده ثبتت الارض و السماء ».

“Through his blessings, the creatures are sustained and by his existence, the earth and the sky subsist.”

For, an Imam is the medium. In Ziyaarat-e- Jaameah, we read

« بكُم فتح اللّه و بكم يختمْ الله و بكم ينزّل الغيث و بكم يْمسك السماء ان تقع علي الارض الّا باذنه»

“Through you (Imams (a.s.)), Allah opens, and through you, Allah seals, and through you, He sends down rains, and through you, He controls the sky from falling on the earth but with His permission. [50]

Such sentences can be found in abundance in the supplications, invocations and salutations. Now, let us state an ordinary instance that is commonly found in our lives.

Suppose that one of you invites a famous personality to your house for dinner and he too promises to accept your invitation. You are not bothered about the amount that he is going to eat. Maybe, he will not eat more than a few apples. But in his honor, you prepare an extensive range of meals, dishes and fruits, and in his reverence, you also invite quite a few others for the dinner. The more people you invite, the more benefits will accrue to different creatures, like the flowers will get more water, the leaves of trees will be washed properly, the house will be swept clean, and dirt and dust will be thrown out. Moreover, due to this gathering, the cats and dogs of the area can feast on the remains to their hearts content, flies and other pests will have a field day, etc.

You witness all this and to each one of these, who are deriving advantage of this party, you address in your heart, ‘O negligent creature! Don’t be misled. Whatever you are enjoying today is merely on account of the presence of this respectable guest.’

Such is the system of creation that when man has a respectable guest, he extends the benefits of this invitation to a number of other creatures. At that moment, this invited guest can reprimand these creatures thus, ‘O you who are enjoying the benefits of this party! You should know that the host has invited you to this dinner for my sake. ’ When will this honorable guest post such a reminder? When he sees that none of the invitees are attentive towards him and are so busy hogging that they conveniently ignore the real guest and are comfortably sitting with their backs to him. It is here that their sitting with their backs to the real guest and their negligence to him is considered as ingratitude.

Allah’s aim in creation was to create a man who would be a worshipper(abd) in the truest sense of the word. He says:

« إني جاعلٌ في الارض خليفه ».

“Surely I intend to appoint a representative (caliph) on the earth.[51]

For this perfect man or perfect worshipper, He created the earth and the skies, and made the water flow on this earth to allow its inhabitants to survive. Thus, it is necessary for the existents to live on this earth, which should be green and vegetative and that the rains descend, et al.

In this manner, Allah the Almighty created His beloved messenger, the seal of the Prophets (s.a.w.a.). What affinity He had with him (s.a.w.a.) is not relevant as our discussion is about the perfect man. For the comfort of us imperfect people, Allah the Almighty has created so much of lush greenery, and made so many of the animals at our disposal for us to feast on them. And all this is for our semi-perfection. Now, if this perfection is raised to a level, in which man becomes Allah’s representative(khalifatullah) in every sense of the term and that perfect man, sincere slave and pure worshipper enjoys the right of life over every existent and possesses the highest perfection.

Hence, from the birth and Imamate of Imam-e-Zaman, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), this perfection of linkage between the Creator and the creature, this light reality (haqeeqat-e-nooriyyah ), and the one due to whose blessings the creatures are sustained, all are collected in the existence and persona of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and he is the perfect man. At that moment, all of us bow down in front of him as he enjoys tremendous privilege over us. This is one of his spiritual rights over us.

Now let us return to the example of the invitation by our friend. If we see that the guests, who have been invited because of that famous personality, become so busy in eating and drinking that they completely ignore him, and after having filled their stomachs, simply leave the place, we will certainly look at them with disdain. Similarly, the angels look down with contempt at those human beings that are inattentive towards Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) and consider them as mean creatures.

Worse are those who deny the existence of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.). And the worst are those who abuse and say bad things about him (a.t.f.s.). From all this, one can also realize the greatness of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) that although most of us are negligent of him despite being sustained on his account, he (a.t.f.s.) does not become angry at us nor do we become the victim of his wrath.

Among those who are being sustained on his account, the closest are the ones who eat from theSahme-Imam (half of Khums), i.e. they get their money directly out of his pocket. The inattentiveness and negligence of such people towards their Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) is indeed a massive ingratitude and a huge tragedy. This is an independent discussion, which shall be dealt with at an opportune moment. Anyhow, this is one of the perfection of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.).

The discussion about the eminence and excellence of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) and other infallible Imams (a.s.) is a separate one under the subject “Imam Cognition ”. The best source for information on this topic isZiyarat-e-Jaameah-e-Kabeerah and some other supplications. In the invocations of the month of Rajab, one has been related on the authority of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) himself as follows:

« اللّهم إنّي اسألُك بمعاني جميع مايدعوك به ولاه امرك المأمونون علي سرك ».

“O Allah! I ask You for the sake of the essence of all by which those appointed in authority prayed to You, those trusted with Your secrets.”

This supplication is great. And among other invocations, is thesalawaat of the month of Shabaan, which describes the general perfection of all the Imams (a.s.).

The Primary Perfections of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.)

Another question that arises is as to what is the highest perfection of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.)? The responsibility and duty that Allah the Almighty has imposed on our Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) is more important than that of other Imams (a.s.), rather it is even more significant that that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The reason being that generally, Allah has two levels of duties for His creatures, one is of conveyance (iblaagh ) and the other is of implementation (ijraa ). That is, at the first level, Allah states that these are the commands and at the second level, He orders that the commands that I have specified should be implemented.

The stage of conveyance commences from the beliefs and terminates at the laws of Shariat. From Hazrat Adam (a.s.) to the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), there were difficulties for this stage. The people rejected Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) at this very stage of conveyance. Why? Because if what Allah wants is bound to happen or He forces the people to act on His will, then in this case, there is neither the need for conveyance nor implementation by the people. In other words, Allah will create a robot-like human who will simply follow His commands. In this case, man will no longer remain human because man is called so till he finds freedom and independence of thought in his existence. He does his works with knowledge and freedom. If Allah snatches this most vital trait from man (of freedom and intention), then the very concept of humanity will be rendered null and void. In this regard, Allah the Almighty expresses,

« و لو شاءَ ربك لآمن من في الارضِ كلّهم جميعا ».

“And had Your Lord willed, all that is in the heavens and the earth would have believed. [52]

There would be no responsibility and Allah would snatch from the entire humanity the power to deviate. Everybody would become like sticks, if they were standing, they would continue to do so till eternity. A stick cannot rise and strike somebody on its own. Similarly, Allah would render us harmless like the stick or make us lust-less like the angels.

But as Allah did not desire so, He ordained guidance for the free and independent man that he may achieve the desired aim. Hence, to reach the desirable destination, He ought to give them some commands and the one who conveys these commands should be higher than the ordinary people, and must be able to show them the method of implementation of these commands.

The religion of God is conveyed to man at the level of perfection and every man, on an individual basis, is responsible for the implementation of these commands and orders. Thus, every man, right from Hazrat Adam (a.s.) till date, can tread on the religion of God within his own existential world and finally reach to the status of being Allah’s representative(khalifatullah) . Hazrat Adam (a.s.) is one such individual. Similarly Hazrat Sheeth (a.s.), Hazrat Idris (a.s.) and each one of the prophets (a.s.) were in their own, a world full of justice and equity; but, of course, in their own individuality (and not in the external world).

So, the possibility of implementing the universal justice prevails in my existence and is certainly not impossible. But when can this possibility occur? The moment when the religion of Allah is conveyed to me, because if it is not conveyed, I will never know as to what should I do. When it is conveyed, the person to whom it is conveyed becomes responsible for its implementation and if he does implement it successfully, only then will he be said to have attained the aim of his creation.

Considering this background, we should not await Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) for implementing justice and equity on a personal level. That is, I should not wait for the implementation of Allah’s orders in my existence except for those laws that I have not understood and wait for him to come and make me comprehend them. But as for those laws and commandments that I have understood, it is upon me to implement them in my life and existence. Just as Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) implemented and Salman, Miqdad, companions of Imam Husain (a.s.) and others, followed suit. If they wait for Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), it is because they want to observe the implementation of justice and equity by him on a social level, assist him in achieving this goal and partake its reward along with him (a.t.f.s.). And if they are unable to find his time, they implement the justice and equity in their own world and wherever they encountered difficulties and problems, they asked the Imam of their time, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) or Imam Husain (a.s.).

Therefore, from Hazrat Adam (a.s.) till the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), all were at the level of conveyance, and in their own ways, active in the accomplishment of these laws, whether it was for a nation, for a family, or for an individual. For instance, Allah the Almighty makes Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) responsible for conveying the commandments universally but restricted his powers of implementation only to the Bani Israel. At the level of execution, those who were with Hazrat Moosa (a.s.), create a number of obstacles. Allah the Almighty completed the procedure of conveyance to the Bani Israel from Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) till Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.). Only Hazrat Dawood (a.s.) and Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) succeeded in implementing these commandments among the Bani Israel and that too, their success was confined to just one people, one group.

Allah the Almighty conveys to the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), who in turn communicates to the people. These were the thirteen years in Mecca and the initial six years in Medina and its environs. From the fifth or sixth year onwards, he (s.a.w.a.) commences his mission of conveyance on a universal level. But at the execution level, he (s.a.w.a.) could not achieve complete and total success even in Medina. Allah had given him (s.a.w.a.) the powers to convey all divine laws, an authority that was not given to Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) or to Hazrat Eesa (a.s.). (That is, neither of them had the authority to convey all the laws globally). Thus, the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) possesses the perfection of finality of prophethood, by which he (s.a.w.a.) can convey all the laws at a universal level. Hence, after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), there is no law or commandment left untold.

Now, the all-important question is to whom the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) has conveyed all these laws and commandments.

Of course, he (s.a.w.a.) has not conveyed it to all and sundry. Rather, he (s.a.w.a.) has communicated all the laws to Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and hence, the day he (s.a.w.a.) introduced Ali (a.s.) to the world, it was announced,

« اليوم أكملتُ لكُم دينكُم و اتمتُ عليكم نِعمتي و رضيتُ لكم الاِسلام ديناً ».

“This day I (Allah) have perfected for you your religion, completed My bounties on you and have become satisfied with Islam as a religion for you. [53]

Here, it is necessary that we cite an instance through which many questions pertinent to the issue of Imamate and the history of Imams (a.s.) are solved. We can give the example of a teacher or a government official. The official desires to go to a village behind the mountain and civilize its inhabitants like the people of the country’s capital. Let us assume that he wants to say a hundred concepts to them and intends to supervise their implementation among the villagers.

The official reaches to the village and meets a youth with tremendous potential and abilities. He is encouraged as he sees that the youth understands his discussions well. From that very day, he starts teaching the youth from the alphabet A. Thereafter, he comes to the villagers in order to teach them but they drive him away saying that they don’t need his training. It takes a few months for the official to convince the villagers. These villagers, who till now were involved in a number of litigation and disputes among themselves, now begin to feel a sense of unity and see their fights being resolved in a friendly way. Thereafter, with the help of the villagers, the official opens a school and begins teaching them right from the alphabet A.

After two years, his office term is about to terminate and he has to return to the capital. For most of the two years, the villagers were busy fighting among themselves and only in the last phase, became involved in the construction of the school and learning their fundamentals. Now, has the official imparted to the youth, whom he encountered in the beginning, the same amount of teaching and training that he has done to the other villagers? Certainly not! Whatever he had desired to teach the villagers, he has taught to the bright youth right in the beginning. At the end of the term, he gathers the villagers and reminds them of their disputes, litigation, illiteracy, etc. that existed in their society two years ago. Due to these, he could not get the opportunity to teach them all that he wanted and desired but that he has taught all of these to this young man, who showed extraordinary enthusiasm and brilliance right from day one. Now, as he is about to leave, he hands over this responsibility of teaching and training the villagers to this young man.

When the official leaves the village, the villagers, as per their old habit, refer to their chief. As the chief himself has learnt some new things from the official, he picks up his spade, goes to the village center, gathers the people and declares, “The village should be inhabited!” The people support him and express their submission to his leadership. Meanwhile, on seeing that the chief has no real intention of destroying the newly established school, the youth helplessly adopts silence as his strategy. Of course, the chief has extracted the submission from the people with the help of his spade and there is no infighting among them, but the school is subjected to total neglect. Occasionally, a few alphabets are taught in it and whatever the children do not know, the chief fabricates a few yarns from his side and teaches to the students.

The educated youth is rendered unused and obsolete because the government official has taught only five of the hundred concepts that should have been taught to the people, and five concepts here and there have been conveyed by the youth to a few individuals. Thus, the remaining concepts that have remained untold are taught to one student of the next generation. This student attempts to teach these concepts to the people but they don’t listen to him, and helplessly, he too hands over the teachings to a student of the following generation.

The third generation student sees that the chief actually is trying to destroy the village and hence confronts him saying, “The first teacher built the school for the people and suggested them to become educated and instilled a sense of unity among them. Now you are trying to destroy the village and its folks?! You do not inhabit the village nor are you treading the path of the first teacher.”

Therefore, the following students too are unable to convey all the teachings and concepts of the first teacher and approximately seven to eight concepts are taught to a few people of the coming generations while the remaining ninety and odd remain untaught. Consequently, the stage of conveyance is not achieved in toto and the dream of the capital to make this village as a role model, with its special characteristics and distinctions, for others to follow.

The example of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) and Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) is exactly the same. The day the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) was raised as a Prophet; there were differences and disputes galore among the people of Mecca and Medina. In the midst of all these, the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) struggled for thirteen years and tried to make all the people submit under the banner (of Islam). But right from day one, when Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) said, ‘O Messenger of Allah’, he (s.a.w.a.) has not left him (a.s.) in the lurch and whatever Allah the Almighty revealed to him (s.a.w.a.), he (s.a.w.a.) taught it to Ameerul Momineen (a.s.).

Arriving in Medina, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) commenced the development of the school and taught a few alphabets. Some students like Salman (a.r.), Abuzar (a.r.), Miqdad (a.r.), etc. jotted down a few alphabets and memorized them. Generally, the conditions were peaceful and at rest but the Islamic sciences that were supposed to be taught to the society were not yet transferred. Hence, on the day of Ghadeer, the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) stood up and announced to the people, ‘Do you remember your previous state?’ That is, he (s.a.w.a.) reminded them of their earlier conditions and took an answer in the affirmative from them. Then he (s.a.w.a.) asked them, ‘Did I wrong you in anyway?’ They all responded, ‘No, O Messenger of Allah!’ Thereafter he (s.a.w.a.) declared, ‘After me, all these tasks (of development and progress) will be pursued by this gentleman (Ali) and whatever you don’t know, ask him.’

Unfortunately, after the martyrdom of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), the people said that Abu Bakr and Umar are good chieftains. Though, the purpose of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was not to take over the reins of the government. Rather, the aims were knowledge, divine commandments, Islamic realities, etc. They said, ‘They will rule better.’ But the aim of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was not to conquer the world. Never did he (s.a.w.a.) desire that the Arabs should invade foreign lands, destroy their cities, plunder their gold and silver, bring them to their women, and while making them wear these beautiful necklaces, say, ‘Long live Islam!’ No! Certainly, this was not the aim. His purpose was to convey to the people that Islamic knowledge that came down from Hazrat Adam (a.s.) till his own person (s.a.w.a.) and apprise them of the same.

The goal of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was not that the Quran should be recited with beautiful intonation and that in competitions of Quran; readers should participate and display their talents! Surely, this wasn’t the purpose. The aim was that the realities of Quran should dawn upon the people. In short, one tradition states that all the sciences and knowledge are in 27 alphabets. From Hazrat Adam (a.s.) till the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), of the 27, only two alphabets have been conveyed to the people. The remaining 25 are with Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), which he will teach to the people after his reappearance[54] .

Therefore, from Hazrat Adam (a.s.) till the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), and from the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) till Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.), at the level of conveyance, all the teachings, regardless of them being the laws of Shariah, principles of religion and other Islamic sciences, have not been conveyed to the masses. Moreover, whatever has been conveyed, including what is compiled in the books of traditions, is also not completely comprehended and has not reached unto us.

Thus, based on what has been discussed, it can be said that divine commands are classified in two levels, conveyance and promulgation. The Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) conveyed the message and had the opponents permitted, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) would have completed the level of conveyance and introduced the implementation of these laws and sciences. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) laments,

« أما و اللّه لوثُنِي لي الوِسادهْ لحكمتُ بين اهل التواره بتوراتهم, و بين اهل الاِنجيل بانجيلهم و بين اهل الزّبور بزّبورهم و بين اهل الفرقان بفرقانهم».

“But by Allah! Had they (opponents) allowed, I would have judged between the people of Torah (Old Testament) with their Torah, between the people of Injeel (New Testament) with their Injeel, between the people of Zaboor (Psalms) with their Zaboor and between the people of Furqaan (Quran) with their Furqan. [55]

But they did not let Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) do this and consequently, the onus fell on the shoulders of others. But at the level of implementation, these laws and sciences can be implemented in one individual, a family, or even a city. Of course, Allah’s plan is to implement these laws and sciences throughout the universe.

Now, after the aforementioned premises, the conclusion is that he who has the responsibility of conveying the entire message to the people and observing its implementation on a general scale, must himself possess all the necessary characteristics and traits required. That is, his large-heartedness, knowledge, power, forbearance, spirituality and reliance on Allah must be of the highest order.

Hadeeth-e-Lauh of Jaabir (Ibn Abdullah Ansari), while discussing about Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), mentions that, “…with him is the perfection of Moses (a.s.), the brightness of Jesus (a.s.) and the patience of Job (a.s.) [56] …”

Khwaja Naseeruddin Tusi (a.r.) has prepared a salutation from the contents of different invocations and supplications that goes as follows:

« اللّهْم صلِّ و سلم و زد و بارك علي صاحب الدُّعوه النُّبويه و الصَّوله الحيدريه و العصمه الفاطميه و الحلم الحسنيه و الشجاعه الحسينيه و العباده السجاديه و المآثر الباقريه و الآثار الجعفريه و العلوم الكاظميه و الحجج الرضويه و الجود التقئيه و النقاوه النقويه و الهيبه العسكريه و الغيبه الإلهيه».

That is, all those characteristics and traits that the infallible and pure Imams (a.s.) possessed are available in the holy persona of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.). Thus, the perfect characteristics that have been endowed on him (a.s.) by Allah the Almighty have to be in proportion to the massive responsibility placed on his shoulders. Consequently, he (a.t.f.s.) has to be the most perfect of all the previous successors and divine proofs.

The Acquired Perfections of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.)

As for the acquired perfect characteristics, it should be borne in mind that basically the importance of perfection is from both aspects, quantity as well as quantity. The more units ofsalaat that a person prays, the more perfection he acquires. The perfection of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) after thirteen years of Prophethood was certainly more than it was at the commencement of his mission. Similarly, his perfection at the end of his life was certainly more than at the time of his migration.

Therefore, the more one prays, the more perfection he attains; the more one struggles, the more excellence he secures. The same yardstick applies fortableegh , services to Islam, and all other forms of worship and recommended acts.

Hence, among the duties of a Muslim is to preserve his physical health and safety that he may use it more in the way of Allah. It is his obligation to use this world as a field to the maximum possible extent to reap the highest possible dividends in the hereafter. Due to this reason, suicide is prohibited. Moreover, it is not allowed in Islam to put one’s body in unnecessary and needless trouble.

For this very reason we see that the Imams (a.s.), notwithstanding their great zeal in meeting their Lord (leqaaullah ), strove till the last moments of their lives to increase their worship and augment their good deeds.

On the eve of Aashura, Imam Husain (a.s.) requested the enemies to give a night’s time to indulge in more worship of his Lord and increase his good deeds in the short period available. Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) knew that he would be martyred on the morrow, yet spends the entire night in prayers. All the infallible Imams (a.s.) endeavored till the last breath of their lives to increase their perfection and virtues.

Of course, there are some virtues, whose rewards are reaped by man even after his death but they are only after he has performed the actions. For instance, a man plants a tree, the fruits of which are enjoyed by others even after his death. But, the dead man cannot plant a new tree. The rewards of a believer’s excellence never cease and its door is never shut. Rather, they are added to his account and the advantage is in his favour. But he does not live to add newer sources of rewards for his hereafter.

Thus, whoever kills a friend of Allah has indeed oppressed him. True, the victim has attained martyrdom but it does not mean that he kisses the hand of the killer in gratitude saying, ‘Thank you very much! You have helped me achieved this great status! Indeed you have obliged me by sending me away from this world!’ Of course not! On the contrary, he will confront him saying that you have deprived me of many a grace. Had I been alive, I could have served Islam and Muslims even more. Hence, killers and assassins have not obliged the martyrs by helping them attain the stage of martyrdom and being in the company of Allah.

Therefore, it can be asserted that acquired perfection, both qualitatively as well as quantitatively, can be increased, and the more the better. On this basis, the units of prayers by Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) are surely more than that of other Imams (a.s.). Why? Because more than one thousand one hundred and sixty seven years of his life has passed, during which, he (a.t.f.s.) has performedNamaz-e-Shab , fasted, served the creatures, helped in dispelling the difficulties of the people, etc.

Compared to the previous divine proofs (a.s.), he (a.t.f.s.) has worked more for the uplift of the downtrodden, visited the sick, participated in funeral processions, propagated the religion of Allah, etc. Although his work has not yet reached to its logical conclusion due to the various obstacles and impediments that arose in his way, nevertheless, in this lengthy period, certainly his acquired perfection has risen by the second. In this extensive term, he (a.t.f.s.) has indulged in supplications in the service of his Lord, prostrated before Him, bowed in front of Him, and other similar acts of worship and servitude have made him (a.t.f.s.) spiritually gigantic.

Another most important acquired perfection of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) is his confinement. What is confinement? The gnostics and the sufis draw a line for their disciples and order them not to go beyond it. This line is that of asceticism. Well, for how long should we not cross it? Let us say, ten hours. Being patient for these ten long hours leads to the perfection of the disciple’s soul.

Or for example, none of us have any work outside this house for now. But if we just call it as a prison, the next two hours will seem like an age passed. There are quite a few days when man does not eat food for the entire length of the day and does not even feel the pangs of hunger. But when you name this very day as ‘fast’ (saum ), at eight in the morning, he becomes thirsty, at nine, he becomes hungry and feels the twinge of both. This line is the line of asceticism for, ‘Man is greedy for what is forbidden .’

This pressure, patience and forbearance make man perfect. It is among the great attributes of the infallible Imams (a.s.) that they bear insults of the people but as Allah the Almighty has refrained them from using their celestial powers, they don’t do so.

Bearing this point in mind, we see that during the last eleven hundred years and more, Allah says to Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), ‘Keep yourself hidden from the people…’ This very command carries tremendous significance.

Sometimes, a speaker is atop the pulpit and recites a Quranic verse. A person, who is sitting down and knows the verse, too, starts reading it aloud so that those around in the gathering may know that he is also aware of the verse. This person has the knowledge but no self-control and cannot avoid ostentation of the self. But the perfect man sits in front of the pulpit with complete silence like a kid, so much so that the speaker considers him to be an illiterate person. Of course, this is a fine ethical point that requires more discussion.

Now you can imagine the perfection of him who is angel-faced but conceals his appearance, handsome but doesn’t show himself to the people, knowledgeable but doesn’t express his knowledge in front of others, powerful but does not use force, can take revenge but due to Allah’s command, refrains from vindictiveness…

You observe that more than eleven hundred years have passed, Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) is the most knowledgeable of mankind but Allah the Almighty has ordered him not to manifest his information for the commonality. He (a.t.f.s.) possesses true power and all these so-called super powers use their power to the hilt but Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) never displays his might in front of others. He (a.t.f.s.) is handsome but unlike other good looking people who always desire to flaunt their looks, he (a.t.f.s.) never shows himself to people unless Allah the Almighty permits him to do so. Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) sees all these difficulties and problems, and can come and bring an end to all this misery but is patient and forbearing.

For instance, he (a.t.f.s.) has witnessed the entire Iran-Iraq war and must have definitely been pained at the mass killings on both sides. Yet, on the command of Allah, he (a.t.f.s.) bears patience. Can Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) act in violation of the divine commands? Of course, he is free like us and can do so but does not.

Yes, staying within the confines of the line of self-restrain for the last eleven hundred years and more has made Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) an infinite person. It is on account of this perfection that all the angels have become his servants and all the Prophets (a.s.) envy him. The successors and divine proofs are all waiting for him (a.t.f.s.) in order to serve him (a.t.f.s.).

When Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) looks at Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), he takes a glance at that moment of his life when he could not control himself and boxed the Egyptian to death and consequently, fled the city. Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) could not discipline the force that he possessed in attacking the Egyptian. Although, while committing this act, Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) has not perpetrated any sin but it would certainly have been better had he not attacked the Egyptian and restrained himself. This very Moosa (a.s.), when sees from the world of Barzakh, how Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), despite possessing all the powers of yore as well as the morrow, does not use it simply because Allah has not given him the permission. Still Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) is within the confines of the lines and is careful about implementing the commands of Allah the Almighty.

Thus, if we understand this point, we realize that the existence of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) for us is that of a perfect man and that he (a.t.f.s.) is the Caliph of Allah in its entirety. As the era of his occultation increases, his acquired perfection and divine perfection is aggrandized.

The Endowed Perfection of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)

Alongside acquired perfection, there exists a gifted or endowed perfection from the side of somebody else and it differs from the previous mentioned perfect traits or attributes.

Let us explain endowed perfection with an example. Suppose that you are unaware of a thing and personally want to acquire its knowledge. You have to browse through a few books and spend a few hours in order to acquire it. Instead of this effort, if someone comes across and makes you aware of the entire concept in a jiffy, that is, presents this knowledge to you on a platter. So, you have got a new perfection, which was neither present in you at the time of birth nor have you attained it through your efforts. Rather, it has been gifted to you and you have become its owner. Or like in material perfection, one man toils from morning till evening, works hard and sweats to earn a couple of hundred dollars. Meanwhile, there walks in another person who hands over two hundred dollars to him and makes him the owner of this wealth.

Spiritual perfection is also the same. That is, I commit a sin and usurp the rights of the people. To compensate for this perpetration, I should strive to earn money and pay the aggrieved party. But somebody walks in and reimburses the victims on my behalf, eases my struggle and consequently, my crime is forgiven. Of course, the element in my forgiveness is the one who has indemnified the right of the people on my behalf.

Another example is that of a person who goes for Hajj and bears numerous difficulties in performing its various rituals. But suppose, he appoints me as his representative and sends me to perform all the tedious and tiresome rituals on his behalf. Then, although I am the one who has borne all the difficulties, the reward is written in his name as well, as I washis nominee. Consequently, his perfection is augmented due to my efforts.

This endowment can take place during the life of a man or after his death. After the death of the Messenger of Islam the Muslims have gifted numerous perfection to him (s.a.w.a.). The reward of every statement of ‘There is no god but Allah ’ that is uttered goes in his (s.a.w.a.) account. Whenever a person recitessalawaat in any nook or corner of the world, its dividend reaches to him (s.a.w.a.). The same applies for prayers, fasting and all other obligatory and recommended actions. Of course, the performer of all the above actions too is eligible for his share of the reward. For, when I perform a good deed on your behalf, both of us reap the dividends for it without the reward of either of us being reduced.

One of the gifted perfection of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) is the salutation offered to him by the previous divine proofs, jurists, believers and followers. Thus, when a person recitessalawaat and sends salutations in the followingziyaarat every morning after the obligatory prayers,

« اللّهم بُلِّغ مولاي صاحبُ الزَّمان صلوات اللّه عليه عن جميع المؤمنين و المؤمنات في مشارقِ الارض و مغاربها و برها و بحرها و سهلها و جبلها, حيهِم و ميتهم و عن والدي و ولدي و عني من الصَّلوات و التَّحيات زِنه عرش اللّه ».

its reward goes to the account of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) as well[57] .

Here, we have opened another account, which is the account of perfection of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) offered to him (a.t.f.s.) by the previous divine proofs, jurists, martyrs, believing men and women. None can match Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) in this perfection or be his equal. In this very Masjid-e-Jamkaran, where you have the privilege of congregating, there are numerous people who repent and seek forgiveness in the name of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), supplicate, invoke, send salutations, etc. All these acts of worship and servitude are performed on behalf of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.). Therefore, one of our duties in the major occultation is to do good deeds on his behalf.

To summarize the discussion, we have discussed three stages of perfection of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.).

The perfection that has beendivinely endowed to perform the important task of conveying Allah’s message and its implementation;

The acquired perfection of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.);

Thegifted perfection of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) that has been conferred on him by others through their acts and good deeds, a series that commenced from the time of Hazrat Adam (a.s.) and has continued through the chain of Prophets (a.s.), Nuh (a.s.), Ibrahim (a.s.) Moosa (a.s.), Eesa (a.s.) and even the last Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) prays for him (a.t.f.s.). Imam Sadeq (a.s.) too has offered the Dua-e-Nudbah as a compliment before the birth of his descendant, Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.).

Therefore, the preparations and arrangements have begun right from the time of Hazrat Adam (a.s.), without any formality, and continued till his birth and after it through the four special deputies, scholars, jurists, believers, righteous ones, martyrs, truthful ones, etc. Hence, in the existence of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), we have a total and complete human being in all respect. Instead of visiting the shrines and tombs of lesser mortals and invoking inferior humans, let us take the first step and cry out from the depths of our hearts, ‘O Saaheb al-Zamaan ’ and ask from him (a.t.f.s.) whatever one desires. On the subject of perfection, we have some other discussions that shall be set fortht in their appropriate places.