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 Philosophy of Occultation (ghaibah)

The philosophy of occultation is one of the fundamental discussions. That is, among the seventeen or eighteen discussions regarding Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), the philosophy of occultation is among the most sensitive. Some of these questions are as follows:

‘Why has Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) gone into concealment?’

“Why occultation was not for other Imams (a.s.) as well?’

“Why Allah did not place the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) in hiding to achieve the same goal destined for His last Hujjat (a.t.f.s.)?’

“Why Allah has not hidden Ameerul Momineen (a.s.)?’ ‘Basically, what is the need for occultation?’

“Was it not possible for Allah that when the conditions of reappearance were provided for, to raise a person, who would take all those steps that are supposed to be taken by Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) and establish universal justice on the earth?’

These questions are occasionally put across as objections and at times, are asked with the intention of poking fun at the concept of occultation. The opponents contend that, ‘This mode of putting in occultation of a man and making him reappear after a thousand years implies that Allah is unable to train a man and hence, He has kept him concealed for this day. What was the harm if the twelfth Imam, like the previous Imams, would perform all the tasks assigned unto him and like his ancestors was killed through poison or sword? Whenever Allah willed, He could have got His work done. Just as He had sent the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) at an appropriate time, He could have dispatched an individual to realize His aim at an opportune moment. As Allah did not send Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) in occultation for the necessity of the arrival of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), in this instance too, there was no need to conceal Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.). As and when the need arose, He could have sent a man to achieve the desired objective.

* * *

In reply to the question, ‘why Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) has gone into occultation?’ traditions have furnished various types of answers. Here, we shall present the numerous reasons that have been cited and then try to establish a relationship between them and draw some conclusion.

We find in traditions that the infallible Imams (a.s.) were questioned as to why Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) went into hiding? They (a.s.) replied, “He feared being killed .[74] ” In some traditions, Imam Baqer (a.s.) and Imam Sadeq (a.s.) ‘Pointed towards his stomach’ , thereby suggesting apprehension of murder[75] . Therefore, one group of traditions has established that Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) went into occultation to avoid being killed.

Another group of traditions has considered occultation as a mode of examination of Shias. Why did Imam (a.s.) go into occultation?Because Allah the Almighty intended to test the Shias during occultation [76] . Of course, more traditions talk about apprehension of being killed. Yet, some other traditions are of the view thatAllah alone knows the real reason and we are unaware of it [77] .

Most of the scholars have relied on the last mentioned reply that only Allah knows the real reason of this affair and that we are totally uninformed about it. They also bring instances to prove their point as to how on occasions Allah Himself or His appointees have performed some tasks whose rationale were unknown to anybody. For example, they cite the story of Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) and Hazrat Khizr (a.s.). The latter did some things, while the former was unaware of their logic. He objected to Hazrat Khizr (a.s.) but was told of the reasons much later. This group is of the view that after the reappearance of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), people will know the real rationale behind occultation.

Therefore, as few reasons have been cited, let us gather them and reach to the core of the discussion. That is, let us examine the various rationales given in the traditions and on further intensive research and investigation; hope to understand the philosophy of occultation with the help of these traditions.

* * *

To understand this concept, it is necessary to analyze a few topics and clarify them. Firstly, it is not necessary that Allah should guide everybody forcibly. For, mankind has been created in a way that he should strive to achieve perfection voluntarily and attain the status of a complete worshipper.

For Allah, creating a perfect man is very much possible, but of course, through coercion. But if He has decreed that man must acquire this position on his own volition and accord, then the onus is on him.

In other words, divine grace is conferred on one and all. But how each individual realizes this potential is dependent on him and related to his freedom. It does not imply, by any means, that Allah the Almighty is unable to create a perfect and complete man; rather, it suggests that it is the intention of Allah that man should attain this level on his own accord.

Sometimes, Allah gives two different individuals exceptional talent but while one of them uses it aptly, the other misuses and abuses it in an undesirable manner. For example, the talent that Allah confers on Allamah Hilli (a.r.) is the same that is endowed on Hitler. The geniality that is given to Shaikh Murtuza Ansari (a.r.) is also granted to the other criminals of history like Chengiz Khan. This is the first geniality, potential and perfection that are given to all the aforementioned individuals. But, while Shaikh Murtuza Ansari (a.r.) realizes his potential in the way of Allah and comes to be know as the great Shaikh Ansari (a.r.), Chengiz Khan uses this talent in the way of murder and killings and gains notoriety as Chengiz. Therefore, the light of grace is conferred on both kinds of people, but one type of them does not use it in the desirable manner.

The grace of guidance of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), in his capacity as Prophet, shines on all companions but they are not the same (in aptitude). On his own volition, one amongst them turns away from truth, does not accept guidance and turns criminal. On the other hand, another benefit from this leadership becomes righteous and attains lofty levels.

Hence, it was Allah’s wish that man should gain perfection on his own volition and this applies to man as an individual as well as to the human society. Mankind, on a singular basis, receives potential from divinity, but everybody does not realize the promise equally. Only a few achieve success in fulfilling the promise. As Allah the Omniscient knew in advance that only these selected few will strive to realize their potential to the fullest and not squander it away due to their freewill, He appoints them to the status of Prophethood or Imamate. If Allah knew, on account of His pre-knowledge, that of all these people who will realize their potential positively, only one will use it to the maximum and take it to unparalleled heights and others will not be able to match him, although they could, He will appoint this sole individual to this great position and protect him for the same.

It is asked: Why did Allah preserve him? Could He not create another individual?

We state: Of course, Allah could very much create another individual with all the desired qualities and characteristics. But this creation would be a creation by coercion and not the one who had acquired all perfection through his volition and freewill. Therefore, in reply, we submit: Allah the Almighty did not preserve Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) at the time because He knew that after Ibrahim (a.s.), there was another mortal, who would benefit from God-given potential and ability voluntarily and become Moosa (a.s.). Hence, the need to preserve Ibrahim (a.s.) was not called for. The same logic applied for the non-preservation of Moosa (a.s.) and Eesa (a.s.). For, Allah knew that after these two Prophets (a.s.), there was yet another human viz. Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.a.), who would utilize his potential positively to the maximum possible limits and attain the status of a complete worshipper.

Similarly, in not conserving the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), Allah knew that he (s.a.w.a.) would be succeeded by Ameerul Momineen Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), followed by the eleven Imams (a.s.) from his progeny.

So why did Allah the Almighty preserve Hazrat Baqiyatullah (a.t.f.s.) and safeguard him? This is because He knew that had He granted me all the endowed and acquired perfection, I could not become the remnant of Allah voluntarily. Why? He knew that I have the volition and would squander away the talent conferred on me. In a single moment, in which Hazrat Baqiyatullah (a.t.f.s.) acquires perfection voluntarily, I would not remain even within the confines of piety.

It should be known that Allah the Almighty had conferred huge potential on Iblis as well. So, why did he not realize this talent and instead rose in rebellion against his Creator? The answer lies in volition. He did it on his own freewill. For, the actual meaning of volition and freewill is that its onus cannot be laid on anybody else and the buck ends at the person possessing the freewill. This discussion is applicable to all creation. Therefore, if it is decreed that man should reach perfection on his own volition, Allah the Almighty knows that none will reach this esteemed status with success save the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.). Hence, He confers him with all these perfect attributes and preserves him for the great mission.

This is one view that it is decreed for man to achieve perfection on his own accord. On a social level too, the same applies, as Allah declares,

« و لو شاء ربْك لآمن من في الارض كلُّهم جميعا ».

“Had your Lord willed, indeed everyone who is on the earth would have believed. [78]

Thus, as this world is one of volition and the universe follows the pattern of freewill, the human society moves on its own freewill and accord. That is, all discussions pertaining to historical determinism and the future perfect of humanity, particularly in the gatherings of plagiarists and gleaners, are incorrect. For, if man is decreed to be free, there can be no reason of coercion for the perfection of humanity except that we prophesy that as man is free and wise, he should improve in the future. Although, this prediction itself is not a definite law yet it can be applicable to a certain extent.

Let us presume that there is a very brilliant student. But can we say for sure, that he will turn out to be a doctor, an engineer, or a religious scholar? Certainly, there is no such law but we can just make a rough prediction as he is free, wise and a dutiful child, he will study well. This forecast is merely circumstantial.

Verily, humanity should acquire perfection in knowledge and science. But it cannot be said with utmost certainty that itwill because there is no proof for it. Allah the Almighty informs about one reality of humanity but not law. For, the statement ‘the future of the world will be perfect ’ is a law. Sometimes, we forecast the future but it is not a law. For example, ‘a stone that is thrown up will come down ’ is a scientific law. But to say that the host will certainly serve us tea is a prediction about an eventuality based on the host’s volition, not coercion.

Now, it is decreed that the future of humanity will be better, voluntarily because this world is one of free will. That is, both the leaders as well as the societies are free. The leader makes himself perfect on account of his freewill and enters the society. We would like to explain two levels of humanity and society vis-à-vis volition: One is the level of conveyance of laws (iblaagh ) and second is their implementation (ijraa ).

The stage of conveyance commenced with the raising of the first prophet, Hazrat Adam (a.s.). It is resolved that man attains the position of ‘khalifatullah’ and for rendering this position common, Allah conveys to one individual and commands him to implement these laws in himself. Thereafter, Allah orders him to convey the message to the people and as their leader, supervise its implementation. For, on an individual level, they have to implement themselves but on a social plane, they require a leader having an upper hand over their actions.

Consequently, Allah the Almighty conveys His religion to Hazrat Adam (a.s.), who puts these laws into practice on a personal level. But Allah’s conveyance to Adam (a.s.) and his execution do not belong to a very high level. In other words, it does not befit Adam (a.s.) to commitTark-e-Awla despite possessing inherent infallibility. His knowledge too is not on par with that of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.). Yet, Allah conveys His laws to Adam (a.s.), who implements the same in his person and has reached to the position of ‘khalifatullah’ . But when Adam (a.s.) ventures out to convey to the people, he encounters difficulties. That is, none heeds his admonishments. Those who do hear his advices don’t put them into practice.

Generally, from Adam (a.s.) to Nuh (a.s.), conveyance was incomplete and was confined to a few principles of monotheism but religion, as a constitution, was not communicated. Why? Because the people were not accepting, Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) actively propagated religion to the people for more than nine hundred and fifty years but failed to complete his mission. For, whenever he intended to complete hisshariah , the people did not accept. As for the practice aspect, the lesser said the better.

Well, in such conditions, couldn’t Allah implement His laws forcibly? No because the custom of Allah is not based on coercion. And had force and compulsion been the norm, there was no need for all these difficulties either. He could have set things right merely by an intention. But He has neither desired nor decreed this mode. Of course, Allah assists supports and prepares the premises for the actions but when the actual moment of action arrives, it is the volition of man that has the final say. Possibly, Allah provides 99 % of the premises but the moment man intends to select the action, Allah does not push him forward. For, if Allah pushes him forward, compulsion enters the scene. Now, perhaps for this 1 %, man trips and does not perform the deed.

Therefore, it was not decided that Allah should have angels in the earth as He has plenty of them. Nor was it decided that He should have animals as donkeys abound. Rather, the decision was to have a wise, intelligent and free man and hence the entire discussion revolves around humans and their freedom and independence.

So, we revert to history and ask, “O so and so! Why did you not heed to Nuh’s (a.s.) advice?” Inevitably, we curse them just as Nuh (a.s.) had cursed them in his time. We proceed forward and question, “O unjust ones! Why did you not pay attention to Ibrahim’s (a.s.) admonishments?” And proceed to deem them to be evil and deviated.

Here, some people step forward and search for excuses on behalf of Namrud and his followers. They opine, “They did not possess perfect and complete intelligence and wisdom.” This view is absolutely wrong because had this been the case, then why would we curse them? If there wisdom was not yet perfected, as you suggest, and their phase had not yet arrived in the tunnel of historical determinism, then to provide for them a universal constitution is invalid and inappropriate while we firmly believe that Ibrahim’s (a.s.) Shariah was indeed general and worldwide. Therefore, the pretext of their intelligence and wisdom being incomplete and imperfect does not hold water.

It should be borne in mind that basically; we don’t have any proof to claim that generally, today’s man is superior in intelligence, wisdom and understanding than his counterpart was a thousand years earlier. This idea too belongs to the school of plagiarism in their effort to prove evolution in human understanding. They have inculcated this thought in our minds that today’s man holds superior powers of comprehension than the humans of a millennium earlier.

Of course, we accept that experimental science has advanced and generally, science has progressed in some aspects but this development cannot be generalized for all nations and humans. We don’t have any proof to substantiate our claim that the Englishman of today is superior in intelligence and understanding than the Englishman of say, the eighteenth century. On the contrary, sociologists are unanimous in their view that in this last century, the British have had a steady decline. Moreover, there are quite a few nations, who while climbing the development staircase, suddenly came tumbling down to a reckless fall. Was Iran more progressive during the Qaajaar dynasty or in the Safavide rule? Certainly, Iran was much better in the Safavide era in knowledge, science, philosophy, arts, construction, social security and religiousness than it was during the Qaajaar reign.

Therefore, the Prophets (a.s.) arrived to convey the message but encountered difficulties in the same. Occasionally, they did manage to gain some amount of triumph in their aim. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was certainly more successful in his mission of conveyance than his ancestor, Hazrat Nuh (a.s.). The reason for his success was two-fold: One, Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) certainly strove more and two, the willingness to accept was found more in his people.

Of course, it cannot be said that the nation of Ibrahim (a.s.) possessed more understanding and intelligence that that of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) and hence, the former was more successful in his mission. No! Man is free and independent and on the basis of this very freedom, he accepted the call of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.). Is it not possible that in a second, man decides to reform himself and change the course of history? Such instances abound in history when individuals have changed its path. Hence, the acceptance of the nation of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) to his call helped the generations that followed and pushed forward the premises for conveying the message to a certain extent.

Hazrat Moosa (a.s.), in his time, conveyed the message to the Bani Israel to the extent that its implementation was possible for him. Hence, he was the only Prophet who was successful in both the levels of his mission, conveyance as well as implementation to a certain extent and consequently, could give some shape to the concept calledUmmah , a task in which Hazrat Ibrahim could not achieve much. It was precisely for this reason that Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) could provide salvation for his people from Egypt as they paid heed to his advices. But after they reached Mount Sinai, these very people who had reached to the state of implementation, suddenly made a volte-face, in a way that they even refuted his message. Not only they denied Hazrat Moosa’s (a.s.) commandments, they even challenged his God and started worshipping the calf. This was a turn-around of the worst kind.

If perfection was forced, there was no possibility of turning back and if the journey towards perfection was a certainty and determined by history, surely the people of Israel would have never betrayed Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) and worshipped the calf. Thus, when Moosa (a.s.) returned from the Mount Tur, he had to start his mission all over again. All the tasks, right from the basics of purification to the narration of beliefs, commenced afresh and hence, the delay in implementation of the message. Although, it was decided earlier that Moosa (a.s.) would take the Bani Israel from the desert of Sinai to the Promised Land, he resisted from doing so. For, he observed that the mission has not yet been conveyed, thereby making the ultimate implementation and promulgation impossible. Therefore, he had no option but to keep the Bani Israel in the desert of Sinai for forty years.

During this time, Moosa (a.s.) departed from this world. Yusha Ibn Nun (a.s.), his successor, took upon himself the mantle of completing the mission of his predecessor. But the moment they arrived in Palestine, the Israelites turned apostate again. Dawood (a.s.) succeeded Yusha (a.s.) and gained a semblance of success in both the levels of his mission, conveyance as well as implementation. He handed over his kingdom to his son, Sulaiman (a.s.), who formed an ideal form of divine government, albeit limited. It was during his reign that the entire Bani Israel had become monotheists and obeyed Allah’s commands. In other words, most of them were Allah’s caliphs on the earth.

Sulaiman’s (a.s.) successors wished to propagate this message to the other parts of the globe but were trapped at the level of conveyance and propagation. Consequently, those who had moved from the stage of conveyance to that of implementation once again turned their backs on Allah’s religion and became apostates. Bani Israel were again on the road to decline and killing of Prophets became the order of the day. Things reached to a state that they killed Prophets within 24 hours, despite the fact that these (Bani Israel) were the very people who had attained the state of divine caliphate not very long ago.

History flips once again. Bakht al-Nasr, the tyrant emperor, invades and attacks Palestine. He turns it into ruins, rendering naught all the good works of the previous Prophets. As a result, the entire mission had to be started all over again. Now, Hazrat Eesa (a.s.) arrives on the scene and starts to convey the mission not on a global scale but only for the Bani Israel. Unfortunately, he fails in his efforts.

Finally, prophethood reaches to the seal of the Prophets, the Messenger of Islam, Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.a.). The secret of his success lies in the fact that he could convey the general principles worldwide. That is, he managed to do what Ibrahim (a.s.), Moosa (a.s.) and Eesa (a.s.) could not. Hence, he was successful in implementing the message to a nation, viz. the Arabs.

When the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) departed from this transient world, he had accomplished his mission of conveyance, a task in which the previous Prophets (a.s.) were unsuccessful. In other words, Moosa (a.s.) could not hand over to his brother Harun (a.s.) whatever was necessary for humanity. The reason for this being that we see that the successors of Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) were once again raised for Prophethood to renew their link with their Creator and to convey His message to the people. But the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) completed the message with the appointment of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). Had he (s.a.w.a.) not done so, the conveyance of his message would have remained incomplete. Allah the Almighty commands in the Holy Quran,

« يا أيهاالرُّسولُ بلِّغ ما اُنزل اليك من ربك و ان لم تفعل فما بلَّغت رسالته ».

“O Messenger! Convey what has been sent down upon you from your Lord. And if you fail to do so, then as if you have not conveyed His message at all. [79]

Thus, with the appointment of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) completed the conveyance and departed from this world. This explains the reason for the non-necessity of prophets and messengers after him (s.a.w.a.) because the primary duty of the Prophet is to convey the message, a task duly performed by the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.). The method of this conveyance was that he (s.a.w.a.) conveyed the general principles on a general level himself and on the special plane, he (s.a.w.a.) appointed Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).

Ali (a.s.) came forward to convey as well as execute the mission of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.). Had he not encountered resistance and hostility and been allowed to further the mission of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), for say approximately ten years for conveyance and twenty years for execution and implementation, the scenario would have been completely different than what it is today. Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) himself says in this regard,

« اما واللّه لو ثُني لي الوساده لحكمت بين اهل التَّوراه بتوراتهم و بين اهل الانجيل بانجيلهم ».

“By Allah! Had I been allowed (to do my job), I would have judged between the people of Torah with their Torah, with the people of Injeel with their Injeel. [80]

In another place, he (a.s.) mentions,

Had you permitted me and did not place obstacles in my path, I would have manifested the bounties of the earth and the skies, extricated the treasures of the mines and made the bounties of the heavens descend for you .”

In other words, I would have arranged this world in a proper and worthy manner for you. Unfortunately, they did not allow him to do so and placed all sorts of hurdles and hindrances in his path. Why did they do this? Were they not having any intelligence? No! They did have intelligence but it was accompanied with volition, which led them to their lust for power and consequent destruction of all. This matter is clearer in our times today when people, despite their knowledge and understanding, crave for power and social status, and in the process, don’t hesitate to even murder their closest of friends and acquaintances.

How does man get so barbaric? It’s quite natural and should not amaze one at all. The gist of the discussion is that Allah has not created man as angel and this should not be forgotten. Hence, it should also not be surprising as to why some of the senior companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) behaved in such a manner. When power became the focal point, dispute and differences were easily the order of the day. Coups, conspiracies, uprisings, etc. were common and finally, they even marched to the house of Hazrat Zahra (s.a.), the daughter of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). All these happenings and occurrences are not at all surprising for us, particularly those who, in our times, are witnessing similar phenomena.

Thus, we observed instances that a Prophet conveys his mission statement but when he intends to execute the same, obstacles are placed in his path. They even go the extent of creating hurdles in the conveyance of the message itself and worse, distort the memorandum of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.). Hence, the wheel that was brought in motion by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), had its control been in the hands of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), things would have occurred as planned and desired. They not only prevented the progress of the wheel but also turned it backwards and consequently, “All the people turned away (from Islam) except three .[81]

The Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) had moved the caravan rapidly but they attacked it midway and plundered it. As a result, only three people remained on true Islam after him. They (enemies of Ali) became the biggest hurdles in the path of those who were moving towards the position of ‘khalifatullahi ’ and therefore, as per our traditions, they are responsible for the sins of the jinn and the men. This is precisely the case. For, all the efforts of the Prophets and Messengers had reached to the fruit bearing stage when these transgressors arrived on the scene and rendered everything naught. What a turnaround that during Moaviyah’s rule, when he heard theAzaan (call for prayers) he remarked, “What is this call that is repeated throughout the day? Abu Bakr came and went but his name is not mentioned in it. Umar and Usman too arrived and departed but their names are not cited. Then why is the name of Muhammad repeated so often in it via the call, “I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah? By Allah! I will bury this name forever .[82]

The conclusion of the talk is that the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) arrived and conveyed. Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) too came to complete the message and implement it. But both the conveyance as well its implementation was brought to a grinding halt. Thus, when the conveyance was stopped on a general level, then what would Ali (a.s.) do? Was it possible to implement without conveyance or completion of the message? It was here that Ali (a.s.) and Zahra (s.a.) stood up and decided to at least prevent the wheel from going backwards to the maximum possible extent.

Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) said to Ali (a.s.), “O Ali! Don’t you intend to rise and demand your right?” It is worth mentioning that it was not the intention of Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) to procure the right of her husband for worldly benefits. Rather, she just spoke out the query of the people throughout history when they would ask that if Ali (a.s.) was right, why did he not rise and demand his due? Why did he just sit in his house and take things as it is? Incidentally, at that very moment, the voice of theAzaan was heard and Ali (a.s.) asked, “O Zahra! Don’t you desire that this voice (of Azaan) survives? At least, things are maintained to the level in which the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) had brought them. If you want them to remain up to this mark, then let the line be that I have drawn.

Thus, Ali (a.s.) and Zahra (s.a.) tried to preserve the message to the extent it was conveyed by the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) and strove incessantly to prevent distortions from creeping in the Islamic Shariah to the best of their abilities. The Caliphate introduced innovations in religion almost by the day in the name of Islam and as a result, the infallible Imams (a.s.) had to wage a continuous battle against these innovations and distortions.

When his reign commenced, Yazid intended to reverse all those things that the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) had brought, to the period ofJaahiliyyah . This was a major step towards degeneration and destruction of Islam. Accordingly, Imam Husain (a.s.) realized that there was only one way to stop this effort to weaken and destroy Islam. That is, he had to revolt and be martyred in its way so that this attempt fails and Allah’s religion survives. So, Imam Husain (a.s.) took the desired steps and protected the endeavours of all the Prophets, Messengers and successors from Adam (a.s.) till himself and became the heir of Adam (a.s.).

« السلام عليك يا وارث آدم صفوه اللّه ».

“Peace be on you, O heir of Adam, the chosen one of Allah.”

Therefore, the reason behind Imam Husain’s (a.s.) martyrdom was neither government nor divine love nor all the things discussed previously. Rather, he (a.s.) rose and sacrificed his life to protect Islam. His great sacrifice ensured that the message of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was not completely obliterated and Quran remained amongst the midst of the people.

Of course, besides Imam Husain (a.s.), Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and the prisoners of Karbala, Imam Baqer (a.s.) and Imam Sadeq (a.s.) also partook in this holy war. Imam Baqer (a.s.) and Imam Sadeq (a.s.) took due advantage from the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) and the mental state of the masses to convey the message. That is, whatever the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) had conveyed but had not reached to Mecca from Medina, they propagated it throughout the Islamic world. They disseminated matters related to Quranic sciences, divine verses and Islamic laws throughout the Islamic sphere.

Hence, from the time of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) till the era of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.), the conveyance of divine laws was the task of the infallible Imams (a.s.). During this period, the Islamic laws that Allah wanted to convey was transmitted in phases. The mode of conveyance was such that it was firmly established in the minds as well as the hearts of the companions and the commonality. Slowly but surely, these discussions took the form of books and treatises. This was the crucial phase that did not occur during the time of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Hazrat Moosa (a.s.). In other words, the Imams (a.s.) dictated the laws and discussions while their companions jotted them down. Of course, these companions did not belong to the celestial world. Rather, they were all humans possessing volition and freedom.

Among these independent and free individuals, Imam Husain (a.s.) had just seventy-two. Imam Ali (a.s.) had only four. Therefore, when Ali (a.s.) said, “O people! I wanted to reveal that which is concealed in my heart. I have a lot treasured in it. I want to teach you all these. Listen to it and note it down that you may derive benefit from it in the future and also allow others to profit from it”, they did not pay heed to his advice and some even mocked at it.

Didn’t Ali (a.s.) have even a small gathering to understand his teachings and fathom the treasures of his knowledge? Occasionally, he (a.s.) used to take a lone individual like Kumail Ibn Ziyad al-Nakhai (a.r.) to the desert and teach him a few things. So, he (a.s.) did not have the required people. Why? Because the people are free and it is decreed that Allah will not deal with people through coercion.

Imam Sadeq (a.s.) had four thousand (4000) students, who listened to him but only twenty or thirty of these could toe his line. They wrote books and had their gaze fixed on the future. But for implementation of the message, the number didn’t suffice. For, at the level of conveyance, conflict of interests is absent and the only criteria are comprehension of concepts and mental preparedness. But at the stage of execution and implementation, conflict of interests does occur. Consequently, not more than seventy-two companions remain and others flee the scene.

Imam Sadeq (a.s.) had four thousand students at the level of conveyance and there were many others spread out in various nooks and corners.

Sometimes, a group of these used to come and enquire from him, “O son of Allah’s Messenger! Since you have already conveyed the message, now rise and ensure its implementation!”

Imam (a.s.) asked, “With whose assistance?”

They used to reply, “With our support. We have a huge support base in Khorasan (a province in Iran) and they all send blessings (salawaat ) for your well-being.”

Imam Sadeq (a.s.) asked the man from Khorasan, “Are you among these die-hard supporters?”

He (a.s.) replied, “Yes, as I am their representative.”

Imam Sadeq (a.s.) remarked, “Fine” and ordered the pit-fire to be lit. When the order was duly executed, he (a.s.) asked the man to repeat his claim.

He repeated, “You have a huge following in Khorasan and I am one of them. So what are you waiting for and why don’t you rise in revolt?”

Imam (a.s.) commanded him to jump in the pit-fire. On hearing this command, he trembled and questioned, “Are you serious?”

Imam (a.s.) retorted, “Of course. I am serious.”

He asked again, “Are youreally serious?”

Imam (a.s.) shot back, “Well, it’s an order.”

He queried, “Is this command obligatory (waajib ) or recommended (mustahabb )?”

Imam (a.s.) replied, “Obligatory.”

He asked again, “Then what about my wife and children? What is the logic behind such a command? Certainly, such an order is not in conformity with rationality!”

Imam (a.s.) thundered, “This is an order. Go and jump in the pit-fire.”

He said apologetically, “As of now, it is not possible for me to obey your command. Please excuse me!”

Imam (a.s.) accepted and said, “Good enough. Now wait for a while.” Meanwhile, a companion of Imam (a.s.) entered and saluted, “Peace be on you, O son of Allah’s Messenger!” Imam (a.s.) replied to his salutation, “Peace be on you too! Go and jump in the pit-fire.” Although he had just entered, without the slightest of refrain, he obeyed the command of Imam (a.s.) and jumped in the pit-fire[83] .

Why did Imam Sadeq (a.s.) take such a test? He did so because Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) came at the stage of conveyance and passed through it successfully. But at the level of implementation, the best of his friends betrayed him and (during the battle of Siffin) refused to fight, justifying that since the enemy had raised the Quran, it washaraam (forbidden) for them to fight.

Therefore, Ali (a.s.) did convey the message successfully but at the level of execution, he could not meet with much success due to the lack of co-operation from ignorant among his followers. It was precisely this emotion that he (a.s.) expressed in the following statement:

« قصم ظهري رجلان : عالمّ متهتِّك و جاهلٌ متنسكّ ».

“Two persons broke my back: The scholar, who tore the veil apart [84] and the pious ignorant worshipper. [85]

So, while Moaviyah on one hand, as an internal factor, acted as an obstacle in the implementation of the message, Shareeh Qazi and Hasan Basri acted on the other. They did not desire that the implementation must see the light of the day. For, some could not understand while others saw it going against their interests.

Now, as the implementation and execution could not materialize and actualize, does it mean that we go and sit in our houses? Certainly not. The best thing is at least to convey the message even if implementation is not possible. Keep conveying till one individual acts upon it, followed by one family, one city, till the entire universe acts upon it. Who? Me Imam Husain (a.s.), me Imam Sajjad (a.s.) will implement it in this manner. Well, if they resist our implementation, then what should we do? We will continue to do our duty (conveyance) and will not sit idle. In the process, we will put the entire blame of non-implementation directly on the society, i.e. on individuals as well as the society as a whole. As the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) had warned,

« كلُّكم راعٍ و كُلُّكم مسؤولٌ عن رعيُّته ».

“All of you are shepherds and all of you will be questioned about your flock (of sheep). [86]

Thus, till the time of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) the process of conveyance was completed. That is, whatever had to be conveyed was duly done and the argument on them finalized so much so that no era could object against Allah on the Day of Judgment that the message did not reach to them.

In the time of the infallible Imams (a.s.), their students had compiled four hundred books captioned, “Usul Arba’ Maeh ” (Four Hundred Principles), comprising of divine laws and injunctions. This task of compilation and propagation of these principles was performed by the students of Imam Sadeq (a.s.). But suddenly, in the last days of the Imam’s (a.s.) life, some events took place that only became obstructive factors but led to the people’s deviation. Who played this mischief? The court of the Abbaside (dynasty) caused this harm in the name of Islam and created pseudo-scholars like Abu Hanifah. This man arrived on the scene and became a spoke in the wheel and a huge obstacle in the implementation of the divine message. But Imam Baqer (a.s.) and Imam Sadeq (a.s.) had performed their task in such manner that there was no further need of an infallible conveyor due to the presence of conveyance and message at social level that was to be completed in the time of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.). That is, everything was now in black and white till the period of the eleventh Imam’s Imamate. It was during his time that these writings took the form of books and collection of traditions arrived on the social scene. Students of Imams (a.s.) taught in various schools and the message of all Prophets, from Adam (a.s.) to the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) was conveyed in detail to the various nooks and corners of the Islamic world. If the unbelievers will ask Allah on the Day of Judgment as to where was the true Islam? They will be replied that in these very Muslim countries.

Then, the message was conveyed but why did implementation fail? For, had they co-operated during the time of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.), execution too would have been accomplished. In other words, the task that will be achieved by Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) in the future will take effect whenever preparedness and mutual co-operation is found among the people.

Sometimes, we inform about a real incident that has occurred and at other times, we intend to outline the duties. For example, occasionally we state that it is not your obligation to heat the tea now but to wait till dusk and only then heat the tea. (Assuming it is Ramazan). Thus, even if the guest is sitting and expecting to be served but if you are asked, ‘why you aren’t heating the tea?’ you will reply, ‘because I am not supposed to do it before its scheduled time’. If you are asked, ‘How much time is left for dusk?’ You will reply, ‘Now, it is ten to seven and still another hour left for dusk.’ Probably, you have made all the preliminiary arrangements to prepare tea but will not take any further steps to serve it.

Sometimes too, the time factor is not an issue and whenever the tea is prepared, we will readily drink it. It is under such circumstances that we say, ‘Mister, rise and prepare tea.’ If it is asked, ‘Why you have not yet prepared the tea?’ You will reply, ‘The arrangements are not yet provided for.’ Here, we shall ask about a fact, ‘When will you provide tea for us?’ The answer will be, ‘Another hour or so.’ Now, is this hour required because that is the time remaining for tea to be drunk, or because the arrangements will require an hour? This information is from the facts.

Similarly, if the discussion pertains to the facts that if the government of Ahle Bait (a.s.) belongs to the last era, and that Mahdi will reform the global society in it, and to longevity, and the lengthiness of occultation, then all these are facts, nothing else. That is, we cannot say that for the next two thousand years, there will be no news. For, it is said that if the required preparedness were found during the times of the previous Imams (a.s.), this revolution would have indeed taken place then. Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s.) had remarked that if his companions would have co-operated with and supported him, he would have brought about this universal government. Unfortunately, they did neither. This is a fact and an undeniable reality. But this teamwork will certainly occur in the future.

Explaining the reasons for his peace treaty, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s.) wrote a letter to Moaviyah, the contents of which are indeed a very important lesson for all of us. He (a.s.) wrote,

« لو وجدتُ صابرين عارفين بحقّي غير مْنكرين, ما سلَّمتُ لك و لا اعطيتُك ما تريدْ ».

“Had I found friends who were patient and aware of my rights and not denying (my position), I would never have submitted to you nor would I have handed over to you what you desired. [87]

Here, two characteristics have been mentioned: Patience and Awareness because there are many who are aware of the rights but flee on the day of battle. Also, there are many who are patient and steadfast but are complete devoid of any recognition and awareness. Hence, Imam Mujtaba (a.s.) remarked that if I found companions who possessed these traits, certainly I would never have bowed down before you and would not have given to you what I had to. So, why did things reached to such a state? Because companions with these qualities were non-existent, the same concept was relayed by the following Imams (a.s.) like Imam Husain (a.s.), Imam Sajjad (a.s.), Imam Baqer (a.s.), etc. That is, if we had companions with the aforementioned characteristics and attributes, Bani Umayyah would not succeed in usurping our rights.

In some instances, the Imams (a.s.) have stated to some of their friends that had you not fled and allowed the Bani Umayyah to rule, our rights would not have been squandered. If you had not co-operated and assisted the Bani Umayyah, they would never succeed in grabbing our rights[88] .

* * *

To sum up the discussion, the conclusion that we reached to was that man is decreed to acquire perfection on his own volition. Man’s volition is directly proportionate to the ability gifted to him by Allah. Allah knew from before that even if He granted this capacity and blessings, which He has gifted to Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) to you and me, we will not become him and he is the one and only. Allah is not helpless that He cannot create by force but as the decree is for volition, then anything other than that will not take place. Therefore, but for the holy existence of Hazrat Baqiyatullah (a.t.f.s.), no other complete man exists on the face of the earth, worthy of implementing the divine laws for the formation of an universal government. And hence, He has preserved and protected him.

Another question is that whether preservation of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is on the basis of compulsion or freewill? It should be known that a certain degree of difficulties and calamities in death reaches to everybody directly from the side of Allah. The Almighty keeps away these calamities and difficulties from Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.). These mishaps, to an extent, resulting in the death of a person, are from the side of other existents due to their own volition and if Allah wants, He can seize their freewill. In this case, freewill will be converted to compulsion. For example, Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) is present over here and I have a weapon by which I intend to assassinate him (God forbid). But my weapons fail at the time of perpetration of this heinous crime and consequently, this act of God is compulsion. Or, I raise my sword to severe his head from his body but Allah paralyses my hand and again I fail in my attempt to murder him. This too is a form of compulsion.

So, in the protection of Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.), Allah the Almighty keeps away all those factors that can effectively cause his death. Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) also keeps at bay those things that emanate from his own side and can become the reason of his death. Moreover, those reasons that are from the side of the people and can cause his death, are dispelled in two ways: One, he (a.t.f.s.) disappears from the eyes of the people so that they cannot cause any harm unto him and second, he appears and anybody who intends to injure him in any form, his weapon rusts and becomes ineffective.

The second option leads to compulsion. Then, what should be the mode of protection that Allah should adopt to preserve His one and only present proof (hujjah )? The answer is only occultation (ghaibah ). Why? The reason being that if he appears, he will be killed and hence, he went into hiding “For he feared assassination .[89] ” Of course, this fear is not because he wants to live more so that he can enjoy life. Rather, he has a commitment to keep for which mankind needs him desperately and hence, survival is a necessity.

Here, they (the skeptics) ask: Why doesn’t he reappear to fulfill his commitment? Why doesn’t he come now? Or why he did not arrive four to five hundred years or a thousand years ago? We reply: Well, he would have come a thousand and four hundred years ago but the people did not co-operate with and assist him.

They ask again: Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) came to this world a thousand and hundred years ago, then how could he keep his commitment four hundred years ago? We reply: Fourteen hundred years ago, he appeared in the form of Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) and intended to fulfill Allah’s promise but the people neither supported nor assisted him in this gigantic task.

Here, I shall conclude the discussion by reading out a beautiful and interesting treatise written with the help of one of the sisters.

Approximately, six to seven years ago, I had been to Langrud (a province in Iran), where there was a congregation of women. When I entered the gathering, I requested the ladies present that if anybody had a question, she can feel free to ask. Most of the participants of this congress were the daughters of the teachers. A girl, who was actually a daughter of one of the participants, expressed her desire to ask a question, which I duly conceded. She asked, “What is the reply to the statement made by George Jordache concerning Ali (a.s.)?” I questioned, “Which statement?” She replied, “The same statement that you had written two to three weeks back on a card.”

The incident was that we had decided to hold a function in Tehran to celebrate the birthday of Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.). On the invitation card printed for the occasion, we had quoted an attractive sentence from George Jordache, a Christian, regarding Ali (a.s.). The sentence went as follows:‘O world! What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you gather all your strength and bestow on us one Ali (a.s.) in every era, with his thought, his heart, his speech and his sword? [90] We had printed this statement behind the card and the girl who had asked the question received this invitation. Now, when we were visiting Langrud, she encountered us with her query concerning the statement.

I thought that the girl wanted me to elaborate on this statement in my response. Therefore, I started discussing about George Jordache and a comparison of thoughts of Ali (a.s.) with the charter of the United Nations, followed with the view of George Jordache. Finally, we reached to the printed statement in which he addresses the world that instead of giving us all these philosophers, thinkers, politicians, scientists, rights activists, etc. and all the strength that you have gathered in the form of Einstein, Galileo, Abu Ali Seena, etc., if you (world) would have given us only ONE Ali, everything would fall in place.

After being at pains to explain my viewpoint for about half an hour, the young girl remarked, “Mr. Iftekharzadeh, this is not the reply!” I retorted, “Are you trying to imply that you, a young girl from Langrud, while sitting here, want to reply to every statement that is being made throughout the world?” The girl shot back, “Doyou mean that this has no answer?” I answered, “No! How can such a beautiful statement have any answer? It is glorifying Ali (a.s.) and whoever listens to it, appreciates it.” The young girl audaciously remarked, “I have written a response to this statement of George Jordache. If you permit, I will read it out for those present.” Without deliberating for even a second, I said, “Read!”

The young girl started reading. Initially, I was inattentive but after she had read two or three lines, I realized that what she was reading made considerable sense. After four or five lines, I saw that she herself was gripped by emotions, tears flowing down her cheeks. After eight or nine lines, I appreciated that the entire gathering was crying. I would like to confess, as there is nothing to hide from you, that after ten to twelve lines, I was in tears myself.

The article was not of more than twenty lines but replete with content. Later, I requested her to pen it down for me and I still have her handwriting preserved with me. She was a student of Class V but at laying her hands on my invitation card, she wrote a riposte to the statement of George Jordache. The content of the rejoinder was as follows:

“George Jordache has made a statement concerning Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) (and reproduced the statement mentioned earlier). But I would like to say to him: Mr. George Jordache! You are lying! You don’t desire Ali! Ali’s God did give you Ali but you placed him under house arrest for twenty-five years and went after others. Thereafter, in the battle of Siffin, you left him stranded, burrowing a lone furrow!

George Jordache! You don’t desire Ali! Ali’s God gave you another Ali after the first Ali but you poisoned him and forced him into submission before Moaviyah.

George Jordache! You don’t desire Ali! Ali’s God gave you a third Ali but you left him alone in the desert of Karbala crying out for help,“Is there a monotheist who fears Allah concerning our rights? Is there a refuge that hopes for divine reward in providing us protection? [91] But you raised his severed head on the spear and obeyed the instructions of Yazid!

George Jordache! You don’t desire Ali! Ali’s God gave you a fourth Ali but let him all alone in corner of the Masjid al-Haram (Ka’bah) and sought others!

She continued till he reached to this point: O George Jordache! There is one Ali now in our midst and on the face of this very earth. Yes, he possesses all the perfection of Ali, the forbearance of Hasan and the bravery of Husain but you do not seek him and run after others! For more than eleven hundred years, he has been crying, “Is there any helper, who will assist me? ” But you have not sought him. So, you are a liar! You don’t desire Ali!”

This was her treatise in its entirety. But the essence of the philosophy of occultation was brimming as to why Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) is in hiding. O Allah! Why don’t you manifest him? Allah the Almighty replies: Don’t make such absurd demands for I have already manifested him! You will ask: Then where is he? He will reply: Ali, Hasan, Husain and the eight Imams after Husain, I sent them for a lengthy duration of two hundred and sixty years. But you killed them all while you didn’t have the right to kill one free soul. You threw them in prison and jailed them.

Haroon al-Rashid, the Abbaside Emperor, comes to the grave of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) and stands to pray two-rak’at namaz. The creatures of Allah stand behind him in emulation. Thereafter, he says, “O Messenger of Allah! Your son is a thorn in our path. Do you permit us to extern him from here? In daylight and public view, he forces Hazrat Musa Ibn Jafar (a.s.) to migrate from Medina to Baghdad and imprisons him[92] but not a single Muslim questions his actions!

Then really, you don’t desire Ali! Now, if Allah manifests Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.), what will you do with him? If conveyance is the aim, then all the Imams (a.s.) have made all these sacrifices and conveyance is complete. If the objective is implementation, then two possibilities exist: individual and social. In case of individual, there is no need for him to reappear, take this Tauzeehul Masaael and go and act on it. You can use it as well as your family members.

The conclusion of the discussion is:

Why is Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) in concealment? One reason is that he apprehends being killed and second, it is for the examination of the people because preparedness of the people is examined in occultation.

The question that arises is that why Allah doesn’t destroy the person who becomes an obstacle in the way of Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.)? The answer is that because it is decided that co-operation should be voluntary.

When will Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) reappear? Whenever co-operation and support is found and hence, no time is fixed. For those who fix the time of his reappearance, it is said, “Those who fix the time have lied .[93] ” If somebody claims that Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) will reappear after ten years, it implies that for the next nine years, relax and go to sleep. And hence it is declared, “Those who fix the time have lied .”

So, when is the time of reappearance? The answer is whenever Allah permits. And this permission is subject to your truthfulness.

Khwaja Naseer Tusi (a.r.), the renowned theologian, has summed the reason of occultation, as follows: “His existence is a grace, his authority is another grace and his occultation is because of us. [94] ” In other words, if Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) is not among us today, it is due to us.

This phrase, ‘because of us’, has been interpreted in various ways. Some are of the view that it implies that our eyes are not worthy enough to witness him or we don’t deserve to see him. Both these suggestions are not the correct exegesis. The real interpretation is that we are still like the people of Ali’s era! We are still like the people of Imam Hasan’s era! We are still like the people of Imam Husain’s era! We are those that when our knowledge increases, we start questioning the actions of Imam Sadeq (a.s.). When he orders to jump into the pit-fire, we ask the reason behind his command.

But if you jump into the pit-fire with absolute submission, the fire will not smolder you. For, the next man who entered (Haroon Makki, a very close companion of Imam), jumped straight into the fire but when the lid was raised, the man from Khorasan saw Haroon sitting comfortably and busy in Allah’s remembrance. Then Imam Sadeq (a.s.) asked, “How many such people do you have in Khorasan?” He replied, “None!” Imam (a.s.) retorted, “So now onwards don’t talk about uprising and revolt and simply improve yourself.”

Of course, regarding the philosophy of occultation, there can be a thousand reasons of which we are unaware. But the gist can be stated as: Fear of being killed, the possibility of similar circumstances as prevailed during the times of the previous Imams (a.s.) and their not revolting, the failed revolt of Hazrat Ali (a.s.), etc. All such events explain to us that the main factor of occultation of Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) is the non-co-operation of the people. It is only after an atmosphere of co-operation is prepared that Imam (a.s.) will reappear. In other words, if Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) had two Malik Ashtars and was defeated, Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) must have at least three hundred Malik Ashtars. Hence, in traditions we find that Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) will have 313 companions and helpers like Malik Ashtar, who will co-operate with each other and assist him in forming a global government.

Of course, these 313 are the closest companions of Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.). Besides them, there will be thousands of other supporters and soldiers, who will be required to support, help and co-operate with these 313 companions[95] and obey their commands. May Allah enumerate us among the helpers and companions of Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.)!