Remembrance Of The Beloved

Remembrance Of The Beloved0%

Remembrance Of The Beloved Author:
Translator: Jalil Dorrani
Publisher: Naba Publication (www.nabacultural.org)
Category: Imam al-Mahdi
ISBN: 978-964-832363-4

Remembrance Of The Beloved

Author: Sayyid Husain Husaini
Translator: Jalil Dorrani
Publisher: Naba Publication (www.nabacultural.org)
Category:

ISBN: 978-964-832363-4
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Remembrance Of The Beloved
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Remembrance Of The Beloved

Remembrance Of The Beloved

Author:
Publisher: Naba Publication (www.nabacultural.org)
ISBN: 978-964-832363-4
English

Question 1:

Verse 285 from Chapter Baqarah lays down the principles of a believer's faith. However, amongst these principles, nothing is mentioned about belief in Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Similarly, verse 136 from Chapter Nisa talks about infidelity and faith. But we find no command about belief in Imam's existence nor does it specify that disbelief in Imam (a.t.f.s.) amounts to infidelity. Is belief in Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) one of the principles of faith and would disbelief in him lead one to infidelity?

Reply:

We set forth below the two verses referred to in the query:

“The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his God, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah, and His angels and His books and His apostles; We make no difference between any of His apostles; and they say: We hear and obey, our God! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course.” (Qur'an, 2:285)

“O you who believe! Believe in Allah, and His Apostle, and the Book which He has revealed to His Apostle and the Book which He revealed before; and whoever disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His book and His apostles and the last day, he indeed strays off into a remote error.” (Qur'an, 4:136)

Verse 285 of Chapter Baqarah:

It's necessary to mention that the points stated in this noble verse do not specify the entire divine belief and faith. For instance, it does not mention about one of the fundamentals and necessities of faith i.e., 'Ma'ad' and belief in resurrection. But, its absence does not abate its importance. It can be said: Belief in the Book and the messenger involves belief in resurrection and belief in 'Ma'ad' is integral to belief in the Book and messenger and it is part of the necessities of divine religions.

Just as absence of 'Ma'ad' in the above verse cannot become a reason or proof for non-acceptance of 'Ma'ad' as a fundamental belief, the same applies to belief in the Imams (a.s.) and Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Besides, we have various other verses that talk about Imams (a.s.) and Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).

Verse 136 of Chapter Nisa:

This verse consists of two parts: Positive and negative aspect. In the positive aspect, principle of faith is set forth. The All-Wise Allah commands to believe in four principles: Allah, apostle, book of apostle and books of previous apostles.

In the negative aspect, it says: Those who disbelieve in Allah, His angels, His Book and apostles and the last day have strayed into a remote error.

In this noble verse, we find 'Ma'ad' while talking about disbelief in fundamentals of faith. But concerning belief in fundamentals of faith nothing is mentioned about 'Ma'ad'. It's clear that each verse in every Chapter is not bound to describe every principle and every aspect of fundamentals and branches of religion. In Sunni and Shia traditions, principles like Salat, fasting, Haj etc form the religious teachings but none of these have come down in this noble verse. Their importance has come down in other verses and traditions.

The same applies to belief in the Imamate of Imams. This vital principle is pointed out in hundreds of verses, in diverse forms, and the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) have interpreted and explained them to imply Amir-ul-Mu'minin's (a.s.) 'Vilayat' and Imam-e-Zaman's (a.t.f.s.) rule. Among them, we may mention the following verses: (Qur'an, 5:55), (Qur'an, 5:4), (Qur'an, 41:24), and (Qur'an, 5:64)

إنما وليكم الله.......................... ( Qur'an, 5:55 )

اليوم اكملت لكم دينكم................ (Qur'an, 5:4)

و جعلنا منهم ائمة................... (Qur'an, 41:24)

يا ايها الرسول! بلغ ما انزل........... (Qur'an, 5:46)

Aside from numerous traditions, our leaders have explained and interpreted these verses too.

To sum up, the holy Qur'an has explained some issues like principle of Imamate, prophethood, monotheism and resurrection clearly and openly but with regards to other issues like introduction of Imam, explanation of practical commandments etc it has left its explanation and interpretation with the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.). Thus, one cannot expect all the matters to have come down in the holy Qur'an in clear and decisive terms (considering its apparent limitation in size too) and still further, expect one to believe that all the fundamentals of belief have come down in one verse only.

Question 2:

Is there any verse or verses in the Qur'an about Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?

Reply:

All the Islamic sciences have their sources in the holy Qur'an and as per Shia belief; the fundamental of everything has its root in this divine book. The 'Vilayat' (authority) of Amir-ul-Mu'minin, the status of Imams (a.s.) and the Imamate, and rule of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) all have their root in the holy Qur'an. As such, scholars of Hadith, from past and present have left writings revealing traditions that have interpreted and explained the Qur'anic verses in honour of Ali (a.s.) and pure Imams particularly Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).

Amongst them, the verses interpreted in all its dimensions concerning Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has been written down in the book“Al-Muhajjah-Fi-Ma-Nazala-Fi'l-Qaem al-Hujjah” (a.t.f.s.) written by Sayyed Hashim Bahrani, a scholar of 11 th and 12 th century A.H. He has set forth 120 verses from the Qur'an and below each verse, narrated traditions that talk about the characteristics of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and program of his government. Here, suffice it is to mention three such verses:

“Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will most certainly make them rulers in the earth……………….” (Qur'an, 24:55)

Under this verse, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:

“This saying of Allah: “Allah has promised……” has been revealed about the 'Qaem' and his followers.” [12]

Similarly, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) after reciting this verse said:

“I swear by Allah, they are our Shias. By means of a man from us (who is the Mahdi of this Ummah), Allah will make them rulers in the earth. In same regard, the prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: 'If not more than one day remains from the life of this world, Allah will extend that day so much that a man from my progeny would gain authority over it. His name is the same as my name. He will fill the earth with equity and justice, just as it would be filled with cruelty and tyranny.” [13]

“What remains with Allah is better for you if you are believers, and I am not a keeper over you.” (Qur'an, 11:86)

Under this verse we read as follows:

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) was asked: 'Will the Qaem be greeted by the title 'Amir-ul-Mu'minin? Imam (a.s.) replied:“No, this title is reserved by Allah for Ali (a.s.) only…..”

I said: Then how will the Qaem be greeted?

Imam (a.s.) replied: People will say:

السلام عليك يا بقية الله

Thereafter, Imam (a.s.) recited (this verse):[14]

“بقية الله خير لكم...”

3.“This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a guide to those who guard (against evil) and those who believe in the Unseen…….” (Qur'an, 2:2)

Below this verse, it is stated that Yahya-ibn-Abi'l Qasem says:“I requested Imam Sadiq (a.s.) to explain this verse.” He (a.s.) said:

“In this verse, 'those who guard (against evil) are Ali's Shias and 'Ghaib' (Unseen) refers to the hidden Hujjat.” [15]

Question 3:

Have other religions, too, given glad-tiding about the manifestation of a just saviour? Or this belief restricted to Islam only? What are the specialities, of this saviour and the promised Mahdi, in Islam and particularly so in Shia?

Reply:

As per information at hand, all the religions and books have given glad-tidings about the“world saviour and reformer” in some way or the other. We have explained some of the prophecies in our reply to other queries.

The other religions and past divine books have discussed the saviour's qualities and characteristics to the same extent, as they have discussed about his 'Zuhoor' (Reappearance).

In this regard, it's a great honour that Islam and particularly Shia, has in hand all the dimensions concerning the saviour's qualities, ranks, concealment, manifestation at individual and social level, and all these narrated from the immaculate Imams (a.s.). We have information about the saviour before birth, after birth, during childhood period, his life with his father and after his father's departure from this world, the lesser concealment period, the greater concealment period, 'Zuhoor' (manifestation) etc. All these can be found in detail in numerous reliable traditions.

In this regard, you may refer to Muntakhab-ul-Athar: 251, 284, 286, 290, 300, 302, 304, 305…………

In other sects of Islam, the Sunni books, their scholars too have written exclusive books on Hazrat like“Al-Arfo-Wardi” ,“Eqdud-Durar” and“Al-Wahmul-Maknun” .

Numerous traditions concerning this matter have also come down in Sihahe-Sitta and other books written by non-Shia scholars. Index of such books appears in the first section of“Muntakhab-ul-Athar” as well as“In search for the Qaem” .

Question 4:

The holy Qur'an has not confined the Imams to twelve in number. In a 'Dua' come down in the Qur'an we ask Allah about Imamate. It says:“O Allah…and make us guides to those who guard (against evil).” (Qur'an, 25:74) In another place it says:“And We made them Imams who guided (people) by Our command.” (Qur'an, 21:74). At another place, it calls the prophets as Imams and still further mentions that the unbelievers too have Imams:“Then fight the leaders of unbelief – surely their oaths are nothing.” (Qur'an, 9:12) In one way, all the oppressed ones during Firaun's era are Imams. So the Imams are not twelve in number. How can we say Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the 12th Imam?

Reply:

In these set of verses, the status of Imamate is used. In the holy Qur'an, two types of Imamate are mooted. Imamate of“fire” and Imamate of“light” .

About the Imam of fire, it says:

“And We made them Imams who call to the fire” (Qur'an, 28:41)

About the Imams of light, it says:

“And We made them Imams who guided (people) by Our command.” (Qur'an, 21:73)

If someone casts a glance into the Qur'an, he will accept Imamate. The holy Imams (a.s.) too have rationalized this very matter and said: “This lofty status is exclusively earmarked for a few because Allah says:

“O Abraham, surely I will make you an Imam of the people. Abraham (very enthusiastically) said: And of my offspring? (Allah said): My covenant does not include the unjust.” (Qur'an, 2:124)

Here, Imam Reza (a.s.) says:

“The status of Imamate is so lofty that Allah bestowed it to Abraham only after consistent tests and after bestowing him with the position of prophet hood and messenger ship and after earning the title “Khaleel” [16] So how can people select this position for themselves!?”[17]

For this reason, this status is especially reserved for divine saints. The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) have declared them to be twelve in number after the prophet (s.a.w.a.) and specified their names as well. In the Shia and Sunni traditions, their number is stated to be equal to the number of Bani-Israel leaders; equal to number of Christ's disciples, equal to number of zodiacs, equal to number of months (which are twelve in number).

These traditions come down in Shia and Sunni books are all 'Mutawatir' (i.e., widely transmitted). The vital question is that who are these twelve specified persons? It's mentioned in Shia and Sunni traditions that“all of them are from Quraish” [18] About the twelve Imams, there are two explanations: The Sunnis speak in a scattered manner. But the Shias say: 'As per 'Mutawatir' traditions from the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), the names and specifications of these twelve persons till Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) are known and clear. We can find few of such Shia traditions, in detailed form, in“Usul-e-Kafi” Vol 1, pages 525-535 and pages 286-328.

This brief discussion clarifies that the Imamate of light, come down in the noble verses, is a special status and an exceptional station selected by Allah and nobody can acquire it by himself. The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) has expressed in various forms their number to be twelve. All of them are from the Quraish and according to Shia and some Sunni traditions (like the ones come down in Yanabi'ul-Muwadda, page 440 as per narration of Muntakhab-ul-Athar, page 97) all their names too are specified.

Consequently, the noble verse: “و اجعلنا للمتقين إماما ” (Qur'an, 25:75) differs from whatever we have said about the special status of Imamate in Qur'an. The Imamate discussed in the preceding verses is a special status and position and the Imamate in verse 75 from Chapter Furqan has been used in the literal sense to denote leadership for the pious ones.

Besides, assuming that in this verse, Imam is used in technical and not literal sense, yet it applies to the immaculate Imams (a.s.) who were specified by the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). In other words, the esoteric interpretation of this verse concerns the holy Imams (a.s.). A tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) substantiates our viewpoint. Imam (a.s.) says:

“In verse: “و اجعلنا للمتقين إماما ” (Qur'an, 25:75) Allah has meant us.”[19]

Question 5:

Please give a detailed explanation about the names of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?

Reply:

Aside from name (which is common amongst all), the Arabs also use title and agnomen. Among the Arabs, it was and still is a custom for an individual to have a name, title and agnomen.

Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) possesses one special name: “ م ح م د ” Some believe that during his concealment, one should use his special name and a few say: 'The prohibition of using his name goes back to the“short concealment period” when Hazrat feared he would be recognized. We have narrated the related tradition in our reply to another query.

Hazrat (a.t.f.s.) possesses various titles such as Mahdi, Hujjat, Qaem, Saheb-al-Zaman, Muntazer, Muntazar. A title is given after considering its meaning.

He has one 'Kunya' (agnomen) too. In the Arab culture, 'Kunya' is related to 'Ab' ( اب )”father” or 'Umm' ( ام )”mother”. In case of ladies, اُم appears before 'kunya' and in case of men, اَب is used. For example, they say: Abu-Zar- Abu-Abdullah- Abu'l-Qasi- Abu'l-Fazl and in case of women: Umm-Salma- Umm-ul-Baneen- Umm-Kulsum- Umm-Abiha. 'Kunya' does not necessarily require that for example a father should have a son named 'Abdullah' so that he can be given the 'kunya': Abu-Abdullah..[20]

One of the Imam-e-Zaman's titles is (Aba-Saleh)
ابا صالح It does not necessarily mean that he should possess a son named Saleh.

'Abu-Saleh' (or 'Aba-Saleh' or 'Abi-Saleh') means someone who possesses abundant goodness as if goodness is borne from him.

Thus, in case of children, 'Kunya' is used for two reasons: One reason may be in hope that they would have a child so that they are given that name. Another reason is that some outstanding qualities may be seen in him which is expressed in the form of 'Kunya'. The one who distribute food among the poor is called 'Abul-Qasim'; the one who helps is called 'Abu-Hashim'[21] and an eatable that is refreshing and tasty (like falooda) is named 'Abu-Sa'egh' (Sa'egh means very refreshing).

One of Imam Husain's (a.s.) 'Kunya' is“Abu-Abdullah” . It does not mean he should necessarily possess a son named Abdullah though he did possess one.“Abdullah” means Allah's slave. It means he has reached the peak in serving Allah and he is the father of Allah's slaves.

This was one matter about names, titles and agnomens. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) possesses many titles and agnomens because the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), the Imams (a.s.) and Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) [right from the time he gave glad-tiding about the existence of last Imam] have used various titles for him. The famous traditionist Haj Mirza Husain Nuri had narrated 182 names and titles for Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).

Question 6:

In Ziarat-e-Aale-Yasin, we recite:

السلام عليك يا داعي الله... (Salutation be upon you O the one inviting (people) towards Allah!) where as the holy Qur'an says Allah's messenger is the one inviting people towards Allah!

Reply:

Undoubtedly, one of the qualities and specialities of Allah's messenger is to invite people towards Allah. He (Allah) says:

“O prophet! Surely We have sent you as a witness, and as a bearer of good news and as a warner, And as one inviting to Allah by His permission, and as a light-giving torch.” (Qur'an, 33: 45&46)

In spite of this, the aforesaid verse does not draw any limitation and exclusivity and does not say that 'invitation' is confined merely to the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). Besides, in the following verses this state (of inviting people towards Allah) is applied to others too. For example:

“And who speaks better than he who calls to Allah while he himself does good and says: I am surely of those who submit.” (Qur'an, 41:33)

Moreover, in Shia and Sunni traditions, great emphasis is laid to invite people towards goodness. For instance:

“Call the people towards religion; not with your tongue (but deeds).”[22]

We see our noble Imams commanding us to invite the people towards goodness. In reality, every missionary of religion and inviter of goodness is “داعي الي الله ” (inviter towards Allah) and the most perfect exemplar are the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) who call the people towards none but Allah.

In Ziarat-e- Jame'ah, we read about the immaculate Imams (a.s.):

“Peace by upon the inviters towards Allah.”

To sum up, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) calls the people towards Allah. This attribute is not confined to any prophet or Imam but all the Apostles and Imams call the people towards Allah.

Question 7:

When was Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) born? There exist diverse sayings about 15th Shaban. In Vol 51 of Bihar-ul-Anwar, various dates are mentioned like: 24th Ramazan, 9th Rabi'ul-Awwal, 15th Ramazan, 3rd Shaban, 8th Shaban and Thursday night of Ramazan. Anyhow, what is the date of his birth?

Reply:

There exists difference of opinion in numerous vital historical events and incidents such as births, martyrdoms, wars and reign. Difference about birth of someone who was born at the time when tyrant rulers kept strict vigilance over him is something natural. It is likely that in order to save Hazrat's life and out of dissimulation, the Imams (a.s.) celebrated his birth with such differences and they didn't reveal its actual truth. Obviously, if the Imams (a.s.) had exactly specified the date before Hazrat's birth or even at the time of his birth, then the state of Imam Hasan Askari's family who were severely besieged would still worsen. But the Imams (a.s.) wished to keep secret Hazrat's (a.s.) date of birth. Thus, there arose differences after Hazrat's birth

This difference reveals the strict control exerted by the Abbasid caliphs. They would send agents to Imam Hasan Askari's house and search the women to find out if any among them was pregnant. They feared the birth of the promised one of Islam who would destroy their throne and crown.

Now that we are passing the stage of major concealment after the lapse of minor concealment and Hazrat continues to thrive and live, today, the Shias have investigated and reached a decisive conclusion that 15th Shaban is more evident and correct. For this reason, in spite of differences in the day, month and year of birth, the Shias have selected and supported only one date.

Thus, at the start, the idea was to keep Hazrat's birth concealed and one way for it was to keep difference in the date of birth where none would realize its exact date. The same is the case with Hazrat Zahra's (a.s.) grave. Some say her grave is in Baqi; some say she was buried in her own house and yet others say she was buried besides the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). So it's obvious that when something is concealed, differences would come up.

Can this difference in date of birth lead one to believe that Hazrat didn't exist at all?!

Such reasoning is like saying, 'Difference of opinion about Hazrat Fatema's grave is a proof that she wasn't martyred and that she doesn't possess a grave at all.'

If it's decided to keep an event concealed, then this ambiguity will certainly rise. There exists difference in the holy prophet's (s.a.w.a.) birth as well. Majority of the Sunnis believe his date of birth to be 12th Rabi'ul-Awwal while the Shias believe it to be 17th Rabi'ul-Awwal.

If we look at history, we fill find many differences concerning birth, death and numerous other historical events. Are they proofs that such personalities did not live in history? Or is this difference itself a proof that such personalities did live but with some difference in opinion about some events related to them.

Question 8:

Please explain about this tradition or saying:

“ كلهم نور واحد “ all the Imams are one light. If this saying is correct then how can one justify the difference of Imam Mahdi's position with other Imams (a.s.)?

Reply:

The wordings that appear in tradition says:

كلنا واحد من نور واحد

(Bihar-ul-Anwar 26: 16 & 281)

It implies that they nurture from one source of light. In their original creation, they are from one light. In the world of spirits and shadow, their derivation is from one source leading to one truth. That “نور واحد ” one light refers to the light of Allah's Greatness.

Traditions say that the souls or spirits of Imams (a.s.) are higher than“Elliyeen” [23] and their bodies from“Elliyeen” . The souls of Shias are from“Elliyeen” and their bodies lower than“Elliyeen” .[24] Moreover, the programs and responsibilities of Imams (a.s.) all belong to the world of revelation and their beliefs, ethics and deed are all divine and human. Their main policy in life is perfect devotion and submission before the Almighty Allah even though their eras differ from one another and their duties varies from one another.

Thus, Imam-e-Zaman's (a.t.f.s.) duty differs from all other Imams (a.s.), mainly due to his implementation of the Islamic commandments in the entire world.

Their appointment by Allah, and their immaculateness is something common in all of them. Also, all of them are medium or channels through which the living creatures derive benefits. Besides, they are all deeply rooted in knowledge and are interpreters of the holy Qur'an. Lastly, they bear the responsibility of safeguarding religion from heresy.

Question 9:

Is 'Ghaibat' (concealment) specific to the 12th Imam (a.t.f.s.) or it has precedence in the past Imams and prophets?

Reply:

'Ghaibat', in the sense of absolute concealment from human perceptive senses (the faculty, intellect, illusion and imagination) is exclusive to God only. Aside from this, we also have relative 'Ghaibat' (concealment) and in this regard, none among the prophets and Imams had constant presence for all the people in all the societies and each one had a relative presence and relative concealment. Basically, any human-being falls in this category. A group of people meet and associate with him while another group do not do so.

In traditions, Imam-e-Zaman's (a.t.f.s.) state during concealment is likened to the past prophets. In this regard, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:

“In our Qaem are signs of Musa- ibn- Imran (Moses).

Narrator says: I asked: What are the signs?

Imam (a.s.) replied: “His secret birth and his concealment from others …..”[25]

Also, narrator says: I heard Imam Baqir (a.s.) who said:“The master of the affairs possesses signs of four prophets (a.s.): ….his sign from Musa is fear and 'entezar' (awaiting) [during concealment].” [26]

Therefore, the story of concealment and secret living has precedence among the past prophets and messengers.

Shaikh Saduq has set forth traditions about concealment of past prophets like Andreas, Noah, Saleh, Abraham, Joseph and Moses (a.s.) and has proven their 'Ghaibat' in some way or the other.[27]

Question 10:

Among the Imams (a.s.) why only Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has 'Ghaibat' (concealment)? What is the reason and philosophy behind this 'Ghaibat'?

Reply:

It is not always easy for the human to understand the real cause and nature of the Islamic commandments. When the Imams (a.s.) were asked about the reason for 'Ghaibat' (concealment), they replied: 'Allah knows' or they quote this verse:“Do not put questions about things which if declared to you may trouble you.” (Qur'an, 5:101)[28]

This is because the absolute reason and various dimension of any affair is unknown to all but Allah.

Thus, the reason (cause) for 'Ghaibat' is a matter which either present or absent, 'Ghaibat' revolves around that matter. By its presence, 'Ghaibat' continues to prevail and by its absence or removal, 'Ghaibat' comes to an end. Such thorough knowledge concerning what is the matter of 'Ghaibat' and when it would come to an end is not known to anyone but Allah or someone chosen by Him. In spite of this, our immaculate Imams (a.s.) have pointed out in traditions several philosophies behind 'Ghaibat'. They never engaged in explaining the complete and ultimate cause and instead brought witness from the holy Qur'an by reciting this verse:

“And do not put questions about things which if declared to you may trouble you”

Philosophy is that first and foremost phenomenon in which the second phenomenon, in its initial formation, revolves around it. But in the world of non-existence and continuation of life, it doesn't revolve around it. It's possible that philosophy might get destroyed and the second phenomenon still continue to live or the philosophy might have existence but not so the second phenomenon.

Therefore, the main reason for 'Ghaibat' will be known after 'Zuhoor' (manifestation) [Bihar-ul-Anwar 52:91]. This lofty and concealed reason has been likened to the incident of Khizr (a.s.) and Moses (a.s.) where after completion of Khizr's mission, its philosophies became clear for Hazrat Moses (a.s.)

In order to make the questioners understand that it's not possible to have thorough knowledge of all the commandments and phenomenon, the Imams (a.s.) have used the term “ حكمت ” (philosophy) and reminded us of a few points:[29]

Testing and sifting the people

Fear of being killed. If Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) had constant appearance and consequently would lead to non-implementation of his responsibilities.

Various human schools of thought coming into existence and their failure and defeat and the preparedness of the people in accepting Hazrat's manifestation and global government.

Living securely and remaining aloof from giving allegiance to the tyrant rulers.

Question 11:

While remembering Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), why don't we utter his real name (due to strict prohibition found in few Shia traditions) and we call him by titles like“Mahdi” ,“Qaem Aale-Muhammad” ,“Hujjat'ullah” , “Baqiyat'allah, etc?

Reply:

Prohibition from uttering his special name has its roots in traditions. In Kafi, book of Al-Hujjah, Kulaini has opened a chapter named باب في النهي عن الاسم (chapter concerning prohibition from uttering name). He has narrated four traditions in it and Allamah Majlisi, while commenting on these four traditions has authenticated two of them.[30]

Mohaddes Nuri has brought 13 traditions in second chapter of his book“Najm-e-Saqeb” which all show that it's impermissible to utter the special name. Here, we shall set forth only one tradition:

Aban-ibn-Salt narrates from Imam Reza (a.s.) that he was asked about the“Qaem” . Imam (a.s.) replied:“His body wouldn't be seen and his name wouldn't be uttered.” [31]

The certain and decisive point is that utterance of Hazrat's special name was prohibited till the end of“short concealment” considering the requirements of that period. In the past, the immaculate Imams refrained from disclosing his name except to a few special Shias and content themselves with various titles and agnomens. However, after the start of greater concealment, some scholars and jurisprudents have considered it permissible to utter Hazrat's name although they consider its abandonment a precautionary measure as a form of respect for those set of traditions that prohibit it.

Today, our duty is to act upon the traditions, and the views of majority of the jurisprudents and scholars of Hadith. Although as per a few, the philosophy for prohibition of uttering name has ceased; yet the endless interests and harms stated in divine commandments and man's meager knowledge and lack of complete dominance over all of them necessitates us to take precautionary measures and not to utter Imam's name.

For this reason, we too follow the steps of high-ranking scholars on Hadith and refrain from uttering Imam's special name “م ح م د ” and remember and call him by various titles and seek his help by saying:

“O chief! distress has afflicted us and our family and we have brought scanty money, so give us full measure and be charitable to us; surely Allah rewards the charitable.” (Qur'an, 12:88)

Question 12:

Please describe the names, number and specifications of Imam-e-Zaman's envoys.

Reply:

As per historical narration, the reliable and trustworthy persons who frequently visited Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) mainly during the lesser concealment were manifold. But the most famous amongst them were four in number:

Abu-Amr-Uthman-ibn-Saeed-ibn-Amr-Asadi

Abu-Jafar-Muhammad-ibn-Uthman-ibn-Saeed-Amri

Abul-Qasim Husain-ibn-Rouh-Ibne-Abi-Bahre-Naubakhti

Abul-Hasan Ali-ibn-Muhammad-Samori (or Samari or Semmari)

These envoys of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and their deputyship possessed the same power and authority as the one given to them by Imam Hadi (a.s.), and Imam Askari (a.s.). In order to make the people habituated with Imam-e-Zaman's concealment, they too would fulfil the people's task and affairs through their own appointed agents.

During the 69 years of Imam's minor concealment period, these envoys, while protecting the secrets of Imamate, would fulfil the needs of the Shias related to their beliefs and ordinances through Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). During this period, the place of Hazrat Mahdi as well as the envoys was never revealed and thus nobody was arrested. These envoys kept secret this matter to such extent that it's said if their flesh was cut to pieces so that they would reveal Imam's place, they would never do so.

Aside from their secret-keeping and trust worthiness, these envoys were special friends of the household of Imamate and Vilayat and they were wise, intellectual and pious. The people would put forward their queries and receive correct replies from their living Imam through these envoys and via letters. Besides, by means of some letters that were written by pen without ink, they would gain certainty about the connection these envoys had with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Now we shall set forth a short description about each of these envoys:

Uthaman-ibn-Saeed was among the students and followers of the tenth and eleventh Imams and had the mandate from those Imams (a.s.). He gained the honour of serving the prophet's household from age eleven and won the confidence and trust of three Imams (a.s.). He lived in a military place close to Imam Hadi and Imam Askari. He was Imam-e-Zaman's envoy for several years. He died and was buried in Baghdad. It is said he died after 260 A.H.

Muhammad-ibn-Uthman son of first envoy. He died in 305 A.H. and was buried in Baghdad. He was amongst the followers of eleventh and twelfth Imam and was praised by both Imams (a.s.). He held the post of deputyship for approximately forty years.

Hazrat Baqiyat'ullah (a.t.f.s.) issued several 'Tauqeehs' (decrees) in honour of the second envoy and his father which can be found in their proper sources.[32] These 'Tauqeehs' reveal the lofty position of these two envoys in the eyes of Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.).

Husain-ibn-Rouh-Naubakhti belonged to the family of Bani-Naubakht. This envoy of Iranian nationality died in 326 A.H. He won the confidence of Muhammad-ibn-Uthman and helped him during the last two years of his life. As per Imam-e-Zaman's (a.t.f.s.) instructions, Muhammad-ibn-Uthman assigned him the post of deputyship.

Ali-ibn-Muhammad-Samori died in 329 A.H. (start of major concealment) and was buried in Baghdad. He is contemporary to Muhammad-ibn-Yaqub Kulaini author of Al-Kafi.

These envoys would receive queries and problems from the Shias and present them before Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Later, they would submit the replies to the people. Due to fear from the ruling caliph's tyranny they lived in dissimulation and didn't reveal their relationship with Imam (a.t.f.s.) except to the noble Shias and wise secret-preserving followers. During the last stage of the fourth deputy's life, he received a letter from Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) stating:“…….the major concealment has begun and there wouldn't be any deputyship any longer. Do not appoint anyone to the post of deputyship and you would die within six days.”

The following is the text of this letter ('tauqeeh'):

“In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful”

“O Ali-ibn-Muhammad Samori,

May Allah give rewards to your brothers in the matter of your death! You will depart from this world within six days. So arrange and complete your affairs and do not appoint anyone as your successor because, 'The major Ghaibat' (concealment) shall commence and 'Zuhoor' (Reappearance) wouldn't occur except if the Almighty Allah gives permission and that would be after long years of darkness when hearts will turn into stones and the land filled with injustice and cruelty. Soon, some will claim to our Shias about our meeting. Before the rise of Sufyani and the heavenly cry, such malicious claimers will fabricate lies and there is no power and might but that of Almighty Allah.”

On the one hand, the content of this 'Tauqee' closes the chapter of special deputyship and informs the people about the commencement of major concealment. On the other hand, it rejects the claims during major concealment by those claiming to know Hazrat's place and their ability in visiting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) whenever they desire so. Of course, this does not mean that Hazrat wouldn’t manifest himself before his fascinated lovers and the door of visitation would come to a close.

After six days, Imam's prediction turned into a reality. He departed this world and from that day ( 329 A.H.) the major concealment commenced.

Question 13:

Can one meet Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) during the major concealment? If the answer is in the affirmative, then how does it reconcile with Hazrat's 'Tauqee', wherein he addresses his last special envoy Ali-ibn-Muhammad Samori and says, 'Anyone claiming to meet me prior to the rise of Sufyani and the heavenly cry is a liar and scandalmonger.

Reply:

Undoubtedly, there exists the possibility of meeting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) during the major concealment. The best proof is the occurrence of such incidents in the length of history of the major concealment. The writings of scholars of Hadith , right from the oldest books till the current ones, are full of narrations about such meetings that have occurred during minor and major concealment period.

The vital point lies here that whether such meetings and contacts occur as per our wish and intention, or the discretion lies with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)?

Experience reveals as well as the sentence of Imam's 'Tauqee' addressed to Ali-ibn-Muhammad Samiri shows that such contacts occur due to Imam's will and permission and not because of people's wish. This is exactly one of the meanings of minor and major concealment ('Ghaibat'). That which has been negated in Imam's 'Tauqee' is bilateral contacts by the will of the common people (so that the door of deputyship etc is closed).

In 'Tauqee' we find these words:

“'Zuhoor' (Reappearance) wouldn't occur except if the Almighty Allah gives permission” which shows that there wouldn't be any 'Zuhoor' (manifestation) except if Allah wishes. Such type of meeting is negated otherwise there isn't the least doubt about the direct unlimited favours and generosities of Imam (a.t.f.s.) whether apparent or concealed to the common man in general and his Shias in particular.

To conclude, in conformation of the fact that Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) constantly exhibits his favours to his Shias and sometimes even manifests himself, we set forth here a sentence from Imam's 'Tauqee' to Shaikh Mufid:

“We have news about you. We are aware of your hardships and we are not neglectful in observing your state. We aren't forgetful of you, otherwise you would live a difficult life and the enemies would destroy you.” [33]

Observance, remembrance, and collection of news constantly occur together with apparent favours and grace. In one quick and short research one can see that the most pious and trustworthy figures in history like Sayyed Bah'rul Ulum, Allamah Hilli, Muqaddas Ardebeli and many others have succeeded in meeting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) thus leaving no place for any doubt.

Question 14:

At which places the probability is more for seeing Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)? Is he present in public places too, or he can be seen at special places only?

Reply:

Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) visits few special places and does not visit certain other places. He does not step in places of diversion and amusement although he has control and oversees them and Allah makes him aware about them. One cannot find him in unlawful, immoral and corrupt places. He is particular about recommendable acts. He visits Imam Husain's (a.s.) grave especially on every Thursday night. He attends the Umra in month of Rajab and visits the grave of holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and other Imams (a.s.). His special grace and kindness extends over all the religious gatherings of the Shias. The more beneficial and constructive these gatherings and the more nearer they are to Allah's satisfaction, the greater is Hazrat's care and attention for such gatherings.

Reason and experience dictate that he cares and extends his favour for gatherings that remember Imam Husain's (a.s.) virtues and misfortunes. The criterion in gatherings is not the number of attendants. The good heart of the speaker, the sincerity of the listeners, the pure intention of the house-owner, the prayers recited for Hazrat in that gathering and the attendants' good manners are fully effective in attracting Imam's attention. In fact, on numerous occasions, Hazrat has been seen in such gatherings. I emphasise once again that chances of seeing Hazrat are more in gatherings commemorating Imam Husain (a.s.). He has also been seen many times in Mecca, in the holy prophet's (s.a.w.a.) shrine, in holy places and the shrine of Amir-ul-Mu'minin (a.s.).

We narrate here one memoir:

About twenty-five years ago, a group amongst our sincere friends living in Shiraz collectively left one Thursday night for the outskirts of the city for a holiday rest. In the mountainous region, amidst the several trees and besides a spring, they recited Dua-e-Kumail on that Thursday night and were all in good mood. They called upon Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) numerous times. Usually, a state of forgetfulness overtakes those who are fortunate in meeting Hazrat. If not, then they would scream out drawing the attention of others thus making open the event whereas only a few are supposed to experience this grace. After that incident, one of them (who is still alive) narrates as such:

Since we rested in an open and mountainous region, we planned to keep guard every two hours over others who would sleep so as to protect the group from wild beasts. It was now my turn for keeping guard and it was past midnight. I walked on the border line where my friends lay asleep. I noticed a lantern lit near a spring that was at short distance from us and I saw someone drinking water. I went forward. I saw a splendid and dignified figure besides the spring. I greeting him and said: 'What are you doing here during this part of the night? He replied, 'I visit my friends wherever they gather. Those who reached here last night are our friends and we care for them. I have come here for their sake.

During that state, this youth had turned completely heedless and inattentive. The next morning, the group recited Dua-e-Nudba and at intervals, would call upon Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). During the last hours when the group started packing their things for departure, this youth suddenly jumped up and his state transformed completely. His friends inquired about his change of attitude and he said, 'Sit down, I have something to narrate.' Thereafter, he narrated the event of the last night.

Those who call him and implore for his help in young age receive greater attention from him. To sum up, the probable place Hazrat visits is the gatherings in which the Shias engage themselves in worship and remembrance of Allah.

I recommend the youth to have good manners and perform ablution while attending such gatherings. One should have purity of heart and attend for Allah's sake. That kind Imam (a.t.f.s.) shows greater favour towards the youth as their sins are lesser and their burden much lighter, and if any special grace is to be showered it would be showered upon the youth, Inshallah.

Question 15:

It is said that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has said,“We aren't forgetful of our Shias and we remember them.” Does he mean the entire Shias and even the sinful amongst them or he refers only the pious ones? If it is the latter case, then what would be the state of the sinful?

Reply:

In the lexicon of Ahl'ul-bayt traditions, the Shias are a group of special people. However, no term, concept and spiritual meaning is assigned to any single special group but instead encompasses various grades and levels. Although the truth of any term and its concept are more easily grasped if applied to outstanding figures nevertheless the same concept is also true at lower levels. In other words, all phrases are analogical and in definition, it's not that the first level category only is taking into account.

In our divine lexicon, terms such as 'Aalem', 'Mu'min', 'Faqih', 'Saleh' and 'Muttaqi' are used numerously. But these terms are not used for a few special class or exclusive people only even though special categories constantly come to one's mind. For example, the term 'Faqih' denotes“someone well-versed in religion” . It does not merely refer to someone who is top-most in 'Fiqh' (for instance Shaikh Tusi) but rather also applies to lower categories.

Thus, Imam-e-Zaman's (a.t.f.s.) statement (in 'Tauqee' of Shaikh Mofid) that:

“We aren't neglectful in remembering you and aren't forgetful of your affairs” does not merely apply to the top-most Shias only. Rather it applies to lower categories too with the condition that they don't remain aloof from Shia ethics so much so that they exit from the real meaning of 'Shia'.

If only the lofty and eminent Shias are considered in the eyes of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) then it would apply only to a few limited people of every era and the common people would no longer strive to traverse from inferior to superior level and our Imam's grace and kindness would not embrace and encompass all. But, from Imam's great ocean of love, we see everyone drawing the water of life and enjoying spiritual bliss each one to the capacity of their cup.

This is the rule of Divine Mercy and affection and the Imams (a.s.) are the perfect manifestation of Divine Mercy and affection. They don't withhold a bit from expressing their kindness and assisting the helpless and weak and numerous pages in history have recorded their noble temperament.

Shaikh Saduq narrates in“Savaab ul-A'maal” : Mo'alla-ibn-Honais says:

“In one rainy night, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) left his house and intended to visit the umbrella-stand of Bani-Sa'eda (a place ascribed to Bani-Sa'eda and the poor would sleep at night in that place). I followed Imam (a.s.). On the way, something fell from Hazrat's hand. He said, 'In the name of Allah. O Allah! Bring back whatever has fallen.'

In the darkness of night I went near and greeted him. He said, O Mo'alla, is it you? I replied, 'Yes, may my life be sacrificed for you.' He said, 'Search with your hands and whatever you find give it to me.' As I lay my hand on the ground, I realized that a few pieces of bread had fallen down. I picked them up and handed over to him. Meanwhile, I realized that a bag full of bread accompanied him as well. I said, 'May I be sacrificed for you. Will you allow me to carry this bag? He said, 'No I must carry it myself but you can accompany me.'

We reached the umbrella-stand of Bani-Sa'eda. I saw people sleeping at this place. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) went forward. He quietly kept beneath the baggage of everyone one piece and two pieces of bread. Thereafter, we returned. On the way, I asked, “Were they all the followers of true religion?” He replied,“If they were followers of the true religion, I would have made them my partners in everything even salt and pepper.” [34]

Thus, people who were not followers of truth were meted out with such grace and kindness. Besides, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) reckons the followers of truth (i.e., the Shias) to be his partners even in salt and pepper. Truly, his great son Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) too is kind and graceful to the Shias and he allows the same magnanimity and generosity to prevail.

As such, we can conclude and say in brief:

Everyone, whether pious or wicked can expose themselves to Hazrat's grace and kindness and on this basis, it is advisable for the pious to strive more in his piety and for the wicked to refrain from evils and instead turn to piety with the hope that Imam's boundless grace encompasses them all.

Question 16:

How is the position of Imam(s) in the creation of this world, and what is meant by 'Vilayate-Takvin' (authority over creation)? What does it imply when we say, 'Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the medium for receiving bounties and blessings?

Reply:

'Vilayate-Takvin' (authority over creation) implies that Imam (Allah's Hujjat) plays a fundamental role in creation. Just like the sun, which plays a vital role in giving material bounties to living creatures, Imam (a.t.f.s.) receives the blessings of existence with all its perfections, from the divine world, and bestows it to all other creatures.

Considering that the blessing of existence and its perfections descends from top to bottom, the Almighty Allah bestows this bounty by means of superior and noblest creature down to the other creatures. In the traditions of immaculate Imams (a.s.), we read:

“If the earth is devoid of an Imam, it would swallow its inhabitants.” [35]

Also,

“The existence of 'Hujjat' (Imam) is a must before the creation, with creation as well as after creation.” [36]

As per substantial and sound traditions concerning the manner of creation, the Almighty Allah, in the preceding world created the light of holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) from His own magnificence light. Then, from the holy prophet's light, He created the light of Amir-ul-Mu'mineen and Fatemah (a.s.). Thereafter, from the light of these two figures, He created the light of Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (a.s.) and later the other Imams (a.s.). The illuminating light of immaculate ones (a.s.), the first of its stages in creation, started glorifying and praising the Almighty Allah. Then, in the world of spirits, their pure souls were created and after formation of the world of body, the soul got attached to body and their elemental bodies were formed. Thereafter, from their light, the Almighty Allah manifested the rest of creation.[37]

It's interesting to point out that there exist a general resemblance between their bodies and the souls of Shias. Their bodies are from the world of“Elliyeen” and their souls higher than“Elliyeen” . On the other hand, the souls of Shias are from the world of“Elliyeen” and their bodies from a lower world.[38]

Thus, medium of blessing via Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) implies receiving the 'light of existence' from higher levels and giving it to the lower levels i.e., transfer of blessing of existence to lower creatures. Such type of creation is something in accordance with Divine Wisdom and Allah has made it a custom in all His creations. In philosophical terms, this type of creation (which is certain and conclusive as per traditions) is named as the principle of 'Emkan-e-Al-ashraf'o-Fal-Ashraf' Those interested for a detailed account can refer to books on traditions in the chapter related to creation of light of holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.).

Some of the benefits of Imam's existence during major concealment are like the benefits of the sun concealed behind the cloud. As per narration in Bihar-ul-Anwar narrated from Muhammad-ibn-Ya'qub Kulaini, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) himself says:

“The manner one benefits from my existence (my place in creation and society) during the concealment era is like the manner one benefits from the sun concealed behind the cloud. Verily, I am a respite and comfort for the inhabitants on earth just as the stars are for the inhabitants in heaven…..” [39]

Jabir-ibn-Abdullah Ansari inquired the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.): 'Will the Shias benefit during concealment of the 'Qaem'? The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) replied:

“Yes, I swear by the One who appointed me as prophet that they shall derive benefit from him and will find brightness from the light of his 'Vilayat' just as they benefit from the sun that is hidden behind the clouds.” [40]

Under this tradition, Allama Majlisi has described eight aspects of similarity between benefits derived from Imams during concealment and sun hidden behind clouds. We have explained them in detail in the book 'Mehre-Mahboob' and all of these are discussed from the viewpoint of creation and existence.

But from the viewpoint of divine legislation and guidance and bid for good and forbid of evil, Imam is the protector of religion, guide for mankind, very sympathetic, a compassionate father for them, a radiant sun emitting life and a pleasant limpid ocean.[41]

Imam is the model of servitude before Allah and the caravan leader of worshippers and devout people taking mankind towards the desired divine goal.

This level of guidance, showing the way, is related to divine guidance (Hedayat'e-tashri'ee). Rather, it makes one reach the desired perfection which is named as 'esoteric guidance in creation' (Hedayat'e-takvin)

In invocations we say:

“ آللهم إني اسالك بحق محمد و علي و فاطمة و الحسن و الحسين

The reason we swear by their names before Allah is because they are the medium of elevation of our deeds and prayers to the Divine threshold. For this reason, Imam Reza (a.s.), while describing the position and rank of Imamate says in a tradition come down in Kafi as follows:

“Completion of prayers, zakat, haj and……….is by means of Imam” (belief in Imamate)[42]

Question 17:

How would be the physical appearance of Imam (a.t.f.s.) at the time of his Reappearance? Considering his long age, would he look old or young?

Reply:

Some of the traditions concerning Imam-e-Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) describe that time would not turn him old, and he would continue to look young. In one of the traditions it has come down as follows:

“Aba Salte Haravi I asked Imam Reza (a.s.): 'What is the sign of your Qaem (so that one can recognize him)? Hazrat Reza (a.s.) replied: Amongst the signs is that he would be old age, but would look young in appearance. Anyone looking at him would imagine him to be forty or even less. Amongst his other sign is that time would never turn him old until death meets him.” [43]

In another tradition, Imam Hasan-ibn-Ali (a.s.) says:

“When Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will rise, the people would deny him because he would approach them with the face of a youth, while they would imagine him to possess an aged face.” [44]

Again in another tradition come down in the book 'Ghaibat-e-Tusi', Imam (a.t.f.s.) resembles prophet Jonah (a.s.) by possessing a youthful face.[45]

It's worthy to mention that all the fortunate ones who have met Hazrat, during minor or major concealment, have seen him with a youthful face; and appearing as a man of forty. We pray to Allah to make us fortunate too, Inshallah.

Question 18:

If Imam's Reappearance is connected to the earth getting filled with injustice and oppression, then is it useful to pursue the goodness, beneficence and piety?

Reply:

Firstly, the earth getting filled with oppression is not the only decisive and unchangeable course for 'Zuhoor' (Reappearance). Rather, Reappearance has another course too, which lies in the people's readiness in accepting the just and universal government of Imam.[46]

Secondly, the two realities of 'oppression' and 'filled' are“relative” issues.

Thirdly, the mind, the innate nature as well as the civilized call of all prophets and Imams have always been this:

'Even if the entire world is engulfed in corruption and oppression, one should never withhold from reforming the individual and society.'

Experience too reveals the fruits of these great personalities' endeavours at such sensitive times by delivering to the corrupt and vicious societies numerous pure and lofty individuals.

Fourthly, the reformers and guides of humanity recommend:

The pious people must strive and endeavour to influence the society and not allow the environment and society to affect them.

Enjoining good and forbidding evil should be given top priority and never forsaken.

“One shouldn't lose hope of Divine mercy” and support for such despair is itself a major sin.[47] (Qur'an, 12:87)

In describing the duties of 'those awaiting', it has come down in a tradition as follows:

About this verse, 'O you who believe! Be patient and excel in patience and remain steadfast' (Qur'an, 3:200), Imam Baqir (a.s.) says: It means, you should show forbearance in performing the obligatory acts; must adopt patience in the face of your enemies and should establish connection with your awaited Imam.'[48]

Also, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:

“The one who desires to be among the companions of our 'Qaem' must await him and must adopt piety and good manners…..” [49]

To sum up, Imam Mahdi's (a.t.f.s.) 'Zuhoor' and rule possess two background or position. The first position that pertains to good people is reform and piety and the selection rests with them. The other position is oppression resulting from lack of effort and endeavour on the part of common people and is the normal trend in the society. Here, there is no choice and the environmental conditions are forced on them. As per reason and divine commandments, people living during concealment are responsible for selecting and setting firm the first course, first for themselves and then for others.

Question 19:

Despite the presence of numerous pious and religious figures who are involved in good deeds and affairs in the entire world, why doesn't Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) manifest himself?

Reply:

The existence of good and pious people is not the absolute condition for 'Zuhoor', though it paves the way for it. The very basis of 'Zuhoor' depends on Allah's Will and Wisdom. Allah's Will is the absolute and decisive cause of 'Zuhoor' that fixes measures and ratifies it. The people's mental and spiritual preparedness is the groundwork for that 'Zuhoor'. Whenever they are prepared and pray and Allah also Wills so, Hazrat will manifest himself. We cannot say, “Why doesn't he come despite the presence of pious people? Rather it's our duty to pray and supplicate. The pious ones must pray for hastening his reappearance.

On the other hand, the saying that people are pious and virtuous holds doubt! Do we really have numerous numbers of pious and upright persons in our society? The presence of such people at our times is even less than (as per traditions) red sulphur. Religion too is scarcely found with people (like red sulphur) and its protection is like holding fire in hand. If the pious ones and pious deeds are deeply analysed and are measured on the basis of Qur'an, traditions and ethics of Ahl'ul-bayt (a.s.)[50] and the thoughts, beliefs and deeds are very minutely scrutinized at individual and social levels, we will then realize how rare are pious people. Here, we shall narrate an incident said by the father of one Marjae:

One pious and peace-loving man of a city often pleaded before Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) saying, 'O master! Why don't you come despite the presence of so many virtuous men? He cried and pleaded over this matter many times until Imam appeared before him. Imam said, 'In order to test how many are really pious, you may gather on Thursday night, forty most virtuous men in the house of the best pious one of the city. You may also call a butcher (who was amongst the best and pious people). Procure three goats and take that butcher and the goats on top of terrace of that house.

This pious man selects forty of the best and pious people and gathers them in the courtyard of that house. All sit down and pray and supplicate. (Meanwhile, Hazrat had asked that pious man not to disclose anything about the butcher and three goats). All of a sudden, they saw a light appearing above them from the terrace. They became certain that he is Imam-e-Zaman. Imam calls one of the virtuous men (who was indeed very virtuous) on top of the terrace.

He goes on top. After few moments, people in the courtyard see blood flowing down from the terrace! They become certain that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has beheaded that pious man and hence this flowing blood. A group flee away. Minutes later, Imam (a.t.f.s.) calls up another pious man.

He obeys and goes up. Moments later, they once again see blood flowing down the drain pipe and they gain surety that the second pious man too has been beheaded by Hazrat. All run away and only three men stay behind. Hazrat calls the third pious man. At this moment, except for this called person, the rest too run away. He too (who was very pious) goes up. Later, blood flows down the drain pipe.

Thereafter, Imam (a.t.f.s.) says to that restless man, who would often plead for his coming: “People are such. Just because they imagined (and weren’t even certain) that they were being beheaded, they fled away; whereas the blood flowing down belonged to the goats that were slaughtered by the butcher!”

People must be tested and must pass their test. Apart from this incident there are numerous other incidences too in history which shows that people are not yet prepared for Imam's 'Zuhoor' (manifestation). By tongue, they plead for 'Zuhoor' but by heart, they possess a different colour. The truth is known only when they are tested.

“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, We believe, and not be tried? And certainly We tried those before them….” (Qur'an, 29:2&3)

One of Allah's unchangeable laws is test and examination. When there is test, most people fail and are cast aside. Those who pass in the first stage are very insignificant. That which is necessary is to turn towards the real goodness (not by tongue and deceit) and then pray and plead in that very state. Our heart and reflection should be directed towards Imam's 'Zuhoor' until perhaps the Beneficent Allah takes pity on the prayers of the afflicted ones and rescues the people form perplexity and state of wandering. Verily, our duty is to pray and plead before Allah and adopt goodness and reform.

Question 20:

Today, most people say that majority of the signs of reappearance of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have already occurred. Is this true? Basically, to what extent are the signs of reappearance influential in Imam's advent?

Reply:

The precise reply calls for preliminary traditions concerning various topics as follows:

First: Traditions that talk about signs and groundwork for Imam's 'Zuhoor':

Once, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) addressed the attendants as follows:

“How would it be when your women turn lewd and your youth adulterers and you will forsake enjoining the good and forbidding the evil?”

The attendants said:

O messenger of Allah! Will such an incident ever occur?!

He replied:

“Yes, even worse than this would occur! How you would be when good shall be presented as evil and evil as good….?” [51]

Also, Asbagh-ibn-Nubateh narrates from Amir-ul-Mu'mineen (a.s.):

“At the end of time and approach of the hour (resurrection or reappearance), [which is the worst of all times], women would come out devoid of clothes and decorated with various ornaments. People would be seen exiting from religion, entering into troubles, inclining towards lust, hastening towards pleasures, making lawful the unlawful and they would be the everlasting hell-dwellers.” [52]

Besides, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:

“A time would come when filling the stomach would become people's aspiration and materialistic life their dignity. Women would become the direction to which people would turn to and money and wealth would become their religion. They are the worst of human-beings who possess no goodness before Allah.” [53]

Second: Traditions that strictly prohibit fixing the time of Reappearance (Zuhoor) and likens it to the Resurrection Day.

Kumait says:

I approached Imam Baqir (a.s.) and asked: When will the Qaem Aale-Muhammad rise? He replied:“The same question was asked before Allah's apostle who said: His rising is similar to the time of setting up of resurrection which will not occur but all of a sudden.” [54]

Similarly, Fuzail says:

I asked Imam Baqir (a.s.): Is the hour of 'Zuhoor' known? He replied:“Those who fix the time are liars; those who fix the time are liars; those who fix the time are liars.” [55]

Also, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:

“Those who fix the time are liars. We have neither fixed any time in the past nor shall do so in the future.” [56]

Third: Traditions that lay stress on invocations for hastening 'Zuhoor' and calling upon Allah for help. If invocations weren’t effective, the holy Imams (a.s.) wouldn't have emphasised to such extent. Invocation is effective for any affair that is capable of delay or acceleration. In 'Tauqeeh' of Shaikh Ahmad-ibn-Ishaq, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) says:

“Close the door of useless queries and refrain from putting yourselves at pain. Suffice yourselves to the extent necessary. Furthermore, pray excessively for accelerating the 'Faraj' (deliverance) because your deliverance lies in this (i.e. excessive prayers).” [57]

Also, Imam Kazem (a.s.) prays as follows:

“O Allah, I swear by Your concealed Name……that You send salutations on Muhammad and Aale-Muhammad and make haste in 'Faraj' of the avenger and make his specified day reach fulfilment….” [58]

Fourth: Traditions stress that the work of 'Zuhoor' would be settled in one night, and Allah would permit him to rise.

Zaris Kenani says:

I heard Imam Sadiq (a.s.) saying:“In Saheb'ul-Amr (Imam Mahdi) there exists a similarity with Joseph and that is Allah would rectify his rise in one night.” [59]

Fifth: Traditions that talk about Bad'a' (change of previous Divine Will, plan and beginning of something new). This change of destiny is explained by Imam Baqir (a.s.) as such:

“Allah has not been worshipped to such degree as (belief in) 'Bad'a'; or Allah has not been honoured to such extent as considering 'Bad'a for Him'.” [60]

Thus, the traditions come down from the immaculate ones (a.s.) have declared the matter of 'Zuhoor' and rise of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s) as a changeable affair.

From the above five groups of traditions, we can conclude as follows:

It is likely that the entire signs of 'Zuhoor' could be subject to 'Bad'a' (change) such that Allah would give permission for Hazrat's rise without the occurrence of those signs. We should realize that the affair of 'Zuhoor' lies in Allah's hands and does not depend on the decisive and definite occurrence of signs. As per Divine wisdom, this affair would be corrected in one night. Verily, our duty at this time is to create a sound creed (belief) and ethics at individual and social levels and before that to pray excessively for 'Faraj'.

Question 21:

Some traditions talk about new religious laws and commandments during Imam-e-Zaman's rule. Does it mean he would bring a religion different from that of the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.)?

Reply:

Many of the Islamic teachings and religious precepts have been changed by wrong interpretations and explanations. The factor behind these changes and distortions are the malicious motives and mean desires of people and governments, who in the course of history, have paved the way for establishing their authority and opening the path of playing with religious creed and realities. The 'Ghaibat' (concealment) of the 'Hujjah', who is the genuine interpreter of Qur'an, has turned into an appropriate opportunity for the wrongdoings. Distortion of most of orders began just after from the holy prophet's era and would continue till the time of 'Zuhoor'. One of the vital steps of Hazrat Mahdi would be his campaign against distortions and wrong interpretations that have kept the human mind engaged for centuries.

Thus, his religion would not be different from the religion preached by the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). Rather, it would be a return to the logic of pure and true original Islam and the same heavenly and everlasting Book.

As such, in numerous instances, it would differ with what people used to practice in the long history. During 'Ghaibat' (concealment), its likely people haven't acted upon the true Islam and some have even interpreted wrongly Islam and Qur'an so much so that at the time of 'Zuhoor', people will imagine that Hazrat has brought a new creed.

In many traditions it has come down that Hazrat would give a new start to Islam:

“ يستانف الإسلام جديدا.....”[61]

Similarly, it has come down in the holy Qur'an:

“And to Him shall submit whoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly.” (Qur'an, 3:83)

This verse reveals that Islam and monotheism would turn widespread; the holy prophet's Islam and the Qur'anic laws would be implemented. Most of the sciences too would follow the realities and Hazrat would explain and interpret truly the verses of Qur'an and divine rules.

While talking about Mahdi's 'Zuhoor', Amir-ul-Mu'minin (a.s.) says about Hazrat's reforms as follow:

“After replacement of Allah's worship with capricious desires, He shall restore worship of capricious desires with worship of Allah. After restitution of Qur'an with personal opinion and understanding, he shall restore Qur'an in place of personal judgements and opinions.” [62]

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says as well:

“…when our Qaem rises, everyone would set forth before him reason from Allah's Book and they would interpret and explain Allah's book (Qur'an)…” .[63]

The wrong interpretations and explanations of Qur'an is the problem Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) would face during 'Zuhoor'. These distortions and personal views would turn upside down the divine book and sunnah till the time of 'Zuhoor' to such extent that Amir-ul-Mu'minin (a.s.), in continuation of the aforesaid sermon interprets the divine book and Sunnah as dead:

“He (Mahdi during 'Zuhoor') shall give life to the dead Book and Practice of the holy Prophet…”

Therefore, during the time of 'Zuhoor', Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) would cast aside the decorations put on divine religion and precepts, and remove all sorts of distortions and interpretations levied against the Qur'an and religion. He shall establish monotheism and Qur'anic justice in the human society. He would gather the whole world under one banner, one creed, one heavenly book (Qur'an) and one doctrine. He would set up one nation from the human society.

Question 22:

It is said in the Islamic traditions that justice will be dominant during Imam-e-Zaman's rule. Does refer to mere social justice or covers individual aspects too?

Reply:

Justice implies that everything is set in its proper place and maintains equilibrium. Social justice is the movement of society towards the correct goal. Injustice is just its contrary. Thus, like injustice, justice is not mere governmental and social justice, but enjoys a wider meaning.

First, it represents one of the prominent divine attributes, and in this regard Imam (a.s.) says:

“The bases of religion are 'Tauhid' (monotheism) and 'Adl' (justice).” [64]

Secondly, it is amongst man's individual virtues. A just person is someone who does not commit major sin nor repeats minor sins.

Thirdly, at times, it is used as a scale. A true and correct saying is called a just saying.

Consequently, justice means to be moderate and to refrain from sins and implications. Social justice is reckoned to be only one of its most evident applicability. Under the circumstances, in reply to the above-mentioned query, one can say: During the time of Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.), the government training programs would drive human-beings towards individual justice and the social programs would set up a just system and its evident proof can be found in the famous statement:

“يملا الارض قسطا و عدلا كما ملئت ظلما و جورا”

Question 23:

Manifestation of religion and the prophet's traditions, and severance of the oppressors' arms is the duty of all Muslims. So how do we recite in Dua'e-Nudba: 'O Allah! Through him, manifest Your religion, and make evident Your prophet's traditions. Also, we recite, 'Where is the one stored-up for severing the arms of the oppressors?

Reply:

All the duties that Muslims are charged with are undertaken by Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) in their highest forms. He fulfils the best of it, and personally performs whatever he invites others towards it. In Islam, a deed performed by one for another is not accepted. Rather, every Muslim has an independent and separate duty, aside from few exclusive duties borne by the holy prophet and Imams.

The level and work of anyone depends on his responsibility, ability and duty. Imam-e-Zaman's exclusive responsibility is to implement the Islamic ordinances all over the earth; uproot tyranny and oppression from the earth and hoist the banner of Islam and monotheism in every nook and corner of the earth. All the Muslims bear this responsibility but their global leader in this affair is Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.) who would lead them. As such, the common duty of the Muslims doesn't in any way contradict the global duty of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) as an Imam, leader and commander. The same is true to all the other qualities we attribute to him in Dua'e-Nudba[65] . For example:

“Where is the awaited one, for the correction of the bent and crooked….?”

“Where is the object of hope for demolishing tyranny and hostility?”

“Where is the one safely stored-up for the revival of precepts and ordinances?”

In all these expressions, Imam Hujjat-ibn'l-Hasan (a.t.f.s.) is looked upon as a leader and guide. Such remark exists in all cultures where the work of one executing the command is ascribed to the commander too because he bears the responsibility of drawing the plan, managing its implementation and harmonizing the forces.

Question 24:

Will Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) judge the Ahl'e-kitab (people of the Book) by their own books?

Reply:

Imam (a.t.f.s.) would invite them to their own Books, and would judge on the basis of their Books till the time they bring faith in Hazrat and turn Muslims. Verily, his reasoning would be based on divine Books but the un-distorted ones. It has come down in traditions that he would draw out the Torah, Injeel and other past divine books from the cave of Entakia and would argue by them.[66]

However, the rule would be an Islamic rule. The government would be taken care by Islamic rules and regulations. Everything would be with Islam and Imam (a.t.f.s.) would debate with the people in the most desired manner. In the un-distorted books, glad tidings about Imam's reappearance has come down in more clear terms though such glad tidings can be found in the distorted books as well. We have referred to them in reply to another query.

The 'Fiqh' (jurisprudence) during Imam-e-Zaman's era would be the pure 'Fiqh' of Islam and Ahl'ul-bayt. The administration would be based on justice. In fact, justice would prevail in all the circles of Mahdi's government. All affairs would be run on the basis of holy Qur'an. Verily, social justice would prevail in every nook and corner of the society and widespread all over the earth.

Question 25:

After 'Zuhoor', will Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) make use of modern technologies or not? Also, will technology continue its advancement at that time or will its progress come to a halt?

Reply:

There is no verse or tradition saying that Imam (a.t.f.s.) would cast aside advanced technology, or whenever he reappears the technology at man's disposal would fail to function. Besides, it wasn't the practice of holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imams (a.s.) to avoid using technology or craft prevailing at their respective times. So Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) too would follow the practice of his forefathers.

On the basis of traditions that talk about the power and strength of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and his companions, we can say: Other than the unseen powers, they would also benefit from prevailing means. But we can not pass any definite judgement in this regard. For instance, we read in one tradition:

“He (in whatsoever part of the world he may be residing) would establish contact with each of the agents and members of his government (who are 313 in number). He would see them and converse with them.” [67]

From this tradition, we draw the probability that Hazrat's companions would employ new and advanced crafts. Another tradition says:

“When Imam (a.t.f.s.) rises, he would lean upon the holy Ka'ba and then say:

آلا يا اهل العلم ! بقية الله خير لكم إن كنتم مؤمنين و انا بقية الله

“And Hazrat's voice would be heard by all the people of the world.” [68]

From this tradition too we can draw this conclusion that he would probably employ mass media and his voice would reach the whole world. However, in all Imam's affairs, there also exists the probability of usage of Unseen powers.

About the query whether progress and advancement would continue during Imam's time or not, traditions say that during his time, knowledge and know-how would advance by leaps and bounds. However, whether knowledge would definitely move in direction of high technologies or in some other direction is not precisely clear.

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:

“Ilm (knowledge) consists of twenty-seven parts. All the prophets and Imams have brought two parts of Ilm and when our Mahdi comes, he will bring the other twenty-five parts of it.” [69]

Please ponder over the contents of this tradition. It's not that Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) knows twenty-five parts of knowledge and the prophets and other Imams were unaware. Rather it says,“The entire knowledge brought by prophets are two parts from the twenty-seven parts and Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) shall bring twenty-five parts.”

The matters revealed by the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), Amir-ul-Mu'minin (a.s.) till Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.), Hazrat Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all preceding prophets were two parts from the twenty-seven parts. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) shall bring the other twenty-five parts of knowledge. If we take into account this proportion, it shows whatever Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s) would bring would be something extraordinary in all fields of knowledge.

Besides this noble tradition, we have another tradition narrated from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.):

“When our 'Qaem' shall come, he shall place his hand over the head of (Allah's) slaves and their intellect shall turn perfect and their ethics completed.” [70]

Also, Imam (a.s.) says:

'When Hazrat reappears, the earth shall emit out its bounties.”[71]

What are the earth's bounties? They are treasures, precious stones, useful and needed growths all over the earth. Besides, one cannot neglect the divulgence of spiritual bounties. It's come down in a tradition that:

“At the time of 'Zuhoor', there would be no land but fruitful and flourishing.” [72]

To sum up, various traditions show the existence of extraordinary progress and unparallel spread of knowledge during Imam's time. But it's not clear whether it would be definitely due to technology and with today's concept in mind or not.

Question 26:

How would be the economic condition during Imam-e-Zaman's rule and how would the economy run during his reign?

Reply:

Traditions do talk about the economic welfare and people's means of livelihood during Imam's era. It should be noted that his economic model would differ from the well-known models of today. Islam is independent in all its rules and precepts and except for a sound natural disposition it does not rely on any human system. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), who is the complete Islam and Qur'an will fully put into practice the very true and real Islam.

The verses of Qur'an and traditions teach us points which we shall set forth here along with some introduction. In the Islamic system and order, there exist three main foundations: Belief, ethics, and jurisprudence. These three rings are inseparable from one another. The economic system of Islam is not separate from the political system; the political system isn't separate from ethics; and the system of ethics is not detached from the beliefs (creed). This is a very vital issue. It is wrong to consider the economic system of Islam to be irrelevant from other rings. Rather, we should examine the system collectively.

Imam-e-Zaman's rule is founded on the basis of contents of Qur'an,“They shall serve Me, not associating aught with Me” (Qur'an, 24:55). Monotheism is its main pillar and foundation. Therefore, the economic system cannot be designed as one independent system, either in Islam, or during Imam-e-Zaman's rule. Rather, it is a ring in the chain of rings.

Keeping in view this introduction and the subsequent points, we now say:

The holy Imams (a.s.) have set forth various matters related to the economic system during Imam-e-Zaman's rule. For instance, during of his reign, no spot on the earth will remain but that it would manifest its bounties and nobody will step on any spot but fully cultivated and flourishing.[73] Moreover, he will distribute wealth equally.[74] Here, equally means equality and justice and distribution takes place on the basis of need.

By justice, we do not mean mathematical evenness. Rather, observance of proportionality in society is justice and equality. The one living as a bachelor is not the same as the one who supports two in a family. Mathematical evenness is neither rational nor just. Besides, traditions say that the economic state, high-mindedness and people's freedom from want would be to such extent that Hazrat would call the needy and say,“Pick up the money?” The people in turn will act honestly and pick up to the extent of their need. During Imam-e-Zaman's government, the people would enjoy the divine bounties that were blockaded by (past) governments.

We have still another set of traditions. For instance, a woman would carry a tray of gold and travel from Iraq to Syria. She would not step but only on grass. She would use ornaments without anyone disturbing her![75]

Although this tradition reveals the security that would prevail during Hazrat's era, it also talks about people's freedom. It's this freedom that would prevent anybody from looking at a lonely woman's ornaments, and economic and financial security would be thus established.

Abundant bounties from one side and implementation of social justice on the other side will uproot poverty to such extent that as per other set of traditions, there will remain no needy and indigent person.[76]

Question 27:

Is Hazrat Mahdidependent on our 'Sadaqa' (alms and charity) that we pay for his safety and well-being? In the same way, does he need the recommendable prayers or other deeds that we perform and gift to him, or perform on his behalf? Basically, what is the consequence of such actions for Imam (a.t.f.s.)?

Reply:

To provide spiritual reward of good deeds (other than obligatory acts) to Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), gifting of recommendable acts, or their performance on behalf of Hazrat or other Imams (a.s.) and holy prophet (s.a.w.a.); financial servings like giving alms or serving food to the poor for gaining Hazrat's satisfaction; 'Nazr' (vows and oblations) for Imam Husain (a.s.) and Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) are all from one class and category. Regarding this issue, one must pay attention to few important points:

1. In performing a good deed and presenting its reward to an immaculate Imam, we are only following the directives of traditions. Traditions specify that people had informed the Imams (of their time) that they performed deeds on behalf of the past Imams (a.s.). Then Imam (a.s.) would approve their acts. For instance, pay attention to this tradition:

A person approached Imam Kazim (a.s.) and said: When Eid-e-Fitr approaches, I finish one full recitation of Qur'an (out of about forty recitation I did in the blessed month of Ramazan) for the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), one full recitation for Hazrat Fatemah (a.s.), and one full recitation for the holy Imams (a.s.). At the end, I finish one full recitation on behalf of you. Does this act bring me any reward? Imam (a.s.) replied: 'The reward you earn is that you would accompany them on the day of resurrection.' I said, Allaho-Akbar! Will I be given such a reward? Imam (a.s.) uttered thrice:“Yes” .[77]

2. In this earthly world, no movement or action takes place without any reaction or effect. The smallest physical action, like twinkling of eyes, leaves its effect. So how can one consider a spiritual action and deed (that takes place in the spiritual world and its effect is incomparable with that of the physical world) to be effect-less. Although the holy prophet and Imams are needless of such spiritual rewards, nevertheless the All-Graceful and All-Mighty God does not leave any action ineffective; especially if it is done for the sake of His best creatures.

3. As far as sentimental relations are concerned, reward is the best tool for attracting one's love and affection. People, no matter how great and praiseworthy they are, get pleased by gifts, whether material or spiritual. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), the spiritual axis of the universe and the one needless of others whether spiritually or materially gets pleased with gifts like one flower, one chapter of Qur'an etc. Naturally, he exhibits his reaction to the person presenting the gift and honours him to express his love once again.

4. There still exist a scope for advancement and perfection for the holy prophet and Imams, even if they possess lofty positions. The holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) worshipped Allah and behaved as His servant till his last breath. He was the best of Allah's creations, and superior of all the creatures, but his acts of worship made him perfect.

A noteworthy point that is said about Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is that his prayers, fasting, Haj, Umra, Ziarat of Imam Husain (a.s.), alms-giving etc leave a deep effect on his soul and makes him perfect spiritually. This very movement and permanent advancement gives him so much strength and power that it prepares himself for fulfilling the heavy universal and divine task (which is unparallel and none except he has to fulfil). It gives him spiritual strength to fulfil his exceptional and onerous divine-universal duty very easily and all alone.

Thus, gifting of any good deed to him or performing any good deed on his behalf supports him and prepares him better to face the difficulties in forming the universal government based on Qur'an and monotheism.

5. A sentimental relationship and affection is set up between the donor and receiver of gift. This act will make us pay attention to him and his attention too would focus towards us. It would acquaint us with his customs; it would make our cry for help reach him and would bring for us the fatherly reply. It will link our insignificant heart with his magnificent and shore-less heart; it will connect the brook of our worship with the ocean of his servitude; it will plant the petty sapling and the delicate stem of our life under the shade of that lofty and divine tree and it will give the star of our existence the brightness from the moon and sun of his existence….

In short, it will make his Imamate (leadership) over us more steadfast and make ourselves more firm in following him. All these are effective if we sincerely and submissively obey their commands.

6. According to traditions, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) lives an ordinary, natural and usual life. Hazrat too is exposed to natural illness, physical calamities, problems and mental sorrows just like all other people. Thus, alms-giving, invocation, prayers and spiritual gifts (which as per the sayings of Imams discards calamities) keeps away Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) from calamities and leaves their effect on his health.

Question 28:

It is well-known that Hazrat Mahdiwill rise at the time when the earth is filled with tyranny and oppression until he would fill it with justice and equity. So, should we encourage oppression and corruption so that Imam's 'Zuhoor' (manifestation) draws near? Consequently, if oppression and tyranny in the earth is the pre-condition to his coming then what is the duty of the one awaiting him? Should he strive to pave the way for such oppression?!

Reply:

The sentence: يملأُ الأرض عدلا كما ملئت جورا has come down in traditions in various forms. In the noble book 'Bihar-ul-Anwar' alone, 31 cases have been recorded with slight variations in their expressions. However, the contents and contexts of expression of none of these traditions reveal that oppression is pre-condition to 'Zuhoor'. Rather it expresses one of the two positions: The first position is the position of goodness and piety and the second one the position of oppression and corruption. Position or background is one thing and pre-condition another thing. The below example brings nearer the concept of tradition:

You inform your friend, 'I will visit you on Friday evening.' Does this sentence imply that your visit depends on Friday and if you fail on Friday, your visit is cancelled or it implies that Friday is the course (of time) and not pre-condition of your visit with your friend? Thus, there exists the possibility and probability of visit on another day and if we wished to set conditions we would say,“My condition for visiting you is approach of Friday.”

Secondly, there exists a clear difference between man's duties and the natural and forcible occurrences. From the viewpoint of Islam, Qur'an, traditions of Ahl'ul -Bayt and reason, prevention of corruption, training and development on the path of servitude, observance of piety and purity, recognition of God, prophethood, Imamate and Ma'ad and acting on one's creed are man's duties. Thus, numerous traditions have come down concerning man's duties during the concealment period and these traditions lay great emphasis on acting upon these aforesaid duties.

To sum up, the matter of earth getting filled with oppression and corruption is one of the two courses of Imam Mahdi's 'Zuhoor', and not a single course, nor a pre-condition. It is our duty to create the other course i.e., goodness and piety. In other words, these traditions reveal the state and common social events at the time of 'Zuhoor' and the traditions about 'Entezar -e -faraj' determine an individual's responsibility during 'Ghaibat' (concealment) where the person doing 'Entezar' (awaiting) must be good and pious and it is never right to mingle these two matters together.

Question 29:

How do the companions of other Imams differ from the companions of Imam-e-Zaman?

Reply:

The companions of Badr possessed special purity. They enjoyed extraordinary faith, patience, and supported the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). At that time when Islam was left in isolation, they defended Islam and the holy prophet with their small number and meagre means. They achieved intuitive faith. They witnessed the truth with their very eyes. They numbered 313. They became a good example of sacrifice for others.

Imam-e-Zaman's (a.t.f.s.) companions would number the same as the companions of Badr. Their high and lofty position is so great that the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) sends greetings upon them and longs to meet them. A day the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) was sitting inside the mosque. A few of his companions too were present. He said: 'I wish I could meet your brethren.'

“يا ليتني لقيت إخواني”

Abu-Bakr stood on his feet and said, 'Aren't we your brethren? Aren't we your believers? Didn't we migrate along with you? The holy messenger (s.a.w.a.) replied , 'You all do believe in me, you all have migrated with me too, nevertheless (you are not my brethren) I wish I could meet my brethren!'

This time Omar stood up. He repeated the same remarks and heard the same reply.

For the third time, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: 'My brethren are those who have not seen me but believe in me.' At the end, he once again said: “يا ليتني لقيت إخواني ”[78]

They possess numerous special qualities. They enjoy strong faith and belief. At times of test and examination in lawful and unlawful matters, they take utmost care. They cling on to the Qur'an and Ahl'ul-Bayt. If they happen to die while awaiting their master, they will return to life during his 'Zuhoor'. Their guts and courage is as strong as iron.[79] Each one possesses the power of forty warriors. Their physical strength is not their only power; they also possess spiritual strength and will-power. Each one sees himself in the existence of others.[80]

No Imam possessed this number of loyal and faithful companions. Amir-ul-Mu'minin (a.s.) said: 'If I possessed forty warriors, I would have revolted.”[81] If Imam Hasan (a.s.) too possessed the required number of companions, he would have fought and not entered into peace treaty with Muawiya. Imam Husain (a.s.) had 72 loyal companions and they became famous world-wide for their will-power, faith and martyrdom. None of the subsequent Imams (a.s.) possessed 313 loyal companions. From Imam-e-Sajjad (a.s.) onwards, the Imams (a.s.) only got the chance of spreading Shia creed and jurisprudence and this was more so during the time of Imam Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Sadiq (a.s.).

Situation became more severe during the time of Imam Musa-ibn-Jafar (a.s.). They imprisoned Hazrat for 14 years. Thereafter, they sent Imam Reza (a.s.) into exile to Khorasan. The eight Imam (a.s.) found little opportunity in spread the Shia thought. He held a vital debate with followers of various religions and in that debate he defended the true Islamic thoughts based on the method set by Ahl'ul-Bayt (a.s.).

Thereafter, the pressure on Imams (a.s.) gained momentum such that Imam Hadi (a.s.) and Imam Askari (a.s.) were kept in garrison under the vigilance of the caliph's military. For this reason, they were given the title 'Askari' (military) simply because they were under military siege. Thereafter, there arose no opportunity for the Shias and their Imams (a.s.) until the rise of the promised Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).

Although for all phenomenons, the Divine Will is a condition, yet, as per Divine Wisdom, the ready ground-work too is very important. The read ground-work for Imam-e-Zaman's rule comprises of pure, loyal, upright, pious, brave and self-sacrificing companions who prepare the world for the just government of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and we await them:

Question 30:

Is it possible to establish connection with Hazrat Mahdiin the usual and normal manner? Or the condition for such meeting is abandonment of worldly life and engaging oneself in spiritual life and in short leading a monastic life?

Reply:

What is meant by connection? Do you mean spiritual and heartily connection or physical connection? By apparent connection is meant we should have relationship and social mingling with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) (who lives in the society and sees us and we too see him but do not recognize him). This type of connection is not possible during“major concealment” . It has come in traditions that people see him, but do not recognize him.[82] So anyone claiming that he can have apparent connection as per his own free-will is something unacceptable.

About spiritual connection, the Almighty Allah describes it in the following verse from the holy Qur'an:

This noble verse that has been interpreted in traditions in connection with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) gives the following meaning:

“O you who believe! Be patient and excel (over others) in patience and establish a link.” (Qur'an, 3:200)

In interpretation of the last part of verse, traditions say:

“And establish a link with your Imam, the awaited Imam.”[83]

This tradition does not inform how one can establish apparent connection and link with Hazrat during his concealment. The commanded connection is spiritual; while apparent connection is not possible, except by Imam's own guidance and permission.

Secondly, as per traditions, Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) walks in the market-places, and on carpets of people. It is likely he purchases his requirements from their shops and stores. He participates in their social gatherings.[84]

Such expressions reveal that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) lives an ordinary life (even though he enjoys a lofty position in existence). He travels; he visits mosques; he goes for pilgrimage to Karbala; and he performs pilgrimage to Mecca by making use of the means at his disposal. Thus, he lives a special type of ordinary and normal life.

Thirdly, the holy prophet and Imams had two aspects: human and divine. They were human-beings and also had links with the world of revelation. Looking at the human and apparent aspect, they were innate and normal human-beings. Imam-e-Zaman, too, is the same. Regarding human qualities and characteristics, he is similar to other human-beings, except he possesses the highest human perfections and virtues.

When we greet an ordinary human-being, he replies our greetings. When we take one step out of love and affection for him he reacts back. Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) [whose heart is filled with love and affection] is the heir to the affectionate prophet; he possesses the love and affectionate that Imam Ali possessed; the bravery that Imam Husain possessed and the steadfastness that Imam Hasan possessed. He is extremely kind and sympathetic; and the complete and perfect proof of the famous tradition of Imam Reza (a.s.) who while describing an Imam says:

“The Imam is like an affectionate friend; like a sympathetic father; like a mother who is compassionate and cares for her infant child.”

“Verily, Imam is like a pool. Imam is like the blessed rain. Imam is like the glowing moon that brings comfort. Imam is like the sun that gives life.”

Thus, Imam surely reacts to our actions.

Hazrat Mahdi pure ocean of love is so immense that anyone who establishes the minutest relationship with him even as narrow as one string of hair will arouse his sentiments, and his grace and favours will shower upon him like a blessed rain.

The prophets and Imams are lofty and superior human-beings and in kindness and affection unparallel. They care and devote their efforts in guiding mankind. Thus, relationship during the concealment period is of spiritual nature; it is connection of heart.

This type of spiritual relationship is possible by two means: One is taking guard of one's deeds and behaviour and the other is inner make-up or creation of inner resemblance. For instance, if a person wishes to visit an eminent religious personality or visit a devout 'Marja'h', he should perform two tasks. One that he should prepare his apparent clothes suitable for such an occasion and secondly create a resemblance in thoughts and feelings. He should match his temper and manners with his temperament and should have sincerity and heartily inclination towards him, so that he can gain the maximum knowledge and spirituality.

If such circumstance is created, a connection can be set with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) too. For this reason, we should strive on his path. We should pray for his 'Faraj'. We should recite the 'Ziarats' that have come to our hands. We should give charity for Hazrat's well-being. We should provide spiritual presentations to him. On his behalf, we should perform Haj, Umra and Ziarat of Imam Husain (a.s.), help the needy people and visit the Shia orphans. By such means, one can gain spiritual relationship with him.

Hazrat too has promised that whoever establishes relation with him would not be forsaken or forgotten by him. It has come in books of traditions that Hazrat informs Shaikh Mufid that:

“We are not heedless of assisting our Shias and we aren't forgetful of you.” [85]

This famous sentence reveals Hazrat's affection and also shows that he takes care of the Shias. In short, how to establish relation with Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.)? Inwardly and outwardly, one should observe the lawful and unlawful command. One should have love towards Imam (a.t.f.s.) so that the spiritual connection is set. One should never forget Hazrat and rather remember him in all spheres of life. Hazrat too has said, 'Anyone who lives in such manner shall be guarded and supported by us and we shall never forsake him.'

Consequently, during the major concealment period, we see many who were eager to meet Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have indeed met success. Similarly, those who strived to gain Hazrat's satisfaction and have set spiritual relation with him (even though they weren't fortunate to see him by the physical eye) have seen their life showered by Divine Grace.

At the end, we remind you of some necessary points that are tools for establishing relation with Hazrat. Anyhow steadfast on implementing these points can lead him in establishing a spiritual link and connection with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).

A desirous and enthusiastic person should observe the following:-

Recite verses from the holy Qur'an every day and gift it to Hazrat.

In daily prayers, he should pray for Hazrat's 'Faraj' particularly recite 'Dua' of“Allah-humma-Kun-le-Waliyek….” which is the 'Dua' of night of destiny ( 23rd Ramzan, Lailat'ul-Qadr). It is worthy to mention that the night of 23rd Ramzan in all probability is 'Laitat'ul-Qadr' and earmarking this 'Dua' to such a night reveals the loftiness and profundity of this 'Dua'.

He should give out charity no matter how small every morning for Hazrat's well-being.

Once or twice a week, he should address Hazrat by the famous 'Ziarat-e-Aale-Yasin' and express his beliefs before him.

On Fridays, he should recite the 'Ziarats' that are exclusive to Hazrat.

He should invite the people to the best of worships during major concealment which is 'Entezar-e-faraj' (awaiting deliverance).

He should notify Hazrat's friends and followers to have love and affection for him.

He should enjoin the good, and forbid the evil (with this motive that he wishes to prepare the ground and society for Hazrat's manifestation).

He should endeavour and make utmost effort in performing the obligatory acts, and keeping distance from the unlawful acts.

It is highly hoped that the one who remains steadfast in performing the above deeds will attract Hazrat's attention, and will pave the way for establishing a firm spiritual relation with his noble master.