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How Will the Imam Know That the Time for the Appearance (Zuhur) Has Come?

The meeting started on time. Dr. Jalali welcomed the group and opened the session with his question.

Dr. Jalali: How will the Imam of the Age know that the time for his emergence has arrived? If it is said that at that moment he will receive the information from God, then it becomes necessary that he too, like the Prophets, receives revelation. In that case there would be no difference between a Prophet and an Imam.

Mr. Hoshyar: First of all, it must be pointed out that both the rational arguments and hadith that speak about the Imamate regard it possible that the sacred existence of the Imam has contact with the hidden world. At times of dire necessity the Imam is empowered to know such religious truths. In some traditions it is reported that the Imam can hear the voice of an angel, although he does not see him.1

Consequently, it is possible that God, the Almighty, might inform the twelfth Imam through inspiration. Imam Sadiq has related:

One of us, the Imams, is victorious although in concealment. When God wills to make his task public He will impact his heart with a hint, and he will emerge and take charge of the affairs with God's command.2

It is reported by Abu Jarud, who came to meet with Imam Baqir and asked him to tell him about the Master of the Command. The Imam said:

At night he would appear to be one of the most fearful persons, whereas in the morning he will turn into one of the most confident and secure persons. His program will be revealed to him in a matter of one night and a day.' Abu Jarud went on to ask: "Will he receive revelation?" The Imam said: "Yes, he will receive revelation. But it will not be the revelation Prophets receive. Rather, it will be a revelation similar to the one ascribed to Maryam, the daughter of 'Imran, to the mother of Moses and to a honey bee. O Abu Jarud, the Qa'im of the family of the Prophet is more respectable than Maryam, the mother of Moses and a honey bee!"3

These and other similar traditions suggest that the Imams too receive revelation and inspiration, while the difference between the two divinely ordained offices of the Prophet and the Imam remains intact. After all, the Prophet is the lawgiver and received the norms and the injunctions of the Shari'a through revelation. On the other hand, the Imam is merely a protector of the law who does not receive the injunctions and the laws through revelation.

Moreover, it is possible that the Prophet has informed the Imams about the actual time of the Mahdi's appearance, through his provision of some indications about the signs of appearance that shall occur at the time. The Imam of the Age is also awaiting the fulfillment of these signs. For instance, in the following tradition the Prophet is reported to have predicted the emergence of the Mahdi. He said:

When the time of the zuhur arrives, God will bring the sword and the standard of the Mahdi to a sound calling out: 'O God's friend, rise and kill the enemy of God!'4

One piece of probable documentation that is provided in the hadith is the tradition that describes God's sealed instructions given for each Imam about their role by means of a revelation to the Prophet who handed that scroll to 'Ali b. Abi Talib. When 'Ali assumed the caliphate he opened the scroll and read the instructions for him and followed them during his public mission. Similarly, each Imam following him did the same thing during their period of Imamate. At present the sealed scroll with the instructions for the twelfth Imam is with him.5

1 Kulyani, Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 271.

2 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 6, p. 364.

3 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 7, p. 172; Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 389.

4 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 389.

5 Kulayni, Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 279.

Adopted from the book : "Al-Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.); the Just Leader of Humanity" by : "Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini"

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