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Moment by Moment : Expecting the Advent of al-Qa'im (PBUH)

Moment by Moment : Expecting the Advent of al-Qa'im (PBUH)

by :

Vahid Majd

During their missions, all the prophets and apostles have emphasized the fact that a savior will arrive at the end of time who will implement the government of justice over the globe. This news has been heard since human beings appeared on earth.

Allah has indicated this promise in all the early scriptures and commanded humans throughout ages to expect the manifestation of the kingdom of Allah on earth. The holy Quran also gives glad tidings of the day for which all the believers of the world are enthusiastically awaiting, and confirms that the righteous and virtuous servants of Allah shall finally inherit the earth:

The earth is Allah's. He gives it as a heritage to whom He wills, and the end is for the watchful. (7:128)

The Most Glorious also says:

And indeed We wrote in the Psalm (Zabur) after the reminder that My righteous servants shall inherit the earth. (21:105)

Allah confirms that He will revive the earth and will give it a true life after it had become dead as a result of corruption by mankind:

Know that Allah shall give life to the earth after its death! (57:17) Allah has guaranteed to manifest the kingdom for the righteous believers on earth in the following verse of the Quran:

Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will most certainly make them rulers on earth as He made rulers before them,

that He will most certainly establish for them their religion that He has chosen for them, and that He will most certainly, after their fear, give them security in exchange. They worship Me and they do not associate anything with Me. (24:55)

In a number of verses in the Quran, Allah has emphasized that what He has promised will certainly take place. For instance:

Dr.Vahid Majd

Verily that which you are promised is true. (51:5)

And Allah shall never break His promise. (22:47)

Surely, Allah shall never fail to keep the promised event. (3:9)

Glory to our Lord! Truly the promise of our Lord is a fulfilled one! (17:108)

Besides the indications in the Quran and the early scriptures, the testimonies of the last Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) that have been narrated by all Islamic schools in numerous traditions leave no doubt that this promise will be fulfilled by the hand of a man from his progeny. The Sunnis have narrated:

The Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) said, "Even if only one day has remained for the duration of the world's existence, Allah shall prolong that day to send a person from my Ahl al-Bait whose name is the same as my name… He shall fill out the earth with peace and justice just as it was filled with injustice and tyranny." 1

The above tradition proves that although Allah may postpone this divine promise even up to the last days of the world's existence, nevertheless it will certainly take place.

Hence, all the true believers should expect its happening through the hands of the promised savior from the family of Muhammad (PBUH&HF), whose most famous titles are al-Mahdi (the guided), al-Qa'im (the one who shall stand up), al-Muntadhar (the awaited).

There are many traditions narrated by all Islamic schools where the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) has portrayed the events just prior to the reappearance of al- Mahdi (PBUH). The Shi'ite traditions, narrated from the Prophet (PBUH&HF) and the Imams of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT),

provide much more details for these events. On the other hand, there are many traditions conveying that the advent of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) will be very sudden and unpredictable, and that Allah may cancel or change the signs before his reappearance and may let the Imam (PBUH) reappear at any moment.

In the first part of this work, we will discuss the significance, purpose, and predictability of the signs, and the way they should affect our expectation for the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH).

We will examine the possibility of canceling the foretold signs in the light of the verses of the Quran and the traditions. We will also investigate why the Imam (PBUH) has not yet started his mission, for what reasons Allah has delayed his advent, and how our behavior has contributed to this delay.

In the second part, we will enumerate some of the divine commandments that if we follow, Allah may expedite the reappearance of the Imam (PBUH) and lessen the hardships that we are going to face prior to and during his advent.

They are the duties of everyone who is expecting al-Qa'im (PBUH), as instructed by Ahl al-Bait (PBUT). In this light, we will show the significance of continual expectation of receiving al-Qa'im (PBUH), will present the notion of waiting for the relief (Intidhar al-Faraj), and the way it should affect our life.

1. The signs before reappearance of al-Mahdi (PBUH)

A number of narrations in the Shi'ite collections of traditions inform us of some signs that will take place before the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH). Some of these signs describe the hard condition of people in the world before his reappearance. For instance, Abu Hamza al-Thumali and Abu Basir have both narrated:

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) said, "The Qa'im shall not rise until after a great fear from people, the earthquake, afflictions, trials, and the plague have been inflicted upon people, the war between Arabs, great disagreement among people,

breakups in their religion, change in their situation so that the wishers wish death every morning and night due to the enormity of what is observed, and the eating of people by people.

The emergence of al-Qa'im (PBUH) shall be at the time of despair and hopelessness of people for finding any (other) opening or relief." 2 On the other hand, some signs are about the miraculous events that will happen just prior to the reappearance of al-Qa'im (PBUH).

For instance, there will be a lunar eclipse at the end of the month of Ramadhan. The eclipse at the end of the month is a supernatural phenomenon that has never happened before. Badr Ibn Khalil al-Azdi narrated:

I was sitting with Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) when he (PBUH) said, "There shall be two signs before the rising of al-Qa'im (PBUH) that have not occurred since Adam (PBUH) descended on earth. The sun shall be eclipsed in the middle of the month of Ramadhan and the moon (shall be eclipsed) in the end of that month."

A man in the presence said, "O Son of the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF)! The sun shall be eclipsed in the end of the month and the moon in the middle." The Imam replied, "I know what you say. But these are the signs that have never happened since Adam (PBUH) descended." 3

In many verses of the Quran, Allah reminds us that He has power over all things and is able to do what He wills. The Quran reports many miraculous events that happened in past as evidence for the truthfulness of His prophets (PBUT).

For instance, The Quran states that the moon was split into two parts as a sign for the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF), 4fire became cool and peaceful for Prophet Abraham (PBUH) 5, etc.

All the physical rules have been created by Allah and He may change it as He wills. When a miraculous event takes place, people truly realize that this is a sign from Allah, not from people.

Through the miracles, Allah reminds His creation of His absolute power and confirms His message. The impossibility of the natural occurrence of two eclipses in the specified order implies the possibility of its miraculous occurrence, its unpredictability by astronomical data, and consequently, the unpredictability of the time of the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH).

The foretold future events before the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) were the information that Allah willed their occurrence and were in effect at the time that the Imams (PBUT) spoke about them.

In other words, with their vision of the knowledge of what will happen in future, the Imams (PBUT) foretold some of the signs that Allah had willed and intended at that time. However, Allah has not promised the occurrence of the planned signs,

and thus all such signs are subject to change due to Allah's new decision. In the language of religion, the origination of a new plan by Allah is called al-Badaa. We will briefly discuss the phenomenon of al-Badaa and its significance in the next section.

The traditions state that among all the signs, there are some that are definite, which means it is very unlikely that Allah changes His will on their occurrence. Therefore, they are most likely to take place before the advent of Imam al- Mahdi (PBUH). Umar Ibn Hanzala narrated:

Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "There are five definite signs before the rising of al-Qa'im, which are: (the rising of) al-Yamani and al-Sufyani, the (heavenly) cry/call (by Gabriel which will be heard all over the world), the murder of Nafs al-Zakiyya, and the sink (of the Sufyani army) into (the land of) al-Baydaa (located between Mecca and Medina)." 6

Even for some of the definite signs, Allah reserves al-Badaa, and may change those of the definite wills that are not categorized as His Sunan or His promises.

For instance, Allah informed us through His Apostle (PBUH&HF) that before the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH), al-Sufyani would certainly rise.

This is a definite will, but it is not necessarily categorized as a promise. It is an insisted future event meaning that it is extremely unlikely that Allah cancels His permission for the occurrence of this event, though it may still be possible.

According to the following tradition, Allah may make Badaa even in such insisted news. Dawud Ibn al-Qasim narrated:

We were with Imam al-Jawad (PBUH) when the issue of Sufyani was brought up and the traditions which state that his advent is of the definite matters.

I asked Imam al-Jawad (PBUH), "Does Allah make Badaa in the definite matters?" He (PBUH) replied, "Yes." I said, "Then, we have a fear that Allah makes Badaa in (the reappearance of) al-Qa'im." The Imam replied, "al-Qa'im is of the promises, and Allah does not break His promises (referring to verses 3:9 and 13:31)." 7

In other words, Allah will not fail in any of His promises including the annihilation of injustice and the establishment of the government of justice on earth by Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH).

This was Allah's testimony in the verses of the Quran that were quoted previously. However, Allah may make Badaa on the time of reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) and may advance or postpone his mission. Moreover, He may cancel the occurrence of some of the definite signs that were supposed to take place before the Imam's (PBUH) advent, as explained by the above tradition. The question that may arise here is that what the significance of canceling a sign by Allah is.

To answer this question, let us first discuss the notion of al-Badaa in more detail. This is one of the complex issues that have confused minds of many people, and consequently the opponents of the school of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) have taken the advantage of this confusion to ridicule and attack their faith.

There are many pieces of evidence in the Quran and the traditions expressing that Allah may change what He has already willed and He may initiate a new will. However, as we discussed earlier, there is an exception for His Sunan and His promises that He has chosen not to change at all.

The will of Allah is the creation of Allah. Thus, this change only occurs in the created information and does not imply any change in His Eternal Knowledge (i.e., His Essence). In other words, the novelty occurs in Allah's action, and not in Allah's Essence. Allah eternally knew what He would change later.

By al- Badaa, only the created information that has been visible (al-Shahada) for the vice-regents of Allah becomes invisible (al-Ghaib) and vice versa. The visible information is about what Allah has willed to happen in the past and in the future (Ilm Ma Kan wa Ma Yakun), and the invisible information is about all other infinite possibilities that Allah has not willed to happen (Ilm Ma Lam Yakon).

Numerous verses in the Quran prove that Allah's hands are open to originate or change anything in His creation. For instance:

And the Jews said, "The hand of Allah is tied up." Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for what they uttered. Nay, His hands are outstretched. (5:64)

Allah erases whatever He wills and establishes (likewise), and with Him is the Mother-Book. (13:39)

Your Lord creates whatever He wills, and He chooses. No choice has they (in creation or in leadership as per traditions). Glory to Allah! And far is He above the partners they ascribe! (28:68)

If He so wills, He removes you and brings in a new Creation, nor is that (at all) difficult for Allah. (14:19-20; 35:16-17)

Every day He brings in a (new) matter/situation. (55:29)

He increases in the creation what He wills, for Allah has power over all things. (35:1)

Nor is an individual's life prolonged, nor does anything decrease from his life span, except that it is (made appear) in a book. Verily, all this is easy for Allah. (35:11)

In a very long discourse narrated from Imam Ali (PBUH), he has stated the following regarding al-Badaa:

Imam Ali (PBUH) said, "As for he who denies al-Badaa, (it would suffice that) Allah said in His Book, 'So turn away from them, and you are not blameworthy' (51:54) (by which) Allah, the exalted, intended their destruction on earth at that time.

Then, Allah rectified for them by His mercy, and made Badaa regarding their destruction, and revealed to His Apostle, 'And reminds, for reminding benefits the believers.' (51:55) A similar case is His saying, 'But Allah was not to punish them while you were among them; nor was He to punish them while they ask for forgiveness.' (8:33) Then Allah made Badaa (by revealing),

'But what plea have they that Allah should not punish them when they keep out (men) from the Sacred Mosque?' (8:34) Similarly, it is His saying, 'If there are twenty tolerant among you, they will overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred (like them) among you, they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve.' (8:65)

He then made Badaa and said, 'Now, Allah lightened your (burden) for He knew that there is a weakness in you. Thus, if there are a hundred tolerant among you, they will overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand (like them) among you, they will overcome two thousands by leave of Allah. And Allah is with those who are patient.' (8:66) This way,

Allah carried out the matter in the abrogating (Nasikh) and the abrogated (Mansukh). This shows the reformation of what was originated. Furthermore, it is His saying, 'Allah wipes off whatever He wills and records (likewise), and with Him is the Mother-Book.' (13:39) Hence, does He wipe off (anything) except that which existed (i.e., its will was existent)? And, does He record (anything) except that which did not exist (i.e., its will was non-existent)? There are many examples like these in the Quran..." 8 In another verse of the Quran, Allah states:

Why had not there been a township (among those We decreed to destroy) whose people would accept faith so that their faith should have profited them, except for the People of Jonah (Yunus)? When they believed, We removed from them the chastisement of ignominy in the life of this world, and permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while. (10:98)

The above verse points to a glaring example of al-Badaa that took place for the People of Prophet Yunus (PBUH) whose calamity was kept off and prevented.

Due to their rejection of Allah's commandments and their disbelief, they became subjected to the severe wrath of the Almighty. At the time that the punishment was about to manifest, Prophet Yunus (PBUH) distanced himself from them and went far away. Upon his leaving, people came to their senses and suddenly changed their behavior and became mindful of Allah.

They pleaded for mercy to the Almighty Allah from the depth of their hearts. Subsequently, Allah decided to avert the calamity that was about to be inflicted upon them all.

Another example for Allah's change of decision is when we pray to Him. If Allah chooses to respond to our prayer, He initiates real change in the outside world and may re-plan our future. Allah states in the Quran:

Call on Me so that I answer you. (40:60)

My Lord would have not concerned Himself with you if it were not for your call (upon Him). (25:77)

There are sayings from the Imams (PBUT) indicating that Allah may cancel a decisive and confirmed decree (Qadhaa al-Mubram) regarding a worldly punishment that is about to take place, merely due to the supplication (Du'aa) of His servant. For instance, it is narrated:

Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) said, "I advise you to make supplication (Du'aa). Certainly supplication and request from Allah, the mighty and the majestic, drive away an affliction that was planned, was passed, and all that was remaining was its execution (Imdhaa).

When Allah is called upon and is implored, He averts the affliction in an amazing way." 9

As we have seen, there are many pieces of evidence in the Quran that clearly disprove the doctrine which states "the pen has dried up having written down all future events". In contrast, the followers of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) do not emulate the Jews who considered that Allah had concluded the matter.

We believe Allah's hands are open to do as He wills. Nevertheless, Allah does not act without purpose. The changes in decree have educational purposes for people including the prophets and the Imams, peace be upon them all.

Although people may usually be unaware of the details of all such changes in the world, by realizing the general concept of al-Badaa, one will truly understand that everything is in the hands of Allah and He is able to do all things at any time, and that it is never too late for Him to do anything He wills. It demonstrates the absolute freedom of Allah, the Glorious, in all His actions and that He is never restricted by His own creations, including His previous will.

Moreover, it removes the sense of compulsion and irrevocable predestination, giving sinners hope that Allah may totally revise their past and future. It encourages them to strive hard, supplicate to Allah, and act upon good deeds with the hope that Allah may fix their deeds and may change their fate. Zurara Ibn A'ayun and Hisham Ibn Salim narrated:

Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "Allah was not worshipped to the extent that He was worshipped due to al-Badaa. Allah was not glorified as much as He was glorified due to al-Badaa." 10

The Shia and the Sunni traditionists have narrated many traditions, which state that the advent of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) will be rectified by Allah within just one night. In other words, the time of the Imam's reappearance is very unpredictable and depends on Allah's sudden choice of action, and his advent will take place miraculously.

The Sunnis have narrated from Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyya (RA) and Imam Ali (PBUH) that the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HF) said:

"al-Mahdi is of us Ahl al-Bait (PBUT). Allah shall rectify his matter within a night." 11

In some other traditions, the Imams (PBUT) stated that the time of the reappearance of al-Qa'im (PBUH) is like the time of the Hour (of resurrection), which is completely unpredictable and is known only to Allah. The time of resurrection has not yet been decreed and Allah shall enforce it suddenly once He wills. Di'bil narrated:

Imam Ali Ibn Musa al-Ridha (PBUH) said, "As for news of the time (of reappearance), indeed my father told me having heard it from his father who heard it from his ancestors who heard it from Ali (PBUH) that it was asked from the Prophet (PBUH&HF), 'O the Apostle of Allah! When will al-Qa'im from your offspring appear?'

He said, 'His similitude is the similitude of the Hour (of resurrection). 'None but He shall manifest it at its time. It is heavy for the heavens and the earth. It will not come to you except suddenly.' (7:187)"

Allah states in the Quran:

They ask you about the Hour - when will be its appointed time? Say, The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (alone). None but He shall manifest it at its time.

It is heavy for the heavens and the earth. It will not come to you unless suddenly. They ask you as if thou were eager in search thereof. Say, The knowledge thereof is with Allah (alone), but most men know not. (7:187)

In fact, the traditions state that some of the Quranic terms and verses that apparently refer to the day of resurrection alternatively refer to the day of the rising of al-Qa'im (PBUH) as well. These terms include, "the hour (al-Saa'a)" 12, "the hereafter (al-Akhira)" 13, "the days of Allah (Ayyam Allah)" 14, "the day of the religion (Yawm al-Din)" 15, "the day of emergence (Yawm al-Khuruj)" 16, etc. One of the most important common specifications of both events is their sudden, unexpected, and miraculous manifestation.

Once Allah makes Badaa and creates His decree on the sudden advent of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH), the first one who will become aware of it is the Imam (PBUH) himself through divine inspiration. Allah states in the Quran:

Then, when it is knocked in Naqur, that day will be a tough day, far from easy for the disbelievers. (74:8) Mufadhdhal Ibn Umar narrated:

On the commentary of verse, "Then, when it is knocked in Naqur," (74:8) Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "Certainly, of us will be an Imam who will be victorious and will be hidden. Once Allah, the Glorious, wills to manifest his affair, He shall impact his heart with a hint, and thereupon, he will emerge and will rise by the authority of Allah, the Glorious." 17 Moreover, Abu Jarud narrated:

I said to Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH), "May I be sacrificed for you, inform me about the holder of this matter." The Imam (PBUH) replied, "He turns from the most fearful person to the most confident overnight, and his program will be revealed to him in a matter of one night and one day."

I asked, "Is this revealed to him?" The Imam (PBUH) replied, "O Aba Jarud, this is not the revelation of the prophet hood. Rather, it will be a revelation similar to the one that He gave to Maryam, the daughter of Imran, to the mother of Moses, and to the honeybee. O Abu Jarud, the Qa'im of the family of Muhammad (PBUH&HF) is more honorable than Maryam, the mother of Moses, and the honeybee!" 18 The fear of the Imam (PBUH) is mainly due to the dangers and calamities that threaten those who love him.

The sudden change of the state of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) from the state of fear to the state of security, which is also pointed out in verse, "He will most certainly, after their fear, give them security in exchange," (24:55) shows that even the Imam (PBUH) does not know the time of his reappearance until Allah initiates Badaa, makes it a knowable reality, and permits his reappearance to save the servants of Allah.

Thus, like his followers, the Imam (PBUH) himself is one in expectation. Of the titles that have been mentioned in the traditions for Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) are: "the expected (al- Muntadhar)" and "the expectant (al-Muntadhir)".

All the above pieces of evidence, among others, prove that the time of the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) is of pending matters (Mawquf) and that his coming is very unpredictable and sudden. This event will be one of the greatest manifestations of Allah's power,

which will take place at the time that most people would consider it unfeasible. Allah will suddenly make Badaa and will fully accommodate the Imam's advent within one night. Although the reappearance of al-Mahdi (PBUH) is in Allah's will, the time of his reappearance has not yet been decreed.

The Shia traditionists narrated:

Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said to his companions, "Be more hopeful on the things that you consider far-fetched than that which you presume very likely. Verily, Musa Ibn Imran (PBUH) went to bring fire (to provide heat and light) for his family and when he came back to them he was an apostle, and this way, Allah rectified the matter of His servant and His Prophet, Musa (PBUH), within a night.

In the same way, Allah shall treat al-Qa'im, the twelfth of the Imams (PBUT). He shall rectify his matter in one night and shall take him from complication and concealment to the light of relief and reappearance." 19

There are many other Shi'i transmitted traditions, which convey the similarity of the sudden advents of some ancient prophets (PBUT) with that of Imam al- Mahdi (PBUH). 20

The following tradition also shows that we should expect the reappearance of al-Qa'im at every moment and make ourselves ready for his arrival because his coming is very unpredictable. It is narrated:

Imam Ja'far Ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "Anticipate the rule of your master in every day and night of your (lifetime), for indeed Allah (says about Himself) 'Every day He brings in a (new) situation.' (55:29)" 21

The notion of continual awaiting and hoping to see the golden days of the universe at any moment has many positive benefits in our lives. It constantly reminds us the absolute power of Allah. The faithful servants, who believe Allah has power to do all things, should not consider any goodness far-fetched from Him. Moreover, so long as we expect the Imam (PBUH), we are hopeful for a better future and will not be disappointed by the difficulties and the problems of our present life no matter how severe they are. In addition, when we realize that Allah may advance the advent of al-Qa'im (PBUH) to a very near future, we do our best to prepare our spiritual state to receive him. In Part II of this work, some divine prescriptions that make us prepared for receiving al-Qa'im (PBUH) will be presented.

As we have seen, the existence of al-Badaa plays a central role in our way of expectation of al-Qa'im (PBUH). Due to the possibility of Badaa, the signs foretold are subject to change. According to the traditions, waiting for the Imam (PBUH) at any moment is the best deed and the most significant act.

If the signs were unchangeable or could not be advanced, there would be no point to wait all the time and in every moment. Having faith in alteration of the characteristics and the time of the events by Allah, everyone would keep himself ready every morning, every evening, and all the time in between to receive the Imam (PBUH).

A person who has no faith in the alteration of signs and thinks of the reappearance of the Imam (PBUH) in terms of the sighting of all the signs is actually waiting primarily for those signs and then for the Imam (PBUH).

Such an individual may deny Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) if he were to reappear without some of the signs being fulfilled. In contrast, the traditions give prime importance to the promise of the reappearance of the Imam (PBUH) and consider the appearance of the signs as a less important issue. Abu Ubaida al- Hadhaa narrated:

I asked Imam al-Baqir (PBUH) about this matter (i.e., the reappearance of al-Mahdi (PBUH)). He (PBUH) replied, "Because you expect that it comes to you in a (certain) way, do not deny it (if it happens in another way)." 22

It is now clear that we should wait for the reappearance of Imam (PBUH) and not for the signs, and further, should not consider the Imam's reappearance before witnessing all the foretold signs impossible. It is only in this situation that imploring Allah to hasten the reappearance of Imam (PBUH) is meaningful. Allah is free to shower His blessings any time He wants.

He has created a leader for this task long ago and has kept him on call in concealment. He can order the reappearance of the Imam (PBUH) even before the sighting of the signs, can change, or miraculously expedite the occurrence of the signs for his early reappearance. Indeed, much more than any of His followers, the Imam (PBUH) himself is eagerly waiting for receiving Allah's permission at any moment.

Specifying the signs before the time of reappearance has its own advantages and benefits both before and after the occurrence of the signs. As we mentioned, some of the foretold events are related to the hardship of people before the reappearance of the Imam (PBUH) and warn people about the situations that they may face if disappearance is prolonged.

These prophecies urge the believers to turn to Allah and supplicate to Him with the hope that He may alleviate or cancel such hard situations and accommodate an easy and early relief. Thus, such warnings are, by themselves, constructive if people react to them by turning to Allah before the actual manifestation of the signs.

On the other hand, if a sign does finally occur, it strengthens one's faith in the reappearance of Imam (PBUH) and increases his anticipation. Once a sign occurs, a believer realizes that it was among the signs foretold, and thus, his faith and confidence will increase, and he trusts that the time of reappearance is closer than ever.

Thus, the foretold events should not be ignored or considered as insignificant before and after their occurrence.

Nevertheless, the signs were not given for the purpose of predicting the time of reappearance or for urging people to search the scientific data to estimate the time of the occurrence of the sign itself. Rather, they serve as reminders for people only after they occur miraculously. The signs were described in order to keep us alert, aware, and mindful of Allah, but not to enable us to make any kind of prediction.

Keeping in mind the issue of al-Badaa, all the mentioned signs before his arrival, even if they finally occur, they may happen miraculously in an unpredictable manner.

As we have seen in a tradition quoted earlier, some of the signs such as an eclipse of the moon at the end of the month can only happen miraculously. Even for some other signs that can occur naturally and can be predicted by the available physical information; they may still occur supernaturally and thus their predicted schedules may be proven wrong.

The most interesting observation is that, one of the mentioned signs at the end of the time is the rising of the sun from the west 23, which shows that Allah will miraculously change the direction of the heavenly bodies, and thus, all astronomical data will change according to the new movements.

This means that all timely predictions based on the available astronomical data may be proven false due to this single miracle of Allah. Moreover, this makes possible many other events that are considered physical impossibility including the double eclipse mentioned earlier. Similar to the advent of the Imam (PBUH), the signs before his advent are Allah's miracles, all of which remind us the power of Allah and His sovereignty. Their miraculous nature assures that they are signs from Allah, not from people.

Hence, instead of worrying about the time of the occurrence of the unpredictable signs before the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH), one should care about keeping faith in the Imam (PBUH) and following his customs. Only in that way, will one be safe from the afflictions of the end of time no matter how the signs finally appear.

If some signs appear he will gain more hope and energy that the appointed time is fast approaching, and if he did not observe the signs, he will still remain hopeful to receive the Imam (PBUH) because he believes that Allah is never restricted by His creation including His previous will and has power to do all things at any moment.

The occurrence of the signs indicates that the reappearance of al-Qa'im is about to take place. However, if Allah wants to respond to people's supplication for an early relief,

He may expedite, change or cancel some of the decreed events. The question that may arise here is that, will there be any confusion among people in recognizing Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH)-once he starts his mission-due to the changes in some of the signs? Moreover, if there would be no confusion that he is the promised Mahdi (PBUH), why would then some people oppose him?

According to the traditions, once Allah calls Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) to reappear, all people around the world, believers and disbelievers likewise, will become aware of him immediately and without any shadow of doubt.

In the following tradition, it is mentioned that his reappearance will be as clear as sunshine and will be identified by all people. Narrated Jabir Ibn Yazid:

Imam al-Baqir (PBUH) said, "Be calm so long as the heavens and the earth are calm... Verily your matter (i.e., the movement of the Imam (PBUH)) shall not take place secretly as it shall be a sign from Allah, not from people.

Be hold! It shall be brighter than sunshine so much so that it shall not remain hidden from the righteous and the evildoer (likewise). Do you know morning/dawn? It shall be like the dawn without anything hidden in it." 24

According to another tradition, Imam al-Ridha (PBUH) explained the sentence, 'Be calm so long as the heaven and the earth are calm' as 'Be calm so long as the heaven is calm from the call (of Gabriel) and the earth is calm from sinking the army (of al-Sufyani).' 25 These two signs are among the five definite signs that we discussed earlier.

We do not know of anything brighter than sunshine, which could be sensed by our faculties. The reappearance Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) will be clearer than that. The above tradition proves that Allah has guaranteed He will not let anyone remain ignorant of the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH).

It also warns the believers against joining the hidden agenda of those who pretend to be the Mahdi, by stating that Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) will starts his mission openly, and will be immediately identified by all people.

However, according to the next tradition, once the Imam (PBUH) reappears, no one would be able to believe in him if he denied him, disbelieved his existence, his rights, or his Sunna before the time of his reappearance; or, it is better say, believing in him at that time will be of no use for a disbeliever.

It is just like believing in Allah on the Day of Judgment, which will be of no benefit for the disbelievers. Those who entertain doubt about his existence during the time of occultation (after truth has reached them through the traditions) will have no way to escape from his sword once they meet him (PBUH). Allah states in the Quran:

... On the day that certain signs of your Lord do come, no one would benefit from believing in (that sign) if he did not believe (in that) before, or such belief is no good for him. Say, "Wait! We too are waiting." (6:158)

Ibn Ri'aab narrated that, on the commentary of the above verse, Imam Ja'far al- Sadiq (PBUH) said:

"The 'Signs' are the Imams (PBUT), and the 'expected sign' is al-Qa'im (PBUH). On that day, no one would benefit from believing in (that sign) if he did not believe in him before his rising by sword even if such a person believed in (the Imamate of) his ancestors, peace be upon them." 26

In some other traditions, rising of the sun from the west has been mentioned as a sign after which having faith will not be helpful for the disbelievers. 27

As we have shown, there is nothing to worry about identifying Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) once he emerges. We should only worry about our belief before his reappearance since believing in him after his reappearance will be of no benefit at all. Those who will oppose Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) when he does appear will not doubt that he is the Imam (PBUH).

They will oppose him because they did not believe in the sayings and practices of him and those of his fathers, as they do not match with their innovations and the innovations of their fathers.

The terrifying news amongst the foretold events is that most of those who believe in Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) will doubt his existence over time due to the length of the time of occultation and because of various trials and afflictions that befall people during this period. Therefore, when the Imam (PBUH) starts his mission, the believers will be very few in number. Saqr Ibn Dilf narrated:

I asked Imam al-Jawad (PBUH) why Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) is called al- Qa'im. He (PBUH) replied, "Because he will rise after his remembrance is dead (in the society) and when most of the believers in his Imamate have turned back (from their belief)."

I asked why he is called al-Muntadhar (the awaited). He (PBUH) replied, "Because there shall be an occultation for him whose period shall be prolonged. The sincere ones shall wait for him, the doubtful ones shall deny him, those who reject him shall ridicule his remembrance,

and those who propose a time (for his reappearance) shall increase. During that period, those who hasten in movement (al- Musta'jilun) shall perish, and those who submit (to Allah's commands and decrees) shall be saved." 28

Another tradition is narrated by Mufadhdhal Ibn Umar, who said:

I heard Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) saying, "Be hold! By Allah, your Imam shall disappear for a number of years in your lifetime and you will be afflicted with hardship until some people say he (PBUH) has died or has been killed, which valley is he in?

Verily the eyes of the believers shall remain full of tears for him, and you will be overturned as the ships are overturned in the waves of the sea. None would survive but those from whom Allah has taken oath, in whose heart He has written faith, and has helped them by a spirit from Him. And there shall appear twelve

confusing banners that will not be recognized from one another." I cried and said, "What could we do at that time?" He (PBUH) looked towards the beam of sunshine that was in the room and said, "O the servant of Allah! Do you see this sunlight?" I said, "Yes." He (PBUH) continued, "By Allah! Our matter (i.e., the movement of al-Mahdi (PBUH) once it starts) shall be more evident than this sun." 29

Musa al-Baghdadi narrated:

I heard Imam Hasan al-Askari (PBUH) saying, "I see that you will differ (with one another) after me concerning my successor. Whoever accepts the Imams after the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) but denies my son is like a person who accepted all the prophets and the apostles but denied the prophet hood of Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF).

And whoever denies the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) is like one who has denied all the prophets.

This is because obeying the last of us is like obeying the first of us and denying the last of us is like denying the first of us. Beware! Verily, for my son there shall be an occultation during which all people shall fall into doubt except those whom Allah protects." 30

According to the traditions (some of which will be quoted in Part II), denying the transmitted teachings of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) is equivalent to denying the Ahl al-Bait (PBUT). Thus, some of those who claim to believe in Imam al- Mahdi (PBUH) as the twelfth Imam during the time of occultation will oppose him after his reappearance because they used to oppose their teachings and follow their own inventions. Fudhail Ibn Yasar narrated:

I heard Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) saying, "When our Qa'im (PBUH) rises he will face the ignorance of people more severe than what the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) faced during the days of al-Jahiliyya." I asked, "Why should it be so?" The Imam replied, "The Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) came to people who were worshipping the stones and the carved wood.

However, our Qa'im (PBUH) shall come to people all of whom will interpret the Book of Allah against his interpretation, and will argue with him by means of that. By Allah, al-Qa'im shall cause his justice to enter within their houses, just as the heat and the cold enter them." 31

During the period of occultation, people gradually leave the traditions of Ahl al- Bait (PBUT), interpret the Quran according to their own opinion, and prefer the words of fallibles to the words of infallibles. Consequently, many religious instructions will be forgotten as if they had never been a part of the religion.

On the other hand, they will consider many man-made ideas as if they really have been a part of the religion. When Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) comes, he will fight all the innovations and will restore the true religion. For this reason, at the beginning of his mission, many people will think he has brought a new religion. Muhammad Ibn Ijlan narrated:

Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "When our Qa'im rises he shall call people anew to Islam and shall guide them to the things that were eliminated and from which people had turned away.

He is called Mahdi because he will guide people to the thing from which they have been separated. He is called al-Qa'im because of his rise for (establishing) the truth." 32 Thus, the opposition to Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) will not be due to people's failure in identifying him, but rather due to their disbelief in the original laws of the religion, their overlooking of the transmitted traditions, and their following man-made ideas and opinions in the domain of religion.

The manifestation of the signs depends on when Allah decides to make the Imam (PBUH) reappear. When Allah chooses to postpone or advance the mission of the Imam (PBUH), He may also change time of the appearance signs as a by-product of this decision. Therefore, if Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) has not appeared yet, it is not because certain signs have not taken place.

According to the traditions, the reason for prolongation of the occultation is that people are yet not ready to sincerely follow the commandments and the instructions of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT). In a Tawqi' 33 from Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH), it is written that:

"If our followers-may Allah grant them success for His obedience-all had truly kept their covenant (with us) the blessing to meet us would not have been postponed and they would have seen us with true recognition.

Nothing holds us back from them except that which reaches us (of their actions) that we dislike and that which we do not consider proper for them." 34

Moreover, Muhammad Ibn al-Faraj narrated:

Imam Baqir (PBUH) wrote to me, "When Allah, the Glorious, becomes angry at His creatures, He keeps us away from their company." 35 Similarly,

Imam al-Baqir (PBUH) wrote, "When Allah dislikes too see us nearby a group of people, He removes us from among them." 36

Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) wrote the following to one of his special deputies, namely Muhammad Ibn Uthman (RA), in response to people's questions about the cause of occultation:

Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) said, "… As for the reason for the occurrence of occultation, Allah, the Mighty and the Majestic, states, 'O you who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause your dislike.' (5:101)

There was no one among my fathers except that an oath (Bai'a) of a tyrant of his time was (forcibly) placed on his neck. But I will emerge while I do not have any oath on my neck to any of the tyrants. As for my benefit during my occultation, it is like the benefit of the sun when the clouds make it absent from the eyes.

Certainly, I am amnesty for the inhabitants of the earth just as the stars are amnesty for the inhabitants of the heaven. Thus, close the doors of question over what is not related to you and do not charge yourself with what you have been discharged to know. (Instead) increase your supplications (Du'aa) to hasten the relief (al-Faraj), for this is indeed your relief..." 37

Referring to verse 5:101 in the above Hadith as a response to people's query for the reason behind occultation implies that the disobedience of his followers has been one of the major reasons for occultation.

Other reasons mentioned in the traditions as the philosophy of occultation include: protecting the Imam from being slain 38, and avoiding oath of allegiance to a tyrant 39. However, it is clear that both of these reasons were the result of lack of enough faithful followers.

By occultation, Allah intended to save the life of the Imam (PBUH) until he would have enough sincere followers to start his mission. The bitter fact is that out of many people who have claimed to be his partisans in each era, the Imam (PBUH) did not have 313 true followers to start his mission. Abdullah Ibn Hammad al-Ansari narrated:

A companion of Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) came to him saying, "How numerous your followers are!" The Imam (PBUH) said, "Did you count them?" He replied, "They are more than that."

Thereupon, the Imam (PBUH) said, "Certainly, if the specified number that is three hundred ten and few more had been completed, what you wish for would have taken place"… The man said, "Then what about these different groups who claim that they are Shia?" He (PBUH) replied, "They will be distinguished, filtered, purified, and transformed. Ages come to them that will perish them, a sword that will kill them, and disagreement that will scatter them." 40

The following tradition also proves that once 313 sincere followers exist the Imam (PBUH) will reappear. Abd al-Adhim al-Hasani narrated:

I said to Imam al-Jawad (PBUH), "I wish you were al-Qa'im of the family of Muhammad (PBUH&HF) who fills the earth with peace and justice just as it was filled with injustice and tyranny." He (PBUH) replied, "O Abu al-Qasim! Any one of us (Ahl al-Bait (PBUT)) is standing (Qa'im) to maintain the command of Allah, the mighty and the majestic, and is a guide to His religion. However, the Qa'im by whom Allah will cleanse the earth from people of disbelief and rejection and will fill it with justice and peace is he whom Allah will conceal his birth from people, will hide him from them, and will prohibit calling him by his name.

He will be named after the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) and will have his nickname (Abu al-Qasim), to whom the earth will yield and for whom any difficult thing will become simple.

The number of his companions will be equal to that of warriors of Badr, 313 men who will gather around him (at once) from far parts of the earth, and this is the saying of Allah, "Wherever you are, Allah shall bring you together.

Certainly Allah has power over all things." (2:148) Once this number of sincere individuals gather for him, he will manifest his affair and when pledge to him was completed by 10,000 men 41 by leave of Allah, he will rise and will not seize fighting the enemies of Allah until Allah, the mighty and the majestic, is satisfied." I asked him, "O My master! How will he know that Allah has been satisfied?" The Imam (PBUH) replied, "Allah shall cast mercy into his heart." 42

Occultation has been the result of forsaking the Imam (PBUH) and will continue as long as he is without enough sincere followers. The very fact that Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) is without helper and is deserted by people during the time of occultation has been testified in the following tradition. Asbagh Ibn Nabata has narrated:

The Leader of the Faithful (PBUH) said, "The master of this kingdom is the forsaken, the deserted, and the lonely one." 43

Certainly, the Imam (PBUH) has not been afraid of the tyrants for Allah has created him to take revenge against all the tyrants and to eradicate their power. In reality, he has kept himself away from those who claim to be his lovers, because he is afraid of their disobedience and betrayal.

Allah has concealed him due to their misconducts and because they have not made themselves worthy of receiving him and enjoying his company. Once they truly turn to him, he (PBUH) will return to them by leave of Allah. If they do what is expected from them as followers and fulfill their duties, the Imam (PBUH) will certainly do what is expected from him as their leader, by the permission of Allah.

Finally, another important outcome of occultation that has been stated in the traditions is test of those who claim to be the followers of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT). The trials and afflictions during this period are so intense that people who have any insincerity in their heart will finally abandon their faith and the sincere faithful will be distinguished. Ali Ibn Ja'far narrated:

Imam al-Kadhim (PBUH) said, "When the fifth (offspring) from the seventh of the Imams disappears, then, I adjure you by Allah to watch for your religion so that no one would take it away from you.

Without doubt, there shall be an occultation for the holder of this matter until such time that (most) people who believe in his Imamat will turn away from their belief. Verily this (occultation) is but a test by Allah, the Glorious, for his creation." 44

Ibrahim Ibn Hilal has narrated:

I said to Imam Ridha (PBUH), "May I be sacrificed for you! My father died while still believing in this matter (the rising of al-Qa'im) and you see how old I have become but still you do not inform me of any news (about this advent)?" He (PBUH) replied, "O Abu Is'haq! Do you hasten?" I replied, "Yes, by Allah, I hasten. Why should I not hasten when I have become so old as you see?"

He (PBUH) said, "O Abu Is'haq! By Allah! That (advent) will not occur until you are distinguished, tried, and clarified so much so that none of you remains save the least." 45

The above traditions all show that of the reasons for the prolongation of this period of trial is insincerity among the people who still claim to be the followers of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT).

The afflictions during this period will continue until such time that those who continue to keep any insincerity in their heart separate their route (in terms of beliefs and actions) in a recognizable manner from the true followers of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT). Moreover, the Imam (PBUH) will not start his mission until after the number of the remaining sincere and faithful

Naba Cultural Organization individuals who are resolute in their expectation of al-Qa'im (PBUH) reaches the minimum specified number.

By the presented discussions in the previous part, it is now clear that of the major reasons for the occultation have been insincerity in our claims and our refusal to submit to the sayings of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT). Allah, the most merciful, has assigned for us a leader who is ready to relieve us, but we have turned away from his commands and the commands of his ancestors.

This has caused the wrath of Allah in the form of occultation. Our only chance for an early relief is to try to seek the pleasure of Allah and His Hujja (PBUH) so that Allah may waive the remaining time of occultation. But how can we achieve this end?

Certainly, we cannot seek the pleasure of Allah by inventing some duties during the time of occultation passed on our opinion. The Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) have already enumerated the specific duties that we have during the time of occultation, and we cannot change them.

For instance, wasting our time on searching the astronomical data and proposing time for the Imam's reappearance will only displease Allah.

It will also serve the impostors who try to take the advantage of astronomical events for their aims, as well as those who want to weaken our faith in Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) by claiming that these events did not accompany Imam's reappearance, and consequently, making us doubtful about his existence.

In what follows, we present some of the divine commandments through the words of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) that we need to undertake during this time of occultation.

Acting upon these instructions, among others, saves us from the afflictions of this period, prepares us and makes us worthy of receiving Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH), and pave the way for an early implementation of the kingdom of justice over the earth, by leave of Allah.

As the first step, we should strive to have a true recognition (Ma'rifat) of the Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) with all his exclusive rights. This is one of the most important conditions for those expecting him, and is their prime duty. True recognition of the Imam (PBUH) is not just to know his name and his lineage.

At the most primary level, recognition means acknowledgement of his rights and authorities, while at an advanced level it is acknowledgement of his light (Nur). Fudhail Ibn Yasar narrated:

I asked Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) about Allah's saying, "On the day that We shall call every group with their (respective) Imam." (17:71) The Imam (PBUH) replied, "O Fudhail! Know your Imam, for if you have real understanding of your Imam, postponement or advancement of this matter (al-Faraj) shall not hurt you.

He who recognizes his Imam and dies before the rising of the holder of this matter, he is like the one who is sitting in his army. Nay, he is like the one who is sitting under his banner." 46

It is noteworthy that the above tradition also points to the issue of al-Raj'a (earthly return). The one truly cognizant of the Imam and committed to him is of the Imam's soldiers and will return to this world by Allah's permission to help the establishment of the kingdom of justice once the Imam (PBUH) reappears. In another tradition, it is narrated:

Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "The lowest limit of the recognition of Imam is that He is the peer of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) without the degree of prophet hood and is his inheritor, and that obedience to him is obedience to Allah and obedience to His Apostle, and submitting to him in all matters and returning every (religious) issue to him and taking his words." 47

Furthermore, it has been narrated:

Imam Baqir (PBUH) said, "Certainly, people are charged with three obligations: Recognition (Ma'rifa) of the Imams (PBUT), submission to them in what reaches them (of their instructions), and referring to them in any disagreement (in religious matters)." 48

Moreover, Ibrahim al-Ziyad narrated:

Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "He who claims to recognize us but adheres to other handholds is a liar." 49

In one of his Tawqi', Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) wrote:

"Seeking the knowledge of religion (al-Ma'arif) from other than us (Ahl al-Bait) is equivalent to denying us." 50

The traditions are quite clear that a person who does not refer to Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) in every religious issue has not recognized Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) as the guiding Imams.

The religion belongs to Allah and any one who has really acknowledged this fact, seeks the knowledge of religion only through His vice- regents. Seeking guidance and religious knowledge from other than Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) is equivalent to denying them as His vice-regents.

Those living in expectation should learn and submit to the instructions of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) and act upon their commands, which are available to us in the form of Hadith. This can only be achieved if we study the traditions of Ahl al- Bait (PBUT) on a regular basis and submit to their words. Abu Hamza al- Thumali narrated:

Imam al-Sajjad (PBUH) said, "Surely, the religion of Allah shall not be intercepted by the deficient intellects, false opinions, and corrupt criteria. It shall not be grasped except by submission. He who submits to us shall be safe.

He who accepts our guidance shall be guided. He who acts upon analogy (Qiyas) and opinion (Ra'y) shall perish. And he, who feels difficulty in his heart in accepting our sayings or our verdicts, has disbelieved in the One who sent Quran, the Great, while he does not know." 51

Imam Ali (PBUH) said the following in one of his sermons preserved in Nahj al-Balagha:

"Look at the people of the Prophet's family. Adhere to their direction. Follow their footsteps because they shall never let you out of guidance and shall never throw you into destruction.

If they sit down, you sit down, and if they rise up you rise up. Do not go ahead of them for you will go astray, and do not fall behind them for you will perish." 52 Yazid Ibn Abd al-Malik narrated:

Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "Visit each other since this would revive your hearts and would cause reminding of our traditions. Our traditions cause affection among you. If you follow them, you will be guided and saved, and if you abandon them, you will be misguided and perished. Thus act upon them and I guarantee your salvation." 53

The Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) have emphasized that the only way to successfully pass the trial of occultation with firm belief in the Imam (PBUH) is to hold fast to religious instructions and guard against the Satanic views and the intruders in the domain of religion. Abu Salt al-Hirawi narrated:

Imam al-Ridha (PBUH) said that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) said, "By Him Who sent me in truth as a bearer of glad tidings! Most certainly, al-Qa'im from my offspring shall disappear according to the covenant that has been taken from me until such time that most people will say, 'Allah does not have any wish for (implementing a government for) the family of Muhammad,' and some others become doubtful about his birth (i.e., his existence).

Thus, whoever meets such time should hold fast to his religion and should not leave out a way for Satan towards himself, or Satan will remove him from my nation and will drive him out of my religion… Certainly, Allah, the mighty and the majestic, has made 'Satans guardians for those who do not to believe.' (7:27)" 54

The period of occultation is the most sensitive and the most difficult period of the trial for people, and those who succeed to maintain their faith during this period have the greatest faith in comparison with the people of other era. In a very interesting Hadith, Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) narrated from his fathers from the Leader of the Faithful (PBUH) who said:

The Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) said, "O Ali! The most astonishing people in faith and the greatest among them in certainty (Yaqin) are the people who shall be in the end of time who shall not meet the Prophet (PBUH&HF), and the Proof (of Allah) shall be concealed from them, but they shall believe by means of black (letters) over white (sheets) [i.e., by the written traditions that have reached them]." 55

In a Tawqi', Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) mentioned:

"We are not negligent of caring you and are not forgetful of your remembrance. Had it been so, then terrible calamities would have befallen you and your enemies would have destroyed you. Be Mindful of Allah and assist us (by obedience) to rescue you from the tribulations that have afflicted you… Thus, each one of you should act upon what draws him nearer to our love and refrain from whatever brings him to our dislike and our anger.

Certainly, our advent shall come very suddenly and unexpectedly at the time that no repentance would benefit and no regret from sin would save one from the punishment by us. May Allah inspire in you consciousness and be kind to you in making you successful by His mercy." 56

The above tradition implies that our strict adherence to the commands of Ahl al- Bait (PBUT) and trying to please them by our deeds, may contribute to our early relief by leave of Allah.

As persons living in constant expectation, we should also teach what we know from Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) to other qualified individuals, narrate their traditions to people who are willing to hear us, and transfer what has been conveyed to us from their knowledge:

Imam al-Ridha (PBUH) said, "May Allah bless he who revives our matter/kingdom." He was asked, "How is your matter revived?" The Imam (PBUH) replied, "To learn our knowledge and to teach them to the people. Verily, if people know the beauty of our sayings, they will follow us." 57

Those who wish to see the kingdom of al-Qa'im (PBUH) in a near future, should learn and act upon the instructions of Ahl al-Bait (PBUT) first, and then teach them to those who are willing to know.

There is a series of enlightening traditions from the Prophet (PBUH&HF) and the Imams (PBUT)-one from each in consecutive order-narrated by Imam Hasan al-Askari (PBUH) in his Tafsir, which are known as the traditions of "The Orphans of Family of Muhammad (PBUH&HF)". Below is the first one, which belongs to the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF):

The Imam al-Askari (PBUH) said, "As for Allah's saying 'and the orphans,' (4:36) indeed the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) said, "Allah, the Glorious, has urged (people) to be kind towards the orphans, due to the severance of their links with their fathers.

Therefore, he who protects and shields them, Allah shall protect him. He who honors them, Allah shall honor him.

He who touches his hand over the head of an orphan- out of kindness toward him-Allah places for him in Paradise for every strand of hair that passed under his hand, a castle more expansive than what the universe encompasses, and within which is whatsoever the souls desire and the eyes cherish and therein shall they remain forever. (Referring to chapter 43, verse 71 of the Quran).'"

Then the Imam (PBUH) continued, "More severe than the orphancy of this orphan is that of the one who has been orphaned from his Imam, (whose link with his Imam has been severed,) who is unable to reach him and does not know his commandments on those of religious laws that he is in need of them. Behold!

For any of our followers who possess knowledge of our sciences, this (other) person-the one ignorant of our path, who is severed from seeing us-is thus an orphan under his guardianship.

Then, behold! Whosoever (of our followers) guides and instructs him, and teaches him our path, he shall be with us in the loftiest companionship (a special degree in Paradise where the prophets and the Imams reside). My father reported this to me, from his forefathers, from the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF)." 58

We need to cleanse our heart of dirt so that the light of Allah could move in with the fullest magnitude. We should purify our love and affection for Ahl al- Bait (PBUT), and keep aloof from their enemies:

Imam al-Baqir (PBUH) and Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) narrated that the Apostle of Allah (PBUH&HF) said, "Everything has a principle, and the principle of Islam is the love of us Ahl al-Bait." 59 Also:

Imam al-Ridha (PBUH) said, "The perfection of religion is: accepting our Wilaya and keeping aloof from our enemy." 60 In another Hadith we read:

Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "He who claims to love us but he does not keep aloof from our enemy, is a liar." 61 It is also narrated:

About the verse, "Allah has not assigned unto any man two hearts within his body," (33:4) Imam al-Baqir (PBUH) said, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (PBUH) said, "Allah does not gather our love and the love of our enemy within a human's heart. Certainly, Allah did not give two hearts to man ...

Thus he who (really) loves us will purify his love for us li

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