Rafed English

The Last Luminary and Ways to Delve Into the Light

The Last Luminary and Ways to Delve Into the Light by : Sayyid Ridha Husayni Mutlaq


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

All praise belongs to Allah, the one who created us and then sent to us His Messengers, specifically His final Prophet, and made apparent for us the divinely appointed guardianship of His intimate friends, the A’immah of true guidance, for the perfection of the faith.

He then guided us towards the best of ethical traits and the keys for the acceptance of our actions and permitted us to seek the reward of our actions so that we may enter into the haven of peace that we may reside in the permanent gardens, where He will allow us to witness the Angel who will say to us, ?Salam [Peace] this is the word from your Lord, the Merciful.?

May the prayers and salutations be upon the final Messenger of Allah, Muhammad al-Mustafa and upon his pure and immaculate family members – those who came to explain to us the responsibilities which we must fulfill (towards Allah) through their righteous words, and who came to lead the servants toward the oceans of light using the flame which is like a ?Glowing lamp lit from the oil of the blessed olive tree.?

Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has had to grapple with the forces of good versus evil. Societies sometimes live in periods of relative calmness and security, but just when everyone starts to get comfortable, oppression raises its ugly head, bringing peace to a standstill.

This has been the situation since the coming of the first human being on Earth, namely Prophet Adam, and will persist until as we continue to ‘progress’ in terms of science and technology, we see that humanity is ‘digressing’ in terms of morality, culture and its interaction with other nations.

Asides from the countless ‘natural disasters’ which have displaced and killed millions of people over the ages, the current century has seen wars on the increase, and it is the innocent men, women and children who are caught in this cross fire.

How can it be that humanity has evolved to such a level that they can penetrate the furthest points of the solar system, but we cannot live in harmony with our neighbors? Why is it that we can feed our insatiable appetite for the latest technological gadgets, but we cannot manage to nourish the hungry children dying of malnutrition?

How is it possible that we can spend billions of dollars on the design and production of the latest weapons of mass destruction, but we cannot afford to provide education and basic health care services to the most vulnerable of our society? Is there any hope for the underprivileged and deprived people of the world? Yes there is a beacon of hope.

The belief in an awaited reformer and savior of humanity is an embodiment and a symbol of an aspiration cherished by mankind, in spite of its divergent religious doctrines. The Mahdi (ajtf) as he is referred to in the Islamic beliefs is the crystallization of an inspiration through which all people, regardless of their religious affiliations, are waiting for.

They all look forward to a day when the Heavenly mission will materialize when the tiring march of humanity across history will culminate and the world will be able to live in peace and tranquility.

Religion, when it endorses this common consciousness and stresses that in the long run, this world will be filled with justice and equity after having been filled with injustice and oppression, gives it a factual value and converts it into a definite belief.

This belief is not merely a source of consolation rather it is a source of virtue and strength. It is a source of virtue because the belief in the Mahdi (ajtf) means the total elimination of injustice and oppression prevailing in the world and it is a source of inexhaustible strength because it provides hope which enables humanity to resist frustration, however hopeless and dismal the circumstances may be.

The belief in the appointed day of his advent proves that it is possible for the forces of justice to face and prevail over a world previously filled with injustice and oppression and reconstruct the world order.

After all, prevalence of injustice howsoever dominant and extensive it may have become is an abnormal state and must be eliminated. The prospect of its elimination after having reached its climax infuses a great hope in every persecuted individual and every oppressed nation, that it is possible to change the state of affairs of this world.

The concept of a Mahdi (ajtf) is more widespread than just within the Muslim community however its detailed features, as determined and explained by Islam, are more in line with mankind’s aspirations and dreams.

The Islamic concept of the Mahdi (ajtf) is in greater conformity with the feelings and sentiments of the oppressed and the persecuted of all times, more so than in any other religion or tradition. It is Islam which has given a concrete shape to an abstract idea!

It is no longer necessary to look forward to an unknown savior, who may come into the world at a distant future, rather as the savior is already here we simply have to look forward to the day when the circumstances are appropriate for him to reappear and begin his great mission.

The Mahdi (ajtf) is no longer an idea. He is no longer a prophecy. We do not need to wait for his birth. He already exists. We only have to wait for the inauguration of his role. He is a specific entity living among us in his real human form and he shares our hopes and our joys; and grieves at our sorrows and times of distress.

He witnesses all the acts of oppression and persecution which are perpetrated on the face of the earth, and somehow or another, he is affected by them. He too is anxiously waiting the moment when he will be able to extend his helping hand to everyone upon whom any wrong has been done, and that he will be able to eradicate injustice and oppression completely.

Although this Awaited Savior is living among us, waiting for the appointed moment of his advent, however, he has been ordained not to proclaim himself, nor disclose his identity.

The concept of the Mahdi (ajtf) as espoused by Islam shortens the gap between the oppressed and the expected savior. It connects the bridge between them, howsoever long the period of waiting may be.

The traditions (ahadith) urge the believers in the Mahdi (ajtf) to keep on waiting for him and to continue looking forward to solace. The idea is to establish a close spiritual and intuitive link between the believers on the one hand and with the Mahdi(ajtf) and all that he stands for, on the other hand.

It is not possible to establish such a link without believing that the Mahdi (ajtf) has already been born and that he is a living and contemporary personality.The late Professor Henry Corbin, philosopher and researcher on Islam, and a student of the late ‘Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husain Taba`taba’i has stated:

“To my mind, the Shi’ite is the only sect which has preserved and perpetuated the link of Divine guidance between man and God through its belief in the Imamate. According to the Jews, the prophethood, a real link between man and God, came to an end with Moses. They do not believe in the Prophethood of Jesus and Muhammad. The Christians too, do not go beyond Jesus. The Sunnite sect has also stopped at the Prophet Muhammad and believes that the link between man and God has been severed with the end of the Prophethood.”

Thus, it is only the Twelve Shi’a, who believes that the link between man and God still exists through the Mahdi, and this belief will continue to exist forever!

However, being in a state of Intid(ar or ‘active expectation’ for the awaited savior of humanity, the Shi’a differ greatly from other religious traditions and the various schools of thought within the Islamic world, Since it is them who have been ordered to and are actively working to lay the foundations which will herald the glorious advent of Imam al-Mahdi (ajtf).
The word, Intiďar comes from the ‘Arabic root word نظر which literally means “to see” something. However, when it is put into the fourth of the ten (most common) ‘Arabic verbal forms, it becomes إنتظار which literally means “to wait or to anticipate (something)”.
From the Islamic texts and the writings of the scholars, we understand that Intid(ar is an active state which a true believer must be in 24 hours a day. What is the proof of this?

One of the great Mara’ja (sources of emulation) of this current era and the foremost authority on issues of the 12th Imam, Ayatullah al-’Uzma al-Hajj ash-Shaykh Lutfullah Safi Gulpaygani (may Allah keep him under His projection) explains that term of actively waiting for the Mahdi (ajtf) in his work, “Intid(ar: The Force Behind Resistance and Opposition [to Tyranny].”

In this work he states:

“Intid(ar is a state (which a person finds himself in) which is comprised of true faith and firm belief in the sources (of legislation) in the faith of Islam (The Qur`an and Sunnah of the Prophet and A`immah) and in the mastership and guardianship (Wilayah) of Imam al-Zaman (ajtf). It (Intid(ar) is a spirit of zeal and keen desire for the advent, governance and living along side with the Ahlul Bayt (as).

It is the detestation of the current state which we are in times of imperfection, corruption, perversity and degeneration of our surroundings. This state of affairs (being separated from the Imam and the corruption around us) burns deep within the heart of a person and creates turbulence within the heart and affects one’s entire presence including one’s individual actions and struggles to better the entire society…”

The late Henry Corbin stated the following in regards to the anticipation of the Imam:

“In the meantime it is the duty of all the Muslims, especially the Shi’a, to strive steadfastly for the creation of the proper atmosphere and the right climate for the establishment of a world order based on justice, virtue and piety.

They should not only mould their individual lives according to the teachings and high ideals of Islam, but they should also bend their efforts to set up the Islamic order on the collective and communal level.

They should devote themselves to the service of the faith and be prepared to receive the Awaited Savior. That is what was meant by the Imams when they exhorted the Muslims to keep on waiting for the Mahdi (ajtf).”

The founder and leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the late Ayatullah al-’Udhma al-Hajj Sayyid Ruhullah Khumayni (may his spirit be sanctified) stated the following in regards to awaiting the final Imam (ajtf):

“What has value is that a person stands up in opposition to oppression. He stands up and puts an end to the face of despotism and does not permit inhuman acts of injustice to take place this is what has value and worth!

We have a responsibility! It is not correct to believe that since we are awaiting the advent of Imam al-Zaman (ajtf), we just sit at home, take the prayer beads (tasbih) in our hands and merely repeats the prayer, ‘may his return be a speedy one.’ Rather, the swift return of the Imam must be made such by our own actions! We ourselves must lay the groundwork for the return of the awaited Imam!”

Therefore, we see that we have a very important role in preparing ourselves and the society for the return of the Mahdi (ajtf).

He is alive and visits different places and takes an interest in world events. He often attends the assemblies of the faithful, but does not disclose his true identity. He will reappear on the appointed day, and will fight against the forces of evil, lead a global revolution and set up a new world order based on justice, righteousness and virtue.

Allah in the Noble Qur`an has clearly promised that a day will come when truth will prevail and the righteous will come to power:
وَعَدَ اللٌّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَـيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ... 
“Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good deeds that He will surely make them successors on the Earth as He made those who were before them and that He will surely establish their religion which He has chosen for them...”(Suratul Noor, 24: 55)
It is clear from this and other verses that ultimately, the righteous will take the world administration in their hands and Islam will be victorious over all the other religions. However, as we are instructed, those awaiting the glorious advent and the eradication of all forms of evil need to actively engage in laying the groundwork for the return of Imam al-Mahdi (May Allah hasten his reappearance).

The book that you have in your hands details over 80 responsibilities, divided into 99 chapters which provide us with practical steps that need to be performed and implemented in order to put in place the foundations for the advent of the Imam of our time.

Some of the responsibilities mentioned in this work perhaps are things which we already perform on a regular basis, without being aware that they are our duties towards the Imam. By simply ‘shifting’ our intention and enacting them with the thought in mind that they are being done to heard the return of the Awaited Savior, we can do our part to ensure that his advent is hastened and that we have done whatever is in our power to assist him.

We would like to thank everyone who played a role in helping this publication materialize, for without your continued support of this and our other publications, such works would not see the light of day.

Our sincerest appreciation is extended to the numerous private contributors, who have requested anonymity, who graciously donated financially to this project. In addition, we need to acknowledge the various non-profit charitable organizations who also contributed financially `to this work, specifically the following (in alphabetical order): The Islamic Humanitarian Service of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and The Mohsin and Fauzia Jaffer Foundation of Oprington, Florida, USA – all of your rewards are with Allah alone.

Our special thanks are also extended to Shaykh Tahir-Ridha Jaffer for his meticulous proof reading of the ‘Arabic text of this book and to Sister Arifa Hudda for a thorough review and editing of the English text not an easy task for either of them given their other responsibilities and commitments. Indeed, without the assistance of these two individuals, this publication would have further been delayed.

We pray to Allah that He grants all of the donors and anyone who had a role in the publication of this book the greatest blessings, and keeps them under His Mercy and Protection, and that He accepts this humble work from us, and Insha-Allah, enables us to be among the helpers and Shi’a of Imam al-Zaman (may Allah hasten his glorious advent).

Islamic Publishing House
February 3rd, 2008 ce

Muharram 25th, 1429 ah
Martyrdom anniversary of Imam ‘Ali b. Husayn Zainul ‘Abidin (peace be upon him)
All Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Universe. May the prayers and salutations be upon our master and leader, the chief of all the Prophets and those who have been sent by Him, the beloved of the Lord of the Universe, the best of His creations and the best of humanity, Abul Qasim Muhammad (S).

In addition, may prayers and salutations be upon his family, the righteous and pure Infalliables (as) especially the Remnants of Allah on His Earth, Imam al-Hujjah ibnil Hasan al-’Askari (ajtf). Finally, may the greetings and salutations be upon all of the great Maraja’ [sources of emulation] of the faith and the shining lights of the Shari’ah the past and present especially the late Ayatullah Khumayni, may Allah be pleased with all of them.

The purpose of humanity’s creation is for them to attain spiritual growth and advancement towards the pinnacles of greatness and closeness to Allah, the Most High. The only path which one can traverse to reach this station is The Straight Path (as-Siratul Mustaqim) and we cannot diverge from this course.

According to the accepted proofs1, The Straight Path is nothing other than the Imam whom we have been ordered to follow. Therefore, in every time period, the Imam and Divinely appointed proof of Allah, the Most High, is the true straight path and his is the only direction which leads towards happiness in both worlds.

In the time which we are living, which is full of tribulations and calamities, and during this state of uneasiness and anguish, the straight path which leads to Allah, the Most High, is none other than the 12th Imam who is in occultation (ghaybah) and whose advent is awaited by all.

He is the proof of Allah on this Earth, even though he is behind the curtains of occultation and his example is just like the sun which occasionally veils itself behind the clouds; however we still benefit from its rays.

In fact, the twelfth Imam (ajtf) has stated: “During my period of occultation, you will benefit from me just as you benefit from the sun when it goes behind the clouds and is veiled from your sight. Thus, I am the source of refuge and protection for the people of Earth.”2

During the current age, acquiring ma’rifah (a deep understanding and insight into the Imam, his characteristics and traits), bringing about true faith and love for him, and complete obedience to him is the straight path of Allah and is the only road towards salvation and happiness.

We must traverse this path and must not show any lapses rather, we must expend all of our energies in attaining piety and consciousness of Allah so that we may reach to the highest level of our goal. The purification of our soul and the attainment of the consciousness of Allah in our heart.

Taqwa of Allah is the only component which makes up the reality of the straight path, and is the true essence of the path. It is also the same reality and firm foundation which the Imam and proof of Allah of our time, al-Hujjat ibnil Hasan (as) has invited his Shi’a (followers) and those who are actively awaiting his noble advent to observe:
فَـاتَّقُوا اللٌّهَ جَلَّ جَلاَلُهُ وَ ظَاهِرُونَا عَلـى انْتِـيَاشِكُمْ مِنْ فِـتْنَةٍ قَدْ أَنَافَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ
“So be conscious of Allah, Majestic is His Glory, and help us to save you from a seditious matter that is about to overcome you.”3
He has also stated:
فَتَّقُوا اللٌّهَ وَ سَلِّمُوا لَنَا وَ رُدُّوا الأَمْرَ إِلَيْنَا
“Be conscious of Allah and submit to us and refer all affairs to us.”4
In addition, he has told us:
وَ الْعَاقِبَةُ بِجَمِيلِ صُنْعِ اللٌّهِ سُبْحَانَهُ تَكُونُ حَمِيدَةً لَهُمْ مَا اجْـتَنَبُوا الْمَنْهِيَّ عَنْهُ مِنَ الذُّنُوبِ
“The end result, by virtue of the excellent arrangement of Allah, Glorious is He, shall be praiseworthy for them (our followers) because they avoided committing the sins which He forbade them to perform.”5
Those who have a claim over us are many the greatest of which is Allah after Him, His friend (wali) and representative on the Earth (khalifah) has a right over us and thus, the true definition of taqwa is to fulfill the rights of these individuals.

The rights which must be observed while on the path of truth and which belong to the representative of Allah, Imam Waliul ‘Asr (ajtf) are many. Some are related to particular individuals, while others are related to the believers in general.

In this work, we have restricted ourselves to the second category the rights related to the believers in general and as the reader can appreciate, we can only cover some of them.

Our purpose in compiling this work was to make these responsibilities available to the lovers of the Imam (ajtf) and those who are seeking to follow the path of true guidance. It is hoped that the believers will be able to uphold these responsibilities which we have to Imam al-Hujjah (ajtf).

In addition, the believers will also be acquainted with responsibilities which the Imam (ajtf) himself has to fulfill towards his followers.

In the current era, the enemies of the faith have increased and have been able to use various weapons against the believers. Through their onslaught, they have launched wars against religion and those who follow Divine guidance, and without doubt, one of their aims is to misguide the young generation of Muslims.

Unfortunately, those who are unaware of their personal responsibilities have fallen into the trap of the enemies, and either knowingly or unknowingly, has assisted them and may actually be at the forefront of helping them.

The actions of the enemies of Islam, both in the past and present, have been enacted in order to remove the aura of spirituality which exists amongst the true believers and to delude the people from their primary goals of life.

In such a time, it is incumbent upon the scholars and researchers of the faith of Islam to elucidate upon the spiritual issues and pure teachings of the religion of Islam.

In order to further advance the spiritual teachings, one must pay attention to the discussions related to Imam al-Zaman (ajtf) as he is the spiritual sun of the universe and the primary reason for all spiritual movements. It is through the dissemination of these teachings that we will arrive to the best methods of explaining the spiritual issues, which will in turn, have a favourable impact upon the entire Islamic society.

Thus, we hope that this book will lead to a continuation of discussions in regards to Imam al-Hujjah (ajtf) especially those which focus on the practical actions which we must perform.

As mentioned previously, this work focuses on the rights and responsibilities which the true believers have to the Imam. As we know, the best way which one can fulfill such responsibilities is through purification of the soul and in addition, a spiritual change must take place within each person and we must seek to maintain closeness to Allah.

Therefore, with the permission of Allah, and through the blessings which we pray are showered upon us by Imam al-Mahdi (ajtf), may our souls be sacrificed for him, we hope to be able to reach our goal and encounter a favourable end while on this path.

We pray that we are able to grant contentment and happiness to the Imam (ajtf) and that we are given a grand status for our endeavours.

This book is an abridgment of various books which have been written on this topic and its contents has been extracted from works such as Mikyalul Makarim6 and Spiritual Links with the Sacred Presence of the Mahdi7 however the work in your hands has been presented with slight modifications from these two books.

We have elucidated upon close to eighty responsibilities, however when we look at all the responsibilities and their sub categories as presented in this book, the number reaches ninety-nine.

Where we have deemed necessary and in order to offer a deeper explanation, we have divided a duty into numerous discussions. Obviously, all of the branches of that particular responsibility are merely extensions of the primary responsibility.

As you shall see, responsibilities which are branches of the general responsibility are noted accordingly.

17th of Rabi’ al-Awwal, 1420 ah

Birth Anniversary of Prophet Muhammad b. ‘Abdullah (S) and Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) Sayyid Muhammad Rida Husaini Mutlaq
1. These proofs can be seen in the books of traditions such as Biharul Anwar, and Usulul Kafi in the discussions related to the Divinely appointed leadership (Imamah).

2. Kamal ad-Din wa Tamam an-Ni’mah, pg. 483 – the letter given by the Imam in response to questions by Ishaq b. Ya’qub; al-Ihtijaj (al-Tabrisi), vol. 2, pg. 284

3. Biharul Anwar, vol. 53, pg. 175, sec. 31, no. 8 (the letter written by the Imam to Shaykh al-Mufid)

4. al-Ghaybah of Shaykh Tusi, pg. 285; Biharul Anwar, vol. 53, pg. 179, sec. 31, no. 9

5. al-Ihtijaj, pg. 498 (The letter written by the Imam to Shaykh al-Mufid); Biharul Anwar, vol. 53, pg. 177, sec. 31, no. 8

6. Written by the late Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Musawi ISfahani.

7. Written by the late Sadrul Islam Mirza ‘Ali Akbar Hamdani.
One of the most important responsibilities for a Shi’a is to acquire ma’rifah (a detailed and profound understanding) of the Imam of the time, and the testimony to this can be seen in both the logical and narrated proofs (ahadith).

It is clear from the traditions that we must know the characteristics and specific traits of the Imam (as) whom we are all obliged to follow. This must be done so that we do not mistake him for someone who claims his status. In addition, there are also numerous traditions which oblige us to have a ma’rifah of our Imam (as).

It has been related from Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) that the Prophet of Allah said:
مَنْ مَاتَ وَ لَمْ يَعْرِفْ إِمَامَ زَمَانِهِ مَاتَ مِيـتَةً جَاهِلِـيَّةً
“One who dies while he does not have ma’rifah of the Imam (as) of his time, dies the death of Jahiliyyah (the period of Ignorance before the time of the Prophet (saws))”1
In another tradition, this one from the eleventh Imam, Hasan ‘Ali al-’Askari (as), it is mentioned that:
أَنَّ الأَرْضَ لاَ تَخْلُو مِنْ حُجَّةِ اللٌّهِ عَلـى خَلْقِهِ وَ أَنَّ مَنْ مَاتَ وَ لَمْ يَعْرِفْ إِمَامَ زَمَانِهِ مَاتَ مِيـتَةً جَاهِلِيَّةً فَقَالَ: إِنَّ هٌذَا حَقٌّ كَمَا أَنَّ النَّارَ حَقٌّ فَقِيلَ: يَا ابْنَ رَسُولِ اللٌّهِ فَمَنِ الْحُجَّةُ وَ الإِمَامُ بَعْدَكَ؟ فَقَالَ: إِبْـنِـي مُحَمَّدٌ هُوَ الإِمَامُ وَ الْحُجَّةُ بَعْدِي فَمَنْ مَاتَ وَ لَمْ يَعْرِفْهُ مَاتَ مِيـتَةً جَاهِلِيَّةً
“Unquestionably, the Earth can never remain devoid of a hujjat (proof) of Allah over His creations. Indeed the person who dies without recognizing the Imam of his age has died the death of Jahiliyyah.” The Imam (as) continued: “Surely this (the issue of an Imam existing for all ages) is true, just as the (existence of) hell fire is true.”
It was said to the Imam: “O’ son of the Messenger of Allah! Who is the hujjat and Imam after you?” The Imam replied: “My son, Muhammad is the Imam and hujjat after me. Whoever dies and has not recognized him (as his Imam) has died the death of Jahiliyyah.”2

Without doubt, the meaning of these traditions which state that it is obligatory to recognize the Imam of the time is that those who possess true faith must know the Imam in the way and to the extent that would lead to their happiness in this world and the next.

In addition, the recognition of the Imam must be such that there remains no room for misguidance or confusion in regards to this noble personality.

Thus, recognition can be divided into two types:

1. Ma’rifah of the personality of the Imam;

2. Ma’rifah of the Imam himself.

In order to acquire these two forms of ma’rifah, we must refer to the writings of the scholars of the faith.3

We must realize that recognizing the character and personality of the Imam can only be achieved through understanding his qualities, attributes and special traits which are related to the status of Imamate.

If we are successful in becoming acquainted with the status of Imamate, its central role in Islam and its characteristics and qualities, then we will become acquainted with any Imam since all of the A`immah are created from one nur (Divine celestial light) and in the words of the leaders of true guidance themselves:

“The first of us is Muhammad, the middle of us is Muhammad and the last of us is Muhammad!”4 Thus, we must have ma’rifah of the merits and excellence of all of our A`immah (as) since they share these traits amongst themselves

On the other hand, we must also become acquainted with the merits of excellence which are specific to the Imam whom we wish to know more about so that our ma’rifah of him can become complete. This form of ma’rifah can be acquired through knowledge of his name, title, titles of appellation, genealogy, characteristics, virtues, and other traits which relate to the specific time and place in which he lives.

The minimum and maximum limits of these two types of ma’rifah of the Imam can be understood by our intellect and in brief, we will mention the minimum limit as stated in the traditions.

Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) has said: “The minimum level of ma’rifah of the Imam is to know that he is on par with the Prophet except in the status of prophethood. The Imam is the inheritor of the Prophet, and obedience to the Imam is equivalent to obedience of Allah and the Messenger of Allah.

Thus, you must submit to the Imam in all issues, and all questions must be referred to him. You must act in accordance with his commands and must know that the Imam after the Messenger of Allah was ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (as). After him it was Hasan (as), then Husain (as), then ‘Ali b. al-Husain (as), then Muhammad b. ‘Ali (as), then Ja’far b. Muhammad (as), then Musa b. Ja’far (as), then ‘Ali b. Musa (as), then Muhammad b. ‘Ali (as), then ‘Ali b. Muhammad (as), then Hasan b. ‘Ali (as) and then al-Hujjah b. al-Hasan (ajtf) – these are your leaders.”5

As was previously mentioned, in order to recognize the Imam, we must know his name, titles of appellation, the name of his father and other incidental facts. However, we must also know his qualities of excellence and special merits.

The Imam of our time (ajtf) shares the same first name as the Prophet Muhammad (S). His title is also the same as that of the Prophet of Allah (S) (Abul Qasim) and his title of appellation is al-Mahdi. He has a beautiful black mark on his right shoulder blade, a very handsome face with a nose that is slightly protruded and is of average height.

In addition, we also need to understand the specialties related to the time and place of the Imam and the events surrounding him including his actions and speech.

For example, we need to know that in order for the Imam to make his advent, five signs must be fulfilled. We know that when he makes his appearance, the Earth would be full of oppression and corruption. However, before his advent, a sound will be heard from the sky an image of a hand will be seen on the moon the staff of Musa will be seen with him and many other signs.

It should be noted that all of these signs are mentioned in the books of traditions6 and the appearance of these will herald his return. In addition, there are also other special signs related to him which we must know and understand. Therefore knowing these signs constitutes one of the ways in which we can recognize our living Imam.
1. Biharul Anwar, vol. 53, pg. 175, sec. 31, no. 7; al-Ihtijaj, pg. 498

2. Wasa`il ash-Shi’a, vol. 11, pg. 491, sec. 33, no. 23

3. Books such as: al-Ghaybah, written by Shaykh Muhammad b. Ibrahim Nu’mani better known as Ibne Abi Zainab; al-Ghaybah of Shaykh Tusi; Najm al-Thaqib of Shaykh Tabrisi Nuri; Kamal ad-Din wa Tamam an-Ni’mah of Shaykh Saduq; A’yan ash-Shi’a (section on Imam al-Mahdi); Biharul Anwar (section on Imamah and the book of Imam al-Mahdi); Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1 and 2.

4. al-Ghaybah of Nu’mani, pg. 85; Biharul Anwar, vol. 36, pg. 399, sec. 46, no. 9

5. al-Burhan, vol. 2, pg. 35, no. 3

6. Books such as al-Ghaybah of Shaykh Muhammad b. Ibrahim Nu’mani better known as Ibne Abi Zainab; al-Ghaybah of Shaykh Tusi; Najm al-Thaqib of Shaykh Tabrisi Nuri; Kamal ad-Din wa Tamam an-Ni’mah of Shaykh Saduq.
Another responsibility which the believers have is to ask Allah for a thorough ma’rifah of Imam al-Zaman (ajtf) and one must be sincere in praying for this.

Just as was previously stated, after attaining the ma’rifah of Allah and His Messenger (S), the next most important action for the believers is to have ma’rifah of Waliul ‘Amr, Imam al-Zaman (ajtf).

Only Allah can grant this level of ma’rifah to his servants for this is something which is out of the power of human beings to acquire without the help of Allah. Thus, this ma’rifah cannot be achieved through a person’s own struggles as this is a nur (Divine celestial light) which Allah places in the heart of those whom He wishes. Therefore, we must request the recognition of our Imam from the Almighty through supplications.

It has been narrated that Muhammad b. Hakim said to Abu ‘Abdillah, Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as):
أَلْمَعْرِفَةُ مِنْ صُنْعِ مَنْ هِيَ؟ قَالَ مِنْ صُنْعِ اللٌّهِ لَيْسَ لِلْعِبَادِ فِيهَا صُنْعٌ
“Who is responsible for granting this ma’rifah (of the Imam)?” He replied: “It is the doing of Allah and the servants have no role in it (on their own - without the intervention of Allah).”1
In order to arrive at the recognition of the Imam, the following supplication is very effective:
أَللّٰهُمَّ عَرِّفْـنِـي نَفْسَكَ...
“O’ Allah! Grant me ma’rifah of Your Self...”2
1. al-Kafi, vol. 1, pg. 163, sec. on the “Necessity of Having a Hujjah”, no. 2

2. The full text of this supplication will be mentioned in the next responsibility.
Reciting the supplications which the Ahlul Bayt (as) has advised us is another responsibility of the believers. The books of tradition have stated that the following supplication should be recited and this is clearly seen in the following tradition.

It has been narrated from Zurarah that he heard Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) say:
إِنَّ لِلْغُلاَمِ غَيْـبَةٌ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَقُومَ قَالَ: قُلْتُ: وَ لِـمَ؟ قَالَ: يَخَافُ وَ أَوْمـى بِيَدِهِ إِلـى بَطْنِهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ: يَا زُرَارَةُ وَ هُوَ الْـمُنْـتَظَرُ وَ هُوَ الَّذِي يُشَكُّ فِي وِلاَدَتِهِ مِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَقُولُ مَاتَ أَبُوهُ بِلاَ خَلَفٍ وَ مِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَقُولُ حَمْلٌ وَ مِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَقُولُ إِنَّهُ وُلِدَ قَبْلَ مَوْتِ أَبِـيهِ بِسَـنَتَينِ وَ هُوَ الْـمُنْتَظَرُ غَيْرَ أَنَّ اللٌّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يَمْتَحِنَ الشِّـيعَةَ فَعِنْدَ ذٌلِكَ يَرْتَابُ الْمُبْطِلُونَ! يَا زُرَارَةُ إِذَا أَدْرَكْتَ ذٌلِكَ الزَّمَانَ فَادْعُ بِهٌذَا الدُّعَاءِ: أَللٌّهُمَّ عَرِّفْنِـي نَفْسَكَ فَإِنَّكَ إِنْ لَمْ تُعَرِّفْـنِي نَفْسَكَ لَمْ أَعْرِفْ نَبِيَّكَ. أَللٌّهُمَّ عَرِّفـنِي رَسُولَكَ فَإِنَّكَ إِنْ لَـمْ تُعَرِّفْـنِي رَسُولَكَ لَمْ أَعْرِفْ حُجَّـتَكَ. أَللٌّهُمَّ عَرِّفْـنِـي حُجَّتَكَ فَإِنَّكَ إِنْ لَمْ تُعَرِّفْنِي حُجَّتَكَ ضَلَلْتُ عَنْ دِيـنِـي.
“‘Verily there is a period of occultation for my son before he makes his advent.’ It was said to the Imam: ‘And why is this?’ The Imam replied: ‘He will be frightened’ and placed his hand on his abdomen and then said: ‘O’ Zurarah! He is the one who will be awaited, and he is the one whom the people will have doubt in with regards to his birth.
Some people will say: ‘His father died without a child’ others will say ‘His mother was pregnant with him (when his father died)’ others will say ‘He was born two years before his father passed away’ and he is awiated, for surely Allah, the Noble and Grand, loves to test the Shi’a and it is then that the impugners begin to doubt. O’ Zurarah! If you witness that period (of confusion) then supplicate with this supplication:
أَللّٰهُمَّ عَرِّفْنِـي نَفْسَكَ فَإِنَّكَ إِنْ لَمْ تُعَرِّفْـنِي نَفْسَكَ لَمْ أَعْرِفْ نَبِيَّكَ. أَللّٰهُمَّ عَرِّفـنِي رَسُولَكَ فَإِنَّكَ إِنْ لَـمْ تُعَرِّفْـنِي رَسُولَكَ لَمْ أَعْرِفْ حُجَّـتَكَ. أَللّٰهُمَّ عَرِّفْـنِـي حُجَّتَكَ فَإِنَّكَ إِنْ لَمْ تُعَرِّفْنِي حُجَّتَكَ ضَلَلْتُ عَنْ دِيـنِـي
“O’ Allah! Grant me ma’rifah of Yourself for if I do not have the ma’rifah of You then I will never know Your Prophet. O’ Allah! Grant me ma’rifah of Your Messenger for if I do not have the ma’rifah of Your Messenger than I will never know Your Representative. O’ Allah! Grant me ma’rifah of Your Representative for if I do not have the ma’rifah of Your Representative, then surely I have gone astray from my religion.’”1
1. al-Kafi, vol. 1, pg. 337; al-Ghaybah of Nu’mani, pg. 166, no. 6
Another responsibility of the true believers is to be familiar with the signs of the reappearance of Imam al-Zaman (ajtf).

Just as was previously mentioned, it is important for us to recognize the signs of his return, as this is actually considered as a part of knowing the Imam. There are numerous signs which will herald his advent and they are divided into two categories:

1. Signs which are absolute and will definitely happen. 2. Signs which may or may not take place.

According to the narrations, it is obligatory to know and understand both types of signs. However, it is much more important to know the first type those that will definitely occur before his return.

According to the Islamic narrations, the signs that must occur before the Imam will return are five with a small discrepancy in some of them (due to there being various traditions in this regards). The differences in the signs will become obvious when we look at them directly from the traditions.

In brief, these signs are:

1. The arrival of Sufyani.
2. The arrival and uprising of Yamani.
3. A loud noise from the sky.
4. The killing of a pure soul (Nafs-e-Zakiyyah).
5. The sinking of Bayda`.

It has also been mentioned in the traditions that the image of a hand will be seen on the moon and this is also considered as one of the definite signs.

Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) has said:
لِلْقَائِمِ  خَمْسُ عَلاَمَاتٍ: ظُهُورُ السُّفْيَانِيِّ وَ الْيَمَانِيِّ وَ الصَّيْحَةُ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ وَ قَتْلُ النَّفْسِ الزَّكِيَّةِ وَ الْخَسْفُ بِالْبَيْدَاءِ
“There are five (definite) signs for the return of al-Qaim (ajtf) the appearance of al-Sufyani (the appearance of) al-Yamani, a loud cry from the sky, the killing of a pure soul [an-Nafs al- Zakiyyah]; and the caving in (of the earth) at Bayda`.”1
It has been mentioned in the traditions that al-Sufyani is a reddish white coloured man with a black eye and that he will make his advent during the month of Rajab. We are told that he will take over a few countries of the world and that the advent of al-Mahdi (ajtf) will be in the same year.
After many victories, al-Sufyani will turn his attention towards ‘Iraq and it is at this time that Imam al-Mahdi (ajtf) will make his advent from Makkah. At this point, a large contingent of forces will be sent to attack the Imam (by al-Sufyani), however when this army will reach the place known as Bayda` a location between Makkah and Madinah they will be swallowed into the Earth.
In addition, before the advent of the Imam (ajtf), many uprisings will take place such as the revolts of al-Hasani and al-Yamani and according to some traditions, the uprising of al-Yamani is also one of the definite signs.
The hearing of two cries one from the sky and the other from within the Earth is also one of the definite signs. During the first call, Jibra`il will call the name of Imam al-Qa`im (ajtf) and his father and will proclaim that the truth is with ‘Ali ibn. Abi Talib (as) and his Shi’a (followers). Everyone will hear this call in their own language and even the women who are in their house behind locked doors will hear the call.
As well, before the advent of the Imam, a noble person will be killed during the Hajj rites in Makkah. In the traditions, this person has been referred to as the Pure Soul or an-Nafs al-Zakiyyah. Detailed information about this individual has been mentioned in the books concerning the occultation of Imam al-Zaman (ajtf).
The importance of knowing the signs which will take place before the advent of our Imam, especially the definite signs that must occur, can best be understood when we review the history of Islam.
We see that some other signs may have already taken place and thus, a number of people falsely claimed to be the Mahdi (ajtf) Without doubt, these people have fallen out of the fold of Islam and it is they who are misguided and are left alone in utter spiritual darkness.
The reason for them falling into this state is that they were not acquainted with the signs related to the advent and uprising of the Imam such that they could follow them. In addition, they lacked awareness of the specific signs which will herald in the advent of the Imam.
If they had knowledge of these signs, then they would not have been led astray and would have stayed firm on the Imamate and Wilayat of the Imam (as). They would not have been fooled nor would they have mistaken anyone else for the real Mahdi (ajtf).
Possessing a ma’rifah of the signs of the advent, especially the definite signs which must take place, helps us in differentiating between truth and falsehood, and by recognizing Imam al-Zaman (ajtf), we would actually look forward to and prepare the groundwork for his uprising. We would also not falter in our obedience to him or our delay in adhering to him.
It has been narrated by Zurarah that Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) has said:
يُنَادِي مُنَادٍ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ أَنَّ فُلاَناً هُوَ الأَمِيرُ وَ يُنَادِي مُنَادٍ أَنَّ عَلِيًّا وَ شِيعَتَهُ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ. قُلْتُ: فَمَنْ يُقَاتِلُ الْمَهْدِيَّ بَعْدَ هٌذَا؟ فَقَالَ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يُنَادِي أَنَّ فُلاَناً وَ شِيعَتَهُ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ يَعْنِي رَجُلاً مِنْ بَنِي أُمَيَّةَ. قُلْتُ: فَمَنْ يَعْرِفُ الصَّادِقَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِ؟ قَالَ: يَعْرِفُهُ الَّذِينَ كَانُوا يَرْوُونَ حَدِيثاً وَ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّهُ يَكُونُ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَكُونَ وَ يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْمُحِقُّونَ الصَّادِقُونَ
“A caller will announce from the sky: ‘Certainly so and so is the leader.’ Then a caller will announce: ‘Certainly ‘Ali (as) and his followers are the victorious ones.’” I said to the Imam: “So then who will fight against the Mahdi (ajtf) after this (call)?’ The Imam replied: “Unquestionably, Satan will also call out: ‘Certainly, so and so and his followers will be the successful ones’ meaning a man from the tribe of Bani Umayyah.’
I said to the Imam: ‘So then how will a person be able to recognize the truthful one from the imposter?’ The Imam replied: ‘Those who narrate traditions will recognize (the difference) and they will say that it (the call from the sky) will come before (the advent), and they will understand this and will know that they (the ones who make the first call) are speaking the truth.’”2
1. al-Ghaybah of Nu’mani, sec. 252 on the signs of the return, no. 9

2. al-Ghaybah of Nu’mani, pg. 246, no. 28
Another responsibility of the Shi’a, is to fulfill the rights which the Imam has over us.

Without doubt, the most important right which we owe to others starts with those which we owe to Allah, followed by the Messenger of Allah and then the rights which we must fulfill to our Imam. Obviously, the rights which our Imam demands from us must be carried out in the most perfect way.

In regards to this responsibility, there are numerous traditions which have been mentioned. Since it is not possible to narrate all of them, we suffice with one tradition from the Infallibles which states:
مَا كَانَ لِلٌّهِ تَعَالـى مِنْ حَقٍّ فَهُوَ لَنَا
“Any right or privilege which belongs to Allah, the Most High, is also a privilege that belongs to us (the Ahlul Bayt).”1
1. Mikyal al-Makarim, vol. 2, pg. 282; in Biharul Anwar, vol. 27, pg. 314, sec. 9, no. 11 it is mentioned with a slight variation in the wording.
The next responsibility which rests upon the shoulders of the believers is to invite others to have a better knowledge of the Imam and to help them advance in their conviction. In addition, the believers must also be ready to guide one another to the highest pinnacles of ma’rifah of the Imam.

There are many proofs which stress the importance of this responsibility, such as ‘Amr bil Ma’ruf (enjoining others to what is right) and the benefits which are given to guiding people to the path of truth.

We are told that each person must invite others to the path of the Imam in accordance with their level of awareness and understanding of the Imam. One must educate others on the characteristics of the Imam, his moral fiber and other issues related to him, and in actuality, this is a responsibility which we all share towards this noble personality and it is through this act that we bring ourselves closer to the Imam.

A person who is active in this sort of invitation must not only possess the theoretical knowledge of the Imam (and of Islam), rather he must also manifest this knowledge through his actions.

As we know, it is through both the theoretical knowledge and our practical actions that we are able to educate and guide the people towards the Imam so that they too may be able to take him as their own personal example and guide to follow in life.

Without a doubt, inviting others to the path of guidance through one’s practical actions has a greater effect than merely possessing theoretical knowledge.

From another point of view, we see that a person who is engaged in inviting others to the way of the Imam must also employ good exhortation and advice, and through a combination of these methods, should guide others towards the Imam.

If needed, the path of warning (of the punishment of Allah) can also be used so that the hearts of the people are awakened to the truths around them and so that their spiritual souls are kept enlivened.

A person inviting to the Imam must also be able to make use of the reliable proofs (traditions) and with the various proofs and logical arguments available, should be able to convince others of the existence of the Imam and acquaint them with their true leader.

One of the Infallibles has said:
وَ إِنَّ الْعَالِمَ الَّذِي يُعَلِّمُ النَّاسَ مَعَالِمَ دِيـنِهِمْ وَ يَدْعُوهُمْ إِلـى إِمَامِهِمْ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ سَبْعِينَ أَلْفَ عَابِدٍ
“Surely the scholar who instructs the people in matters of their religion and invites them to their Imam is better than seventy thousand worshippers.”1
In another tradition, this one from Imam ‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Hadi (as) it is stated that:
لَوْ لاَ مَنْ يَبْقى بَعْدَ غَـيْـبَةِ قَائِمِناَ مِنَ الْعُلَمَاءِ الدَّاعِـينَ إِلَيْهِ وَ الدَّالِّينَ عَلَيْهِ وَ الذَّابِّـينَ عَنْ دِيـنِهِ بِحُجَجِ اللٌّهِ وَ الْمُنْقِذِينَ لِضُعَفَاءِ عِبَادِ اللٌّهِ مِنْ شِبَاكِ إِبْلِيسَ وَ مَرَدَتِهِ وَ مِنْ فِخَاخِ الْنَّوَاصِبِ لَمَا بَقِيَ أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ ارْتَدَّ عَنْ دِيـنِ اللٌّهِ وَ لٌكِنَّهُمُ الَّذِينَ يُمْسِكُونَ أَزِمَّةَ قُلُوبِ ضُعَفَاءِ الشِّيعَةِ كَمَا يُمْسِكُ صَاحِبُ السَّفِـينَةِ سُكَّانَهَا. أُوْلٌئِكَ هُمُ الأَفْضَلُونَ عِنْدَ اللٌّهِ عَزَّ وَّ جَلَّ
“If after the occultation of your Qa`im (ajtf) there were not to remain a person from amongst the scholars who invite towards him (the Imam) guide others to him defend his religion by the proofs of Allah, rescue the downtrodden servants of Allah from the snares of Iblis and his hoards, and the traps of the enemies (of the Ahlul Bayt), then there would not remain a single person (on Earth) except that he would have left the religion of Allah.
However, these scholars take it upon themselves to be the protectors of the hearts of our downtrodden Shi’a just as the captain of a boat takes control of the lives and safety of those on his ship. Thus, these (scholars – the ‘Ulama) are the best people in the sight of Allah, the Noble and Great.”2
1. Mikyal al-Makarim, vol. 2, pg. 274

2. Biharul Anwar, vol. 2, pg. 6, sec. 8, no. 12
Responsibility 7: Relating the Merits and Qualities of the Imam
Another responsibility is to mention the merits and qualities of Imam al-Mahdi (ajtf). The narrations have encouraged the believers to do this for all of the Infallible A`immah (as) and specifically Imam al-’Asr (ajtf).

Without doubt, mentioning and reminding others of the merits and virtues of the Imam is the same as mentioning goodness in itself (as the Imams are the personification of everything good) and this is one of the best actions which a believer can perform and is a way to show enmity towards Satan.

Imam Musa b. Ja’far al-Kadhim (as) has said:
وَ إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَينِ يَلْتَقِيَانِ فَيَذْكُرَانِ اللٌّهَ ثُمَّ يَذْكُرَانِ فَضْلَنَا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ فَلاَ يَبْقـى عَلـى وَجْهِ إِبْلِيسَ مُضْغَةُ لَحْمٍ إِلاَّ تَخَدَّدُ حَـتَّى إِنَّ رُوحَهُ لَتَسْتَغِيثُ مِنْ شِدَّةِ مَا يَجِدُ مِنَ الأَلَمِ
“Indeed when two believers meet one another and remember Allah and then mention the greatness of us the Ahlul Bayt (as), no flesh remains on the face of Iblis (Satan) except that it gets wrinkled and his soul cries out due to the severity of the pain (he feels).”1
In a tradition from Imam ‘Ali b. Husain as-Sajjad (as), it is stated that:
وَ أَمَّا حَقُّ ذِي الْمَعْرُوفِ عَلَيْكَ فَأَنْ تَشْكُرَهُ وَ تَذْكُرَ مَعْرُوفَهُ وَ تَنْشُرَ لَهُ الْمَقَالَةَ الْحَسَنَةَ
“As for the right of the person who has done good to you over you, it is that you should thank him, remember his favor and spread (to others) good words about him.”2
1. al-Kafi, vol. 2, pg. 188, no. 7

2. Tuhaf al-’Uqul, pg. 265; Makarim al-Akhlaq, pg. 459
Responsibility 8: Taking Part in Religious Gatherings
The next responsibility is to take part in gatherings in which the merits of Imam al-Mahdi (ajtf) are mentioned or in which his noble ancestors are remembered. We must be present in such gatherings and through our presence, offer a spiritual gift to these great personalities and make such programs dynamic as this is one of the signs of true love for our Imam.

A companion narrated that Imam Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Baqir (as) said:
أَتَخْلُونَ وَ تَتَحَدَّثُونَ وَ تَقُولُونَ مَا شِئْـتُمْ؟ فَقُلْتُ: أَيِّ وَ اللٌّهِ... فَقَالَ : أَمَا وَ اللٌّهِ لَوَدِدْتُ أَنِّي مَعَكُمْ فِي بَعْضِ تِلْكَ الْمَوَاطِنِ أَمَا وَ اللٌّهِ إِنِّي لَأُحِبُّ رِيْحَكُمْ وَ أَرْوَاحَكُمْ وَ أَنَّكُمْ عَلى دِينِ اللٌّهِ وَ دِينِ مَلاَئِكَتِهِ فَأَعِينُوا بِوَرَعٍ وَ اجْتِهَادٍ
“Do you seclude yourselves and speak to one another about whatever pleases you (in regards to the teachings of Allah)?” I replied: “Yes, by Allah.” The Imam replied: “I swear by Allah that surely I would love to be with you in some of these gatherings.
Surely, by Allah I love the pleasant aroma that emanates from you (by holding such gatherings) and I love your souls! Surely you are all on the religion of Allah and the religion of His Angels so help (one another) to observe piety and struggle (in these regards).”1
1. al-Kafi, vol. 2, pg. 187, no. 5
Responsibility 9: Arranging Religious Gatherings
Another responsibility of the believers is to arrange gatherings in which Imam al-Zaman (ajtf) is mentioned, as this is also a sign of one’s love for the Imam. If a true believer is well versed in public speaking and is able to speak about the Imam and his qualities, then he must perform this act.

Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) said to Fudhail:
تَجْلِسُونَ وَ تُحَدِّثُونَ؟ قَالَ: نَعَمْ جُعِلْتُ فِدَاكَ قَالَ: إِنَّ تِلْكَ الْمَجَالِسَ أُحِبُّهَا فَأَحْـيُـوا أَمْرَنَا يَا فُضَيلُ فَرَحِمَ اللٌّهُ مَنْ أَحْـيَا أَمْرَنَا
“Do you gather and discuss (about us the Ahlul Bayt)?” Fudhail said: “Yes, may I be sacrificed for you!” The Imam said: “Verily I love such gatherings, so keep our teachings alive O’ Fudhail! May the mercy of Allah be upon a person who keeps our teachings alive.”1
Indeed, establishing such gatherings is the true essence of helping the religion of Allah and the Hujjah of our time and will result in the spread of the religion of truth.

In fact, it is possible that at certain times, it may actually become obligatory to establish such programs. For example, if there is a possibility of danger coming to the religion and people are being led astray, then in order to save the faith and protect the souls of the people, it will become obligatory to hold such gatherings.
1. Biharul Anwar, vol. 44, pg. 282, sec. 34, no. 14
Responsibility 10: Written Propagation of the Imam
Another responsibility is to recite poetry, write books or other such things in which the merits and virtues of the Imam are mentioned. Such writings should also contain praise and admiration of the Imam and words of consolation, solace and lamentation for him (since he is in the major occultation).

Of course, this should be carried out according to one’s ability and indeed, this is one way in which we can help the religion and our Imam. The pure A`immah (as) used to recommend their followers to extol the virtues of the Ahlul Bayt (as) through their words and deeds and there are many traditions in this regard.

For example, Imam ‘Ali b. Musa al-Ridha (as) has said:
مَا قَالَ فِينَا مُؤْمِنٌ شِعْراً يَمْدَحُنَا بِهِ إِلاَّ بَنـى اللٌّهُ لَهُ مَدِينَةً فِي الْجَنَّةِ أَوْسَعَ مِنَ الدُّنْـيَا سَبْعَ مَرَّاتٍ يَزُورُهُ فِيهَا كُلُّ مَلَكٍ مُقَرَّبٍ وَ كُلُّ نَبِيٍّ مُرْسَلٍ
“There is not a single believer who recites a poem in our (the Ahlul Bayt’s) praise except that Allah builds for him a city in Paradise whose expanse is more than the world seven times over and wherein all the closest Angels (to Allah) and every appointed Messenger will come to visit him.”
1. Wasa`il ash-Shi’a, vol. 10, pg. 467, sec. 105, no. 3
Responsibility 11: Absolute Obedience to the Imam
Another responsibility of the believers is to obey the Imam, during the time of his advent and also during his occultation. Obeying him means that we must adhere to the legislations sent by Allah.

During the period of the occultation, obeying the Imam can be achieved by following the commandments of his noble ancestors which are found in the books of narrations.

Imam ‘Ali b. Husain as-Sajjad (as) has said:
لاَ كَرَمَ إِلاَّ بِتَقْوَى وَ لاَ عَمَلَ إِلاَّ بِالنِّيَّةِ وَ لاَ عِبَادَةَ إِلاَّ بِالتَّفَقُّهِ‏ أَلاَ وَ إِنَّ أَبْغَضَ النَّاسِ إِلـى اللٌّهِ مَنْ يَقْتَدِي بِسُنَّةِ إِمَامٍ وَ لاَ يَقْتَدِي بِأَعْمَالِهِ
“There is no honour except by being Godwary, and there is no action except when accompanied by the (correct) intention, and there is no worship except with contemplation. Surely the most hat

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