The Minds of the People Prepare for the Advent of the Mahdi
11:54:38The session began exactly on time. Dr. Jalali opened the meeting with his question.
Dr. Jalali: The reality of human life today reveals a diversity of opinions, beliefs, and religions. It also reveals the factors which breed differences among human beings in everything you can imagine. With the existence of a plurality of every sort, how can we imagine that the entire humanity will come under one government and one power when the earth is directed by the government of the Mahdi?
Mr. Hoshyar: If the general conditions of the world and the degree of human knowledge, perceptions, and intelligence remain at the same level as before, then it is certainly farfetched to think about a unified world government under the Mahdi. On the other hand, just as the degree of human reason and civilization, and the level of human knowledge in the past centuries were not at the present level -- having through changes and transformations that are very much a part of human history gradually reached this higher point, it is plausible to maintain that the present level will not remain stagnant. Rather, it can be said with much confidence that with the passage of time humanity will reach even higher stages, allowing a better understanding the social good and the general interests of society. To comprehend this fully we must understand the past age and compare it with the present to formulate our vision of the potential future.
It has been established with abundant evidence that selfishness and self-interesteds are natural instincts in human beings. These natural traits are responsible for much of the energy that has propelled human advancement towards perfection and the acquisition of happiness and other self-serving ends. Every individual tries his utmost to further his own interests, and to overcome any obstacles that might hamper this personal gain. In this movement towards one's own interests there is very little attention paid to the interests of others in society. However, when an individual realizes that his advantage is better served by preserving the interests of others, then he accepts that idea and willingly gives up some of his own advantage for others.
It was probably this recognition of a personal interest in the preservation of the common good that prompted the institution of marriage to develop. Every man and woman realized that they needed each other and that sense of need and dependency strengthened their marital relationship. The need to balance one's own selfishness with the advantages that are accrued through relationships has been a key element in the development of a healthy family and other mutually beneficial social relations. In reality each member of a family does not have any other purpose than the realization of their own happiness. However, since the attainment of personal happiness was dependent on the happiness of others in the family, the attainment of collective happiness through a sense of cooperation and interaction quickly became the cornerstone of an ideal human relationship.
For a long time human beings lived as an extended family in tents. Following incidents of hostility, conflict and skirmishes that disturbed their sense of security, the families came together to form a society in order to consolidate their resources to defend themselves against other families and groups. This development led to the reformation of kinship groups into tribes and nations. Members or evolution coalescence of these new groups, through mutual agreement gave up some of their individual and familial rights in order to function as a tribe with a sense of the common good and were willing to put up a defense to protect their common interests against any external threat. This advancement in collective thought and recognition of a critical need to coexist, both within the tribe and in relation to other tribes, moved the society to create villages and cities to further and to defend its common good.
The progression from village life to city and national life was gradual and prompted by a pragmatic decision to further the common good that was very much defined by the need for security and peaceful relations with those societies that were more numerous and powerful. The birth of a nation was the logical outcome of the human need to provide the maximum benefit of corporate existence within a defined territory. It was in many ways an extension of familial structure in which citizenry provided the new basis for social and political cooperation. More importantly, it transcended racial and other forms of distinctions that converged under a national culture. Ultimately, their development served to remove causes of conflict and hostility and to demonstrate the benefit of unity in furthering the purposes of a good society. With the cumulative experience of hundreds of centuries of living together, an absolute egocentric individualism and human pettiness were to a considerable extent brought under some ethical scrutiny. In spite of all the benefits that accrued through a mutually recognized social contract, the need to work even harder to improve living conditions had to be guaranteed through the creation of a social and economic infrastructure.
The role played by technology in improving the quality of life was underscored by the state's endeavors to ensure that these scientific advancements were regulated through proper institutions and human rational control. Today, we are witness to the technicalization of societies around the world which has led to phenomenal breakthroughs in global relations through the technology of telecommunications. Things that had appeared to previous generations as scientific fiction have become a reality. Of all the things, national and cultural boundaries that seemed to have been defined in terms of an "iron curtain" separating the nations into eastern and western blocs have been overshadowed by electronic super-highways of ideas. The revolution of communication has changed the ideological configuration of the world. No nation can afford to live in isolation. In the midst of all this advancement, however, there remains the troubling question of how to make an individual responsive to the ethical and spiritual values which function as the backbone of a healthy society. Could the democratization of the nations guarantee the preservation of this unquestionably fundamental inner need of humanity?
The world community has experimented with different philosophies and ideologies to strengthen the common vision that would guarantee harmony and justice among peoples of different races and creeds. Nationalism, communism, socialism, capitalism, and so on have alternatively divided the nations, united them partially under one or another -ism, brought them to the brink of destructive nuclear warfare, and forced them to work with each other under international organizations like the United Nations. The human search for harmony and peace with justice remain the most precious prize for the global community. At the same time, the lingering memory of two World Wars with their disastrous outcomes have provided a grim reminder of how far humanity seems to be from that lofty ideal of peace on earth.
International organizations are marred by the power politics of stronger nations against the weaker ones. Different forms of imperialism and colonization are rampant even in the post-colonial era. In spite of all the experiences with wars and conflicts, the world's nations are engaged in accumulating weapons of mass destruction that could wipe out the entire human race in a matter of seconds. The very foundation of human global community, namely interconnectedness, is at stake.
If human history in the recent past can be taken as indicative of the future direction of the global human enterprise, it is not difficult to surmise that humanity is at a crossroads marked with basically two choices: to pursue a pure materialism its moral and social accompaniments; or, to respond to the moral-spiritual challenge of accepting God as the sole guide. In other words, with materialistic consumerism at its height, and individualism and secularism functioning as the two wings that make this kind of blind dedication to it possible, God and God's ethical and spiritual directives have been practically trivialized and systematically removed from the public life of a nation. At the same time, there is this natural urge in human beings to seek out their Creator, to worship the Merciful, Compassionate God. Until and unless that is satisfied human beings can not find peace and harmony. No material or secular ideology can substitute for this simple, natural faith that provides the inner peace and a sense of cosmic harmony and total integrity to humankind.
The Abrahamic religions have, in particular, emphasized this natural religion of humanity founded upon an innate disposition to worship One God and implement the Will of God on earth by creating an ethical and spiritually-oriented society. These revealed religions also promise that God will empower those who respond to their innate nature by making them role models and leaders for humanity. Moreover, all false beliefs and gods are prone to provoke conflict and must be eliminated for God's order to be realized. It is only when humanity acknowledges this God-centered universe that it will be able to further the ideal global community. Such a community will naturally respond to the call of Islam and the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his progeny) whose invitation to the Peoples of the Book, that is, the Jews and the Christians, to abandon differences and concentrate on One Lord, the Almighty God, is enshrined in the Qur'an in Sura Al 'Imran, verse 64 as follows:
People of the Book! Come now to a word common between us and you, that we serve none but God, and that we associate not aught with Him, and do not some of us take other as Lords, apart from God. (Al 'Imran ,64)
The Qur'an presents this revolutionary program of creating an ethical order that will reflect the divine will on earth through God's righteous servants who have submitted themselves to God's will, the Muslims. The Prophet has also informed us that the uniquely qualified person to lead humanity to become united under One God by abandoning all forms of idolatry and concentrating on the divine purposes for humanity will be the promised Mahdi, a descendant of his. Imam Baqir has related: When our Qa'im arises he will place his hands on the heads of God's servants, bringing together disparate minds and thoughts to form a unified opinion and will lead them to pursue a singular goal, making them excel in their moral life.1
In another tradition Imam 'Ali b. Abi Talib has conveyed the essence of al-Qa'im's role in the future of humanity. He says:
When our Qa'im rises hostility and resentment will be eliminated from the hearts of the people, and general security will be established all over the world.2
Finally, Imam Baqir says: When our Qa'im takes the command in his hands, all the public wealth, mines and treasures on the earth will be at his disposal [for fair distribution among people].3
1 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 336.
2 Ibid., p. 316.
3 Ibid., p. 351.
Adopted from the book : "Al-Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.); the Just Leader of Humanity" by : "Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini"
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