Waiting and Responsibility
Waiting and Responsibility
Awaiting' (Intezar) is the result of two conditions. Firstly, he is not satisfied with the present circumstances and secondly, he expects the improvement in his circumstances. If either of these conditions are not fulfilled then it is not awaiting and the person concerned is not an 'awaiter' *(Muntazir).
The awaiting of Hazrat Imam Mahdi (A.S.) also holds the same distinct characteristics. Even here awaiting purports that an awaiter is not satisfied with his present circumstances and is hoping for a bright and better future.
A believer is a witness to the assaults of the enemies of Islam which they are inflicting on Islam with their full might and munitions. The genuineness of beliefs and deeds are not judged as per the criterion set by Quran and Hadith. Instead they are examined through the clannish prejudice and norms set by their forefathers. In such circumstances, a genuine awaiter should not sit idle. Rather, the Holy Quran has instructed him in these words:
"And say to those who do not believe that you act as much you can. We are also trying. You all await and surely we all are awaiting." It is an open challenge for the enemies, that let them make their best efforts. In the light of this challenge can anyone say that awaiting implies sitting idle and remaining oblivious ? Or awaiting means to remain always alert and defeat enemies on every front. Of course, it necessitates that a believer should never exult on his strength but should always rely on Allah. Because reliance in Allah gives victory to weaklings over their stronger adversaries. Imam
Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) said:
"If you act on our advices and teachings and remain in the same conditions, then whosoever dies before the advent of our Qaem (A.S.) will attain martyrdom."
(Beharul-Anwar, Vol. 52, Chap. 22) In another tradition Imam Jafar Sadiq (A.S.) said :
"The one who desires to be among the companions of Hazrat Qaem (A.S.), then he must wait, adopt piety and behave courteously. If he dies in such a condition before the advent of Qaem (A.S.), then his reward will be similar to the one who attains his (Qaem's (A.S.)) era. Hence strive vigorously, await his arrival congratulations to you all for your relentless awaiting".
(Ghaibat-e-Nomani, Chap. 11, Hadith 16)
While the first tradition calls for complete emulation ofAhle-Bait (A.S.) so that human thinking and beliefs may not be distracted from the right path the second tradition exhorts for adopting piety and doing good, so that even in the field of practice, their should not be any aberration. The following tradition further clarifies that awaiting does not mean remaining idle and careless. It never purports mere verbal claim without practice but it signifies endless efforts and incessant endeavors as Hazrat Mahdi (A.S.) himself says :
"Then all of you must do such deeds which draw you nearer to our love and affection. And refrain from such acts which evokes your anger and displeasure"
(Beharul Anwar, Vol. 53, Chap. 21) He is the true awaiter who always seeks to please his Imam (A.S.). His every effort is directed at achieving the invaluable pleasure of Imam (A.S.) and it is but evident that the pleasure of Imam is in abiding by the tenets of Islam and not in its sacrilege. It is a command for us and our Imam has encouraged us and has instilled enthusiasm in us through these words :
"We are not negligent of your affairs and are not forgetful of your remembrance. Had it been so, then terrible calamities would have struck you and your enemies would have destroyed you. Fear Allah, strengthen your hands, so that we may relieve you of the tribulations that have afflicted you."
Such love, kindness, affection, and fondness is not found even in the parents, let alone anyone else. After seeing so much kindness and compassion whose heart will not he moved for action? Whose eyes will not shed tears at the separation from such in Imam, while his love is glowing in his heart when we see such a magnanimity we yearn to place our forehead at his feet. But the burdens of sins benumbed our agility and the clutches of bad character retarded our steps. The reason of being deprived of his esteemed presence, as explained by Imam (A.S.) himself, is that :-
"If our Shias (may Allah give them the grace of obedience) would have fulfilled their covenants with united hearts then surely there would have been no delay in our meeting and they would have received the blessings of our visitation. But the things which increased the distance between us are those news which we have received about them regarding those actions which we dislike and which we do not expect from them." (Beharul Anwar, Vol. 53, Chap. 21 )
In this Tauqee a signed letter from Imam (A.S.)] Imam has not only explained the reason for the delay in his reappearance but lias also shown a clearway to approach him. When a true awaiter is blessed with tlie Ziyarat of Imam (A.S.) in Samarrah then he addresses his dearest Imam thus : "0 Master be a witness I pledge to thee even if your occultation is prolonged to such an extent that my life is on the verge of exhaustion. Still my certitude will enhance every moment. Your love will keep on increasing manifold, with the increment in my trust in you. I will keep waiting for you unswervingly and 1 shall he waiting for (your) call of Jehad relentlessly.
"May my life, my wealth, my children, my family and whatever Allah has conferred upon me, be sacrificed for you and I leave them in your authority." [ Mafatihul-Jenan, Ziyarate-lmam-e-Asr (A.S.) ] It becomes clear after this explanation that a true awaiter never tires of waiting for Imam. He keeps on exerting continuously instead of being a silent spectator.
Merely being discontent with the present circumstances is not sufficient hut he must strive to bring change in it. It becomes evident that in such vicious atmosphere and sinful surroundings, what is the responsibility of a true awaiter? And how important it is? Besides these there are also other responsibilities which are as follows :
The foremost thing which a true awaiter is expected to do is to build his character. Character-building implies following the tenets of Islam, developing good traits and purify his self in such a way that every aspect of his personality should reflect the teachings of Ahlebait (A.S.). Often the friends and helpers of Hazrat Mahdi (A.S.) are described with such superlatives :-
"Those who will believe in the hidden Imam they are the most pious ones and their faith is of the highest degree. They will establish prayers and spend generously in the way of God. They believe firmly in Quran and other divine scriptures and they are certain of Qiyamat.' ( Tafsire-Nurus-Saqlain, Vol. 1, Sura Baqarah )
"They are obedient, sincere, honorable, good doers, patient, devout, helpers of the oppressed, cordial and pure-hearted." Their hearts are of steel. If they cast a glance at an iron mountain, it will crumble and reduce to bits. (llzamun-Naasib, Vol. 1, Pg. 67 )
Their bodies will emit fragrance of musk, while their countenance will be dazzling like a full moon." ( Kamaluddin, Chap. 24, Tradition No. 11 )
"They will be braver than lions and sharper than spears." (Beharul-Anwar, Vol. 52, Chap. 27, Tradition 17 )
"They will worship at night." (Muntakhabul Asar section 9, Chap: 3, Tradition No.1 )
(Now whosoever wishes to be among the friends and helpers of Hazrat Mahdi (A.S.) then he must adorn his self with the above mentioned attributes and characteristics)
"In the period of occupation they will hold religious convictions and will not allow the devil to meddle with their faith. (Kamaluddin.Pg.51)
Their gnosis will be pure and veritable, while their faith will increase constantly. They will mould their character in such a way that nothing will stop them from emulating the Ahlebait (A.S.)." (Kamaluddin, Pg, 51)
These excerpts were extracted from various traditions which clarifies that in the period of occultation one of our P vital responsibilities is to absorb the teachings of Ahlebait (A.S.) in our character and personality so that we may not wander hither and thither while our beloved Imam (A.S.) is far from our eyes. In such an aimless wandering, it is quite possible that a wanderer may end up getting attached to any mundane caller, because every belief which is not a product of the teachings of Ahlehait (A.S.) is a clear deviation and every courteousness which does not reflect their mannerisms is intact sheer discourtesy.
It is a proven fact that as much as a man holds Imam (A.S,) dearer that much he will be attracted towards good deeds and demeanors. And he will cleanse his self from bad habits and vices. Numerous such incidents can he found in the hooks, stories of those persons, particularly youths who felt the love of Imam (A.S.) in their hearts which changed their entire lives. Undoubtedly, love is such an elixir by which every impossible is made possible. The Reformation Of Society.
One of our important responsibilities in the period of occultation is the reformation of society. The holy Quran in Surae-Asr has suggested a remedy for those who want to remain secure from loss i.e. enjoining patience to each other'. Islam is against reclusion and ascetism. Rather it advocates a social and public life. The deplorable aspect of the contemporary world is that people want to lead a social life hut due to the fear of society, they do not want to take any initiative for reformation. The fear of "what the people will say" has superseded the fear of God. Hazrat Imam Ali Naqi (A.S.) has extolled the virtues of those who are fulfilling their responsibilities in the period of occultation in the following words:-
"Had there not been such scholars in the period of occultation who call the people towards the Ahlebait (A.S.), guide towards them, defend their religion with the proofs of Allah, protect weak Shias from the devilish designs, deception of the tyrants and tentacles of the enemies of Islam, then surely all would have deviated from the religion of Allah. But it is they who are guarding the hearts of the weak Shias like a captain guards the passengers on his ship. They are those who enjoy a supreme position in front of Allah".(Mahajjatul-Baizaa, Vol. 1, Pg. 32)
If they would not reform their society then how would it he known that the whole society is awaiting Hazrat Mahdi (A.S.). The following tradition throws light on our responsibilities in the period of occultation :-
In the exegesis of the Holy Quran attributed to Imam Hasan Askari (A.S.), the Holy Prophet (S.A.) had explained the significance of word 'Orphan' in the following verse; "And when we took the covenant from the children of lsrail of not worshipping anyone but Allah and goodness to parents and by giving to near ones and orphans."
(Baqarah : 83) The Holy Prophet (S.A.) said :
"Allah the Almighty has commanded to do good with the orphans and to act as (a source of) guidance for them. Since they are deprived of their kind and affectionate father. Allah will extend his grace to the one who will have mercy on the orphans. If a person caresses the head of an orphan then as many number of hairs come under his hand those many vast and expansive palatial mansions will be given to him in Paradise. This place will contain all sorts of comforts and luxuries in its precincts... These people will stay in it forever."
(Tafseer attributed to Imam Hasan Askari (A.S.),Pg.239)
Imam Hasan Askari further elucidates the tradition of Holy Prophet (S.A.) in these words :
"There is another orphan whose plight is more pitiful. He is the one who is far from his Imam and cannot have access to him. He who is not aware of his religious obligations .
Yes indeed 0' people - one who teaches and trains our far off Shias then he is similar to the guardian of an orphan.
Be aware if somebody teaches an ignorant, guides a misguided one, instills the teachings of Ahlebait then on the day of Qiyamat he will be with us. We will give him a seat next to us wherever we may be." (Tafseer attributed to Imam Hasan Askari (A.S.) , Pg. 239)
In this period of occultation, when we are separated from our kind Imam(A.S.) then what else can he the reward of teaching, training, and reforming the society ? Where is the teaching and training of society and where is the proximity to Masumeen (A.S.) and the fortune of staying with them ? This tradition is sufficient to enlighten the keen and sensitive Shias. Even women can join hands with men in fulfilling this responsibility.
This supplication begins thus
It has been recorded by the eminent traditionalist, Shaykh Abbas Qummi (r.a.), in his renowned compilation, 'Mafatihul Jinaan'. He has reported this invocation on the authority of Shaykh Kafami from the latter's 'Misbahul Mutahajjid'. It is recommended that this supplication be recited after every obligatory namaaz or for that matter at any other time. (This supplication is mentioned in 'Mafatihul Jinaan' before the fifteen supplications of Imam Sajjad (a.s. )). Considering the veracity of this supplication, and with an eye on brevity, we have not mentioned the chain of transmitters.
A supplication generally commences by invoking Allah as in 'Allahumma , which means 'O Allah'. The very next word arzokna' , means grant us sustenance. The word sustenance is by and large associated with food and succour. However, this word is also used to imply bounties associated with both this world, as well as the hereafter. In other words, any bounty, aid, assistance, etc., granted by Allah is dubbed as 'razk' and this could be in the guise of 'taufeeq' to perform some action or it could be some monetary benefit or an increase in knowledge and recognition (ma'refat). Granting sustenance is the exclusive domain of Allah as He Himself mentions in the Quran "Surely Allah is the bestower of sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Strong.' (Chapter of Zariyat, verse 58)
The word 'huva' that precedes 'arrazko' is an added emphasis on Allah's prerogative in granting sustenance to man. This declaration affirming Allah's sovereignty in the matter of succour in the very beginning of this invocation is an admission of man's absolute helplessness and dependence on Allah. (It must be noted that the Quran alludes to others also like responsiblity for granting sustenance. However, these can only perform this duty with permission and assistance from Allah and are by no means His associates.)
It is pertinent to note what Imam Mahdi (a.s.) has beseeched from Allah, under the heading of 'arzokna'. And what Imam (a.s.) has sought under the heading 'arzokna'. 'Tawfeeq' is derived from 'Vafq', which means to reform or to rectify. It also means success and fruition. This is again the undisputed right of Allah as expounded in chapter of Hud, verse 88.
"And with none but Allah is the direction of my affair to the right issue."
Thus all success, honour and accomplishment is directly attributed to Allah's assistance and aid. Then, one who wishes to advance in this world as well as the hereafter, must constantly entreat Allah. 'Taufeeq'; plays a crucial role in the performance of actions. For instance, there could be a youth, strong and capable, who is unable to perform a simple action due to lack of 'taufeeq', while a man twice his age may perform an even more formidable task, like say praying Namaze Shab in severe wintry conditions, with 'taufeeq' from Allah' side. However, it is relevant to note that Allah never acts impulsively. His actions are governed by perfect wisdom and reasoning. In other words, Allah will never grant man 'taufeeq' without some cause. And this cause that draws 'taufeeq' is intention (neeyah). And that is why traditions elucidate this concept thus;
'Taufeeq is in proportion with intention.'
'At-ta'a' means an attraction, inclination or preference towards someone or something. It is commonly used to denote submission, obedience or compliance. In this supplication 'At-ta'a' implies obedience of Allah's commands and edicts. Indeed, submission to Allah is the key to man's problems relating to the world, and the hereafter.
Submission to Allah's commands, is a precursor to man's success, stifles social disputes, wards off Allah's wrath, grants man honour and dignity and averts evil. Then one who obeys Allah's commands will accept death matter-of-factly. He will show urgency in performing all obligatory acts. However, regrettably, today we see the Muslims evading obligatory deeds. Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) protests against this strange trait thus, "When their God invites them (towards goodness) they flee and abscond. But when Satan entices them they heed his call with urgency and rush towards him.' (Nahjul Balaga, sermon 166)
One must never forget that all bounties are a direct consequence of our obedience to Allah, for nothing can be achieved without His satisfaction. Subservience to the Almighty gains precedence over all other actions. ,
"And help us abstain from sin and disobedience." Verily abstinence from sins is among Allah's greatest bounties. Disobedience is a result of 'asa'. 'Kazalan' means that Allah abandons the servant and deprives him of His bounties;
i.e. He does not care about him. And this only adds to man's depravation and debasement. A Muslim when he sins not only disobeys Allah, but also infringes upon the rights of the Prophet and his progeny (a.s.). That is why Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) declares, 'Undoubtedly the friend of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is the one who obeys Allah, even if he bears no blood ties with the Prophet (s.a.w.s.). And the antagonist of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is the one who defies Allah even while he boasts of blood ties with the Prophet (s.a.w.s.).'
(Nahjul Balaga sermon 96)
Indeed man's behaviour is astonishing. For he evinces urgency in responding to the call of this world, that only invites him to trials, tribulations and misery.
"And inculcate sincerity in my intentions".
Intention is the foundations of all our actions and in fact, the latter are a consequence of the former. An unwavering intention can subdue the weakness of the body. That is why traditions declare, 'The believer's intention surpasses his action and the disbeliever's intention surpasses his action."
In this supplication Imame Asr (a.t.f.s.) beseeches Allah to purify his intentions from all blemishes like ostentation, vainglory, pride, disbelief, etc. Such a level of purity in our intention is crucial, for actions are accepted by Allah only if our intention is unfettered with such blemishes; else regardless of the effort, our actions will never be acknowledged by Allah. Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) proclaims, 'If one is sincere in his intentions, then Allah will multiply manifold his sustenance."
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) also declares, "One who has pure intentions will experience serenity in his heart. For the heart can only get tranquillity from actions that are performed for Allah's sake alone." Insincere intentions deprive man of his sustenance, hurl him into tribulations and seize 'barakat' from him.
'Irfan' and 'Marefat' imply recognition and comprehension. 'Al Horma' means all those things that are prohibited by the Islamic Shariat. In this supplication, Imam (a.s.) implores Allah to help him recognise the forbidden actions, so that he may exercise restrain in this regard. For surely among the signs of the intellect is that the person abstains from prohibited deeds, especially consuming impure food by which blood is produced in the body. Hence when a Muslim eats what is forbidden by the Shariat, the angels in the heavens and the earth curse that person.
Moreover, worship on a stomach filled with prohibited food, is akin to a house that is built on water. To the extent that traditions pronounce that a person who forsakes a morsel of prohibited food will get reward that exceeds that of two thousand recommended (mustahhab) units of namaz. But this abstinence is possible only if man can clearly identify the prohibited actions. Then one who abstains from the forbidden deeds while he is having the ability and inclination, then Allah will avert from him the fire of Hell and grant him entry in Paradise.
'And grant us honour through guidance and Steadfastness.'
Verily the best guidance is that of Allah. So critical is guidance that Allah has not delegated it to anyone and has kept this responsibility with Himself. In fact, Allah tells the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the chapter of Qasas, verse 57, "(O Prophet) surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases."
Then if guidance is with Allah, how does man go about acquiring it? Who are the ones fortunate enough to receive it and the wretched who are deprived of it? There are certain actions the performance of which invoke Allah's guidance and mercy, viz.,
a) belief in Allah,
c) repentance and contrition,
d) abstinence from sins,
e) endeavours in the way of Allah,
f) adherence to the Islamic Shariat,
g) concern and regard for religion,
h) patience and fortitude,
j) sincere intentions,
l) frequent remembrance of Allah,
m) acquisition of knowledge,
n) obedience of the Imams (a.s.).
On the other hand there are certain actions that repel Allah's mercy and guidance viz.,
a) Injustice - be it on others, or on oneself by way of sins
b) Disbelief and apostasy
c) Transgression and unrestraint in the matter of sins
f) To accede to one's desires
g) To act without any ma'soom Imam's leadership.
h) Doubt and scepticism (after certitude)
Steadfastness connotes following the right path, the path of guidance, as opposed to that of deviation and misguidance, as it is mentioned in the first chapter of Quran thus, 'Keep us on the right path.' And the chapter of Hud, verse 112 "Remain steadfast as you have been commanded." Steadfastness and uprightness are among the distinctive features of a believer. Allah has given glad tidings to those who observe fortitude and Steadfastness in their affairs. In fact this is the best means of leading one's life. Then one who wishes to succeed in the world and the hereafter must embrace these characteristics. For as Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) declares,
'One who is steadfast shall get Paradise, but the one who is afflicted with doubt and disbelief shall get the fire.' (Nahjul Balaga, sermon 119)
Only after being graced by Allah with Steadfastness and guidance can one truly comprehend the meaning of the word 'Akrimna' which means, 'honour us'. For surely One who is blessed by Allah with these two traits will find honour and esteem in the eyes of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.). 'Direct our tongues to speak truthful and prudent discourses.'
Here 'sawab' means to enjoin upon the right path and 'alsanah' means tongues. 'saddad' means honest and rightful discourses, while 'hikmat' means reflections and talks marked with wisdom and discernment.
A man's tongue plays a crucial role in moulding his personality. Which is why Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) proclaims, 'The tongue determine man's worth.'
Just as a woman's grace and beauty is reflected in her visage, a man's character is (disguised) in his tongue. Indeed the tongue is the root of all goodness and evil. A man can never achieve steadfastness in his character unless he first observes this trait in his speech. That is why Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) exhorts us to guard our tongues with the same judiciousness with which we safeguard gold and silver. In fact in this lies the security of man. For this little piece of flesh used with abandon can cause damage more severe and destructive than swords and lances. Hence we must beseech Allah to help us guard our tongues so nothing comes forth from it but guidance and wisdom.
We must observe a lot of discretion and caution in our speech. As Ameerul Mo'mineen has put it 'The wise man's tongue is hidden behind his intellect, while a fool's intellect is hidden behind his tongue.' (Nahjul Balaga, saying 40).
'And pervade our hearts with knowledge and recognition.'
Indeed knowledge and recognition are such profound concepts that to do justice to them in this short exposition is well-nigh impossible. The great traditionist, Allamah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (r.a.) has discussed knowledge, recognition and intellect in over two volumes of his celebrated work 'Behaarul Anwaar'. To put it briefly, the Imams (a.s.) have enjoined acquisition of knowledge upon every Muslim man and woman. In fact few other things in Islam have been emphasised with such vehemence by the Imams (a.s.). Despite all these exhortations Muslims today cut a sorry figure steeped in ignorance and regression. And this state of ignorance among his Shias pains Imame Asr (a.t.f.s.) more than anything else.
Our responsibility then, is not only to acquire knowledge, but to disseminate it. Now as far as recognition is concerned, it can only be achieved by strictly adhering to the commands of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as far as obligatory and recommended, prohibited and abominable actions are concerned. And it is important that we always recite the following invocation:
'O Allah, help us recognise ourselves, for surely if we fail to recognise ourselves, we can never recognise Your Prophet. O Allah, help us recognise Your Prophet, for surely if we fail to recognise Your Prophet we can never recognise Your Proof (Imame Asr). O Allah, help us recognise Your Proof, for surely if we fail to recognise Your Proof we shall be deviated from Your religion.'
'And purify our bellies from impure and unclean food.'
The unclean food that finds its way in our bellies is deemed impure on the basis of two criteria; first, it is either obtained from unlawful livelihood or from a livelihood on which khums has not been paid. Second, either the food by itself is impure or it has been acquired from an unclean person. For instance, if one acquires some foodstuff from an unbeliever that has been made unclean with the latter's sweat. Such impure food once consumed sows seeds of rebellion against the Almighty. That is why as mentioned earlier one who forsakes a morsel of prohibited food will get reward that exceeds that of two thousand recommended (mustahhab) units of namaz.
Apart from the effect on our spirituality, impure food has far reaching repercussions on our issues. The impure blood that flows in their veins incites them to revolt against Allah. However, we often find Muslims, especially Indian Muslims, who are negligent about this aspect and advance lame excuses like, it is not possible for any person living in this country to totally avoid unclean food!! Of course that is not true. We find instances wherein a doctor strongly recommends, say a non-vegetarian patient from eating mutton.
The patient actually adheres to the doctor's recommendations and completely stops consuming mutton. If man can go to such lengths to preserve this temporal body, then he should make a more concerted effort for success in the eternal life in the hereafter, and he should constantly endeavour to attain Allah's satisfaction. In this regard it is sufficient to say that impure food is a cause for repudiation of all our prayers and supplications and a means of Imam's displeasure.
'And withhold our hands from injustice and theft.'
Tyranny and injustice are among the major sins. Allah does not guide the tyrant, on the contrary He sends down His chastisement upon him. Tyranny and injustice are the root cause of all sins and transgression, as Quran proclaims, "And certainly We did destroy generations before you when they were unjust." (Yunus : 13)
Injustice can be broadly divided under three categories.
First is 'Shirk' i.e. to take some associate for Allah. 'Shirk' is so heinous that it has been dubbed by the Quran as the 'zulm azeem' Second is to do injustice to oneself through sins and transgression.
The third category involves injustice to others, by usurping their rights or encroaching upon their property. Another form of injustice involves doubting and questioning a tenet or , fundamental of religion (please refer Tafsire Ayyashi under Chapter of Anam, verse 82). One must never employ coercion with the old and defenceless. That is why Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) exhorts us thus, "When your hand advances to perpetrate injustice remember the justice of Allah. And when you wrest control over someone remember the control Allah exercises over you.' (Behaarul Anwaar vol. 75, page 322)
One who does injustice or commits theft will find himself in a very wretched state on the Day of Judgement. Allah asserts in the Quran "And the day when the unjust one shall bite his hands, saying: O! Would that I had taken a way with the Apostle." (Furqan : 27)
'And lower our gaze at scenes of transgression and treachery.'
This statement endorses the verse of the chapter of Nur, wherein Allah commands the believers, men as well as women, to lower their gaze. Indeed among the miracles of Quran is how it has succinctly outlined a mode of living for mankind that is in perfect harmony with his inherent nature and at the same time in line with his spiritual needs. No other philosopher or thinker of any age or school of thought has ever formulated (nor will he ever formulate) a mode of lifestyle that even remotely resembles the one advocated by the Quran.
Islam has forbidden Muslims from casting a glance on the na-mahram. Indeed this is the transgression and treachery of the eyes. On the Day of Judgement all eyes will weep save those that when they are confronted with the forbidden, lower their gaze. Those eyes that are habituated to looking at na-mahram will in the hereafter find rods of blazing fire being driven in their eyes. Looking at the forbidden is a potent poison with which Satan spoils the faith of the believer.
On the other hand, the fear of Allah is the anti-dote to this poison. Indeed, the Shia must reflect on it here and now, during the period ofoccultation. If he desires to look at the forbidden he will never be able to cherish the sight of the luminous countenance oflmame Asr (a.t.f.s.).
*Refrain our hearing from vain talks and backbiting.' Quran declares 'And who keep aloof from what is vain.' (Mo'minoon: 3)
All talks that do not involve some discussion about Allah or His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or the Able Bayt (a.s.), can be accounted as vain. Even music is classified as vain and listening to it is forbidden. One who forsakes vain talks will find an elevation in his honour and esteem.
'Ghibat' means to muse over the shortcomings and flaws of a believer in his absence. If indeed those flaws are present in the believer then it constitutes 'ghibat' (backbiting), else it takes the form of 'bohtan' (accusation). Quran has prohibited the believers from backbiting thus; "Not let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?" (Hujrat : 12)
Thus as per the Quran, backbiting of a believer is tantamount to eating the dead brother's flesh. Not only is speaking evil of a believer prohibited, but even lending one's ears to the slanderous talks of the backbiter is forbidden. If it is possible for us, then we should immediately refrain the person from going on any further, and remind him of Allah's displeasure in this regard.
'And bless our scholars and the learned with piety and the ability to give sound advice.'
Indeed if all the scholars of the Islamic nation strive and endeavour in the way of Allah, then most of our problems will be solved. In this supplication Imame Asr (a.s.) beseeches Allah to bestow His grace and benevolence upon the scholars of the Islamic nation. Indeed if the learned of this nation do not propagate Islam with intensity, and do not exhort the Muslims towards goodness and refrain them from evil, then the only logical consequence will be sedition and disputes.
'And grant inclination to the seekers of knowledge to struggle hard in their quest for knowledge.'
Here there is one thing that must always be kept in mind. The sole objective of acquiring knowledge must be to seek Allah's pleasure and satisfaction. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) declares that one who seeks knowledge for four reasons shall be worthy of a place in Hell, viz., one who seeks knowledge merely to debate with the scholars, or solely to have some vain talks with the fools and simpletons or some aimless discussions, or to invite the people towards oneself or to acquire some wealth from the affluent.
(Behaarul Anwaar vol 2, vase 38)
'And bless the listeners so that they may respond to invitations of truth and righteousness and lend their ears to sound advice and admonitions.' One must always endeavour to obey and abide by Allah's commands. As Allah asserts in the Quran in the chapter of Baqarah, verse 38 "Then whoever follows My guidance, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve.'
Indeed admonitions keep alive the heart and dispel unawareness and incognizance. The best admonisher is the Quran. Hence we must endeavour to be constantly in touch with this miracle that has come for man's guidance.
'And grant relief and tranquillity to the ailing.'
'And bestow Your mercy and pardon on the dead.'
In the above two statements of the supplication, Imame Asr (a.t.f.s.) implores Allah to reform the condition of the afflicted and dead among the Muslims. These invocations only serve to remind us of our obligations towards the sick and dead amongst us. Indeed in our busy lives today, we seem to have overlooked these two sections of the community. Keeping in mind the implorations of Imam (a.s.) for the indisposed and the dead, we must take out time to visit the ailing and pray for their relief and comfort. And as far as the dead are concerned, we should recite the Quran on their behalf and visit their graves regularly and pray for the forgiveness of their sins.
'And bestow dignity and serenity upon our elders'
The elders play a very pivotal role in the progress of the community. The enthusiasm and fervour of the youth can only be reined in by the experience and foresight of the senior citizens of the nation. However, the elders must work alongside the youth keeping in mind their own dignity and honour. Then they should not do anything to violate this respect and esteem. Indeed the similitude of the senior members of society is that of captain of ship, who even in the storm, does not lose his bearings, but musters up all his experience and expertise, steering the ship towards the shore.'
'And endow the youth with a feeling of repentance and contrition.
A man's youth is a period of craze and abandon. The youth should therefore observe caution in this age by obeying Allah, falling in line with His commands and tenets. The juveniles must always bear in mind the transience of their youth, that will soon be replaced with old age and fatigue. That is why the period of one's youth must be used most judiciously. Surely the fervour and intensity of youth is fleeting, and man must exploit it before it is taken away.
Indeed Imam Baqir's admonitions in this regard are most striking. Imam declares, "If I find a youth not engaged in the acquisition of religious knowledge, I will beat him." Surely, Imame Asr (a.s.) when he reappears, will punish all those youths who are incognizant of their religious obligations. O Shia youths!
If your lives have been steeped in sins till now, turn to Allah and seek pardon with sincerity, so that you may be acquainted with the true essence of religion.
'And grant our women modesty and chastity.'
Surely Imame Asr (a.s.) is distressed when he observes the outrageous spectacle of the women of our society with their heads unveiled and exposed. This display of immodesty provokes him into beseeching Allah for instilling modesty among the women. Traditions warn that even if a single strand of hair (of a woman) stands exposed to men, she will on the Day of Judgement be dangled in Hell by that very strand of hair, (provided of course that this exposure was intentional on her part).
However, in their attempt to ape the West, we find people who not only flagrantly violate the Islamic tenets, but on the contrary are not willing to accept the Islamic injunction on the veil and demand evidence from the Quran and traditions in this regard. The Islamic veil constitutes an independent topic by itself and is beyond the scope of this treatise.
Suffice it is to say that both the Quran and traditions of Ahle Bayt (a.s.) have been most vehement in this regard. For further deliberation on this topic, readers are welcome to correspond with our organisation. Quran proclaims "Do not advance your opinion where you do not have the knowledge." Modesty is a sign of faith and honour. Chastity is the best form of worship. Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) narrates,
"Chastity is the zakaat of beauty and grace." (Ghuraral Hekam) 'And confer humility and generosity on the affluent and wealthy'
Wealth and riches must at no point of time instill any pride and arrogance in us. This is because abundance is like any other bounty of Allah and He can take it away whenever He pleases. In this regard, history is witness over the fate of Qarun and Firaun. When Allah has bestowed wealth to one section of the community, then they should endeavour to share their good fortune with those who are deprived of it, for tradition exhorts us thus, 'And do good to the people like Allah has done good with you.' Never we should deem our intellect, efforts and capabilities responsible for our wealth and fortune. Tradition declares, 'Allah bestows wealth on a fool so that the wise can perceive Allah's role in apportioning sustenance and the helplessness of their own intellect in its provision.'
'And bestow patience and contentment on the poor and needy.'
Imame Asr (a.t.f.s.) on the one hand exhorts the wealthy to act with humility and on the other hand urges the needy to deal with patience. This is so because Allah has examined the former by their wealth, while the latter have been tried with their poverty and indigence. Man should never complain to Allah about his destitution and penury. On the contrary he should struggle to acquire his livelihood and thank Allah under all circumstances. This is because contentment by itself is good fortune. Contentment is akin to gratitude and protestation to ingratitude. That is why Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) says,
'The contented man is wealthy even while he is hungry and naked.' (Ghuraral Hikam)
Contentment elevates a man's honour and esteem. Allah accepts easily whatever little deeds such a man has to offer. And it is worth noting that one who is not content in scarcity will never be so in abundance. 'And arm our warriors with (Your) aid and make them victorious.'
This part of Imam's supplication pertains to those warriors who relinquish the comforts of day and forsake their sleep at night only to serve Allah and safeguard His religion.
'And grant respite and succour to the captives.' Indeed no one is more aware of the helplessness and powerlessness of the captives than Imame Asr (a.t.f.s.), who has seen so many of his forefathers brave captivity and imprisonment for long periods of time.
'And assist the judges to perform (their duties) with justice and compassion.' 'And induce the citizens to act with fairness and good ethics.'
Indeed if we act as per the exhortations of Imame Asr (a.t.f.s.), we shall find the world a place of shelter and asylum. 'And bless the pilgrims and visitors (of graves of Imams)/ And assist them in their pilgrimage that you have made as an obligation upon them. By Your Grace and Mercy, O Most Merciful'
In the end, Imame Asr (a.t.f.s.) prays for the pilgrims and visitors (of graves of Imams) and beseeches Allah to increase their sustenance and provisions so that they can easily discharge their religious obligations. We conclude this brief exposition with a tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the visitation (Ziarat) of Imam Hussain (a.s.), the Doyen of Martyrs.
'When Allah wishes goodness and happiness for someone, He instills in his heart love for Imam Hussain (a.s.), and an inclination for his visitation.'
Every living being is overwhelmed with emotions of love and attachment. These are emotions that man is very familiar with, and everyone has experienced these strong emotions at some stage in his life. However, those who reflect on these emotions are few. Even fewer are those who comprehend the reality and foundation of the emotions.
We all understand that love can increase and decrease as well. An intense feeling of love and attachment can melt the most hardened of hearts. It can make a person weep and it can also make a person smile. Love can be witnessed in the battlefield, over there it can be heard from the resonance of swords and spears striking each other. It can also be witnessed in more peaceful and secure times.
Indeed love can have a powerful influence on an individual. An incident in this regard from the highly acclaimed compilation - Najmus Saqib (by Muhaddiss-e-Noori) is worth mentioning over here. Once a group of people belonging to a nomadic Qazaak tribe had lost its way in the desert. They were totally exhausted from trying to find a way out of the desert. Suddenly they saw some smoke emanating from a hillock at a distance. Out of curiosity they went towards the hillock and saw a caravan on the other side. The leader of the caravan was very benevolent and generous and seeing their worn out condition invited them for a meal.
When the Qazaaki group had their fill they left. But seeing the wealth of the caravan, they were tempted and they turned back in order to plunder the caravan. The leader of the caravan was quick to discern their intentions and he drew his sword from its sheath.
He drew a line on the ground and announced in an awesome tone, 'If anyone tries to cross this line, I will behead him.' His voice was so terrifying, that the group of Qazaakis fell down from their mounts. May the lives of our parents be sacrificed upon the benevolent and generous leader of the caravan. 0 the avenger of Imam Husain's (a.s.) blood! Love can be an overwhelmingly powerful emotion. Love has in it the ability to drown the person with its intensity and force.
However, love has several levels and grades. It has ways and it has gateways; each gateway has its own peculiarities and a different approach should be adopted for every gateway. Likewise, the gateway of Imam's (a.t.f.s.) love has its own peculiarities and requires a completely different approach. We must try to discern the path towards Imam's (a.t.f.s.) love and attachment.
We must try to gauge the different levels of his love and the difficulties involved in the path of his love. We must try to assess the requirements and prerequisites of the love and whether we find those criteria in ourselves. Only after understanding all the prerequisites and conditions involved in Imam's (a.t.f.s.) love, we might claim - We love Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.). But if negligence overpowers us, then it can expel us from the domain of Imam's (a.t.f.s.) love and attachment.
That is why it is crucial that we understand this love and its criteria. The love of Imam (a.t.f.s.) resides in the heart. For this love to grow and be nurtured, the heart must be clean and pure from all corruption. We have to see how Allah, the Benevolent and the Merciful, has guided us towards his love. Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the last successor and vicegerent of the Chief of the Apostles (a.s.) and the Seal of the Prophets (a.s.).
He is Allah's Proof upon His creatures. Therefore we should also assess the relationship between love and the raising of Prophets (a.s.). We should see how Imam (a.t.f.s.) reminds men of Allah's signs, how he purifies the souls, how he illumines man's existence with the radiance of love.
We should see how our teachers and guides have prepared us for purification with love and how they have awakened us for this love. Only then will we understand that we can never adequately return Imam's (a.t.f.s.) love for us and fall woefully short in this regard. However, history does throw up instances of several personalities who were from an immaculate and cultured background, who possessed amazing prowesses and had.
remarkable accomplishments to their credit and were supported by an unseen force in their efforts. These personalities tread the path of love and affection for Imam (a.t.f.s.). It is not easy to tread on the path which they strode, however it is not impossible either.
That's why we say - we can never'adequately' return Imam's (a.t.f.s.) love. However, even the inadequate love and attachment that we have for Imam (a.t.f.s,) is very powerful and carries tremendous impact To reach that position requires a Herculean effort. Let us take a look at what the scholars have had to say in this regard.
Scholars assert that love is an emotion that can only be experienced. It is inherent in man's nature. It is an emotion that cannot be defined by mere phrases. Love is too profound for that. However for the sake of litterateurs and writers we can state the definition of love in dictionary is described as, 'Love is an emotion that introduces gentleness and harmony in man's nature. That emotion which inculcates harshness and severity in man's nature is called hatred. Love flows from recognition and comprehension. Therefore as recognition increases, love also increases.
The above definition outlines the meaning of love and hatred. Both these emotions are closely linked to man's conscience and heart. It is a widely accepted fact that Allah has introduced love to the human heart. Here we are discussing two emotions - love and hatred.
To sustain love it is important that man refrains from certain actions and performs others. So every despicable act must be condemned and one must not think of performing such actions, since it will have a destructive effect on man's ability to love. On the other hand, every praiseworthy act must be lauded and man must try his best to rush towards that action, as this will give a fillip to love in his heart.
The illustrious scholar and prolific writer Allamah Murtuza Mutahhari has dealt with this topic in detail in his renowned book, "Polarization around the character of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)". However, to discuss details of the book over here is beyond the scope of this short treatise. In brief, it is imperative for us to act on the obligations and necessary conditions of love, to identify the pre-requisites of love and to discharge them in the best possible manner.
Indeed these are the necessary qualifications of love and we must abide by them if we want love to blossom in our hearts. At the same time, we must not ignore the other prerequisite of love - avoiding all such actions that support and give a fillip to hatred.
These actions not only further hatred in a person, but also inhibit the emotion of love.Mankind, Allah's most noble creation has derived its Arabic term. Allah, Who has created man, has outlined adequate means for his survival and progress. Let us glance at the Holy Quran anwhat it has indicated in this regard. Allah, the Almighty, has announced in the Quran "Surely the (true) religion with Allah is In order to proclaim His path and religion, Allah, the Almighty, raised a number of prophets (a.s.), who guided man towards the divine command.
Finally, Allah raised His greatest Apostle, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and announced in the Quran "He it is Who raised among the illiterates an Apostle from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in clear error." (Surah Jumah : 2)
In Islam, it is important to purify the self by reciting the Quranic verses. If the self is not purified, then wisdom and Quranic teachings will be of no benefit. Indeed only if the self is purified, will the brilliance of wisdom and the Quran will permeate in the self and illumine the dark recesses of the heart. With this, man's faith and certainty in Allah increases manifold. With the increase in certainty and faith in Allah, man testifies to Allah's Word and his nature is overwhelmed with love for Allah. Allah declares, Those who believe are stronger in love for Allah (Surah Baqarah : 165)
This is the reason why Imam Husain (a.s.) most willingly sacrificed his life in the way of his Lord out of sheer love and devotion. His face bore a striking radiance with the love of his Lord. Since our discussion is veering from Islam to faith (eemaan) and from faith to love, it is imperative to see how often Allah has discussed love in the Holy Quran. Love - and attachment are two words very closely linked to each other. Both these terms have been used in the Quran extensively.
We see the word love appearing in the Quran 115 times, while attachment is repeated 28 times. And these words are always used in relation to and as an interpretation of faith and love. Another version of the love has not been used in the Quran at all. However, we see this word appearing in the traditions of the infallibles (a.s.). For instance, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declares 'The best of men is the one who loves worship.' (Usul-e-Kafi, vol. 2, Chapter of Worship, trad. 3) The word Ishq means 'excessive love'.
Litterateurs believe that this word is more often used to convey illicit and forbidden love. However, the prophetic tradition we have narrated earlier negates this view, as the word has been used to convey love for excessive worship, which is a commendable action'. We have also used this word to convey similar implications, never alluding to the illegitimate form of love. Love for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) is the cause of our existence, the most important objective of our lives and the aim of our creation.
We love our Imam (a.t.f.s.) and are intensely attached to him. Indeed this is what the religion of Islam instructs us. When the early Muslims wanted to thank the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) for his efforts in the way of Islam, they approached him (s.a.w.a.) and said, '0 Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.a.), indeed you have taken us out from the darkness of ignorance and we had the taufeeq of accepting Islam at your hands and thereby we were illumined with the light of faith. We were disgraced but you honoured us. We were deviated but you guided us.
With your grace and favours, Allah gave peace to our distressed hearts. How can we repay you for your efforts in the propagation of the prophetic message?' Allah revealed to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), 'Say: 1 do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives' (Surah Shura: 23)
Then those who understood the underlying message behind this Quranic verse acted upon it. There were others who ignored this command. But the true lovers did not let anything come in between their love and attachment for the Ahle Bait (a.s.). One such group of lovers were in Karbala. They were so intense in their attachment, that Imam Husain (a.s.) proclaimed, 'I have got companions that neither my grandfather (s.a.w.a.), nor my father (a.s.) nor my brother (a.s.) could get.' These were the companions who repaid the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) for his efforts towards Islam, by attaching themselves to his progeny.
They acted on this Quranic verse 'those who believe are stronger in love for Allah' (Surah Raqarah : 165) In fact, they gave ample proof of this by shedding their blood in the way of Islam. And Allah addressed their leader (Imam Husain (a.s.)) as Allah, the Almighty, declares in the Quran that a favour can be repaid only with another favour. The grace and favour of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in his propagation of Islam is something that can never be truly repaid by us. Love is the only thing that makes understand the importance of this favour and helps us adorn our character.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) used to beseech Allah '0 Allah! Don't let a transgressor confer a favour upon me, thereby introducing his love in my heart.' This tradition highlights an important fact that conferring a favour leads to love, even if that favour is from a disbeliever. Indeed humanity and Islam owe their existence to Imam Husain (a.s.). If the incident of Karbala had not occurred, Islam's appearance would have changed completely and it would have been unrecognisable from the Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) Islam.
If Karbala had not been there true faith would have been considered as what Yazid was observing, Allah forbid! Many of the prohibited acts would have been made permissible and many of the permissible acts would have been made prohibited. Indeed love for Imam Husain (a.s.) is the reward of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
This is because Imam (a.s.) rescued Islam, Allah's chosen religion, which was propagated by his grandfathel, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). 0 lovers of Imam Husain (a.s.)! The criterion for love is to follow the beloved in letter and in spirit and to give preference to his wishes and desires over our own. We should pay attention to what Imam Husain (a.s.) has said concerning his ninth son, Allah's last proof, and we should try to act upon it. We should mould our behaviour and disposition according to it and we should be careful that we are not accounted among the ungrateful ones. Abdul Rahman b. Sulait narrates that Imam Husain (a.s.) said, 'There will be twelve guides from amongst us.
The first one is Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) - Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.), while the last one is my ninth son the Qaim (a.t.f.s.). Through him Allah will enliven the dead earth and will make the rightful religion subdue all other religions even if this displeases the apostates. There is an occultation for him, which will be the cause of one group of Muslims rejecting him and returning to disbelief after belief, while another group will continue to believe in him and will remain steadfast in their faith.
Those who will remain steadfast will become the target of taunts and it will be said to them, if reappearance is indeed a promise then when will the promise be fulfilled. Those who are patient and steadfast on the intense difficulties ofoccultation will attain the status of a warrior who has done jehad alongside the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) against the infidels. (Kamalucldin, vol. 1, chapter 30) The above tradition related by Imam Husain (a.s.) highlights a few very pertinent points.
A) Allah's final proof will be the ninth son of Imam Husain (a.s.).
B) He will rise one day after his occultation.
C) His occultation will be prolonged.
D) Allah shall subdue all other religions with the religion of truth.
E) He shall enliven the earth after its deterioration.
F) The nation shall be divided in two sections.One shall steadfastly believe in him while the other shall reject him.
G) The steadfast ones shall be subjected tointense difficulties and calamities.
H) The steadfast group shall enjoy the sameposition as that of the early Muslims who did jehad alongside the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) against the apostates.
This tradition underlines the importance of love for Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). The bond of love must be firm and resolute. It should not be that we accept Imam (a.t.f.s.) by our tongues and fall short in our actions. It should not be that we become despair about the rise of the nation. Even if we aren't struck by pessimism and doubt, it should not be that we believe in Imam (a.t.f.s.) as if it is folklore of a person who will rise one day and will establish truth and justice and will usher in an era of goodness where no evil will exist and in this entire affair we don't have to do anything except sit and watch.
This is the time when we should sit back and reflect on ourselves. We should for a moment consider the loyal companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who accompanied him (s.a.w.a.) in the battles and willingly gave up their lives to attain martyrdom.
Indeed their character, certainty, determination, faith, love for Allah and love for His Apostle were so firm and unshakeable that we get some idea of what is expected from us. Then we realise that we have not fulfilled the obligations of love. We have not honoured the pre-requisites of attachment.
And if it is not so then why is the occultation of Imam (a.t.f.s.) being prolonged to such an extent? Imam's (a.t.f.s.) reappearance depends upon the steadfast ones of the Islamic nation who are being disgraced but are patient and steadfast on difficulties and everyday recite the verse 'I bear witness in letter and in spirit thatcertainly you are Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).' (Ziyarate Salaamullahil Kaamil, Mafaateehul Jcnaan)
To perform religious obligations today is a himalayan task. To strive and struggle with the self against the calamities and disputes in this age and to nurture love and affection (for Imam (a.t.f.s.)) is indeed difficult. We are passing through the era about which Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had said (when the earth shall be filled with injustice and oppression). Satan is working overtime to deviate the people. Man is involved in all kinds of diseases, related to the body and the soul. There are new calamities emerging every day. The prophesies of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) about the last era are unfolding in front of our eyes.
There are a thousand means of deviation and destruction but hardly any source of survival. Man's intellect is stumped and the whole society is engulfed in this epidemic and is unable to decide on a particular course of action, no matter how simple it is. Let us have a glance of the past and the-present.
We are living in an age far worso.than the age of the Ummayyads and the Abbasides. Despite the torment and persecution of those eras, the people had the good fortune of witnessing the Imams (a.s.) in their midst. They could approach the Imams (a.s.) and reap the benefits of their radiant teachings. The glorious traditions of the infallibles (a.s.) and their guidance illumined the darkest recesses of their existence. The love of the Imams (a.s.) in the hearts of the Shias overcame every other distraction, be it wealth, status or the love of this world.
The Shias ignored everything else in favour of the Imams (a.s.) and their teachings. There was a poor and destitute companion of Imam Sadiq (a.s.). One day in the presence of Imam (a.s.), he made mention of his poverty and compared it to the wealth of the attendants of the Abbasides. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) on hearing of this comparison removed a bag of gold coins and gave it to the companion and said, 'You can take this, however, I would like you to return the love and attachment that you have for me in your heart.'
The companion immediately realised the fallacy in his comparison (between himself and the Abbaside attendants) and continued to lead the rest of his life in poverty and thanked Allah for the love of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). Similarly the companions of Imam Husain (a.s.) must have been deeply stirred and roused by this statement of their master, '0 Allah! Indeed what has one gained by losing You?
And what has one lost after gaining You?' (Dua-e-Arafah) Today the comparison between the lovers (of the Ahle Bait (a.s.)) and the rich will show even more disparity and the lovers will be outnumbered by the rich by a large margin. However, the chain of Aal-e-Muhammad (a.s.) is continuing till date. It is not over as yet. Not only are the Shias saying this, but even the renowned and illustrious scholars of the Ahle Sunnah have admitted this in their compilations.
They have recorded thousands of traditions to support their belief. Today Allah's Proof on the earth exists and is a means of security from disasters.
Those who hold on to his support understand this only too well. Those who don't understand it can try taking the name of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and they will also see the results. Indeed the lovers of Imam (a.t.f.s.) have found a strange soothing effect in his name that helps them overcome the most trying of calamities. The path towards the love of Imam (a.t.f.s.) is strewn with thorns. It is an examination for those who claim to tread the path of his love.
It is a path with many temptations and distractions. It is slippery and beguiling. It has dangerous twists and turns. However, Imam (a.t.f.s.) has not deserted his lovers. His help and guidance always helps them negotiate the perils of this path. A small ray of his light is sufficient to ease the murkiness and gloom of this path. The strong bond of love can help the lovers overcome every hurdle on the path. The (readers of this path must understand the prerequisites and conditions of love so as to reach Imam (a.t.f.s.). We have only briefly outlined a few of those pre-requisites.
1. Seeking favours only from the beloved: One of the most important prerequisites of sincere love is that one does not go to anyone else to seek his demands. He only approaches the beloved in this regard.
2. To maintain contact We must maintain close contact with our beloved ones - our relatives, our friends, our immediate family members, our brethren-in-faith. A companion of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) asked him, 'One believer is drowning and another is being deviated by some people. Who should we rescue?' Imam (a.s.) replied, 'Go to the rescue of the one who is being deviated.' Then Imam (a.s.) elaborated, 'Keep close contact with the one whose faith is exposed to danger, always maintain close relations with him.
Rescue his hereafter.' This is the need of the hour today - to keep in contact with the believers in distant areas and to introduce the Imam of their time (a.t.f.s.) to them. This is our most important duty today. It is not a difficult task, provided we work with dedication and an unshakeable spirit of sacrifice.
3. Patience and forbearance Love is the greatest test of patience and forbearance. Even death does not act as a hurdle for the person. Love is such a powerful force that it takes a person towards his beloved, step by step, ignoring all obstacles in the path.
4. Maintaining relations Maintaining relations with the relatives is an important duty and benefits the society as a whole. It is a crucial responsibility in this period and a fundamental proof of love for Imam (a.t.f.s.).
5. Acquiring knowledge Love for Imam (a.t.f.s.) and ignorance about him are two opposite events. It is not possible for both these events to occur simultaneously in a person. Imam (a.t.f.s.) is the pillar of knowledge and invites others towards knowledge of Allah and His religion. If we call ourselves his Shias, it is critical for us to acquire this knowledge. If we fail in this duty then we run the risk of being termed (they don't perceive, they don't comprehend).
And the element of love will subside. Moreover our actions lose their significance as to act without recognition (marefat) is futile. Even our love for Imam (a.t.f.s.) will amount to nothing. Therefore we should struggle and endeavour constantly in our uest for knowledge. The thirst for this knowledge can be quenche
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