Why Does the Mahdi Not Appear?
Dr. Jalali: Now that injustice, oppression, disbelief and materialism have become so widespread everywhere, why does not the promised Mahdi appear so that he should put an end to the tumultuous conditions of the world?
Mr. Hoshyar: Any insurgent or revolutionary movement for a specific goal requires certain background preparation for it to succeed. One of the important prerequisites for its success is that the people should feel the need to launch the revolution and they should be psychologically prepared to endorse and support it. Otherwise the revolution could face a defeat. The revolution of the Mahdi is not free of this general prerequisite for it to achieve its goal. It could succeed only when the conditions are favorable. The Mahdi's movement is not an ordinary reform movement within a small community. It is a comprehensive movement that will engulf the entire world. Its mission is global and will include all humankind. By the same token, it is extremely difficult to implement this mission without first preparing the grounds for it. To gauge this challenging aspect of the revolution let us recall that one of the goals of the appearance of the Mahdi is to eliminate all kinds of discrimination -- racial, creedal, cultural, linguistic, and so on -- that human societies have created in their relationships with each other.
In order to create a global community based on peace and harmony through the implementation of justice and fairness, the Mahdi will have to correct the situation from its origins so that all kinds of conflicts that have marred human society should be resolved. Such a task, even today with the creation of a world body like the United Nations, has not been easy to achieve. As long as human beings are not brought back to their spiritual origins, and as long as materialism and extreme forms of selfish behavior in the name of individualism are not corrected, it is impossible to imagine how a God-centered human society can materialize. The God-centered human society can be erected on the divinely ordained laws and the divine blue print provided by the Islamic faith.
The Mahdi's revolution aspires to provide a religious focus to the confused mental situation of humanity. It desires to destroy all the false and beguiling gods created by human minds, including: geographic boundaries, races, nations, creeds, political parties, false prophets, and so on, and to replace them with purity of thought, sincerity of action, and all those values that contribute towards the betterment of humanity.
Of course, talking and writing about such things is not difficult; but to implement them through a revolution is certainly not an easy task. Such an international movement would have to do a tremendous amount of work to prepare people in every way to respond adequately to ensure its success. The religious nature of the revolution demands that it should arise from the depths of the people's souls. In particular, since Muslims have to assume the leadership role in the revolution they need to prove their worthiness in being entrusted to undertake such a major responsibility. The Qur'an posits the condition of being worthy and righteous as a prerequisite to assuming charge of the affairs of humanity:
For We have written in the Psalms, after the Remembrance, 'The earth shall be the inheritance of My righteous servants.' (Anbiya' , 105)
Consequently, the promised Mahdi will not appear so long as human beings have not attained the level of perfection that is necessary to accept the government of truth. To be sure, mental maturity is not an overnight development. It is a process that feeds upon events and experiences in order to become perfect. Human beings have to continue fighting over this or that piece of land until all their energies are exhausted and the truth about the artificiality of these human-invented national boundaries becomes as clear as the daylight. Only then will they stop thinking in those narrow terms and disputing over matters that do not deserve all that bloodshed and violence. When human beings begin to think in terms of their interconnectedness and when a brown or white or black person begins to think in terms of the common humanity that he or she shares with others, then it will be time for the final revolution to occur.
This situation of desperation has to occur in all other fields until that time when human beings are left with no other choice but to turn to an alternative provided by God. Even in a field like law, human experience has been one of perpetual revision to make the laws more fair and just. Hence, generation after generation of legal scholars are engaged in promulgating new laws and abrogating old ones so that they can reflect the changing times in the process of legislation. This process will continue until people realize that man made laws serve the vested interests of those who are in power; and that the time has come to discover the immutable divine laws which have been sent through the Prophets, God's representatives on earth.
Human beings today are still not ready to submit to God's plans for them. They believe that through science and technology they shall create means of acquiring happiness. It is for this reason that they have put aside spiritual and moral values and have attached themselves to godless materialism. They will run after this materialism until such time that they realize that these scientific and technological advancements, although capable of carrying human beings to the farthest possible points in space and conquering it for them, or of creating the deadliest nuclear weapons for the preservation of their power, are utterly helpless in solving international problems of injustice and in removing the vestiges of imperialism and colonialism to establish an ethical and just global society.
From the time humans founded rulers, governors, and commanders and accepted their authority, they have also held some expectations of them. They have always hoped that the stronger and cleverer individuals would restrain the oppressors and would work towards the prosperity of all. But this hope has rarely been fulfilled and seldom have a people seen their ideal government come to power. In every age human government has appeared in different forms and shapes; but invariably it has fallen into the same pattern that was described as inadequate, unjust, corrupt and that was replaced by the new form. It seems that these forms of government need to exhaust themselves for humans to realize that enough is enough, and that it is time for God's government founded upon the principle of tawhid (belief in the Unity of God) to take over the reins. Hisham b. Salim has related a tradition from Imam Sadiq, who said:
The Master of the Command will not assume the government until all kinds of people [with all forms of government in mind] have ruled. The reason is that when his government becomes instituted no one will be able to say: 'Had we reached power we too would have ruled with justice.'1
In another tradition Imam Baqir says:
Ours will be the final government. All families with an aptitude to rule will have reached power before us. This will be to forestall any claim after seeing our government: 'Had we reached power, we too would have acted like the progeny of Muhammad.' This is the meaning of the verse which declares: "The final result is for the godfearing."2
In the light of the above discussion it is evident that human nature has not sufficiently matured to become the receptacle for the government based on the belief in the Unity of God. However, there is no reason to despair because this condition will not remain forever, and ultimately God's mercy and favor will encompass humanity. In order to further the divine purposes God will endow human beings with the necessary wisdom and faith to fulfill the goal of creation. No human can deny the aspirations shared by all generations, from time immemorial, that human beings should be happy and prosperous in their life on the earth; that there should be justice and equity in the society; that there should be a complete sense of security from any internal or external threat to human existence. This aspiration is part of God's creation impressed in the nature of human beings and, therefore, God will guide and assist them in fulfilling it. This will happen when all human ideologies and -isms have utterly failed to further good of human society. At such a time of despair there will be a renewed hope in the teachings of the Prophets and in the divinely ordained laws of justice and equity that these selfless and sacrificing messengers of God came to promulgate. There will surely be a recognition that human society, in order to become spiritually and morally sound and prosperous, is in need of two things: one, a clear and perfect blueprint from God that would set forth a program for reform and revival; and two, a divinely protected (ma'süm) leader who can execute the divine blue print without any error of omission or commission. God, in His Divine Wisdom, has prepared the Mahdi for such a highly sensitive time as that so that he can implement the program that Islam came to teach under the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny).
1 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 244.
2 Ibid., p. 332.
Adopted from the book : "Al-Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.); the Just Leader of Humanity" by : "Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini"
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