In the previous discussions, we became acquainted with some of the hadiths concerning the global state of affairs prior to the advent of the Imam of the Age (‘a). Although these hadiths mention confusions and problems to such an extent that they might discourage people, there are other hadiths that point out bright aspects and rays of hope for the Shi‘ah, the faithful and the committed people.
Some of these hadiths concern the believers of whom the earth will never be empty and who will be also present during these pressing circumstances all over the world prior to the advent of al-Mahdi (‘atfs).
A number of hadiths point out the role of the ‘ulama’ and Islamic scholars during the period of occultation, and present them as catalysts of change in the society in every epoch as well as the protectors of religion. Some statements of the Infallibles (‘a) mention the special role of the city of Qum prior to the advent of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs) while a number of hadiths also indicate the active role of Iranians before and after the advent of the Imam (‘atfs).
Sometimes, we come across some hadiths in answer to those who imagine that a time will come when society will be devoid of the presence of faithful human beings. The Imam (‘a) has dismissed this notion, mentioning the existence of believers in every epoch.
Zayd az-Zurrad said: I told Imam as-Sadiq (‘a): “I am afraid that we would not be among the faithful.” He (‘a) asked: “Why do you think so?” I answered: “It is because there is none among us who prefers his brother over the dirham and dinar. On the contrary, I observe that we prefer the dirham and dinar over our brothers in faith which the wilayah (guardianship) of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) have brought us together. Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “It is not as you say; you are the people of faith though your faith will not be perfected until the time when the Qa’im of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘atfs) rises up. At that time, God will perfect your wisdom and you will become perfect believers.
I swear to God in Whose hand is my life! There are people throughout the world in whose sight the entire world would not be equal to the wing of a gnat.”1
Every time the veils of darkness and ignorance cast their shadows on human society, it was the ‘ulama’ and religious scholars who used to perform their obligation very well of wiping away ignorance and foolishness from thinking and eliminating corruption and decadence from the people. It can be understood from the hadiths that the ‘ulama’ will also adequately play this role at the end of time.
Imam al-Hadi (‘a) said: “If there would be no ‘ulama’ during the period of occultation (ghaybah) of the Qa’im of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘a) who would guide and draw the people toward him, defend the religion through divine proofs, and save the weak Shi‘ah from the guiles of Satan and his legions as well as from the mischief of the Nasibis (the enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)), no one would be left clinging to the religion of God and everyone will become apostates (murtaddin).
Yet, they will assume the responsibility of leading the hearts of the weak Shi‘ah to the utmost decree and keep on it just as the captain of the ship controls the rudder and control of the ship. Therefore, they are the people of the highest station in the sight of God.”2
Regarding the revival of religion in every century the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Verily, Allah, the Exalted, will send for this ummah a person who will revive (yujaddid) the religion at the beginning of every century.”3
These two hadiths and others similar to them explicitly point out the role of the ‘ulama’ during the period of the occultation in thwarting the plots of the mischief-mongers as well as in reviving the spirit of religion.
Of course, proving this point during our time does not necessitate much proof and evidence, for the role of Hadrat Imam Khomeini (r) in exterminating the nefarious designs of the enemies, which had threatened the foundations of religion in the contemporary world, is proverbial to all.
Undoubtedly, the dignity that Islam has acquired in this age is through the blessings of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its Founder, Hadrat Imam Khomeini (r).
At the time when human society will move toward degeneration and decadence, a ray of hope will be made manifest and there will be a group of people who will serve as the standard-bearers of light in the heart of all this darkness. The city of Qum at the end of time will assume this pivotal role.
There are many hadiths that express words of appreciation for this holy city and its upright people whose existence has emanated from the pure fountain of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and who have shouldered the mission of conveying the divine message.
The Infallible Imams (‘a) have made various statements regarding Qum and its role in the cultural movement during the period of occultation (ghaybah) of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs). We shall mention some of them below.
It can be deduced from some hadiths that Qum and its inhabitants are the keys and models of Shi‘ism and wilayah (guardianship).
Thus, they will label as “Qummi” anyone they would like to introduce as a lover and enthusiast of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).
A group of people came to Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) and said to him: “We are among the people of Rey.”4 He (‘a) said: “Hail to our brothers from among the people of Qum!” They repeated several times: “We have come from Rey.” And he (‘a) also repeated his statement. Then, he (‘a) said: “God has a sanctuary which is in Mecca. There is also a sanctuary for the Messenger of Allah and it is in Medina. Kufah is the sanctuary of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) while our (Ahl al-Bayt’s) sanctuary is the city of Qum and a daughter from my progeny with the name of Fatimah will soon be buried there. Anyone who would sincerely pay homage (ziyarah) to her, paradise would be incumbent upon him.”
Safwan narrated: One day I was with Abu’l-Hasan—Imam al-Kazim (‘a)—and he (‘a) talked about the people of Qum and their love and enthusiasm for Hadrat Mahdi (‘atfs). The Seventh Imam (‘a) said:
“May God have mercy on them and be pleased with them.” Then he (‘a) continued: “Heaven has eight doors one of which is for the people of Qum. From among the cities and countries, they are among our excellent and chosen Shi‘ah. God has blended our wilayah (guardianship) and friendship with their disposition and essence.”7
It can be inferred from these hadiths that the Infallible Imams (‘a) have regarded the city of Qum as a base of the lovers of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs). Perhaps, the door of heaven apportioned for the city of Qum is the door for the strugglers (bab al-mujahidin) or the door of the excellent ones (bab al-akhyar) especially when in the hadiths the inhabitants of Qum have also been described as excellent Shi‘ah.
In every epoch, God chooses some persons as proofs for others, and since they are treading the path of God, they struggle in exalting the word of Allah (kalimatullah).8 God will assist them and keep the mischief of enemies away from them. During the period of occultation (ghaybah) of the Imam of the Age (‘atfs), Qum and its people would be the proofs for other people.
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “Difficulties and problems will be kept away from Qum and its people and a time will come when Qum and its people would be the proofs for all people. This will be so during the period of occultation (ghaybah) of our Qa’im till his advent, and if it were not so, the earth would swallow its inhabitants.
Verily, the angels will keep difficulties away from Qum and its people, and no tyrant will ever target Qum; otherwise, God will break his back and afflict him with pain, calamity or enmity. God will let tyrants forget the name of Qum and its people just as they have forgotten God.”9
Another point worthy of note in the hadiths is that the city of Qum during the period of occultation (ghaybah) will serve as a center for the conveyance of the message of Islam to the downtrodden of the world, and its ‘ulama’ and religious scholars will be a proof for the people of the world.
In this regard, Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The city of Kufah will soon be void of believers, and knowledge and learning will depart from there and like a snake coiled up in a corner, it will be restricted to and emerge from a city named “Qum”, which will become the center of knowledge and virtue as well as the repository of learning and perfection so much so that no (intellectually) downtrodden person—including the secluded women—would ever be left on the surface of the earth without being aware of religion. And that time will be near the time of the advent of our Qa’im.
“God will appoint Qum and its people as his (al-Mahdi’s) vicegerents and if it were not so, the earth will swallow its inhabitants and no proof will remain on earth. Therefore, from the city of Qum knowledge and learning will spread to the east and west, and the proof for the people of the world will be completed such that no person will be left unaware of religion and knowledge.
At that time, Hadrat Qa’im (‘atfs) will appear and through him divine wrath will descend upon the infidels. It is because God will not take vengeance from His servants unless the proofs were completed on them.”10
It is reported in another hadith: “Had it not been for the people of Qum, religion would have vanished.”11
It can be understood from some hadiths that the Infallible Imams (‘a) had approved of the method of the ‘ulama’ of Qum.
In this regard, Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “There is an angel above Qum, who is spreading his two wings over it, and no tyrant will ever target Qum; otherwise, God would melt him like salt in water.”
Then, he (‘a) pointed to ‘Isa ibn ‘Abdullah Qummi and said: “God’s benediction be upon Qum! The Lord of the universe will fill their land with rain and send His blessings upon them while transforming their sins into good deeds. They are the people of bowing (ruku‘), prostration (sujud), standing (qiyam), and sitting (qu‘ud) in prayer just as they are jurists, scholars and people of comprehension (ahl-e dark). They are the people of insight, revelation and perspicacity in the worship of the excellent servants of God.”12
Similarly, in reply to a person who said, “I want to ask something from you, which has not been asked by anyone before me and will never be asked by anyone after me,” the same Imam (‘a) said: “Perhaps, you want to ask about hashr and nashr.”
He said: “By the One Who appointed Muhammad as the giver of glad tidings and as the warner, yes.”
He (‘a) said: “The hashr of all people is toward the Bayt al-Muqaddas (in Jerusalem) except that of a mausoleum in a mountainous land to be called “Qum” and divine teachings will be part of their features.”
While half-standing, the man asked: “O son of the Messenger of Allah! Does it pertain to the people of Qum?”
The Imam (‘a) replied: “Yes, it pertains to them and anyone who shares their conviction and words.”13
The point worthy of note is that the hadiths talk about the people of Qum, the companions of the Mahdi (‘atfs) and those who will rise up to claim the right of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).
‘Affan al-Basri said: Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said to me: “Do you know why Qum is named “Qum”?” I replied: “God, His Messenger and you know better.” He said: “It is named Qum as such because its inhabitants will rally behind the Qa’im of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘atfs) and rise up along with him (‘atfs). Along this line, they will show their perseverance and assist him (‘atfs).”14
In another hadith, the Sadiq (Truthful) of Muhammad’s Progeny (Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq) (‘a) said in this regard: “The soil of Qum is holy and its inhabitants are from us and we from them. No tyrant will have any bad intention toward it; otherwise, his punishment would quickly follow (in the hereafter).
Of course, this will be the case as long as they do not betray their brothers, for if they did so, God will let the mischievous tyrants dominate them. The people of Qum, however, are the companions of our Qa’im and campaigners for our truthfulness.”
Then, the Imam raised his head toward the sky and prayed, thus: “O God! Protect them from any sedition (fitnah) and save them from any type of perdition.”15
A hadith about the city of Qum, which elucidates the role of the Iranians before and after the advent of the Promised Mahdi (‘a), was quoted. A closer examination, however, of the statements of the Infallibles (‘a) will show that they (‘a) have paid particular attention to Iran and its people, and on various occasions, they have made mention of their role in supporting religion and preparing the ground for the advent of al-Mahdi (‘atfs).
At this point, it will suffice to cite some hadiths, extolling the Iranians and those paving the ground for the advent.
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said: The Persians were mentioned in the presence of the Prophet (S). He (S) said: “The people of Persia—the Iranians—are a group from us, the Ahl al-Bayt.”16
When the Mawali or the A‘ajam17 were mentioned in the presence of the Prophet (S), the Holy Messenger (S) said: “I swear to God that I have more trust in them than you.”18
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said: “At the time when they would hoist the black banners toward you, you have to give honor to the Persians because your government is with them.”19
One day Ash‘ath said to ‘Ali (‘a) in protest: “O Commander of the Faithful! Why have these A‘ajam who have come around you overtaken us?” He (‘a) got angry and said in reply: “Who will excuse me in facing you useless corpulent people each of whom is like a donkey wallowing in his bed, and on account of fame and pride, is turning away from the community? Are you commanding me to cast them away? I will never cast them away to become one of the ignorant.20 By God Who split the seed and created the creatures! They will stand up to fight against you in order to return you to the fold of religion just as you drew the sword in bringing Islam to them.”21
The main part of the hadiths regarding the events prior to the advent and the companions of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘a) is related to Iran and the Iranians, whom have been referred to in various terms such as Persians, ‘ajam/a‘ajam, the people of Khurasan, the people of Qum, the people of Taleqan, the people of Rey, etc.
By studying the collection of these hadiths, we will arrive at the conclusion that prior to the advent of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs), a religious system and defender of the Infallible Imams (‘a) will be established in Iran, which would be acceptable to the Imam of the Time (‘atfs), and that the people of Iran will have a key role in his (‘atfs) uprising, which we will deal with in the section on the uprising. It would suffice here to mention some hadiths:
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “A people from the east will stage an uprising and pave the ground for the uprising of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘a).”22
He (S) also said: “The black banners will come from (the people of) the east whose hearts are like pieces of iron (in firmness). Then, anyone who becomes informed of their movement will go to them and pay allegiance to them even to the extent of traveling over ice if it is necessary.”23
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “It is as if I can see a community (qawm) that will stage an uprising in the east and demand rights but rights will not be given to them. They will seek again but again it will not be granted to them. In such a state of affairs, swords will be unsheathed and put on the shoulder.
At that time, the enemy will accept their demands, but they will not accept it. They will stage an uprising and will not give the right to anyone except to its owner of the affair (rightful owner).
Their killed ones are martyrs. If I knew them, I would have prepared myself for the owner of this affair.”24
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “The companions of Hadrat Qa’im (‘atfs) are three-hundred and thirteen, and they are from the progeny of ‘ajam (non-Arabs).”25
Although ‘ajam is said to be the non-Arabs, the Iranians are certainly included and keeping the other hadiths in view, there will be the presence of a large number of Iranians among the special forces of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs).
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Soon after you, there will be a community (qawm) at whose feet the world will be gathered—they will traverse the world—and the doors of the world will be opened for them, the men and women of Persia will serve them. The earth will be rolled under their steps in such a manner that anyone of them could cover the distance from east to west within an hour. They will sell neither themselves to the world nor its inhabitants. The world is also not their delight and portion.”26
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “Blessed is Taleqan! It is because God has treasures there which are neither gold nor silver. Instead, they are men of faith who have really recognized God and they will be the companions of the Mahdi (Guided One) of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘atfs) at the end of time.”27
The Messenger of Allah (S) also said regarding Khurasan: “There are treasures in Khurasan but they are not gold and silver. Instead, they are men whom God and His Messenger love.”28