A true believer must protect himself so that during the advent of the Imam, one may be able to assist him.
In regards to this, Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) has said:
إِذَا كَانَتْ دَوْلَةُ الظُّلْمِ فَامْشِ وَ اسْتَقْبِلْ مَنْ تَتَّقِيهِ بِالتَّحِيَّةِ فَإِنَّ الْـمُتَعَرِّضَ لِلدَّوْلَةِ قَاتِلُ نَفْسِهِ وَ مُوبِقُهَا، إِنَّ اللٌّهَ يَقُولُ: وَ لاَ تُلْقُوا بَأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلـى التَّهْلُكَةِ
“In the reign of the unjust regime, you must walk carefully and receive those whom you fear with greetings. Verily, one who opposes such a regime will have killed himself and brought about his own perdition. Surely Allah says: And do not cast yourselves with your own hands to destruction.”1
Imam Muhammad ibne ‘Ali al-Baqir (as) has said:
كَأَنِّي بِقَومٍ قَدْ خَرَجُوا بِالْمَشْرِقِ يَطْلُبُونَ الْحَقَّ فَلاَ يُعْطَوْنَهُ ثُمَّ يَطْلُبُونَهُ فَلاَ يُعْطَوْنَهُ فَإِذَا رَأَوْا ذٌلِكَ وَضَعُوا سُيُوفَهُمْ عَلى عَوَاتِقِهِمْ فَيُعْطَوْنَ مَا سَأَلُوا فَلاَ يَقْبَلُونَهُ حَتَّى يَقُومُوا وَ لاَ يَدْفَعُونَهَا إِلاَّ إِلـى صَاحِبِكُمْ قَتْلاَهُمْ شُهَدَآءُ أَمَا إِنِّي لَوْ أَدْرَكْتُ ذٌلِكَ لَأَبْقَيْتُ نَفْسِي لِصَاحَبِ هٌذَا الأَمْرِ
“It is as if I see myself with a people who rose up from the east. They demand their right but it will be withheld from them. They will ask for it again but it will not be given. When they see this, they place their swords on their shoulders (ready to use them), so they are given whatever they ask for but they do not accept it.
They revolt and deliver their victory to your patron (al-Mahdi). Their killed ones will be martyrs. Verily, were I to live until that time, I would try to save myself for the Patron of this Matter (so as to join him).”2
Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) has narrated that if one wishes to have a long life and be able to assist the Imam, then one should recite the following prayer. The narrator of this supplication states that: “When I continuously recited this supplication, my life extended to such an amount that I was satisified with living.”
أَللّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلـىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ. أَللّٰهُمَّ إِنَّ رَسُولَكَ الصَّادِقَ الْـمُصَدَّقَ صَلَوَاتُكَ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِهِ قَالَ إِنَّكَ قُلْتَ: مَا تَرَدَّدْتُ فِي شَيْءٍ أَنَا فَاعِلُهُ كَتَرَدُّدِي فِي قَبْضِ رُوْحِ عَبْدِيَ الْـمُؤْمِنِ يَكْرَهُ الْـمَوْتَ وَ أَنَا أَكْرَهُ مَسَائَتَهُ. أَللّٰهُمَّ فَصَلِّ عَلـىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ عَجِّلْ لِوَلِيِّكَ الْـفَرَجَ وَ الْعَافِيَةَ وَ النَّصْرَ وَ لاَ تَسُؤْنِي فِي نَفْسِي وَ لاَ فِي أَحَدٍ مِنْ أَحِبَّتِي وَ لاَ فِي فُلاَنٍ (وَ لاَ فِي فُلاَنٍ)...
“O’Allah! Bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad. O’ Allah! Your Messenger, the truthful, the trustworthy - may Your blessings be upon him and his household has said that You say ‘I have not hesitated in a matter that I decide to do more than My hesitation in taking the soul of My believing servant who hates to encounter death and I hate to perturb him.’
O’ Allah! Bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and hasten the relief of your intimate servant and give him wellbeing and succor, and do not perturb me or any of those whom I love, including so and so.’”3
If one wishes, he can then take the names of each of his friends and close acquaintances whom he wishes this supplication for and in place of the word فلان and the words which appear in the brackets, one can mention all of his friends.