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['Aalim Network QR] Proof Of Existence of our 12th Imam (as)


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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\
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Salamun `Alaykum

Allaho Akbar! My sincerest gratitude to Shaykh Mohammad Soleiman-Panah
for such a profound and comprehensive discussion on the Proof of
Existence of our 12th Imam (as). 

The month of Muharram is almost upon us, and we express our condolences to 
our Imam, by saying,

     Ya Mawlaya, ahsana laka-l aza fi jaddika-l Husayn (`alayhi-s salaam)


Also, during these days of difficulty for muslims throughout the world,
we pray to Allah (swt) to hasten the appearance of our Imam (as) so that
he can rid the earth of tyranny and oppression. Amen. 


Fee Amaanillah,

Akil Karim
Acting Moderator for ABDG-A

---------- Forwarded message ----------

QUESTION:

I grew up a shia muslim. Therefore, I BELIEVE that we have a 12th Imam
who went into occultation. However, beyond belief, I have no proof
otherwise for his exisistence. My friend believes in God, the same way as
we believe in Allah. To him, he claims it is easy to look at nature and
see Allah/God, as the creator/preserver. However, how will I justify our
Imam's existence? Or should I just say its belief and yakeen in our
hearts? Also this friend of mine does not believe in any Holy book (he
knows that the Bible has been tempered with and has lost credibility to
him). 


ANSWER:

Dear brother\sister in faith:

Salamun Alaykum.

Your question made me excited because it has been my own question for a
long time and with the blessing of Allah (SWT) I came to some convincing
answer for myself as a result of the acquaintance with some scholars and
their works. But on the other hand the constraints put on us by this
medium of communication makes me worried about the effectiveness of the
message. However let us take the advantages of this medium and hope you
make up for the restrictions in another way. Let me make some preliminary
remarks and set the stage for the main argument: 

1) As you may know in Islam Taghlid (emulation) in Ussul-e-Din (pillars
   or theoretical bases of Islam) is Harram and every Muslim must build
   his/her faith on reasonable rational certainty. Belief in Imamat in
   general, and existence of the twelfth Imam with material body on the
   Earth in particular is part of Ussul-e-Din according the Shia's belief.
   Thus you not only have every right to question and investigate this
   belief but also must do so in order for your faith have any value before
   Allah (SWT). 

2) As for your friend who believes in God but not in any Holy book, I
   would like to call you attention to a few points. 

 (a) First of all even we, the Muslims, do not believe in Allah (SWT)
     exactly in the same way, depending on the degree of our knowledge,
     research, and Taghva we have different perceptions or understandings of
     Allah. For your friend saying it is easy to see the creator/preserver
     every where in nature it is true, but only half true. Faith in Allah
     (SWT) is not only a general affirmation that an entity called God or
     Allah exists and has a share of being. In this sense God is not 
     different from any other creature who has a share of being. We need to 
     go a few steps further and ask what God's attributions are, and 
     what His relationship to the rest of the universe is. We need to 
     establish a just and meaningful relationship with Him. 

(b) If so, now I come to my second point. A human being (and for that
    purpose any other entity in the universe) who does not relate to God is
    in a small cell, a prison, a sell and in brief a small hell in him\
    herself, for s\he has no relationship with the true majesty and the
    unlimited beauty and mercy of the universe. Revelations in general and
    the Holy Quran in particular are meant to give us guideline for coming
    into contact with the God whose existence your friend could easily 
    see in nature. It is through God's own revelation that we the finite 
    human beings learn how to approach Him and thereby becoming in harmony 
    with the rest of the universe and becoming a source of beauty and mercy 
    called heaven. 

 (c) It remains to be asked of your friend how and by what criteria he
     conducts himself so that he may experience a higher level of being and
     existence. In other words how does he seeks Fallah or salvage, how does
     he emancipate himself from vices and wickedness which surrounds our
     finite existence? Has his God left him blind with regard to this basic
     question? Does his God care about the fate of humanity? If yes, how has
     he communicated his teachings, his wishes, and his guidance? And if no,
     his God couldn't care less about his creatures and our fate, then 
     his God is different from ours, for our God is a loving and caring God 
     who is closer to us than our jugular vein (50:16). It is exactly 
     because of the dangers of this type of misconceptions that Muslims 
     are told to built their faith on reason. Any serious consideration of 
     the existence of God will lead us to the conclusion that he must be 
     caring about us and giving us guidance and this is what we mean by 
     Nobwwat (Prophethood, and revelation). Belief in God is not a genuine    
     belief without a belief in his prophets: "Believers, have faith in God 
     and his messenger, in the Book He has revealed to His messenger, 
     and in the Scriptures He formerly revealed" (4:136). So much so for 
     you friend's position, now let me go to another point. 

3) You ask whether with regard to the existence of the Twelfth Imam (AS)
   you should say it is only a matter of heart and faith. Even though Islam
   respects, values and encourages an intimate and personal experience of
   the religion and the divine (which is usually referred to by Muslim
   scholars as SHOHUD or MUKASHEFA'), we are encouraged and obliged to
   establish our faith on rational bases. In the Holy Quran the word
   Ta'aghul (rational thinking) is frequently used and we are told that the
   Kuffar and Mushrekin (non-believers) do not think rationally. Having said
   this my response to you question is no, the belief in the existence of
   the twelfth Imam (AS) is not merely a matter of heart or blind faith,
   even though faith plays an important part in it as I will explain
   shortly. It is ALSO a matter of reasoning and rational understanding and
   objective reality of the world. Now let me begin to engage in the
   discussion of the actual reasons for the twelfth Imam's existence in
   blood and flesh with a human body among us on the Earth. This I shall do
   also with some preliminary remarks. 


I) First we should distinguish between two types of proof in matters
   related to religion: 

 (i) Rational proof or reasoning (known as Dal'il-e 'Aghli in Islamic
     intellectual tradition); 
(ii) Authoritative proof (known as Dal'il-e Naghli or narrational proof
     in the Islamic intellectual tradition). 

Having made this distinction, a few points are to be made in this regard. 

a) While the validity of the rational proof is derived directly from
   itself, the validity of authoritative proof is directly based on the
   trust one has in the authorship of the statements, but indirectly this
   trust must be linked to a rational proof of the author's authority and
   sincerity in that area. Put in simple words we may not be able to offer a
   direct rational and objective proof for some of the practices or even
   beliefs we find in Quran (note please that I am not contradicting myself
   with regard to the point I made that pillars of Islam MUST be accepted
   rationally because here I am not talking about the basic beliefs or
   pillars of Islam but rather I am talking about some of the details or
   Juziyat), but since supposedly we have rationally and objectively
   established the authority of the authorship of the book, i.e. Allah (SWT)
   we can take its words as the proof for further beliefs. 

b) The next point I would like to make with regard to this distinction
   between these two types of proofs is more significant as far as our
   discussion is concerned. And that is, rational proofs are direct they
   cannot be specific. They are general (or Kulli) in nature. Only empirical
   experience can be specific and as such it does not constitute a science
   or a proof.  Science and rational proofs by their very nature are
   general.  Authoritative proof on the other hand can be specific. Let me
   give you an example with regard to the issue under discussion, namely the
   existence of the twelfth Imam (AS). Suppose we prove rationally that he
   exists. This he is a general he and we cannot name a specific person to
   be him merely based on rational arguments. The person must be identified
   through other mechanisms, this part can only be done by authoritative
   reasoning. 

c) Sometimes these two types of proof are combined together resulting to
   what is known among Muslim scholars as Dalail-e Kalami (theological
   rationales). This type of argument is also used to prove the existence of
   the twelfth Imam (AS). 

II) Authoritative Proof of the Existence of the Twelfth Imam, Hz. Mahdi (AS)
	
I begin my brief discussion of the existence of Hz. Mahdi (AS) by
mentioning a few authoritative rationales. Let us start with the Holy
Quran. 

1) Quran and Imamat

The issue of the existence of Imam Mahdi (AS) must be put in the context
of the idea of Imamat in Islam. This short writing cannot do any justice
to the issue of Imamat in any way but to give only some hints which ought
to be followed by the interested individual. I refer to some basics and
encourage you to read more detailed texts on the topic among which is the
Shia' Encyclopedia. Here are my hints on the topic: 

 a) The story of the creation of Hz. Adam (AS) is the story of humanity in
    general and the story of every one of us. Consider the verses: " When
    your Lord said to the angels: 'I am placing on the earth one that shall
    rule as My deputy...," (2:30) the word deputy is a translation for the
    word " KHALIFA' ". What are the characteristics of a deputy or 
    Khalifa'? The following verses shed light on this question, " He taught 
    Adam the names of all things and then set them before the angels, 
    saying : Tell Me the names of these, if what you say be true.' 
    'Glory to You' they replied, 'we have no knowledge except that You have 
    given us. You alone are all-knowing and wise.' Then said He: 'Adam tell 
    them their names.' And when Adam had named them...." (2:31-33). In 
    these verses we find out that: 

  (i) God's deputy knows the names of all things,

 (ii) Is teacher of the angels, and

(iii) As the verse (2:34) says also Massjud (Prostrated to) of (by) the angels. 

Now let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves, "who is this deputy?'
The obvious response is Hz. Adam (AS). Then the next question is "is he
the only person in the history of the humanity who has achieved this
status?" There are several alternative answer to this question, let me
review them with you: 

A) One may reply, no, every human being has this status of being God's
   deputy on the earth. To this we must respond that the Holy Quran itself
   tells us that "the unbelievers are like beasts which, call out to them as
   one may, can hear nothing but a shout and a cry. Deaf, dumb, and blind,
   they understand nothing" (2:171). How can this people be that deputy who
   know the names of all things and teaches them to the angels? 

B) One may say all the believers are his deputy. To this we must say that
   first of all, the deputy represents God amongst others and those others
   cannot be also his deputy, and secondly we are clearly told in the Holy
   Quran that there are different ranks among the believers and Allah, His
   Prophet, and those believers who attend to their prayers, render the
   alms, levy, and kneel down in worship are our WALI (authority) (5:55). 
   Therefore the deputy is a particular person. 

C) One may also say that no one except Hz. Adam (AS) is the deputy. To
   this we must say that a simple attention to the what Quran says and a
   simple review of the story of creation in Quran will reveal that the
   issue of KHILAFA was not a temporary events finished by the death of Hz. 
   Adam (AS). The word used in the verse describing the event is "Inni
   Ja'ael-un fi -l-ardh Khalifa..." (2:30). Ja'ael in Arabic is a noun used
   to describe the subject of an action like an protector in English which
   describe someone who protects another person. This type of name when used
   in simple tense (like, I am your protector,) are intended to indicate
   persistence and continuity. Thus God places a deputy on the earth. Other
   verses which may help to clarify this point are the verse which describe
   the process of selection of Hz. Ibrahim for Imamat and the fact that this
   position would continue in those of his descendants who are just (see
   2:124). 

Let me summarize what I have said in this part. In the context of the
idea of Imamat and God's Khilafa on the earth, the Holy Quran clearly
speaks of existence of a deputy of God (Khalifa) on the earth for all the
times. As to who that person is now, like the issue of Khilafa after
prophet Mohammad (SA) the Holy Quran does not give the name but in many
verses gives the address of those people. Discussing these addresses
cannot be done in the context of this essay here, you may find it in
other sources. 


2) Hz. Mahdi (AS) in the Sunna of Prophet Mohammad (SA)

If we as Muslims believe that our Prophet (SA) was an authority on the
issue of the Din (religion) -if not on everything- , which can be
established indirectly by rational proof, then his teachings and saying
are to be taken as proof and facts in themselves. All authentic sources
of Hadith (Sunni and Shia) are unanimous on the point that there is an
Imam named M. O. H. A. M. M. A. D. from Fatemeh's (SA) descendants, known
as Mahdi.  Shykh Hafez Abu 'Abdullah Mohammad ibn Yousuf Shafe'ai-e Ganji
(d. 658 H.) wrote a book called "Al-Bayan fi Akhbar-e Saheb-e -Zzaman" in
25 chapters, listing authentic narrations only from Sunni sources on the
existence of Hz. Mahdi (AS). One can look for these narration in
different sources available on the net too. 

3) Authentic Personal Testimonies of Encountering Hz. Mahdi (AS) 

Another category of authoritative proof can be the testimonies of
intelligent, even sometimes genius and trustworthy people who have
testified that they have encounter Hz. Mahdi in their life on the earth. 
Different people have heard of different individuals making such claims. 
One can suspect them as having wishful experiences in which their
imaginations have presented them with false pictures. But there some
people about whom one cannot make such supposition easily. One of these
people is Muhy-e Ddin Al-Arabi known as Ibn Arabi living around sixth
century after Hijra'. Those who are familiar with his works in the East
and the West acknowledge that he is the greatest mystic of all time.  To
give you just an example of his intelligence, he says in his childhood he
met Ibn Rushd (who was a great Muslim philosopher) and talked to him. As
a result Ibn Rushd skin color became dull and fainting he had to sit and
think about what he had heard from Ibn Arabi. This Ibn Arabi in his
masterpiece "Futuhat-e Makkiyah" has a chapter (chapter 560) on the
existence of Hz. Mahdi and in many places in this book he says that he
has met Hz. Mahdi (AS). 


4) Belief in  Hz. Mahdi (AS): An Enduring Belief in Human Tradition

One finds different versions of the belief in Mahdi in almost all
enduring human cultures, and one may ask how all these cultures with all
their differencess all through their history have believed in Mahdi. 
This has become known in social literature as Messianic ideology. Some
social thinkers have tried to explain this phenomenon in terms of its
social functions as a force of social change and political deligitimation
of all existing political structure as unjust. I have no problem with
this approach as long as it does not become a reductionist explanation. 
In other words it is true that our belief in Hz. Mahdi (AS) has some
socio-political effects but one cannot conclude that therefore this
belief has no objective value beside its social function. This approach
has become known as reductionism in epistemology and its defects are
thoroughly discussed by philosophers. Any enduring human phenomenon
deserves to be taken seriously and valued as something more than
accidental. Such is the belief in Hz. Mahdi. 

Let me conclude this part on the authoritative proof of the existence of
Imam Mahdi, by saying that even if we had no rational proof of his
existence this much would have been enough to establish it as one of
Foru'a -e Ddin, since in Foru'a-e Ddin authoritative proof is enough.  We
know that these proofs indirectly are based on rational proofs.  But
since according to Shias, Imamat is a part of Ussul-e Ddin we must also
have rational proof of his existence. Now let me turn our attention to
the rational proof of his existence. 

III) Rational Proof  of the Twelfth Imam's Existence

There is an authentic narration that says " The Earth without Hojjah will
collapse on its inhabitants." This theme has been at the heart of all
philosophical, mystical and theological arguments on the existence of the
Twelfth Imam (AS). Why does God want a deputy on the earth? Is there a
necessity for this? These questions have occupied Muslim Scholars over
centuries. The result has become known as the Theory of Perfect Human
Being (Nazeriya-e-Insan-e Kamel). One cannot do justice to this theory in
the space here but let me do my best to summarize it for you in a few
simple statements. Follow me through theses intellectual steps please: 

 1) God is absolute and supreme or the real perfect Being whose attributes 
    are to the highest degree of intensity. For example God's knowledge has 
    no limits, and so are His mercy, power, beauty and so on.

 2) There is no other real existence or independent Being in the universe
    but Allah (SWT), and he is the origin of all Faizes (blessings) on the
    other finite beings. 

 3) Even though on the part of Allah (SWT) there is no hesitation or
    obstacles for pouring His blessings on the others, the others due to
    their imperfections are not capable of direct relationship with the
    supreme and the absolute. All beings in the universe living and
    non-living are dependent on Allah (SWT). 

 4) Finite beings are in need of mediators between them and Allah in the
    chain of existence. This Mediation is an ontological mediation, meaning
    it is related to their conditions of being not a socio-political
    mediation. 

 5) Angels by virtue of their freedom from material constraints have more
    potential of mediation and receiving God's blessing, but there is a 
    limit to them too for their mediation in the realm of material world. 
    They are uni-dimensional and their relation to the material world is 
    not very close even though they can supervise the matter they cannot 
    unite with matter.  Only the human Soul is capable of uniting with 
    matter in form of body.  Human beings are multi-dimensional therefore 
    capable of having relationship with all realms of existence and Being. 
    Before the creation of Hz. Adam (AS) universe lacked a basic 
    harmony, it was human being as God's deputy who brought harmony to the 
    universe and maintains this harmony. To understand this function of 
    Imam, or Hojja, or God's Khalifa one needs to have a profound 
    understanding of Imamat and Imam's attributes. This Khalifa is the 
    PERFECT HUMAN not any one of human beings. Thus right now the 
    universe is in need of God's deputy to maintain its harmony. To be 
    Khalifa of God and teacher of the angels is not a simple notion to be 
    repeated by tongue, it must be comprehended through years of studies 
    and contemplation. May God succeed this writer and you in a better 
    understanding of the Imam Mahdi (AS). 

The above theory of "Perfect Human Being" is also known as the theory of
"Waseta-e Faiz" (mediation of the blessing). 

This is a very brief and complicated essay and I encourage you to read it
carefully and several times then if you still have some question or
critique please discuss it with your local A'alim personally. I do not
know of any book in English written on the subject with a similar
approach. If there are any here I ask the readers to mention them on ABDG
for the benefit of the others. 

With Regards,

Mohammad



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