فَجِدُّوْا وَانْتَظِرُوْا ھَنِٔیْئاً لَّکُمْ اَیَّتُھَا الْعَصَابَۃُ الْمَرْحُوْمَۃُ.
“Then strive and await. Congratulations to you! O the recipient of Allah’s mercy”
The responsibilities of the shias in the period of Major Occultation are quite onerous. We must strive to maintain the radiant glow of our faith in our hearts and be firmly focused on the future. Every shia has always been listening to the glad tidings of his future in the words of the Qur’an wherein Allah says:
اِنَّ الْاَرْضَ یَرِثُھَا عِبَادِیَ الصَّالِحُوْنَ.
“Verily, My virtuous servant will inherit the earth.”1
Almost all Muslims are certain of the eventual uprising of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) - an uprising aimed at purifying the earth from tyranny and oppression. Hence it is imperative upon every Muslim to purify his own self as well as the society from all sorts of vices. This incessant awaiting should not make him lethargic; rather it should induce him for endless endeavours, which also includes the stirring of lazy and negligent people, so that all of them should move forward cohesively on a common path. As the Holy Qur’an puts it,
صَفًّا کَاَنَّھُمْ بُنْیَانٌ مَّرْصُوْصٌ
“Fortified as insurmountable walls.”2,
Shias of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) should invoke Allah (s.w.t.) with utmost sincerity in unison that:
اَللّٰھُمَّ اِنَّا نَرْغَبُ اِلَیْکَ فِیْ دَوْلَۃٍ کَرِیْمَۃٍ تُعِزُّ بِھَا الْاِسْلَامَ وَاَھْلَہُ وَتُذِلُّ بِھَا النِّفَاقَ وَاَھْلَہُ.
“O Allah, we implore you for a gracious government. A government by which you will confer dignity upon Islam and its adherents and disgrace hypocrisy and its partisans.”3
Thus Muslims should realize their duties towards this divine reign established under the aegis of Holy Qur’an - a rule which will bring honour to Islam and the Muslims and disgrace to hypocrisy and hypocrites.
For the ardent lovers of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), his (a.s.) separation is agonizingly painful and unbearable. The real meaning of “awaiting” has to be discussed from various angles, describing its actual concepts and consequences. Thus we will clarify the concepts in the following discussion. We will enumerate the different aspects of true awaiting (Intezaar).
The condition of Shias at the moment is similar to the plight of that caravan whose chief is not visible to them and the heart bleeds due to his separation. Thus the caravan is confused and lost. As it moves ahead, groups of men people are falling by the wayside, lost in the whirlpool of deviation. A Shia trembles seeing all this because he knows that these calamities are due to the absence of their beloved leader. We are afraid of the moment, when our leader will come and seek answers from us for our indifference and carelessness.
When he (a.s.) will start his mission of reformation and will ask us “Why were you lazy and careless? Does Intezaar imply that you remain negligent and leave the entire work of reformation upon the leader? Why did you not take the initiative of protecting the faith of the people when you saw them falling into the pit of deviation? When bloodthirsty wolves were attacking the shias, why did you choose to remain silent? Is religion protected in this way? You slept a negligently on your bed and merely uttered our name by your tongue”.
A true Shia when he ponders over all this becomes agitated and restless. He cannot bear the separation from his leader even for a moment.
Today’s world is rife with chaos, discord, disgrace, frustrations, corruption, malpractice, arrests and other vicious evils. One of the aims of Imam (a.t.f.s.) after his reappearance will be to uproot all sorts of evils and vices. Thus his reappearance will prove to be a remedy for all such maladies and a soothing balm for all these pains. Hence we often recite in ‘Dua al-Iftetah’ and implore Allah to hasten his reappearance. Unfortunately our verbal supplications are not supported by physical actions. This in itself is a difficult examination due to which the separation from Hazrat (a.s.) becomes all the more painful.
When will that day arrive when we will be able to distinguish between good and evil and learn the etiquettes of appreciation? History is replete with incidences of deviations when the people ignored and derided our Imams (a.s.). Similar things are being witnessed in the present era too when our Imam (a.s.) is in occultation. Above all this are events and occurrences that numb the mind and heart. All this must serve as a lesson for us that in the era of occultation or after the reappearance of Imam (a.t.f.s.) we must adopt that path which will not cause embarrassment and humiliation to us. Hence we must endeavour – under the grace and mercy of Imam (a.s.) – to spread justice and equality in every nook and corner of the world and remind the people about the forgotten virtues of brotherhood, justice and equality. In this way we will be able to enliven the earth and infuse in it a new life. This in itself is the best lesson and an aspect of awaiting for Imam (a.t.f.s.)
Awaiting the reappearance of Imam al-Zaman (a.s.) imbibes us with vigour and zeal. We cannot see our future. His reign is our only hope and support. Although our present state of affairs is depressing and bleak, yet our eyes are fixed on the bright sun of justice and equality. This feeling in itself is a fountain of life and energy. We must emulate our elders by standing up – rather than being idle – and march towards this radiant sun, not alone but taking everyone along. We must move forward in unison like the waves of the sea – with enthusiasm and fervour. Moving forward in unity by itself is a source of strength and courage. This uniform and united struggle will energize us, and also strengthen and our community. Indeed such a movement is positive, since every step that is taken towards the illuminating sun (of guidance), will also possesses some glimmer of light in itself. Finally these steps will merges with the illumination personified, i.e. Imam (a.t.f.s.).
As a result, the separation from such an Imam (a.t.f.s.) who is dearer to us than our lives does not permit us to sit idle. Instead, we should be strong as steel to enjoy the fruits of real intezaar. Such an attitude will increase our resolve and make us steadfast. Thus adversities will not divert us from our path; tough ordeals will not despair us from our radiant future. By the sheer dint of our efforts, we will prepare the grounds for the Universal Islamic Government.
We will quote some of the traditions over here for an in-depth understanding of our duties and responsibilities in the occultation of Imam (a.t.f.s.).
Imam Zainul Abedin (a.s.) says:
اِنَّ اَھْلَ زَمَانِ غَیْبَتِہِ الْقَٔائِلِیْنَ بِاِمَامَتِہِ وَالْمُنْتَظِرِیْنَ لِظُھُوْرِہِ اَفْضَلُ مِنْ اَھْلِ کُلِّ زَمَانٍ لِاَنَّ اللّٰہَ تَبَارَکَ وَتَعَالیٰ اَعْطَاھُمْ مِنَ الْعُقُوْلِ وَ الْاَفْھَامِ وَالْمَعْرِفَۃِ مَا صَارَتْ بِہِ الْغَیْبَۃُ عِنْدَھُمْ بِمَنْزِلَۃِ الْمُشَاھِدَۃِ وَ جَعَلَھُمْ فِیْ ذٰلِکَ الزَّمَانِ بِمَنْزِلَۃِ الْمُجَاھِدِیْنَ بَیْنَ یَدَیْ رَسُوْلِ اللّٰہِ بِالسَّیْفِ اُوْلٰئِکَ الْمُخْلِصُوْنَ حَقًا وَشِیْعَتُنَا صِدْقًا وَالدُّعَاۃُ اِلیٰ دِیْنِ اللّٰہِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ سِرًّا وَّجَھْرًا.
“Certainly those who believe in his (Imam Mahdi’s) Imamate and await his advent are superior to the people of all times. Allah, the Almighty, has bestowed them with such a degree of intelligence and understanding that they see the Imam (a.s.) even though he (a.s.) is in occultation. Allah considers them like those soldiers who fought with their swords in the company of the Holy Prophet (S). They are our true and devout Shias. These are those who invite others towards the religion of Allah openly and secretly.”4
A brief perusal of this tradition reveals the status of those who await the reappearance of Imam (a.t.f.s.). Their position is so much exalted in front of Allah that they are compared with the warriors who fought in the company of the Holy Prophet (S). Such an intezaar will never bear a negative outcome and such a person5 will always remain concerned with the problems of society and never will he be disappointed from guiding others.
2. Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) has complimented the Shias of Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) in these words:
طُوْبٰی لِشِیْعَۃِ قَٔائِمِنَا الْمُنْتَظِرِیْنَ لِظُھُوْرِہِ فِیْ غَیْبَتِہِ وَالْمُطِیْعِیْنَ لَہٗ فِیْ ظُھُوْرِہٖ اُوْلٰئِکَ اَوْلِیَآءُ اللّٰہِ الَّذِیْنَ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَیْھِمْ وَلَا ھُمْ یَحْزَنُوْنَ.
“Congratulations to the Shias of our Qaem, who are awaiting his reappearance and will be obedient to him after his advent. They are the friends of Allah and there will be no fear for them or any grief.6
Even this tradition depicts the position of a “Muntazir” (one who is doing intezaar). This tradition envisages two distinct characteristics of such people viz. true awaiting during occultation and complete obedience after his reappearance. Whosoever will possess these traits will be included among the friends of Allah and thus will be saved from sorrow and fear.
3. For more understanding of the greatness and nobility of the believers in Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) let us ponder over this saying of Imam Sadiq (a.s.):
مَنْ سَرَّہُ اَنْ یَّکُوْنَ مِنْ اَصْحَابِ الْقَٔائِمِ فَیَنْتَظِرْ وَلْیَعْمَلْ. بِالْوَرَعِ وَ مَحَاسِنِ الْاَخْلَاقِ وَھُوَ مُنْتَظِرٌ.
“The one who desires to be a companion of our Qaem, then he must await (the reappearance) intensely and must act piously. Such a person is a true muntazir”7
4. If we ponder over the following tradition then the importance and significance of this matter becomes all the more evident. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“Those who died while awaiting the dominion of Qaem were like those who were with Qaem. Nay, they are like those who are riding on their horses and wielding their swords along with him.”
He maintained silence for a while then again said:
“By Allah, they are like those who attained martyrdom in front of Holy Prophet (S).”8
Are we really awaiting our Imam (a.t.f.s.)? Are we at least yearning for him like we yearn for our dear ones when they have gone on some journey?
Awaiting the reappearance of Imam (a.s.) makes the society proactive and productive. But it also expects individuals who are conscious of their responsibilities and are willing to share the task of preparing the grounds for the reappearance of Imam (a.s.).
As regards the responsibilities of Shias in the times of occultation and for knowing more about the reign of Imam (a.s.) one must refer to those supplications which are related to Imam (a.t.f.s.), since they are the best source for getting information of such matters. Many commendable and highly beneficial invocations are found in ‘Iqbal’ of Syed Ibn Tawoos (r.a) and Mafateeh-al Jinan of Shaikh Abbas Qummi (r.a). A keen and thoughtful recitation of such supplications will apprise us of our responsibilities towards him, characteristics of his powerful dominion and conditions of this world after his reappearance.
- 1. Holy Qur’an, al-Anbiya, 21:105.
- 2. Holy Qur’an, as-Saff, 61:4.
- 3. Dua al-lftetah.
- 4. Kamaluddin, p. 302.
- 5. Such word is not found in any lexicon or dictionary of English .literature. But we have coined this term for the sake of our convenience and brevity of disquisition in hand.
- 6. Kamaluddin, chapter 33, tradition No. 54.
- 7. Ghaibat-e-Noomani, p. 200; Muntakhabul Asar, p. 497
- 8. Muntakhabul Asar, p. 498. “Certainly when our Qaem will rise, then the earth will be illuminated by the light of Allah and men will not need the light of sun anymore.” (Beharul Anwaar, vol. 52, p. 337)