There is no doubt that the Almighty Allah subjects us to all kinds of examinations regarding the Ghaibat of His Wali, in order to distinguish the righteous ones from the sinful. So that He may reward the righteous slaves and gather the wrong doers with other evil creatures and dispatch them to Hell. The Almighty Allah says:
مَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيَذَرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَىٰ مَا أَنْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ حَتَّىٰ يَمِيزَ الْخَبِيثَ مِنَ الطَّيِّبِ
On no account will Allah leave the believers in the condition which you are in until He separates the evil from the good. (Qur’an, Surah Aale Imran 3:179)
Now this is not something new because before this Allah has taken the examination of all the previous nations and those who would come in the future. Allah also says:
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَنْ يُتْرَكُوا أَنْ يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ .
وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ
Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, We believe, and not be tried? And certainly We tried those before them…(Qur’an, Surah Ankabut 29:2-3)
Hazrat Ali (as) says, “O Men! The Almighty Allah has kept you away from oppression but He has not given you exemption from trials because Allah says:
وَإِنَّ لَكُمْ فِي الْأَنْعَامِ لَعِبْرَةً
Most surely there are signs in this, and most surely We are ever trying (men).1
I say: One of the greatest examinations for a believer is when he sees that vicious and evil people are living in style and splendor while the righteous have to undergo untold difficulties and penury, and no one pays any attention to them. No one even lends ear to their pleading and they are oppressed by the tyrants of this world. They are made the butt of ridicule and people make fun of their belief with regard to Ghaibat of Imam az-Zaman (aj). This causes a contradiction of reason and desire. The carnal desires command us to follow falsehood and spend our lives in enjoyment while reason advises us to be patient in the difficulties and to bear their falsification.
That it is necessary to follow the truth in order to achieve everlasting life in the hereafter in addition to the rightful kingdom. Thus the best people are those who strive for good consequences and remain patient in calamities. See what Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) says to Humran in a correct lengthy tradition, in Rauda Kafi, when he asked His Eminence: How will these (Bani Abbas) people rule? Or when would we rid of them? Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) said: Don’t you know that everything has a tenure? He replied: Why not? I said: Does it benefit you to know that when this matter occurs it will not come even a moment earlier.
Indeed, if you knew their condition in the view of Allah, you will be more angry with them and if with all the people of the world try to worsen their condition from sin and crimes – you will not be able to do so. Thus Shaitan will not deviate and worry you. Because indeed, honor from the Almighty Allah is for the Messenger of Allah (S), and for the believers, but the hypocrites don’t know, do you not know that one who awaits for our kingdom, and is patient on all hardships and troubles, will be in our group tomorrow [in Qiyamat].2
In Tohaful Uqool, it is mentioned among the advices of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) to Momin Taq: O Son of Noman, a servant will not be a faithful believer before he learns three characteristics; one from God, one from His Messenger, and one from the Imam. The characteristic he should learn from God is the concealment of secrets. God the Glorified says:
عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ فَلَا يُظْهِرُ عَلَىٰ غَيْبِهِ أَحَدًا
The Knower of the unseen! so He does not reveal His secrets to any, (Qur’an, Surah Jinn 72:26)
The characteristic he should learn from the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) is that he should treat people courteously. The characteristic he should learn from the Imam (peace be upon him) is to be steadfast against situations of misfortune and crises until relief comes about…3
Also, in Rauda Kafi, through the author’s own chain of narrators it is narrated from Hasan bin Shazan Wasiti that he said: I wrote a letter to Abul Hasan Imam Reza (as) in which I complained about the oppressions of the people of Wast.
Since in that city there were groups of Uthmanis, they used to trouble me. The Imam replied as follows: Allah, the blessed and the High has taken a covenant from our followers to observe patience in the rule of tyrant rulers. So be patient at the command of your Lord and when the leader of the creatures arises, they shall say:
قَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا مَنْ بَعَثَنَا مِنْ مَرْقَدِنَا ۜ ۗ هَٰذَا مَا وَعَدَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ وَصَدَقَ الْمُرْسَلُونَ
O woe to us! who has raised us up from our sleeping-place? This is what the Beneficent God promised and the apostles told the truth.4
I say: ‘Leader of the creatures denotes His Eminence, Qaim (aj) and their saying: ‘O woe to us! who has raised us up from our sleeping-place? This is what the Beneficent God promised’ implies that His Eminence, by the leave of the Almighty Allah, would make them alive and take revenge from them, as is mentioned in traditional reports.
In Usool Kafi, it is narrated from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) that he said: The Messenger of Allah (S) said: A time will come upon the people when rulership will not be obtained except through killing and oppression and wealth will not be obtained except through usurpation and miserliness and love and friendship will not be got except through throwing out the religion and following selfish desires; thus one who lives till that time should be patient on poverty even though he may be able to obtain riches.
And he should be patient on the enmity of the people even though he may be able to earn love of the people by giving up his religion and following carnal desires. And he should be patient on humiliation even though he might be capable of becoming powerful; the Almighty Allah will give him the reward equal to that of fifty Siddiqs (truthful ones) who have testified me.5
It is mentioned in Kharaij, that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: After you will come a people such that one of them alone will earn the reward of fifty of you. They asked: O Messenger of Allah (S), we accompanied you in Badr, Uhad and Hunain and the Qur’an descended among us! The Prophet said: You cannot bear that which would descend on them and you don’t have as much patience as they have.
I say: This is with reference to the condition of patient believers in the period of occultation of the Imam of the Age (as) as proved by other traditional reports.
It is mentioned in Burhan under the interpretation of the verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا وَرَابِطُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
O you who believe! be patient and co-operate in patience and remain steadfast. (Qur’an, Surah Aale Imran 3:200)
That Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) said: Be patient on the troubles you have to face in our path. The narrator asked: What does, ‘co-operate in patience and remain steadfast,’ mean? The Imam replied: Co-operate with your Wali regarding your enemies and be steadfast with your Imam.
There are numerous traditional reports regarding this but to quote them all would prolong the discussion. All these are in addition to other verses and traditional reports that have come in praise of patience and command to observe it, because patience on calamities during the period of occultation of Imam (as) is among the most important and clear implication of patience as is obvious.
Thiqatul Islam, Kulaini (r.a.) has mentioned a number of correct and good traditions from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) that he said: Patience is to faith what the head is to the body, if the head goes, so does the body, in the same way if patience goes, so does faith.6
In the same book, in another tradition from Hafas bin Ghiyath it is mentioned that he said: His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) said:
One who observes patience has to be patient for a short while and one who is impatient, remains impatient for a short while. Then he said: It is necessary for you to be patient in all your affairs as Allah, the Mighty and Sublime sent His Eminence, Muhammad (S) and commanded him patience and forbearance and He said:
وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاهْجُرْهُمْ هَجْرًا جَمِيلًا .
وَذَرْنِي وَالْمُكَذِّبِينَ أُولِي النَّعْمَةِ وَمَهِّلْهُمْ قَلِيلًا
And bear patiently what they say and avoid them with a becoming avoidance. And leave Me and the rejecters, the possessors of ease and plenty. (Qur’an, Surah Muzzammil 73:10-11)
The Almighty Allah also said:
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ .
وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ
Repel (evil) with what is best, when lo! he between whom and you was enmity would be as if he were a warm friend. And none are made to receive it but those who are patient, and none are made to receive it but those who have a mighty good fortune. (Qur’an, Surah Fussilat 41:34-35)
Thus the Messenger of Allah (S) maintained patience till he was even accused of serious things [like sorcery and insanity] and the Almighty Allah revealed:
وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضِيقُ صَدْرُكَ بِمَا يَقُولُونَ .
فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَكُنْ مِنَ السَّاجِدِينَ
And surely We know that your breast straitens at what they say. Therefore celebrate the praise of your Lord, and be of those who make obeisance. (Qur’an, Surah Hijr 15:97-98)
After that they rejected His Eminence, and made allegations against him; so he became sad. Therefore the Almighty Allah revealed:
قَدْ نَعْلَمُ إِنَّهُ لَيَحْزُنُكَ الَّذِي يَقُولُونَ ۖ فَإِنَّهُمْ لَا يُكَذِّبُونَكَ وَلَٰكِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ يَجْحَدُونَ .
وَلَقَدْ كُذِّبَتْ رُسُلٌ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ فَصَبَرُوا عَلَىٰ مَا كُذِّبُوا وَأُوذُوا حَتَّىٰ أَتَاهُمْ نَصْرُنَا ۚ
We know indeed that what they say certainly grieves you, but surely they do not call you a liar; but the unjust deny the communications of Allah. And certainly apostles before you were rejected, but they were patient on being rejected and persecuted until Our help came to them. (Qur’an, Surah Anaam 6:33-34)
At that time His Eminence (S) made his heart firm on patience till those people crossed all limits of shamelessness and torture and they mentioned Allah, the High and the Mighty with disrespect and denied Him. The Holy Prophet (S) said: I remained patient regarding myself, my family and my honor but I cannot be patient on disrespect to my Lord. So Allah, the Mighty and Sublime revealed the following verse:
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ وَمَا مَسَّنَا مِنْ لُغُوبٍ.
فَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ
And certainly We created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six periods and there touched Us not any fatigue. Therefore be patient of what they say. (Qur’an, Surah Qaf 50:38-39)
His Eminence, (S) remained patient in all circumstances till he was given glad tidings about the Imams from his progeny and they were described to be having patience as Allah, the Mighty and Sublime said:
وَجَعَلْنَا مِنْهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا لَمَّا صَبَرُوا ۖ وَكَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يُوقِنُونَ
And We made of them Imams to guide by Our command when they were patient, and they were certain of Our communications. (Qur’an, Surah Sajdah 32:24)
His Eminence, (S) said: Patience is to faith, like the head is to the body; then the Almighty Allah recompensed him for patience and revealed the following verse:
وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ الْحُسْنَىٰ عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا ۖ وَدَمَّرْنَا مَا كَانَ يَصْنَعُ فِرْعَوْنُ وَقَوْمُهُ وَمَا كَانُوا يَعْرِشُونَ
And the good word of your Lord was fulfilled in the children of Israel because they bore up (sufferings) patiently; and We utterly destroyed what Firon and his people had wrought and what they built. (Qur’an, Surah Araaf 7:137)
The Holy Prophet (S) said: This is a glad tiding and revenge that Allah, the Mighty and Sublime has allowed war against the polytheists. And the Almighty Allah revealed:
فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ
Then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. (Qur’an, Surah Taubah 9:5)
وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ
And kill them wherever you find them. (Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 2: 191)
Thus the Almighty Allah destroyed them through the Messenger of Allah (S) and his followers and made it a reward of their patience in addition to what is stored for His Eminence in the Hereafter. So one who remains patient and is forbearing in the path of Allah, he will not leave the world till the Almighty Allah does not make him happy with regard to (the fate) of his enemies, in addition to what is stored for him in the Hereafter.7
In the same book, in a correct traditional report from Abu Sabbah Kinani it is narrated that he said: I was in the company of His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) when an old man came to His Eminence and said: O Aba Abdillah, I have brought a complain to you about my children and their thanklessness and my brothers and their oppression, when I have become old. His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) said: O man, indeed there is a kingdom for truth and a kingdom for falsehood, and each is degraded during the rule of other, and the least that can reach the believer during the rule of falsehood is disobedience of children and injustice of the brothers.
And there is no believer who gets any comfort or luxury during the rule of falsehood, except that he has to bear hardships before his death, either physically or regarding his children or his property so that the Almighty Allah may purge him from that which he has obtained during the rule of falsehood and He increase his share in the kingdom of truth. So remain patient and glad tidings to you.
In the same book, it is narrated from His Eminence, Abu Ja’far Imam Baqir (as) that he said: When the final moments of my father, Ali bin Husain (as) approached, he embraced me and said: My son, I advise you that which my father advised me at the time of his passing away and mentioned that which his father had advised: My son, be patient on truth even though it may be bitter.8
In Kamaluddin, through the author’s own chain of narrators it is quoted from Imam Reza (as) that he said: “How good is patience and awaiting for the reappearance! Have you not heard Allah, the Mighty and Sublime say?
وَارْتَقِبُوا إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ رَقِيبٌ
And watch, surely I too am watching with you. (Qur’an, Surah Hud 11:93)
فَانْتَظِرُوا إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ مِنَ الْمُنْتَظِرِينَ
Wait then, I too with you will be of those who wait. (Qur’an, Surah Araaf 7:71)
Thus you must be patient because there is deliverance after despair and those before you were more patient than you.”9
In the same book it is narrated from Muhammad bin Muslim that he said: I heard Abi Abdullah (as) say: “Before the rising of the Qaim, Allah will appoint signs for the believers. I asked: What are those, may I be sacrificed on you? He replied: They are mentioned in the saying of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime:
That is before the advent of the Qaim the believers will be tested through fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits; and give good news to the patient.
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنْفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ
And We will most certainly try you with somewhat of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits; and give good news to the patient…(Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 2:155)
He said: “The believers will be tested through the fear of the last ruler of Bani so-and-so. Hunger through rise in prices. Loss of property and lives and fruits means loss in business and agriculture. And give good news to the patient means those who await for the reappearance.” Then he said: “O Muhammad, this is the interpretation of the saying of the Almighty:
وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ
…but none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge…10
In Tafseer Nishapuri, it is narrated from the Holy Prophet (S) that he said: Enjoin good to each other and forbid evil; thus when you see a debased person being obeyed and carnal desires being followed, and materialism being preferred, and every person liking his own view, it is necessary for you to leave yourself and public affairs and indeed, after that there will come a time when patience will be like a burning coal on your hand; the doers of good in that time will be given a reward equal to that of fifty persons in other times.
In Ghaibat Nomani through the author’s own chain of narrators it is narrated from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) from his father that he said: The believers are tested and purified by Allah. Allah has not assured the believers from calamities and distresses of this life but He has assured them from being wretched in the afterlife.
Then Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) said: His Eminence, Husain bin Ali arranged his martyrs side by side [in Kerbala] and said: Our martyrs are the martyrs of prophets.11 In the same book through the author’s own chain of narrators it is narrated from Imam Zainul Abideen (as) that he said: I wish I was permitted to talk to people three times (about three things) and then Allah might do to me whatever He liked. But it is the will of Allah that we are to be patient and to wait. Then he recited the following verse of Qur’an:
وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا ۚ وَإِنْ تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
And you shall certainly hear from those who have been given the Book before you and from those who are polytheists, much annoying talk; and if you are patient and guard (against evil), surely this is one of the affairs (which should be) determined upon. (Qur’an, Surah Aale Imran 3:186)
In the same book another tradition is quoted from His Eminence, which we shall present in the sub-topic of Marabat, Insha Allah, in which he says: “…the believers will remain steadfast and persevere until Allah determines and He is the best of judges.”12 There are many other traditional reports also, that have been mentioned at appropriate places.13 The conclusion is best worded in a poetical composition of Amirul Momineen (as):
If evil and hardships increase upon him, he increases the level of his patience. He is like Musk under the tools of pulverizing it, because fragments of Musk are such that their perfume and fragrance increases due to the tools if patience is observed.
Note: Our discussion so far shows that patience during the period of the occultation of the Imam (as) is of few types:
1. Patience of the prolongation of occultation so that impatience in this regard may not harden ones heart; because impatience with regard to Imam (as) can lead to doubts as explained in the twenty-second duty.
2. Patience of the believer on difficulties, ridicule and rejection etc from his opponents.
3. Patience on different calamities and hardships that befall him as mentioned in the verse:
وَاصْبِرْ وَمَا صَبْرُكَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ
And be patient and your patience is not but by (the assistance of) Allah. (Qur’an, Surah Nahl 16:127)
4. Patience on different calamities and hardships at the hands of the opponents, that he cannot ward off and defend himself from them; in this instance his duty is to observe patience and pray. And there are other types of patiences that a believer has to observe in difficult times.
- 1. Surah Momin 40; Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 102
- 2. Raudatul Kafi; Pg. 37
- 3. Tohaf al-Uqool, Pg. 230
- 4. Raudatul Kafi; Pg. 247, Tr. no. 346; Surah Yasin 36:52
- 5. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 91
- 6. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 87, Chapter of Patience, Tr. no. 2
- 7. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 447, Tr. no. 12
- 8. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 91, Chapter of Patience, Tr. no. 13
- 9. Kamaluddin; Shaykh Sadooq; Vol. 2, Pg. 645
- 10. Surah Aale Imran 3:7 & Kamaluddin, Vol. 2, Pg. 649
- 11. Ghaibat Nomani, Pg. 112
- 12. Ghaibat Nomani, Pg. 105
- 13. Ghaibat Nomani, Pg. 105