This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Imam’s (as) followers. There is no doubt regarding its praiseworthiness and preference. Numerous traditions and supplications mention this quality. How beautifully it is expressed in a couplet:
The heart burns and tears flow in the eagerness to see you. The desire to see is burning us and the tears of separation are going to drown us.
Have you ever seen a drowning man in flames?
That which supports this point is the statement of Amirul Momineen (as) in which he has expressed his eagerness to see the Imam as mentioned in a tradition in which he has described His Eminence Mahdi (aj) in the Chapter of Letter ‘A’in’. In that traditional report Imam Ali (as) described some of his qualities and ordered his allegiance and acceptance of his leadership, then he sighed and putting his hand to his chest expressed his eagerness to see the Imam of the Time (aj).
The complete text of this traditional report has passed in the Chapter of the Knowledge of His Eminence (first volume of this book). Also in support of this point is that which is mentioned in Biharul Anwar quoting from Mazar Kabir through the author’s own chain of narrators from Ahmad bin Ibrahim that he said: I mentioned to Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Uthman my eagerness to see our master and he said: In spite of eagerness are you really inclined to see him? I said: Yes.
He said: May the Almighty Allah reward you for your eagerness and give you the honor of seeing him easily, O Abu Abdullah do not pray for seeing him and being in his company as these are important divine matters and it is better to accept them. But pay attention to his Ziarat…1
I say: It is clear that having an eagerness to see the Imam is a good thing, as it is a part of having love for him, and as implied in the statement: ‘May the Almighty Allah reward you for your eagerness’. It also clarifies that there is great reward for this as mentioned in a tradition of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as).
But as for his saying: ‘O Abu Abdullah do not pray for seeing him’ it is actually seeing him like the previous Imams, that is one could meet them whenever one wanted. Although the fact is that request to see the Imam is not absolutely prohibited, rather it is among the duties of the religious and many have been known to have got this honor.
That which proves this matter is the sentence: Because during the period of occultation you be eager for him and do not request that you get to live with him as it is a divine matter. Because if meeting the Imam and being in his company had been absolutely prohibited so many people would not have got that opportunity.
And it is something opposed to what is apparent, because traditions and incidents with regard to the meeting the Imam are based on reports of reliable persons. And lastly, it is clear that the sentence: ‘Have eagerness to see him’ is a positive statement and it shows the virtue of longing to see the Holy Imam (as). It can also be supported by the tradition of Biharul Anwar, in which through the author’s own chain of narrators it is narrated from Muhammad bin Muslim that he said: I was on way to Medina while I was very sick and in pain.
Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) was told that Muhammad bin Muslim is very ill and the Imam sent a servant with medicinal liquid to him. The servant came to him, handed him the vessel and said: Drink it now. The Imam has told me to wait and make you drink it in my presence. A fragrance of musk arose from the vessel and it looked delicious and cool. After I drank it, the servant said: My master said that after you drink it, you come to meet him. I was thinking what the Imam will say, and the fact that previously I didn’t have the strength to get up; but when the drink entered my insides it seemed as if I had been released from being tied up. I got up and came to the Imam’s place, and asked for his permission to enter.
The Imam called out: You have become healthy; come in. I entered crying and greeted the Holy Imam (as) and kissed his hand and head. His Eminence (aj) said: O Muhammad, why are you crying? I said: May I be sacrificed on you, I am crying due to my loneliness, distance from you and disability to remain with you and see you.
He replied: Rarely does the Almighty Allah put our followers in these circumstances or through such hardships. And as for what you mentioned about being away from the native place; you should see how Abi Abdullah (as) lies so far away from his hometown besides the banks of Furat. And as for the distance that you mentioned, the believer is in this world is alone and unidentified. Till he leaves the abode of the world to enter into divine mercy. And as for what you mentioned about not being able to meet us and see us; the Almighty Allah knows what is in your heart and your rewards is with Him only.2
I say: In Mazaar this tradition has been narrated from Kamiluz Ziaraat with some additions that emphasize the excellence of the tomb of Imam Husain (as).