IMAM Al - MAHDI (AS)
& Our Duty during his Absence
Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) was born on the 15th Sha'ban 255 A.H. in Samarra, Iraq. He became the Imam when his father was Martyred in 260 A.H. Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) was only 5 years old when he went into ghaibat' (concealment). The Imam's ghaibat was divided into two periods:
Ghaibat-us-Sughra means the minor concealment.' Its period was about 70 years. It began in 260 A.H. when Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) first went into concealment, and ended in 328 A.H.
During Ghaibut-us-Sughra, the Imam appointed some agents to represent him and the people. The Imam had four agents. After the death of the fourth agent, the Imam went into major concealment (Ghaibut-ul-Kubra). This was on the 10th Shawal 329 A.H.
The Signs Heralding the Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s)
Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w.) has said:
"Even if the entire duration of the world's existence has already been exhausted and only one day is left before Doomsday, Allah will expand that day to such length of time as to accommodate the kingdom of a person from my Ahlul-Bayt who will be called by name. He will fill out the earth with and justice as it will have been full of injustice and tyranny (by then)"
From this Hadith, it is clear to every Muslim that the twelfth Imam will reappear when this world is full of sins and injustice.
There are many signs mentioned by the Masumeen (a.s) on the reappearance of the 12th Imam. It is reported in Biharul Anwar that after the last pilgrimage the Prophet made, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) stood near the Kaaba, and called his people to listen to him. The Prophet said: "listen to me carefully so that you transmit these words of mine to those who are absent today." The Prophet began, "My people, a time will come when kings and rulers will be tyrannical." The Prophet also said that the payment of Zakat will be stopped.
According to the Masumeen (a.s), Muslim countries will seek aid from non Muslim countries. This is already evident in a number of Muslim countries. Another prediction that is come true is that 60 impostors will claim to be Prophets. By their attractiveness, their persuasion, and their personality, they will misguide the people. 58 false Prophets have already emerged since the days of the Prophet (s.a.w.). We have only two more to witness.
It is reported in Qayamat-e-Sughra citing "Oqdatud-Durr" that Amir Al-Mo'meneen (A.S) has said that the Mahdi will not appear until one-third of the world population will die by being killed and one-third will die as a result of epidemics.
The Last Signs Heralding the Appearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s)
There is a Hadith from Imam Muhammed Baqir (a.s) that for three or seven consecutive days, one will see reddish yellow fire raging in the East.
Sufiani will emerge in Palestine, where he will start a revolt in the month of Rajab. He will be an uncompassionate rebel and his rule will last for eight consecutive months. He will conquer and rule Egypt for four consecutive months. Sufiani will conquer Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, and Syria. Sufiani has been specifically described by Aimma A.S. as an ugly, blistered, green-eyed, cross-eyed person who will be an enemy of the friends of the Ahlul-Bait. Imam Ali (a.s) has said that Sufiani's hatred of the devotees of the Ahlul-Bait will be such that any person named Ali, Fatema, Hassan, Hussein, Zainab, Ruquaiya will be arrested and beheaded straight away without further investigations. Sufiani will rip the Mimber of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). The holy house of the Prophet which contains his grave will be pulled and used as a stable. Horses will be tied in that Holy place.
Sufiani will then decide to attack Makka. His purpose would be to demolish the Holy Kaaba and kill the entire population of Makka. Sufiani's army will set out via Baghdad but, as Allah would have it, when they get between Medina and Makka, in the desert of Baida, suddenly one night they will hear a voice from the sky which will say, "O Baida eat up the entire army of Sufiani." It is said that the entire army numbering 100,000 persons will be swallowed up by the earth, except for two. The two who will be spared will suddenly encounter an angel. He will slap both of them turning their faces right round, looking behind instead of front. And that will be the time when Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) will already have reappeared in Makka. The Imam will establish his authority in the Holy Mosque at Makka in the Haram. The angel will then order one of them calling him Bashir. "O Bashir, go straight to Makka, into the Haram and inform the Imam that Sufiani's army has been swallowed up by the land. The other called Nazir will be ordered to go to Sufiani and tell him that the Imam has already appeared. He should proceed straight to Makka and declare allegiance to him.
Sufiani will prepare to attack the Imam but will not have enough courage. The Imam will catch Sufiani in Jerusalem and will kill him.
Imam Ali (a.s) has said that nine definite signs will precede the emergence of Imam Mahdi (a.s). These nine signs are:
Dajaal will emerge.
A loud voice will be heard from the sky.
Sufiani will appear and wage a fierce war.
The army of Sufiani will be swallowed by a sudden opening of the land between Makka and Medina in the desert of Baida.
A revered wise saint will be murdered in Makka. (This saint is to be a Hashimite descent.)
A Seyyid descendant of Imam Hassan (a.s) will emerge with his army.
The army of Seyyid-e-Hassan and an image of a man will appear in the sky opposite the sun.
There will be two eclipses in the holy month of Ramadhan contrary to the normal order and calculation and the eclipse of the moon.
On three occasions a loud voice from the sky will be heard in the holy month of Ramadhan.
Prophets Isa, Khizr, Ilias, and Idris (a.s) will give allegiance to the Imam when he reapers. Also Jibrael will announce 313 companions of the Imam. These 313 companions will be people of eminent piety, great knowledge and absolutely steadfast in their determination and faith towards the Imam. Another 1000 people will be in the army of the Imam. These people will fight battles and kill enemies like Dajal, who will appear from India. Dajal will have the musical tunes with him. Then the Imam will lead the prayers, Prophet Isa (a.s) will be behind him.
Our Duty during his Absence
Now the question arises ,what is the duty of a Shi'ite? What responsibilities does he have?
Truly, are we reckoned among the real followers of His Eminence (Imam al-Mahdi AS)?
If we study the lives of the devout Shi'ites (followers) of the Holy Imams before the Twelfth Imam, and consider their sacrifices without the slightest hesitation, we shall at once awake from our neglectful slumber and realize our weakness and guilt.
Were not Salman al-Farsi, Abu Dharr al-Ghaffari, Ammar ibn Yasir and Malik al-Ashtar the followers of the contemporary Imam Ali, Amir al-mu'minin (as), and are we too the followers of the Imam of our Age?
Was not Maytham al-Tammar, who did not cease to praise Ali, the Prince of the Faithful, a follower of His Eminence Ali, and are we too, who are passing with the Imam of our Age through a strange period, the followers of His Eminence?
Were not the martyrs of Karbala, who with love strived in the way of defending the Imam of their time, Husayn (AS), and were martyred, the followers of His Eminence, and are we too, who refuse to give our wealth,lives and other means in the way of the Imam of our time, His Eminence's followers?
From what we read of the glad tidings in the Qur'an and the traditions of the Holy Prophet and the infallible Imams, the Imam of the Age (Imam-e-Zaman) has special responsibilities which other Imams did not have. Imam-e-Zaman will establish a Universal Government. He will fill the earth with righteousness and justice. He will exploit the earth's treasures and natural resources. He will improve and develop the land, and in this way people's awareness and understanding will improve.
Therefore, do not the followers of His Eminence have a very particular duty? Should not the Shi'ites endeavour to obtain the competence and merit of being His Eminence's special companions when he reappears by Divine Command?
Therefore, let us see what our duties are and how we should observe them. Undoubtedly, our first duty is to become acquainted with him.
Recognising Imam-e-Zaman is so important and essential that in the Holy Prophet's (s) traditions we read:
"He who dies without recognising the Imam of his age is like one who had died during the
jahiliyyah ( the pagan era before the advent of Islam)."
To die during the jahiliyyah means a death devoid of Islam and faith. And it is obvious that one who dies without recognising the Imam of his age is counted in the group of the faithless.
In another tradition, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) is qouted as having said on the same subject:
"One who dies without having (accepted) the Imam, it is as if he died in the jahiliyyah, and people are not exempted from recognising their Imam."
Therefore, we must endeavour to recognise His Eminence (Imam-e-Zaman) for the sake of Islam and our faith, and so that we may be reckoned among those who have gained salvation and among the faithful.
Another duty of the Shi'ites during the major occultation, which the Holy Imam have alluded to, is the question of being ready for the Saviour. Hence, the first step for salvation is to recognise the Imam of the age; and the second step is to be prepared for the establishment of just Government by His Eminence.
One who is waiting (muntazir) and preparing himself for the appearance of the Imam must have the characters and merits of the companions of Imam al-Mahdi(as), and should sacrifice his life and wealth in his way. For this reason, Imam as-Sadiq(as) said:
"One who waits for our commands is like a person who sacrifices his own blood in the way of Allah."
Yes, he who is really ready for the Imam-ul-Asr ( the Imam of the period) becomes like a martyr in the way of Allah.
In another tradition, the same Imam told some of his followers about the person who is really waiting for the Imam-e-Zaman, saying:
"One who dies while expecting the Government of al-Qaim (Imam al-Mahdi (as). After a pause he added: "But he is like one who has been struck with a sword while accompanying him."
Then he insisted further by adding:
"Nay, by Allah! He is like one who has been martyred in the presence of the Messenger of Allah."
Are we reckoned among those who are expecting His Eminence? Are we at least waiting for the Divine Promise of the Authority of Allah (Waliyyullah) in the same manner as we wait for the return of our loved ones from a journey?
In another tradition, Imam as-Sadiq(as) narrated the virtues of the companions of Imam al-Mahdi(as) saying:
"If one takes pleasure in being among the companions of al-Qaim, then he must wait for him and must act with good behaviour and modestly. If he dies before the appearance of al-Qaim, then he will be rewarded like one who has followed him. Then act diligently,and await, that this effort and awaitng will give you delight, O' you who have found salvation."
So, one who is awaiting and has not ceased from good and worthy deeds should earnestly endeavour to be in an excellent and worthy position in such a way that Allah may shower His blessings on him.
So, we should pray to Allah that He may include us among those who are waiting for the Imam of the age, and that our acts and conduct may also symbolise the truth of our claim. Firstly, we should acquaint ourselves with His Eminence, the Imam, and then we should guide others, his opponents and enemies.We should gain the virtues of the companions of Imam al-Mahdi (as), and should always be in the expectation of his appearance. Henceforth, we will be able to sacrifice our worthless souls and thus to make them worthy.
Shi'ites must have a devout link with His Eminence during the occultation.
Their hearts and souls should be filled with love and affection for him.
Their thoughts should be devoted to his service and their desire should be to meet him.
Their prayers should be to ask for the blessing of Allah to be showered on His Eminence, and their supplication should be for salvation.
Their existence should be one welded and fused unit, and their life should blaze with love for him.