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The Fourth View

The Fourth View
The traditions show that in the same way that Muslims had certain obligations to their Imams in their presence, we have the same during the occultation. These obligations along with special duties, not only accumulate blessings for us, but also help in hastening the appearance and rising of the Imam(A.S.). The following duties have been found through studying and researching numerous traditions:

1. The Patience
In a tradition going back to Imam Ridha(A.S.):
“Nothing is better than patience, waiting and al-Faraj (The Deliverance), and have not you heard the words of Allah, ‘…and look ahead, surely I too am watching with you.’ (11:93) And also, ‘Expect, for surely I am waiting with you.’ Therefore, it is becoming of you to have patience. Surely, it is only with patience that the Deliverance will come at a time of distress and disappointment. And (know that) those before you were better than you.”10
The words, ‘It is becoming of you to have patience’, makes it clear that the duty of Shiites during the occultation is to have patience.

2. The Expectation
The duty to wait for the Imam(A.S.) has also been made clear in the above tradition. In addition to that tradition, the Holy Prophet and Imams (peace be upon them) insisted on it rather often. In a tradition of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny), we read: «أفضل أعمال أمتي إنتظار الفرج» “The best action of my followers is to be awaiting al-Faraj or the Deliverance.”11 Imam Ali (A.S.) in a reply to someone who asked the following question: «أي الأعمال أحب الى الله عزوجل ؟» “Which actions are considered among the best?”, He replied: «إنتظار الفرج» “Intidhar al-Faraj ( anticipating the Deliverance).”12 In another tradition, Imam Sadiq (A.S.) says:
“The best thing to bring God’s servant closer to Him and the best action he can carry out (with God’s pleasure) is that when the Hujjat (Sign) of Allah disappears from sight and no one knows of his dwelling, he should wait, morning and evening (in anticipation).”13
One who truly waits (in anticipation) has so much knowledge that even during the occultation, he can visualize the presence of the Imam among us. This means that he has absolutely no doubt in believing in the Imam of the time and from a practical aspect, is actually propagating (religion and true beliefs) in private and public. One who is not truly waiting, but appears to be doing so, is really doing nothing, with the excuse of not being able to do anything. This person is not taking part in preparing for the uprising, while one who truly waits is constantly obtaining knowledge and improving his actions. In this way, he is preparing for the uprising and is trying to make himself like the true believers (in other words, a true Shiite, one who truly waits for the uprising).
In summary, waiting in its real sense includes believing in the occultation, following what is right, detesting oppression, speaking the truth and inviting people to goodness.

3. The Prayer
In certain traditions, our main duty during the occultation is considered as prayer. Among them in a letter with Is-haq ibn Ya‘qub, which he had received from Muhammad ibn Uthman, it was said: «و أکثروا الدعاء بتعجيل الفرج، فإن ذلک فرجکم » “Pray a lot in order to hasten al-Faraj (the Deliverance), for surely it is your Faraj.”14 Praying during the occultation has certain conditions that should be observed. They will be explained later.

4. The Disappointment
In a tradition of Imam Sadiq (A.S.), we read: «إن هذا الأمر لا يأتيکم إلا بعد إياس...» “In fact this will not happen until it is preceded by a great amount of disappointment…”15 In another tradition, Imam Ridha had said: “The Faraj will happen after a great deal of disappointment and patience, and the people before you were more patient than you.”16
As long as humankind is dependent upon worldly powers, the thirst for the justice of Imam Mahdi (A.S.) will not be felt and he will have no seekers.

The Elements of Readiness and Preparation
In this section, we repeat the question, ‘Is there any reason (for us) to prepare for his uprising?’ The answer we can give from what has been narrated and documented is that a number of traditions guide us towards this matter in general. Among them is the Tabarani and ibn Majah tradition narrated from the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny): «يخرج ناس من المشرق فيوطئون للمهدي سلطانه» “People from the east will rise up and prepare for the government of al-Mahdi (A.S.).”17 Also, in another tradition, Imam Sadiq (A.S.) speaks about the lengthening of the trials and tribulations of Bani-Israel:
“When the trials and tribulations of Bani-Israel were lengthened, they cried to Allah forty days and nights. So Allah revealed to Moses and Aaron to save them from the Pharaoh and they took them away for a hundred and seventy years.”18
This tradition clarifies that if the actions are carried out properly, the period of occultation can be decreased. From a logical point of view, one cannot rule out the possibility of the establishment of a government of such majesty and greatness. It is possible that the uprising would suddenly occur, but it cannot be said that it will occur without there being any preparation for it.
Martyr Mutahari wrote: “A few scholars of the Shiite school of thought who had feasible thoughts and ideas of establishing a Shiite government in their time, were probably thinking that the best government would be one that was a predecessor to that of the Imam Mahdi (A.S.) and should last until his uprising.”19 These words show that Shiite scholars believed in preparing for such an uprising and government. It is only natural that when one is expecting a very important or dear guest, one should try to make the necessary adjustments and prepare the environment as much as possible. Of course, this is done according to the guest’s rank and significance.

The Second Section: The Qur’anic View
It should be made clear that verses that guide us about this matter are of two kinds: General and Specific.

A. The General verses
The general verses are like the verses of supplication, among them are:
“Call upon me, I will answer you.” (40:60)
“And when my servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on me….” (2:186)
When we see that God, the Glorified, answers and grants supplications, and on the other hand, religious leaders also insist on praying for the uprising, we can only conclude that prayer is the most important element in preparing for the uprising. As we mentioned earlier, it has been repeatedly advised to pray for the uprising of the Imam(A.S.).
“Pray a lot in order to hasten al-Faraj (the Deliverance), for surely it (prayer) is your Faraj (Deliverance).”
The most interesting part of this tradition is that praying itself has been considered as the Faraj. In various traditions narrated from the Infallible Imams, praying for the hastening of the Deliverance is mentioned repeatedly, this is a sign in itself of preparing for the uprising. We read in the Supplication of ‘Ahd:
“Oh Allah, make distinctly visible for us, Thy appointed authority…so that he rests not after getting the better of the forces of evil, until he tears them to pieces, makes clear the truth and fulfills his duty in letter and spirit….”20
Another point worthy of mentioning is that supplications and prayers for hastening the appearance and uprising of the Imam (A.S.) should be recited with the utmost attention. They should be recited with sensitivity - from the heart, with Nudbah (weeping), Istighathah (seeking help)21 and pleading. The proof of these words lies in the Supplication of Nudbah itself (the supplication of Hujjat ibn al-Hasan (A.S.)). The following is a small excerpt from the supplication:
“Where is the Sign left by Allah, the presence of whom, along with guided predecessors the world cannot survive without? Where is the one ready to annihilate the oppressors? Where is the Awaited One who will close the gap between the privileged and the unprivileged and straighten out the differences and the distorted ways (of the world)? Where is the Expected One to uproot all oppression and transgression? Where is the one to safeguard the commandments of Allah and the Sunnah? Where is the One Selected to resuscitate the civilization of Islam and its laws?”
This supplication is unique in the sense that unlike other supplications, it does not speak about what has been done. Instead it focuses upon ideals and goals as it makes its appeal for the appearance of the Imam's return and clarifies the reasons and goals of the uprising. In this supplication, the prayer is written in a way as if someone has been lost to us and because of this we cry and weep calling him to come to us wherever he might be.

The Specific verses
These are the verses that guide us from a certain angle:
1. The verse of Tanawush:
“And they shall say: ‘We believe in it.’ And how shall the attaining (of faith) be accessible to them from a distant place?” (34:52)
Accessing faith; Imam Mahdi (A.S.), would be considered impossible to attain from a distance according to this verse. Tabarsi in Majma’ al-Bayan, after commenting on the verse writes: “This verse is related to the Bayda War (the emergence of the Sufiyani right before that of al-Mahdi (A.S.)). The way it is told is that when the army of the Sufiyani faces al-Mahdi(A.S.), they will say: “We have believed in him. ” However, God replies: «إني لهم التناوش من مكان بعيد» ‘And how shall the attaining (of faith) be accessible to them from a distant place?’ How is it that this type of faith – coming to them after its time has passed - can be of any use (to them)?”22
In summary, what we can gather from this verse is that if faith in al-Mahdi is real, it can be considered an element in making contact with him; and if it is not real and is just pretended, then; it will not be efficacious.
2. The Verse of Change:
“…Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change themselves …” (13:11)
Allamah Tabataba'i writes: “Among the blessings of God which have been given to man and among the different conditions of the human soul is a natural supplement (of blessings). If man conducts himself based upon his innate disposition and achieves faith and pious behavior, it will result in blessings in this world and the next. But if man changes that innate disposition himself, the condition of the soul will change as well as the blessings of God.”23
Having the presence of the Imam(A.S.) and being able to take advantage of the blessing of his government depends upon a movement, a change in society as a whole, especially in Islamic society. Initiating a proper movement can at least be a step towards hastening the blessing of the Imam’s (A.S.) appearance and uprising.
3. The Verse of Faith and Piety:
“And if people of (different) towns had believed and guarded themselves (against evil), We certainly would have opened up for them the (doors of) blessings of Heaven and Earth…” (7:96)
This verse shows that if people (in society) cleanse themselves from impure actions, thoughts and sins, and believe in the Creator, Judgment Day, etc… and observe piety, all the doors of God’s blessings will be opened to them and there is no doubt that the appearance and uprising of al-Mahdi(A.S.) would be one of them.
Needless to say, faith is also a very important factor. Society in general should have faith and belief in the Deliverance. Although it seems impossible in larger societies where corruption is on a larger scale too, it is possible and rather necessary in smaller societies where people still have a significant amount of faith and love or Wilayat (guardianship over [the believers of] the Islamic society).
4. The Verse of Despair:
“ When the apostles lost hope and they thought that they had been told lies, Our help a came to them.” (12:110)
It has also been mentioned in the traditions:
“Surely this matter will not come to you except after despair…”24
There is a difference between the content of the verse and the tradition. The verse shows the despair of the Prophets from people who are in denial, while the tradition shows the despair of people about things that are not in order. Though there is a difference, they both refer to one matter and that is to prepare for the coming of God’s help and the distraction of enemies. If the punishment of God is in the way of helping the believers, the news of al-Mahdi’s appearance and uprising is to confirm their ultimate success over cruelty and oppression.
5. The Verse of Support
“While yet the state of those who have passed away before you has not come upon you; distress and affliction befell them and they were shaken violently, so that the Apostle and those who believed with him said, When will the help of Allah come? Now surely the help of Allah is indeed near.’ ”(2:214)
In addition to this verse making it understood that Paradise and the Divinely guided rule of al-Mahdi(A.S.) will not be granted so easily, it also briefly points to external and internal problems such as poverty, insecurity, illness, etc…. This is that aspect of reality where rectifying the lack of welfare, comfort, security, and success depends upon public request. As mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, even Prophets had asked their people to pray for help and support after experiencing terrible calamities and as the Holy Qur’an says that were like the shocking earthquakes. This is a prayer, a request that should be recited together, united, especially during difficult times. Imam Sadiq(A.S.) had commented after explaining the situation of the Bani-Israel and the expectations Moses had of them:
“This also pertains to you regarding the Deliverance. If you act in this manner, and continue being the way you are, the (time of) the occultation will carry on until its end.”
The verse of Support truly expresses real needs and feelings towards the Savior and the Deliverance. With all that has been mentioned, we can conclude that the main duties of the lovers of truth and just government, in order to prepare for and hasten the appearance and uprising are:
1. Prayer
2. Having faith and piety
3. Refraining from sin
4. Truly waiting in anticipation
5. Inviting others to God’s religion and keeping company with the friends of God
With hope that we can also prepare for that perfect just government under the reign of his Excellency, al-Mahdi (A.S.)
Notes:
1-Bihar al-Anwar, vol.53, p.2
2. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.53, p.2
3. Al-Burhan fi ‘Alamat Akhar al-Zaman, p.78; Muntakhib al-Athar, p.31; Yanabi’ al-Mawaddah, vol.3, p.115
4. Safi Gulpaygani, by Lutfullah; Muntakhib al-Athar, p.334
5. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.97
6. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.98
7. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.113
8. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.53, p.177; Al-Zam al-Nasib, vol.2, p.467
9. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.91 & 113
10. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.129
11. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.122
12. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.122
13. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.95
14. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.92; Al-Zam al-Nasib, by Haeri Yazdi, vol.1, p.428
15. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.111
16. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.110 & 129
17. Al-Burhan fi ‘Alamat Akhar al-Zaman, p.148
18. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.131
19. Qiyam va Inqelab-e-Mahdi, by Murtadha Mutahari, p.68 (Persian)
20. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.53, p.96
21. Nudb and Nudbah literally mean ‘Invite’ or ‘Invitation’. Ghawth and Ighathah mean ‘seeking help or assistance’. Taken from Al-Misbah al-Munir Madah, Nudb wa Ghawth.
22. Majma’ al-Bayan, by Fadhl ibn Hasan and Tabarsi, vol.4, p.398; Tafsir Safi, vol.4, p.227
23. Tafsir al-Mizan, by Allamah Tabatabaei, vol.11, p.213
24. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.111

 

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