Allah, the Blessed and the High says in the Holy Quran:
‘O you who believe! Be patient and excel in patience and remain steadfast and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful.’
(Surah Aale Imran, Verse 200)
In the interpretation of the above verse, Hafiz Qunduzi Hanafi, the famous scholar of the Ahle Sunnah, narrates a tradition from Imam Baqir (a.s.) in his book ‘Yanabiul Mawwadah’ pp. 5-6, “Be patient in complying with the obligatory acts and remain steadfast against the cruelties and oppression of enemies and establish contact with your Imam, Imam Mahdi al-Muntazar (the Awaited One)’.
A similar exegesis is also narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.), which is mentioned in various books like ‘Ma’anil Akhbaar’,
‘Tafseer-e-Ayyaashi’, ‘Usul-e-Kafi’, etc. Imam Saadiq (a.s.) says:
‘Be patient concerning your religion and be patient against your enemy and establish contact with your Imam’.
(Tafseer al-Meezan, by Allamah Tabatabai, pg. 201)
There is no doubt that Allah, the Blessed and the High desires that His creatures on the earth should be in touch with His Proof and their Imam in every moment of their life. History is a witness to the fact that in the past, people failed to establish contact with Imam of their time. As a result, they could not acquire his recognition and consequently, refused to accept the caliphate of Hazrat Ali (a.s.), threw arrows on the bier of Imam Hasan (a.s.) and brutally killed Imam Husain (a.s.) in Karbala .
Each and every Imam (a.s.) was tortured and oppressed. The light of guidance did not reach the hearts of the people. As time went by, the situation turned for the worse. Today Muslims are living in a situation where there is no recognition of Imam and the true Islam. In fact, in the name of religion and justice, irreligiousness, injustice and oppression is widespread in Islamic society. Islam, which had come to enliven the people, has itself become lifeless.
Imam Reza (a.s.) says in this regard: ‘May Allah bless the one who enlivens our affairs.”
The narrator inquired, ‘How are your affairs enlivened?’
Imam (a.s.) replied,“By learning our traditions and teaching them to the people.” Thus, according to the above quote of Imam Reza (a.s.), lam can be enlivened only through the acquisition of knowledge as subscribed by the Ahle Bait (a.s.) and acting upon it. For this, it is essential that one remains steadfast on his religion and maintains contact and relations with the Imam of his time and at the same time, prepare the ground for others to acquire the same knowledge. Moreover, Islam cannot be enlivened unless one does not each the knowledge of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) to others and the same cannot be achieved till one obeys the aforementioned verse of Quran by being steadfast in maintaining contact with the Imam (a.s.). The aim behind the above injunction is that no doubt, there is widespread unawareness concerning Islam in the society but there exists even more ignorance regarding the Imam of the time who is alive and active. Therefore, it is obligatory upon us to hold such gatherings. There are various ways and means to enliven Islam through such congregations, a few of which are mentioned hereunder:
1) The recognition of the real divine proof is gained.
2) Such congregations are by themselves, worship of Allah. This fact has been testified by none other than the great Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) himself when he (s.a.w.a.) declared, “Remembrance of Ali (a.s.) is worship.”
(Jaame’ al-Sagheer, p. 16; Kunooz al-Haqaaeq, p. 120; Khair al-Bareeyyah, p. 51).
Today, Imam Mahdi (a.s.) enjoys the same divine position and status that Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) enjoyed during his time. Thus, the remembrance of the former too is divine worship.
3) The love for their Imam (a.s.) will increase in the hearts of the people when their knowledge about him (a.s.) will be augmented. When they realize that the world exists because of him (a.s.), and that they themselves exist due to his existence. This dawn of this reality on the people will itself make people proximate to their Imam (a.s.) and their love, affection and respect for him (a.s.) will increase manifold.
4) The very mention of this holy persona will make the people near to goodness and piety.
5) The aim of the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) messengership is this very act. He (s.a.w.a.) declares, “I have been raised so that I may complete the nobility of morality.”
6) People will be trained for the obedience of Imam (a.s.). The efforts of such gatherings to prevent the occurrence of situations that led to the battles of Jamal and Siffeen. The attention of the people will be particularly drawn to the fact that Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) should not face that situation which Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s.) had to encounter.
7) As Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) is Allah’s sign, people attending such congregations will learn to respect the signs of the Almighty.
8) Through such gatherings, people will get the taufeeq (grace) to pray for the early reappearance of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), a desire explicitly expressed by the Imam (a.s.) himself, “And pray more for (my) early reappearance, for in it only is your salvation.”
(Muntakhabul Asar, pg. 348)
9) The possibility of an early reappearance will increase just as Allah had brought early respite for the Bani Israel from the clutches of the oppressive Firaon, due to their excessive pleadings and supplications.
10) People will always be attentive towards the fact that they should be ready to sacrifice all that they have of their lives and their wealth for the sake of their Imam (a.s.) at any given time.
11) Through Imam (a.s.), people will gain the recognition of Allah, which is the main aim behind creation.
12) Such gatherings will lead to the recognition of the Imam (a.s.) by its participants. Therefore, even if they die before the reappearance, their death will not be one of ignorance, as announced by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), “One who dies without recognizing the Imam of his time, has died the death of ignorance.”
(Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 51, pg. 38)
Apart from enlivening Islam, such gatherings and meetings are also beneficial for the believers. Following are some of the benefits for the participants:
1) There is a tradition the gist of which is as follows: Certainly a scholar who teaches people religion and invites them towards their Imam, is better and superior than seventy thousand worshippers.
(Mikyaal al-Makaarim, vol. 2, pg. 389)
2) Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says, “One who recites even one eulogy in the praise of his Imam in such gatherings, Allah will construct one house for him inparadise.”
(Wasaael al-Shiah, vol. 1, pg. 467; Mikyaal al-Makaarem, vol. 2, pg. 243)
In another tradition Imam Sadeq (a.s.) says, “None recites a poem in our glorification but that he is praised and glorified by the mighty angel Rooh al-Qodos himself.”
3) As such gatherings are a medium for the preparation of the reappearance of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.), Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says, “It is necessary that each one of you should prepare for the reappearance of his Imam (a.s.) even if it is with one arrow. If one even intends for the same, Allah increases his age.”
(Mikyaal al-Makaarem, vol. 2, pg. 583)
Come, in this 15th Sha’baan, let all of us act on the following injunction of Allah’s Book, “Then compete with each other in goodness.”
This is a very critical command. The life of Islam depends on it. All of us should strive to outdo each other in our performance in such gatherings as these are embellished with the remembrance of our beloved Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.). By this insignificant service, may be, we can help him in the achievement of his lofty aim.