It is essential that there exists a correlation between an aim and its preparedness. If the aim is to appear for an examination, preparation will be different. If traveling is the purpose, the groundwork will be different. The etiquette of attending a marriage is not like that of attending a mourning ceremony. If we long for the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and wish to be among his servants and helpers, our preparation has to be different. It is not similar to attending any gathering or a march. It is participating in a celestial and divine affair whose boundaries extend till the limitless boundaries of divinity. Preparing for reappearance is no different and we have to consider some of its characteristics while preparing for it.
Characteristics of the Era of Reappearance
To acquaint ourselves with the characteristics of reappearance, we have to prepare ourselves accordingly. We will have to align our speech, actions and all aspects of our behavior appropriately.
One of the distinguished characteristics of reappearance is that the period of reappearance is that of truth. All curtains will be unveiled and truth will be manifested. None will be able to mask his reality from the Imam of the time (a.t.f.s.). He (a.t.f.s.) is cognizant of the condition of everyone’s heart. He will act according to the practice of Prophet Dawood (a.s.). Now, the question arises as to what was the practice of Prophet Dawood (a.s.) and what was the practice of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?
The reply is that Allah the Almighty ordered our beloved Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to judge based on the apparent while Prophet Dawood (a.s.) used to judge according to the hidden reality. Allah the High will grant Imam Mahdi (a.s.) such knowledge that all realities will be apparent for him. He will neither need a witness nor a proof in any case. The affair will be clear to him.
The period of reappearance will be that of truth and honesty. When veils will be uncovered, truth will become apparent. It is mentioned in traditions that when he (a.t.f.s.) reappears, he will place his holy hand on the heads of the people due to which their intellects will be perfected.
[Kamaaluddin, p. 675, H. 30]
Thus, the period of reappearance will be an era of intellect and truth and not of whims and fancies. With perfect intellect, there will be no need to hide anything. The intellect will present the case in its truest form. What would it be like when a perfect intellect presents a case? People will deal with each other with truth and not with ostentation and flamboyance.
If we take such a period into account, we will realize how negligent we are today. Imam Ali (a.s.) said,
“If your secrets are revealed to each other you will not bury one other.”
[Al-Amaali of Shaikh Saduq (r.a.) , p. 531, H. 9/718]
It means people will not consider each other as Muslims. It is Allah’s grace that truth is covered, else survival would be difficult. The present situation while being a great bounty for our daily lives is also a great opportunity to improve and prepare ourselves before the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.). We should develop ourselves in a way that we do not embarrass ourselves when blessed with the opportunity of meeting Imam (a.s.).
Presently, Allah the High has cast certain veils on us and we have created some veils ourselves, due to which, notwithstanding all its defects and shortcomings, life seems to be hassle free. Post reappearance, there will be no scope to commit or provoke mischief. At that time Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will establish the religion of Allah with all its intricacies and there will be no scope for dissimulation (taqiyyah). Hence, it is our responsibility to prepare ourselves in such a manner that we do not face any problems and embarrassment at the time of reappearance.
The period before reappearance though is the best time to improve and prepare to face truth and honesty. We should take benefit of this precious opportunity. After reappearance some people will be asked to relinquish their property as it belongs to someone else. Property will be given to its real owner. Let’s prepare ourselves from now, so that, we are when asked to disassociate from our land, house, position and status, we are ready and do not argue about it and instead submit to the order of our Imam (a.t.f.s.).
We must be prepared to face the truth. At times people chalk out huge plans for themselves. They select special positions and status for themselves and spend their lives in the same assumptions. If we continue our lives in the same thought when Imam (a.t.f.s.) reappears and we get a chance to be in his holy presence, he might say:
“You are useless. All your plans are superficial and have no reality.”
How would we face it? Our true value will be revealed because it is a day for which the Holy Quran has mentioned:
“This is the day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness.”
[Surah Maidah (5): Verse 119]
Can anyone benefit from his baseless truth in front of Imam (a.t.f.s.) on the Day of Judgment and hide his true self? Certainly not. On that day man will be accountable on the basis of truth. The criteria of accounting will be piety and religiousness. All evil factors of gaining importance and lofty positions will be destroyed and only truth will prevail. We cannot hide our reality from Imam (a.s.) under any circumstances and will have to face it. So is it not prudent that we start living a truthful life right away so that we remain the same at the time of reappearance?
When we are informed of our reality, is it possible that we claim that we are striving or prefix a title of the one who strives before our name without having worked for it. We claim to be representing Imam while our levels of piety are way below our claim. We accept the control of those tasks and leadership of those institutions whose capacity we do not possess.
Since there is no time fixed for reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and it can occur anytime, we must be ready for it. Our apparent and hidden must be alike. We must check ourselves in the mirror of truth and cleanse ourselves from evil thoughts and irrelevant issues. We should take account of ourselves so that we do not face a situation of unpreparedness. On the Day of Judgment, we will witness many-a-times that there will be a group of people asking for another opportunity. Their pleas will not be answered since they will certainly repeat those things which they have been practicing earlier. No excuse will be considered after reappearance.
Few Demands of Reappearance
The period of reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will be the period of honesty and truth. We will discuss some of the demands of this era.
- Truthful Character
Today, we have a responsibility. We should be true to ourselves, our being and our soul and possess a pure character. One who is true to himself is contented and composed and is not in need of concealing his reality. He is fortunate for himself as well as others. People respect him because he does not boast about his honesty and truthfulness. He respects people and people respect him in turn.
- Religious Education
Islamic knowledge is necessary to accustom ourselves to divine laws. These divine laws and religious teachings are an invaluable gift from the holy Ahle Bait (a.s.). They have borne many difficulties to spread, publicize, protect and make it accessible to everyone. Many have laid down their lives for this cause. From the first martyr till date, many have continued to tread this path. To document the teachings of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) and pass it on to others is a great work done by religious institutions and none can say that these religious institutions and schools are restricted to teaching methods of ritual bath, ablution and other laws. Making such a statement is like ridiculing the divine laws. Religious teachings are not merely discussing social and political issues but a way of life which encompasses every aspect of life and is a celestial legacy. If we wish that the Imam of the time (a.t.f.s.) accepts us, we must be aware of religious teachings so that we can develop ourselves accordingly. It is not necessary that we become a scholar; however, we should be aware of the issues pertaining to our daily lives. We should be thoroughly aware of the rulings regarding prayers, fasting, alms, khums, impurities and mutual rights so that we can mold our lives as per Islamic teachings.
- Perfect Insight
One of the most important aspects while preparing for the reappearance is insight and recognition with true faith. If our belief at the time of reappearance is incorrect or not firm and has not been learnt and sourced thoroughly, there could be serious problems after reappearance because one who does not possess recognition of his Imam (a.s.) and Imamate will not understand its importance and jurisdictions. He will not accept it with the depth of his heart and possibly may even object to the rulings of Imam (a.t.f.s.). This group will include people who are in the army of Imam (a.s.), will be commanders in the army but do not adhere to the commands of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and will object to them. Such people will be sentenced to death as Imam’s decision is based on truth and is free from any kind of doubt, error and emotion. Hence, questioning the decision of Imam will be denying the truth and giving preference to our own intellects over that of Imam, which is clearly against the belief of Imamate.
Imam does not approve of killing anyone. In fact, he has arrived to give life to the people and to grace the earth with peace and justice. Hence, he whose faith is not firmly based on the Holy Quran and traditions and does not have complete recognition of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) will fail in the examination since after the reappearance, there will be instances where Imam (a.t.f.s.) will say that you were practicing false traditions and he (a.t.f.s.) will speak the truth.
If our belief is firm and we believe that Imam is the Proof of Allah, is infallible and his order is free from emotion, error and doubt and acting upon it is a blessing for us and a reason for our success, it will be very easy for us to submit to him. Our requests will have no standing in front of Imam’s order. The thought that Imam’s (a.t.f.s.) ruling is contrary to his ancestors should never occur to us. However, he whose faith on Imamate is not firm may object saying that a particular ruling is against traditions. These who bring such objections are unaware that the traditions they are referring to are crystal clear for Imam (a.s.). Boasting about our own knowledge before Imam proves that our faith on Imamate is weak.
Hence, today it is our responsibility that we take serious efforts to gain knowledge and participate in those gatherings and classes where knowledge is imparted in the light of the Holy Quran and traditions of the infallible Ahle Bait (a.s.).
Responsibilities as against Ease
The reappearance of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) generally evokes thoughts of ease, abundance and bounties. A time of no sorrow and bloodshed, no chaos and riots. There would be peace everywhere. Certainly, there will be ease which is unimaginable today. It would be a different world altogether.
These comforts though would be accompanied by responsibilities that will have to be strictly fulfilled. The regime of Imam will be on the entire world and it would be an Islamic regime that too established on the Islam of Ghadeer. All of it won’t be easy and there will be opposition from unauthorized regimes. They will prevent it from advancing. Everything will not be achieved through miracles. There will be wars that would require soldiers. The entire world will accept the religion of Islam. The entire world will not learn Islam overnight and will need teachers in huge numbers to teach them the laws of Islam.
Hence, as followers of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), it is our duty to accept this responsibility. This is not an ordinary responsibility. We cannot become scholars overnight and hence should start preparing from now. Women have equal responsibility as men in this arena. There will be a need for educated women to teach other women. Women will be required in the battlefield as well as in the field of education. There would certainly be a need of learned and faithful women. In fact the need of such learned men and women would be more than the soldiers. The responsibility of soldiers will be over after the war but the responsibility of spreading knowledge will be unending. Hence, it would be an important responsibility of the followers to work in that arena.
There will also be a need of Islamic intellectuals to run the government. To fulfill our responsibilities in these areas, we will have to start working from now. Hence, the period of reappearance will not just be a time of comfort but of responsibilities as well. It is time to prepare ourselves for the responsibilities of post reappearance era. Therefore, before time passes away, let us prepare to the best of our abilities.
It is important to pay attention to the fact in order to fulfill these responsibilities, only being experts in knowledge or having the right belief will not suffice; rather, we have to train ourselves to such an extent that we submit to every command of Imam (a.t.f.s.) just like Haroon Makki submitted to Imam Sadiq (a.s.).
Haroon al-Makki (r.a.)
This incident is very enlightening from the aspect of training our souls and complete submission to Imam (a.s.). Sahl bin Hasan Khorasani came to meet Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.). He greeted and spoke to Imam (a.s.) very politely that you are from the progeny of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and an Imam. People love you. Why don’t you rise for your right? There are 100000 Shias ready to assist you. Imam (a.s.) said: O Khorasani! Sit down. May Allah protect your right! Then Imam (a.s.) ordered his servant to ignite the furnace. When the furnace was lit, throwing up flames, Imam (a.s.) ordered Khorasani to jump in it. Khorasani said: O son of the Messenger of Allah! Do not chastise me with fire. Please forgive me. Imam (a.s.) said: I forgive you. At that moment Haroon Makki (r.a.) walked in. He was holding shoes in his hands. He greeted Imam (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) said: “Keep your shoes aside and jump in the furnace.” Haroon threw the shoes aside and jumped inside. In the meanwhile, Imam (a.s.) continued his conversation with Khorasani. Imam was calm but Khorasani was getting restless. Imam (a.s.) asked him to check the furnace. Khorasani reports that I saw Haroon Makki sitting comfortably. Imam ordered Haroon to come out. He came out and greeted the Imam. Then Imam (a.s.) asked Khorasani: How many people do you have in Khorasan like him? He replied: None. Imam (a.s.) said: By Allah! None! We will not rise till we have five such helpers and certainly we are aware of the correct time.
[Manaaqib Aal Abi Talib, vol. 3, pp. 362-363]
When the government of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will be established after reappearance, it will be an era of truth. Nothing except truth will be accepted. We do not intend to say that everyone becomes Haroon Makki and submits completely. It is not possible for everyone to attain the position of Haroon Makki but we can, at least try to follow his path. We have to prepare our souls for submission. Today, we find few people who disagree with the traditions. Sometimes, they say that a tradition is weak and at times, term it irrational. They are favoring their deficient intellects against Imam (a.s.). When they can’t accept a few traditions and challenge them, how will they accept the decisions of Imam (a.t.f.s.) after the reappearance and submit to his orders?
This submission is not on the basis of idol worshiping but with the belief that Imam is infallible. We consider him as Proof of Allah and consider his obedience obligatory. Imam Ali (a.s.) has introduced a few of his companions in the following manner
They have absolute faith in their leader and follow him.
[Nahj al-Balaagha, Sermon 182]
We all have a wish and regularly pray for an opportunity to meet our Imam (a.t.f.s.) at least once in our lifetime. If it is not possible during occultation, we may be fortunate after his reappearance. Today, we have neither seen him nor have we got an opportunity to hear his soothing voice. We can neither be present in his company nor converse with him. We shall be blessed with these bounties when he reappears. Oceans of tears have been shed just for a glance of Imam and to hear his voice. For thousands of years, this supplication has been recited during the night-vigil prayers. Hands are raised daily in Dua-e-Ahad for this longing. People have yearned for years just for a glimpse.
The question arises, is it easy to speak to the one who is the epicenter of characteristics of all the messengers and their successors, the fragrance of the garden of Prophethood and Imamate, Proof of Allah, the greatest Remnant of Allah, the door of proximity to Allah, the one through whom the messengers, their successors, proximate angels and the carriers of the Throne receive favors? We should know that it is not easy to meet Imam (a.t.f.s.). Those who were blessed to see him longed for more, their eyes cast down and were left in the state of unconsciousness. And it should be that way. When Prophet Moosa (a.s.) could not bear the luminescence of the Shias and fell unconscious, how can one face the radiance of the light of Imamate and Mastership?
This glance truly demands ability and capacity. Not everyone can witness it. There has to be some similarity between the two.
Our state today is such that we don’t interact with our brothers due to petty issues when there is not much of a difference in the levels of our faith, a minor difference has closed the doors of conversations. How can we then expect to meet Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)? If we really want to meet our Imam (a.t.f.s.) we will have to tread his path vis-à-vis morals, faith, actions, piety, worship, purification of soul, etc. We may not succeed in totality but at least we can try and walk in this direction and adapt ourselves to it.
We are unaware when our Imam (a.t.f.s.) will reappear and the announcement from the Holy Kaaba will be made that he (a.t.f.s.) has reappeared while we are not ready with belief, morals, etc. We pray to Allah with utmost sincerity that he adorns us with these traits and enriches us with those attributes required to meet Imam (a.s.). We seek refuge from that day that we go to meet him and he turns away his face from us. We should prepare ourselves such that he welcomes us in the manner Imam Husain (a.s.) welcomed Janabe Hurr (a.s.)
(This article is an excerpt from the article of Hazrat Hujjatul Islam wal Muslimeen Haaj Sayed Alauddin Moosavi, may Allah prolong his life, from Najaf al-Ashraf.)