All our beliefs are based on intellect and Shariah (divine laws). It is the decision of the intellect and the Shariah that for maintaining order in the universe and for its smooth functioning, there must exist a ‘perfect individual’, a ‘divine representative’, and a ‘proficient and dynamic mind’, whose existence precedes the existence of this universe. He should be the ruler and the leader of this universe. His existence should be superior and distinct from the existence of all other mortals. He must have precedence and supremacy over all other creatures. If this individual does not exist then the existence of the entire universe would be in jeopardy. All these are the pronouncements of the intellect. Whatever bounties this universe is receiving, be it knowledge or life or strength or benevolence, are solely due to the presence of this revered personality. An example will make this point clearer. The rays of the sun illuminate the entire world. It lightens the lands, houses, mountains, oceans etc. In fact the entire natural environment is lit up due to the sun. The rays of the sun are spread all over the place. Now some of the things are nearer to the sun while others are far. Yet whatever light is found on those distant objects is nothing but sunlight. Is it possible that the rays of the sun will illuminate those objects that are very far away while the near ones remain in darkness? Can one imagine that the sunlight will first fall on a point that is far from it, while those proximate to it will be engulfed in gloom? Certainly not. The intellect does not affirm this and every wise person will concur that this is impossible. They will also agree that if the sun lightens all things then obviously the objects nearer to it will light up first and only then will the distant objects become resplendent. It will brighten the nearby objects first and then gradually, the distant objects will be lit up in phases. Also, the objects that are closer to the center will be brighter than the objects farther away. The nearby objects will bear the characteristics of the illuminating source. They will be a collection of the attributes of the primary cause of light. The only difference is that the light emanating from the nearby objects is not their own but due to that central and pivotal source of light.
Similarly, the ‘sun’ which illuminates the world, that divine and heavenly radiance, it is the light of life, knowledge, supremacy, divinity and majesty. He is the fountainhead of all perfection and is the cause of light for all creatures. The essence of each of these creatures is illuminated with his presence. Whatever perfection is found in the creatures is a blessing of this ‘divine light’. When the divine light manifested itself then that ‘essence’ whose status is very lofty and exalted and whose station is very proximate to Allah was the first one to be lit up by that (divine) light. The light of divinity manifested with its entire splendor and brilliance in this essence. Had this ‘essence’ not been there, divine bounties would not have reached to the other creatures. Thus, the bounties that we receive are exclusively due to the existence of this entity.
Various levels of creatures
Due to his status, man is superior to animals, which in turn are superior to
plants, which are superior to stones. This difference in levels is not only because of their existence but it is because of the presence of those significant characteristics that are found in one group but are absent in another. Man is better than animals because he possesses intellect and understanding. Animals are better than plants because they possess an instinct.Plants are superior to stones because they possess the characteristics of growth and development. Thus the various groups of creatures are superior to each other because of the differing levels of perfection found in them. It is man who will benefit first from the bounties of Allah and is therefore at the highest degree of perfection compared to all other creatures
The highest creation is ‘Allah’s Proof’
Just as there are different levels of creatures – one group being superior to the other – in the same way there are grades among humans as well, depending on their degrees of perfection. On this basis, the first person to benefit from the grace and bounties of Allah will be the one who will be at the highest level of excellence – a truly perfect being. In other words, the divine attributes will be found in that individual who is superior and surpasses the rest in his perfection. It is this being who will become the center of divine light and the collection of divine characteristics. Everyone else will derive comfort and benefit from this entity. In traditions this individual has been referred to as the ‘Proof of Allah’ (Hujjatullah). It is not possible to accept that this degraded world is deriving benefits from the bounties of Allah while it is devoid of a supreme personality. The stable existence of the entire universe is the clearest proof of the presence of this revered being. It is only due to his existence that we see the prevalent order and harmony in the universe. This particular being who is not only the most exalted creation of Allah but also His most perfect creation, is referred to terminologically as ‘Mumkin-e-Ashraf’ (the noblest creature).
Today this pure and revered being is the holy existence of Hazrat Hujjat Ibne Hasan Askari (a.s.) due to whom the system of this universe subsists and survives. “The world subsists due to his survival.” “Due to his blessings, the creatures are sustained.” “On account of his existence, the heavens and the earth remain intact.”
(Dua-e-Adeelah, Mafaatihul Jinaan, p.58)
It is far fetched to accept that each and every creature of this universe is
deriving benefit from Allah’s grace while the ‘perfect being’, the ‘representative of Allah’ is deprived of it. This is because the bounties from the ‘fountainhead of (all) bounties’ are being transmitted solely due to this divine proof. Therefore, not only was the Hujjat of Allah present before the creation, but he is present along with the creation and will be present after the creation. Traditions reiterate this point: ‘The divine proof (al-hujjah) was before the creation, is with the creation and will remain after the creation.’
(Behaarul Anwaar; vol. 23 p. 38, tradition 66)
Whatever bounties this universe is witnessing and all future bounties, are purely due to the Hujjat of Allah. Had he not been there, the universe would have been deprived of Allah’s Benevolence. The following tradition of Imam (a.s) explains the above fact: ‘This world will disintegrate if even for a single day there is no Imam from our Ahle Bait (a.s.)’
(Behaarul Anwaar; vol. 23 p. 37, tradition 64)
Hence even if one single man is alive on the earth, it means that an Imam is present somewhere. In fact, the famous tradition clearly states, ‘If two people are alive on the face of the earth then one of them will be an Imam.’
Recognition of Favors and Gratitude
Human wisdom decrees that you should always remain thankful to the one who obliges you. This feeling of recognizing an obligation and being thankful to the one whose has done us a favor is not restricted to humans alone. Even animals follow this principle. If you place your hand affectionately on an animal, it looks at you with eyes filled with gratitude. In its own way, it will express its respect for you. If someone is not grateful to the one who has bestowed favors upon him, then he is worse than an animal. From our earlier discussion, it is clear that this universe and whatever is in it is indebted to Hazrat Hujjat Ibne Hasan Askari (a.t.f.s) for existence, sustenance and all kinds of perfection and bounties found in it. Imam (a.t.f.s.) is the means for the stability of the earth and skies. He is the axis that keeps the earth secure and poised. His existence serves as the decisive factor in the stability and permanence of this universe. In reality everything is due to him. Allah has ordered us to be appreciative to our parents because they are the medium for our coming into existence. For this momentous favor, he has commanded us to accord our highest respect to them, always do good to them and obey them at all times. Only then can one imagine our responsibilities towards our Imam (a.t.f.s), the extent to which we have to be thankful to him, obey him unconditionally and try to recompense him for all his favors with goodness. The Holy Quran says “And when your Lord made it known ‘If your are grateful then I will certainly give you more, and if you are ungrateful (then) My chastisement is very
(Surah Ibrahim, Verse 7)
If this life and the things related to it are bounties then the greatest bounty is
that venerable personality due to whom we receive these bounties. Now the question is ‘What is the best way of thanking our Imam?’ Had the people valued and treasured all our previous Imams (a.s), respected and honored them, not given preference to others over them, not obtained religion from others despite their presence, obeyed their orders and instructions, then most surely our present Imam would not have gone into concealment. His occultation is the result of our negligence and ingratitude towards him and his forefathers (a.s.).
Unfortunately, even today, we don’t remember the Imam of our era, as he ought to be remembered. The belief in his existence and issues related to it should flow through our lives and embrace our existence just as blood circulates through the body, or rather as the soul is attached to the body. The feelings and pleasures of worldly life are entirely due to the soul. Similarly, the contentment and gratification of religious life is only due to Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s). If we don’t possess this sentiment then indeed life becomes valueless. Come let all of us strengthen and intensify this desire in our daily lives. Let us enliven this feeling in a manne r that we prepare and develop the ground for the earliest reappearance of our Imam so that Allah’s mercy is inspired and the doors of acceptance of supplications opened. And finally the orders for his reappearance are promulgated immediately:
‘Surely they perceive it (reappearance) to be far away while We see it to be very near.’