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Where is the Enlivener of the Signs of Religion and Its People?

The above phrase and sentences similar to it form a part of the prayer of Dua-e-Nudbah which we generally recite on Friday mornings. They illuminate our hearts with the remembrance of Imam (a.s.). The sentence itself is very beautiful and meaningful though it is a request. It poses the question ‘Where is he?’ in the impatience of one who is awaiting (intezaar). The recitor is restive, is concerned and weeping on the separation from the Imam (a.s.).

These beautiful sentences of supplication make the teachings of religion alive again. The phrases of dua reflect the concern of days passing without the realization of the Promise and this makes the recitor gloomy.

It is impossible to articulate the sentence in its entirety; rather we attempt a short summary for the readers.

It is a fact that the Almighty God has revealed the Holy Qur’an and sent His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as a guide and salvation for mankind. The mantle of guidance was passed on to the pure Progeny (a.s.) after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Attachment to their holy persona was a guarantee of salvation against all deviation and corruption.

But the Ummah’ not only erred in protecting the religion but blatantly changed and altered it for their selfish material means and ends.

So, on one hand, there was Ali Ibne Abi Taalib (a.s.) who arranged the Holy Qur’an according to the will of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and did not leave his house till he had completed the tabulation of the Majestic Qur’an according to the teachings and testament of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

Then, he (a.s.) presented the completed work before the government of the time, which, due to its expediency, did not consider the Holy Qur’an tabulated and categorized by the ‘Door of the City of Knowledge’.

On the other hand, the fountainhead of religious teachings and Divine recognitions were the sayings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had explained the Islamic Laws through his words and deeds during the entire span of 23 years of his Prophethood.  Again due to its expediencies, the government of the time placed a ban on the narration of these traditions. Therefore, the traditions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) remained confined to the memories of the individual companions, which in due course were entombed in those hearts forever.

Correspondingly, the Ahle Bait (a.s.), who were the protectors and the teachers of the religion, were placed under perpetual house arrest. The people whom Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had gifted all the sciences of religion and Divine recognition and made them the center of all teachings, were effectively sidelined. Varied restrictions were imposed upon them.

However, in times of difficulty when they had no solution, they consulted the Ahle Bait (a.s.) out of sheer necessity.

Please consider the following:

The problems in human existence are never limited. Man faces newer challenges every day. Similarly, the teachings of Islam are not limited to some laws but cover the entire gamut of life. There is no facet of life wherein Islam law is not present.

As there were restrictions imposed upon the centers of Islamic knowledge and learning, people started acting upon their likes and dislikes in the matters of daily consideration. People started using their limited knowledge for clarifying the Holy Qur’an.

It is pertinent to note that most of these individuals had spent the bulk of their lives in disbelief and polytheism. They had spent a long time in ignorant beliefs and rituals and these had become a part of their lifestyle. When man becomes habitual to something, he does not pay attention to its immorality. So, it was impossible for them not to be affected by these old practices.

Since these people were extremely pious in the eyes of the people and were adorned with the title of ‘companionship’, the populace accepted all of their words as religion. The resultant effect was the incorporation of mortal views and ideas in the elucidation and explanation of religion. This change was a gradual process and hence nobody realized it. A time came when these things were accepted as part of religion.

So, the answer to the question, ‘Does the teachings of the religion of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) require a revival?’ is abundantly obvious.

Now, is there anyone who can give it a fresh lease of life? It is apparent, that every person searches the answer to the question ‘Why has the original effect of this pure faith diminished?’ Allama Iqbal has in his poetry lamented this sad state of affairs… why is this happening?

The answer is thus. The effect was in the Islam brought by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) voiced by his infallible speech and presented to the people devoid of any change. The purity in Islam presented it tremendous effect.

The religion that we practice today, maybe in part Divine and in part the exegesis of human thought. If the religion was the same pure Islam brought by Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), then there would never be such variance in ideology. These very differences indicate the lack of purity and the prevalence of amalgamation. For, the proof of the Divinity of Qur’an:

‘Do they not then meditate on the Qur’an? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy.’

(Surah Nisaa (4): Verse 82)

It is an undisputable fact that there has been adulteration in religion, but where and to what extent is still not identified. A parameter or test is required for judging what is untainted and what is mixed.

The Almighty has, in every era, kept an Infallible Imam (a.s.) as a check for what is true and what is false. The governments kept them under constant imprisonment or under guard so that they were beyond the reach of the commonality.

When Allah grants permission for the reappearance of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), this standard for truth and falsehood will become clear. He is infallible and possesses the true revealed religion as expounded by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

He is the inheritor of the Glorious Qur’an. When he reappears and presents Islam, the people will exclaim, ‘This is a new Islam, a different religion.’ The reason for it is that people would be habituated to the religion adulterated with human thoughts. The faith explained by Imam (a.t.f.s.) will appear different in concurrence. Islam will not be new; rather, it would be cleansed of all additives.

Deviation in Views

One of the problems faced by Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.) is the ideological deviation of the people. It is very difficult for a person to forgo an idea that he has instilled, nurtured and has fought for its establishment and survival. This conundrum will not be faced by the polytheists, who will adopt the alluring ideals of Islam with promptness. They cannot support their corrupt thoughts through Qur’an and traditions.

Nay, these will be Muslim scholars who have nurtured such ideas in their minds, struggled for their establishment, invited people towards them and argued in their favour with Qur’an and traditions. These very scholars will provide tremendous opposition to Imam (a.t.f.s.).

Such people are of three types.

1)   The materialistic scholars

2)   The wealthy

3)   The aristocrats of pseudo-Islamic governments.

These are the very people whose deviant ideals and notions would hold no value after the reappearance.

Imam Sadeq (a.s.) has elucidated this fact thus:

“When our Qaem (a.t.f.s.) appears, he will receive more tribulations from the ignorant people and more severe than what the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had received from the ignorant people of paganism.”

I said: “How is that?”

He said:

“The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) came to people while they worshiped sculptured stone and wood whereas when al-Qaem (a.t.f.s.) comes to people, they will protest against him by interpreting the Book of Allah according to their fancies.”

(Al-Ghaybah of Al-Numani Pg. 297)

It is apparent that the entire argument will ensue due to the incomplete and misconstrued knowledge of the people. To submit in front of the Imam (a.t.f.s.) is to surrender all their created personality and imagined position before him. It is never easy to give up worldly wealth and power.

But, that era would be totally different. The people of that time would not have permission of dissension and discord and the people declining to leave their corrupt notions would have to face strict punishment.

An important supplication which sheds light on the above mentioned topics is the salawat of Abul Hasan Zarraab Isfahani. This salawat had been taught to him by Imam Asr (a.t.f.s.) himself in Makkah. Sayyed Ibne Taoos (a.r.) comments about the Salawat: ‘Even if one were unable to perform the remaining exhortations after the Asr prayers on Friday, one should not abandon recitation of this salawat, for Allah has made us aware of its wondrous importance’. This salawat is extremely important with regards to concepts. Some of the wordings of the salawat are thus:

O Allah! Put back, through him in original form, that which has been uprooted from Thy religion, put in order again through him the confusion created in Thy Book. Make clear, through him, the distortions made in Thy commandments. So that Thy religion regains its true spirit, on his hands, blooming and full of tenderness, progressive, up to date, liberated, saviour, without doubts and uncertainties, without suspicions and obscurities, there being no falsehood lingering around him, nor any subversive activities in his presence.

Envisioning the changing face of true religion, the Holy Imams (a.s.), much before the Occultation of Imam Wali Asr (a.t.f.s.) (Who is the enlivener of the signs of religion) taught us supplications for recitation. They exhorted the recitation of supplications and have gifted numerous entreaties.

An important prayer in this respect is the supplication taught by Imam Reza (a.s.) to his companion Yunus Ibn Abd al-Rahman. This supplication has been noted in the a’mal of Friday. It has also found mention in the rituals of the Cellar (Sardaab). Shaikh Abbas Qummi (a.r.) has referred to it in the chapter of the Ziyarat of Imam Asr (a.t.f.s.). It is a supplication for the safety of Imam (a.t.f.s.). It carries great meaning in its phrases, is a cause for the benevolence of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and has great effect.

The part of the prayer concerning our topic is thus:

(O Allah)! Honour the believers through him. Enliven the traditions of the Prophets through him. Give the laws of the Messengers, a new lease of life until the religion has (itself) returned to life. (A religion) which is new, fresh, pure, absolutely correct devoid of mistake or innovation.

Reflection upon the phrases makes it clear that religion in its present form is not uncontaminated and pure. Intentionally or unintentionally, influences which are not part of religion have been introduced into it.

Also, the real standard for truth and falsehood is veiled from our vision. General contact with him is unachievable. Hence, differentiation between pure and adulterated has become very difficult. Yes, when he reappears on Allah’s command, presents true Islam and explains the exegesis of the Majestic Qur’an, we can then judge what type of faith we had possessed.

The fortunate of that time would leave the ideologies, abandon their old traditions and submit to him completely. We should always pray for achieving such submission. Otherwise, the example of the Jews is evident for us who waited for the coming of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) but turned into his bitter opponents after his appointment and that opposition continues till the present day.

Completion (Perfection) of Intellects

After his reappearance, not only will Islam shine in its pristine glory but the intellects will also be perfected due to Allah’s munificence.

It has been reported from Imam Muhammad Baqer (a.s.):

When our Qaem (a.t.f.s.) appears, he will place his hand upon the heads of people, then the intellects would unify due to it and their wisdoms would be perfected.

When the intellects are perfected, the reality of the world would be clear and evident for them. The completion of wisdom is the perfection of morals. The purified souls will accept readily when the religion of Islam would be presented in its perfect form. The pure and chaste Islam will spread universally.

People of that time will accept Islam voluntarily and not due to force (due to their unambiguous recognition of Divine religion).

Appearance of Imam (a.t.f.s.) will herald the implementation of the teachings of Islam. Prayers will gain a new flavour; supplications to Allah will be with His true recognition and without the shadow of polytheism.

May Allah (High and Mighty Be He) hasten the reappearance of my master Hujjat Ibn al-Hasan al-Askari (a.t.f.s.) and include us from among his supporters and companions and make us understand the reality of religion.