Era of Occultation – A Time of Ordeal and Examination
Introduction The present era, in which we are living, is known as ‘Ghaibat Kubra’ (major occultation). It is a period when there is no special representative of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) through whom we can contact him or correspond with him (a.t.f.s.). This era will continue till as long as Allah wishes and Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) does not reappear. When he (a.t.f.s.) does reappear, people will be blessed with the opportunity to meet him in person. They will get the good fortune of presenting themselves in his honourable presence. Thus, till Imam (a.t.f.s.) does not reappear and remains in occultation, we will be deprived of numerous priceless blessings. Among the most important characteristics of the major occultation is that it is the era of ordeal and tribulation.
1. Absence of (physical) contact:
In ‘Ghaibat Sughra’ (Minor Occultation) too, Imam (a.t.f.s.) was not known to the people. However, it was possible for the people to be in touch with him through the ‘special representatives’. People used to approach the ‘special representatives’ with their queries and problems, who in turn, would – with Imam’s (a.t.f.s.) permission – meet him (a.s.) and forward those queries. Imam (a.t.f.s.) would then give their replies. But in the year 329 AH, after the demise of the fourth special representative Janab Ali b. Muhammad Seymouri (r.a.), this arrangement came to an end and thus began the period of major occultation. During this occultation people cannot directly meet or
approach Imam (a.t.f.s.). The Imam (a.t.f.s.) of our time is not visible to us like the Imams (a.s.) of the previous era. But we are sure that he is alive. He lives on this very earth and moves among the people. But no one knows his residence that he may approach him. Thus the separation from the Imam of the time is the greatest calamity for the true believers
2. Tyrant Rulers:
One of the calamites of the present times is the absence of a fair, honest and impartial government based on true Islamic principles that enliven the human spirit and values. When we look around us, we find man-made, oppressive and tyrannical laws imposed upon the masses by corrupt and dishonest leaders who are at the helm of affairs. Thus we find that oppression is commonplace in all parts of the world. The more one tries to suppress these oppressions through force and tyranny, the more aggressively they raise their heads.
3. Trial and Examination:
This is the age of ordeals and tribulations. The biggest calamity of the time is that our Imam (a.t.f.s.) is concealed from our eyes while tyrants are ruling the world. The dark clouds of oppression are found everywhere. It is highly probable that a person may make a blunder and fall into the valley of deviation. Among the many perils of the present times, three of them are most dangerous.
(a) Materialistic inclinations: Without doubt materialism and materialistic desires are man’s undoing. Every individual is busy in fulfilling them and is not satisfied till he achieves his desire. But the problem is that before he achieves one particular worldly desire, another one takes shape and he aspires to fulfill this latest desire. In doing so, the individual does not distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate, permissible and prohibited means. The consequence of all this is that first, the person begins to take Islamic laws lightly. Then he overlooks the limits of the (Islamic) laws and finally he reaches a stage where he rebels against the Lawmaker (Allah). Thus the person goes completely out of the boundaries of religion.
(b) Mental Stress: In today’s era people in general and Muslims in particular are leading a stressful life. At every step there are so many difficulties and doubts that keeping one’s faith safe and secure has become an uphill task. A lot of sacrifices are required to protect one’s faith and belief.
(c) Objections: As the period of Imam-e-Zamana’s (a.t.f.s.) occultation is prolonged, the objections raised by the enemies of Islam and Ahlul Bait (a.s.) keep on increasing. Various new objections are being raised while old ones are being presented in a new form. In today’s busy life, no one has the time to refer to authentic Islamic books or learned scholars and give replies to these objections. The result is that an issue that was till yesterday ‘an objection’ has today taken the shape of ‘a doubt’. The belief in Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is affected. The Imam – believing in whose Imamate is the essence of one’s life and the strength of the religion – is set aside. As these problems grow, the intensity of the calamities (on the believers) too increases due to which remaining steadfast on the religion of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) is becoming difficult with each passing day. In traditions, this period of occultation is referred to as the era of trials and examinations. This is a stage when the steps of an individual can falter if he does not continuously seek help from Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.). If we don’t seek refuge in them, then in today’s ever increasing stressful lives and social pressures, a small lapse or error will lead to the destruction in the Hereafter.
Traditions have described this period in various ways. Their scrutiny will give a clear picture about the ordeals of this era. We have the good fortune of enumerating a few of the trials and tribulations mentioned in traditions. Along with Shia traditions we have also mentioned the traditions mentioned by the Ahle Sunnat.
1. The earth will be filled with oppression and tyranny:
Both Shias and Sunnis have mentioned numerous traditions in this regard. ‘He (Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)) shall fill the earth with justice and equity just as it was filled with oppression and tyranny before him’. Oppression does not only mean that an individual is wrongly hitting or hurting another individual. Or he slaps an orphan. ‘Oppression’ has vast and extensive implications. ‘To deviate from the path of justice and equity’ is one meaning of oppression while ‘to stray away from the straight path (Seerat Al Mustaqeem)’ is another connotation of oppression. Thus polytheism is a kind of oppression as opposed to Tauheed (Belief in One God), just as Kufr (denial) is a kind of tyranny as opposed to Nabuwat (Prophethood) and hypocrisy is a form of oppression as opposed to Imamat. Hence, all those people who are the opponents of Tauheed, Nabuwat, and Imamat etc are all implicated in (committing) one form of oppression or another. And the distressing part is that the majority of the people are deviated from the ‘straight path’ and the world is full of oppression. This of course is a matter of belief and faith. As far as physical forms of oppressions and injustices are concerned, then each one of us has experienced them and there is no need to elaborate. Thus, every sphere of life – belief, actions, individual, social, political and economical, is replete with inequities and injustices.
When Hazrat Wali-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.) reappears, this earth will be purified from all forms of oppression; justice and equity shall reign supreme in every corner of the world. Injustice and tyranny shall be completely wiped out from the face of the earth. Inshallah.
2. Corruption shall be widespread:
Hazrat Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) forecasted, ‘The reappearance of the Qaim (a.t.f.s.) shall not come to pass until such a time that the dark shadow of fear looms large over the people. People shall be engulfed in all forms of corruption and calamities and earthquakes shall be frequent.’
(Al-Ghaibat of Nomani, pg. 235)
In another tradition, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) predicted, ‘In those times, corruption shall be widespread and terrible conditions of misguidance shall prevail.’
(Ibid. pg 153)
Similar traditions can be found in the books of the Ahle Sunnat. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has mentioned, ‘Times will come closer and work will reduce. People will become self-centered and selfish; malice will be commonplace while corruption and conflicts will raise their heads.’
(Sahih-e-Bukhari, vol. 9, pg. 161)
In another place he (s.a.w.a.) mentions, ‘I foresee that corruption has made a place in your homes, just as I see rain falling on your houses.’
(Sahih-e-Muslim, vol. 8, pg. 168)
In the Arabic language, the word “Fitna” is used in different meanings.
(a) Trial & Examination:
The Holy Quran mentions ‘Do men think that that shall be left alone on saying “We believe” and they shall not be tried’
(Surah Ankabut (29): 2)
Under this verse, Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.) explains ‘They shall be tested like gold’. Then he (a.s.) continues and says ‘They shall be purified in the same way that gold is purified’
(Al-Ghaibat of Nomani, pg. 202)
Gold is purified by being heated and treated in fire. Similarly, one of the meanings of the word ‘fitna’ is in these times (of major occultation) is that ‘you shall be examined and shall be tested in the furnace of tribulations so that you become pure and chaste.’
(b) Deviation & Sins: ‘Faatin’ is that individual who has deviated from the right path and has gone astray. Thus one of the names of Satan is ‘Faatin’. This word is used in a similar sense in the Holy Quran too. In Surah Bani Israel, Allah says
‘These people the polytheist Are trying to deviate you from the path that We revealed upon you.’
(Surah Bani Israel (17): 73)
Hence if the word ‘Fitna’ is interpreted in this sense, then the traditions that speak about it would mean that in the last era, such kinds of talk shall be prevalent due to which people will deviate from the true and correct path
(c) Killing and bloodshed : Allah the Almighty says ‘If you fear that those who have become polytheist shall kill you ‘
(Surah Nisa (4): 101)
The present scenario of the world bears testimony to this fact that all around, terror has been unleashed and everywhere there is violence, killings and bloodshed. Thus, if we look closely, then all the meanings of ‘fitna’ ( dir=LTR>) are relevant in these daunting times. In the last era, not only are people getting deviated from the true religion, and are frustrated with it, but even safety and security have vanished for the practitioners of true religion. Killing and looting has become widespread. Thus remaining steadfast on the true religion is a severe test in this era.
3. Difficulties and Calamities:
In traditions, calamites and difficulties have been mentioned as one of the features of this period. People will be engulfed in such severe and acute calamities that they will wish for death. In a lengthy tradition, Imam Baqir (a.s.) says, ‘Hazrat Qaim (a.t.f.s.) will appear among the people at a time when they will be living in fear. Earthquakes will be common and people will be surrounded by corruption and difficulties. Plague will spread; there will be a terrible war amongst the Arabs and grave differences of opinions among the people. Religion will be scattered while circumstances would keep on changing continuously. These calamites will be so severe that every morning and evening an individual would pray for death. All this will be due to the troubles every person will receive from his fellow being. People will eat each other.’
(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 52, pg. 231)
A person desires death only when he is surrounded by calamities and the whole society is a victim of deviation. Today, the world finds itself surrounded by calamities mainly due to the actions of a few defiant, oppressive, cruel, merciless, self-centered, proud, devilish, human-faced but animal-natured individuals. These oppressions are being perpetrated upon the world under different pretexts while every day new kinds of weapons of destructions are being unleashed. Every day, violence erupts in a new form and the day is not far when the whole world becomes a heap of
gunpowder. What is surprising is that those who possess a huge arsenal of armaments and are capable of wreaking maximum havoc upon mankind and whose substantial portion of trade revenue comes from the sale of arms and defence equipments, are the same nations who are today blowing the trumpet of being the ‘guardians of mankind’!!! On one side they supply arms and ammunitions to the terrorists in order to further their business interests and on the other side, they are waging a war against terrorism!!!
In such turbulent times, the only thing that gives solace to man is the belief in the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.). This belief grants an inner strength to an individual, enabling him to confront all kinds of trials and difficulties
4. Confusion and rebellion:
Hazrat Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) narrates ‘For them is confusion and occultation in which some people will be deviated, while some will be guided.’
(Kamaaluddin, pg. 289).
Due to the occultation of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) people shall be in a state of confusion and rebellion.
(a) Confusion in beliefs: Innocent people and those who are not well versed in the teachings of Islam will be confused by the various doubts and objections being raised in society.
(b) Confusion in replies: When objections are raised, people will not be able to find a genuine and dependable place from where they can elicit convincing replies to the objections with which they are confronted.
(c) Confusion concerning Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.): Due to his (a.t.f.s.) prolonged occultation, people shall be in perplexity. They will demand – Where is Imam (a.t.f.s.) How is he Why is he not reappearing Why does he not change the present circumstances
(d) Confusion concerning the leader: There will not be a single leader whose authority will be unanimously accepted. Today, the large number of leaders has created more confusion in the minds of the people.
5. Sharp differences:
In a tradition, Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) asserted, ‘I give you glad tidings of the Mahdi who will appear from my progeny at a time when there will be severe differences among the people and they shall be victims of earthquakes. He (a.t.f.s.) will fill the earth with justice and equity.’
(Al-Ghaibat of Shaikh Toosi (a.r.), pg. 111)
In one tradition, Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.), while mentioning the characteristics of this era says, ‘There will be grave differences among the people while religion will be scattered. There will be widespread chaos.’
(Al-Ghaibat of Nomani, pg 235)
In another tradition, Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) says, ‘Soon corruption, differences and factions shall become evident (among people)
(Sunan of Ibne-Maajah, pg. 2, tradition 1,310)
He also said ‘The thing that I fear most for my nation is those leaders who shall lead them astray.’
(Sunan of Ibne-Maajah, 2 / 1304)
Differences in opinions and beliefs are the evident face of oppression and deviation. It is a bitter reality that confronts each one of us in every sphere of life – religious, political, social, economics, etc. These differences have gripped us so firmly that everywhere there is unrest and people are clashing with each other. Killing and bloodshed has become commonplace and routine. In every era, there have been certain people who invite others towards falsehood. Right from the demise of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) till date, this has been the case. Even today, you find people who are oblivious of the Hereafter and are busy inviting others towards the false religions of Qadianism and Bahaism. Then we witness individuals who, on the basis of their deviant views and opinions, have fractured the religion into numerous small sects and have weakened the nation. They have drawn the people away from those matters that are important and vital for their progress. On the one hand, false religions are way ahead on the path of progress, while we are the still grappling with personal differences and disputes.
6. Differences concerning Hazrat Wali-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.):
While narrating the similarity of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) with the past prophets (a.s.), Imam Baqir (a.s.) says, ‘In “differences concerning him”, he is like Prophet Isa (a.s.). Some people might say that he is yet to be born while some others might say that he was already born but he died later while some others may say that he was killed.
(Kamaluddin, pg. 327)
Imam Jafer Sadiq (a.s.) declared, ‘By Allah! Your Imam shall remain hidden from you for a long time. You will be tried and examined in those times. To such an extent that some people shall say that “He has died or he has gone in some cave. While the believers will be shedding tears for him.’
(Kamaluddin, pg. 347)
All sects of Islam are unanimous in their belief of Mahdaviyat. All Muslims believe that in the last era, a person shall appear from the progeny of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), whose title shall be Mahdi and whose name shall be the same as the name of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). He shall fill the earth with justice and equity just as it was filled with injustice and oppression before him. But the differences arise concerning his lineage etc. Whether he is from the progeny of Janabe Fatima (s.a) or from some other progeny Whether he is from the progeny of Imam Hasan (a.s.) or Imam Husain (a.s.) Is he born or will be born in the future If he is already born, then is he still alive Or is he dead If he is alive then where is he When shall he come These differences arose among the Muslims because they did not act upon the commands of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). In a very authentic and reliable tradition, Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) exhorted: ‘I leave behind you two precious things. One is the book of Allah – the Quran, and the other is my Ahle Bait (a.s.). If you fasten unto both of them, you shall never go astray. They shall never separate from each other till they meet me at the Pond (Hauz-e-Kausar)’
Since the majority of the people did not attach themselves to the Ahle Bait (a.s.) and did not draw from their teachings, they are victims of acute differences among themselves. And as long as this world turns its back on the Ahle Bait (a.s.), they will continue to meet the same fate.
7. Misguided Rulers:
When Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was asked about the reappearance of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.), he (s.a.w.a.) replied ‘Allah has revealed to me that the reappearance (of Imam Mahdi) will take place at a time when knowledge shall diminish and ignorance will become widespread Rulers shall be unbelievers while the reigns of the government shall be in the hands of sinners. Their friends and helpers will be oppressors. Their scholars shall be corrupt and immoral.’
(Kamaluddin, pg. 251)
Hazrat Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) says,
‘Beware! The rulers will be unbelievers and atheists and distance themselves from the honest people. Rulers and judges will expect bribes in order to pass (favourable) judgments and will always crave for more (bribes)’
(Muntakhab al-Asar, pg. 429)
In Sahih-e-Muslim, a tradition from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has been narrated in which he (s.a.w.a.) says, ‘After me such rulers shall come who will not follow in my footsteps. They shall not follow my practices (Sunnah). Such people shall be born among them whose heart will be of the devil while their bodies will be of humans’
(Sahih-e-Muslim, vol. 6, pg. 20)
From the above traditions a few important points become evident:
(a)These rulers will be from Muslim lineage and progeny
(b) The misguided teachings and training of their families and of the society is the cause of their deviation. When such rulers, who are the products of the corrupt society, sit in authority, then nothing but oppression and corruption can be expected from them. This deviation (from the true religion) had started right after the demise of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). It was due to this initial deviation that the Bani Umayyah and the Bani Abbas became rulers. The Islam that emphasized on fearing Allah (piety), self-restrain, faith and good actions and invited people towards these noble traits was ignored. The followers excused their rulers from pursuing these righteous qualities. Thus, fearing Allah, self-restrain, faith and honesty were abandoned not only as primary criteria, but also as secondary qualifications for being appointed as a ruler. Its evident examples are found all around us. Hence, injustice and oppression shall continue to increase in the society till such rulers are at the helm.
8. Test and ordeal:
Hazrat Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) narrates, ‘That time (of reappearance) shall not come to pass but after you have become despondent and hopeless. No, I swear by Allah, till you are separated from each other. No I swear by Allah, till you are severely tested. No I swear by Allah, till the time that the unfortunate ones become unfortunate while the fortunate ones become fortunate’
(Kamaluddin, pg. 346)
In another tradition he (a.s.) says, ‘What will be your condition at that time when you shall be without an Imam or guide and you will be disgusted with each other. At that time you shall be severely examined and you shall be differentiated and sieved.’
(Kamaluddin, pg. 348)
The great Ahle Sunnah traditionalist Ibne Maajah, in his Sunan narrates a tradition from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) wherein he (s.a.w.a.) says ‘How (difficult) will be the times that shall soon descend upon you! People shall be severely tested. At the end, low and degraded people will remain, who will break their pledge. They shall fight and oppose each other and this is surely going to occur’.
(Sunan-e-Ibn-e-Maajah, vol. 2, pg. 1,307)
In one tradition Ameerul Momeneen Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) has enumerated the trials and tribulations of the last times. If we ponder over these traditions then it seems that the Imams (a.s.) are narrating the present scenario as if it was occurring right before their eyes! He (a.s.) says, ‘I swear by Allah in whose hand is my life! Things will not turn out as you wish till the time that you spit on each others faces or call each other liars. Thus only a few from among my Shias shall remain (steadfast) like the kohl in the eyes or the salt in the food. I will explain this to you with an example. Suppose a man has a large quantity of wheat. He cleans it and keeps it in a room and it remains there for a period of time. Later when he sees the wheat he finds that there are pests in it. He removes that wheat from the room, cleans it and puts it back once again in that room. He repeats this after every few days. Finally he is left with only a small quantity of wheat free from pests. The same shall happen to you. You shall be separated and distinguished from each other. Only those among you shall remain who shall not be affected by any kind of corruption or tribulation.’
(Al-Ghaibat of Nomani, pg. 209 – 210)
These traditions give us an idea about the conditions of the last era and how severe will be the difficulties befalling a believer. These tribulations shall act as a litmus test for recognising a true believer. A majority of the believers shall succumb to these ordeals and get deviated while only a small number shall remain steadfast. The words ‘people shall falsify each other and spit on each other’s faces’ can mean that when a person becomes selfish and egocentric and cannot escape from the clutches of these vices, then he does not tolerate any kind of attack on his ego and opinions. This greatly pampered ego becomes so sensitive that the person is unwilling to accept any kind of opposition to his views as he always considers himself to be correct. Thus, he considers any form of resistance (of his views) as his denial and an attack on his personality and is always ready to retaliate. He considers the noble traits of patience, forbearance and restraint as a sign of helplessness and cowardice. Thus whoever confronts him with any (other) opinion he falsifies it and rejects it, outright. ‘Spitting on the face’ can be taken in its literal meaning or it could also be interpreted as ‘giving vent to one’s fury’. To express the hatred that every individual has for his fellow being and to criticise someone for hours together for a small mistake can also be inferred from the phrase ‘spitting on the face’ It is obvious that in such circumstances, to control one’s self, to remain steadfast on religion and to follow the teachings of Ahle Bait (a.s.) requires a lot of patience. To keep the hearts free from the satanic whisperings and then to love those people in the heart, to pray for them and seek forgiveness for them is a Herculean task. It is like holding a smoldering piece of coal in the palm or like thrusting the hand in a thorny branch. Why will a believer have to undergo such severe examinations It is because the ‘Universal Government’ that will be established by Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) – a government that will be unlike any government the world has ever seen, right from its inception – such a unique and matchless universal regime shall require equally steadfast and dependable helpers. This is because all these affairs are not going to be established through a miracle, but through the righteous actions of the pure and steadfast helpers. Thus these rigorous ordeals and examinations are essential in order to have formidable and unwavering aides. The Holy Quran too has spoken about trials and examinations in various verses.
‘Allah shall not leave the believers in their present condition. Until He separates the evil from the good…’ (Surah Aale Imran (3): 179)
In the same Surah, Allah the Almighty, says ‘And that He may cleanse those who believe and deprive the unbelievers of (His) blessings. Do you think that you shall enter paradise until Allah does not know those who strive from among you and He knows those who are patient
(Surah Ale Imran (3): 141 – 142)
One thing that should be borne in mind is that Allah examines the believers not because He is unaware of their piety and degree of belief. Rather, these ordeals serve the purpose of awakening the latent capacities of an individual. The pure are filtered from the impure. We become stronger by burning in the intense heat of the gruelling and challenging circumstances. Otherwise, everyone’s condition is evident for Allah. Our responsibilities
Through the above mentioned traditions, our Imams (a.s.) have given us a graphic explanation and a complete picture about the conditions of the last era. But does our responsibility end only by knowing these traditions No. Rather, it increases manifold. Some of these responsibilities include:
This is because the present condition of the society is a result of our own actions. As the Holy Quran mentions ‘Corruption has spread on the land and the oceans because of the hands of men have earned’.
(i) Also Allah the High mentions in the Holy Quran, ‘Surely Allah does not change (the conditions of) a nation until they themselves change (their own conditions)’
(Surah Raad (13): 11)
(ii) Therefore, if the current state of affairs is a result of our moral decay and sinful actions, then the improvement of the society can only materialise if every individual pays attention to his own self and takes steps to perfect his moral character.
(b) To turn towards Imam (a.s.):
When a person suffers from any kind of physical ailment, then he visits a doctor for its rectification. Similarly, if we find that our religion, actions and morals have become flawed and defective, then it is essential that we turn towards Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) and present ourselves before his sacred presence. Because Allah has appointed him (a.s.) for the purpose of the spiritual cleansing and upliftment of the people. Naturally, we ourselves will have to go to the doctor, present our case to him, listen carefully to his advice and act upon it and not give in to our personal opinions and inclinations. Similarly, if we our desirous to improve ourselves, actions and character, then we should focus and turn towards Imam-e-Zamana a.t.f.s.) and present ourselves in his (a.s.) holy presence. We should weep and plead before him and with utmost sincerity and request him for the rectification of our selves. Allah has granted him (a.t.f.s.) such immense powers that a single “spiritual glance” from his side upon the servant is enough to cause a transformation in the individual. Just as Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) turned the hearts of the polytheist towards Islam and persuaded them to lead a positive
and beneficial (Islamic) life. Or how Imam Husain (a.s.) brought about a change in Janabe Zohair (r.a.) and Janabe Hurr (r.a.). Certainly, Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) is in occultation but he is not oblivious of us. He is conscious and is a witness to each and every action that we perform. In one ‘tauqee’ he (a.s.) says ‘Now we are residing far from the dwellings of the oppressors, since Allah considers this best for us as well as our Shias till the time the tyrants rule the world.
‘However, our knowledge encompasses all the news concerning you and nothing about you is concealed from us’ If this is the case, then we should take ourselves in his sacred presence and beg for our rectification and improvement. For this, we don’t have to go anywhere. What is required is that from the bottom of our hearts, we should repent for our sins and attach ourselves to him (a.t.f.s.) and call upon him (a.t.f.s.). And to make our prayers more effective, we should mention the calamities that befell upon Imam Husain (a.s.) and ask Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) to fulfill our wishes for the sake of Imam Husain (a.s.). Neither our actions are of any value nor is our character such that we can present ourselves before Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) without a strong mediation and hope to receive his blessings. The grief of Imam Husain (a.s.) is the best means for the fulfillment of our wishes. As Imam Mahdi (a.s.) says ‘I pray for the believer who cries on the calamities that befell my grandfather Imam Husain (a.s.) and prays for my reappearance.’
(Mikyalul Makaarim, vol. 2, pg. 36)
It is one of the crucial responsibilities in these difficult and testing times. Here patience has a few aspects. But before elaborating on those facets it is necessary to first understand that patience does not mean that a person remains a passive spectator to all that is happening around him. Rather, ‘patience’ implies ‘steadfastness’ and ‘resoluteness’. As the Holy Quran says,
‘One hundred patient individuals are equal to two hundred individuals (who lack patience).’ It means that patience is that attribute that amplifies the might of an individual and increases it manifold.
(i) Patience on oppression:
Today, oppression is common and is as its peak. Rulers are inventing newer means for tormenting the people. In such testing times, glad tidings are for those believers who adopt patience and protect their religion. Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) narrates, ‘Don’t you know that the one who is awaiting our affair (rule) and in the process is patient upon the difficulties and fear, then on the Day of Judgment, he shall be in our group
(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 52, pg. 256, tradition 147)
(ii) Patience on calamities:
When the guardian of the house is away then all kinds of problems descend upon it. This is because the enemies come out of their hiding places. In this period of occultation, Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) is not apparently present among the people. Hence, they are engulfed in various kinds of problems. Abu Saleh Kanani once met Imam Sadiq (a.s.) and said, ‘O Abu Abdillah! I complain to you of the anguish caused to me by my children and brothers. (These are words of Abu Saleh, yet today everyone has a similar complain). Imam Sadiq (a.s.) replied, ‘O Aba Saleh! Surely truth has a government and falsehood too has its government. In both these reigns, people of the opposite group are humiliated. The least of the troubles that a believer shall receive in the reign of the false government is oppression from his children and humiliation from his brothers. If a believer gets any comfort during the dishonest government then in return he will certainly face some kind of difficulty or calamity. Either in matters relating to his body or children or wealth. Till such time that Allah does not purify him from all the filth that has accumulated on him due those worldly comforts. So that when the true government is established he should get his complete reward. So be patient and remain contented.’
(Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, pg. 447, tradition 12)
This tradition gives us an idea that in the days of major occultation, troubles and difficulties will not be only from the polytheists and oppressors i.e from outsiders, but even from our near and dear ones. We have mentioned earlier that to remain steadfast on the true religion, act upon the teachings of Ahle Bait (a.s.), to perform our religious obligations for the sake of Allah, not to act against the tenets of the religion inspite of the accusations and criticism of the people, is the highest level of patience. In these circumstances, the best example for us is Hazrat Hujjat b. Hasan Askari (a.t.f.s.). His right (of caliphate) was usurped, he had to go into occultation, the objections raised against him, the oppressions that engulfed his Shias, living far away from the people, living a prolonged life in occultation – these are calamities and difficulties which he (a.t.f.s.) has been enduring for over 1,000 years. These tribulations are beyond human understanding and perception.
We should sincerely beseech and beg in front of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) by the means of Imam Husain (a.s.) that he grant us the twin noble traits of being patient and steadfast on religion. Undoubtedly, this is the only door that can grant us security from the destruction of the present era.
O Allah! Hasten the reappearance of our master Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.).