The Last Luminary: Imam Mahdi (as)
The present turmoil and disturbances in the world have struck fear in the heart of man. The menacing threat of nuclear wars, the arms race and increasing insecurity have resulted in acute tension and stress. The alarming growth of destructive weapons is a threat to decimate humanity. The corrupt and unscrupulous leaders of the so-called liberal nations have deprived the populace of even their basic necessities.
The progressive deprivation of the weaker classes, the entreating voices of the hunger-stricken souls, the alarming rise of the diseased and the looming unemployment and poverty have robbed man of his peace and security.
The Moral Decadence of Humanity
The heedlessness in religious affairs, negligence in observing divine commands, increasing materialism, corruption, promiscuity have aggrieved the God-fearing and faithful. They hear the warning bells of destruction and focus all their efforts to salvage humanity.
Therefore, they throng with expectation at the slightest ray of hope. However, endeavours only culminate in despair. They are so disillusioned that they consider themselves incapable of reforming humanity. They are stripped of their confidence and are overwhelmed by the monumental task confronting them. Sometimes they are inflicted with such despair, that they vent their frustration on science and censure all technological advancement.
Man’s future – Shiite viewpoint
The Shias have purged their beliefs from the malady of hopelessness and despair. On the contrary, they firmly believe that man’s future is far from hopeless and that the righteous will eventually secure deliverance. But the people alone can bring about such a profound transformation. Man-made systems and religious movements are not capable of delivering mankind from decay. It is only Islam, a religion based on divine revelation, that can guarantee this elusive peace and tranquility. They subscribe to the creed that an infallible leader (Imam)- who has been delegated complete control of this universe by Allah, is sinless and free from all kinds of blemishes – will deliver them from their difficulties and problems. This creed has instilled hope in the Shias even in this age of absolute despair. That is why they dare to envisage a government based on monotheism, truth and equality. They cherish this thought which sustains them and reassures them. With this hope they arm themselves for a movement that will take the world by storm.
Awaiting for the Reappearance & the Reason for Backwardness
The antagonists however, criticize the Shias for their belief in the ‘Promised Mahdi’. According to them, one of the primary reasons of the regression of Shias is their faith in al-Mahdi. Such a belief renders the Shias inactive and lazy. It hinders them from social progress and inhibits efforts. It deprives them from practical endeavour. Therefore they meekly accept degradation and submit to the tyrants and leave the social reformation to the ‘Mahdi of Islam’ whose reappearance they await.
It is beyond the scope of this treatise to discuss the causes of backwardness of Muslims or Shias. Certainly Islamic beliefs are definitely not responsible for degeneration of the Muslims. This depravation is on account of certain other factors.
We can state with confidence that none of the divine religions have emphasised on human progress with the same intensity as Islam which has restrained its followers from corruption, transgression and injustice. It has enjoined them to take up cudgels against all evils. It has exhorted the Muslims to enjoin good and forbid evil and to collectively confront tyranny.
The Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran,
“And from among you there should be a party who invite towards good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and they it is that shall be successful.”
(Aale Imran : 103)
Allah attaches a lot of importance to these two traits and reiterates further,
“You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah.”
(Aale Imran : 109)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) considers enjoining good (Amr Bil Ma’roof) and forbidding evil (Nahi Anil Munkar) as the necessary duties of every Muslim. They are the distinctive qualities of a believer. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) admonishes,
“One who ignores the social affairs of the Muslims and their problems and does not consider them important is not a Muslim.”
(al-Kaafi, v. 2, p. 163, H. 1, “The Chapter of Striving for the affairs of the Muslims and to advise them and to work for their benefit.”)
The Holy Quran exhorts the Muslims to always be prepared to face the enemies,
“And prepare against them what force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy….”
(Anfaal : 60).
All these verses and traditions are exhorting the Muslims to endeavour and struggle in the way of Allah. Then how can one censure Islam for encouraging backwardness? How can one accuse Islam of being indifferent to progress and advancement, thereby advocating complacency? Islam has never counseled the Muslims to leave everything upon Hazrat Mahdi (a.t..f.s). It has never given credence to being mute spectators in the face of adversity. And that is why it is not sufficient to simply declare, ” May Allah hasten the reappearance of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.)”, and leave it at that !!
These words will have little meaning if they do not spur the Muslims into action.
Thus it can be said that awaiting for reappearance of Imam (a.s.), is the only way towards success. The community that is deprived of hope and lies in the quagmire of despair can never expect to secure deliverance. Those who are hopeful and aspire for success must make every effort in creating favourable conditions (on the earth) to achieve their aim. This alone will culminate in their triumph and fruition. INSHALLAH.