Does Imam Mahdi, the Imam of Time (a.s.), know when he is going to reappear?

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Awaiting the reappearance [intizar al-faraj] is one of the basic fundamentals of Islam, especially Shiite. Awaiting the reappearance means aspiring and yearning for freedom and deliverance from inequalities and injustice, and for elimination of the difficulties facing the people of the world.  Those who await the reappearance believe a divine man –called Mahdi in Islam – will reappear at the end of time, a man who will do away with oppression and replace injustice with justice and who will establish Allah’s government all over the world. All of the prophets and their successors ever since the creation of mankind have had such an aspiration and they have made their best efforts to materialize it.  They have suffered all kinds of hardships to take the world closer to the reappearance of the Savior of Mankind.

When it comes to fixing the time of the reappearance of the Imam of Time (may Allah hasten his reappearance), not only the time of his reappearance has not been fixed but fixing time for his reappearance has been prohibited also.

In this regard, a few narrations are mentioned as under:

1.Fudhail says, "I asked Imam Sadiq whether there was any specific time when the Mahdi would appear. The Imam in his response said three times: "Any one who fixes the time of the appearance is telling a lie" [i][1].

2.In another narration, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says: Those who fix a time are liars. We the household (of the Holy Prophet) have never fixed a time for the reappearance of the Imam of Time.[ii][2]

3.In another narration, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says: "Any one who fixes the time of the appearance for you -- do not hesitate to falsify him, because we do not fix the time for the reappearance. Therefore, whatever he says is not from us. He has uttered it from his own mouth and it is a lie.[iii][3]"

It is necessary to mention that according to some narrations, even the Imam of Time (a.s.) himself does not know the time of his reappearance, and that God, the Exalted, informs him, through specific signs, about the time of his reappearance.

Mufadhal bin Amr asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.) about the tafsir (interpretation) of the verse "when the trumpet is sounded"[iv][4]. The Imam (a.s.) responded:

انّ منا اماما مستترا فاذا اراد الله عز و جل اظهار امره نکت فی قلبه نکتة فظهر و امر بامر الله عز و جل.

This narration well indicates that the Imam does not know the time of his reappearance and when he is going to reappear, God, the Exalted, informs him about his reappearance through specific signs[v][5]. [vi][6]

In any case, firstly one of the expectants of reappearance is Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.) himself because awaiting is, as said in the narrations, one of the best acts of worship. It is very unlikely of the Imam (a.s.) to be negligent or deprived of the best act of worship.

Secondly, the word ‘faraj’ (comfort or relief) used in the narrations do not refer only to the believers’ comfort and deliverance rather it is also meant for the comfort of the Imam of Time (a.s) and solution in his affairs. Therefore, the Imam is also awaiting and anticipating solutions in his matters. Since the Imam of Age (a.s.) wishes to establish a monotheistic system and pave grounds for the prosperity of mankind, he is waiting for such a day to establish justice throughout the entire world.

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[ii][1] - Saafi Gulpaigani, Muntakhab al-Athar, p.463, 3rd edition, Tehran Publication Center; Shaykh Tusi, Al-Ghaybah, p.262.

[ii][2] - Ibid.

[ii][3] - Ibid.

[ii][4] - Al-Mudaththir: 8

[ii][5] - Saduq, Ikmal al-Deen wa Itmam al-Ne'mah, vol.2, p.349, h.42

[ii][6] - Excerpts made from question No. 1856 (site: 1840), index: Fixing the time for the Reappearance of the Imam of Time (atf).