Reappearance of the Master of the Time

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By: Muhammad Fakir Maybudi
The basis of the appearance of the savior is definite and it will occur without a doubt, but this is not the topic of our discussion. What we would like to discuss is what we need to do to hasten his appearance and uprising. Is there any way at all to hasten this? Is it possible to hasten the rise of his Excellency, the Hujjat (A.S.) by paving the way? Does the Holy Qur’an say anything on this matter?
In order to answer these questions, we must look at two aspects: the views of different groups and the Holy Qur’an.
The Views
There are several answers to the above questions that have all been reflected by different views.
The First View
The uprising of his Excellency, the Hujjat, is subject to the will of God. This is similar to the occurring of the Day of Judgment. Human beings, whether are for or against him, have no roles in it, and must be an observer until the Divine Will comes into act and the appearance is ascertained.
The Second View
According to the tradition, «امتلأ الارض ظلماً و جوراً» “The earth will become full of oppression and cruelty…” we must spread this corruption until there is no more capacity in the world for it; and with this method the way for appearance is paved.
The Third View
The motivation for the uprising should be researched and uncovered through the factors for the occultation. These reasons should be deeply studied and considered, and all obstacles should be removed in order to prepare for the appearance.
The Fourth View
We should fulfill the personal and social duties asked of us during the occultation to hasten the appearance and rise of his Excellency, the Hujjat (A.S.)
Now, after having stated all four views briefly, we would like to discuss each one of them in detail.
The First View
The rationale for the supporters of the first view is based on different traditions. Among them, there is a tradition from Imam Sadiq (A.S.) , which is as follows:
“…In fact, it is the time about which Allah the Almighty says, ‘They ask you about the hour - when will it occur? Say, The knowledge of it is only with my Lord; none but He shall manifest it at its time….’(7:187)”1
Some traditions have forbidden even simply talking about al-Mahdi (A.S.) and have considered doing so reprehensible.
As it has been brought up under this verse, “…and you do not know (understand) that the time might be near…” (33:63), that says:
“Those who do not believe in it ask[you] to hasten it, but those who have faith are apprehensive of it, and know that it is a truth. Look! Indeed those who are in doubt about the Hour are surely in extreme error.” the narrator says: I asked, ‘What does ‘dispute’ mean? His Excellency replied, ‘That they say:
“When was he born? Who has seen him? Where will it happen? When will he rise? All of this is hastening God’s affair and doubting in His will and order and interfering with His power.”2
In these two traditions, the rising of his Excellency, the Hujjat, is considered as an interpretation for the meaning of the verses on Judgment Day. Doubting and impatience with these matters are considered as faithlessness. Here, any type of discussion or questioning about al-Mahdi(A.S.) and the time of his uprising is considered as disputing, arguing, doubting in God’s will and order and interfering with His power.
According to this view, human has no role in creation except waiting. He is like a person who is waiting for a passenger and does not know where he is; therefore, he has to wait in accordance with the law of creation until the visit to happen because based on the Divine will, human is deprived of power in this regard. In this view, in accordance with the Divine Will, human beings are deprived of their own free will.
It is quite clear that even with its spirituality and monotheistic positions, there are no logical justifications in this view, and at least is against free will, will power, religious duty and the permission for supplicating.
In addition, reproach, haste concerning the matter of his uprising or asking questions about it, comment upon those who discuss the issues related to his return by trying to cast doubts with incessant questions about whether he exists or not. Who can accept that the numerous traditions in introducing His Excellency are just ‘dispute’, doubt or argument?
The Second View
An Imtila (fullness), is a word used to describe the time when the world is full of corruption, the tradition states:
“Mahdi, from my offspring, will disappear and when he appears (rises), he will fill the earth with peace and justice for it would have been filled with oppression and cruelty.”3 This tradition is unanimously accepted by all Islamic sects and no one has any doubt about it. Although it mentions oppression and cruelty, the tradition does not and cannot justify spreading it because that is completely against the spirit of the Holy Qur’an. This is not only contrary to the founding of Islamic government and laws, but is also opposed to the holy verses on enjoining good and forbidding evil, and on guidance and the propagation of religion.
The will of God and the message of the Holy Qur’an are purely recommendations to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. As stated in the Holy Qur’an:
“…and among you there should be a party who invites to good, enjoins what is right and forbids the wrong…” (3:104)
Filling the earth with oppression, injustice, cruelty, sinning and obscene acts is the will of Satan, the disbelievers and hypocrites. As stated in the Holy Qur’an:
“…and whoever follows the footsteps of Satan, then surely he bids the doing of indecency and evil…” (Holy Qur’an 24:21) The Holy Qur’an also says:
“Hypocritical men and hypocritical women are all alike; they enjoin evil and forbid good…” (9:67)
According to this view, we must disable a large number of the Qur’anic verses and their messages, and act exactly in opposite direction until the Imtila to happen.
In the sinister shade of this theory, all liberating revolutions and wars, and even the stands taken by the Imams ((peace be upon them)), are in the predicament of being unauthorized. Instead of reversing the role of oppression, they only delay being delivered from it.
The only thing in actuality that can be said about this tradition is that it simply mentions the signs of the end of time, such as the spreading of injustice, sin and indecency, and does not, in any way whatsoever, condone such acts.
The Third View
According to this view, the cause for his occultation should first be removed as a preparation in order for the rising to be achieved. First of all, these causes should be discovered. What are the causes for the occultation? After discovering them, what should be done?
In some traditions the following expressions can be seen.
Determining the Causes

A. Having no allegiance
As we see in this tradition from Imam Ridha(A.S.):
“ In order not to be for anyone any allegiance on his neck when he takes a stand with the sword.”4 Obviously, this is not and cannot be the main or only reason of the occultation but it is only the reason for the occultation and the non-appearance of His Excellency.

B. The Fear
In Zurārah’s narration of a tradition from Imam Sadiq(A.S.), we read that he said:
“There is definitely a period of absence for Imam Mahdi before his uprising. ” I then asked, ‘What for?’ He replied: “The Fear of being killed.”5 In another tradition, he states:
“There is definitely a (period of) absence of al-Qaim (the One Who Rises Up) before his appearance.” I asked, ‘What for?’ He replied: ‘The Fear of being killed. 6 This reason, similar to the first one, is to justify safeguarding the life of al-Mahdi. It also is not, and cannot be the main reason, but with his life out of danger, we can properly prepare for his uprising.

C. The Divine Test
A great number of traditions indicate that one of the reasons for the occultation is that it is a Divine test. Imam Baqir(A.S.) says, in a reply to Jabir Ja’fi:
“How far! How far! Our relief will not come until you are sifted, then are sifted and are sifted again, until the turbidity goes away and the purity remains.”
In another tradition, this one from Imam Ali(A.S.) we read:
“Know that I swear by Allah the Almighty that the person whom you are waiting for will not be amongst you until you are tested and the good are separated from the bad. This will take a long time - until there are none left amongst you, except the purest - who will be a rare gem.” The Imam then recited the following verse from the Holy Qur’an: “Had you assumed that you would be left (and not tested) and that Allah cannot distinguish the patient from among you?”7
Even though the Divine test can be considered as one of the reasons for the occultation, this is a matter which is not in our hands and can not be altered and controlled; therefore, its direction can not be changed; especially the test that of necessity is going to separate the good from the bad and clarity from obscurity and only a few people will be separated from the majority.

D. The Faithlessness of the People
It has been mentioned in some holy letters that the main reason for the absence of His Excellency is the faithlessness of the people and their indulgence in sin. As he said:
“If our Shiites (may Allah make them successful), were faithful in their promise to be sincere, the joy of meeting with us would not have been delayed and they would be able to enjoy meeting with us, a meeting full of knowledge and promise. We are in occultation because of their immoral actions and we dislike it, and(because) of what we do not choose(favor) from them(the Shiites).”8
The content of this letter shows that the faithlessness of the followers of the Ahl al-Bait, when they had already given their word in faith to his Excellency, has caused the period of occultation to increase and our meeting with him to become more distanced. This letter illustrates a few important points:
1. The absence of the Imam(A.S.) is due to the immoral actions of the friends and followers of the Ahl al-Bait. «فما يحبسنا عنهم الا ما يتصل بنا مما نکرهه» “We are in occultation because of their immoral actions and we dislike it.”
2. The extension of the occultation is also because of followers of the Ahl al-Bait who are not sincere within their hearts.
“If our Shiites (may Allah make them successful) were faithful in their promise to be sincere, the joy of meeting with us would not have been delayed.”
3. The truthfulness of the followers of the Ahl al-Bait in keeping their promises and agreements can hasten his appearance. «لتعجلت لهم السعادة بمشاهدتنا» “…and they would be able to enjoy meeting with us.”

E. The Unknown Reasons
Some traditions show that our Infallible Imams know the main reason for the occultation, but they are not permitted to talk about it. Because of this limitation put upon them, they only share their wisdom on this matter in a limited way. The reason for this is narrated in a tradition of Imam Sadiq’s(A.S.) by ‘Abdullah ibn Fadhl Hashimi:
“Surely there is an absence of the one in charge of this matter (Imam Mahdi) which has no alternative. Any wrongdoing during the occultation will definitely go to extremes. ” So I asked his Excellency, ‘May I be your sacrifice, (Can you tell me) why this occultation was determined?’ He replied, ‘For the reasons of which we are not allowed to tell.’ I then said, ‘Well, what is the wisdom and philosophy behind the occultation?’ He replied, ‘The wisdom and philosophy behind (al-Mahdi’s) occultation is the same as that of those which had taken place with the other messengers of God and then he said, 'It will not become apparent until the appearance and rising of al-Mahdi. It is much like the story of Moses’ accompanying Khidhr (peace be upon them). The making of the hole in the boat, the killing of the young boy, and the building of the wall by Khidhr- the wisdom behind all of this was revealed for Moses only when they wanted to depart from each other.”
According to this tradition, the occultation itself introduces a new side of the matter to us. This is that after the appearance of the Imam(A.S.), he will make the matter clear himself. This has been understood from a special comparison that was made with this tradition and the story of Prophet Moses accompanying Khidhr (peace be upon them).
The Fourth View
The traditions show that in the same way that Muslims had certain obligations to their Imams in their presence, we have the same during the occultation. These obligations along with special duties, not only accumulate blessings for us, but also help in hastening the appearance and rising of the Imam(A.S.). The following duties have been found through studying and researching numerous traditions:

1. The Patience
In a tradition going back to Imam Ridha(A.S.):
“Nothing is better than patience, waiting and al-Faraj (The Deliverance), and have not you heard the words of Allah, ‘…and look ahead, surely I too am watching with you.’ (11:93) And also, ‘Expect, for surely I am waiting with you.’ Therefore, it is becoming of you to have patience. Surely, it is only with patience that the Deliverance will come at a time of distress and disappointment. And (know that) those before you were better than you.”10
The words, ‘It is becoming of you to have patience’, makes it clear that the duty of Shiites during the occultation is to have patience.

2. The Expectation
The duty to wait for the Imam(A.S.) has also been made clear in the above tradition. In addition to that tradition, the Holy Prophet and Imams (peace be upon them) insisted on it rather often. In a tradition of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny), we read: «أفضل أعمال أمتي إنتظار الفرج» “The best action of my followers is to be awaiting al-Faraj or the Deliverance.”11 Imam Ali (A.S.) in a reply to someone who asked the following question: «أي الأعمال أحب الى الله عزوجل ؟» “Which actions are considered among the best?”, He replied: «إنتظار الفرج» “Intidhar al-Faraj ( anticipating the Deliverance).”12 In another tradition, Imam Sadiq (A.S.) says:
“The best thing to bring God’s servant closer to Him and the best action he can carry out (with God’s pleasure) is that when the Hujjat (Sign) of Allah disappears from sight and no one knows of his dwelling, he should wait, morning and evening (in anticipation).”13
One who truly waits (in anticipation) has so much knowledge that even during the occultation, he can visualize the presence of the Imam among us. This means that he has absolutely no doubt in believing in the Imam of the time and from a practical aspect, is actually propagating (religion and true beliefs) in private and public. One who is not truly waiting, but appears to be doing so, is really doing nothing, with the excuse of not being able to do anything. This person is not taking part in preparing for the uprising, while one who truly waits is constantly obtaining knowledge and improving his actions. In this way, he is preparing for the uprising and is trying to make himself like the true believers (in other words, a true Shiite, one who truly waits for the uprising).
In summary, waiting in its real sense includes believing in the occultation, following what is right, detesting oppression, speaking the truth and inviting people to goodness.

3. The Prayer
In certain traditions, our main duty during the occultation is considered as prayer. Among them in a letter with Is-haq ibn Ya‘qub, which he had received from Muhammad ibn Uthman, it was said: «و أکثروا الدعاء بتعجيل الفرج، فإن ذلک فرجکم » “Pray a lot in order to hasten al-Faraj (the Deliverance), for surely it is your Faraj.”14 Praying during the occultation has certain conditions that should be observed. They will be explained later.

4. The Disappointment
In a tradition of Imam Sadiq (A.S.), we read: «إن هذا الأمر لا يأتيکم إلا بعد إياس...» “In fact this will not happen until it is preceded by a great amount of disappointment…”15 In another tradition, Imam Ridha had said: “The Faraj will happen after a great deal of disappointment and patience, and the people before you were more patient than you.”16
As long as humankind is dependent upon worldly powers, the thirst for the justice of Imam Mahdi (A.S.) will not be felt and he will have no seekers.
The Elements of Readiness and Preparation
In this section, we repeat the question, ‘Is there any reason (for us) to prepare for his uprising?’ The answer we can give from what has been narrated and documented is that a number of traditions guide us towards this matter in general. Among them is the Tabarani and ibn Majah tradition narrated from the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny): «يخرج ناس من المشرق فيوطئون للمهدي سلطانه» “People from the east will rise up and prepare for the government of al-Mahdi (A.S.).”17 Also, in another tradition, Imam Sadiq (A.S.) speaks about the lengthening of the trials and tribulations of Bani-Israel:
“When the trials and tribulations of Bani-Israel were lengthened, they cried to Allah forty days and nights. So Allah revealed to Moses and Aaron to save them from the Pharaoh and they took them away for a hundred and seventy years.”18
This tradition clarifies that if the actions are carried out properly, the period of occultation can be decreased. From a logical point of view, one cannot rule out the possibility of the establishment of a government of such majesty and greatness. It is possible that the uprising would suddenly occur, but it cannot be said that it will occur without there being any preparation for it.
Martyr Mutahari wrote: “A few scholars of the Shiite school of thought who had feasible thoughts and ideas of establishing a Shiite government in their time, were probably thinking that the best government would be one that was a predecessor to that of the Imam Mahdi (A.S.) and should last until his uprising.”19 These words show that Shiite scholars believed in preparing for such an uprising and government. It is only natural that when one is expecting a very important or dear guest, one should try to make the necessary adjustments and prepare the environment as much as possible. Of course, this is done according to the guest’s rank and significance.
The Second Section: The Qur’anic View
It should be made clear that verses that guide us about this matter are of two kinds: General and Specific.

A. The General verses
The general verses are like the verses of supplication, among them are:
“Call upon me, I will answer you.” (40:60)
“And when my servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on me….” (2:186)
When we see that God, the Glorified, answers and grants supplications, and on the other hand, religious leaders also insist on praying for the uprising, we can only conclude that prayer is the most important element in preparing for the uprising. As we mentioned earlier, it has been repeatedly advised to pray for the uprising of the Imam(A.S.).
“Pray a lot in order to hasten al-Faraj (the Deliverance), for surely it (prayer) is your Faraj (Deliverance).”
The most interesting part of this tradition is that praying itself has been considered as the Faraj. In various traditions narrated from the Infallible Imams, praying for the hastening of the Deliverance is mentioned repeatedly, this is a sign in itself of preparing for the uprising. We read in the Supplication of ‘Ahd:
“Oh Allah, make distinctly visible for us, Thy appointed authority…so that he rests not after getting the better of the forces of evil, until he tears them to pieces, makes clear the truth and fulfills his duty in letter and spirit….”20
Another point worthy of mentioning is that supplications and prayers for hastening the appearance and uprising of the Imam (A.S.) should be recited with the utmost attention. They should be recited with sensitivity - from the heart, with Nudbah (weeping), Istighathah (seeking help)21 and pleading. The proof of these words lies in the Supplication of Nudbah itself (the supplication of Hujjat ibn al-Hasan (A.S.)). The following is a small excerpt from the supplication:
“Where is the Sign left by Allah, the presence of whom, along with guided predecessors the world cannot survive without? Where is the one ready to annihilate the oppressors? Where is the Awaited One who will close the gap between the privileged and the unprivileged and straighten out the differences and the distorted ways (of the world)? Where is the Expected One to uproot all oppression and transgression? Where is the one to safeguard the commandments of Allah and the Sunnah? Where is the One Selected to resuscitate the civilization of Islam and its laws?”
This supplication is unique in the sense that unlike other supplications, it does not speak about what has been done. Instead it focuses upon ideals and goals as it makes its appeal for the appearance of the Imam's return and clarifies the reasons and goals of the uprising. In this supplication, the prayer is written in a way as if someone has been lost to us and because of this we cry and weep calling him to come to us wherever he might be.
The Specific verses
These are the verses that guide us from a certain angle:
1. The verse of Tanawush:
“And they shall say: ‘We believe in it.’ And how shall the attaining (of faith) be accessible to them from a distant place?” (34:52)
Accessing faith; Imam Mahdi (A.S.), would be considered impossible to attain from a distance according to this verse. Tabarsi in Majma’ al-Bayan, after commenting on the verse writes: “This verse is related to the Bayda War (the emergence of the Sufiyani right before that of al-Mahdi (A.S.)). The way it is told is that when the army of the Sufiyani faces al-Mahdi(A.S.), they will say: “We have believed in him. ” However, God replies: «إني لهم التناوش من مكان بعيد» ‘And how shall the attaining (of faith) be accessible to them from a distant place?’ How is it that this type of faith – coming to them after its time has passed - can be of any use (to them)?”22
In summary, what we can gather from this verse is that if faith in al-Mahdi is real, it can be considered an element in making contact with him; and if it is not real and is just pretended, then; it will not be efficacious.
2. The Verse of Change:
“…Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change themselves …” (13:11)
Allamah Tabataba'i writes: “Among the blessings of God which have been given to man and among the different conditions of the human soul is a natural supplement (of blessings). If man conducts himself based upon his innate disposition and achieves faith and pious behavior, it will result in blessings in this world and the next. But if man changes that innate disposition himself, the condition of the soul will change as well as the blessings of God.”23
Having the presence of the Imam(A.S.) and being able to take advantage of the blessing of his government depends upon a movement, a change in society as a whole, especially in Islamic society. Initiating a proper movement can at least be a step towards hastening the blessing of the Imam’s (A.S.) appearance and uprising.
3. The Verse of Faith and Piety:
“And if people of (different) towns had believed and guarded themselves (against evil), We certainly would have opened up for them the (doors of) blessings of Heaven and Earth…” (7:96)
This verse shows that if people (in society) cleanse themselves from impure actions, thoughts and sins, and believe in the Creator, Judgment Day, etc… and observe piety, all the doors of God’s blessings will be opened to them and there is no doubt that the appearance and uprising of al-Mahdi(A.S.) would be one of them.
Needless to say, faith is also a very important factor. Society in general should have faith and belief in the Deliverance. Although it seems impossible in larger societies where corruption is on a larger scale too, it is possible and rather necessary in smaller societies where people still have a significant amount of faith and love or Wilayat (guardianship over [the believers of] the Islamic society).
4. The Verse of Despair:
“ When the apostles lost hope and they thought that they had been told lies, Our help a came to them.” (12:110)
It has also been mentioned in the traditions:
“Surely this matter will not come to you except after despair…”24
There is a difference between the content of the verse and the tradition. The verse shows the despair of the Prophets from people who are in denial, while the tradition shows the despair of people about things that are not in order. Though there is a difference, they both refer to one matter and that is to prepare for the coming of God’s help and the distraction of enemies. If the punishment of God is in the way of helping the believers, the news of al-Mahdi’s appearance and uprising is to confirm their ultimate success over cruelty and oppression.
5. The Verse of Support
“While yet the state of those who have passed away before you has not come upon you; distress and affliction befell them and they were shaken violently, so that the Apostle and those who believed with him said, When will the help of Allah come? Now surely the help of Allah is indeed near.’ ”(2:214)
In addition to this verse making it understood that Paradise and the Divinely guided rule of al-Mahdi(A.S.) will not be granted so easily, it also briefly points to external and internal problems such as poverty, insecurity, illness, etc…. This is that aspect of reality where rectifying the lack of welfare, comfort, security, and success depends upon public request. As mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, even Prophets had asked their people to pray for help and support after experiencing terrible calamities and as the Holy Qur’an says that were like the shocking earthquakes. This is a prayer, a request that should be recited together, united, especially during difficult times. Imam Sadiq(A.S.) had commented after explaining the situation of the Bani-Israel and the expectations Moses had of them:
“This also pertains to you regarding the Deliverance. If you act in this manner, and continue being the way you are, the (time of) the occultation will carry on until its end.”
The verse of Support truly expresses real needs and feelings towards the Savior and the Deliverance. With all that has been mentioned, we can conclude that the main duties of the lovers of truth and just government, in order to prepare for and hasten the appearance and uprising are:
1. Prayer
2. Having faith and piety
3. Refraining from sin
4. Truly waiting in anticipation
5. Inviting others to God’s religion and keeping company with the friends of God
With hope that we can also prepare for that perfect just government under the reign of his Excellency, al-Mahdi (A.S.)
Notes:
1-Bihar al-Anwar, vol.53, p.2
2. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.53, p.2
3. Al-Burhan fi ‘Alamat Akhar al-Zaman, p.78; Muntakhib al-Athar, p.31; Yanabi’ al-Mawaddah, vol.3, p.115
4. Safi Gulpaygani, by Lutfullah; Muntakhib al-Athar, p.334
5. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.97
6. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.98
7. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.113
8. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.53, p.177; Al-Zam al-Nasib, vol.2, p.467
9. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.91 & 113
10. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.129
11. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.122
12. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.122
13. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.95
14. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.92; Al-Zam al-Nasib, by Haeri Yazdi, vol.1, p.428
15. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.111
16. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.110 & 129
17. Al-Burhan fi ‘Alamat Akhar al-Zaman, p.148
18. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.131
19. Qiyam va Inqelab-e-Mahdi, by Murtadha Mutahari, p.68 (Persian)
20. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.53, p.96
21. Nudb and Nudbah literally mean ‘Invite’ or ‘Invitation’. Ghawth and Ighathah mean ‘seeking help or assistance’. Taken from Al-Misbah al-Munir Madah, Nudb wa Ghawth.
22. Majma’ al-Bayan, by Fadhl ibn Hasan and Tabarsi, vol.4, p.398; Tafsir Safi, vol.4, p.227
23. Tafsir al-Mizan, by Allamah Tabatabaei, vol.11, p.213
24. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.111