By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Week of celebrating the birthday of the Saviour of Humanity – Imam Mahdi (a.s) – Part 4
In Part 3 we concluded our discussion on the point that some academics have accurately claimed that Shiasm is like a bird that flies with 2 wings to greater and greater heights.
It has a red wing representing the blood of Karbala which instills the spirit of sacrifice in its followers while its second wing which is green instills the unbreakable spirit of hope.
The culture of commemorating the 40th day after the demise of someone is usually upheld in the first year of the demise of that person. However in the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s) we have a culture to commemorate the 40th day of his martyrdom every year.
The reason for this is that unlike a normal commemoration of the 40th day being an event that focuses on the past, the culture to commemorate this event every year in the case of Imam Hussain (a.s) is to connect this powerful past event to the future which is represented by the return of Imam Mehdi (a.s).
The azaa or mourning for Imam Hussain (a.s) is thus the seeds for grooming the future soldiers of Imam Mehdi (a.s) during the period of “waiting for the return of the Imam”.
Consequently on the day of Ashura we are recommended to greet each other in the following manner by saying “May Allah make our reward and your reward great for our grief for Hussain (a.s). May He place us and you from among those who help His cause with His Representative, the Imam al-Mehdi (a.s) from the Family of Muhammad (sawa).”
Intizar (Waiting for the return of Imam Mehdi (a.s)) which is connected to Karbala thus becomes the platform for Eternal motivation that has been the cause for the Followers of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) to persevere and survive the most brutal onslaught in the 1400 years history of Islam that no other Muslim group faced.
An unbiased reader of history will consider this very fact to be a miracle. Our little humble Centre in Ottery was not immune from opposition since our establishment but it did not cause us to lose focus and today our existence is acknowledged to be a reality which is here to stay.
CONNECTING WITH IMAM MAHDI (a.s)
During the period of occultation it is critical that the followers of Imam Mehdi (a.s) connect with him spiritually. While some who mock this concept ask questions like “What is the contact number for Imam Mehdi (a.s)”, the followers of Imam Mehdi (a.s) connect with him on a daily basis by sincerely making dua for him.
One of the consequences of making dua for someone is that it instills a deep love for that person. In the case of Imam Mehdi (a.s), various duas are recommended on a daily basis and on special occasions which are made for him which achieves the purpose of nurturing love for the Imam.
Dua Nudba is a specific dua for Imam Mehdi (a.s) which is recommended to be made for all Eids including Friday mornings which is the Eid of the week. The following extracts from this dua gives you a taste of how it connects ones heart spiritually with Imam Mehdi (a.s) in a very deep way:
“I cannot bear that I can see all the people but cannot see you, nor hear your voice, loud or low”
“How long am I to cry and wail over your separation, O My Master?”
“I can’t bear that I cry for you and see all others abandoning you.”
In the Holy month of Ramadaan when fasting builds us spiritually to achieve taqwa, we are recommended to recite Dua Iftitah every night which is a Dua that reinforces our Tauheed wherein we are reminded about how Allah overpowers the arrogant powers when it refers to Allah in some of the verses as:
“Praise be to Allah, who breaks everything belonging to the oppressors, puts an end to the tyrants, watches over the fugitives…”
And in this very Dua we pray for the state that Imam Mehdi (a.s) will create when we say “O Allah, we ardently desire that in his Just and Fair era (i.e. the era of Imam Mehdi a.s.), Thou should honour Islam and its followers, and humiliate the Hypocrites and its followers, and include us among those who invite to Your Obedience, and lead them to Thy approved Path…”
With this type of continuous spiritual training it is not possible to be the very oppressor that you pray against.
FALSE CONNECTIONS TO IMAM MAHDI (a.s)
Due to the reality of the concept of Mahdaviat, there were many movements in history and during our very present era who wanted to reform society who abused this concept by somehow aligning themselves to Mahdaviat to legitimize their movement. This phenomenon manifested itself in the following ways:
1. There were those who propagated the idea that Mahdaviat is a phenomena related to reformation. It does not relate to a specific individual. This idea is easily countered by simply referring to the authentic ahadith which give details of a specific individual being Imam Mehdi (a.s) and not a mere phenomenon.
2. Enemies of Islam exploited the idea of Imam Mehdi (a.s) by creating a variety of false Mehdis in history.
The Ahmedia Movement started off by its founder claiming to be the promised Mehdi. He then claimed that Jesus (a.s) actually died and is buried in Srinagar in Kashmir. He thus claimed that the Messiah and the Mehdi is himself which meant that he was a Prophet at the same time.
This of course goes against the Quranic view that Prophet Muhammed (sawa) is the Final Prophet. Though he died without achieving any of the ideals of the promised Mehdi (a.s) and actually served the enemies of Islam, the impact of this movement was felt in India/Pakistan and in African countries like Sudan and this Movement exists to this very day. In history one can possibly count over 100 people who falsely claimed to be the Mehdi.
3. There are groups who exploit certain of the predictions regarding the signs of the time of the coming of Imam Mehdi (a.s). One such narration indicates that before the time of the return of Imam Mehdi (a.s), there will be a group of people who will start an uprising who will have black flags and that we are encouraged to go to help that group even if one must crawl over snow.
Some people actually think that the devilish movement in Iraq called ISIS is the manifestation of this prediction as you see them using black flags. In Muslim culture, we have become very used to associating ourselves with the color green, yet ISIS is associated with the color black to somehow legitimize its movement to be one that will usher in the return of Imam Mehdi (a.s).
It is amazing how so many people have been fooled to thinking that it’s a movement related to Imam Mehdi (a.s) which include South Africans and international converts to Islam.
4. Unfortunately certain Shia also exploited certain predictions relating to the signs of the time of the coming of Imam Mehdi (a.s) and ended up becoming counter revolutionary.
There are narrations which indicate the extreme extent of corruption that will exist in the world immediately prior to the return of Imam Mehdi (a.s). Consequently these ulama were of the view that an increase in corruption is actually good as it speeds up the return of Imam Mehdi (a.s)!
5. During the time of the Shah of Iran there were also Shia ulama who were counter revolutionary who were against the revolution of Imam Khomeini in that they latched onto a narration which states that “Any uprising before the rising of Our Qaim will be fruitless.”
They thus also believed that revolution is not our job and we should simply sit and wait and be idle in the interim while the enemies of Islam control us.
Imam Khomeini thus had to fight the Shah from one side and his own counter-revolutionary colleagues on the other hand and he did this by educating the people about the authentic sayings of Imam Saadiq (a.s) when he replied to a question regarding whether we should prepare for the return of Imam Mehdi (a.s) wherein Imam Saadiq (a.s) said “Even if you can collect 1 arrow in preparation for Imam Mehdi (a.s) then you should do so.” Imam Saadiq (a.s) said this 100 years before Imam Mehdi (a.s) was even born.
All of the above examples of exploitation of Mahdaviat was possible as the period of occultation is a major test which makes exploitation possible.
6. There were also those people in history who falsely claimed to have direct contact with Imam Mehdi (a.s) and then claimed to be his rightful representative.
In Shiasm there was a man called Muhammed Ali Shirazi in Najaf who made such a claim and then proclaimed that he is the “Bab” or “Gate” to Imam Mehdi (a.s). This is where the sect Babiyyah started.
When he died, his successor claimed that he was Imam Mehdi himself! And just like in the case of the Ahmadis, he achieved none of the ideals of Imam Mehdi (a.s) and was actually an agent of the enemies of Islam.
After his death, his successor by the name of Baha’ullah made an even further exaggerated claim by saying that he is a new prophet and that all previous prophets are manifested in him. He thus represents ALL the religions and this is how Bahaism started which is a very influential movement in the world today with its headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Imam Mehdi (a.s) had foresight that false Mehdis would certainly raise their head in the future and he decisively ensured that this had to be prevented when he wrote the following message in his final letter to his 4th deputy during his minor occultation wherein he said “Whoever CLAIMS to have seen me before by re-appearance is a liar.”
Narrations state that there will be 2 major movements before the return of Imam Mehdi (a.s) and that one should go to assist those movements when they start. One is from Iran (Qum) and one is from Yemen. The third movement is a shaytaani movement from Damascus called the Sufyani movement.
Recently someone claimed to be the representative of this Yemeni movement and further claims that Imam Mehdi (a.s) has already returned. This claim has even fooled Capetonians and people who live in the close vicinity of our centre who distributed pamphlets in last years Quds March during Ramadaan wherein this message was propagated.
AUTHENTIC CONNECTION TO IMAM MAHDI (AS)
The narration from Imam Mehdi (a.s) above which says that anyone who claims to have seen him is a liar should not be misunderstood to mean that we cannot meet him!
We CAN meet him, but we cannot claim that we met him if we do meet him. So how is this possible?
1. Narrations indicate that Imam Mehdi (a.s) is present in Haj every year and intermingles among the people. So one can look out for him in Arafat, Mina and between Safa and Marwa.
2. One may have an experience where Imam Mehdi (a.s) personally visits you unexpectedly and that you do not realize it is him. However, after he leaves you realize with certainty that it was Imam Mehdi (a.s) who visited you.
3. You can develop yourself spiritually to have contact with Imam Mehdi (a.s) which is much more than just a once off unexpected visit but results in an enduring relationship and contact with Imam Mehdi (a.s).
There are very spiritual Scholars in history who are considered to have had this privilege like Sayyid Ibn Ta’oos, Muqaddas Ardibili, Bahrul Ulum, etc.
And in our very own time in the very recent past the very spiritual Ayatullah Behjat without doubt had contact with Imam Mehdi (a.s). But NONE of these luminaries EVER claimed that they have seen Imam Mehdi (a.s). Knowledge of their contact with Imam Mehdi (a.s) only emerged by accident indirectly at times without them directly making such claims.
Imam Khomeini, with his unparalleled success of establishing the Islamic Republic of Iran which is an existential reality which the world has come to accept could so easily have claimed that he had contact with Imam Mehdi (a.s) but never did so. But we have no doubt that Imam Khomeini actually DID have contact with Imam Mehdi (a.s).
Ayatullah Behjat was asked on many occasions for a quick formula to achieve the ability to meet Imam Mehdi (a.s) to which he replied that the narrations of the Imams indicate that it is our very own sins which prevents us from seeing Imam Mehdi (a.s).
So if anybody wants a contact number for Imam Mehdi (a.s), it is to protect oneself from committing sin and then contact will be established!!
On the occasion of celebrating the noble birthday of the Imam of our time, we pray to Almighty Allah to hasten his return and to count us to be from among his ardent followers and supporters, Insha’Allah!