In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
The Imam of Time’ is a name engraved in our hearts. His name travels in our blood veins. He is our only hope in this cruel world. We wake up every day and listen to the news of explosions, assignations, wars, aggressions, famine, conflicts and tsunamis. There is hardly a place at present for smiles, benevolence, compassion or mercy in our world.
We search for mercy and safety. So we recall the gifted mercy to mankind:
And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.
We raise our hands to the Heavens and beseech Allah:
O, Allah! You are indeed the most Merciful, we request you for a renewed gifted mercy. We need a new Mohammed! We need the successor of the first Mohammed! We need the last successor of the Family of Mohammed! Let Mohammed save us! Let Mohammed help us!
When we search for safety, we hear the echo of his blessed voice:
I am the safety for the people of this world. Similarly, the stars are safety signs for the habitants of the Heavens!
Bihar Al Anwar, volume 53, page 181
O Master of the Age: safety, safety!
He hears our repeated pleas; he sympathises with us and prays for us:
O Allah! I ask you in the name and status of all those who supplicated to you at all places, send your peace and blessings upon Mohammed and his family, and provide the poor and needy believers with wealth and sustenance, provide the believers with health and well being, provide the living believers with grace and kindness, provide the dead believers with forgiveness and mercy and provide the estranged believers with safe journeys back to their homes, all in the name of Mohammed and his pure Family.
Muhaj Al Da’awat, page 368
In this manner, he always prays for us, he prays for all of us. He prays that Allah fulfils our needs and relieves our ailments. He prays for the needy Shia to get wealthy, ill Shia to get better, living Shia to get dignity, dead Shia to receive mercy and estranged Shia to return safely home. He prays for us day and night times. He always mentions us in his prayers. It is about time that we also pray for him.
Perhaps you might say:
But I always ask Allah to hasten his appearance!
Let us pause for a moment. Are we genuine in our prayers for him? In other words, do we talk the talk and walk the walk? Do we put our words into action? Or are our prayers for him viewed as nothing but lip movements? Do we think hard everyday of how to hasten the appearance of the Imam (peace be upon him) with the same intensity and urgency that we use when it comes to our daily needs?
We pursue our needs with shrewd planning, vigour, energy and creativity. We hardly give up when it comes to personal goals like getting a degree, finishing a project, succeeding in promotions, investing in pension schemes etc.
Although most of us are aware that the matter of paving the way for the Imam’s appearance depends on our actions, we are offering that cause limited energy, poor planning and at times indifference. We do not show constant concern or interest in that sense. We have not issued ourselves with critical alarm levels to do hasten his appearance. We do not realise the urgency. We are not stressed and pressurised by that necessity. However, we are practically stressed out due to otherworldly matters that consume our time, energy and strength.
We, his Shia, if we had managed to assemble the number of the true and faithful believers, 313, he would have been ready to appear and fulfil his mission.
The Imam (peace be upon him) said:
If our Shia were successful in their obedience to Allah and united themselves on the aim to keep their covenant with us, the glorious news of our appearance would not have been long. Their bliss will be achieved when they meet us.
Tahdheeb Al Ahkam, by Sheikh Al Toosi, volume 1, page 40
The fact that our Imam (peace be upon him) has not appeared until this day in time is an evidence of our catastrophic, shameful and awful reality. We do not engage ourselves in true, sincere, constant and serious thinking of how to hasten the appearance of the Imam (peace be upon him).
When it comes to all our daily issues, we employ high degrees of urgency to achieve our aims. We do that just to fulfil our worldly needs. Do we address the issue of the appearance of our Imam (peace be upon him) with the same high degree of urgency? Certainly, No! We do not take a serious step towards building the platform for our Imam (peace be upon him) to appear. We typically use wishful thinking level of urgency. We have to stop wishing, as wishing on its own will lead nowhere! The tragic and dreadful reality of the Shia community reveals that we cannot assemble the necessary number required to support the Imam (peace be upon him) in his appearance.
This small number, 313, of true, loyal and brave supporters required to be next to the Imam (peace be upon him) in his appearance is not available. We do not have 313 heroic, distinguished, pious, devout and daring leaders for the path of Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them), despite our number is in hundreds of millions. All those pledges of allegiance or pledges by thousands of Shias around the world that take place every morning in the recital of Duaa Al A’ahad are nothing but lip movements or false piety.
Verily! It is scandalous indeed! The Imam (peace be upon him) is only in need of 313 genuine, faithful, reliable, committed and unswerving pledges of allegiance by steadfast, devout and resolute believing Shia men and women. Where are they?
Imam Al Jawad (peace be upon him) said:
313 people will gather to him from all over the world, the same number of the people who fought at Badr. This is confirmed in the Quran: ‘Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you forth all together. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.
When that number of faithful people is assembled for his cause, Allah will make the appearance take place.
Kamal Al-Deen wa Tamam Al Ni’amah, by Al Sadooq, page 378
Is there a far greater embarrassment than that? What can we say to justify the non-availability of the required number of faithful people? We ask him daily to save us. We do not understand until now that our salvation is conditional. We need to reform ourselves first and foremost. If we agreed truly to sacrifice our souls for the sake of his awaited emergence, and that was not just sheer talk, rather talk that is transformed into action, he will not be delayed. He will unveil himself and emerge to the whole world.
Could anyone tolerate the criticism if he was blamed for being the reason behind the delay of the appearance of the Imam (peace be upon him)? Can anyone take it if he was told:
It was you who kept the Imam (peace be upon him) out of sight?
None of us will tolerate those accusations! Although if you pause for a second and really think of the matter and ponder over it, you will know deep down that such accusations are not baseless.
How? Let us go back in time to the report of Ali, son of Mahziyar (may Allah be pleased with him). He met the Imam of Time (peace be upon him) during the Hajj season. It is a renowned story. The Imam (peace be upon him) sent one of his helpers to fetch Ali, son of Mahziyar, to the Imam (peace be upon him). He was beside the Ka’ba door, praying that Allah will make his wish come true. When the helper came by, he told him:
How can I help you?” He turned anxiously and replied: “Help me to meet the Hidden Imam”? The helper said: “He is not hidden, but rather your misdeeds and sins obstructed you from seeing him.
Bihar Al Anwar, volume 53, page 321
Therefore, had it not been for our misdeeds and sins, the Imam (peace be upon him) would not have been out of our sight. He is not hidden, but rather, we are not able to recognise him due to our actions. Otherwise, the Imam (peace be upon him) is present, but he is out of our vision. He performs Hajj every year. He attends Arafat. Yet, we cannot identify him.
He performs Ziarat and stands before the holy shrines. He attends our gatherings. He walks with us in processions. Yet, we have been unable to identify him, due to our disobedience. Our sins have deprived us of seeing him. His actual presence became veiled or concealed.
As for those among us who fear Allah, perform good deeds and truly struggle for the sake of Allah in person and against evil, oppression and deviation; those among us who took refuge in Allah to not slip into the traps of Satan; those among us who turned their daily pledges of allegiance to the Imam (peace be upon him) into practical terms and actions; those among us who reformed themselves and their surroundings and invited people to the way of Allah prudently and discreetly; those are the ones who can meet the Imam (peace be upon him) in such places and locations. As for the rest of us, we cannot, and will not, unless we make drastic changes!
There are many reports on people who had the privilege to see and speak to the Imam (peace be upon him and may Allah hasten his reappearance), whereas, there were others with them and around them who had no sight of the Imam (peace be upon him), as if they were blind.
Take the famous incident of Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Mahdi Bahr Al Uloom. He stood on the side of the road with a group of his staff. Shia masses were performing the annual ritual of Tuwayreech by running into Karbala. This is an extraordinary ritual whereby Shia masses spontaneously run and scream in agony towards the shrine of Imam Al Hussain (peace be upon him). Previously, scholars did not take part in this ritual as it might infringe their image and social status. However, Sayed Bahr Al Uloom suddenly went out of his way, joined the Shia massive procession, ran and screamed in agony. His staff tried to dissuade or discourage him, but they failed. When the ritual run was over, he was asked why he joined in.
He replied after many persistent questions:
You have not seen him. I have seen him. My Master, the Imam of Time (peace be upon him) has taken part in that massive procession, screaming in agony over his grandfather Imam Al Hussain (peace be upon him)! How do you expect me not to take part?
Tareekh Al Niaha, by Sayed Al Shahristani Saleh, volume 2, page 73
All those huge numbers of Shia performing the run could not view the Imam (peace be upon him), but one honourable Sayed did. They have made themselves unaware of the sight of the Imam (peace be upon him). A true, faithful, uncorrupted and devout Shia can notice and catch the sight of the Imam (peace be upon him and may Allah hasten his reappearance), even if he literally was blind. However, if a Shia individual could set his eyes literally beyond the sun, he will never be able to observe the Imam (peace be upon him) even if he was beside him. If he had been uncommitted to his faith, he could not recognise the Imam (peace be upon him).
Imam Al Baqir (peace be upon him) once accompanied Abu Baseer (may Allah be pleased with him) to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. He asked Abu Baseer:
Ask the people around, can they notice me?” Abu Baseer asked everyone he passed by in the Mosque whilst walking beside Imam Al Baqir (peace be upon him): “Has anyone seen Abu Jaffar (peace be upon him)?” Everyone’s reply was: “No”! Imam Al Baqir (peace be upon him) was there and then inside the Mosque beside them all. After a short period, Abu Haroon, a blind man came to the Mosque. Imam Al Baqir (peace be upon him) ordered Abu Baseer to go to him and ask him the same question. Abu Haroon, the blind man, replied: “Is he not the one standing whilst the rest inside are sitting?” Abu Baseer was amazed. He asked him: “How could you tell?” He replied: “How can I not tell when he was a glowing light?
Al Khara’ij Wal Jaraia’ih, volume 2, page 596
A blind man, but with acute insight can see the Imam, whereas, a sighted man with blind insight and sightless perception can never notice the Imam. So, of which kind of those people are you? We have to review our position towards the concealment of the Imam (peace be upon him). He is not out of sight. He is present. He knows all about our affairs. We are incapable of noticing him as we are keeping ourselves in a big distance away from him. We do not think of him and about him in the same degree and intensity as we do of and about our daily affairs and worries.
Is there anyone among us who set himself the aim or target to meet the Imam of Time (peace be upon him) before death comes by? If such an idea or aim had ever been contemplated by one Shia individual, how serious will he take such a thought into accomplishment as he does with the case of daily affairs?
If a Shia individual wanted to be a successful businessman, you would find him relentlessly pursuing his ambition. He would not settle until he achieved his goal. He would work day and night to reach that aim. Who among us is relentlessly and uncompromisingly pursuing his wish of meeting the Imam (peace be upon him)?
There is a letter with an official seal of the Imam (peace be upon him) given to Sheikh Al Mufeed (may Allah be pleased with him). In that letter, the Imam (peace be upon him) confirmed:
We are aware of all your matters. None of your troubles and concerns are absent form us. We have been aware of all your issues ever since contemporary generations departed from the good heritage of the elder ones. They have accordingly broken their covenant and pledge with us as though they have been oblivious.
Tahdheeb Al Ahkam, volume 1, page 38
It is hereby that the Imam (peace be upon him) exposes our misfortunes. We have broken our pledge with Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them) and driven ourselves towards the fulfilment of our desires. Such an approach was not present with our pious forefathers. How shameful is our status quo?
Now that the matter has become clear: we have blocked our own sight from meeting the Imam (peace be upon him). We are the reason behind his delay in appearance. We have broken our pledge, and we have moved away from the path of our forefathers. How can we rectify the situation? What can we do to get closer to the Imam (peace be upon him)? What can we do to enlist in his task force? What can we do to save ourselves?
The answer is found in the same letter sent to Sheikh Al Mufeed:
Let each one of you do his utmost to get closer to us and let each one of you do his utmost to avoid our displeasure, as our Matter could become alive all of a sudden. At that point, no amount of regret will be of any good and no escape will be offered from punishment.
So, strive to carry out good deeds that will bring about the satisfaction of Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them) and avoid corrupt deeds that will bring about their displeasure before it is too late to regret. Let us contemplate, wake up and carry out good deeds, perhaps then, we could be successful in receiving the satisfaction of our Master (peace be upon him) – may our souls be sacrificed for his arrival!
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib