Reappearance of the Master of the Time
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.
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).