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The 12th Imam, Mahdi "P.B.U.H"
In the fifth part it is supposed to study the life of Imam Mahdi (P.b. u.h) and the spiritual message of shi’ism.
The promised Mahdi, who is usually mentioned by his title of Imam –I Asr (the Imam of the “Period”) and sahib al- Za man ( the Lord of the Age), is the son of the eleventh Imam.
His name is the same as that of the Holy prophet, he was born in samarrah in 256/868 and until 260/ 872 when his father was martyred, Iived under his father’s care and tutel aga, he was hidden from public view and only a few of the elite among shi’ah were able to meet him.
After the martyrdom of his father he became Imamand by Divine Command went into occultation (ghaybat). Thereafter he appeared only to his deputies (na’ib) and even then only in exceptional circumstances (Bihar al- anwar, VOI, LI,PP,2-34-and PP,343-366,kitab al-ghaybah of Muhammad ibnHasan Tusi, Tehran, 1324, PP214-243, Ithbat al hudat, VOI,VI,and VII).
The Imam chose as a special deputy for a time Uthman ibn Sa’id Umari, one of the companions of his father and grandfather who was his confidant and trusted friend. Through his deputy the Imam would answer the demands and questions of the shi’ah. After Uthman ibn Sa’id, his son Muhammad ibn Uthman Umari was appointed the deputy of the Imam. After the death of Muhammad ibn Uthman, Abu’I Qasim Hossein ibn Nawbakhti was the special deputy and after his death Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari was chosen for this task (Bihar al- anwar, VOI, LI, PP360-361 kitab al-ghaybah of Tusi, P, 242).
A few days before the death of Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari in 329/939 an order was issued by the Imam stating that in six days Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari would die. Henceforth the special deputation of the Imam would come to an end and the major occultation (ghaybat-I kubra) would begin and would continue until the day God grants permission to the Imam to manifest himself.
The occultation of the twelfth Imam is, therefore divided into two parts:the first, the minor occultation(ghaybat-I sughra) which begin in 260/872 ended in 329/939. lasting about seventy years, the second the major occultation which commenced in 329/939 and will continue as long as God wills, in ahadithupon whose authenticity every one agrees, the holy prophet has said, “If there were to remain in the life of the world but one day, God would prolong that day until he sends in it a man from my community and my house hold. His name will be the same as my name. he will fill the earth equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.
General discussion about the appearance of Mahdi "P.B.U.H"
In the discussion on prophecy and the imamate it was indicated that as a result of the law of general guidance which governs all of creation, man is of necessity endowed with the power of receiving revelation through prophecy, which directs him toward the perfection of the human norm and the well- being of the human species. Obviously, if this perfection and happiness were not possible for man, whose life possesses asocial aspect, the very fact that he is endowed withhis power would be meaningless and futile. But there is no futility in creation.
In other words, ever since he has inhabited the earth, man has had the wish to lead a social life filled with happiness its true sense and has striven toward this end. If a wish were not to have an objective existence it would never have been imprinted upon man’s inner nature, in the same way that if there were not food there would have been no hunger .or if there were to be no water there would be no thirst and ifthere were to be no reproduction there would have been no sexual attraction between the sexes.
Therefore, by reason, of inner necessity and determination, the future will see aday when human society will be replete with justice and when all will live in peace and tranquility, when human beings will be fully possessed of virtue and perfection, the establishment of such a condition will occur through human hands but with Divine succor, and the leader of such a society, who will be the savior of man, is called in the language of the hadith, the Mahdi.
In the different religions that govern the would such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and IsIam there are references to a person who will come as the savior of mankind. These religions have usually given happy tidings of his coming, although there are naturally certain differences in detail that can be discerned when these teaching are compared carefully. The hadith of the holy prophet upon which all Muslims agree “The Mahdi is of my progeny”, refers to this same truth.
Special discussion about the appearance of Mahdi
There are numerous hadith cited in Sunni and shi’ite sources from the holy prophet and Imams concerning the appearance of the Mahdi, such as thathe is of the progency of the prophet and that his appearance will enable human society to reach true perfection and the full realization of spiritual life (Abu Ja’far (the fifth Imam) has said,” when our support “(qa’ im) rises, Allah will place his hand upon the head of seventh. Then through him their minds will come together and through him their intellect will become perfected” (Bihar al- an war, VOI, LII, PP, 328, and 336) Abu Abu Abdullah (the sixth Imam) has said, “knowledge is comprised of twenty- seven tatters, and all has been brought by the prophet is comprised of two letters, and men have not gained knowledge of any thing but these two letters. When our support “(qa’ im) comes forth, he will make manifest the other twenty –five letters and will spread them among the people. He will add the two letters to them so that they become propagated in the from of twenty-seven letters (Bihar al- an war, VOI, LII, P336). In addition, there are numerous other traditions concerning the fact that the Mahdi is the son of the eleventh Imam, Has an al- Askari. They agree that after being born and undergoing a long occultation the Mahdi will appear again, filling with justice the world that has been corrupted in justice and iniquity.
As an example, Ali ibn Musa al- Rida (theeighthImam) has said, in the course of the hadith, the Imam after me is my son, Muhammad, and after him his son Ali, and after Ali his son, Hasan, and after Hasan his son Hujjat al- Qa’im, who is awaited during his occultation and obeyed during his manifestation. If there remain from the life of the world but a single day Allah will extend that day until he becomes manifest,and fill the would with justice in the same way that it had been filled with justice in the same why that it had been filled with iniquity, but when? As for news of the “hour”, verily my father told me, having heard it from his father who heard it from his father who heard it from his ancestors who heard it from Ali, that it was asked of the holy prophet, oh prophet of God, when will the “support” “(qa’ im) who is from thy family appear? He said, his case is like that of hour (of the Resurrection). He alone will manifest it at its proper time. It is heavy in the heavens and the earth. It cometh not to you save unawares (Quran, VII, 187).
Saqr ubn Abi Dulaf said, “Iheard from Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Ali al- Rida [the ninth Imam] who said, The Imam after me is my son Ali, his command is my command, his word is my word, to command is the command of father, to obey him is to obey his father, After these words the Imam remained silent.Isaid to him, oh son of the prophet, who will be the Imam after Hasan? Imam cried hard, then said, Verily after Hasan his son is the awaited Imam who is al- qa’im bi’l haqq ( He who is supported by the Truth).
Musa ibn Ja’far Baghdadi sadi, “ I head from the Imam Abu Muhammad al – Hasan ibn Ali [ the eleventh Imam] who said, Isee that after differences will appear among you concerning the Imam after me. Whoso accepts the Imams after the prophet of God but denies my son is like the person who accepts all the prophet but the prophethood of Muhammad, the prophet of God, upon whom be peace and blessing, and Whoso denies [Muhammad] the prophet of God is like one who has denied allthe prophet of God, for to obey the last of us is like obeying the first and to deny the last of us is like denying the first. But beware! Verily for my son there is an occultation during which all people will fall into doubt except those whom Allah protects.
Some questions and answers about the appearance
The opponents of shi’ism protest that according to the beliefs this school the Hidden Imam should by now be nearly twelve centuries old, whereas this is impossible for any human being. In answer it must be said that the protest is based only on the unlikehood of such an occurrence, not its impossibility. Of course such a long lifetime or a life of a longer period is unlikely. but those who study the hadiths of the holy prophet and the Imams will see that they refer to this life as an possessing miraculous qualities, Miracles are certainly not impossible nor can they be negated through scientific arguments, it can never be proved that the cause and agents that are functioning in the world are solely those that we see and know and that other causes which we do not know or whose effects and actions we have not seen nor understood do not exist.it is in this way possible that in one or several members of mankind there can be operating certain causes and agents which bestow upon them averylong life a thousand or several thousand years Medicine has not even lost hope of discovering a way to achieve very long life spans. In any case such protests from”people of the Book “such as Jews, Christians and Muslims are most strange for they accept the miracles of the prophet of God according to their own sacred scriptures.
The opponents of shi’ism also protest that, although shi’ism considers the Imam necessary in order to expound the injunctions and verities of religion and to guide the people, occultation of the Imam is the negation of this very purpose, for an Imam in occultation who cannot be reached by mankind cannot be in any way beneficial or effective. The opponents say that if God wills to bring forth an Imam to reform mankind he is able to create him at the necessary moment and does not need to create him thousands of years earlier. In answer it must be said that suchpeople have notrealy understood the meaning of the Imam, for in the discussion on the imamate it became clearhat the duty of the Imam is not only the formal explanation of the religious sciences and exoteric guidance of the people. In the same way that he has the duty of guiding men outwardly, the Imam also bears the function of walayat and the esoteric guidance of men. It is he who directs man’s spiritual life and orients the inner aspect of human action toward God. Clearly, his physical presence or absence has no effect in this matter. The Imam watches overmen inwardly and is in communion with the soul and spirit of men even if he be hidden from their physical eyes. His existence is always necessary even if the time has not yet arrived his outward appearance and the universal reconstruction that he is to bring about.
The spiritual massage of Shi'ism
The message of shi’ism to the world can be summarized in one sentence “To know God” or in other words, it is to instruct man to follow the path of Divine realization and the knowledge of God in order to gain felicity and salvation. And this message is contained in very phrase with which the holy prophet commenced his prophetic mission when he said: “oh men! Know God in his Oneness (and ac knowledge him) so that you will gain salvation.
As a summary explanation of this message we will add that man is attached by nature bynature to many goals in this worldly life andto material pleasures. he loves tasty food and drink, fashionable dress, attractive palaces and surrounding, a beautiful and pleasuring wife, sincere friend and great wealth, and in another direction he is attracted to political power, position, reputation, the extension of his rule and dominion and the destruction of any thing that is opposed to his wishes, but in his inner and primordial, God – given nature man understands that all these are means created for man, but man is not created for allthings. These things should be subservient to man and follow him and not vice versa. To consider the stomach and the region below it as a final end of life is the logic of cattle and sheep. To tear up, cut and destroy other is the logic of the tiger, the wolf and the fox. The logic inherent in human existence is the attainment of wisdom and nothing else.
This logic based upon wisdom with the power which it possesses to discern between reality and the unreal guides us to toward the truth and not toward things our emotions demand or toward passion, selfishness and egoism, this logic considers man as a part of the totality of creation without any separate independence or the possibility of a rebellious self-centeredness, in contrast to the current belief that man is the master of creation and tames rebellious nature and conquers it to force it to obey his wishes and desires, we find that in reality man himself is an instrument in the hand ofUniversal Nature and is ruled and commanded by it.
This logic based upon wisdom invites man concentrate more closely upon apprehension he has of the existence of this world until’ it becomes clear to him that the world of existence and all that is in it does not issue from itself but rather from an infinite source. He will then know that all beauty and ugliness, all these creatures of the earth and the heavens, which appear outwardly as independent realities, gain reality only through another Reality and are manifested only in its Light, not by themselves and through themselves. In the same way that the “realities” of today no more than vaguely remembered dreams in relation to what will appear as “reality” tomorrow. In the last analyais, every thing in itself is no more than a tale and a dream. Only God is Reality in the absolute sense. The who does not perish Under the protection of his Being, every thing gains existence and becomes manifested through the the Light of his Essence.
If man becomes endowed with such vision and power of apprehension, then the tent of his separative existence will fall down before his eyes like a bubble on the surface of water. He will see with eyes that the world and is it depend upon an Infinite Being who possesses life, power, knowledge and every perfection to an infinite degree. Man and every other being in the world are like so many windows which display according to their capacity the world of eternity transcends them and lies beyond them. It is at this moment that man takes from himself and all creatures the quality of independence and primacy and returns these qualities to their Owner, he detaches himself from all things to attach himself solely to the one God. Before hid Majesty and Grandeur he does nothing but bow in humility. Only then does he become guided and directed by God that whatever he knows he knows in God. Through Divine guidance he become adorned with moral and spiritual virtue and pure actions which are the same as IsIam itself the submission to God, the religion that is in the primordial nature of things.
This is highest degree of human perfection and the station of the perfect man ( the Universal Man, insan-I kanil), namely the Imamwhohas reached this rank Through Divine grace, Furthermore, those who have reached this station Through the practice of spiritual methods, with the different ranks and stations that they possess, are the true followers of the Imam ,it becomes thus clear that the knowledge of God and of the Imam is inseparable in the same way that the knowledge of God is inextricably connected to the knowledge of one self, for he who knowshis own symbolic existence has already come to know the true existence which belongs solely to God whois independent and without need of any thing whatsoever.
shiah- pages:311 to 322
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