We are living in an era where our Imam al-Mahdi (a.t.f.s) is not visible to us. Unlike during the times of the early Imams (a.s) when the people then were able to see and live with the Holy personalities. This does not mean that the Imam (a.s) is away from us but rather we are not aware of his presence and do not pay heed of his excellence.
The Imam (a.s) is in the period of occultation where he awaits the right call from the true believers so that he can reappear and establish the system of Allah (s.w.t).
The appointment of the Imams (a.s) has been stated in the Holy Qur’an in Surah al-Baqarah, ayah 124:
“He said: Surely I will make you an Imam of men. Ibrahim said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust, said He.”
When Imam Mahdi (a.s) would appear and Islam would be established in the whole world with his coming, the entire earth would be ruled by him and all disbelievers will vanish from the face of the earth. He will make the truth flow into the earth and will wipe out falsehood forever.
This is supported in Surah Bani Israel, ayah 81:
“And say: The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished; surely falsehood is a vanishing (thing).”
The Imam (a.s) will come back and take full control of the whole world. He will set up an institute which will be full of justice and peace. He will abolish all the injustice and wars going on. Imam (a.s) will have only 313 leader’s in his army to take over the world. These 313 will be the utmost righteous believers.
The return of the Imam (a.s) has been mentioned in the Qur’an in a metaphorical way:
“Say, ‘Have you not thought that if your water was to dry up, who would bring you water from the spring?’” (Surah al-Mulk, ayah 30)
In the traditions that we have from the AhlulBayt (a.s), this verse has been explained as being related to the return of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) and the universal justice which he will spread throughout the world.
Among these traditions, there is one quoted from Imam al-Baqir (a.s) where he has stated, “This verse was revealed in relation to Imam al-Qa’im (may Allah the Grand hasten his noble advent). He (Allah) has said, ‘If your Imam was to go into occultation from you and you did not know where he was, then who would be able to bring your Imam (back to you); who would be able to inform you of the events in the Heavens and the Earth and the permissible (halal) of Allah and what He has made forbidden (haram)?’
The apparent reading of this verse is related to the flowing water which is the source of life for all living creations, while the inner meaning of the verse is in regards to the presence of the Imam (a.s) and the knowledge and justice that he will spread throughout the world – which is also the source of life for all human beings.
What are our duties during this period?
As his followers, we are obliged to be waiting for his reappearance. There are two ways of his awaiting:
Active – through starting movements or active work for the sake of Allah (s.w.t) and spreading His message
Passive – through reciting supplications and praying to Allah (s.w.t) to hasten his reappearance
Being his followers does not give us the advantage to sit at home and just relax thinking that we are on the right path and it would suffice, rather we are supposed to improve our relation with Imam (a.s) through hard work and practicing Allah (s.w.t)’s divine religion.
In order to be successful in the course and camp of Imam (a.s), we are supposed to improve our relation with him as well as understand who this holy personality is. Below is a Du’a which will InshaAllah help us to obtain the goal of Ma’rifat:
“O Allah! Grant ma’rifah of Yourself. For, if I do not have the ma’rifah of You then I will never know Your Prophet.
O Allah Grant me ma’rifah of Your Prophet (saws) for if I do not have ma’rifah of your messenger then I will never know Your Representative.
O Allah! Grant me ma’rifah of Your Representative for if I do not have the ma’rifah of Your Representative, then surely I have gone astray from my religion.”