As the devotees of our beloved occulted Imam (may Allah hasten his reappearance), we often speak about the idea of awaiting our Imam. There are many narrations which confirm that exercising Intidhar Al Faraj(awaiting the relief) is the best and most important type of worship. It is the best form of Jihad, and Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has said, “Await the relief, and do not become desperate from the Spirit of Allah, as the best of deeds near Allah is Intidhar Al-Faraj…and he who waits regarding our matter is like one who sacrificed his blood for Allah.”
What Does it Mean to Await?
In the context of our Imam, to await him really means to be prepared for his return. For example, if you are expecting a VIP guest at home, you will surely prepare yourself and your home and be ready to greet him when he arrives. However, if your guest appears at your door and finds the lights out, sees you in your pajamas, and finds your home in a mess, then it is a sign that the host was not awaiting or preparing for the guest’s arrival.
There are five key elements of Intidhaar that must be implemented for it to become a reality:
- To become discontent about the current situation and circumstances which will lead us to oppose and criticize.
- To have a clear vision of our aim and an adamant desire for the establishment of the Imam’s divine government.
- To have strong and unwavering faith in the reappearance of our Imam and his great role in manifesting Divine justice and rule. As believers, we may bear the knowledge of his reappearance and its signs, but it is a totally different ballgame to actually believe in that concept without an atom of hesitation or doubt.
- To have Tasdeeq in the return of the Imam means a high level of certitude that it will happen, which will then cause us to supplicate and request its hastened occurrence.
- Another important quality which the followers of our Imam should possess is loyalty and steadfastness to the Divine cause of our Imam. This sense of loyalty will cause us to be patient in the midst of trials and tribulations in this world. It will lead to perseverance which Imam Hussain and Lady Zainab (peace be upon them) taught us in the Karbala tragedy, that no matter how much hardship we face, we must never lose hope in Divine relief. We should not be among those who will lose their faith and return back on their covenants at the time of the reappearance of our Imam. While the devotees of the Imam are exercising patience, this patience should be accompanied by active cooperation with the other devotees of our Imam to defend the system of Wilayah by all means, until Allah wills for His ultimate mercy to be manifested in the reappearance of the Imam.
We are encouraged to recite in Dua Nudba, “When shall we abridge the gap that separates us from the vision so that we may refer to the authority? How long shall we keep waiting for your pleasing satisfying essence and quality? Already the period of expectation has lasted too long! When shall we receive our share from you and have our minds set at rest? For we have fixed our eyes upon you and strive with perseverance. When shall we be happy, and see your beautiful form and fine aspect?”
- When we have reached the point of certitude coupled with yearning to our Imam, which leads to beseeching our Lord in this regards, we will then DO something about it! Our feeling of longing for our beloved Imam will cause us to take actions to support his government and set the stage for it. We will prepare ourselves spiritually and religiously, so that we can serve under him and raise our children to become his committed soldiers. In fact, our level of certitude is proportionate to our willingness to act in support of that purpose.
What does our Occulted Imam expect the Shias to do during his Ghaybat (occultation)?
In a letter he wrote to Shaikh al-Mufid, where he acknowledged his merit and being pleased with him, the Imam prayed for the success of the Shias in obeying Allah. He then writes: “If our Shia, may Allah give them success to His obedience, unite together by the hearts in fulfilling the covenant that they were trusted with, the grace of meeting us would not have been delayed for them; and happiness would have reached them quickly by witnessing us.” The message our Imam conveys is that if his devotees unite together by the souls and hearts based on the bond of Wilayah which exist between them, then the reappearance and Faraj will be manifested and hastened. This means that the believers should come together and unite under the cause of the Awaited Imam, which is the covenant of Wilayah. This unity among believers is not limited to simply reciting Dua Wahdat after prayers or gathering in religious occasions only during the holy months of Ramadan and Muharram. It is an unbreakable unity that should emanate from the heart. No matter how many differences we have with our brothers who follow a different Marja or have a different opinion, or if we suffer from petty mundane issues, as long as the bond of Wilayah exists, we should forgive and make all efforts to maintain that unity that is established under the Straight Path.
It has been narrated that a person came to Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) and claimed that “we” in Kufa were ready to fight for the Imam’s cause. Imam Sadiq asked, “How are the people united? Is the situation such that any believer can place his hands in the pocket of his fellow believer and take what he wants?” The man answered negatively to that question. The main point which the Imam was trying to make is that real unity is a unity of the souls which leads to complete trust and love like a magnetic attraction, where the magnet is our unwavering love and submission to the Wilayah of Ahlul Bayt. The profound words of Lady Fatima (peace be upon her) answer our questions about how to establish unity when she said, “Allah has created Wilayah to displace the disunity in the Muslim nation with unity.” When we as Muslims accept and submit to this leadership assigned upon us by Allah, there will not be any disunity caused due to disagreement, because there will only be one “captain” of the ship.
This bond of Wilayah among the believers is such that nothing can come in between them, and one is ready to give and sacrifice for one another. This quality of exceptional brotherhood which exceeds blood relations is what our Imam is looking for. These are the kinds of soldiers which he can depend on to be among the fortunate 313 believers who will support the Imam’s government and who will tread the path of the martyrs of Karbala. We should take this moment to question ourselves whether we are really those believers who have unified with our brothers and sisters to the point of trust with our own property and what is valuable to us.