To accomplish this, we must consider ourselves the true companions of the Imam of the Age, just as Salman al-Farsi, Abu Dhar al-Ghifari, Ammar Yasir, and Malik al-Ashtar were the companions of Imam Ali, and the martyrs and survivors of Karbala were the true companions of Imam Hussain. We must mold our characters to emulate the Ahlul Bayt to be like the best companions.
“It is on this day that Allah will destroy your enemies and the enemies of your grandfather, and it is on this day when Allah will accept the actions of your Shia and those who love you. This is the day when the words of Allah came true where He said (in the Qur’an): ‘So those are the houses fallen down because they were unjust.'” (27:52) – Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny), speaking to Imams Ali, Hasan and Hussain (peace be upon them) about the date 9 Rabi al-Awwal, known as Eid az-Zahra.
Eid az-Zahra is so called because it is noted in the traditions as a happy day for the daughter of the Holy Prophet, Bibi Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her), for it would mark an end to the period of mourning over her son Hussain and his companions after the tragedy of Karbala. On this date, Umar ibn Sa’ad, who commanded the army against Imam Hussain in Karbala, was executed for his crimes by the order of Mukhtar. It is said that it is the first date after enduring the tragedy of Karbala that Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him) smiled, and that it was a tradition of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) to mark this day as a great Eid.
This date is important for another reason as well; it is the date that begins the Imamate of our Living Imam, Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance). We mourn the passing of his father on the previous date, which marks an end to the period of mourning often collectively called “Muharram”, even though it includes dates spreading through the lunar months of Muharram, Safar, and Rabi al-Awwal. Eid az-Zahra marks an end of mourning and a beginning of happiness for the coming of our Imam, who will bring justice where it had been denied to his ancestors.
It is highly recommended to perform ghusl, wear fresh clothes, give charity, and to meet with one another in praise of Ahlul Bayt and commemoration of the occasion.
Eid az-Zahra is also a date to bring to mind that we indeed have a Living Imam whom we follow, and that we owe our allegiance to him and are obligated to serve him and fulfill our duties as Shia.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (peace be upon him) said, “The best means through which servants can achieve closeness to Allah, Mighty and Glorious, is the obedience of Allah, the obedience of His Messenger, and the obedience of those charged with (spiritual) authority.” Then, he added: “The love of us (Ahlul Bayt) is Faith and the hatred for us is infidelity.”
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) said: “Verily there are various degrees of serving Allah, but love for us, Ahlul Bayt, is the highest one.”
The duty of the Shias during the major occultation is to make ourselves ready for the return of the Imam such that, were he to arrive out of occultation at any moment, we would be acceptable to him to serve him and his cause as needed, and that we would be ready and able to do so.
To accomplish this, we must consider ourselves the true companions of the Imam of the Age, just as Salman al-Farsi, Abu Dhar al-Ghifari, Ammar Yasir, and Malik al-Ashtar were the companions of Imam Ali, and the martyrs and survivors of Karbala were the true companions of Imam Hussain. We must mold our characters to emulate the Ahlul Bayt to be like the best companions. We must educate ourselves on the right path and persist in good works and keeping away from sin. We must not be satisfied with the status quo or mediocrity.
Imam as-Sadiq once said, “A person is not considered one of our Shia if he lives in a town with a population of 100,000, and there is someone among them who is more pious than him.”
We must take this concept to heart and strive with our full efforts to achieve the highest ranks of piety that we can. We should pray to be included among the true awaiting ones of the Imam, such that our acts and intentions are symbols of our sincerity in this regard.
We should fervently pray for the end of his occultation and recite dua for his safety and welfare and as our oaths of allegiance. Examples of supplications to be recited, such as Dua Ahad, can be found at http://www.duas.org/imamezamana.htm