Affectionate Imam (a.t.f.s.) – Inheritor of the mercy for the universes
Amongst all the prophets and messengers (a.s.), the title of “the mercy for the universes” is reserved with the personality of Holy Prophet Hazrat Mohammed Mustafa (s.a.w.a.). His mercy and affection are perpetual and universal, just like his prophethood. Every particle of this universe praises of his mercy. A small example of this is how he forgave the disbelievers after the conquest of Mecca.
History is witness that after the proclamation of his prophethood, the leaders of Quraish in Mecca left no stone unturned in torturing him. They bore enmity with him in all possible ways, tried all means to assassinate him, due to which, he had to migrate from his beloved birthplace, Mecca. Even after migration to Medina, the inhabitants of Mecca did not let him live peacefully. Every now and then, a new battle – a new calamity. In these battles, Quraish killed Janab Hamza (a.s.) and many others. But, after the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah, when the army of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) entered Mecca, his companions who had witnessed pains at the hands of the Meccans, were talking about the revenge, but the mercy of the universes said: “Today is not the day of revenge, rather a day of forgiveness and mercy”. His mercy forgave everyone. God willing, on the day of judgement, this mercy will be the source of our forgiveness and intercession.
Son of the mercy of the universes
All the sons bestowed as Aimmah Masoomeen (a.s.) by Allah, are embodiment and reflection of all the virtues of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). All the virtues, which were given to all the prophets (a.s.), the last messenger (s.a.w.a.) and Aimmah Masoomeen (a.s.), are present in entirety in the holy being of Hazrat Wali-e-Asr, Imam-e-Zamana – Hujjat ibn Hasan al-Askari (a.t.f.s.).
On blessed occasion of the birth of chief of martyrs, Imam Husain (a.s.), Allah presented a green tablet to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that was scripted with light. The great messenger (s.a.w.a.) then gifted this tablet to Janab Fatima Zahra (s.a.) that is commonly known, in the realm of traditions, as “Tablet of Fatima”. In this tablet, the name of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), the names of 12 Imams (a.s.) with their attributes are mentioned. Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is mentioned in it as:
“I will complete the chain of guidance with the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) who is a mercy for the universes. He has the merits of Hazrat Moosa (a.s.), the beauty of Hazrat Isa (a.s.), and the patience of Hazrat Ayyub (a.s.). During his occultation, my friends and helpers will be humiliated, their heads will be presented like the heads of Turks and Daylams, they will be killed and burned. They will remain awestruck, in fear and always distraught. The earth will be coloured with their blood. A hue and cry will be raised by their women. But these are my real friends and helpers. Through them, I will alleviate darkness and mischiefs. Through them, I will avert the earthquakes and will remove chains of misfortunes. On these people is the salutations and the mercy from their Lord and only they are the guided ones.”
In this tradition, which is known as “Hadith e Qudsi” (words of Allah), Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) is referred to as “mercy for the Universes”. There is one more similarity between Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and that is, Prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.a.) is the seal of messengers and there are no prophets after him. In the same way, Imam Mahdi (a.s.) is the seal of Imamat and there are no Imams after him. Just like Prophethood terminated with Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), the chain of Imamat and guidance ended with him (a.t.f.s.).
The attributes and merits of Aimmah (a.s.), Messengers (a.s.) and Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) will become apparent, and reach the pinnacles of glory after the reappearance. In the same way, the universal mercy of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) will be manifested through Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.).
Amongst the numerous Ziyarat of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.), one Ziyarat is “Ziyarat-e-Aal-e-Yaseen” which has come from Ziyarah e Nahiyah e Muqaddesa. Regarding this ziyarat, Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) says:
“Whenever you intend to turn your attention towards Allah or towards us, then say as Allah has ordered – Peace be upon the progeny of Yaseen”
One sentence of this important Ziyarat is as follows:
“Peace be upon you, O the raised standard, the overflowing knowledge, aid and encompassing mercy. This is verily a promise that shall never be belied.”
In this Ziyarat, Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) is referred to as a helper, an aid and as an expansive mercy. He (a.t.f.s.) is the mercy for the universes and an expansive mercy.
Man can never comprehend the mercy of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) that is expansive, great, deep, and unprejudiced.
A Kind Father
Regarding the greatness and the high position of Imamat, Imam Reza (a.s.) enumerates the characteristics of an Imam in a famous tradition. He (a.s.) said that the appointment of the person bearing these qualities cannot be done by anyone except Allah. If people become aware about the position and greatness of Imamat, they will never consider anyone like an Imam. The position of an Imam is far too great near Allah. All the worships of the men and jinn cannot be compared with even one Takbeer of an Imam.
In this blessed tradition, Imam Reza (a.s.) says:
“Imam is the best and the closest friend and a very kind and compassionate father.”
While Imam is the lamp of guidance and an ark of salvation, he is also more merciful and compassionate than a kind father. One cannot comprehend how kind and compassionate an Imam is for his followers – his mercy is limitless and boundless. The incidences that we find regarding the mercy and kindness of Imam are not even a drop in the ocean of his mercy. They are just like an iota of a particle in the limitless and expansive horizon.
Cognizance of our affairs
A compassionate and a kind father is always cognizant about the affairs of his children, guides and prays for them, and keeps protecting them from impending dangers. Hazrat Wali-e-Asr (a.s.) has addressed a sincere and loyal preacher of the Shia faith – Shaikh Mufeed (a.r.) in a letter that is terminologically known as “Tauqee”. In this letter, Imam (a.s.) writes:
“At the moment, we are living far away due to oppressors. Allah has deemed this as better for us and our Shias. Till the time oppressors continue to rule this world, this arrangement will be continued. We are aware about all your affairs and know each and everything of yours. The disgrace that you are going through is also known to us. Many of you are turning towards those things from which your ancestors kept away. These people have left their covenant behind, as if they have no knowledge about it.”
Our betrayals, covenant breaking, leaving the paths of our ancestors, and the disgrace as a result of all these is a cause of pain and discomfort for our Imam (peace be upon him). Despite these discomforts, he talks to us like a beneficent father. Read these statements from the tauqee very carefully and gauge how kind is our Imam (peace be upon him) towards us. He further adds,
“We are not negligent of your protection and caretaking and neither are we forgetful of your remembrance. Had this not been the case, afflictions would have cornered you and enemies would have annihilated you. Help us to remove the afflictions and tribulations that have surrounded you. He will be destroyed one whose time has come. These are the signs of nearness of our reappearance. You will be rewarded upon acting on our orders. Allah will complete his argument even if disbelievers are averse to it…”
(After writing some important things, he says):
“Every one of you should perform actions that would bring you closer to our love and refrain from actions that upset us and anger us. Our reappearance will be sudden, and repenting would not be beneficial then. Being shameful of your sins at that time will not bring salvation. May Allah guide you to the right path and give you good sense (taufeeq) out of His mercy and grace.”
If we patiently analyse ours affairs, excessive sins, distance from religion, adopting culture of others, keeping away from the morals and characters of Ahle Bait (a.s.), seeking this world, love of position and status, trespassing all limits while chasing power, differences in every affairs, trampling and ignoring all the limits of religion in all disagreements, sacrificing the religion over our small ego, flattering the unjust and oppressive rulers, bowing heads before the tyrants, spending extravagantly out of religious money, using the charitable endowment as if it was ours, emptying charitable treasuries and filling ours, leaving properties purchased from the money of Imam to rot, weakening the general representatives of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) in major occultation, making fun of them, objecting and insulting them, promoting the exaggerators, creating disturbances by fanning disputed topics in the community, dividing the community for the sake of few days of leadership, remaining ignorant of education and training and promoting useless rituals in society, poor girls not getting married owing to poverty, rich spending extravagantly in their weddings without considering any religious limits, making Azadari, Marjaiyyat, and Mahdaviyat that are the sources of honour and respect for the community, to be the cause of differences and discord….
In spite of all these factors, the fact that our community is alive and clean of accusations that other schools of thought are entangled in, being considered as peaceful religion in the eyes of others and protected from the curse of terrorism, isn’t all these due to effects of prayers, compassion and kindness of a benevolent and a merciful father?
Feeling of pain and agony
Parents are always concerned with their children’s sickness but they do not feel the agony and pain that the child is undergoing. But an Imam is so benevolent that he feels the heat and pain that his followers undergo. This characteristic is found in all the Imams (a.s.). Let us mention an incident here:
Rumaylah says that during the time of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), I fell severely ill. On Friday, when I felt a little better, I thought I should take bath and offer prayers behind Ameerul Momineen (a.s.). I did as I thought. I went to the mosque. When Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) rose to the pulpit to deliver the sermon, my temperature rose again. After prayers, when Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) started on his way back home, I accompanied him. He said, ‘I saw you pressing your fingers against each other.’ I narrated the entire episode to him and that the desire to pray behind him brought me here. Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) said:
“No believer falls sick except that we also feel his pain, no one is distressed except that we are equally distressed. No believer supplicates except that we say ‘Ameen’ to it and if he remains silent, we pray for him.”
I said to my master, may my life be ransomed for you, does this only apply to people who are present here or is this for all the people on the earth? Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) said, “O Rumaylah, no believer, either in east or west, is hidden from our sight.”
From this incident, we can understand the magnitude of affection that Imam (a.s.) has for his followers. He feels the pain of their sickness, is distressed in their worries, says ‘Ameen’ to their supplications and when they remain silent, he (a.s.) prays for them. Can anyone describe this love and affection? No one can even comprehend how much Imam (a.s.) loves his followers.
Prayers of Imam (a.s.) – protection of believers
We have mentioned earlier the fact that we are alive today due to the prayers of Imam-e-Asr (a.s.) who writes in one of the Tauqee to Shaikh Mufeed (a.r.):
“Do not be much worried about the oppressions. The oppressors and tyrants will never succeed in their aims because we pray for the safety (of believers) which cannot be blocked by the angels of skies and the earth. Due to this, the hearts of the believers should be at peace.”
Let us take a moment and ponder over this statement and give it a place in our hearts, “The hearts of our friends should be at peace due to our prayers”. Imam (a.s.) has used the word ‘friends’ as opposed to ‘Shias’ which expands the limits of the supplication, meaning Imam (a.s.) takes special care of his friends and followers.
One more prayer
One of the most glorious and highly revered scholars, Syed Ibne Tawoos (a.r.) narrates, I was in the cellar of Samarrah. There was a curtain of light between me and Imam (a.s.), but I was able to hear him (a.s.) praying for his (a.s.) followers:
“O Allah, our Shias have been created from the rays of our Noor and the remnants of our Teenat. They have committed a lot of sins relying on our love and mastership. O Lord! Forgive their sins which are between them and You because we are satisfied with them and reconcile those sins which are amongst themselves. Compensate them with our Khums, make them enter paradise, and keep them away from the fire of hell. O Allah! Do not include them in your wrath against our enemies.”
Ponder over the statements of this supplication. Only one statement of this supplication is enough for the honour of all the Shias. There cannot be any greater honour and respect than this – “Shias have been created with rays of our Noor and remnants of our Teenat”. Rays of the Sun, no matter how weak they are, will be part of the sun and will return to it. These rays, despite its weakness, will never be attached to the darkness. Similarly, remnants of Teenat, no matter how insignificant they are, will be a part of the original Teenat and this connection would be the basis for the Shias to enter paradise.
Imam (a.s.) seeking forgiveness for his Shias doesn’t imply that a free hand is given to the Shias to commit sins. This is like a father who is angered and upset with his son’s mischief and bad behaviour but continues to pray for him out of his fatherly love. Whereas praying for a righteous child has its own pleasure. We should strive to become the righteous child of our Imam (a.s.) so that we are included in his prayers furthermore.
Here, Imam (a.s.) doesn’t mean waiving off Khums for us, rather he (a.s.) means compensating with Khums. The wealth and properties which are causes of discord and animosity amongst the Shias, those who cannot repay the loans, in that case, O Allah compensate them with our Khums, alleviate the differences, and make peace amongst them.
Final statement is even more significant. “O Allah make them enter paradise and protect them from the fire of hell and do not include our Shias in your wrath against our enemies”. Imam (a.s.) doesn’t like his Shias to be associated with his (a.s.) enemies. The nobility of the Teenat of Ahle Bait (a.s.) demands that we remain aloof from the characters, manners and rituals of their enemies, even in this world and remain far ahead in all aspect of good deeds, so that the effects of the mastership of Ahle Bait (a.s.) remain apparent in this world.
Letter of Imam (a.s.) regarding the strengthening of beliefs
Imams (a.s.) have always stressed to their followers and Shias that they remain firm in their beliefs, especially with regards to Imamat and Wilayat. Imam Mohammed Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) had specially trained their companions for this.
The first deputy of Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.) Janab Usman Bin Saeed Amri (a.r.) says, “ibne Abi Ghaanim al-Qazvini and a few people started to dispute regarding the successor of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.). Abi Ghaanim was of the opinion that Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) left no son after him. These people then wrote a letter to Imam-e-Asr (a.s.) and the reply of His Eminence was thus:
“In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent and the most Merciful.
May Allah keep us protected from discords and bless us with a determined soul, patience and keep you safe from the unfortunate fate.
I have come to know that a few of you have fallen into doubt regarding the religion and the master of affairs. We are worried and sad about you, not for us because Allah is always with us. We are needless after this. Truth is with us and one who is away from truth doesn’t leave us alone. We are the creation of Allah and people have been created for us.
O People! Why do you doubt and object? Why are you worried and concerned? Haven’t you heard the saying of Allah – “O you who believe, obey Allah, and obey His Messenger and those having authority amongst you.” Aren’t you aware about the incidences and circumstances of the preceding Imams (a.s.)? Don’t you know how Allah has ordained a shelter for you wherein you seek refuge and has affixed the standards of guidance from which you seek guidance? Right from Hazrat Adam (a.s.) [till Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.)], whenever one standard of guidance went away, the other appeared. When one lamp extinguished, the other was lit. When the preceding Imam (a.s.) died, you assumed that Allah has destroyed His religion, has cut off the links between Him and His creations? This has never happened in the past and will never ever happen till the day of judgement. Allah will reveal His argument even if people are averse to it.
The preceding Imam (a.s.), like his forefathers, left this world while being successful and fortunate. They treaded the steps of their forefathers. Their legacies and their knowledge are with us and we are their successors who will fill their void. Only the oppressors and sinful people will dispute us over this position. Apart from us, one who claims this position is a disbeliever and a rejecter. Had Allah not chosen to hide and subdue His affairs, certain things pertaining to our rights would have baffled you and would have removed all your doubts. But Allah does what He wishes and there is a fixed term for everything. Fear Allah and submit to us and present us your affairs. To issue an order and to take it back is in our control. Do not try to search something that is hidden from you. Don’t wander; turn to us with love under the light of apparent traditions. I have cleared the matter and advised you. Allah is witness over us.
If there hadn’t been any affection towards you in our hearts and had we not been compassionate and benevolent towards you, there would not have been any need to speak to you.
Through us, the deviators, the tyrants, the oppressors are tested. These are the people who are fighting Allah and claiming something that isn’t their right. These are usurping the rights of those whose obedience has been made obligatory by Allah.
The life history of the beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.a.) is a role model for me. Ignorant ones will be caught in their own actions and those who reject the truth will soon come to know the end.
May Allah, out of His mercy, protect us from all sorts of destruction, evils, afflictions and diseases He is certainly the owner of might and is our protector and guardian.
Salutations of Allah be upon all the successors, friends, and believers.”
Like the earlier Tauqee, even from this letter, the affection, love, compassion, and mercy of Imam-e-Asr (a.s.) upon his followers is apparent. He is much concerned about our differences. He is upset with our losses and deviation. He has no personal loss, since Allah and truth are with him, he doesn’t even need us. Our presence doesn’t honour him nor does our distance make him feel lonely. If he prays, he does it for us, and if he is unhappy, it is for us.
Shouldn’t we pray at all times for such an affectionate Imam and offer Sadaqah (charity) for him every day?