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Raj’at (to return)‎

The belief of Raj’at is one of the hotly debated topics in Islam and religious scholars as well ‎as Quranic commentators have put forth their views and opinions concerning it. They consider ‎Raj’at to be an extension of the “theory of reincarnation” or the “theory of the cycle of human ‎life”. They have pushed the limits of their intellect and have exhausted all their arguments and ‎reasoning in order to justify and explain the belief of ‘Raj’at’. ‎
After being submerged in the whirlpool of views and counter views, the belief in Imam ‎Mahdi (a.s.) has emerged as a universal principle. It has soothed the heart of a distressed world ‎and is proving to be a beacon for the survival of human race. It is proving to be the source of ‎strength for facing insurmountable challenges and for making things possible. The honest and ‎conscientious ones are inching towards this light. ‎
The tranquil heart is bolstered with a new lease of life through the belief in Raj’at. This is ‎because the proponents of this belief (of Raj’at) have convincing arguments along with manifest ‎evidences. Clear indications in heavenly books as well the revered words, impeccable character ‎and chaste actions of our infallible leaders (a.s.), have put a stamp of authenticity on this belief. ‎Thus, it is possible for every impartial and unbiased individual to accept this belief.‎
Unfortunately, the majority amongst the Muslims chose to shun the radiant path of the Holy ‎Quran and traditions (ahadith) and thus regarded Raj’at as impossible. Consequently, this divine ‎grace (of belief in Raj’at) is found only amongst the followers of Imam Ali (a.s.) and it has been ‎possible only due to the unstinting and relentless efforts of our great scholars of the past who ‎have elucidated this belief and have presented it to us like precious pearls of the ocean.‎
With this intention we would, as a preamble, like the readers to acquaint themselves with ‎those unique qualities of the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) that will enlighten us on the subject of Raj’at.‎
Before we get on with the actual discussion, we would like to present a few points as a ‎prelude to our esteem readers. It should be borne in mind that the points in this preface are ‎gleaned from authentic narrations. ‎
‎•‎ It is imperative and obligatory to accept whatever has been narrated by the infallible ‎Imams (a.s.). ‎
‎•‎ It is mandatory to refer to the infallible Imams (a.s.) in all matters of jurisprudence
‎•‎ Instead of rejecting ambiguous and apparently contradictory traditions, we should analyse ‎them in the light of the Holy Quran.‎
‎•‎ If two traditions appear to be contradictory, then we must accept the one upon which there ‎is a consensus among a majority of the Shia scholars.‎
‎•‎ We should refer to reliable Shia books of traditions whenever the need arises. ‎
Lexical Meaning ‎
Al-Jawhari in al-Sehaah and Raaghib Isfahaani in al-Qamoos have written the following ‎statement concerning ‘Raj’at’. “So-and-so believes in Raj’at”. It means that “so-and-so” believes ‎that he will return back to life in this world after his death. Hence, ‘Raj’at’ implies the returning ‎back to life after death, but prior to the Day of Reckoning. ‎
Raj’at – In the light of terminology and traditions (ahaadees)‎
In the light of the traditions of Ahle Bayt (a.s.), the Shia firmly believe that Allah the Exalted ‎will bring back to life some people in the same form in which they had existed in the world. ‎After their “return” (i.e. Raj’at), He will chastise some of them while He will honour and reward ‎some others. He will let truth prevail over falsehood and extract justice and revenge for the ‎ones who were oppressed, from their oppressors. All this will occur during the reign of Imam ‎Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). But ‘Raj’at’ will be only for those who were either at the pinnacle of certitude ‎‎(in Allah) or in the abyss of misguidance and deviation. ‎
The Shias are distinct and unique in the belief of Raj’at. No scholar from Ahle Sunnah ‎subscribes to this doctrine. The evidence we have concerning Raj’at is not from our side. Rather ‎we only mention whatever the Holy Quran and Ahle Bayt (a.s.) have narrated to us. For, they ‎‎(a.s.) are not deeply rooted in knowledge, but are also the (true) interpreters and teachers of ‎the Holy Quran. Besides, they are the rightful inheritors of the knowledge of Holy Prophet ‎‎(s.a.w.a.).‎
Proof on the Reality of Raj’at
There are numerous proofs on the reality of Raj’at. It has been unanimously and ‎successively proved that the belief in Raj’at is included among “necessary beliefs of religion”. ‎Here, we will enumerate each one of them.‎
‎(A) Raj’at – In the light of the Holy Quran ‎
Numerous verses of the Holy Quran either directly prove the veracity of Raj’at, or point ‎towards it through other verses or traditions.‎
‎1. Surah Baqarah, verse No 259‎
‎“Or the like of him who passed by a town, and it had fallen down upon its roofs; he ‎said: When will Allah give it life after its death? So Allah caused him to die for a ‎hundred years, then raised him to life. He said: How long have you tarried? He said: ‎I have tarried a day, or a part of a day. Said He: Nay! you have tarried a hundred ‎years; then look at your food and drink — years have not passed over it; and look ‎at your donkey; and that We may make you a sign to men, and look at the bones, ‎how We set them together, then clothed them with flesh; so when it became clear ‎to him, he said: I know that Allah has power over all things.”‎
This verse categorically states that Allah gave death to this person for a hundred years and ‎brought him back to life in this world. It’s apparent from the Holy Quran that the person was a ‎Prophet and that is why Allah addressed him via revelations. Some traditions inform us that it ‎was Prophet Irmiya (a.s.) while some suggests it was Hazrat Uzair (a.s.). What’s more, both — ‎Shias and Sunnis — have acknowledged this tradition. Also it is mentioned in traditions, that ‎whatever befell on the past nations will also occur for the nation of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). ‎Raj’at also is one of those things. ‎
‎2. Surah Baqarah, verse 243 ‎
‎“Have you not considered those who went forth from their homes, for fear of ‎death, and they were thousands, then Allah said to them, Die; again He gave them ‎life; most surely Allah is Gracious to people, but most people are not grateful.”‎
This verse too underlines the fact that in a bygone era some people were brought back to ‎life in this world after their death. Therefore, Raj’at is not a probability. Rather it is a reality ‎that cannot be rejected and whatever has occurred in the previous nations will recur in the ‎present nation (of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)). ‎
Keeping in view the eloquence of the Holy Quran, it can be said that this is the best proof on ‎the authenticity of Raj’at. Moreover, it has come in traditions that their numbers (who were ‎given life after death) was 70,000. By the command of Allah they remained dead for a long ‎period of time after which they were brought back to life. And after returning to this world they ‎continued living in it for a long time. ‎
‎3. Surah Ghaafir, verse 51‎
‎“Surely We will help Our Messengers and those who believe, in the present life and ‎upon the day when the witnesses arise.”‎
Innumerable traditions confirm that verse implies Raj’at and the apparent meaning of the ‎verse too affirms these narrations. For, many Prophets, Imams and believers were not helped in ‎this world while the verse declares that Allah will help them. Allah will never go against His ‎promise. ‎
However, this verse cannot be interpreted to justify the reappearance of Imam-e-Zamana ‎‎(a.t.f.s). Because that would require us to detach ourselves from the context in which this verse ‎was revealed and rely solely on the metaphorical meaning.‎
‎4. Surah Ghafir, verse 11‎
‎“They shall say, ‘Our Lord, Thou hast caused us to die twice and caused us to live ‎twice; now we confess our sins. Is there a way to escape this?” ‎
Numerous narrations have come in this regard that say that out of the two (death and life), ‎one of them is associated to Raj’at. It is evident that the intention of this is not impossible. This ‎does not imply there is a set limit concerning the second life or death. Being brought back to ‎life from the grave cannot be considered as complete life by itself. Thus, it would be incorrect ‎to say that two lives mean “life in the grave and coming back to life in the Hereafter and two ‎deaths mean death in this world and death in the grave.”‎
Besides these, there are many verses of the Holy Quran that confirm Raj’at. ‎
‎(B) Raj’at – In the light of traditions (ahaadees)‎
The traditions concerning Raj’at have been mentioned so frequently and consecutively that ‎they have reached the level of “tawaatur” (continuity) and hence cannot be denied. However, ‎one can find traditions concerning Raj’at under different subjects and topic. Some traditions ‎speak about the Raj’at of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and the Infallible Imams (a.s.), while ‎some mention about the return (Raj’at) of the Infallible Imams (a.s.). Some state that Raj’at will ‎be there for the past Prophets (a.s.) while some talk about the Raj’at of some special group of ‎Shias. Yet others speak about the return of those who were either at the pinnacle of faith or in ‎the depths of deviation. ‎
It should be borne in mind that wherever Raj’at has been discussed, it does not imply that ‎only their qualities or their rule will return. Rather, they themselves will come back in person ‎flesh, bones and spirit. Or else it will be absolutely wrong and contrary to the narrations ‎concerning the reality of Raj’at. For, Raj’at is connected to the last era but noble characteristics ‎and attributes are not specific to the last era only. In fact these qualities were always witnessed ‎since the time of creation of Prophet Adam (a.s.). Every Prophet and his successor has been the ‎heir of the traits and virtues of their predecessors and past Prophets. Rather even their ‎companions, too, have been the bearers of the characteristics of their righteous forefathers. ‎
We now analyze a few traditions concerning the different aspects of Raj’at. ‎
‎1.‎ The author of Majma’ al-Bayaan, Fadhl ibn Hasan al-Tabrisi under verse 83 of Surah Naml, ‎‎‘On the day We will bring forth a troop from every nation…’ writes: ‎
‎‘There are many traditions from the infallible Imams (a.s.) that state that during the rising ‎of Imam Mahdi (a.s.), Allah will bring back to life his (a.s.) followers who passed away earlier so ‎that they’re rewarded with the status of being among his (a.s.) helpers. These Shias will be ‎extremely thrilled to see the establishment of Imam’s (a.s.) government. ‎
Similarly, some of his (a.s.) enemies too will be brought back to life in this world so that ‎they are given a part of their quota of chastisement. Finally, after facing a lot of humiliation ‎and disgrace in the world, they will be killed by the soldiers of Imam (a.s.). ‎
‎(Al-Iqaaz, p. 250)‎
‎2.‎ Sa’d Ibn Abdillah in Mukhtasar al-Basair while narrating from Bukair Ibn A’yon says, ‘The ‎thing in which I don’t have an iota of doubt is the saying of Imam Baqir (a.s.) wherein he ‎‎(a.s.) says, “There will be Raj’at for Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Ameerul Momineen (a.s.)”‎
‎(Al-Iqaaz, p. 379)‎
‎3.‎ Ali Ibn Ibrahim narrates from Abu Baseer that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said: ‎
‎“Once Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) told Imam Ali (a.s.) that ‘In the last era, Allah will bring ‎you back to life in the best of appearances while you will have an iron with which you ‎will punish your enemies’.”‎
‎(Al-Iqaaz, p. 257)‎
‎4.‎ Imam Sadiq (a.s.) while interpreting this verse: ‎
‎“And remember the time when Allah took a covenant from all the Prophets that I ‎have given you of book and wisdom; then there shall come to you a messenger ‎confirming what is with you — you shall believe in him and help him…” ‎
‎(Surah Aale Imran: Verse 81)‎
‎“From the time of Hazrat Adam until now, Allah has not sent any Messenger except that ‎he (a.s.) will come back in this world and assist the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Ameerul ‎Momineen (a.s.).”‎
‎(Al-Iqaaz, p. 332)‎
‎5.‎ In Kitab-ul-Ghaibat, Shaikh Tusi (a.r.) narrates from Mufazzal ibn Umar: ‎
‎‘We were in the holy presence of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) and were discussing about Imam Mahdi ‎‎(a.t.f.s.) and about those who will depart from this world waiting for his reappearance. Imam ‎‎(a.s.) said: “When he (a.s.) will rise, he will go at the graves of the believers and say, “O person, ‎your Imam has appeared. If you so wish, come with your Imam or if you want, rest in the grace ‎and enjoy the bounty of your Lord.”’‎
There are numerous reports that establish Raj’at not only as a correct and divine belief but ‎also amongst the necessities of the Shia faith. The Shias are identified and recognized by this. ‎
In this respect, Tabrisi in Ehtejaaj and Najaashi in his Rijaal have cited an interesting ‎incident. Najaashi writes that Imam Sadi (a.s.) had a companion by the name of Momin-e-Taaq. ‎He was renowned for his knowledge, piety and fame. Once Abu Hanifa asked him, “Do you ‎believe in Raj’at?” He replied: “Of course”. Abu Hanifa said: “Then remove five hundred dinars ‎from your pocket and give it to me as a loan. When I return to the world for the second time (in ‎Raj’at), I will repay you back.” Promptly, Momin-e-Taaq replied, “For this you need to give me a ‎guarantee that you’ll return like a human. I fear that you may return in some other form and I ‎will be unable to recover my money.”‎
Mention of Raj’at in supplications and ziyaaraat
If the important actions and supplications are to be closely studied, one will find Raj’at ‎mentioned in most of them. Furthermore, there is an emphasis in all of them to have a firm ‎belief in it. ‎
‎1.‎ In the supplications for the month of Rajab, Shaikh Tusi (a.r.) narrates in his book Misbaah ‎from Husain Ibn Rauh (a.r.): “In whichever place of ziyarat you are present, say this ‎‎‘…salutations, peace and Allah’s blessings be upon you till the time I reach in your service ‎again during your Raj’at and when I am included in your army.’‎
‎2.‎ Ziyaarat of Imam Husain (a.s.): Shaikh Kulayni (a.r.) narrates under the chapter of Ziyaarat ‎of Imam Husain (a.s.) that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:‎
‎“And when you are at the grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) then say:‎
‎“I bear witness that I keep faith in you and I firmly believe in your Raj’at.”‎
Ibn Qulwayh (a.r.), too, has chronicled this tradition in his book Mazaar.‎
‎3.‎ Ziyaarat-e-Jaameah: Shaikh Sadooq (a.r.) in his books Man la yahdhuruhu al-faqih and ‎Uyoon-o-Akhbar al Reza (a.s.); Shaikh Tusi (a.r.) in Tehzeeb have narrated from reliable ‎sources that Imam Ali an-Naqi (a.s.) says in Ziyaarat-e-Jaameah:‎
‎“I acknowledge your status and position, I am certain of your Raj’at and I confirm your ‎promised return. I am spending my life waiting for your reign and government….. May ‎Allah include me among those who will be reckoned as your adherents and who will ‎govern in your reign.” ‎
‎4.‎ Recommended Acts of Worship for Friday:‎
Shaikh Tusi (a.r.) has written in Misbaah:‎
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:‎
The one who wants to do ziyaarat of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) ‎and Janabe Zahra (s.a.) or anyone of us, he should perform ghusl and say…‎
I am with all of you and not with your enemies. I submit to your excellence and accept your ‎Raj’at — I don’t deny the power of Allah. ‎
Objections concerning Raj’at
Without understanding the meaning and essence of the traditions of Ahle Bayt (a.s.), the ‎denier of Raj’at have either rejected it outright or have compelled themselves to analyze and ‎rationalize the traditions, notwithstanding the unanimity and firm belief of the infallible Imams ‎‎(a.s.) and the Shia scholars concerning Raj’at. ‎
Following are the answers to the few objections raised by the antagonist of Raj’at.‎
‎1.‎ In his book Fajr al-Islam, Ahmed Ameen writes that due to their belief in Raj’at, the school ‎of Shiasim resembles Judaism ‎
Answer: If believing in Raj’at makes the Shia religion similar to Judaism, then the Holy ‎Quran itself reflects Judaism ideology. For, in the earlier part of this article, we have mentioned ‎not one but four verses of Quran (among the many) that vouch for the veracity of Raj’at… ‎
According to the aforementioned author, a lot of Islamic laws and beliefs bear resemblance ‎to those in Judaism and Christianity since the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has endorsed many laws ‎from those divine religions. Thus, it is obvious that certain Islamic beliefs will mirror tenets of ‎Judaism and Christianity. But if the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has not found any fault or defect in ‎them, then what authority does a follower of Islam have to raise his own opinion contrary to ‎that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?‎
‎2.‎ Raj’at is impossible ‎
The reason given by the deniers for eschewing Raj’at is that they feel Raj’at is impossible ‎and unlikely because such things are difficult to comprehend for the weak minds.‎
Replies: ‎
a)‎ To consider something as impossible and unlikely isn’t a valid or logical argument and ‎cannot be compared to the real proof ‎
b)‎ Raj’at isn’t impractical. Rather, it is possible because in the light of the Holy Quran it has ‎occurred earlier and the biggest proof of something being possible is its occurrence. ‎
c)‎ Such things are of no significance in the presence of the favours and kindness of Ahle Bayt ‎‎(a.s.) and in front of the Infinite power of Allah the belief in Raj’at is absolutely correct. In ‎his book Fazaailul Aimmah (a.s.), Hafiz Rajab Borsi has reported amazing traditions ‎concerning the superiority of Ahle Bait (a.s.). ‎
He writes: A person who had a heart ailment rejected this tradition (about Raj’at). I said, ‎‎‘Do you deny the power and bounties of Allah or do you reject the Infallible Imam (a.s.)? If you ‎deny the power of Allah, then consider the huge fish in the time of Prophet Sulayman (a.s.). It ‎swallowed the entire food that was kept on the tablecloth at one go while that food was for an ‎entire month. Then it said, ‘This? This is just a small portion of our daily share.’ A dazed Hazrat ‎Suleiman (a.s.) asked: ‘Are there any more fishes like you in the ocean?’The fish replied: ‘There ‎are thousands like us.’‎
Sulayman (a.s.) exclaimed, ‘Allah is a Marvelous King. He is Pure from all kinds of defects ‎He creates things which none is aware of.’‎
‎2.‎ The traditions on Raj’at are not found in reliable books. Besides, their numbers are not ‎enough for one to have absolute faith in them. ‎
Reply: Traditions on Raj’at can be found extensively in the books of reliable authors. Rather, ‎they have attained consecutiveness (tawaatur). Allama Tabatabai (r.a.) has written in his ‎famous exegesis of the Holy Quran, Al-Mizan Fi Tafseer al-Quran that traditions concerning ‎Raj’at have been mentioned consecutively by the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) ‎
In al-Iqaaz, the celebrated and great scholar Shaikh Hurr al-Aameli (r.a.) has enumerated a ‎long list of scholars along with the names of their books who have written about Raj’at. Allama ‎Majlisi (r.a.) writes: “If this isn’t consecutiveness (tawaatur), then what is?‎
Therefore, we can easily conclude that the reports found on Raj’at are absolutely ‎irrefutable and unassailable. ‎
‎(References: Al-Iqaaz minal Hujjat bil Burhan Alal Raj’at by Shaikh Hurr Aameli (a.r.), Aayatul Ma’aref alal hayaat, Behar al-‎Anwaar, vol. 53)