“Certainly this rule [of the Mahdi] will not come to you but after having despaired. No by Allah, in order that you may be [tried] and differentiated from one another” Imam Al-Sadiq (as)
It is said that the awaited Imam’s occultation is a test for us, and the way which Allah has chosen to differentiate one believer from another is by withdrawing from us the opportunity of direct encounter and communication with our guide and leader. Thus, He allowed us to explore the depth of servitude and to witness the difference between verbal declaration and mechanical following on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the kind of support which involves sincere orientation towards the cause of Allah and deliberate work based on understanding and awareness. A servant who needs to be continuously followed and instructed is a trouble for his master; a servant who can be instructed once and steadily fulfill his duties has some more value; but in no way they can be compared to a servant whose goal is to help his master manage his affairs and secure his interests in the best way, and who will try his best to do so under any circumstances with or without explicit requests. In relation to our Imam’s cause most of us have not reached the third stage, and many excuses can be given for that. Indeed, it’s understandable that people have their own weaknesses and struggles to deal with, their own, unique pace of development and growth.
However, there is no justification for a follower of the Imam not to uphold the most basic instructions and principles which are known and about which we are certain. In other words, the master is known, his orders are clear, yet we are waiting for him to go after us, hold our hands, put the tools in them and make us fulfill his order. And sometimes he may also need to beg us!
For example, it is absolutely indisputable that a leader who is set to establish truth and justice and uproot corruption everywhere expects us to uphold truth and justice and fight corruption at any level and in any sphere. The reviver of Islam, before anything, expects us to practice these very basic and unanimously agreed upon values of Islam. Yet, the people who claim to yearn for his leadership are seen creating symbiotic and harmonious relation with corruption outside the community and allowing, as a matter of course, corruption to be exercised within. For instance, when those who are entrusted to run the affairs of Muslims replace the interests of the community with their personal, family, tribal or business interests they deserve condemnation and withdrawal of trust, not a seat at a “VIP table”.
And if a person who has never been seen before comes with a word of truth and calls towards what is right he is to be supported, not met with silence. This is the will of the leader of Truth, and it is to be fulfilled in the same way as if he appeared to us in person and privately instructed us to do it. How much would the one who has a direct message from the Imam pay attention to what other people think about him fulfilling his task? Another very obvious expectation from any supporter of any cause is being awake and active. It is impossible to support anyone while being asleep and being unavailable.
The most humiliated commander is the one whose army constitutes a disorganised, undisciplined, and distracted crowd of incompetent individuals. It is not a coincidence that our allegiance to imam(af) is recommended to be recited early in the morning: a supporter of imam is expected to be awake, full of determination and readiness to conquer new heights without unnecessary delays. He is ready to rise and answer the caller, to use his abilities and talents regardless of how limited they may be, to be present and enthusiastic any time, any day. Yet, the current situation shows that in some places our imam can only rely on his shiaa to be there for him only during weekends, more likely on statuary holidays, and no earlier than 10 am. It is also quite clear that for anyone who yearns for Islamic rule it is logical and natural to obey Islamic leadership. However, this does not need to be narrowed down to the issue of Wilayat Al-Faqih and ideological declarations. Instead, it refers to following the directions and guidance of those who are knowledgeable enough and islamically certified to guide others.
Furthermore, it includes only those who genuinely meet such criteria and not merely claim to have them or lure people towards their opinions and ideas by means of a mere word play and manipulation of data unavailable to an average person. In other words, scholars, and not “speakers” are the guides of those who are committed to Islamic guidance. Likewise, to scholars, and not to sponsors belongs the right to direct affairs of Muslim communities. Indeed, the rule of Mahdi(af) is the rule of divine guidance and not monetary capital or personal opinion. Finally, it should also be clear that our imam is not coming to ensure that everyone can get a well-paid job, own a house, be able to collect possessions and have a satisfied stomach. He is coming to guide humans to their unique and exalted potential and establish a vibrant civilization based on sublime values. A civilization of people of consciousness and awareness, whose talents make them ever-productive and thirsty for both internal and external improvement and perfection.
In this context, it is worth to recall the following line we recite as a part of dua Ahad:
وَٱرْحَمِ ٱسْتِكَانَتَنَا بَعْدَهُ
Here, we ask Allah to have mercy upon our humiliation after departure of the Prophet. The truth is that this humiliation is a natural result of our choices. We consistently chose to lead a plain, two- dimensional existence of low creatures rather than being true to honourable and exalted values and ideals. We avoided voluntary work for the sake of higher goals and therefore ended up being forced to do even greater amount of work with the tyrants or with all the troubles they have created for us.
Stopping this humiliation, and bringing back the honour and the power of Islam requires making different choices. Verily, a community of free-spirited humans deserves a leader like our imam, but a community of creeping insects is fit to be crushed under the feet of oppressors.
May Allah make us capable and worthy of being truthful, active, insightful and capable supporters of our imam.