Does feeling sad during the era of occultation and yearning for the Reappearance of the Imam Mahdi (a) constitute one of the specific religious duties of Muslims vis-à-vis Imam Mahdi (a)? (question)

From Imamatpedia

Since a devout believer must feel sorrow when he sees other believers in pain or anguish, he must feel even more agony due to his separation from the Imam of the Age (a), because this particular sorrow is actually and primarily an instance of grief that the Imam (a) himself suffers. Indeed, it is only after the Imam (a) experiences this pain that it descend down upon the hearts of the Muslims. As such, this sorrow and feeling of melancholy, along with its vital effect i.e. the emergence of enthusiasm and yearning for Imam Mahdi's reappearance, constitutes one of the primary religious duties of all Muslims.

Those Who Await Imam Mahdi (a) and Being Melancholic Due to One's Separation From Him

One of the inward and emotional duties of any believer who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) is to feel sorrow and grief due to his separation from the Imam (a) and to partake in woeful wailing and crying in his remembrance[1]. This sort of melancholy forms an instance of inward support for the Imam of the Age (a). Being sad due to a one's separation from his dearest friend or his most cherished beloved is a clear sign of one's love[2].[3] For this very reason, it can be stated that one of the religious responsibilities of all Muslims during the era of the occultation of Imam Mahdi (a) is to feel sorrow for one's separation from the Imam (a). In fact, even the Immaculate Imams (a) themselves were not exempted from this important duty and would persistently express sadness and melancholy in this regard. In support of this fact, we find a narrated tradition from Sudayr al-Sayrafi wherein he states : "I went to see my master, Imam Sadiq (a), and found him in a state where he was crying like a mother how had recently lost her son. sorrow was clearly evident upon his blessed cheeks and the color of his faced had changed. His tears had drenched his clothes and, in this state, he was saying: O' my master! Your occultation has snatched sleep away from my eyes and has made the Earth close in upon me and has robbed my heart of its tranquility. O' my master! Your occultation has connected our trials and tribulations to perpetual calamities"[4].

The Melancholy of the Imam (a) During the Era of Occultation

It must be noted that this sadness and melancholy is not merely one directional. In fact, the Imam (a) himself is also deeply sorrowful due to his concealment from human eyes and his inability to lead and guide people explicitly while openly stopping all forms of corruption and injustice. Similarly, his grief also stems from the oppression and tyranny suffered by his sacred and sanctified forefathers. In reality, it can be said that the melancholy and sadness felt by the Shi'a comes after the sorrow and grief that inflicts the Imam. Therefore, it is the Imam's blessed heart which initially experiences anguish and agony in response to the tyranny and injustice suffered by himself as well as his immaculate forefathers, and only subsequently does this sorrow appear within the hearts of the pious Muslims. As for his devoted Shi'a, this pain so completely permeates their souls that they feel moved to recite these words from the Du'a al-Nudba: "O' my master! Till when shall we bemoan you separation from us? Till when will be remain baffled by our wait for you? With what words must we praise you? How and with what language (must we express our admiration to you)? Shall we speak to you in whispers? It pains me deeply to hear an answer that comes from someone other than yourself. Crying upon my separation from you is exceedingly hard for me, while I witness people abandon you completely. Is there anyone who may come to my aid so that I may wail and moan with him? So that we may cry for a long time together"[5].

Reasons For Being Sad Due to One's Separation From the Imam (a)

sorrow for one's separation from Imam Mahdi (a) can be due to different reasons:

1. The concealed nature of Imam Mahdi (a) during his occultation which prevents people from interacting directly with him and deprives them of witnessing his blessed visage in person. In a narrated tradition, Imam Riḍa (a) is reported to have said : "Indeed, numerous pious and faithful women and men are sad, perplexed and melancholy because they have lost access to pure and flowing water i.e. Imam Mahdi (a)"[6] . Similarly, the Commander of the Faithful (a) is narrated to have said : "O' Shi'a! It is as if I see you wandering around like camels searching for fodder, while being unable to find it"[7].[8]

2. The fact that Imam Mahdi (a) is prohibited from taking care of affairs that belong to him, and is forbidden from implementing Islamic laws, rights and punishments, and must witness his fundamental right usurped by others. Imam Baqir (a) is reported to have said : "There exists no Eid (i.e. ritual celebration) for the Muslims, be it Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Fitr, except that it refreshes and rekindles the sorrow of the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (s)". The narrator asked: "Why is this so?" and the Imam (a) replied: "Because we must witness our fundamental right usurped and held in the hands of others"[9].[10]

3. The emergence of certain deviations and misunderstandings related to religion amongst the people. These deviations and misunderstandings lead to people abandoning God's true religion group after group. This situation worsens until it is no longer possible for righteous scholars to express their knowledge openly within society. As such, the prophecy of the Immaculate Imams (a) is fulfilled wherein they stated : "There will come a time in which if a faithful believer wishes to preserve his religion, this preservation will be harder for him than holding a burning ember in his bare hand"[11] .

The Effects of Being Sad During the Occultation of Imam Mahdi (a)

The sorrow that exists within the souls of the Muslims due to Imam Mahdi's occultation brings with itself many effects and consequences. Just one of these positive consequences is the strengthening of love and yearning for the Imam of the Age (a) within the hearts of believers. Likewise, this devout and righteous sadness also brings divine pleasure and reward. Imam Sadiq (a) is reported to have said : "If a person is sad, and this sorrow and anguish is due to the oppression that we have suffered, then his every breath is an act of praising the Almighty Lord, and his efforts with regards to supporting our cause is devout worship, and his concealment of our secrets is jihad (i.e. sacred struggle) in path of God"[12].[13] In other words, the most important effect of being sad and melancholy for Imam Mahdi's occultation is the creation of enthusiasm and yearning for his reappearance such that the creation of this critical element is considered a religious obligation upon all Muslims. Even Imam Sadiq (a), within the supplication called Du'a al-Nudba, declares himself to be one of those who yearn and love the Imam of the Age (a). Within this blessed and spiritually luminescent supplication, Imam Sadiq (a) describes him enthusiasm to see Imam Mahdi (a) in these words: "It is extremely difficult for me that I am able to see all people while you remain concealed from my eyes. When shall we be granted the opportunity to be able to witness you as you witness us?"[14]

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