What are defining characteristics of people who genuinely await Imam Mahdi (a)? (question)

From Imamatpedia


Creating the state of mind in which one awaits Imam Mahdi (a) necessitates that certain preconditions be furnished so that a person may be deemed a true anticipant of Imam Mahdi's return. If we were to correctly recognize the identity and characteristics of Imam Mahdi (a) and the objectives that lie behind his promised uprising and revolution, then we would automatically be able to understand and distinguish the defining characteristics of people who genuinely await Imam Mahdi's reappearance. Since Imam Mahdi (a) is God's divine ambassador responsible for the salvation of human society from tyranny, injustice and destruction, his blessed reappearance will usher in a universalization of justice within all aspects and dimensions of human individual as well as social life. Likewise, his return will bring comprehensive guidance to all of humanity, thereby emancipating it from the servitude of false masters. Therefore, a person who genuinely awaits Imam Mahdi (a) must strive for the realization of his goals and must struggle for the implementation of his values and ideals. It is impossible to deny the role played by supporters and helpers in bringing about various divine victories. Thus, all citizens within a society that awaits Imam Mahdi (a), especially certain specific groups in particular, must play their part in order to attain the needed characteristics and achieve the readiness that is necessary to facilitate Imam Mahdi's reappearance.

The Various Types of Defining Characteristics of People Who Await Imam Mahdi (a)

1. Intellectual and belief Based Characteristics: Thoughts form the foundation of a human being's actions and behavior. Fundamental beliefs influence all aspects of human life. The divine mission of God's prophets and His saints is to educate and train humanity while freeing them from the shackles of ignorance and showing them the truth of all things. When [[Imam Mahdi (a)] reappears, people will be trained and educated by the Imam of the Age (a) and will experience a purification of their thoughts and intellect, causing them to achieve holistic development. One of the major differences that separates and distinguishes the uprising and global revolution of Imam Mahdi (a) from all other revolutions in human history is the fact that his movement will lead to a major transformation within the beliefs and convictions of all human beings. This universal transformation will be brought about by the efforts and struggles of Imam Mahdi (a) and his devout supporters. When we speak about readiness with regards to one's beliefs, we are actually talking about the necessity to achieve an adequate level of preparation within the field of religious culture.

Some of the intellectual and belief based characteristics are as follows:

a) God Centricity: Those who prepare the grounds for Imam Mahdi's reappearance are people who know and recognize the Almighty in the manner that is deserving of Him. Imam Ali (a) is reported to have said : "There are believing men who recognize God in the manner that is deserving of Him, and these are the supporters of Imam Mahdi (a) during the End of Times." The faith of such people is always accompanied by the anticipation of Imam Mahdi's return. They are not satisfied with simply having a minimum level of belief, rather they strive for the highest echelons of faith and are always deliberating upon achieving a maximum degree of implementation of divine goals within this world. A person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a), in a true and genuine sense, is continuously focused upon the existence and omnipresence of God Almighty. Therefore, such an individual anxiously awaits the coming of the promised deliverance which will occur by God's will.

b) Firm Belief: People who truly await Imam Mahdi (a) are blessed with the highest pinnacle of religious belief and are steadfast in their convictions. It is reported that the Prophet (s) addressed the Commander of the Faithful (a) and said : "O' Ali! Know that the greatest of human beings in terms of their certitude (in faith) are people who will exist during the End of Times. They will not have met a prophet and the definitive proof of God (i.e. the Imam) will also be concealed from them. They will have faith (simply) by way of blackness upon whiteness (i.e. the Qur'an and narrated traditions written with ink on paper)". The attentions of the supporters of Imam Mahdi (a) are focused upon God's prophets and their sacred teachings. Furthermore, they pay special consideration to the importance of renewing their covenant towards these prophets and their hallowed ideologies. This is because the personality of Imam Mahdi (a) is fully reminiscent of the character and activities of God's blessed messengers (a) and saints (a).

c) Struggling for Justice: Awaiting Imam Mahdi's reappearance means awaiting the establishment of global justice. Imam Mahdi (a) is the most perfect personification of truth and he will fill the Earth with universal justice and equity. As such, anyone claiming to be an anticipant of Imam Mahdi's return and, by consequence, awaiting the establishment and universalization of comprehensive justice and fairness within society, must first and foremost fill his own soul and existence with a deep seated and genuine yearning for justice. Therefore, within the parameter of theoretical ideology, a person who awaits the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a) must strive to learn the Qur'an and Islamic wisdom.

d) Proper Recognition of the Imam of the Age (a): Recognizing the Imam, in every era and age, represents a fundamental duty that is compulsory upon all his followers. Furthermore, the importance of this principle become even greater when dealing with the Twelfth Imam (a). This amplified significance is due to the concealed nature of the Imam's birth and subsequent life. Imam Sadiq (a) is reported to have said : "Recognize your Imam of the Age, because when you have recognized him, you will not be harmed by any hastening or postponement of this affair (i.e. his reappearance) … Therefore, any person who recognizes the imamate (i.e. the divinely ordained authority) of his Imam will be no different from a person who sits alongside the Qa'im (a) within his tent." Believing that true and perpetual victory belongs only to one leader exclusively i.e. Imam Mahdi (a) forms one of the essential doctrines of the Shi'a school of Islamic thought. Given this fact, an individual who awaits Imam Mahdi (a), having correctly recognized his identity and characteristics, will never be attracted towards any other person or group apart from the Imam of the Age (a) himself.

e) Socio-Political Insight and Acumen: People who await Imam Mahdi (a) and also enjoy an adequate level of socio-political insight are never demoralized by the sheer of length of the path that lies before them or the profound difficulties that exist therein. In fact, when challenging the hegemonic status quo of the regimes that rule this world, they aim themselves towards changing the entire equation and balance of power that currently exists within the global socio-political arena.

f) Qur'an Centricity: Another key feature within the belief system of people who await Imam Mahdi (a) is that they pay special attention towards the Qur'an and draw great utility from this sacred book. Indeed, the Imam of the Age (a) will be the one to revitalize and implement Quranic law in its entirety.

g) Absolute Certainty Regarding the Reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a) and the Imminence of His Return: As a person's certitude and knowledge regarding the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a) becomes deeper, his anticipation vis-à-vis this promised event also grows stronger and becomes more profound. Considering Imam Mahdi's return to be imminent causes one to await him more intensely. Imam Sadiq (a) is reported to have said : "Indeed, they (i.e. the infidels and non-believers) believe Imam Mahdi's reappearance to be far way, but we consider it to be imminent."

2. Emotional and Psychological Characteristics: The most essential characteristic, in terms of a person's actions and behavior, needed in order to experience the era of Imam Mahdi's reappearance is to create adequate emotional and psychological preparation within oneself. Awaiting Imam Mahdi (a) influences all aspects and dimensions of a person's emotions and psychology. A correct anticipation of Imam Mahdi's reappearance is not only constructive in nature but also provides emotional and mental tranquility to the individual involved in it. In other words, one of the objectives of awaiting the deliverance is to free ourselves of emotional and psychological pressures by remaining hopeful about a better future, and this state of mind gives us a significant measure of peace and serenity. This explains why the word "Faraj" (deliverance) is considered synonymous to "relief" and 'respite", and why the "final deliverance" (i.e. Imam Mahdi's reappearance) is called the "greatest of all deliverances".

From amongst the emotional and psychological characteristics of people who await Imam Mahdi (a), one can point towards the following salient features:

a) Confidence in the Future and a Global Outlook: A person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) has complete belief and total hope with regards to events that will happen in the future. Awaiting Imam Mahdi (a) frees people from the narrow confines of selfishness and self-centricity, and allows them to think and act of a global scale.

b) Complete Potentiality and Readiness with Regards to the Implementation of Comprehensive Justice: The most minimum degree of this potentiality and readiness is that a person must have the necessary aptitude and essential worthiness to accept Imam Mahdi's invitation, even if he does not find himself currently amongst those who actively call people towards Imam Mahdi's divine mission or make sacrifices in this path.

c) Devotion towards the Ahl al-Bayt (a), especially for Imam Mahdi (a): One's love and devotion towards the Imam (a) intensifies his level of anticipation regarding Imam Mahdi's reappearance.

3. Ethical and Educational Characteristics: Spiritual self-purification and adorning oneself with honorable ethics is amongst the most fundamental characteristics of those who await the establishment of Imam Mahdi's government. By utilizing the faculty of thought, human beings can move forwards upon the path of intellectual and ethical development. However, divine help and the existence of a divinely ordained leader can exponentially and comprehensively speed up this process. Awaiting Imam Mahdi (a) creates an exceptional and irreplaceable culture within any society that awaits Imam Mahdi's return. This unique culture can aid and facilitate an Islamic society in its efforts towards progress and achieving holistic development. Indeed, the existence of radiant Islamic ethics is the greatest and most significant difference between an Islamic society and other communities. A society waiting for Imam Mahdi (a) continuously strives to make itself more compatible and attuned to the Imam (a) himself and this manifests itself in the form of a persistent effort towards acquiring and maintaining the most beautiful of ethics and the best of morals. According to a narrated tradition, Imam Sadiq (a) is reported to have said : "Anyone who desires to be among the [supporters of Imam Mahdi (a) must await Imam Mahdi's return and, while this person waits, he must act with piety and good ethics."

Some of the ethical and educational characteristics of people who await Imam Mahdi (a) in the genuine sense are listed below:

a) A Principled Inclination Towards Religiousness and Religious Belief: A person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) is always concerned about protecting and preserving his religion. Similarly, he is continuously focused upon keeping his thoughts and actions righteous. This steadfastness in following divine laws as well as persistently preferring to act in accordance to God's commandments instead of one's own personal desires leads to the attainment of a high level of genuine sincerity and a strong will-power. Apart from being God-conscious and pious, an individual who awaits the promised Mahdi (a) must also be chaste and virtuous while continuously treading the path of spiritual self-purification and self-development. Likewise, he must prepare himself physically and emotionally for the grand global transformation that he so anxiously awaits. Those who await Imam Mahdi (a) represent the guardians of God's religion. As such, they are meticulously diligent, utterly resolute and uncompromising when it comes to the implementation of God's commandments.

b) Devout Obedience Towards the Imam of the Age (a): When a person follows a divine leader, it is essentially important for him to realign all his actions, intentions and inclinations to match the thoughts and ideals of that divinely guided sage. This is because the devout anticipation of a person who genuinely awaits Imam Mahdi (a) reflects and manifests itself in his actions and, as a result, he must be utterly obedient to God Almighty and His chosen saints. An individual who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) always perceives himself to be in the Imam's holy presence. Thus, such a person is always mindful of his actions so that he may never perform an act that conflicts with the directives and wishes of his Imam (a). In describing these people, the Prophet (s) is reported to have said : "They are diligent and hardworking in their obedience to him (i.e. Imam Mahdi)."

c) Being Adorned With the Meritorious Ethics of Islam: A person who awaits the Imam of the Age (a) is a person who possesses Islamic merits and ethics. These include self-sacrifice, charity, pious austerity, simple living and discipline.

4. Political Characteristics of the Genuine Anticipants of Imam Mahdi's Reappearance: Human beings desire a righteous government free of corruption, hypocrisy and deceit with a ruler who can effectively implement and establish human values on a global scale, while eliminating tyranny], social suffocation, and imperialist hegemony. Humanity yearns for a divine form of politics under a single global and righteous government without geographical borders; a government that abides by a singular and unified code of law under which the weak and the strong are treated with equal fairness and no discrimination is made based on color, race or ethnicity. The existence of such an equitable system would end all types of global bullying and military aggression perpetrated by imperialist super powers. Since Imam Mahdi's government will be a global government, there is a need to inform and educate the people of the world about the political dimensions as such a system. As such, those who yearn for the establishment of a just global government must take two vital steps in order to prepare the political grounds needed for this occurrence: firstly, they must educate themselves about Imam Mahdi's political ideology and methods, and secondly, they must educate others about it as well.

Some of the political characteristics of the genuine anticipants of Imam Mahdi (a) are as follows:

a) Struggle for the Comprehensive Implementation of Religion for all of Humanity: A human being who awaits Imam Mahdi's return aims to establish the rulership and governance of religion and desires the implementation of all its teachings. As such, his objective is a comprehensive and complete establishment of religion for all of humanity. This kind of waiting leads a believer towards the establishment of an Islamic government.

b) Readiness to Serve in a Global Government: Imam Mahdi's mission is to establish a global government of universal justice while eliminating the entire system of tyranny and injustice from all corners of the world. This task requires believers to support and help the Imam (a). The assistance in question includes the preparation of material and spiritual resources needed by Imam Mahdi's world-wide movement as well as the training of an adequate number of people required for the execution of this grand scheme. Furthermore, the minds of the general masses must also be made ready to accept the system of Islamic governance on a global scale.

5. Military and Disciplinary Characteristics: Any person who awaits the occurrence of a great uprising and anticipates the coming of a great global conflict, must naturally prepare himself for such an event. While explaining the Quranic verse that says : "O you who have faith! Be patient, stand firm, and close (your) ranks, and be wary of Allah so that you may be felicitous", Imam Baqir (a) is reported to have said : "Be patient and resolute in the performance of religious duties, stand firm while also helping one another to stand firm when facing the enemies, and close (your) ranks in order to prepare yourselves for supporting the awaited Imam (a)." The religion of Islam and its sacred teachings advise us to train ourselves in the art of warfare and jihad and to equip ourselves with necessary weapons so that we may be able to protect our borders and defend ourselves as well as our faith. As such, these teachings do not promote aggression, violence or bloodshed, rather they exist in order to defend the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden.

The military characteristics of people who await Imam Mahdi (a) are as follows:

a) Physical Readiness and Strength: One of the manifestations of effective preparation is to attain physical strength and readiness in order to be of utility during the era of Imam Mahdi's reappearance. A society that awaits Imam Mahdi (a) is a society that is alive, resilient and powerful. Speaking on this subject, Imam Sadiq (a) is reported to have said : "Every man from amongst his companions will have the strength of forty men and his heart will be more resolute than a piece of iron. If they come across mountains (standing in their path), they would surely uproot them. They will not sheathe their swords until God Almighty has been pleased."

b) Bravery, Resolve and Steadfastness: The supporters and helpers of Imam Mahdi (a) are brave and battle-hardened warriors. Their hearts are like steel and they feel no fear when facing the enemy. Those who await the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a) are characterized by their formidable tenacity, fortitude and steadfastness. Narrated traditions describe them as such : "Their hearts are like hardened pieces of metal that do not tremble even during the most unforgiving of windstorms."

c) A Battle Ready Spirit and High Morale for Jihad: Based on the religious teachings of Islam, those who await Imam Mahdi (a) must educate and train themselves in the art of warfare and jihad, and must prepare the means and equipment necessary for war and defense. As such, they must attain total readiness in order to fight the agents of corruption, tyranny, sinfulness and perversion.

d) Readiness to Fight Against a Global System: People who genuinely await Imam Mahdi (a) must be ready to fight the global system of oppression. They must be prepared to uproot the existing balance of power and to destroy the status quo created by the hegemonic regimes that rule this world.