What are the essential pillars of waiting for Imam Mahdi (a)? (question)

From Imamatpedia

Awaiting the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a) involves three pillars. Firstly, dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs leads a person to look beyond the contemporary status quo. In fact, being deprived of the apparent presence of Imam Mahdi (a) causes such a person to reject the current scheme of things, while constantly striving to ready himself in order to prepare the grounds for the Concealed Imam's reappearance. Ultimately, this preparation will lead to the eventual reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a) while, in turn, will culminate in the establishment of Imam Mahdi's utopian society. Secondly, a person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) must have firm belief in and yearning for the ideal state of affairs. This yearning and conviction controls all the mental, spiritual, emotional and practical activities of an anticipant of Imam Mahdi's return and helps him to overcome all difficulties without submitting to hopelessness and despair. Finally, practical action is required of a person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a). This means that he must graduate beyond the level of mere beliefs and perceptions, and must translate these convictions into practical actions. As such, he must employ the all his abilities and resources towards reconstructing and reforming his society based upon true morality, justice and an absolute negation of tyranny and oppression. In other words, he must take actual and tangible steps towards preparing the grounds for Imam Mahdi's reappearance[1]

Introduction

Herein, when we refer to "pillars", we are actually speaking about elements that form the essential foundations of a given thing or idea[2]. As such, the essential pillars of awaiting Imam Mahdi (a) are the principle elements and core-most foundations upon which the true concept of awaiting Imam Mahdi's reappearance and his deliverance firmly stand. Without these integral elements, the meaning of awaiting Imam Mahdi (a) will automatically become distorted and corrupted, deviating away from its genuine signification. In other words, the pillars of awaiting Imam Mahdi (a) are a collection of foundational concepts and actions that come together to form genuine awaiting. As a result, without the presence of these foundations, no Muslim can be considered a true anticipant of Imam Mahdi's return.

The Essential Pillars of Genuinely Awaiting Imam Mahdi (a)

Genuine anticipation of Imam Mahdi's reappearance]] bears the following three foundational pillars: 1. Dissatisfaction vis-à-vis the current state of affairs: According to Shiite beliefs, the principle notion of awaiting the deliverance is actually rooted in the religious doctrine that necessitates the governance of the Immaculate after the demise of the Prophet (s). The fact that such a government was not allowed to take shape in history up until the birth of the Last Immaculate Imam (a) led to the minor as well as the major occultation of the Twelfth Imam (a). Based upon this tenet of Shi'a belief, not having the governance of an immaculate imam over the affairs of human society and the world spawns innumerable short-comings and problems. As such, the only path leading to holistic prosperity for mankind is for humanity to accept and acknowledge the wilaya or divinely ordained authority and government of the Immaculate Imam. Based on the above, problems, tribulations and deficiencies will continue to exist during the era of Imam Mahdi's occultation because these issues are rooted in the absence of Imam Mahdi's global government of universal justice. A person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a), in the genuine sense of the word, finds himself deprived of the apparent presence of the Imam of the Age (a) and, consequently, rejects and denounces the current circumstances of the world that have caused this continued and prolonged deprivation. Furthermore, such an individual constantly strives to boost his own readiness and works diligently to prepare the grounds for the reappearance of the Concealed Imam (a) so that this reappearance may finally usher in a complete realization of the long coveted ideal of establishing the governance of the Immaculates (a). A person who awaits the return of Imam Mahdi (a), in the true sense, is perpetually agonized by the tyranny, corruption, injustice, lack of genuine identity and confusion that plagues today's world, while seeking ways to break free from this vicious status-quo. On the other hand, his heart yearns to witness the establishment of a government of truth, universal justice and genuine spirituality. In other words, a person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) seeks to overthrow the repugnant state of affairs that prevails today while striving to achieve a desired and ideal state instead. Someone who is satisfied with the circumstances that exist today cannot possible be deemed a person who awaits a better future. In fact, someone willing to accept the situation that prevails currently after certain minor adjustments, cannot be considered an individual who awaits Imam Mahdi's return in the genuine sense. Moreover, when we speak about denouncing the current state of affairs, we are not simply talking about bettering the individual conditions of those who await Imam Mahdi's reappearance. This denouncement of the contemporary state of the world is an explicit protest against the tyrannical leaders of the global system. This kind of disgruntlement, and the anticipation of betterment, has always been a constant benchmark of all struggles against corruption within Islamic society, such that these feelings form the fountainheads of resistance and the essential catalysts behind all movements initiated by the followers of truth in opposition to the followers of falsehood. At least a cursory awareness of the desired situation which a person awaiting Imam Mahdi (a) hopes to achieve is definitely necessary for the onset of all protestation against current circumstances. Only after some sort of awareness about Imam Mahdi's utopian society can a person be disgruntled and unsatisfied with the state of affairs that exist during the era of occultation and thus strive towards preparing the grounds for Imam Mahdi's reappearance. Indeed, a person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) must have some relative understanding of the ideal state of affairs in addition to simply being dissatisfied with regards to the prevailing status quo of current times. In fact, these two elements complement and complete one another and must always be comprehended together, since an accurate evaluation of current circumstances rest upon the clarity of one's perception regarding desired and ideal conditions. An individual who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) must compare this ideal with the state that exists now and, after doing so, must compare both with the existential greatness and essential value of humanity to see which of these two states matches mankind's worthiness. As a result of such a comparative study, one can never be satisfied with the conditions that prevail today and will continuously be engaged in a struggle to achieve ideal conditions, while anxiously waiting for a day when one may be able to cherish the true meaning of justice and spirituality. 2. Firm belief in the establishment of the ideal state: This particular pillar dictates that one must hold firm belief and conviction that the world will eventually taste the sweet flavor of universal justice and all the benefits it entails. This conviction exists within all religions and within the Shi'a school of Islamic thought, this event will take place with the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a). One of the vital elements that aids in the creation of this pillar is a person's yearning, because strong desire and yearning controls all of an individual's mental, spiritual and physical actions. This means that a person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) never submits to hopelessness, even during times of severe persecution, anxiety and distress, because he fully believes that perpetual peace and tranquility exists beyond these temporary tribulations. As such, narrated traditions declare that awaiting the deliverance is the best and most valuable of all acts of worship. The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said : "The best jihad (or holy struggle) for my nation is awaiting the deliverance"[3]. However, one must remember that the idea of "awaiting Imam Mahdi" (a) is invariably linked to the ideas of trusting and having confidence in the inevitability of an ideal future, and that these two sets of ideas are inseparable from the notion of having hope and yearning for such a future. Indeed, if any one of these concepts is set aside, the true and accurate meaning of waiting for Imam Mahdi (a) will automatically cease to exist. Harboring hope towards achieving an ideal state is different from believing in an ideal future[4]. The hope in question represents a separate reality from the belief mentioned above, even though this hope may actually be a consequence of the said belief and conviction. One of the effects of such a hope is that it sweetens one's belief and makes it pleasurable. It can be said that when a belief graduates to a level that it creates hope and yearning, then such a belief acts like fresh blood flowing through the arteries of a body, providing it with life and vitality. In such a condition, a human being senses the warmth of this conviction within the entirety of his or her existence. Nevertheless, sometimes this re-vitalizing element may also transform into one that bring death and despair. This happens when a person harbors an incorrect belief which, in turn, begets false hope, resulting in corruption. Nonetheless, the devout belief of a person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) instigates him to strive and struggle, thus freeing him from the state of stagnancy and apathetic isolation. 3. Practical action for the realization of ideal conditions: The last pillar of awaiting Imam Mahdi (a) is practical action in order to realize an ideal state of affairs. Taking all possible practical steps towards preparing the grounds and creating readiness for the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a) and his deliverance serves to validate and confirm the truthfulness of one's claim about being an anticipant of Imam Mahdi's return. Simultaneously, such practical measures also strengthen a person's resolve towards awaiting the Imam of the Age (a). Regarding the future, the belief of a person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) must not be irresponsible in nature. This means that an anticipant of Imam Mahdi's reappearance, in addition to denouncing the state of affairs that prevail currently, must also do everything within the scope of his ability and resources to better the situation that exists within his society. Imam Sadiq (a) is reported to have said : "Each and every one of you must be prepared for the uprising of the Qa'im, even to the limited extend of keeping ready a single arrow"[5]. A true anticipant of Imam Mahdi's return is always actively and effectively engaged in continuously striving to reform the prevailing circumstances of his society in order to bring them closer to ideal conditions. Such a person sees no disconnect or separation between denouncing the current state of affairs and awaiting Imam Mahdi (a) in the true sense of the phrase, and believes that harboring hope for a better future is meaningless unless one struggles for the betterment of the present. Fundamentally, inclination towards practical action is deep-rooted within the ideological culture of those who await Imam Mahdi (a), because until and unless any given anticipant of Imam Mahdi's return moves in the direction of the ideal state, his or her anticipation of Imam Mahdi's reappearance remains incomplete and deficient. To the utmost of his strength and ability, a genuine anticipant of Imam Mahdi's return tries to establish a society that conforms to the criteria and benchmarks associated with Imam Mahdi (a). As such, striving towards human perfection and social developmen, reconstructing society based on justice and fairness, and fighting against tyranny and injustice represent some of the most important and serious instances of taking practical steps towards the realization of an ideal state.

We must also note that taking practical steps is not limited to external activities aimed at eliminating tribulations, denouncing usurpers of authority and fighting injustices and tyranny. In fact, practical steps also include inward actions and, as such, a true anticipant of Imam Mahdi's return must also seriously engage in self-purification and spiritual cleansing by purging himself of all sins and ethical demerits while adorning himself with spiritual perfections.

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