What does the general meaning of awaiting signify? (question)

From Imamatpedia

The Idea of General Awaiting

"General awaiting" signifies a concept that is broader in its meaning than "specific awaiting". As such, "general awaiting" denotes an anticipation towards any form of deliverance and relief, whereas "specific awaiting" denotes an exclusive and particular anticipation of Imam Mahdi’s reappearance[1]. In this context, Islam as an ideological creed has striven to associate merit to the idea of having hope in the future and has attached ethical value to the expectation of deliverance in general, while condemning hopelessness, despondence and despair. In this manner, Islam has attempted to keep alive the spirit of striving and constructive activity within all people who live in an Islamic society[2]. Another meaning can also be furnished for the idea of "general awaiting". Herein, "general awaiting" is a form of anticipation that relates to any general objective, and signifies a state of hope and expectation towards any type of deliverance and relief regardless of whether it is material in nature or spiritual, worldly or dealing with the hereafter, individual or communal[3].

Usage of the term and idea of "awaiting", in the above stated meaning, can also be found within the academic works of the Sunni school of Muslim thought. For instance, while explaining the term "general awaiting" within his book titled "Madarij al-Salikin", Ibn Qayyin al-Jawzī, a renowned Hanbali scholar, writes[4] : "Awaiting is the very soul of deliverance. This means that the pleasure and comfort provided by deliverance becomes possible due to the awaiting and anticipation that precedes it. Indeed, it is a sublime and hidden blessing and a much hastened relief that a human being can find himself equipped with the spirit of deliverance and its comfort and tranquility even while being surrounded by tribulation"[5]. Similarly, it has been said[6]: "The principle of awaiting deliverance has been derived from a general Quranic and Islamic principle which prohibits any form of hopelessness towards God’s merciful spirit"[7].[8]

"General awaiting" is not something exclusive to common people alone. In fact, a review of Quranic verses shows that this type of pious anticipation is not only prescribed to common people but has been recommended to God’s prophets as well. The Holy Quran states[9]: "When Allah took a covenant concerning the prophets, [He said,] ‘Inasmuch as I have given you [the knowledge] of the Book and wisdom, should an apostle come to you thereafter confirming what is with you, you shall believe in him and help him.’ He said, ‘Do you pledge and accept My covenant on this condition?’ They said, ‘We pledge.’ He said, ‘Then be witnesses, and I, too, am among the witnesses along with you." Based upon this Quranic verse, every single one of God’s prophets must constantly remain in a state of awaiting while continuously anticipating the arrival of God’s next messenger. Furthermore, he must also train his nation to believe in this very same principle[10].

General Awaiting from a Standpoint of Quranic Verses and Narrated Traditions

By and large, the general meaning of "awaiting" and "anticipation" can be studied within Quranic verses and narrated traditions: 1. Quranic Verses: Many of the Quranic verses that speak of the meritorious nature of "awaiting" and pious "anticipation", without specifying any particular type of deliverance, are actually intended to strengthen the spirit of hopefulness while combating despondency and pessimism regarding the future. The Holy Quran considers hopelessness towards the Almighty’s mercy to be one of the defining characteristic of non-believers. It quotes the prophet Ya’qub (a) as having said[11]: "Go, my sons, and look for Joseph and his brother, and do not despair of Allah’s mercy. Indeed no one despairs of Allah’s mercy except the faithless lot"[12]. Similarly, in another place, the Holy Quran states[13]: "Indeed ease accompanies hardship"[14]. 2. Narrated Traditions: • First: Within a lengthy narrated tradition that details four hundred points through which the betterment of a believer’s worldly and religious affairs may be attained, and after having mentioned the positive effects of praying to God for sustenance during the period that lies between the time of Fajr and sunrise, Imam Ali (a) is quoted to have said[15]: "Await the deliverance and do not be hopeless towards God’s mercy"[16]. • Second: The Holy Prophet of Islam (s) is narrated to have said[17]: "Whosoever is satisfied with the limited sustenance that God has bestowed upon him will find God Almighty satisfied with the limited worship that he performs. (Furthermore) waiting for deliverance is in itself an act of worship"[18]. • Third: Amongst his various advises to Abu Hanifah, Imam Sadiq (a) is also reported to have said[19]: "The best of all deeds is awaiting for deliverance from God"[20]

Islamic teachings have paid such great attention to promoting the idea of "general awaiting" and "hope" that we find these concepts being introduced in the most esteemed of terms. Within some narrated traditions they are mentioned as the best of all acts of worship and pious servitude. The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said[21]:[22] "The greatest of all acts of worship is to await the deliverance". In another place, the Blessed Messenger (s) is quoted to have stated[23]: "Awaiting the deliverance with patience constitutes an act of worship"[24]. Similarly, Imam Rida (a) is narrated to have said[25]: "How virtuous indeed is patience and awaiting the deliverance! Have you not heard what God Almighty has said, "So be on the watch; I too will be watching along with you"[26] and when He said, "So wait! I too am waiting along with you"[27]. Thus, maintain patient resilience, for the deliverance will come after the onset of hopelessness and despondency. Indeed, those who lived before your time were more patient than you"[28].


Therefore, "awaiting the deliverance", in its general sense and meaning, signifies relief and salvation from tyranny, injustice, polytheism, corruption, discrimination and faithlessness that the Shi’ah or the oppressed masses of the world may come to experience. This anticipation represent the best of all acts of worship because it equips and readies a person who awaits Imam Mahdi (a) for furnishing the grounds towards Imam Mahdi’s deliverance and return[29].


  1. Rabbani Khurasgani, Muhammad Sadiq, Barrisi-ye Karkardha-ye Ijtima'i-ye Intizar-e Hadrat Mahdi dar Iran, p. 19; Sulaymaniyan, Khudamurad, Mu'allifiha-ye Intizar-e Tawanmand az Nigah-e Riwayat-e Ma'sumin, p.?; Khatami, Sayyid Ahmad, Intizar-e Mas'ulana, p. ?.
  2. See: Shafi'i Sarwistani, Ibrahim, Chashm be Rah,p. 45.
  3. See: Ilahinijad, Husayn, Barrisi wa Tahlil-e Intizar dar Ahl-e Sunnat, pp. 26-27.
  4. Al-Jawzī, Ibn Qayyim; Madārij al-Sālikīn Bayna Manāzili Īyāka Na’budu wa Īyāka Nasta’īn, vol. 2, pg. 166
  5. See: Ilahinijad, Husayn, Barrisi wa Tahlil-e Intizar dar Ahl-e Sunnat, pp. 26-27.
  6. Muṭṭaharī, Murtaḍā; Qayām wa Inqilāb-e Mahdī, pg. 7
  7. Mutahhari, Murtada, Qiyam wa Inqilab-e Mahdi, p.7.
  8. Rabbani Khurasgani, Muhammad Sadiq, Barrisi-ye Karkardha-ye Ijtima'i-ye Intizar-e Hadrat Mahdi dar Iran, p. 19.
  9. Qur'an 3: 81
  10. See:Muwahhidi Muhibb, Abd Allah, Tafsir-e Mithaq dar Aya-ye Sharifa-ye wa iz akhadhallah mithaq al-nabiyyin.
  11. Qur'an 12:87
  12. Shafi'i Sarwistani, Ibrahim, Chashm be Rah (bbok)Chashm be Rah, p. 45.
  13. Qur'an 94:6.
  14. Ilahinijad, Husayn, Barrisi wa Tahlil-e Intizar dar Ahl-e Sunnat, pp. 26-27.
  15. Khiṣāl, vol. 2, pg. 616; Tuḥaf al-‘Uqūl, pg. 106; Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 52, pg. 123, hadith no. 7
  16. Shafi'i Sarwistani, Ibrahim, Chashm be Rah (bbok)Chashm be Rah, p. 45.
  17. Majlisī, Muhammad Bāqir, Biḥār al_anwār, vol. 52, pg. 122, hadith no. 3
  18. Shafi'i Sarwistani, Ibrahim, Chashm be Rah (bbok)Chashm be Rah, p. 45.
  19. Majlisī, Muhammad Bāqir, Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 75, pg. 208, hadith no. 77
  20. Shafi'i Sarwistani, Ibrahim, Chashm be Rah (bbok)Chashm be Rah, p. 45.
  21. Kamāl al-Dīn wa Tamām al-Ni’mah, vol. 1, pg. 287
  22. Shafi'i Sarwistani, Ibrahim, Chashm be Rah (bbok)Chashm be Rah, p. 45.
  23. Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 52, pg. 145
  24. [[See:Khatami, Sayyid Ahmad, Intizar-e Mas'ulana, p.?.
  25. Muhammad ibn ‘Alī ibn Bābaweh, Kamāl al-Dīn, vol. 2, pg. 645, hadith no. 5
  26. Qur'an 11:93
  27. Qur'an 7:71.
  28. Ridwani, Ali Asghar, Wazayif-e ma dar 'Asr-e Ghaybat, pp. 52-52.
  29. Ridwani, Ali Asghar, Wazayif-e ma dar 'Asr-e Ghaybat, pp. 52-52.