What is the responsibility of Muslims with regards to having faith in the Imamate and Wilayat of Imam Mahdi (a)? (question)

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The Status of Having Faith in Imam Mahdi (a)

Whenever the term "awaiting" is used, the idea of the "awaited" and the "person who awaits" automatically comes to mind due to the inseparability of these three concepts from one another. Consequently, just as the "awaited" (i.e. Imam Mahdi) possesses meritorious perfections and unsurpassed spiritual strengths making him a source of emulation as well as a leader and guide for other people, the "person who awaits" him must also strive to attain these meritorious perfections and must continue his spiritual ascent towards comprehensive prosperity by practicing pious obedience and performing good deeds to reinforce his faith under the guidance of his leader and Imam[1]. Within Shi'a thought, and in accordance to the Quranic verse regarding the perfection of religion (i.e. Surah al-Ma'idah, verse 3), the religion of Islam achieved its completion and perfection via the imamate and successorship of Imam Ali (a) and the Twelve Imams (a) from the progeny of the Holy Prophet (s)[2]. As a result, in addition to having faith in the basic principles of belief, faith in Imam Mahdi (a) as the Twelfth Imam (a) from the progeny of the Sacred Messenger (s) who is alive and in occultation forms a fundamental pillar of Islamic life. In exegesis of the Quranic verse that says[3]: "Those who believe in the unseen", Imam Sadiq (a) is reported to have said[4]: "(This Quranic verse indicates) those people who have faith in the uprising of the Qa'im (a) and believe this uprising to be rightful"[5].

After having secured a relative degree of knowledge about the Imam (a) and having recognized him to some extent, our next religious duty is to acknowledge and have faith in him. As our knowledge and recognition of the Imam (a) grows to become deeper and more accurate, our level of faith and belief will also increase accordingly. Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a) is narrated to have stated[6]: "If a person remains steadfast upon (his acknowledgement and acceptance of) our wilayat (i.e. our divinely ordained authority) during the age of the occultation of our Qa'im, God Almighty will bestow upon him a reward him equal to the reward of a thousand martyrs from amongst the martyrs of Badr and Uhud"[7].

The Responsibility of Those Who Await Imam Mahdi (a)

Strengthening the foundations of belief and preserving the essence of one's faith in Imam Mahdi (a) constitutes an important principle and a serious religious duty within the life of every Shi'a Muslim who wishes to protect himself from the deviant and corrupt opinions and ideas of the End Times. Zurarah reports that Imam Sadiq once said[8]: "An era will come upon the people when their Imam will go into occultation." Zurara asked, "What will the people do within such an age?" The Imam (a) replied, "They must hold firmly to (their acknowledgment and acceptance of) his wilayah (i.e. his divinely ordained authority) until he is finally revealed". Indeed, there are so many people who may profess their acceptance of the Imam's wilayah while harboring numerous doubts within their hearts. For this very reason, the sincere Shi'a who live during the era of occultation bear several outstanding characteristics. Imam Sajjad (a) is reported to have said[9]: "Those who live during the period of Imam Mahdi's occultation and believe in his imamate while awaiting his reappearance are superior to all other people who have lived throughout history. This is because God the Almighty has granted them such an intellect, understanding and knowledge that for them the era of occultation is the same as the era of manifestation and presence. During the period of occultation, God has bestowed upon them the status and rank of those who lived alongside the Holy Prophet (s) and used their swords to fight in the way of the Almighty. They are the truly sincere believers and the authentic Shi'a who invite others, openly and covertly, towards the religion of God"[10].

One of the elements that causes this connection and faith to be inseverable is the preservation and strengthening of one's spiritual link with Imam Mahdi (a) and the renewal of one's pledge of allegiance to him on a daily basis. This ritual act is highly recommended and for this purpose one may supplicate by reciting the Dua al-'Ahd every morning. If a person recites this prayer continuously for forty consecutive mornings, then there is high hope that he will be counted from amongst the helpers and supporters of Imam Mahdi (a)[11]. Therefore, he who genuinely awaits the Imam (a) must never feel himself abandoned within society without having any responsibilities or religious duties. In fact, according to the directive of Imam Baqir (a)[12] , he must practice patient resilience with regards to the performance of his religious obligations and must be steadfast when facing the enemies, while strengthening his connection to the Imam of the Age (a)[13].

Therefore, subsequent to believing in the basic principles of faith, belief in Imam Mahdi (a) and faith in him forms the next foundational pillar of Islamic life. As such, a person who awaits the Imam (a) must fully adhere to him and must renew his allegiance to him every day while continuously consolidating his spiritual connection with Imam Mahdi (a).


  1. Gudarzi, Mujtaba, Khilafat-e Ilahi wa Darurat-e Tawanmandi-ye Muntaziran, p. 208.
  2. Akhawan Kazimi, Bahram, Ihyagari-ye Iman-e Ilahi wa Hayat-e Mu'minana-ye Zaminisaz wa Rahburd-e Dulat-e Mahdi, vol. 2, p. 340.
  3. Qur'an 2:3.
  4. Kamāl al-Dīn wa Tamām al-Ni'mah, vol. 2, pg. 340.
  5. See: Tahmasbi Buldaji, Asghar and Muradi, Fatima, Qur'an wa Sabk-e Zindigi-ye Mahdawi, p. >.
  6. Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 52, pg. 125.
  7. Zuhurifar, Muhammad, Intizar-e Wazifisaz, p. ?.
  8. Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 52, pg. 149.
  9. Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 36, pg. 387.
  10. See: Akbari, Muhammad Rida, Parcham-e Hidayat, p. 64.
  11. Salimiyan, Khudamurad, Bayistiha-ye 'Asr-e Chism be Rahi, p. ?.
  12. Nu'mānī, Al-Ghaybah, pg. 199; Al-Burhān fī Tafsīr al-Qurān, vol. 1, pg. 334.
  13. Shafi'i Sarwistani, Ibrahim, Naqsh-e Intizar dar Puyayi-ye Jami'a-ye Islami, p. ?.