What should be done to support and help Imam Mahdi (a)? (question)

From Imamatpedia

Types of Support and Help for the Imam of the Age (a)

Helping the Imam of the Age (a) can be done in several different ways, which are as follows:

  1. Spiritual Help: The lowest level and most minimum form of help that a person can provide to the Imam (a) is to have whole-hearted belief in his imamate while submitting fully to the Imam's divinely ordained authority. Indeed, belief in the imamate of the Imam (a) is one of the fundamental pillars of belief within Islam, such that if a person died without having faith in this core principle, he would have died the death of misguidance and ignorance. As a result, we must try to curtail the spread of negligence and obliviousness regarding the Imam of the Age (a) that has unfortunately become common within human society today[1]. Nevertheless, since the heart or the soul represents one of the most essential layers of a human being's existence that can be employed to serve God's chosen representative, spiritual help and preparing the heart in this regard becomes especially important. Within this context, we find that there are several different instances wherein a person can prepare his heart for supporting Imam Mahdi (a). If these instances are realized and they penetrate profoundly into an individual's inner being and soul, his innermost essence and deep existential self will become ready for fighting alongside and helping God's vicegerent while also rendering him resilient and steadfast against all forms of tribulations and confusing circumstances[2]. Some of the instances of helping the Imam (a) spiritually are as follows:
    1. Increasing and deepening one's true knowledge about the Imam (a) and his objectives: This includes knowledge of what the Imam (a) expects from his Shi'a today and how they should act given the resources that they have at their disposal. Similarly, it involves knowledge regarding the pledge made in the Realm of the Covenant regarding God's ordained authority and those who hold it. This pledge is ritually renewed when we recite supplications such as Dua al-'Ahd and other similar prayers. Within one of his blessed epistles, Imam Mahdi (a) speaks about this pledge and says that the deliverance would not have been delayed if his Shi'a had exercised solidarity and unity in remaining steadfast upon this oath : "If our Shi'a, may the Almighty grant them divine assistance in being righteously obedient, had been unified and mutually harmonious in being true to their pledge towards us, then the privilege of our encounter and deliverance would not have been postponed"[3].[4]
    1. Having the intention and desire of being a soldier for Imam Mahdi (a) until martyrdom: another instance of spiritually helping the Imam of the Age (a) is creating and maintaining a serious intention and determination towards supporting the Imam (a) even at the cost of one's own life, while also yearning to achieve the esteemed rank of martyrdom in the path of serving him. One narrated supplication teaches us to say : "O' God! Let me be one of his helpers and supporters and those who gain martyrdom in his presence!"[5] Supplications such as these represent spiritual exercises and acts of self-suggestion that play a very effective role in preparing and developing a believer's soul. In general, a person's desires and yearnings reflect his personality and psychological framework, and are rooted in his fundamental essence and characteristics. At the same time, these desires and inner longings also aid in crafting a person's core determination and ultimately his entire personality[6].

iii. Love and adoration: Yet another instance of spiritual help for the Imam of the Age (a), which also constitutes one of the duties of every religious and believing individual, is to love and adore Imam Mahdi (a) who is the personification of all virtues. Without doubt, a person who does not harbor deep love for the Imam (a) in his heart cannot be a good soldier for him[7].

  1. Verbal Help: We must strive to propagate the culture of Mahdism without fearing the rebuke of evildoers and heathens. The best way to verbally help the Imam (a) is to serve the orphans of the Prophet's progeny (a) (i.e. the Shi'a) and to strengthen their beliefs, especially those of the youngsters amongst them, by providing concrete proofs so that they may remain firm upon the path of devout obedience to the imamate and wilayah (or divinely ordain authority)[8]. A very important point to note is that supporting the Imam of the Age (a) is not exclusive to the era of reappearance. In fact, we can help the Imam (a) even during the period of occultation. However, the support a person can provide differs according to his or her status and circumstance. One of the ways of helping the Imam of the Age (a) is to increase the number of people who befriend and follow him and this sacred objective can be achieved through various means. For instance, we can move towards the aforementioned goal by keeping the Imam's name and memory alive amongst our families, friends and neighbors, and by keeping them away from bad deeds like sins and other acts of corruption that can drive a wedge between them and the Imam of the Age (a) and separate them from his friendship. Therefore, we must endeavor to improve ourselves as well as others through polite advise, sincerity and beautiful acts of virtue. Similarly, we must never let ourselves feel tired and disheartened while enjoining good and the prohibiting of evil[9].
  1. Practical Help: We must help in the realization of the ideals and goals of Imam Mahdi (a) by purifying the self at an individual level while also supporting pious religious scholars at a societal level. Imam Sadiq (a) is reported to have said : "He who desires to be from amongst the helpers of the Qa'im (a) must engage in awaiting (Imam Mahdi) and must accustom himself to piety and virtuous ways of life. Even if such a person dies before the Qa'im's uprising, he will still receive a reward equivalent to someone who accompanies the Imam (a). Therefore, strive and be serious (in acting upon religious laws and teachings). O' group of people who enjoy the Almighty's special attention and mercy! May you relish (this divine bounty)!"[10] Likewise, within a narrated supplication titled Dua al-Nudba, it is stated: "(O' Almighty Lord!) Help us in fulfilling his rights and (aid us) in our efforts to obey him and in staying away from all forms of disobedience towards him"[11].

Since people in general consider the Shi'a to be friends and devotees of the Imam of the Age (a), one of the ways of helping Imam Mahdi (a) is to avoid all actions that may invite hatred towards religion and religious leaders. As some narrated traditions state : "(O' Shi'a! Act in a manner that allows you to) be (a source of) adornment for us. (Do not act in a way that makes you) a source of shame and ugliness"[12].[13]

With respect to this same subject, Imam Baqir (a) is narrated to have said : "By God, (O' my Shi'a) I love your scent and your souls. Therefore, you too should help us in this regard by preserving your virtue and striving in the path of God. Be aware that no one can attain (the status of being genuinely obedient to) our wilayah (i.e. divinely ordained authority) without practicing piety and hard work"[14]. According to this narrated tradition, maintaining one's piety and virtuousness constitutes one of the ways in which a person can help the Immaculate Imams (a). Likewsie, there exists a lengthy narrated tradition in which Imam Sadiq (a) is reported to have addressed Zayd al-Shahham and said : "Convey my salutations to anyone from amongst the people who follows me and acts in accordance to my words. I advise you to maintain piety and be diligently God-conscious in your relationship with the Almighty, and be virtuous with regards to your religion and strive in the path of God. I implore you to be honest and trustworthy and to prolong you ritual prostrations and to treat your neighbors with goodness. This is because Muhammad (s) has brought forth these commandments (from the Almighty). Whenever someone entrusts you with their assets, be dutifully in returning them promptly, regardless of whether the person in question is virtuous or sinful. Indeed, the Prophet of God (s) has commanded us to be meticulous in returning (even pity things like) a needle or a piece of thread, and to remain connected to our relatives, and to participate in their funeral rites, and to visit them when they fall sick, and to fulfill all their rights. When a person from amongst you practices piety in his religion and is honest and fulfills people's trust and behaves with them ethically, the general public (observe his character and) remark: This is a Jafari. This makes me happy, and maybe they might see him and think about me and say: This is the commendable manner (taught by) Ja'far ibn Muhammad (a)"[15].

There also exist other ways to lend practical support to the Imam of the Age (a) as well as the other Immaculate Imams (a). For instance: We may use their blessed names while naming] our children, or we may learn their sayings and teach them to our children as well, or we may express happiness during times associated to their joy while expressing sadness during days designated for their lamentation. Similarly, we may celebrate and honor them and their memory, or we may perform pilgrimage to their sacred shrines, or we may endeavor to help their helpers, or we may stop ourselves from doing anything that might cause dishonor and disrespect to them, or we may invest our resources into the propagation of their culture[16].