Imam Mahdi an Imam for all Times (2)

Imam Mahdi an Imam for all Times (2)

The Other-worldly Prosperity

Even as a human being is constantly occupied with the mundane aspects of life, there is some mysterious life rooted in the depth of his own self to which he hardly pays attention, and he appears to have almost forgotten about it. He is bound to reap prosperity or adversity in relation to this neglected self too. In other words, good thoughts and true beliefs, virtuous conduct and praiseworthy actions that stem from the prosperous self would lead to spiritual perfection and ascendancy as well as to success and excellence, just as erroneous beliefs, immoral behavior and blameworthy conduct, which stem from the perverted self, lead to the impairment, destitution and deviation of the self.

Hence, if a person places himself on the path of perfection, he will permit his essential and real self to be nurtured and refined so as to ascend and revert to its original abode, which is all light and bliss. On the contrary, if he sacrifices all the means to attain the perfection of the self by surrendering to the animal appetites, then he will transform himself into a violent, lustful animal, having completely deviated from the straight path. Consequently, a human being is in need of a carefully structured program for the progression of his inner self without which he cannot expect to travel this hazardous and highly intricate path.

By allowing his animal appetites to overcome spiritual and moral perfection, he actually surrenders the ability of his intuitive reasoning to reach sound judgements. As a result he falls into the darkness of misguidance, destroying his power to carry out the requirements of a virtuous life, judging good to be evil and evil to be good. Indeed, it is only God, the Creator of human beings, who knows the source of human prosperity, the good and the evil, who can provide the right guidance and complete program to attain true perfection and happiness, and to avoid those things that cause destitution and adversity. In sum, a human being needs the Lord Creator also in attaining his prosperity in the Hereafter. Thus, it is possible to conclude that the Wise God has not exposed humankind, which is potentially capable of realizing prosperity as well as disaster only to the deviating powers of the self.

Nor has He abandoned humankind to the forces of ignorance and confusion. Rather, He has endowed humanity with abounding benevolence and kindness by guiding it through the prophets who are selected from among humans. These prophets have been sent with ordinances and laws to direct the lives of the people toward this and other-worldly prosperity and to warn against the tribulations caused by ignoring this guidance. By doing so God has removed all the possible excuses human beings could make for having failed to reach the appointed goal of prosperity.

The Path of Perfection

The path of human perfection leading it to God is embedded in sound belief, righteous action and virtuous conduct. The information about this path was revealed to the Prophets so that they could undertake to call people towards it. It is important to emphasize that this path is not merely a formal path that has no connection in form or essence to the divine goals. Quite to the contrary, it is the path that is real and true, which has its source in the divine lordship. Any one situated in its course can ascend to the highest levels of the limitless universe and paradisiacal heavens by going through the inner perfection of the self.

In other words, true religion is such a straight path that whoever situates himself in its course, perfects his/her essential self and his humanity through the straight, benevolent path and returns to the prosperous abode and the source of all perfection. And anyone who deviates from this straight path has to go through the inhuman path of demonic existence, without any virtues and good conduct to support themselves. Such individuals actually become incapable of treading the precise path of benevolent existence. Indeed, such an individual cannot expect anything better than being damned to perdition and hell fire.

The Infallibility of the Prophets

The Divine Benevolence makes it necessary that the prophets be sent as the guides to teach the people religious ordinances and laws so as to lead them to their prosperity in this and the next world. This goal can be accomplished only if the prophets are protected from committing any errors in delivering the divine message to humanity. Otherwise, human beings could make an excuse for not having received authentic directives from God. In other words, a prophet should be immune from any kind of error and forgetfulness in conveying the divine revelation to the people. This is known as `isma ('protection' or 'immunity' = 'infallibility'). Moreover, a prophet himself should be an exemplary person, having followed all the divine injunctions in his personal life.

It is only then that he can call upon people to follow the divine guidance, demonstrating its validity through his own character and conduct. In this way the people can follow him confidently toward their own true perfection. In addition, it is a rationally derived proposition that no person can expect others to carry out moral and religious directives when he himself does not follow the same. A call to the divine path must be exemplified by the prophet.

It is obvious that our own knowledge and perceptions are not free of error, because they are conditioned by the way our sensory perceptions receive them. No one can deny the numerous times when our senses have made errors in perception. However, when that knowledge and those ordinances come in the form of divine guidance from God, delivered through the revelation to the prophets, these are immune from such dangers. In fact, revelation is not the kind of knowledge that is derived from sensory perceptions. Otherwise, it too would have been prone to same dangers as human perceptions are, depriving people of the confidence that is necessary in religious ordinances.

Religious truth and knowledge about hidden matters is given to the prophets through revelation which descends upon their heart and their inner self. This very truth is experienced by these prophets in their earthly existence, which they convey to the people in accord with their capacity to understand and to follow it. Hence, the religious truth given to the prophets and delivered to the people by them remains immune from any falsehood or error.

It is for this reason that the prophets are protected from disobedience and error of judgement, and are empowered to act upon their knowledge. How can it be otherwise? A person who has attained that level of truth through experience and direct observation cannot be expected to act contrary to that truth. Moreover, after attaining such a level of perfection he cannot be expected to forfeit that blessing by falling into sinful deviation.

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