Our Responsibilities in the Occultation 2

Our Responsibilities in the Occultation 2

1) The Knowledge of the Present Imam

Why Knowledge of the Imam is Necessary?

One of the basic principles of Islam is “love of God” and “love of the Messenger of Allah”. That is, our belief in Allah and His Messenger must have the scent of “love” (hubb). Even the Qur’an uses the words “faith and belief” (iman) and “love” (hubb) interchangeable words. Islam expects its followers to base their faith on love. This can be seen in the following verses of the Qur’an:

... those who believe, they are stronger in love for Allah...(1)

Say (O Muhammad): If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.(2)

Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brethren, your spouses, your kinsfolk, the property which you have acquired, the trade (whose slackness you fear) and the houses which you like-are more dearer (“beloved”) to you than Allah, his messenger and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about His decision (about you on the day of judgement); and Allah does not guide the transgressing people.(3)

Similarly, all the Shi‘ah ‘ulama’ agree that in case of imamat also, besides believing in the Imam, we must also love him. And so, we find that the principle of “tawalla” has found an important place in the Shi‘ah beliefs. Just to believe that Amiru ’l-mu‘minin ‘Ali and the other Imams were the most superior, most knowledgeable, most courageous, etc, in their time is not enough; a Shi‘ah is one who, besides believing in these things, also loves his Imams.

But the question is, can a person love someone without knowing him? No. Love comes after knowledge of that particular person or thing.

At this point, we can conclude that the real Shi‘ah is one who believes in the Present Imam and also loves him. And as love cannot exist without knowing the Imam, so a Shi‘ah has an obligation to know the Imam of his time as much as he can. Without knowledge, one cannot love his Imam; and without loving the Imams, the Prophet and Allah, the faith of that person will be imperfect.

This love of the Imam is so important even in the view of Allah, that He has named it as a “reward for the messengership of Muhammad”:

Say (O Muhammad): ‘I do not ask of you any reward for it (messenger ship) but love for my near relatives’ ...” (4)

Which Type of Knowledge Can Create Love?

There are two ways of acquiring knowledge about a person or a thing:

a) knowledge based on research and study (tahqiq) and b) the knowledge based on following the others (taqlid).

Tahqiq means a person himself acquires the knowledge by studying until he reaches to the level of certainty and conviction; whereas taqlid means a person blindly follows someone else in that matter. He himself does not study. He just believes in that particular matter because he trusts someone who told him to believe so.

From the Shi‘ite point of view, in the matters of belief, it is obligatory for every Muslim to accept them and believe in them only after achieving conviction of their truth. To blindly follow others in matters of belief (like tawhid, nubuwwah, imamat, qiyamat) is forbidden. The faith of a person who is a Muslim just because of the influence of the family or the society does not stand on strong foundation, neither will it be valuable. He would not be able to defend himself against the propaganda of the anti-Islamic forces.

We see that many Muslims who were religious in their own country, when they come to the West their religious foundation is destroyed. The main cause behind this destruction of faith is not Islam, it is the “blind following” of these Muslims. In their own homelands, they were Muslim just because of their society and family; and as soon as they leave the society and the family, the foundation of their “religious beliefs” is lost, and so they are easily exposed to the germs of kufr in the Western countries. If their religious foundation had been on tahqiq, the Western or the Eastern society makes no difference for them; and they would be immuned from the germs of kufr. The Qur’an clearly condemns blind following in the matters of belief:

And when it is said to them, “Come now to what Allah has sent down, and the Messengers,” they say, “Enough for us is what we found our fathers doing”. What, even if their fathers had knowledge of naught and were not (rightly-guided?) (5)

And certainly We have created for hell many of the jinn and the men; (because) they have minds (lit. “hearts”) (but) with which they do not understand, and they have eyes (but) with which they do not see, and they have ears (but) with which they do not hear; they are as cattle, nay, they are worst; they are heedless ones. (6)

The last verse clearly shows that those who follow others blindly in the matters of belief (and do not use their own power of perception) are worst, in the view of Allah, than even the animals. Imamat is also a part of the matters of belief (uṣulu’d-din) and so, even in this matter the Shi‘ahs have to follow the same method of believing only after achieving certainty and conviction about the truth of the Imams. It is absolutely necessary for the Shi‘ahs of our time to seek knowledge of our Present Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi (upon whom be peace) so that their faith may rest on strong foundations; not on shaky foundations of blind following. It is this faith, springing from knowledge, which can create love in the hearts of the faithfuls.

Continue in the next article: ( Our Responsibilities in the Occultation 3 )

NOTES:

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1. The Quran 2:165

2. The Quran 3:31

3. The Quran 9:24

4. The Quran 42:23

5. The Quran 5:104

6. The Quran 7:179