Some Questions On Imam Mahdi 2

Some Questions On Imam Mahdi 2

He Could Have Negotiated a Treaty of Non-interference with the Rulers

Engineer Madani: Would it not have been possible for the Imam to negotiate a treaty of non-interference with the rulers, assuring them that he would not interfere in the workings of their government? In that way he would have established his credibility and truthfulness in observing the terms of his treaty and, in return, the rulers would have left him alone.

Mr. Hoshyar: You must keep this in mind that the function of the awaited Mahdi is different from that of the other Imams who preceded him. The other Imams were under obligation to "command the good and forbid the evil" to their best ability. But they were not required to undertake warfare. On the contrary, from the beginning the role of the Mahdi was to be different. The Mahdi would rise against oppression and injustice. He would not keep silent in the face of corruption; rather, he would undertake warfare (jihad) to uproot oppression and ungodliness. He would actually destroy evil forces. These functions were part and parcel of the signs of the appearance of the Mahdi.

All other Imams were asked by their followers at different times: "Why do not you rise against the oppressors?" They used to answer: "That task is upon our Mahdi." Some Imams were asked: "Are you the Mahdi?" The answer was: "Mahdi will rise with a sword and will fight injustice. But I am not like that, nor do I have the power to do so." Some of them were asked: "Are you the Qa'im?" The reply was: "Yes, I am the one entrusted with truth (qa'im bi-haqq). However, I am not that promised Qa'im who will cleanse the earth of disbelief and injustice." Sometimes the hope was expressed by some in the community: "I hope that you are the Qa'im!"
The answer was: "I am the Qa'im. But the Qa'im who will purify the earth of disbelief and oppression is other than me." When people used to complain about the social and political turmoil and the tyranny of the unjust government and the mistreatment and hardship suffered by the followers of the Imams, the consolation was offered by saying: "The rise of Mahdi is certain. At that time the situation in the world will improve and the revenge against the tyrannical people will be exacted." At other times people would talk about the large number of their enemies and their power compared to their own small number and powerlessness.

The Imams used to comfort their followers and assure them: "The government of the Prophet's rightful successor is a certainty. The final victory belongs to the followers of truth. Be steadfast and pray and expect deliverance through the descendant of Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny)." The believers and the followers of the Imams were waiting for this deliverance to come and willingly accepted adverse and painful situations created by their opponents.

Now let me ask you, in all fairness, with all these expectations of deliverance through the promised Mahdi that the believers had, do you think that he would have negotiated a treaty of non-interference with the unjust rulers of his time? If he had done that, would he not have shattered all the hopes of his followers and caused them to blame him for selling out to the enemies? In my opinion, such a compromise on the part of the Imam is impossible. Actually, the adverse impact of such a compromise would have led these followers of the Imam to abandon their faith and even pursue injustices to combat persecution.

Moreover, if the Imam had signed a non-intervention and friendship treaty with the unjust authorities, he would have been inevitably bound to the terms of such a document. As a result, at no time would he have undertaken to fight, because Islam regards a treaty binding on those who have agreed to its terms(1). It is for this reason that many hadith-reports make it explicitly clear that one of the purposes of the occultation and the secrecy surrounding the birth of the last Imam is that he should not become obliged to pay allegiance to the rulers so that whenever he wishes to rise there should be no such obligation on him. In the following tradition Imam Sadiq said:

The birth of the Master of the Command will remain a secret so that when he rises he will have no obligation to abide by any agreement. God will bring about his task in the matter of one night(2).

Besides all that we have said so far, the oppressors and unjust rulers could never have felt secure with such an agreement, mainly because of the perceived danger to their power. Hence, they regarded murdering him as the only solution for assuring their continued control over the affairs of humanity. They would have, as a consequence, rendered the earth devoid of God's proof.

Why Did He Not Appoint Special Deputies During the Complete Occultation?

Dr. Jalali: We accept in principle the necessity of occultation for the Imam. But, the question arises as to why did he not appoint his special deputies during the Complete Occultation as he had done during the Short Occultation? Such an appointment would have enabled the Shi'a to establish contact with him and ask for his assistance in solving their problems.

Mr. Hoshyar: The enemies did not leave the deputies in peace either. They were imprisoned and tortured so that they would reveal the whereabouts of the Hidden Imam (peace be upon him).

Dr. Jalali: Well, in that case perhaps it was possible for him not to appoint specific individuals as his deputies. However, from time to time he could appear for some of his followers through whom he could convey his injunctions for the community.

Mr. Hoshyar: Even this approach was not feasible because in all likelihood that very person to whom the Imam had appeared would have revealed his domicile to the enemy, leading to the arrest and murder of the Imam.

Dr. Jalali: Such a danger would have been possible if he had appeared in front of any unknown person. But if he had appeared for some trustworthy persons among his followers, the probability of impending danger would have been absent.

supposition can be refuted on several grounds:

First, if the Imam had decided to appear for anyone he would have needed to perform a miracle to introduce himself. In fact, for a cynical individual he might have been required to perform several miracles so that, that person would accept him as his Imam. Among these individuals there was a possibility that there would be some who would resort to trickery and fraud through magic to deceive and mislead the ordinary believers and even claim to be the Imam himself! By the way, it is not possible for everyone to distinguish between a miracle and an act of magic. This very difficulty would have led to further corruption among the people, leading to a disastrous situation.

Second, there were actually some shrewd impostors and fraudulent individuals who had abused such incidents for their own personal ambitions. They used to claim to have seen the Imam and spread laws contrary to the Shari'a on his authority so that they could achieve their evil designs. Whoever intended to do something against the law and further his own ends used to claim that he had reached the presence of the Imam of the Age and that the Imam had come to his house the previous night and had told him that he should do such and such or that the Imam approved what he was doing, and so on. The dangerous consequences of such claims is too self-evident to require any further elaboration.

Third, we do not have any unequivocal proof that the Imam of the Age does not appear for anyone highly trustworthy among his followers. Rather, it is quite likely that his pious and godly followers might reach his presence and might be under oath to keep that secret, without revealing it to anyone. In such cases, everyone is bound to their own experience and has no right to judge anyone else.

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NOTES:

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1. There are a number of passages in the Qur'an that require Muslims to abide by the terms of the treaty to which they are signatories. See, for instance, Sura Ma'ida, 1; Mu'minun, 8; and Isra', 34

2. Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 96x