Know Him Before You Die !

Know Him Before You Die !

By Fatema Tahira Zaidi


mahdii.jpg “I will be like the sun veiled by the clouds and people will benefit from me,
just as they do from the sun behind the clouds.”

A well known tradition narrated both by the Sunnis and the Shias in 92 different books proclaims: Anyone who dies without having recognised the Imam e Zamana (as) (the contemporary Imam), will die the death of ignorance. The word “death” in this hadith is interpreted by the ulema as the end of this mortal life.

The Holy Quran proclaims: “Every soul shall taste of death”. On countless occasions in His Holy Book Allah explains that the termination of this mortal life does not mean the end of a soul. Rather, death is merely a transfer from mortality to immortality.

One day a man called Jabir asked Imam Sadiq (as) to explain the philosophy of death. Our Imam explained: Death is not destruction as people think but a change of form in life. If a Muslim has faith and is wise, he would not be afraid of his transformation. However, if I debate with a non- Muslim and he asks me why Allah makes men die whom he created and gave life to? I would answer him that death is a passage to another life and in that next phase he is given life again.

In Sura-e-Hadeed, Allah promises reward for those “who believe in God and His messengers” they , He says are ” the just men and the martyrs in their Lord’s sight”.

What a great honour Allah confers upon those who believe in His messengers ! They are regarded as “martyrs in their Lord’s sight” Allah lovingly ensures, “they have their wage and their light.” Nevertheless, on the other hand, those people who denied Allah’s messengers and refused to recognise them, are destined to be the dwellers of Hell. The Almighty clearly states:

But the unbelievers, who have cried lies to our signs,
they are the inhabitants of hell.

post-8477-1156419110.jpgThe significance of recognising our Imam-e-Zamana (as) is emphasized by the fact that the Masoomeen (allaihimusalam) guarantee a death of ignorance for anyone who fails to perform this duty, We are told that : Anyone who dies without having recognised Imam-e-Zamana (a.s) will die the death of ignorance. What does the word “recognise” indicate in the given hadith? How should we recognise our Imam? Does it mean we must meet him in person, hear him and see him or does it simple demand us to acquire knowledge about him and to know who he really is? The Holy Prophet (sawaw) proclaimed:

One who dies with the love of Mohammed (sawaw) and his progeny will be included among the martyrs.

This tradition is verified by the ayat from Sura Hadeed quoted above. Allah confirms: Those who believe in God and His messengers are the just men and the martyrs in their Lord’s sight. Recognising and honouring the prophets and Imams is repeatedly emphasized in our religion because in His book Allah describes them as the ones who “bring forth mankind from the shadows to the light”.

In Sura-e-Nisa, He commands:

O believers, obey Allah,
and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you.

Traditions explain that “those in authority” who are to be obeyed are not the caliphs, presidents, kings or rulers chosen by the people themselves but rather those who have been granted the authority by the Creator Himself. He chose the Holy Prophet (sawaw) and his household to be models and teachers for humanity. He blessed them with a special knowledge and authority and declared in Sura-e-Ahzab:

People of the House God only desires to put away from you abomination and to cleanse you.

Thus we must recognise and follow the Imams who have been cleansed and purified by Allah Himself to be the teachers and models for humanity.

In 1280 HIjri, Sayed Hashim Rashti decided to perform Haj. Sayed relates that when we arrived at Vazantalrome and were planning to leave for Tarabazoon, another pilgrim called Haji Jabbar came to us and warned that the area was very unsafe and that we must try to stay with a larger group of people who were leaving two or three hours before Namaz-e-Fajr. We followed the advice and departed with a larger group of people the next night. We hadn’t gone very far when the air became very misty and heavy snowfall began. I tried very hard to stay with my friends but all my efforts proved futile and I soon realised that I was left all alone. Terrified, I dismounted the horse and began wondering what I should do. Finally I decided to find a place and sit till sunrise so that in daylight I may find my way back to the place we had departed from. I began walking and soon found a man shovelling snow off the trees in a garden.

He came up to me and asked me in Farsi, ” Who are you?”

I answered, “ I have lost my friends and I am not familiar with this route.”

That man stated: Say Namaz-e- Shab so that you may find the way.

Sayed says, I obeyed, when I finished praying, that man came back to me and said: You still haven’t left!

I replied: I still haven’t found the way.

He told me to recite Ziarat-e-Jamea. Sayed recalls that despite having recited the ziarat regularly, he did not know the ziarat by heart. He was never able to memorise
it. However, that particular night, he stood up and recited the whole ziarat by heart.

He relates that the man came back in a little while and said:

You still haven’t left and are still sitting here.

Sayed Rashti admits that I could not control my tears and cried out in sheer disappointment: I still haven’t found the way. This time the man told Sayed to recite Ziarat-e-Ashoora. He recalls that like Ziarat-e- Jamea, I didn’t know Ziarat-e-Ashoora either but I recited the whole ziarat with dua-e-Alqama.

The man returned again and said: You’re still here!

I answered: No I’ll stay here till sunrise.”

The man said: Come I’ll take you to your friends.

The man mounted his horse and asked me to sit behind me. I took the reins of my own horse and tried to pull it behind us but it didn’t move an inch. He took the reins from my hand and the animal began walking. On the way, the man placed his hand on my lap and asked me:

“Why don’t you recite Namaz-e-Shab?” and then he said ,”Namaz-e-Shab,
Namaz-e-Shab, Namaz-e-Shab!”

Then he asked: “Why don’t you recite Ziarat-e-Ashoora?”

He repeated “Ashoora, Ashoora, Ashoora” three times.

Finally, he said, “Why don’t you recite Ziarat-e-Jamea?” and repeated, ” Jamea, Jamea, Jamea!”

In a little while he pointed out, ” Look your friends are performing wuzu for Namaz-e-Fajr.”

I got off his horse and tried to mount my own but failed to do so. He helped me and turned my horse’s head towards the stream. I began wondering who this man is? How does he know Farsi? Most of the people living in that area were Christian Turks. I was amazed that he managed to reunite me with my companions in such a short period of time. I turned around to find him gone. There were no traces of him

We must try to know our Imam and find out what he expects from us. Although, we cannot see and hear him, Our Imam-e-Zamana (as) never fails to assist us! People often question the use of having and Imam (as) who can neither be heard nor seen.

People wonder what his role is in human life?

Imam-e-Zamana (as) himself explained, “I will be like the sun veiled by the clouds and people will benefit from me just as they do from the sun behind the clouds.”

We must stop to consider why our beloved Imam compares himself to the sun? There are striking parallels between the roles of the sun and an Imam in sustaining the world. As we all know, the sun keeps all the planets including the earth in their orbits. If the sun was displaced for a single moment, our whole solar system would be obliterated. Imam-e-Zamana (as) is like the sun. Earth would be destroyed if he departed.

A tradition by Imam Baqir (as) verifies,

“If one of us Imams is absent even for a single day, earth would swallow its inhabitants.”


Al Quoran – Arthur J. Arberry and M.H.Shakir Translations



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