As per the teachings of the sacred religion of Islam and the infallible Imams (a.s.), supplication (dua) is the weapon of Prophets (a.s.), shield for the believers and the soul of all acts of worship. Supplication is also the best connection between the Creator and His servants.
Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) says:
“Supplication is a shield for believers. When you knock on a door repeatedly it will surely open.”
(Al-Kaafi, vol.2, Chapter of Supplication is the weapon of a believer)
Imam Muhammad Baqer (a.s.) said to his companion Zoraarah:
“Should I guide you to a thing in which even the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was not an exception?”
Zoraarah said: Please do.
Imam (a.s.) said: “Supplication changes a certain decree (Qadha).”
(Al-Kaafi, Chapter of Supplication changes calamities and decree, vol. 2, p. 470, H. 5)
Imam (a.s.) clenched his fist tightly and said:
“By Allah, if a servant prays to Allah from the depth of his heart, Allah will certainly fulfil his wishes”
(Al-Kaafi, Chapter of Effects of Supplication)
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“Pray and never say whatever should have happened has happened and whatever is decreed should happen.”
(Al-Kaafi, Chapter of Merits of Supplication, H.3)
The Effects of Supplication
Allama Majlisi (a.r.), while explaining this tradition, writes:
“We should believe in Badaa (change in decree). Allah has a manner (shaan) each day. He writes whatever He wishes and He erases whatever He wishes. Qadha (Decree) and Qadr (Measure) are not a barrier to supplication. There are possibilities of alteration in ‘Lawh-e-Mahw-o-Isbaat’. Apart from this, supplication is also a reason for Qadha and Qadr. Therefore, it is ordered to supplicate“.
In another tradition, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“Supplication removes the decree and stops it in the manner such that a tight rope is loosened.”
(Al-Kaafi, The Book of Supplication, vol. 2)
It is noteworthy that we regularly resort to supplications in all our afflictions. We seek solution to our problems through invocations. But why is it that we do not supplicate for the most unpleasant of the calamities, i.e. the occultation of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)? We are aware the best of supplications is to invoke Allah (s.w.t.) for the reappearance. For, reappearance is not only our final wish but a solution to all our problems, hidden or apparent. Probably, this is the reason why it is sincerely recommended that we pray for reappearance.
The Master of the Time (a.t.f.s.) wrote in a signed letter (tawqee) to Is’haaq Ibn Yaqoob:
“Pray excessively for my reappearance, since in my reappearance lies a solution to all your problems.”
(Kamaaluddin, vol. 2, p. 485)
Imam (a.t.f.s.) wrote in a tawqee to the author of Kamaluddin, Shaikh Saduq (a.r.)
“Had our Shias, may Allah give them tawfeeq for His obedience, remained united in fulfilling our promises, then our meeting would not have been delayed.”
(Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 53, p. 176)
On the effects of supplication, the following tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) is noteworthy:
“When the calamities of Bani Israaeel became extremely intense, they prayed to Allah, wailing and weeping. Allah revealed to Prophet Moosa (a.s.) and Prophet Haroon (a.s.) to relieve Bani Israeel from the chastisements of the Pharaoh. This was at a time when there were 170 years left in their 400 year long punishment. Allah reduced 170 years of their destined punishment. Your condition is also such that if you pray to Allah for reappearance, then Allah will certainly cause an early reappearance. If you do not pray, then this affair will attain its completion.”
(Tafseer-e-Ayyaashi, vol.2, p. 155)
The author of Mikyalul Makarim writes under this tradition:
Imam’s (a.t.f.s.) reappearance is from those events in which ‘Badaa‘ (change/alteration in decree) is possible, i.e. there can be changes in the time of reappearance.
(Mikyaalul Makaarim, vol. 1 p. 347)
It’s true that we can advance the time of reappearance on account of our supplications and no such time is appointed for reappearance which cannot be altered. If the people don’t remain neglectful from reappearance, fulfil their covenants with unity and supplicate with all their heart, the occultation will certainly come to an end.
The author of Mikyaalul Makaarim writes:
The haughty rulers put Prophet Idrees (a.s.) under severity and hardships. Prophet Idrees (a.s.) was hidden from his people. The followers felt his occultation as severe and unbearable. They repented to Allah and sought His refuge. Allah had mercy on them and sent back Prophet Idrees (a.s.) towards them. Prophet Idrees (a.s.) returned and the ruler of the time was disgraced.
Therefore, if people repent and collectively pray to Allah for the reappearance of our beloved Imam (a.s.), Allah may cause a swift reappearance.
(Mikyaalul Makaarim, Ch. 4)
Imam Hasan-e-Mujtaba (a.s.) appeared in the dream of Mirza Muhammad Baqir Faqih Imaani and said to him:
“Mount the pulpit and convey this message to all the people. People should seek repentance and pray for the reappearance of Imam al-Hujjat (a.s.). Praying for the reappearance of Imam al-Hujjat (a.s.) is not a wajib-e-kefaai like Namaz-e-Mayyat, which suffices if one person performs it. Rather, it is wajib-e-aini like the daily prayers. It is obligatory upon every person to pray for Imam al-Hujjat (a.s.).”
(Mikyaalul Makaarim, vol. 1 p. 438; Sahifa-e-Mahdiyyah pg 51)
Janab Faqih Imani writes:
It is clear and evident from traditions, supplications and ziyarat that the promise of reappearance is such that cannot be violated. But the time of reappearance can be altered. It can be advanced on account of pure supplications of the believers.
(Sheewe-e-Yaari-e-Qaaem-e-Aale Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), p. 57)
Syed Halaavi, a poet of Ahle Bayt (a.s.), has penned the difficulties and tribulations faced by the Shias to the Imam (a.s.) of the time, and has read this elegy on many occasions. A pious scholar saw Imam (a.s.) in his dream, while he (a.s.) said unto him:
“Tell Syed Halaavi not to cause me grief by reciting this elegy. Reappearance (Zuhoor) is not in my hands. It’s in Allah’s hands. Pray to Allah to hasten it.”
(Majaalis-e-Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), p. 109)
One person got an opportunity to meet Imam (a.s.) in Masjid-e-Jamkaraan. He narrates the incident thus:
After completing my rituals, I was returning from Masjid-e-Jamkaraan along with my wife. I met a resplendent personality on my way. I thought that as it is summer, this person would certainly be thirsty. I presented a glass of water to him and said, ‘Please pray for the reappearance of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.).’
He responded: “Our Shias neglect us more than this water. Had they liked me, they would have surely prayed for my reappearance. Reappearance can be advanced through their prayers.”
(Sheeftegaan-e-Hazrate Mahdi (a.s.), vol. 1, p. 155)
Two more messages from Imam-e Zamana (a.t.f.s.) should be inculcated in the mind. He says, “Whenever any believer prays for me with tearful eyes, wailing on hearing the tribulations of my father Imam Husain (a.s.), I pray for him.”
(Mikyaalul Makaarim, vol 1, p. 333)
“Convey to my Shias and my friends to invoke Allah for my reappearance for the sake of my honourable aunt, Janab-e-Zainab (a.s.).”
(Sheeftegaane Hazrat-e-Mahdi (a.s.), vol. 1, p. 251)
It can also be concluded from some traditions that one of the rights that Imam (a.t.f.s.) has upon us is that we should pray for his reappearance. Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “It is one of our rights on our Shias, that they should hold their chin and supplicate thus:
يَا رَبَّ مُحَمَّدٍ عَجِّلْ فَرَجَ آلَ مُحَمَّدٍ- ياَ رَبَّ مُحَمَّدٍ اِحْفَظْ غَيْبَةَ مُحَمَّدٍ- يَا رَبَّ مُحَمَّدٍ اِنْتَقِمْ لِاِبْنَةِ مُحَمَّدٍ-
O Lord of Muhammad! Hasten the reappearance of the progeny of Muhammad. O Lord of Muhammad! Protect the occultation of Muhammad. O Lord of Muhammad! Hasten the revenge of daughter of Muhammad.”
(Saheefa-e-Mahdiyyah, p. 195)
This supplication benefits the one who supplicates as well.
This supplication is the cause of deliverance from the darkness of the occultation. Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) says:
“None will remain safe during occultation except for the one whom Allah keeps steadfast and gives him an opportunity to pray for reappearance.”
(Kamaaluddin, vol. 2, p. 368)
In another tradition, he (a.s.) narrates thus:
“When you realize that from amongst the clan of progeny of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), an Imam is in occultation and you are barred from his visitation, then invoke Allah and pray for his reappearance. This will solve your problems.”
(Kamaaluddin, Ch. 32, H. 8)
Supplication and Reappearance
Supplication and reappearance are intensely related to each other in many ways. Some of these are as follows:
1. Supplication not only results in hastening of the reappearance but also causes many bounties to descend, like forgiveness of sins, ascension of bounties, dispelling calamities, prolonging life, stability of sustenance, entering heaven, and intercession of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), safety from thirst on the Day of Judgement, etc. The author of Mikyaal al-Makaarim has mentioned 110 benefits of praying for reappearance.
2. We reiterate that supplication can hasten reappearance. In fact, reappearance can be delayed by not praying. The incident of Bani Israel would suffice as an example.
3. Some people say, “Imam (a.t.f.s.) will reappear when Allah wishes”. These people are actually belittling the effects of supplication. This is true that the affair of reappearance actually lies in the hands of Allah.
وَ اَمَّاظُهُوْرُ الْفَرَجُ فَاِنَّهُ اِلَي اللهِ
“And certainly, the authority of reappearance lies with Allah.”
(Kitaab al-Ghaibah by Shaikh Tusi, p. 177)
However, in the light of traditions, we can safely conclude that the reappearance of Imam (a.t.f.s.) is certain and the appointment of time for reappearance also lies with Allah. But, our prayers can advance the time of reappearance. Allah’s promise can be fulfilled with our supplications.
4. Some people suggest, “We are sinners and are incapable of praying for Imam. Our food and drink are doubtful. We are not worthy of praying for him.” Such talks are nothing but satanic whisperings that tend to keep us away from the bounties of supplication. Also, our Imam (a.t.f.s.) is not the leader of the pious people alone. He is a divine proof for the sinners as well. Imam (a.t.f.s.) is like the sun whose warmth and light encompasses everyone. He is not only the Imam over the humans but on all things present in the universe, including the Jinns and the angels. When he is an Imam over everyone, then it is incumbent over everyone to pray for him (a.t.f.s.). Had it been so, that Allah does not answer the sinners, then He would not have opened the doors of repentance. Repentance (taubah) itself is a supplication. Forgiveness of sins proves that the prayers of sinners are also answered. It is necessary for such people to first seek forgiveness of their sins and then pray for reappearance. In consequence, not praying for reappearance is itself a sin. As it has been mentioned, praying for reappearance is a cause for forgiveness of sins. Allah says in Holy Qur’an, “Surely, good deeds destroy evil acts.”
5. Whenever a discussion on reappearance comes up, a few say, “Imam (a.t.f.s.) is not going to come so soon.” Such insinuations are against the teachings of Islam. In some traditions, it has been made obligatory to pray in the morning and evening for the reappearance. According to some other narrations, reappearance will happen suddenly. It will occur when we will not be expecting it. Additionally, it is a sign of our love towards him that we should not consider the reappearance as distant. If someone near and dear to us travels to a far-off place is it our sign of love that we do not wish his early return?
6. Some people try to find the problem of praying for reappearance in Tawzihul Masael and ask where it has been noted in Tawzihul Masael? In response to this, we say that the problem of Furu-e-deen is explained in Tawzihul Masael. Reappearance is a fundamental (usooli) issue. Also, Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) said to Janab Abdul Azeem Hasani, “O Abul Qasim! Our Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is such a guide that awaiting for his reappearance in his occultation is obligatory and obeying him in his presence is also obligatory“.
(Kamaaluddin, vol. 2, p. 377)
A tradition from Imam Hasan (a.s.) makes it obligatory to pray for reappearance like the daily prayers. (Mikyaalul Makaarim, vol. 1, p. 333)
7. Praying for Imam (a.s.) should not be considered like all other prayers. This supplication is NOT a custom. This should not be the last of supplications. That is, it is not a supplication that should be sought after all supplications like asking for sustenance, virtuous offspring, forgiveness of parents, etc., which indicates that supplications are coming to an end. Rather, this invocation will bring an end to all calamities. Also, it is the most beneficial of all invocations for all the creatures in the universe. It is a prayer for the Proof of Allah (a.t.f.s.). This supplication is for all the oppressed ones, prisoners, indigent, sick, homeless, poor and needy. This supplication is in fact a supplication for every thing that can be included in a supplication. For, when Imam (a.t.f.s.) reappears, everyone will benefit from his reappearance. Hence, special attention should be given to this supplication.
8. Some people think that in view of the weapons possessed by the superpowers, how would Imam (a.t.f.s.) fill the world with justice? What method will he adopt against such weapons of mass destruction? It is only to be said to them that Imam is “the power of Allah”, who will manifest divine power over His creatures. A lone gesture of Imam (a.t.f.s.) can render all the weapons of this world ineffective. Additionally, Imam (a.t.f.s.) is also the possessor of a hidden authority. It is mentioned in the traditions that the unbelievers will be frightened of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and his army. The awe of arrival shall travel one month prior to the army and spoil the plans of the opponents. They will be so scared that their minds will become numb. Traditions state that Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s) is ‘the one who will be helped by awe.‘ Moreover, Imam (a.t.f.s.) will also use the apparent powers. Consequently, some of his companions will attain martyrdom. To conclude, the weapons of superpowers are not an obstacle to his kingdom. Unlike earlier Prophets (a.s.) and Imams (a.s.), people will not dare to deny him or defeat him in any battlefield. Shaikh Hurr-e-Aamili, a reputed scholar, writes thus, “I dreamt that Imam (a.t.f.s.) has come to Mashhad. I enquired about his address. I was told that his tent is at the right side garden of the Haram. I go to meet him and see him sitting at the centre of the gathering. There was a fountain and 20 people were seated. After some conversation, food was served, which was apparently very less. It was very tasty and we all ate our fill, while the food was still in its pristine condition. After the food, I realized that the number of companions is not more than 40. I thought that the Imam has reappeared but the count of his companions is so less. Considering the size of his army would the kings of this world, still follow him? How would Imam fight the kingdoms with such a miniscule army? How would he achieve victory with so small an armed force? I was still in deep thought when Imam (a.t.f.s.) looked at me, smiled and said: “Do not be fearful of the minority of our Shias. I have such followers that if I order them, they shall bring all the kings of this world and sever their necks.“Thereafter, he (a.t.f.s.) recited the following verse from the Holy Quran,
وَ مَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُوْدَ رَبِّكَ اِلاَّ هُوَ
“None knows the army of your lord, except Himself.”
(Sura Muddassir: Verse 31).
Hearing these glad tidings, I became happy.”
(Isbaat al-Hodaat, Chapter 23, p. 166)
9. None should conclude from the foregoing discussions that, God forbid, Imam is in need of our prayers. He is not in need of our supplications. Rather, we are in need of his mercy. It’s mentioned in a tradition that: “One who considers that Imam is in need of our supplications, then he is an unbeliever.”
(Mikyaalul Makaarim, vol. 2, p. 166).
Imam is needless of whatever is with the people. Our prayers for him or his reappearance will benefit us alone. Whenever Allah wills and Imam (a.t.f.s.) reappears, everyone will be benefited. This material world, with all its trappings, is of no value and significance for Imam (a.t.f.s.). He is concerned only with the Will of Allah and strives to secure it.
O Allah! Hasten the reappearance of our beloved master, Hazrat Hujjat Ibn al-Hasan al-Askari (a.t.f.s.) and enumerate us all amongst his sincere companions and helpers! Aaameen!