“Recommended prayers cannot attain the pleasures of Allah for you when obligatory prayers are left unattended.”
— Imam Ali, a.s.
Six Shia Muslims have gone on trial in Jordan, accused of “promoting Shia ideology and instigating religious sectarianism”. Their case – the first of its kind in Jordan – is being heard behind closed doors in a military court.
Jordan is a Sunni-majority country but has no law that prevents Shias from practising their faith and its constitution says very clearly that there shall be no discrimination “on grounds of race, language or religion”.
There is no suggestion that the accused did anything more than a bit of missionary work – holding meetings, issuing membership cards and raising funds – but the case reflects a growing fear of Shia Islam among the Middle East’s Sunni regimes.
In Egypt last June, Hassan Shehata, a Shia cleric, was reportedly arrested with dozens of his followers and 13 were said to have been detained on charges of spreading Shiism.
Egypt has had a small Shia community for centuries, though today it’s probably less than 1% of the population. The sect is not officially recognised and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has documented periods of harassment by the authorities – arrests, interrogation, torture, etc – dating back to 1988.
The Sunni Arab regimes, most of which use religious credentials to bolster their claims to legitimacy, have become increasingly apprehensive during the last few years – mainly as a result of the Iraq war, which brought Shia Muslims to power in Baghdad, to rule alongside those already in place in Tehran.
From time to time there are also outbreaks of scaremongering in the media, very similar in tone to the western newspapers articles that claim Muslims are taking over Europe. One Egyptian magazine warned of “a real danger that Egypt and other Sunni countries might be converted to Shiism“.
Shia Muslims in Sunni countries tend to be viewed as fifth-columnists with uncertain national loyalties. Shehata’s arrest seems to have been prompted by two visits he made to Iran, though it also coincided with the capture of an alleged Hezbollah spy ring.
Shia Islam – which accounts for no more than 15% of all Muslims worldwide – has certainly been making a few converts among Sunnis. A Saudi Shia told me yesterday that he personally knew of half a dozen Jordanians who had converted. More widely, though, recent events have aroused curiosity about Shiism among Sunnis and, in some cases, admiration. Iran’s uncompromising stance over its nuclear programme is contrasted favourably with the ineffectual peformance of Sunni Arab regimes. Similarly, Hezbollah’s defiance of Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war.
But there’s more to it than politics, as an article in Al-Ahram Weekly explains:
For Nabil Abdel-Fattah, who edits the State of Religion in Egypt annual report for the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, Shia jurisprudence is dynamic, flexible and pragmatic – which makes it attractive to many a Sunni frustrated with lack of change: ‘For many years Sunnis refrained from ijtihad [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][independent thought] and tended to adopt a hardline approach similar to the Saudi Wahhabi model.’ For Sunnis this tendency, Abdel-Fattah elaborates, has led to a gap separating daily life from religious provisions, driving Sunnis to embrace Shiism.
Other factors include the erosion of spirituality from Sunni life, with no provision for anything comparable to the Passion of Christ, to which Egyptians arguably relate. [In contrast to Sunni – and especially Wahhabi – puritanism, many Shia practices are much more akin to Spanish or Italian Catholicism.]
Less obviously, the fact that millions of Egyptians have worked in the Gulf countries since the 1970s makes the population more open to different schools of thought.
Shia Islam’s links with Iran (and, by implication, with the Iranian regime) have parallels in Judaism’s association with Israel and Israeli government policies. As in debates about antisemitism, the line between politics and prejudice easily becomes confused.
Regardless of what the Iranian government does, though, Shia Muslims in Sunni countries have every right to practise their faith and, if they wish, to try to convert others.
It may worry the Sunni regimes but it also worries the Wahhabi/Salafi elements whose ideology has often gone unchallenged in the public discourse. Exposing Arab Muslims to alternative interpretations of their faith will open their eyes to new ideas and possibilities. And, in the long run, that can only be beneficial.
by Brian Whitaker of guardian.co.uk | © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
Son of Imam Hassan (eleventh imam)
The Twelfth Imam
The promised Mahdi, who is usually mentioned by his title of Imam-I ‘Asr (the Imam of the “Period”) and Sahib al-Zaman (the Lord of the Age), is the son of the eleventh Imam. His name is the same as that of the Holy Prophet (sawas). He was born in Samarrah in 256/868 and until 260/872 when his father was martyred, lived under his father’s care and tutelage. He was hidden from public view and only a few of the elite among the Shia were able to meet him. After the martyrdom of his father he became Imam and by Divine Command went into occultation (ghaybat). Thereafter he appeared only to his deputies (na’ib) and even then only in exceptional circumstances.
The Imam chose as a special deputy for a time Uthman ibn Sa’id ‘Umari, one of the companions of his father and grandfather who was his confidant and trusted friend. Through his deputy the Imam would answer the demands and questions of the Shia. After Uthman ibn Sa’id, his son Muhammad ibn Uthman Umari was appointed the deputy of the Imam. After the death of Muhammad ibn Uthman, Abu’l Qasim Husayn ibn Ruh Nawbakhti was the special deputy, and after his death Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari was chosen for this task.
A few days before the death of Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari in 329/939 an order was issued by the Imam stating that in six days Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari would die. Henceforth the special deputation of the Imam would come to an end and the major occultation (ghaybat-i kubra) would begin and would continue until the day God grants permission to the Imam to manifest himself. The occultation of the twelfth Imam is, therefore, divided into two parts: the first, the minor occultation (ghaybat-i-sughra) which began in 260/872 and ended in 329/939, lasting about seventy years; the second, the major occultation which commenced in 329/939 and will continue as long as God wills it. In a hadith upon whose authenticity everyone agrees, the Holy Prophet (sawas) has said, “If there were to remain in the life of the world but one day, Allah would prolong that day until He sends in it a man from my community and my household. His name will be the same as my name. He will fill the earth with-equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.”
On the Appearance of the Mahdi
In the discussion on prophecy and the Imamate it was indicated that as a result of the law of general guidance which governs all of creation, man is of necessity endowed with the power of receiving revelation through prophecy, which directs him toward the perfection of the human norm and the well-being of the human species. Obviously, if this perfection and happiness were not possible for man, whose life possesses a social aspect, the very fact that he is endowed with this power would be meaningless and futile. But there is no futility in creation. In other words, ever since he has inhabited the earth, man has had the wish to lead a social life filled with happiness in its true sense and has striven toward this end. If such a wish were not to have an objective existence it would never have been imprinted upon man’s inner nature, in the same way that if there were no food there would have been no hunger. Or if there were to be no water there would be no thirst and if there were to be no reproduction there would have been no sexual attraction between the sexes. Therefore, by reason of inner necessity and determination, the future will see a day when human society will be replete with justice and when all will live in peace and tranquillity, when human beings will be fully possessed of virtue and perfection. The establishment of such a condition will occur through human hands but with Divine succour. And the leader of such a society, who will be the saviour of man, is called in the language of the hadith, the Mahdi.
In the different religions that govern the world such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam there are references to a person who will come as the saviour of mankind. These religions have usually given happy tidings of his coming, although there are naturally certain differences in detail that can be discerned when these teachings are compared carefully. The hadith of the Holy Prophet (sawas) upon which all Muslims agree, “The Mahdi is of my progeny,” refers to this same truth. There are numerous hadiths cited in Sunni and Shi’ite sources from the Holy Prophet (sawas) and the Imams concerning the appearance of the Mahdi, such as that he is of the progeny of the Prophet (sawas) and that his appearance will enable human society to reach true perfection and the full realisation of spiritual life. In addition, there are numerous other traditions concerning the fact that the Mahdi is the son of the eleventh Imam, Hasan al-‘Askari. They agree that after being born and undergoing a long occultation the Mahdi will appear again, filling with justice the world that has been corrupted by injustice and iniquity.
As an example, Ali ibn Musa al-Rida (the eighth Imam) has said, in the course of a hadith, “The Imam after me is my son, Muhammad, and after him his son Ali, and after Ali his son, Hasan, and after Hasan his son H. Hujjat al-Qa’im, who is awaited during his occultation and obeyed during his manifestation. If there remain from the life of the world but a single day, Allah will extend that day until he becomes manifest, and fill the world with justice in the same way that it had been filled with iniquity. But when? As for news of the ‘hour,’ verily my father told me, having heard it from his father who heard it from his father who heard it from his ancestors who heard it from Ali, that it was asked of the Holy Prophet (sawas), ‘Oh Prophet (sawas) of God, when will the “support” (qa’im) who is from thy family appear?’ He said, ‘His case is like that of the Hour (of the Resurrection). “He alone will manifest it at its proper time. It is heavy in the heavens and the earth. It cometh not to you save unawares” (Quran, VII, 187).102
Saqr ibn Abi Dulaf said, “I heard from Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Ali al-Rida [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][the ninth Imam] who said, ‘The Imam after me is my son, Ali; his command is my command; his word is my word; to obey him is to obey me. The Imam after him is his son, Hasan. His command is the command of his father; his word is the word of his father; to obey him is to obey his father.’ After these words the Imam remained silent. I said to him, ‘Oh son of the Prophet (sawas), you will be the Imam after Hasan?’ The Imam cried hard, then said, ‘Verily after Hasan his son is the awaited Imam who is “al-qa’im bi’l-haqq” (He who is supported by the Truth).’ ”
Musa ibn Ja’far Baghdadi said, “I heard from the Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Ali [the eleventh Imam] who said, ‘I see that after me differences will appear among you concerning the Imam after me. Whoso accepts the Imams after the Prophet (sawas) of God but denies my son is like the person who accepts all the prophets but denies the prophethood of Muhammad, the Prophet (sawas) of God, upon whom be peace and blessing. And whoso denies [Muhammad] the Prophet (sawas) of God is like one who has denied all the prophets of God, for to obey the last of us is like obeying the first and to deny the last of us is like denying the first. But beware ! Verily for my son there is an occultation during which all people will fall into doubt except those whom Allah protects.”
The opponents of The Followers of Ahlul Bayt protest that according to the beliefs of this school the Hidden Imam should by now be nearly twelve centuries old, whereas this is impossible for any human being. In answer it must be said that the protest is based only on the unlikelihood of such an occurrence, not its impossibility. Of course such a long lifetime or a life of a longer period is unlikely. But those who study the hadiths of the Holy Prophet (sawas) and the Imams will see that they refer to this life as one possessing miraculous qualities.
Miracles are certainly not impossible nor can they be negated through scientific arguments. It can never be proved that the causes and agents that are functioning in the world are solely those that we see and know and that other causes which we do not know or whose effects and actions we have not seen nor understood do not exist. It is in this way possible that in one or several members of mankind there can be operating certain causes and agents which bestow upon them a very long life of a thousand or several thousand years. Medicine has not even lost hope of discovering a way to achieve very long life spans. In any case such protests from “peoples of the Book” such as Jews, Christians and Muslims are most strange for they accept the miracles of the prophets of God according to their own sacred scriptures.
The opponents of The Followers of Ahlul Bayt also protest that, they considers the Imam necessary in order to expound the injunctions and verities of religion and to guide the people, the occultation of the Imam is the negation of this very purpose, for an Imam in occultation who cannot be reached by mankind cannot be in any way beneficial or effective. The opponents say that if God wills to bring forth an Imam to reform mankind He is able to create him at the necessary moment and does not need to create him thousands of years earlier. In answer it must be said that such people have not really understood the meaning of the Imam, for in the discussion on the Imamate it became clear that the duty of the Imam is not only the formal explanation of the religious sciences and exoteric guidance of the people. In the same way that he has the duty of guiding men outwardly, the Imam also bears the function of walayat and the esoteric guidance of men. It is he who directs man’s spiritual life and orients the inner aspect of human action toward God: Clearly, his physical presence or absence has no effect in this matter. The Imam watches over men inwardly and is in communion with the soul and spirit of men even if he be hidden from their physical eyes. His existence is always necessary even if the time has not as yet arrived for his outward appearance and the universal reconstruction that he is to bring about.
Ghaibat-us-Sughra means ‘the minor concealment.’ Its period was about 70 years. It began in 260 A.H. when Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) first went into concealment, and ended in 328 A.H.
During Ghaibut-us-Sughra, the Imam appointed some agents to represent him and the people. The Imam had four agents. After the death of the fourth agent, the Imam went into major concealment (Ghaibut-ul-Kubra). This was on the 10th Shawal 329 A.H.
The Signs of the Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s)
Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h.) has said: “Even if the entire duration of the world’s existence has already been exhausted and only one day is left before Doomsday, Allah will expand that day to such length of time as to accommodate the kingdom of a person from my Ahlul-Bayt who will be called by name. He will fill out the earth with and justice as it will have been full of injustice and tyranny (by then)”
From this Hadith, it is clear to every Muslim that the twelfth Imam will reappear when this world is full of sins and injustice.
There are many signs mentioned by the Masumeen (a.s) on the reappearance of the 12th Imam. It is reported in Biharul Anwar that after the last pilgrimage the Prophet made, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) stood near the Kaaba, and called his people to listen to him. The Prophet said: “listen to me carefully so that you transmit these words of mine to those who are absent today.” The Prophet began, “My people, a time will come when kings and rulers will be tyrannical.” The Prophet also said that the payment of Zakat will be stopped.
According to the Masumeen (a.s), Muslim countries will seek aid from non Muslim countries. This is already evident in a number of Muslim countries. Another prediction that is come true is that 60 impostors will claim to be Prophets. By their attractiveness, their persuasion, and their personality, they will misguide the people. 58 false Prophets have already emerged since the days of the Prophet (s.a.w.). We have only two more to witness.
It is reported in Qayamat-e-Sughra citing “Oqdatud-Durr” that Hazrat Amir (A.S) has said that the Mahdi will not appear until one-third of the world population will die by being killed and one-third will die as a result of epidemics.
The Last Signs of the Appearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s)
There is a Hadith from Imam Muhammed Baqir (a.s) that for three or seven consecutive days, one will see reddish yellow fire raging in the East.
Sufiani will emerge in Palestine, where he will start a revolt in the month of Rajab. He will be an uncompassionate rebel and his rule will last for eight consecutive months. He will conquer and rule Egypt for four consecutive months. Sufiani will conquer Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, and Syria. Sufiani has been specifically described by Aimma A.S. as an ugly, blistered, green-eyed, cross-eyed person who will be an enemy of the friends of the Ahlul-Bait. Imam Ali (a.s) has said that Sufiani’s hatred of the devotees of the Ahlul-Bait will be such that any person named Ali, Fatema, Hassan, Hussein, Zainab, Ruquaiya will be arrested and beheaded straight away without further investigations. Sufiani will rip the Mimber of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). The holy house of the Prophet which contains his grave will be pulled and used as a stable. Horses will be tied in that Holy place.
Sufiani will then decide to attack Mecca. His purpose would be to demolish the Holy Kaaba and kill the entire population of Mecca. Sufiani’s army will set out via Baghdad but, as Allah would have it, when they get between Medina and Mecca, in the desert of Baida, suddenly one night they will hear a voice from the sky which will say, “O Baida eat up the entire army of Sufiani.” It is said that the entire army numbering 100,000 persons will be swallowed up by the earth, except for two. The two who will be spared will suddenly encounter an angel. He will slap both of them turning their faces right round, looking behind instead of front. And that will be the time when Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) will already have reappeared in Mecca. The Imam will establish his authority in the Holy Mosque at Mecca in the Haram. The angel will then order one of them calling him Bashir. “O Bashir, go straight to Mecca, into the Haram and inform the Imam that Sufiani’s army has been swallowed up by the land. The other called Nazir will be ordered to go to Sufiani and tell him that the Imam has already appeared. He should proceed straight to Mecca and declare allegiance to him.
Sufiani will prepare to attack the Imam but will not have enough courage. The Imam will catch Sufiani in Jerusalem and will kill him.
Imam Ali (a.s) has said that nine definite signs will precede the emergence of Hazrat Mahdi (a.s). These nine signs are:
Dajal will emerge. A loud voice will be heard from the sky. Sufiani will appear and wage a fierce war. The army of Sufiani will be swallowed by a sudden opening of the land between Mecca and Medina in the desert of Baida. A revered wise saint will be murdered in Mecca. (This saint is to be a Hashimite descent.) A Sayyid descendant of Imam Hassan (a.s) will emerge with his army. The army of Sayyid-e-Hassan and an image of a man will appear in the sky opposite the sun. There will be two eclipses in the holy month of Ramadan contrary to the normal order and calculation and the eclipse of the moon. On three occasions a loud voice from the sky will be heard in the holy month of Ramadan.
Prophet Isa (Jesus), Prophet Khidr, Prophet Ilias, and Prophet Idris will give allegiance to the Imam when he re-appears. Also Jibrael (angel Gabriel) will announce 313 companions of the Imam. These 313 companions will be people of eminent piety, great knowledge and absolutely steadfast in their determination and faith towards the Imam. Another 1000 people will be in the army of the Imam. These people will fight battles and kill enemies like Dajal, who will appear from India. Dajal will have the musical tunes with him. Then the Imam will lead the prayers and Prophet Jesus will be Praying behind him.
May Allah Reward You For Seeking the Truth and may he deliver our savoir.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
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