This is a brief explanation of the special ziyarat of Imam Mahdi (as) to be recited on Friday. This ziyarat is a source of seeking the attention of Imam Mahdi (as), his proximity and is also reiteration of our commitment to his (as) cause.
“Peace be upon you O guardian and supervisor
nominated by Allah on His creation”
The word “ayna” literally means ‘eye’ (Chapter 5 verse 54). Another meaning is derived from it is “spring” (Chapter 2 verse 60).
The Holy Quran has used this word in context with these two meanings; otherwise the word has been used in several other meanings and contexts. According to famous Arabic litterateurs, the exact meaning of this word means eye and in rest of the cases its use is symbolic. He explained it with a simile that the reason for its usage in spring may be because the way water gushes out of the spring, similarly tears roll out of the eye. (al-Mufradat)
Imam Mahdi (as) has been mentioned as the ‘eye of Allah’, In Quran, Allah has mentioned His eye in the following verse: “(O Prophet!) And wait patiently for the judgment of your Lord, for surely you are before Our eyes” (Chapter 52 verse 48)
It may be emphasized here that according to Islamic monotheistic beliefs Allah does not have any physical form or shape. However, He has made metaphorical references to things on His own like Kabah is mentioned as His house and the she camel of Hazrat Saleh (as) is mentioned as His own.
Nevertheless, according to the traditions of the Ahle Bayt (as) (as), Imams (as) are the eyes of Allah which constantly supervises His creation. There are innumerable traditions in this regard, but we will mention two of those traditions. Allamah Mohammed Baqir Majlisi (ra) in Beharul Anwar has devoted one entire chapter to this subject and quoted 63 traditions in it.
Khusaimah relates that I asked Imam Sadiq (as) about the Quranic verse “And everything will perish except His face (wajh)”. Hazrat Imam Sadiq (as) explained that by “wajh” Allah means His religion and the religion of the Holy Prophet (sawa)and Hazrat Ali (as), they are His face and His eyes among the people. (Beharul Anwar volume 24 page 197 hadith 33, quoted from Tawheed of Shaykh Saduq page 140)
It may be noted here that the face of Allah here is not physical face but Imams (as) because through them people can turn towards Allah.
Imam Sadiq (as) says, Ameerul Momineen Ali (as) said, I am the knowledge of Allah and the observant eye of Allah. (Beharul Anwar volume 24 page 198 tradition no. 25, quoted from Tawheed of Shaykh Saduq pages 152, 155)
It is evident that in the present era, Imam Mahdi (as) who represents Ahle Bayt (as) (as), is the eye of Allah who guards His creation.
‘Peace be upon you O light of Allah through whom the guided ones receive guidance and through whom the believers are provided salvation.’
The Shiah and Ahle Sunnah unanimously agree that the Holy Prophet (sawa) and His Ahle Bayt (as) (as) are the light of Allah which guides mankind. Let’s have a glance at the ‘Ayate Noor” and its interpretation in the Holy Quran:
Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth; the likeness of His light is as a niche in which is a lamp, the lamp is in a glass, (and) the glass is as it were a brightly shining star, lit from a blessed olive-tree, neither eastern nor western, the oil whereof almost gives light though fire touch it not – light upon light – Allah guides to His light whom He pleases, and Allah sets forth parables for men, and Allah is cognizant of all things. (Chapter 24 verse 35)
In the interpretation of this verse, famous Sunni scholar, Ibne Maghazali Shafei in his famous book, al Manaqib writes that Ali bin Jafar says that I went to Imam Abul Hasan (as) and asked him about this “like a “Niche in which the lamp”, to which he replied:
“The niche means Hazrat Fatemah (sa) and the lamp implies Imam Hasan (as) and Imam Husayn (as). And the glass is as it were a brightly shining star refers to Hazrat Fatemah (sa) who is a shining star among the women of the world. ‘Lit from a blessed olive-tree’, here the tree means Hazrat Ibrahim (as) and when the verse says ‘Neither eastern nor western’ means that Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian. ‘The oil whereof almost gives light’ means… soon knowledge will emanate from it. ‘Though fire touch it not – light upon light’ means there will be Imams one after another. ‘Allah guides to His light whom He pleases” means… whoever Allah wishes guides towards our Mastership and Leadership.” (Manaqibe Maghazai page 317)
This was from a book of the Ahle Sunnah. There are a huge number of traditions even in Shiah books. One of them is mentioned hereunder:
Jabir Ibne Abdullah Ansari (ra) narrates that when I entered Masjid Kufa, I saw Hazrat Ali (as) was writing something from his fingers and was constantly smiling. Out of curiosity I asked, What is the reason for this delight?
Imam Ali (as) answered – I am amazed at the man who recites this verse and does not recognize it as he ought to recognize it?
I asked which verse O Ameerul Momineen (as)?
He (as) said – The saying of Allah, ‘Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth; a likeness of His light is as a niche’ Here ‘niche‘ means Hazrat Mohammed (sawa), while I am the lamp, ‘in a glass’ the glass case means Imam Hasan (as) and Imam Husayn (as), ‘it were a brightly shining star’ means Imam Ali ibne Husayn (as), ‘lit from a blessed tree’ means Mohammed bin Ali (as), ‘olive’ means Jafar bin Mohammed (as), ‘neither eastern’ means Musa bin Jafar (as), while ‘nor western’ means Ali bin Musa (as), ‘the oil whereof almost gives light’ is Mohammed bin Ali (as) and ‘though fire touch it not’ is Ali bin Mohammed (as), ‘light upon light’ is Hasan bin Ali (as) and ‘Allah guides to His light whom He pleases’ is Al Qaem Al Mahdi (as). (Ghayatul Maraam, by Sayed Hashim Bahrani (ra), page 318)
This tradition was the hidden interpretation of Ayat-e-Noor. Late Shaykh Hadi Tehrani (ra) has written a full article on this and named it as “Risalatal Nooriyah”. Those interested in comprehensive information may refer to this article.
Nevertheless, Allamah Majlisi (ra) in chapter 18 has recorded 42 traditions which explains that Infallible Imams (as) are the Light of Allah. For details refer volume 23 page 304.
One of those traditions is mentioned here. Abu Khalid Kabuli inquired from Hazrat Imam Mohammed Baqir (as) about the verse (Chapter 64 verse 8).
Imam (as) replied – O Abu Khalid! By Allah, Noor in this verse refers to Imams (as) from Aale Mohammed (sawa). By Allah till the Day of Judgment, they will be Allah’s Light which has been revealed. By Allah they are the Light of Allah in the earth and skies. O Abu Khalid, by Allah the Light of Imam (as) is more illuminated in the heart of the believers than the sun during a bright day. By Allah, they brighten the hearts of the believers. From whomsoever Allah wishes, He hides His Light, which results in the darkening of their hearts. O Abu Khalid none will love us or accept our vilayat until Allah purifies his heart. And Allah will not cleanse his heart until he submits in front of us. And once he is submissive to us then Allah will protect him from intensive questioning and fear on the Day of Judgment. (Beharul Anwaar vol 23 page 308 tradition no. 5, narrating from Tafseer Ali bin Ibrahim Qummi)
If Imams (as) are Lights and their light is much more powerful than the physical source of light then, their effects will also be much more intense and significant. It is explained that through this Noor people are guided and believers (who are guided) get succor.
“Peace be upon you O my Master. I am your slave.
I acknowledge all of you (Ahle Bayt (as)),
from your first one till the last one.”
The above sentence of the ziyarat can be discussed on the basis of 4 words – Master (Maula), Acknowledge (Aarif), First (Ula) and Last (Ukhra).
Maula is one of those words in Arabic which has many meanings. It could mean a Master as well as a Slave. Both these meanings have been referred to in the above sentence. In the first instance it means Master whereas in the second part (Ana Maulaka) means that I am your slave. The other word Aarif which means recognition or acknowledgement. This brings us to the two words First (Ula) and Last (Ukhra). Ula means beginning or first. Similarly, ukhra means the other, earlier or the end.
It could also be possible that ula implies the time before the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) whereas ukhra refers to the time after the reappearance and during his worldly rule. This can be emphasized through this tradition from al-Kafi where Imam Sadiq (as) explains the 20th verse of Surah Shura, “…and in the hereafter he has no portion” in the following manner,
“He shall not have any share during the truthful rule of the Qaem (of Ale Mohammed).” (al-Kafi volume 1 page 435)
Similarly, it can also be related to Raj’at (The Returning) and Qiyamat. The conclusion here is that the one who recites this ziyarat – while addressing his Master, Imam Mahdi (as) – confesses his slavery and servitude and simultaneously also claims that ‘O my Master, I recognize you as you should be recognized. I’m aware of all your means and methods and Allah knows the best.’
“I seek proximity with Allah, the Most High, through your intercession
and the intercession of your progeny.”
In the above sentence of the ziyarat, Ahle Bayt (as) have been described as the source of gaining proximity to Allah, the Most High. It means that if a person wishes to reach Allah, he should approach Him through these pure souls whom Allah Himself has attributed to be the means of achieving His nearness.
There are certain groups of Muslims today, who deny the concepts of mediation (tawassul), intercession (shafa’at), visiting the graves (ziyarat), etc. and their propagation is gaining such immense strength that some of our Shiahs too are being influenced by this ideology. Hence, we feel it is our responsibility to emphasize on this subject in order to strengthen the beliefs of the believers and give a strong reply to the hypocrites, Inshallah.
Let us first discuss briefly on the word ‘I seek proximity’ (ataqarrabo). The general meaning of the scale or pattern to which the word ataqarrabo belongs is the acceptance of the effect of the verb. The word ataqarrabo means that I seek proximity to Allah through a medium. A mutaqarrib is a person who is in pursuit of nearness. This sentence from the ziyarat talks about seeking nearness to Allah, but through the medium of Aale Mohammed (as). Now let us discuss certain important things related to mediation (wasilah) albeit in a concise manner since this matter (concerning wasilah) requires an entire book.
First Part: Wasilah is a Divine Tradition (Sunnat of Allah)
Every Muslim, without a doubt, agrees to the fact that Allah, the Almighty, is Needless and Self-sufficient. In other words, Allah, the Most High, is a King Who has power over all things and does not need anyone. There is no partner for Him and everything is His creation. If anyone believes other than this, then that person has stepped out of the boundaries of Islam, and there are no exceptions to it. In spite of such magnanimous attributes, Allah, the Most High, has chosen means to execute His commands. No one in the world has the power to intentionally prevent it.
But the All-Powerful, the One who is aware of all things, wished that He would execute all His commands through a medium. Hence, in order to execute His orders He created the Proximate Angels, Prophets, Messengers and their Noble Successors (peace be on them all).
This is an undeniable reality. For instance, can anyone deny the sending of Prophets and Messengers for the guidance of mankind? Can anyone deny the sending of revelation (wahy) through Janabe Jibraeel (as)? Can anyone deny that the responsibility of capturing the souls has been entrusted with Janabe Izraeel (as)? Can the appointment of Janabe Israfeel (as) as the ‘blower of the trumpet’ be denied? Can He not execute all of these by Himself? Definitely He can but He has chosen tawassul as His Sunnah. Perhaps, it is to prove to those so called Muslims who think that they can reach Allah directly. Allah Himself has commanded regarding tawassul, “O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.” (Chapter 5 verse 35)
Second: Tawassul – In the light of the Holy Quran
Apart from the aforementioned verse of the Holy Quran, there are numerous other verses in which the concept of tawassul has been explicitly discussed. For instance, when the sons of Prophet Yaqub (as) came to him and requested him to seek pardon for them – thereby implying that they intended to make Prophet Yaqub (as) as their wasilah – he did not deny it but agreed to it. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran that,
“They said: O our father! Ask forgiveness for our faults, surely we were sinners. He said: I will ask for you forgiveness from my Lord; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Chapter 12 verses 97-98)
It is evident from this that Prophet Yaqub (as) did not say that wasilah is bid’at (innovation), haraam (forbidden) and they should pray without any mediation. On the contrary, he (as) accepted their mediation and breathed into them the hope of Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness. There are many other such verses in the Holy Quran but we shall suffice with this keeping brevity in mind.
Third Part: Tawassul in the reliable traditions of Ahle Sunnat
Usman ibne Hunaif narrates that once a blind person came to the Holy Prophet (sawa) and said, “You pray to Allah that He cures me.” He (sawa) said, “If you want I’ll pray for you and if you want you can be patient and patience is better for you.” The blind person said, “You please pray.” Holy Prophet (sawa) ordered him, “You perform ablution (wuzu) and perform it with complete concentration, pray two units of namaz and recite this dua, “O Lord! I beseech you that I turn towards you, Your Prophet who is a Merciful Prophet that, O Mohammed I turn towards my Lord through you that you fulfill my wish. O Allah! You accept the intercession of the Prophet (sawa) in my favour.”
There cannot be any doubt over the reliability of this tradition because even the leader of the Wahabi sect, Ibne Taymiyyah, has confirmed its reliability. The famous Wahabi author ‘Rafaa’ee’, whose only aim was to refute the traditions concerning tawassul writes, “There is no doubt that this tradition is correct and famous and its reality is indisputably proven.” (at-Tawassulo Ila Haqeeqate Tawassul page 158)
This tradition has been narrated in Sunan-e-Nisaai, Sunan-e-Baihaqi, Mo’jam of Tabarani, Sunan-e-Tirmidhi and by Haakim Nishapoori in Mustadrak-us-Sahihain. (At-Tawassul)
Apart from this, Zaini Dahlaan writes in his book ‘Khulasatul Aklaam’, Bukhari in his Taarikh, Ibne Majah in his Sunan, Hakim Nishapoori in Mustadrak-us-Sahihain and Jalaluddin as-Suyuti in Jame’ have narrated this tradition.
Ibne Maajah has confirmed this tradition to be reliable. Haakim Nishapuri writes, “This tradition conforms to the conditions of Shaykhain (Bukhari and Muslim) but both of them have not narrated it.”
Holy Prophet (sawa) said, “When Hazrat Adam (as) committed Tark-e-Ula, he raised his head towards the sky and said: O Lord! I beseech You through Mohammed and his progeny that You forgive me. Allah asked him: Who is Mohammed? Adam (as) replied: When You created me, I raised my head towards the Throne (Arsh) and saw that on it was written ‘There is no god except Allah and Mohammed is His Messenger’. I said to myself that Mohammed must be the greatest creation of Allah that He has kept his name along with His name. At that time it was revealed to him that he (sawa) would be the last Prophet from his progeny and had he (sawa) not been there, We would not have created you (Adam) at all.”
(Tabarani in Mo’jamus Sagheer, Haakim Nisshapuri in Mustadrak-us-Sahihain vol. 2 page 615, Abu Noaim Isfahaani and Baihaqi in Dalaaelun Nubuwwah, Ibne Asaakir Shaami in his Tarikh, Jalaluddin as-Suyuti in al-Durrul Mansur vol. 1 page 59 and Aaloosi in Ruhul Ma’ani have narrated this tradition)
Fourth Part: Tawassul as per Shiah Traditions
The concept of tawassul has been elaborately explained in Shiah books of traditions. It is not possible to bring forth all the references but just to cite an example we bring only one reference from Beharul Anwar volume 23 page 99 from the chapter Baabo annahum (alahimus salaam) alwasaaelo bainal khalqe wa bainallahe meaning “Ahle Bayt (as) are the mediators between the creatures and Allah.”
“I beseech Allah that He sends salutations upon Mohammed and his progeny and that He includes me amongst those who await your reappearance and amongst your followers and amongst your helpers against your enemies and amongst those who are martyred in front of you.”
In the above sentences of the ziyarat, three important responsibilities and one reward for the lovers of Imam Mahdi (as) have been mentioned. The three responsibilities are awaiting, obedience and helping and their reward is martyrdom. There cannot be anything better for a believer that he attains martyrdom in front of his Imam (as).
“Today is Friday and it is your day in which your reappearance is expected, the salvation of the believers at your hands and the killing of the unbelievers by your sword.”
Three conclusions can be derived from the above sentences of this ziyarat:
- Friday is the blessed day when the reappearance of Hazrat Hujjat (as) can be expected.
- The believers will be overjoyed after the reappearance of Imam (as).
- The enemies of Allah shall be destroyed at the hands of Imam Mahdi (as).
Let us try to study and analyze this sentence.
Prohibition of fixing a time for Imam’s (as) reappearance
It has already been discussed previously that fixing a time for the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) has been strictly prohibited. It has been narrated from Fuzail Ibn Yasaar that he asked Imam Mohammed Baqir (as), “Is there any appointed time for this affair (reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as))?” Imam (as) replied:
“Those who fix a time for it are liars! Those who fix a time for it are liars! Those who fix a time for it are liars!” (al-Kafi volume 1 page 368, Bab-o-Karahiyat al-Tawqeet; Al-Ghaybah by Shaykh Tusi (ra) pages 425-426 tradition no. 411; Beharul Anwar volume 52 page 103 tradition no. 5)
All such traditions are consecutive (mutawatir) – literally as well as conceptually. If we refer the aforementioned books, we will find that most of the traditionalists have brought independent chapters regarding the prohibition of fixing a time for reappearance (tawqeet). It is because only Allah knows the time and none should be allowed to play with the emotions of people on this sensitive subject.
Imam Sadiq (as) says: “One who fixes a time for our Mahdi has indeed considered himself to be Allah’s partner in His knowledge.” (Al-Hidaayah by Husain bin Hamadan page 172)
If fixing a time has been prohibited then why is it mentioned in various supplications, ziyaraat and traditions that Imam Mahdi (as) shall reappear on a Friday?
Before replying to this question it is necessary to mention that not only Friday but traditions have also spoken about the month and year of the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as).
Mohammed bin Muslim narrates that a person once asked Imam Sadiq (as), “When will your Qaem (as) reappear?” Imam (as), after narrating some of the signs of reappearance, said in his reply: “Then the Qaem (as) shall be called out by his name. It will be the 23rd night of the month of Ramazan and he shall rise on the day of Ashura.” (Kifaayat al-Muhtadi by Mir Mohammed bin Mohammed Mirlauhi Husaini Isfahani, who was a contemporary of Allamah Majlisi (a.r.) page 217 tradition no. 39; Al-Arbaoon by Al-Khatoonabadi pages 169-170; Isbaat al-Hudaat by Shaykh Hurr al-Aameli page 570, chapter 32, part 44 tradition no. 687)
It means that the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) will take place on the 23rd night of the month of Ramazan (Shab-e-Qadr) and he (as) shall rise on the day of Ashura.
It is found in the books of Ahle Sunnah that Imam Mahdi (as) shall reappear on the 17th Moharram between Rukn-e-Yamaani and Maqaam-e-Ibrahim (at the Holy Kabah), Jibraeel (as) will be on his right and Mikaeel (as) on his left. (Iqd al-Durar page 65 chapter 4, part 1; Al-Burhan Fee Alamate Mahdi-e-Aakhir al-Zaman page 145 tradition no. 14)
Shaykh Mufeed (ra) in his book al-Irshad has narrated a tradition from Abu Baseer quoting from Imam Sadiq (as) who said, “The Qaem shall not reappear except in one of the odd years: like one, three, five, seven or nine.” (Al-Irshad page 389; Kashf al-Ghummah by Abul Fath Ali bin Isa al-Irbili volume 2 page 462)
Now let’s try to reply the above question i.e. if fixing a time for reappearance is not allowed, then how can we say that Imam (a.s) will reappear on a Friday? To speak about the time of reappearance is specifically for Allah or those personalities whom He has chosen to propagate His Knowledge. No doubt that the Holy Imams (as) have mentioned the day, month and year of reappearance but at the same time they have also maintained that we should expect the reappearance of our Master and Imam (as) day and night and at all times. In order to resolve this apparent contradiction through the principal of reconciliation (al-ta’deel wa al-tarjeeh), it can be said that although such traditions are found (about Friday), yet Allah has the authority to change it i.e. alter the time of reappearance. We should not be afraid of the belief in alteration of destiny (badaa) because the Holy Imams (as) have said that Allah is not worshipped better through anything except (the belief in) badaa. Allah is not honoured better through anything but badaa. Just as there is abrogation, an abrogator and the abrogated in the world of Shariah (Aalam-e-Tashreei), similarly there is alteration in the world of creation (Aalam-e-Takveen). It is astonishing that Muslims are prepared to accept the concept abrogation but deny the concept of alteration.
(For details refer Usul al-Kaafi volume 1 page 146, chapter of Badaa; Beharul Anwar volume 4 page 92, chapter 3, Al-Badaa wa al-Naskh)
Salvation and deliverance from all problems is only after the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as)
It is certain that the believers shall receive salvation and happiness in the true sense only after the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as). It is the duty of the believers to obey and follow the actions and words of the Infallible Imams (as) during the occultation of Imam Mahdi (as). It is the responsibility of every believer to ensure (personally and collectively) that Imam (as) is not disobeyed. We should not try to relate our selfish interests and aims to the sayings of the Infallible Imams (as).Rather, we should consider their commands as the axis and the purpose of our life. God forbid, it should not happen that we use our explanations as a pretext for his (a.s) disobedience.
The destruction and annihilation of Allah’s enemies is only at the hands of Imam Mahdi (as)
The prayer of Prophet Nuh (as), “My Lord! Leave not upon the land any dweller from among the unbelievers.” (Chapter 71 verse 26) shall be truly accepted only after the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as).
(For details, refer Beharul Anwar volume 89 page 340, Aa’maalo Yaum al-Juma’h wa Aadaabehi wa Wazaaefehi)
“O my master! Today I am your guest and in your refuge. O my master! You are noble and a descendant of noble ancestors. And you have been commanded (by Allah) to be a gracious host and a sanctuary (for His creatures).So, accept me as your guest and grant me asylum. May Allah send His Blessings upon you as well as your noble and pure progeny.”
This is the last sentence of this ziyarat and extremely amazing and astounding. Friday belongs to and is attributed to Imam Mahdi (as). When we begin our day on a Friday, we should bear in mind that we are the guests of the master of this day.
A well behaved and a civilized guest is he who does not perform any act against the wishes of his host. Hence, on a Friday we should be extremely particular about the fact that we shouldn’t do anything against the will of our master. If we remain good guests then rest assured that there is no better host – in this world and the hereafter – than Imam Mahdi (as).
Let us all pray that “O our master, we are all sinners and have disobeyed. But we are your lovers. O master, we know that we have not fulfilled the rights of your mastership but you are the most gracious. Please bestow us with your grace and pray for our forgiveness in front of Allah. Please intercede for us in this world and in the hereafter.
O Lord! For the sake of Mohammed (sawa) and his progeny (as), hasten the reappearance of our Imam (as). O Lord! For the sake of the pure blood of the martyrs of Karbala, include us among the helpers and companions of Imam Mahdi (as). Aameen!”