Month 1- Active Waiting

 

All of us have, at one time or another, sat waiting for a bus to arrive. We know that no matter how many times we look at the arrivals board or how many times we refresh the timings on our phone, that bus is not going to arrive any sooner. We are essentially helpless to speed up its arrival – our waiting is passive.

It is sometimes easy to fall into the trap of thinking in the same way when it comes to our Imam (af). We know that the time of his return is controlled by Allah, and that it has been over a thousand years and counting. However, we also know that all it takes for the Imam (af) to be allowed to return is the readiness of his Shia, his followers. So as self-professed followers of the Imam (af), each of us has an active role to play in his reappearance: 

    1. We need to reframe our mindset; what if there are 312 ready followers, and we are the 313th one, that the Imam (af) is waiting for?
    2. We need to start preparing ourselves.
    3. Finally, we need to prepare our families and wider community. This ripple effect will inshAllah hasten the reappearance of our Imam (af).  

 

In Surah Yunus (10:20), Allah says: 

فَقُلْ إِنَّمَا الْغَيْبُ لِلَّهِ فَانْتَظِرُوا إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ مِنَ الْمُنْتَظِرِينَ…

‘…Say: The unseen is only for Allah; therefore wait – indeed I too, with you am waiting.’

Imam al-Sadiq (as) explained that the ‘Intidhaar’ in this verse is referring to that of our 12th Imam (af). He was asked his view on one who died waiting for the Imam of his time. 

Imam al-Sadiq (as) replied, ‘It is as if they have died by the side of their Imam. No, it is as if they have died by the side of the Holy Prophet (s) or shed their blood for the sake of Allah.’

From the words of Imam al-Sadiq (as), it appears that a sure-fire route to success for a believer is to sincerely wait for the Imam (af). The question, then, is how? Below are some ideas, using the easy-to-remember acronym IMAM!

In Surah Rad (13:11), Allah says: 

…إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ…

‘Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition.’ 

Changing ourselves is the first, but also probably the hardest step in actively waiting for the Imam (af). One of the ways of initiating this change from within, is to truly build our level of spirituality and not just look for temporary spiritual highs. This is a lifelong pursuit, but progress can be made straight away, by focussing on consistency. We should be wary of overdoing things in short bursts; in the same way that a first-time gym user will not achieve long term benefit from spending hours working out for a few days, we need to build up slowly and consistently in order to develop a sustainable routine. 

The first step in building our spirituality is to cleanse our hearts through self-reflection and sincerely repenting (doing Tawba) for our sins. From there, we can move on to maintaining and improving our Wajibaat. For example, ensuring we pray at Awal ‘Waqt (immediately on time), or working on techniques to concentrate more in our Salaah. 

Another really important way to initiate change from within is to develop our relationship with the Holy Qur’an, by reciting and pondering on a small amount regularly. Imam al-Sadiq (as) said, ‘The Qur’an is a trust of Allah (given) to His creations; therefore it is desirable for every Muslim to look at this trust and to recite (a minimum of ) fifty verses of the Qur’an every day.’ The relationship between the Imam of the time and the Qur’an is deep and interwoven, and so in order to connect with our Imam (af), we must also connect with the Holy Book. And then the complaint of the Holy Prophet in Surah Furqan (25:30) will not apply to us:

وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا

‘And the Messenger cried out: O my Lord! Indeed, my community have treated this Quran as a forsaken thing.’

Once we have begun to make progress on changing ourselves, the next step is to initiate change in the external world. For all of us, the challenge and the change required is different, depending on our communities and where we live. We need to think about what we are doing or giving (not just money!) to make a difference to the people around us. What have we contributed to the development of our communities and society at large? These are deep questions and the answers often take many years to flesh out, but as soon as we begin thinking about them and acting on our conclusions, we have made the first, and most important, step of actively waiting for the Imam (af).

The grandfather of our Imam (af), our Holy Prophet (s) has famously said: ‘…I have only been sent to perfect the distinction of Akhlaq’, and elsewhere, ‘God, Most High, placed noble Akhlaq as a means of access between Himself and mankind; whoever of you holds firm to good Akhlaq has connected himself to God.’

Imam al-Sadiq (as) has said, ‘One who desires to be included among the companions of Imam al-Mahdi (af) must be Muntadhir (actively waiting), and should be pious and of good moral character…’

Having excellent Akhlaq is the mark of a true follower of the Imam (af). We cannot on the one hand claim to be actively waiting for the Imam (af), and on the other, be of poor moral character. 

In Surah Ale-Imran (3:200), Allah says: 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا وَرَابِطُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

‘O you who believe! Be patient and excel in patience and maintain connection, and have Taqwa of Allah, that you may be successful.’

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) explains the Tafsir of this Ayah as follows: 

  1. Be patient – in fulfilling the religious obligations (Wajib and Haram)
  2. Excel in patience – in setting aside our own desires and loving/disliking for the pleasure of Allah (Tawalla and Tabarra)
  3. Maintain connection – with your Imam who is awaited

Find out more!

See a compilation of all English-language resources on the Imam (af), view FAQs and ask your own questions!

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