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Answer: Not in the same way that he had during his minor occultation. However, the Imam (af) has ordered the followers of the Ahlul Bayt (as) to follow the most learned and pious Ulema (scholars) during his occultation.[1]

 

[1] Wasaa’il al-Shia, Volume 27, Page 131

Concise Answer: The Prophet (s) is narrated to have said, in Sahih al-Bukhari[1], via Jaabir Ibn Samurah: ‘There will be twelve leaders, all of them from Quraysh.’

Detailed Answer: In Ṣaḥīḥ al-Muslim[2]

Narrated by Jabir ibn Samura: The Prophet (s) said: “This matter (the world) will not end, until twelve Caliphs come.” He then whispered something. I asked my father what the Prophet (s) said. He said, the Prophet (s) added: “All of them will be from Quraysh.”

The belief of the Ahl al-Sunna is that the al-Mahdi (af) will be born at the end of time and he will be of the lineage of the Prophet (s). There are many traditions in this regard in the Sunni Ahadith, including in the Sitah texts, for example:

“Even if a single day remains in time verily Allah will make a man from among my Ahlul Bayt rise to power and spread justice throughout the world, just as it has previously been filled with injustice” (Musnad of Ahmad and Sunan of Abu Dawūd)

Other Sunni books which mention Ahadith on the 12th Imam (af):

There are six Ahadith in Sahih Muslim and 26 in Musnad Ibn Hanbal as well as explicit mentions by Al-Tirmithi (one Hadith), Musnad Abi Dawud (two Ahadith), al-Haakim al-Nisaburi (three Ahadith), al-Albani (four Ahadith), al-Bayhaqi (five Ahadith), al-Tabarani (41 Ahadith), Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (three Ahadith), al-Dhahabi (two Ahadith)…

The Twelve Leaders have also been mentioned in Judeo-Christian Traditions[3]:

“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.”

[1] Hadith no. 6682

[2] Kitāb al-Imārā (Chapter of Government) 

[3] Genesis 17:20

Answer: When the Imam (af) appears, he will be accompanied by certain specific signs – for example a call from the heavens, and the arrival of Prophet Isa (as) with him. He will be able to perform one or more miracles to substantiate his claim. His arrival will also be apparent for all people, and the information will not be confined to one group or region; thus he will be able to understand and speak all languages. Previous Aimmah (as) have had similar skills and characteristics. All these signs mean that when the Imam (af) comes, it will be obvious to all – and beyond doubt.

Concise Answer: In brief, the signs for the re-emergence of the Imam (af) fall into two groups:

  1. The signs which are very specific and will definitely occur e.g. the coming of the Dajjal.
  2. The signs which are more general e.g. worldwide injustice

Detailed Answer: Based on the Shi’a narrations, the signs can be placed into two groups:

  1. The signs which are specific and will undoubtedly occur prior to the re-emergence. They have been mentioned in several Ahadith. For example, Shaikh al-Mufid narrates[1] from Abu Hamzah al-Thimali: ‘I asked Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (as): “Is the coming of Sufyani definite?” He (as) said: “Yes. And the huge sound from the sky, the rising of the sun from the west, the dispute amongst the Bani al-Abbas, the killing of al-Nafs al-Zakiyah (pure soul) and the coming back of Imam al-Mahdi (af) are all definite.”’
  2. The signs which are more general, and may not necessarily occur immediately before the Imam’s (af) advent. These include signs such as the prevalence of injustice in the world, and the collapse of organised religion.

[1] Kitab al-Irshad, p.358

Concise Answer: Praying for the well-being of the Imam (af) connects us to him and builds a bond between us and the Imam (af).

Detailed Answer: Praying for the well-being of the Imam (af) connects us to him and builds a bond between us because remembering him in our prayers brings him into our hearts and our minds. Additionally, our prayers:

  • Make us prioritise and realise what is important to us, i.e. the safety of our Imam (af);
  • Remind us to ask Allah for the Tawfiq (opportunity) to take some action, i.e. preparing ourselves for his reappearance;
  • Motivate us to action, i.e. to act in a way that pleases the Imam (af), not in a way that would cause him pain or harm;
  • Remind us of the powerful system of prayer that Allah has set in motion, whereby each one of us can affect our own destiny and also external events;
  • Are a gift to the Imam (af); Islam highly recommends reciprocity when it comes to gifts – imagine the return gift from the Imam (af)!
  • Remind us of Allah’s total and ultimate control.

Concise answer:  During the occultation of the Imam (af), the role of a believer, is to carry out all the commands set out in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, in order to prepare for the coming of Imam’s (af) government. It is not dissimilar to the role we will have when he reappears, albeit that there is a greater onus on us during this time as our Imam (af) is not present to guide the people.

Detailed Answer; Even though we cannot see the Imam (af), he continually keeps watch over us, and is presented with a list of our deeds every Friday. Therefore, all of the commands that are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and the requirements of a believer taught by the Prophet (s) and his household must be complied with during the Imam’s (af) occultation.

Below are some examples of the duties of a believer during the time of Imam’s (af) occultation:

  1. Learning and gaining knowledge about Islam in terms of Aqaid (Theology), Ahkam (Rulings), Akhlaq (Behaviour); a believer must enhance his/her Islamic mindset, and thus improve his/her spiritual status and belief;
  2. Having Taqwa (God-conciousness); a believer knows that s/he is always in the presence of Allah, thus staying away from sins and eliminating the grounds of committing sins within society;
  3. Following the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the Ahlul-Bayt (as) in their entirety;
  4. Obeying the representatives of the Imam (af) , namely our scholars – the Maraj’i;
  5. Learning more about Imam al-Mahdi (af) and the other Aimmah (as);
  6. Working to improve unity between Muslims, especially others who are awaiting for the Imam (af);
  7. Remembering the Imam (af) during the day, knowing that he is aware of all our acts and emulating him as he is a perfect role model;
  8. Developing a connection with the Imam (af) through reciting supplications such as Du’a Nudbah, Du’a Ahad, Du’a Faraj and Ziyarat Ale Yasin.
  9. Being actively patient with our life situations and enjoining others to Haqq (truth) and patience [Surah Asr];
  10. Encouraging the love and remembrance of the Imam (af) in the hearts of others by mentioning authentic Ahadith, virtues and miracles that are attributed to him.

 

Answer: As soon as the Imam (af) was born, he recited the following verse from Surah Qasas:

وَنُرِيدُ أَنْ نَمُنَّ عَلَى الَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةً وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ الْوَارِثِينَ

[28:5] And We desired to bestow a favour upon those who were deemed weak in the land, and to make them the Imams, and to make them the heirs.

Concise answer: Shaykh Saduq and Shaykh Tusi (although the latter is probably referring back to the former) are the only ones who narrate that the Imam’s (af) mother was a Roman princess, the daughter of King Yusha, whose genealogy could be traced back to Caesar of Rome. From her mother’s side, her lineage could apparently be traced back to Simon Peter, the successor and apostle of Prophet Isa (as). However, the two scholars also narrate the more commonly accepted version of events; that the Imam’s (af) mother was a slave from Sudan.

Detailed Answer: The story of the Imam’s (af) mother being a Roman princess is related primarily by Shaykh Saduq (in turn, reported from Mohamed b.Bahr al-Shaybani, who was known to be an extremist/Ghulat), and has only been relayed by him and Shaykh Tusi (although he probably narrated it from Shaykh Saduq).

The other Ulama narrate that the Imam’s (af) mother was a slave:

  • Shaykh Kulayni says that the mother of the Imam (af) was a black slave from Sudan, and he narrates a hadith from the Holy Prophet (s) to this effect. In truth, this hadith may actually be referring to the 10th Imam’s (as) wife, rather than the 11th Imam’s (as) wife.
  • Shaykh Mufid narrates that she was a slave girl brought up in the house of Hakima, the aunt of the 12th Imam (af).

There are also other inconsistencies with the story of the Imam’s (af) mother being a Roman princess:

The story in brief is that Nargis Khatun had a dream in which she saw the Holy Prophet (s), the 11th Imam (as), Prophet Isa (as) and Simon Peter. The Holy Prophet (s) told Prophet Isa (as) that he had come to propose marriage of the granddaughter of Prophet Isa’s disciple to his grandson (the 11th Imam (as)). Prophet Isa (as) turned to Simon Peter and told him that he should accept this proposal, as it was a great honour and so Simon Peter accepted. The Holy Prophet (s) then married the 11th Imam (as) to Nargis Khatun.

A few days later, Nargis Khatun saw another dream, in which she saw Lady Maryam (as) with Lady Fatimah (as). Nargis Khatun asked Lady Fatimah (as) why, her husband (Imam Hasan al-Askeri (as)), had not come to meet her; to which Lady Fatima (as) replied that it was because she was not a Muslim. Nargis Khatun then embraced Islam by reciting the Shadatayn. The next night, and every night thereafter, she saw the 11th Imam (as) in her dream.

In one such dream, the 11th Imam (as) told Nargis Khatun that in a few days, her grandfather would send troops to fight the Muslims. Imam (as) told her that she should disguise herself as a servant and go with the troops. When the Muslims won, she would be taken as a prisoner of war and sold as a slave. Imam (as) would then send someone to buy her and bring her to him.

The problems with this story are manifold:

  • The whole story, including all the conversations and particularly the Nikkah (marriage), happened in a dream. The conversion to Islam occurred principally because Nargis Khatun wanted to see her husband (the 11th Imam (as);
  • The Nikkah was said to have happened before Nargis Khatun’s conversion to Islam; it seems very unlikely that the 11th Imam (as) would marry a non-Muslim;
  • Despite being a princess, Nargis Khatun was able to leave her home to join the troop of soldiers, without the permission of her father or her grandfather;
  • The story relies upon a war between the Abbasids (the rulers of the Muslim lands at the time) and the Romans, as the means by which Nargis Khatun was able to travel to Iraq and meet the 11th Imam (as). However, history does not record any major conflict between the two empires during this time.
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