Our Master, the Chief of the Believers, Imam Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) says: “The world is a prison for the believers and heaven for the disbelievers.”
The Holy Infallibles (a.s.), in their traditions and narration, have often condemned love for this material world. They (a.s.) have warned the believers, time and again with words like “the heart which is filled with the love for this world can never attain the love for the hereafter.” The reason being that man is so fascinated by looking at the adornments of this world that he forgets his True Creator, his objective and purpose of life. Therefore Imam Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) says: “One who is engrossed in this world, Long hopes have indeed deceived him, Remember death will be sudden, And grave is the real chest for (human) deeds.”
But man continues to tread the path on account of his ignorance and wrong doings. He keeps on committing sins conveniently forgetting that he has to face Allah. A believer on the other hand, in order to save himself from these delusions controls his desires, suppresses his basic instincts and strives not to let the material world deviate him from his goal, bearing in the process unlimited difficulties and calamities. Therefore, the life of a believer has been compared to a prison. These facts stand applicable to all ages and eras. But as for the last days or the last time (i.e. the period before the reappearance of Imam Mahdi [a.s.]) there has always been a special mention. This is the time when injustice and tyranny will reach its pinnacle. As it has been narrated from reliable tradition, “like the world will be filled with injustice and tyranny.” This will be the time, when none will be safe from its troubles and mischief.” (Surah Anfaal, Verse 25)
In this period of tumult, the conditions of the believers will change from bad to worse. Our rightly guided Imams (a.s.) have forewarned us about this time, its conditions and how one should act in it to be safe.
Come let us study the traditions which have mentioned the conditions of Shias in these times.
First Condition: Detest and Enmity
The narrator states that I heard Imam Ali (a.s.) saying: “What will be your
condition when you will neither be with any Imam to guide you nor any ther visible lender. In this condition, you (O Shias) will show enmity towards each other.”
(Kitab al-Ghaibah, Shaikh Tusi , pg. 207)
Second Condition: Disputes
During this time, the disputes will reach a magnitude that even the Shias and the believers will not be spared. Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) told Malik bin Zumrah : “O Malik bin Zumrah! What will be your condition when there would be terrible controversies among our Shias,” saying this Imam (a.s.) interlaced the fingers of both his hands to show how the Shias would be involved in disputes. The reality is such that it can be said that the Shias have begun to like controversies. Sometimes it seems that people eagerly await a topic to create a controversy and consequently confusion. The gravity of this unsoundness is such that people even fight and dispute in a serious matter like the mourning of Imam Husain (a.s.). Some people seem to have adopted the profession of creating divisions taking pleasure to see the believers fight amongst themselves, in total contrast to the Divine Command: “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah (love of Ahlul Bait (a.s.)) together and do not be divided (amongst yourself).”
(Surah Ale Imram, Verse 153)
It is these disputes that have delayed the reappearance of the light of the Universe, our Imam (a.s.). As he (a.t.f.s.) has said in the Tawqee (communication) to Sheikh Mufeed
(r.a.), “Had your hearts been united and had you lived in unison, our meeting with you would not have been delayed.”
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) said: “By Allah, the One in whose absolute control is my life, you will not see Shias except that some of them will spit on the face of others and some will be called liars.”
The significant point is that Imam Ali (a.s.) is swearing by Allah, sufficient
enough to express the seriousness of the matter. If we see the condition of Shia society today, we find the prophecies of Imam (a.s.) being actualized. We accuse some people of not attending majlis in our Imambaras and Aashoor Khaanas and in retaliation, do not go to their majlis. Sometimes the matters stoop to the level of hurling abuses. Whereas the Almighty Allah says in a Hadith-e-Qudsi, “Whoever insults a believer, it is as if he has
declared war against Me.” Patience, forbearance, self-control and ignoring minor mistakes – all these qualities are confined only to the books. Maturity of character is rarely found. It is incumbent upon every believer to prevent anyone who is trying to stir up trouble or create a controversy between two Shias or two groups. Otherwise, we will be answerable to Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.). We must remember that when the accursed Satan meets failures at all front, he resorts to stirring disputes and controversies.
Third Condition: Hardening of the hearts
One of the special characteristics of the human heart is that it keeps transforming and changing from one condition to another. In fact, heart is known as “Qalb” in Arabic, due to this very reason. Due to the prolonged
occultation of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.), many Shias will despair of reappearance. This hopelessness and despair will lead to the hardening of their hearts. Firstly, let us try to understand what “hardening of heart” means. It refers to that condition when the heart refuses to accept reality and the person remains adamant in his stand. So much so that he even denies a reality which is more clear than the bright sun. Thus, in the last era, the people will begin to deny the pure existence of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.). Now let us see what sins cause the hardening of hearts. Excessive sins, love of this world, forgetting death and not remembering it, uttering and listening to useless talks (words) like music, etc., trying to please some wealthy people, leaving worship, being engrossed in the accumulation of wealth and property, stinginess, severing off the ties of relationship, breaking promises, etc. are some sins which result in the hardening of hearts.
On the other hand, those people who remain immune from the hardening of hearts during the period of occultation will be given a place adjacent to the abode of die Holy Infallibles (a.s.) in paradise.
Fourth condition: Helplessness
Ibne Uqba has quoted Imam Ali (a.s.), who said, O Shias! I see that you are busy in search of grass like camels, but are unable to find. it.”
(Ghaibat-e-Nomani, pg. 192, Tradition. 3)
The time of occultation is a period of gloom and despair. The condition of Shias will be such that they will be running helter-skelter, sometimes to the West and at other times to the East. They will hasten towards water only to find it to be a mirage. After being utterly bereft of hope, they will realize that nothing can save them and solve all their difficulties except their Master’s (Imam (a.s.)) reappearance. The Shias will call with a sinking heart,
“Hasten! Hasten! O my Master! Master of the Age!”
Therefore, we find the traditions exhorting the people, “Pray more for the
reappearance, for in it is your salvation.”
Fifth Condition: Under the Yoke of Oppression
The Almighty Allah has mentioned in the Holy Quran, “And We desired to
bestow a favor upon those -who were deemed weak in the land, and make them the Imams, and make them the heirs.”
(Surah Qasas, Verse 5) This verse shows that in the last era, the Shias will be under the yoke of oppression; they shall be rendered helpless. The atrocities committed upon them will shatter them. But they will not discard their faith. The entire world will try to debase and deride them. Neither they will be respected nor be given any preference. On the other hand, the evil will be preferred and honored in the society. They will be more popular and famous. The Shias will be surrounded by the jaws of injustice from every side. Akrama bin Saase says that I heard Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) say: “These Shias will not achieve freedom till their condition is like the goats before a hungry and ferocious lion unable to decide whom to attack. Neither shall they have any superiority nor would they have any refuge from their helplessness. There will be clamor to surround them and oppress them to the maximum possible extent. Being treated like orphans and destitute, they will be so oppressed that they will scream, O Allah! It is unbearable!” Then the Almighty will solve all their problems through His Proof. Under such circumstances, those people who remain steadfast in their religion will be ew. We can remain safe from such corruption and turmoil and achieve success in these tests and trials.
We must recite Dua-e-Ghareeq (Prayer of the Drowning), also known as Dua-e-Hareeq (Prayer of the Burning), during or after the prayers. The Dua begins with the phrase, “O Allah! O Beneficent! O Merciful! O the One Who transforms the hearts! Make my heart steadfast upon your religion!” Aameen.