According to the beliefs of the Shias, true success and real religiosity can be achieved only through the way of the path of the Ahlebayt (asws) and by acting upon their commands. So much so that if someone performs deeds equal to even seventy prophets, but he has no affection for Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and his descendants, none of his acts would be accepted. In the same way in every period of time the recognition of the Imam (as) saves one from a death of ignorance as mentioned in a large number of Shia and Ahle Sunnah traditions.
“One who dies without recognizing the Imam (pbuh) of his time, dies the death of Ignorance.”
Recognition of Imam Asr (a.s.) is not only knowing his name, lineage, date of birth and location. The qualities and perfection of the personality of Imam-e-Asr (a.s.) and his status is not clear to the people in the right way. That is why it is regrettable that in the minds of most of the people the true value and position of the Imam is not clear.
Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) says: “The Imam is the unique one of his time. No one is close to them in his status. No scholar can become his equal. There is no one in the world like him. There is no likeness to him.”
Numerous traditional reports of the infallibles emphasize that Ahle Bayt (a.s.) cannot be compared to anyone and basically to this heavenly family, it is unlawful to compare other with them.
(Bihar ul-Anwar, 22:406 & 23:117)
Just suppose if someone compares the greatness of Imam Asr (a.s.) to others and likens it to the stars and equals others to be like minute particles of sand or he shows Imam (a.s.) to be an ocean and compares others to be like drops. Or calls him a sun and regards others as candle, such a person is any case is making a mistake, because the infallible Imam cannot be compared to anything in any way.
Someone asked Abu Abdullah al-Husain (a.s.): What is the cognition of God?
He replied: “That the people of every period should recognize the Imam of their time as his obedience is obligatory on everyone.”
There was a family in Bani Israel that if one of its members prayed to God for forty nights his supplications were definitely accepted. But once when one of them prayed his supplications were not granted even after forty nights. That person came to Prophet Isa (a.s.) and asked the reason for this. Isa (a.s.) sought mediation of divine court and it was revealed: “O Isa, My servant was trying to approach Me through a way other than the path which leads to Me. He was calling while he harboured doubt in your prophethood. If he had called me till his neck would have fractured and his fingers had become lifeless, I would not have responded to him.”
On the basis of this, in Ziyarat Aale Yasin, after swearing by the Wilayat and Imamate of eleven Imams, separately in a special manner, we declare the testimony of the Wilayat and Imamate of Imam-e-Asr (a.s.).
In the same way it is mentioned in the Ziyarat of the Imam-e-Zaman (atfs):
“I bear witness that through loyalty to you, deeds are approved, acts are purified, rewards are doubled, and punishments for wrongdoings are erased. Therefore, one who bears loyalty to you and recognizes your Imamate, will have his deeds approved, his saying credited, his rewards doubled, and his wrong-doings erased; while if he rejects loyalty to you, ignores the recognition of you, and follows anyone else, Allah shall throw him headlong into hellfire. Shall never approve any of his deeds, and shall never set up a balance for him on Judgment Day.”
If so far we have not offered such love for His Eminence (a.s.) it is due to the deficiency of our recognition; we have been shortcoming in our duties, because we do not recognize him at all. We do not endeavour for any connection between the creator and the creation, because we have no recognition; we are attentive to apparent aspects in our matters but we forget this blessed being, who is the means of connection between the earth and the heavens.
Let’s take a look at the narration of Imam Mahdi (atfs) about the stance of his Shias towards him, as noted in Shiftagan Hazrat Mahdi,
“Our Shia don’t even desire us, as much as they desire a drink of water.”
It is a matter of great concern that our living Imam, Hazrat Mahdi (atfs), who is the Master of the Age, has to say such words for his Shias, followers and lovers. We do not remember the Patron of the Age, on the other hand he is the one who always remembers us and prays for our safety and assists us in times of need.
We end our discussion with the following ahadith of our beloved Imam (as) in which he says,
“Surely, we do not neglect your condition nor are we forgetful of your remembrance. Had it not been so, then, terrible calamities would have struck you, and your enemies would have destroyed you.” (Al Ihtejaj vol.2, pg.598)
We pray to Allah (swt) to grant us true marefat of our living Imam (as) and grant us taufiq to remember him, pray for him and prepare ourselves for his reappearance. May Allah count us among His servants and followers. Allahumma Ajjil Le Waliekal Faraj!