The 12th Imam
Appearance of al-Qaim:
The reappearance of the Imam in human society after the major occultation is not for the purpose of delivering any new message, nor any alteration in the system of human life, not already provided for or implied in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. His reappearance is as the chosen executor of the divine law. He reappears with the sole purpose of reducing all religions of the world into one approved by God, namely Islam, and then seeing that it is extended throughout the world and practised by every human being. He reappears to spread justice, prescribed by Islam, all over the globe. 'He fills the earth with fairness and justice, after the earth would be filled with injustice and aggression' (Majlisi, II, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, p. 336). The apostolic reports assert that He will reappear with such divine power that all the temporal forces will be vanquished. He reappears not as a preacher of the divine will, as the pretending mahdis of modern time would claim. He reappears as the powerful executor of the divine will and command. He reappears as the all dominating walayat. His 'total reappearance' is in the period wherein the spiritual mastership of perfect man over the realm of humanity will be manifested in the person of the Twelfth Imam, the last vicegerent of the last Prophet. He represents Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, in both name and the real meaning of the word. 'Muhammad,' as pointed out earlier, is the term divinely assigned to the created being who is the first and the last in degree of perfection in the arcs of descent and ascent, and who is in the highest possible stage of communion with the Absolute. So his reappearance is the manifestation of walayat, mastership of Muhammad, on earth.
Some apostolic reports assert that the time will come when al-Mahdi will be ordered by God to appear on the scene of humanity for the performance of the executive task assigned to him. He will then enter the sacred mosque at Mecca and keeping his back to the wall of the Ka'ba, declare his appearance to deliver mankind from the miseries of injustice and the licentious existence of the time. Hours prior to his declaration, there will be a similar declaration from Dajjal, the anti-Mahdi personality. Both declarations will be heard throughout the globe at once. The chosen devotees of al-Mahdi, who are the same in number as the faithful warriors of Badr, and others willing to respond to the sacred call will reach Mecca within a very short time. The communication throughout the world will be very quick. The people will see each other from remote places. These prophecies were made and recorded at a time when the natural forces and the means of communication at the disposal of man were confined only to donkies, mules, horses and camels on the land, sailboats on the sea, and pigeons, hawks and other trained birds in the sky. Nobody had even dreamt of the modern means which man is using for communication and contact today. The impossible of that time is becoming the simple, fact of today.
Confirming the assertion of the Qur'an, 'Ali states that the stars and heavenly bodies are populated by living beings. The cities there are like our cities, but connected with each other by columns of light, which we have just started to use for communication. There are many statements of this kind from saintly men long before the advent of scientific discoveries and inventions. Such statements show the insight of their author into the nature of the universe. Now, with atomic energy man is trying to establish communications with the moon, Mars, and other planets. This attempt is possible according to the Qur'an, provided man has the requisite authority at his disposal (LV 33). But until now the power and forces discovered and used by man are material ones. Nevertheless, they are producing wonders. The superhuman incorporeal powers of the spiritual and pyschic type have not yet been properly understood, measured, controlled, and used by men. Undoubtedly there are occasional displays of supernatural forces in the form of miracles of the vicegerents of God. These instances may only be taken as convincing proofs of the existence of supernatural energies dominating the material realms. But the time for regular use of these spiritual energies has not yet come. When God will allow the 'perfect man' possessing these energies to display their regular use for the welfare of humanity, the impact shall be greater than the use of atomic energy. With such supermaterial energies, not only the space distances will be removed.
Communication between the living and the dead may be established. Many vicegerents and saintly men of the past who had played a part in the advancement of the noble and final aim will reappear on the scene of the divine kingdom on earth when it is established. When the time distance is removed, the godly men who sacrificed themselves for the complete manifestation of the divine kingdom through the person of the Imam, will appear and enjoy the results of the sacred role they performed. Not only the good people of the past will reappear but some of the opponents too may be brought to the scene, to reveal the wretched ends of those evil doers (XXVII 83). The verse refers to a sort of 'partial resurrection' prior to the 'total resurrection' which is referred to in XVIII 47.
Al-Mahdi combines in him the dignity of Musa in perfection, the grace of Jesus and the patience of Job. Thus, in the person of al-Mahdi the two chosen branches of Ibrahim's issue are reunited. By the reappearance of Jesus, to follow the lead of al-Mahdi, the kingdom given by God to the family of Ibrahim will be manifested under the banner of Islam, the sole religion approved by God. The heavenly kingdom will be established on the earth, through al-Mahdi. He represents in name, nature and attributes, the last Prophet, Muhammad, upon whom be peace. His leadership will be accepted by Jesus, and other godly men of spiritual attainments will appear on the scene, of their own choice. Also some of their opponents will be forced into the scene by the agencies functioning in that realm. The reappearance of al Mahdi and his reign is termed as Zahoor-Mahdi Alaihis Salaam. The appearance of Jesus is termed as Nozool-e 'Isa Alaihis Salaam, the descent of Jesus. The appearance of other persons who died or their wicked opponents is termed as Raj'at. The process is termed as the minor resurrection (Qayamat-e Sughra), the rule of the perfect man over the world. It has to precede the major resurrection (Qayamat-e Kubra), the manifestation of the divine kingdom over man and the universe.
It has been proven that the return of a departed soul to a body in the form of an embryo in the womb of a mother and rebirth in the usual manner known to us, is impossible. Return of the dead to life, whether in an individual or collective way, means the soul assuming a new body, similar to the previous one. This process can be in two ways:
1. the development of the earthly realm into the celestial form as the Qur'an says: 'The day when the earth is replaced by a different earth and the earth will be illuminated with the light of ils Lord' (and not with the light of the sun) or
2. the descent of the soul to the earthly level by assuming an earthly body as the angcls do (XIX 17). Both are possible and both may take shape towards the ultimate resurrection. The Muslims, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians firmly believe in individual and collective resurrection of human souls after death. So to the followers of these faiths, the reappearance of al-Mahdi, the descent of Christ and the return of some virtuous and wicked men to life as a sort of partial resurrection, prior to the ultimate resurrection should not appear strange. As the Qur'an asserts: 'And among His signs is the creation of (1) the heavens and the earth and (2) the living beings which He has spread in the heavens and the earth: And He is able to bring them together as He wills (whenever and in whatever manner He wills and intends)' (XLII 29). He may collect all or some groups of them on the terrestrial level or in the celestrial sphere. The basis of theistic religions is the faith that the material world, which appeals to our external senses, is the seen, 'Alam e Shahadat, and held world, 'Alam-e Mulk. It has holding power by itself. It is controlled by the unseen worlds and spheres of agencies. They are termed as malakut. These unseen agencies are of grades; the lower ones are controlled by higher grades. But whether lower or higher all the unseen holding agencies, like the seen and held world, are created, held and controlled by the creative will and might of the All Gracious, Absolute One. To such might and will of the Absolute Creator, controlling all the seen and unseen spheres of the universe, no proposition can be considered impossible.
All the following events, asserted in the Qur'an or other scriptures and apostolic reports confirmed by the Qur'an are undeniable:
1. The creation of a living being, man, other animals, or plants through a process unknown to us. (Ch. XV: vs 25-30; Ch. XVIII: v 51; Ch. LVI: v 61; and similar verses; Al-Sahifat al Kamilat Al-Sajjadiyya, The Muhammadi Trust, London. England, Supplication 63 for Monday, p. 223; Nahj al-Balagha: Ch: LV: vs 14-15)
2. The transformation of an inanimate object to animal and vice versa; sudden or gradual transformation of one animal to another animal of a different species. (Ch. XXVII: vs 10, 12 and Ch. XX)
3. The return from death to life after the lapse of a considerable time (Ch. II: v 259; Ch. XVIII); the return of a departed soul to the same body and stage of life at which it had left, but not through the process of rebirth and return from an actual stage to a potential one. (In every chapter of the Qur'an there are verses relating to the resurrection, Qiyamat, adding to more than five hundred verses spread over the Qur'an. Ch. II: v 260 is one example for Prophet Ibrahim.)
4. The living of a perfect man who is freed from material fetters and controlling the material realm for one or two thousand years or more; for example in the case of Jesus and the twelfth Imam, al-Mahdi: the time factor is controlled by God. (Ch. XXVII: vs 143-144 and; Ch. VIII: vs 60-82)
5. The descent of angelical, celestial and etherial entities to the terrestrial sphere by assuming human forms. (Ch. XIX: vs 17-21 and Ch. XI: vs 69, 78)
6. The ascent of the highly developed terrestrial entities to the super-terrestrial spheres without suffering death; instead of separation of the body from the soul, the body assimilates for a period the conditions of the sphere to which the soul ascends. (Ch. XVIII: v l; Ch. LIII; Ch. 111: v 55)
7. The transfer of a heavy object from its place to a remote place in the twinkling of an eye. (Ch. XXVIII: vs 40-41)
8. The birth of a child from a virgin without any insemination. (Ch. III: vs 46-47)
9. The curing of diseases, the blind, deaf, lepers and insane persons and bringing the dead to life without any medical means. (Ch. V: v 110)
10. The splitting of the sea and making a dry passage for people to cross from one side to the other. (Ch. XX: vs 77-78)
11. The descent of angels to help godly people against the disbelievers. (Ch. III: vs 124-126)
12. The sleeping of a few believers for 309 years in a cave and their waking after such a long period, as mentioned in the Qur'an and pre-lslamic apostolic records of the seven sleepers (Ch. XVIII: vs 9, 22, 25-26)
All these wonders have their own category; they are possible in themselves. They may not be possible in the sense that they do not take place through the means known to man. As the Qur'an says: 'O company of jinns and men, if ye are able to penetrate the diameters of the earth and heavens, then do it, but ye penetrate not except with certain force (which has not yet come within your disposal.' (Ch. LV: v 33).
Today, man is able to reach the moon, something which was once considered impossible. Science extends the scope of man's contact with his surroundings, but no power can make a triangle with more or less than three angles, nor a part of a whole greater than the whole itself, because the proposition is self-contradictory.
The birth, growth and the minor and major occultation of the twelfth Imam, and his reappearance are not more strange than the wonders and miracles narrated in the Qur'an, scriptures and the apostolic reports. The historical evidence of his past and present is more authentic than those of others. How he will be recognized at the time of reappearance is a basic question, as he will reappear with the same divine sigrwers with which all the vicegerents of God have appeared on the earth.
All the aforesaid is based on the monotheistic view and on a faith in the unseen, as explained before. As the Qur'an says: 'The Book wherein and about which no doubt exists, is guidance for the pious ones, who believe in the unseen' (Ch. II: v 1), which includes the occultation of the Imam also. The absolute materialistic existentialism of today has no place for miracles like the occultation of the twelfth Imam.