In The Name Of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful
My Master! My lonely and beleaguered Master! The distressed son of Fatemah! The chief of Aale Muhammad (a.s.)! The benevolent father of the universe!
I wish to discuss your loneliness. Aloneness that has continued for twelve hundred years. That loneliness over which the sky and the earth weep incessantly. That lonesomeness which even your followers fail to comprehend. That solitude over which your ancestors (a.s.) had grieved over even before your birth.
I am at loss and don’t know with which chapter to begin this ode. Which volume of this moving book should I pick. Which line, which page and which lesson should I read. This picture — of sorrow and loneliness — has weakened me.
Where do I begin? Should I express this saga in my own words or in someone else’s? Should I tell the past generations, complain with the present ones or the enemies? Should I make a complaint with the masses or the noble classes? Should I speak with those who offend you? Should I talk to those who interpret your merciful and compassionate hands as hands that will shed blood? Should I protest with those who introduce your flashing sword in such a manner that even your friends feel intimidated? Or should I have a word with those who say you are not reachable for the masses? Or should I address those who feel seeing you is impossible? Or should I talk to those who invite people towards their desires in your name? Or should I talk to those who give hope to people of your coming but they themselves assume that your reappearance is far-off? Should I have a word with those who describe you as per their fancies and not as your holy being actually is? Should I complain to those who take your occultation as a state of your non-existence.
My Master! It looks like all elements have made a pact with each other to keep your holy being lonesome. Iblees’s army is focusing on this day and night. I am not awre who are the people who love you and sincerely wish for your early reappearance? Only Allah or you are aware of this. But I know it for a fact that you have been in occultation for twelve hundred years and Iblees’s agents, which includes armies of men and jinn as his aids, have repeatedly found success. They don’t your reappearance to happen and consequently they have managed to further darken the already dark night of occultation.
I start from myself. For, whoever starts from one’s own self makes matters of reappearance easier for himself. I wish to come back to you. I have full faith that you will not take into account my injudicious past. I know that you will accept my repentance and accommodate me in your half. I understand that during my negligent moments, days and years you would pray for me. I would evade you but still you, like a gracious and compassionate father, would keep a steady eye on me. I seek your forgiveness…I seek your forgiveness.
Where do I take this complain that not only those who aren’t aware of you but even the honourable believers and pious individuals don’t have the patience to hear the story of your loneliness. O’Allah! How strange is this loneliness? How thick and coarse is this curtain? !
Yes, it is possible that the conversations on Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.) solitude sound strange. Possibly, someone may ask that can Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) ever be lonely? And perhaps, other individuals may treat this kind of an interpretation as weakness in faith or call it a masterwork of the writer’s talent, sentiments and perception. Or some people, considering this to be common knowledge, take this as a minor issue because we more often than not talk less about the loneliness of all the Imams (a.s.). The Master of the Pious, Hazrat Ali (a.s.) is universally acknowledged as the First of the Oppressed Ones.
Every year, during Ayyam-e-Faatmi, we shed tears and beat our chests remembering the calamities, oppression and torture faced by Janabe Faatemah Zahra (s.a.). We should continue doing it. In every misfortune we cry incessantly over the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) and his dignified Ahlebayt (a.s.).
Our heart is filled with gloom and sorrow the moment we hear the name Jannatul Baqee. Our eyes can’t stop shedding tears when we remember the loneliness of Imam Moosa ibn Jafar inside the Baghdad prison.
Imam Reza (a.s.) is called as the most ‘Helpless of Strangers.’ The tenth and the eleventh Imam (a.s.) were given the title of ‘Askariyaan’ because these two Imams (a.s.) spent their entire life in the prison of Bani Abbas caliphs. Can anything more oppressive than this be imagined?
But despite of all this we’ve thought very little about the loneliness of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.). Or if truth be told, we have not thought about him at all. The lack of awareness and unfamiliarity with Imam-e-Asr’s (a.t.f.s.) loneliness and the neglectfulness about his aloneness is indeed Imam-e-Zamana’s (a.s.) ‘helplessness.’
The interpretations of supplications, ziyarats, and narrations from the Infallible Guides (a.s.) on the Twelfth Imam (a.s.) is an eye-opener because the manner in which it describes the oppression on Imam (a.s.) and his helplessness. It pains and stings in such a way when it reveals to us that the pious being of Imam (a.t.f.s.) — the pivot on which the world revolves — is in reality the ‘Most Helpless of Strangers.’
At this stage we would like to present a few verses of Holy Quran and traditions that are relevant to our subject.
The Period of Occultation is an era of Imam’s (a.s.) helplessness and loneliness
Remembering the oppression and most severe loneliness of his missing son Hazrat Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) says:
The one (Imam) who is responsible for the salvation of entire humanity is forlorn, helpless and alone.
In another narration we find Imam Moosa ibn Jafar (a.s.) saying:
He [Imam Mahdi (a.s.)] is alone, without a friend and a helper, a stranger who is far from his homeland and followers, who till now is yearning to avenge the blood of his grandfather.
Someone inquired from Chief of Martyrs Imam Husain (a.s.): Are you the Master of this affair? He said: No! The Master of this affair is the one who will withdraw himself and dwell in a distant land and seek to avenge the massacre of his father.
Regretfully, Imam-e-Zamana’s (a.t.f.s.) loneliness and helplessness will continue till he reappears. As The Master of the Pious, Ali ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) says: Our Mahdi (from the time of his birth till his reappearance) will be lonely and helpless.
Describing the circumstances of Imam-e-Asr’s (a.t.f.s.) reappearance, Imam Sadeq (a.s.) told Mufazzal:
O Mufazzal, he will reappear alone. He will arrive alone inside Masjidul Haram. He will be holding the covering of the Kaaba in a situation where the dark night would have engulfed everything and he will be all by himself.
His birth will be hidden, just like Hazrat Moosa’s (a.s.).The Pharaohs of his time had resolved to kill him.
It is really tragic that the birth of the Last Divine Proof (a.s.) from the family of Imamt was forced to be kept a secret even from his uncle and it is even more unfortunate that during occultation, Hazrat’s (a.s.) has to live a concealed life away from his home. At the time of reappearance, too, he will be alone and he will arrive inside the Masjidul Haram in a state of helplessness.
Occultation — An era of staying aloof for Imam (a.s.)
Imam Sadeq (a.s.) says:
For the Master of this affair is an unavoidable occultation. During this period of occultation he will remain aloof from the people even though Madina is such a nice place.
Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) in his last moments, when on the threshold of achieving martyrdom, willed to his beloved son:
O My son, It’s compulsory that you dwell in a distant and hidden place, far away from the people because every friend of Allah has dangerous enemies who are obtrusive in the matters.
Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.), too, expressing his father’s wish, says: The promise which my beloved father [Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.)] had taken from me was correct that I should lead a hidden and secretive life so that I can keep my matters concealed and keep myself safe from the deceit of the deviated ones and the corruption of a astrayed nation.
Sayyed-e-Sajjad, Imam Ali ibn Husain (a.s.) says:
Our Qaem (a.t.f.s.) will have a few similarities with six Prophets (a.s.). He will have a long life like Hazrat Nuh (a.s.). His upbringing will be guarded and he will lead a life separated from the people. He will remain in the state of worry and occultation like Hazrat Moosa (a.s.). People will contradict his rights as they did with Hazrat Eisa (a.s.). Like Hazrat Ayyub (a.s.) he will find comfort after severe hardships and like the Last of Prophets (s.a.w.a.s.) he will rise with the sword..
So many years have passed and that great personality has been out of sight living in a distant land without anybody recognizing him and the world along with its inhabitants is left unbenefited from his gracious presence. However, this deficiency can be ended through repentance and prayers for his early reappearance.
We find in traditions that during the period of occultation there are some leaders who in official capacity sanctioned by Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.) issue guidelines and to a certain extent lessen the helplessness of his holy being. And if any of them pass away then someone else takes their place. For instance, Hazrat Khizr (a.s.) is also among the companions, sympathizers and are along with this Divine creation in his helplessness and loneliness. As Imam Ali ibn Moosa Ar-Reza (a.s.) says:
“Hazrat Khizr (a.s.) drank from the nectar of life. Thus he is alive and will not die till the trumpet is blown. Indeed he comes to us and he greets us. His voice is audible and the Almighty Allah will remove the loneliness of our Qaem (a.s.) during his occultation through the companionship of Khizr. He will be familiar with him and will have sympathy for his loneliness.
The Era of Occultation — a period of distress for Imam (a.s.)
While interpreting this verse of Holy Quran:
أَمَّن يُجِيبُ الْمُضْطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ وَيَكْشِفُ السُّوءَ
Or, Who answers the distressed one when he calls upon Him.
Imam Jafar Sadeq (a.s.) says: This verse is revealed about the Qaem(a.s.) from the progeny of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). By Allah he is the distressed one. He will offer two units (rakat) of prayers near Maqame Ibrahim and pray to Allah. Allah will answer his prayers and remove his difficulties and shall make him the Caliph on the earth.”
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says:
By Allah! He [Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) ] is so distressed that is said about him ‘Or Who answers…
It is for this reason we recite in Dua-e-Nudba:
اَيْنَ الْمُضْطَرُّ الَّذِي يُجَابُ إِذَعَا؟
Where is the distressed who is answered when he calls upon Allah?
In the explanation of this statement it is said: Any person who holds a position or a rank, however, after being delegated to the rank has been kept away from this status by the people who have usurped his position and stop him from doing his duty and he does not have the authority to exercise his rights and many of his enemies do not want him to perform his duty or mission then such a person is called مضطر (the distressed one).
Now, what can be more distressing in the universe than the fact that the Divine Proof of Allah (a.s.) and the Preacher of Holy Quran and religious commandments, even though present, has been left watching from the sidelines how the oppressive, tyrant rulers — hypocrites and those given to debauchery — wish to distort the Holy Quran and finish off the traditions and customs of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.). Furthermore, they want to change the face of Islam and cause harm to their lovers and followers and make them an object of ridicule and insults.
We read the following words in the famous recommended dua of Imam-e-Asr’s (a.t.f.s.) first deputy:
So, O My Lord, the One who dismisses adversities. When a distressed person calls upon You, You accept his plea and free him from his grief and agony. Therefore, remove the adversities of Your Friend.
Occultation — An era of confinement for Imam (a.s.)
A few traditions clearly talk about Imam (a.s.) being ‘bounded’ while in occultation. In some other instances, based on the discourses of the Infallibles (a.s.), it is indicated that Imam (a.s.) is ‘bounded’ as Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says:
The Master of Affairs will have four signs of four Prophets in him. The signs of Hazrat Moosa (a.s.), Hazrat Eisa (a.s.), Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) and Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.a.s.).
The sign of Hazrat Moosa in him will be the fear and the distressed state. The sign of Yusuf (a.s.) in him will be like staying in confinement. The sign of Hazrat Eisa (a.s.) will be that the people will divided over giving him his right. Some will say he has died while others will say he hasn’t died and he will rise with the sword like Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.).
Imam Husain (a.s.) to says:
“My ninth son (from his lineage) will have signs of Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) and Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) in him.
Based on this the Infallibles (a.s.), in their supplications, have prayed for Imam-e-Asr’s (a.t.f.s.) ‘deliverance’ (فرج) and ‘happiness.’
In one of his detailed supplications, which he taught to his companion Abdullah ibn Sinan on the day of Aashura, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) prayed:
اَللّٰهُمَّ وَ عَجِّلْ فَرَجَ آلَ مُحَمَّدٍ وَّاجْعَلْ صَلَوَاتِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَاسْتَنْقِذْهُمْ مِنْ اَيْدِى الْمُنَافِقِيْنَ وَالْمُضِلِّيْنَ وَالْكَفَرَةِ الْجَاحِدِيْنَ
O My Allah! Hasten the appearance of Aale Muhammad and keep Your benediction on them and save him from the hypocrites, deviants and spiteful disbelievers.
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says:
His resemblance with Yusuf (a.s.) is that, like how Allah had solved his problem in a moment [Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) had rightly predicted the dream of the Egyptian emperor as a consequence he was released from prison). Similarly, the order of reappearance and waiting will be informed in a moment.
In certain sentences of the salawat of Abul Hasan Zarrab from of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) it has come:
وَ خَلِّصْهُ مِنْ اَيْدِى الْجَبَّارِيْنَ
(O Allah), save him [Imam Mahdi (a.s.)] from the hands of the tyrants.
In his correspondences with Sheikh Mufeed (a.r.), Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.) has used the words ‘فَمَا يَحْبِسُنَا’ which means that he has included the reprehensible actions and characters of his shias for his confinement.
The moments of imprisonment passing in occultation
Pray that the duration of this time lessens
Every passing second of it is like being in jail
Have some sympathy on your lovers…O Master!
 Ehtejaj-e-Tabarsi; volume 2, page 289 (The Tawqee to Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Hilal Karkhi)
 Behaarul Anwaar, vol 51: 120
 موتور is said to be that person who wants to avenge the blood of the one who was oppressed and tortured but he is not getting an opportunity to take revenge. It is for this reason that in the ziyarat of Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) we read ‘الموتور الموتور’because till now his and his companions’ killing has not been avenged
 Kamaluddin 361-2 (Chapter 34, Tradition No. 4)
 Kamaluddin 2-318
 Mikyalul Makarim 1-129
 Behaar-ul-Anwaar 53-7
 Isbatul Hudaat : 3-445
 Behaarul Anwar : 35-52
 Kamaaluddin 2-447, chapter 43, volume 19
 Al Mohajjat ul-Bayzza (4-338)
 Isbatul Hudaat : 3-48; Hayatul Quloob 1-285
 Surah Naml (27) : 62
 Tafseer-e-Qummi: 2-129
 Al-Ghayba an Numani: 95
 Sharhe Dua Nudba, Alwi Taaqaani
 Jamal Ala Saboo: 319
 Alamat wal Tabseerat 94
 Al Muhajjatul Al Baizaae, Tradition 4, Page 338
 Behaarul Anwaar 101-305; Sahife Mahdi 241-247
 Kamaluddin : 1-329 (chapter 32, Tradition 14)