Actively Awaiting the Zuhur
بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Salāmun ʿalaykum, may Allah bless you, your families, and all the communities around the world.
Alḥamdulillāh, we thank Allah (swt) for allowing us to remember our dear Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and the important messages he has taught us. We are here because we love Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and recognize that he is one of our Imāms and guides. Unfortunately, during the time of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa), many people did not recognize that he was the Imām (ʿa) of their time or follow his guidance. We pray that Allah (swt) protects us from making the same mistake. In order to do this, we need to recognize and always be aware of who the Imām of our time is. We all know that we are living in the time of Imām al-Mahdī (ʿaj), but do we realize the importance of this?
We are living in a very special time. We are living in the time of the ghaybah, or occultation, where we cannot physically see our Imām (ʿaj). I know this is a very difficult time for all of us, but I want to share with you a story that might make you feel a little bit better.
One day, Abu Khālid, a companion of Imām as-Sajjād (ʿa), asked the Imām (ʿa) to name all the Imāms for him. Imām as-Sajjād (ʿa) went through the Imāms and listed them one by one. When he got to the last Imām, Imām al-Mahdī (ʿaj), Imām as-Sajjād (ʿa) said, “O Abu Khālid! Surely, the people who live during the ghaybah and are awaiting the ẓuhūr [of the Imām] are better than the people of any other time!”
So you see, we are blessed! Alḥamdulillāh, we have been given such a great honor to be alive during the ghaybah. But the Imām (ʿa) didn’t just say those people who are alive during this time, but also who are waiting for the ẓuhūr. Let's talk about what it actually means to be waiting for the ẓuhūr, or reappearance, of our beloved Imām (ʿaj).
There are two types of waiting. The first type is called passive waiting. This is when you are waiting for something to happen, but you are not doing anything about it. For example, you might be waiting for dinner time because you are hungry. Rather than helping your mom with dinner, you just sit and watch TV until dinner is ready. This is passive waiting.
The other type of waiting is called active waiting. This is where you are waiting for something to happen, and you are doing something in the meantime so that this event can happen sooner. For example, you are helping your mom cook dinner, so that it can be ready sooner.
When it comes to waiting for the return of our Imām (ʿaj), we need to be sure that we are waiting actively! While we are waiting for his return, we should do everything we can to make his reappearance occur sooner. While our Imām (ʿaj) is not with us, we should be anxious and sad until he comes back to us. Let me give you an example.
Imagine that a mother is at the store and she loses her young child, who is only 2 or 3 years old. Is she just going to sit around on a bench until he comes back? No, she will be running through the aisles, calling out his name, and doing everything she can to find him.
This is how we should be with our Imām (ʿaj). I don’t mean we should literally be running around looking for him. I mean that we should be doing everything we can do to hasten (or quicken) his return. If we want our Imām (ʿaj) to come back sooner, then we should be at his service. Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) has told us that, “If I was alive [during the time of the 12th Imām], I would serve him all the days of my life.”
This waiting and serving is a great honor, and we can do this through our actions. I want to share with you all a few things that we can do to actively wait for the ẓuhūr, as taught to us by the Ahl al-Bayt (ʿa).
The first responsibility we have during the ẓuhūr of our Imām (ʿaj) is to know him and create a relationship with him. We have to learn about him, but not just the facts, like his birthday. We have to learn about him in a way that we form a deep connection with him. Our relationship can even be as simple as reciting the duʿāʾ, Allāhuma kun li walīyyik… with an awareness of what we are saying, or saying a simple “Assalāmu ʿalayka yā Baqīyatullāh!” The point is that we know our Imām (ʿaj) and have a connection with him. One way we can do this is by remembering him every morning when we wake up and say salām to him.
There is another duʿāʾ that we are recommended to recite every morning called Duʿāʾ al-Ahd. In this duʿāʾ, we make a promise and oath to our Imām (ʿaj) that we will always support him and act according to the instructions of Islam.
According to our scholars, if we recite this duʿāʾ for 40 mornings in a row, with understanding, we will definitely be amongst the supporters of our Imām (ʿaj), and if we die before the ẓuhūr, we will even be brought back to life to support and defend him!
The second responsibility we have to our Imām (ʿaj) as we actively wait for his return is doing tawassul to Allah (swt) through him. What does this mean? Well, you see, we can always ask Allah (swt) for our duʿās directly, and inshāʾAllāh He will answer them (as long as they are good for us). But let me share a little secret with you that can get your duʿās answered even faster. The secret is called tawassul. Tawassul is when you ask Allah through someone else — someone whom He loves a lot and someone who is close to Him because of their good deeds. Let me give an example to help us understand. Let’s say you want to ask your dad for something, but you are scared he might say no. So, what might you do? You might ask your mom to ask him because he is more likely to say yes to her.
Similarly, when we ask Allah (swt) for something by asking through the Ahl al-Bayt (ʿa), because He loves them so much, He is more likely to give us what we want quicker! So our second responsibility during this time is to do tawassul to Allah (swt) through Imām az-Zamān (ʿaj).
Our third responsibility during the ghaybah is to give ṣadaqah on behalf of our Imām (ʿaj). You see, one of the benefits or results of giving ṣadaqah is that it keeps away balā — calamities or bad things — from happening. So, when we give ṣadaqah on behalf of our Imām (ʿaj), it helps protect our Imām (ʿaj) and keep away balā from him.
The fourth responsibility towards our Imām (ʿaj) is performing ziyārah on his behalf. If we are blessed with the opportunity to visit the shrines of one of the Imāms (ʿa), we can recite a special ziyārah on behalf of Imām az-Zamān (ʿaj). After all, we are visiting his parents/grandparents. Similarly, if you are blessed to perform Ḥajj or Umrah, you should perform an extra mustaḥab tawāf on behalf of Imām az-Zamān (ʿaj). These are like small gifts that we can give to our Imām (ʿaj).
The fifth responsibility we have towards Imām Mahdī (ʿaj) in his ẓuhūr is to remember him at all times. As mentioned earlier, we should try to remember him first thing in the morning, but we should also remember him throughout the day. Remember him after your ṣalāh. Remember him when you’re working hard in school, that you’re gaining knowledge so you can be his follower. Remember him when you’re going through a hard time, and ask him for help. Remember him when you’re about to make a choice and ask yourself, “Am I about to do something that will make my Imām (ʿaj) happy or sad?”
The sixth and most important responsibility we have towards the Imām (ʿaj) is to prepare ourselves so that we are ready. When the Imām (ʿaj) returns, he needs believers who are strong in their faith, perfect in their practice, with sharp minds and deep levels of taqwā — believers who have the best character and treat others in the best way possible.
When we make good choices about observing the rules of Islam, staying away from ḥarām and doing what is wājib, then we are helping the ẓuhūr to come quicker.
We pray that Allah (swt) gives us all the tawfīq to make good choices that will please Him and our Imām (ʿaj), and that will help our Imām (ʿaj) come back to us sooner. And we pray to Allah (swt) to help us recognize and support our Imām (ʿaj), unlike those who turned their backs on Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa).
Authored under the guidance of Moulana Nabi R. Mir (Abidi)
Download the related Muḥarram Project Booklet for lessons and crafts.
View the Kisa Kids Crafts for this lesson (on Kisa Kids YouTube Channel)
Awaited Imam by Reed of Tawhid