As much as possible, one should strive in the service of Imam (as) because traditions say that the universe exists due to the grace of Imams and in this era because of the presence of Imam Mahdi (as).
There are some angels who are specially appointed in the service of Imam (as) and they do not even sit down in his presence without his permission. There are many types of these traditions – however sufficient for us is the statement of Imam Sadiq (as) – If I live till his time, I shall spend my life in his service. (Read More: Preparation for service of Imam Mahdi (as))
Pay attention to this statement. This saying of Imam (as) in not something unusual or astounding. It is the reality. It indicates the superiority of Imam Mahdi (as) and it shows that if the service of Imam Mahdi (as) had not been the best form of worship and obedience, Imam Sadiq (as), whose each moment of his life was spent in worship, would not have expressed his desire to spend his valuable time in the service of Imam Mahdi (as).
Among the points mentioned in statements of Aimmah (as) is that the followers of the Holy Imam (as) are the best of followers. According importance and respect to the Imam of the Time (as) is the best of all. His companions are the best of the companions, just as the Ummah of the Last Prophet (sawa) is the best of all Ummahs (communities).
It is so because the status of the followers depends on the status of one whom they follow. And since the position of the Imam of the Time (as) is known we can estimate the status of his followers and those who believe in his Wilayat. May the Almighty Allah include us among them.
The points enumerated below highlight the importance and status of the companions of Imam Mahdi (as).
The statement of the Holy Prophet (sawa) in which he said that followers of the Imam of the Time (as) are his brothers. One day the Messenger of Allah (sawa) said twice in the presence of his companions, O Allah, show my brothers to me. Companions who were around him asked: Are we not your brothers, O Messenger of Allah (sawa)? He replied: No, you all are my companions, and my brothers would be those people at the end of the time who would believe in me without having seen me, the Almighty Allah has informed me about their and their fathers’ names before they will emerge from the loins of their fathers and the wombs of their mothers. For each of them, it would be more difficult to guard their religion than walking on thorns in the darkness of the night or holding embers; they would be lamps in darkness, the Almighty Allah would save them from every mischief and evil.
It is that they shall be the most excellent people of all times. It is mentioned in the tradition of Imam Sajjad (as) that he said: O Abu Khalid, during this period of occultation, those who believe in his Imamate and who await for his reappearance, they shall be better than the people of all times because Allah, the Mighty and Sublime would bestow them intelligence, understanding and recognition and for them occultation would be same as presence. Their status shall be like that of the holy warriors who fought under the command of the Messenger of Allah (sawa). It is they who are sincere and are our true Shiahs. They shall call the people to the religion of Allah openly and secretly. (Kamaluddin volume 1 page 320)
The rewards of their worship acts is multiplied. Thus is mentioned in a narration from Imam Sadiq (as) that he said: O Ammar, giving Sadaqah in secret is better, by Allah, than giving it openly; similarly, by Allah, your worship in secret with your hidden Imam during government by an illegal ruler, and your fear of your enemy during government by an illegal ruler and in a state of truce with your enemy, is better than that you should worship Allah during the manifestation of the Truth with the Imam of Truth which is manifest during the government of Truth.
Worship while you fear during government by an illegal ruler is not the same as worship and security during the government of Truth. Know that whoever of you now prays a prescribed prayers at its hour in congregation, thereby concealing himself from his enemy, and completes it correctly, Allah will register rewards for having completed fifty prescribed prayers in congregation.
Whoever of you prays a prescribed prayers at its hour by himself, thereby concealing himself from his enemy, and completes it correctly, Allah will register thereby reward for having completed twenty-five prescribed prayers recited alone.
Whoever of you prays a supererogatory prayers at its hour and completes it correctly, Allah will register thereby reward for having completed ten supererogatory prayers
Whoever of you performs a good deed, Allah will register reward for having performed twenty good deeds;
And Allah will handsomely double [the reward] of the good deeds of the believer among you when he does good deeds and practices Taqaiyyah with regard to his religion, his Imam and himself, and keeps his tongue in check; for Allah is Generous. (Kamaluddin volume 2 page 643 tradition no. 7)
It is that their certainly is stronger and their faith is more astonishing. Ameerul Momeneen (as) narrates that Holy Prophet (sawa) said, O Ali, know that, the faith is astonishing and certainty great of those who shall be there in the last period of time. There will be no prophet among them and Divine Proof will be hidden from them; despite that they will believe in black upon white (writings/books). (Kamaluddin volume 1 page 288)
It is that they are the friends of the Prophet and the most respected people of his Ummah on Judgment Day. The Messenger of Allah (sawa) said, Blessed be those who are fortunate to live in the time of the Qaem of my Ahle Bayt; those who would believe in him during his occultation and before his advent, who would love his friends and remain aloof from his enemies. Such people would be my closest ones and my friends on Day of Judgment. (1 Kamaluddin volume 1, page 286)
In Al-Ghaybah of Shaykh Tusi it is narrated from the book of Fazl Ibne Shazan from Imam Sadiq (as) that he said, The Messenger of Allah (sawa) said, Very soon a people will come after you such that one person from them will earn a reward equal to fifty of you. They asked, O Messenger of Allah (sawa), we were with you in the battles of Badr, Ohad and Hunain and the Quran was revealed about us. The prophet (sawa) replied, Indeed, if that which will befall on them, befalls you, you will not be patient as they would be.
The book, Al-Ghaybah of Shaykh Tusi reports that Imam Sadiq (as) said, The most proximate servants of Allah and those with whom Allah is pleased are those who when the proof of Allah disappears from their sight and they don’t know about his location, yet they continue to have faith that the Proof of Allah can never be invalid and day and night they continue to wait for him. And the wrath of Allah is on those of His enemies who when the proof of Allah disappears from sight, they fall into doubts and denial. He (Allah) knew that His special servants will never fall into doubts and if it were not so, He would not have taken away His Proof from their sight even for a moment. And it (doubt) is not except from the bad people.
It is that due to them calamities are warded off and rain descends from the sky. Imam Sadiq (as) said, A time will come upon the people when their Imam shall disappear from their view. Blessed be those who remain firm upon our guardianship during such times. The least divine reward that shall reach them would be that the Almighty Allah shall call them and say – O My servants and maidservants, you brought faith in My secret and believed in My unseen. Then good news to you for My goodness and rewards as you are truly My servants and maidservants. I shall accept your deeds, disregard your faults and forgive your sins. And due to you I shall send rain to My creatures and ward off calamities from them. If you hadn’t been there I would have sent My chastisement upon them…(Beharul Anwar volume 52 page 145 tradition no. 66)
The author of Mikyalul Makem writes that – O my brothers, now that you know some of the merits of following and making efforts in service of our master, the Imam of the Time (as), it is necessary for you to strive to obey and serve him (as), and to be thankful for that great blessing. You must continue in this and not forgo the remembrance of the Holy Imam (as) due to prolongation of his occultation. You must not be greedy after the people of the world and be patient on the hardships that afflict a little part of your life so that you may get a long relief. May the Almighty Allah, through His excellence, make us of those who are such; as He is close to His servants and He answers their supplications.
Explanation of some important points
First: It is that in our leader and master, Imam Mahdi (as) all virtues and excellences have come together, that each of them alone would warrant our efforts in his service and obedience. For example: Absolute wilayat (mastership), caliphate and successorship from Almighty Allah and the Messenger of Allah (sawa).
It is the right of the scholar that it is appropriate to serve him. Onc, Hazrat Isa (as) said, O Hawariyun (his followers), I wish to ask you for something, please get it for me. They replied, Your order will be obeyed, O Spirit of Allah. Then he (as) stood up and kissed their feet (in some versions it is mentioned that he washed their feet). They said, It is more appropriate that we do this, O Spirit of Allah. He (as) replied, Indeed, the one most worthy of service is the scholar. Indeed I have explained like this so that, after me you may be humble to the people as I have done to you. Then Isa (as) said, Wisdom is built by humility and not by arrogance, just as vegetation grows on fertile land and not on a [rocky and barren] mountain.(Al-Kafi volume 1 page tradition no. 6)
Imam Mahdi (as) has the right of a parent upon us. He (as) also enjoys the right of Faith and Islam upon us. Ameerul Momineen (as) quoted the Messenger of Allah (sawa) saying – A Muslim who serves a group of Muslims would not rewarded by the Almighty Allah except by that he would get the same number of servants in Paradise. (Al-Kafi volume 2 page 207)
Without any doubt, if the faith of all Muslims is weighed against the faith of Imam Mahdi (as), indeed the faith of the Imam (as) will be found heavier than theirs. On the basis of this the excellence of serving Imam Mahdi (as) far exceeds serving the believers.
In addition to the merits of Imam Mahdi (as) we should recognise that our status in relation to him (as) is the position of a slave to his master, because people are the slaves of the Holy Imam (as) in obedience as proved by traditions on this subject and therefore it is a matter of certainty.
Imam Mahdi (as) also enjoys a higher right upon us just because of his relationship to Holy Prophet (sawa) and Imams (as).
We must acknowledge that all the apparent and hidden blessings of the Almighty Allah, which surround us, all of them are due to the blessings of the Imam (as). Thus for each of the blessing we are duty bound to be thankful to him, just as it is obligatory for us to be thankful to the Almighty Allah.
It is serving our master Imam Mahdi (as) by doing what he has ordered, or doing that which will be help and favor to him even though he might not have specifically ordered it. Sometimes, these can be seen under the heading of good deeds, like:
- praying for his (as) early reappearance,
- organizing gatherings for his remembrance,
- compiling books on the subject of Imam Mahdi (as),
- printing and distributing these books,
- reciting Salawat and salutations on him,
- doing favors to friends and Shiahs with the intention of serving the Holy Imam (as) because doing favors to the Shiahs and friends of the Holy Imams (as) is doing favor to them and being nice to them is being nice to the Holy Imams (as); considering them unimportant is considering the Holy Imams (as) unimportant. This is established in the following traditions.
Imam Kazim (as) said, One who is unable to visit us should pay a visit to a righteous follower of ours, as a reward for our Ziyarat will be written for him; and one who is unable to do a favor on us should do favor to our righteous follower, and the reward of doing a favor to us will be noted in his account. (Kaamiluz Ziyarat page 319 chapter 105)
Abu Haroon said that Imam Sadiq (as), in my presence, told some people from Hazzar – What has happened to you that you have considered us insubstantial? At that moment a man from Khorasan arose and said, We seek Allah’s refuge that we should consider you all insubstantial or that we consider something from your commands and practices to be petty. Imam (as) said: Then how you are one of those who has considered us petty? He said: I seek refuge from the Almighty Allah that I should consider you petty.
The Imam said: May Allah forgive, did you not hear so and so follower of ours in Jofa begging to you: Allow me to ride with you for a mile as by Allah I am very tired. By Allah, you didn’t even look up at him and considered him of no importance. And one, who considers a believer unimportant, has considered us unimportant and has trespassed the sanctity of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime. (Rauzat Al-Kafi volume 8 page 102 tradition no 73)
- Read More: Duties of Shiahs in Ghaybat