While discussing the topic of marefat of the Imam of the time – everyone knows the famous tradition – Man Mata Wa Lam Yaref Imama Zamanehi Mata Meetatan Jahiliyyah – One who dies without the recognising the Imam of the time, dies the death of ignorance. So we understand that recognition (marefat) is important. But what is this marefat?
In a tradition while discussing this topic, Imam Baqir (as) mentions some points of which one of the points mentioned in the lowest level of recognition is that a person must turn towards the Imam of the time for every aspect of his life.
It is the duty of Shiahs that they should seek help from Imam Mahdi (as). This can be done in several ways. One of the ways to do this is to write an areeza (letter) to Imam Mahdi (as). All of us are engulfed in some problem or the other – someone for sustenance, some for children, some for a house or for debt. Or some of us want to go for Hajj and ziyarat – Allah has kept difficulties as a test for believers in this world. But along with giving of difficulties, Allah has also opened the door for their solution through Quran, supplications and various acts of prayer.. For example, for solution of difficulties, one should recite Dua Yastasheer. Or Ziyarat Ashurah which is also very effective for solving difficulties.
Writing an areeza to Imam Mahdi (as) is important. Here’s why.
When we look back at history, we find several instances wherein people turned towards the Imam of the time and got relief from their difficulties.
During the time of Imam Hasan Askari (as), a person was in prison. He wrote a letter to Imam (as) requesting for help. While writing the letter he thought that since I am in jail for so long and in some financial difficulties, let me ask Imam for some financial help. But out of shame he does not do so. The Imam (as) soon replied to his letter and said that today (the day he recievd the letter), you will recite Namaz of Zohr at your house. And it happened like that only. As he stepped out of prison a person came forward to him and said I am the servant of Imam Askari (as). He has given this packet and a letter for you. The packet had money in it and the letter said, why did not not ask. Whenever you are in some difficulty, then do not feel shy of asking from us. What you ask, Inshallah, Allah will grant you.
Such is the generosity of our Aimmah (as). So the lesson from this one incident itself is that whatever are the difficulties in life, one must turn to the Imam of the time and seek help from him. Aimmah (as) are having the keys of the universe and nothing is difficult for them.
During the time of Ameerul Momeneen (as), when he was walking in the streets with his companions, some children threw some stones towards Imam Ali (as). One of the companions started crying. When Imam (as) asked him, he said, Maula my son is amongst those children. Imam (as) said – Do you want that he should be guided. He replied, Yes, O Maula! Imam Ali (as) only looked at that child. The child was having a stone in his hand. The incident informs us that he dropped the stone and slowly walked over to Imam Ali (as)’s side. And was martyred fighting in Imam Ali (as)’s army in the battle of Siffeen.
When we read such incidents, our heart goes out to Hazrat (as) and say, O Maula, you are the son of Ali (as)! Protect our faith and that of our children with your special attention. Increase the love of your Ahle Bayt (as) in our hearts and in our progeny till the day of Qiyamat. Ameen!
The generosity of our Aimmah is not limited to humans (insaan). Even animals have benefitted from it. In the book Kitabul Irshad, under the chapter of Imam Kazim (as) we find the following incident –
Ali ibn Abi Hamza al-Batayini reports that one day Imam Kazim (as) left Medina for one of his estates outside the town. I (i.e. Ali ibn Abi Hamza) accompanied him. He, peace be on him, was riding on a mule and I was on a donkey of mine. As we were going along one of the paths, a lion blocked our way. I stared at it in terror but Imam Kazim (as), went forward without worrying about it.
I saw the lion become subdued and mutter before Imam Kazim (as). Imam (as) stood as if he was listening to the muttering. The lion put its paw on the saddle of his mule. My soul trembled at that and I was absolutely terrified. Then the lion turned away to the side of the road. Imam Kazim (as) turned his face toward the qibla (direction of Mecca) and began to pray. He moved his lips in such a way that I could not understand him. Then he indicated to the lion with his hand that it should go. The lion muttered for a long time and Abu al-Hasan said, Amen, amen.
The lion went away until it disappeared from our sight. Imam Kazim (as), went straight on and I followed him. When we were far from the place, I came up to him and said: May I be your ransom, what was that business of the lion? By God, I was frightened for you and surprised at its attitude towards you.
Imam (as) replied, He came out to complain of the difficulty his lioness was having in giving birth. He asked me to ask God to make it easier for her and I did that for him. He asked whether (I knew) in my heart if she would bear a male and I told him that. Then he told me, Go in the protection of God. God will never impose on you, nor on your offspring, nor on any of your Shiah, any trouble from wild beasts. I said: Amen.
When we read this incident, we get such a big lesson – normally animals when they would face an animal like a lion, they would be fearful and run away. But the animal on which the Imam (as) was seated he actually moves towards the lion. Even that animal was having more recognition that he knew that till such time he is with the Imam (as), nothing can cause harm to him.
We should turn towards the Imam of the Time (as) in all aspects. And writing an areeza is one effective way of reaching out to Hazrat (as). Alhamdolillah we all write areeza to Imam (as) during the night of 15 Shabaan. It is possible that when Imam Mahdi (as) must be reading our areeza, he must be pleased. The Imam (as) is like a father who is pleased when his son requests him for something. But he must also be saddened because we write areeza to Imam (as) only once every year. No it should not be like that. We should write more frequently to Imam (as).
How should one write areeza?
The first thing which must come to our mind when we sit to write an areeza is that it is the generosity of Imam Mahdi (as) that we are able to do so. We are so sinful that we do not deserve even one iota of attention of Imam (as), leave alone that he should hear our voice and read our letter. So begin by conveying salaam and then offer condolences for the difficulties upon Ahle Bayt (as). One should thank Imam (as) for all the bounties which he has granted us. One should give time to writing an areeza seeing the personality to whom we are writing. One should not be casual about it.
Finally here is an incident which in itself is a very big lesson for us when we write an areeza.
A person was having a child who was paralyzed from birth. When the child was small, it was easy to attend to him, carry him, etc. But as the child grew up, it became more and more difficult to perform these duties. Finally his condition reached a stage that the doctors said the child would not live very long.
This person told his wife that the worldly doctors have said like this. But there is one doctor who we have to visit. They decided to go to Mashhad for ziyarat of Imam Reza (a.s.). He narrates that when I reached the shrine of Imam Reza (a.s.), it was as if I froze and my legs were unwilling to go further. I was ashamed of my past deeds – I felt, how can I go to this Imam (a.s.)? With these eyes with which I have performed so many sins? Or with these feet with which I have disobeyed Allah? These thoughts were going on in his mind when he saw a Sayyed standing near the water fountain in the courtyard of the shrine of Imam Reza (a.s.). This Sayyed was reciting some dua and was crying profusely.
He went to the Sayyed and narrated his problem. He told him why he had come here. The Sayyed kindly told him that in this world, doctors open a clinic for those who are ill and not for those who are fit. This is the hospital of Aimmah (a.s.) for those who are sick and unwell. Don’t worry. Go inside the haram. Inshallah all will be well…
He gathered courage to go inside. As he was walking towards the door, he turned back and said, O Sayyed. How should I perform the ziyarat. What should I recite inside. The Sayyed said, go inside. Recite the permission to enter the shrine (Izne Dokhool) and recite the ziyarat. He guided him to the process. In the very end, he said, you clutch the zari of the Imam (a.s.) and say this (here the Sayyed mentioned something to the person) to Imam (a.s.). Then you leave and go straight home. Inshallah, you will find that your problem will be resolved.
This man did as the Sayyed said. Then he left the haram and went to the hotel. When he knocked on the door, it was opened by his son who had never walked a step in his life. Out of joy, he embraced his son. His son said, Baba I know where you had gone and to whom you have sought help. I know that you went to visit Imam Reza (a.s.).
He said, Baba, when you had gone, Imam Reza (a.s.) came here and cured me and then while leaving he said, tell your father that what he said, he should ask by it only when he is in some great difficulty. Baba what was that dua?
The man said, that when I caught the zari of Imam Reza (a.s.), the Sayyed said that I should ask from Imam Reza (a.s.) by the right of the broken ribs of Hazrat Zahra (s.a.)…
The above incidents strengthen our belief that the position of Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) is such that the Holy Imams (a.s.) grant their immediate attention to the one who calls out to them through her right. They also serve as an important reminder that the Imams (a.s.) are displeased when they witness our sins. Taking a lesson from the above incident, we too must approach the Imam of our Time (a.s.) saying,
O benevolent Imam, we are ashamed when we glance at our actions for we have nothing to merit the bounties we receive from you every moment of our lives. O Master, surely we have aggrieved you with our sins. Yet it is your kindness and compassion that you recompense us with goodness, and offer us opportunities time and again to improve our affairs.
O benevolent Imam, the words of Ziyarate’ Jameah inform us that Allah will not forgive our sins till the time you do so and are satisfied with our actions. O Maula, forgive us. We beseech you by the right of your mother Hazrat Zahra (s.a.). O Imam, we are saddened by the difficulties upon Hazrat Zahra (a.s.) and await your return so that we may be amongst those who will avenge her blood and that of Imam Husain (a.s.). We seek your forgiveness through the love we have in our hearts for her and the intense dislike in our hearts for those who troubled her.
- Read More: Duties of Shiahs in Ghaybat