Philosophy of Ghaybat in the Light of Divine Message

It is important for us to understand why Allah decreed Ghaybat for Imam Mahdi (as) in the light of His entire Message.

If we simplify the entire religion of Islam from its revelation to its present state, we can summarise it as follows.

  1. Allah revealed the religion of Islam for the guidance and success of mankind. He also sent prophets and messengers to guide mankind to His message.
  2. He declared the universal and final Messengership of the Holy Prophet of Islam (sawa). This was followed by the declaration of the leadership of Ameerul Momeneen Ali Ibne Abi Talib (as) and 11 successors who would follow him.
  3. The deputation of Prophets (as) and the promulgation of divine laws were with the aim of establishing justice throughout the world so that no one is oppressed. A person does not oppress his own self by adhering to satanic ideologies or others by oppressing them.
  4. In light of His divine wisdom Allah has made Imam Mahdi (as) responsible for the establishment of a system of justice by fully eradicating all forms of oppression. Hence we find traditions mentioning about him (as) thus, “He will fill the earth with equity and justice as it would be fraught with oppression and tyranny.”
  5. It is the divine will that the people are not forced to accept true guidance but they accept it voluntarily.
  6. In the last 1,400 years Allah sent 12 Mohammeds or 12 Alis or 12 Hasans or 12 Husains…..for the guidance and prosperity of mankind. All of them were alike in their superiority, knowledge and understanding. They were the evident chiefs of the entire creation. However none was given his due by the people! Had they been cared for, then during the battle of Siffeen when victory was just round the corner, Imam Ali (as) would not have been forced to ask his commander Janab Malik Ashtar (ra) to return. Had they been cared for, Imam Ali (as) would not have been forced to been isolated. Had they been cared for then Imam Hasan (as) would not have signed a treaty with Moawiyah. Had they been cared for, an incongruous person like Yazid would never become the Caliph leading to the merciless martyrdom of Imam Husain (as). Had they been cared for, the tyrant Haroon Rashid would never be able to arrest Imam Musa Kazim (as). Had they been cared for, Imam Ali Naqi (as) and Imam Hasan Askari (as) would not be exiled from Medina and lived under governmental scrutiny in Samarrah.

Had these arks of salvation, true guides, protectors of true religion, pointers to the straight path and the equivalent of the Holy Quran been cared for, and had they been accorded the status and respect due to them by the people, the oppressors would never have dared to execute them. But alas!

Allah in the light of His divine wisdom decreed the number of guides after the Holy Prophet (sawa) to be only twelve. Eleven of these were martyred due to the carelessness of the people.

The promise which Allah had made to His beloved Prophet (sawa) that He would make his religion supreme over all others in the world was still not fulfilled.

Hence, the available options now were:

  1. Either this last Imam (as) should also be made apparent for the people to oppress him and get him martyred as they had done with the previous eleven Imams (as).
  2. Or the system of this world should be changed for the sake of this last Imam. Then if the people attack him with the sword it would cause him no harm. If he is poisoned it would be futile. If arrows were thrown towards him they would be in vain. Such a change in the universal system would render the freewill of the people ineffective and is against the practice of Allah.
  3. Or this last Imam should be taken out of this world. Then the entire system of the world would become inside out, as the presence of a Divine Imam on the face of the earth is a must for its continued existence.
  4. Or this Imam continues his abode on the earth. The Divine system will therefore be protected. The Imam lives in Ghaybat (occultation) without being recognized by the people. He would continue to stay among the people and meet them but his identity would remain unknown to them. This arrangement should continue till the people out of their own free-will are not ready to accept his commands.

Janab Khawja Nasir e Tusi (ra) in his book ‘Tajridul Eteqad’ mentions this reality very subtly as follows,  “His existence is Allah’s grace, his sovereignty is another grace and his occultation is due to us”

Hence, the Ghaybat of Imam Mahdi (as) was a need of the situation. Since, Allah’s knowledge is all encompassing, He knew that a sudden occultation would put the people in doubt. Hence on account His vast mercy, He decreed the mention of Ghaybat along with the Imamate of the last Imam. This would ensure the acceptance of occultation by the believers. Therefore, traditions mention abundantly about his (as) Imamat as well as occultation and even the conditions during occultation.

These traditions also clarify two types of Ghaybat for him (as):

The specialty of the minor occultation is that though the common people could not have direct access to the Imam (as), some special deputies were appointed by Imam (as) who were mediators between Imam (as) and the people. The period of the minor occultation was for 69 years, from 260 AH till 329 AH.

The major occultation started in 329 AH when the last special deputy Hazrat Ali ibne Mohammed Samari (ra) expired, which continues till today. During this period, though Imam Mahdi (as) is “hidden” from our eyes but he does neglect us. He protects us despite our deficiencies in fulfilling his rights.

Imam Mahdi (as) has not left us unattended in this period. He (as) has entrusted us to the religious scholars of the religion of Ahle Bayt (as). Ultimately a day will definitely come when the major occultation concludes. The descendent of the Holy Prophet (sawa), Imam Mahdi (as) will reappear. Brave and sincere companions will assist him in establishing the government of Allah on this earth. “Polytheism” will be demolished. Tyranny will finally end. Truth and Justice will be widespread. No one will have to bear even an iota of oppression. The true religion will triumph over all other religions and school of thoughts. Centuries of efforts of Satan and his companions will become worthless. All the schemes of Satan will fail. The truth will be victorious. The Islam of Ghadeer will prevail. The Satan will finally be executed. People will then realize the true Divine promise.

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