To seek a mediator implies to gain proximity to an individual in order to achieve one’s objective through the mediator’s recommendation and arbitration. One of the duties of Shiahs, in every age, especially during the period of Ghaybat of Imam Mahdi (as) is to seek help through his mediation.
Arabic litterateurs define mediation (tawassul) as “When he sought proximity with him through his actions, he aspired to gain his mediation.” (Lisanul Arab vol. 11 page 724)
Mediation in the light of Quran and traditions
Allah declares in the Quran, “O you who believe! Be (careful of your duty to) Allah and seek nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may succeed.” (Chapter 5 verse 35)
Regarding the above verse, Imam Baqir (as) narrates, acquire proximity with Allah through the Imam. (Tafseer Al-Qummi volume 1 page 168)
Hazrat Zahra (sa) proclaims in her sermon – Glorify Allah, whose majesty and supremacy command glorification and veneration. And it has been made mandatory upon the residents of the heavens and the earth to seek a mediator towards Allah, and we Ahle Bayt (as) are the mediators appointed by Allah upon His creatures. (Sharhe’ Nahjul Balagha volume 2 page 211, by Ibne Abil Hadid)
Thus Quran and traditions alike, exhort the Muslims to secure some arbitrator in order to gain proximity with Allah, and achieve eternal deliverance.
Why seek mediation of Imam Mahdi (as)?
Any Shiah is bound to think, What is the rationale for us to seek mediation of our Imam? There are several facets to this question.
Mandate of Quran and traditions
Quran proclaims, “O you who believe! Be patient and excel in patience and maintain contact (Rabetu), and be careful of your duty towards Allah, that you may be successful.” (Chapter 3 verse 200)
Explaining the above verse Imam Sadiq (as) says – maintain a special affinity with your Imam. (Tafseer Noorus Saqalayn volume 1 page 426)
Every Shiah must maintain close ties with the Imam of his time. When weighed from the aspect of Arabic grammar, the word ‘Raabetu’ which implies co-operation and mutual consent, i.e. if a Shiah maintains proximity with the Imam of his time, then Inshallah, the Imam will also reciprocate that feeling of affinity and consanguinity. Inshallah, Imam’s grace and clemency on us will multiply. To observe this bidding of Imam Sadiq (as) is crucial, and we must spare no effort to secure that feeling of affiliation and proximity with our Imam (as) in order to gain our Imam’s (as) special attention.
The status of Imam Mahdi (as)
Traditions accredit Imam (as) with an august and majestic standing. In Dua Nudbah we recite, Imam (as) is that door of Allah’s mercy that we have to access so as to reach Allah.
The imam (as) is a path towards Allah’s satisfaction and grace. He possesses powers of intercession before Allah the Almighty. He is among the Names of Allah, through which we have been commanded to seek mediation and arbitration. As the Quran declares, “And Allah’s are the best names, therefore call on Him thereby.” (Chapter 7 verse 180)
An exegesis of this verse reveals a tradition from the Imams (as) – By Allah! We are the best names (asmaae husnaa) through which Allah has commanded the Muslims to invoke Him. (Mikyalul Makarem volume 1 page 271)
Imam always responds to pleas of help and assistance, as has been explained in his Ziyarat. He never rebuffs the distressed and frightened. Indeed he is the means for the redemption of sins. He alone is the defender of the weak and oppressed.
And this is the purport of the following statement of Ziyarat Jameah – One who has associated himself with you has triumphed, and the one who has sought asylum with you is protected.
Observe this practice of turning to their chief in moments of anguish or when there is a fear of strike from the enemies. In fact this has also been the custom of the believers, who in times of distress and difficulties have left their affairs completely in the hands of their Imam (as), and have sought redressal from him alone.
Pay attention to the following incident –
Once Yunus “Naqqash” came terrified and trembling to see our 10th Imam, Imam Hadi (as) and said, “O son of Prophet Mohammed (sawa)! I am at the verge and threshold of death, you help my family. Imam Hadi (as) asked him about the matter which concerned him. Yunus replied, one of the courtiers of Abbasid Caliphate has given me a gem to engrave a design upon it. During the work, the gem broke into two pieces. Tomorrow, he will send someone to collect the gem. If he comes to know about the matter he will kill me.
Imam Hadi (as) bent his head downward then he raised it saying, I prayed for you, be satisfied no harm will reach you from him, instead, this work will end to your benefit. Get up and go you will face no trouble tomorrow.
The next day Yunus moved towards the house of that man with trembling legs along with one of the officials deputed. Not very long afterwards, the owner of the house arrived and said, O Yunus Naqqash it was settled that you engrave a design over that gem but two of my daughters have a conflict upon this gem. If it is possible, break the gem into two pieces, and engrave the design on each of the two parts of it. I will give you a reward too, for that.
Yunus Naqqash said, permit me to think about this matter.
He came out of that place and returned happily to Imam Hadi (as) and expressed his gratitude and thankfulness over the kindness he had shown to him.
In any case, if a subject of any King is in distress and is confronted with a calamity or affliction then rationale suggests he should approach his leader, ruler, provided of course, the latter is virtuous and capable. Otherwise, then he will be the subject of intense criticism and censure. And likewise, if in our moments of indigence and grief, we turn to someone other than our Imam for assistance, then we have forsaken one of the crucial obligations enjoined by Allah upon the Muslims and run the risk of incurring His wrath.
That crucial obligation has been expounded in the Quran – “Then disperse abroad and in the land and seek of Allah’s grace.” (Chapter 62 verse 10)
Regarding the above verse, Jabir Ibne Abdullah narrates that Masoomeen (as) said, the “grace of Allah” mentioned in the ayat refers to the Imams (as). (Mikyalul Makarem volume 2 page 273)
Allah commands us in the Quran that one should enter a house through its door only. Likewise, Allah has designated an Imam in every era, through which Shiahs are commanded to ‘enter’ Allah’s grace and mercy. The fact that the Imam (as) of this era is in occultation does not in any way diminish his mediation and arbitration prowess, for an Imam is Allah’s emissary on this earth, and to that extent there is no difference between an apparent Imam and a hidden one.
Imam Mahdi (as) is aware of everything as he himself proclaims, Certainly, we with our knowledge are cognizant of all your affairs and your dealings are never concealed from us. (Beharul Anwar volume 53 page 175)
In another tradition Imam Mahdi (as) asserts, We are never neglectful of your guardianship nor are we ever unmindful of your remembrance. (Beharul Anwar volume 53 page 176)
No mountain, wall or curtain can ever act as an impediment for Imam (as).
In this regard, Sayyed Ibne Tawoos has recorded a tradition in his book, ‘Kashful Muhajjah’. ‘A companion of Imam Raza (as) narrates, I wrote a letter to Imam (as). In the letter I mentioned about a person who wanted to offer his demands to Imam (as) – those that he sought from Allah. Imam Raza (as) replied that if he has any requirement, tell him to simply move his lips, and the response (from my side) shall reach him.’ (Mikyalul Makarem volume 2 page 273)
The book of Al-Kafi reports a lengthy tradition narrated by Imam Raza (as) about the elevated station of an Imam. An excerpt of this important narration has been brought below so as to appreciate the compassionate nature of Imam. Imam Raza (as) pronounces, Imam is a confidant, an aide, a sympathetic father, an affectionate brother, and a caring mother who nurtures her infant. (Al-Kafi volume 1 page 200)
The above tradition provides us with a glimpse, albeit a fleeting one, of the immense love and affection Imam (as) has for his Shiahs. Our affliction and grief disturbs him even more than it disturbs us. He treasures us more than our own parents. His love and regard for us exceeds that of the father.
For any father is confronted with certain limitations which he just can not breach. For instance, a man’s love for his son maybe boundless. In his intense endearment and attachment he may be willing to dispense all his wealth, even if it is a few million rupees. However, there is a limit to his wealth and riches. And this limitation does not permit that father to expend any more wealth, even though he wants to. This is also the case for other comforts that the father maybe prepared to furnish, but can not due to his obvious limitations. However, these limitations do not impede Imam (as).
Imam (as) is Allah’s emissary on the earth. He is the Caliph designated by Allah over His creation, he is the Master of the age and exercises complete control over the universe, with Allah’s permission. Man’s intellect fails to comprehend the powers of the Imam (as). There is a tradition wherein Imam Sadiq (as) recounts to one of his companions, Do you not know that the world and the hereafter, are both, for the Imam (Al-Kafi, Kitabul Hujjah volume 1 page 48)
Now that we are enlightened with the supreme authority of our Imam, it only follows that we advance our demands and needs in front of him, knowing that he will fulfill our needs. He is a sympathetic father for his Shiahs, and the father always experiences a great deal of gratification in resolving his son’s difficulties.
Ways of seeking mediation with Imam (as)
Indeed, there is no paucity of means to invoke and beseech Imam (as). In this regard, the role of supplications cannot be over stressed. One supplication in particular has been reported in Mikyalul Makarem volume 2 page 271 –
“O Allah! I ask You for the sake of Your representative and Your Proof, Master of Time, that You help me through him in all my affairs. And Protect me through him from the difficulties of every torturer, dissident and rebel.
(Please) help me through him for my efforts are exhausted. And Protect me from every enemy, grief, sorrow, debt, my children and all my family members, my brothers and my close ones, whose deeds do harm unto me. Aameen, Lord of the Worlds.” (Beharul Anwar volume 94 page 34)
Repeated invocation for assistance
An important invocation has been recorded in Mafatihul Jinan page 108 (Urdu edition).
An invocation is crucial, since it is through entreaties alone, that the afflicted beseeches his master. This invocation in particular, has some exceptional benefits for the Shiahs. Muhaddis Noori in his celebrated work, Najmus Saqib, chapter 10 (concluding part), comments that within hours of reciting this invocation, his demands were miraculously fulfilled. Besides, there are numerous other instances wherein Shiahs have experienced immediate and untold results from its recitation.
This is a very simple and forthright medium of submitting one’s demands to Imam (as). Here, a Shiah notes down his demands and aspirations and sends it to Imam (as). In India, this practice is especially followed on 15th Shabaan. On this day, the day of birth of our Imam (as), Shiahs list their demands on a piece of paper and cast the letters in the sea. However, should this practice be observed only on 15th Shabaan? Do we need our Imam’s assistance only on the occasion of his birth? Or is it that a single occasion in a year is sufficient for advancing all our requirements, so that for the rest of the year we discern no need for Imam? God forbid, that is not the case!
We must regularly write down our needs that we seek from Imam (as). Surely we can devote some time at least once a week or fortnight to jot down our problems and our state of condition for Imam (as) and then cast the letter in the sea or embed it in the earth. This is indeed very easy and requires minimal effort. However, neglect and preoccupation with the world has made us neglect this very important medium of mediation and arbitration with Imam (as). And is it necessary that we write to Imam (as) only in moments of distress, and never otherwise? Are we so self-centered that we can not even send a salutation (salaam) upon our Imam, without being confronted by some difficulty or problem?
Conversation with Imam (as)
This is another very facile mode of communicating with Imam (as). Whenever a Shiah finds himself alone, regardless of the time, he can converse with Imam (as), first by sending his salutations upon Imam and then by narrating his plight and condition. Nothing can be simpler than this. Inshallah, even Imam (as) will heed that Shiah’s narration and will pray for him. And every Shiah must converse with his Imam at least once a day. For although Imam (as) is aware of our state and condition, recounting to Imam (as) our problems and dilemmas has its own appeal.
Sayyed Ibne Tawoos’ testament to his son exhorted him to seek mediation from Imam Mahdi (as) thus, O my son Mohammed! Allah, the Almighty conferred His favor and benefit upon me through your birth. I found myself completely incapable and powerless in front of Allah and could never glorify Him fittingly for this favor. And out of gratitude for this bounty, and on Allah’s commands, I beseeched Imam (as) on your behalf and sought your servitude in Imam’s service. And after that, the misfortunes that afflicted you were also resolved through his mediation and grace. I was graced by Imam (as) in my dreams on several occasions, and he has alleviated my impoverishment with his bounties and favors. His benefaction upon you is too excessive for me to ever adequately express. That is why your love, affection, spirit of sacrifice and devotion for Imam (as) should also be abundant. The extent of your attachment and disposition towards him (as) should please Allah, and gladden the hearts of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his progeny (as). O my son! Always give preference to Imam’s wishes over your own. Pray for (the well-being of) Imam (as) before you commence praying for yourself. Inculcate in yourself the practice of initiating all your works with sadaqah (charity) for (the security of) Imam (as), before you remove sadaqah for yourself or for your loved ones. If you wish, to faithfully observe his rights, and draw his (as) concern and regard towards yourself, always favour his self over your own. Beseech Imam (as) with unwavering intensity and humility every Tuesday and Thursday, and seek your demands from him. And while seeking your needs from Imam (as), send your salutations upon him and recite the following Ziyarat…
(This Ziarat has been mentioned earlier.) Then recite the below mentioned verse
“O chief! Distress has afflicted us and our family and we have brought scanty money, so give us full measure and be charitable to us; surely Allah rewards the charitable.” (Chapter 12 verse 88)
This was a confession of intense regret and remorse expressed by the brothers of Hazrat Yusuf (as) to their father (Hazrat Yaqub ) and their brother. Hazrat Yusuf and Hazrat Yaqub (peace be on both) displayed ample clemency and compassion, and forgave their sins. O our Master! Even if we have disobeyed Allah and distressed your ancestors (as), please forgive us because O our Chief and Guardian, certainly you exceed Yusuf (as) in his clemency, forbearance and compassion. Therefore please deal with us in a manner akin to Hazrat Yusuf’s treatment with his brothers, while surely we are most undeserving of such leniency. (Barnaameh Saadat page 147 by Sayyed Ibne Tawoos)
Innumerable instances of Imam’s aid and assistance
Books abound with incidents wherein aid and relief provided by Imam (as) bears ample testimony to Imam’s concern and anxiety for his Shiahs. There are several books wherein such heartening incidents are reported viz., Beharul Anwar, Najmus Saqib, Trysts with Imam (as), Jannatul Mawa, Riyazul Ulama, Minhajus Salah, Al Kalamut Tayyeb, Isbatul Huda, etc.
Among those favored with Imam’s grace and presence and blessed with the opportunity to delight with a glance at his countenance were Bahrul Uloom, Aga Zainul Abedeen Salmee, Maulana Mohammed Hussain Qazveeni, Allama Mohammed Taqi Majlisi, Allamah Hilli, Sheikh Hurre Ameli, Sheikh Mufeed, Shaykh Hasan Iraqi, Muqaddase Ardabali, Ali Ibne. Mahziyar, Ismail Harqali, among others. As matter of fact every Shiah is included in this list, because there exists not a single believer but Imam (as) graces him with a benevolent glance, although most of us are neglectful of this fact.
This is all the more perceptible in instances wherein we find ourselves engulfed in calamities with a vice like hold over us, leaving us disturbed, robbing us of our sleep. Then after a just few token entreaties and supplications we find ourselves alleviated in a flash. It seems almost unbelievable.
The reason behind this sudden relief is Imam’s benevolence and grace. Imam (as) is never one to seek accolades and adulation, which is why he (as) accomplishes his task and leaves in a hurry, knowing he (as), he has a million other Shiahs to help.
There is an incident narrated about a person who had lost his way. Imam (as) came to his aid and directed him towards the right path. That person requested Imam (as) to come with him to his house. Imam (as) declined and replied that there were thousands of Shiahs who were entreating him at that very moment. He had to rush to their rescue just as he had rushed to his.
At least one point becomes crystal clear from the above-mentioned incident – Imam (as) is perpetually engaged in providing relief and comfort to his Shiahs.
Therefore, a Shiah must always seek mediation with Imam (as). There is no prescribed time and place for this mediation. The only conditions for it are sincerity, penitence, pure ethics and a firm conviction. Constant arbitration with Imam (as), revives the individual’s wilayat and faith. This is because he is incessantly aware of Imam’s satisfaction and pleasure and takes steps to please Imam (as) and avoids deeds that displease him (as). This boosts his faith and wilayat manifold. The Shiah in his quest for proximity with Imam (as) bares his innermost feelings to Imam (as) and constantly seeks redressal for his problems. This is a source of constant reassurance to the Shiah and keeps him insulated from all frustrations and disappointments. His salvation in the world and the hereafter is assured. These are primarily the reasons why every Shiah must repeatedly seek mediation from Imam (as).
Finally, the following statements from Duae Tawassul relating to Imam (as) are noteworthy. (This is a Dua that has been reported on the authority of Imam Hasan Askari (as)) We should endeavor to reiterate these words with sincerity and earnestness. Inshallah.
“O Inheritor of Hasan, Successor, Proof! O awaited Qaem, Mahdi! O son of God’s Messenger! O proof of God over His creatures! O our Lord and Master! We turn to thee, ask thy intercession, and seek access through thee to God. We place before thee our needs. O thou who has standing with God! Intercede for us with God!”
- Read More: Duties of Shiahs in Ghaybat