Proof Of Existence of our 12th Imam (as)

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Proof Of Existence of our 12th Imam (as)

Post  Syed KamiL Abbas Jafri on Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:18 pm

QUESTION:

I grew up a shia muslim. Therefore, I BELIEVE that we have a 12th Imam
who went into occultation. However, beyond belief, I have no proof
otherwise for his exisistence. My friend believes in God, the same way as
we believe in Allah. To him, he claims it is easy to look at nature and
see Allah/God, as the creator/preserver. However, how will I justify our
Imam's existence? Or should I just say its belief and yakeen in our
hearts? Also this friend of mine does not believe in any Holy book (he
knows that the Bible has been tempered with and has lost credibility to
him).


ANSWER:

Dear brother\sister in faith:

Salamun Alaykum.

Your question made me excited because it has been my own question for a
long time and with the blessing of Allah (SWT) I came to some convincing
answer for myself as a result of the acquaintance with some scholars and
their works. But on the other hand the constraints put on us by this
medium of communication makes me worried about the effectiveness of the
message. However let us take the advantages of this medium and hope you
make up for the restrictions in another way. Let me make some preliminary
remarks and set the stage for the main argument:

1) As you may know in Islam Taghlid (emulation) in Ussul-e-Din (pillars
or theoretical bases of Islam) is Harram and every Muslim must build
his/her faith on reasonable rational certainty. Belief in Imamat in
general, and existence of the twelfth Imam with material body on the
Earth in particular is part of Ussul-e-Din according the Shia's belief.
Thus you not only have every right to question and investigate this
belief but also must do so in order for your faith have any value before
Allah (SWT).

2) As for your friend who believes in God but not in any Holy book, I
would like to call you attention to a few points.

(a) First of all even we, the Muslims, do not believe in Allah (SWT)
exactly in the same way, depending on the degree of our knowledge,
research, and Taghva we have different perceptions or understandings of
Allah. For your friend saying it is easy to see the creator/preserver
every where in nature it is true, but only half true. Faith in Allah
(SWT) is not only a general affirmation that an entity called God or
Allah exists and has a share of being. In this sense God is not
different from any other creature who has a share of being. We need to
go a few steps further and ask what God's attributions are, and
what His relationship to the rest of the universe is. We need to
establish a just and meaningful relationship with Him.

(b) If so, now I come to my second point. A human being (and for that
purpose any other entity in the universe) who does not relate to God is
in a small cell, a prison, a sell and in brief a small hell in him\
herself, for s\he has no relationship with the true majesty and the
unlimited beauty and mercy of the universe. Revelations in general and
the Holy Quran in particular are meant to give us guideline for coming
into contact with the God whose existence your friend could easily
see in nature. It is through God's own revelation that we the finite
human beings learn how to approach Him and thereby becoming in harmony
with the rest of the universe and becoming a source of beauty and mercy
called heaven.

(c) It remains to be asked of your friend how and by what criteria he
conducts himself so that he may experience a higher level of being and
existence. In other words how does he seeks Fallah or salvage, how does
he emancipate himself from vices and wickedness which surrounds our
finite existence? Has his God left him blind with regard to this basic
question? Does his God care about the fate of humanity? If yes, how has
he communicated his teachings, his wishes, and his guidance? And if no,
his God couldn't care less about his creatures and our fate, then
his God is different from ours, for our God is a loving and caring God
who is closer to us than our jugular vein (50:16). It is exactly
because of the dangers of this type of misconceptions that Muslims
are told to built their faith on reason. Any serious consideration of
the existence of God will lead us to the conclusion that he must be
caring about us and giving us guidance and this is what we mean by
Nobwwat (Prophethood, and revelation). Belief in God is not a genuine
belief without a belief in his prophets: "Believers, have faith in God
and his messenger, in the Book He has revealed to His messenger,
and in the Scriptures He formerly revealed" (4:136). So much so for
you friend's position, now let me go to another point.

3) You ask whether with regard to the existence of the Twelfth Imam (AS)
you should say it is only a matter of heart and faith. Even though Islam
respects, values and encourages an intimate and personal experience of
the religion and the divine (which is usually referred to by Muslim
scholars as SHOHUD or MUKASHEFA'), we are encouraged and obliged to
establish our faith on rational bases. In the Holy Quran the word
Ta'aghul (rational thinking) is frequently used and we are told that the
Kuffar and Mushrekin (non-believers) do not think rationally. Having said
this my response to you question is no, the belief in the existence of
the twelfth Imam (AS) is not merely a matter of heart or blind faith,
even though faith plays an important part in it as I will explain
shortly. It is ALSO a matter of reasoning and rational understanding and
objective reality of the world. Now let me begin to engage in the
discussion of the actual reasons for the twelfth Imam's existence in
blood and flesh with a human body among us on the Earth. This I shall do
also with some preliminary remarks.


I) First we should distinguish between two types of proof in matters
related to religion:

(i) Rational proof or reasoning (known as Dal'il-e 'Aghli in Islamic
intellectual tradition);
(ii) Authoritative proof (known as Dal'il-e Naghli or narrational proof
in the Islamic intellectual tradition).


Having made this distinction, a few points are to be made in this regard.

a) While the validity of the rational proof is derived directly from
itself, the validity of authoritative proof is directly based on the
trust one has in the authorship of the statements, but indirectly this
trust must be linked to a rational proof of the author's authority and
sincerity in that area. Put in simple words we may not be able to offer a
direct rational and objective proof for some of the practices or even
beliefs we find in Quran (note please that I am not contradicting myself
with regard to the point I made that pillars of Islam MUST be accepted
rationally because here I am not talking about the basic beliefs or
pillars of Islam but rather I am talking about some of the details or
Juziyat), but since supposedly we have rationally and objectively
established the authority of the authorship of the book, i.e. Allah (SWT)
we can take its words as the proof for further beliefs.

b) The next point I would like to make with regard to this distinction
between these two types of proofs is more significant as far as our
discussion is concerned. And that is, rational proofs are direct they
cannot be specific. They are general (or Kulli) in nature. Only empirical
experience can be specific and as such it does not constitute a science
or a proof. Science and rational proofs by their very nature are
general. Authoritative proof on the other hand can be specific. Let me
give you an example with regard to the issue under discussion, namely the
existence of the twelfth Imam (AS). Suppose we prove rationally that he
exists. This he is a general he and we cannot name a specific person to
be him merely based on rational arguments. The person must be identified
through other mechanisms, this part can only be done by authoritative
reasoning.

c) Sometimes these two types of proof are combined together resulting to
what is known among Muslim scholars as Dalail-e Kalami (theological
rationales). This type of argument is also used to prove the existence of
the twelfth Imam (AS).

II) Authoritative Proof of the Existence of the Twelfth Imam, Hz. Mahdi (AS)

I begin my brief discussion of the existence of Hz. Mahdi (AS) by
mentioning a few authoritative rationales. Let us start with the Holy
Quran.

1) Quran and Imamat

The issue of the existence of Imam Mahdi (AS) must be put in the context
of the idea of Imamat in Islam. This short writing cannot do any justice
to the issue of Imamat in any way but to give only some hints which ought
to be followed by the interested individual. I refer to some basics and
encourage you to read more detailed texts on the topic among which is the
Shia' Encyclopedia. Here are my hints on the topic:

a) The story of the creation of Hz. Adam (AS) is the story of humanity in
general and the story of every one of us. Consider the verses: " When
your Lord said to the angels: 'I am placing on the earth one that shall
rule as My deputy...," (2:30) the word deputy is a translation for the
word " KHALIFA' ". What are the characteristics of a deputy or
Khalifa'? The following verses shed light on this question, " He taught
Adam the names of all things and then set them before the angels,
saying : Tell Me the names of these, if what you say be true.'
'Glory to You' they replied, 'we have no knowledge except that You have
given us. You alone are all-knowing and wise.' Then said He: 'Adam tell
them their names.' And when Adam had named them...." (2:31-33). In
these verses we find out that:

(i) God's deputy knows the names of all things,

(ii) Is teacher of the angels, and

(iii) As the verse (2:34) says also Massjud (Prostrated to) of (by) the angels.


Now let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves, "who is this deputy?'
The obvious response is Hz. Adam (AS). Then the next question is "is he
the only person in the history of the humanity who has achieved this
status?" There are several alternative answer to this question, let me
review them with you:

A) One may reply, no, every human being has this status of being God's
deputy on the earth. To this we must respond that the Holy Quran itself
tells us that "the unbelievers are like beasts which, call out to them as
one may, can hear nothing but a shout and a cry. Deaf, dumb, and blind,
they understand nothing" (2:171). How can this people be that deputy who
know the names of all things and teaches them to the angels?

B) One may say all the believers are his deputy. To this we must say that
first of all, the deputy represents God amongst others and those others
cannot be also his deputy, and secondly we are clearly told in the Holy
Quran that there are different ranks among the believers and Allah, His
Prophet, and those believers who attend to their prayers, render the
alms, levy, and kneel down in worship are our WALI (authority) (5:55).
Therefore the deputy is a particular person.

C) One may also say that no one except Hz. Adam (AS) is the deputy. To
this we must say that a simple attention to the what Quran says and a
simple review of the story of creation in Quran will reveal that the
issue of KHILAFA was not a temporary events finished by the death of Hz.
Adam (AS). The word used in the verse describing the event is "Inni
Ja'ael-un fi -l-ardh Khalifa..." (2:30). Ja'ael in Arabic is a noun used
to describe the subject of an action like an protector in English which
describe someone who protects another person. This type of name when used
in simple tense (like, I am your protector,) are intended to indicate
persistence and continuity. Thus God places a deputy on the earth. Other
verses which may help to clarify this point are the verse which describe
the process of selection of Hz. Ibrahim for Imamat and the fact that this
position would continue in those of his descendants who are just (see
2:124).

Let me summarize what I have said in this part. In the context of the
idea of Imamat and God's Khilafa on the earth, the Holy Quran clearly
speaks of existence of a deputy of God (Khalifa) on the earth for all the
times. As to who that person is now, like the issue of Khilafa after
prophet Mohammad (SA) the Holy Quran does not give the name but in many
verses gives the address of those people. Discussing these addresses
cannot be done in the context of this essay here, you may find it in
other sources.


2) Hz. Mahdi (AS) in the Sunna of Prophet Mohammad (SA)

If we as Muslims believe that our Prophet (SA) was an authority on the
issue of the Din (religion) -if not on everything- , which can be
established indirectly by rational proof, then his teachings and saying
are to be taken as proof and facts in themselves. All authentic sources
of Hadith (Sunni and Shia) are unanimous on the point that there is an
Imam named M. O. H. A. M. M. A. D. from Fatemeh's (SA) descendants, known
as Mahdi. Shykh Hafez Abu 'Abdullah Mohammad ibn Yousuf Shafe'ai-e Ganji
(d. 658 H.) wrote a book called "Al-Bayan fi Akhbar-e Saheb-e -Zzaman" in
25 chapters, listing authentic narrations only from Sunni sources on the
existence of Hz. Mahdi (AS). One can look for these narration in
different sources available on the net too.

3) Authentic Personal Testimonies of Encountering Hz. Mahdi (AS)


Another category of authoritative proof can be the testimonies of
intelligent, even sometimes genius and trustworthy people who have
testified that they have encounter Hz. Mahdi in their life on the earth.
Different people have heard of different individuals making such claims.
One can suspect them as having wishful experiences in which their
imaginations have presented them with false pictures. But there some
people about whom one cannot make such supposition easily. One of these
people is Muhy-e Ddin Al-Arabi known as Ibn Arabi living around sixth
century after Hijra'. Those who are familiar with his works in the East
and the West acknowledge that he is the greatest mystic of all time. To
give you just an example of his intelligence, he says in his childhood he
met Ibn Rushd (who was a great Muslim philosopher) and talked to him. As
a result Ibn Rushd skin color became dull and fainting he had to sit and
think about what he had heard from Ibn Arabi. This Ibn Arabi in his
masterpiece "Futuhat-e Makkiyah" has a chapter (chapter 560) on the
existence of Hz. Mahdi and in many places in this book he says that he
has met Hz. Mahdi (AS).


4) Belief in Hz. Mahdi (AS): An Enduring Belief in Human Tradition

One finds different versions of the belief in Mahdi in almost all
enduring human cultures, and one may ask how all these cultures with all
their differencess all through their history have believed in Mahdi.
This has become known in social literature as Messianic ideology. Some
social thinkers have tried to explain this phenomenon in terms of its
social functions as a force of social change and political deligitimation
of all existing political structure as unjust. I have no problem with
this approach as long as it does not become a reductionist explanation.
In other words it is true that our belief in Hz. Mahdi (AS) has some
socio-political effects but one cannot conclude that therefore this
belief has no objective value beside its social function. This approach
has become known as reductionism in epistemology and its defects are
thoroughly discussed by philosophers. Any enduring human phenomenon
deserves to be taken seriously and valued as something more than
accidental. Such is the belief in Hz. Mahdi.

Let me conclude this part on the authoritative proof of the existence of
Imam Mahdi, by saying that even if we had no rational proof of his
existence this much would have been enough to establish it as one of
Foru'a -e Ddin, since in Foru'a-e Ddin authoritative proof is enough. We
know that these proofs indirectly are based on rational proofs. But
since according to Shias, Imamat is a part of Ussul-e Ddin we must also
have rational proof of his existence. Now let me turn our attention to
the rational proof of his existence.

III) Rational Proof of the Twelfth Imam's Existence


There is an authentic narration that says " The Earth without Hojjah will
collapse on its inhabitants." This theme has been at the heart of all
philosophical, mystical and theological arguments on the existence of the
Twelfth Imam (AS). Why does God want a deputy on the earth? Is there a
necessity for this? These questions have occupied Muslim Scholars over
centuries. The result has become known as the Theory of Perfect Human
Being (Nazeriya-e-Insan-e Kamel). One cannot do justice to this theory in
the space here but let me do my best to summarize it for you in a few
simple statements. Follow me through theses intellectual steps please:

1) God is absolute and supreme or the real perfect Being whose attributes
are to the highest degree of intensity. For example God's knowledge has
no limits, and so are His mercy, power, beauty and so on.

2) There is no other real existence or independent Being in the universe
but Allah (SWT), and he is the origin of all Faizes (blessings) on the
other finite beings.

3) Even though on the part of Allah (SWT) there is no hesitation or
obstacles for pouring His blessings on the others, the others due to
their imperfections are not capable of direct relationship with the
supreme and the absolute. All beings in the universe living and
non-living are dependent on Allah (SWT).

4) Finite beings are in need of mediators between them and Allah in the
chain of existence. This Mediation is an ontological mediation, meaning
it is related to their conditions of being not a socio-political
mediation.

5) Angels by virtue of their freedom from material constraints have more
potential of mediation and receiving God's blessing, but there is a
limit to them too for their mediation in the realm of material world.
They are uni-dimensional and their relation to the material world is
not very close even though they can supervise the matter they cannot
unite with matter. Only the human Soul is capable of uniting with
matter in form of body. Human beings are multi-dimensional therefore
capable of having relationship with all realms of existence and Being.
Before the creation of Hz. Adam (AS) universe lacked a basic
harmony, it was human being as God's deputy who brought harmony to the
universe and maintains this harmony. To understand this function of
Imam, or Hojja, or God's Khalifa one needs to have a profound
understanding of Imamat and Imam's attributes. This Khalifa is the
PERFECT HUMAN not any one of human beings. Thus right now the
universe is in need of God's deputy to maintain its harmony. To be
Khalifa of God and teacher of the angels is not a simple notion to be
repeated by tongue, it must be comprehended through years of studies
and contemplation. May God succeed this writer and you in a better
understanding of the Imam Mahdi (AS).

The above theory of "Perfect Human Being" is also known as the theory of
"Waseta-e Faiz" (mediation of the blessing).

This is a very brief and complicated essay and I encourage you to read it
carefully and several times then if you still have some question or
critique please discuss it with your local A'alim personally. I do not
know of any book in English written on the subject with a similar
approach. If there are any here I ask the readers to mention them
for the benefit of the others.

Answered By Mohammad Soleiman-Panah


Syed KamiL Abbas Jafri
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Posts : 122
Join date : 2010-03-14
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Location : Islamabad-Pakistan

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