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Praying For Imam Mahdi (A.S.)

Supplication (dua) is a subject that holds a very significant place in Islam. A lot of emphasis has been placed on embracing it. In light of traditions, we find that supplication is referred to as a 'weapon' by which man can repel calamities and difficulties and can combat all kinds of problems and tribulations. This 'weapon' provides him with tremendous strength and power and with its help a believer can pierce through all the curtains in front of him and scale such a lofty status that he becomes the cause of happiness and satisfaction of the Prophets (a.s) and Imams (a.s).
Traditions of Imams (a.s) highlight numerous benefits that one obtains by supplicating. We mention a few of them over here.

1. Bonding / Relation:
Whenever man is surrounded by difficulties, he generally finds himself alone to deal with them. At such a time, he needs his Creator the most. So it is necessary that his relation with his Creator is exact and enduring and which manifests his humility and modesty before his Lord.

2. Purpose of Worship:
In times of tribulations, worries, homelessness and such other difficulties, man complains only to his Creator. But it is a human shortcoming that man, in his haste, forgets what Allah desires of him. Allah has very clearly conveyed to his Prophet (s.a.w.a) that
'I have not created men and jinn except that they should worship Me'
(Surah Zaariyaat (51): Verse 56)
Similarly, Ameerul Momineen (a.s) says,
'Supplication is the essence of worship'.
But man has become so immersed and polluted in this material world that he has forgotten the sayings of the infallible Imams (a.s). He will have to face the consequences of his deeds in this world as well in the hereafter. As Ameerul Momineen (a.s) asserts,
'…today is the day of action and not of accounting while tomorrow is the day of accounting and not of action'.
(Nahjul Balagha; Sermon no 24)
Therefore, it is imperative that we ponder over our actions and take account of ourselves before death overcomes us.
The Almighty Allah, in His infinite Grace, has shown His weak and frail servant the method of asking from Him so that he is guided to the right path. He says in the Holy Quran
'Call out to me and I shall answer you'
(Surah Momin (40): Verse 60)
So, it is necessary for man to know the manner of supplicating before he actually invokes. When man is aware of the right way to beseech Allah, he will most surely succeed in reaching his aim.

3. Guidance towards the Right Path:
It is essential to utilize the channel of divine representatives so that our prayers are accepted promptly. These divine representatives are the guides to the correct path. They are also referred to as 'Door of Allah' since Allah is reached (only) through them. Allah mentions about this in the Holy Quran
'And seek a medium to (reach) Him'
(Surae Maidah (5): Verse 53)
Prayers are accepted by sending benedictions and blessings upon these venerated personalities, as it is solely due to them that calamities and difficulties are dispelled from the universe.

4. Who are these chaste personalities?
They are the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) and his progeny about whom he (s.a.w.a) had willed
'Surely I am leaving among you two weighty things - the Book of Allah and my Ahle Bait (a.s.). If you fasten unto both of them, you will never go astray...'
The Ahle Bait (a.s.) are those respected personalities who are bestowed with the choicest of divine blessings. In today's era, it is Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s) who is the link between the Creator and the creatures and is the access to divine pleasure. These chosen individuals are the ones who have taught mankind the method of worship and prayer. Their speech and assertions rank only below the Words of Allah and are far superior to the words of other creatures. It is for this reason that those who hear their sayings are compelled to confess, 'Your words are light'.

5. Subjects in Supplications:
It is clearly explained in all Islamic teachings that merely asking from Allah is not sufficient. Rather, the prayers should be accompanied by actions, efforts and steadfastness. So, the one who is desirous of sustenance, should actually strive for sustenance, along with his supplications. Same is the case with the one who wants to acquire knowledge and repel ignorance. We find in our supplications various topics connected with ethics and divine laws. For instance, supplications like Jawshan-e-Kabir, Makaaremul Akhlaq are brimming with moral teachings. It is necessary for a true believer that he should adorn himself with the characteristics mentioned in these supplications. Invocations like Abu Hamzah Sumaali highlight the fact that Allah's Mercy and Grace are dominant over His Anger and Displeasure. Dua-e-Nudbah on the other hand exemplifies how divine proofs arrived successively for man's guidance. The supplication makes a mention of the chain of guidance right from the first divine representative - Hazrat Adam (a.s) till the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) and then continues till his last successor - Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s). It also mentions the troubles inflicted upon them. Yet another supplication is Dua-e-Faraj, which states that Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s) is the (rightful) successor of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) and will fill this world with justice and equality like it would have been filled with oppression and tyranny before him. After his reappreance, the slogan of 'There is no God except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Ali is Allah's slave' will get universal recognition and Allah will be worshipped in the best possible manner.

6. Etiquette of Supplication:
In his book, 'Mishkaat al-Anwaar', the great Shia scholar Allamah Majlisi (r.a) writes 'Supplication is a conversation with the One to Whom we present all our needs and wants. Thus, it is necessary that man understands the real meaning of supplication and prays to Allah from the depth of his heart. Among the things to be kept in mind while supplicating is adopting a feeling of complete humility and helplessness, which are the two traits that we embrace even when seeking our needs from mere mortals. As a result, it is even more important that we hold fast to these priceless traits while seeking our needs in Allah's Court. Secondly, when a person asks for a favour from another servant of Allah, then he (i.e. the seeker) is willing to do everything for that person (i.e. the benefactor) and is not negligent about it, so that the benefactor is satisfied and happy with him. At the same time, the person who requires the favour will not do anything to upset the benefactor. Precisely, the same attitude is necessary while beseeching Allah. The true worshipper will always strive to perform those actions that are the means of Allah's obedience and proximity. In this regard, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) has said
'The one who supplicates (prays) without action is like the archer who shoots without a bow'
(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 93, p. 312)
One of the requisites for the early fulfillment of supplications is to have a high level of recognition. As the person rises in the levels of recognition, his supplications will be accepted that much faster. A person said to Imam Kazim (a.s) 'O son of the messenger of Allah! We pray to Allah but our prayers are not being answered' Imam (a.s) asked, 'Do you even recognise the one from whom you are asking?'
Another point to be kept in mind while supplicating is that our imploring and beseeching should be accompanied by crying and weeping. The more one expresses his helplessness and humility before Allah's Majesty, the more quickly He will respond.
The person should keep his prayers only to himself because Allah, the Honourable and Merciful likes the one who prays to Him in privacy. Imam (a.s) says
'Pray from your heart and be sure that your prayers will be accepted'
While supplicating, one should pray for other believers before he prays for himself. Hence, when a person is eager that his supplications be accepted quickly, he should first supplicate for others, which acts as a means for early acceptance of his own supplications. Imam Sadiq (a.s) says in a tradition
'The one who prays for his forty believeing brothers before he prays for himself then his supplications for others and himself will (certainly) be accepted.'
(Beharul Anwaar vol. 39, p. 383)
From these traditions, it becomes clear that if we are desirous of our supplications being accepted by Allah, it is necessary that we pray for the Imam of our time - Hazrat Sahebuz Zaman (a.t.f.s). It is because certainly Imam (a.t.f.s.) has been delegated with the task of distributing divine bounties.
One factor that plays a major role in the acceptance of our supplications is sending 'salawaat' (blessings) upon the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) and his infallible progeny (a.s). Imam Sadiq (a.s) says
'The supplication remains concealed until 'salawaat' is sent on the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) and his progeny (a.s)'
(Al-Kafi vol. 2, pp. 491-493)

7. Reason for Praying for Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s):
As we are aware, Allah has promised to avenge the oppression perpetrated on His Prophets and their Successors (a.s.). Particularly, the transgressions and cruelty inflicted on Imam Husain (a.s), the doyen of martyrs. He has also pledged that finally Islam will be the universal religion and polytheism will be wiped out from the face of the earth. Justice demands that once a promise is made it must be fulfilled and this covenant assumes even more serious proportions considering that it is made by none other than Allah, the Almighty. So for an early and swift fulfillment of this divine promise, it is necessary that we pray for Imam-e-Zamana's (a.t.f.s) well-being and earliest reappearance. Imam (a.t.f.s.) has himself urged the Shias
'Pray for the early reappearance because in it lies your deliverance.'
(Beharul Anwaar vol. 52, p. 29)
Praying for the earliest reappearance of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s) is a very important responsibility of the Shias. Besides, there are numerous benefits that emanate when one supplicates for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s).

8. The benefits of praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s):
There are numerous benefits of praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s) in this world as also in the hereafter. Here we enumerate a few of these benefits:

Rewards in this world:
To pray for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s) is in fact a way of being attached with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a). Imam Baqir (a.s) narrates
'Joining relations (Sil-e-Rahm) purifies the actions, increases wealth, wards off calamities, makes accounting easy and postpones death.'
(Beharul Anwaar vol. 47, p. 111)
1. Calamities are turned away and there is an increase in sustenance.
2. Our other supplications are answered because of it (praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s)).
3. It prepares a person for meeting Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s) - whether he is awake or asleep.
4. It increases bounties.
5. Allah's Help is always at hand for him and he is able to overpower his enemies. As Allah says in the Holy Quran
'If you help (the cause of) Allah, He will help you'
(Surah Muhammad (42): Verse 7)
6. The Shias will be revived at the time of Imam's (a.t.f.s.) reappearance - as is mentioned in Dua-e-Ahad.
7. The Shias remain steadfast on religion and are secure from the corruptions of the last era.
8. The Shias are protected from divine chastisement.
9. The one who prays regularly for the early reappreance of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s) is considered like the one who has prepared the grounds for his reappearance.

Rewards in the Hereafter
Allamah Syed Mohammed Taqi Isfahani (r.a.), in his book 'Mikyalul Makarim' has written numerous advantages of praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s). We mention a few of them hereunder:
10. The one who prays for the early reappearance of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s) becomes entitled to receive the intercession of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) and his progeny (a.s).
11. He will receive the intercession of Imam Mahdi (a.s) on the Day of Judgment.
12. His sins will be forgiven
13. He will receive the reward of avenging the blood of Imam Husain (a.s).
14. The light of the Holy Quran will guide him.
15. He will get the honour of being among the nearest servants of Allah.
16. Seventy thousand of his sins will be forgiven
17. His heart will be contented on the Day of Judgment
18. He will get the reward of twenty Hajj and Umra.
19. One thousand of his wishes will be fulfilled on the Day of Resurrection.
20. Angels seek forgiveness for the one who prays for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s).
21. Satan becomes fearful and crestfallen
22. The person gets 1/3 reward of the entire mankind
23. He will get glad tidings at the time of his death, in Barzakh and in Qiyamat.
24. He will get the reward of being martyred while being in the army of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s).
25. The proximate angels attend gatherings in which there are supplications for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s).
26. In the light of authentic traditions, praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s) during occultation is better than praying for him after his (a.s) reappearance.

Special occasions for praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s):
In the same book, particular instances and times have been mentioned for praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s)
27. Day of Arafah (9th Zilhajj)
28. Eid-ul -Fitr
29. Eid-ul -Zoha
30. Dahyul Arz (25th Zilqad)
31. Day of Aashoora
32. Night of 15th Shabaan
33. Day of 15th Shabaan
34. Month of Ramazan
35. 6th night of the month of Ramazaan
36. 12th night of the month of Ramazaan
37. 18th & 19th night of the month of Ramazaan
38. 21st of month of Ramazaan
39. After mourning for Imam Husain (a.s)
40. After reciting the ziarat of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s)
41. While crying due to the fear of Allah
42. On acquiring a new bounty or when some difficulty gets solved
43. At the time of grief and sorrow
44. At the time of calamities
45. After reciting Tasbeeh
46. Before praying for our family members
47. Day of Ghadeer
48. Throughout the day and night
49. In gatherings (majaalis) where affairs of Ahlul Bait (a.s) are discussed and their enemies are cursed.
50. Praying continuously for forty days.
51. In the month of Moharram
52. Places that have been greatly emphasized for praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s):
Just as special occasions have been mentioned for praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s), likewise, particular places have been enumerated for remembering Imam (a.t.f.s.). Some of them are mentioned below:
1. In Masjid-ul -Haraam.
2. In the planes of Arafah.
3. In Sardaab (in the house of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) in Saamarraa - Iraq).
4. In those places that are associated with Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s). Like Masjid-e- Sehlah, Masjid-e-Sa'sah, Masjid-e-Jamkaran, Masjid-e-Kufa, etc.
5. Near the holy grave of Imam Husain (a.s)
6. Near the holy grave of Imam Reza (a.s)
7. In Saamarra, near the holy graves of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s) and Imam Hasan Askari (a.s)

Conclusion:
Finally, we pray to Allah that He should accept our humble efforts. We are well aware that our insignificant efforts are of no value. Yet we are hopeful of His Mercy and Forgiveness and pray to Him
'…O King! We and our entire family have been afflicted by distress. And we have brought with us insufficient measure. So give us full measure and be charitable to us. Surely Allah rewards those who are charitable.
(Surah Yusuf (12): Verse 88)
Pens have dried up but tears continue to flow the moment the agony of separation from the beloved is felt in the heart. So much so, that a voice echoes in the ears which says 'Be patient, he will surely come'. Yet a thought keeps crossing our minds, 'But when?' As days keep passing by while praying for Imam (a.s), the vision gets more blurred, the back feels more burdened and the hair gets whiter. Death is hastening towards us at relentless pace and soon will grip us in its clutches. In this silent and dark night, a voice emanates from the heart
'When will you see us and we see you while you are seen hoisting the flag of victory.'
(Dua-e-Nudbah)

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