In this modern age the Mu'minun have seen a fulfillment of signs and prophecies with exponential acceleration and unfolding. With any such signs come great expectations from those who see them. With this comes increasing speculation on "what will come next." Each culture and religious tradition holds their own expectations of prophets and figures from the past who will return to usher in an era of peace and Messianic Consciousness.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
No matter what cultural or religious tradition, the outcome is relatively the same: so many Jews concerned about a multitude of social issues, while ignoring the plight of the Palestinian people, all the while, setting a place at the table for Elijah, as though his return would not infact spell social justice across the board; Christians in many cases living in hypocrisy, yet praying for the return of a figure they call "Jesus" (who they imagine will warmly embrace them), to magically wisp them away into the clouds to their "home in the sky"; Muslimun also living in hypocrisy in many cases, and inaction in the face of brutality and injustice facing their brothers and sisters. Instead of rising to the defense of the oppressed, of the raped, of the tortured and murdered (at the hands of both their own regimes and others), they raise their arms to the sky and wail for the return of the Mahdi to save them from the oppressors; a job which we are ALL charged with. As it is written in the Book of Allah:
"Fighting is prescribed upon you, and you dislike it. And it may happen that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. And Allah knows and you know not." Al-Qur'an, Surah 2.216
In Truth, all any of us know there are lots of lesser "A'immah" - in fact, many Iranians said as much about Khomeini, Musa as-Sadr, like so many who have come and gone before - and the 12th Imam is guiding from the Realm of Hurqaliyyah, from the Barzakh; manifesting his actions in accordance with the Will of Allah THROUGH these lesser "A'immah." So people are not the focus, for we see the Imam through peoples actions. Thus, because we see the Mahdi and the Masih through peoples actions we do not need to worry about how Allah chooses to manifest them to fulfill prophecy. We are told time and time again through Ahadith that various A'immah were charged with the mission of rising to political power, of BEING the Imam al-Qa'im, but because of certain occurrences in accordance with freewill, on the behalf of their disciples, this did not happen in their life time. Many of their disciples undoubtedly got discouraged and lost faith, falling away like chaff. This proved an indication of their motivation in the first place. They were originally so committed to their Imam because they believed that "their" expectations would be met shortly. Their intentions, while pure in some regards, were tainted by the rijs of the nafs. Once hope was lost for immediate victory, then their commitment staggered.
Similarly, with regards to the followers of Imam al-Husayn, when he faced certain PHYSICAL defeat (yet spiritual victory) on the battlefield of Karbalaa', so many fell away and refused to join him. Only 72 true Mystic Warriors (Mujahidina `Aarifin), remained true to the Struggle and faced the enemy head on no matter what. These were the true `urafa, these who were not disillusioned with promises of easy victory within their immediate grasps. Instead, they focused on the long term spiritual vision (shuhud) for victory, and because of this they saved the core of Islam to be passed down and remembered for generations to come.
To focus on the short term hypothetical victory, to focus on those who you believe or expect will be able to offer you this short term victory on a silver-platter, is the height of istidraaj. To focus on these things makes us focus on that which is not important if we are truly doing what we need to do. Such things primarily becomes important, even central, to people when they cannot make up there minds whether to choose action or inaction, resistance or complicity: "Should i join this group or should i just sit at home chatting online, or going to the masjid and never getting involved in the local or global community to bring about the conditions that are necessary for the Rise to take place? If this individual leading it is so and so, then i will join. If not then i will not." Their action becomes contingent upon their speculation and their hopes and desires to see prophecy fulfilled through the people they see the Mahdi and Masih working through. But this is Istidraaj and that is why they cannot decide to join and work together without having their short sighted speculations confirmed.
To the Palestinians, to the Iraqis, to the Chechens, to the people in the barrios, ghettos, refugee camps and shanty towns, no one cares who the Mahdi is or Masih is. This is simply not part of their reality; they cannot afford for it to be. Suffering and poverty is their reality and it is a product of comfort that affords people the luxury of speculating on the identity of people who they do not need to worry about, as this is in Allah's hands. The Hadith tells us that when our Imam disappears from sight, then expect relief to come from beneath our own feet. That is all we need to focus on: relief, faraj. The masses speak of faraj coming in their 'ad`iyah through the Imam but we are not to expect this. We are told by the tenth Imam al-Hadi to expect faraj to come from beneath our own feet, not from beneath his.
"If your Imam goes into occultation, expect freedom from grief (to come from) beneath your feet."
Bihar al-'Anwar, 51, p. 161
It is istidraaj for people to fixate on an individual and to try to correlate them with their expectations. For ultimately we are to fixate on Nothing, and the Mahdi, `Isa or anyone else is equally nothing as much nothing as the computer which this is being typed on or whatever "you" think you are looking at this on. Thus, to focus on any of these things as "real" or important in and of themselves is the epitome of distraction.
Even in the case of the Iranian leader Khumayni, there were people who suspected that he was the Mahdi. Many will virtually attack you if you don't call him "Imam" thought it is an acknowledged reality that he was only a lesser Imam, an Imam of the Revolution in Iran. But what he was or wasn't is not the point. What people saw was the Primordial Imam manifesting through his ACTIONS, and for that reason, speculation emerged regarding his identity. Regardless of this, he should not be the focus for the true `urafa. For them, it is the Truth manifest THROUGH him that should be the focus ALONE. That was the focus of both his teachings and his actions in a regional manifestation of the Eternal Revolution of the Mahdi. To the `urafa the objective is to be aware of "our" Existence as Nothing. It is not to "become Nothing" as we are already Nothing regardless of whether we are awakened to this realization (tahaqquq), or asleep within the illusion of duality. Our objective and only desire is to stop this charade of "self-hood;" to stop pretending that "you" or "i" am anyone. This is what our focus has to be, not because it is "our" desire of the nufoos, but because it is THE WILL OF ALLAH alone, and for that reason the desire is pure and stems from the Divine.
This realization is the objective. Neither the Mahdi nor `Isa can force this upon us. They cannot force our eyes open. For when one is slumbering in a deep sleep and someone turns on the light, this light, this noor is blinding due to the suddenness of it. The sleeper will shut his eyes tighter than ever, or cover his head with a pillow. He will not gain any more interest in waking up, getting up and living. He will still want to sleep and he will do whatever it takes to block out the Nur al-Haqiqah, the Light of Reality, that is being shined upon him. The Light on its own will not suffice to wake someone up if they are sleeping within darkness. For although Ayat al-Kursi tells us that the Truth is MANIFEST from falsehood, there are still plenty who refuse to see this clear manifestation. No, rather the Light will have to permeate the entire region until the very particles of the sleepers body are energized, with his testosterone rising with the sun itself, causing his internal circadian rhythms to provoke his awakening, naturally and in accordance with the Way. This will not need to be forced, it will happen as a matter of Nature. When we tire we sleep. When we are rested and ready, we awaken. If we awaken prematurely then it is not true awakeness, but sluggish, drunkenness of mind. We are told not to approach Salah in such a manner, for this very reason.
If one awakens in sluggish drunkenness then their awakeness will be short lived. They will seem awake for a while, but then will return to sleep as a matter of the course of Nature; for they were never truly awake. It is for this reason that the eleventh Imam al-`Askari is reported to have said: "When the hearts are active, confide in them; and when they are reluctant, bid them farewell."
Brothers and sisters, this Revolution is not a revolution of guns, knives and bombs, but guns, knives and bombs will be found in any modern battle. The weapons employed are incidental to our Revolution. We are not a Revolution of the gun. The gun is a tool. If you want to eat food that has been sealed within a can, do you focus on the can opener? If you want the milk from a coconut, do you focus on the hammer or blade with which you open it? Of course not, because these things are incidental.
Our Revolution is the Revolution of the Mind, the Evolution of the perfected human being, the insaan al-kamil; an evolution to unending awakenness. This Revolution will not be won in 7 years, nor in 9 years, nor in 19 years, nor in 40 years, nor in 309 years. This Revolution is a perpetual journey that is unrelated to individual manifestations of that Revolution in the course of battle with the forces of evil, both internal and external.
When a murderer charges towards us with a gun or a knife to kill or harm us or someone else, we do not seek to kill him, we seek to STOP him. The means which we use are the means that are necessary to stop him. If that requires merely shouting to him authoritatively then al-hamdulillah, so be it. If that requires fighting him or shooting him, then al-hamdulillah, so be it. The objective, however, is not to focus on the means. The objective is what is the focus at hand. The objective in such a case, is to STOP him. If he stops after an authoritative shout, then so do you. You do not then fight or kill him. If you are forced to punch or kick this man and he falls down, then you have stopped him. You do not then kick him and kick him and kick him until he is dead or severely injured. Your objective was to stop him by any means necessary. Once he stops, so do you. If you are forced to shoot him, then you shoot him and if after a few shots he stops but is still alive, then you too stop. You do not unload your magazine into his wounded body. What kind of hatred is that to be found within the heart of a Mu'min?
You stopped this man out of love; love for whoever he was going to harm, love for him so that he did not incur the consequences of the actions he intended (and in so doing sink deeper into the torment of Jahannam), and most importantly love for the Will of Allah. Your love which provoked the defense was pure. However, if in that defense you become engrossed in the means, engrossed in the means you are employing to stop the attack, then you have become distracted from the initial Love which caused you to defend so righteously to begin with. May those with eyes to see, see and those with ears to hear, hear the meaning of this. For our Revolution is not a revolution of the means. It is not a revolution of guns, knives and bombs. It is not a revolution of spokesmen and leaders, of A'immah and shuyookh. Ultimately, it is neither a Revolution of the Mahdi or `Isa. It is a Revolution of awakening to the Ruh Allah within us ALL; the Ruh - which some have called "`Isa" in Tibetan and `Arabic, or "`Oseh" in Hebrew - which Yehudah ben Yosef awoke to, and just as Yehudah ben Yosef awoke to it we ALL need to awaken to it because we are ALL this Ruh. That is the ONLY reality of "Self-hood."
For this reason it is written that on the Day of Judgment (Yawm ad-Din), `Isa will say to those on his right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then `Isa will turn to those on his left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And `Isa will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"
Oh brothers and sisters, can this be any more clear? Will you then turn away after Truth has already come to you? These words are not new, but old. What we wish for our brother should be that which we wish for ourselves. For the very least of these are ultimately the same "self" as us ALL; with the same undivided Ruh within them all. To disdain our brother is to disdain our-Self. To harbor a grudge against our brother is to harbor a grudge against our-Self. Our anger should not stem from personal feelings, but from objective Truth. When we know someone has done something wrong, then the wrongness by nature upsets us just the same as an incorrect magnetic combination will repel, just the same as incorrect circuitry will short out and blow a fuse. Our anger is not at a "person" who does not exist, but rather at the actions manifesting through the particular thoughts within the Construct of Allah's Universal Divine Mind. For this reason it is narrated that Zurareh narrated that Imam al-Baqir said: "The closest thing to become a kafir is to remember your believing brother's with the intention of blaming him in the future."
Mishkatu-l-'Anwar fee Ghurari-l-'Akhbar, The Lamp Ninche for the best Traditions Page 262 hadith Number 499
For the closest thing to kufr itself is to harbor such animosity towards your brother when he has sought rectification, and to keep account of his wrongs. Allah is Love itself in its purest form, and as `Isa said, Love keeps no account of wrongs.
It is written that Muhammad prayed: "O Allah, show me the things as they are."
Mirsad al-`Ibad, p. 309
And it is narrated that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq has said: "Live and act as if you can see the hereafter with your own eyes."
Mishkat at ul-Anwar fi Ghurar il-Akhbar page 282 hadith Number 556
So let us pray that we see things as they truly are. Let us pray that we live and act as though the Akheerah is observable with our own eyes. Let us stop focusing on the means, and focus on the objective, the goal. Let us stop docking our boats at this port and that, tying the boat up, and searching through the town for men who do not exist any more than "we" do, anymore than the boat, dock or water does. Nothing alone is real. There is NO Reality but Allah, La Haqiqata-illaa-llah.
Do you not consider the words of `Isa? When his own Hawaariyyoon came to him, one by one, and asked him if he was the foretold Mashiach, what did he say? Did he say "Yes 'I' am?" Did he say "'You' are very smart to realize this, and that is why i called you to this work?" No, of course not.
"Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, 'Who do people say I am?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah.' Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him." Mark 8.27-30
When he miraculously healed the sick through the sciences which the people had little knowledge of, what did he say? Did he say "Tell your friends 'who' did this for 'you'?" Did he say "These are signs of Allah for you to know who 'i' am, so go and tell others?" No, to the contrary, he said: "Go your way, and show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing according to what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them."
The testimony was a testimony of the Truth having changed the lives of those healed; that they not just be healed in body, but healed in soul, transformed in spirit. Through this transformation a testimony would be offered, not of the "identity" of al-Masih, but rather of the transformation that Allah, al-Haqq, had in their lives. All the while they were told NOT to focus on, or tell others that they might focus on, the means by which this spiritual transformation had taken place. This is the epitome of humility, and awakeness in the life and actions of the Ruh Allah 2,000 years ago.
It is because of this realization of the futility of focusing on the non-existent identities of this thought or that within the Construct of the Divine Mind that Yahyaa said the "i am NOT" or "Ani AYN" when asked if he was the return or raja` of the prophet Ilyas: "And they asked him, What then? Are you Elijah? And he said, 'I am Not.'"
This was a double-edge answer. For on one hand he was negating any identification with the nafs as "this" thought or "that" within this realm of Dunya, this Universal Construct of the Divine Mind, and at the same time he was affirming his Existence as Nothing alone. This can be our only approach if we are to avoid istidraaj at all costs. This is essential if we truly wish to awaken from the dream. For though Yahya denied any such identification of his nafs with "this" figure or "that," it is written thrice that `Isa claimed Yahya was in fact this raja`.
"For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come." Matthew 11.13-14
"But I say unto you, That Elijah has come already.... then the disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist." Matthew 17.12-13
"But I say unto you, That Elijah has indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him." Mark 9.13
For Shi`ah this becomes particularly relevant since the doctrine of raja.. of certain persons, including those who have physically died in this Thought-Realm of the Dunyaa is considered a part of the Shi`i `aqidah. Consequently, as certain signs and prophesies are fulfilled at an ever increasing rate, many will become side tracked with the fulfillment of these signs, will dock their boats, enter into port cities and seek to identify the figures which they anticipate.
Miracles and signs are the same thing in Islam. They are Ayaat. A miracle in Islam does not denote that the Natural Order has been ripped apart at the seems. It means that we have been given signs, probabilities, and according to the 12 A'immah, these signs are often themselves subject to the Bada' of Allah's Will in its natural ebb and flow within the Construct of Allah's Infinite Mind.
`Ali ibn Muhammad has narrated from Ishaq ibn Muhammad from Abu Haashim al- Ja`fari who has said the following. "I was in the presence of Abu-l-Hasan after the death of his son, Abu Ja`far. I thought to my self like wanting to say, 'The two; Abu Ja`far and Abu Muhammad at this time are like Abu-l-Hasan Musa and 'Isma`il, the sons of Ja`far ibn Muhammad.' At such time Abu-l-Hasan turned to me before I would say anything and said, 'Yes, O Abu Hashim, Allah applied Bada' in the case of Abu Muhammad after Abu Ja`far, a fact that was not known for him. In the same He applied Bada' in the case of Musa after the death of 'Isma`il as an issue that through which his condition came to light. That is what you thought to yourself. Even though people of falsehood may dislike, Abu Muhammad, my son will be the succeeding Imam after me. With him is the knowledge that he will need and with him is the means of Immamah (Leadership with Divine Authority)."
'Usu al-Kafi H 856, Ch. 75, h 10
As freewill exists, so too does Bada', which is ultimately the Freewill of Allah. Thus, signs are for us to take notice of, but not for us to become distracted by. When we are on a journey there are signs placed to mark the way for us. These signs are to be noticed, but not focused on. If we focus on them while we continue on our journey then we will endanger ourselves and others. We will bend our necks backwards, always focusing on the past, and never the present. Nothing could be more of a hazard.
Similarly, if we are not to wreck then the only other solution is for us to pull off to the side of the road, to look at the sign and then flag down those who are also on their journey, get them to pull over and merely focus on the signs. Brothers and sisters, how then will we continue our journey?
No matter what we see, no matter what happens, our focus is to be on the Infinite Nothingness of the Reality, and the Reality is Allah alone. There is no Reality save Allah. If our focus diverts elsewhere, then we have grown tired and returned to bed to go back to sleep in the dream world of duality and illusion that tells us that "we" are "this" and "that" and seeks to delude us with the insanity of identifying the non-existent with titles and names, coded to fit our cultural and religious expectations.
Imam al-Mahdi is NOTHING, `Isa is NOTHING, everything that you see is NOTHING, so then focus upon NOTHING and not the illusion of "something." It is only when we do this that we can truly be considered awakened. And when we do this we will realize that it does not matter if Al-Mahdi or `Isa EVER return, for "they" never existed in the first place. It is only then that the words of Imam al-Hadi will truly be understood by the `Urafa, that: "If your Imam goes into occultation, expect freedom from grief (to come from) beneath your feet."