Opposite to the belief of the leaders of ‘Shaikhiya’ sect, the Shias do not believe that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) lives in a separate world. Rather, they believe he lives in this very land. Thus, it’s possible to see and visit him. But nobody can claim that he or she has an appointment with him tomorrow, or next week and none can dare say that he can meet him whenever he desires so!
Numerous eminent personalities have met Hazrat Mahdi during the concealment period which has been narrated in such books like ‘Ghaibat-Tousi’; ‘Esbat’ul-Huda’; ‘Bihar-ul-Anwar’, Vol 52, and Vol 53, Najme-Saqeb, chapter 7. In the last mentioned book 100 warranted incidents or special attention are quoted through reliable intermediaries.
Books like ‘Muntakhab-ul-Athar’, ‘Re’aayat’ul-Imam al-Mahdi’ (a.t.f.s.) and ‘Tajalliyate Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) have narrated other reliable incidents as well. Thus, meeting of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is not negated; particularly as the compassionate Imam has said, ‘we are watchful and take care of our Shias’.
It should be emphasised the all these favours are taken by Imam’s authority and attention; and not due to the one visiting him. Also, out of Imam’s grace, those who were to told a meeting, have never informed anybody about it before the actual meeting (except in rare cases and that has been for conveying a notice, etc.)
As far as we are aware, any effort to visit Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) during his concealment is not mooted as an obligatory or recommendable act. Since the common man, by himself, is unable to succeed and it’s only Imam himself who manifests before the fortunate ones and casts his great shadow of salvation over him. Therefore, any effort and endeavour for personal contact with Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is not counted a recommendable act so that a person may make the preliminary preparations for that spiritual journey like the way one is recommended to endeavour for visitation (pilgrimage) to other Imams (a.s.) and the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.).
That which has been said is hearty and spiritual preparation (i.e., ‘Ma’refat’ of Imam’s position and observance of piety) not in the form of any expectation or due but rather with feeling of hope followed by prayers that:
“O Allah! Show me that upright and handsome face.”
What is recommended is to recite ‘Ziarat’ of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) at the holy ‘Sardab’ and other ‘Ziarat(s)’ in different places. From the above-mentioned prayers, we conclude that we must pave the way with our hearts and then request Allah to show him to us if He deems advisable.
It’s necessary to point out that to some hypocrites, the claim of meeting Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has become a means of earning fame in the eyes of simple-minded people and has brought splendour to their worldly life. It’s likely that some make such claims but there isn’t any evidence for proving their claim.
Personally, I accept the possibility of true dreams, but, since most of them cannot be investigated, I do not rely on such narrations. One can never rely upon the contents of a dream unless it is related from a reliable believer or supported by strong evidences. Thus, the concerned person must be reliable and must possess true faith and one should gain certainty that his narration is not for worldly reasons. If someone narrates from another reliable person, the chain of authority must be authentic.
I have come across simple-minded people who if bestowed with few favours, link the matter to visitation of Imam (a.t.f.s.). On the other hand, I have also come across eminent personalities who never uttered such words. Particularly one of them who spent more than eighty years of his life in service and spreading the name of Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). He lit the flames of love for Hazrat in my heart. I was with him at home or at journey for 34 years and participated in hundreds of his lectures; but I never heard him claiming to have met or seen Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). His only encouraged people to serve Hazrat; gain his ‘Ma’refat’ and spread his doctrines.
It shows that even if someone is fortunate enough to meet Hazrat, he will not sell that fortune so easily and cheap; unless if its narration will lead to peoples’ guidance and not brighten up his worldly life. Consequently, our divine duty is to perform and present such deeds before Hazrat in such manner that we prepare the background for God’s Grace in providing us the opportunity of meeting him.
During this concealment period when conspiracies are rampant against beliefs and doctrines, I recommend everyone to perform proper and worthy deeds leading to attracting our compassionate Imam’s grace and favour. We should spread Imam’s ethics, beliefs, spiritualities, ‘fiqh’, religion and style of living by action and then by speech. Such endeavours pave the way for attracting Hazrat’s special grace until he places his hands on our head and increases our intellect and religion.
In 1963 or 1964 when I was a young student of seventeen, I came across a mindful and sincere person in Qom. He was a Sayyed and elder than me. He was a new student or pious and noble one. On recommendation of a friend, I taught that Sayyed Arabic grammar. He was extraordinary in spirituality and morals. Whenever I visited him at his residence, I gained marvellous spirituality. One day, I asked him: ‘What should a person do so that he could meet Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)? He replied: ‘Act in such manner that he may look for you! Because he possesses greater means and abilities.’
Verily, during concealment, it’s our duty to endeavour to increase his friends and lovers. We should protect his ‘Wilayat’ and teach his Imamate, concealment, and life in our community. We should acquaint the people about his manner, behaviour, love, thoughts, qualities and his influence on our day-to-day life. We should establish spiritual relationship with him. All these would result in casting his shadow of grace over us, whether he reveals his face or not.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that if we tried but failed to see him it’s not because of his carelessness toward us. In such cases, we aren’t aware of God’s Will and whether it would lead to our benefit or not. We should know that God desires whatever is beneficial for us. Anyhow, every lover desires to see and meet his beloved one.
“It’s all my desire to see you,
What’s the harm if I achieve my desire!?”