4 Continual Expectation Due To the Unpredictability of the Time of Reappearance
The Shia traditionists narrated:
Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH) said to his companions, "Be more hopeful on the things that you consider far-fetched than that which you presume very likely. Verily, Musa Ibn Imran (PBUH) went to bring fire (to provide heat and light) for his family and when he came back to them he was an apostle, and this way, Allah rectified the matter of His servant and His Prophet, Musa (PBUH), within a night.
In the same way, Allah shall treat al-Qa'im, the twelfth of the Imams (PBUT). He shall rectify his matter in one night and shall take him from complication and concealment to the light of relief and reappearance."[^1]
There are many other Shi'i transmitted traditions, which convey the similarity of the sudden advents of some ancient prophets (PBUT) with that of Imam al- Mahdi (PBUH).[^2]
The following tradition also shows that we should expect the reappearance of al-Qa'im at every moment and make ourselves ready for his arrival because his coming is very unpredictable. It is narrated:
Imam Ja'far Ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (PBUH) said, "Anticipate the rule of your master in every day and night of your (lifetime), for indeed Allah (says about Himself) 'Every day He brings in a (new) situation.' (55:29)"[^3]
The notion of continual awaiting and hoping to see the golden days of the universe at any moment has many positive benefits in our lives. It constantly reminds us the absolute power of Allah. The faithful servants, who believe Allah has power to do all things, should not consider any goodness far-fetched from Him. Moreover, so long as we expect the Imam (PBUH), we are hopeful [^1]Kamal al-Din, p. 151; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 13, p. 42. [^2]See for instance:; Kamal al-Din, p. 316, Hadith 1; p. 329, Hadith 12; p. 377, Hadith 1; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 51, p. 132, Hadith 2; p. 156, Hadith 1; p. 218, Hadith 8.
[^3]Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 95, p. 159, Hadith 4.
for a better future and will not be disappointed by the difficulties and the problems of our present life no matter how severe they are. In addition, when we realize that Allah may advance the advent of al-Qa'im (PBUH) to a very near future, we do our best to prepare our spiritual state to receive him. In Part II of this work, some divine prescriptions that make us prepared for receiving al-Qa'im (PBUH) will be presented.
As we have seen, the existence of al-Badaa plays a central role in our way of expectation of al-Qa'im (PBUH). Due to the possibility of Badaa, the signs foretold are subject to change. According to the traditions, waiting for the Imam (PBUH) at any moment is the best deed and the most significant act.
If the signs were unchangeable or could not be advanced, there would be no point to wait all the time and in every moment. Having faith in alteration of the characteristics and the time of the events by Allah, everyone would keep himself ready every morning, every evening, and all the time in between to receive the Imam (PBUH).
A person who has no faith in the alteration of signs and thinks of the reappearance of the Imam (PBUH) in terms of the sighting of all the signs is actually waiting primarily for those signs and then for the Imam (PBUH).
Such an individual may deny Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) if he were to reappear without some of the signs being fulfilled. In contrast, the traditions give prime importance to the promise of the reappearance of the Imam (PBUH) and consider the appearance of the signs as a less important issue. Abu Ubaida al- Hadhaa narrated:
I asked Imam al-Baqir (PBUH) about this matter (i.e., the reappearance of al-Mahdi (PBUH)). He (PBUH) replied, "Because you expect that it comes to you in a (certain) way, do not deny it (if it happens in another way)."[^1]
It is now clear that we should wait for the reappearance of Imam (PBUH) and not for the signs, and further, should not consider the Imam's reappearance before witnessing all the foretold signs impossible. It is only in this situation that imploring Allah to hasten the reappearance of Imam (PBUH) is meaningful. Allah is free to shower His blessings any time He wants.
He has created a leader for this task long ago and has kept him on call in concealment. He can order the reappearance of the Imam (PBUH) even before the sighting of the signs, can change, or miraculously expedite the occurrence of the signs for his early reappearance. Indeed, much more than any of His followers, the Imam (PBUH) himself is eagerly waiting for receiving Allah's permission at any moment.
[^1]Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 268, Hadith 157.
5 The significance and the purpose of specifying the signs
Specifying the signs before the time of reappearance has its own advantages and benefits both before and after the occurrence of the signs. As we mentioned, some of the foretold events are related to the hardship of people before the reappearance of the Imam (PBUH) and warn people about the situations that they may face if disappearance is prolonged.
These prophecies urge the believers to turn to Allah and supplicate to Him with the hope that He may alleviate or cancel such hard situations and accommodate an easy and early relief. Thus, such warnings are, by themselves, constructive if people react to them by turning to Allah before the actual manifestation of the signs.
On the other hand, if a sign does finally occur, it strengthens one's faith in the reappearance of Imam (PBUH) and increases his anticipation. Once a sign occurs, a believer realizes that it was among the signs foretold, and thus, his faith and confidence will increase, and he trusts that the time of reappearance is closer than ever.
Thus, the foretold events should not be ignored or considered as insignificant before and after their occurrence.
Nevertheless, the signs were not given for the purpose of predicting the time of reappearance or for urging people to search the scientific data to estimate the time of the occurrence of the sign itself. Rather, they serve as reminders for people only after they occur miraculously. The signs were described in order to keep us alert, aware, and mindful of Allah, but not to enable us to make any kind of prediction.
Keeping in mind the issue of al-Badaa, all the mentioned signs before his arrival, even if they finally occur, they may happen miraculously in an unpredictable manner.
As we have seen in a tradition quoted earlier, some of the signs such as an eclipse of the moon at the end of the month can only happen miraculously. Even for some other signs that can occur naturally and can be predicted by the available physical information; they may still occur supernaturally and thus their predicted schedules may be proven wrong.
The most interesting observation is that, one of the mentioned signs at the end of the time is the rising of the sun from the west [^1], which shows that Allah will miraculously change the direction of the heavenly bodies, and thus, all astronomical data will change according to the new movements.
This means that all timely predictions based on the available astronomical data may be proven false due to this single miracle of Allah. Moreover, this makes possible many other events that are considered physical impossibility including the double eclipse mentioned earlier. Similar to the advent of the Imam (PBUH), the signs before his advent are Allah's miracles, all of which remind us the
[^1]See for instance, Tafsir, al-Ayyashi, under commentary of chapter six, verse 158; Tafsir, Ali Ibn Ibrahim al- Qummi, vol. 1, p. 198, under commentary of chapter six, verse 37; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 6, p. 312, Hadith 13 & 16, vol. 9, p. 204, Hadith 66.
power of Allah and His sovereignty. Their miraculous nature assures that they are signs from Allah, not from people.
Hence, instead of worrying about the time of the occurrence of the unpredictable signs before the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH), one should care about keeping faith in the Imam (PBUH) and following his customs. Only in that way, will one be safe from the afflictions of the end of time no matter how the signs finally appear.
If some signs appear he will gain more hope and energy that the appointed time is fast approaching, and if he did not observe the signs, he will still remain hopeful to receive the Imam (PBUH) because he believes that Allah is never restricted by His creation including His previous will and has power to do all things at any moment.