The following is the full text of the speech delivered on July 9, 2011 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with teachers and graduates of Mahdawiat [faith in the re-appearance of the last Shia Imam, Imam Mahdi (a.s.)].
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
First of all, I would like to thank all the brothers and sisters who are working on different areas – including daily prayers, zakat, exegesis, Mahdawiat and all the other areas that Mr. Qara’ati spoke about. All these areas are important and necessary. By Allah’s favor, working on these areas is indeed a genuine charitable act that will be accepted by Allah the Exalted. I would also like to thank everybody who has attended this meeting, especially Mr. Qara’ati. We cannot really thank them because their efforts are for the sake of God and hopefully God will reward them for their efforts, but we should also appreciate their work. Now I would like to make a few points in the company of you dear brothers and sisters.
Mr. Qara’ati is an exemplary person. First of all, the issues that he followed up were among the shortcomings that existed in the country. He filled the gaps and his efforts are very valuable. There are certain things that are very good to do, but they are not new and have already been done. If somebody manages to identify the needs and tries to fill the gaps, his efforts are highly valuable. This is how Mr. Qara’ati has acted. If daily prayers – which are extremely important as the pillar of Islam and without which other good deeds will not be accepted by God – are ignored in society or if people fail to pay enough attention to daily prayers, a massive void will be created. Mr. Qara’ati tried to eliminate this void. Zakat was not really discussed in our society and the fact that it used to be sidelined was a weakness and a shortcoming. But he stepped into the arena and made determined efforts. He went to different places, spoke to different people, urged everybody to take action and worked tirelessly until he managed to address this problem. The same is true of exegesis, Mahdawiat and the other areas that he is following up. This is one of the points that I wanted to raise about the work of our esteemed Mr. Qara’ati.
The second point, which is even more important than the first point, is related to his sincerity. This sincerity has enabled him to go ahead and solve the problems. Allah the Exalted supports pure intentions. Purity of intention has an extraordinary effect on the success of what you want to do. And this is another point which is very important.
I am not saying these things to praise Mr. Qara’ati or exaggerate what he has done. He neither needs nor expects such things and I am not the kind of person to do these things. I just want his efforts to be a model for all of us, especially for our seminarians. We should act the way Mr. Qara’ati acts. This is not to say that we should do the same things that he is doing. No, we should look for the gaps and try to identify the needs. Everybody should use his talent, capability and capacity to identify the gaps and the needs. This is the first point.
The second point is related to persistence. I would like to use this opportunity to ask Mr. Qara’ati and his colleagues to make sure to follow up what they have started. They should follow up their activities. We should not start something only to feel satisfied as soon as the first outcomes appear and then thank God and give up trying. No, we should follow up what we have started. I hope Allah the Exalted will help Mr. Qara’ati and all you dear brothers and sisters. I hope God will bestow health and a long life on all of you so that you can follow up what you have started. These are important points.
These days are close to the birthday anniversary of Imam Mahdi (a.s.), which is a great Eid for the Muslim world and even all of humanity. Therefore, it is appropriate to discuss the issue of Mahdawiat. I would say that Mahdawiat is among the main religious issues. It is comparable to prophethood: this is the kind of importance that we should attach to the issue of Mahdawiat. Why? Because Mahdawiat represents what all prophets were sent for – namely, building a monotheistic world on the basis of justice using all the capacities that Allah the Exalted has bestowed on humanity. This is the era that will come after the re-appearance of Imam Mahdi (God’s greetings be upon him and may God hasten his re-appearance): the era in which monotheism and genuine spirituality will be dominant over the entire life of human beings, the era in which justice will be established in the real sense of the word. Well, this was what prophets were sent for.
I have repeatedly said that the movement carried out over many centuries by humanity in the shade of the teachings of divine prophets is a movement towards the wide road which will be built after the re-appearance of Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his re-appearance), the road that will lead humanity to lofty goals. It is as if a group of people are guided by certain people through mountains, valleys, marshes and thorny bushes in order to reach the main road. When they reach the main road, the rest of the way will be easy. The straight path will be clearly marked out. It will be easy to move ahead. When they reach the main road, they will not stop moving ahead. No, when they reach the main road, they will start their movement towards lofty divine goals because human beings enjoy an inexhaustible capacity. Humanity has moved through difficult paths and has cleared various obstacles in order to reach this main road. This main road is the road that will be built after the re-appearance of the Imam of the Age (a.s.). It is the world that will be built after the re-appearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.). In a sense, the movement of humanity will start from that point.
If Mahdawiat did not exist, it would mean that all the efforts by divine prophets, all prophetic missions and all the strenuous efforts of divine prophets were futile. Therefore, the issue of Mahdawiat is an essential issue. It is one of the central divine teachings. For this reason, as far as I know, in all divine religions there are teachings which are essentially the same as Mahdawiat. But these teachings have been distorted and blurred over time and it is not clear what they are trying to say.
The issue of Mahdawiat is among the undeniable Islamic realities. That is to say, Mahdawiat is not limited to Shia Islam. All Islamic denominations accept that the end of the world will come when Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his re-appearance) establishes ultimate justice in the world. There are valid narrations by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and Islamic luminaries in different denominations of Islam. Therefore, there is no doubt in this regard. However, Shia Islam has an advantage among other denominations because the issue of Mahdawiat is not an ambiguous issue in Shia Islam. The issue of Mahdawiat is not a convoluted and unintelligible issue in Shia Islam. It is clear. Mahdawiat has a representative and we are familiar with this representative. We know his characteristics. We know his ancestors. We know his family. We know when he was born. We know the details. And this familiarity is not based on Shia narrations alone. There are non-Shia narrations that clarify the details for us. Followers of other Islamic denominations should pay careful attention in order to understand this clear truth. This is the kind of importance that should be attached to the issue of Mahdawiat and we are better qualified to work on this issue. It is necessary to carry out scholarly and accurate work in this regard.
The issue of waiting [for the re-appearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.)] is an integral part of Mahdawiat. It is one of the key concepts for understanding religion and the general movement of the Islamic Ummah towards the lofty goals of Islam. Waiting means expecting an event that will definitely happen. This is the meaning of waiting. Waiting means that this future is definite. This is especially true if we are waiting for a being who is completely ready. This is a very important issue. We are not waiting for somebody who has not been born yet. No, we are waiting for somebody who exists and is present among us. There are certain narrations according to which people can see him, but they do not recognize him. In certain narrations he has been likened to Prophet Joseph whose brothers used to see him. He was present among his brothers and he used to sit beside them, but they could not recognize him. It is such a clear and motivating truth. This facilitates waiting. Humanity needs this waiting and the Islamic Ummah needs it even more. This waiting puts responsibilities on the shoulders of human beings.
When a person is sure that there is such a future, he must expect it and be prepared for it. As the Holy Quran says, “And certainly We wrote in the Book after the reminder that (as for) the land, My righteous servants shall inherit it. Most surely in this is a message to people who are devout.” Those who worship God can understand this message. Waiting requires that we prepare ourselves. We should know that a great event will happen and we should always expect this event. We can never say that the event will not happen in a few years and we can never say that the event will happen in the near future. We should always wait for it. Those who are waiting should get closer to the characteristics that will be expected in the era that is being awaited. This is the requirement for waiting. If there is supposed to be justice, truth, monotheism, purity and worship in the era which we are awaiting, then as the people who are waiting, we should get closer to these things. We should become familiar with justice. We should prepare ourselves for justice. We should prepare ourselves for accepting the truth. These are the requirements of waiting.
One of the things that the essence of waiting requires is that we should not be satisfied with the status quo and with the level of progress we have made so far. The requirement is to make efforts to increase our progress and spiritual characteristics on a daily basis. These are the requirements of waiting.
As Mr. Qara’ati said in his report, thankfully there are certain people who are doing scholarly work on the issue of waiting. It is necessary to pay careful attention to scholarly and accurate work on the issue of waiting and on the era after the re-appearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.). It is also necessary to clearly avoid unscholarly and ignorant work in this regard. Unscholarly and ignorant work – the kind of work that is not based on knowledge and valid documents and sources about the Imam of the Age (may God hasten his re-appearance) – is among the things that can be highly dangerous and it can prepare the ground for false claimants. Unscholarly and undocumented work that is based on fantasies and illusions, rather than valid sources and documents, pushes people away from the state of waiting and prepares the ground for false claimants. It is necessary to seriously avoid such things.
There have been false claimants throughout history. As was mentioned in this meeting, certain claimants try to make a sign apply to themselves or other people. All these things are wrong. Some of the things that are said about the signs of Imam Mahdi’s (a.s.) re-appearance are not definite and they have not been mentioned in valid and documented narrations either. They are based on narrations that are not solid and we cannot rely on them. Moreover, it is not easy to apply the narrations that are valid. There have always been certain people who have tried to apply the poems of Shah Nimatullah Wali to different people in different centuries and I have seen some of these people. His descriptions have been applied to a particular person and after a century or so the same descriptions have been applied to another person. These things are wrong and misleading. When there is deviation, the truth will be sidelined and it will be a tool to mislead people. Therefore, it is necessary to seriously avoid unscholarly work and surrendering to rumors. Scholarly, firm and documented work is something that experts should do. Such work cannot be done by everybody and it is up to experts on hadith, rijal and philosophy. Only such experts can step in and do scholarly work in this regard. It is necessary to take this issue as seriously as possible so that the path is opened up for ordinary people. The more hearts become familiar with the issue of Mahdawiat and the more we feel the presence of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) among ourselves and increase our relationship with him, the better it will be for our world and for our progress towards the goals.
Some of the duas that we have are very valuable and in certain cases they are good documents. It is very good to ask Imam Mahdi (a.s.) to act as our intercessor. It is very good to pay attention to him and to get close to him. This closeness does not mean that those who claim to meet or speak to Imam Mahdi (a.s.) in person are right. Not at all. The majority of the claims that are made in this regard are either lies or illusions. I have seen such people. Some of them were not liars: they were just suffering from illusions and they spoke about their illusions as if they were the truth. We must not surrender to such people. The right way is the logical way. Tawwasul [seeking spiritual intercession and connection] to Imam Mahdi (a.s.) is done from a distance. Imam Mahdi (a.s.) listens to our tawwasul and by Allah’s favor, he will fulfill them. The fact that we address him from a distance does not really matter. Allah the Exalted conveys greetings and messages to Imam Mahdi (a.s.). This tawwasul and this spiritual closeness are very good and necessary.
I hope Allah the Exalted will hasten the re-appearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.). I hope we will be among his followers both when he is in occultation and when he re-appears. By Allah’s favor, we will be among the soldiers who will fight alongside Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and I hope we will be martyred for his cause.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings