The Imam in Occultation

What is the benefit of believing in an Imam who is hidden from the public eye and residing in occultation? How can people benefit from this Imam? Imam Sadigh (PBUH) compares the manner in which people benefit from an Imam in occultation to “how they benefit from the sun, when covered by clouds.”(1) The occultation of Imam Mahdi (PBUH) is similar to when the sun is behind clouds; while people do not see the sun itself, they still receive the benefits of its light.

The first benefit an Imam in occultation has for all the people is the live presence of Allah’s representative on the Earth. One of the common beliefs in all monotheistic religions is the presence of a representative between the people and the Lord, or one between this world and the spiritual world, in which the blessings of the Lord is given to the humans through that person who also has the responsibility of guiding people. However, people of the monotheistic religions also hold the belief that at the moment there is no living representative between this world and the spiritual world. Jews, for example believe that after the demise of Prophet Moses (PBUH) this connection between the world and the heavens was lost, and Christians believe that Prophet Jesus (PBUH) was crucified on the cross and died thousands of years ago. Even non-Shia Muslims believe that with the demise of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH&HP), man’s hand has been cut from a connection between the earth and the heavens. Shiites, however, are the only ones who believe that such a connection between the heavens and the earth continues to exist by one who is a manifestation a complete human being. It is he who maintains the connection between the people and the world above and is responsible for the guidance of mankind. Furthermore, Shiites believe in the existence of an Imam and leader chosen by Allah (SWT) who lives among the people and awaits the Lord’s orders to rise. By the power invested in him by Allah (SWT), the Imam is aware of what happens to the Shiites and is witness to their manners and actions. This matter is influential in helping Shiites refrain from ill-acts and is an encouraging force in helping them carry out their religious rituals, assisting them to prepare the grounds for a global just rule on earth.

Under the belief of an existing Imam, who is the savior of all mankind from corruption and oppression, Shiites have a special form of hope towards a victorious future. The living Imam of Shiites is the same promised savior, whom with his reappearance will remove the works of oppression and corruption from the earth and establish global justice to all humanity. Although the belief in a savior is common among all religions, for Shiites however, this golden age has been in reach, and a hope for this occurrence is much more real and attainable. Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) is the current representative of Allah (SWT) for the people. He is alive and aware of people’s situation and with the permission of Allah (SWT) might rise against the enemies at any moment. This light of hope continues to flourish in the hearts of the pious, helping them increase their strength against the pressures of the oppressors and prepare for his arrival by being a true Muslim, obeying the practices ordained by Allah and taught by the Prophet and Imams (PBUT), and helping other people see the light.

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