SHAFAQNA – I seek refuge in God from Satan, the Renegade.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful.
All praise is due to God, the Lord of the worlds, and may He bless all the prophets and the messengers and the rightly-guided Imams of the path of guidance, especially the Seal of the Prophets and the Seal of the Successors, to whom thousands of salutations and abundant praise are due. Their love do we cherish and their enemies do we despise in the way of God.
I welcome and appreciate the presence of such distinguished and learned attendees—you who are the true believers awaiting the blessed advent of the Master of the Age (may all our souls be sacrificed for him).
I honor those who have arranged and coordinated this praiseworthy congress and assembly.
I also thank the guests, who have contributed to the educational and informative significance of this congress and assembly by virtue of their speeches and articles.
I beg the Sacred Essence of God that He hasten the advent of His viceroy, the Imam of the age.
The theme of this congress is the Promised One, the Awaited One, the Savior of all humanity.
The human being’s first concern is to live and survive. His second concern must be to renounce theoretic ignorance so as to become knowledgeable. His third concern must be to shun practical ignorance so as to become wise.
Next, he must rid himself of all levels and grades of injustice so as to become truly just. He must extricate himself from subjugation to himself and to others so as to become liberated.
He must shed all attachments to this and that so as to become independent. He must free himself of the bonds of exploitation, of manipulation, of dehumanization, of subjugation. He must neither enslave nor succumb to enslavement. It is only by acquiring human virtues—those we have enumerated here and those we have not—that humankind may attain salvation.
These virtues—these causes and factors contributive to human salvation—have been defined by God in the Qur’an and in the tradition established by the sacred lineage that constitutes the Prophet’s holy household (the Ahlulbayt), and it was to promote these virtues that God entrusted prophets as guides for humankind, for it is only these virtues that bestow true life upon human society.
God in certain instances describes the exalted objective of all religions—which the blessed person of the Master of the Age (may all our souls be sacrificed for him) will realize with his return—concisely and in a single sentence. This concise phraseology He Himself explicates and expounds elsewhere.
One such concise phraseology is that which appears in Surah Anfal:
اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلّهِ وَ لِلرَّسولِ إذا دَعاکُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيْکُمْ
Answer God and the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life.
The exposition of this concise phraseology is that which appears in many other chapters and verses concerning knowledge, intellect, justice, freedom, liberation from attachment to other than God, true monotheism, avoiding pluralism, and the like.
It is in reference to the content of this concise phraseology that the Imams (peace be upon them) have said,
مَنْ ماتَ وَ لَمْ يَعْرِفْ إمامَ زَمانِهِ ماتَ مِيتَةً جاهِلِيَّةً
He who dies while not knowing the Imam of his time dies the death of ignorance.
The message contained in this statement is universal.
The message is twofold. First, he who fails to recognise and appreciate the Imam of his time incurs the death of ignorance; second, he is devoid of life. Thus, in order to regain life, on the one hand, and to regain a wise, robust, and pure life, on the other hand, he must know the Imam of his time. This is one point concerning this statement narrated from the Imams.
Knowledge in this context does not merely mean knowledge of an Imam’s name, birthdate, history, lineage, and family ties. Such facts are necessary but insufficient.
The more significant component of knowing the Imam of one’s time is to grasp the truth of the position of imamate, the truth of the Imams’ inerrancy, the truth of their divine authority, the truth of what it means for the Imam to be the divine proof, the truth of their capability to receive divine revelation and inspiration, the truth of their being on a par with the Qur’an, etc.
It is the failure to understand these principles and tenets about the Imams and the ministry of imamate that entails one’s death—the death of ignorance, a truly terrible death.
To gain life and to gain a life of reason, a life of humanity, a life of divinity, one must not only know the Imam as a person but must realise the significance of imamate; one must not only know the Imam as the bearer of divine authority but must comprehend the truth of what it means to bear divine authority; one must not only casually acknowledge the Imam as being inerrant but rather recognise the truth of what it means to be inerrant; one must not only point to the Imam as God’s proof but rather understand what serving as God’s proof signifies. This is one aspect of the matter.
The other aspect consists in a statement made by the holy personage of all the Imams to the effect that the Qur’an and the Prophet’s infallible progeny are on a par; that the value that the Qur’an partakes of, the Prophet’s infallible progeny also partake of; that the position that the Prophet’s infallible progeny enjoy, the Qur’an also enjoys.
Thus, just as the failure to know the Imams entails death in the first place and the death of ignorance in the second place, so too the failure to know the Qur’an entails death in the first place and death of ignorance in the second place.
Furthermore, just as it is incorrect to understand knowing the Imams as merely knowing their names and their birth-dates and that to know them requires that one should know them from a rational and theological point of view, so too knowing the Qur’an is more than just knowing that it is a divine book, that it was revealed by God, that it was revealed in its entirety on the Night of Allotment (laylat al-qadr), that it comprises 114 chapters, that it contains several thousand verses.
To learn and memorize the various facts about the Qur’an that constitute the academic discipline of Qur’anology are not the same as knowing the Qur’an in the correct sense.
Knowing the Qur’an is impossible without first comprehending the true meaning of divine revelation, the truth of prophesy, the significance of God’s speech, the teachings of the Qur’an, and the central message of the Qur’an, and so one who fails to grasp these truths about the Qur’an “dies the death of ignorance.”
Thus, it is these two—the blessed personage of the Master of the Age (who is on a par with the Noble Qur’an) and the Qur’an (which is the equal of the perfect human being)—that can save human society. It is in reference to the salvific capability of these two sacred beings that God in Surah Naff says,
هَلْ أَدُلُّکُمْ عَلی تِجَارَةٍ تُنْجِيکُمْ
shall I show you a trade that will save you?
That which can save us is the lesser, the middle, and the greater jihad and the like, which can only be directed by the Imam and the Qur’an.
The next question in this connection is: Who are the believers truly awaiting the advent of Imam Mahdi and who are thus saved and can save others?
There are numerous phrases in the Noble Qur’an that point to the various characteristics of these true believers, and there are also phrases that capture the core virtue of these true believers.
The Noble Qur’an describes those truly awaiting the advent of Imam Mahdi as those who are willing to undertake struggles (mujÁhid), those who are willing to journey in the way of God (muhÁjir), the true believers (muÞmin), those who pray, who fast, who go to hajj, who pay their khums, who pay their zakÁt, etc. These are the detailed descriptions of that core virtue that makes one a true believer awaiting the advent of the Imam.
Now, to the core virtue. God characterizes those who will attain to the final destination, those who will succeed in beholding the desired conclusion at the final destination as “a people who reason,” “a people who know.”
It is difficult for one possessed of reason to reach the destination; it is difficult for one possessed of knowledge to reach the destination. It is not such that all those who are possessed of reason and knowledge will reach the destination.
God does not say that those who are possessed of reason will succeed or that those who are possessed of knowledge will succeed; rather, He says, “a people who reason,” “a people who know.”
There is no ethnicity or race in the East or the West that we could identify as a people who reason or a people who know. These descriptions are unlike such descriptions as Persian or Arab that identify a particular ethnicity.
This characterisation [that God specifies] is not the same as describing a people as Lurr or Turk or Baluch or the like. It is not the same as saying that a certain people are from the Aryan race or from such-and-such race.
Throughout the entire world, there is no particular ethnicity that can be described as “a people who reason” or “a people who know.” The people used in this Qur’anic characterisation is not a reference to an ethnicity, family identity, or the like.
Such descriptions as “a people who know,” “a people who reflect,” “a people who believe,” “a people who reason” that appear in the Qur’an signify men and women who partake of lives founded on reason, not merely possessed of reason; men and women whose lives are informed by knowledge, not merely possessed of knowledge.
The blessed personage of Imam Mahdi succeeds in reforming the world because he acts with reason and justice.
Thus, it is not enough to possess knowledge; it is not enough to possess reason. So long as one fails to act based on knowledge and reason, one can neither reform oneself nor relieve the society from the shackles of tyranny that affect it.
The honorable Prophet (may God lavish on him and his household thousands of salutations and abundant praise) succeeded to reform his people and to “remove from them their burden and the shackles that were upon them” because he was a wise person; that is, he acted with reason and knowledge.
Similarly, as the blessed personage of Imam Mahdi (God’s peace and blessings be upon him) will execute his revolution with reason, knowledge, and justice and in order to establish the dominion of God’s Oneness, to execute His revealed instructions, and to bring the prophesy of God’s prophets to fruition, he will succeed in awakening human society from its slumber, he will succeed in prompting humankind to rise from its current state of laid-back negligence, he will succeed in jolting humankind out of sitting back carelessly, he will succeed in empowering humankind to stand up so “that people may act with justice.” For, only a society that stands up and perseveres will attain salvation.
Since he acts with reason, he is neither subdued by anyone nor attempts to subdue anyone, he neither talks in vain nor gives in to vain talk. All this, in order “that people may act with justice.”
And when times get hard, when it is not enough to be just or to act with justice, he is determined to firmly execute justice in compliance with God’s injunction in the Qur’an—“O you who believe, be executers of justice.”
Those who like Imam Khomeini (may God the Exalted be pleased with him) are soldiers of Imam Mahdi both act with justice and are willing in times of hardship to execute justice.
Imam Mahdi has three hundred and thirteen soldiers like Imam Khomeini.
Only when a viceroy of God (wali) rises along with three hundred and thirteen soldiers like Imam Khomeini to reform people and compel them to act with justice and knowledge will human society attain salvation.
You may know that in the Age of Presence that will follow the advent of Imam Mahdi—the wielder of absolute divine authority—people’s faculty of reason will reach its perfection.
It is not difficult to reform a society that is blessed with reason.
The Sacred Essence of God will bless human society on account of the advent of the Master of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for him), thus perfecting humankind’s faculty of reason, and that will make governing human society so much easier, and thus the Imam will be able to revive and enact the ideal model of governance that Prophet Muhammad proclaimed when he said,
إنَّما أَقْضِي بَيْنَکُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَ الْأَيْمَان
Indeed I will judge among you based on [your own] testimonies and oaths.
This leads us to the true meaning of awaiting Imam Mahdi’s return.
He who is possessed of knowledge has the necessary disposition to be awaiting Imam Mahdi’s return, but he who lives and acts with knowledge is actively awaiting Imam Mahdi’s return.
He who is possessed of reason has the necessary disposition to be awaiting Imam Mahdi’s return, but he who lives and acts with reason is actively awaiting Imam Mahdi’s return.
Of course, the prayers and the devotional formulas and the spiritual invocations that we have been encouraged to utter in preparation for Imam Mahdi’s advent are helpful means and acts of worship and thus important, but the real sign that distinguishes the believers truly awaiting Imam Mahdi’s advent is acting with reason, acting with justice, acting with knowledge, acting with fairness, acting with thought, and acting with faith.
In Surah MuÞminun, the Qur’an identifies the men of God—those who successfully answer God’s call elsewhere in the Qur’an where He says, “compete in doing good” and “vie with one another in hastening toward your Lord’s forgiveness.”
In this chapter, God identifies the men of God that are the winners in the competition mentioned in these verses. The winners are not necessarily the respected elders. The winners are those who, one, live their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Qur’an and the holy lineage of the Prophet and, two, outpace their fellow believers. These are the winners.
God in Surah MuÞminun thus describes these winners:
الَّذِينَ هُمْ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ رَبِّهِمْ مُشْفِقُون | وَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ يُؤْمِنُون
those who are apprehensive on account of their fear of their Lord | and those who believe in the signs of their Lord.
The winners are those who, one, fear to displease their Lord and, two, have faith in their Lord’s signs.
The true possessors of knowledge, the true possessors of reason, those who are always apprehensive and fearful of displeasing their Lord, those who have faith in their Lord are the true monotheists who never trust in anyone other than God:
وَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ بِرَبِّهِمْ لا يُشْرِکون
and those who associate no partners with their Lord.
They are free of even the subtle pluralism, from which the majority of people suffer. The Qur’an says,
ما يُؤْمِنُ أکثَرُهُمْ بِاللّهِ إلّا وَ هُمْ مُشْرِکُون
most of them do not believe in God except that they also associate partners with Him.
Most believers are pluralists.
He who fails to always be cognizant of God as the all-seeing and the all-present Lord and views himself as an independent player in the world is a pluralist, and it is for this reason that God says, “most of them do not believe in God except that they also associate partners with Him.”
Surah MuÞminun states a very lofty point. It identifies for us those who are the winners in the competition for doing good and in the contest for God’s forgiveness.
Yes, they are those “who are apprehensive on account of the fear of their Lord,” but that alone is insufficient.
Yes, they are those who believe in the signs of God, but that alone is insufficient.
The winners are
الَّذِينَ هُمْ بِرَبِّهِمْ لا يُشْرِکُون | … أولئِکَ يُسارِعُونَ في الخَيْرات وَ
هُمْ لَها سابِقُون
those who do not associate partners with their Lord | … It is they who vie in doing good and it is they who take the lead.
 If God has said elsewhere that believers ought to compete in doing good and vie in reaching God’s forgiveness, those who speed ahead in this competition and take the lead are those who shun pluralism and who thus live their lives with the spirit of tawÎÐd.
 When the blessed personage of Imam Mahdi returns, human society will learn to act with reason, with justice, and with the spirit of tawÎÐd, and this will happen because the Imam himself leads a life of reason and justice and tawÎÐd.
 The blessed personage of the Master of the Age will reappear and will save humankind from all the adversities and hardships that now afflict it.
 At the end, I wish to once again honor the distinguished and learned attendees at this congress who are all believers awaiting the advent of the Imam.
 We ask God that He revive human societies with the light of the Qur’an and the guidance dispensed by the sacred progeny of the Prophet, that He endow all humanity with the life of reason, that He enable them to act with knowledge and justice, so that they may be true believers awaiting the advent of the Master of the Age (may all our souls be sacrificed for him.
May God forgive you and me and may He bestow His peace, mercy, and blessings upon you.