QUESTION: As everyone knows, one of the titles of the Mahdi (may Allah
hasten his return) is "Al-Qa’im" (The Riser). A tradition has been related
regarding the reason for his being given this title that requires contemplation,
since it apparently indicates that this title was given because that personage
will reappear after death. Yet we have over approximately one thousand
traditions regarding that personage, his occultation, and long life, in view of
which that tradition cannot be relied upon. However, if some clarifications
about its narrators, text, and meaning can be given, it would be useful.
ANSWER: The great scholar Shaykh al-Tusi narrates an unreliable tradition
that apparently indicates that the "Qa’im" was given this title because he will
arise after death. Shaykh al-Tusi has provided a bit of explanation about this
tradition, but before we enter this topic, we consider it necessary to mention
the basics of Imamate in Shiaism, which verses of the Noble Qur’an, traditions,
and rational proofs affirm. These principles are as follows:
1. Imamate is a Divine covenant, and individuals "who are worthy of bearing it"
are specified and appointed by Allah, and this Divine selection and appointment
is announced to the people by the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family).
2. The most important conditions of the Imam are sinlessness and being more
knowledgeable than all other people, such that all be in need of his knowledge,
guidance, and direction, which he be free of need of all, as has been related
about Khalil ibn Ahmad that he said about the Imamate of Amir al-Mu’minin (peace
be upon him):
"The dependence of all others on him and his independence from all others are
proof that he is the Imam of all."1
3. The earth will never be without a Divine Proof and Imam, and whoever dies
without having recognized the Imam of his time dies the death of ignorance.
4. The Imams, as per the text of mutawatir traditions from the Prophet (peace be
upon him and his family), are twelve personages.
5. They are twelve and all are from the Ahl-ul-Bayt (peace be upon them) of the
Prophet (peace be upon him and his family), and according to the meaning of the
mutawatir traditions of Thaqalayn (The Two Weighty Things), they are equals of
the Qur’an and shall never part from the Qur’an.
6. The Imams possess all of the religious and administrative stations except
prophethood, which was sealed with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his
family). And as Imam ‘Ali (peace be upon him) has said in Nahj al-Balagha, they
are the Divine Guardians2 over the creation, and on the basis of
another tradition, they are the ship of salvation.
“None shall enter Paradise except one who recognizes them and whom they
recognize, and none shall enter Hell except one who denies them; they are the
ships of salvation and refuge of the ummat from deviation and discord.”3
7. The name, qualities, and order of the Imamate of the Imams (peace be upon
them) was specified by the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family), and in
addition, each Imam specified the following Imam.
These are among the important foundations of belief in the principle of Imamate,
and for every Muslim who believes in the unseen world and in Allah, and the
messengership of the Seal of the Prophets (peace be upon him and his family),
the criterion of truth of these fundamentals is a rational proof, Qur’anic
verse, or definite and mutawatir tradition. And most of these fundamentals can
be proven by all three means.
* Source: Taken from Discussions Concerning al-Mahdi (May
Allah Hasten His Return) by Ayatullah Lutfullah as-Safi al-Gulpaygani
1. Mu’jam Rijal
al-hadith, Volume 7, Page 76 and Tanfih al-Maqal, Volume 1, Page 403
2. Nahj al-Balagha, Subhi al-Salih, Speech 152, Part 7
3. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 6, Page 233