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Last Updated: 2010/12/09
Summary of question
Is the Imam of Time (atf) present at all places even in non-Islamic (Jewish) countries?
It is said that the Imam of Time (atf) is present everywhere. Is he present amongst people in non-Islamic countries e.g. a Jewish country? Is he cognizant of those who are engulfed in evil, corruption and promiscuity?
Concise answer

It is not possible from a rational and logical perspective to attain ultimate perfection without divine guidance. God, the Exalted, has sent His proofs to mankind to guide them in the right path in the best possible manner. The prophets and imams have been and are able to influence and exercise, with God’s permission, their authority over the entire creatures and to carry out their duties in the most appropriate way. We shall deal with your question in four steps:

1. Purposefulness of Creatures and the Necessity of Their Guidance

The Holy Quran says: “And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.”

2. Guidance encompasses all humankind.

God, the Glorified, says: “Verily, you are a warner and there is a guide for every people.”

3. Divine Leaders Looking at All People on Earth

It has been said by Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) that the imams and prophets cause the people of the earth to be protected from punishment. There are many stories about different misguided people being guided by the Imam of Time (a.s.) in the right path. In the detailed answer to come, we shall mention one of those stories.

4. The Imams have power of discretion over the entire universe.

As per the saying of the Lord of Martyrs, Imam Hussein (a.s), God ordered all the creatures to obey the divine leaders. In some Shiite books including Muntakhab al-Athar, the miracles of the Imam of Time (atf) which signify his extra-ordinary power have been mentioned.

The conclusion is that the comprehensiveness and dignity of the position of the Imam of Age (atf) are too high to be considered as being for Muslims or a specific group of people only. The Imam of Time (atf) is God’s proof on earth. Whoever needs him for guidance, he will be present to guide him in whatever way he deems appropriate no matter where he might be.

Detailed Answer

To answer the above question, the presence of the Imam of Age (atf) and his favor to those who are entitled to it and deserve guidance (though they might be Jews and their likes or even sinners) is proved through the arguments which shall be presented below.

From a logical and rational perspective, the expedience (attaining perfection) which forms the philosophy and reason behind man’s creation is achieved only through obeying divine commandments. Acquiring those commandments and getting acquainted with them is possible only through guidance received from the prophets and imams. Thus, wherever there is a person who is in urgent need of the Imam’s guidance or his favor or his physical presence, the Imam shall be there to help him. That is because God, the Glorified, has not created man in vain. He has not created the intellect and mind in vain either. If man is not led by a guide in a proper manner, it would be against the object of his creation. God, in Whose powerful hand rests all events and matters, has enabled the divine leaders to help, give hope to and guide those who are at crossroads not knowing which way to go. The divine leaders help them in case they need their help and are prepared for it, irrespective of their religion or cults.

There are many Quranic verses and numerous narratives to prove what has been said. The most important of them are explained as under:

1. In regards to the purposefulness of man’s creation and the necessity of his guidance, the Quran says:

“And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.”[1]

2. When it comes to guidance of mankind and the existence of guides who come to guide the entire mankind not a specific group of people, God, the Exalted, says: “You are only a warner and (there is) a guide for every people.”[2]

As per this verse, guidance has been propounded as a general rule applying to all nations and tribes including Jews and sinners. In fact, guidance is doing a kind of favor: “Say: Then Allah's is the conclusive argument; so if He please, He would certainly guide you all.”[3]

According to the above verse, guidance is not restricted to a particular time, geography or people and it is a proven fact that God, the Glorified, has a conclusive and sufficient guide for all places and all people.

3. When it comes to the favorable look of divine leaders over the people of the earth (Jews, Hindus, Laics etc.), Imam Baqir (a.s.) replies to a question by a narrator concerning the need for prophet and imam as such: “Without them the earth would not be stable and it is owing to their presence that punishment is averted from the people of the earth.” Then he recited the following Qurnic verse: “But Allah was not going to chastise them while you were among them.”[4]

Thereupon, he narrated the Holy Prophet’s saying: “The stars are a source of peace for the celestial beings and my ahlulbayt (family) is a cause of peace and tranquility for the people on earth. It is because of them (my family) that God grants them sustenance, gives the sinners respite and does not hasten in their punishment.”[5]

4. In regards to the Imam’s power of all kinds of discretion over the universe and his presence where he deems necessary, Imam Hussein (a.s.) said: “By Allah, Allah did not create a thing except that He ordered it to obey us.”[6]

Imam Baqir (a.s.) said that “My mercy” in the Quranic verse “My mercy encompasses all things”[7]refers to “Imam’s knowledge”[8] which indicates the Imam spiritual and scientific presence at all places.

Also, when it comes to the interpretation of the verse “and Allah's is the loftiest attribute”[9], there are as many as 15 authentic and reliable narratives in which the infallible imams (a.s.) have been introduced as the expression of God’s knowledge and power.[10]

The sixth Imam, Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) also said: “How is it possible for the Imam as a [divine] proof over the east and west not to see them and have no power over them.”[11]

The power and knowledge of the Imam of Age (atf) over the universe and his favorable and guiding attention and also the necessity of his presence, wherever necessary, can be established through the foregoing explanation. The writer of Muntakhab al-Athar (Grand Ayatollah Saafi Gulpaigani) who has examined a great many reports and narrations on Imam Mahdi (atf) has mentioned eight important instances of the Imam’s miracles which signify the Imam’s power of discretion and knowledge of things. At the end he says: “There are many accounts in Behar al-Anwar and other books which definitely reach the extent of tawatur with many of them having the most reliable chain of transmission.”[12]

All of these indicate Imam Mahdi’s knowledge and supervision over all mankind including Jews and other non-believers. Of course, the Imam’s favor and special attention include those people who are prepared to receive the Imam’s favor and assistance irrespective of whether they are in an Islamic country or in a non-Islamic one.

In short, as the Holy Prophet’s mission was global, the infallible imams (a.s.) who are his righteous successors are also the imam and leader of all mankind, Muslims and non-Muslims. However, they (non-Muslims) are not fortunate enough to follow the Imams and benefit from their gracious instructions and guide-lines. If the Imam of Time (may Allah hasten his reappearance) is looking at non-Muslims, it does not mean that he approves of them and endorses their inhuman and immoral actions because they, despite having such divine proofs, go for committing such actions.

[1] - "و ما خلقت الجن و الانس الا لیعبدون" [Al-Dhariyaht, 56]

[2] - "انما انت منذر و لکل قوم هاد" Al-Ra’d, 8; Al-Mizan, vol.11, pg.335. (Detailed discussions concerning Imamate can be found in volume 1 pg.270 - 282 of the same book.)

[3] - Al-Anaam: 149

[4] - "و ما کان الله لیعذبهم و أنت فیهم" [Al-Anfaal:33]

[5] - Behar al-Anwar, vol.23, pg.19.

[6] - "و الله ما خلق الله شیئاً الا و قد امره بالطاعة لنا" Namazi, Ali, Ethbat Wilayat, pg.59.

[7] - Al-A’raf: 156

[8] - Namazi, Ali, Ethbat Wilayat, pg.567.

[9] - "و لله المثل الاعلی" An-Nahl:60]

[10] - Namazi, Ali, Ethbat Wilayat, pg.126 -127.

[11] - Ibid, 65.

[12] - Saafi Gulpaigani, Muntakhab al-Athar, pg.401 – 411.

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