Shiites have particular duties to prepare the ground for the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his advent), humanity’s last deliverer.
According to Islamic eschatological narrations regarding the reappearance of Imam Mahdi at the end of time– whose promised reemergence would herald worldwide salvation– many duties were cited for the faithful in the period of Occultation.
For instance, Imam Ali (PBUH) said: “Wait for the return of the Imam [Mahdi] and do not despair of God’s blessings, for the best deeds in the eye of God are waiting for His reappearance.”
Imam Ali’s recommendation about the significance of the concept of “Waiting” implies assiduous effort and sincere activity toward the realisation of Imam Mahdi’s return, who is the ultimate saviour of humanity.
One of the key criteria for the reappearance of Imam Mahdi is the emergence of truly loyal adherents who would accompany Him in accomplishing his divine objective of establishing a universal rule of justice.
Another prerequisite for the Imam’s reappearance is the worldwide need for the reappearance of Promised Saviour across the world.
Imam Mahdi will not reappear as long as this primary requirement is not addressed, as was the case with earlier religious leaders throughout history; this is why Imam Ali remained out of politics for 25 years, for he lacked adequate political, social, and religious support.
Imam Mahdi’s Occultation was neither God’s will nor the Imam’s choice; rather, the Occultation occurred at a time when the society’s unfaithfulness and indifference to their infallible Imam generated such circumstances.
Thereby, the people themselves must prepare the conditions for Imam’s reappearance.
Nowadays, the question is, what is the link between the observance of Arbaeen, the 40th day after Imam Hussain’s martyrdom, and the anticipation of the Imam’s second coming?
In fact, the Arbaeen, the world’s largest pilgrimages, promotes the culture of awaiting the Imam (the Guided One) and lays the groundwork for the Imam’s return.
Arbaeen pilgrimage in modern history has gone beyond a Shiite ritual, and every year it draws people from different faiths, languages, and ethnicities.
The presence of Sunni Muslims and Christians and their preachers in the Arbaeen pilgrimage and even converting to Islam are indisputable instances that have been seen abundantly in these years, illustrating the importance of Arbaeen.
Furthermore, religious narrations predict that during Imam’s reappearance, He would not only be accompanied by Shiites but also by the Prophet Jesus, as the latter will fight Shoulder to shoulder with the Imam against al-Dajjal (the Antichrist).
The uprising of Imam Hussain against the tyrannical rule of Yazid was the most tragic manifestation of the human resistance against injustice in history. On the other hand, Imam Mahdi is considered the greatest hope for humanity’s emancipation from oppression and suffering; the Arbaeen pilgrimage can be understood as an eternal path that will eventually lead to the return of the Promised Mahdi.
There is an unbreakable bond between Imam Hussain’s uprising and the reappearance of his descendant, the Promised Mahdi. The intrinsic need of all humans is to attain social justice and equality. Imam Mahdi’s establishment of a universal rule will also have justice as its central goal, a point that was unfortunately ignored by society during the perpetual revolution of Imam Hussain.
Arbaeen is a forum for spiritual and civilizational harmony and bedrock for promoting the urgent need for the Promised One. To put it in other words, Arbaeen is the final bastion of confronting today’s politico-cultural evils.
In conclusion, the Arbaeen pilgrimage is the focal point for all men and women who desire an end to ceaseless calamities, conflicts, and injustice.