The existence of good and pious people is not the absolute condition for ‘Zuhoor’, though it paves the way for it. The very basis of ‘Zuhoor’ depends on Allah’s Will and Wisdom. Allah’s Will is the absolute and decisive cause of ‘Zuhoor’ that fixes measures and ratifies it. The people’s mental and spiritual preparedness is the groundwork for that ‘Zuhoor’. Whenever they are prepared and pray and Allah also Wills so, Hazrat will manifest himself. We cannot say, “Why doesn’t he come despite the presence of pious people? Rather it’s our duty to pray and supplicate. The pious ones must pray for hastening his reappearance.
On the other hand, the saying that people are pious and virtuous holds doubt! Do we really have numerous numbers of pious and upright persons in our society? The presence of such people at our times is even less than (as per traditions) red sulphur. Religion too is scarcely found with people (like red sulphur) and its protection is like holding fire in hand. If the pious ones and pious deeds are deeply analysed and are measured on the basis of Qur’an, traditions and ethics of Ahl’ul-bayt (a.s.) and the thoughts, beliefs and deeds are very minutely scrutinized at individual and social levels, we will then realize how rare are pious people. Here, we shall narrate an incident said by the father of one Marjae:
One pious and peace-loving man of a city often pleaded before Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) saying, ‘O master! Why don’t you come despite the presence of so many virtuous men? He cried and pleaded over this matter many times until Imam appeared before him. Imam said, ‘In order to test how many are really pious, you may gather on Thursday night, forty most virtuous men in the house of the best pious one of the city. You may also call a butcher (who was amongst the best and pious people). Procure three goats and take that butcher and the goats on top of terrace of that house.
This pious man selects forty of the best and pious people and gathers them in the courtyard of that house. All sit down and pray and supplicate. (Meanwhile, Hazrat had asked that pious man not to disclose anything about the butcher and three goats). All of a sudden, they saw a light appearing above them from the terrace. They became certain that he is Imam-e-Zaman. Imam calls one of the virtuous men (who was indeed very virtuous) on top of the terrace.
He goes on top. After few moments, people in the courtyard see blood flowing down from the terrace! They become certain that Hazrat Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) has beheaded that pious man and hence this flowing blood. A group flee away. Minutes later, Imam (a.t.f.s.) calls up another pious man.
He obeys and goes up. Moments later, they once again see blood flowing down the drain pipe and they gain surety that the second pious man too has been beheaded by Hazrat. All run away and only three men stay behind. Hazrat calls the third pious man. At this moment, except for this called person, the rest too run away. He too (who was very pious) goes up. Later, blood flows down the drain pipe.
Thereafter, Imam (a.t.f.s.) says to that restless man, who would often plead for his coming: “People are such. Just because they imagined (and weren’t even certain) that they were being beheaded, they fled away; whereas the blood flowing down belonged to the goats that were slaughtered by the butcher!”
People must be tested and must pass their test. Apart from this incident there are numerous other incidences too in history which shows that people are not yet prepared for Imam’s ‘Zuhoor’ (manifestation). By tongue, they plead for ‘Zuhoor’ but by heart, they possess a different colour. The truth is known only when they are tested.
“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, We believe, and not be tried? And certainly We tried those before them….” (Qur’an, 29:2&3)
One of Allah’s unchangeable laws is test and examination. When there is test, most people fail and are cast aside. Those who pass in the first stage are very insignificant. That which is necessary is to turn towards the real goodness (not by tongue and deceit) and then pray and plead in that very state. Our heart and reflection should be directed towards Imam’s ‘Zuhoor’ until perhaps the Beneficent Allah takes pity on the prayers of the afflicted ones and rescues the people form perplexity and state of wandering. Verily, our duty is to pray and plead before Allah and adopt goodness and reform.