The Dark Age and The Mode of Life Therein
THE “DARK AGE” AND THE MODE OF LIFE THEREIN
In the prophecies made in the past, about the “Dark Age”, we had been informed of the dangers to be confronted. It was told by the Prophets that the “Dark Age” will unusually prolong and this length of time will be a test and trial. A Tradition says that the heavenly rule will come after a long time. The people will become stone-hearted due to the length of time and the world will become full of cruelty and oppression. After this, the rule of Justice will ensue. It has been said that endless hopes and wishfulness will be the root cause of all the social evils during the “Dark Age”.
When someone thinks that the establishment of divine rule is far off, his love for God cools down and he becomes lazy in penitence and character building. He puts off till tomorrow what he has to do today. That is why all the Divine guides have condemned the endless hopes and have directed that one should expect the establishment of heavenly rule at any moment.
If it is established, it will be the time of accountability and not of reforming ourselves. Jesus Christ has explained this fact with a beautiful example:
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also The coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noe entered into the ark. And Knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of men be.”
Matthew Chapter 24(35-39)
It means that the people will be quite unaware and the stipulated day will come. There is a Tradition from. Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (A.S) ‘’ In our Qaim (A.S) there are signs of seven Prophets.” There are more than 30 Traditions that are present in the books dealing with ‘Ghaibat’. It has been clearly mentioned in those that the last age will be like the age of Noe. “Dark Age” will continue for a very long time. The people will gradually be so absorbed in worldly affairs that they will become unmindful of religion. Then suddenly the Divine Light will appear. This is why the Christ has said:
“Watch, therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the Goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his houses to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not son of man cometh.”
Matthew Chapter 24(42-44)
Similarly in the book of Zechariah, we find,
“But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.”
Zechariah Chapter 14(7 & 9)
Our books about ‘Ghaibat’ which are 3000 in number, each contain a separate chapter having the heading “Prohibition of Fixing the Time.” In this chapter all those Traditions are collected, which prohibit the fixation of time on the arrival of the Last ‘Hujjat’. The Holy Prophet has said that the day of the appearance of ‘Hujjat’ is like the Day of Judgment. There are so many Quranic verses that say that no one knows the hour of Judgment Day.
Al-Araf (The Heights 187)
The Prophet David also said the same:
“The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.”
Psalms No. 6(9-10)
Meaning to say, all will happen within a twinkling of an eye. In the same book it has been said in another place:
“The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever.”
Psalms No. 37(18)
Jesus Christ says:
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, my lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
St. Matthew Chapter 24(45-51)
In Chapter 25 of the same book it has been said:
“Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (13)
The upshot of the preceding brief discussion is that the first thing that we are required to do during the “Dark Age” is to consider the arrival of Divine’ Hujjat’ at hand, as was directed by Jesus;
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
St Matthew Chapter4 (17)
This means that one who considers this hour to be far off will become careless. Therefore, every person should be ready in a way as the athletes taking part in the 100-meter race wait for the whistle. If any of them is slack for 1/50 second, his slackness will deprive him of victory. This is the reason that in the Holy Quran, it has been told in eight places that one should not be careless of the destined day. This day will come suddenly, not giving us a chance to set ourselves right. It has also been said that it will be of no use to become a believer on that day. A believer who might not be having good deeds will also not be able to avail of his belief. So it becomes necessary that belief and self-refinement should precede the establishment of the Heavenly Empire. We should be ready beforehand in all respects.
It is proved that the darkness will overpower the whole world. But the light will not be totally put out. The guidance will not totally cease. This darkness has been equated by the Holy Quran to a night in sura’ Al-Leyl'(The Night). In its explanation, it has been said that this night is the night of Disappearance in which the Sun of Heavenly Guidance will vanish and the whole world will be shrouded in darkness. The bewildered persons will not be able to see the right path. In such darkness, it will be possible to illuminate the houses by enkindling candles. Whosoever will be connected with Powerhouse his house will be illuminated. There will be a night over the world in general but the resourceful persons will be able to get the light of guidance for themselves. For this reason, Prophet Isaiah said:
“Yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner anymore but thine eyes shall see thy teachers.” Isaiah Chapter 30(20)
“During the period of Disappearance to stand firm on the right path will only be possible by the support of the Holy Spirit.”
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your Children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.”
St.Luke Chapter 11(13)
It is, therefore, necessary that one should always pray, seek and try to be connected with the center of the Divine Light of Guidance. Thus, he will be saved in this darkness from stumbling and going astray. This danger can only be avoided if there is a contract between the man and the center of Guidance. Holy Quran says:
“O’ ye, who believe! Endure, outdo all others in endurance, be ready, and observe your duty to Allah, in order that ye may succeed.”
Aal-e-Imran (The Family of Imran 200)
The Holy Imam Muhammad Baqir (A.S) explained the verse and said, “Firstly persevere in carrying out of duties, try to be patient, secondly ask your brothers to be patient against the cruelties committed by your enemy, and endure all the calamities patiently. Thirdly, try to make contact with the awaited ‘Hujjat’ during the “Dark Age” and fourthly fear God because this is the key to success.”
These four things have already been emphasized by all the Prophets. For example, the discharge of moral duties and to give the rights of others to them means the sacrifice of personal will to the pleasure of God. The human self wants a high degree of liberty in the discharge of moral duties. Similarly, we cannot properly give the rights of others to them unless we push back our own wills and wishes.
In Psalms it has been said:
“I will freely sacrifice unto thee.”
“And he (Jesus) stretched forth his hand towards his disciples and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
St. Matthew Chapter12 (49-50)
- Thus saith the Lord of hosts; if thou wilt walk in my ways and if thou will keep my charge, then thou shall also judge my house and shall also keep my court.”
Zechariah chapter 3(7)
It appears that to carry out the orders of God is very important. To be satisfied with the orders of God and to be steadfast in matters concerning religion is also the spirit of patience and this too is important.
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him Those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”
Psalms No.37 (7,9)
Here twofold patience has been required. Patience on the cruelties inflicted by others and to be steadfast in pursuance of religious directives. In the time of affliction, grief, and cruelty, patience is very important.
“Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his Judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger”
Zephaniah Chapter 2(3)
“The meek shall inherit the earth.”
Psalms No. 37(11)
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- Blessed are the meek” for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
St.Matthew Chapter 5 (3,5-6,10)
There are so many sayings in which those persons have been admired who were subjected to tyranny and afflictions and yet they were patient.
In the present age, religious monopolists have especially circulated a concept in the masses that it is impossible to have contact with the center of Divine Guidance. The solitary reason for it is that if they frankly admit that a contact is possible, their own monopoly ceases there and then.
It is the prime duty of Muslim scholars that they should lead the people to the center of guidance and should not try to guide them to themselves. But it is happening that they are calling the people to their own door, on the excuse that the gate of guidance is inapproachable and closed. Jesus Christ has already pointed out this wickedness.
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”
St. Matthew Chapter 23(13)
The example of the mercenary religious scholars is that of a big stone on the opening of a spring. It neither utilizes the water itself nor allows others to utilize it. The fact is that God says that I am very much pleased with the repentance of sinful persons.
“Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”
Ezekiel chapter 33(11)
God Almighty told many Prophets that he hates the bad deeds of bad people. He does not hate the self of that bad person. If he mends his way, God is beneficent and Merciful. Then will He not guide him who tries to contact Him? We must be sure that it has never been difficult to have contact with the center of guidance of the beneficent and Merciful. He Himself says that one who tries to contact Him, He Himself contacts him. His promise is never wrong.
Another thing necessary for divine contact is the fear of God. All the Prophets have elaborated it in their books. It is not disputable, so I would like to write only this much that it stands proved from the sayings of Divine Guides that: God-fearing will inherit the earth. God fearing will have the Divine knowledge. God fearing will be safe from perdition in every age. They will share the Divine Rule.
There can be a question who are those who miss contact with the centre of Divine Guidance? An answer to this question facilitates the way to observe the Divine light. The brief answer to this question is that the center of guidance is concealed due to the bad deeds of the evil-doers.
It means that the clouds of our vices intervene between divine light and ourselves. The walls of our bad deeds obstruct the rays of the Light of Guidance.
There is an episode of Ali, son of Ibrahim Mehzyar, which is found in many books of ‘Ghaibat’. When Ali bin Ibrahim had contact with the center, he has questioned: O Ibrahim! What do you want? He said I want to see the Hidden ‘Hujjat’ The answer was: He is not concealed from you, but your bad deeds have made him hidden. Something similar is in the Old Testament.
- And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons and of his daughters. And he said I will hide my face from them.”
Deuteronomy Chapter 32(19-20)
So if we mend our ways and keep the pleasure of God in view, in our doings and sayings, there is no reason that we may not be able to see the Divine Light of Guidance.(1)
- It will be discussed in the coming pages how should we make a contact and what is its procedure.