Intiẓār al-Faraj (Arabic: إنتظار الفَرَج) or the Wait for the Relief is, in the Shiite terminology, the expectation for the Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a), which will occur miraculously and extraordinarily, as a result of which the world will be filled with justice. According to Shiite doctrines, the Wait for Relief requires spiritual and moral preparations.
"Faraj" is an Arabic word meaning relief or release from griefs. In the phrase, "Intizar al-Faraj", it refers to the relief that people of the world will have after the Reappearance of the Twelfth Imam (a).
The Virtue of the Wait and the Waiting Person in Hadiths
Many virtues are mentioned in Shiite hadiths for the Wait and the person who waits (Muntazir). For example, the Wait for the Relief is said to be the best and the most lovely action and the first worship, and the Muntazir is said to be resurrected as a man of God, superior to others at all times, and among Ahl al-Bayt (a).
The Imam al-Sadiq (a) says, "Those who know the matter (i.e. the Imam of their time), they will wait for the Relief". That is, if one knows the Imam of his time and knows what the Imam expects from his followers, he will then start an uprising against the unjust government, and the Relief (al-Faraj) is the day when the Imam's expectations are met.
According to a hadith from Imam al-Baqir (a), the Wait for Qa'im (a) is said to be a tenet of the religion along with testifying for the Oneness of God and the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (s). Also, the Muntazir is said to be like someone who is in the camp together with al-Qa'im (a), waving his sword along with the Prophet (s), and is then martyred.
Duties of the Waiting Person
Given different views about the Islamic government in the period of Occlusion, there are different views about the obligations of a person who is waiting for the Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a).
No Particular Duties
Some people believe that the Occultaion of the Imam indicates that it is not possible to implement the Islamic rulings; otherwise the Imam (a) himself would reappear. Thus, no attempt is needed. They believe that the Wait is tantamount to the surrender to the historical predetermination: we cannot help but live under injustice and corruptions until the Savior reappears. Such a Wait is at the service of unjust rulers to silence the people.
According to another view about government in the period of Occultation , the Occultation leads to deprivation from all the blessings of the presence of the Imam (a), including an Islamic government.
Some people have appealed to hadiths regarding taqiyya (precautionary dissimulation) and applied them to the period of Occultation to show that dissimulation and silence towards unjust rulers are obligatory until the Uprising of Imam al-Mahdi (a). Shiite Akhbaris who deny ijtihad reject any social roles for Shiite scholars, including the establishment of a government in the period of Occultation, because for them the views of a mujtahid are only probabilistic and thus unreliable.
To the contrary, some scholars appeal to cases, such as a local government being assigned to Malik al-Ashtar or the issuance of fatwas being assigned to Aban b. Taghlib and Zakariyya b. Adam, to show that the views of a non-Infallible should be obeyed by others if the is grounded in his ijtihad.
The Muntazir has Heavy Responsibilities
However, many scholars believe that a Muntazir has heavy responsibilities. In his criticism of the above views, Imam Khomeini believes that taqiyya (precautionary dissimulation) is restricted to ancillaries of the religion; it is not allowed with regard to the tenets of Islam. He emphasizes that we could not avoid the implementation of Islamic rulings in the last 1200 years, since the Reappearance might not occur until thousands of years later, we cannot avoid this now. For it is not acceptable to shut down the rulings and the Islam.
Imam Khomeini defines the Wait for the Relief as follows: "if a person who waits for Faraj thinks that he should only pray without having any other obligations, then he is not a true Muntazir, even if he acts upon his own Shari'a obligations." Imam Khomeini believes that we should expedite the Reappearance by providing its grounds.
Not everyone can claim that he is waiting for the Faraj of the Occulted Imam (a), because people who are waiting for a reformer should themselves be reformed and righteous, and a person can reform himself only if he knows the Imam of his time; otherwise he will be like someone who lives in the Age of Jahiliyya and will die like people of Jahiliyya.
The Wait According to the Sunnis
In Sunni collections of hadiths, the Prophet Muhammad (s) is quoted as prognosticating that a man from the Household and the progeny of lady Fatima (a) will come, who will fill the world with justice.
Abd al-Rahman b. Khaldun, a scholar of the ninth/fifteenth century—who wrote a well-known prolegomenon to the book, al-Ibar—says, "Be aware that the majority of Muslims throughout the ages have believed that in the End Time a man from the Household will inevitably reappear, who will support the religion, reveal the justice, and will be followed by Muslims. He will dominate the Islamic territories, and his holy name is al-Mahdi. According to reliable sources of hadiths, decisive Signs of Reappearance are Dajjals riot and other events will take place. [For example,] Jesus (a), peace be upon him, will follow him and will kill Dajjal, or will reappear together with him and help him in killing Dajjal and will follow al-Mahdi, peace be upon him, in his prayer".
Although Sunni Muslims believe in the Wait for the Reappearance of al-Mahdi (a), they believe that he is not born yet. The Imami Shi'a and some other Islamic and non-Islamic denominations also wait for a savior who is born and alive and oversees the actions, sayings, and troubles of people.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from انتظار فرج in Farsi WikiShia.