In response to a question, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani provided advice for believers in the era of the occultation of Imam Mahdi (AJ).
The question and the answer of the Supreme Religious Authority are as follows:
In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
Office of the Supreme Religious Authority the Grand Ayatollah Sistani
Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
On the eve of the birth anniversary of Imam Mahdi (AJ) in the middle of Sha’ban, we ask you on this auspicious occasion to express the opinion of the Supreme Religious Authority regarding the responsibilities of the Shia Muslims during the absence of the Imam (AJ).
In God’s name, the Most High and Mighty
It is the duty of all believers (may God Almighty bless them) to always keep in mind that Imam Mahdi (AJ) is the one appointed by God for this era, but Divine Wisdom has required him to remain hidden from views until he is allowed to appear.
Therefore, in addition to the obligation to know and believe in the Imam (AJ) and to express affection with him, it is incumbent upon them to remember him a lot and not to neglect to pray for him in their privacy and gatherings and to hold a ceremony that will commemorate Imam Mahdi (AJ) and his fathers (peace be upon them) and to remember the tyranny that the oppressors have done to them.
And to understand the suffering that the Imam (AJ) endures from seeing the pervasive oppression and degeneration during his absence, and remember his eagerness to reappear to correct religious deviations and establish justice among the servants of God.
And to know that all of them are taken care of by the Imam (AJ), who is kinder than their parents, and their situation is important to him, and he is committed to praying for and taking care of them; And it is appropriate for them to resort to the Imam in order to meet their needs and solve their problems.
And they should wait for him and pray that with his reappearance a relief will be obtained for them and the whole Ummah, and they should prepare themselves with insight, certainty and faithful allegiance for Imam Mahdi’s (AJ) reappearance.
And they should try to follow and satisfy him and avoid any sin that makes him unhappy, that following him is obedience to God, and his satisfaction is the pleasure of God Almighty, because disobeying the Imam (AJ) and his displeasure is also a disobedience to God and God’s displeasure.
Following Imam Zaman (AJ) will be achieved by observing the levels of faith and true belief and learning the religious duties that God Almighty and God’s Prophet (PBUH) and the infallible Imams (AS) have commanded to, and practicing and protecting it, and purifying the soul based on what has come from them, and accepting their advices and following their path.
Every believer should be the pride of these people with his good behavior, morals and character, not the cause of their shame. Therefore, it is necessary for everyone to follow the teachings of this sublime law, including performing his religious duties and forsaking his sins and misdeeds, and adorning himself with proper morals such as benevolence, avoiding harming others, beautifying speech, appearance and behavior, and helping the poor and orphans and the helpless, and adhere to kindness to parents and the observation of relationship, that these are the cause of the pleasure of God Almighty and God’s Prophet (PBUH) and the pleasure of the Infallible Imam (AS) and cause the good of this world and the hereafter.
During the time of absence, the believers, based on their friendship, should help each other with goodness and piety, and enjoin truth and patience, and avoid division and hatred for one another. And the rich, whose lives have been prospered by God Almighty, should rush to the aid of the poor, the needy, the oppressed and the helpless, by paying the amount prescribed by the Shariah and performing other duties that occur in times of emergency and require the principles of charity.
Because whoever helps one of the lovers of Imam Mahdi (AJ), it seems that he has helped him, because all of them are his family, but God Almighty has willed the absence of that Imam (AS) for an unknown time. And it is the duty of all to beware of falling into the misleading suspicions and destructive seditions that arise in the absence of that Imam (AS), and the worst of them is to weaken the beliefs of the people so that they may be misled from the realm of religion or the circle of his guardianship.
One of them is falling into the trap of those who narrate certain teachings from the Imam (AJ) by claiming that they are special representation of the Imam and have constant communication with him; These people are the barriers of the ancient Shia belief in referring to the Ahlul-Bayt (AS). This is the undoubted duty that has been performed in this religion according to the believers’ custom during the twelve centuries of his absence.
And that Imam (AJ) called his friends and Shia Muslims when faced with religious doubts, to refer to the pious just Shia jurists who follow the tradition and guidance of the Infallible Imams (A.S), because they are his authority over the people and Imam Mahdi (AJ) himself is the authority of God over all.
Another destructive heresy is the call to follow any matter attributed to the Infallible Imams (AS), without the necessary knowledge and expertise in criticizing and recognizing texts, the result of which is that people unfamiliar with the hadiths and the principles of critique and recognition of religious texts replace the scholars who are experts in this field.
Another destructive heresy is the denial of the principles of religion and its fixed affairs, through the indoctrination of any doubt. And one who finds it difficult to follow religious precepts should not deny or doubt them. Because one who disobeys has only one sin, but one who denies and doubts has committed two sins.
And they should avoid the illusions of determining the time of the reappearance of Imam Zaman (AJ) and the things that represent it, by anyone who has been issued. Because there is an emphatic prohibition of this work and it is emphasized that these allegations are false. And there are many experiences of these ideas in history that have been shown to be inaccurate and imaginary.
Believers should know that observing these points to wait for Imam Mahdi (AJ) is the reason for the sincerity of those who wish to understand the reappearance of Imam (AJ) and obey him and help him. Whoever acts honestly in this matter, even if God does not grant him the understanding of the time of the reappearance of the Imam according to God’s philosophy, will be reunited with those who have understood it and have obeyed Imam’s (AS) commands and have helped him, and he will enjoy the same reward, and this is a great salvation.
O ‘Allah (SWT), we ardently desire that You confer upon us a respectful government through which You may give might to Islam and its followers, humiliate hypocrisy and its people, and include us among those who invite people to the obedience to You and lead them to Your approved path. Give us the good of this world and the world to come. (Dua Iftitah)
Office of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Najaf Ashraf