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Companions of Imam al-Mahdi (a)

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The companions of Imam al-Mahdi (a) are his helpers and assistants. According to hadiths, they shall assist him in his uprising upon his advent and help him form a universal government.

According to most hadiths, the number of companions of Imam al-Mahdi (a) is 313, who will miraculously gather around the Imam in a day or night in Mecca from near and distant places. Among them will be the Prophet Jesus (a), some companions of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and Imams (a) such as Salman al-Farsi and Malik al-Ashtar al-Nakha'i. Women are also among the companions of the Imam (a).

Number

Different hadiths relate a different number of companions Imam al-Mahdi (a) shall have. Most hadiths have mentioned the number of his (a) companions to be 313, equaling the number of companions of the Prophet Muhammad (s) in the Battle of Badr.[1]

However, some hadiths state the number of companions to be greater than 313. This second group of hadiths, at times, mentions this number to be 10,000. A hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a) says that "The Mahdi will not appear unless the size of his group is completed." Upon being asked how many his companions were, he replied, "Ten thousand."[2] Likewise, Abu Basir narrates, "A man from Kufa asked Imam al-Sadiq (a) how many they were and that people said that their number was the same as the number of warriors in the Battle of Badr. The Imam answered that the Mahdi won't appear unless with a powerful army no less than ten thousand."[3] Other hadiths quote the number of companions to be at least twelve thousand and at the most fifteen thousand.[4] Some other hadiths also go unto stating that the Mahdi (a) will have a hundred thousand helpers.[5]

At a glance it might appear that the hadiths stating different numbers of companions are contradictory and conflicting; however, by considering the context of these hadiths, it can be deduced that the number 313 refers to the most distinguished and special companions from the early stage of the uprising; those who will form the kernel and essence of the manifestation. In hadiths, these people are referred to as the standard bearers of the Mahdi's (a) army[6] and commanders and inheritors of the earth with whose help the Mahdi (a) will conquer the East and the West:

Verily they are the rulers of the earth and his agent in it, and with them he conquers the east of the earth and its west. [7]

These 313 are the core members and the rulers of the land of the universal uprising.

However, the hadiths which state the number of companions to be more than 313 imply the total number of helpers the Imam (a) shall have. This greater number of helpers will join forces with the 313 members and be under their leadership and command. Two hadiths from Imam al-Sadiq (a) confirm this view.

In the first hadith, the Imam (a) says, "They are 313 and each one of them will see himself amidst three hundred."[8] This means that each one of these 313 members will be in charge of leading and commanding an entire group of people.

In the second hadith the Imam (a) says, "When Allah gives the Qa'im permission to rise, 313 people will pledge allegiance to him and he will halt at Mecca until the number of his helpers reach ten thousand. Thereafter, he (a) shall continue to Medina."[9]

Allegiance

Imam al-Mahdi (a) will take allegiance from his helpers that they will fulfill all the conditions that he mentions and shall remain faithful to their word. Among the requirements of the allegiance, the following have been narrated:

  • Assistance in the battlefield,
  • Bearing difficulties and adversities,
  • Enjoining of good and forbidding from evil,
  • Refraining from prohibited and evil acts such as robbery, amassing gold, hoarding, taking of interest, desecrating mosques, giving false testimony, drinking intoxicants, giving in to materialistic pursuits, insulting the believers, pursuing runaways, illegal bloodshed, charity towards the hypocrites and infidels and committing unlawful acts.

The companions will accept these conditions and each one of them will pledge their allegiance to the Imam (a).[10]

Characteristics

In a few hadiths, the names and nationalities of the companions of the Imam (a) have been mentioned. Cities such as Kufa, Basra, Madaen, Herat, Harran, Qulzum, Khaybar, Tripoli, Beirut, along with many Iranian cities like Ahvaz, Hamadan, Rey, Taliqan, Qom, Neyshabur, Kerman, Qazwin and Tus are mentioned.[11]

All the companions of Imam al-Mahdi (a) are described to be young except for an amount as metaphorically less as kohl in the eye, or salt in the food.[12] They are like lions in the day and devout worshipers keeping vigil by night. Their hearts are strong and firm like pieces of iron.[13] They are people who have no longing except for martyrdom; they are obedient to their leader and master. The fearlessness and awe of these steely and determined fighters puts the enemies to their knees.[14] They are dauntless and firm in fulfilling their duties and do not confront danger with fear.[15]

Number of Women

Women are included among the companions of Imam al-Mahdi (a). However, hadiths vary in their exact number. Mufaddal b. 'Umar narrates from Imam al-Sadiq (a) that there will be 13 women present with the Qa'im (a). Their duties would be treating wounds and nursing the ill.[16] In other hadiths, the names of nine women are mentioned while in still other hadiths their number is said to be fifty;[17] yet in other hadiths their number appears to be more than that.[18] hadiths that mention more than 9 women to be present among the companions appear to be those who shall accompany the Imam (a) after his uprising.

Presence of the Earlier Believers

Main article: Raj'a

Among those who will be present in the ranks of the companions of Imam al-Mahdi (a), will be a group of worthy and prominent believers who would have deceased even before the advent of the Imam. God will bring them back to life and they shall join the ranks of the soldiers of the Imam (a).

Some of these believers, whose names have been mentioned in hadiths, are from earlier nations like Joshua (Yusha'), the representative of Prophet Moses (a), Mu'min Al Fir'awn (the believer from the clan of Pharaoh) and the Companions of the Cave;[19] while some others are forerunners and eminent believers from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and the Imams (a), like Salman al-Farsi, Abu Dujana al-Ansari, Malik al-Ashtar al-Nakha'i,[20] Jubayr al-Khabur,[21] Isma'il the son of Imam al-Sadiq (a),[22] 'Abd Allah b. Sharik al-'Amiri,[23] and Mufaddal b. 'Umar.[24]

Return of Prophet Jesus (a)

With the advent of Imam al-Mahdi (a), Prophet Jesus (a) ('Isa) will descend from the heavens and say to the Imam (a), "I have been sent as a minister, not as a ruler or prince."[25] Imam al-Mahdi (a) will then appoint him to command the aggressive operation against Dajjal.[26]

In hadiths, on account of his key role as an executive among the companions, Prophet Jesus (a) is known as a "minister", and "representative."[27] Likewise, titles like "standard bearer of the army of Mahdi (a)" have been extended to his chief companions like Shu'ayb b. Salih.[28]

Miraculous Gathering

According to hadiths, the companions of Imam al-Mahdi (a) will miraculously gather around him and join him in the holy Mecca from near and distant places in one day or night. Imam 'Ali (a) narrates from Prophet Muhammad (s) about the method of summoning the companions and their gathering around the Imam, "God will gather the companions of Mahdi from the East and the West in the time lesser than the blink of an eye near the holy Ka'ba.[29] Imam al-Baqir (a) also relates regarding this, "The helpers of Mahdi will rush towards him by means of Tayy al-Ard (traversing the earth without movement) and will pay allegiance to him in Mecca.[30]

Establishment of a Universal Government

Imam al-Mahdi (a) shall gain victory over the world and make Islam prevail all over the land with the aid of such virtuous companions. Imam al-Baqir (a) says, "It is as if I see the companions of Mahdi (a) encompassing the entire earth and the sky and there is nothing in the universe that is not completely subservient to them. They are so beloved that even the wild animals and birds yearn to seek their pleasure. The piece of land upon which a companion of Mahdi (a) sets foot on, boasts about it to the other piece."[31]

Notes

  1. Ṣadūq, Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, p. 654; Ṣadūq, al-Khiṣāl, p. 649; Ṭabarī, Dālāʾil al-imāma, p. 319.
  2. Nuʿmānī, al-Ghayba, p. 307; Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, p. 545.
  3. Ḥillī, al-ʿAdad al-qawīyya, p. 65; Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, p. 548; Ṣadūq, Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, p. 654.
  4. Ibn Ṭāwūs, al-Malāḥim wa l-fitan, p. 65.
  5. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, p. 578; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 52, p. 307, 367.
  6. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 8, p. 313; Nuʿmānī, al-Ghayba, p. 315; Ṣadūq, Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, p. 672;
  7. "انّهم حکام الأرض وعماله علیها وبهم یفتح شرق الأرض وغربها"
  8. Baḥrānī, al-Maḥajja, p. 46; Ṭabarī, Dālāʾil al-imāma, p. 320.
  9. Ḥillī, al-Mustajād, p. 511.
  10. Ṭabasī, al-Shīʿa wa l-rijʿa, vol. 1, p. 157; Muqaddasī, ʿIqd al-durar, p. 96.
  11. Ibn Ṭāwūs, al-Malāḥim wa l-fitan, p. 146; Ṭabarī, Dālāʾil al-imāma, p. 316.
  12. Ibn Ṭāwūs, al-Malāḥim wa l-fitan, p. 145; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 52, p. 334; Nuʿmānī, al-Ghayba, p. 315.
  13. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 52, p. 386.
  14. Nūrī, Mustadrak al-Wasāʾil, vol. 11, p. 114.
  15. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 52, p. 308.
  16. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, p. 75; Ṭabarī, Dālāʾil al-imāma, p. 259.
  17. Nuʿmānī, al-Ghayba, p. 279.
  18. Ibn Ḥammād, al-Fitan, p. 151.
  19. Daylamī, Irshād al-qulūb, p. 365; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 52, p. 346; Ṭabarī, Dālāʾil al-imāma, p. 274.
  20. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, p. 550; Ṭabarī, Dālāʾil al-imāma, p. 274.
  21. Quṭb Rāwandī, al-kharāʾij wa l-jarāʾiḥ, vol. 1, p. 185; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 41, p. 296.
  22. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, al-Ayqāẓ min al-hajʿa, p. 266.
  23. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, p. 561; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 52, p. 67.
  24. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, p. 573; Ṭabarī, Dālāʾil al-imāma, p. 248.
  25. Ibn Ḥammād, al-Fitan, p. 160; Ibn Ṭāwūs, al-Malāḥim wa l-fitan, p. 83.
  26. Ṭabasī, al-Shīʿa wa l-rijʿa, vol. 1, p. 167.
  27. Baḥrānī, Ḥilyat al-abrār, vol. 2, p. 620.
  28. Ibn Ṭāwūs, al-Malāḥim wa l-fitan, p. 53; Muqaddasī, ʿIqd al-durar, p. 130; Ṭabasī, al-Shīʿa wa l-rijʿa, vol. 1, p. 211.
  29. Ibn Ṭāwūs, al-Malāḥim wa l-fitan, p. 146.
  30. Muqaddasī, ʿIqd al-durar, p. 65.
  31. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, p. 493; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 52, p. 327; Ṣadūq, Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, p. 672.

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