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In the light of the responsibilities of Imam Mahdi (as), we can begin to appreciate the characteristics of Imam’s (as) helpers and companions. Indeed, they will be at a sublime level of excellent morals and character.
It is undeniable that Allah has bestowed a great favor on us by keeping us attached to the infallible personalities of Ahle Bayt (as). Traditions have been narrated by the Ahle Bayt (as) regarding the characteristics of the companions of Imam Mahdi (as). If we find all these characteristics or even one of them in us, then we should thank Allah. And if Allah forbid, our existence is not adorned by these characteristics, then we should beseech Allah that He gives us the inclination to embellish ourselves with these characteristics.
But before we discuss their characteristics, here is one tradition which highlights the reward of assisting Imam Mahdi (as). Imam Baqir (as) said, “One who lives till the time of Imam Qaem (as) and dies fighting on his side will earn the status of two martyrs and one who fights on his side and kills even one of our opponents will earn the reward of twenty martyrs.” (Beharul Anwar, volume 52, chapter 32, tradition 15)
In one tradition Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) has mentioned the general traits of the companions of Imam Mahdi (as):
- Their hearts are stronger than iron
- They will be having complete faith in Allah
- There is no place for doubts in their hearts
- They shall be tougher than stones
- They will uproot the mountain only by turning towards it
- They will conquer every city they enter with their standard
- They are like swift eagles, mounted on fast horses
- They will touch the saddle of Imam’s (as) mount to seek blessings
- They will be encircling Imam (as) to safeguard him from all calamities and misfortune
- They will fulfill every desire of Imam (as) with their heart and soul
- They will not sleep in the nights
- They will buzz like honey bees in their prayers
- They will pass the night in worship and in the morning they will be seen mounted on horses, ready for helping Imam (as)
- They will be devout worshippers by the night and like the lions in the day. They will be more submissive and obedient to Imam than a maidservant. They are like burning lamps and their hearts are like glowing beacons. They are fearful of Allah and testify to His Unity
- They are hopeful of martyrdom in the Way of Allah
- Their slogan will be “O Avenger of Husain!”
- When they march, their awe will precede them by a distance of one month’s journey
- These are the ones who seek Allah’s pleasure
- Allah will help Imam (as) through them
(Beharul Anwar, volume 52 chapter 31, tradition 82)
Number of Companions will Equal The Warriors of Badr
Imam Mohammed Taqi (as) declared, ‘Allah will gather his followers around him. Their number will be 313, the same as the companions of Badr. They will gather from different parts of the earth.’ And this is the exegesis of Allah’s Words, “…wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together; surely Allah has power over all things.” (Surah Baqarah, verse 148) (Beharul Anwar, volume 52, chapter 31, tradition 10)
Aban Ibn Tuglab narrates, “During my visit to Makkah, I presented myself in the company of Imam Sadiq (as) in Masjidul Haram, and was honored by the opportunity to kiss his hand. He (as) said, “O Aban, very soon, Allah will fill this Masjid with 313 persons.” (al-Ghaybah of Nomani, page 313).
In another tradition, Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) says, “Imam Qaem (as) will not leave the city of Makkah till such time, that he completes the size of his group.”
Abu Baseer, a famous companion of Imam Sadiq (as) once asked the Holy Imam (as) about the size of Imam Mahdi’s (as) group, to which Imam (as) replied, Ten thousand.
Apparently, the above traditions may appear in conflict with each other. But there is no contradiction. Explanations, which appear under these traditions, inform us that Imam Mahdi (as), will have 313 ‘special companions’. Besides these, he (as) will also enjoy the help and support of other people who will be his companions.
This is the number of companions after the aggregation of which, Imam (as) will announce his reappearance from the Holy Kaaba. All these individuals will be among the sincere ones and when this number swells up to ten thousand, then by Allah’s order, Imam (as) will establish himself (as Allah’s Representative) and will kill the enemies of Allah.
They Will Possess Amazing Strength
“He said: Ah! that I had power to suppress you, rather I shall have recourse to a strong support.” (Surah Hud, verse 80)
While explaining the above verse of the Holy Quran, Imam Sadiq (as), quotes the words used by Hazrat Lut (as) for his nation – It is unfortunate that I do not possess the power and strength to control you. How excellent it would be, if I had the support of the people against you! Imam Sadiq (as), while continuing his narration says, The power and strength, which is desired by Hazrat Lut, is in fact the strength of Imam Mahdi (as) and the steadfastness of his companions.
While referring to the companions of Imam Mahdi (as), Imam Sadiq (as) says, “Each of them have been gifted the strength of forty men and surely their hearts are firmer than iron, and they will not sheath their swords until the time their Lord is satisfied with them.” (Kamaluddin chapter 58, tradition 18)
The above traditions highlights the amazing power and strength of each companion of Hazrat Mahdi (as) – such power that even a prophet like Hazrat Lut (as) is desirous of it.
How Will They Gather Around The Imam (as)?
The Holy Prophet (sawa) prophesied, ‘When our Qaem (as) will establish himself, Allah will gather the people of the East and West. These people will come together in one place in the same manner as the leaves gather in one place in autumn.’ (al-Sawaeq al-Mohreqa, page 163; Muntakhabul Asar, page 477)
According to another tradition from the Holy Prophet (sawa) these people will gather in one place with the blinking of an eye. (Ilzaman Nasib, page 200)
They will spend the night in their homes and by dawn-break, will reach Makkah al-Mukarramah. (Beharul Anwar, volume 52 chapter 31, tradition 21)
Some of them will travel on the clouds by the day. Imam (as) will recognize them by their names, by the names of their ancestors, by their lineage and by their style and mode. The narrator inquired who will be the most faithful? The prophet replied, ‘The one who will travel on the clouds by the day.’
Imam Mohammed Baqir (as) said, ‘From different parts of the land his (Imam (as)) Shiahs will access him as the land will shrink for them. When they reach to him, they shall pay their allegiance to him.’ (Kitabal Irshad, page 341, Muntakhabul Asar, page 198)
From such traditions, it is apparent that the companions of Imam Mahdi (as) will come from different parts of the earth to him. Some will come while in the nights they were in their beds and in the morning they shall be with Imam (as). Some will reach Imam (as) with the batting of an eyelid, while some others shall travel with the help of the shrinking earth. It could be that all 313 companions shall reach with the batting of an eyelid and while others shall reach Imam (as) through different ways. This difference can be possible due to the varied levels of their faith
They Are Extremely Brave and Pious
Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) relates, ‘I am seeing Qaem (as) and his companions in Kufa. Their foreheads bear the distinct marks of prostration. They have the ferociousness of a lion by the day and are intense worshippers by the night. Their bodies will be stronger than steel. The strength of each one of them will be equal to forty men. They will only kill the hypocrites and the infidels.’ (Beharul Anwar, volume 52, chapter 32, tradition 202)
Extremely Obedient, Fragrant and Fortunate
Holy Prophet (sawa), while narrating the characteristics of Hazrat Qaem (as) to Ubayy bin Ka’b, said, “Allah shall gather the same number of people as the companions of Badr from different parts of the earth. Imam (as) has a tablet in which the details of his companions have been written down like their number, names, cities, natures, titles and even their family tree. These will be at the highest level of faith.”
After that Holy Prophet (sawa) narrated their greatness thus, “O Ubayy! Blessed are those who shall meet them, blessed is he who loves them and blessed is he who talks about them, as they shall save them from being destroyed. Allah shall open the doors of heaven for them on the basis of their acceptance of Holy Prophet (sawa) and Imams (as). Their example is like musk, which spreads but does not change and in the skies their example is like that of the moon whose brightness never diminishes.” (Beharul Anwar volume 52, chapter 32, tradition 4)
Holy Prophet (sawa) has compared the companions with musk as it has the best of fragrances. This fragrance can emanate from their bodies or from their immaculate ethics and morals. This implies that their firm actions and unshakable faith will enliven the surroundings with their fragrance. Here the companions have been compared to the moon. Moon symbolizes light, but it does not independently emit this light, rather it subsists from the light of the sun. When the moon absorbs the light from the sun, it also becomes bright. Thus the companions have been compared with the moon due to their acceptance of Imam Mahdi (as) and their brilliance is an extract from the character of Imam (as). Another point to be noted here is that people of the earth consider them to be normal (like themselves) while the people of the heavens consider them to be like the beautiful moon.
In another tradition, Imam Mohammed Baqir (as) informs, ‘When the Qaem shall reappear then Allah shall help him, in rows, through the people of the signs, devout worshippers and the descending angels. Jibrael (as) shall be in front of him, while Mikael (as) shall be on his right and Israfeel (as) on his left. Awe shall precede them from all sides for as long as a month’s journey. Allah’s proximate angels shall accompany them on this expedition.
The first to accompany them shall be the Holy Prophet (sawa) and after him shall be Hazrat Ali (as). He shall have a special sword by which he shall conquer Rome, China, Turkey, Sindh, Hind, Kabul and Hijr.’ ‘Glad tidings is for those who accept him and is among his companions. Woe unto him who disobeys him and his orders and is counted amongst his enemies.’ (Beharul Anwar, volume 52, chapter 32, tradition 99)
Indeed what can be better for the one who is amongst his companions and is enumerated along with the proximate angels who are Imam’s (as) helpers!
When Imam Mahdi (as) shall reappear, he shall destroy the idols and will have a youthful appearance.
Hazrat Ali (as) in another tradition narrates, ‘I am seeing them (companions of Imam Mahdi (as)) – they are similar in colour, height, face and clothes. They are united in their hearts and are anxiously trying to search for their lost property. They are troubled and disturbed because of it. At that moment, a person from the extreme wall of the Holy Kaabah will reappear. This person will be an exact replica of the Holy Prophet (sawa) in his appearance, ethics, mannerisms, beauty and radiance. These people shall ask him ‘Are you Mahdi?’ He shall reply, ‘Yes I am Mahdi.’ Then they shall all pay allegiance to him.’ (al-Malaahim wal Fitan, page 122, Roozgaarhaai, volume 1, page 416, tradition 482)
The reason for their having the same color and features is probably because their thinking shall be similar and their pain and sorrow will be shared. They would have absorbed the faith of Imam Mahdi (as) in such a fashion that they would be just like him in his ethics and morals.
Perfect Intellects, Sharp Sight and Hearing
One of the characteristics of the companions of Imam Mahdi (as) shall be that their intellects shall be at the highest level and their sense of justice and ethics shall be perfect.
Imam Baqir (as) informs, ‘When our Qaem reappears, he will place his hand on the heads of the people by which their intellects will become complete and their ethics will scale the peak of perfection.’ (Beharul Anwar, volume 52, chapter 32, tradition 47)
Holy Prophet (sawa) declares, ‘I have been raised for the perfection of ethics.’
Therefore, it is apparent that the purpose of the Holy Prophet’s (sawa) prophethood will become complete with the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as). It is significant that mention of the intellect becoming complete has preceded that of ethics reaching perfection. This is because for ethics to reach the highest level, perfection of the intellect is necessary, as a perfect intellect can never have evil ethics.
After the reappearance of Imam (as) not only will the intellect become complete but the power of seeing and hearing shall also get more acute. Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) says: ‘When our Qaem (as) reappears, Allah will make the seeing and hearing of the people so powerful that nothing shall be concealed between them and their Imam (as). Imam shall address the people directly and the people shall see and hear Imam from their places.’ (Beharul Anwar, volume 52, chapter 32, tradition 72)
Instructors of Quran, Carriers of Quran
Imam Ali (as) reveals, ‘I see my Shiahs in Masjid of Kufah and they are teaching the Holy Quran in different tents and teaching it just the way it was revealed.’ (Beharul Anwar, volume 52, chapter 32, tradition 139-141)
In this tradition, Imam Ali (as) has enumerated the companions of Imam Mahdi (as) as his own Shiahs. This not only serves to highlight the esteemed position of Imam Mahdi (as) but also underscores the status of his companions in the eyes of the Imams (as).
They are United at Heart
Imam Ali (as) while narrating the characteristics of the companions of Imam Mahdi (as) asserts, ‘These are the people who do not remind Allah, boasting of their patience in His Cause. They do not exaggerate their endeavors and sacrifices in Allah’s way. Whenever there is a problem or an unfortunate event occurs and all doors of hope are closed, they gladden their eyes with the radiance of their swords and on the command of their Imam (as), gain proximity to their Lord. All of them are like lions coming out of their dens. If they want to uproot a mountain from its place they can do so. These are those people who have truly and sincerely acknowledged Allah’s Unity (Tauheed). In the nights they wail due to mortal fear of Allah, just like a mother wails on seeing the corpse of her young son. In the nights they pray and during the day they fast. They are united in ethics and character and their hearts are filled with love, affection and concern for each other.’ (Ilzaamun Nasib, pg 199, Roozgaarhaai, volume 1, page 144, tradition 477)
Imam Mahdi (as) wrote in one of his signed letters (tawqee) to Shaikh Mufeed (ra), ‘May Allah bestow our Shiahs with the ability to obey, for if they had sincerely adhered to their covenant with united hearts, then there wouldn’t have been any delay in our blessed reappearance.’
In the light of this tawqee, it is apparent that the Shiahs fulfill the criteria of obedience and worship, but fare miserably on the factor of unity. Mosques are bursting with people engrossed in various states of worship, but their hearts are hostile towards each other. The condition for meeting Imam Mahdi (as) and his subsequent reappearance is not only worship, but also to fulfill all other prerequisites in a comprehensive manner. It must be as if their bodies are different, but their hearts and heartbeats are one. Please pay attention to the following traditions.
Imam Ali (as) predicted, ‘Allah will make their hearts proximate to each other, they shall not get saddened by anyone’s departure nor will they become happy with anyone’s advent. Their number would be that of the companions of Badr (i.e. 313). They will be without any parallel in the past or the present. People of the past were unable to attain this stature and likewise the people of the future will never accomplish their excellence. These companions would be like that of King Taloot (of Bani Israel) (i.e. 313 in number) who had successfully crossed the river. Allah had examined the companions of Taloot by ordering them not to drink water from the river, which would come their way. However, owing to excessive thirst most of them drank from the river except for some (i.e. 313) who followed the orders of their leader and these companions were successful in the examination.’ With this tradition we learn that the companions of Imam Mahdi (as) will follow the orders of their Imam and will be extremely close to each other.
Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) foretells in one tradition, “When Imam Mahdi (as) reappears, he will stand between Hajar-e-Aswad and Maqam-e-Ibrahim and announce – ‘O my chiefs, O my leaders, O my chosen people, O those whom Allah has sent before me for my help and as a storehouse for me. Come to me in obedience’ This call of Imam will be heard across the East and West to the extent that people will come out from their prayer rooms and bedrooms. Everyone will hear this voice and soon people will rush to reach Imam (as).”
Today with the help of electronic media, it is not difficult to hear a sound anywhere. Everywhere sounds and pictures are transferred through satellites and waves. So if the sinners of the world can transfer the sound across the world without any effort, is there anything beyond the ability of Imam Mahdi (as)?
Some Other Characteristics
In the Sahifa of Hazrat Idrees (as) it has been recorded: When Satan sought divine amnesty till the Day of Judgment, Allah extended him a reprieve till the Appointed Hour (Waqt-e-Maloom). Allah declared, ‘It is My Decree that on that day, I shall purify the earth from ignorance, polytheism and sins. Till that time I have appointed such servants who have been tested with faith and their hearts have been purified of the sins and their hearts are now filled with humility, faith, piety, truthfulness, patience, abstinence and with renunciation and precautious piety. I have appointed them to invite the sun and the moon and made them as My Caliphs on the earth and bestowed them with My favorite religion. They will worship Me and will never associate anyone with Me. They will pray on time, pay the poor rate on time and will always enjoin good and forbid evil.’
‘Allah will create love and affection between them and they will never oppress each other. They will be kind to the young and the old and will respect them. They will remain steadfast on the religion and will always give their judgment based on it. These are My vicegerents, for them I have raised Prophet Mohammed Mustafa (sawa) as a Messenger and Hazrat Ali (as) as a trustee and made them helpers (of Prophet (sawa) and Imam (as))’
‘These are those people who I have chosen for My Prophet Mohammed Mustafa (sawa) and for My trustee – Imam Ali (as). I have concealed them in My Hidden Knowledge and all this is bound to happen. On that day I shall destroy your warriors and armies. Go, I have given you respite till the Appointed Hour.’ (Saadus Saood by Syed Ibne Taoos (ra), pg 34, Beharul Anwar volume 52, chapter 32, tradition 194)
They Will Pass The Severe Examination
As it has been narrated in the beginning, everyone wishes to be among the helpers of Imam Mahdi (as). Imam Sadiq (as) narrates in a tradition – ‘If I get the era of Imam Mahdi (as) then I would most certainly spend my life in his service.’
So is it possible for just about anyone to reach that position? Certainly not! To attain this position one has to undergo severe examination. Imam Baqir (as) in reply to a question on when he would come to power said, “It’s a pity that it will not be so till you are all sieved like grain is sieved to separate it from chaff. And then you are sieved again and again till there does not remain any impurity and only the clean grain is left.” (Beharul Anwar volume 52, chapter 26, tradition 28)
It is evident that for such a colossal revolution, it is not going to be an easy task to arrange for the requisite individuals. There will be major filtering so that only individuals with the desired traits remain.
Paying Allegiance to Imam Mahdi (as)
Imam Ali (as) has narrated the criteria for allegiance. The companions will testify in front of Imam Mahdi (as) to abide by the below mentioned provisions:
- They shall never steal
- They shall never indulge in evil actions
- They shall never abuse any Muslim
- They shall never kill anyone unjustly
- They shall never humiliate anyone
- They shall never attack anyone’s house
- They shall never hit anyone unjustly.
- They shall never hoard gold and silver
- They shall never consume the right of an orphan
- They shall never bear witness without absolute surety
- They shall never destroy a mosque
- They shall never drink wine
- They shall never wear silk clothes
- They shall never obstruct anyone’s path
- They shall never spread terror on the streets
- They shall never indulge in homosexuality
- They shall never hoard food grains and wheat
- They shall be content with little
- They shall be partial towards purity
- They would stay away from uncleanliness
- They will enjoin good
- They shall forbid evil
- They shall never wear thick clothes
- Clay and mud will be their headrest
- They will struggle in Allah’s way as one ought to struggle.
(Ilzaamun Nasib, page 201, Roozgaarhaai, volume 1, page 465, tradition 564, Muntakhabul Asar, page 469)
Imam (as) will take allegiance from his companions on these criteria. May my father, my mother, my family, myself and my wealth be sacrificed upon you, O my Master, O Imam Mahdi (as)!