The Soldiers of Imam al-Mahdi (atfs)
By: Najmuddin Tabasi
The forces of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will be composed of various nationalities and at the time of uprising they will be called through unique means. The individuals who have been designated before as commanders will assume the responsibility of guiding the soldiers and planning war operations.
The soldiers to be accepted in the army of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) under special circumstances have peculiar characteristics of their own. Some will be present in the primary staff and some will join the army. A group has been called the security guard corps.
In this chapter, we will take a look at the hadiths related to this topic.
Commanders of the Army
In the hadiths we can read the names of the individuals who have been associated with particular military operations and the command of a number of soldiers. In this section, we shall mention the names and functions of some of them:
1. Hadrat ‘Isa (Jesus Christ) (‘a)
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said in a sermon (khutbah): “…Then the Mahdi (‘atfs) will appoint Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a) as his representative in the offensive operations against ad-Dajjal (the Anti-Christ). ‘Isa (‘a) will set out to capture and suppress ad-Dajjal.
Ad-Dajjal who will then be controlling the entire world, destroying agriculture and human generation, will call the people toward him and anyone who accepts him will be treated with favor and anyone who refuses to accept him would be killed. He will travel throughout the world, with the exception of Mecca, Medina and Bayt al-Muqaddas (Jerusalem), and all the illegitimate children from both the east and the west of the globe will rally around him.
“Ad-Dajjal will set out toward the Hijaz and ‘Isa (‘a) will intercept him at the passage of Harsha. ‘Isa (‘a) will direct a horrible shout at him and strike him a decisive blow. Ad-Dajjal will melt in a blazing fire like lead melting in fire.”
The penetration of the blow that will lead to the melting of ad-Dajjal is perhaps due to the use of the ultramodern weapons at that time, or it could be due to one of the miracles of Hadrat ‘Isa.
Concerning the salient features of Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a), it is thus stated: “He has such magnificence that once the enemy sees him he will remember death as if ‘Isa was demanding his life.”
2. Shu‘ayb ibn Salih
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “The Sufyani and the bearers of the black banners will confront each other while among the latter there will be a young man from the Bani Hashim in the palm of whose left hand would be a black mole. He would be in front of his soldiers and would be from the tribe of Bani Tamim. His name is Shu‘ayb ibn Salih.”
Hasan al-Basri said: “In the land of Rey a person named Shu‘ayb ibn Salih will appear having broad shoulders, a dark complexion, and beardless. There will be an army of four thousand men under his command whose garments will be white and their banners will be black. They will constitute the vanguard of the Mahdi’s army.”
‘Ammar ibn Yasir said: “Shu‘ayb ibn Salih is the standard-bearer of Hadrat al-Mahdi.”
Shablanji said: “The commander of the advance forces of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will be a man from the tribe of Bani Tamim with a slight beard and who will be called, Shu‘ayb ibn Salih.”
Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah said: “An army will set out from Khurasan that will wear black belts and white shirts. One of the army’s vanguards will be the commander called Shu‘ayb ibn Salih or Salih ibn Shu‘ayb who is from the tribe of Bani Tamim. They will defeat the soldiers of the Sufyani and drive them away; they will arrive in Bayt al-Muqaddas and pave the ground for the government of Hadrat al-Mahdi.”
3. Isma‘il the Son of Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) and ‘Abdullah ibn Sharik
Abu Khadijah said that Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “I asked God to keep (my son) Isma‘il alive after me but He did not grant it, but granted him another station. He will be the first person to reappear along with his ten companions. ‘Abdullah ibn Sharik will be his standard-bearer and one of his ten companions.”
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “It is as if I can see ‘Abdullah ibn Sharik al-‘Amiri who has put a black turban on his head with the two sides of his turban placed between his shoulders. With an army of four thousand men as vanguards of our Qa’im, they will climb the mountain slope and always utter takbir.”
4. ‘Aqil and Harith
Hadrat ‘Ali (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘a) will let the army advance until they will arrive in Iraq in such a manner that soldiers will be moving to his front and at the rear. The commander of the advance forces will be a man named ‘Aqil while the commander of the rear soldiers will be a man named Harith.”
5. Jubayr ibn Khabur
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) quoted the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) as saying: “While their weapons have already been drawn from the scabbards, this person—Jubayr—along with four thousand men in Jabal al-Ahwaz will wait for the advent of the Qa’im from among us, the Ahl al-Bayt. Then, this person along with and beside the Imam will engage in combat against the enemy.”
6. ‘Umar ibn Mufaddal
Imam as-Sadiq said to Mufaddal: “You, along with forty four other persons, will be with Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs). You will be on the right side of the Imam (‘a) enjoining (good) and forbidding (evil), and the people at that time, compared to the people of today, will believe in you more sincerely.”
7. The Companions of the Cave (ashab al-kahf)
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “The Companions of the Cave (ashab al-kahf) will come to assist the Mahdi (‘atfs).”
The Nationality of the Soldiers
The forces of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will be composed of various nationalities. In the hadiths there are various views in this regard. Sometimes, the soldiers of the Imam (‘atfs) have been described as a‘jam—interpreted as non-Arabs.
Some hadiths cite the names of the cities and countries from which soldiers will hasten to assist the Imam (‘atfs). At other times, they have mentioned particular communities (aqwam) such as the repentant from among the Children of Israel, the faithful among the Christians, and upright people to be revived in the future, who will assist the Imam (‘a).
In this chapter, we will mention some hadiths in this regard.
It can be understood from the hadiths that a considerable number of the special soldiers in the army of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) would be Iranians and they have been mentioned in various ways such as the people of Rey, the people of Khurasan, the treasures of Taleqan, the Qummis, the people of Persia, etc.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “The forces with black banners that will rise up from Khurasan will come to Kufah, and when Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) appears in Mecca, they will pay allegiance to him.”
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) also said: “The supporters of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘a) will be three hundred and thirteen persons who will be from the children of the a‘jam (non-Arabs).”
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar said that the Prophet (S) said: “God will give your (Muslims’) power to the a‘jam; they are like lions that will never desert the battlefield. They will kill you (Arabs) and plunder your properties.”
Hudhayfah also narrated a hadith with the same content from the Prophet (S). Of course, the implication of the hadith is debatable and problematic. Based on the hadiths, a time will come when the Iranians will unsheathe their swords against the Arabs to spread Islam and make them return to Islam, and they will slay those who oppose them. The condition of the Arabs at that time will be very deplorable with difficult and unpleasant days awaiting them.
Although a‘jam is said to be the non-Arabs, the Iranians are definitely included. On the basis of other hadiths, both in preparing the ground for operations to be conducted prior to the advent (zuhur) and at the time of the uprising of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), the Iranians will have a pivotal role and they will constitute a large number of combatants.
In a sermon delivered by ‘Ali (‘a) regarding the supporters of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) and their nationalities, the names of some Iranian cities have been mentioned.
Asbagh ibn Nabatah said that the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) delivered a sermon in which he mentioned Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) and his supporters who will accompany him in the uprising, saying: “One is from Ahwaz; one from Shushtar; three are from Shiraz whose names are Hafs, Ya‘qub and ‘Ali; four are from Isfahan whose names are Musa, ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah, and Ghalfan; one from Burujerd named Qadim; one is from Nahavand named ‘Abdur-Razzaq; three are from Hamedan whose names are Ja‘far, Ishaq and Musa; ten are from Qum whose names are that of the Ahl al-Bayt of the Messenger of Allah (and in another hadith eighteen have been mentioned); one from Shirvan’; and one is from Khurasan named Darid.
There are also five whose names are that of the Companions of the Cave; one from Amul; one from Gorgan; one from Damghan; one from Sarakhs; one from Saveh; twenty four from Taleqan; two from Qazvin; one from Fars; one from Abhar; one from Ardebil; three from Maragheh; one from Khuy; one from Salmas; three from Abadan; and one from Kazerun.”
Then, the Commander of the Faithful said: “The Noble Prophet (S) mentioned to me three hundred and thirteen persons of the supporters of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) equal to the number of the supporters in (the Battle of) Badr, and he said: ‘God will bring them from both the east and the west to the precinct of the Ka‘bah’ faster than the blink of an eye.”
As you can observe, among the three hundred and thirteen persons constituting the special corps of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs)—who will accompany him at the beginning of the uprising—seventy two will come from the present cities of Iran. If we also take into account what has been narrated in Dala’il al-Imamah of Tabari and the names of cities that were in Iran at that time, the number of Iranians will become more than this.
In this hadith the name of a city is sometimes mentioned twice, sometimes the names of some cities in a country, and at other times the name of the very country has been mentioned.
In case the hadith has been correctly recorded, it perhaps bespeaks of the divisions and the names used at that time, thus geographical divisions in the present age cannot serve as the criteria to interpret and understand this hadith; for, the names of cities change over time; sometimes, the name of one city is used for a country at the present time or vice versa.
The other point is that by collating the names of cities (mentioned in the hadith in question) with the present geographical map of the world, it can be concluded perhaps that the supporters of the Imam are scattered throughout the world and it is possible that the word “afranjah” mentioned in the hadith refers to the western hemisphere. If this collation and statement were correct, the hadith will become meaningful with the dictum, “قلبت خليت لو”. It is because at no time will the earth be devoid of good men; otherwise, it will come to an end.
In other hadiths, some cities have been especially mentioned. Here, we will suffice to mention some hadiths concerning the cities of Qum, Khurasan and Taleqan:
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The soil of Qum is holy… Aren’t they the supporters of our Qa’im and callers toward our right?”
‘Affan al-Basiri said that Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said to him: “Do you know why Qum is named “Qum”?” I replied: “God, His Messenger and you know better.” He said: “It is called Qum because its inhabitants will rally behind the Qa’im of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘atfs) and rise up along with him (‘atfs). Along this line, they will show their perseverance and assist him (‘atfs).”
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “…There are treasures in Khurasan but they are not gold and silver. Instead, they are men who will gather together on their belief in God and His Messenger.” Perhaps, it means that what they have in common is the correct belief in God and His Messenger, or it may mean that God will gather them one day in Mecca.
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “Blessed is Taleqan! It is because God has treasures there which are neither gold nor silver. Instead, they are men of faith who have really recognized God and they will be the companions of the Mahdi (Guided One) of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘atfs) at the end of time.”
The hadiths related to the participation of Arabs in the uprising of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘a) can be classified into two. Some indicate their lack of participation in the revolution of al-Mahdi while a number of other hadiths mention some cities in Arab countries in which there are those who will rise up to support the Imam.
Assuming that they are authentic, the hadiths that talk about the lack of participation of the Arabs can be justified. For, it might be possible that there will be no Arabs among the soldiers who will accompany the Imam at the beginning of the uprising. Shaykh Hurr ‘Amili in the book, Ithbat al-Hudah, has interpreted it this way.
Concerning the Arab cities mentioned in the hadiths, perhaps non-Arab soldiers residing there will hasten to aid the Imam, and not those who are Arab in origin. It may also mean that it refers to Arab governments and states. Let us look at this category of hadiths:
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “Keep aloof from the Arabs for they will have a gloomy and dangerous future; isn’t it that no one from among them will accompany Hadrat al-Mahdi in his uprising?” Shaykh Hurr ‘Amili said: “Perhaps this statement of Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) refers to the beginning of the Mahdi’s uprising, or it alludes to their minimal participation…”
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Great and noble personalities from the land of Sham will join al-Mahdi (‘atfs) as well as those from the various tribes and lands adjacent to Sham; they are the ones whose hearts are said to be like pieces of iron. They are worshippers at night and lions during the day.”
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “Three hundred and thirteen persons, the same number as that of the supporters (Muslim soldiers) in the Battle of Badr, will pay allegiance to Hadrat al-Mahdi in between the rukn and maqam (in the Ka‘bah). From among them, great figures from among the people of Egypt, good men from Sham, and good men from among the people of Iraq can be seen and the Imam will rule to the extent that God would wish.”
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) also said concerning the city of Kufah: “When Hadrat al-Qa’im appears and proceeds to Kufah, God will choose from behind Kufah (Najaf al-Ashraf) seventy thousand truthful and upright people. They will be among the supporters and companions of the Imam.”
Muslims Concept of Imam mahdi (AS)
3. The Followers of Various Religions
Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar reported that Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “During the advent of the Qa’im of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘a), some people will come from behind the Ka‘bah such as the twenty seven persons from the community (qawm) of Musa (Moses)—those who rightfully give judgment; the seven persons from the Companions of the Cave; Yusha‘ the executor of Musa’s will (wasi) (Joshua); the believer from the family of Pharaoh; Salman al-Farsi; Abu Dujanah al-Ansari; and Malik al-Ashtar.”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The souls of the believers can see the Progeny of Muhammad (‘a) in the mountains of Radawi, partake of their food, drink their beverages, participate in their assemblies, and talk with them until such time that the Qa’im from among us, the Ahl al-Bayt, rises up. At that time, God will incite them; they will accept the call of the Imam in large groups and accompany him. During that time, those who possess false beliefs will fall into doubt and skepticism, and the groups, parties, and claimants to fellowships and partisanships will disintegrate while those who are near to God (muqarrabin) (and the believers) will attain salvation.”
Ibn Jarih reported: “I have heard that when the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel killed their prophets and turned infidels, one tribe regretted doing such an act and was disgusted with it; they asked God to separate them from the rest of the tribes. God opened a tunnel underground in which they travelled for the period of one year and a half until they came out behind the land of China, and up to now they are still there. They are Muslims and they face our Qiblah.”
Some say that on the night of the ascension (mi‘raj), Jibra’il brought the Noble Prophet (S) to them, and the Prophet (S) read for them ten Meccan chapters (suwar) of the Qur’an. They were convinced and acknowledged his prophetic mission. The Prophet (S) ordered them to stay there, abandon work on Saturday (which is the Sabbath day for the Jews), establish prayer, and give the poor-rate (zakat). They accepted it and performed these duties. And the other obligations had not been made incumbent upon them.
Ibn ‘Abbas said: “In the exegesis of the blessed verse (ayah):
وَقُلْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِ لِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اسْكُنُواْ الأَرْضَ فَإِذَا جَاء وَعْدُ الآخِرَةِ جِئْنَا بِكُمْ لَفِيفًا
“After him We said to the Children of Israel, ‘Take up residence in the land, and when the occasion of the other (promise) comes, We shall gather you in mixed company,”
It is said that the “promise in the end” (wa‘dah al-akhirah) refers to the advent of Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a) who, along with the Children of Israel, will rise up. Our companions, however, have narrated that they will rise with the Qa’im of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘a).”
On the exegesis of the noble verse, “Among the people of Moses is a nation who guide (the people) by the truth and do justice thereby,” the late Majlisi said: “There is a difference of opinions as to who constitute this ummah.”
Others such as Ibn ‘Abbas say: “They are a community that lives beyond China. Their land has been largely separated from China by a desert full of sand. They will never make any changes in the law of God.”
In describing them, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “They do not regard property as exclusive to them unless their brethren in faith are treated as partners to it. They also rest at night and are awake in the day, and are engaged in agriculture. But none of us (people) could go to their land and none of them will come to us (people), and they are on the right path.”
Concerning the noble verse,
وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ إِنَّا نَصَارَى أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَهُمْ فَنَسُواْ حَظًّا مِّمَّا ذُكِّرُواْ بِهِ
“Also from those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ We took their pledge; but they forgot a part of what they were reminded,”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The Christians will be reminded of this path and rule, and a group from them will accompany Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs).”
4. Jabalqa and Jabarsa
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “God has a city called Jabalqa in the eastern hemisphere having twelve gates of gold. The distance of one gate to another is one farsang (6 kilometers). There is a tower in each of the gates that can accommodate an army of twelve thousand men.
Their equipment, weapons and swords have been ready and they are waiting for the advent of Hadrat al-Qa’im. God has also a city called Jabarsa in the western hemisphere (with the same features), and I am the proof of Allah for them.”
There are numerous other hadiths about the other cities and lands in the world whose inhabitants never commit sins against God. For further information, refer to volume 54 of the book, Bihar al-Anwar.
It can be understood from the hadiths as a whole that Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) has armies and bases on standby, which at the time of his advent, will participate in combat. From some other hadiths, however, it can be understood that they have passed away a long time ago and in order to assist the Imam, God will revive them and let them return to the world.
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “Najm ibn A‘yun is among those who will engage in jihad after their raj‘ah (return to life).” He also said regarding Hamran and Maysar: “It is as if I can see Hamran ibn A‘in and Maysar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz holding swords and delivering sermons to the people (“الناس يخبطان”) between Safa and Marwah (in Mecca).”
In Mu‘jam ar-Rijal al-Hadith, the late Ayatullah al-‘Uzma Sayyid Abu’l-Qasim al-Khu’i interprets “الناس يخبطان” as “striking the people with the sword”.
Similarly, Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) looked at Dawud Raqi and said: “Anyone who wants to see a man from among the supporters of Hadrat al-Qa’im should look at this man (i.e., this man is among the supporters of al-Mahdi who will return to life again).”
The Number of Soldiers
Regarding the number of the soldiers and supporters of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs), there are various hadiths available. Some hadiths say that their number is three hundred and thirteen while others say ten thousand and more. It is necessary here to highlight two points:
1. The three hundred and thirteen persons—as mentioned in the hadiths—are the special forces that will be in the company of the Imam at the beginning of the uprising. They will be the administrators of the global government of the Imam of the Time (‘a). As the late Arbeli has stated in Kashf an-Ni‘mah: “From this hadith (regarding ten thousand persons), it can be deduced that the number of supporters of the Imam cannot be limited to three hundred and thirteen, for it is only the number of supporters who will be in the company of the Imam at the beginning of the uprising.”
2. The number, four thousand, ten thousand, etc. which has been mentioned in some hadiths, is not the total number of the military forces of the Mahdi (‘a). Instead—as can also be deduced from the hadiths—each of these figures indicates the number of forces who will participate in the uprising at a particular juncture of the Imam’s advent or in a particular battle in a certain part of the world. Perhaps, there are other issues we do not know, which will be clarified with the advent of the Imam (‘atfs).
1. Special Forces
Yunus ibn Zibyan said: “I was in the company of Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) when he mentioned the name of one of the supporters of Hadrat al-Qa’im and said: “They are three hundred and thirteen persons and each of them sees himself as being among the three hundred persons.”
As the Imam (‘a) said that “Each of them sees himself as being among the three hundred,” there are two probabilities that can be entertained in this regard:
(1) that the physical strength of each of them would be equivalent to that of three hundred persons just as the strength of one of the believers at that time would be equivalent to that of forty men; and
(2) that each of them would have three hundred forces and sees himself among three hundred forces under his command.
Therefore, they will probably be commanders of approximately three hundred soldiers. It is equally probable that it only means what it literally says. That is, each of them regards himself part of that number as some have said.
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (‘a) said: “Those who will disappear from their locations in order to assist Imam al-Qa’im (‘atfs) are three hundred and thirteen—equal to that of Badr—who will gather together in Mecca in the morning of the following day.”
Imam al-Jawad (‘a) said that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “The Imam of the Time (‘a) will appear in the land of Tuhamah (Mecca). He has treasures that are not gold and silver, but powerful horses and illustrious men who are equal in number to that of the Companions in Badr. They are three hundred and thirteen from different parts of the world who will come to rally around him.
There is a sealed book in his possession in which the number of his supporters has been written along with their names, cities, races, characteristics, and epithets. They will all be under the command of al-Mahdi (‘atfs).”
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “The people will gather around him like birds until they reach three hundred and fourteen persons—some of whom will be women, and the Imam will prevail over any tyrant and son of a tyrant, and justice will be as the people would wish. I wish the dead among them were among the living and benefit from justice!”
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will appear with three hundred and thirteen persons—equal to the number of Companions in Badr—without any prior notice and arrangement. This is when they would have been scattered like an autumn cloud. They are lions in the day and worshippers at the night.”
Iban ibn Taghlub said that Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “Three hundred and thirteen persons will soon come to your mosque (Mecca). The people of Mecca know that these persons are not related to their fathers and forefathers (and are not among the people of Mecca). Each of them has a sword on which a word is inscribed from which thousands of words (problems) can be unravelled and solved.”
In some hadiths, the names of some of them have been mentioned of which it shall suffice to quote two hadiths:
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said to Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar, one of his companions: “You and forty four other men are among the supporters and companions of Hadrat al-Qa’im.”
Perhaps, what is meant by “forty four” is the number from among the companions of Imam as-Sadiq (‘a).
The Imam also said: “During the advent of the Qa’im from Muhammad’s Progeny (‘a), twenty seven persons will come out from behind the Ka‘bah and twenty five persons from the community (qawm) of Musa (Moses); those who were judges that were always on the path of truth and justice; the seven persons from the Companions of the Cave; Yusha‘ the executor of Musa’s will (wasi) (Joshua); the believer from the family of Pharaoh; Salman al-Farsi; Abu Dujanah al-Ansari; and Malik al-Ashtar will return to the world.” In some hadiths Miqdad ibn Aswad has also been mentioned.
Based on the hadiths, the angels who move things from place to place will transfer the good among the dead to holy places such as the House of God (Ka‘bah). Therefore, these persons are perhaps those whose bodies will be transferred near the Ka‘bah and their raj‘ah or return to life will take place right there. Based on other reports, this place is behind the city of Kufah, i.e. Najaf al-Ashraf, which again will render the meaning of the hadith correct; for their bodies will be transferred there, i.e. Najaf al-Ashraf.
It is worthy of note that these individuals have experience in struggle in the political and military arenas against the taghutis of their time, particularly Salman al-Farsi, Abu Dujanah, Malik al-Ashtar, and Miqdad ibn al-Aswad who had participated in the wars during the early period of Islam and had demonstrated their own acts of bravery. Some of them have also experience in leadership and command.
2. The Army of Imam al-Mahdi (‘atfs)
Abu Basir said: “A man from among the inhabitants of Kufah asked Imam as-Sadiq (‘a): ‘How many persons will be with Hadrat al-Qa’im in his uprising? People are saying that the companions of Imam are equal in number to the soldiers (of Islam) in (the Battle of) Badr, i.e. three hundred and thirteen persons.’ The Imam (‘a) said: ‘Hadrat al-Mahdi will not appear unless he is with a strong and powerful army and a powerful army will not have less than ten thousand combatants’.”
The Imam (‘a) also said: “When God grants Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) the permission to stage the uprising, three hundred and thirteen persons will pay allegiance to him. The Imam will stay in Mecca until the number of his companions will reach ten thousand persons. Then, he will set out toward Medina.”
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “The Mahdi will appear with an army of at least twelve thousand persons and a maximum number of fifteen thousand persons. Fear and intimidation (of the enemies) with respect to his military forces will go ahead of his soldiers. No enemy will confront them without being defeated. He and his soldiers will not reproach anybody in the way of Allah. The slogan of his soldiers is this: ‘Let them die! Let them die!’”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The Imam of the Time (‘atfs) will not appear unless their assembly and number would be completed.” The narrator asked: “How much is their number?” The Imam (‘a) replied: “Ten thousand persons.”
Shaykh Hurr ‘Amili said: “It is stated in the hadith that the total number of the army of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs) is one hundred thousand persons.”
3. Security Guard Corps
Ka‘b said: “A man from Bani Hashim will reside in Bayt al-Muqaddas. The number of his security forces is twelve thousand.” In another hadith he said: “The number of his guards is thirty six thousand persons, and twelve thousand will be stationed at the beginning of every highway leading toward Bayt al-Muqaddas.”
Of course, the word haras in the hadith also means “aid” and “help” but this meaning in the context of hadith is not appropriate because it possibly means the supporters and friends of the Imam (‘atfs).
Mustering the Soldiers
As stated earlier, the soldiers of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will gather around him from the different corners of the world. The hadiths indicate various means by which the soldiers become aware of the uprising and how they gather in Mecca. Some who are asleep in their beds at night will find themselves in the presence of the Imam (‘a) in the morning. Others will travel by traversing long distances within very short periods of time and come into the presence of the Imam (‘a). After being informed of the uprising, a certain group will join the Imam (‘a) by riding on the clouds.
Let us look at a certain hadith in this regard:
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “When the permission (of God) for the appearance and uprising is to be granted to Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), he will recite “God” in His Hebrew name. At that time his supporters will be ready; they will number three hundred and thirteen persons who will be scattered like the autumn clouds and they will also be the standard-bearers (and commanders). While resting at night, some of them will disappear and in the morning they will find themselves in Mecca. Others will be seen riding on clouds in the daytime. They will be recognized by their names, their fathers, their families, and their reputations.”
Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar said: “I asked: ‘May I be your ransom! Which group has a higher station in terms of faith?’ The Imam (‘a) said: ‘They are those who will move on top of the clouds, those who will disappear about whose station this blessed verse (ayah) has been revealed:
أَيْنَ مَا تَكُونُواْ يَأْتِ بِكُمُ اللّهُ جَمِيعًا
“Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you all together”.’”
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “A community (qawm) will emerge after you that will gather the world under their feet, and the world will be spread out for them, while the men and women of Persia will serve them. The earth will be traversed under their steps in less than the blink of an eye in such a manner that anyone of them could cover the distance from east to west in an instant. They are not of this world and the world has also no benefit and portion for them.”
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “The Shi‘ah and supporters of Mahdi (‘atfs) will go toward him from different parts of the world; the earth will be gathered under their feet and by traversing the world they will reach the Imam (‘a) and pay allegiance to him.”
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ajlan said: “I was in the company of Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) when he was talking about the uprising of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘a). I asked him: ‘How can we be informed of the advent of the Mahdi?’ He answered: ‘While getting up in the morning you will see a letter under your pillow in which it would be written: ‘Following the Mahdi is an excellent and good deed’.’”
Imam ar-Rida (‘a) said: “By Allah! If our Qa’im stages the uprising, God will gather the Shi‘ah from all cities (and countries) to be around him.”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) also said: “While the young Shi‘ah will be sleeping on rooftops, suddenly and without prior notice, they will be brought in multitudes in one night beside him (‘atfs). Then in the morning everybody will be gathered around him (‘atfs).”
Things Necessary in Recruiting and Training the Soldiers
In this regard, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “The supporters of the Mahdi (‘atfs) who number three hundred and thirteen will go to him and they will find him who had been hidden, and they will ask: ‘Are you the Promised Mahdi?’
He will answer: ‘Yes, O my supporters!’ Then he will again hide himself from them and go to Medina. Because they will become aware of this, his supporters will leave for Medina and when they arrive at the city of Medina, the Imam (‘a), still being hidden will return to the city of Mecca and in order to join him, his supporters will go to Mecca. Once again, the Imam (‘a) will go to the city of Medina and his supporters will go to Medina (for the second time), again he will go to Mecca, and this routine will be repeated three times.
“The Imam (‘a) will test his supporters in such a manner in order to be aware of their degree of adherence to him. Thereafter, he will appear between Safa and Marwah and while addressing his supporters he will say: ‘I will not pursue any activity unless you pay allegiance to me under certain conditions, adhere to it and not violate it in any way. I am also obliged with respect to eight things.’ In reply to him, the Imam’s (‘a) supporters will say in unison: ‘We do render our total submission to you, follow you, and accept whatever conditions you set. Kindly tell us what those conditions are.’
“The Imam (‘atfs) will go to Mount Safa in Mecca and his supporters will also follow him. Addressing them there, he will say: ‘I will make a covenant with you under these conditions:
(1) You shall not desert the battlefield;
(2) you shall not steal;
(3) you shall not perform any illegitimate act;
(4) you shall not commit unlawful acts;
(5) you shall not do any evil and obnoxious act;
(6) you shall not unjustly strike anyone;
(7) you shall not amass gold and silver;
(8) you shall not hoard wheat and barley;
(9) you shall not destroy any mosque;
(10) you shall not bear witness to falsehood;
(11) you shall not despise and belittle any believer;
(12) you shall not consume anything earned from usury;
(13) you shall endure adversities and difficulties;
(14) you shall not curse any theist and monotheist;
(15) you shall not drink wine;
(16) you shall not wear brocade;
(17) you shall not wear silk clothing;
(18) you shall not pursue an escapee;
(19) you shall not shed blood unlawfully;
(20) you shall not nourish the hypocrite and infidel;
(21) you shall not wear fur garments;
(22) you shall make the soil as your pillow (perhaps it means that “you shall be humble and meek”);
(23) you shall shun unworthy acts; and
(24) you shall enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong.
“‘If you abide with and act upon these conditions, it is incumbent upon me to choose no one but you as my assistants; I have to wear nothing but what you wear; I have nothing to eat but what you eat; I have nothing to ride but what you ride; I should be with you wherever you go; I have to go wherever you set out for; I have to be satisfied and pleased with a small force and fill the earth with justice and equity just as it has been full of injustice and oppression; and I have to worship God as He is worthy to be worshipped. I will remain committed to what I have said while you also have to remain committed to your pledges.’
“The companions said: ‘We are satisfied and we promise to be committed to what you have said.’ Then, the Imam (‘a) will shake the hands of each of his supporters (as a sign of allegiance)’.”
Of course, it must be noted that the Imam (‘atfs) will set these conditions and impose this test on his special forces because they will serve as administrators in his global government and they are ones who, having good deeds, will play crucial roles in spreading justice in the world.
Meanwhile, it must be borne in mind that the chain of transmission of this hadith is dubious as it is from the Khutbah al-Bayan, which some scholars regard as “weak” (da‘if) notwithstanding the fact that some prominent figures have come to its defense and reinforcement.
Peculiarities of the Soldiers
Many peculiarities and salient characteristics of the companions and supporters of al-Mahdi (‘a) have been stated in the hadiths and we will mention some of them below:
1. Worship and Devotion
In describing the supporters of al-Mahdi (‘atfs), Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “They keep regular vigils and spend the night standing in worship of God. During their prayers, their silent supplications are like the buzz of honeybees. They mount their horses during the daytime in line with the performance of their duties. They are worshippers at night and lions during the day. On account of fear of God, they are in a particular state. God will extend succor to the rightful Imam through them.”
The Imam (‘a) also said: “It is as if I can see the Qa’im of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘a) and his supporters behind the city of Kufah. As if birds are spreading their wings over their heads. They are running out of travel provisions and their garments are worn out and patched. There are marks of prostration on their foreheads.
Yes, they are lions in the day and worshippers in the night. Their hearts are like pieces of iron, firm and formidable. Each of them has the strength equal to that of forty men. They will not be killed by anyone but by hypocrites and infidels. God has thus described them in the Qur’an:
إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِّلْمُتَوَسِّمِينَ
“There are indeed signs in that for the percipient.””
2. Love for the Imam and Obedience to Him
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “The Master of the Affair (sahib al-amr) (‘atfs) will be in occultation in some of these valleys (Dhi Tawa). Two nights prior to his advent, his closest attendant will go to meet some of the Imam’s supporters, asking them: ‘How many of you are here?’ They will answer: ‘Forty persons.’ He will ask: ‘What will happen to you if you see your leader?’ They will reply: ‘By God! If he lives in a mountain, we will be with him and live the same way’.”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The supporters of the Imam (‘atfs) will place their hands on the saddle of his horse and by doing so, they will be asking for blessings. They will form a ring around him and in battles they will offer their bodies and souls for him. They will accept and do whatever he would ask from them.”
The same Imam (‘a) also stated the following in describing the supporters of al-Mahdi (‘a): “He has men whose hearts will seem to be as if they were from pieces of iron... They are more obedient to the Imam than a slave girl would be in relation to her master and owner, and they are subservient to his command.”
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “God will gather warriors for Hadrat al-Mahdi from the different corners of the world whose number would be equal to that of the (Muslim) combatants in (the Battle of) Badr. They are very diligent and determined in their obedience to him.”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “It is as if I can see Hadrat al-Qa’im and his supporters stationed in Najaf (Kufah) and (they are so steady and unflinching there) that it is as if birds are sitting on their heads.”
The warriors are standing with such discipline, lack of motion and total submission to him that it is as if birds are sitting over their heads, for if they would show the least movement, the birds will fly away.
3. Strong and Young Soldiers
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “The supporters of al-Mahdi are all young. There are no old and aged among them but a few who are like antimony for the eye and salt for the food. Of course, the least amount of a thing needed in food is salt.”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “What Prophet Lut (Lot) (‘a) meant in his statement addressed to his enemies when he said, ‘I wish I had a potent force against you or I can take refuge in a formidable column,’ was a force similar to the potent force of the Promised Mahdi (‘atfs) and his supporters each of whom has the strength equal to that of forty men. They have hearts firmer than steel and when they traverse mountains, the rocks tremble. They do not sheathe their swords unless when God wants and is pleased with it.”
In this regard, Imam as-Sajjad (‘a) said: “When our Qa’im stages the uprising, God will keep away sluggishness and weakness from our Shi‘ah and make their hearts as firm and resolute as steel; He will grant each of them the strength of forty men and they will become rulers and leading figures on earth.”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “In the government of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) our Shi‘ah will be the rulers and leading figures on earth and each of them will have the strength of forty men.”
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “There is fear of the enemy in the hearts of our Shi‘ah (today), but when our government is established and Imam al-Mahdi (‘atfs) appears, each of our Shi‘ah will be more fearless than a lion and sharper than a spear. They will crush our enemies underfoot and slay them with their hands.”
‘Abdul-Malik ibn A‘yun said: “As I got up to say goodbye to Imam al-Baqir (‘a), I leaned on my hands and said: ‘I wish I could perceive the advent of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) in my youth (at the moment when I am physically sound).’
The Imam (‘a) said: ‘Are you not satisfied that your enemies are killing one another while you are safe in your own houses? If the Imam (‘a) appears, each of you will be given the strength of forty men and your hearts will be like steel so much so that if you struck the mountains with such hearts, the mountains will rend asunder and be pulled up. And you will become the leaders and trustees on earth’.”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “At the time of our affair (the government of Hadrat al-Mahdi), God will remove fear from the hearts of our Shi‘ah and place it on the hearts of our enemies. At that moment, each of our Shi‘ah would be sharper than a spear and braver than a lion. A single Shi‘ah will hit his enemy with a spear, strike him with a sword, and crush him underfoot.”
The same Imam (‘a) also said: “The supporters of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) are men whose hearts are as firm and formidable as iron. Doubt and skepticism about the Essence of God are never entertained in those hearts. They are firmer than stone. If they were given the mission to shuffle the mountains and interchange them, they would quickly do it, and if the mission of destroying a city is given to them, they would be able to destroy it (with such speed and decisiveness that it would be) as if they were eagles sitting on horses.”
4. Beloved Soldiers
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “It is as if I can see the supporters of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) dominating heaven and earth and there is nothing in the world that would not be under their rule and sovereignty. Fierce animals and predatory birds also seek their pleasure. They will be so beloved that everywhere on earth will brag and boast to the other, saying: ‘Today, one of the supporters of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) dropped in and passed by here’.”
5. Lovers of Martyrdom
Regarding the characteristics of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs), Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “They have an intense fear of God and they aspire for martyrdom. Their aspiration is to be slain in the way of Allah. Their slogan is ‘O avengers of Husayn (‘a)!’ As they move, the fear and dread of them in the hearts of their enemies move with the distance of one month’s travel.”
Imam Mahdi,Black Flags of Khurasan & Army of Dajjal with Ahadith (Sunni view)