The companions of Badr possessed special purity. They enjoyed extraordinary faith, patience, and supported the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.). At that time when Islam was left in isolation, they defended Islam and the holy prophet with their small number and meagre means. They achieved intuitive faith. They witnessed the truth with their very eyes. They numbered 313. They became a good example of sacrifice for others.
Imam-e-Zaman’s (a.t.f.s.) companions would number the same as the companions of Badr. Their high and lofty position is so great that the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) sends greetings upon them and longs to meet them. A day the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) was sitting inside the mosque. A few of his companions too were present. He said: ‘I wish I could meet your brethren.’
“يا ليتني لقيت إخواني”
Abu-Bakr stood on his feet and said, ‘Aren’t we your brethren? Aren’t we your believers? Didn’t we migrate along with you? The holy messenger (s.a.w.a.) replied , ‘You all do believe in me, you all have migrated with me too, nevertheless (you are not my brethren) I wish I could meet my brethren!’
This time Omar stood up. He repeated the same remarks and heard the same reply.
For the third time, the holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: ‘My brethren are those who have not seen me but believe in me.’ At the end, he once again said: “يا ليتني لقيت إخواني ”
They possess numerous special qualities. They enjoy strong faith and belief. At times of test and examination in lawful and unlawful matters, they take utmost care. They cling on to the Qur’an and Ahl’ul-Bayt. If they happen to die while awaiting their master, they will return to life during his ‘Zuhoor’. Their guts and courage is as strong as iron. Each one possesses the power of forty warriors. Their physical strength is not their only power; they also possess spiritual strength and will-power. Each one sees himself in the existence of others.
No Imam possessed this number of loyal and faithful companions. Amir-ul-Mu’minin (a.s.) said: ‘If I possessed forty warriors, I would have revolted.” If Imam Hasan (a.s.) too possessed the required number of companions, he would have fought and not entered into peace treaty with Muawiya. Imam Husain (a.s.) had 72 loyal companions and they became famous world-wide for their will-power, faith and martyrdom. None of the subsequent Imams (a.s.) possessed 313 loyal companions. From Imam-e-Sajjad (a.s.) onwards, the Imams (a.s.) only got the chance of spreading Shia creed and jurisprudence and this was more so during the time of Imam Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Sadiq (a.s.).
Situation became more severe during the time of Imam Musa-ibn-Jafar (a.s.). They imprisoned Hazrat for 14 years. Thereafter, they sent Imam Reza (a.s.) into exile to Khorasan. The eight Imam (a.s.) found little opportunity in spread the Shia thought. He held a vital debate with followers of various religions and in that debate he defended the true Islamic thoughts based on the method set by Ahl’ul-Bayt (a.s.).
Thereafter, the pressure on Imams (a.s.) gained momentum such that Imam Hadi (a.s.) and Imam Askari (a.s.) were kept in garrison under the vigilance of the caliph’s military. For this reason, they were given the title ‘Askari’ (military) simply because they were under military siege. Thereafter, there arose no opportunity for the Shias and their Imams (a.s.) until the rise of the promised Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
Although for all phenomenons, the Divine Will is a condition, yet, as per Divine Wisdom, the ready ground-work too is very important. The read ground-work for Imam-e-Zaman’s rule comprises of pure, loyal, upright, pious, brave and self-sacrificing companions who prepare the world for the just government of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and we await them: