In numerous hadiths the wars after the advent of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will be waged by combat forces that will hasten from around the globe to assist the Imam in prevailing over the entire world. When we consider the advance in military science and technology prior to the advent of the Imam, this would indeed be a difficult task unless the leadership is shouldered by a person who will receive divine aid.
The Divine Help would sometimes be manifested in the power that God has bestowed on the Imam, and by performing miracles, the Imam could remove hurdles in his path. This help can also be manifested through the fear and dread that God will create in the hearts of the enemy, or in God sending angels to assist the Imam. Some hadiths indicate that forces having angelic characteristics are waiting for the Imam’s advent in order to assist him. Coffins and their contents have been equally mentioned.
In this chapter, we shall point to some of these hadiths.
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The Qa’im from among us, the Ahl al-Bayt, will be assisted by dread and fear (struck by God in the hearts of the enemy).”1
The same Imam (‘a) also said: “God will assist Hadrat al-Qa’im with three armies: angels, believers, and dread (struck on the enemy’s heart).”2
In this regard, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “Dread and terror—as parts of al-Mahdi’s (‘atfs) power—will move in advance of his soldiers a distance of one month’s journey as well as at their rear with an equal distance of one month’s journey.”3
The same Imam (‘a) also said: “Fear and dread will be moving in advance of the banner of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) a distance of one month’s journey, at the rear with the same distance of one month’s journey, on the right flank with the equal distance of one month’s journey, and on the left flank with the identical distance of one month’s journey.”4
It can be deduced from these hadiths that when Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘a) intends to go to a certain place, the enemy (there) will experience dread and fear in advance and will lose the power and agility to confront and stand against the Imam’s soldiers. Similarly, when his armies move from a certain place, no one there will have the courage to stage an insurrection because the enemy will experience dread of the Imam’s armies. This interpretation and explanation concords with the purport of some of the hadiths quoted earlier.
Hadrat ‘Ali (‘a) said: “…God will assist Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) through the angels, jinn and sincere Shi‘ah.”5
Aban ibn Taghlib said that Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “It is as if I can now see Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘a) behind the city of Najaf when he arrives at that point on the earth. He will ride a black horse with white dapples and between its eyes would be a white portion that shines (and will conquer the cities of the world). There will be no city in the world where its inhabitants would not think that al-Mahdi (‘atfs) is in their midst and in their city.
When he hoists the banner of the Messenger of Allah (S), thirteen thousand and thirteen angels who have been waiting for his advent for many long years, will gather under his banner (and be ready for war). They were the very angels who were with Prophet Nuh (Noah) (‘a) in the ark, Ibrahim al-Khalil (Abraham the Friend of Allah) (‘a) in the fire, and ‘Isa (Jesus) during his ascension to heaven.
“Similarly, four thousand angels will hasten to assist the Imam—they are the same angels who descended on the land of Karbala’ to fight on the side of al-Husayn (‘a), but they were not given permission to do so and returned to heaven. When they returned with the permission to make jihad, Imam al-Husayn (‘a) was already martyred and out of the agony of missing this great favor, they have remained always uncomfortable and sorrowful, and until the Day of Resurrection they are flying around the shrine of Imam al-Husayn (‘a) shedding tears.”6
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “It is as if I can see Hadrat al-Qa’im and his supporters now… Archangel Gabriel (‘a) is on the right side of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) while Angel Michael is moving on the Imam’s left, with fear and dread moving in the front and at the rear of his armies with a distance of one month’s journey, and God will assist him with five thousand angels from heaven.”7
The same Imam (‘a) also said: “The angels who helped the Prophet (S) during the Battle of Badr have not yet returned to heaven in order to help Hadrat Sahib al-Amr (‘atfs) and their number is five thousand.”8
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “Nine thousand three hundred and thirteen angels will come down for Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs). They are the same angels who had been in the company of Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a) when God brought him to heaven.”9
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘a) will be assisted with three thousand angels; they will strike the faces and backs of the enemies.”10
On the commentary of the noble Qur’anic verse (ayah):
“Allah’s edict is coming! So do not seek to hasten it,”11
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “This commandment and affair of Allah (amrullah) is our commandment and affair. That is, God has commanded that we should not be in haste for the uprising of al-Mahdi because He will support the master of our affair (‘atfs) with the three armies of angels, believers and dread, and we will obtain our rights.”12
Hadrat ar-Rida (‘a) said: “At the time of the uprising of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs), God will command the angels to convey peace (salam) to the believers and participate in their gatherings. If one of the believers has an appointment with him, the Imam (‘atfs) will command some of the angels to take that person on their shoulders and bring him to the Imam. Once his appointment is finished, they will return him to his previous location.
“Some of the believers will travel above the clouds while others will fly along with the angels in the sky. Yet others will walk with the angels while others will overtake them. Some of the believers will be placed by the angels as judges, and the believer in the sight of God is loftier than an angel to such an extent that some of the believers will be appointed as judges by the Imam over a hundred thousand angels.”13
Probably, the judgment of these believers among the angels is meant to resolve their differences over intellectual issues and subjects, and these types of differences have no contradiction with the infallibility (‘ismat) of the angels.
Muhammad ibn Muslim said that he asked Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) regarding the legacy of knowledge and its extent. The Imam said in reply: “God has two cities; one in the east and another in the west. In those two cities, there is a group residing there that is aware neither of Iblis nor of his creation. I visit them from time to time; they ask us questions about things important to themselves and about how to supplicate and we teach them. They also ask about the time of the advent of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs). They worship God much and are striving hard in matters related to devotion.
“Each of the two cities has gates; between each of its doorposts there is a distance of one hundred farsangs (600 kilometers). They do much with respect to worship, praising (God), invocation, and struggle. Once you see them, you will consider your acts and traits in comparison with theirs insignificant.
When some of them perform the prayer, they stay in a state of prostration for one month. Their food is extolling God while their clothing is of leaves. Their faces are glowing with light. Once they meet any of us (Imams), they will encircle him, and take the dust from the soles of his feet and seek blessings through it.
During their prayers, their wailings and lamentations are more dreadful than the sound of thunder. A group of them—from the day they have been waiting for Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs)—has never laid down their weapons and they have so far been in the same state. They are always praying to God to be shown the Master of the Affair (sahib al-amr).
“Each of them lives for a thousand years and the mark of humility, worship and proximity to God, the Honorable and Glorious, is conspicuous on their faces. When we do not visit them, they imagine that we are displeased with them, and they remember the times we are going to visit them, at which time they will be waiting for us and they will never be tired of working.
“They are reciting the Qur’an just as we taught them, and if a portion of the recitals we have taught to them is recited to the people, they will not accept it. Once we give the answer to a question they ask about the Qur’an, they will open their hearts (and minds) to learn the things to be heard. They pray to God for our long lives so that they do not lose us. They know that whatever they learn from us is a grace of God to them.
“At the time of the advent of Hadrat al-Qa’im, they will be in the company of the Imam (‘atfs) and they will go in advance of his other soldiers. They will pray to God to help His religion through them.
“Their assembly consists of both young and old. If a youngster would see an old one, he will sit down like a slave as a gesture of respect and he will not move from there without obtaining permission from the old person. They will be aware of the ideas of the Imam (‘atfs) through ways they know best. When the Imam gives them an order, they will always follow it unless the Imam himself would give them another assignment.
“If they wage war against the people of the east and west, they can exterminate everybody easily, and weapons can never harm them. They have swords and weapons made of iron but their alloys are different from common iron. If they would strike a mountain with the sword, it will be divided into two and removed from its location. The Imam (‘atfs) will send these soldiers into the wars of Hind, Daylam, Kurdistan, Rome, Berber, Fars, and Jabarsa and Jabalqa—the two cities in the east and west.
“They will not do anything against the followers of other religions except inviting them to Islam and calling them to monotheism, the prophethood of the Prophet and the wilayah of us, the Ahl al-Bayt, then they will release anyone who would respond and kill anyone who would not accept so much so that no one will be left in the east and west without having accepted the faith.”14
It can be understood from this brief sketch of these soldiers that they are possibly the same angels who have remained on earth and are waiting for the uprising of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs).
In the book, Ghayah al-Maram, the Noble Prophet (S) is reported to have said: “During the advent of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs), Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a) will descend and collect the books from Antioch. God will lift the veil covering the face of “(And) Iram, (the city) of the pillars”15 for him and make manifest the palace that Hadrat Sulayman (Prophet Solomon) (‘a) built before his death.
He will gather together the properties of the palace and divide them among Muslims, and he will take out the ark which had been thrown into the Caspian Sea by the order of God to Aramya (Jeremiah).
“Whatever has been left for posterity by the family of Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron) (‘a) exists in that ark. Also in the same ark are the tablets (where the Ten Commandments were inscribed); the staff of Musa; the cloak of Harun; the ten types of foods that used to descend to the Children of Israel; and the roasted chickens preserved by the Children of Israel for their future generations. Then cities will be conquered with the help of the ark just as they have done before him.”16
With only a slight variation, Yanabi‘ al-Mawaddah attributes the same thing to Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), stating: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will take out books from a cave in the land of Antioch and he will take out the Zabur of Dawud (‘a) (Psalms of David) from the Caspian Sea. The relics of the family of Musa and Harun (‘a) exist in that book and the angels will carry it on their shoulders, and the tablets and staff of Musa are there as well.”17