Will there only be 313 companions for Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance)?
The three hundred and thirteen companions of Imam Mahdi, will be the core and main companions of Imam Mahdi, of which 50 will be women. Some of these companions will be present before the Imam’s reappearance, meaning they will be living and active. Narrations say that during Imam Mahdi’s second absence or disappearance, no one other than a select few of the most privileged, faithful companions will know of his whereabouts. (Bihar al-Anwar)
The other members will appear when he appears, including Prophet Isa, Imam Ali and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them). However, the number of people who will be companions of Imam Mahdi is not limited to these 313 individuals, and other faithful Muslim followers will join Baqiyatullah (Imam Mahdi). There are narrations which also explain that some people who are thought to be of his followers will not be of his companions and some others who were not thought to be his followers will join him. Imam as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said, “When Imam Mahdi appears, some people who were thought to be of his family will desert him, and others who were known as sun and moon worshipers will join him.” (Mizan al-Hikmah)
When will these companions of Imam Mahdi appear?
As was stated in the previous question, some of the main companions of Imam Mahdi will already be present and some will already be in contact with him. Imam as-Sadiq stated that, “When Imam Mahdi revolts, Allah will make the ears and the eyes of the followers of Imam Mahdi so sharp that there will be no courier (no medium) between them and the Imam. He will speak to his followers from his location, and they will hear his words and see [the Imam] himself.” (Al-Kafi)
However, the assembly and formation of these individuals as Imam Mahdi’s core companions is contingent upon the reappearance of the Imam himself. And it is not known when exactly Imam Mahdi will reappear, not to us, nor to the Imam himself. Imam al-Baqir (peace be upon him) was asked whether or not the time when Imam Mahdi will reappear has been specified. He answered: “Those who have specified a time have lied, those who have specified a time have lied, those who have specified a time have lied.” (Al-Ghaiba of Shaikh Tusi) This was repeated several times to show the emphases of the fact that no one, not even Imam Mahdi himself, knows of the time when he will reappear.
In regards to Du’a al-Ahd, there is a narration from Imam as-Sadiq: “Whoever recites this supplication for 40 consecutive days in the morning will be of Imam Mahdi’s companions, and if he dies before the reappearance of Hazrat Imam Mahdi, Allah will take him out of his grave so that he may serve as one of Imam Mahdi’s companions.”
It is possible that some who have read this supplication and pass away before Imam Mahdi’s reappearance will also be of those 313 initial comrades; however, the time they appear is also dependant upon the time which the Imam will appear.
Born in the United States, Shaikh Husayn El-Mekki Abdullah-Aziz moved at an early age with his parents to the seminary in Iran, where he studied Islamic jurisprudence, philosophy, and exegesis. He is a popular speaker among the youth in several Shia communities around North America.