A‘zamallāhu ujūranā bimusābinā bil-husayni ‘alayhis-salām.
May Allah magnify our reward for our grieving at the tragedy of al-Husayn, peace be on him.
يَا أيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواكُونُوا أنْصَارَ اللَّهِ كَمَا قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ لِلْحَوَارِيِّينَ مَنْ أنْصَارِي إلَى اللَّهِۖ قَالَ الْحَوَارِيُّونَ نَحْنُ أنْصَارُ اللَّهِ
O you who believe! be helpers in the cause of Allah, as ‘Isā son of Maryam said to his disciples: Who are my helpers in the cause of Allah? The disciples said: We are helpers in the cause of Allah.
(Sūrat al-Saff, No. 61, verse 14)
This verse asks believers to be helpers of Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā . Although all power and control belong to Him, the Almighty asks believers to help Him, that is to be helpers of the Divine leaders He send to earth. This role is an honorable one for believers and only those who receive His grace can be from among this special group.
The verse goes on to talk about Prophet ‘Isā and his disciples. The disciples are known as the Hawāriyyūn. The word ‘Hawārī’ means white, or pure. According to Imam al-Ridhā (a) they are called hawāriyyūn because they were pure in themselves and purified others from the filth of sin by sermons and remembrance. The number of the disciples of Nabī ‘Isā is reported to be twelve. These were the men who supported him with deep conviction. The following hadith verifies that. It is reported that Ibn ‘Abbās said, “I said, ‘O Apostle of Allah! How many Imams will there be after you?’ He said, ‘The number of the disciples of Jesus, the number of tribes of Moses, the number of the chieftains of the children of Israel.’ I said, ‘O Apostle of Allah! How many were they?’ He said, ‘They were twelve, and the imams after me will be twelve. (Bihār al-Anwār, v 36, p 285, H 107). It is also narrated that when the Holy Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam went for the first pledge of ‘Aqaba he told the group of people who had come to meet him to choose 12 people who would be his representatives to the people of Madīnah, just like the disciples of Prophet ‘Isā.
The Prophet (s) described the Hawāriyyūn as having the following qualities: 1) They were quick to help Allah and His Messenger. 2) They had no pride in them, nor weakness, nor doubt. 3) They helped him with vision, influence, seriousness, and suffering.
Prophet ‘Isā put great effort in training and nurturing these disciples. He would take them wherever he went and would discuss lessons from the world around them. It is narrated that once Prophet ‘Isā gathered his disciples and said he had a favor to ask of them. ‘Consider it done, O Messenger of Allah’, they said. Nabī ‘Isā stood and washed the feet of each of his disciples (this was a way to show humility and respect for the other person in the culture at that time). ‘It was more fitting that we do this’, they told him. Prophet ‘Isā replied: The person most fit to serve is a scholar. I have only humbled myself like this so that you will humble yourselves after me before people just as I have humbled myself before you. Then the Prophet said: Wisdom is imparted through humility, not through pride, just as plants grow in soft soil, not in rock.
Every Prophet and Imam had some loyal companions around him who supported him in his mission. These were the helpers, those who helped spread the word of Allah (swt) on earth. Imam al-Husayn ‘alayhis-salam had companions who were most loyal and faithful companions. Some were old like Habib ibn Muzāhir, others like Wahab al-Kalbī were young. Some were noblemen like Zuhayr ibn al-Qayn, others like Jawn bin Huwai were slaves. Some came from towns like Kufa and Basra; others had lived in the desert. But all of them shared the same love for the Imam and the determination to sacrifice their lives for him. Imam al-Husayn said about them: I know of no companions more loyal and more virtuous than my companions, nor of any household more righteous and more close-knit than my household. May Allah reward you all the best of rewards on my behalf.
May we be inspired by the companions of Imam al-Husayn (a) to be the helpers of Allah ‘azza wajall on earth and of the Imam of our time (af) as we pray continuously for his hasty appearance.
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;
Shaykh Rizwan Arastu, God’ Emissaries: Adam to Jesus