The 12 Chiefs from the 313 Best Companions of the Mahdi

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Imam Mahdi (as) has 313 close companions – the first of them being his vizier Ahmed Al-Hassan (as) plus 12 chiefs. Imam Ahmed (as) and those 12 are in charge of the remaining ones, plus the 10000 soldiers, who altogether form Imam Mahdi's army and several ahadith talk about them.

After Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan had went into a silent absence for six years he returned and gathered his 40 closest Ansar. One year and a half later in the night of King Fahd's death (January 2015) he took these 12 closest companions (as) with him to witness the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) as described in the following.

Note: You might want to read why, the death of King Fahd is an imperative sign for the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as).

The Story of the Meeting of the Twelve with the two Imams (as)

عامين على بشرى ظهور الإمام المهدي ع- Two years have passed since the appearance of Imam Mahdi pbuh, by Ansar Din Alhak, 25.01.2017 (video contains the story of the meeting). The original answer was published on the Black Banners Forum on Jul 08, 2015

The twelve described how they met Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan and Imam Mahdi (as) answering the following question:

Peace of Allah be upon you O companions of the Qaim, peace be upon you all, O purified twelve.

- Was the situation like it was mentioned in the book "An advice to the students of the Academic Hawzas" that you were forty men then Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (as) came to you and commanded you to point to the best ten of you then he took you to meet Imam Al-Mahdi (as)?
- Was Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (as) already with you a while ago after his absence ended? Or he appeared to you for the first time on the day of King Abdullah's death? Meaning if the absence started in 2008, did it end in the end of 2014?

In the Name of Allah, The Abundantly Merciful, The Intensely Merciful All praises belong to Allah the Lord of the Worlds O Allah send Your prayers upon Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad the Imams and the Mahdis Peace, Mercy, and Blessings of Allah be upon you the believing Ansar of Allah in the easts of the Earth and its wests.

I, and I seek refuge from the word of the I, am your servant Aba Gibra'eel (Aba Gabriel) one of the twelve men who have been honored to meet the Hujjah of Allah (Imam Muhammad son of Al-Hassan Al-Askari) pbuh. I will mention to you the story of the meeting, and I will make sure not to mention some of the details because of the sensitivity of the matter. May Allah grant you success to all which is good.

We are forty two men, and with (Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan) (pbuh) we become forty three men. Among us is he who believes in this blessed call before hearing about it, and among us is he who believes in it since the first day he heard about it, and among us is he who believes not so long ago. The Sayyed the Father Ahmed Al-Hassan (pbuh) has gathered us from several countries, among which are Arab, Islamic, Western, and Asian countries, until one year and a half ago we gathered in one place. And Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (pbuh) was with us and among us. We had a place where all of us would gather at a certain time everyday, until after the Fajr prayer each of us would go to their job which the Father Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (pbuh) has given to him and charged him with. Until that blessed promised day came and we heard about the destruction of the criminal (Abdullah the king of Hijaz). As usual we gathered in that blessed place which is fortified by Allah swt. The Father (pbuh) had been absent from us for some nights before this night, and we were missing him very much. One hour before the Fajr prayer, the courageous lion of Allah came forth to us with his glory which seizes the hearts and eyesights, him and two of his companions from your purified brothers who are used to accompanying Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (pbuh) everywhere and wherever he goes.

And he (pbuh) entered upon us while he was smiling, so he said: ”Peace be upon you and the Mercy of Allah and His blessings”. So everyone responded to the greetings with yearning and longing. So he (pbuh) said: “How are you O my sons, inshaAllah you are all well”. So the brothers said “All praises belong to Allah O my father, we are well and all praises belong to Allah”. So he (pbuh) said: “Did the news of the destruction of the tyrant Abdullah, may Allah curse him, reach you?” So they said: “Yes”. So he (pbuh) said: “This is the day of Allah. This is the promise of Allah The Almighty for His righteous sincere servants". Then he (pbuh) said: “What will you do if you see Imam Al-Mahdi Muhammad son of Al-Hassan Al-Askari may my soul be sacrificed for him?” So they said: “By Allah by Allah if he goes from here and takes refuge at any mountain we will go with him”. So The Father (pbuh) said: “By Allah you have said the truth, for Allah did not create Ansar (supporters) on the Face of Earth like you, neither before you nor after you."

Then he said: “Now I want you to point at the best of you and to choose ten to meet Imam Al-Mahdi Muhammad son of Al-Hassan Al-Askari (pbuh)”. Here everyone was keen to choose their brothers, and it didn’t cross the mind of any of them to choose himself or to think that he is better than his brother. So everyone was telling everyone “I choose you”. And the Father (pbuh) was looking to them and smiling pbuh. Then he said: “Send prayers upon Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad the Imams and the Mahdis”. So everyone sent prayers upon Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad. Then the Father (pbuh) said again “I swear by Allah The High The Great that Allah never created Ansar like you, you are the best Ansar on the face of the Earth, there never came Ansar like you, and there will never come Ansar like you, with this sincerity, loyalty, and faith in Allah The Almighty”. Then he praised Allah and thanked Him. Then he became silent for some seconds, then he said: “You must choose ten”. So he (pbuh) said: “Form ten groups, each group has four believers, and let every group composed of four to choose one believer to represent them”. So the believers did as the Father (pbuh) requested. So each group chose a person. So the total number of the chosen ones were ten believers. So the Father (pbuh) said: “The Fajr prayer time has come”, so he pointed to one of the brothers and told him, “Rise and make the Athan”. So he made the Athan and we prayed in congregation by the leadership of the Sayyed the Father (pbuh).

So we went forth twelve men and with us was the Sayyed the Father (pbuh) and we were filled with longing and yearning and excitement and a heart which was beating so fast like the speed of the lightning and a body which was shaking like a tree on a stormy winter day, because of the greatness of the matter. So we arrived to the place which Imam Al-Mahdi (Muhammad son of Al-Hassan Al-Askari) (pbuh) was at. So we met him (pbuh) and after the greetings and after a long conversation which took more than two and a half hours, he (pbuh) directed us and informed us of unseen matters which will take place, and events worldwide, with the most accurate details. And he (pbuh) informed us of what will happen in the world and in accurate details, from them are Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Japan, Italy, the greater Devil America may Allah curse it, North Korea, South Korea, Qatar, Jordan, and in the most accurate details, even with mentioning the day and the hour.

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And we take this occasion in our challenge with the Samari and the Calf may Allah curse them the companions of the alleged Office which is falsely and by fraud attributed to Imam Al-Mahdi (pbuh) while he is innocent of them, and the cursed companion of the page, and the cursed companion of the voice, to bring forth one unseen matter (one future event) and to give us all the details with mentioning the day on which it will take place. And we will do them same; we will give you one matter of the unseen which no one has ever heard of and no one will hear of, and no one has ever talked about it, you will hear it for the first time from us, and it will take place inshaAllah, and we will give you the most accurate details with mentioning the day, the hour, and the minute. So if you are truthful like you claim, then accept our challenge to you. Otherwise, you are liars, hypocrites, immoral, corrupt, and disbelievers, and at that time nothing will remain as a cure except for the sword to you, and at that time, I swear by Allah The High The Great, we will not have mercy upon you, and we will crush and destroy your nests, the nests of misguidance, disbelief, lying and slandering against Ahlul Bayt (pbuh), and at that time no regret nor repentance will benefit you .

How the call to the Black Banner reached the Ansar

An example of how the message reached the AnsarAllah:

"I heard from an Ansari sister, whom I trust, that on the day king Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died, 12 people claimed that they have seen Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi (as). He informed them about things from the unseen and commanded them to reveal the conspiracy, that had been taking place against Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (pbuh) since he entered into his silent absence, and to clarify that the Ansar are now in the fitnah of the Calf. And that the Calf is the Office and the non-working scholars in it, and the sound is the fabricated sound of the Imam on the facebook page. And Imam Mahdi (as) also told them some of those criminals' names, whom are writing letters and answers in the name of the Imam (as). He furthermore ordered them to change the banner of the call towards Allah (swt) to black.

The twelve started to deliver the glad tidings of Imam Mahdi's (as) reappearance, spread the information, and asked the Ansar to turn to Allah (swt) to know, if their claim is true or not… and called the Ansar to give victory to Imam Mahdi and Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (as) now upon their reappearance under this banner."

A sister had the following dream after the news had reached her:

"Before I believed in the Black Banners, when I was still in the phase of researching the matter, I had the following dream: I saw the twelve chiefs with their wives and all of them looked very Western, in fact in my dream they were Germans. And in their middle was Ahmed Al-Hasan (pbuh), he was with them and I knew it was him. But he also looked western, he was very tall but had white skin. So I went to him and told him "But in the narrations it says that you will be dark skinned, so how come you are white?!" When I woke up I felt very ashamed that I had asked him this, that I was questioning him based on what "i knew"… and it struck me that this was exactly what was happening with the Black Banners… I was aspecting the Imam to appear in a certain way, from a certain direction - but he was coming from an unexpected direction so I question and deny him… This reminded me a lot of the countless ahadith about how Islam will come back as something strange, or about how the qaim will come completely different then people will expect.
Aba 'Abaida Al-Hazza said: „I asked Abu Jafar (pbuh) about the matter - when will it happen?" He said: "If you expect it to happen in a certain way, but it comes to you in a different way - do not deny it." – Al-Mu'jam Al-Mawddo'i, page 767
And Prophet Mohammed (pbuhahp) said: "Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began."Mirza Nouri,Mustadrak Alwasael, p 11 p 323

People will belie the twelve before the rise of the Qaim

One of the proofs for the 12 is the following hadith, which also Alaa Al-Salem mentioned in the footnote of the Imam's book "The Righteous Servant" edition published on saying:

"Proof that before the rise of Imam Mahdi (as) there will be people, who see him and they will be belied by the people…

Abu Abdullah (as) said: The Qa'im shall not rise, until twelve men come forth and say that all of them have seen The Qa'im, but people will belie them.Al-Ghayba by Al-No'mani p285" – The Righteous Servant, p29, 30

And this is a precise tradition that if anyone other than it’s owner was able to claim it, then the tradition would have been empty of any wisdom or benefit.

Some of the Office Supporters tried to disprove the correctness of this version of the hadith

They showed, that in a very early or the first edition of the book "Al-Ghayba" by Al-No'mani the hadith has the wording "The Qa'im will not rise until 12 men say that they have seen him, so he (meaning the Qa'im) will belie them", in an attempt to prove that the 12 men are liars.

To that the response is:
Firstly: What matters now is, that there are have two versions of the hadith,

  1. a version that says that the Mahdi will belie the 12 men.
  2. a second version that says that the people will belie the 12 men,

The Office decided, that the first version is the correct one. Why can't the second version be the correct one? How can one decide which one is true? Alaa Salem quoted the version the Black Banner believes in in the Imam's (as) book „With The Righteous Servant“ in the footnotes of pages 29 and 30. So since it is mentioned in the book of the Imam (pbuh), then it is decided, which version is true. Don't the white banner supporters believe, that Alaa Salem does not publish things in the Imam's books without the Imam's approval? Otherwise they’d be admitting that the Office publishes wrong things in the Imam's books. So either they believe Alaa Salem does not write in the books of the Imam, except what the Imam (pbuh) approves of, or they believe, that he could make mistakes in the Imam's books and this way they would come close to what the Black Banner supporters are saying, which is, that they belie upon the Imam (pbuh). Also if we assume that Alaa Salem made a mistake, and copied the wrong version of the hadith, then isn't the Imam infallible and knows, that potentially this "wrong" version could lead people astray in the future? So why didn't he contact Alaa Salem and tell him "Alaa you quoted a dangerous version, please remove it from my book and quote the correct version because I am an Imam, and know that this version could lead people astray in the future.“ Doesn't Alaa Salem claim that the Imam (as) is overseeing all his books, and that he (as) is constant contact with him? So obviously the white banner supporters are trapped between two choices:

  1. Either they say, that the version Alaa Salem quoted in the book of the Imam is true (which is the version which says The Qa'im will not rise until 12 men claim that they have seen him so people will belie them").
  2. Or they say, that the version Alaa Salem quoted is wrong, and by this you would be admitting, that it is possible, that he does dangerous mistakes in the books of the Imam and that he does not have contact with the Imam and that the Imam he is following is not knowledgeable! And far away from that is Ahmed Al-Hassan (as) the true Imam!

The Office Shuyukh and friends used the belie-them-version of the hadith

Interestingly the Office Shuyukh quoted the belie-them-version of the hadith in their own books, while now they do not show any interest to examine the truthfulness of the twelve (as), which appeared bringing the Black Banner.

Dr. Al-Dirawi shows he is confused about the hadith even though the 12 will come forth before the emergence of the Imam (as) and it therefore makes more sense that the people will belie them and not the Imam (as) especially because the word "so" comes before it, which indicates the fast response without slackness.

Imam Ahmed will take several men to see the Mahdi

Secondly, there is another Hadith which Imam Ahmed (pbuh) himself quoted, which exactly matches the "Story of the Meeting of the Twelve with the two Imams (as)" (mentioned above).

Imam Al-Baqir (pbuh): “The companion of this matter will go into occultation in some of these passes” and he pointed with his hand to the direction of Thee-Towa.

Then he said: “Until before his emergence, the Mawla [Imam Ahmed], who was with him will come forth until he meets some of his companions and asks: ‘How many of you are there?’
They will reply: ‘We are forty people.’
Then he will ask: ‘How will you be if you see your Companion [Imam Mahdi]?’
They will reply: ‘By Allah, if he crumbles the mountains by us we will surely crumble them with him.’
Then he [Imam Ahmed] will come to them and say: ‘Point to ten of your leaders or the best of you,
Then they point to them for him, so he takes them and brings them to their Companion (Imam Mahdi). And he promises them the next night.” -
Ghaibat Al-Noa'mani, P. 187, Tafsir Al-Ayashy, V. 2, P. 56, Bihar Al-Anwar, V. 52, P. 341, Mu'jam Ahadith Al-Imam Al-Mahdi, V. 5, P. 2.
– quoted by Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan, An Advice to the students of the Academic Hawzas and to all truth seekers

So this Hadith, which the Imam (pbuh) quotes is a proof, that initially there will be men taken by Imam Ahmed (pbuh) to see the Mahdi (pbuh), and as clear from the hadith, this will be before the Mahdi (pbuh) comes out publicly to everyone from his long occultation (ghaybah).

From the context of the hadith it could be understood, that when the Imam (as) says “until before his emergence (khuruj)” it could mean, until before his emergence from the occultation – until before he exits from the occultation. Because the hadith starts with the occultation, then it says “so before he comes out [from the occultation], the mawla with him will come forth" etc. until the end of the hadith. Actually so another translation can be “before he comes out” instead of “before his emergence".

The Office Shuyukh and companions used the fourty-men-hadith

Until now the Fake Imam of the Office did not fulfill this hadith, by taking ten men to Imam Mahdi (as), even though the Impostor Imam returned from his ghayba in 2012.

But int the following you find, that the Office shuyukh talked a lot about the concept of forty men, from whom 10 will be chosen and 12 will meet Imam Mahdi (as) in their books without presenting them or investigating about the twelve claimants about them nowadays.

12 or eleven chiefs?

While most ahadith talk about twelve chiefs, there is the following hadith talking about only eleven:

Imam Al Sadiq (as) said: "It is as if I am looking at the Qaim on the minbar of Al Kufa, and around him are his companions, 313 men, the same number as the companions of Badr, and they are the companions of preference and they are the rulers of Allah in His land upon His creation, until the Qaim brings forth from his Quba a sealed book with a seal of gold, it is a covenant/oath from the Prophet of Allah sawas and so they become so scared from him like the fear of mute sheep. And there does not remain with him except for the Vizier and 11 chieftains as there remained with Moses the son of Imran (as) and they go forth in the land and they do not find an escape from him so they return to him, and verily I know the speech which he says to them that they disbelieve in!" – Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan, The Calf, page 184

Now one could ask: How come once there are usually 12 mentioned but sometimes 11 plus a Vizier?

The Vizier of Imam Mahdi (as) is Ahmed Al-Hassan (as). And the number of the closest companions differs from 12 to 11. We could also call them Nuqaba (chiefs) - just like Moses had 12 Nuqaba.

A possible explanation for the mismatch of the number of chiefs mentioned in the ahadith is, that the Nafs Az-Zakiyya (The Pure Soul) could be from the 12 - as they are very pure and therefore high-ranking individuals. One hadith could be talking about the time before the Nafs-Az-Zakiyyah is killed while the other hadith is talking about the point of time after the killing of it.

Furthermore this difference should not be a big deal since Imam Ahmad (as) sometimes is counted as one of Imams, that is to say this makes Imams' (or the prophets' vicegerents) number 13 whereas in other narrations Imams (as) are mentioned as 12. For instance the hadith Al-Miraj ends with 12th Imam (as) whilst the hadith about the son of Imam Ali (as) from the back of his 11th son ends with the 13th member of the family of Mohammad (pbuhaf).

The Qaim appears through ambassadors prior to his rise

In the book The Calf volume 2 Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (pbuh) says:

"These are some of the close signs of his appearance and rise. And perhaps he (as) has a period of appearance that precedes his rise in Makkah. Perhaps through ambassadors just like the case was in the minor occultation. And this possibility is strengthened by some of their (as) narrations. And perhaps the beginning of his dispatch and appearance was in the mother of cities in this age which is the Noble Najaf, like the path of his grandfather The Chosen (sawas), who was dispatched in the mother of cities in his age, which was Makkah. And Allah is more knowledgeable and more wise, and we have not been given except little knowledge."- Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan, The Calf, Volume 2 p.88, Arabic edition

Speaks about Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (pbuh) because we know that he is the one who will fight all the battles of the end times for his father Imam Mahdi (pbuh), and he will hand over the State of Divine Justice to his father Imam Mahdi (pbuh), and that the rise in Makkah is by Imam Ahmed (pbuh). But even if it talks about Imam Mahdi (as), then still this means that Imam Mahdi (as) will be talking to us through ambassadors, and they must be from the 313 as proven above. And indeed the 12 men are currently with both Imam Mahdi (as) and Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (as).

Therefore. before the rise the Imam will communicate with the people and the people will communicate with him through ambassadors (the 12 men), who are from the best of the 313, and they are the way of communication between us and the Imam (pbuh), just like there were ambassadors during the minor occultation, when the shia did not contact Imam Mahdi (pbuh) directly, they contacted the ambassadors and the ambassadors contacted Imam Mahdi (pbuh).

Now the Office Ansar might say: "The ambassadors are the Office representatives".

However, we have other accurate descriptions of these ambassadors from the Imam (pbuh).

Who are the twelve?

What Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan says about the 313

"And the truth is with the Yamani and his companions, who are the 313 Yamanis and whoever follows them."Ahmed Al-Hassan, Jamadi Al-Awwal 1426, answer to question 42

Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (as) says about the 12 men (peace be upon them all):

"My believing brother, come with me to think about our shameful condition between the hands of Allah swt, and let each of us be whoever he is. Imagine that you are one of the 313 men, and imagine that you are one of the 12 chiefs, and those are the best people in the earth, the Commander of the Believers (as) says about them: “May my father and mother be sacrificed for them, they are a number whose names are known in the Heavens and unknown in the Earth”, and the Ahlul Bayt (as) said about them: “Verily, the Earth is proud by their walking on it”, and Imam Al-Sadiq (as) cried for them more than a thousand years ago, and he made Dua to them saying that which means: “O Lord, if you want to be worshipped in Your Land then do not send against them one of Your enemies”, and Al-Sadiq (as) said that which means: “They would not have been as such if they were not created from a light which Muhammad sawas was created from and from a clay which Muhammad sawas was created from."

So contemplate over over their preference over the rest of the people and over the rest of the Shia of Ahlul Bayt (as), for the Shia were created from their light and from the rest of their clay (as) And these sincere Shia the companions of the Qa'im (as) were created from a light from which Muhammad sawas was created from, and from a clay from which Muhammad sawas was created from." – Ahmed Al-Hassan, The Allegories, Q107

The 313 are the way of communication between us and the Qaim

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The Imam (pbuh) told us in the book "The Sealing Prophecy", that the way of communication between us and the Qa'im (pbuh) will be through men from the 313, and that they are the apparent cities mentioned in Qur'an in this age, their names are unknown in the earth, their arrival will be condemned, and they gather the people to the Qa'im (pbuh), and they will face obstacles, but they will pass the obstacles.
We find their description in the section "The attributes of the companions of Al-Mahdi in the Quran" in the book The Sealing Prophecy:

  • Imam Ahmed (as) quotes the verse {And We set apparent cities between them and the cities that We have blessed} [34:18] and explains it as follows:
    "So Allah says, We set apparent cities between you believers and the blessed cities. Thus, the blessed cities are Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad (sawas). Whereas the apparent cities are the special supporters of Allah, who are a proof over the people."Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan, The Sealing Prophecy, Page 34, Arabic edition
  • The Imam (pbuh) quotes this narration:
    "I wrote to the Companion of the Age (pbuh), that my family was abusing me and rebuking me with the narration from your forefathers (pbut), 'Our servants and our caretakers are the most evil of Allah's creation.' And he (pbuh) wrote back, 'Woe to you, do you not read what Allah Almighty has said, {And We set between them and the cities that We have blessed, apparent cities}" "By Allah, we are the cities, which Allah has blessed and you are the apparent cities."– 1 Wasael Al-Shia Vol 27 Page151, Ghaibat Al-Tosi page 345, and Bihar Al-Anwar Vol 51 page 343."Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan, The Sealing Prophecy, Pages 34, 35, Arabic edition
  • The Imam (pbuh) quotes another tradition:
    "It is narrated by Ahmad bin Ali bin Abu Talib Al-Tibrusy in The Book of Al-Ihtijaj on the authority of Abu Hamza bin Abu Jafar (pbuh), that he said to Hassan Al-Basry: ...We are the cities, that Allah blessed and it is His saying to who conceded our preference, as He commanded them to head for us, so He said, {And We set between them and the cities that We have blessed, cities apparent...} As the apparent cities are the messengers and transcribers from us to our shia… until the end of the narration."Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan, The Sealing Prophecy, Page 35, Arabic edition
  • Imam Ahmed (pbuh) says:
    "And the companions of Al-Qaim Al-Mahdi (pbuh) are the best validation of the apparent cities. The Prince of Believers (pbuh) said about them, "By my father and my mother, they are an equipage, their names are known in the sky, and on earth are unknown."
    And in the book of Yanabi Al-Mawada Lithawi Al-Qurba by Al-Khan-Dozi, he said, "and he (meaning the Prince of Believers Ali pbuh) referred to the companions of Al-Mahdi (May Allah be satisfied with them) by his speech, 'By my father and my mother, they are an equipage, their names are known in the sky, and on earth are unknown."

    He (pbuh) said, So then o son of the best of servants, when you wait for the bringer of good news of the close victory from a merciful Lord. Woe to those arrogant ones, when the harvesters harvest. And the killing of the immoral, the disobedient of the owner of the great throne. So by my father and my mother to an equipage, their names are known in the sky, and on earth are unknown as at that time their arrival is condemned."Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan, The Sealing Prophecy, p.37, Arabic edition
  • Imam Ahmed (pbuh) continues:
    "But those meant in this verse are the first equipage, which are the 313 who obtain revelations from the Kingdom of Heaven in the true visions and know some of the unseen by the permission of Allah. Some of them have the rank of prophecy, yet each of them by virtue of his rank and significance with Allah (swt), and some of them are messengers from the past dispatched prophets (pbut), but they all gather on one matter because Allah is one and their gathering is the best proof of their righteousness and the righteousness of whom they gathered upon.
    As for who claims this matter while he is not with them, he is a liar and an enemy of Allah.
    Who is not with me is against me.
    Who is not gathering for me is gathering for Satan.
    Those apparent cities are messengers from Allah because they knew the truth from Allah and He reveals to them through true visions. And they are with Al-Qaim Al-Mahdi, who purifies the land and they gather the people to Al-Qaim Al-Mahdi who purifies the land. So they are proof on people and there is no stumbler within them, but they go through the obstacles successfully and follow the proof of Allah upon them and gather for him the supporters of Allah."
    Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan, The Sealing Prophecy, Page 38, Arabic edition

The apparent cities in this age are the 313 men, who are the way of communication between us and the Qa'im (pbuh), their names are unknown in the earth, their arrival will be condemned, and they gather the people to the Qa'im (pbuh), and they will face obstacles, but they will pass the obstacles.

Just as Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan (as) explained in the sermon "Advice to the students of the academic Hawzas and to all those whom seek the truth" the Arabic grammar rule, that in Arabic it is agreed upon that if the sentence does not start by the word "every" or "each", then the sentence would automatically mean "some" or "most". (See Imam's explanation)

The faces, names and locations of the 12 are irrelevant for the believer

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The Ahlul Bayt (as) taught us to examine what is being said rather than who is saying it:

"Take wisdom from whoever brings it to you, and look at what is being said. Do not look at who is saying it." – Imam Ali

Thereforex those Ansar, who do not believe in the Office anymore, but have difficulty to believe in the Black Banners, since they do not know their identities may ask themselves this:

We knew who Nathim Al-Uqaili was, where he lived, how he looked like and how to contact him, we knew the same about Alaa Al-Salem and Al-Hamami and Taufiq and and and…, and they told us, that they are the ones being in contact with the Imam (as). So what did we benefit from that? Knowing their names, locations, identities and so on. Weren't we all sure, that they are truthful? So what does it matter, if the names of the 12 people, who met Imam Mahdi (as) are known or hidden?

An Ansar asked Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan…
"People are asking us about the names of the 12 men. Are their names a secret? Is there a way by which we can communicate with them?"

The Imam answered…
"…Now it is a secret. But some of them will appear soon. You are communicating with some of them but you do not know them."– See the answer from the 25th June 2015 on the Black Banners Forum

What Imam Ahmed Al-Hassan and Imam As-Sadiq revealed about the 12 men

To learn more about the 12 you may watch the 6th Episode of the official Black Banners series, produced by Abdullah Hashem upon the command of Ahmed Al-Hassan:

Episode 6, 25th September 2015, sequence about the 12 starts at minute 4:21

We learn from this episode, that…
"… those are the ones whom the Imam called from the Cave and gave them a Kunya (nickname). And the Kunya is the name the Imam (as) uses when he calls forth individuals. When someone gets close to entering the cave, the Imam (as) gives them a Kunya which is to call them Aba - so and so. And from those whom the Imam (as) gave a Kunya were the 12 men, and after that the rest of the 313 men. And the 12 men are the chieftains and they never doubt nor apostate. And they are the ones whom the Imam (as) wiped on their heads and completed their minds. And from them is the one, whose kunya is Aba Gibriel and he is the one who brought to us the story of the meeting with Imam Mahdi (as).
And of them is Aba Michael, who is the pure water and who helps the believers."
And from him came the command to the believers and he is the trustworthy messenger."
You can also look into what was being said about Aba Michael in the first episode of the "Characters in the End Times Series".

Furthermore he quotes the following dialogue between Imam Al-Sadiq (as) and Mufaddel about the 40 men, from which are the 12 (as):

Imam Al-Sadiq (as) said:
„He had with him 40 men from the Unitarians and as such is with all the Imams.
Mufaddel sagte: O Master, are the 40 men one thing? Al-Sadiq said: From them are the 28 from the chosen in every age and time and 12 of the chieftains. By them the Prophets rise and they are called the Abdal in the apparent. And if it was not for them O Mufaddel, the Earth would have flipped with it’s inhabitants. And those never seperate from the Imam and they are the pillars of the Earth. And they are the veils and their doors and by them Allah pushes away trials and tribulations from the people of the Earth. And they are the preferred ones of Allah and they are the Messengers of the Imam and for them the Earth bends. And they travel during the day and are famous for knowing what no one from the people of knowledge has.
They have gotten what they have by work and by their chests being free of envy and hate and they have reached to where they are by good works.