Chapter Four : Mahdi and His Distinction
 

In the first chapter of "Eqdud-Durar" the author narrates from Abu Ayub Ansari who said: 'The Holy Prophet (S.AW.A) told Fatemah (may Allah's peace be upon her) as such: - Our Prophet is the best of the Prophets and he happens to be your father. Our martyr is the best of the martyrs and he is Hainza, your father's Uncle. And from us is the one who possesses two wings and will fly with them to whatever part of the paradise he wishes. And from Us are the two 'Sebt' (offspring) of this 'Ummah' i.e. Hassan and Hussein and they are your sons.

And from us shall come the Mahdi. Thereafter he writes: 'Hafez Abul-Qasim Tabarani has narrated this tradition in his minor Mu'ajam.70 The author says: What honor and greatness Allah has bestowed upon Mahdi, the Expected one, that by virtue of his great and truthful grandfather's saying, he got the honor of being amongst the family which Allah has removed from them the uncleanness and purified them a (thorough) purification. 70-The author of 'Yanabi-ul-Muwadda' on page 185 has narrated from 'Zakha-er-ul-Aqabi- which In turn has narrated from 'Arba'een' of Hafez Abul-Ala-Hamadani.

Mahdi and His Lofty Position

The author of "Eqdud-Durar" narrates (in the first chapter) from Abu Abdulla Na'eem-ibn-Hemad who narrates from Ibn-Abbass who said: 'In his first look, Isa-ibn-Maryam (Jesus Christ) looked at what would be bestowed upon the 'Qaem' from the progeny of Muhammad and then said: 'O Lord, grant me the position of 'Qaem' of Al-e-Muhammad.' Said to him:

He shall be from the offspring of Ahmad. Thereafter, he looked for the second time and found the same as that he had first seen. He asked (Allah) the same and heard the same reply. He looked for the third time and saw exactly what he had seen before. He requested the same and once again received the same reply. Also, the author of "Eqdud-Durar" narrates from Saalem Ashal as such: 'I heard a tradition similar to this one. Abu Jafar Muhammad-ibn-Ali (may Allah be satisfied with them) would say:

'May my life be sacrificed for you, O Mahdi, the Awaited one, O 'Qaem' of Al-e-Muhammad. How is this sublime position which Allah has bestowed upon you and assigned it and made it superior (only) for your excellency to such extent that the two confabulator with Allah i.e. Musa-ibn-Imran and the spirit of Allah, Isa-ibn-Maryam (AS.) wished to reach this same lofty position as yours even though they themselves possessed a sublime position? Anyhow, Allah did not accept their wish. When both looked and became aware of your sublime position which Allah had allocated for you (only) and discovered your majesty, they became amazed and requested Allah for such a position. However the reply they received was that except for the 'Qaem' of Al-e-Muhammad, none could receive this position.

Then they looked at the effects (i.e. the raising of the true creed (of faith) in the East and West; establishment of equity and Justice and destruction of cruelty and oppression) which would occur through Mahdi's existence and emergence. They requested Allah to make these effects occur under their patronage and make them the cause of their propagatory mission. However they were told that this sublime position was exclusively for 'Qaem' of Al-e-Muhammad.

Mahdi and Isa

Bukhari in his "Sahih" vol. 2 Page 158 narrates from Abu Huraira and he from the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) who said: - "How be your position at that time when the son of Maryam shall descend amongst you and your Imam shall be from you."

The same tradition with similar reference has also been narrated by Muslim. The author of "Eqdud-Durar" narrates (in the first chapter) from the book 'Manaqib-ul-Mahdi' of Hafez Abu Na'eem Esfahani who narrates from Abu Saeed Khudri who narrates from the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) as such: -

"From Us is the one behind whom shall pray Isa."71 Traditions in this regard are many and what we have narrated about his Imamate, distinction and leadership are adequate. Ganji in his book 'Bayan', after mentioning traditions on 'Salat' (prayers) says: If someone says:

The authenticity of this tradition that Isa (A.S.) shall stand for prayers behind Mahdi (A.S.) and will fight along with him and the fact that Isa (A.S.) shall kill Dajjal in the presence of Mahdi and Mahdi (AS.) will be having precedence over Isa at the time of prayers are all well-known. Similarly, his position is more than Isa at the time of 'Jihad' (the holy war). As far as the authenticity of these traditions is concerned they are resolute before the Ahl-e-Sunnah and Shi'ites too have narrated them in a similar manner.

Therefore, all the Muslims, whether Shias or Sunnis are unanimous and united over the evidence of Mahdi's existence which means that except for the sayings of Shias and Sunnis, the sayings of other sects is immaterial. In spite of such consensus on this matter and its authenticity we ask: Amongst the two (i.e. Mahdi and Isa) who is having precedence over the other in prayers and battle?! We reply: Mahdi and Isa are both leaders, one is the Prophet and the other is the Imam; although in a congregation the one who is the Imam shall be the leader over the other who is the Prophet. Besides, none of the two fear from reproach (of others) seeking the path of Allah and both are immaculate from all types of sins such as deceit, showing off (the good deeds) and hypocrisy. Moreover, none of the two will invite the others towards an act, which is outside the decree of 'Shariat' (religious bindings) and against the Wish of Allah and His Prophet.

When such is the affair, then 'Imam' (who is Mahdi) is superior to 'Mamoom' (who is Isa) because, Muhammad's Shariat has commanded as such. The proof of this is what the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) has said:

The one whose recitation of Quran is better (than others) shall lead the people. If it is equal amongst all, then the wisest shall lead and if still they are equal, the most learned shall lead. If yet they are equal, the one who has taken precedence over the others in 'Hijrat' (migration) shall lead and if again they remain the same, the one with a handsome face shall lead. Thus if Mahdi realizes that Isa is superior to him, it is not permissible for Imam to take precedence over Isa in the 'Shariat' since Allah has kept Imam pure and clean from every abominable act.

71-Kanzul-Ummal vol. 7 pg. 187. Also, Suyuti narrate: in Arful-wardi Pg 65 Ibn-Abu Shuaiba that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A) maid: 'Mahdi is from this 'Ummah' and he lathe same one behind whom shall pray Isa-ibn- Maryam. On the same page, he has narrated a tradition with similar contents from Ibn-Maaja, Rauyeni, Ibn- Khuzaima, Abu Awaane, Hakem and Abu Na'eem from the Holy Prophet.

Also, he narrate: on page 81 from Huzaifa and on page 83 from 3ibir and the author of 'M-Hawiul-Fatawi' on page 167 narrates from Osman-ibn-Abil Aas, Abu lmamah Baaheli, Ibn Sireen and each in turn from the Holy Prophet a tradition with content that Isa will follow Mahdi in prayers.

Similarly if Isa realizes that Mahdi is superior to him, it is not permissible for him to allow Mahdi to follow him because, Allah has protected him from pretention, hypocrisy and showing-off. Rather, when once Imam becomes sure that he is more learned than Isa it is permissible for him to take precedence over Isa. Similarly when Isa becomes certain that Mahdi is more learned than him he will allow Hazrat to take precedence and he himself will on the other hand, follow him. This was regarding superiority in prayers.

Jihad (the holy war), is giving one's life before the one who is having an inclination towards Allah through this means. If it is not such, then nobody is having the right to take part in Jihad in front of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and someone other than him. The verity of this saying is the following Divine words: -

"Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain; a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Ingeel and the Quran; and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge which you have made; and that is the mighty achievement" Another point is that Imam is the representative of the Holy Prophet amongst the people and Isa (Jesus) cannot take precedence over the Holy Prophet. Similarly, it is not permissible for him to take precedence over his representative.

Mahdi and Ummah

In the third chapter of "Eqdud-Durar" it: author narrates from Abu Omar Muqarri and he, from Huzaifa-bn-Yamaan and he, from the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) who; while speaking about the incident of Sufyani and his wicked deeds said: 'A cry shall be heard from the heavens - a repelling cry: "O people, verily Allah has severed the hands of the oppressors, hypocrites and their followers from you and made the best from the 'Ummah' of Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) to be your guide Look for him in Mecca and in deed he is the Mahdi."

Allah has exclusively eulogized the Islamic 'Ummah' in His Holy Book and attributed this 'Ummah' with qualities if they were to take pride in one of them they would be justified let alone if they took pride in all of them. His first statement:

(And thus We have made you a medium (just) nation.) Second:

(You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men.) Third:

(And you may be bearers of witness to the people.) Fourth:

(He has chosen you.) Fifth:

(He named you Muslims since before.) Besides these, there are other traditions and writings which have come with regard to their superiority and if there was no other superiority but the relationship and kinship with the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.A.) suffice it was for them to take pride and flaunt Verily, the Islamic 'Ummah' is that very 'Ummah' in which exists specimens of martyrs of Karbala as well as the battle of Badr and Uhud; amongst them being Hamza, the Chief of the Martyrs.

In them are specimen of those who accompanied the Prophet in battles and fought with their lives and properties in the way of Allah. In them are specimens like Salman, Abu Zar, and miqdad, Ammar, Thalha, Zubair, Abu Ubaida and Saad-ibn-Abi Waqqas. Moreover, the tradition, which we had mentioned says: 'Mahdi is the best of Muhammad's 'Ummah'. Therefore, speaking about his superiority, suffice it is to mention this very fact that he is the best among the Islamic 'Ummah'. The author of "Eqdud-Durar" narrates (in the seventh chapter) from 'Musnad' of Imam Ahmad and 'Awali' of Hafez Abu Na'eem and these two from Abdullah-ibn-Abbass who said: 'The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: - Destruction is not for a nation (Ummah) in which I am the firs of it' Isa the last and Mahdi the middlemost.

Ibn-Hajar in his "Sawaeq" narrates from Abu N'a'eem who narrates from Ibn-Abbass that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: - "A nation whose first is myself; whose last is Isa-ibn-Maryam and center one Mahdi will never be destroyed."

The same tradition can be found on page 151 of "Esaaf-ur-Rhagebeen".72 The author of "Eqdud-Durar" has narrated (in the seventh chapter) from 'Sunan' of Nesa'ee and he from Anas-ibn-Malik that 'The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: - "Destruction is not for a nation in which I am the first of it" 72-In Tarikh-e-Ibn Asaker (vol. 2 pg. 62), Seera Halabi (vol. 1 pg. 156), Arful-Wardi (page 64) of Suyuti and Al-Wawiyul-Fatawi (page 156) the words 'how shall it he destroyed' ii written instead of 'It will not be destroyed'. The author of 'Yanabi-ul-Muwadda' (page 375) narrating from Fata'ed-us-Semtain and the author of Kanzul-Ummal (vol. 7 pg. 187) have said that after the word of Mahdi the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) added the words: 'from my progeny'.

Mahdi the middlemost and Messiah the last."

Ganji in his book of 'Bayan', after narrating the afore-said tradition says: 'This tradition is 'Hassan' (good) and Hafez Abu Na'eem and Ahmad-ibn- Hanbal have narrated it in their books 'Awali' and 'Musnad' respectively. His saying that 'Isa shall be the last' does not mean that Isa will remain alive after Mahdi because, as it has been proved that Mahdi is the Last Imam and except for him, no other Imam has been mentioned by them, it is not possible for the people to remain without an Imam. If it is said that Isa shall lead the people after him for some time we reply: -

In case Isa remains amongst the people, it cannot be said that there will not remain any goodness and joy even though traditions mention that after Mahdi, there shall be no goodness and joy. It is not authorized that Isa acts and leads as a vicegerent because his dignity is much higher than the position of vicegerency. Moreover, he cannot enjoy liberty in his leadership as the ignorant people shall start imagining Muhammad's nation to have changed and converted into a Christian nation and this imagination is blasphemy. Therefore, it is necessary to interpret the tradition in this manner that Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) was the first leader and the first inviter of Islamic 'Shariat' and Mahdi was the middle inviter. This interpretation appears to be correct to me. It is also possible to interpret Mahdi's middle stage as his superiority and betterment over the others because he is the Imam and Isa shall descend after him and confirm his position of Imamate. Moreover he shall become his associate and helper in his affairs and declare to the people the integrity of whatever Imam claims. Therefore Isa is his last confirmer.

The author of "Kashful-Ghumma" after mentioning what we have narrated from the book of 'Bayan' regarding the interpretation of this tradition says: - If, by middleness of Mahdi is meant his superiority then it is apprehended that he will be better than Ali too and I can find no person believing in this talk. However, we may interpret this as such: The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) was the first inviter and he placed Mahdi in the middle since he was amongst his followers and 'Ahl-e-bit'. He was nearer than his other followers and better placed in the center than those living on his path. However, since Isa was already the leader of one nation and would invite (the people) in the end towards another nation (i.e. Islam) he deserves to be called the last inviter towards Islam and Allah is All-Knowing.'

Author says: The details regarding these two noble traditions which we have mentioned is that we say: The word of negation (??) denotes nullity forever. That is to say, if this letter appears in a word it shall render it ineffective (shall not occur). 'Destruction' in tradition either refers to worldly torments just as some of the previous nations got afflicted by it) or deviation after receiving guidance and blasphemy after having belief (just as it occurred with some of the previous nations). Or it refers to disconnection of the field of social life. Just as a person dies, a nation too dies and fades away. As Allah says or (middle) has to be interpreted in its very apparent meaning which is something between the first and last. It does not refer to superiority or betterment because in the second tradition the word of 'middle' has been used as against the words of, 'first' and 'last' and secondly the word of (?) (in the first tradition) is a part of the word (???) and earned the meaning of 'valency'. Thus one cannot interpret (???) to mean betterment. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) being the 'first' is an apparent enough evident. However Mahdi, being the 'middle' emerges from this view - point that be has been born in the year 256 and from then onwards he is living until Allah makes him to reappear. Isa being the 'last' one indicates this fact that he shall descend after the emergence of Mahdi. The words 'first', 'last' and middle have been used in the literal sense for these three personalities and not in any other sense.

After becoming aware of what we have written we say: Although Allah is All-Knowing, (yet) what the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) meant by this saying is that destruction and annihilation never overtakes a nation which has been associated and related to such kind of sacred systems. Therefore, it is by the blessing of these three personalities that Allah has refrained from sending worldly chastisement or that deviation will not occur for them as a result of the teachings and training of these three personalities (either directly or indirectly) or that by being attentive to people like them and their reformatory instructions, a nation shall not be destroyed and will not lose its social life.

Mahdi and Paradise

The author "Eqdud-Durar" narrates (in the seventh chapter) from Ibn-Maaja, Tabarani, Abu Naeem and some others who in turn narrate from Ana-ibn-Malik that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: - 'We, the seven sons of Abdul-Muttalib - Ali my brother, Hamza my uncle, Jafar my cousin, Hassan, Hussein, Mahdi and myself are the "chiefs of the people of Paradise".73 Ibn-Hajar in "Sawa'eq" (page 112) narrates from Ibn-Maaja and he, from Anas that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A) said: "We, the sons of Abdul-Muttalib - Ali, Jafar, Hassan, Hussein, Mahdi and I are the chiefs of the, people of Paradise."

In Nahjul-Balagha, Ali (A.S.) says as such: - 'Know, O' creatures of Allah, that the one who fears Allah will certainly be shown (by Allah) the path of exit from seditions and will be bestowed a light for his darknesses. Whatever he describes, will be granted to him. Moreover Allah shall give him mansions besides Himself in a beautiful place - a mansion which he himself has 73.The authors of Arful-Wardi (page 58) and Yanabi-ul-Muwadda (page 223) have narrated the same from Ibn Serri, Deylami and Ibn-Maaja.

constructed, its canopy will be his throne (1)

And its brightness will be his own self, Angels will be his visitors and Prophets shall be his friends.' The author says: - 'Paradise is a place, which Allah has prepared for His obedient servants. Thus its inhabitants are the best ones and its residents are the most righteous ones. In them are the Prophet, Messengers, veracious believers and martyrs. With these specifications, Mahdi (A.S.) is amongst the seven chiefs of Paradise and the great chief over here refers to the greatness of spirituality and not greatness in age.

The author of "Nur-ul-Absar" on page 229 writes: 'Ibn-Shirwiya writes in his book 'Firdaus' as such: Ibn-Abbass says-The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: - "Mahdi is the peacock of the inhabitants of Paradise." The author of "Yanabi-ul-Muwadda" too has narrated a tradition similar to this one from "Kanzul-ul-Daqa'eq" quoted from Ahmad-ibn-Hanbal.74 The author says: - Comparing Mahdi with a peacock amongst the inhabitants of Paradise (in spite of knowing who its inhabitants are) is a good indication of his superiority which is the speciality of Mahdi and no other human-being.

Verily, whatever is derived from Mahdi's existence and his emergence such as Divine Magnificience, Elegance, Greatness and Glory is such an affair, which has not occurred for any of the Prophets or Messengers. Why should not it be so when traditions which are 'Mustafiza' clearly stipulate that Hazrat shall fill the earth with equity and Justice and illuminate it with the light of Allah and his kingdom shall engulf the East and West?

These signs of elegance and majesty are specialities of Mahdi, the Awaited one. Thus, from the view - point of beauty, he shall be like a peacock (as compared to other birds) among the inhabitants of Paradise.

Mahdi and Submission

The author of "Bqdud-Durar" narrates in chapter No. 3 from Abu Abdullah Na'eem-ibn-Hemad and he, from Jaber-ibn-Abdullah who said: - 'A person once visited Abu Jafar Muhammad-ibn-Ali and said: Take these 500 dirhams from me concerning 'Zakat' (alms-tax) on my wealth. Abu Jafar said:'- 'Pick them up and give them to your Muslim neighbors and those brethrens who are in dire need. Thereafter he said: When Mahdi from our progeny shall emerge, he shall distribute wealth equally and act justly with the people. Therefore, any one who obeys him has obeyed Allah and anyone who disobeys him has disobeyed Allah.

The author of "Eqdud-Durar" narrates in the fourth chapter from Hafez Abu Abdullah Na'eem Ibn-Hemad that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: 'A caller 74-Arful-Wardi page 83.

shall call Out from the heavens as such: Know that, the chosen one of Allah amongst His servants is so and so. Thus listen to him and obey him.75 The same tradition has come in the seventh chapter of the afore-said book and its author mentions that by so and so is meant 'Mahdi'. The author of "Yanabi-ul-Muwadda" narrates (on page 435) from Ibn-Maaja who in turn narrates from Ibn-Omar who narrates from the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) as such: "The Angels shall cry out from the heavens and will incite the people towards him and say: Verily Mahdi has emerged. Obey him."

Mahdi and Truth

The author of "Eqdud-Durar" narrates (in the seventh chapter) from 'Muajam' of Abul-Qasim Tabarani, 'Manaqib-ul-Mahdi' of Abu Na'eem Esfahani and Hafez Abu Abdullah Na'eem-ibn Hemad who in turn narrate from Amir-ul- Mumineen Ali-ibn-Abi Talib (A.S.) that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: - 'Whenever the caller shall cry out from the heavens that the truth can be found in Muhammad's household, Mahdi shall emerge at that very moment.76 Th the afore-mentioned book (in Section 3, Chapter 7) its author narrates from Amir-ul-Mumineen Ali-ibn-Abi Talib (A.S.) as such: 'Whenever the caller shall call out from the heavens that truth is with Al-e-Muhammad, Mahdi shall come forth.

The author of 'Al-Musawiyah' writes: - Ahmad-ibn-Musa-ibn-Mardawiya narrates through various channels from Ayesha, the wife of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and she from Hazrat that: "Truth is with Ali and Ali is with truth. There shall be no separation between the two until they meet me near the fountain." The author says: The son appears to be so similar to the father that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) made this remark with regards to both of them.

Mahdi and Succession

The author of "Eqdud-Durar" narrates (in the eighth chapter) from Hafez Abu Na'eem and he, from Abdullah-ibn-Omar that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: "Mahdi shall emerge and above him will be a cloud from where an Angel cries out: Verily, this is Mahdi, the divine successor. Therefore, obey him." The author of "Nur-ul-Absar" has narrated the same tradition on page 231 from Abu Na'eem, Tabarani and others who in turn have all narrated from Abdullahibn Omar.77

The author of 'Es'aaf-ur-Rhagebeen' on page 153 says: "Traditions mention

75-Kanzul-Umal vol. 7 page 189; Arful-Wardi Page 76
76-Kanzul-Ummal vol. 7 page 185 Arful-Wardi page 68

77-Arful-Wardi page 61

that at the time of his emergence, the angels shall cry out: This is Mahdi, the divine representative. Therefore, obey him. Then the people shall join him." The author of "Yanabi-ul-Muwadda" narrates on page 447 from 'Fara'ed-us- Semtain' from Abu Na'eem from Abu Omar that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: - "Mahdi shall emerge and an Angel above him shall cry out: This Mahdi is the representative of Allah. Therefore follow him."78

Mahdi and Treaty

The author of "Eqdud-Durar" narrates (in Section 3, Chapter 9) from Sunan of Abu Omar, Osman-ibn-Saeed Muqarri and 'Al-Fatan' of Hafez Abu Abdullah Na'eem-ibn-Hemad who, in turn narrate from Ishaaq-ibn-Auf who said: 'On the flag of Mahdi shall be written (??????) (treaty is for Allah). The author of "Yanabi-ul-Muwadda" too has narrated from "Fasl-ul-Kheta" of Anuf a similar tradition on page 435 of his afore-said book.79

Mahdi and Angels

The author of "Eqdud-Durar" narrates (in the eighth chapter) from Abu Omar and 'Sunan' of Osman-ibn-Saeed Muqarri who in turn narrate from Huzaifa-ibn- Yamaan that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) while speaking of Mahdi and the people's pact with him between 'Rukn' and 'Maqam' said: Gibra'eel (Gabriel) shall move in front of him and Micha'eel on his right. The inhabitants of the heavens and earth and the beasts and birds shall become happy of his presence.80 The author of 'Esaaf-ur-Rhagebeen' writes on page 152 as such: - 'It has come in traditions that Allah, the Exalted shall support Mahdi with three thousand Angels81 and the people of Cave (Ahl-e-Kahf) shall be among his helpers.

Mahdi and People of the Cave

The author of "Eqdud-Durar" writes in the seventh chapter as such: Imam Abu Ishaaq Thulbi in his exegesis of the Holy Quran with regards to the incident of the people of the Cave says: They took their places of sleep and remained therein until the end of time when Mahdi shall emerge. Then Allah will make them alive. Later they shall return back to their sleeping places and will not rise until the Day of Judgement.

78-A similar tradition has been narrated in Arful-Wardi narrating from Abu Na'eem. Also, On page 76 he writes: Ammar says - 'A caller shall cry out from the heavens: - verily, your Chief is so and so and he is Mahdi. He shall make the earth to flourish and fill it with Justice. He further adds : At the time when Sulyani shall engage in a battle with Mahdi a caller shall cry out from the heaven saying: Know that the fiends of Allah are the companions of Mahdi.

79-The author of Arful-Wardi has narrated the same (on page 85) from Ibn-Sireen.

80-The author of "Arful-wardi" has narrated the ::me tradition (on page 83) and instead of the phrase 'on his right' the phrase 'will follow him' has been written.

81-Arful-wardi Page 73.

The author says: In the same exegesis, under divine saying of The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) has said: Verily Mahdi (A.S.) shall greet the people of the Cave and Allah, the Exalted, shall make them alive. Then they shall answer his greetings. Thereafter they shall return back to their places and will not rise until the Day of Judgement.82 The author says: 'Perhaps, the reason that Allah will make them alive is that they may give allegiance to Mahdi and as said before. The author of "Esaaf-ur-Rhagebeen" mentions that as per of traditions they shall be among his helpers and companions.'