A man said to Imam as-Sadiq [a], "May I die for you! By Allah, I love you and love whoever loves you. O my master; how numerous your Shi`a are!"
The Imam replied, “Would you please mention them?”
The man said, “They are too many.”
The Imam replied, “Could you count them?”
The man said, “They are too many to count.”
Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, “If the number [of true Shi`a] reaches a little more than three hundred, then what you desire (i.e. divine government) will happen.
Our Shi`a are those
whose voices do not pass beyond their ears,
nor does their zeal go beyond their body,
nor do they praise us openly,
nor do they quarrel with anyone because of us,
nor do they sit with anyone who criticizes us,
nor do they talk to anyone who abuses us,
nor do they love anyone who hates us,
nor do they hate anyone who loves us."
The man said, “Then how do we deal with these different groups, who pretend that they are Shi`a?”
The Imam replied, “They will be tried, purified and distinguished. Years come that will perish them,
a sword that will kill them
and disagreement that will scatter them.
Our real Shia are those,
who do not growl like a dog,
do not covet like a crow,
and do not ask people for alms even if they die of hunger.”
The man asked, “May I die for you! Where can I find such a kind of people?”
The Imam replied, “You can find them in the far sides of the world.
They are those,
whose lives are so simple,
whose abodes move from place to another,
who, if they are seen they, will not be known,
if they are absent, they will not be missed,
if they become ill, they will not be visited,
if they propose to a woman, they will not be married,
and if they die, their funerals will not be attended.
It is they,
who divide their wealth among them,
who visit each others' graves,
and who never disagree even if their countries are different.”
(Nu`mani's Kitab al-Ghayba)