In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (swt) says:
وَإِذَا وَقَعَ الْقَوْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَخْرَجْنَا لَهُمْ دَابَّةً مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ تُكَلِّمُهُمْ أَنَّ النَّاسَ كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا لَا يُوقِنُونَ
And when the word befalls them, We will bring forth for them a creature from the earth speaking to them, [saying] that the people were, of Our verses, not certain [in faith]. (27:82 / Sahih International)
This creature or the beast is mentioned in the ahadeeth as someone who will address the people and differentiate or mark the true believers from the disbelievers, as alluded to by the ayah. The Sunni scholars do not have a conclusive explanation as to the exact nature of the beast, some of them have said its an actual animal, or the She-Camel of Prophet Saalih and other have said its a person. The ayah and the ahadeeth support the latter.
In the non-Shia hadiths we read the following:
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ بْنُ حُمَيْدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا رَوْحُ بْنُ عُبَادَةَ، عَنْ حَمَّادِ بْنِ سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ زَيْدٍ، عَنْ أَوْسِ بْنِ خَالِدٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ تَخْرُجُ الدَّابَّةُ مَعَهَا خَاتَمُ سُلَيْمَانَ وَعَصَا مُوسَى فَتَجْلُو وَجْهَ الْمُؤْمِنِ وَتَخْتِمُ أَنْفَ الْكَافِرِ بِالْخَاتَمِ حَتَّى إِنَّ أَهْلَ الْخِوَانِ لَيَجْتَمِعُونَ فَيَقُولُ هَاهَا يَا مُؤْمِنُ وَيُقَالُ هَاهَا يَا كَافِرُ وَيَقُولُ هَذَا يَا كَافِرُ وَهَذَا يَا مُؤْمِنُ ” . قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ . وَقَدْ رُوِيَ هَذَا الْحَدِيثُ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم مِنْ غَيْرِ هَذَا الْوَجْهِ فِي دَابَّةِ الأَرْضِ . وَفِيهِ عَنْ أَبِي أُمَامَةَ وَحُذَيْفَةَ بْنِ أُسَيْدٍ
Narrated Abu Hurairah:
that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “A beast will emerge from the earth. With it shall be the ring of Sulaiman and the staff of Musa. It will brighten the face of the believer, and stamp the nose of the disbeliever with the ring, such that when the people gather to eat, it will be said to this one: ‘O believer! and to that one: ‘O disbeliever!'”
Also we find that their hadiths say: “It will use these to mark off the believers from the disbelievers.” [Qurtubi, Jami` al-Ahkam al-Qur’an]
According to the Shi’a ahadeeth the staff of Moses and ring of Solomon are possessed only by the Imams(as).
عن محمد بن أبي حمزة الثمالي، عن أبي عبدالله عليه السلام قال: سمعته يقول: ألواح موسى عليه السلام عندنا، وعصا موسى عندنا، ونحن ورثة النبيين.
Muhammad b. Abi Hamzat ath Thumaly from Abi Abdillah (as) he said: I heard him say: “The tablet of Musa (as) is with us, and the staff of Musa is with us and we are the heirs of the Prophets. (al-Kafi)
أبي بصير، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: خرج أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام ذات ليلة بعد عتمة(3) وهو يقول همهمة همهمة، وليلة مظلمة خرج عليكم الامام، عليه قميص آدم، وفي يده خاتم سليمان، وعصا موسى عليهما السلام.
“Ameer al Mo’mineen (as) came out one night (after ‘isha) and he was saying hamhama hamhama and it is a dark night and the Imam has come to you with the shirt of Adam, and on his hand the ring of Sulaiman and the staff of Musa(as). (al-Kafi)
One of the descriptions of the beast that is agreed by all is that he will distinguish the believers from the disbelievers. This would have to refer to the disbelievers who the people do not already know about their disbelief or are outwardly believers but inwardly disbelievers as in the hypocrites. Because the outward disbelievers would already be recognised by the people.
This description also matches that of Imam Ali (as). In both the Sunni and Shi’a ahadeeth it has been recorded that the Prophet (sawa) has said that the sign of a believer is his love towards Ali(as) and the sign of the disbeliever is his hatred of Ali (as). And from the companions who would say we would recognise the hypocrites by their hatred of Ali (as).
When we look at the Shia tafseer, we find more explicit references – which suggest he (as) returns in the Raj`ah:
‘Abu Abdullah (as) said: ‘Rasool-Allah (sawa) came up to Amir-ul-Momineen (as) and he was in the Masjid, and he (as) had gathered a pile of sand and placed his head upon it. So he (sawa) moved him with his leg, then said to him (as): ‘O creature of the earth!’ So a man from his companions said, ‘O Rasool-Allah (sawa)! Can some of us name each other by this name?’ So he (sawa) said: ‘No, by Allah! It is only for him especially, and he is the walking creature whom Allah the High has Mentioned in His Book “And when the Word shall come to pass against them, We shall Bring forth for them a creature from the earth that shall speak to them because people did not have certainty in Our Signs.” (27:82)
Then he (sawa) said: ‘O Ali (as)! When it will be the end of the times, Allah Will Bring you forth in a beautiful form, and with you would be a brand with which you will be branding your enemies’.
So a man said to Abu Abdullah (as), ‘The general Muslims are alleging that His Words “And on the Day when We will Gather from every nation a party” (27:83) it means during the Day of Judgement’. So Abu Abdullah (as) said: ‘Will Allah Gather from every nation a party, and leave the rest? No! But it would be during the Return (الرجعة). And as for the Verse regarding the Day of Judgement, so it is “We will Gather them and leave not any one of them behind.” (18:47)
Sanad: Ali bin Ibrahim said, ‘My father narrated to me, from ibn abu Umeyr, from abu Baseer who narrated the above hadith
Source: Tafseer al-Qummi, Volume 2, Pages 130-131 (See First Image below)
Grading: Sh. Haadi al-Najafi graded it Sahih/Authentic [Mawsu’atu ahaadeeth ahlulbayt (as) Volume 4, Pages 136-137 (See Second Image below)]
In al-Kafi, Ameer al-Mu’mineen (as) speaks about his virtues, ending with “I am the owner of the staff (of Moses) and Miysam (marking seal) and the walking creature that will speak to people.”:
Abu Ja‘far (as) about the excellence of Amir al-Mu’minin, Ali (as) has said, ‘Whatever Imam Ali (as) has brought I follow it entirely and whatever he has forbidden I desist from altogether. All that is true of the obedience to the Messenger of Allah (sawa) is true of the obedience to Imam Ali (as) after the Messenger of Allah, but excellence belongs to Prophet Muhammad (sawa). Those who try to be ahead of Imam Ali (as) are considered as trying to be ahead of Allah and His messenger (sawa). Those who try to show themselves more excellent than Imam Ali (as) are considered as trying to show themselves more excellent than the Messenger of Allah (sawa). Whoever rejects any of the small or great items of the guidance of Imam Ali (as) is like considering things as similar (sharik) to Allah. The messenger of Allah (sawa) that if chosen leads to Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High. The same was true of Imam Ali (as) after the Messenger of Allah (sawa). All such matters were true of ‘A’immah (as) one after the other. Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, has made them the cornerstone of the earth so that its inhabitants are not destroyed. They were the pillars of Islam and the connection in the path of guidance. No guide can be a guide without their guidance and no straying one goes astray unless he ignores the rights of ‘A’immah (as).. They are the trustees of Allah over whatever knowledge, warning and excuses have been revealed to them (from the heavens). They possess the doubtless Divine Authority over those on earth. Whatever (excellence and authority) is found in one of them is true of all of them and no one can reach such a stage without support from Allah.
Amir al-Mu’minin (Ali) (as) has said, ‘I am the supervisor for Allah over paradise and hell. No one will go to either one without my supervision. I am the greatest criterion and the Imam for those after me, and the provider of relief for those before me. No one is permitted to be ahead of me except Ahmad, recipient of divine supreme covenant..He and I are on the same path except that he is called Ahmed (the most praiseworthy). I have been given six things. I have been given the knowledge of deaths, of the sufferings, of the wills and the clear speech. I have been given the power to attack the enemy, and the power to subdue the adversary. I am the owner of the staff (of Moses) and Miysam (marking seal) and the walking creature that will speak to people.’
Sanad: Muhammad ibn Yahya and Ahmad ibn Muhammad both have narrated from Muhammad ibn al-Hassan from Ali ibn Hassa’n who has said that abu ‘Abd Allah al-Riyahi narrated to him from abu al-Samit al-Hulwani the above hadith
Reference: al-Kafi, Volume 1, Chapter 81, Hadith #3 (See Image below)
In Kamal al-Deen, we find another fascinating description of this walking creature. After describing signs of the end of times, Imam Ali (as) says the following:
Know that! After this will come to pass the Great event.”
Thus we asked: O Amirul Momineen (a.s.), what would that be? He replied, “the creature from the Earth will emerge from Mt. Safa. He shall be having the seal ring of Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.). When that ring would be touched on the face of a believer, it would brand him to be a true believer. And when it is touched on the face of an infidel it would clearly mark that he is really a disbeliever. So much so that the believer will say to the infidel, “Hell is ordained for you, O infidel.” And the disbeliever will say to the believer, “Tooba is ordained for you, O believer. Alas! If I were also successful and delighted with you this day.”
Thus when the creature raises his head he would, by the permission of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime be able to see whatever is present between the east and the west. And it would be at a time when the Sun will rise from the west. At that time the time for repentance would be over and no repentance would be accepted from anyone. Neither would any deed rise up to the heavens as mentioned:…its faith shall not profit a soul which did not believe before, or earn good through its faith…”
Then Ameer al-Mu’mineen (a.s.) said: “Do not ask me about the conditions following this. This is a covenant that I have made with my dearest one that I would not inform about this to anyone except my descendants.”
Reference: Kamal al-Deen, Volume 2, Chapter 47, Hadith #1
Sanad: Narrated to us Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Ishaq (r.a.) that he said: Narrated to us Abdul Aziz bin Yahya Jaludi in Basra: Narrated to us Husain bin Maaz: Narrated to us Qais bin Hafs: Narrated to us Yunus bin Arqam from Abi Yasar Shaibani from Zahhak bin Muzahim from Nazaal bin Sabra who said the above hadith
May Allah (swt) raise us with Ameer al-Mu’mineen (as). May Allah (swt) reward br. Ali Abdullah for his help on this post also.