Al-e-Imran (The House of Imran) Sura 3: Verse 52
"When Jesus became aware of their unbelief, he asked: 'Who will be my helpers in Allah's cause?' The disciples said: 'We are Allah's helpers. We believe in Allah. Do bear witness that we have surrendered ourselves to Him.'
The word hawari (disciple) seems to have been imported into Arabic from Hebrew. There is disagreement among the lexicologists about its true signification. In our opinion, it means a well-wisher, supporter and a helper. Just as the word ansar is used for the first Muslims who helped and supported Prophet Muhammad's call in its initial stage, hawariyyun is used for the disciples of Jesus who believed in him and supported him steadfastly. He taught and trained them with great love and care. They carried his message to all the cities and towns in the land and they are mentioned in great detail in the Gospels.
This verse means that when Jesus realised that the Pharisees and the leaders of the tribe of Israel would not believe, he focussed all his attention on his poor companions who did not possess worldly wealth but were sincere believers. This has been a common practice of the prophets. In the beginning, they would try to warn and to enlist the support of the influential people in their community. However, when they realised that these arrogant and heedless people were not willing to change, they left them alone and concentrated on the destitute companions who had responded to their call.
This verse shows, on the one hand, the Prophet's zeal to convey the message, and on the other, it also shows the firmness of his resolve and unshakeable faith in Allah that makes him independent of any need for others' help or company. Looked at closely, implied in this clarion call also is the message: Indeed, I have taken the path to my Sustainer. Let those who have the will and the courage, come and join me in treading this hazardous path. This decisiveness and determination of the Prophet can infuse even the dead with life. Those who are morally alive are awakened by this call that makes them restless and all the more eager for guidance.
In response to Prophet Jesus' call, Man ansari ila Allah, (who will be my helpers in Allah's cause?), his disciples unhesitatingly declared, "Nahnu ansarullah - We are Allah's helpers." In the statement of Prophet Jesus, the particle ila indicates the distance that had to be traversed to reach the final destination. And that was precisely what he, as a caller to Allah, had to do: to inform them about the hardships of the path and the distance that they had to travel. The disciples in their burning fervour, as it were, seem to have reached the final goal, indeed truly befitting the intensity and depth of the state of their faith or iman and of their islam, or obedience to Allah.
"Pondering Over The Qur'an: Surah Ali Imran" - Amin Ahsan Islahi