Please can you tell me what does ABDAAL mean and how many there are in the world?
Abdaal is the plural of badl, which means replacement. It is a title given to some special pious servants of Allah. Their condition is such that they are busy in the worship of Allah. They have no other concern besides Allah. Some of them live a secret life away from the people. Others stay within the company of the general public.
One hadith in Mishkat Shareef states: “Abdaal remain in Shaam (Syria and its surrounding area). They are forty men. Whenever one of them dies Allah replaces him with another person. Through them rain is sent down, victory is granted against the enemies and chastisement is turned away from the people of Shaam. (Narrated by Imam Ahmed – Mishkat page 583)
This hadith does not mean that they are in Shaam only. It only shows that there are more in Shaam. Other ahadeeth state that they are spread out in the world. Read the tafseer of the last ayat of the second para: