In his Kastamonu Addendum, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi states that some ignorant men of religion will interpret the hadiths by looking only at their surface meaning, making statements that do away with the free use of reason, for which reason they will fall into doubt over matters that can very easily be understood by the use of reason and good conscience, and that they can also in this way harm Muslims whose knowledge is weak. Said Nursi sets out with complete clarity this matter that Muslims of the End Times frequently encounter:
... SOME SUPERFICIAL SCHOLARS (who have judged on the basis of the seeming meanings of the hadiths) HAVE FALLEN INTO DOUBT LOOKING AT THE EXTERNAL MEANING OF THOSE ACCOUNTS AND HADITH. They have either DENIED THEIR ACCURACY OR else have ATTRIBUTED A SUPERSTITOUS MEANING [a wrong one as if something fanciful in tales] TO THEM AS IF EXPECTING AN IMPOSSIBLE APPEARANCE [of a literally impossible person who has characteristics that abolish one’s faculty of reason to decide conscientiously], and thus inflict harm [for people will have difficulty in believing such metaphysical speculation, so they inflict harm on those common Muslims who do not have knowledge] on Muslims’ faith. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Kastamonu Addendum, p. 80)
In our day, too, some ignorant religious scholars emerge and interpret the hadiths of our Prophet (saas) in the same superficial manner as described by Said Nursi, and thus try to cover up the coming of Hazrat Mahdi (as), at least in their own eyes. The religious scholars Said Nursi refers to in this passage are today trying to deceive people in exactly the same way and this, by the will of Allah, is a marvel and a prophecy, of Bediuzzaman’s.
For example, some ignorant and bigoted men of religion today CLAIM, IN A MANNER THAT TOTALLY CONFLICTS WITH THE HADITH OF OUR PROPHET (SAAS) AND WITH THE LAW OF ALLAH, that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be a most extraordinary person and will be recognized by the public as soon as he appears, that not even tanks, shells, guns or atom bombs will have any effect on him, that when people look above Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) head they will see angels on a cloud, and that these angels will constantly identify Hazrat Mahdi (as) to people.
It is revealed in the hadith of our Prophet (saas) that there will be Angels alongside Hazrat Mahdi (as) and that they will help him:
GABRIEL AND MICHAEL AND FORTY-SIX THOUSAND (46000) ANGELS WILL BE IMAM MAHDI’S [HAZRAT MAHDI’S (AS)] FOLLOWERS AND COMPANIONS. (Sheikh as-Saduq, Al-Amali, Session 92, p. 504; Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Numani, al-Ghaybah al-Numani, p. 56; Tafseer al-Ayyaashi, Vol. 1, p. 197; Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 19, p. 284; Ibn Qulawayh al-Qummi, Kamil al-Ziyarat, pp. 52, 326 ; Vol. 52, p. 356; Vol. 53, pp. 14, 87; Hashim ibn Sulayman al-Bahrani, Kitab al-burhan fi tafsir al-Qur'an Vol. 1, p. 313; Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman , p. 77; Mikyalu’l Makarim, Vol. 1, pp. 29, 73-74)
HOWEVER, THE APPEARANCE OF THE ANGELS THAT WILL BE ALONGSIDE HAZRAT MAHDI (AS) IS SOMETHING THAT WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD ALONE, AND WILL THEREFORE BE VISIBLE ONLY TO THE ANGELS.
Allah reveals in the Qur’an that some people from the tribe of our Prophet (saas) claimed that an Angel should come down as proof that the Prophet Muhammad (saas) was actually a Prophet. After that, He reveals that our Prophet (saas) was simply a human being sent as a warner, a messenger:
Perhaps you are leaving aside part of what has been revealed to you and your breast is constricted by this because they say, “Why has treasure not been sent down to him OR AN ANGEL NOT ACCOMPANIED HIM?” You are only a warner and Allah is Guardian over all things. (Surah Hud, 12)
In another verse it is revealed that people who denied the Prophets generally demand to see Angels as a condition of belief:
Why do you not BRING ANGELS TO US if you are telling the truth?’ The Angels only descend with the truth and then they would be granted no reprieve. (Surat al-Hijr, 7-8)
They say, ‘Why has AN ANGEL NOT BEEN SENT TO HIM?’ If We were to send down an Angel, that would be the end of the affair and they would have no reprieve. (Surat al-An‘am, 8)
Even if WE SENT DOWN ANGELS TO HEM, AND THE DEAD SPOKE TO THEM, AND WE GATHERED TOGETHER EVERYTHING IN FRONT OF THEM RIGHT BEFORE THEIR EYES, THEY WOULD STILL NOT BELIEVER UNLESS ALLAH WILLED. The truth is that most of them are ignorant. (Surat al-An‘am, 111)
What are they waiting for BUT FOR THE ANGELS TO COME TO THEM or for your Lord Himself to come, or for one of your Lord’s Signs to come? On the day that one of your Lord’s Signs does come, no belief which a self professes will be of any use to it if it did not believe before and earn good in its belief. Say: ‘Wait, then; We too are waiting.’ (Surat al-An‘am, 158)
What are they waiting for but THE ANGELS TO COME TO THEM or your Lord's command to come? That is like what those before them did. Allah did not wrong them; rather they wronged themselves. (Surat an-Nahl, 33)
The ruling circle of those of his people who were unbelievers said, ‘This is nothing but a human being like yourselves who simply wants to gain ascendancy over you. IF ALLAH HAD WANTED HE WOULD HAVE SENT ANGELS DOWN. We never heard of anything like this among our ancestors, the earlier peoples. (Surat al-Muminun, 24)
They say, ‘What is the matter with this Messenger, that he eats food and walks in the market-place? WHY HAS AN ANGEL NOT BEEN SENT DOWN TO HIM SO THAT SO THAT IT CAN BE A WARNER ALONG WITH HIM? (Surat al-Furqan, 7)
‘Why have gold bracelets not been put upon his arms and WHY IS THERE NOT A TRAIN OF ANGELS ACCOMPANYING HIM?’ In that way he swayed his people and they succumbed to him. They were a people of deviators. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 53, 54)
When the Messengers came to them from in front and from behind, saying, ‘Do not worship anyone but Allah.’they said, ‘IF OUR LORD HAD WILLED, HE COULD HAVE SENT ANGELS DOWN, SO WE REJECT THE MESSAGE YOU HAVE BEEN SENT WITH.’ (Surah Fussilat, 14)
Or make the sky, AS YOU CLAIM, fall down on us in lumps; or BRING ALLAH AND THE ANGELS HERE AS A GUARANTEE; or possess a house built out of gleaming gold; or ascend up into heaven – and even then we will not believe in your ascent unless you bring us down a book to read!’ Say: ‘Glory be to my Lord! Am I anything but a human messenger?’ Nothing prevents people from believing when guidance comes to them but the fact that they say, ‘Has Allah sent a human being as Messenger?’ SAY: ‘IF THERE HAD BEEN ANGELS ON THE EARTH GOING ABOUT IN PEACE, WE WOULD HAVE SENT DOWN TO THEM AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN AS MESSENGER.’ (Surat al-Isra’, 92-95)
As is clear from these verses, unbelievers have produced the same excuses in all periods of history. In the same way that the deniers demanded the presence of Angels in order to believe in our Prophet (saas), so some people today who do not believe are using similar methods in order to reject the coming of such a guide as Hazrat Mahdi (as).
By claiming there will be an Angel above Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) head, that everyone will see that Angel and that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will thereby be identified, they are proposing a situation that can never come about, by Allah’s will, under earthly conditions, and imagine, in their own eyes, that they can thus prevent the coming of Hazrat Mahdi (as).
It is revealed in the hadiths that an Angel will introduce Hazrat Mahdi (as) by calling out from a cloud above Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) head, “This is Hazrat Mahdi (as), follow him.” However, the cloud mentioned in the hadith is not one that people will be able to see. In the figurative sense, it is a cloud visible to the world of the Angels and the djinn. The appearance of such a thing is not beyond the comprehension of angels or djinn. As revealed in other hadiths of our Prophet (saas), Hazrat Mahdi (as) is the Mahdi of angels and djinn, as well as of human beings. Allah has sent Hazrat Mahdi (as) as a blessing to all three separate worlds. This description is therefore aimed at the world of the djinn, and especially that of the angels. And such a situation is a valid incident for them. When the event described in the hadiths takes place and an Angel cries out the glad tidings of Hazrat Mahdi (as), other angels will heed that call, as revealed in other hadith, and will also assist Hazrat Mahdi (as). The hadiths of our Prophet (saas) on the subject read:
... Allah will send three thousand Angels to help him [Hazrat Mahdi (as)]. (Nuaim ibn Hammad, Kitab Al-Fitan)
Allah will support him [Hazrat Mahdi (as)] with three thousand Angels. (Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi `Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, p. 41)
It is therefore most important that these hadith should not be interpreted in terms of their superficial meaning. Because it is very clear that what is being referred to here is not “an Angel appearing in a cloud and speaking to people, and introducing them Hazrat Mahdi (as).” No such thing has ever happened with our Prophet (saas) or any other Prophet. The angels have always appeared in the form of beautiful human beings and the Prophets have never been one hundred percent certain that they are angels. If such a miracle were to take place, everyone would believe unconditionally, accept Hazrat Mahdi (as) and feel no doubts of him of any kind. But such a thing is completely opposed to the law of Allah, as revealed in the Qur’an. Because if such a thing were to happen regarding Hazrat Mahdi (as), the “test” created for human beings in this world would be eliminated and that, according the Qur’an, is impossible. The angels are invisible to human beings. The angels will help Hazrat Mahdi (as) without being visible to him and, by the will of Allah, will inspire in people’s hearts the idea that “This person is Hazrat Mahdi (as).” If, as some people say, Angels come down from the sky in a visible form and say “This is Hazrat Mahdi (as), follow him” and if a hand appears from the cloud and points to Hazrat Mahdi (as), indicating the oath of allegiance should be taken to him and if millions of people witness this but still deny Hazrat Mahdi (as) despite all this clear and incontrovertible evidence, then that means they don’t believe the words of the Angels. And that is out of the question. The open and explicit conversations of the Angels will take place among themselves.
Hazrat Mahdi (as) will go to Mecca and there, after he is forced to by people saying “If you refuse, we will strike you on the neck,” he will accept their oath of allegiance to him between the Corner and the Maqam against his will. (Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi Alamat al-Mahdi al- Muntadhar, p. 32)
If there were to be Angels beside Hazrat Mahdi (as) visible to everyone and calling them to swear allegiance to him, then Hazrat Mahdi (as) himself would be sure that he is Hazrat Mahdi (as). In that event, there would be no need for people to oblige him to agree that he is Hazrat Mahdi (as). Because if there were to be an Angel visible beside him, this would be evident and incontrovertible evidence and Hazrat Mahdi (as) would not be able to object it. And in that event, it would be obligatory for people to swear allegiance to him.
Many scholars from various countries will set out, unknown to one another, in order to seek Hazrat Mahdi (as) and 310 people will accompany each scholar… When they ask one another, “Why have you come here?” they will all answer “We seek Hazrat Mahdi (as), who will prevent this corruption and spiritually capture Constantinople, because we have learned his name, those of his mother and father and of his army.’ (Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi Alamat al-Mahdi al- Muntadhar, p. 40)
It is revealed in many places in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas) that Islamic scholars will set out to seek Hazrat Mahdi (as). If there were to be an Angel visible above Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) head, everyone would immediately know his identity and location. And there would be no need for Islamic scholars to set out to find Hazrat Mahdi (as). Another method by which some ignorant men of religion imagine, in their own eyes, that they can keep the coming of Hazrat Mahdi (as) secret, is to claim that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be invulnerable to tanks, shells, guns and even the atom bomb.
The fact is, however, that our Prophet (saas) has stated in the hadiths that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will resemble the Prophets in various ways and that, like them, he will have to strive against difficulties. Like the Prophets, Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be slandered, tested by false allegations, various troubles and afflictions, and will overcome all the snares set by the deniers. Hadiths transmitted from our Prophet (saas) state:
Imam Zayn al-Abidin stated:
"OUR QAIM [HAZRAT MAHDI (AS)] WILL RESEMBLE THE MESSENGERS OF ALLAH IN VARIOUS WAYS. HE WILL INDIVIDUALLY RESEMBLE NOAH (AS), ABRAHAM (AS), MOSES (AS), JESUS (AS), JOB (AS) AND MOHAMMAD (SAAS) AND THE OTHER PROPHETS. He will resemble Noah (as) in being long-lived, ABRAHAM (AS) IN HIS BIRTH BEING CONCEALED [AT HOME] and away from the public eye, to MOSES (AS) in his state of fear (the intensity of dangers directed to Hazrat Mahdi (as); his being face to face to all kinds of danger like murder, plotting, arrest, taking into custody and exile) and in his being in occultation (his constantly spending his life hiding); to Jesus (as) in people being in conflict about him (some people will say Hazrat Mahdi (as) will come while others will say he will not); to Job (as) in being delivered to salvation after trouble (Hazrat Mahdi (as) will also suffer many difficulties, diseases and trouble; however just like the Prophet Job (as) he will be saved by Allah’s mercy); to Muhammad (saas) in his standing up with his sword (our Prophet’s (saas) holy relics will be with Hazrat Mahdi [as]). (Sheikh al-Saduq, Kamal al-Din, p. 322, Chapter 31, Hadith no. 3)
Abu Bashir says: I heard Imam Muhammad Bakr (as) say: “HE WHO POSSESSES THIS OCCULTATION [HAZRAT MAHDI (AS)] WILL HAVE THE SUNNAH OF FOUR PROPHETS… I SAID, WHAT IS THE SUNNAH OF JOSEPH (AS)? AND HE SAID: IMPRISONMENT AND OCCULTATION. (Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Numani, al-Ghaybah al-Numani, p. 191)
The hadiths of our Prophet (saas) say that the great Mahdi (as) of the End Times will be subjected to pressure, duress and oppression from the system of the antichrist, that he will be imprisoned and live with the threat of death, that his hands and feet will be chained, that a copper tablet will be hung around his neck, that he will be abandoned to suffering and trouble and that he will be isolated.
If, as some people maintain, Hazrat Mahdi (as) were an extraordinary entity with Angels visible around his head and immune to guns, tanks and shells, then how can he be imprisoned, tortured and persecuted, and live in great difficulty? How can anyone imprison or mistreat someone who is invulnerable to guns and bombs? In addition, our Prophet (saas) says there will be a time when Hazrat Mahdi (as) occults from sight. If, as they maintain, Hazrat Mahdi (as) were an extraordinary person, why would he feel the need to hide away and live out of sight?
As we have seen, the claims made by certain ignorant men of religion are exactly compatible with the description provided by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. To use such methods to try and deceive Muslims may result in them having a heavy price to pay in this world and in the Hereafter.
In one verse of the Qur’an, Allah says:
So on the Day of Resurrection they will carry the full weight of their own burdens and some of the burdens of those they misguided without knowledge. What an evil load they bear! (Surat an-Nahl, 25)