... Some scholars (who have judged on the basis of the external meanings of the hadith) have fallen into doubt looking at the external meaning of those accounts and hadith. They have either denied their truth or else have attributed a nonsensical meaning to them (as if literally describing the impossible), and thus inflict harm (through such metaphysical speculation) on Muslims’ faith.
(Kastamonu Addendum, p. 80)
Bediuzzaman has said that analogical or figurative hadith about such entities of the End Times as the Prophet Jesus (as), Hazrat Mahdi (as) and the Dajjal need to be explained by having their figurative elements clarified. Otherwise, he says, some supposed scholars ignore these hadiths’ figurative meanings and fall into doubt through considering their superficial significance alone or else reject the hadith entirely. Such supposed scholars misinterpret the subject of the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as), and this causes Muslims lacking in sufficient knowledge of the matter to go astray, as well.
The fact is, however, that the Prophet’s (saas) hadith on all aspects of Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) life are of such a kind as to be accessible to reason and logic. When examined in the light of the information in the Qur’an and other accounts, those accounts on the subject that are figurative or analogical can also be explained in such a way as to leave no doubt as to the coming of the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as).
In the verses of the Qur’an, Muslims are shown how they should interpret such hadith. We are told that people asked about the Prophet (saas), “Why has an angel not been sent down to him’?” (Surat al-An‘am, 8) But no angel was ever seen at the Prophet’s (saas) head saying, “This person is a prophet.”
The same thing applies to Hazrat Mahdi (as). One of the analogical hadith about Hazrat Mahdi (as) is as follows:
“There will be a cloud just above his head. There will be an angel there who will cry out ‘This is Hazrat Mahdi (as), follow him’…”
A cloud will appear above Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) head. An angel will cry out from that cloud: “O People, Allah has chosen the most auspicious of the community of Muhammad as your imam and has sent a caliph (spiritual leader). Make haste to join him. He is in Mecca. He is Hazrat Mahdi (as).”
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 hadith 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 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 hadith takes place and an angel cries out the tidings of Hazrat Mahdi (as), other angels will heed that call, as revealed in other hadith, and will also assist Hazrat Mahdi (as). The hadith of our Prophet (saas) on the subject read:
(Naim ibn Hammad)
(Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi Alamat al-Mahdi al- Muntadhar, Ahmad bin Hajar Makki, p.41)
It is therefore most important that these hadith should not be interpreted in terms of their superficial meaning. Because it is 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 prophets also have never been one hundred percent certain that they are angels; they have always appeared in the form of beautiful human beings. If such a miracle were to take place, everyone would believe unconditionally, accept Hazrat Mahdi (as) and feel no doubts 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.
Angels will be invisible to human beings. 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 as 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 alegiance 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 believe the words of none 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.
(Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi Alamat al-Mahdi al- Muntadhar, p. 32)
If there were to be angel 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 ve evident and incontrovertible evidence and Hazrat Mahdi (as) would not be able to object. And in that event, it would be obligatory for people to swear alegiance 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.’
(Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi Alamat al-Mahdi al- Muntadhar, p. 40)
It is revealed in several places in the hadith 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).
For that reason, and just as with our Prophet (saas), Hazrat Mahdi (as) must not be expected to appear with characteristics that exceed human powers of comprehension. Like all human beings, Hazrat Mahdi is a servant subject to the law of Allah and to the test. Like all the guides to salvation, Allah has strengthened Hazrat Mahdi (as) both physically and mentally, and made him superior to the great majority of people in terms of faith, moral values, intellect and wisdom. However, Hazrat Mahdi (as) will not appear by working miracles as some scholars mistakenly suppose. Muslims will recognize Hazrat Mahdi (as) from the physical features described in the hadith, from his superior qualities, from his being instrumental in Islamic moral values prevailing across the world, from his freeing the world from atheism, materialism and Darwinism, from his performing the prayer (namaz) together with the Prophet Jesus (as), and from the whole world enjoying love, peace, security and happiness, in other words, from Allah assisting him in this blessed duty.
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).”