Sadr al-Sayrafi says: I heard from Imam Abu Abdullah Jaffar Sadik that: ... Our modest imam and the owner of this [occultation] [HAZRAT MAHDI (AS)], who is deprived of his rights and denied WILL MOVE AMONG THEM AND WANDER THROUGH THEIR MARKETS AND WALK WHERE THEY WALK. BUT THEY WILL NOT RECOGNIZE HIM [HAZRAT MAHDI (AS)] until Allah lets them to know him, just as with the Prophet Joseph (as). (Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Numani, al-Ghaybah al-Numani, p. 189)
Amr ibn Sa’d relates from Commander of the Faithful Ali ibn Abi Talib (as): “... I swear by Ali’s Lord that hujjat [HAZRAT MAHDI (AS)] WILL BE UP AND WALK IN THE PATHS OF THIS WORLD, AND WILL ENTER HOMES AND PALACES, AND WILL TRAVEL IN THE EAST AND THE WEST OF THIS PLACE, AND HIS WORDS WILL BE HEARD AND HE WILL SEE AND GREET THE COMMUNITY, but he will not be known until the promised time and until this voice comes from the sky.” (Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Numani, al-Ghaybah al-Numani, p. 167)
Our Prophet (saas) states that in the period prior to the appearance of Hazrat Mahdi (as), he will frequently be seen among people, that people will see him as they sit in their homes and walking on the streets, and will see images of him and hear his voice on the television and the Internet, that they will hear his name, but that they will still fail to grasp that he is Hazrat Mahdi (as). It is also stated that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will walk among people in the bazaars and markets, but that nobody will recognize him as they do not expect him to be Hazrat Mahdi (as). This information provided in the hadith shows that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be someone who is known, someone with a high profile, whose fame and renown are familiar to all, but that nobody will recognize him by his title of Hazrat Mahdi (as).
1 (Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Nomani, al-Ghaybah al-Nomani,p. 189)
2 (Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Nomani, al-Ghaybah al-Nomani p. 167)