As we are told in the words of one hadith, “The antichrist has many followers. Many people will join him,” (Wali-ud-din bin Abdullah al-Khatib al-Umari al-Tabrizi, Mishkat al-Masabih, Damascus: 1382/1962, 3:38.2) the antichrist will cause a great many people to follow him when he appears. This is also revealed in the words of another hadith: “Certain it is that he will conquer all places apart from Haram [Mecca and Medina] and Bayt al-Muqaddas...” (Al-Haqim, Mustadraq, No. 1230, 1/478) In addition, various other hadiths of a metaphorical nature also contain indications that a great many people will go along with the antichrist and that his system will be a rather powerful one. In his accounts of the hadiths concerning the antichrist, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi also notes the scale of this system set up by the antichrist, one that is incompatible with religious moral values. Bediuzzaman states that the signs in the hadiths indicate “the size of the antichrist’s dominion and activities.” According to the indications given in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas), the antichrist will declare his own supposed divinity and will deceive a great many people with this false indoctrination. People who are taken in by the lies of the materialist and atheistic ideologies that the antichrist supports will turn away from religious moral values and a moral collapse and degeneration will manifest itself in societies. Together with this, Hazrat Mahdi (as) and his followers, though few in number, will engage in a great intellectual struggle against the antichrist. Bediuzzaman also describes how the numbers of those perceiving the true face of the antichrist will be very small:
None knows the Unseen save Allah, one interpretation must be as follows: it is an allusion and sign that quantitively the spiritual community of those striving [in the way of Allah] who will recognize the Prophet Jesus (as) and follow him, will be very few and small comparatively to the scientific, physical armies of the antichrist. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Rays, p. 495)
“... Scientific, physical armies of the antichrist...”: Bediuzzaman is stating that the atheistic forces that support the antichrist will be very powerful, in terms of their teaching resources, militarily and materially.
“... spiritual community of those striving [in the way of Allah]...”: Here, Bediuzzaman is saying that the Prophet Jesus (as) and the community that follows him will be involved in a large-scale intellectual struggle against the antichrist. This community will make enormous efforts to spread proper moral values, and will work with great devotion on the path of Allah. The term “spiritual” used here by Bediuzzaman refers to a community that possesses genuine faith and that experiences the esoteric aspects of events as well as those aspects that are visible on the surface.
Another extract from Bediuzzaman Said Nursi in which he refers to the antichrist having a large number of followers and to his having wide means at his disposal reads as follows:
There is a report that in the time of the Prophet Jesus’ (as) struggle against the antichrist, he will leap ten yards in the air but will only be able to plunge his sword into his knee, so much taller is the antichrist than the Prophet Jesus (as). That means that the antichrist must be 10 or perhaps 20 times taller than the Prophet Jesus (as)…
First Point: If the community of Christian clergy who believe in the essence of Christianity and the community that begins to impose irreligion in opposition to them assume substance and physical form they can be no more than a child beside a man the height of a minaret. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Kastamonu Addendum, p. 80-82)
In this account Bediuzzaman is stating that in the light of the hadiths of our Prophet (saas) the number of those around the antichrist will be proportionally very much greater than that of those who support the Prophet Jesus (as). According to this description, the number of genuine believers in the End Times will be proportionally very much smaller than that of those who propagate irreligion.
According to the indications provided in the hadiths, the great majority of people will be taken in by the false indoctrination of the antichrist, either through ignorance or because of their worldly passions and desires. It will be next to impossible for those who do not abide by religious moral values to see the antichrist’s true face, and the antichrist will only be recognized for what he is by those who have the understanding and conception that faith brings with it. In the words “…when those individuals, and even the terrible antichrist, appear, many people and himself even will not know to start with that he is the antichrist. Those individuals of the end of time will be known through the insight and the light of belief. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Words / Twenty-Fourth Word - Third Branch, p. 355), the great Islamic scholar Bediuzzaman Said Nursi also states that the antichrist will not immediately be recognized by everyone.
People’s inability to recognize the antichrist and their being deceived by his words will also lead to the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as) not being recognized. With the broad means at his disposal the antichrist will bring the greater part of society under his influence, direct them as he pleases and cause them to keep their distance from the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as).