The antichrist’s objective is to prevent people living by Qur’anic moral values and to neutralize the struggle waged by the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as). To that end he will attempt to prevent people seeing the auspicious activities that these holy personages perform. He will even misrepresent the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as) to society and will do all in his power to make people hostile to them. He will seek to influence large numbers of people, and with this community he thus establishes he will wage a major campaign against these blessed individuals. According to the indications in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas), these propaganda techniques employed by the antichrist will play a major role in the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as) not being recognized by the majority of society when they first appear.
Propaganda techniques are one of the best-known methods of shaping public opinion. Large masses of people can be directed in the desired direction by means of exaggerated reports or reports with no truth to them at all. Mass indignation can even be evoked. The indications in the hadiths show that the antichrist will employ various propaganda techniques to prevent people obeying the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as). These propaganda methods will resemble the methods employed by unbelievers through the ages. Allah tells us in the Qur’an that unbelievers will resort to such methods as making conspiracies against believers, seeking to incite society against them by various lies, using false proof, using a deceptive style of presentation and a style that intensifies a potential atmosphere of indignation. Allah shows how unbelievers will use the means at disposal to give the impression that something is one way when it is in fact not, and that they will thus be able to lead society in the direction they desire.
Thus the antichrist may attempt to use such propaganda techniques, with various lies and slanders, in order to mislead society in the End Times. One very important characteristic feature of the antichrist noted in the hadiths is the way that he has the means to enable his slanders and lies to reach a great many people. The hadiths contain signs that the antichrist will engage in his propaganda by making use of the press and publishing vehicles.
When the antichrist appears he will shout and scream in such a way that the peoples of the East and West will hear him. (Ibn Kathir, al-Nihaya, 1:96)
A voice will be heard saying, "The antichrist has entered your homes and taken your children captive." (Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, p. 73)
These expressions tell us that the antichrist’s voice will be heard all over the world and that he will enter everyone’s homes by using methods of mass communications. Therefore, the antichrist will be able to enter more than one place at the same time. According to the signs in the Qur’an, the antichrist will aim to blacken the reputations of true believers by using these means to spread his evil propaganda.
Means of communication such as radio, television, the Internet, newspapers and magazines are today the most important ways that people communicate and are kept informed. In the same way that these can be used for such purposes as raising people’s cultural levels, telling the public about day-to-day events and calling on people to live by proper moral values, they can also be used to spread slander and false reports, to misdirect people for evil ends, and to encourage immorality. According to the signs contained in the hadiths, the antichrist will attempt to blacken the reputations of believers by using these vehicles to spread his wicked propaganda. Using television and the press, he will spread slanders about the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as), accusing them of being “perverted,” or “bewitched,” or “encouraging ignorance” or “deception.” In a climate of non-stop propaganda in which the characters of believers and people with proper moral values are blackened, many people who lack the requisite information will regard the antichrist as strong and powerful in their eyes and thus align themselves with him. Some ignorant Muslims who, albeit unknowingly, fail to analyze all these events in the light of Qur’anic moral values and the beliefs of the Ahl al-Sunnah, will support the antichrist and further strengthen his propaganda. As revealed in the words of one hadith, “The antichrist will bring with him what will resemble hell and paradise, and what he will call paradise will be actually hell,” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 55, 554) the antichrist will depict good as evil and evil as good. As a result of this propaganda, the great majority will not recognize the Prophet Jesus (as), Hazrat Mahdi (as) and other devout believers, and will even regard them as evil.
Since the antichrist behaves as the public wish and in line with their worldly desires, they will love him and follow the path he shows them. Many people will imagine that the antichrist is actually calling them to what is good and thus follow him and turn their backs on those they should be following, the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as). They may even actively oppose them. Since this false propaganda of the antichrist’s will be entirely compatible with people’s worldly desires and interests their preferences will be in opposition to Muslims.
As described in detail in previous sections, some people will fall under the influence of such propaganda by the antichrist and will abandon Hazrat Mahdi (as). Some hadiths indicating this read as follows:
They will strive alongside Hazrat Mahdi (as). Then Medina will be rocked and the unbelievers will be expelled from it... Only pure Muslims will be left there, and later they will migrate to Bayt al-Maqdis ...(Al-Barzanji, Al-Isha'ah li-ashrat al-sa'ah, 8th edition, p. 256)
The Day of Judgment will not happen until a group from my community rule over everyone. They will pay no heed to the departure of those who abandon them, nor to those who help them. (Muawiya (ra); Buyuk Kiyamet Alametleri, 476/9, Major Portents of the Judgment Day, 476/9)
It needs to be made clear that in the same way that the antichrist employs overt propaganda during all these activities, he may also seek to misdirect people by using covert indoctrination. In the same way that he may employ a style intended to blacken the names of believers during the course of this propaganda, he may also employ a style intended to target them indirectly and to establish a false impression of them in society. For that reason, Muslims must be on their guard against all the antichrist’s methods and ruses. What Muslims who wish to understand the antichrist’s trickery and avoid his fitnah need to do is to fully comply with the moral values of the Qur’an and to take the Sunnah of our Prophet (saas) as their guide. In the Qur’an Allah tells the faithful to:
You who believe! If a deviator brings you a report, scrutinize it carefully in case you attack people in ignorance and so come to greatly regret what you have done. (Surat al-Hujurat, 6)
Muslims who comply with this commandment of our Lord’s will not, by Allah’s leave, be taken in by the antichrist’s falsehood and slander-based propaganda. When they analyze every report they hear or every piece of information that comes their way using the criteria of their reason, conscience and moral precepts of the Qur’an, they will be protected against confusing good with evil and right with wrong.
The End Times are an age when the honesty required by religious moral values, justice, protecting the needy, observing the rights of the weak, giving alms, and being compassionate are all in decline. These virtues will be replaced by lies, fraud, ruthlessness, intransigence, selfishness and aggression. In such a climate, where helping others is regarded as a kind of naiveté, honesty is seen as unnecessary, when people look askance at compassion and gentleness, when justice is not done, and when cruelty and oppression spread, people will find it difficult to distinguish what is good from what is bad, and what is right from what is wrong.
The values and criteria by which good and evil are determined are of the very greatest importance. If people determine good and evil on the basis of their own personal interests and other value judgments, terrible turmoil will ensue. That is because people can only come to real goodness by thinking in line with Qur’anic moral values and following the voice of their consciences. The fact that people will turn away from the moral values of the Qur’an in the End Times will cause them to confuse good and evil and thus turn their backs on the truth.
There is no doubt that this state of affairs will play a major role in the antichrist’s struggle. The antichrist, the main defender and proponent of systems and ideologies that are incompatible with religious moral values will draw strength from this corrupt climate in the End Times and thus cause the majority of people to behave in accordance with the indoctrination he provides. For that reason, it is of the greatest importance to identify the way the antichrist turns people away from the true path and the methods he may employ in order to prevent people recognizing the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as). These methods are considered in this chapter. Our hope is that this information will prevent people being taken in by the antichrist’s deceptions when the Prophet Jesus (as) returns to Earth and when Hazrat Mahdi (as) appears.