There are a great many people who have fallen into various errors regarding the existence and coming of Hazrat Mahdi (as). Some of these errors are as follows:
1. Hazrat Mahdi (as) has come and gone. He appeared in the past.
2. Hazrat Mahdi (as) is a collective personality, in other words, an invisible spirit. And there is therefore no point in awaiting him.
3. Hazrat Mahdi (as) will come, but in many centuries’ time.
4. Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be a regular human being. Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be an ordinary political leader who will not perform the second and third of the tasks that Bediuzzaman described in his works in the words “Hazrat Mahdi (as) has three duties,“ who will not wage an intellectual struggle against materialist, Darwinist and atheist philosophies and who will not tell people of the signs leading to faith. He will merely read the Risale-i Nur Collection, and is thus of little significance.
5. There is no such person as Hazrat Mahdi (as) and he will never come.
6. Hazrat Mahdi (as) may come but it is wrong to investigate these matters. Hazrat Mahdi (as) must find us busy working when he comes, so there is no need to investigate him. If he comes, he comes, and if not, then he does not.
7. There will be an Angel over his head telling people, “This is Hazrat Mahdi (as), follow him,” and he should be immune to tanks and guns. Someone lacking these attributes cannot be Hazrat Mahdi (as).
8. Many Mahdis will come in the End Times. Three, five or ten Mahdis may come. They will all work silently and discharge the duties of the Mahdi and then die, so very few people will be aware of this fact.
Trying to confuse, complicate and cover up this issue, which the Messenger of Allah (saas) sets out so clearly in trustworthy hadiths and which Bediuzzaman Said Nursi describes so clearly and explicitly, is one of the terrible and peculiar characteristics of the End Times. Hundreds of millions of people have fallen into the errors concerning the existence and coming of Hazrat Mahdi (as) listed above. Initially, there will be 313 people who think that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will come this century. This can be seen from the general state of affairs today. The Messenger of Allah (saas) says in the hadiths that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will have 313 people around him.
According to these clear and explicit hadiths, nobody else apart from these 313 people will be able to understand Hazrat Mahdi (as). The reasons why people cannot understand are those set out above. Some people will genuinely fail to understand the existence of Hazrat Mahdi (as), while others will be incited by satan to pretend not to understand, and this will persist until Hazrat Mahdi (as) does appear. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi states that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be known through the light of faith and that there will be few people with him capable of doing that:
“The force and spiritual army this duty depends on is only some students in full possession of titles of purity, loyalty and solidarity. No matter how few they may be, they are as powerful and valuable as a literal army. That abundant and capable army is family of the Messenger of Allah (saas) and very pure army of Hazrat Mahdi (as). (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Emirdag Addendum, p. 259)
It is a great miracle for Hazrat Mahdi (as) to remain unknown despite all the portents of his coming having taken place and these signs being so clear and so explicit. However, a veil has come down over most people’s eyes and they are unable to recognize Hazrat Mahdi (as) despite all these evident facts. This shows the severity of the End Times, and how much foresight and perspicacity have disappeared, and the kind of thought structure that people now possess.
However, in the future, by the will of Allah, the whole world will realize that Hazrat Mahdi (as) is an individual and that he will appear this century.