To suggest that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be a most extraordinary person and that he will be recognized as soon as he appears is a claim that conflicts totally with the hadith of our Prophet (saas) and with the law of Allah. According to some people who insist on making such a claim, tanks, shells and even atom bombs will have no effect on Hazrat Mahdi (as). In addition, they say that when people look above Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) head they will see angels on a cloud, and these will constantly point Hazrat Mahdi (as) out to people. The fact is, however, that THE HADITH OF OUR PROPHET (SAAS) SAY THAT THE GREAT MAHDI OF THE END TIMES WILL BE SUBJECTED TO PRESSURE, DURESS AND OPPRESSION FROM THE SYSTEM OF THE DAJJAL, THAT HE WILL BE IMPRISONED AND LIVE WITH THE THREAT OF DEATH, THAT HIS HANDS AND FEET WILL BE CHAINED, THAT A COPPER TABLET WILL BE HUNG AROUND HIS NECK, THAT HE WILL BE ABANDONED TO SUFFERING AND TROUBLE AND THAT HE WILL BE ISOLATED.
It is also perfectly apparent from the hadith of our Prophet (saas) that there will be angels alongside Hazrat Mahdi (as) and that these angels will help him.
HAZRAT JIBRIL (AS) AND HAZRAT MIKHAIL (AS) AND FORTY-SIX THOUSAND (46,000) ANGELS WILL BE IMAM MAHDI’S [HAZRAT MAHDI’S (AS)] HELPERS AND COMPANIONS.1
1 Sheikh Sadooq’un(a.r.) Al-Amaali, Session 92, p. 504; No’mani, Al-Ghaibah p. 56; Tafseer al-Ayyaashi, Vol. 1, p. 197; Bihar-ül Envar, Vol. 19, p. 284; p. 52, p. 326 from Kaamil al-Ziyaaraat; Vol. 52, p. 356; Vol. 53, p. 14, 87; Tafseer al-Burhaan, Vol. 1, p. 313; Al -Burhaan Fi Alaamaat-e-Mahdi Aakher al-Zamaan (a.s.), p. 77; Mikyaal al-Makaarem, Vol. 1, p. 29, 73-74
HOWEVER, THE APPEARANCE OF THE ANGELS THAT WILL BE ALONGSIDE HAZRAT MAHDI (AS) IS SOMETHING THAT WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD ALONE, AND WILL THEREFORE BE VISIBLE ONLY TO THE ANGELS.
If, as some people maintain, Hazrat Mahdi (as) were an extraordinary entity with angels visible around his head and immune to guns, tanks and shells, then how can he be imprisoned, tortured and persecuted, and live in great difficulty? How can anyone imprison or mistreat someone who is invulnerable to guns and bombs? In addition, our Prophet (saas) says there will be a time when Hazrat Mahdi (as) disappears from sight. If, as they maintain, Hazrat Mahdi (as) were an extraordinary person, why would he feel the need to hide away and live out of sight?
The hadith of our Prophet (saas) compare Hazrat Mahdi (as) to the Prophet Yusuf (as) with regard to the way that he will live hidden from sight and be imprisoned, and to the Prophet Musa (as) with regard to the way that he will face intense dangers and live with the threat of death, plots, arrest, detention and exile.
Imam Zayn al-Abidin stated: "There are some similarities between our Qaim [Hazrat Mahdi (as)] and Allah's messengers. He has similarities to each one of prophet Nuh (as), Ibrahim (as), Musa (as), Isa (as), Ayyub (as) and Muhammad (saas). He has similarity to NUH (as) in having a long life; to IBRAHIM (as) in having his birth being hidden and his staying away from the public; TO MUSA (AS) IN HIS STATE OF FEAR (THE INTENSITY OF DANGERS DIRECTED TO HAZRAT MAHDI (AS); HIS BEING FACE TO FACE TO ALL KINDS OF DANGER LIKE MURDER, PLOTTING, ARREST, TAKING INTO CUSTODY AND EXILE) AND HIS CONSTANTLY SPENDING HIS LIFE HIDING; to ISA (as) in people being in conflict about him (some people will say Hazrat Mahdi (as) will come while others will say he will not); to AYYUB (as) in being delivered to salvation after trouble (Hazrat Mahdi (as) will also suffer many difficulties, diseases and trouble; however just like Prophet Ayyub (as) he will be saved by Allah's mercy); to Muhammad (saas) in his standing up with his sword [our Prophet's (saas) holy relics like his holy standard, sword and cardigan will be with Hazrat Mahdi (as)].
(Qamal al-Din, p. 322, Section 31, Hadith number 3)
Sadr al-Sayrafi says: I heard Imam Abu Abdullah Jaffar al-Sadiq say: He said: "THE OWNER OF THIS TASK [THE HAZRAT MAHDI (AS)] WILL HAVE A RESEMBLENCE TO YUSUF (AS)]." AND I SAID: "IT IS AS IF YOU ARE TELLING US OF A DISAPPEARANCE OR ASTONISHMENT."
(Sheikh Muhammad bin Ibrahim Nomani, al-Ghaybah al-Nomani p. 189)
Abu Bashir says: I heard Imam Muhammad Baqr (as) say: "HE WHO POSSESSES THIS OCCULTATION [HAZRAT MAHDI (AS)] WILL HAVE THE SUNNA OF FOUR PROPHETS. ONE SUNNA FROM THE PROPHET MUSA, ONE FROM THE PROPHET 'ISA (AS), ONE FROM THE PROPHET YUSUF (AS) AND ONE FROM THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAAS), may the peace of Allah be upon them all.
I SAID: WHAT IS THE SUNNA OF MUSA (AS)? HE SAID: TO WITHDRAW AND HIDE AWAY. I SAID: WHAT IS THE SUNNA OF 'ISA (AS)? AND HE SAID: WHAT IS SAID ABOUT 'ISA (AS) WILL ALSO BE SAID ABOUT HIM. I SAID, WHAT IS THE SUNNA OF YUSUF (AS)? AND HE SAID: IMPRISONMENT AND OCCULTATION. I SAID, WHAT IS THE SUNNA OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAAS)? HE SAID: HE WILL FOLLOW IN THE PATH OF THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH WHEN HE APPEARS. ONLY HE WILL ELUCIDATE THE WORKS OF THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH...I said: How will he know Allah's approval? And he said: "Allah will manifest His mercy in his heart."
(Sheikh Muhammad bin Ibrahim Nomani, al-Ghaybah al-Nomani, p. 191)
Our Prophet (saas) even received a sword blow and one of his teeth was broken. Many prophets were martyred on Allah’s path, many companions and members of the Ahl al-Bayt were martyred on the field of battle or else lost hands, or eyes or other parts of their bodies. SINCE NONE OF THE PROPHETS HAVE BEEN SENT WITH SUCH EXTRAORDINARY ATTRIBUTES IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CLAIM THAT HAZRAT MAHDI (AS) WILL BE SENT WITH SUCH WONDROUS ATTRIBUTES.
Allah reveals in the Qur’an that some people from the tribe of our Prophet (saas) claimed that an angel should come down as proof that the Prophet Muhammad (saas) was actually a prophet. After that, He reveals that our Prophet (saas) was simply a human being sent as a warner, a messenger:
Perhaps you are leaving aside part of what has been revealed to you and your breast is constricted by this because they say, “Why has treasure not been sent down to him OR AN ANGEL NOT ACCOMPANIED HIM?” You are only a warner and Allah is Guardian over all things. (Surah Hud, 12)
In another verse it is revealed that people who denied the prophets generally demand to see angels as a condition of belief:
Why do you not BRING ANGELS TO US if you are telling the truth?’ The angels only descend with the truth and then they would be granted no reprieve. (Surat al-Hijr, 7-8)
Allah also reveals in verses of the Qur’an that everyone will have recording angels on either side of them. IN THE SAME WAY THAT NOBODY IN THE LIFE OF THIS WORLD CAN SEE THE RECORDING ANGELS ON EITHER SIDE OF PEOPLE, IF JIBRIL (AS) WHO FREQUENTLY BRINGS REVELATIONS COME WITHOUT BEING SEEN TO PEOPLE, THEN JIBRIL (AS) AND MIKHAIL (AS) AND THE 46,000 OTHER ANGEL HELPERS ALONGSIDE HAZRAT MAHDI (AS) WILL NOT BE VISIBLE, EITHER.
One hadith narrated from our Prophet (saas) says that an angel that will help Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be invisible even to him:
He [Hazrat Mahdi (as)] will follow in the footsteps of our Prophet (saas). THERE WILL BE AN ANGEL WHO HELPS HIM WITHOUT BEING SEEN. He will restore the weary and help the weak.
(Futuhat Al Makiyya of Ibn Arabi, Ch. 366)