Question: Imam-i Rabbani writes in his 209th letter that Hadrat Mahdi and Hadrat ‘Isa will appear after a thousand years. Is it a thousand years after him or a thousand years after our master the Prophet?
He means that he will come a thousand years after him. As he passed away in 1624, the appearing of Hadrat Mahdi and Hadrat ‘Isa will be sometime around the year 2624. It may be earlier or later than it. The expression “a thousand years” is a round figure. This means to say that 600 years will pass before these persons appear. As Doomsday will occur after they come, it is obvious that those who assert that Doomsday will take place tomorrow or within a few years are in a miscalculation.
Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states in his 209th letter:
When ‘Isa ‘alaihis-salam descends from the sky and follows the religion of the Prophet of the latest time, his [Hadrat ‘Isa’s] reality will rise from his own rank. Since he will follow him, it will ascend to the rank of the Muhammadan reality (haqiqat-i Muhammadi). It will strengthen his religion. For this reason, in the earlier dispensations, after an arch-prophet a new prophet used to be sent within a thousand years. With those prophets, the religion of that arch-prophet used to be strengthened. When the period of time appointed for his religion came to an end, a new religion with an arch-messenger used to be sent. Since Muhammad ‘alaihis-salam is the last of the prophets and his religion will never be able to be changed, the scholars of His Ummah are like prophets. The task to strengthen Islam has been entrusted to them. Though the number of scholars is few who will come a thousand years after the demise of the Messenger of Allah, they will be in the highest degree so that they can strengthen Islam thoroughly. Apart from them, an arch-prophet [Hadrat ‘Isa] has been included in his religion. He has been assigned to strengthen his religion.
A thousand years after the demise of Messenger of Allah, though the number of scholars who are sent from among his Ummah is few, they will be in the highest degree so that they can strengthen Islam thoroughly. The Messenger of Allah alaihis-s-salatu wa-s-salam foretold that Hadrat Mahdi would appear. He will appear after a thousand years. Likewise, ‘Isa ‘alaihis-salam will descend from the sky after a thousand years. The superiority of Awliya that will come after a thousand years is like that of Ashab-i Kiram. Even though the most superior ones after prophets are Ashab-i Kiram, since the successors are very much like them, it is as if it could not be understood which ones are higher. Maybe for this reason the Messenger of Allah stated, “Which ones are superior—the predecessors or the successors? It cannot be known.” He did not say, “Which ones are superior—the predecessors or the successors? I do not know,” because he knew which ones were superior. Hence, he stated, “The most superior ones are the Muslims living in my time.” However, because they are remarkably similar and this similarity causes a doubt, he stated, “It cannot be known.” (Mektubat Tercümesi [Translation of Maktubat])