When that Muslim personage (Hazrat Mahdi (as)) sees the antichrist, he says: “People! This is the antichrist of whom the Prophet (saas) mentioned.” Antichrist gives his order about him right away and that person is laid upon his stomach and from his back it is said: “Take him and beat him.” Then that person’s back and stomach is broadened by beating. (Ibrahim Suleymanoglu, Mehdilik ve Imamiye [Mahdism and Imamate], p. 40; Sahih Muslim)
The reference in the hadith to Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) “back and stomach being broadened by beating” is a figurative one. The author of the book The Mahdism and Imamate says, in reference to this passage, that “Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) fame will constantly be announced and spread all around.” But since this will be done by the supporters of the antichrist, this propaganda will be intended to denigrate Hazrat Mahdi (as).
In the time of our Prophet (saas), the enemies of Islam used poets, the equivalent of the publishing organs of the day, to underestimate him, in their own eyes. Poets uttered ignorant false accusations about him in the streets and markets, calling him mad and a sorcerer. And in the End Times, too, the supporters of the antichrist, the enemies of Islam, will also underestimate Hazrat Mahdi (as), in their own eyes, and seek to damage his prestige in the public eye.
The hadiths describe how Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) first years will be ones of struggle filled with troubles and difficulties. The “Golden Age” refers to Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) final years. Hazrat Mahdi (as) and Muslims will only attain ease, peace and plenty in that time, and only then will they live lives of love, peace and brotherhood.