Can the Mahdi find out he is the mahdi by looking at the identification marks from the hadith or will he remain completely clueless till the time arrives?
The arrival of Mahdi has 2 different stories in Islam: Sunni Islam, and Shia Islam.
According to sunni Islam, Ali bin abi Talib narrates: the prophet peace be upon him narrates
المهدي منا أهل البيت، يصلحه الله في ليلة
roughly translates (my translation) into
Mahdi is from our descendants (Ahlu l Bayt), Allah guides him during a night
guides in 2 ways:
- Allah prepares him to lead the Ummah as the Mahdi (mentally and psychologically etc...) after he'd been a very pious and religious muslim since forever, or
- Allah guides him to his straight path, and guides him to be very pious after he'd been just like any other person (prone to sins), then guides him to become the Mahdi
In either cases, many people matched the identification marks from the hadiths in history, even some of them claimed to be the Mahdi themselves multiple times (and been punished for it), but still, as the hadith above suggests, the Mahdi will not know he's THE MAHDI until the time comes.
Allah guides him during a (single) night, not a few nights or weeks. It happens overnight.
PS: I don't know anything about the Shia story of Mahdi, as such I did not mention it in the answer.
in Shia beliefs, The mahdi is alive, since his father imam Askari passed away. so he knows who he is. in two valid Shia book,
Kitāb al-Ghayba and
Kamāl al-dīn wa tamām al-niʿma we have letters from the Mahdi. it's a piece of one:
When God took him (Imam Hasan al-'Askari (a)) to Himself, you thought God has vitiated His religion by cutting the medium (the Imam) between Him and the people. But this never happened and will never happen until the Dooms Day when God reveals His will. The previous Imam (a) passed away while he was happy and compliant with the practice of his ancestors. His will and knowledge and successor are among us, and no one will dispute us about his place with us.
As salamu alaikum IMAM MAHDI will know who he is in his late teens.Anyone know anything about spirituality know the HAL comes first its no knowledge its just experince,then the MAQAM comes "its experince and BATIN knowledge"sooner or later in MAHDI case later.MAHDI will not know who he is from.hadiths he will know from his spiritual state his reality.The first yo make BA'A to mahdi want make ba'a fron reports of hqdiths it will be from the pure noor ALLAH places in their heart.MAHDI will appear in western lands first where he's from he will appear looking like a BLACK ANCIENT ISRAELITE FROM THE HOUSE OF AARON as alantic slave trade,he will be a convert to idlam uneducated,Mahdi will not be lernt in deen islam or even know arabic or even relate to arabs until ALLAH guide him in one night then he will relate to the poor oppress downtrotted,he will be surrounded by DARK SKIN NONARABS they will be his people.He will be over 40yrs when he make his full apperance "with knowledge"his name will not be muhammad ibn abdullah thats arabish? Even IMAM S.MUHAMMAD RAMADAN AL-BOUTI ra said all the name of mahdi are weak!