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The End of the World

Signs of the Last Day (Ashrāṭ al-Sāʿah)

Introduction

One day centuries ago, while a shepherd was tending to his flock, a wolf attacked a sheep and dragged it away. The shepherd gave chase and rescued the sheep, but the wolf sat on its tail and spoke to the shepherd saying, ‘Fear Allāh! You have taken provision from me which Allāh gave me.’ The shepherd said, ‘Amazing! A wolf sitting on its tail and speaking to me in the language of a human being.’ The wolf said, ‘Shall I tell you something more amazing than this? There is Muḥammad in Yathrib informing people about the past and the future.’ The shepherd then went to Madīnah driving his sheep. Leaving them to one side, he came to Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and told him the whole story.

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) then ordered that the call of prayer be made. He came out and asked the shepherd to tell the people his story and he did. Then Allāh’s Messenger said, “He has spoken the truth; by Him in whose hands my soul is, the Day of Resurrection will not be established until beasts of prey speak to human beings, until the stick and the shoelace of a person speak to him, and his thigh informs him about his family as to what happened to them after him.[1]

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) recounted events that would happen in the future, and in particular those leading up to the Last Day in great detail. Ḥudhayfah said, ‘The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) addressed us with a sermon in which he left nothing unmentioned that would occur until the Last Hour. The one who knows it, knows it and the one who is ignorant of it is ignorant. Sometimes I see something of which he mentioned which I had forgotten and I recognise it just as a person recognises someone he used to know after seeing him again.’[2]

ʿAmr b. Akhṭab al-Anṣārī (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, ‘Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) prayed Fajr with us, then he ascended the minbar and addressed us until Ẓuhr. After praying, he ascended the minbar and addressed us until ʿAṣr. After the prayer he ascended the minbar and addressed us until Maghrib, and during that whole time he told us about what would happen in the future, teaching it to us.’[3]

ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb said, ‘The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) stood and told us about the events from the beginning of creation until the time that people will enter Paradise and Hell. Some remembered everything that was said and some of us forgot.’[4]

Before the Last Hour occurs there will be a number of general indications that it is drawing close such as the increase of murder, natural disasters, and widespread ignorance of the truth. There are, however, some very specific events that will happen as well which are referred to as the Majors Signs of the Last Hour:

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) came out to the Companions who were involved in a discussion. He asked, “What are you discussing?” (The Companions) replied, ‘We are discussing the Last Hour.’ He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “It will not come until you see ten signs: the Smoke, the Dajjāl, the Beast, the rising of the sun from the west, the descent of ʿĪsā, son of Maryam, the Yaʾjūj and Maʾjūj, the sinking of the earth in three places, one in the east, one in the west and one in Arabia. After this a fire would burn, spreading from Yemen, and would drive mankind to the place of their assembly.”[5]

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Rush towards good deeds before six things happen: the sun rising from the place of its setting, the Dajjāl, the Smoke, the Beast, your death and the Last Day.”[6]

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The first (of the truly extraordinary) signs will be the sun rising from the place of its setting and the coming of the Beast in the morning, whichever of these two happens first, the other will soon follow.”[7]

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Your Lord has warned you against three: The Smoke which will afflict the believers like a cold, but will afflict the non-believer by bloating him up so severely that it will come out of every orifice, and the Beast and the Dajjāl.”[8]

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Once three signs occur, the soul will not benefit from believing if it did not believe before: the Dajjāl, the Dābba (the Beast), and the sun rising from the West.”[9]

When the actual Last Hour will happen is known only to Allāh.

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا ۖ قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِندَ رَبِّي ۖ لَا يُجَلِّيهَا لِوَقْتِهَا إِلَّا هُوَ

They ask you about the Last Hour, ‘When will it arrive?’ Say, ‘My Lord alone has knowledge of it: He alone will reveal when its time will come.’[10]

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا ﴿٤٢﴾ فِيمَ أَنتَ مِن ذِكْرَاهَا ﴿٤٣﴾ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ مُنتَهَاهَا ﴿٤٤﴾ إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُنذِرُ مَن يَخْشَاهَا ﴿٤٥﴾ كَأَنَّهُمْ يَوْمَ يَرَوْنَهَا لَمْ يَلْبَثُوا إِلَّا عَشِيَّةً أَوْ ضُحَاهَا

They ask you about the Hour, saying, ‘When will it arrive?’ But how can you tell them that? Its time is known only to your Lord; you are only sent to warn those who fear it. On the Day they see it, it will seem they lingered only an evening or its morning.[11]

Rather than trying to find out exactly when it will happen, what we are required to do is to prepare ourselves for it. A bedouin once asked the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) about the Last Hour. He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “It will surely come to pass but what have you prepared for it?” The man replied, ‘Messenger of Allāh, I have not prepared much in the way of prayer and good works, but I love Allāh and His Messenger.’ The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “You will be with those you love.”[12]

We will describe the Major Signs that will happen before the event of the Last Hour, but before we do, we must bear some principles in mind:

Principles:

1. Discussion of the Signs of the Last Day must be restricted to the texts of the Book and Sunnah, knowledge of this is known only to Allāh and therefore can only be received from Him

قُل لَّا يَعْلَمُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الْغَيْبَ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ ۚ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ

Say, ‘No one in the heavens or on earth knows the unseen except Allāh.’ They do not know when they will be raised from the dead.[13]

As such, we do not rely on Judeo-Christian narrations (Isrāʾīliyyāt) or dreams or the claimed inspirations of anyone.

2. Everything authentic from Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) must be believed

وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ ﴿٣﴾ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ

He does not speak of his own desire, it is nothing less than revelation that is sent to him.[14]

Imām Aḥmad said, ‘We accept everything that has come to us from Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) with a good isnād. Were we to reject it and repudiate it, we would be rejecting Allāh’s words,

وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا

 Accept whatever the Messenger gives you and abstain from whatever he forbids you.[15]

3. Refer to the trustworthy people of knowledge

In order to understand this topic correctly, to avoid mistakes and to avoid confusion, we need to refer to the people of knowledge

فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.[16]

Abū al-Ṭufayl said, ‘While I was in Kūfah, people started saying that the Dajjāl had appeared. So we rushed to Ḥudhayfah b. Usayd while he was teaching and said, “The Dajjāl has come!” He told us to sit down, then another person rushed in saying the same thing. He explained that the right Signs had not yet come and therefore, the person in question could not be the Dajjāl.’[17]

The further we get from the time of Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) the more prevalent ignorance becomes and correct knowledge is lost, making it more imperative to refer back to those who know. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Amongst the signs of the Last Hour is that knowledge will decrease and ignorance will become more prevalent.”[18]

This will lead to people who are undeserving of being leaders, unfit to guide and advise, and unsuited for authority being given it. Imām Mālik once went to Rabīʿa and found him crying. He asked why he was crying and whether he had been struck with tragedy? He replied, ‘No, but something atrocious has started happening. People are now being asked for fatwa but they are not fit to be asked.’ Then he said, ‘Some of these people who are being asked are more deserving of imprisonment than a thief is!’[19]

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“Allāh does not remove knowledge by taking it away from His servants; rather He removes knowledge by taking away the scholars. Then, when no scholar remains, people will take the ignorant as leaders. They are asked and they issue judgments without knowledge; leading others astray and being astray themselves.”[20]

Points of Benefit

1. The Last Hour is Close

اقْتَرَبَ لِلنَّاسِ حِسَابُهُمْ وَهُمْ فِي غَفْلَةٍ مُّعْرِضُونَ

Ever closer to people draws their reckoning, while they turn away, heedless.[21]

إِنَّهُمْ يَرَوْنَهُ بَعِيدًا وَنَرَاهُ قَرِيبًا

The disbelievers think it is distant, but We know it to be close.[22]

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, whilst holding up his index and middle fingers, “The time of my advent and the Last Hour are like these two fingers.”[23]

2. Allāh alone knows when it will happen

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَيُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْأَرْحَامِ

Knowledge of the Hour belongs to Allāh; it is He who sends down relieving rain and He knows what is hidden in the wombs.[24]

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا ۖ قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِندَ رَبِّي ۖ لَا يُجَلِّيهَا لِوَقْتِهَا إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ ثَقُلَتْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ لَا تَأْتِيكُمْ إِلَّا بَغْتَةً ۗ يَسْأَلُونَكَ كَأَنَّكَ حَفِيٌّ عَنْهَا ۖ قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِندَ اللَّـهِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

They ask you about the Last Hour, ‘When will it arrive?’ Say, ‘My Lord alone has knowledge of it: He alone will reveal when its time will come, a time that weighs heavy in both the heavens and earth. All too suddenly it will come upon you.’ They ask you about it as if you were eager (to find out). Say, ‘Allāh alone has knowledge of it, though must people do not know.’[25]

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “There are five things that none knows save Allāh,” then he recited

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَيُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْأَرْحَامِ ۖ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ مَّاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدًا ۖ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

Knowledge of the Hour belongs to Allāh; it is He who sends down relieving rain and He knows what is hidden in the wombs. No soul knows what it will reap tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die; it is Allāh who is all-knowing and all-aware.[26]

3. This is part and parcel of our faith (īmān) in the unseen (ghayb)

And like all matters related to the unseen, our duty is to submit and accept.

ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ ﴿٢﴾ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ

That is the Book in which there is no doubt, guidance for those who are mindful of Allāh: those who believe in the unseen…[27]

4. Belief in the Last Day should encourage the Muslim to work good deeds, to turn to Allāh in penitence and not to overly depend on this world.

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Rush towards good deeds before six things happen: the sun rising from the place of its setting, the Dajjāl, the Smoke, the Beast, your death and the Last Day.”[28]

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Once three signs occur, the soul will not benefit from believing if it did not believe before: the Dajjāl, the Dābba (the Beast), and the sun rising from the West.”[29]

The belief also encourages the believer to avoid evil and to speak out against it, to do his utmost to curb it. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Lā ilāha illAllāh! Woe to the Arabs for an evil that has drawn near. Today the size of this was opened of the barrier holding back Yaʾjūj and Maʾjūj,” and he made a circle with his two fingers. Zaynab asked, ‘Messenger of Allāh, will we be destroyed if there are righteous amongst us?’ He replied, “Yes, if filth and evil is allowed to increase.”[30]

5. The Prophecies prove the truthfulness of Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)

As we see the prophecies coming true, unfurling before our eyes, or are born testimony to by history itself, we are assured of the veracity of our Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and, as a result, our īmān increases.

6. They teach us how to react and deal with the events that follow

For example, there are many lessons to be learned for when the Dajjāl comes, so many things for us to do as we shall see, inshāAllāh.

We want this knowledge to translate into beneficial action, as recommended in the ḥadīth, “Rush towards good deeds before six things happen: the sun rising from the place of its setting, the Dajjāl, the Smoke, the Beast, your death and the Last Day.”[31]

Or, for example, when our Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Take refuge with Allāh from tribulations, the outer and inner,”[32] “Take refuge with Allāh from the tribulation of the Dajjāl.”[33]

7. Hope is increased, we learn that the future is for Islām

هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ

It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to show that it is above all [other] religions, even though the idolaters hate it.[34]

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “This affair will reach what is reached by the night and the day; and Allāh will not leave a dwelling of brick nor fur except that He will cause this religion to enter it – bringing honour or humiliation. Honour which Allāh gives to Islām and humiliation which Allāh gives to disbelief.”[35]

Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Prophethood will remain amongst you for as long as Allāh wishes it to, then Allāh will raise it up when He wants to raise it up. Then there will be Khilāfah upon the manner of Prophethood and it will remain amongst you for as long as Allāh wants, then Allāh will raise it up when He wants to raise it up. Then there will be harsh kingship which will remain amongst you for as long as Allāh wishes it to, then Allāh will raise it up when He wishes to raise it up. Then there will be tyrannical kingship and it will remain amongst you for as long as Allāh wishes it to, then Allāh will raise it up when He wishes to raise it up. Then there will be Khilāfah upon the manner of Prophethood.” Then he was silent.[36]

As a final point, there is no clear text that tells us in what order the Major Signs of the Last Day will happen. But when they do come, they will follow each other in succession. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The Signs will start coming one after another in succession, like beads on a string.”[37]

We can, however, surmise their order by looking at the texts in a holistic fashion.

There are those Signs that show that Last Hour is truly close:

  1. The Coming of the Mahdī
  2. The Appearance of the Dajjāl
  3. The Descent of Īsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām)
  4. The Unleashing of the Yaʾjūj and Maʾjūj tribes

And then there are those that show that the Last Hour has actually started:

  1. Three earthquakes or khasf
  2. The Dukhān (Smoke)
  3. The Sun rising from the place of its setting
  4. The Beast (Dābba)
  5. The Fire driving people to the place of resurrection

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Aḥmad #11792, ibn Ḥibbān #6494

[2] Bukhārī, Muslim

[3] Muslim

[4] Bukhārī

[5] Muslim #2901

[6] Muslim #2947

[7] Muslim #2941

[8] Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr 3:292

[9] Muslim #158

[10] al-Aʿrāf 7:187

[11] al-Nāziʿāt 79:42-46

[12] Bukhārī #3688-6167-6171-7153, Muslim #2639

[13] al-Naml 27:65

[14] al-Najm 53:3-4

[15] al-Ḥashr 59:7

[16] al-Anbiyāʾ 21:7

[17] Ḥākim

[18] Bukhārī #5577

[19] Ibn ʿAbdu’l-Barr, Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlm

[20] Bukhārī #100, Muslim #2673

[21] al-Anbiyāʾ 21:1

[22] al-Maʿārij 70:6-7

[23] Bukhārī #4936-5301-6504-6505, Muslim #867-2951

[24] Luqmān 31:34

[25] al-Aʿrāf 7:187

[26] Luqmān 31:34

[27] al-Baqarah 2:2-3

[28] Muslim #2947

[29] Muslim #158

[30] Bukhārī #3346-3598-6530-7059-7135, Muslim #2880

[31] Muslim #2947

[32] Muslim #2867

[33] Muslim #2867

[34] al-Ṣaff 61:9

[35] Aḥmad #16957

[36] Bazzār #2796, Aḥmad #23432

[37] Ibn Ḥibbān #6794, Ṭabarānī, al-Awsaṭ #4271

About Shaikh Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi

Ustadh Abu Rumaysah Refi Shaafi was born and brought up in High Wycombe. He studies with Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad and Shaykh Abu AbdiRahman Al-Libee. He graduated from Imperial College from the faculty of Computer Sciences. He is currently a Java Programmer Manager. He is the chairman for the WISE (Wycombe Islamic Society). He is very active in his local community especially with his Masjid and working with youth via Islamic Scouts He has translated a number of books such as The criterion between the friends of Allah and the friends of shaytan, The relief from distress (the dua of Yunus Alayhisalam, both by Ibn Taymiyyah and many others. He has also written an explanation of Surah Al-Faatiha called ‘The spiritual cure.’ He currently gives weekly circles in High Wycombe and Watford. He is also a Lecturer for MRDF.

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