Signs of the Last Day (Ashrāṭ al-Sāʿah)
The Mark of the Beast
Al-Dukhān (The Smoke)
While in Makkah, in the face of persecution and obstinate rejection, Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) made a duʿā’ against the Quraysh, “O Allāh, afflict them with years like the seven (years) of Yūsuf!”
The polytheists were afflicted with a severe drought. Their livestock began to die and their crops stopped growing. Their situation became so bad that they were forced to eat animals that had just died because of the drought. They ate their skins, their bones, everything. They were so hungry that the Quraysh began to imagine a haze in the sky like smoke.
Ibn Masʿūd and others were of the opinion that this is the smoke referenced in the Qurʾān as a Sign of the Last Day,
Watch for the day when the sky brings forth clouds of smoke for all to see. It will envelop people. This is a terrible punishment. Lord relieve us of our torment, we believe!
Then some people, amongst them Abū Sufyān (leader of the Quraysh who accepted Islām after the conquest of Makkah) came to him (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and asked him to make duʿā’ for rain to Allāh and he did, and rain came,
إِنَّا كَاشِفُو الْعَذَابِ قَلِيلًا ۚ إِنَّكُمْ عَائِدُونَ
We shall hold back the torment for a short while, but you are sure to revert.
They did return to their disbelief, and then Allāh promised them,
يَوْمَ نَبْطِشُ الْبَطْشَةَ الْكُبْرَىٰ إِنَّا مُنتَقِمُونَ
On the Day We shall seize them mightily, We shall exact retribution.
Ibn Masʿūd said that this retribution was exacted at Badr.
Ibn Masʿūd was of the opinion that this particular Sign has already come to pass. He said, ‘Five have already happened: al-Lizām (the defeat of the Quraysh at Badr), the Sign relating to the Romans, al-baṭsha (the retribution at Badr), the splitting of the moon, and the Smoke.’ This was also the position championed by Ṭabarī.
However, Ibn ʿAbbās and numerous others were of the view that this Sign is yet to occur. This is the view preferred by Ibn Kathīr who argues that the aḥādīth support this view and that the verse in question itself supports this position. It talks of a clear smoke that everyone will see, whereas the event Ibn Masʿūd cites references something akin to a hallucination that only some people saw.
Another view reported from Ibn Masʿūd is that this Sign will happen twice: once during the Prophet’s lifetime and the second near the Last Day, when it will afflict the believer like a cold but pierce every orifice of the disbeliever.
This was the Smoke spoken of by the Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) when he 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; the Beast; and the Dajjāl.”
The Smoke will remain for forty days and nights, afflicting the believers like a cold but it will put the disbelievers in a state akin to intoxication, and it will come out of their nostrils, ears and posterior.
Ibn Abī Mulaykah said, ‘One day, I went to Ibn ʿAbbās who said, “I could not sleep at all last night!” I asked him, “Why not?” He said, “They said that a star with a tail (a comet) had appeared, and I was afraid that the smoke had started, so I could not sleep at all.”’
When will it happen?
It seems likely that the Smoke will appear after the killing of the Yaʾjūj and Maʾjūj tribes, and after the destruction of the Kaʿbah.
The Sun Rising from the Placing of Setting
This will happen sometime after the passing away of ʿĪsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) and perhaps after the appearance of the Smoke.
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.”
These events will go hand-in-hand. When the sun rises from the place of its setting, the door to repentance will be closed, the profession of faith will no longer be accepted, and the Beast will be sent to mark mankind.
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.”
Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The Last Hour will not be established until the sun rises from the place of its setting. When it does so, and people see it, all those on earth will profess faith. But that will be the time that faith will not avail anyone who did not believe prior to this.”
Here, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is making reference to the āyah in which Allāh says,
يَوْمَ يَأْتِي بَعْضُ آيَاتِ رَبِّكَ لَا يَنفَعُ نَفْسًا إِيمَانُهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ آمَنَتْ مِن قَبْلُ أَوْ كَسَبَتْ فِي إِيمَانِهَا خَيْرًا
But on the Day some of your Lord’s Signs come, no soul will profit from faith if it had none before, or has not already earned some good through its faith.
In explaining this āyah, Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said that it refers to the sun rising from the place of its setting.
Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī said, ‘The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) asked me, “Abū Dharr! Do you know where the Sun goes when it sets?” I said, “Allāh and His Messenger know best.” He said, “It goes until it prostrates beneath the Throne. Then it seeks permission and permission is granted to it. Soon it will prostrate and it will not be accepted from it, and seek permission and will not be granted permission. It will be told, ‘Go back where you came from.’ Then it will rise from its setting place. This is Allāh’s statement,
وَالشَّمْسُ تَجْرِي لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ
Some narrations state that the night preceding its rising from the West will be the length of two or three nights. The stars won’t be seen and people will become alarmed. Terrified, they will wonder at where the sun and stars have gone. Then while they are wondering and waiting, it will rise from the place of its setting.
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) mentioned a door to the east whose width was forty or seventy years journey which Allāh created on the day He created the heavens and the earth, open for repentance. It will not close until the sun rises from the place of its setting.
And he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Repentance will be accepted until such time that the sun rises from the West. When it does so, every heart will be sealed in the state that it was in at that time, and they will be accounted for the deeds they did.”
He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Allāh extends His hand by night so that those who sinned by day may repent; and He extends His hand by day so that those who sinned by night may repent. This will happen until the Sun rises from the place of its setting.”
And he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Hijra will not end until repentance ends, and repentance will not end until the sun rises from the place of its setting.”
The Beast of the Earth
Immediately after this, a creature never seen before will appear.
وَإِذَا وَقَعَ الْقَوْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَخْرَجْنَا لَهُمْ دَابَّةً مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ تُكَلِّمُهُمْ أَنَّ النَّاسَ كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا لَا يُوقِنُونَ
When the verdict is given against them, We shall bring a creature out of the earth, which will speak to them: people had no faith in Our revelations.
Ibn Masʿūd remarked that ‘this will happen when the scholars pass away, when knowledge is lost and the Qurʾān is raised up.’ Ibn ʿUmar said that this would happen ‘when they stop enjoining the good and prohibiting the evil.’
This creature, the Beast, will brand people on their noses. Those branded will then live amongst the rest of the population, integrating, buying and selling so much so that when people are asked where they bought a certain item from, a camel for example, the answer will be, ‘From one of the branded people.’
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The Beast will come out and it will have the staff of Mūsa and the stamp (for sealing) of Sulaymān. With the stamp it will brand the nose of the non-Muslim and with the staff it will light up the face of the believer.” And people will recognise each other saying, ‘O Kāfir, O Muʾmin.’”
Not only will the Beast brand non-Muslims, but it will also speak to all people – Muslim and non-Muslim. It will tell them who is a true believer and who is a disbeliever, it will point out the falsity of all religions save Islām. And it will stress that people had no faith in Allāh’s revelations (as mentioned in the aforementioned āyah).
Where will it appear?
Some weak narrations mention that the Beast will first appear in a desert near Makkah, or that it will actually appear three times: in the farthest part of the desert, then it will disappear and reappear in some towns, then it will appear in the Masjid al-Ḥaram.
 Bukhārī #4496, Muslim #2798
 Bukhārī #4416-4496-4536-4547, Muslim #2798
 al-Dukhān 44:10-11
 al-Dukhān 44:15
 al-Dukhān 44:16
 Bukhārī #4545
 cf. al-Furqān 25:77
 cf. al-Dukhān 44:16
 Bukhārī #962-1007-1020-4416-4693-4496-4767-4774-4809-4821-4823-4824-4825, Muslim #2798
 Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr 3:292, Ibn Abī Ḥātim
 Ṭabarī with a ḍaʿīf isnād
 Ibn Abī Ḥātim, Ṭabarī to 44:10
 Saffārīnī, ʿUlūm al-Ākhirah
 Muslim #2941
 ʿAbdullāh b. ʿAmr was of the view that the Sun would rise from the place of its setting and then the Beast would appear. cf. Abū Dāwūd #4310, Ibn Mājah #4069
 Muslim #158
 Bukhārī #6704, Muslim #157
 al-Anʿām (6): 158
 Tirmidhī #3071
 Yā Sīn (36): 38
 Bukhārī #3199-7424, Muslim #159
 Ibn Mardwayh
 Tirmidhī #3602, ibn Mājah #4070
 Aḥmad #1671
 Muslim #2759
 Abū Dāwūd #2479
 al-Naml (27): 82
 Aḥmad #22362
 Aḥmad #7937, Tirmidhī #3187 who said it was ḥasan. Aḥmad Shākir said it was ṣaḥīḥ but Albāni and Arnaʿūṭ said it was ḍaʿīf
 There is no clear text from the Prophet (SAW) about what it will say. These are all based on words of the Salaf when explaining 27:82. cf. Ṭabarī, ibn Kathīr, Baghawī
 Ibn Mājah #4067
 Ḥākim #8490
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