Signs of the Last Day (Ashrāṭ al-Sāʿah)
The Reckoning (Ḥisāb)
After the events mentioned in the previous article, all of mankind will go for the reckoning, standing before Allāh, being questioned about all that they did, learning what is for them and against them, being reminded of what they had forgotten:
فَوَرَبِّكَ لَنَسْأَلَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِيْنَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
By your Lord, We will question them all about their deeds.
وَلاَ تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولـئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْؤُولاً
Do not follow blindly what you have no knowledge of: ears, eyes, and heart, you will be questioned about all these.
Messenger and non-Messenger alike will be questioned.
فَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الَّذِينَ أُرْسِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الْمُرْسَلِينَ
We shall certainly question those to whom the Messengers were sent, just as We shall certainly question the Messengers themselves.
With the souls driven forward by the Angels,
وَجَاءتْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّعَهَا سَائِقٌ وَشَهِيدٌ
Every soul will come together with a driver [urging it along] and a witness [to his deeds].
They will be arrayed in rows, waiting their turn,
وَعُرِضُوا عَلَىٰ رَبِّكَ صَفًّا لَّقَدْ جِئْتُمُونَا كَمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ ۚ بَلْ زَعَمْتُمْ أَلَّن نَّجْعَلَ لَكُم مَّوْعِدًا ﴿٤٨﴾ وَوُضِعَ الْكِتَابُ فَتَرَى الْمُجْرِمِينَ مُشْفِقِينَ مِمَّا فِيهِ وَيَقُولُونَ يَا وَيْلَتَنَا مَالِ هَـٰذَا الْكِتَابِ لَا يُغَادِرُ صَغِيرَةً وَلَا كَبِيرَةً إِلَّا أَحْصَاهَا ۚ وَوَجَدُوا مَا عَمِلُوا حَاضِرًا ۗ وَلَا يَظْلِمُ رَبُّكَ أَحَدًا
They will be lined up in rows before your Lord: ‘Now you have come to Us as We first created you, although you claimed We had not made any such appointment for you.’ The record of their deeds will be laid open and you will see the guilty dismayed at they contain saying, ‘Woe to us! What a record this is! It does not leave any deed, small or large, unaccounted for!’ They will find everything they ever did laid in front of them. Your Lord will not be unjust to anyone.
يَوْمَئِذٍ تُعْرَضُونَ لَا تَخْفَى مِنكُمْ خَافِيَةٌ
On that Day you will be exposed and none of your secrets will remain hidden.
Each person will be summoned by their name and the name of our fathers, so the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) advised us to ensure we had good names.
Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “There will be none among you but that his Lord will talk to him, and there will be no interpreter between him and Allāh. He will look to his right and see nothing but his deeds which he has sent forward, and he will look to his left and see nothing but his deeds which he has sent forward, and will look in front of him and see nothing but the Fire facing him. So save yourself from the Fire even with half a date (given in charity).” Amongst the things that Allāh will ask will be, “Did I not grant you wealth and children and lavish you with favours?” The servant will answer in the affirmative. “Did I not send a Messenger to you conveying (the truth)?” He will again accept. “Did I not give you hearing and sight?” “Yes,” he will reply.
The first to be questioned will be the ummah of Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), even though they are the last of nations.
This questioning is not one where Allāh is trying to ascertain if they did something or not, He already knows. This questioning merely allows them to acknowledge what they have done. The type of questioning where one tries to ascertain the accuracy of an event will not happen,
فَيَوْمَئِذٍ لَّا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذَنبِهِ إِنسٌ وَلَا جَانٌّ
On that Day neither mankind nor Jinn will be asked about their sins.
Imām Aḥmad said that man, particularly the non-Muslim, will not be allowed to speak initially, he will not be allowed to present any excuses,
هَذَا يَوْمُ لَا يَنطِقُونَ وَلَا يُؤْذَنُ لَهُمْ فَيَعْتَذِرُونَ
On that Day, they will not speak, and they will be given no chance to offer any excuses.
Then he will be granted permission to speak and beg to be returned to this life,
رَبَّنَا أَبْصَرْنَا وَسَمِعْنَا فَارْجِعْنَا نَعْمَلْ صَالِحًا إِنَّا مُوقِنُونَ
Our Lord, now that we have seen and heard, send us back and we shall do good. Now we are convinced!
And then people will start arguing with each other,
ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ
Then, on the Day of Rising, you will dispute with one another in the presence of your Lord.
And Allāh will then forbid them,
قَالَ لَا تَخْتَصِمُوا لَدَيَّ وَقَدْ قَدَّمْتُ إِلَيْكُم بِالْوَعِيدِ
Do not argue in my presence. I have already sent you a warning.
Man’s Limbs Speak
What is extraordinary is that their very bodies will testify and speak,
الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَى أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَا أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ
Today We will seal up their mouths, but their hands speak to Us, and their feet bear witness to what they have done.
حَتَّى إِذَا مَا جَاؤُوهَا شَهِدَ عَلَيْهِمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَأَبْصَارُهُمْ وَجُلُودُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
وَقَالُوا لِجُلُودِهِمْ لِمَ شَهِدتُّمْ عَلَيْنَا قَالُوا أَنطَقَنَا اللَّهُ الَّذِي أَنطَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ خَلَقَكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
When they reach it, their ears, eyes and skins will testify for what they did. They will ask their skins, ‘Why did you testify against us?’ and their skins will reply, ‘Allāh, who gave everything speech, has given us speech. It was He who created you the first time and to Him have you returned.’
Allāh will meet a servant and ask, “Did I not honour you, make you the chief, provide you a spouse and put horses and camels at your command? Did I not afford you an opportunity to rule over your subjects and tax their wealth? He will reply, ‘Yes.’ He will be asked, “Did you not think that you would meet Us?” He will reply, ‘No.’ Then Allāh will proclaim, “Well, I forget you as you forgot Us.” Then a second person would come forward. Allāh will ask him, “Did I not honour you, make you the chief, provide you a spouse and put horses and camels at your command? Did I not afford you an opportunity to rule over your subjects and tax their wealth? He will reply, ‘Yes.’ He will be asked, “Did you not think that you would meet Us?” He will reply, ‘No.’ Then Allāh will proclaim, “Well, I forget you as you forgot Us.” A third person will come forward, and Allāh will ask him the same question. But this time the man will make a false claim saying, ‘My Lord, I believed in You, your Book, your Messenger and I observed the prayer, the fasts and gave charity,’ and he will keep on mentioning other good things. He will be told, “We will now bring our witness against you.” The man will be left wondering who that witness could be. Then his mouth will be sealed up and his thighs, his flesh and his bones will be told to speak. They will speak of his deeds and the person will be left no more opportunity to make excuses for himself. This will be the hypocrite and those Allāh is angry with.
One time, while the Companions were sitting with Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), he laughed and then told them why he had laughed, “There came to my mind the conversation which the servant would have with his Lord (on the Day of Rising). He would say, ‘My Lord, have you not guaranteed me protection against injustice?’ He will reply, ‘Yes.’ Then the servant would say, ‘I do not deem any witness valid against me but my own self.’ He will say, ‘Your own self is sufficient witness against you this Day, and the two recordings angels as witnesses.’ His mouth will be sealed up and his hands and feet will be told to speak and they will speak of his deeds. Then the mouth would be allowed to talk, and the servant will cry out, ‘Away with you, may you perish! It was to save you that I made my contention!’”
The reckoning will be swift. Allāh says,
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ
Allāh is swift in reckoning.
A number of the Salaf said that the reckoning would take the time it takes to milk a sheep or as fast as the blink of an eye. A ḥadīth mentions, “Half a day will not have passed before the people of Paradise take their places in Paradise and the people of Hell take their places there.”
Who will Allāh not speak to?
Some scholars state that Allāh will not speak to the disbelievers directly, rather He will have the Angels do so on His behalf since it is not befitting that He address them. Others said that there are different events happening on the Last Day, at some the disbelievers will be spoken to, and at others they will not. It is these latter occasions that are referenced in verses such as,
وَلَا يُكَلِّمُهُمُ اللَّـهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ
Allāh will not speak to them on the Day of Rising.
وَلَا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذُنُوبِهِمُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ
The sinful will not be asked about their sins.
The former are referred in the āyāt such as,
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّبِعُوا سَبِيلَنَا وَلْنَحْمِلْ خَطَايَاكُمْ وَمَا هُم بِحَامِلِينَ مِنْ خَطَايَاهُم مِّن شَيْءٍ ۖ إِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ ﴿١٢﴾ وَلَيَحْمِلُنَّ أَثْقَالَهُمْ وَأَثْقَالًا مَّعَ أَثْقَالِهِمْ ۖ وَلَيُسْأَلُنَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ
Those who disbelieve will say to the believers, ‘Follow our path and we shall bear the consequences of your sins,’ yet they will not do so – they are liars. They will bear their own burdens and others besides: they will be questioned about their false assertions on the Day of Rising.
This understanding is proven by the following āyah:
أَلَمْ تَكُنْ آيَاتِي تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ فَكُنتُم بِهَا تُكَذِّبُونَ ﴿١٠٥﴾ قَالُوا رَبَّنَا غَلَبَتْ عَلَيْنَا شِقْوَتُنَا وَكُنَّا قَوْمًا ضَالِّينَ ﴿١٠٦﴾ رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْهَا فَإِنْ عُدْنَا فَإِنَّا ظَالِمُونَ ﴿١٠٧﴾ قَالَ اخْسَئُوا فِيهَا وَلَا تُكَلِّمُونِ
‘Were My messages not recited over and over to you and you still rejected them?’ They will say, ‘Lord, our waywardness overcame us and we went astray. Lord, take us away from this and if we go back to our old ways, then we really shall be evildoers.’ He will say, ‘Away with you! In you go! Do not speak to me!’
Moreover, as Ibn ʿAbbās said, they will not be asked in a way that gives them comfort, they will be questioned by way of rebuke and censure.
There are, however, amongst the Muslims some categories of people that Allāh will not speak to on occasion, or even look at on the Last Day:
1) A man who possessed superfluous water that existed on a pathway and he withholds it from the travelers
2) A man who gives a pledge of allegiance to an Imām (ruler) and gives it only for worldly benefits, if the Imām gives him what he wants, he abides by his pledge, otherwise he does not fulfill his pledge
3) A man who sells something to another man after the ʿAṣr prayer and swears by Allāh (a false oath) that he has been offered so much for it whereupon the buyer believes him and buys it although in fact, the seller has not been offered such a price.
4) A person who wears his garments below the ankles.
5) A person who reminds others of his favours to them.
6) A person who sells his goods by swearing a false oath.
7) An aged person guilty of adultery.
8) A king who lies.
9) A poor beggar who is arrogant.
10) A person who is placed in charge of people but ignores the needy and poor.
Things that will be asked about first
Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The first thing the servant will be judged for on the Day of Rising is the prayer.”
Life, wealth, knowledge and body.
Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The feet of a servant will not move on the Last Day until He is asked about four things: his life, how he spent it; his knowledge, how he acted by it; his wealth, how he earned it and spent it; his body, how he used it.”
Matters related to blood. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The first thing that will be adjudged between people is matters related to blood.”
ثُمَّ لَتُسْأَلُنَّ يَوْمَئِذٍ عَنِ النَّعِيمِ
On that Day you will be asked about your pleasures.
Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “On the Day of Rising the first thing a person will be asked will be, ‘Did I not grant you a healthy body? Did I not give you cool water to drink?’ By the One in whose hand is my soul, you will be asked about every pleasure, even cool shade, delicious moist dates and cool water.”
He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Allāh, Most High, will question His servant on the Day of Rising and will ask him, ‘What stopped you from rejecting evil when you saw it?’”
The disbeliever will be asked, “If you were given the earth filled with gold to ransom yourself, would you do so?” He will reply, ‘Yes!’ He will be told, “Yet I asked you for something much less than this!”
Who will be the first to be judged?
Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,
“The first man (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgement, will be a man who died as a martyr. He shall be brought forth and Allāh will recount His blessings (which He had bestowed upon him) and he will acknowledge them. Then Allāh will ask, ‘What did you do with them?’ He will reply, ‘I fought for Your sake until I died as a martyr.’ Allāh will say, ‘You lie. You fought so that you might be called a brave warrior and you were called so.’ Then a command will be given and he will be dragged on his face and cast into Hell.
Thereafter, a man who acquired knowledge and taught it and recited the Qurʾān will be brought forth and Allāh will recount His blessings (which He had bestowed upon him) and he will acknowledge them. Then Allāh will ask, ‘What did you do with them?’ He will say, ‘I acquired knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qurʾān for your sake.’ Allāh will say, ‘You lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called a scholar, and you recited the Qurʾān so that it might be said, ‘He is a Qāriʾ,’ and it was said’. Then a command will be given and he will be dragged on his face and cast into Hell.
After him, a man whom Allāh had made abundantly rich and had granted every kind of wealth will be brought forth and Allāh will recount His blessings (which He had bestowed upon him) and he will acknowledge them. Then Allāh will ask, ‘What did you do with them?’ He will say, ‘I spent money in every cause in which You wished that it should be spent for Your sake.’ Allāh will say, ‘You lie. You did so that it might be said, ‘He is generous,’ and it was said.’ Then a command will be given and he will be dragged on his face and cast into Hell.”
When Muʿāwiyah heard this ḥadīth he cried and said, ‘He spoke true,’ and recited,
مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا نُوَفِّ إِلَيْهِمْ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فِيهَا وَهُمْ فِيهَا لاَ يُبْخَسُونَ
أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الآخِرَةِ إِلاَّ النَّارُ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُواْ فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَّا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ
If any desire the life of this world with all its finery, We shall repay them in full in this life for their deeds, they will not be given any less. But such people will have nothing in the Hereafter but the fire, their work will be fruitless and their deeds futile.
Two types of Ḥisāb
There is a reckoning which is more akin to a presentation, reserved for the righteous believers, where the deeds are just recounted and shown. Then there is a reckoning which is more akin to an interrogation, reserved for the disbelievers and sinful Muslims. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever is interrogated while being reckoned will be punished.” ʿĀʾishah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha) asked, ‘But Allāh says:
فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرًا وَيَنقَلِبُ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا
Whoever is given his Record in his right hand will have an easy reckoning, and return to his Lord, well pleased.
Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) replied, “That refers to a presentation (of a persons’ deeds). Anyone who is interrogated on the Day of Rising will be destroyed.” It is for this reason that he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would supplicate, “Allāh, give us an easy reckoning.”
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) gave an example of a presentation when he said, “I know the last of the inhabitants of Paradise to enter it, the last of the inhabitants of Hell to come out of it. He is a man who would be brought on the Day of Rising and it will be said to him, ‘Present his minor sins to him, and withhold from him his major sins.’ The minor sins would be placed before him, and it would be said, ‘On such-and-such a day you did so-and-so and on such-and-such a day you did so-and-so.’ He would say, ‘Yes.’ It will not be possible for him to deny these as he is terrified lest his major sins shown to him. He will be told, ‘In place of every evil deed you will have good deed!’ He will then say, ‘My Lord! I have done things I do not see here!’” Then Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) laughed until his front teeth were exposed. He then recited,
إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُوْلَئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ
Except those who repent, believe and do good deeds, Allāh will change the evil deeds of such people into good ones.
Another time he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Allāh will bring a believer near Him and shelter him with His Screen and ask him, ‘Did you commit such-and-such sins?’ He will say, ‘Yes, my Lord.’ Allāh will keep on asking him until he will confess all his sins and will think that he is ruined. Allāh will say, ‘I did screen your sins in the world and I forgive them for you today,’ and then he will be given the Record of his good deeds.”
There will also be a third group of believers who will enter Paradise without any reckoning. These will be discussed in the next article. There will also be disbelievers who will enter Hellfire without any reckoning.
Justice for animals
Before man is judged, animals will be judged, showing Allāh’s perfect justice. After the recompense, they will all be turned to dust, and when the disbeliever sees this, he will cry,
وَيَقُولُ الْكَافِرُ يَا لَيْتَنِي كُنتُ تُرَابًا
Woe to me, if only I were dust.
Allāh’s justice will be so perfect that the horned ram will be judged for the harm it did to the hornless ram.
People will also be judged for how they treated animals in this life. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Fear Allāh with regards to these animals that cannot speak.”
He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) once saw a donkey that had been branded on its face and said, “May Allāh curse the one who branded it.” He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) also told us of a woman who would enter the Fire for not feeding a cat and keeping it caged up. A prostitute was forgiven when she saw a dog lolling its tongue on a hot day due to extreme thirst, and drew some water for it from a well in her shoe.
“If someone kills even a sparrow for sport, it will cry out on the Day of Rising, ‘My Lord! This person killed me in vain, for no purpose!’”
Once, while on a journey, one of his companions stole two chicks from a birds nest. They then saw the mother circling the nest, beating its wings in grief. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Who has hurt the feelings of this bird, return her children to her.”
He was once asked if people would be rewarded for how they treated their animals and he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) replied, “There is a reward for treating every living being (well).”
After the reckoning, man will move onto a second stage of judging where his deeds will be weighed—the subject of the next article in the series, God willing.
 al-Ḥijr 15:92-93
 al-Isrāʾ 17:36
 al-Aʿrāf 7:6
 Qāf 50:21
 al-Kahf 18:48-49
 al-Ḥāqqah 69:17
 Abū Dāwūd #4948
 Bukhārī #6174, Muslim #1016
 Bukhārī #3400, Tirmidhī #2954
 Ibn Mājah #4290
 Saffārīnī 1:676
 al-Raḥmān 55:39
 al-Mursalat 77:35-36
 al-Sajda 32:12
 al-Zumar 39:31
 Saffārīnī 1:677
 Qāf 50:28
 Yā Sīn 36:65
 Fuṣṣilat 41:21
 Ahmad #17412
 Ahmad #8854
 Ibn Mājah #723
 Muslim #2968
 Muslim #2969
 Āli ʿImrān 3:199
 Hākim 2:436 #3516
 Qurṭubī, al-Tadhkirah 1:562-563
 Qurṭubī, al-Tadhkirah 1:676
 al-Baqarah 2:174
 al-Qaṣaṣ 28:78
 al-Ankabūt 29:12-13
 al-Muʾminūn 23:105-108
 Baghawī 4:272
 Bukhārī #2358-7212, Muslim #108
 Muslim #
 Muslim #107
 Aḥmad #22129
 Bukhārī #6533-6864, Muslim #1678, Tirmidhī #1397, Nasāʾī #3998-3999, ibn Mājah #2615 on the authority of ibn Masʿūd.
 Tirmidhī #2417
 Bukhārī #6533-6864, Muslim #1678, Tirmidhī #1397, Nasāʾī #3998-3999, ibn Mājah #2615 on the authority of ibn Masʿūd.
 al-Takāthur 102:8
 Ibn Ḥibbān #7364, Tirmidhī #2358
 Ibn Mājah #4017
 Bukhārī #6173, Muslim #2805
 Muslim #1905
 Hūd 11:15-16
 Qurṭubī, al-Tadhkirah 1:676
 al-Inshiqāq 84:7-9
 Bukhārī #103-4939-6536, Muslim #2876
 Aḥmad #24261
 Muslim #190
 al-Furqān 25:70
 Bukhārī #2441, Muslim #2768
 Qurṭubī, al-Tadhkirah 1:676
 Saffārīnī 1:681
 al-Nabaʾ 78:40
 Muslim #2852
 Abū Dāwūd #2548
 Muslim #1047
 Bukhārī #3482, Muslim #2619
 Bukhārī #3143, Muslim #2245
 Nasāʾī #4446
 Abū Dāwūd #5268
 Abū Dāwūd #2550