A Strange Obsession
There has been a strange obsession of late with the end of the world. People of many faiths seem to think the signs of the last day are all around them. And who can blame them? With all the news of devastating natural disasters, endless warfare, perpetual suffering, and indiscriminate violence, it’s no surprise many people feel the end is near.
Even Hollywood has gotten into the act with several recent movies about the end of the world like:
- Deep Impact
- The Day After Tomorrow
- The Happening
Eschatology is the study of the end of times, or last days, or end of the world. Islamic eschatology is very precise in many respects, and very vague in others.
In this time of worldwide confusion, Muslims are also searching for evidence or signs that Allah’s promise is near. After all, there’s no doubt for us Muslims that the world will end at some point. Our Lord has mentioned it numerous times in the Quran.
The only question is when His promise will come.
Fortunately, we have guidance from our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that helps us recognize what to look for and understand what current events mean.
Understanding these signs is probably more important for Muslims than it is for other groups since we are in such a strange position. Muslims control much of the wealth in this world, and have great numbers, and powerful weapons.
Yet we find ourselves at the mercy of every other group of people. It is not enough that so many Muslims suffer at the hands of Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Atheists. Thousands of Muslims are killed every year by other Muslims! With such corruption and devastation, it is no wonder we feel as if the end is upon us.
Major and Minor Signs
In truth, only Allah knows when the last day will come. But we can use the clues He has given us in His book and through His messenger to recognize the signs of the last day.
There are many signs, some of them major and some of them minor. In this author’s opinion, many of the minor signs have happened.
The Major Signs
It doesn’t appear that any of the major signs have taken place yet.
This is important since the major signs are evidence that the Day of Resurrection are nearby as is the end of all life in the universe.
The 10 major signs of the last day are:
- The appearance of the False Messiah, known in Arabic as the Dajjal and in English as the Anti-Christ.
- The arrival of Isa Ibn Maryam, known in English as the Messiah, or Jesus Christ.
- Three landslides: one in the east…
- One in the west…
- And one in the Arabian Peninsula.
- The hordes of Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj, known in English as Gog and Magog.
- The Smoke as Allah says in His book: “Then wait for the day when the sky brings a visible smoke.” Chapter 44 Verse 10.
- The sun rising from the west.
- The coming of The Beast as Allah says in His book: “And when the Word is fulfilled against them, We shall produce from the earth a beast to (face) them: he will speak to them, for that mankind did not believe with assurance in Our Signs.” Chapter 27 Verse 82.
- A fire that will drive the people to their gathering place.
The Minor Signs
While none of the major signs of the last day have occurred, many of the minor signs has occurred. We should understand these and learn to recognize them as more will likely occur during our lifetimes, Inshallah.
The minor signs that have already taken place are:
- The prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
- The death of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
- The conquering of Jerusalem by Muslims. This happened during the Caliphate of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab.
- The Plague of Emmaus. This took place in 639 CE, during the time of Caliph Umar, and claimed the lives of many Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
- Extreme wealth to the point where charity is not needed. This also took place during the time of Caliph Umar when the wealth of the Muslim world was so great there was no one to give Sadaqah and Zakah.
- The emergence of major tribulations and upheavals. These tribulations include, but are not limited to, the the assassination of Caliph Uthman, the Battle of the Camel between Ali and Aisha, the war between Ali and Muawiyyah, the death of Hussein ibn Ali, and the siege by Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf on the city of Medina.
- The rise of false prophets. This started with Musailamah the Liar, but includes many others like Aswad Al-Anasi, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, and Elijah Poole.
- The occurrence of a great fire in the Hijaz. This took place in 654 AH.
- The conquest of Constantinople. This took place in the year 1453 CE when the Muslim Ottoman Empire besieged and captured the city.
- The loss of trust. This is evident today in the widespread use of passwords, personal identification numbers, and specialized security services to protect everything from our homes to our identity.
- Widespread fornication and adultery. This is also evident today, especially in the west, where it is rare to find anyone over the age of 15 who has not committed fornication.
- Widespread acceptance of usury and interest. This is also obviously in place today. Every country in the world is involved in Riba (usury), and many countries, like the United States, base their entire economy on usury and interest. It should be noted that during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) usury was rare amongst people of all faiths.
- The spread of alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been drunk in many nations all throughout time. But until recently, it was kept to a minimum in most Muslim lands. Unfortunately, alcohol is legally sold in most Muslim nations today.
- Shepherds competing in building tall structures. We see this in the recent completion of Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world’s tallest skyscraper. The Rose Hotel, the world’s tallest hotel is also in Dubai. Ironically, the Rose Hotel will be surpassed by Abraj Al Bait in Mecca in 2011. This is a perfect example of two nations of former Bedouins and shepherds competing which each other to build tall structures.
- Loss of Islamic knowledge. There was a time when becoming an Islamic scholar was a noble and sought after profession. Not for worldly gain, but for the love of Islam. Nowadays, it is rare to see people aspiring to become scholars or even expand their knowledge. And many who do so, do it for status and glory. And as more scholars return to Allah, each successive generation will have less scholarship, less scholars, and more ignorance.
- An increase in earthquakes. For the first half of the last decade (2000-2004) there was an average of 1202 earthquakes per year. During the last half of the decade (2005-2009) there was an average of 1962 earthquakes per year. That is an increase of 61%. And in the first half of 2010 there were three major earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and China that resulted in the deaths of over 250,000 people.
- An increase in killings. There have always been genocides and wanton killings throughout history. But it seems like this is getting worse as time passes. There was once a time when random, mass killings and shootings were rare and highly publicized events. Do you remember the publicity surrounding the Columbine killings in 1999? That resulted in the deaths of 13 people. Since then, there have been at least four school shootings with higher casualties in China, the U.S., Germany, and Azerbaijan. And many more with lower casualties. Also, workplace shootings have become disturbingly commonplace; to the point where the phrase “going postal” (from the rash of U.S. Post Office shootings in the 1990’s) is part of regular speech now. Of course, there are also high casualties resulting from various terrorist attacks throughout the world including the U.S., Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, U.K., and countless other places. And we cannot forget wars waged by powerful countries like the U.S. and Israel against weaker populaces resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocents that usually go unreported.
- A slave woman giving birth to her mistress. Some scholars say this indicates children losing respect for their parents. This would have been unheard of in most societies several decades ago. However, this is common now where parents can be imprisoned for disciplining their children.
- Women will outnumber men. According to the CIA Factbook, virtually every country in the world has a higher ratio of women to men. The few exceptions are China (where a strict one child per family rule results in a high rate of female infanticide), Vietnam, Portugal, and a handful of other small countries.
- Women who are clothed yet naked. You can simply turn to any modern music video and see many examples of women who are wearing clothes yet they are showing more skin than is covered. In fact, you can see this just by walking through any Western city (and many Muslim ones also.)
- An increase in false testimony and false witnesses. I recently watched a news report about an increase in false rape reports in the U.S. On a global scale, the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before the entire world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in order to justify a war against that nation. It was later found out that his testimony was false.
- Dreams of believers coming true. There is no way to quantify if this is happening now, but I can say on a personal level, that I have experienced this.
- The Romans will fight the Muslims. The Romans of the Prophet’s time were not actually based in Rome, but in Constantinople. Hence, we should not take the word “Romans” literally. Instead, it most likely alludes to the society that is based on Roman civilization which today is the West headed by the U.S. Today, the U.S. in involved in a “War on Terrorism” that seems to only involve fighting against Muslims and Muslim nations. Most of the Western world has joined the U.S. in this effort.
- Men will look women and women will look like men. I don’t believe this requires any explanation, but you can do a Google search for Gay Pride parades in the U.S. to see many examples of this.
- Time will move quickly. Think back upon the last 5, 10, or 15 years. Does it not seem to have passed like a blur?
- Immoral deeds will be committed openly. See the previous entry about Gay Pride parades in the U.S.
There are some minor signs do not seem to have happened yet. Such as:
- Wild animals and inanimate objects will speak to us. This may be partially true in the case of inanimate objects speaking to us like GPS navigation systems, cell phones, iPods and such. However, I am not aware of wild animals speaking to humans as yet.
- A mountain of gold will be found in the Euphrates Rivers.
- The deserts of Arabia will become lush and fertile again. This is happening on a small scale with advanced irrigation techniques and “desert greening.” But it is not to the point where we can say the desert is green.
- Perhaps the most important minor sign that many Muslims are awaiting is the arrival of the Mahdi, or the Guided One. Though many have claimed to be him, it is evident that he has not come yet.
As we can see, most of the minor signs have taken place. This is troubling since many of these things would have been unthinkable during the Prophet’s time (peace be upon him), but they are common now. There are only a few remaining minor signs of the last day, and they may come to fruition during our lifetime, Inshallah.
May Allah protect us during these coming times of tribulation.