Is it necessary to know what Muslims believe about future events?
It is an article of faith that all Muslims believe in the ‘Resurrection and the Last Day’. It is also an overwhelming theme of the Quran which is only second to Allah’s creation of the world; Allah is the Creator and therefore the Judge. In order to have a judgement there needs to be a resurrection and the Quran, being unable to point to the resurrection of Christ as a priori, can only construct illustrations from nature which point to the possibility of a renewal of life. It seems the Muhammad had a harder time proving a future resurrection than a past Creation to the unbelieving pagans of Arabia.
Here we are not looking at personal eschatology, that which concerns the condition of the individual between his death and the general resurrection at the close of the age, but at general eschatology which Islam has devised and formed into a schematic system of events which Allah will bring to pass.
Both general eschatology and personal eschatology are frequently on the mind and on the lips of the pious Muslim and the Christian will do well to consider these beliefs in the light of the teachings of the Bible. Once again Islam has re-interpreted the scriptures and removed any hint of the significance of the redemption purposes of Christ.
The order of the final events is frequently expressed as follows:
1. Signs will announce the coming of the end.
2. One sign of special importance is the appearance of the Anti-Christ (al Dajjal) who will lead almost all men astray
3. This will be followed by the descent of Isa (or the Mahdi) who will kill al-Dajjal.
4. A period of faith will follow.
How does the Quran refer to the Last day?
The Quran uses various expressions to refer to the Last Day some of them are found below.
1. It is a ‘Day of Sorting out’: “And what will explain to thee what is the Day of Sorting out?” (Al-Mursalat 77:14)
2. It is a ‘Day of Account’: “Moses said: “I have indeed called upon my Lord and your Lord (for protection) from every arrogant one who believes not in the Day of Account!”(Ghafir 40:27)
3. It is a ‘Day of Judgement’: “Master of the Day of Judgement” (Al-Fatihah 1:4)
4. It is an all ‘Encompassing Day’: “but I fear for you the penalty of a day that will compass (you) all round” (Hud 11:84).
5. It is ‘The Hour’: “We did not create the heavens and earth and everything between them, except with truth. The Hour is certainly coming.” (Surat al-Hijr 15: 85)
“The Hour has drawn near and the moon has split.” (Surat al-Qamar 54:1)
This verse is often put forward as an example of a mighty miracle performed by Muhammad and this view is supported by a number of many reliable ahadith. However, the usual and the most natural explanation is that it refers to one of the signs of the coming day of judgement.
Some Muslims say that this sign was fulfilled when the Americans landed on the moon on 20th July 1969. They say that while the Arabic word shaqqa means ‘split’ it also can mean ‘ploughing’ or ‘digging’ of the earth. So when American astronauts performed their series of scientific experiments on the lunar surface and dug into its earth they were in fact ploughing the earth and bringing about a sign of the coming judgement day!
When will the Last Day come?
Only Allah knows when that day will be: “They ask thee about the (final) Hour – when will be its appointed time? Say: “The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (alone): None but He can reveal as to when it will occur.” (Al Araf 7:187)
What will be some of the signs of the Last Day?
Muslim theologians generally say that the approach of that day will be made known by certain signs which shall precede it, some of these are mentioned below. Tirmidhi (3rd century A.H. author of canonical or semi-canonical traditions) said, “Signs follow one another like the pieces of a necklace falling one after the other when its string is cut.”
1. Ten portents : “Hudhaifa b. Usaid Ghifari reported: Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to us all of a sudden as we were (busy in a discussion). He said: ‘What do you discuss about?’ They (the Companions) said, ‘We are discussing about the Last Hour.’ Thereupon, he said, ‘It will not come until you see ten signs before and (in this connection) he made a mention of the smoke, Dajjal, the beast, the rising of the sun from the west, the descent of Jesus son of Mary (Allah be pleased with him), the Gog and Magog, and land-slidings in three places, one in the east, one in the west and one in Arabia at the end of which fire would burn forth from the Yemen, and would drive people to the place of their assembly.’” (Muslim Book 41, Number 6931)
2. Five portents: “Narrated Abu Huraira: One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked ………….…… Then he further asked, ‘When will the Hour be established?’ Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘The answerer has no better knowledge than the questioner. But I will inform you about its portents. When a slave (lady) gives birth to her master. When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher buildings. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah.’” (Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 47)
3. Earthquakes and afflictions: “Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: (The Prophet) said, ‘O Allah! Bless our Sham and our Yemen.’ People said, ‘Our Najd as well.’ The Prophet again said, ‘O Allah! Bless our Sham and Yemen.’ They said again, ‘Our Najd as well.’ On that the Prophet said, ‘There will appear earthquakes and afflictions, and from there will come out the side of the head of Satan’” (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 17, Number 147). – Recent earthquakes are shown as evidences that the last hour is approaching.
4. Morality: “Narrated Anas: I will narrate to you a Hadith I heard from Allah’s Apostle and none other than I will tell you of it. I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘From among the portents of the Hour are the following: Religious knowledge will be taken away; General ignorance (in religious matters) will increase; illegal sexual intercourse will prevail: drinking of alcoholic drinks will prevail. men will decrease in number, and women will increase in number, so much so that fifty women will be looked after by one man.’” (Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 158) – The collapse of moral values in the west is often highlighted as a sign of the times and such examples as above can be multiplied.
5. Warfare: “Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, ‘The Hour will not be established till two (huge) groups fight against each other, their claim being one and the same’ (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 84, Number 69). – The two world-wars and the on going conflicts globally again are seen as evidences of the need for an approaching day of ‘sorting out. ‘
6. Apostasy: “Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri: The Prophet said, ‘There will emerge from the East some people who will recite the Quran but it will not exceed their throats and who will go out of (renounce) the religion (Islam) as an arrow passes through the game, and they will never come back to it unless the arrow, comes back to the middle of the bow (by itself) (i.e., impossible).’ The people asked, ‘What will their signs be?’ He said, ‘Their sign will be the habit of shaving (of their beards)’” (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 651). Also we give a hadith from Abu Daud – Book 35, Number 4246: “Narrated Abu Musa al-Ash’ari: The Apostle of Allah said: ‘Before the Last Hour there will be commotions like pieces of a dark night in which a man will be a believer in the morning and an infidel in the evening, or a believer in the evening and infidel in the morning.’”
7. Religious Ignorance: “Narrated ‘Abdullah and Abu Musa: The Prophet said, ‘Near the establishment of the Hour there will be days during which religious ignorance will spread, knowledge will be taken away (vanish) and there will be much Al-Harj, and Al-Harj means killing.’” (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 88, Number 184)
8. The emergence of false prophets : “Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet said: ‘The Last Hour will not come before there come forth thirty Dajjals (fraudulents), everyone presuming himself that he is an apostle of Allah.’” (Abu Daud Book 37, Number 4319)
According to Muslims all these above signs and others are being fulfilled in this generation. The Christian may be surprised, even staggered, to find so many similarities with the words of the Lord Jesus Christ as found in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, but we should not be. The post-Quranic writers of tradition announced new things which were totally absent in the Quran; they developed a system that countered Christianity at every stage and put into Muhammad’s mouth words that were so clearly taught by Christ 600 years before the coming of Islam!