All praises are for Allah, The Almighty, and may His peace and blessing be upon His true servant and final Messenger, Muhammad, on his companions and his household.
A very integral part of imaan (faith) is to believe in the Last Day, as Allah SWT informs us: “And the Hour is coming without any doubt, and Allah will raise up all those in the graves” (Qur’an 22:7). On that day, we will all have to face Allah the Almighty to be questioned, judged, and recompensed with regards to how we spent this life. We are accountable for all that we say and do in this life once we reach puberty, the age of discernment, or baaligh. On the Last Day, Allah’s attributes of justice and mercy will be in full manifestation as we stand before Him, fearing His wrath and hoping for His mercy and forgiveness, and a place in His Paradise.
But before this Last Day arrives, a number of signs will be evident for all to witness. This will indicate that the world is near its end. Allah SWT tells us in The Qur’an, “Then do they await anything except the Hour, that it should come upon them unexpectedly? But already there have come its indications. Then what good to them, when it has come, will be their remembrance?” (47:18). The end time signs have always been a topic of discussion by all prophets and messengers. Allah SWT informs us that the previous prophets warned their people of the Last Day. He SWT says about Prophet Muhammad, “This [prophet] is a warner like the former warners. The approaching Day has approached (Qur’an 53:56-57).
The prophets warned their people of the coming of the Hour and described some of its indications. The ummah (religious community) of Muhammad (s) is the last of ummahs on earth before the Final Day arrives, and this makes it all the more important to pay attention to these signs as they will become more apparent and impactful than the signs were to the previous nations.
Why Is Knowledge of the End Times So Important?
There are several reasons why knowledge of the signs of the Last Day is so important. First, it serves as an encouragement for people to hasten in their obedience to Allah SWT and prepare themselves to stand before Him. For the believer it helps him to keep on persevering and striving in this world so as to attain a place in the abode of peace in the Hereafter. While for the heedless, it is an indication that time is running out, so it’s an encouragement to stop evil deeds and hasten to do good deeds.
Secondly, the stronger one’s certainty of the Last Day, the more faith increases and the more one tends to be persistent in doing the deeds commanded by Allah SWT. The opposite is also true. One who is heedless pays no attention and continues to enjoy this life as Allah SWT says, “Then, for him who transgressed and preferred the life of this world, verily, his abode will be Hell-fire” (Qur’an 79:37-39). Another reason knowledge of the signs of the Last Day is so important is that signs of the end times were specified by the Messenger, Muhammad (s), over 1400 years ago and this indicates his truthfulness. There are so many signs of the Last Day that he stated all those centuries ago that are prevalent today. Such knowledge can only be granted by Allah Almighty. He SWT says, “[He is] the All-Knower of the unseen, and He reveals to none His unseen except to a Messenger whom He has chosen, and then He makes a band of watching guards [angels] to march before him and behind him” (Qur’an 72:26-27). Last but not least, as the signs of the end times reveal themselves, a believer does not become a victim of the deceptions of the Dajjal or anti-Christ. They are warned against him as being one of the greatest trials in end times. Thus, the believer takes tremendous caution to protect himself from the evil of Dajjal.
When Is the Hour?
With all the chaos in the world today, talk about the end times takes place from the pulpit, around the dinner table, and at masaajid gatherings. The question about when the Hour will be has been asked since time immemorial. Almost every prophet has been asked and sometimes challenged about the Last Day. But Allah SWT answers this in the Qur’an. He says, “They ask you about the Hour: ‘When will be its appointed time?’ Say: ‘The knowledge thereof is with my Lord. None can reveal its time but Him. Heavy is its burden through the heavens and the earth. It shall not come upon you except all of a sudden.’ They ask you as if you have a good knowledge of it. Say: ‘The knowledge thereof is with Allah but most of mankind knows not’” (Qur’an 7:187).
Certainly no one knows the exact time of the Hour but Rasoolullah (s) indicated that there will be some minor signs; and then a series of big signs will occur marking the end of this world, and those are known as the major signs and they are ten in number, as laid out in the following hadith:
Some companions were having a discussion when the Messenger of Allah (s) approached and asked what they were discussing. “They said, ‘We are discussing the Last Hour.’ Thereupon he (s) said, ‘It will not come until you see ten signs before, and he made 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-slides 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’” (Sahih Muslim).
The Prophet (s) indicated that there will be a number of minor signs and scholars have counted almost 140, based on authentic narrations. One should note that a lot of people today are quoting ahaadith without verifying their sources. This creates confusion and inaccuracy with regards to the end times. It should also be noted that some of these signs have already happened or are apparently happening in our time, and some are still yet to come.
Some signs that have already occurred:
- The advent of the final prophet, Muhammad (s), and his death.
- The splitting of the moon that took place during the time of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (s).
Some signs that are current:
- The Messenger of Allah (s) said, “Be prompt in doing good deeds [before you are overtaken] by turmoil which would be like a part of the dark night. During it a man would be a Muslim in the morning and an unbeliever in the evening, or he would be a believer in the evening and an unbeliever in the morning and would sell his faith for worldly goods” (Muslim).
- The Messenger of Allah (s) said, “Verily, it will be poured upon you, the evil from the sky, until it reaches unto the deserted wilderness (fayafi). A questioner then asked, ‘And what is the deserted wilderness, O Abu Abdullah?’ He then replied that it was the barren earth” (al-Musannaf ibn Abi Shaibah; it is Sahih). One possible interpretation of “the evil from the sky” that pours down upon humanity are the signals from satellites (roughly 2600 satellites are currently orbiting the earth). They have a number of good uses, but they are also used for surveillance and for entertainment-related purposes, pouring content down upon us in the form of music, TV, movies, etc., now reaching every nook and corner of this globe.
- Another hadith tells us, “The Hour will not be established until trials and civil commotions become widespread, lying proliferates, and markets become closer” (Ahmad in his Musnad). Does not all the online shopping that is available sound like “markets become closer”?
- Another detailed hadith indicates a number of things that will happen. Rasoolullah (s) said, “The Hour will not be established until two big groups fight each other whereupon there will be a great number of casualties on both sides and they will be following one and the same religious doctrine; until about thirty Dajjals (liars) appear, and each one of them will claim that he is Allah’s Apostle; until the religious knowledge is taken away; earthquakes will increase in number; time will pass quickly; afflictions will appear; al-harj, (killing) will increase; wealth will be in abundance — so abundant that a wealthy person will worry lest nobody should accept his zakat, and whenever he will present it to someone, that person will say, ‘I am not in need of it;’ the people compete with one another in constructing high buildings; a man, when passing by a grave of someone, will say, ‘If only I were in his place’” (Bukhari).
- The Messenger of Allah (s) said, “Two are the types of the denizens of Hell whom I did not see: people having whips like the tails of the ox with them and they would be beating people; and women who would be dressed but appear to be naked, walking with an enticing gait. Their heads would be like the humps of the camel, inclined to one side. They will not enter Paradise and they would not smell its fragrance whereas its fragrance would be smelled from such and such distance” (Muslim).
- The Messenger of Allah (s) said, “The world would not come to an end until a day would come to the people during which the killer would not know as to why he has killed and the slain would not know as to why he has been killed. It would be said: ‘Why would It happen?’ To which he replied: ‘It would be because of general massacre and bloodshed. And the killer and the killed would be in Fire’” (Muslim).
Other Adhadith that Indicate Signs of the Hour
The Messenger of Allah (s) said:
- “When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour.” It was asked, “How will honesty be lost, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “When authority is given to those who do not deserve it, then wait for the Hour” (Bukhari).
- “…The slave girl will give birth to her master and you will see barefoot, herdsmen compete in the construction tall buildings…” (Muslim).
- “By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the Hour will not begin until indecency and miserliness will prevail. The honest man is accused of treachery and the treacherous man is trusted. Al-wa’ool perish and at-tahoot prevail.” They said, “Messenger of Allah, what are al-wa’ool and at-tahoot?” He said, “Al-wa’ool are the prominent, noble people and at-tahoot are those [ignoble ones] who were under the people’s feet and no one knew about them” (Mustadrak Al Haakim).
- “There will surely come upon people a time in which a man will not care from where he gets his wealth, lawfully or unlawfully” (Bukhari).
- “From among the portents of the Hour is that the religious knowledge will be taken away [by the death of religious scholars] and general ignorance [of religion] will appear; and the drinking of alcoholic drinks will be very common, and illegal sexual intercourse will prevail…” (Bukhari).
- “…a man obeys his wife and disobeys his mother, he brings his friend near and drives his father far off, voices are raised in the mosques, the most wicked member of a tribe becomes its ruler, the most worthless member of a people becomes its leader, a man is honored through fear of the evil he may do, singing-girls and stringed instruments make their appearance, wines are drunk, and the last members of this people curse the first ones. Look at that time for a violent wind, an earthquake, being swallowed up by the earth, metamorphosis, pelting rain, and signs following one another like bits of a necklace falling one after the other when its string is cut” (Tirmidhi).
- “One of the signs of The Hour will be an increase of sudden death” (at-Tabarani).
- “’Forthcoming will be a time when the nations gather against you, just as people gather around a feast. A man said, ‘Will it be because we are few at that time, O Allah’s Messenger?’ He responded, ‘No, you will be numerous in those times, but you will be as useless as the froth of the sea, and Allah will remove the fear of you, that your enemies used to have, from their chests, and He will place al-wahn in your hearts.’ It was said, ‘What is al-wahn?’ He responded, ‘Love of life and hatred of death’” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud).
- “Verily, Allah does not withhold knowledge by snatching it away from his servants, but rather he withholds knowledge by taking the souls of scholars, until no scholar remains and people follow ignorant leaders. They are asked and they issue judgments without knowledge. Thus, they are astray and lead others astray” (Bukhari and Muslim).
- “Night and day will not cease until the most privileged of people in worldly affairs will be Luka’ ibn Luka’ [an evil person with no praiseworthy characteristics]” (Mu’jam at-Tabaraani al-Awsat).
- “This world will not cease to be until it belongs to Luka’ ibn Luka” (Saheeh ibn Hibbaan).
In conclusion, it would appear that most of the minor signs have taken place or are currently taking place, and so it would not be surprising if the major signs begin to happen. There is enough going on in this world for Muslims to be concerned about their faith and the faith of their children. Now would be a good time for Muslims to make use of time and hasten to do good deeds and plant that tree as Rasoolullah (s) said: “If the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it” (Musnad Aḥmad).