Excerpts from: The Signs Before the Day of Judgement Paperback – Import, May 1994
By Ibn Kathir (Author), M.I. Waley (Editor), & 1 More
Allah, the Most High, said:
“They ask thee about the Hour, ‘When will be its appointed time?’ Wherein art thou (concerned) with the declaration thereof? With thy Lord is the Limit fixed thereof. Thou art but a Warner for such as fear it. The Day they will see it, (it will be) as if they had tarried but a single evening, or (at most till) the following morn!” [Al-Qur'an 79:42-46]
“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. Heavy were its burden through the heavens and the earth. Only, all of a sudden will it come to you.’ They ask thee as if thou were eager in search thereof: say: ‘The knowledge thereof is with Allah (alone), but most men know not.’ ” [Al-Qur'an 7:187]
There are many Ayat and Ahadith concerning this subject: Allah said:
“The Hour (of Judgement) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder.” [Al-Qur'an 54:1]
The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, whilst pointing with his index and middle fingers, “The time of my advent and the Hour are like these two fingers.” In another report he said, “The Hour almost came before me.” This indicates how close we are, relatively speaking, to the Hour.
“Closer and closer to mankind comes their Reckoning: yet they heed not and they turn away.” [Al-Qur'an 21:1]
“(Inevitable) cometh (to pass) the Command of Allah: seek, ye not then to hasten it.” [Al-Qur'an 16:1]
“Only those wish to hasten it who believe not in it: those who believe hold it in awe, and know that it is the Truth.” [Al-Qur'an 42:18]
In Sahih al-Bukhari, there is a Hadith which states that a Bedouin asked the Prophet about the Hour. He said, “It will surely come to pass. What have you prepared for it?” The man said, “O Messenger of Allah, I have not prepared much in the way of prayer and good works, but I love Allah and His Messenger.” The Prophet said, “You will be with those you love.” The Muslims had never rejoiced as much they did when they heard this Hadith.
Some Ahadith report that the Prophet was asked about the Hour. He looked towards a young boy and said, “If he lives, he will not grow very old before he sees your Last Hour coming to you.” By this he meant their death and entering the Hereafter, because everyone who dies enters the Hereafter; some people say that when a person has died, his Judgement has begun. This Hadith with this meaning is ‘correct’ (Sahih). Some heretics comment on this Hadith and give it an incorrect meaning. The exact timing of the Great Hour (as-sa’at al-’Uzma) is something which Allah alone knows and which He has not revealed to anyone, as is clear from the Hadith in which the Prophet said: “There are five things which nobody knows except Allah;” then he recited:
“Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone). It is He Who sends down rain, and He Who knows what is in the wombs. Nor does anyone know what it is that he will earn on the morrow: Nor does anyone know in what land he is to die. Verily with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted (with all things).” [Al-Qur'an 31:34]
When Gabriel (Jibril), peace be upon him, came to the Prophet in the guise of a Bedouin, he asked him about Islam, Iman (faith) and ihsan (excellence of faith); and the Prophet answered his questions. But when he asked him about the Hour, he said, “The one questioned about it knows no better than the questioner.” Jibril said, “Tell me about its signs.” Then the Prophet described them, as we shall see later when we quote this hadith and others in full.
Hudhayfah said: “The Prophet stood up one day to speak to us, and told us everything that was going to happen until the Hour, and left nothing unsaid. Some of the listeners learnt it by heart, and some forgot it; these friends of mine learnt it. I do not remember it completely, but sometimes it springs to mind, just as one might remember and recognize the face of a man whom one had forgotten, when one sees him.” [Abu Dawud, Muslim]
Imam Ahmad reported via Abu Nudrah that Abu Sa’id said: “One day the Prophet led us in praying the afternoon prayer (Salaat ul-’Asr). Then he stood and addressed us until sunset. He mentioned everything that was to happen until the Day of Resurrection, and left nothing unsaid. Some of us remembered it, and some of us forgot it. One of the things he said was: ‘O people, this world is full of attractive temptations. Allah has appointed you as vicegerents (Khalifah) in this world, and He will see how you will act. So guard yourselves against the temptations of this world and of women.’ Towards the end of this speech, he said, ‘The sun is about to set, and what remains of this world, compared to what has passed, is like what remains of this day compared to what has passed.’ ”
‘Ali ibn Zayd ibn Jad’an at-Timi narrated some Gharib and Munkar Ahadith – which could bring into question the validity of this hadith. But there are some reports which are similar to this hadith, and which were transmitted with different Isnad. Part of this hadith is in Sahih Muslim, through Abu Nudrah on the authority of Abu Sa’id. This Hadith refers to something which is beyond any doubt: what remains of this world, compared to what has passed, is very little. In spite of that, no-one can know exactly how much time is left except Allah, and no-one can know exactly how much time has passed, except Allah.
General Description of the Fitna (Tribulations)
Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman said, “People used to ask the Prophet, peace be upon him, about good things, but I used to ask him about bad things because I was afraid that they might overtake me. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, we were lost in ignorance (Jahiliyyah) and evil, then Allah brought this good (i.e. Islam). Will some evil come after this good thing?’ He said, ‘Yes’ I asked, ‘And will some good come after that evil?’ He said, ‘Yes, but it will be tainted with some evil’ I asked, ‘How will it be tainted?’ He said, ‘There will be some people who will lead others on a path different from mine. You will see good and bad in them.’ I asked, ‘Will some evil come after that good?’ He said, ‘Some people will be standing and calling at the gates of Hell; whoever responds to their call, they will throw him into the Fire.’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, describe them for us.’ He said, ‘They will be from our own people, and will speak our language.’ I asked, ‘What do you advise me to do if I should live to see that?’ He said, ‘Stick to the main body (Jama’ah) of the Muslims and their leader (imam).’ I asked, What if there is no main body and no leader?’ He said, ‘Isolate yourself from all of these sects, even if you have to eat the roots of trees until death overcomes you while you are in that state.’ ”
‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said: “The Prophet said, ‘Islam began as something strange, and it will revert to being strange as it was in the beginning, so good tidings for the strangers.’ Someone asked, ‘Who are the strangers?’ He said, ‘The ones who break away from their people (literally, ‘tribes’) for the sake of Islam.’ ”
This Hadith was narrated by Ibn Majah on the authority of ‘Anas and Abu Hurrairah.
Divisions within the Main Religious Groups
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: “The Jews have split into seventy-one sects, and my Ummah will divide into seventy-three.”
‘Awf ibn Malik reported that the Prophet said: “The Jews split into seventy-one sects: one will enter Paradise and seventy will enter Hell. The Christians split into seventy-two sects: seventy-one will enter Hell and one will enter Paradise. By Him in Whose hand is my soul, my Ummah will split into seventy-three sects: one will enter Paradise and seventy-two will enter Hell.” Someone asked, “O Messenger of Allah, who will they be?” He replied, “The main body of the Muslims (al-Jama’ah).” ‘Awf ibn Malik is the only one who reported this Hadith, and its Isnad is acceptable.
‘Anas ibn Malik said, “I shall tell you a Hadith which I heard from the Messenger of Allah, and which no-one will tell you after me. I heard him say, ‘Among the signs of the Hour will be the disappearance of knowledge and the appearance of ignorance. Adultery will be prevalent and the drinking of wine will be common. The number of men will decrease and the number of women will increase until there will be fifty women to be looked after by one man.’ ” This Hadith was reported in the two Sahih collections from the hadith of ‘Abd-Rabbihi.
‘Abdullah said, “The Prophet said, ‘Just before the Hour, there will be days in which knowledge will disappear and ignorance will appear, and there will be much killing.’ ” [Ibn Majah; also narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim, from the Hadith of al-A'mash]
Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman said, “The Prophet said, ‘Islam will become worn out like clothes are, until there will be no-one who knows what fasting, prayer, charity and rituals are. The Qur’an will disappear in one night, and no ayah will be left on earth. Some groups of old people will be left who will say, ‘We heard our fathers saying la Ilaha Illa Allah, so we repeated it.’ ‘ Salah asked Hudhayfah, “What will saying la ilaha illa Allah do for them when they do not know what prayer, fasting, ritual and charity are?” Hudhayfah ignored him; then Silah repeated his question three times, and each time Hudayfah ignored him. Finally he answered, “O Silah, it will save them from Hell”, and said it three times. [Ibn Majah]
This indicates that in the last days, knowledge will be taken from the people, and even the Qur’an will disappear from the scripts and from people’s hearts. People will be left without knowledge. Only the old people will tell them that they used to hear people saying la ilaha illa Allah; and they will repeat it to feel close to Allah, so it will give them some blessing, even if they do not have any good deeds or beneficial knowledge. Knowledge will be taken away from men and ignorance will increase during the last days, and their ignorance and misguidance will increase until the end, as in the hadith of the Prophet: “The Hour will not come upon anyone who says, ‘Allah, Allah’; it will only come upon the most evil of men.”
The Evils Which Will Befall the Muslim Ummah During The Last Days
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar said, “The Prophet, peace be upon him, came to us and said, ‘O Muhajirun, (emigrants from Makkah to al-Madinah) you may be afflicted by five things; God forbid that you should live to see them. If fornication should become widespread, you should realise that this has never happened without new diseases befalling the people which their forebears never suffered. If people should begin to cheat in weighing out goods, you should realise that this has never happened without drought and famine befalling the people, and their rulers oppressing them. If people should withhold zakat, you should realise that this has never happened without the rain being stopped from falling; and were it not for the animals’ sake, it would never rain again. If people should break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger, you should realise that his has never happened without Allah sending an enemy against them to take some of their possessions by force. If the leaders do not govern according to the Book of Allah, you should realise that this has never happened without Allah making them into groups and making them fight one another.’ ” [Ibn Majah]
‘Ali ibn Abi Talib said, “The Prophet said: ‘If my Ummah bears fifteen traits, tribulation will befall it.’ Someone asked, ‘What are they, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘When any gain is shared out only among the rich, with no benefit to the poor; when a trust becomes a means of making a profit; when paying Zakat becomes a burden; when a man obeys his wife and disobeys his mother; and treats his friend kindly whilst shunning his father; when voices are raised in the mosques; when the leader of a people is the worst of them; when people treat a man with respect because they fear some evil he may do; when much wine is drunk; when men wear silk; when female singers and musical instruments become popular; when the last ones of this Ummah curse the first ones – then let them expect a red wind, or the earth to swallow them, or to be transformed into animals.’ ” [At-Tirmidhi]
‘Ali ibn Abi Talib said, “The Prophet led us in praying Salat al-Fajr (the Morning Prayer). When he had finished, a man called to him: ‘When will the Hour be? The Prophet reprimanded him and said ‘Be quiet!’ After a while he raised his eyes to the sky and said, ‘Glorified be the One Who raised it and is taking care of it.’ Then he lowered his gaze to the earth and said, ‘Glory be to the One Who has outspread it and has created it.’ Then the Prophet said, ‘Where is the one who asked me about the Hour?’ The man knelt down and said, ‘I asked you.’ The Prophet said, ‘The Hour will come when leaders are oppressors, when people believe in the stars and reject al-Qadar (the Divine Decree of destiny) when a trust becomes a way of making a profit, when people give to charity (Sadaqah) reluctantly, when adultery becomes widespread – when this happens, then your people will perish.’ ”
‘Imran ibn Husain said, “The Prophet said, ‘Some people of this Ummah will be swallowed up by the earth, some will be transformed into animals, and some will be bombarded with stones.’ One of the Muslims asked, ‘When will that be, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘When singers and musical instruments will become popular, and much wine will be drunk.’ ” [Narrated by at-Tirmidhi]
[Note: "The main body of the Muslims (al-Jama’ah) means the people of the Qur'an, Hadith, Fiqh and other sciences, who have agreed to follow the traditions of the Prophet in all circumstances without introducing any changes or imposing their own confused ideas]
Greater Signs of the Hour
AFTER the lesser signs of the Hour appear and increase, mankind will have reached a stage of great suffering. Then the awaited Mahdi will appear; he is the first of the greater, and clear, signs of the Hour. There will be no doubt about his existence, but this will only be clear to the knowledgeable people. The Mahdi will rule until the False Messiah (Al-Masih Al-Dajjal) appears who will spread oppression and corruption. The only ones who will know him well and avoid his evil will be those who have great knowledge and Iman (faith).
The false Messiah will remain for a while, destroying mankind completely, and the earth will witness the greatest Fitnah (tribulation) in its history. Then the Messiah Jesus, upon whom be peace, will descend, bringing justice from heaven. He will kill the Dajjal, and there will be years of safety and security.
Then the appearance of Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog) will take mankind by surprise, and corruption will overtake them again. In answer to Jesus faithful prayer to Allah, the Most High, they will die, and safety, security, justice and stability will return.
This state of affairs will continue for some years, until the death of Jesus. The scholars differ concerning the order in which the other greater signs of the Hour will come about. They are:
• The Rising of the Sun from the West;
• The Emergence of the Beast from the Earth;
• The Smoke;
• A Wind Will Take the Souls of the Believers;
• The Qur’an Will Be Taken Up Into Heaven;
• A Fire Will Drive the People to Their Last Gathering Place; And
• The Trumpet Will Be Sounded: At The First Sound Everyone Will Feel Terror; At The Second Sound All Will Be Struck Down; At The Last Sound All Will Be Resurrected.