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Islamic eschatology is the branch of Islamic scholarship that studies Yawm al-Qiyāmah (pronounced yome-ul-key-ah-mah; Arabic: يوم القيامة "the Day of Resurrection") or Yawm ad-Dīn (pronounced yome-ud-dean; يوم الدين "the Day of Judgment"). This is believed to be the final assessment of humanity by Allah, consisting of the annihilation of all life, resurrection and judgment.
The time of the event is not specified, although there are major and minor signs which have been foretold to happen with Qiyamah at the end of time. Many verses of Qur'anic Sura contain the motif of the impending Day of Resurrection.
The 75th Sura of the Qur'an, "al-Qiyama", has as its main subject the resurrection. Its tribulation is also described in the hadith, and commentaries of Islamic expositors such as al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Majah, al-Bukhari, and Ibn Khuzaymah. The Day of Judgment is also known as the Day of Reckoning, the Last Day and al-sā'ah, or the Hour.
The hadith describe the end time with more specificity than the Qur'an, describing the events of al-Qiyamah through twelve major signs. At the time of judgment, terrible corruption and chaos will rule. The Mahdi will be sent and with the help of Isa, will battle Masih ad-Dajjal. They will triumph, liberating Islam from cruelty, and this will be followed by a time of serenity with people living true to religious values. However there is no mention of the advent of Mahdi and Isa in one era in any of the hadith. Some Muslim scholars translate the Arabic word "Imam" as "Mahdi" to prove the advent of Mahdi and Isa in a single era.
Like other Abrahamic religions, Islam also teaches resurrection of the dead, a final tribulation and eternal division of the righteous and wicked. Islamic apocalyptic literature describing Armageddon is often known as fitnah, malāhim, or ghaybah in Shī‘a Islam. The righteous are rewarded with pleasures of Jannah, while the unrighteous are tortured in Jahannam.
- 1 Six articles of faith
- 2 Sources
- 3 Three periods
- 4 Major and minor signs
- 5 Major figures
- 6 Major events
- 7 Islamic eschatology in literature
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
- 11 External links
Six articles of faith
The Day of Judgment or Resurrection, al-Qiyāmah, is one of the six articles of faith in Islam. The tribulation associated with it is described in the Qur'an and hadith, and commentaries of Islamic expositors like al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Majah, al-Bukhari, and Ibn Khuzaymah. The Day of Judgment is also known as the Day of Reckoning, the Hour, and the Last Day. The Day of Judgment or Resurrection, al-Qiyāmah, relates to one of the six aqīdah in Sunni Islam, and seven aqidah in Shī‘a belief.
There are two main sources in Islamic scripture that discuss the Last Judgment: the Qur'an, which is viewed in Islam as infallible, and the hadith, or sayings of the prophet. Hadith are viewed with more flexibility due to the late compilation of the traditions in written form, two hundred years after the death of Muhammad. The concept has also been discussed in commentaries of Islamic scholars such as al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, and Muhammad al-Bukhari.
Last Judgment in the Qur'an
The Qur'an describes the Last Judgment, with a number of interpretations of its verses. There are specific aspects:
- The time is known only to Allah.
- Muhammad cannot bring it forward.
- Those who have been dead will believe that a short time has passed between birth and death. Nothing will remain except Allah.
- God will resurrect all, even if they have turned to stone or iron.
- Those that have accepted false deities will suffer in the afterlife.
Major and minor signs
There are a number of major and minor signs of the end of days in Islam. There is debate over whether they could occur concurrently or must be at different points in times, although Islamic scholars typically divide them into three major periods.
With regards to the minor signs of Qiyamah. These can be derived from the Hadith (sayings) of Muhammad. The majority of these have been collected, summarized and listed below to the best of knowledge:[unreliable source?]
- The appearance of fitnah (tribulations) and removal of khushoo' (fearfulness of God, taqwah, reverence, etc.)
- Loss of honesty, and authority is given to those who do not deserve it.
- The taking away of knowledge and the prevalence of religious ignorance.
- Frequent occurrences of sudden and unexpected death.
- Spreading of killing.
- Acceleration of time.
- Rejection of Sunnah (Hadith).
- The spread of riba (usury, interest), the spread of zina (adultery, fornication), drinking of alcohol.
- The widespread and condoning of music.
- The decoration of mosques as a matter of pride and competition.
- Women will increase in number and men will decrease in number so much so that fifty women will be looked after by one man.
- Abundance of earthquakes.
- Frequent occurrences of disgrace, distortion, and defamation.
- When people wish to die because of the severe trials and tribulations that they are suffering.
- Jews fighting Muslims.
- When paying charity becomes a burden.
- People will compete in the construction of very tall buildings.
- Women appearing naked despite their being dressed.
- Seeking knowledge from misguided and astray scholars.
- The liar is believed, the truthful is called a liar and the honest is called a traitor.
- The death of righteous knowledgeable people.
- The emergence of indecency (obscenity), enmity among relatives and neighbours.
- The rise of idolatry and polytheists, in the community.
- The Euphrates will uncover a mountain of gold.
- Estrangement of Islam.
- When the land of the Arabs returns to being a land of rivers and fields.
- The Romans (Christians and the Western world) would form a majority amongst people.
- Earning of money through unlawful (Haram) ways increases.
- When there is much rain but little vegetation.
- Evil People will be expelled from Al-Madinah.
- Wild animals communicate with humans, and a man speaks to his whip or his shoe,and his thigh will tell him about what happened to his family after he left.
- Increase in thunderbolts.
- There will be a special greeting for the people of distinction.
- Trade will become so widespread that a woman will help her husband in business.
- No truly honest man will remain and no one will be trusted.
- Only the worst people will be left;they will not know any good or forbid any evil (i.e. No one will say there is no God but Allah).
- Nations will call each other to destroy Islam (Islamic values, culture, teachings, Muslims) by any and every means.
- Qur'an and Islamic knowledge will be passed on, but no one will follow it correctly.
- Muslim rulers will come who do not follow the guidance and tradition of the Sunnah. Some of their men will have the hearts of devils in a human body.
- Stinginess (being Miserly) will Appear, Honourable people will perish and Dishonourable people would prevail.
- A man obeys his wife and disobeys his mother; and treats his friend kindly whilst shunning his father.
- Voices are raised in the mosques.
- The leader of a people is the worst of them.
- People treat a man with respect because they fear some evil he may do.
- Much wine is drunk.
Also Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, turned to us and said, “O emigrants, there are five things with which you will be tested, and I seek refuge with Allah lest you live to see them:
1. Sexual immorality never appears among people to such an extent that they commit it openly except that they will be afflicted by plagues and diseases (e.g. AIDS etc.) unknown to their forefathers;
2. They do not cheat in weights and measures (business, trades, etc.) except that they will be stricken with famine, calamity, and the oppression of rulers;
3. They do not withhold charity from their wealth except that rain will be withheld from the sky, and were it not for the animals there would be no rain at all;
4. They do not break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger except that Allah will enable their enemies to overpower them and take some of what is in their hands;
5. And unless their leaders rule according to the Book of Allah and seek every good from that which Allah has revealed, then Allah will cause them to fight one another.”[this quote needs a citation]
Following the second period, the third will be marked by the major signs known as alamatu's-sa'ah al- kubra (The major signs of the end). They are as follows:
- The emergence of the Sufyani within the Syria region.
- Appearance of the Mahdi.
- Black flag army will appear from Greater Khorasan (Weak hadith).
- The false messiah, Masih ad-Dajjal, shall appear with huge powers as a one eyed man with the other eye blind and deformed like a grape. He will claim to be God and to hold keys to heaven and hell and lead many astray, although believers will not be deceived. His heaven is the believers' hell, and his hell is the believers' heaven.
- Medina will be deserted, with true believers going to follow Mahdi and sinners following Dajjal
- The return of Isa, from the second sky to kill Dajjal 
- Ya'jooj and Ma'jooj (Gog and Magog), two tribes of vicious beings which had been imprisoned by Dhul-Qarnayn will break out. They will ravage the earth, drink all the water of Lake Tiberias, and kill all believers in their way (or see). Isa, Imam Al-Mahdi, and the believers with them will go to the top of a mountain and pray for the destruction of Gog and Magog. Allah will eventually send disease and worms to wipe them out.
- Mecca will be attacked and the Kaaba will be destroyed.
- A pleasant breeze will blow from the south that shall cause all believers to die peacefully.
- Quran will be forgotten and no one will recall its verses.
- All Islamic knowledge will be lost to the extent where people will not say "La Illaha Ila Allah" (There is no god, but Allah), but instead old people will babble without understanding "Allah, Allah".
- Dabbat al-ard, or the Beast that will come out of the ground to talk to people.
- People will fornicate in the streets 'like donkeys'.
- A huge black smoke cloud will cover the earth.
- The sun will rise from the west.
- The first trumpet blow will be sounded by Israfil, and all that is in heavens and earth will be stunned and die except what God wills, silence envelops everything for forty (an undetermined period of time)
- The second trumpet blow will be sounded, the dead will return to life and a fire will start that shall gather all to Mahshar Al Qiy'amah (The Gathering for Judgment).
Mahdi (Arabic: مهدي) translates to 'guided one', with hadith being the primary source of his descriptions. His appearance will be the first sign of the third period. Hadith write that he will be a descendant of Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah and cousin Ali. The Mahdi will be looked upon to kill Al-Dajjal and end the prevalent disintegration of the Muslim community to prepare for the reign of Jesus who will rule for a time after. The Mahdi will similarly kill all enemies of the Prophet and fulfill the prophetic mission as a vision of justice and peace before following Jesus’ rule. The physical features of Mahdi are described in the hadith—he will be of Arab complexion and average height with a large belly, large eyes and a sharp nose. He will have a mole on his cheek, the sign of the prophet on his shoulder, and be recognized by the caliphate while he sits at his own home. As written by Abu Dawud:
Our Mahdi will have a broad forehead and a pointed (prominent) nose. He will fill the earth with justice as it is filled with injustice and tyranny. He will rule for seven years.—Abu Dawud, Sahih, 2.208 and Fusul al-muhimma, 275
Though the duration of his rule differs, hadith are consistent in describing that Allah will perfect him in a single night with inspiration and wisdom, and his name will be announced from the sky. He will bring back worship of true Islamic values, and bring the Ark of the Covenant to light. He will conquer Istanbul and Mount Daylam. And will Eye Jerusalem and the Dome as his Home. His banner will be that of the prophet Muhammad: black and unstitched, with a halo. Unopened since the death of Muhammad, the banner will unfurl when the Mahdi appears. He will be helped by angels and others that will prepare the way for him. He will understand the secrets of abjad.
Sunni and Shi'ite perspectives on the Mahdi
Sunni and Shi'ite Islam have different beliefs on the identity of Mahdi. Historically, Sunni Islam has derived religious authority from the caliphate, who was in turn appointed by the companions of Muhammad at his death. The Sunnis view the Mahdi as the successor of Mohammad, the Mahdi is expected to arrive to rule the world and reestablish righteousness. Various Sunnis also share a parallel belief that though there may be no actual Mahdi, the existence of mujaddid will instead lead the Islamic revolution of a renewal in faith and avoidance of deviation from God’s path. Such an intellectual and spiritual figure of Sunni tradition has been attributed to numerous Muslims at the end of each Muslim century from the origin of Islam through present day. This classical interpretation is favored by Sunni scholars like Ghazali and Ibn Taymiyyah.
Shi'a Islam, in distinction, followed the bloodline of Muhammad, favoring his cousin and son by marriage, Ali. Ali was appointed the first Imam, and following him there were eleven more. Muhammad al-Mahdi, otherwise known as the twelfth imam, went into hiding in 873 AD at the age of four. His father was al-`Askari, and had been murdered, and so he was hidden from the authorities of the Abbasid Caliphate. He maintained contact with his followers until 940 AD, when he was hidden. Twelver Shia Islam believes that al-Mahdi is the current Imam, and will emerge at the end of the current age. Some scholars say that, although unnoticed by others present, the Mahdi of Twelver Shi'a Islam continues to make an annual pilgrimage while he resides outside of Mecca. In distinction, Sunni Islam foresees him as a separate and new person. The present Ayatollahs of Iran see themselves as joint caretakers of the office of the Imam until he returns.
The Mahdi is not described in the Qurʾān, only in hadith, with scholars suggesting he arose when Arabian tribes were settling in Syria under Muawiya. “They anticipated 'the Mahdi who will lead the rising people of the Yemen back to their country’ in order to restore the glory of their lost Himyarite kingdom. It was believed that he would eventually conquer Constantinople.”
Claimants of the Mahdi
Throughout history, there have been multiple claimants to the role of Mahdi that had come into existence through their pious deeds and by subsequently acquiring their own following. One of these men, Muhammad al-Hanifiyya was said to have judgment and character over rival caliphs; and mysteries of his death arose in the 8th century. It was believed he had in fact not died and would one day return as the Mahdi. The sect of Mahdavis arose as followers of another claimant, Muhammad Mahdi of Janpur in the 15th century. Furthermore, a potential Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad of Sudan, was believed to hold the title following his self-proclamation in 1881 and stand against the Turco-Egyptian government as well as the British. Additionally, Mīrzā Ghulām Aḥmad of Punjab claimed to be the Mahdi during the same period as Muhammad Ahmad and considered a heretic by Orthodox Muslims, though he amassed a substantial following of 10 to 20 million and is credited with founding the sect of Ahmadiyya, Today, this sect is established in over 200 countries and territories of the world. It should not be forgotten that two linked Shi'i movements, that of the Bábís and that of the Bahá'ís believed (and believe) that their prophets, Sayyid "Ali Muhammad, the Bab" (d. 1850) and Mirza Husayn "Ali Nuri, Bahá'u'lláh were fulfillers of prophecy. The Bab is thought to be the return of the Twelfth Imam and Bahá'u'lláh the Mahdi. Since the Baha'is now preach a fairly successful international religion with possibly 6 million followers, their concept of a fulfillment of Islamic prophecy is now currently well outside the Islamic world.
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Isa is the Arabic name for Jesus of Nazareth, and his return is considered the third major sign of last days, while the second is the appearance of Masih ad-Dajjal. Although Muhammad is the preeminent Prophet in Islam, Jesus is the only Prophet who is said not to have died but rather raised up by Allah other than Idris (Enoch) mentioned in the Quran. Thus, in accordance with post-Quranic legend, he will conceivably return to Earth as a just judge before the Day of Judgment. As written in hadith:
Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Messenger of Allah said, "By Him in whose hands my soul rests! It is definitely close in that time that Isa, Son of Maryam descends amongst you as a just ruler. He will break the cross, kill the swine and abolish jaziya. And money will abound in such excess that no one will accept it.—Ahmad bin Hambal, al-Musnad, vol 2, p. 240
Hadith reference both the Mahdi and Isa simultaneously and the return of the Mahdi will coincide with the return of Isa. He will descend from the heavens in al-Quds at dawn. The two will meet, and Mahdi will lead the people in fajr prayer. After the prayer, they will open a gate to the west and encounter Masih ad-Dajjal. After the defeat of ad-Dajjal, Isa will lead a peaceful forty-year reign until his death. He will be buried in a tomb beside Muhammad in Medina. Though the two most certainly differ regarding their role and persona in Islamic eschatology, the figures of the Mahdi and Isa are ultimately inseparable for according to the Prophet. Though Isa is said to descend upon the world once again, the Mahdi will already be present.
- What will be your reaction when the son of Mary (Jesus) descends and your Imam is from among yourselves? (Sahih Muslim, bab nuzul 'isa, Vol. 2; Sahih Bukhari, kitab bad' al-khalq wa nuzul 'isa, Vol. 4)
Al-Dajjal or the Antichrist or False Messiah does not appear in the Quran but is a prominent figure in the Hadiths and Islamic eschatology as a whole. He appears gruesome and is blind in his right eye. His one eye is thought to be a symbol that correlates with how single minded he is in achieving his goal of converting Muslims to his side. Al-Dajjal has the intention of gaining followers through his miracle working abilities and apparent wealth and generosity. These abilities are a test for true believers of Islam, who have been warned about his power and must resist his material temptations. He is thought to appear prior to the Day of Judgment, where he will engage in an epic battle with and be killed by either Jesus (according to Sunni tradition) or the Mahdi (according to the Shia tradition). Al-Dajjal functions symbolically as a key cog in overall Islamic eschatological picture, which emphasizes the world coming to an end, of good finally triumphing over evil, and of the remarkable events that will prefigure the replacement of the mortal world with a more authentic form of existence in the afterlife. Various Muslim political movements use the concept of Al-Dajjal to comment on contemporary events, and often identify him with opposing regimes or other worldly forces that they consider as harmful to Islam.
Ya'juj and Ma'juj
The fourth major sign of end time will be that the wall which imprisons the nations of Ya'juj and Ma'juj will break, and they will surge forth. Some Islamic scholars, such as Imran Nazar Hosein, believe the wall began to crack during the life of Muhammad. This is supported in the hadith when the prophet mentions that "a hole has been made in the wall containing the Ya'juj and Ma'juj", indicating the size of the hole with his thumb and index finger. Their release will occur forty years prior to the Last Judgment:
But when Ya'jooj and Ma'jooj are let loose and they rush headlong down every hill and mountain—Qur'an 21:96
They will ravage the earth. Ultimately, Allah will send worms and insects to destroy them.
Desertion of Medina / Destruction of Mecca / Beast of the Earth
The fifth sign is that Medinah will be deserted, and all that remains in the city will be date palms. The just will have gone to join Mahdi, and the evil to Dajjal. Medinah will have been depopulated for forty years by the time of al-Qiyama. The sixth sign is that a thin ruler with short legs from Ethiopia will attack Mecca and destroy the Kabah.
The seventh sign is written in the Ahadith, and is the appearance of the da'ba-tul-ard, or the Beast of the Earth, who will populate the entire world and judge the wicked:
And when the Word is fulfilled against [the unjust], 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.—Qur'an 27:82
The entire world will be engulfed by dukhan or smoke, for forty days and there will be three huge earthquakes. The Qur'an will be taken to the heavens and even the huffaz will not recall its verses. Finally, a pleasant breeze will blow that shall cause all believers to die, but infidels and sinners will remain alive. A fire will start from Hadramawt in Yemen that shall gather all the people of the world in the land of Mahshar, and al-Qiyamah will commence.
Resurrection of the dead
The eighth sign is a breeze bearing a pleasant scent will emanate from Yemen, causing the awliya, sulaha and the pious to die peacefully once they inhale it. After the believers die, there will be a period of 120 years during which the world will hold only kafirs, sinners, oppressors, liars and adulterers, and there would be a reversion to idolatry.
The ninth sign is the rising of the sun from the West after a long night, which after midday will set again. According to Hadith:
Abu Hurayrah states that the Messenger of Allah (saw) as said, “The Hour will not be established until the sun rises from the West and when the people see it they will have faith. But that will be (the time) when believing of the soul, that will have not believed before that time, will not benefit it.—Ibn Maja, as-Sunan, vol. 2 p 1352-53
The final signs will be nafkhatu'l-ula, when the trumpet will be sounded for the first time, and which will result in the death of the remaining sinners. Then there will be a period of forty years. The eleventh sign is the sounding of a second trumpet to signal the resurrection as ba'as ba'da'l-mawt. As written in the Qur'an:
The Trumpet will (just) be sounded, when all that are in the heavens and on earth will swoon, except such as it will please Allah (to exempt). Then will a second one be sounded, when, behold, they will be standing and looking on!
All will be naked and running to the Place of Gathering, while the enemies of Allah will be travelling on their faces with their legs upright. Finally, there will be no more injustice:
Surely God does not do injustice to the weight of an ant, and if it is a good deed He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.
Separation of the righteous and the damned at al-Qiyamah
At divine judgment, each person's Book of Deeds will be read, in which 'every small and great thing is recorded', will be read, with actions before adolescence not written. Records shall be given in the right hand if they are good, and the left if they are evil. Even the smallest acts will not be ignored:
Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it!
And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it.
This will be followed by perfect, divine and merciful justice. The age of the hereafter, or rest of eternity, is the final stage after the Day of Judgment, when all will receive their judgment from God.
Those who believe in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad, and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabians - whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right - surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.
If one did good deeds, one would go to Jannah, and if unrighteous would go to Jahannam. Punishments will include adhab, or severe pain, and khizy or shame. There will also be a punishment of the grave (for those who disbelieved) between death and the resurrection.
Islamic eschatology in literature
Ibn al-Nafis wrote of Islamic eschatology in Theologus Autodidactus (circa 1270 CE), where he used reason, science, and early Islamic philosophy to explain how he believed al-Qiyamah would unfold, told in the form of a theological fiction novel.
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- "Fath al-bârî fî sharh sahîh al-bukhârî" (from Sahih al-Bukhari by Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani).
- Esposito, John, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-19-512558-4.
- Richard C. Martin, Said Amir Arjomand, Marcia Hermansen, Abdulkader Tayob, Rochelle Davis, John Obert Voll, Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, MacMillan Reference Books, 2003, ISBN 978-0028656038.
- Islamic Eschatology group on Facebook.
- The Physics of The Day of Judgment
- 'Ilmu Ākhir al-Zamān: Knowledge of The Later Days
- Shiekh Imran Hosein Lecture