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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Judgement Day: Lessons From The Qur'an And Sunnah

( Note: The following is an edited version of our recent presentation at Toledo Masjid Al-Islam.)

Qiyaamah; a reality



The Day of Judgement is a frequent object of attention in the Qur'an, even a cursory glance at the text will reveal to the reader it's repeated appearance. One of the texts we find is "Our Lord, Indeed, You will gather people together on a day of which exists no doubt. Indeed, Allah does not fail in his promise." [Q 3:9]. Thus, a person claiming to be a Muslim must accept this core Quranic teaching.

Signs that precede Judgement day

The Qur'an does give some indicators, however it's focus is moreso on the event itself. Prophet Muhammad, Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, in one hadeeth does give us the following signs:

Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah [PBUH] said "The conditions of the hour will be [1] Knowledge will be elevated away (yurfa'ul 'Ilm)." Another wording that exists has it that The Prophet said "Knowledge will be diminished" (Yaqillul 'Ilm), meaning that the importance of knowledge will be made low. [2] Abundance of ignorance ( Jahl, in thinking and behaviour). (3) Abundance of Zinaa. (4) Abunance of the consumption of intoxicating agents ( Khamr)." 

[1]  We can understand this as higher education, out of reach for all but those at a social and financial status.

 [2] The disappearance of authentic information, both religious and Non-religious, in that truth no longer matters.

 [3]  The rise of ignorance in both facts and in action. This can also refer to the ignorance as inspired by youthful attitudes, the  rise of a culture that caters to the whims and wishes of the young, devoid of mature consideration. We also see this within the religious realm, in that people speak on Islam with no knowledge of what they are speaking on. We live in an age where ignorance is deemed praiseworthy and education is seen as, at best, odd, and, at worse, dangerous.

[4] Zinaa: Marriage will be seen, in the final age, as a pointless institution. This is increasinglty a global situation, [5] Khamr: This is not simply beer and wine, alcoholic drinks, but narcotics. Marijuana is socially and increasingly becoming legally acceptable.

The hadeeth highlights these things, and while other Prophetic narrations highlight other things, some of which are debated in terms of their strength and veracity, we are to seek lessons from the narration at hand,

Lessons

[1] Stay informed, particularly in Deeni affairs. We have to be connected to the Book of Allah, to Allah himself through righteous conduct. As the Qur'an says "Deen is to be specifically for Allah." [ Q 39:3]. A part of this is to recognize our status, to stay quiet, rather than speak, on issues that we have no knowledge of, The Qur'an says " So ask those who have knowledge, if you don't know." ( Q 16:43, 21:7). Having enough humility to be able to seek out knowledge from knowledgeable persons, as opposed to the do-it-yourself approach.

We have yet another hadeeth in which the Prophet said that in that age, close to thirty decievers will emerge claiming divine guidance, claiming to speak on behalf of God.(ft.1)

Such decievers [Dajjaloon] only gain traction in an environment devoid of knowledge  and filled with ignorance.

The lesson here is particularly important with the Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah, in his manner of connecting with Allah.

[2] In the same hadeeth we have a statement that in that age "Women will be abundant, and men will be minimized" . It is our view that this does not simply refer to population, but rather, to a world where men are constantly under attack, where the responsibility of fathers will be taken away, be it in the name of fighting crime or of feminism. This is a widely held observation of the social condition of African Americans (ft.2). So the lesson is that men have to take responsibility, particularly as fathers, and not fall into the traps out there that seek to prevent this,

[3] Khamr, intoxicating agents, be it alcoholic drinks or recreational drugs, must be totally avoided, because these items cloud the rational thinking. We are to be awake, and not sleep-walk through life.


The Qur'an on the Day of Judgement itself

On that day, the bodily appendiges themselves will be made to testify ( Q 24:24, 36:63-65 among other verses) . It will be a day which will be initiated with a deafening noise, making people totally self-concerned. A frightening moment indeed [Q 80:33-37].

It is on that day that the veils are finally removed from the eyes of those who had rejected (Q 50:22). It is also the day that religious disputed will be solved or addressed directly by God ( Q 35:14 among other places). It is a day that records of one's life are actually read out, it is the day that the verdicts are announced.

While the Qur'an is very detailed on what happens on that day itself, we have yet another hadeeth (reported in Tirmidhee) which summarizes it all in which the Prophet said  that a person will be questioned on how their time as a youth was spent, how they earned and disposed of their wealth, and how they acted upon the knowledge they possessed.

In addition to this, we have another well-known hadeeth, in which the Prophet [peace and blessings be on him] said that very first thing a person will be questioned about is worship ( Tirmidhee).

This hadeeth gives us a clue, it indicates that a life in which even the weak person, with all of his sins and imperfections, still sought out God, it is that seeking out that will be a source of salvation. So the more worship we do, the more aligned to Allah we become.

Predicting The Day Of Judgement

This is a situation more common with Christians than with Muslims(ft.3), an ironic reality because the Bible has Jesus say that God alone knows when it will happen [Mark 13:32]. The added aspect to this is an attempt to "move along" or to force God's hand (ft.4).

The Qur'an addresses this

"The affair of God is coming, so don't (even) imagine that you can speed it up. Glorified is He, and He is the Most High, above what they associate[yushrikoon] with him." ( Q 16:1)

This shows us that such people are guilty of shirk, because they have attempted to make God a push-over, a being that can be manipulated for their own interests. Allah's schedule is His own, how He sets about his business is his own affair. Our reasoning cannot go against the Divine Sunnah.

Protection from Dajjal

The hadeeth literature tells us that the Dajjal [deceiver] will gain near global domination in that age close to the Day of Judgement. Remember that Dajjal means "consistent deceiver". The text gives a description of that figure, but we should remember that this term is also a general concept.

The evidence for this is the already mentioned narration that close to thirty lying  dajjals (dajjaloon kadhdhaboon qareebun min thalatheen)  would emerge.

We are told in atleast two narrations that Soorah Al Kahf, the 18th chapter of the Qur'an, would serve as protection from Dajjal. This shows us that the power of Dajjal will simply be that of influence, suggestion and mental manipulation, and that such influence is countered by getting spiritually prepared for Qiyaamah, by being grounded in the Book of Allah, where Allah's guidance is stronger than other influences.

Tyrannical forces punished by God on the Day of Judgement

The focus of Allah's punishment is felt on the tryannical, those who attained power and sustained power on the backs of the oppressed.

Those who devored 'Ribaa'(ft.5) do not rise except as  those confounded by the touch of Satan [Q 2:275]

Another Quranic text speaks of the oppressive class as "Nay! It [the punishment] will come to them, utterly stun them, with no ability to avert, nor are they given respite." [ Q 21:40]

So Judgement day will see the vindication of truth, but also ultimate justice.

Footnotes
[1] The Arabic text is  text-align: right;">دجالون كذبون قريب من ثلاثين كلهم يزعم انه رسول الله


 [2];There has been a wealth of publications made on this subject, approaching it from different angles. Among the more mature treatments of this, one can refer to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, or even Black Lies, White Lies (1995, New York) by Tony Brown.

 [3] Christian history is replete with Messianic movements which have, at one point in their history, predicted Judgement day and the date of the return of Christ. In fact, a great many of the demoninations which currently exist trace their origin to such trends. American Christianity is particularly prone to these trends, and an entire industry exists in which figures of seemingly dubious intentions and questionable scholarship essentially cash in on these predictions. One such figure who clearly takes advantage of all this in order to gain political power is John Hagee, a southern mega-pastor. One of his publications which uses Biblical themes to support the Israeli policies is CAN AMERICA SURVIVE? 10 PROPHETIC SIGNS THAT WE ARE THE TERMINAL GENERATION [2010, New York]. The return of Christ is deemed contingent upon Christian support of Israel. If Israel does not exist, Christ cannot return. This is the essence of his argument.

[4] One interesting article on this is "Trying to force the Rapture"http://www.rense.com/general67/rap.htm.

 [5] Ribaa is a hotly contested issue within Muslim scholarship. Modern Muslim thought seems to equate it with interest in its totality, loans with usurious rates, or something else entirely. It is worth noting here that Ribaa has the meaning of theft. Our point is that Ribaa can encompass all of the above mentioned examples as well as economic systems/philosophies which are destroying lives and land. It is worth noting that Ribaa can involve individuals as well, and that the Qur'an has taken the position that it is an immoral increase of wealth. The Qur'an seeks to touch the hearts and minds of goodly people to totally give up engaging in Ribaa.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Exploring our age in light of Islamic texts: Friday Khutbah

[Note: The following is an edited version of Khutbah delivered 4/7/17 at Toledo Masjid Al-Islam. The opening Hamd has been omitted, as well as other comments made. It should also be noted here that this Khutbah serves as an introduction to an upcoming lecture called 'Day of Judgement: Lessons from the Qur'an and Sunnah".]

We have indicators in the Islamic primary texts as to the indicators of the approach of Judgement Day. One of the Prophetic narrations [reported by Aby Hurayrah and found in Tirmidhee's collection] has it that those indicators include (1) The man will obey his wife  [literally 'his woman'] و اطاع الرجل امراته   

2] Disregard his mother. (3) Closest to his friend (4) Yet the most distant from his father [Aqsaa Abaahu]. (5) And [the trend of the ] emergence of loud talking in the mosques [places of worship] (Ft.1)

We are emphasising these five items as found in the hadeeth because they show the breakdown of the natural family structure, a situation we are seeing in today's world in the name of the follies of youth and "freedom". 

This does not absolve that there are parents out there who have been horrible to their children or children who have been horrible with their families, however we are simply relating the hadeeth here without fault-finding, putting all of the pieces together. We are looking at the Prophet's words with the hope of finding guidance. 

We should learn from this hadeeth that we have to strengthen our family ties, even if the famiy is Non Muslim or Non Practicing as Muslims! If Parents have made severe mistakes in their treatment of their children, then it becomes incumbent on them to find a way to repair the damage!

The last item mentioned in the narration tells us that loud voices would be heard or emenating from the mosques. THIS shows us that the places of worship have, in the age closest to Qiyaamah, become little more than social clubs, in which people have forgotten the solemn nature of the mosque. The Mosque [Masjid], the house of Allah, particularly the prayer area (musalla) is for prayer, reflection, study, reading the Qur'an, not for gossip!

I find it interesting that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم placed these five items together. In short, we are called upon to strengthen, to have proper ties, to Allah and to our families [see Qur'an 4:1]. Such ties are necessary if we are to survive and to be sane in the age which is seemigly close to Judgement day. 

Prophet Muhammad is misrepresented in the age near to Judgement Day

Another hadeeth, found in Saheeh Muslim, tells us "The lying decievers will come at you with 'ahadeeth' which neither you nor your ancestors have heard of..." 
ان دجالون كذبون ياتونكم من الاحاديث بمالم تسمعوا انتم ولا اباوكم

THIS informs us that the Muslims will be the victims of great decievers, coming at us with deliberate misrepresentations of the final Prophet.

The Lying Dajjals [Dajjaloon Kadhdhaboon] cannot do that with the Qur'an, because the Qur'an has been protected by God [ see Q 15:9]. This is not only from a faith-based perspective, but from a physical and historical realistic perspective. Since the decievers cannot do that with the Quranic text, which is accessible and very well known, they target hadeeth, which is not as  widely known (ft.2).

This has happened both literally and figuratively. People quote 'hadeeth' or make assertions that portray Prophet Muhammad as stern, fanatical, harsh and rigid. The Prophet ends up being extremly misrepresented. 

Our best weapon against the lying decievers is the Qur'an itself. The evidence for this is that we have atleast two narrations [Muslim and Abu Dawud] that speak of texts from Soorah Al Kahf [chapter 18 of the Qur'an] as protection from Dajjal(ft.3). We read in that Soorah that God deserves praise for not allowing any deviation to be placed within the Quranic scripture [Q 18:1]. So we have to make time to read it, to study it, to memorize it, use its text in our prayers but most importantly to live by it. The Qur'an is not a book for the dead, rather it is a book for the living! 


The hearts of those firmly grounded in the Book of Allah will not have signifigant influence from the deceptions of the decievers [Dajjaloon].

Concluding thoughts

Constant introspection, examining our family ties and our ties with God and with God's revelation is the only way to go in order to find guidance. Complacency will only become the doorway for misguidance. We want to be open to truth. So be regular in worship, in supplication [du'aa] and keep in mind the Prophet's supplication; " O Allah, show us truth as truth, and give us the ability to follow it. Show us Baatil as Baatil, and give us the ability to abstain therefrom."

We should also pray from protection from the 'fitnah' of the deceiver. It does not matter if 'Fitnah' is translated as 'trial' or 'test' or 'tribulation'. We don't want any of it!

Rather, we are to desire guidance for ourselves and our families, not to be deluded.


Footnotes

(1) In Arabic the word for Mosque [Masjid] literally means "place of prostration". It is on a pattern indicating the a noun of place and time ( Ism Zamaan wa Makaan]. We have explained 'masjid' here to include even a broader possibility, and that is that all places of worship, regardless of religious affiliation, in the age nearest to Judgement day, would become nothing more than social clubs in which authentic searching for spirituality would be absent. This writer has in mind Qur'an 22:40 which contains recognition [even though the Qur'an obviously refutes some religious ideas] that places such as monasteries, Churches and Synagogues function as places wherein the congregants are seeking out God.

(2) The evidence for this assertion is that the Qur'an has been widely memorized and acted upon even by lay Muslims throughout history. The science of hadeeth ['Ilm ul hadeeth] is very complex and is full of scholarly disagreements on criterion for judging the authenticity of this or that narration, not to mention the chain of transmission [Sanad]. So while most Muslims have the Qur'an, only the scholarly class have in their personal libraries the many volumes of hadeeth. With the emergence of the internet, all of the traditions have been recorded by many websites and made available, however that does not mean it would be as understood and seen correctly as the Qur'an has. It is the opinion of this author that the scholarly class spend their time in deep research into the sciences of hadeeth, that lay Muslims have in their own libraries and in their hearts Prophetic sayings as found in books such as Riyadhus Saaliheen or Forty Hadeeth, statements that are inspirational and push us towards goodly relations with God and neighbor etc, and that the Qur'an remains the primary source for  religious truths.

(3) I see these narrations as indicative of not necessarily the last ten or the first ten verses of Soorah Al-Kahf as serving as protection from Dajjal. but rather the entire Soorah itself. In the Soorah, we find a number of accounts and morals that provide-if internalized, a proper respect for Allah, faith in Allah, the true state of humanity, and much more. The stories of Moses and the teacher [known as Khidhr], the believers who escape persecution by going to the cave, the parable of the believer and the disbeliever, are among the highlights of the Soorah. In general, the overall message of the Qur'an itself provides both personal and communal protection from the forces of deception. This subject cannot be fully explained adequately in a footnote, nonetheless we hope this provides a desire to study and consider the Qur'an itself, with emphasis on Soorah Al Kahf.