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,


[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.

[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"

 [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.