Copyright © 1996 by M. Anderson. All rights reserved.
The end of the world has occupied the minds of many people. Countless pens have run wild trying to construct the scenario of the last days. This topic not only fascinates twentieth century man; it also fascinated the man of the sixth century. Evidence of this interest is found in the Hadith.
Throughout the Hadith two personalities figure prominently: the Dajjal or false Christ, the imposter and the enemy of God; and Jesus, the Word of God, the Spirit of God, the true Christ. Although the Hadith mentions numerous conditions and signs for the Hour of Doom, the Qur'an singles out Jesus as 'the knowledge of the Hour', or his appearing as its main sign and condition.
He [Jesus] is knowledge of the Hour.
Of this verse the commentary Galalayn said, 'He [Jesus] is the knowledge of the Hour. This Last Hour is known by his appearing'. Zamakhshary and Baidawi said, 'He is the sign or mark of the Hour, that is, the Last Hour; or he is a condition and a requirement for its happening or occurrence'.
In this first Part we will concentrate on the portions of the Hadith that deal with the role of Jesus before the Hour of Doom. This work, however, does not take place in a vacuum, so we will also review the religious, spiritual and social conditions of the world which, according to the Hadith, will be in evidence just before his appearing. This is not an attempt to set out a countdown to the Last Hour, but to discover the place Jesus held in the minds and the hearts of the first generations of Islam.
We will not discuss the relative authenticity of these Hadiths; it is enough that they have been transmitted and treasured by many trusted and faithful men. Therein lies their great significance. However, we might add a word at the outset for those who doubt the reality of the existence of the Dajjal (the false christ) and the role of Jesus before the Last Hour. To those we quote the words of the eminent scholar Al-Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn Al-'Arabi (543H), who said:
These Hadiths in which the Dajjal is mentioned by 'Muslim' [in Sahih Muslim] and others are proof to the followers of the Truth of the reality of his existence, and that he is a particular person by whom God will afflict His servants. God will enable the Dajjal to manifest some of God's omnipotent powers, such as raising the man which he kills, the appearing of the 'world's blossom and fertility' with him, his 'Paradise and Hell' and his 'two rivers', the following of the earth's treasures behind him, his command to the sky to rain and the earth to sprout ... This is the belief of the orthodox Muslims ('Ahl 'As-sunah) and all the Hadith transmitters and jurisprudence of Islam (fuqaha').
Of the coming of Jesus he also said:
The coming of Jesus, peace be upon him, and his killing of the Dajjal is true and confirmed by the people of Sunna in the sound Hadith. There is nothing in logic or the revelation that denies it. So it must be upheld.
Upon this testimony we shall proceed. Our first task is to survey the relevant Hadiths with a minimum of comments. This will occupy the rest of this chapter. We shall then take a closer look at what they tell us concerning the early Muslims' beliefs about the reappearance of Jesus.
Out of my nation there will come people who will deny God and the Qur'an without being aware that they have become infidels ... the believer's joy at that time is meagre and his distress is great ... not long after the false Christ appears. One of the signs of the coming of the Hour is that fifty people will pray but no one's prayer will be accepted. There will come a time when he who is steadfast in the faith will be like a man who is clutching a live coal.
Ali was once asked, 'O prince of the faithful, when will the false Christ come?' He then began to describe the condition of the world before the coming of the false Christ and the reappearing of Jesus:
Prayers will be dead, faithfulness will be lost, government will be weak, injustice will be regarded more than justice, princes will be wicked and their ministers will be traitors ... the readers of the Qur'an will become corrupt ... adultery and wine will be everywhere ... people will decorate the mosques and Masahif ... people will put on sheep's clothing over wolves' hearts, people will have bitter hearts and sweet tongues ...' Then he was asked, `O prince of the faithful, who is the false Christ?' Ali said, 'He is Safy Ibn-Sayyad' (a person suspected of being the Dajjal). 'The false Christ will call: "Come to me, my friends, Come to me, my friends ... I am the one who created well, I am the able guide, and I am your most high God." Ali then added, 'Liar is the enemy of God.' Whatever God created He will put an end to it, and this religion [Islam] will have been established. Then it will decrease, and the sign of this is that blood relations will be severed, money will be obtained by cheating, innocent blood will be shed.
The Hour of Doom will not come until the Qur'an returns to where it came from. The Qur'an will be lifted up in one night so that not one verse will be left in anybody's Mushaf (ie. written copy of the Qur'an). 'The first thing that will be lost from your religion is faithfulness, and the last thing that will remain is prayer; although some will pray they will have no faith. This Qur'an which is amongst the most eminent of you will suddenly disappear and be lifted up.' They then said, 'How can that be, since God has established it in our hearts and it is written in our Masahif (plural of Mushaf)?' He answered, 'It will be lifted up in one night and will disappear, all that is in your hearts and in your books'. Then Abd-Allah recited, '... if we willed, we could take away that which we have revealed to you' (The Qur'an 17: 86).
Another Hadith states:
The Hour of Doom will not come until the Book of God [the Qur'an] be considered a disgrace, and Islam becomes like a stranger ... ill-will and disputations will multiply ... the guilty will be trusted, and the honest will be suspected ... murder will increase ... injustice, envy, malice and selfishness will multiply ... rain will increase but the fruit of the earth will decrease. Knowledge will be rare, ignorance will overflow ... abominations will be open and a public thing ... and there shall be false preachers who will change the truth for the benefit of the wicked people of my nation. The Hour of Doom will not come until the Qur'an returns to where it came from. There will be an echo like that of a beehive, then the Majestic and Powerful Lord will say, 'What is the matter?' So the Qur'an will say, 'From you I have come and to you I return, I am being read but no one acts by me.' At that time the Qur'an will be lifted up. Islam will be fade like the colour of a garment ... and the Book of God will be lifted up in one night so that not one verse of it will remain on earth. And the old and aged of some remaining groups will say, 'We heard "there is no God but Allah (la-Elaha-Illa-Allah)" from our forefathers, so we say it'.
Before you, the People of the Book were divided into seventy-two groups, but the people of this religion [Islam] will be divided into seventy-three groups. The strongholds of Islam will be knocked down, one after the other, and then there will come many deceiving guides. Faith will crawl back to the Madina like a snake crawls back to its hole. By Him who holds my soul in His hand, people will leave their religion in throngs just as they entered it in throngs. Islam will crawl back to the land of Hejaz like a snake crawls back to its hole, or like a herd of wild goats huddling on top of a mountain ... Islam began a stranger and will return a stranger, blessed are the strangers who will restore what people ruined. There will come a generation which will recite the Qur'an but it will not go beyond their collar bones. Whenever a horn [a prominent person] appears, it will be cut off. Then the false Christ will appear amongst them.
There has never been and will not be temptation (or sedition) greater than the temptation of the false Christ till the Hour of Doom. Before the appearing of the false Christ, nothing will the believer long for and love more than death. Between the creation of Adam and the Hour of Doom there is nothing more dangerous than the false Christ. Narrated `Aisha, 'I heard Allah's Apostle in his prayer seeking refuge with Allah from the affliction of Ad-Dajjal [the false Christ]'. On the authority of Abi Harierah, the Prophet used to say, 'O God, I take refuge in you from the torment of the grave and the torment of Hell ... and the trial of the false Christ.' On the authority of Hazifah it is reported that 'when the false Christ appears even those in their graves will believe in him.' He (the Dajjal) would appear on the way between Syria and Iraq and would spread mischief right and left. ... He would come to the people and invite them (to a wrong religion) and they would affirm their faith in him and respond to him. He would then give command to the sky and there would be rainfall upon the earth and it would grow crops. Then in the evening their pasturing animals would come to them with their humps very high and their udders full of milk and their flanks stretched. He would then come to another people and invite them. But they would reject him and he would go away from them and there would be drought for them and nothing would be left with them in the form of wealth. He would then walk through the waste land and say to it; Bring forth your treasures, and the treasures would come out and collect (themselves) before him like a swarm of bees. He would then call a person brimming with youth and strike him with the sword and cut him into two pieces and (make these pieces lie at a distance which is generally) between the archer and his target. He would then call (that young man) and he will come forward laughing with his face gleaming (with happiness). It would be at this very time that Allah would send Christ, Son of Mary, and he will descend at the white minaret in the eastern side of Damascus wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two angels. When he would lower his head, there would fall beads of perspiration from it, and when he would raise it up, beads like pearl would scatter from it. Every non-believer who would smell the odour of himself would die and his breath would reach as far as he would be able to see. He would then search for him (the Dajjal) until he would catch hold of him at the gate of Ludd and would kill him. Then a people whom Allah had protected would come to Jesus Son of Mary, and he would wipe their faces and would inform them of their ranks in Paradise. The Dajjal is coming ... he will heal the blind and the leper and bring to life the dead. He will say to the people, 'I am your God'. If a person would say to him, 'You are my God' then he is deceived. With the Dajjal there will be two mountains. One mountain will have trees, fruits and water, the other mountain will have smoke and fire. [About the two mountains] he will say, 'This one is Paradise, and the other one is Hell-fire'. The tribulation of the Dajjal is severe, for God will send the devils from the earth's east and west and they will say to him [the Dajjal], 'We are your helpers and under your command'. He will then say to them, 'Hurry and tell people that I am their God and that I have come to them with my Paradise and my Hell'. Allah is not one-eyed and behold that Dajjal is blind of the right eye and his eye would be like a floating grape. Abdullah Ibn 'Umar told that Allah's Messenger stood up amongst the people and lauded Allah as He deserved, then he made a mention of the Dajjal and said: 'I warn you of him and there is no prophet who has not warned his people against the Dajjal. Even Noah warned (against him) but I am going to tell you a thing which no prophet told his people. You must know that he (the Dajjal) is one-eyed and Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, is not one-eyed. ... There would be written between his two eyes (the word) kafir (infidel) and every one who would resent his deeds would be able to read it or every Muslim would be about to read it.'
By God, Jesus Son of Mary will descend to judge in justice. The Hour will not take place until Jesus Son of Mary descends a righteous judge and a just leader [Imam]. Jesus Son of Mary will descend a just judge and leader ... He will come to my grave and salute me and I will answer him back. By Him who keeps my soul in His hand, Jesus Son of Mary is about to descend amongst you a righteous judge and a just leader. No one has power or authority over the false Christ except Jesus Son of Mary. God will kill the false Christ ... by the hands of Jesus Son of Mary.
Suyuti uses a Hadith in which the false Christ deceives the masses by his miracles. Suyuti then added:
The Dajjal will proceed towards Bait al-Maqdes and climb Mount Afiq. While the Muslims are preparing their arrows to fight him, the shadow of the false Christ falls on them. Their most powerful men begin to kneel down. Others sit down from hunger, while others faint. At that time they hear a voice crying, 'Your rescue has come to you!' The Muslims then will say, 'This is the voice of a well-nourished man'. Then the earth will shine with the light of its Lord and Jesus Son of Mary will descend ... Jesus will kill the false Christ and none of his followers will remain in hiding behind any thing, but that thing will cry and speak up, saying, 'Behind me is a follower of the false Christ!' ... people will live for forty years. No one will die, no one will get sick. Jesus Son of Mary is coming again and when the false Christ sees him, he will melt like wax melts. And so Jesus will kill the false Christ. The false Christ will not leave a place on earth, but subject it and tread upon it by foot, except Mecca and Madina. Wherever he attempts to enter, the angels will meet him with swords ... he will come to the red hills and the city will tremble three times ... that day will be called the day of salvation. ... then he was asked, 'O Prophet of God! Where are the Arabs in that day?' He said, 'The Arabs on that day are few ... and when Jesus looks at the false Christ he will dissolve like salt dissolves in water and runs to escape ... but Jesus will kill him'. The false Christ ... has two rivers. One is glowing fire and one is white water ... if any of you should meet him, let him close his eyes and drink from the river of fire; it is cool water. But beware of the other river! It is deception ... he will come and kill a third of the Muslims and defeat another third, and one third will remain. The believers will say to each other ... 'Pray until dawn breaks and hasten in your prayer. Then go to meet your enemy'. And when they rose to pray, Jesus Son of Mary descended before them and led them in prayer. And when he finished he said, 'Get out from between me and the enemy of God.' Then the false Christ will dissolve ...
Omar once asked permission from the Prophet Mohammad to kill someone called Al-Saiad (suspecting him to be the false Christ). But Mohammad said,
Leave him alone, for if he is the one we fear, you will not be able to kill him.
Elsewhere Mohammad said,
If he is the one then you are not his match, but his match is Jesus Son of Mary. Son of Mary will descend a just judge. He will break the cross and kill the pig ... then enmity, hatred and envy will disappear and He will call people to take money but no one will accept it. It is reported of Mohammad that he said, 'God will not disappoint a nation. I am its first and Jesus is its Last.' There is no prophet or messenger between me [Mohammad] and Jesus, except that Jesus will supersede me in my nation after me. O people! I am but a human being. I remind you of God . . . the Hour of Doom will not come until thirty liars appear. Their last will be the false Christ who will claim he is God ... Jesus Son of Mary will come and God will destroy the false Christ ... then after that seizure, seizure, that is, death [ie. it is too late for anyone to repent]. ... and as they were being busy distributing the spoils of war having hung their swords by the olive trees, Satan cried to them saying: 'The Dajjal has taken your place among your families.' So they came out, and that was false. And when they came to Syria, he went out. And while they were preparing for the battle, and arranging the ranks, the time of prayer came. Then Jesus Son of Mary will descend and will lead them in prayer. And when the enemy of God [the Dajjal] will see him (Jesus), he will dissolve just as salt dissolves in water... But God will kill him [the Dajjal] by his [Jesus'] hands. And he will show them his [the Dajjal's] blood in his [Jesus'] lance.
Altough there is a Hadith that speaks of Jesus' death and burial after his reappearing, the overall thrust of the Hadiths indicates the opposite as will be seen in this booklet. (See also part four of this series).
'O Prophet of Allah! What will be after the Dajjal?' He said, 'Jesus Son of Mary.' I then asked, 'What will be after Jesus Son of Mary?' He said, 'If a man had a foal, he would not be able to ride on its back until the Hour of Doom would take place'.
Jesus will descend on Mount Afiq as a guiding leader and a just judge ... He will kill the false Christ ... and establish peace ... so that if a man meets a lion, the lion will not be disturbed, and if a man takes hold of a serpent it will not harm him. The earth will produce its plants as in the days of Adam. The people of the earth will believe in Him and so there will be only one religion. How happy is living after the coming of Christ Jesus! The heaven will be permitted to rain and the earth to produce, even if you plant the seeds on a smooth stone. Man will pass by the lion and not get harmed; he will tread on the serpent and not get hurt ... there shall be no hatred or animosity. Jesus Son of Mary will be the just ruler and a righteous leader over my nation ... enmity and hatred will disappear ... everything that has a sting will lose its sting, so that a child will handle a snake without getting hurt and the lion without getting harmed. The wolf will be like a dog amongst the sheep, and the whole earth will be filled with peace as a vessel becomes filled with water. War will cease, the earth will be like a silver plate. Its plants will yield as in the days of Adam so that a group of people will gather around a bunch of grapes and be filled, or around a pomegranate and satisfy their hunger. The ox will be worth such and such and the horse will be worth a few Drachmas. The people then said, 'O Prophet of God, what makes the horse so cheap?' He said, 'It is because it will never be used for war.' They asked again, 'And what makes the ox dear?' He answered, '... because the whole earth will be ploughed ...' Son of Mary will appear ... placing his hands on the wings of two angels ... when he lowers his head it will trickle droplets of water and when he lifts his head up, precious stones like pearls will roll from his head. Upon him the Shechina [or, he walks upon the Shechina], and the earth will shrivel before him. He will kill the false Christ ... and the Christians will say, 'This is the false Christ whom we warned people against and this is the end of the world'. And he who touches Jesus Son of Mary will become amongst the most exalted of the people. And touching Jesus will be highly regarded. He will wipe away [tears or sadness?] from people's faces [or, will anoint people's faces], and will tell them of their degrees in Paradise.
When Jesus reappears, true worship will be greater than anything else in the world.
Son of Mary will descend a just judge and leader ... money will increase to the extent that no one will want it, and the one prostration for worship will be far greater than the world and all that is in it! The mosques will tilt for the appearing of Jesus the Christ, for he will come again ... and those who reach the time of his coming will believe on him. Jesus Son of Mary will come down, He will pray the prayers and gather the multitudes and increase righteousness (Al-Halal). The Christ Son of Mary will appear before the Resurrection Day. Let the people be richly satisfied by him, and have no need of anyone else.
In the next chapters we will explore the significance of the above Hadiths in the shaping of the image Jesus the Christ had in the heart of the early Muslims.
If you would like to ask further questions, obtain a hard copy of this series of booklets or for any other reason you are welcome to contact M. Anderson via email.