By Imam Murtada Gusau
In The Name Of Allah, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate
Alhamdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our wrongdoings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.
I bear witness that there is no (true) God except Allah – alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His ‘abd (servant) and Messenger.
“O you who have believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.” (Al-Imran, 3:104)
“O people! Revere your Lord who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another, and (cherish the ties of) the wombs, indeed, Allah is ever-watchful over you.” (An-Nisaa’, 4:1)
“O you who have believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger have certainly achieved a great victory.” (Al-Ahzaab, 33:70-71)
Indeed, the best speech is Allah’s Book and the best guidance is Muhammad’s (SAW) guidance. The worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovation is an act of misguidance leading to the fire.
Servants of Allah!
The signs and portents of the Hour are part of the eschatological knowledge of revelation concerned with the events leading up to the Day of Judgment. It is one of the more difficult bodies of revealed knowledge to understand, and Muslims might fall into extremism if they do not understand the purposes and principles of interpreting such revelations.
Every Muslim needs to understand that we know very, very little about the events leading up to the end of time. Not even the Prophet himself, or any prophet, knows when the Hour will occur.
Allah the Most High said:
“People ask you concerning the Hour. Say: Knowledge of it is only with Allah.” (Surah Al-Ahzaab, 33:63)
And Allah the Almighty said:
“Verily, Allah alone has knowledge of the Hour.” (Surah Luqman, 31:34)
In a famous Hadith, the Angel Gabriel asked the Prophet when the Hour will begin, to which the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, replied:
“The one being asked does not know more than who is asking.” (See Sahih Bukhari, 50)
Hence, to claim any such specific knowledge about when the Hour will occur is clear misguidance and injustice, tantamount to inventing lies about Allah. We believe in general that the events the Prophet told us about will occur, although we cannot know exactly when they will happen since their dates are not mentioned in any authentic Hadith.
Imam Al-Qurtubi writes:
“What is befitting to say about this issue is that what is reported from the Prophet of tribulations and events will come to pass, but specifying a time or a year for them would require a decisively authentic text with no room for doubt.” (See al-Tadhkirah bi-Ahwal al-Mauta… 1/711)
The verses and Hadiths that speak about the signs preceding the Day of Judgment are a specialized field of study in Islamic creed. Scholars who study these issues need to be grounded in knowledge, wisdom, and a sound understanding of Islamic principles. Lay people who venture into this field without its requisite learning come up with strange and outrageous theories that misguide the Muslim public.
Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalany writes:
“If someone speaks about matters besides their specialty, then they will come up with many strange things.” (See Fath al-Bari, 1676)
Brothers and Sisters!
The reason why the Prophet informed us about the portents, events, and tribulations of the Hour was not for us to attempt to predict their occurrence or devise theories, but rather to encourage us to perform good deeds before such disasters strike. We ought to be grateful for times of peace and prosperity, making the most of them as we know for certain that these times will not last forever.
Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Hasten to perform good deeds before six events: the False Messiah, the smoke, the beast from the earth, the rising of the sun from the west, and the general turmoil of the masses and individuals.” (See Sahih Muslim, 2947)
In another narration, the Prophet said:
“Hasten to perform good deeds before a tribulation which will be like the dark of the night, in which a man will be a believer in the morning and an unbeliever in the evening, or he will be a believer in the evening and an unbeliever in the morning. He would sell his religion and faith for some goods in the world.” (See: Sahih Muslim, 118)
And in another narration, the Prophet said:
Hasten to perform good deeds before seven events: Are you waiting for poverty which makes you forget? Or wealth which burdens you? or debilitating disease or senility? Or an unexpected death or the False Messiah? Or is it evil in the unseen you are waiting for, or the Hour itself? The Hour will be bitter and terrible.” (See Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 2306)
Al-Qadi Iyad comments on these Hadiths, saying:
“The Prophet commanded them to hasten to perform good deeds before the appearance of these signs, for when they appear they will be stunned and distracted from performing good deeds, or they might lose the opportunity to repent and have their deeds accepted.” (See: Mirqat al-Mafatih, 5465)
My respected people!
If people are starving or fearful for their survival, it becomes incredibly difficult for them to worship in tranquility and to seek higher intellectual and spiritual pursuits. We have to take advantage of our well-being to strengthen our faith such that when the tribulations come, our faith will be able to carry us through. And if we see the signs happening around us, this is only a reminder that the end is eventually coming and therefore we must repent before it is too late.
Imam Al-Qurtubi writes:
“The wisdom in the signs preceding the Hour is to inform people about them, to awaken them from their negligence, and to encourage them to take precaution with repentance and renewed devotion, such that they will not be caught off guard and be unable to make up for their shortcomings.” (See: al-Tadhkirah bi-Ahwal…, 3/1217)
And ibn Hajar writes:
“The wisdom in the signs preceding the Hour is that it will alert the heedless and encourage them to repent and prepare.” (See: Fath al-Bari, 11/350)
And Al-A’lai writes:
“The purpose of these reports is to encourage initiative in performing good deeds before our end and to make the most of our time before disaster strikes.” (See: Fayd al-Qadir, 3/195)
The Prophet would not answer people who asked him details about the Hour. Instead, he would encourage them to perform good deeds. In one incident, a man came to the Prophet and asked him when the Hour would occur, to which the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, replied:
“What have you prepared for it?” (See Sahih Bukhari, 3435)
These purposes we have to bear in mind before reading eschatological revelations, lest we fall into error and sin. Nothing we do can speed up or slow down the coming of these tribulations, nor do we have the right to claim special knowledge about such events.
Servants of Allah!
In our times, one of the most abused and a misunderstood revelation is the inevitable advent of the False Messiah or Anti-Christ (i.e. ad-dajjal). The False Messiah will be a dictator who causes a major tribulation and period of persecution on earth, misleading people with false miracles and wonders and claiming to be Allah Himself.
The Prophet narrated much about the False Messiah, some of it vague and in metaphorical language, and even more has been narrated that cannot be authenticated. These Hadiths like many others regarding the signs of the Hour are open to a variety of possible interpretations. Muslims who claim to know the “true” interpretations of these signs are merely speculating. The true details of these matters will only be known with certainty at the time they come to pass.
For this reason, the Prophet worried that Muslims would be confused by the long and ambiguous traditions discussing the False Messiah. In order to simplify these details for us, the Prophet told us that all we need to really know is that Allah does not have one eye.
Ubadah ibn As-Samit reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Verily, I have told you so much about the False Messiah that I am afraid you will not understand. Verily, the False Messiah is a short man, pigeon toed, curly haired, with one eye that is sightless, neither protruding nor sunken. If you are confused about him, then know that your Lord does not have one eye.” (See Sunan Abu Dawud, 4320)
By knowing this one fact and having a sound understanding of our faith in general, we will be able to recognize the False Messiah when he arrives without need to know everything that has been related about him. Every sincere Muslim will be able to recognize that he will be the leader of unbelief and idolatry.
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“There was no Prophet except that he warned his people of the one-eyed liar. Verily, he is blind in one eye and your Lord is not blind in one eye. He will have written across his forehead the word of unbelief.” (See Sahih Muslim, 2933)
Some scholars believe the False Messiah will literally have unbelief (Kufr) written on his forehead, while others believe it will be a miracle bestowed upon true believers, and yet others believe that their knowledge of Islam will grant them insight into the identity of the False Messiah. The truth is that we do not know exactly how this sign will manifest, but we do know for sure that the believers will recognize it if and when they see it.
As this example demonstrates, the signs preceding the Hour by their nature are characterized by the ambiguity of their details. In the same way we interpret the attributes of Allah, we must apply the principle of not interpreting how (bi la takyif) these signs will really be. We believe in the signs, but are uncertain of their details. The specific details themselves are not as important as the purpose of hastening to good deeds and strengthening our faith in preparation for hard times. It simply is not possible and was never meant for the believers to extract from these Hadiths anything more than this.
We have no control over the signs of the Hour, neither to bring them about nor repel them. It is a waste of time preoccupies ourselves with anything other than preparing ourselves, our faith, our knowledge, and our character for the tribulations ahead. Delving too much into their details and pursuing innumerable baseless conspiracy theories on the internet that attempt to incorporate them only distracts us from the more important matters we must attend to here and now.
Ja’afar As-Sadiq, May Allah have mercy on him, said:
“Allah the Exalted has decreed for us some things and demands from us some things. What he has decreed for us has been kept hidden from us, and what he wants from us has been made plain to us. What is the matter with us that we busy ourselves with what is decreed for us at the expense of what is demanded from us?” (See al-Milal wal-Nihal, 1/165)
Servants of Allah!
To conclude, know that true knowledge of the Hour belongs to Allah alone and not anyone else. The Prophet informed us of some of its signs to encourage us to perform good deeds, repents, and be grateful for periods of prosperity. The details of the signs are often vague and open to interpretation, making it impossible for anyone to claim he or she knows with certainty how these things will happen. We need to fulfill the purpose of these Hadiths by carrying on as Allah has commanded us, rather than getting bogged down in useless speculation and, at worst, fictitious claims and conspiracies about the Unseen.
O Allah! Make us among those who earn your forgiveness and acquire safety from the Hell fire, Ameen.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Prayers, Peace and Mercy are upon our beloved Master Muhammad, the Son of Abdullah (SAW), his family and his Companions. And success comes from Allah, the Lord of all that exist, and He the Most High knows best.
This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Jumaada al-awwal 10, 1437 AH (February 19, 2016), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Juma’at Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosque, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: +23480 3828 9761.