Islamic eschatology

Islamic eschatology is the aspect of Islamic beliefs, predictions and narratives about the end of the natural world, the dramatic events signifying its approach, and the afterlife of the resurrection of the dead, to be judged by God for their life on earth (ḥisbā), and sent to their eternal reward in either heaven or hell.[1][2][3]

Islamic teaching that "at some "undetermined time in the future" there will be horrible "tribulation", a "messianic figure" who returns to earth to restore order, followed by the destruction of the world, the resurrection of the dead, and Day of Judgement by "God is similar to the other Abrahamic religions.[1][2][3]

In Islam the Great Tribulation is described in the ḥadīth literature and commentaries of various medieval Muslim scholars, including al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, and Muhammad al-Bukhari, among others.[1][4] These events are portents described as "minor signs" and "major signs". During this period, terrible corruption and chaos would rule the Earth. The Al-Masih ad-Dajjal (an eschatological figure similar to the Antichrist in Christianity), will appear, making things worse.[5]

Islamic apocalyptic literature describing Armageddon (or fitna) is often known as Al-Malhama Al-Kubra (The Great Epic), or Ghaybah (Occultation) then the Mahdi (a righteous man descended from the Islamic prophet Muhammad), assisted by the prophet Jesus (ʿĪsā) who will return to Earth, will defeat the Dajjal and establish a period of peace, when people will live according to religious values,[3][6] liberating the world from cruelty and injustice.[5] This will be followed by the end of the world and then the Day of Judgement—referred to in the Quran as the Day of Reckoning, the Last Day, and the Hour (al-Sā'ah).[2]

A 2012 poll of Muslims in several Muslim-majority countries (Lebanon, Turkey, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) found that half or more respondents expected the Mahdi (the final redeemer according to Islam) to return during their lifetime.[7]

Sources for Islamic eschatology

Events in Islamic eschatology based on Sunan Abu Dawood, "Battles" (Kitab Al-Malahim).[8]
Eschatological timeline of "minor" and "major" signs preceding the Day of Judgment

Islamic sacred scriptures have a plethora of content on the Last Judgment and the tribulation associated with it. The sources which are primarily referred to when exploring the topic of Islamic eschatology are the Quran itself, and ḥadīth literature or sunnah (accounts of the sayings and living habits attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad during his lifetime).[9] Muslims believe that the Quran serves as a reminder of Allah's intentions for humanity and as a warning for those who do not abide by him.[10] The ḥadīth are often referred to give a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of the Quran and are generally viewed as being second in authority to the Quran, as the Quran is generally understood to be the verbatim word of God in Islam.[11] The compilation of ḥadīth took place approximately two hundred years after the death of Muhammad.[12]

Concerning major figures of end times, the coming of the al-Mahdī and al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl and the second coming of ʿĪsā,[13] are mentioned in the hadith literature but not the Quran; reports about Sufyani are available in both Sunni and Shia Hadith.[14][15] Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog) are mentioned in two chapters of the Quran, Al Kahf and Al-Anbiya;

The Last Judgment and the tribulation have also been discussed in the commentaries of prominent ulama such as al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, and Muhammad al-Bukhari.[16][17] Scholarly discourse on eschatology and its themes often includes an exploration of hadith as they pertain to matters in the Quran, and serve as a source for clarification.[18]

The historian and the Qur'an commentator Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), was one of the most prominent scholars to elaborated a whole apocalyptic scenario with prophecies about the Mahdi, Jesus, and the Dajjal (the antichrist) during the end times.[19]

Signs of the end times

In Islam, there are a number of minor and major ('alāmāt al-sā'a) signs or portents of Judgement Day (ishārāt al-sāʿa) reported in various ḥadīth collections.[20][21] The Mahdi is said to be a link between the minor and major signs. In the ḥadīth literature, it is mentioned that minor signs will occur first, then the Mahdi will come and then the major signs. There is debate over whether they could occur concurrently or must be at different points in time.

Minor signs

The Minor or Lesser Signs are “moral, cultural, political, religious, and natural events designed to warn humanity that the end is near and to bring people into a state of repentance.”[22][23] According to one Salafi source, "For the most part", these signs will have occurred a long time before the Resurrection begins. Some of them have already happened – although they may be repeated; some of them are currently occurring; and some have not yet taken place but will.[24]

These signs tend to be so general that "it is possible to find indicators of them in any modern society (for example, crime, natural disaster, etc.)".[4]

  1. The coming of fitna (tribulations) and removal of khushoo (fearfulness of God, reverence of God, etc.)[note 1]
  2. A person passing by a grave might say to another the following: "I wish it were my abode."[note 2]
  3. The loss of honesty, as well as authority put in the hands of those who do not deserve it.[25]
  4. The loss of knowledge and the prevalence of religious ignorance.[note 3]
  5. Frequent, sudden, and unexpected deaths.[note 4]
  6. The killer will not know why he has killed, and the one killed will not know why he was killed.[note 5]
  7. Acceleration of time.[note 6]
  8. Fabrication of hadiths[note 7]
  9. Rejection of hadiths.[note 8]
  10. The spread of riba (usury, interest), zina (adultery, fornication, prostitution, rape, sodomy,[26] pedophilia and pederasty,[26][nb 1] homosexuality,[nb 2] incest,[nb 3] and bestiality), and the drinking of alcohol.[note 9]
  11. Widespread acceptance of music.[note 10]
  12. A young boy who lived in Muhammad's time won't be very old when the Hour comes.[27]
  13. Pride and competition in the decoration of mosques.[note 11]
  14. Women will increase in number and men will decrease in number so much so that fifty women will be looked after by one man. [note 12]
  15. Abundance of earthquakes.[note 13]
  16. Frequent occurrences of disgrace, distortion, public humiliation and defamation.[note 14]
  17. When people wish to die because of the severe trials and tribulations that they are suffering.[note 15]
  18. In a fight between Jews and Muslims, stones and trees would inform Muslims about Jews hiding behind them.[note 16]
  19. Nobody will live after 100 years.[28]
  20. When paying charity becomes a burden.[note 17]
  21. Nomads will compete in the construction of tall buildings.[note 18]
  22. Women will appear naked despite their being dressed.[note 19]
  23. People will seek knowledge from misguided and straying scholars.[note 20]
  24. Liars will be believed, honest people disbelieved, and faithful people called traitors.[note 21]
  25. The death of righteous, knowledgeable people.[note 22]
  26. The emergence of indecency (obscenity) and enmity among relatives and neighbours.[note 23]
  27. The rise of idolatry and polytheists within the Ummah.[note 24]
  28. The Euphrates will uncover a mountain of gold.[note 25]
  29. There will be 30 false prophets after Muhammad [note 26]
  30. A man from Qahtan appears, driving people with his stick [29]
  31. A man called Jahjah will occupy the throne [30]
  32. The land of the Arabs will return to being a land of rivers and fields.[note 27]
  33. People will increasingly earn money by unlawful (Haram) ways.[note 28]
  34. There will be much rain but little vegetation.[note 29]
  35. Evil people will be expelled from Medina.[note 30]
  36. Predators will speak to people, the tip of a man's whip and the straps on his sandal will speak to him, and his thigh will inform him of what occurred with his family after him.[note 31]
  37. Lightning and thunder will become more prevalent.[note 32]
  38. Islam will wear out as embroidery on a garment wears out, until no one will know what fasting, prayer, (pilgrimage) rites and charity are.[31]
  39. All Jews will accept Islam if 10 Jewish scholars convert to Islam.[32]
  40. Countries conquered by Muslims (Iraq, Syria, Egypt) will stop paying money and Muslims will return where they started [33]
  41. The buttocks of the women of the tribe of Daus move while going round Dhi-al-Khalasa (an idol similar to the Kaba) [34]
  42. There will be a special greeting for people of distinction.[note 33]
  43. Trade will become so widespread that a woman will help her husband in business.[note 34]
  44. No truly honest man will remain and no one will be trusted.[note 35]
  45. Only the worst people will be left; they will not know any good nor forbid any evil (i.e. No one will say there is no god but Allah).[note 36]
  46. People will worship Lat and Uzza (goddesses that were worshipped by pre-Islamic Arabs) [35]
  47. Luka bin Luka (meaning "the wickedest") will be the happiest person [36]
  48. Nations will soon call each other to attack Muslims.[37]
  49. There will be twelve caliphs. All of them from the Quraysh tribe.[38]
  50. Islamic knowledge will be passed on, but no one will follow it correctly.[note 37]
  51. 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.[note 38]
  52. Stinginess will become more widespread and honorable people will perish.[note 39]
  53. A man will obey his wife and disobey his mother, and treat his friend kindly while shunning his father.[note 40]
  54. There will be no more Khosrau and Caesar [39]
  55. Pilgrimage to Mekka (hajj) will be abandoned [40]
  56. Voices will be raised in the mosques.[note 41]
  57. Rain will destroy all dwellings except tents.[41]
  58. The leader of a people will be the worst of them.[note 42]
  59. The most honored man is the one whose evil the people are afraid of.[42]
  60. Much wine will be drunk.[note 43]
  61. Muslims shall fight against a nation who wear shoes made of hair and with faces like hammered shields, with red complexions and small eyes.[note 44]
  62. The Quraysh tribe will get extinct.[43]
  63. The emergence of the Sufyani within the Syria region.[note 45]
  64. The Romans will form a majority amongst people [44]
  65. The truce and joint Roman-Muslim campaign against a common enemy, followed by Al-Malhama Al-Kubra (Armageddon), a Roman vs. Muslim war.[note 46]
Other minor signs
  1. The Black Standard will come from Khorasan (see Hadith of black flags), nothing shall turn them back until it is planted in Jerusalem.[note 47]
  2. Mecca will be attacked and the Kaaba will be destroyed.[note 48]
  3. Dajjal nor plague will be able to enter Medina [45]
  4. Emergence of an army, from Yemen, that will make Islam dominant.[note 49][46]
  5. An Abyssinian having two small shanks who would destroy the House ol Allah [47]
  6. Swelling of crescents [48]
  7. An Arab king will die. There will be disagreement concerning succession. Then a man will emerge from Medina. He will hurry to Mecca, and the people of Mecca will come out to him and urge him and try to force him to accept the Bay'ah.[note 50]
  8. The sun would rise from West any day except Friday (It is the day when the world has begun to be over) [49]
  9. A first trumpet will sound, and all remaining humanity will die, followed by a period of forty years, at the end of which smoke will envelope the world for forty days
  10. The people of the West will continue to triumphantly follow the truth until the Hour is established.[50]
  11. Markets will approach / come close [51]
  12. The Qur'an will vanish in one night [52]
  13. Islam started as something strange and it would again revert (to its old position) of being strange just as it started, like serpent crawling back into its hole [53]
Other minor signs
  1. Sexual immorality appears among people to such an extent that they commit it openly, except that they will be afflicted by plagues and diseases unknown to their forefathers;
  2. People cheat in weights and measures (business, trades, etc.) and are stricken with famine, calamity, and oppression as a result;
  3. They withhold zakat money (charity) and hoard their wealth, and rain is withheld from the sky from them;
  4. They break their covenant with God and the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and God enables their enemies to overpower them and take some of what is in their hands;
  5. Men and women partake in sihr and shirk; they travel the world through attaching themselves to the jinn, causing mischief;
  6. Unless their leaders rule according to the Quran and seek all good from that which Allah has revealed, Allah will cause them to fight one another;[note 51]
  7. The conquest of Constantinople without weapons.[54]

However, these signs aforementioned are not all based on reliable hadiths and if one of them is based on a reliable hadith, it should not necessarily be treated as a commandment or a prohibition.[55]

Greater signs

Following the second period, the third will be marked by the ten major signs known as alamatu's-sa'ah al-kubra (the major signs of the end).[note 52] The Greater or Major Signs offer "more detail" in their accounts of the final days, but there is "considerable variation" in the different versions of these stories. A "few elements are consistent: Constantinople will be conquered by Muslims; the Antichrist will appear and travel to Jerusalem; a messianic figure (in some instances Jesus, and in some instances the Mahdi) will come to earth, kill the Antichrist, and convert the masses to Islam. The world’s non-Muslim territories will be conquered."[56] [nb 4]

The signs are as follows without any exact order:

  1. A huge black cloud of smoke (dukhan) will cover the earth.[note 53]
  2. Three sinkings of the earth [earthquakes],[24] [or landslides] [58] one in the east.[note 54] [note 55]
  3. One sinking of the earth [earthquake] in the west.[note 56] (
  4. One sinking of the earth [earthquake] in Arabia.[note 57]
  5. The coming of Dajjal, presuming himself as an apostle of God.[note 58] The false messiah—anti-Christ, Masih ad-Dajjal—shall appear with great powers as a one-eyed man with his right eye blind and deformed like a grape. Although believers will not be deceived, he will claim to be God, to hold the keys to heaven and hell, and will lead many astray.[59] In reality, his heaven is hell, and his hell is heaven. The Dajjal will be followed by seventy thousand Jews of Isfahan wearing Persian shawls.[note 59]
  6. The return of Isa (Jesus), from the fourth sky, to kill Dajjal.[60]
  7. Ya'jooj and Ma'jooj (Gog and Magog), a Japhetic tribe of vicious beings who 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. 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. God eventually will send disease and worms to wipe them out.[note 60][61]
  8. The sun will rise from the west.[62][63]
  9. The Dabbat al-Ard, or Beast of the Earth, will come out of the ground to talk to people.[note 61]

Al Dajjal

Al-Masih ad-Dajjal (Arabic: المسيح الدجّال, romanized: al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl, lit.'Deceitful Messiah',[13] is a false Messiah, sometimes described as the Islamic AntiChrist,[64] who will appear as the first of the "Greater Signs" of apocalypse. He will be preceded by a terrible drought and present himself as a savior to the starving masses, many of whom – Bedouins, weavers, magicians, and children of fornication, and especially Jews.[13][64]—will be taken in by his claims and join his ranks.[64] He will emerges from the east,[65] be blind in one eye with his other eye protruding,[66][67][68][64] (an indication that he has been given powers to achieve evil goals).[65] On his forehead[69] or between his eyes[70] are the letters k. f. r. (the root of Kafir,[64] i.e. unbeliever)[69] which every Muslim would be able to read."[71][72] Like ʿĪsā (Jesus), he will be able to perform miracles – healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the earth to grow vegetation, causing livestock to prosper and to die, and stopping the sun's movement – but unlike Jesus he will do this with the assistance of an army of demons (Shayāṭīn).[65][64] He will travel the whole world entering every city, except Mecca and Medina.[73] His army will kill and conquer, until they corner the Mahdi and a group of just 5000 Muslim fighters in Jerusalem. In this final battle before the Day of Judgment Jesus will descend from heaven to save the Muslim army, killing infidels simply be breathing on them[74] and defeating and killing the dajjal simply by looking at him – or looking at him and putting a sword through him.[65] The dajjal will melt away.[74] Sources disagree over whether the Dajjal is human or a devil (shayṭān) in human form.[65][13][75]

Gog and Magog

Iskandar (Alexander) builds a wall to seal Yajuj and Majuj; here aided by dīvs (demons). Persian miniature from a Falnama, 16th century.[76][77]

Gog and Magog are mentioned in two chapters of the QuranAl Kahf and Al-Anbiya – where they are referred to as Yajuj and Majuj. They are suppressed by a figure called Dhul-Qarnayn – "the two-horned one."[78] Dhul-Qarnayn, having journeyed to the ends of the world, meets "a people who scarcely understood a word" who seek his help in building a barrier that will separate them from the people of Yajuj and Majuj who "do great mischief on earth". He agrees to build it for them, but warns that when the time comes (believed to mean the end times), Allah will remove the barrier.[79]

The Monster of Gog and Magog, by al-Qazwini (1203–1283).

Graeme Wood reports that in Islamic apocalyptic literature Gog and Magog are a subhuman pestulence who are released from thousands of years of imprisonment sometime after Isa's descent to earth. After much killing, pillaging and devouring of vast resources they are wiped out after "God commands an insect or worm to burrow into their necks and kill them".[80]


The Sufyani (Arabic: سفیاني) is an evil figure in Islamic eschatology. According to hadith, Sufyani will be a tyrant who will spread corruption and mischief. According to Shia hadith, Sufyani will rise in the month of Rajab.[81] The predicted location of his arrival is in Damascus.

Sufyani is a distinctly different individual than Dajjal.[82] It is said that he will kill children and rip out the bellies of women. The Sufyani will murder those from the household of the Prophet and will rule over Syria. When the Mahdi appears, Sufyani will send an army to seize and kill him. However, when Sufyani and his army would reach the desert of Bayda, they would be swallowed.[83]

The Mahdi

Mahdi (Arabic: ٱلْمَهْدِيّ, ISO 233: al-mahdīy), meaning "Rightly Guided One" is a messianic figure in Islamic tradition. He makes his first appearance in the hadiths and is said to be the sign between Minor signs and Major signs of Day of Resurrection.[84][85][86][87] Some Shia Muslims regard him as the first sign of the third period.[88] Hadith reports state that he will be a descendant of Muhammad through Muhammad's daughter Fatimah and cousin Ali's son Hassan. According to Shias, Mahdi will be looked upon to kill Dajjal to end the disintegration of the Muslim community, and to prepare for the reign of Isa (Jesus), who will rule for a time thereafter. According to Sunnis, Mahdi will be against Dajjal and will have some Muslim communities in Shaam and that Jesus will return to kill Dajjal. The Mahdi will fulfill his prophetic mission, a vision of justice and peace, before submitting to Jesus' rule.[89] The physical features of Mahdi are described in the hadith; he will be of Arab complexion, of average height, with a big forehead, large eyes, and a sharp nose. He will have a mole on his cheek, and be recognized by the Muslim community while he sits in 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."[90] In some accounts, after the seven years of peace, God will send a cold wind causing everyone with the smallest measure of human-kindness or faith, to die and carry them straight to heaven. Therefore, only the wicked will remain and be victims of terrible animals and Shayateen, until the day of resurrection.[91]

Though the predictions of the duration of his rule differ, hadith are consistent in describing that God will perfect him in a single night, imbuing him with inspiration and wisdom, and his name will be announced from the sky. The Mahdi will bring back worship of true Islamic values, and bring the Ark of the Covenant to light. He will conquer Constantinople and Mount Daylam and will regard Jerusalem and the Dome as his home. His banner will be that of Muhammad: black and unstitched, with a halo. Furled 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.[6]

Sunni and Shia perspectives

Sunni and Twelver Shia Islam have different beliefs regarding the identity of Mahdi.

Sunni perspective:Shia version:
In both Sunni and Twelver Islam versions the Mahdi confronts a world of war, chaos, ignorance, depravity, wickedness and strange natural disasters. In both versions he will appear to Muslims before Isa (Jesus), and both he will be assisted by Isa in his struggle against and killing of the dajjal (antichrist), Muslims will declare/swear their allegiance to him (Bay'ah) and will restores order and righteousness,[92] ruling the world for a period of time.
In Sunni Islam, the mahdi doctrine is a popular belief, but among scholars it is not theologically important. The two most authoritative compilations of hadith in Sunni Islam — Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim — make no mention of the Mahdi (nor does Nasai,[93][94][95][96] although three of six canonical Sunni hadith compilations do—Abu Dawood, Ibn Maja, and Tirmidhi).In Twelver Shi'ism, the largest Shi'i branch, the belief in the messianic imam is not merely a part of creed, but the pivot.[97] Born in Samarra in 868 CE, the Mahdi has been in occultation (hidden) by divine command for over 1000 years, waiting for end times to reappear and put an end to injustice.
The Mahdi, though a leader, a righteous man and among the descendants of Muhammad, will be neither a historical figure (having a regular lifespan), nor a caliph (the traditional Sunni religious authority chosen by representative(s) of the commnity).[98]For Shia, the Mahdi is the last of the Twelve Imams, descendants of Muhammad divinely ordained to be leaders and guides of the Muslim world (and thus all humanity). According to one Shia scholar (Nasir Khusraw, a celebrated Fatimid thinker), the line of Imams from among Imam 'Ali's descendants though Imam Husayn and will culminate in the arrival of the Lord of the Resurrection (Qāʾim al-Qiyāma). Khusraw writes that this individual will be the perfect being and the purpose of creation, and through him the world will come out of darkness and ignorance and "into the light of her Lord" (Quran 39:69); to an era of reward for those "who laboured in fulfilment of (the Prophets') command and with knowledge", unlike previous eras where God prescribes the people to work, that of the enunciators of divine revelation (nāṭiqs) who came before him.[99]
Before his leadership starts, he will be unrecognized and flee from Medina to Mecca to take refuge in the Ka'ba. Then, against his will, he will be recognized as ruler by the people.[100] He will then lead an army bearing black banners against the dajjal and his corruption.The Shia version of the Mahdi will also reappear in Mecca. On the day of ashura (10th of Muharram; the day the third Shi'a imam Husayn ibn Ali was slain), he will stand with the sword of Ali (dhu'l-fiqar) in his hand,[101] between the corner of the Ka'ba and the station of Abraham. A voice from the heavens will call the people of the world to his aid; the angels, jinns, and humans will flock around him. He will then go to Kufa, which will become his capital, and send troops to kill the Sufyani in Damascus. Husayn and his slain partisans will then resurrect, as will other imams and Muhammad.[102]
He will be from the Hasanid branch of Muhammad's family, descended through Muhammad's daughter Fatima and her husband Ali.He is of the Husaynid line of Muhammad's descendants.[103]
His name will be Muhammad and his father's name will be Abdullah, thus making his full name Muhammad ibn Abdullah.[92] He will have a broad forehead and curved nose.His name is Muhammad bin Hasan and that he is the son of Hasan-al-Askari. He will be "a young man of medium stature with a handsome face", black hair and beard.[104]
The Mahdi will lead an army against the Dajjal, but it will be Isa who kills him.The Mahdi (Imam Saheb uz-Zaman) will kill the Dajjal[105]
He will "usher in a short golden age" lasting seven, eight, or nine years until the end of the world.[106]After the killing of the Dajjal, the Mahdi (Imam Saheb uz-Zaman) will rule the world, as Jesus (Hazrat Isa bin Maryam) helps him spreading the Islamic faith[107]

Descent of Jesus

Islamic literature predicts that the Mahdi will be followed and assisted in his fight against evil "by a bygone prophet who will come back to earth". This prophet will not be Muhammad (as non-Muslims might expect) but ʿĪsā (Jesus), 'praised in the Quran as the Messiah and the “Word of God.”' "The usual interpretation" of the prophecy of Jesus's return to earth is that He "will put an end to his own worship, symbolized by the cross, and re-establish the dietary laws that Christianity abandoned but Jews and Muslims still observe."[108] While the Quran is not explicit about Jesus' return,[109] many Muslims believe that at least two Quranic verses refer to his second coming during the end times.[110] The probably most significant verse is

  • "And [for] their saying, 'Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.' And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain." (Q.4:157:) The other states:
  • "And indeed, Jesus will be [a sign for] knowledge of the Hour, so be not in doubt of it, and follow Me. This is a straight path". (Q.43:61)."[110]

The Arabic language is not clear, as to who the people of the book have to believe in. Tabari author of one of the most important Sunni Tafsirs argues, the verse refers to Jesus, who will unite all believers under the banner of Islam.[110] Hadiths further elaborate the events following Jesus arrival.[111] According to Sahih al-Bukhari, Jesus will descend among Muslims, break the cross, kill the pig and abolish the Jizya.[110] Although traced back to Abu Hurairah, one of the sahaba, such hadiths might actually have been introduced later during civil wars in the early Abbasid Caliphate, when a savior was expected. While for Shias, the Mahdi will be the savior, some Sunnis tended to expect Jesus' return. During the early Abbasid Caliphate, wearing crucifixes in processions and holding pigs in public, was forbidden. Otherwise, the breaking of the cross, might reflect general disapproval of this symbol by Muslims, and slaying pigs a reference to Jesus exorcism of Legion.[111]

Shia eschatology

Various eschatological interpretations exist within Shia Islam. The concept of seven celestial Hells, as well as the idea that one's souls temporarily wait in either Paradise or Hellfire until the End Times, are accounted for throughout Isma'ili Shi'i literature.[112] Shia tradition broadly tends to recognize the coming of the Mahdi as signifying punishment to come for non-believers.[11] Twelver Shia scholar 'Allama al-Hilli expressed that it is not possible for any Muslim to be ignorant of "the imamate and of the Return" and thus "whoever is ignorant of any of them is outside the circle of believers and worthy of eternal punishment."[11] This statement is not indicative of all Shia eschatological thought, but does note the existence of a form of eternal punishment, or realm that is opposite Paradise.


Raj`a (Arabic: الرجعة, romanized: āl rj'ah, lit.'Return') in Islamic terminology, refers to the Second Coming, or the return to life of a given past historical figure after that person's physical death.[113] Shia believe that before the Day of Judgement, Muhammad al-Mahdi will return with a group of chosen companions. This return is more properly known as zuhur or 'appearance,' as the Hidden Imam is believed to have remained alive during his period of occultation, since the year 874.[113] The return of these historical figures will signify the beginning of the Last Judgment. The purpose of this return is to establish justice for those who were oppressed in their lifetime up until their death: the oppressors are punished directly by the oppressed during this future reappearance.[114]

Some Sunni scholars do believe in Raj’a, citing the return of numerous people, such as the Seven Sleepers, synchronous with the appearance of the Mahdi.[115] According to Jalaluddin Al-Sayuti, in contrast to Shia belief, the return of Muhammad is not limited to a specific time in the future. Al-Sayuti did not mention if any other religious figures will return after death before the resurrection.[116] According to Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, raj`a is understood to be the lack of physical presence of a prophet, who marks his apparent death by absence in the physical world but will reappear, from time to time, to those who are pure in heart.[117]

Isa (Jesus)

Isa is the Arabic name for Jesus, and his return is considered the third major sign of the last days (the second being the appearance of Jesus's nemesis Masih ad-Dajjal). Although Muhammad is the preeminent prophet in Islam, Jesus is mentioned in the Quran, and so is Idris (Enoch), who is said not to have died but to have been raised up by God.[118] Thus, in accordance with post-Quranic hadith, Jesus conceivably will return to Earth as a just judge before the Day of Judgment.[119] As written in hadith:

Hadith reference both the Mahdi and Isa simultaneously and the return of the Mahdi will coincide with the return of Isa, who will descend from the heavens in al-Quds at dawn. The two will meet, and the 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.[120] Though the two certainly differ regarding their role and persona in Islamic eschatology, the figures of the Mahdi and Isa are ultimately inseparable, according to Muhammad. 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)

Resurrection and final judgement

Diagram of the "Plain of Assembly" (Ard al-Hashr) on the Day of Judgment, from an autograph manuscript of Futuhat al-Makkiyya written by the Sufi mystic and Muslim philosopher Ibn Arabi, ca. 1238. Shown are the 'Arsh (Throne of God), pulpits for the righteous (al-Aminun), seven rows of angels, Gabriel (al-Ruh), A'raf (the Barrier), the Pond of Abundance, al-Maqam al-Mahmud (the Praiseworthy Station; where the prophet Muhammad will stand to intercede for the faithful), Mizan (the Scale), As-Sirāt (the Bridge), Jahannam (Hell), and Marj al-Jannat (Meadow of Paradise).[121]

The resurrection and final judgement are fundamental beliefs in Islam. According to the Quran, without them, the creation of humanity would be in vain.[122][123] Thus the Day of Judgment, al-Qiyāmah, (also known as the Day of Reckoning or Resurrection, the Last Day, or the Hour) is one of the six articles of faith in Sunni Islam, and one of seven in Shia Islam.[124][125][126][127][84][128] It is believed in Islam that the Qur'an states Allah will resurrect everyone from their graves on the day of judgement.[129] It is believed that the time is coming and that there shall be no doubt that Allah will do as promised.[129] Just as Allah created the people, they will be brought back to the same form.[129] Allah will double the deeds of his most faithful servants.[129]

Kaaba destruction and the beast of the earth

Before doomsday, an Abyssinian, with short legs, will attack Mecca and destroy the Kaaba.[130] Another sign is the appearance of the da'ba-tul-ard, or the Beast of the Earth.

The entire world will be engulfed by dukhan or smoke,[85][131] for forty days, and there will be three huge earthquakes. The Quran will be taken to heaven 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 will gather all the people of the world in the land of Mahshar, and al-Qiyamah will commence.[88]

Resurrection of the dead

In the Quran, barzakh (Arabic: برزخ) is the intermediate state for the soul, until the day of resurrection.

The eighth sign is a breeze bearing a pleasant scent, which will emanate from Yemen, causing the awliya, sulaha and the pious to die peacefully once they inhale it.[132]

The ninth sign is the rising of the sun from the west after a long night. After midday, the sun will set again. According to hadith:

Abu Hurayrah states that the Messenger of God (saw) 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[133]

The final signs will be nafkhatu'l-ula, when a 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, after which 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 Quran:

The Trumpet will (just) be sounded, when all that are in the heavens and on earth will swoon, except such as it will please God (to exempt). Then will a second one be sounded, when, behold, they will be standing and looking on!

Sura 39 (Az-Zumar), ayah 68[134]

All will be naked and running to the Place of Gathering, while the enemies of God 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 atom, and if it is a good deed He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.

Sura 4 An-Nisa, ayah 40[135]

Separation of the righteous and the damned

At divine judgment, each person's Book of Deeds will be read, in which "every small and great thing is recorded,"[136] but with actions before adolescence omitted. Records shall be given with 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.

Quran, Sura 99 Az-Zalzala, ayat 7–8[137]

This will be followed by perfect, divine, and merciful justice. The age of the hereafter, or the rest of eternity, is the final stage after the Day of Judgment, when all will receive their judgment from God.

Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabians [before Prophet Muhammad][138] – those [among them] who believed in God and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.

Qur'an, Sura 2 Al-Baqara, ayah 62[139]

The dead will stand in a grand assembly, awaiting a scroll detailing their righteous deeds, sinful acts, and ultimate judgment.[140][141] Muhammad will be the first to be resurrected.[142] According to ancient belief, God will descend to Mount Moriah, where he will judge souls. The complex of the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, built under the Umayyad Caliph 'Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705), might thus be interpreted as a reminder of the approaching Last Judgement.[143]

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.[144] There will also be a punishment of the grave (for those who disbelieved) between death and the resurrection.[145]

Resurrection theories

Although Islamic philosophers and scholars were in general agreement on a bodily resurrection after death, interpretations differ in regard to the specifications of bodily resurrection. Some of the theories are the following:

  • The return to the same material body, someone had during lifetime, that will be restored.[146]
  • Conjunction of the soul with a Mithali body, which is congenial to the worlds of Barzakh and the Akhirah.[147]
  • Resurrection with a Hurqaliyati body, accordingly a second invisible body, that survives death.[148]

Eschatological theological questions

Scholars did not always agree on questions of who might go to hell; whether the creation of heaven and hell would wait until Judgement Day; whether there was a state between heaven and hell; whether those consigned to hell would be there for eternity.

Basis of belief

"Fear, hope, and finally ... of faith" have been given (by ) as motivations offered by the Quran for Muslims believe in an Afterlife (according to Jane I. Smith, Yvonne Y. Haddad),[149] although some (Abū Aʿla al-Mawdūdī) have asserted it is simply a matter of reason:

The fact is that whatever Muhammad (peace be upon him) has told us about life after death is clearly borne out by reason. Although our belief in that Day is based upon our implicit trust in the Messenger of God, rational reflection not only confirms this belief but it also reveals that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) teachings in this respect are much more reasonable and understandable than all other view-points about life after death. [150]

Early Muslim thought on damnation

One of the primary beliefs pertaining to Islamic eschatology during the Early Muslim Period was that all humans could receive God's mercy and were worthy of salvation.[112] These early depictions even show how small, insignificant deeds were enough to warrant mercy.[129] Most early depictions of the end of days depict only those who reject Tawhid, (the concept of monotheism), are subject to eternal punishment. However, everybody is held responsible for their own actions. Concepts of rewards and punishments were seen as beyond this world, a view that is also held today.[129]

Literal or allegorical

According to scholars Jane I. Smith, Yvonne Y. Haddad, "the vast majority of believers", understand verses of the Quran on Jannah (and hellfire) "to be real and specific, anticipating them" with joy or terror.[151] Besides the material notion of the paradise, descriptions of it are also interpreted as allegories, whose meaning is the state of joy believers will experience in the afterlife. For some theologians, seeing God is not a question of sight, but of awareness of God's presence.[152] Although early Sufis, such as Hallaj, took the descriptions of Paradise literal, later Sufi traditions usually stressed out the allegorical meaning.[153]

On the issue of Judgement Day, early Muslims debated whether scripture on should be interpreted literally or figuratively, and the school of thought that prevailed (Ashʿarī) "affirmed that such things as" connected with Judgement day as "the individual records of deeds (including the paper, pen, and ink with which they are inscribed), the bridge, the balance, and the pond" are "realities", and "to be understood in a concrete and literal sense."[154]

Modernist, postmodernist thought

According to Smith and Haddad, "The great majority of contemporary Muslim writers, ... choose not to discuss the afterlife at all".[155] Islamic Modernists, according to Smith and Haddad, express a "kind of embarrassment with the elaborate traditional detail concerning life in the grave and in the abodes of recompense, called into question by modern rationalists".[155][156] Consequently, most of "modern Muslim Theologians" either "silence the issue" or reaffirm "the traditional position that the reality of the afterlife must not be denied but that it's exact nature remains unfathomable".[157][155]

The beliefs of Pakistani modernist Muhammad Iqbal (died 1938), were similar to the Sufi "spiritual and internalized interpretations of hell" of ibn ʿArabī, and Rumi, seeing paradise and hell "primarily as metaphors for inner psychic" developments. Thus hellfire is actually a state of realization of one's failures as a human being", and not a supernatural subterranean realm.[158] Egyptian modernist Muhammad ʿAbduh, thought it was sufficient to believe in the existence of an afterlife with rewards and punishment to be a true believer, even if you ignored "clear" (ẓāhir) hadith about hell.[159]

Gender equity

Some postmodernists have found at least one sahih (authentic) hadith on hell unacceptable—the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad stating, "most people in hell are women"[160] has been explained as an attempt to "legitimate social control over women" (Smith and Haddad),[161] or perpetuate "the moral, social, political, sectarian hierarchies" of medieval Islam (Lange).[162] Amina Wadud notes that the Qur'an does not mention any specific gender when talking about Hell, Q.43:74–76, for example states that "the guilty are immortal in hell's torment"; and when discussing paradise, includes women, Q.3:14–15 for example states "Beautiful of mankind is love of the joys (that come) from women and offspring..."[163]

Limbo Theory in Islam

In terms of classical Islam, the Limbo Theory of Islam, as described by Jane Smith and Yvonne Haddad, implies that some individuals are not immediately sent to the afterlife, but are held in a state of limbo.[164] The fate awaiting all people after their death is either the Gardens, heaven, or the Fire, hell. Traditional interpretations agree that, at minimum, these are two of the possible fates that await the dead.[164] However, some have interpreted 7:46, "And there will be a veil between them. And upon the Heights are men who know all by their marks. They will call out to the inhabitants of the Garden, 'peace be upon you!' They will not have entered it, though they hope".[165] Some have taken the mention of this veil between heaven and hell as an allusion to there being individuals who are not immediately sent to their ultimate destination.[164]

The Current existence of the Afterlife

There was considerable debate regarding whether heaven and hell exists at the current moment.[166] The Mu'tazila argued that heaven and hell both cannot exist until the trumpet blasts that bring in the end times occurs, as the Quran states that once the trumpet sounds, all except God will be destroyed.[166] However, the Ash'ariya argued that although the trumpet's sounding will precede all being destroyed, creation was a constant process.[166] Furthermore, as Adam and Eve once resided in the Garden of Eden, the garden already exists. Also, hadith reports pertaining to the Night Journey state that Muhammad saw visions of both destinations and creatures inhabiting it.[166] Thus, heaven and hell are usually regarded as coexisting with the current world.[167]

The Concept of Eternity

In Classical Islam, there was a consensus among the theological community regarding the finality of Jannah (also called Heaven, paradise, the Gardens), faithful servants of God would find themselves in this heaven for eternity.[168] However, some practitioners in the early Muslim community held a concept that stated that hell may not be eternal in and of itself.[168] These views were based upon interpretations that viewed the upper levels of Hell as only lasting for as long as God deemed necessary. Once Muslims had their sins purged, these levels would be closed.[168] These interpretations are centered on verses 11:106–107 in the Quran, stating, "As for those who are wretched, they shall be in the Fire, wherein there shall be for them groaning and wailing, abiding therein for so long as the heavens and the earth endure, save as thy Lord wills. Surely thy Lord does whatsoever He wills".[169] To this end, the Quran itself gives a conflicting account of Hell, stating that Hell will endure as long as Heaven will, which has been established as eternal, but also the Quran maintains the possibility that God may yet commute a sentence to Hell. In a sense, these levels of Hell were interpreted to have a similar function as Purgatory in Christianity, with the exception to this comparison being that Hell in this context is for the punishment of the sinner's complete body, as opposed to the only the soul being punished in Purgatory.[168] Arguments questioning the permanence of Hell take the view that Hell is not necessarily solely there to punish the evil, but to purify their souls. To clarify, the Garden is the reward while the Fire is for purification.[170]


Traditional Islam teaches predestination, i.e. the belief that everything that has happened and will happen, including all acts of good and evil, has already been determined[129]—the opposite of Free will.

  • "By no means can anything befall us [his creatures] but what God has destined for us." (Q.9:51)

In the fate of human beings in the Afterlife, this is reflected in Quranic verses such as

  • "If We had so willed, We could have given every soul its guidance, but now My Word is realized—'I shall fill Hell with jinn and men together.'" (Q.32.32.)[171]
  • "God misleads whom He will and whom He will He guides." (Q.14:4)[171]

Muhammad also expressed predestination multiple times during his mission.[129] Free will and predestination have been debated by many Muslim theologians; with believers in free will, (al-qadariyya) arguing that predetermining all action means taking the decision to do good or evil out of the control of God's human creation and thus control of whether they suffer eternal torment or never ending bliss—something that (they believe) a just God would never do. The Muslim community consensus has been that scripture indicates predestination.[129] The Hanafi fiqh fatwa site IslamQA states that predestination is one of those issues which God urges Muslims to "abstain from" speaking about "as much as possible". "We must believe in predestination, yet we cannot assume that our actions are entirely bound by it." Though "everyone’s abode (for Jannat or Jahannam [i.e. for heaven or hell]) has been written”, because God "knows everything we have done", are currently doing, or will do in the future, nonetheless God has still "given us the choice in everything" we do.[172]

The fate of non-Muslims

Abu Hamid al-Ghazali categorized non-Muslims into three categories:[173]

  1. Those who never heard the message of Islam, who live in far away lands, such as the Byzantines ("Romans".) These will be forgiven.
  2. Those who were only exposed to a distorted understanding of Islam and had no opportunity to hear the correct version. These too will be forgiven.
  3. People who heard of Islam because they lived in neighboring lands and/or mixed with Muslims. These have no hope of salvation.[173]

Although many argue that anybody who thinks logically would eventually find that there is only one true, all-powerful God, however, others argue that if one has never received the message, they are not liable for not following it. This debate has been going on for centuries, however several Muslim theologicians agree that Islam is the only path, no other religion, even the other Abrahamic faiths, are proper paths to salvation.[173] Although the Quran acknowledges the Bible as gospel, rejecting Muhammad and his message is seen as a rejection of salvation by them.[174]

The fate of Jews

The Quran makes a variety of statements on the state of the Jewish community, praising their dedication to monotheism in one line and criticizing their rejection of Muhammad the next.[175] An example of a line criticizing the Jews can be found at 5:60-61: "Say, 'Shall I inform you of something worse than that by way of recompense from God? Whomsoever God has cursed and upon whom is His Wrath, and among whom He has made some to be apes and swine, and who worship false deities, such are in a worse situation, and further astray from the right way.' When they come to you, they say, 'We believe.' But they are certainly entered with disbelief and they have certainly left with it, and God knows best what they were concealing. Thou seest many of them hastening to sin and enmity and consuming what is forbidden. Evil indeed is that which they were doing.".[176] Another example is 5:64: "The Jews say, 'God's Hand is shackled.' Shackled are their hands, and they are cursed for what they say. Nay, but His two Hands are outstretched, He bestows as He wills. Surely that which has been sent down unto thee from thy Lord will increase many of them in rebellion and disbelief. And we cast enmity and hatred among them till the Day of Resurrection. As often they ignite a flame for war, God extinguishes it. They endeavor to work corruption upon the earth. And God loves not thee workers of corruption."[176] However, the Qur'an also takes a more reconciliatory tone in other lines. An example of this is in 3:113–115: "They are not all alike. Among the People of the Book is an upright community who recite God's signs in the watches of the night, while they prostrate. They believe in God and the Last Day, enjoin right and forbid wrong, and hasten unto good deeds. And they are among the righteous. Whatsoever good they do, they will not be denied it. And God knows the reverent".[177] After reconciling the different descriptions, one can gather the conclusion that some Jews are considered worthy of damnation, while others are righteous and capable of salvation.[178] The transgressions of the "apes and pigs" are not indicative of the entire community.[178]

Islamic eschatology in literature

Ibn al-Nafis wrote of Islamic eschatology in Theologus Autodidactus (circa AD 1270), 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.[179]

Imran Nazar Hosein wrote numerous books that deal with Islamic eschatology (Ilmu Ākhir al-Zamān – Knowledge of the later days), among which the most famous is Jerusalem in the Qur'an.[180]

Islamic eschatology among Muslims in 20th and 21st centuries

The focus on end times/Eschatology in Islam has tended to occur among those less exposed to scholarly learning and/or not until recently. "The particulars of the end of the world are not a mainstream concern in Islam," according to Graeme Wood.[181]

However, in 2012 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 50% or more respondents in several Muslim-majority countries (Lebanon, Turkey, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) expected the Mahdi (the final redeemer according to Islam)[182] to return during their lifetime.[7] The expectation is most common in Afghanistan (83%), followed by Iraq (72%), Turkey (68), Tunisia (67%), Malaysia (62%), Pakistan (60%), Lebanon (56%), and Muslims in southern Thailand (57%).[7]

Stories of end times and doomsday tend to be passed on as bedtime stories or informal talk among the lay Muslims, rather than in the Imam's Friday khutbah. "Even Muslims with low levels of knowledge have heard parts of parts of it", according to scholar Jean Pierre Filiu.[nb 5] In Islamic bookstores, their "dramatic and sensational stories of final battles between good and evil, supernatural powers, the ultimate rise of a Muslim elite," are naturally more attention getting than more orthodox works on prayer, purity or the lives of exemplary Muslims.[183] More official Muslim sources have often either kept quiet about apocalyptic hadith or outright denied their existence—an example being Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations who stated "There is no apocalyptic bloodbath in Islam."[183][184][185]

Popular Islamic pamphlets and tracts on the End Times have always been in circulation, but until around 2010 their "impact on political and theological thinking was practically nil” among Sunnis.[186] Interest in the End Times is particularly strong among jihadis and "since the mid-2000s, the apocalyptic currents in jihadism have surged."[183][184] As of 2011, the belief that the end of the world is at hand and will be precipitated by an apocalyptic Great Battle has been noted as a "fast-growing belief in Muslim countries" though still a minority belief.[nb 6]

Jihadist references

In the early 1980s, when Abdullah Azzam, called on Muslims around the world to join the jihad in Afghanistan, he considered the fight "to be a sign that the end times were imminent". Also around that time, popular Islamic writers, such as Said Ayyub of Egypt, started blaming Islamic decline in the face of the Western world, not on lack of technology and development, but on the forces of the Dajjal.[108]

Al-Qaeda used "apocalyptic predictions in both its internal and external messaging", and its use of "the name Khorasan, a region that includes part of Iran, Central Asia, and Afghanistan, and from which, it is prophesied, the Mahdi will emerge alongside an army bearing black flags", was thought to be a symbol of end times. But according to Wood, Bin Laden "rarely mentioned" the Apocalypse and when he did, "he implied he would be long dead when it arrived" (a reflection of his more "elite" background according to Will McCants).[188]

Abu Musʿab al Zarqawi, the founder of what would become the Islamic State "injected" the apocalyptic message into jihad.[188] ISIS has evoked "the apocalyptic tradition much more explicitly" than earlier jihadis. Dabiq, Syria -- town understood "in some versions" of the eschatological "narrative to be a possible location for the final apocalyptic battle -- was captured by ISIS and made it its capital. ISIS also declared its "intent to conquer Constantinople" which was also a part of end times prophesy.[186] Interviews by the New York Times,[189] and Jurgen Todenhöfer[190] with many dozens of Muslims who had traveled to fight with Islamic State, and by Graeme Wood with Islamic State supporters elsewhere, found "messianic expectation" a strong motivator to join Islamic State.[189]

While Al-Qaeda and Islamic State are Sunni, Shia insurgents/militants have also been "drawn to the battlefield" by "apocalyptic belief", according to William McCants, who quotes a Shia fighter in Iraq saying, “'I was waiting for the day when I will fight in Syria. Thank God he chose me to be one of the Imam’s soldiers.'”[191]

Islamic State claims of prophecy fulfilment

Many of the "lesser signs" can be interpreted to having been fulfilled, especially by jihadis. It's generally agreed that there has been a war between Muslims and Jews, and that moral standards have declined leading to rampant fornication, alcohol consumption, and music listening. "A slave giving birth to her master" can happen when the child of a slave woman and her owner inherits the slave after the owners death—slavery being practiced in the Islamic State (until its defeat).[192] An embargo of Iraq[192] is alleged to be foretold in the hadith "Iraq would withhold its dirhams and qafiz".[193] that Muslim states are being led by those who do not deserve to lead,[25] is an article of faith among jihadis and many other Muslims. ISIS alleges that worship of the pre-Islamic deity al-Lat is the practice of its Shia enemy Hezbollah. That naked shepherds will build tall buildings is interpreted to refer to the fact that Gulf State builders of skyscrapers[194] are "only a generation or two out of desert poverty".[192]

Jihadis (in the Islamic State) not only see the fulfillment of prophecy in current events, but are attempting to fulfill it themselves to hasten end times. Zarqawi published "communiqués detailing the fulfillment of specific predictions" found in a famous book on jihad and end times called, A Call to a Global Islamic Resistance by Abu Musab al Suri. His successor, Al-Baghdadi, took "the fulfillment of apocalyptic portents even more seriously".[195] According to Hassan Abbas, [nb 7] at least part of ISIS's motivation in killing and otherwise provoking Shia is to "deliberately ... instigate a war between Sunnis and Shi’a, in the belief that a sectarian war would be a sign that the final times has arrived"; and also explains the ISIS Siege of Kobanî: "In the eschatological literature, there is reference to crisis in Syria and massacre of Kurds—this is why Kobane is important."[196]

Thus, "ISIS’s obsession with the end of the world" helps explain its lack of interest in the "ordinary moral rules" of the temporal world, according to Jessica Stern. If you are "participating in a cosmic war between good and evil", (and if everyone will be dead and then resurrected relatively soon anyway), pedestrian concerns about saving the lives of the innocent are of little concern.[197]

Questions and criticism

Mustafa Akyol criticises the current focus by the Muslim community on apocalypticism and the use of the forces of the Dajjal to explain stagnation in the Muslim world in the past two centuries vis-à-vis the West (and now East Asia). He argues that if supernatural evil is believed to be the cause of the problems of Muslims, then practical solutions such as "science, economic development and liberal democracy" will be ignored in favor of divine intervention. However, Islam is more practical than this, with Muhammad saying that if someone is planting a seed in the final hour of the Earth then they should continue to do so.[198][7]

William McCants, writes that the fitan (“tribulations”) of the minor and lesser signs come from the fitan of the early Islamic civil wars (First Fitna (656–661 CE), Second Fitna (c. 680/683–c. 685/692 CE), Third Fitna (744–750/752 CE)) where Muhammad’s companions (Sahabah) and sucessors generations (Tabi‘un and Taba Tabi‘in) fought each other for political supremacy.[191] "Before and after each tribulation, partisans on both sides circulated prophecies in the name of the Prophet to support their champion. With time, the context was forgotten but the prophecies remained."[191]

Skepticism of the concept of resurrection of the dead has been part of both "the compatriots" of Muhammad and "rational and scientifically-infused" of the contemporary world.

The fact of the resurrection of the body has been of continuing importance to Muslims and has raised very particular questions in certain circles of Islamic thought, such as those reflected in the later disputations between philosophy and theology.[nb 8]

It was not really a point of issue for early Islam, however, and bodily resurrection has never been seriously denied by orthodoxy. It is, as many have observed, basic to the message of God as proclaimed by the Prophet and articulated clearly by the Qur'an,[nb 9] especially in those passages in which the contemporaries of the Prophet are presented as having scoffed or raised doubts. It continues to be, as we shall observe shortly, a point of conviction for many of the contemporary interpreters of Islam to a world in which a rational and scientifically-infused populace continues to raise the same eyebrows of skepticism as did the compatriots of the


Early skeptics being quoted in the Quran as saying: "Are we to be returned to our former state when we have become decayed bones? They say, that would be a detrimental return!" (Q79: 10-12).[199]

Visitation of tombs

Death is also seen as a homecoming.[166] When people visit tombs, they are having a specific spiritual routine.[166] The correct way to visit someones tomb is to recite parts of the Quran and pray for the deceased.[166]

See also



  1. For further information, see the concept of Sotadic Zone, which includes both the Arab and Islamic world. See also Child sexual abuse, Sexual exploitation of children, Bacha bazi, and The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan.
  2. For further informations, see the articles Capital punishment in Islam, LGBT in Islam, Lut (prophet in Islam), and Sexual taboo in the Middle East.
  3. For further informations, see the articles Cousin marriage in Islam, Cousin marriage in the Middle East, and Mahram.
  4. Some sahih hadith[57] that all talk about the "ten signs" that appear before "the hour", but differ in details and don't specify "Greater Signs", are:
    • Sunan Abi Dawud 4311[57]
    • Sunan Ibn Majah 4041[57]
    • Sahih Muslim 2901a[57]
    • Sahih Muslim 2901b[57]
    • Jami' at-Tirmidhi 2183[57]
    • Sunan Ibn Majah 4055[57]
  5. In conversation to Graeme Wood.[183][184]
  6. from blurb for Filiu, Jean-Pierre (2011). Apocalypse in Islam. Translated by DeBevoise, M. B. Berkely: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-26431-1.[187]
  7. "an expert on jihadi movements"
  8. See al-Ghazali's Tahafut al-falasifa, Problem XX, "Refutation of their Denial of the Resurrection of Bodies" (tr. S. A. Kamali, [1963]), in which al-Ghazali replies point by point to objections raised by Muslim philosophers to the fact of physical resurrection. This position was countered by Ibn Rushd in his Tahafut al-tahafut, in which he contends that only the soul survives the death of the physical body.
  9. Ash'ari theology taught that the resurrection of the body is not an element of faith common to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but that it was revealed in its full understanding for the first time in the Qur'an.


  1. Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 0213
  2. Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 6947
  3. Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Hadith Number 81
  4. Sahih Muslim Book 41, Hadith 7040
  5. "Reference: Sahih Muslim 2908a; In-book reference: Book 54, Hadith 69; USC-MSA web (English) reference: Book 41, Hadith 6949".
  6. Imam Ahmed, recorded in Muslim
  7. "Sahih Muslim 7".
  8. Abu Dawud Book 35, Hadith 4587
  9. Sahih Muslim Book 41, Hadith 7015}}
  10. Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 69, Hadith 494
  11. Sahih ibn Majah 610
  12. Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Hadith 81
  13. Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 88, Hadith Number 237
  14. Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 485, Book 1, Hadith 3
  15. Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 88, Hadith Number 231
  16. "Reference: Sahih Muslim 2922; In-book reference: Book 54, Hadith 103; USC-MSA web (English) reference: Book 41, Hadith 6985".
  17. Sahih Bukhari Volume 009, Book 088, Hadith Number 236
  18. Sahih Bukhari Volume 009, Book 088, Hadith Number 237
  19. Sahih Muslim Book 40, Hadith Number 6840
  20. Musnad Imam Ahmad (no.21,334 and no.21,335
  21. Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2209
  22. Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Hadith Number 81
  23. Musnad Ahmad
  24. Abu-Dawud, Book 30, Number 4239 (and others)
  25. Sahih Muslim Book 041, Hadith Number 6918
  26. "Sahih Muslim Book 41, Hadith 6988".
  27. Sahih Muslim Book 5, Hadith 2208
  28. Al-Bukhari
  29. Reported by Anas and declared Sahih by Hasan al Albani
  30. Sahih Muslim Book 7, Hadith Number 3188
  31. Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2181; In-book reference: Book 33, Hadith 24; English translation: Vol.4, Book 7, Hadith 2181;
  32. Ahmad
  33. Musnad Ahmad
  34. Musnad Ahmad
  35. Sahih Bukhari
  36. Ahmad
  37. Tirmidhee 2653 and Ibn Maajah 4048
  38. Sahih Muslim 1847
  39. Mujamma'uz-Zawaa'id 7/327
  40. Sunan al-Tirmidhi
  41. Sunan al-Tirmidhi
  42. Sunan al-Tirmidhi
  43. Sunan al-Tirmidhi
  44. Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 6960
  45. Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 6926
  46. Narrated with sound chains from Dhu Mikhbar al-Najashi by Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim who declared it sahih and al-Dhahabi concurred. See Shaykh Shu`ayb Arna'ut's documentation of this hadith in his edition of Sahih Ibn Hibban (15:101–103 #6708–6709).
  47. Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2269 (Weak)
  48. Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 6953
  49. Hadith of Aden-Abyan
  50. The Promised Deliverer (Kitab Al-Mahdi) Dawud : Book 36 : Hadith 4273
  51. Sunan Ibn Maajah 4019
  52. Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 6931
  53. Sahih Muslim
  54. Sahih Muslim
  55. Presumably references sea level rise.
  56. Sahih Muslim
  57. Sahih Muslim
  58. Dawud, Book 37, Hadith 4319
  59. Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 7034
  60. Quran 21:96
  61. Quran 27:82

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