SEPARATING FACT FROM SUPERSTITION
The Qiyamah, Yawmul Deen, (which is also known as the Day of Judgment, Day of Gathering, Day of Meeting God, the Resurrection, and The Great Announcement), is a major theme (and promise), addressed not only in the Qur’an, but also in other religious Scriptures. Though opinions may differ on specifics, there is a more widely spread consensus, that it is connected to a time of momentous upheaval and calamity and, to The End of the World.
Another notion upon which many seem to agree, is that everyone would readily recognize that Day (for how could a momentous event such as this be anything but shaking everyone up to their full attention).
This is an attempt to examine what different verses in the Qur’an (and some hadith) tell us about Qiyamah. It is also a humble attempt to reconcile what might appear as, differing descriptions of the event (even to the point of contradiction at face value). This is because I believe that people should not allow themselves to pick and choose the verses that suit them, but rather, take the Qur’an in its entirety .
This is by no means, a scholarly or in depth study, but just some thoughts and comments, as well as questions which invite and welcome further discussions on the topic (assuming there is interest on the part of some readers).
Quoting the actual verses makes the article longer than originally intended, but for the benefit of the reader who is not very familiar with the verses, I think there is less interruption and distraction this way.
First we see some General Signs and Descriptions of the Day of Judgment, from which we may learn that: this event is inevitable, there is a set time for it (no delays), all people ( with maybe some exceptions?) would expire and then they would be brought back to life (the rise of the dead). We also learn that on the Day of Judgment, God would come with angles at His side, and we would be meeting Him, and judgment would be passed on each individual. We would also have warnings and announcements preceding it, and we learn that Jesus would be one of the Signs of the Hour :
Qur'an 11:102-7 ...In that is a Sign for those who fear the penalty of the Hereafter: that is a Day for which mankind will be gathered together: that will be a Day of Testimony. Nor shall We delay it but for a term appointed. The day it arrives, no soul shall speak except by His leave: of those (gathered) some will be wretched and some will be blessed. Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: There will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs: They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He planneth.
Qur'an 69:17 And the angels will be on the sides thereof, and eight will uphold the Throne of thy Lord that day, above them.
Qur'an 50:20 And the Trumpet shall be blown: that will be the Day whereof Warning (had been given). And there will come forth every soul: with each will be an (angel) to drive, and an (angel) to bear witness.
Qur'an 39:68-69 And there shall be a blast on the Trumpet, and all who are in the Heaven and all who are on the earth shall expire, save those whom God shall vouchsafe to live. Then shall there be another blast on it, and lo! arising they shall gaze around them: and the earth shall shine with the light of her Lord.
Qur'an 7:30: He will return you (on the Day of Judgment) reverted back to when you were first created. A section guided, and a section will go astray.
Qur'an 43:61 : And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment: therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way.
Despite all these clear signs, it may be of interest that we are told that many would not even be aware of what’s happening, as if dead or in deep slumber:
Qur'an 19:39 Warn them of the Day of Pining (distress) when all matters have been judged, though they would still be unaware of it, and unbelievers.
Qur'an 12:107 Do they really believe that an all-encompassing punishment by God will not come upon them, or the Hour overtake them suddenly while they remain unaware of it.
Qur'an 34:28 We have not sent thee (Muhammed) but to the whole of mankind, as a giver of glad tidings and as a warner, but most of mankind still do not know.
Qur'an 30:55-6 On the Day that the Hour (of Reckoning) will be established, the transgressors will swear that they tarried not but an hour: thus were they used to being deluded! But those endued with knowledge and faith will say: "Indeed ye did tarry, within Allah's Decree, to the Day of Resurrection, and this is the Day of Resurrection: but ye - ye were not aware!"
This is why I think it is important to learn as much as we can about this issue, which so many verses of the Qur’an are about, so that hopefully we are not caught unaware and counted among the heedless. Let us examine the part about the Rising of the Dead, which was one of the points of contention with the unbelievers at the time of the Prophet, as in the verse:
Qur'an 17:49-51 They say: "What! when we are reduced to bones and dust, should we really be raised up (to be) a new creation?" Say: "(Nay!) be ye stones or iron, "Or created matter which, in your minds, is hardest (to be raised up),- (Yet shall ye be raised up)!" then will they say: "Who will cause us to return?" Say: "He who created you first!" Then will they wag their heads towards thee, and say, "When will that be?" Say, "May be it will be quite soon!In order to understand how this would happen, and to answer some questions like, what form these bodies would be in, would they resemble themselves at the hour of their death or as they were in their prime, would some be old and feeble during the march, while others may be infants and would need to be carried, and what about bodies that might have through the ages been broken down to their elements, and the elements became part of other bodies or objects? Can we find clues in the Qur’an itself? Some verses indicate that maybe the rising of the dead has happened in the past as well:
Qur'an 2:55-6 And remember ye said: "O Moses! We shall never believe in thee until we see Allah manifestly," but ye were dazed with thunder and lighting even as ye looked on. Then We raised you up after your death: Ye had the chance to be grateful.So the question is: can we allow for the possibility that spiritual death is meant here or is the physical part in us more important? Indeed there are several verses that allow for this possibility (also that the word "life", may be used in the spiritual sense as well). :
Qur'an 6:122 Can he* who was dead, to whom We gave life, and a light whereby he can walk amongst men, be like him who is in the depths of darkness, from which he can never come out? Thus to those without faith their own deeds seem pleasing. *( this verse was in reference to Al-Hamza (R) the Prophet’s uncle after he became a Muslim)
Qur'an 3:169-170 And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord; Rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace and they rejoice for the sake of those who, (being left) behind them, have not yet joined them, that they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve.A similar kind of death, describes the condition of the unbelievers or those who join partners with God (mushrikeen). :
Qur'an 16:20-21 And those whom they call on besides Allah have not created anything while they are themselves created; Dead (are they), not living, and they know not when they shall be raised.
As to the issue of the calamitous destruction of the earth and the end of the world, the falling of the stars, and the fires and floods; we find that there are many verses which have lead to the common belief that the physical world would be destroyed, as the believers are taken to live in heaven for eternity, and the ungodly, in hell. However, I have found that I need to reconcile this belief, with verses which may indicate that, rather than the destruction of this earth, there will be a transformation, and that what we picture as living in paradise or in hell, may not of necessity have to do with the physical destruction of the earth. :
Qur'an 14:48 : One day the earth will be changed to a different earth, and so will be the heavens, and (men) will be marshalled forth, before Allah, the One, the Irresistible;
Qur'an 11:104-7: ..The day it arrives, no soul shall speak except by His leave: of those (gathered) some will be wretched and some will be blessed. Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: There will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs: They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He planneth.
Qur'an 39:73-4 : And those who keep their duty to their Lord are driven unto the Garden in troops till, when they reach it, and the gates thereof are opened, and the warders thereof say unto them: Peace be unto you! Ye are good, so enter ye (the Garden of delight), to dwell therein; They say: Praise be to Allah, Who hath fulfilled His promise unto us and hath made us inherit the land *(al-ardh), sojourning in the Garden where we will! So bounteous is the wage of workers. *(the word translated here as land (al-ardh), also can mean "the earth" in Arabic. In the Bible also we read that "the meek shall inherit the earth".)
Qur'an 39:69 : And the earth shineth with the light of her Lord, and the Book is set up, and the prophets and the witnesses are brought, and it is judged between them with truth, and they are not wronged.
We also read about the timing of all this, and about the Closeness of the Hour. I have observed many Muslims recently, express their belief that these events may in fact come in the not too distant future. Paralleling that, there has been a lot of talk in many Christian circles as well, about the coming millennium. What we concentrate on here, are the verses in the Qur’an.:
Qur'an 78:1-5 : Of what do they ask one another? About the great event, About which they differ? Nay! they shall soon come to know Nay! Nay! they shall soon know.
Qur'an 42:17 : It is Allah Who has sent down the Book in Truth, and the Balance. And what will make thee realize that perhaps the Hour is close at hand?In fact the following verse tells us that: "the beginnings thereof have already come" :
Qur'an 47:18 : Await they aught save the Hour, that it should come upon them unawares? And the beginnings thereof have already come. But how, when it hath come upon them, can they take their warning?In addition to the verses in the Holy Qur’an, there are many traditions and hadiths and sayings by the Imams, and Muslim scholars, which have contributed to our common ideas of the signs of the "Hour". Many of them make us wonder (in agreement with verse 47:18 above) whether these things are already upon us. :
"The Apostle of God said: `There will come a time for my people when there will remain nothing of the Qur'an except its outward form and nothing of Islam except its name and they will call themselves by this name even though they are the people furthest from it. The mosques will be full of people but they will be empty of right guidance. The religious leaders (Fuqaha) of that day will be the most evil religious leaders under the heavens; sedition and dissension will go out from them and to them will it return.'"-ibn Babuya, Thawab ul-A'malThe Prophet (SAW) also said:
"... I hope that you would constitute half of the inhabitants of Paradise and I shall explain to you its (reason). The believers among the unbelievers would not be more than a white hair on (the body of a) black ox or a black hair on (the body of a) white ox."- Sahih Muslim 1.427
29:25 : "but on the Day of Judgment ye shall disown each other and curse each other: and your abode will be the Fire, and ye shall have none to help."
Another event that has traditionally been linked to the Day of Judgment, both in the Judeo-Christian traditions and in the Qur’an, is the Return of the Jews to the Holy Land as we may learn from the following verses. :
Qur'an 17:104 : And We said unto the Children of Israel after him: Dwell in the land; but when the promise of the Hereafter (wa3’dul akhirati) cometh to pass We shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of various nations.
Qur'an 59:2 : He it is Who caused those who disbelieved of the followers of the Book (Jews?) to go forth from their homes at (till) the first banishment (Li awalil hashr-till the first gathering) you did not think that they would go forth, while they were certain that their fortresses would defend them against Allah; but Allah came to them whence they did not expect, and cast terror into their hearts; they demolished their houses with their own hands and the hands of the believers; therefore take a lesson, O you who have eyes!
Qur'an 17:4 : And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Scripture: Ye verily will work corruption in the earth twice, and ye will become great tyrants*. *A literal translation is : Ye will then after (thumma) ascend (ta’lunna) to a great height (or station).
Qiyamah is also associated with the Time of Meeting God according to the following verses:
Qur'an 2:210 : Will they wait until Allah comes to them in canopies of clouds, with angels (in His train) and the question is (thus) settled? but to Allah do all questions go back (for decision).
Qur'an 18:110 : Say: "I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your Allah is one Allah: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.
Qur'an 2:45-6 : Nay, seek (Allah's) help with patient perseverance and prayer: It is indeed hard, except to those who bring a lowly spirit,- Who bear in mind the certainty that they are to meet their Lord, and that they are to return to Him.
Qur'an 69:17 : And the angels will be on its sides, and eight will, that Day, bear the Throne of thy Lord above them.
Qur'an 39:69 : And the earth shineth with the light of her Lord, and the Book is set up, and the prophets and the witnesses are brought, and it is judged between them with truth, and they are not wronged.
Qur'an 29:23 : Those who reject the Signs of Allah and the Meeting with Him,- it is they who shall despair of My Mercy: it is they who will (suffer) a most grievous Penalty.The question raised here, is : What does this mean? How do we reconcile all these promises, with what Islam tells us about the nature of God? :
Qur'an 6:103 : No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.
Qur'an 7: 143 : And when Moses came to Our appointed tryst and his Lord had spoken unto him, he said: My Lord! Show me (Thy Self), that I may gaze upon Thee. He said: Thou wilt not see Me,Indeed when "His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth" [2:255], and He is closer to us than our jugular vein [50:16], meaning that He is everywhere, what are we to think of meeting Him when He comes in "canopies of clouds"[2:210], and where would He be coming from? When Moses (PBUH) asked God to appear for Him, He "appeared / manifested Himself" (tajalla) to the mountain, and the mountain turned to dust for it couldn’t withstand this tajalli .
Qur'an 7: 143 : Thou wilt not see Me, but gaze upon the mountain! If it stand still in its place, then thou wilt see Me. And when his Lord revealed (His) glory to the mountain He sent it crashing down. And Moses fell down senseless. And when he woke he said: Glory unto Thee! I turn unto Thee repentant, and I am the first of (true) believers.On the other hand, there are other verses in the Qur’an, which may give us clues as to how it may still be possible to meet our Lord:
Qur'an 48:10 : Surely those who swear allegiance to you (Muhammad) do but swear allegiance to Allah; the hand of Allah is above their hands. Therefore whoever breaks (his faith), he breaks it only to the injury of his own soul, and whoever fulfills what he has covenanted with Allah, He will grant him a mighty reward.
Qur'an 8:17 : So you (Muhammad) did not slay them, but it was Allah Who slew them, and you did not smite when you smote (the enemy), but it was Allah Who smote, and that He might confer upon the believers a good gift from Himself; surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
Qur'an 4:80 : He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah: But if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds).
These momentous and earth shaking events, which in many ways are calamitous (specially for the unbelievers), are to be preceded by warnings and announcements and the sounding of the trumpet. :
Qur'an 50:41-2: And listen for the Day when the Caller will call out from a place quiet near,- The Day when they will hear a (mighty) Blast in (very) truth: that will be the Day of Resurrection.Who would be this caller, and where is this place that is quite near? In the past, the call came from the Messenger:
Qur'an 3:193 : "Our Lord! we have heard the call of one calling (Us) to Faith, 'Believe ye in the Lord,' and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities, and take to Thyself our souls in the company of the righteous.
Qur'an 8:24 : O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and the messenger when He calleth you to that which quickeneth you, and know that Allah cometh in between the man and his own heart, and that He it is unto Whom ye will be gathered.
Qur'an 34:28 :"We have not sent thee (Muhammed) but to the whole of mankind, as a giver of glad tidings and as a warner, but most of mankind still do not know."Part of the warning is to bring people back to the religion of God, to the Straight Path *, after they have divided themselves into factions and sects which, "disown each other and curse each other" [29:25]. A warning to precede the penalty, is indicative of God’s mercy and justice. :
Qur'an 20:134 : And if We had inflicted on them a penalty before this, they would have said: "Our Lord! If only Thou hadst sent us a messenger, we should certainly have followed Thy Signs before we were humbled and put to shame."
Qur'an 11:117 : Nor would thy Lord be the One to destroy communities for a single wrong-doing, if its members were likely to mend.* The Straight Path, which is narrower than a hair and sharper than a sword is explained in this verse:
Qur'an 6:161 : Say: Lo! As for me, my Lord hath guided me unto a straight path, a right religion, the community of Abraham, the upright, who was no idolater.It may be of interest that in the very first sura of the Qur’an (the opening chapter, Al-Fatiha) , the word "Deen" which translates to religion, creed, faith, is used to tell us about the "Day of Judgment" (Yawmul Deen). The following verses also talk about sending a Messenger, an Apostle before the chastisement.
Qur'an 17:15 :Whoever goes aright, for his own soul does he go aright; and whoever goes astray, to its detriment only does he go astray: nor can the bearer of a burden bear the burden of another, nor do We chastise until We raise an apostle.
Qur'an 28:59 :Nor was thy Lord the one to destroy a population until He had sent to its center a messenger, rehearsing to them Our Signs; nor are We going to destroy a population except when its members practice iniquity.Another way to see this may be argued that if we have eyes to recognize the calamities and the suffering, and the disunity and contention, we might ask if there has been a warning that we neglected to heed.
The laws of Islam lasting till 1260 AH (or 1000 years)/ other dates:
And they will bid thee hasten on the Doom, and Allah faileth not His promise, but lo! a Day with Allah is as a thousand years of what ye reckon.-Qur'an 22:47If you count the thousand years from the time when the last Imam disappeared, then the year is 1260 AH (1844 AD), the same number mentioned repeatedly in the Bible.
He directeth the ordinance (Al-Amr)* from the heaven unto the earth; then it ascendeth unto Him in a Day, whereof the measure is a thousand years of that ye reckon.-Qur'an 32:5
Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun till the darkness of the night* and the morning recitation; surely the morning recitation is witnessed.-Qur'an 17:78*Some interpret this verse as: keep the tenets (represented here by the word "prayer") from the decline of the sun (passing of the Prophet) until 1260-1261 (numeric value of "darkness of the night", "Ghasaqul-layl" in Arabic).
Islamic tradition contains many references to the year 1260 AH.
b. In the works of the learned and far-famed Muhyi'd-Din-i-'Arabi, many references are to be found regarding both the year of the advent and the name of the promised Manifestation. Among them are the following: "The ministers and upholders of His Faith shall be of the people of Persia." "In His name, the name of the Guardian [Ali] precedeth that of the Prophet [Muhammad]." "The year of His Revelation is identical with half of that number which is divisible by nine ."
c. Mirza Muhammad-i-Akhbari, in his poems relating to the year of the Manifestation, makes the following prediction: "In the year Ghars [the numerical value of the letters of which is 1260] the earth shall be illumined by His light, and in Gharasih  the world shall be suffused with its glory. If thou livest until the year Gharasi , thou shalt witness how the nations, the rulers, the peoples, and the Faith of God shall all have been renewed."
d. In a tradition ascribed to the Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, it is likewise recorded: "In Ghars the Tree of Divine guidance shall be planted."
e. Traditions such as these led to an Islamic movement, known as the Shakhi School, centered around the expectation of the Promised One in 1260 AH.
Qur'an 38:88 : "And ye shall certainly know the truth of it (all) after a while*." (while=Heen =68 , (1868 ?)