No one can know when the Day of Judgment will occur. However,
God has mercifully taught His messengers some of the signs that alert one to
the fact that the Hour is approaching. These signs play a very important role,
especially for those who live at a time distant from the Prophet and who did
not experience first hand his teaching and example. These signs reinforce
one’s belief in the Prophet. More importantly, these signs, if one takes the
time to reflect upon them, are a reminder of the Day of Judgment. They should
revive the heart of the person and make him recall what he is doing on this
earth and to where all this is heading.
The signs of the Hour can be
divided into two types. First are those that occur as part of the changes in
everyday life. These are known as the “minor signs.” The second are the
extraordinary or supernatural events that will occur just before the actual
Hour. These are known as the “major signs.” Although the focus of this
article will be the major signs, it is worthwhile to make a few points
concerning the minor signs.
“The Minor Signs”
Although the intent of this article is to cover the
major signs, the author would like to include a few points about the “minor
signs,” since they are often neglected as people concentrate on the more
“sensational” major signs. Minor signs are those signs that may occur long
before the actual Last Day and, in general, they are related to day-to-day changes
that occur in worldly events. The number of minor signs is numerous.
Many have already occurred and many others continue to occur.
Thus, minor signs can occur repeatedly around an individual yet many remain
oblivious to them and to their importance. In fact, in the famous hadeeth of
the Angel Gabriel, when the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon
him, offered to tell Gabriel – in front of his Companions - some of the signs
of the Hour (after the Prophet was informed about them previously), he
mentioned only some “minor signs.” Perhaps, God knows best, this is because
these are the signs that have much more of an effect on one’s everyday life and
worship, although the recognition of these signs are sometimes more difficult
When one witnesses these signs
around him, they should be clear reminders of God and one’s future meeting with
God. They should also fortify one’s belief in God and, in particular, in the
truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad. These signs that the Prophet spoke about
years—even centuries—before they ever occurred should, in addition to all of
the facts concerning the Prophet Muhammad, work to strengthen an individual’s
belief about the truth of Islam. Thus, they have a great role to play if the
individual makes himself alert and awake to what is going on around him.
In addition, these signs should be
a reminder that God has foreknowledge of everything that is occurring in this
world— this is how He could convey those signs to His messenger. Therefore, God
also has knowledge of everything the person is doing. God is watching and
aware of every act of His creatures. At the very least, this consciousness,
which comes about through witnessing the Signs of the Hour, should make the
person worship and fear God knowing full well that He is seeing him. This is the
superior level of faith known as ihsaan.
Only a couple of minor signs will be mentioned here,
while the reader is greatly encouraged to research this topic further.
The Prophet stated:
“From among the signs of the Hour is the common
appearance of lewd acts, working to bring about lewd acts, the cutting off of
the ties of relationship and the trusting of deceivers.” (At-Tabarani)
The manifestation of this hadeeth can be seen daily in a
person’s life, especially the first two or three aspects mentioned. One needs
only leave one’s house, turn on a television or surf the Internet to see how
prominent lewd acts—those acts which are considered lewd by Islamic Law—are
today. Indeed, great effort and expense is exhausted in producing and
presenting them to as many people as possible.
The Prophet also said:
“From among the signs of the Hour is the abundance
of wealth, increasing of ignorance, numerous tribulations and widespread
trading and business.” (Al-Hakim)
Capitalist economists boast about the amount of wealth
there is in the world today. Indeed, it seems as if business and trade are the
most important agendas in the world today, outstripping any moral values or
even the sanctity of human lives. When this is accompanied by
ignorance—especially ignorance of the religion of God—and an increase in
trials, tribulations, fighting and wars, the result for humankind is nothing
short of disastrous. Yet this is what can be seen throughout the world today.