Islamic eschatology is centered on Yawm ad-Dīn (“the Day of Judgment”) or Yawm al-Qiyāmah (“the Day of Resurrection”), or found in Surah 75 of the Quran that borrowed from the ultimate divine judgment of the dead from Daniel 12:2 and Revelation 20:12 in the Old and New Testaments, respectively. Thus, it is accepted in all three alleged “Abrahamic” religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The seventy-fifth Sura of the Quran, al-Qiyama, has as its main subject the resurrection.
Nay, I swear by the Day of Resurrection; Nay, I swear by the accusing soul (that this Scripture is true). Thinketh man that We shall not assemble his bones? Yea, verily. We are Able to restore his very fingers! But man would fain deny what is before him. He asketh: When will be this Day of Resurrection? But when sight is confounded, And the moon is eclipsed. And sun and moon are united, On that day man will cry: Whither to flee! Alas! No refuge! Unto thy Lord is the recourse that day. (Sura 75:1–12).[i]
Reflecting its dependence on the Christian and Jewish “Day of the Lord” Scriptures, Islam also teaches a final tribulation, resurrection of the dead, and eternal division of the righteous and wicked. Islamic apocalyptic literature describes a final battle, like Armageddon, known as fitnah, malāḥim (“bloody fights,” “massacres”), or ghaybah in Shī‘a Islam. [ii]
For Muslims, it is a singular, final assessment of humanity by Allah, consisting of the annihilation of all life, a general resurrection of the dead, and weighing on the scales of judgment based on ones works in life (Surah 101). The righteous people are rewarded with pleasures of Jannah (paradise), while the unrighteous folks are tormented in Jahannam (hell). It is another doctrine borrowed from the New Testament with some minimal revisionism (or a plagiarists’ confusion).
In contrast, the book of Revelation describes two resurrections. Christians are raised for the Millennium: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5). The second resurrection is the judgment of non-Christians (including Muslims) according to the Old Testament law, and the New Testament is clear that “therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). For this reason, we believe Islam is a false hope. Only by confessing “Jesus is Lord” and “I am a sinner” while believing that He died for your sins and rose from the dead is sufficient (1 Corinthians 15:3–7). That gospel fundamentally disagrees with the Qur’an.
Belief in the Day of Judgment is one of the six aqīdah (“articles of faith”) in Sunni Islam. This is seen in the Qur’an: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteousness is this that one should believe in Allah and the last day.”[iii] In fact, belief in the last day is the second of the five pillars of Islam, making eschatology more central to Islam than Christianity and Judaism.
The Qur’an is quite limited in its discussion of the “day of judgment” and, as a result, the majority of eschatological details come from the more questionable Hadith literature.[iv] Complicating matters, the Hadiths are hearsay statements reported from those who allegedly overheard Muhammad say “such and so,” and would probably not even be admitted into a US court of law. A scholar of the Islamic religion who has written an authoritative comparison of Christian and Muslim eschatology, Dr. Samuel Shahid, wrote concerning the Hadith, “Tere is no assurance or guarantee that all the information cited here is accurate or trustworthy. Muslim scholars admit that a sizable volume of the hadith is spurious.”[v] Some Hadith traditions are rather easily debunked.
For instance, Shahid makes sport of a wacky Hadith that claims actually the Jews conquer Constantinople by walking around it like the Israelites were instructed to do at the fall of Jericho in the Hebrew Bible (Joshua 5:13–6:27).
On the authority of Abu Huraya related that the hour would not come until seventy thousands of the children of Isaac (the Jews) invade Constantinople without employing any type of arms. All of its fortified walls would fall by praises and the call of “God is greater.” Based on the historical account, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman dynasty (Turks) in the fifteenth century and not by Arabs. Secondly, the contradiction between the two traditions is obvious since the Children of Isaac has nothing to do with the conquest of Constantinople. Thirdly, it seems more that the narrator of this tradition was historically confused that he failed to differentiate between the episodes of the fall of Jericho as it is recorded in six of the book of Joshua and the myth of the conquest of Constantinople. Such contradiction and confusion suggest that this tradition was a late fabrication by the narrators who sought to amaze their audience. Most probably, they heard the biblical story from some Jewish friends and weaved it into the fabric of their tradition.[vi]
We believe that critique explains the majority of Islamic eschatology coming from the Hadith. From the ever-dubious Hadith, the Islamic portents of the end-times are derived.
There are many signs that are said to precede the Day of Judgment. Muslim scholars divide these in the minor (lesser) signs and the major (greater) signs.[vii] The minor signs are “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.”[viii] They are nearly universal, and it is relatively easy to find “fulfillments” of these so-called omens. Muslims believe many of them are already fulfilled, while qualifying that some have begun but not yet concluded. The major signs comprise a more precise template by which the discerning student may supposedly derive the lateness of the hour on the end-time clock. Cook explains, “They detail a series of events of ever-increasing severity that will precede the end of the world, at which time the damned will be judged and the blessed will begin to taste the pleasures God has in store for them in heaven.”[ix] We will briefly review the excess of minor signs and then we’ll look at the ten, more specific, major signs.
The Minor Signs
Minor signs can be bifurcated into normal events that seem to plague most modernizing cultures and truly extraordinary events that are said to be heralds of the apocalypse.[x] The formula for all the minor signs listed begins with “the last hour will not occur until…”. Accordingly, number 4 below reads, “The last hour will not occur until earthquakes increase.” Thus, one should assume that phrase for each numbered sign.
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The normal signs include: 1) the increase of ignorance of Islam and betrayal of Muslim daily religious rituals; 2) the pervasiveness of alcohol consumption; 3) an increase in apostasy as many are deceived by the Muslim “antichrist” known as the Dajjal. 4) an increase in earthquakes;[xi] 5) a population in which women will outnumber men; 6) corruption of political leaders; 7) the building of lavish mosques; 8) the desire of death for many people; 9) Muslim countries imitating the actions of non-Islamic nations (e.g., Turkey’s bid for the EU status); 10) a large number of casualties resulting from a major internal war within Islam (e.g., the Sunni/Shia conflict); 11) the appearance of a man from Qahtan appears, who may be the Mahdi (in some South Arabian traditions); 12) the appearance of thirty to forty false prophets, four of whom are women; 13) instances of some Muslims murdering their leader (many caliphs have been assassinated throughout history); 14) many Muslims questioning their faith; 15) the rise of the final caliphate (the claim of the IS) and its establishment in Jerusalem; 16) the destruction of many of the Arabs; 17) the expansion of Ihab to Yahab (ancient locations in the suburbs of Medina; people reject the Divine Decree of destiny (the Islamic doctrine of predestination, e.g., Qur’an 22:70); 18) the defeat of the crusaders at Allepo or Dabiq, Syria (The IS’s trademark prophecy, e.g., Sahih Muslim, 6924);[xii] 19) the conquering of Constantinople (a seeming absurdity, given that today’s Istanbul is already Muslim); 20) the peaceful death of Muslim believers, leaving only the wicked on earth (seems to parallel the Rapture); 21) the destruction of the city of Mecca and the plundering of the Ka’ba’. It’s interesting that IS has threatened to bring this to pass as well.[xiii]
The extraordinary signs are much stranger, and, if they were to occur, such events would draw many to believe in Islamic prophecy. The signs classified as extraordinary include: 1) the appearance of people who eat with their tongues like cows[xiv] (no explanation is given, but they seem to be different sort of entity than a regular human); 2) the contraction of time: a year is like a month, a month like a week, a week like a day, and a day like an hour[xv] (Shahid contends this clumsily borrows from Matthew 24:22);[xvi] 3) wild beasts speaking to men;[xvii]4) the Euphrates River uncovering a mountain of gold and people fighting over it.[xviii] Shahid points out how this parallels the drying-up of the Euphrates in this passage in the biblical Apocalypse: “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12). Running for approximately 1,728 miles from the northwest to the southeast, the Euphrates was classically viewed as a dividing line between East and West.[xix] As this suggests, many of these signs are borrowed from the much-older Christian prophecies, especially the “beginning of sorrows” listed by Jesus in the KJV or called the “birth pains” in modern versions (Matthew 24:8). The following table compares the birth pains to some of the minor signs.
The parallels to the biblical text are ubiquitous, but they demonstrably reflect borrowing rather than a true supernatural correspondence as some Islamic Antichrist theorists assert. Muslims apply the same flawed Qur’anic methodology applied to the Hebrew Bible’s chosen seed when Isaac is swapped for Ishmael. Creative Hadith cobblers reversed roles in the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13) and the book of Revelation while redacting and condensing the original material heavily. In a literary sense, the Dajjal corresponds to Jesus’ prediction, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). Of course, we Christians believe Islam is false. Naturally, Islamic Antichrist proponents are fond of the Muslim’s Dajjal being the actual Jesus Christ—our Messiah and returning King.
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That near direct borrowing by the Hadith composers supports our plagiarism explanation for the correspondences. However, it does seem ironic that, if realized, it must be the case that their false messiah could be a friend to Christians but not necessarily. Joel Richardson offers the idea the Muslims will label the real Jesus the Dajjal when he does not confirm Islam as expected, making him a perfect deceiver in Muslim eyes.[xx] But it’s more likely the case of the Hadith being spurious Islamic pseudepigrapha. It seems more likely that the bitter Sunni/Shia split will prompt many inevitable Dajjal claims. Our opinion carries weight in that Mahdists require a Dajjal for their narrative to be coherent. It follows that his appearance is necessary for the current Mahdism (like the IS) to survive. We believe the Iraqi military with Western air support could eliminate the IS, but Mahdism will survive. It suggests a reasonable explanation for why Israel’s neighbors attack Jerusalem at Armageddon.
In Islamic eschatology, a messianic figure known as the Mahdi will appear before the arrival of Jesus and the Day of Judgment to rid the world of corruption and establish Islam as the global religion. Some place the Mahdi’s arrival as the middle point between the minor and major signs, but many assert him as the first major sign. Chris White explains, “The Mahdi is said to unite the Muslim world to fight several battles, including the conquest of Constantinople. He shares the wealth that he acquires through conquest with the people. He rules the world for five, seven, eight, nine, or nineteen years (Islamic sources differ) before Isa returns.”[xxi] As we have documented, Mahdism fuels the IS and other such apocalyptic death cults, but there is disagreement as to exactly where the Mahdi falls in the sign classification theology. The Hadith we studied list ten major signs and do not mention the Mahdi, a dubious fact that suggests the major sign narrative preceded knowledge of any such “rightly guided one.” Furthermore, there is a profound incoherence with the minor sign, “The last day shall not arrive until the Muslim believers die peacefully leaving only the wicked on earth”[xxii] and “Mecca is turned into ruins”[xxiii] (both minor signs) with the idea that the Mahdi makes the whole world Muslim. The signs seem to exclude each other. Of course, this reflects the dubious scholarship inherent to the Hadith.
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[i] Muhamad M. Pickthall, ed., The Quran (Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library, n.d.).
[iii] M. H. Shakir, ed., The Quran (Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library, n.d.).
[iv] “Sunnah,” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online 2016,
http://www.britannica.com/topic/Sunnah accessed January 4, 2016.
[v]ṢamūʼīlʻAbd al-Shahīd, The Last Trumpet: A Comparative Study in Christian-Islamic Eschatology (Longwood, Fla.: Xulon Press, 2005), 29.
[vi]Shahīd, The Last Trumpet, 40.
[vii] “Theologians have divided these apocalyptic signs into two groups: the Lesser and the Greater Signs of the Hour,” David Cook, Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature, Kindle Locations 121–122.
[viii] Ibid., 122–123.
[ix] Ibid., 127–129.
[x]Shahīd, The Last Trumpet, 30–42. My list of minor signs is drawn largely from this section of this book citing numerous Hadiths.
[xii]Sahih Muslim, 6924 http://www.theonlyquran.com/hadith/Sahih-Muslim/?volume=41&chapter=9.
[xiii] “Islamic State Threatens to Attack Saudi Arabia,” ENCA, December 20, 2015, https://www.enca.com/world/islamic-state-threatens-attack-saudi-arabia, accessed January 12, 2016.
[xiv]Alim, Sunanan of al-Tirmidhi, #1236.
[xv] Ibid., #1446.
[xvi]Shahid, The Last Trumpet, 41–42.
[xvii]Alim, Sunanan of al-Tirmidhi #1450.
[xviii]Shahih of Muslim, v.8, page 174 (English translation).
[xix] Paige Patterson, Revelation, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 39, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012), 310.
[xx] Joel Richardson, The Islamic Antichrist, second ed. (Washington, D.C.: WND Books, 2015), 79.
[xxi] Chris White, The Islamic Antichrist Debunked: A Comprehensive Critique of the Muslim Antichrist Theory, Kindle Edition, (Nashville TN, CWM Publishing, 2015), Kindle Locations 2489–2491.
[xxii] Musnad of Ahmad 2: 537–538; and Shahih of Muslim #2949 (Arabic version) as translated by Shahid, Last Trumpet, 41.
[xxiii]Al-Fitanwa al-Malhim183–187, as translated by Shahid, Last Trumpet, 41.