The Day of Judgement shall be preceded by various events and occurrences, some of which have been recounted in the Quran and Hadith. Among these, some are considered major signs of the Day of Judgement, such as the advent of Dajjal and the resurgence of the Gog and Magog tribes. While signs such as these shall appear towards the very end of times, there are other signs of the Last Day that have been appearing throughout history.
A hadith reported in Sahih Al-Bukahri makes several prophecies linked to the Day of Judgement that have arguably been fulfilled in the recent past. This article discusses each of these prophecies, and explores the extent to which they have already come true. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stated that the Day of Judgement shall not come until each of the following occurs.
1. “Two big groups fight each other whereupon there will be a great number of casualties on both sides, and they will be following one and the same religious doctrine.”
This could very well be a reference to the Second World War, fought between 1939 and 1945. This was the largest and deadliest encounter in human history, with an estimated 85 million people being killed. The war spanned several continents, and involved most of the countries of the world, including all major powers of the time.
As referred to in the hadith, the countries were divided into two large groups: the Allies and the Axis. Moreover, most of the powerful countries on either side such as Germany, Italy, Britain, France, Austria, USA, and Soviet Union followed a single religious doctrine – Christianity.
The war resulted in massive destruction and chaos, reaching its climax with the bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by USA in which around 200,000 civilians were killed – the first and only example of a nuclear attack by any country. The victory of the Allied forces in the Second World War shaped a world order that continues to this day.
2. “About thirty dajjals [liars] appear, and each one of them will claim that he is Allah’s messenger.”
Islamic teachings are clear on the fact that Muhammad ﷺ was the last prophet of God. However, throughout history, many individuals, from among both Muslims and non-Muslims, have laid claims to prophethood or divinity. From Bahaullah of Iran, who went on to found a religion called Baha’i Faith, to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, various individuals have claimed to be recipients of divine revelation in recent centuries.
While some of the prophet claimants were widely recognized as liars or swindlers, others managed to gather support and maintain a limited following. However, the most powerful and influential dajjal – often referred to as “the Dajjal” – shall appear very close to the Day of Judgement, and the sphere of his influence shall be unprecedented, as described in Hadith literature.
3. “The religious knowledge is taken away.”
While this has not entirely materialized yet, it is a fact that many Muslims do not understand even some of the fundamental teachings of Islam. For many centuries now, Muslims have ignored the authentic texts of Islam – the Quran and authentic Hadith – and instead relied on so-called spiritual guides and faith healers to convey Islam to them. This approach has deprived the common Muslim from developing any meaningful expertise in studying Islamic texts firsthand.
While the Quran is central to the Islamic way of life, it is recited without understanding by the majority of people; hence, its knowledge is limited to a small fraction of the two billion Muslims around the world. Moreover, sectarianism has become rampant among the Muslims, and sometimes, the teachings of Quran and Hadith are compromised to uphold the uninformed interpretations of a particular school of jurisprudence or theology.
4. “Earthquakes will increase in number.”
It is generally agreed that the number of earthquakes has not increased in recent times; only our ability to detect earthquakes has, with improvements in technology. However, there is no denying the fact that earthquakes have caused massive destruction over the past few decades. In fact, 18 earthquakes with magnitudes of at least 8.0 were recorded between 2004 and 2014 – a 265% increase in the average rate of such quakes from the past century.
Incidents of devastating earthquakes during this recent period include the 2004 earthquake that triggered a tsunami and killed around 228,000 people in Southeast Asia; the 2005 earthquake in northern Pakistan which killed over 80,000; the earthquake in China’s Sichuan in 2008 which killed 88,000 and left 5 million homeless; and worst of all, Haiti’s 2010 earthquake in which 316,000 lost their lives.
5. “Time will pass quickly.”
A 24-hour day in the present obviously contains the same amount of time as it did thousands of years ago. However, today, we have become accustomed to a “fast” way of life: fast means of transportation, fast methods to store and transmit information, fast ways to do everyday jobs, and even ‘fast food’, to minimise the time spent in these activities.
Yet, in spite of this newfound efficiency, we are unable to efficiently cope with the demands of modern life. As a result, we often have little time for ourselves and those close to us. Our daily schedules often do not allow us to undertake many activities that we want to, such as working out or having a fitness routine. Hence, we are faced with a scarcity of time; in other words, time is “passing quickly”, as described in the hadith.
6. “Trials and afflictions will appear.”
Afflictions have appeared in the modern world, for example, in the form of new diseases and pandemics, news ways to cause mass destruction, increased poverty and crime, and severe economic crises. The scale of hunger, homelessness, and deprivation from basic facilities of life due to wars and conflicts has become exceedingly high in recent years.
Another major affliction in today’s world is the lack of spirituality in the lives of many people. Having confined religion to the “personal” sphere only, and rendered it distasteful to even mention God outside the realm of religion, many people face a spiritual crisis, having failed to recognize the purpose of their creation. Ideologies that seek to eliminate religious ethics in the name of personal freedom are a hidden form of trial for many of us today.
7. “Killing will increase.”
Each day, people are being killed in exceedingly large numbers. Innovative means to kill and spread violence such as drone attacks and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks have been invented, dealing a blow to public security in various parts of the world.
The Prophet (PBUH), in a separate hadith, said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my life, a time would come when the murderer would not know why he has committed the murder, and the victim would not know why he has been killed.” (Muslim) This best fits the description of killings due to suicide bombings and mass shootings in public places that have come to characterize the modern era.
Attacks on civilians, outside of war, are perhaps more common than ever before in history, and even schoolchildren have not been spared from such modes of killing. At a personal level, senseless killings in the name of religion or honor, due to reasons such as property and personal feuds, or under the influence of alcohol and drugs have often made headlines while many others go unreported.
8. “Wealth will be in abundance – so abundant that a wealthy person will worry lest nobody should accept his sadaqah, and whenever he will present it to someone, that person will say, ‘I am not in need of it’.”
Alongside extreme poverty also exists great affluence in some parts of the world. Such communities have been able to eradicate widespread poverty through the strengthening of their public institutions, and in particular, through a robust public welfare system. Through facilities such as free or highly subsidized healthcare and education, a minimum standard of living is ensured for all citizens, leaving hardly anyone indigent.
There are states across Europe as well as in the Gulf region, for instance, that have effectively eliminated poverty. Even China, despite its massive population, has alleviated extreme poverty through efficient governance and economic empowerment. However, most of the Muslim countries are yet to experience the scenario described in the hadith.
9. “People will compete with one another in constructing high buildings.”
Skyscrapers are considered a symbol of progress, prestige, and architectural ingenuity. Since the early twentieth century, certain countries in Asia and North America have competed for the construction of massive buildings that make the great pyramids of ancient Egypt appear rather small.
For instance, the world’s current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, is 828 metres high and has 163 floors. In 2012, another one of the world’s tallest structures, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower, was constructed right next to the Kaabah, being 601 metres high with 120 floors. Countries such as China and Malaysia are also home to uniquely tall buildings.
10. “A man when passing a grave of someone will say, “Would that I were in his place!”
There appears to be greater misery and depression in the world today than before. Individuals face distress due to tragedies they are unable to recover from, debt they are unable to repay, and emotional setbacks they cannot cope with. We are typically less content with what we have – a feeling of deprivation typically aggravated by excessive use of social media.
The increased longing for death, referred to in the hadith, is evidenced today by a higher suicide rate across many regions in recent years. For example, in USA, the suicide rate among people aged between 35 and 64 years increased by 28.4% in the period 1999-2010. In 2018, the country experienced its highest ever number of suicides at 48,344 suicidal deaths during the year.
The hadith then goes on to make an eleventh prophecy: the rising of the sun from the west. That confounding sign, however, shall appear only on the morning of the Day of Judgement. It will thus be one of the last indications of the Hour, and anyone who accepts faith after that will not benefit from it.
The fulfillment of the above prophecies to such a great extent indicates that the Day of Judgement could indeed be near. It is also a reminder of death; even if we are not alive when the Hour comes, our own death is inevitable and inescapable.
Hence, it makes sense to always bear our own mortal nature in mind, and engage in deeds accordingly. Yet, we behave in this world as if we shall live forever. As Allah points this out in the Quran, “[The time of] their account has approached for the people, while they are in heedlessness turning away.” (Al-Anbiya 21:1)
(Source of hadith: Bukhari, Volume 9, The Book of Al-Fitan (92), Hadith 7121 – Darussalam Publications)