Eighth Principle: The reasons for the concealment of the time of the Last Day and some important individuals. Some explanations about Mehdi, Sufyan, Dajjal, Gog and Magog.

EIGHTH PRINCIPLE: In this arena of trial and realm of examination, Almighty Allah, the Absolutely Wise One, conceals most important things in the midst of numerous others, and this is tied to many purposes, benefits, and instances of wisdom. For example, He has hidden the Night of Power in the whole of Ramadan, and the hour when prayers are answered in the whole of Friday, and well-accepted saints among the people generally, and the appointed hour in a person’s life-time, and the time of Doomsday in the life of the world.1 For if the time of man’s death had been specified, the first half of his life would be passed in absolute heedlessness and the second, in terror, like going step by step to the gallows. Whereas for the balance between this world and the next to be preserved, and to remain perpetually between hope and fear, living and dying have to be possible every moment. In which case, twenty years of uncertain life are preferable to a thousand years of life that are specified.

Thus, the Last Day is the appointed hour of the world, the macroanthropos. If the time had been specified, all the early and middle ages would have been plunged into absolute heedlessness, and the latter centuries, into terror. Just as in his personal life man is concerned with the continued existence of his home and village, so in his social life and as a member of mankind he is concerned with the continued existence of the earth and the world. The Qur’an says,

The Hour has drawn nigh. (Qur’an, 54:1.)

That is, Doomsday is near. It still not having come after a thousand or this many years does not negate its closeness. Because Doomsday is the appointed hour of the world, and in relation to the life of the world one or two thousand years are like one or two minutes in relation to a year. The Hour of Doomsday is not only the appointed hour of mankind that it should be related to it and seen as distant. It is because of this that the Absolutely Wise One conceals Doomsday in His knowledge among the ‘Five Hidden Things.’ It is due to the mystery of this vagueness that every age including the Age of the Bliss, the Age of the Prophet, people have been frightened of the end of the world. Some of them even said that the conditions had all but appeared.2

Thus, unfair people who do not know this truth say: “Why did the Companions of the Prophet with their vigilant hearts and keen sight, who had been taught all the details of the hereafter, suppose a fact that would occur one thousand four hundred years later to be close to their century, as though their ideas had deviated a thousand years from the truth?”

The Answer: Because, through the effulgence of the Prophet’s conversation, the Companions thought of the hereafter more than anyone, and knowing the transience of the world and understanding the Divine wisdom in the hour of Doomsday being vague, they assumed a position of always awaiting the world’s appointed hour and worked seriously for the hereafter. Allah’s Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) repeating: “Expect Doomsday. Wait for it”3 was prophetic guidance arising from this wisdom, it was not a pronouncement of revelation concerning the specific time of its occurrence and far from the truth. The cause is one thing and the wisdom is another. Thus, sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) of this sort arise from the wisdom in certain things being indefinite.

It is also due to this mystery that they expected the individuals who will come at the end of time like the Mahdi and Sufyan long beforehand, and even in the time of the generation succeeding the Prophet, and hoped to live long enough to see them. Some of the saints, even, said that they had passed. Like the end of the world, Divine wisdom requires that the times of these individuals are not specified either. Because every age is in need of the Mahdi’s meaning, for he strengthens morale and saves the people from despair. Every century has to have a share of this meaning. In order that people should not heedlessly follow evil and the reins of the soul should not be left free in indifference, every century the fearsome individuals who come to lead strife must be shrunk from and feared. If they had been specified, the benefits of general guidance would have been lost.

Now, the difference in the narrations about individuals like the Mahdi, and their meaning, is this: those who expounded Hadiths applied the text of the Hadiths to their own interpretations and commentaries. For example, since the centre of power at that time was Damascus or Medina, they imagined the events connected with the Mahdi and Sufyan in places like Basra, Kufa, and Syria, which were in the region of those centres, and expounded them accordingly. Moreover, they imagined the mighty works belonging to the collective identity or community which those individuals represent to be in their persons and expounded them in that way, so that they ascribed a form to them whereby when those extraordinary individuals appear, everyone will recognize them. However, as we said, this world is the arena of trial. The door is opened to the reason, but the will is not taken from the hand. So, when those individuals, and even the terrible Dajjal, appear, many people and himself even will not know to start with that he is the Dajjal. Those individuals of the end of time will be known through the insight and the light of belief.

It is narrated in a Hadith about the Dajjal, who is one of the signs of the end of time: “His first day is like a year, his second day like a month, his third day like a week, and his fourth day like other days. When he appears the world will hear. He will travel the world in forty days.”4 Some unfair people have said about this narration that it is impossible, God forbid, and have gone as far as denying and declaring it null. Whereas, And the knowledge of it is with Allah, the reality of it must be this:

It indicates the appearance of an individual from the North who will come to lead a great current issuing forth from the godless ideas of Naturalism, in the North, where the world of unbelief is at its densest, and who will be atheist. There is an instance of wisdom in this, for in the latitudes close to the North Pole the whole year is one day and one night; there are six months of night and six months of day. “One day of the Dajjal is a year” alludes to his appearance close to those latitudes. What is meant from “His second day is a month” is that passing in this direction from the North, it sometimes happens that for a month in the summer the sun does not set. This suggests that the Dajjal will emerge in the North and invade southwards towards the civilized world. By attributing the day to the Dajjal, it points to this. He comes further in this direction, and the sun does not set for a week, and so it continues until there are three hours between its rising and setting. While being held as a prisoner-of-war in Russia, I was in such a place. Close to us was a place where the sun did not set for a week. They used to go there to watch it. As for the part, “When the Dajjal appears, all the world will hear of it,” the telegraph and radio have solved this. As for his travelling the world in forty days, the railway and aeroplane, which are his mounts, have solved. Deniers who formerly considered these two statements to be impossible, now see them as commonplace!

Since in another treatise I have written in some detail about Gog and Magog and the Barrier, which are among the signs of the end of the world, I refer readers to those, and here only say this: there are narrations stating that the tribes known as the Manchurians and Mongols, who threw human society into chaos and were the cause of the building of the Great Wall of China, will again overturn human civilization close to Doomsday with an idea like anarchy.

Some atheists say: “Where are the tribes that perform these extraordinary acts and that will perform them?”

The Answer: A calamity like locusts appears in one season in enormous numbers, then on the change of the seasons, those numerous tribes which disrupt the country consign their reality to a few limited individuals. Then, when the time comes, at the Divine command, great numbers appear from those limited individuals and embark on the same corruption. As though the reality of their national identity is fined down, but not destroyed, and when the time arrives, it reemerges. In just the same way, those same tribes which overturned the world at one time will when the time comes again overturn human civilization with Divine permission. But what impels them will be in a different form. None knows the Unseen save Allah.

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1. Ibn Hajar, Munabihhat, 25.
2. al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, iv, 545, 549; Musnad, ii, 298, 299.
3. Tirmidhi, Fitan, 39.
4. Muslim, iv, 2252, No: 110; Musnad, iii, 367; vi, 181; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, vi, 530.

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Ninth Principle: The explanation of matters that are regarded as exaggeration concerning riwayahs about the insignificance of the world and the reward for actions and merits of some of the chapters of the Qur'an.

 

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