How long will the time period between two resurrections be?

Details of the Question

How long will the time period between two resurrections be? They say 40 is stated in a narration. Is it true?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Yes, the statement, "there are forty" is mentioned in hadiths.

According to what is narrated from Abu Hurayra, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

“Between the two blowings of the trumpet, there will be an interval of forty.”

The Companions asked Abu Hurayra? “Forty days?” He said,

- “I cannot say anything.”

The Companions asked, “Forty years?” He said,

- “I cannot say anything.” They asked,

- “Forty months?” He said,

- “I cannot say anything.” (Then, he completed the hadith as follows: “The whole body of the son of Adam will decay except ajb adh-dhanab (coccyx). The deed of resurrection will start from it. Then, Allah will send down some water from the sky and everybody will be revived like plants.” (Bukhari, Tafsiru Surah (39), 3, (78), 1; Muslim, Fitan 28)

Once, Abu Hurayra was reporting a hadith he heard from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about the resurrection of man. He said that there would be an interval of forty between the time when everything in the universe would be eliminated with the blowing of the Trumpet (Sur) and the time when human beings would be resurrected with the blowing of the Trumpet for the second time.

“There are forty between two blowings.” Since the statement above was ambiguous, the Companions wondered how long the interval would be and they asked whether it was forty days, forty years or forty months. However, Abu Hurayra had heard an ambiguous expression from the Messenger of Allah; therefore, he did not want to interpret it and said he would not be able to say anything about it.   

However, it is generally accepted that the interval between the first blowing and the second one would be forty years based on that narration. (Ghazzali, ad-Durratul-Fakhira, p. 49; Qurtubi, at-Tadhkira, 1/287)

A very important piece of information is given in the hadith in question. The soil will eat up the whole human body except ajb adh-dhanab, which is like a mustard seed as the Prophet describes it (Musnad, III, 28) and hence which is regarded as the seed of the human body. 

“The whole body of the son of Adam will be eaten by dust except (coccyx) for his body will be reconstructed starting with it” According to what we learn from some hadiths, man was created from ajb adh-dhanab and will be resurrected from it. (Muslim, Fitan 142)

There are some scholars who say everything in the universe will decay and hence ajb adh-dhanab will also decay and disappear. According to them, it is stated that ajb adh-dhanab will not decay because it remains unrotten for a long time and it is the last organ that rots.

The hadiths mentioning that ajb adh-dhanab will not decay are very reliable and sound hadiths. Those who do not want to accept these hadiths with their apparent meanings have no valid evidence regarding the issue.

Thus, when Hz. Israfil blows the Turmpet, everything in this universe will disappear and as it is stated more clearly in some hadiths, a kind of elixir of life will rain forty years later and the Trumpet will be blown for the second time. When human beings hear it, they will be revived from their ajb adh-dhanabs, which resemble mustard seeds, like plants.

The blowing of the Trumpet, which is repeated in ten verses, expresses the cosmic incident that starts Doomsday. The second blowing prepares the resurrection of human beings and the other living beings that Allah wishes, and their appearance in the presence of Allah. Those concepts and descriptions included in the verses and hadiths are related to the unknown realm and the give people information and messages about the target and aim of the incident, not about how it happens.  

At this point, human mind is to understand what he is informed without getting confused and his heart and world of feelings are to believe and take lessons. Therefore, it is not possible to say something definite about the real nature of the Trumpet. However, it can be said that its blowing, that is, the greatest cosmic change will take place in two stages.

As Imam Maturidi, who is the first representative of tafsir ad-dirayah (interpretation based on reasoning), often states regarding the issue and other issues of ghayb (the unknown/unseen), it is the most appropriate deed to take the message given by definite nass (verses and hadiths) and to accept their apparent/lexical meanings and not to lose time by trying to determine their form and nature

Accordingly,

- When Israfil, who is one of the archangels, blows the Trumpet for the first time, the whole universe will die.

- Afterwards, probably forty years later, after Allah will send down a kind of water of life, Israfil will blow the Trumpet for the second time and all people will be resurrected from a tiny bone called ajb adh-dhanab ((coccyx) like plants.

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