What is Dabbatu’l Ard? Has it emerged? Can the Illness of Aids be Dabba?

The Details of the Question

-Can the illness of Aids and debauchery be Dabba? -Does Dabba have any relationships with the Jinn?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

One of the signs of Doomsday is the emergence of "dabbatu'l -ard". The Prophet stated the following:

"One of the signs of Doomsday is the sun rising from the direction where it sets and the emergence of “dabba” at mid-morning. One of these signs will immediately be followed by the other." (Muslim, Fitan, 118)

"Dabba appears holding the seal of Solomon and the staff of Moses. It will illuminate the face of the believer and seal the nose of the unbeliever. When people living at that time come together, believers and unbelieves will be distinguished." (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad ", II, 491)

The word dabba means “a being that is alive and that moves”. Acting upon the meaning of the word, things like the train and the car can be called “dabba”. For instance, if we could bring someone who lived one thousand years ago to today, this person could name a train with a hundred wagons “dabbatul-ard”. However, this word is generally used for animals.

Here, a question like this can come to the mind: "Is dabbatu'l- ard an individual or a species?" It is not appropriate to think that an individual will deal with so many people. In that case, it is more appropriate to regard it as a species.

There are various interpretations about what kind of a creature dabba is. For instance, Hazrat Ali is reported to have said, "What is meant by it is not dabba with tail but dabba with beard." It can be understood that such a viewpoint implies some evil people.

Some people say dabba is “AIDS virus”. Some regard it as “television”. There are even some people who say “they might be robots”. According to them, robots produced by men and equipped with artificial intelligence will not obey “their masters” and they will destroy the human civilization.

Dabba in the Quran

The word "dabba" is mentioned in fourteen places in the Quran. The word “dawabb”, its plural form, is mentioned four times. Let us have a look at some of them.

"There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance depends on Allah." (Hud, 6)

"There is not a moving creature, but He hath grasp of its forelock." (Hud, 56)

"And Allah has created every animal from water: of them there are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. Allah creates what He wills: for verily Allah has power over all things." (an-Nur, 45)

The word “dabbatu’l-ard” mentioned in verse 82 of the chapter of an-Naml is generally interpreted as a sign of Doomsday by tafsir scholars:

"And when the Word is fulfilled against them (the unjust), We shall produce from the earth a beast to (face) them: he will speak to them, for that mankind did not believe with assurance in our Signs."

According to the apparent meaning of the verse, this dabba, which will come out of the ground, will talk to people and say that they do not believe in divine signs fully. Acting upon this, there are some people who say dabba might be the radio, television or even the Internet because they are made of some raw materials extracted from the ground. In some narrations, the following is stated: “The head of dabba will touch the clouds.” As it is known, televisions are connected with satellites and the head of the satellite is in the sky.

People who obey the criteria of halal-haram of the religion benefit from these devices. Those who are deprived of such criteria are harmed by them because those devices can also be used for evil and sins; in fact, they are used for evil and sins more frequently.

We think it is not necessary to regard dabba’s speech as talking through the tongue. This speech might be through the tongue of disposition. For instance, traffic lights and signs have no tongues but they tell many things to people.

What does dabba say?

This realm, which we see, is full of divine signs. However, most people do not understand these signs; they are drifted by the course of the daily events and spend their days in heedlessness. Allah Almighty sometimes sends disasters to warn people. They may be in the form of an earthquake, hurricane, flood or an animal.

When we refer to the Quran, we see that some tribes were sent animals as punishment. For instance, lice, locusts and frogs were sent to the Pharaoh and his tribe; they punished those stubborn people by invading everywhere. It is possible to see similar events today, too. Locusts, which are called “teeth of the wind” land on a field of crops like a black cloud; when they fly away, they leave nothing that can be used behind.

Similarly, flocks of birds were sent against Abraha and his army, who surrounded the Kaaba in order to demolish it; these birds threw special stones, which they were carrying in their beaks and feet, on those oppressed people and destroyed them. This event is narrated in a separate chapter in the Quran. This event, which is narrated in the chapter of al-Fil, took place a short time before the Prophet was born. The word “ababil” used in the chapter expresses that the birds came in flocks. The picture that is described is a “heavenly bombardment”. Like bomber planes dropping bombs on targets, these birds came in groups and made those people “like a field of crop through which locusts passed”.

The Quran states that the soldiers of the skies and the earth are under the command of Allah. (al-Muddaththir 31) Allah uses these soldiers to punish stubborn people whenever He wishes. For instance, water is mercy (a bounty). However, if Allah wishes, He transforms it into a flood as He did when He destroyed the tribe of Noah. Rain is sent down in buckets and water gushes forth from the ground. Eventually, a rebellious and stubborn tribe is flooded and eliminated from the scene of history.

Some people may try to explain them through coincidence. However, there is no place for coincidence in this realm. As Einstein puts it "Allah does not play dice." That is, He does not let things happen by chance. As Hamdi Yazır puts it, "The things that we regard as coincidence are actually divine acts" (Yazır, IV, 2802)

As the Quran states, Allah Almighty always does something. (ar-Rahman, 29) This realm shows the existence of the Sublime Creator with its emergence out of nothing; similarly, the activities that take place in everything, from atoms to galaxies, show His acts. Allah Almighty created the universe but then He did not leave it to work like a wound clock. Not even a particle can move without His permission.

"Not a leaf doth fall but with His knowledge." (al-An'am, 59)

"And no female conceives, or lays down (her load), but with His knowledge." (Fatir, 11)

The wind blows fast, not by chance; it blows in the way that He commands. It sometimes caresses our faces as breeze and sometimes acts like “a whip of wrath” as a storm.

When the narrations related to dabba are examined, it will be seen that dabba will emerge as a punishment at the end of time when people deviate from the right path completely. Believers will not be harmed by it thanks to the bounty of their belief; however, rebellious people will be punished by it.

Is AIDS dabba?

At this point, the virus of AIDS can come to the mind because this virus generally spreads through illegitimate relationships. Throughout history, illegitimate relationships have always existed but they never became so widespread and in the form of craze. From this point of view, it seems quite reasonable to regard AIDS virus as a divine punishment.

Moreover, the following event narrated in the Quran about Solomon can be regarded as a sign for one aspect of dabba:

After it is expressed that Solomon used jinn to construct large buildings, sculptures, etc., the following is stated:

"Then, when We decreed (Solomon's) death nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff: so when he fell down, the Jinn saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tarried in the humiliating Penalty (of their Task)." (Saba, 14).

According to the narration, Solomon leant on his staff and checked the jinn when they were working. However, while he was leaning on his staff, Azrael arrived and removed his soul. The jinn did not understand that he died and they went on working. When a worm of the earth gnawed away at his staff, it broke and Solomon fell down. Only then did the jinn realize that he had died. If they had known the unknown, they would not have worked so hard in pain.

(Note: Solomon’s staff, which is mentioned here is regarded as the system of the state established by him, and the worm gnawing at it as the committees trying to destroy the system. Allah knows best.)

This dabba gnawed at Solomon’s staff; similarly, dabbatul-arz, which is like AIDS virus, can gnaw at some people who transgressed the limits and defeat them.

However, to answer the question "is dabba AIDS?" as “yes, will bring about some problems because AIDS can a part of dabba but it might not express it wholly.

We regard it useful to view the issue as follows:

- The word “dabba” mentioned in the verse is in the form of an indefinite noun; it is used without “al” (“al” in Arabic is like “the” in English); it indicates that dabba is an unknown being. The fact that “the” was not used before the word dabba can be a sign that it is not known or it cannot be known fully.

- Indicating something is different from including it. The word dabba can include AIDS or television which is used for evil purposes but it is not certain.

- The religion is a test. In the test, a door is opened for the mind but the will of man is not removed. Thus, it will be wrong to expect that the signs of Doomsday will be very clear for everyone to understand. For instance, waiting for a dajjal with the writing “unbeliever” on his forehead and waiting for a mahdi who will settle everything as if he has a magic wand means not understanding narrations like that fully. Waiting for the People of the Cave (Ashab al-Kahf) to come out of the cave again is like that. In some books the following narration is included: "During the time of Mahdi, the People of the Cave will wake up." That is, Mahdi will awaken the youth that has been sleeping for three hundred years because it is clearly stated in the chapter of Kahf that the People of the Cave are some young people.

It is seen in the narrations which we have reported and the evaluations which we have made that we have not reached a definite solution which everybody will agree on and that the issue is somewhat suspended.

The knowledge of man is limited. For instance, we cannot give clear answers to questions like, “What is time? What is spirit?” Obscurity is in question to some extent regarding some realities about the universe. For instance, we do not know what atom really is; we have not been able to solve the mystery of life yet. That is, some issues are like a rose bud; when we separate a layer, we see some other layers waiting to be separated. What we need to do is to try to know the unknown things. To search these kinds of mysterious issues is like a sea cruise. Man cannot see what is in front of him very clearly. However, this mystery makes the cruise interesting and beautiful.

We think it is better to regard this issue like that. Some people who say, “this is what is meant by that” might feel ashamed in the future when it does not turn out to be so. Therefore, instead of making a certain decision, it is more appropriate and cautious to say, “this might be what is meant by that” because Allah states the following in the Quran:

"Say: "As to the knowledge of the time, it is with Allah alone." (al-Mulk, 26)

"Say: None in the heavens or on earth, except Allah, knows what is hidden." (an-Naml, 65)

(Doç Dr. Şadi EREN)

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Note: We advise you to read the following article written by the scholar, Mehmet KIRKINCI:

Dabbatu’l ard

Dabba means a living animal that moves. It will be more appropriate to think of dabba as a species rather than a single living being.

The word "dabba" is mentioned in fourteen places in the Quran.

“There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance depends on Allah.” (Hud, 11/6)

The word dabba mentioned in the verse above indicate all living beings.

The following is stated in another verse:

“And when the Word is fulfilled against them (the unjust), We shall produce from the earth a beast to (face) them: he will speak to them, for that mankind did not believe with assurance in our Signs.” (an-Naml, 27/ 82)

Dabba's speaking to people does not mean speaking with the tongue only. As a matter of fact, so many antique works of art displayed in this palace of the universe and so many incidents tell a lot of things to people with their tongue of disposition.

Elmalılı Hamdi YAZIR writes the following in the interpretation of the verse above:

“Dabb and Dabib mean to walk slowly, to flounder. It is used for animals, especially for insects. It is also used for the things whose movements cannot be noticed with the eye like alcohol spreading to the body and rottenness spreading to the things around. “Dabbe” is a noun derived from this root, lexically meaning something that walks slowly or flounders. In that case, vehicles like train, car and bicycle can be called dabba in terms of lexicology but it is used for animals. It is customarily used for four-footed animals, especially horses. However, as it is understood from the verse below, it is used for all animals:

“And Allah has created every animal from water: of them there are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four…” (an-Nur, 24/45)

It is almost synonymous with animal."

"There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance depends on Allah.” (Hud, 11/6)

That is also understood from that verse above. Therefore, the word dabba is also used for human beings along with animals. Since the word "dabba" is used without definite article al (the), it may be something different from the dabbas we know. It is stated clearly in the phrase "dabba speaking with them" that it is a speaking animal; that is a human. Tafsirs usually mention these two points."

"Raghib summarizes the views about the issue in his book called ‘Mufradat’ as follows: “Dabba” is an animal that is different from the animals we know. The following is also stated: “The most evil people who are like animals in terms of ignorance are meant by dabba."

In that case, dabba expresses all of the animals that walk slowly or flounder; like the plural form of the word “khain” used as “khaina”. Qadi Baydawi and some hadith scholars showed it as “jassasa” (spies); according to what is stated in a hadith, jassasa means a spy that collects information for Dajjal (Anthi-Christ). Abu's-Suud writes the following: This dabba is a spy. The reason why it is expressed as a common noun and its obscurity is confirmed with tanwin is to indicate the strangeness of its fame and inexplicability of its characteristics and deeds.

According to what is narrated from Abu Hurayra, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"The beast (dabbat-ul ard) mentioned in verse 87 of the chapter of an-Naml will emerge from the earth. With it shall be the ring of Sulayman (Solomon) and the staff of Musa (Moses). It will brighten the face of the believer, and stamp the nose of the disbeliever with the ring. Therefore, the people who live in the same place will know one another and will be able to say, 'This one is a believer, and that one is an unbeliever'." (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 28)

According to this hadith, dabba is a leader that will establish an Islamic state by emerging with extraordinary power and sultanate. There is no doubt that a person that has the staff of Musa and the ring of Sulayman will be a great person. He will be a good person, not a bad one; he will brighten the face of the believers and break the nose of the unbelievers. The following phrase in the verse necessitates it: "…he will speak to them, for that mankind did not believe with assurance in our Signs.” Then, the reason why he is given the name dabba is the fact that it will be merciless toward the unbelievers and the verse states that it is not difficult for Allah to produce it and that it is as easy as producing a normal dabba from the ground. We will also quote some explanations regarding the issue:

1. Ibn Jarir reports the following from Hudhayfa b. Asid:  "Dabba emerges three times: In the first one, it merges in some deserts and then hides. In the second one, it emerges in some cities when the rulers shed blood and it hides again. Then, when people are in the most honorable, biggest and most virtuous mosque, the earth starts to throw them. People start to run away; a group of believers stays there and says, 'Nothing but Allah can save us.' Dabba climbs over them and brighten their faces like a bright star. Then, it moves; neither the one who follows it can catch up with it nor the one who escapes can be saved from it. It goes to a man who is performing a prayer and says to him, 'By Allah, you are not a person who performs prayers.' It catches him. It brightens the face of the believer and breaks the nose of the unbeliever." We asked, 'What will the situation of the people be at that time?' He said, "They are neighbors in land, partners in property and comrades on the way."

2. Many scholars say dabba emerges when enjoining the good and forbidding the evil is abandoned.

The following is stated in a verse:  “Then, when We decreed (Solomon's) death nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff: so when he fell down, the Jinns saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tarried in the humiliating Penalty (of their Task.” (Saba, 34/14)

There are two views about the nature of the worm that gnawed away Hz. Sulayman’s staff: According to the first view, it is the well-known woodworm.

According to the other view, it is a worm that eats staff.

Just like the dabba gnawing away Hz. Sulayman’s staff, it is possible for AIDS virus or another disease gnawing away some people who overstep the limits in disobedience and immorality.

In a hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) states that dabbatu'l-ard is one of the signs of the Doomsday that will emerge: “The first sign would be the appearance of the sun from the west, the appearance of the beast before the people in the forenoon and which of the two happens first, the second one would follow immediately after that.” (Muslim, Fitan, 118; Ibn Hanbal, "Musnad", II, 201)

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states the following regarding the issue:

“As for the Beast (Dabbat al-Ard), in the Qur’an is an extremely concise indication, a brief expression made by its tongue of disposition. As for its details, like with some other matters, I do not know with any certainty for the present. I can only say this much: None knows the Unseen save Allah, just as the people of Pharaoh were visited by plagues of locusts and fleas, and the people of Abraha, who were trying to destroy the Ka‘ba, were attacked by “flights of birds;” so too, for the purpose of bringing to their senses those people who knowingly and willingly rebel due to the dissension of the Sufyan and Dajjals, and through the anarchy of Gog and Magog embark on corruption and savagery, and fall into irreligion, disbelief, and denial, a beast will emerge from the earth and beset and rout them. Allah knows best, that beast is a species. For even if huge, a single creature could not be everywhere. That means there will be a truly terrible species of animal. Perhaps, as indicated by the verse, Except a little worm of the earth, which kept [slowly] gnawing away at his staff,that creature will be a sort of termite, called “Dabbat al-Ard,” which will gnaw away at the bones of men as though they were wooden, establishing themselves in every part of their bodies, from their teeth to their finger-nails. By making the creature speak on the question of belief, the verse indicates that through the blessing of belief and their avoiding vice and abuses, the believers will be saved from it.” (Nursi, The Rays, The Fifth Ray)

Nursi emphasizes that the believers will not fall into such a bad state thanks to the blessing of belief and their avoiding vice and abuses. Then, it is necessary to take refuge in the castle of piety from the fire of debauchery, which is the most horrible and biggest danger of this age.

Today, when sins attack us by flooding all around us, the only way to be saved from the danger of the evil-commanding soul and the attacks of the deceptive and attractive desires is to live within the framework of chastity, good manners, modesty and piety (taqwa). For, the shortest way of struggling against the soul is piety.

Man, who was created for lofty purposes, thinks that he was sent to this world only to eat, drink and have fun, does not find the legitimate pleasures sufficient and commits all kinds of immoral deeds and flounders in the quagmire of debauchery.

In a community that is deprived of lofty characteristics like belief, knowledge of Allah, love, worshipping, piety, justice and stability, all kinds of evil deeds like debauchery and prostitution will emerge; they destroy countries, scatters families, eliminates honor and poisons the worldly and otherworldly life of the community.

Some ummahs and nations of the past that overstepped the limits in immorality and immodesty and that were drowned in the quagmire of debauchery were hit by very painful misfortunes and disasters. The following is stated in a verse so that we will take lessons from it: “Say: "Travel through the earth and see what was the End of those before (you).'” (ar-Rum, 30/42)

The blow and penalty by Allah Almighty to the rebellious nations of the past that dropped into immodesty and immorality and fell into the pit of immorality are mentioned in many verses of the Quran. Even very strong nations and empires could not resist the microbe of debauchery, which is like cancer. When this microbe enters a community, it gnaws at its structure in a very short time, weakens it and finally demolishes it. Then, we need to take lessons from those painful incidents that were experienced by the nations in the past and live modestly so that we will not attract the divine wrath.

The reason why Allah Almighty tells us about the painful incidents that happened to the nations of the past in the Quran is to make us take lessons from them. Locusts and frogs invaded the nation of the Pharaoh. However, they broke their promises each time after they were saved, did not take lessons from the misfortunes that hit them and were finally drowned.

Allah Almighty sent flocks of birds against Abraha and his army, who came in order to demolish the Kaaba; and those birds devastated them with the stones they carried with their beaks and feet.

The rebellious and obstinate nation of Hz. Nuh was eliminated by that great deluge.

Allah Almighty warns people in order to make them conscious from time to time through some disasters like earthquake, hurricane, famine and flood. However, man is such a strange and weird creature that he does not take lessons from the verses, hadiths and historical incidents; he does not avoid the mistakes and sins that will endanger him.

Therefore, every believer, especially scholars and educated people, needs to struggle against debauchery, which is the disease of this age and which is more dangerous than cancer, so as not to be hit by various disasters and misfortunes. Otherwise, the innocent people will be hit along with the guilty ones. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in a verse:

“And fear tumult or oppression which affecteth not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong…” (al-Anfal, 8/25)

Many painful incidents hit the previous nations that overstepped the limits in immorality; what demolished many empires like the Roman, Andalusia and Persia was debauchery. Yes, it is definite by the witnessing of history that many nations that were defeated by their enemies got stronger again and beat their enemies. However, it never became possible for a nation that was defeated by immorality, debauchery, oppression and injustice to pull itself together and to get strong again; it is impossible. Debauchery eliminated many nations from the stage of history.

For instance, all of the beauties of virtues developed in the Roman Empire; there was love among the administrators and people. They avoided debauchery and immorality and regarded it an honor to live modestly. Their women and youth were very chaste. However, when Alexander conquered Greece, their immorality and debauchery started to invade the Roman Empire. The high ethics and virtues were replaced by debauchery and immorality. Family life was spoiled. The magnificent Roman Empire was demolished and disappeared from the stage of history. Their laws and wealth could not save them from being destroyed.

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states the following:

“…Youth will go. And if it goes being squandered, it results in thousands of calamities and pains both in this world and in the Hereafter. And if you want to understand how the majority of such youths end up in hospitals with imagined diseases arising from misspent youth and prodigality, and in prisons or hostels for the destitute through their excesses, and in bars due to the distress arising from their pain and suffering, then go and ask at the hospitals, prisons and graveyards. For sure, just as you will hear from most of the hospitals the moans and groans of those ill from dissipation and debauchery resulting from the drives of youth, so too will you hear from the prisons the regretful sighs of unhappy youths who are being punished for illicit actions mostly resulting from the excesses of youth. And you will understand that most of the torments of the grave-that Intermediate Realm the doors of which continuously open and shut for those who enter it-are the result of misspent youth, as is testified to by those who have divined the life of the grave, and is affirmed by the people of truth. Also, ask the elderly and the sick, who form the majority of mankind. Certainly, the great majority of them will say with sorrow and regret: "Alas! We wasted our youth on passion and fancy; indeed, harmfully. Be careful, do not do as we did!" (Nursi, Sözler (Words))

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