Signs of the Hour – 1
Many signs that our Prophet foretold concerning the end of the world have miraculously come true within a few decades of our time: enough to convince the most die-hard skeptic to wonder how such wide and varying phenomenon could have been so accurately foreseen by someone appearing a millennium and a half ago. But the fulfillments do not seem to have sufficiently turned people to Islam. Jesus had said about the uselessness of signs for an unbelieving people:
“An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it” (Matt. 12: 39)
He said that because,
“And the Pharisees and Sad’ducees came, and to test him (Jesus) they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, `It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, `It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (Matt. 16: 1-3)
The Bible of Barnabas says that when a town’s people asked for signs, Jesus refused and, instead, repairing to an unknown village, demonstrated Allah’s power there – perhaps in hope that the countrymen are less spiritually corrupted.
The Qur’an has said,
“Nothing prevented Us to send the signs except that the earlier ones had denied them.” (17: 59)
A sign asked for and denied, turns into a wrath of God. So, its non-appearance is a kind of mercy.
If signs could restore people to faith, scientific discoveries of our own age should have turned all scientists believers in God. That the world is so large, expanding at a lightening speed, and that physical laws deny that we should ever know how large our world is, should have run a chill in the backbones of the discoverers. But the result has been pride at the mere ability to discover the phenomenon! Discovery of the double helix containing transferable messages, did turn one here, or another there, to wonder whether there could be an outside Agency responsible for the message, but by and large, the rest of the scientific community was bursting out with uncontrollable hubris.
If the discoveries of the signs of God have had such amazing effects on the scientific community, the fact that some of the modern discoveries were already plainly stated in the Qur’an and Sunnah, have had similar amazing effects upon the faith of the Muslims. Many of them have remained as skeptic – at least in practical terms – as they were, perhaps even more, two centuries ago. Sale of Qur’anic commentaries continues to slide; hadith books suffer no better treatment.
Signs are not meant to be bedtime stories for the curious, but are a mercy for the believers. They re-confirm their faith, making them more committed to Islam. The complacent among them become pro-active. Their personal library experiences growth. If the sign happens to puts them to test, they take it with placid coolness and peaceful hearts and not vent anger and beat the waves with a stick, as the Sri Lankan boy is reported to have done in his frustration after the 2004 tsunami. It is for men and women of belief that the signs of the Last Hour have been so graphically depicted. When they occur, they ring familiar tones in them: as one of the Companions said: “Although we forgot much of what we heard from the Prophet as signs that will unfold with the passage of time, when we actually experienced one, we immediately recalled his words.”
A greater part of what are known as “minor signs,” have already appeared. How many have heeded? How many changed their life styles? And now we have arrived in an age which is pregnant with the “major signs.” Some events of recent occurring have been so close to the description of the happenings of the Last Hour that some people have begun to think that perhaps a few have already appeared. Imran Nazr Hosein is one such scholar who has been thinking, talking and writing about it for more than a decade. His book “Jerusalem in the Qur’an” (published by Masjid Dar al-Qur’an, 1514 East Third Avenue, Bayshore, New York, 11706, USA, year 2002, printed by Percetakan Zafar Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) makes interesting reading. He predicts that this will be the last century. A few of the major signs have already appeared, and the rest will unfold in quick succession. But that is his interpretation – and interpretations are always stretched, questionable, and evoke skepticism.
Born at the Caribbean, Imran was educated both in traditional Madrasas (Karachi, Azhar) as well as in prestigious universities (Trinidad, Switzerland). He trained both as an intellectual as well as a spiritualist and has a good eye on eschatology, history, politics and socio-economic issues. Having lived in New York for ten years serving as the Director of Islamic Studies for the Joint Committee of Muslim Organizations of Greater New York, and having lectured in several American and Canadian universities, colleges, churches, synagogues, prisons, community halls, etc., and, having participated in many inter-faith dialogues with Christian and Jewish scholars he enjoys a good understanding of the Western mind, culture and politics. And he is courageous. He writes in his “Jerusalem and the Qur’an:”
“The Taliban were in a situation comparable to the 12 year old Palestinian Muslim boy who fought US-made Israeli tanks with a stone in his hand. Neither were the Taliban defeated by America, nor by the ‘Northern’ Yankey Alliance with which Iran is still comfortable. And the young boys who fight with stones in the Holy Land, can never be defeated. Rather, the Taliban withdrew to the mountains where cowardly fighter aircraft and missile cannot reach them. And so these soldiers of Allah live to fight ‘another’ day. We salute them! Indeed, this war will not end until the Muslim army emerges out of Khorasan and marches triumphantly to Jerusalem. All those who read this book, and who are Muslims, should have the desire in their hearts to be part of that army.” (P. 237).
Those are bold words, and could lead him to serious trouble if he was living in the USA.
[The Khorasan army of his reference has been prophesized by our Prophet. He said that the Mahdi, his descendant bearing the same name and sharing his father’s name (Muhammad or Ahmad b. `Abdullah), will appear from the East, accompanied by black flags. Some reports add the word Khorasan to the text, which is an area covering north-west of Pakistan and south-east of Iran, with Afghanistan in the middle. Black flags refer to an army. The Mahdi will be a member of the army but without knowing that he is the promised Mahdi. He will be recognized as one at the Ka`bah and the best of Muslims will rush from Syria, Iraq and other places to swear allegiance to him].
Imran Hosein is forthright too. He writes:
“The most dangerous and obnoxious of all creatures on the face of the earth today (or rather the most evil people beneath the sky) are those scholars of Islam or Muslim leaders who were totally deceived by the Sept. 11th act of terrorism and who responded to it by blaming Arabs and Muslims for the attack and by extending patriotic support to Britain/USA/Israel in their war against Islamic Afghanistan.” (P. 238)
Finally, he has foresight and a pretty good understanding of the political objectives of the West, particularly USA which is led by the Zionist noose around its neck. He writes:
“This book anticipates that the US/UK – led alliance will wage a protracted war in Afghanistan and elsewhere for the express purpose, among other things, of provoking civil war in Pakistan. If and when elements in the Pakistan armed forces eventually revolt and join popular forces opposed to the Government’s policy of support for USA, and civil war brakes out in Pakistan, such would be the cue for USA to lead international coalition in an attack on Pakistan’s nuclear plants where the nuclear weapons are produced. If this opportunity does not present itself they probably have a number of alternatives through which to achieve this objective. In fact, USA and its allies may very well go on to transform Pakistan into another Turkey or Iraq, or to preside over the (further) break-up of Pakistan.” (P. 245).
Thus the book makes interesting reading. But two of its aspects ask for closer study: (i) interpretations of the Prophetic predictions, and (ii) Imran M. Hosein’s own predictions.
Prophesies of our Prophet have been traditionally divided into major and minor signs. He spoke about several minor signs of the approach of the Hour; that is, the ending days of the life on earth. In the words of Imran, [elsewhere], describing the minor signs, “People would follow a way of life other than mine and give guidance other than mine”, “I fear for my people only the leaders who lead men astray”, “Before the Last Hour there will be great liars, so beware of them”, “When the most wicked member of a tribe becomes its ruler, and the most worthless member of a community becomes its leader, and a man is respected through fear of the evil he may do, and leadership is given to people who are unworthy of it, expect the Last Hour”, – all of these warnings have already been dramatically and ominously fulfilled in the world.
Women dressing like men and men like women, wide-spread fornication, disappearance of religious knowledge, true scholars belittled, marginalized, and even demonized, random killing, prevalence of riba, and naked barefoot bedouins competing in the construction of high-rise buildings, are all minor signs that have unfolded themselves within such quick spell as impossible to be ignored by the commonest of men. Yet, these direct, clear, unambiguous unfolding of the prophesies have drawn less attention than the hazy, ambiguous and heretofore false predictions of Nostradamus.
Regarding the major signs, we have a Companions narrating: Once we were sitting together and talking amongst ourselves when the Prophet appeared. He asked us what it was we were discussing. We said it was the Hour. He said: It will not be called until ten signs have appeared: “Smoke, Dajjal, the Animal (that will speak to the people), rising of the sun from the West, descending down of Isa (asws), appearance of Yajuj and Majuj,and three sinkings (or caving in of the earth): one in the East, another in the West and a third in the Arabian Peninsula. The last (sign) will be that of the Fire that will start from Yemen and drive the people towards the place of Reckoning.”
The minor signs have been fulfilled with such absence of ambiguity surrounding them that they cannot be disputed against. In fact, their fulfillment can be proved scientifically in terms of data that can be collected, analyzed, results worked out, etc. And, therefore, their fulfillment does not call for any interpretation. But major signs are different. There has been a tendency among some people to interpret some events to conclude that a few have already occurred. Thereafter, predictions follow. This is what Imran N. Hosein attempts. He interprets a few events that have occurred in our times to build up the argument that they are the fulfilled signs. That achieved, he undertakes to predict how the rest of the signs are likely to follow. Accordingly, he assigns a chronological order to the above ten signs:
1. Appearance of Dajjal
2. Yajuj and Majuj
4. The Beast of the Earth
5. The sun rising from the West
6. Three earthquakes: One in the East
7. Another in the West
8. A third in Arabia
9. A fire coming from Yemen, and
10. The descent of Isa, the son of Maryam.
As mentioned earlier, to arrive at the above order, which was not prescribed by the Prophet, he has been at pains to resort to interpretations. And this is the aspect that we intend to discuss. However, before we do that we might point out that the end of the world is not a minor affair. It has provoked greatest of interest in the peoples of the world, and specifically the Muslims since they have received the signs in explicit terms. Innumerable scholars have, therefore, written on the topic. The chronological order that they have assigned as the most likely, is based on inner evidences rather than external happenings. Obviously, this is a safer way of determining the order. A detailed study of their arguments will require a volume, but at this point a single example may suffice. The scholars have generally suggested that the rising of the sun from the west should appear last – much before the appearance of Jesus Christ. Why? That is because the Prophet has said that no repentant’s repentance will be accepted after that event. Now, if it is placed before the appearance of Jesus Christ, it will mean that those who repent after his arrival, acknowledge his descent, and fight along with him, will not have their repentance accepted.
In this study we shall examine each of the signs that Imran N. Hosein argues as have been fulfilled. He contends for example, that Dajjal has already appeared – albeit in an impersonated form. His place of origin is identified as Britain. He is geographically now located in USA from where he is about to move to Israel, where he will appear as a young, powerfully built Jew to assume control of the state of Israel. Imran thinks Yajuj and Majuj were released during the time of the Prophet himself. He identifies, although implicitly, Britain and USA as the Gog and Magog (Yajuj and Majuj). He suggests that right now we are living in the age of Gog and Magog. Similarly, his argument is that the Beast of the Land is none other than the imposter state of Israel that occupies the Holy Land while the Smoke of the hadith is identified as modern-day pollution. The book was written in 2003. The author has followed up with the events and has, in his other writings (not part of this book), identified the East Asian tsunami of 2004 as the first caving in of the three promised. As regards the Prophet’s prophesy concerning a fire from the Hejaz, he thinks it will happen when Israel launches a nuclear attack on this part of the world.
The theme that dominates this book is that after Britain (the first phase of Dajjal), United States took over as the world superpower (the second phase of Dajjal), and that now, after a predictable collapse of American currency and military power, Israel will take over as the Ruling State of the world. That would occur when Israel wages her big war that would result in the dramatic territorial expansion of the State ‘from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates.’ Israel will then seize control of the Suez Canal and all the oil of the Arabian Gulf. It is at the end of this third phase that the Anti-Christ (Dajjal) will appear in his full and final human form to take control of the State of Israel. It is then that Jesus Christ will descend, overcome Dajjal, and rule the world from Jerusalem establishing peace everywhere. To Imran N. Hosein, Jerusalem is the fulcrum of the world and is the one alluded to in the ayah 95 of surah Al-Anbiyaa’.
The above is roughly the gist of the book. But the gist is nothing without the interesting (philosophical) arguments that the author builds. Yet, those arguments do not interest us. This is because they have been created to support certain interpretations and predictions. In the issue that follows we shall look into why the interpretations cannot hold their ground against scholarly examination, and why the predictions are, logically, politically, and scientifically speaking, questionable.
(To be continued).