An ancient prophecy quotes Muhammad as saying Dabiq (near Aleppo in Syria) will be where Islam defeats Christendom (Sahih-Muslim, Vol. 4, Ch. 41, 1501). Yet, only within the last year has ISIS linked that prophecy to its territorial ambitions, and even launched a digital publication under that name. This monthly magazine, filled with images of blood and gore, is a major means of recruitment. Though most Muslims reject such claims, the apocalyptic emphasis in Islam is only second in importance to tawhid (monotheism).
There Will be Signs and Wonders
Several Qur’anic verses describe the dramatic events leading up to “The Day”: “When the sun is folded up; when the stars fall, losing their luster (81:1-2); “When the oceans are suffered to burst forth; and when the graves are turned upside down” (82:3-4); “What is the day of noise and clamor? … It is a day whereon men will be like moths scattered about and the mountains like carded wool” (56:4-6).
One Islamic website is entitled, “50 Signs of the Day of Judgment From the Words of Allah and His Messenger,” whereas a tradition mentions ten signs (Al-Muslim, Vol. 4, 1503f):
Thereupon he [Muhammad] said: “It will not come until you see ten signs before and (in this connection) he made mention of the smoke, Dajal [Anti-Christ], the beast, the rising of the sun from the west, the descent of Jesus son of Mary (Allah be pleased with him), the Gog and Magog, and land-slidings in three places, one in the east, one in the west and one in Arabia at the end of which fire would burn forth from the Yemen, and would drive people to the place of their assembly.
There Will be Moral Decay
Moral conditions at that time will be at an all-time low: “Narrated Anas Allah’s Apostle said, ‘From among the portents of the Hour are the following: Religious knowledge will be taken away by the death of religious learned men; Religious ignorance will prevail; Drinking of Alcoholic drinks will be very common; There will be prevalence of open illegal sexual intercourse’” (Al-Muslim, Vol. 4, 1503-1504). And, “Women will increase in number and men will decrease in number so much so that fifty women will be looked after by one man (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, 68). It is also said that musical instruments will precipitate much of the moral decay.
It Will be Terrifying
This is only one of many traditions describing the prevailing terror (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, 354).
Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Apostle said: “The people will sweat so profusely on the Day of Resurrection that their sweat will sink seventy cubits deep into the earth, and it will rise up till it reaches the people’s mouths and ears.”
If this isn’t bad enough, the most terrible moment will be when each person is handed a book of deeds done on earth, and these are then weighed upon a scale. The final obstacle is a bridge to be crossed–for al-Ghazali–the most frightful of all. He referred to it as “The Traverse,” for it stretched over hell and was “sharper than a sword and thinner than a hair.” The saved would cross over and enter the gates of paradise but the damned would slip off and be caught by the “angels of hell with their hooks and grapples.” (Al-Ghazzali: The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife, 205-206).
Hellfire and Brimstone
Some Qur’anic verses seem to suggest no one will escape hell: “And for this did He create them: and the Word of thy Lord shall be fulfilled: “I will fill hell with jinns [spirits] and men all together” (11:119). And, “Not one of you but will pass over it; this is with thy Lord, a decree which must be accomplished”(19:71). Moreover, the Hadith describes the extent to which people will suffer (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, 368-369):
Narrated An-Nu man bin Bashir: “I heard the Prophet saying, ‘The least punished person of the hell fire on the Day of Resurrection will be a man under whose arch of the feet two smouldering embers will be placed, because of which his brain will boil just like Al-Mirajal (copper vessel) is boiling with water.”
Jesus has A Key Role
Muslim theologians often consider the return of Jesus to be the most significant event at that time (connected with eight of the fifty signs referred to above). When he returns he will slay the false Messiah (Anti-Christ, or dajjal), and establish peace and righteousness on earth. Qur’anic commentators usually link the this verse to Jesus: “And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them” (Qur’an, 4:159).
Al-Bukhari adds several other actions of Jesus (Vol. 3, 233-234) :
Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in whose hands my soul is, son of Mary, Jesus will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya” (tax taken from the non-Muslims under the protection of the Muslim government).
For most Muslims, death and the grave speak of fear and uncertainty, whereas the Bible gives Christians ample assurance they can face the Judgment with confidence and hope. For example, “But we know that when he appears, we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope purifies himself, just as he is pure” (I John 3:2-3). We must, therefore, lovingly tell our Muslim friends that faith in Jesus as the crucified, risen and coming Messiah makes all the difference in this world–and the world to come.