Most faiths teach about the approaches to the Last Hour and the Last Day but as humans we avoid thinking about it. We may deny that day, but Allah reveals in the Qur’an; ‘……and the hour is coming without any doubt’ (22:7). And, ‘We did not create the Heavens and earth and everything between them, except with truth. The hour is certainly coming’. (15: 85).
This column had earlier carried an article that covered the signs that would precede the beginning of the end of the world that may have made for some uncomfortable reading for some. Look around and witness the man-made, climatic and natural disasters that have recently struck various parts of the world, this should make us sit up and think.
Am I being alarmist? Definitely not, I will quote Quranic verses and Biblical ones in order to make the reader to seriously think.
We hear of natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, storms, typhoons, heavy rains, floods and other such calamities that leave a trail of destruction all over the world. Remember the earthquake that struck Kobe in Japan, the tsunami that struck the south east Asian nations killing more than 100,000 people; the one that struck Japan a few years ago caused a deluge that wiped out cities and levelled many areas. Almost monthly there are reports of earthquakes, earth tremors and other natural disasters; the latest, we hear of volcanoes erupting and spewing forth lava.
Recently there was that violent earthquake that struck Nepal, thousands of lives were lost, homes reduced to rubble, roads and most of the infrastructure destroyed. Kathmandu the capital was literally destroyed. Nepal is a mountainous country and even Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak was violently shaken. Massive rocks and boulders the size of cars came tumbling down the mountain sides. People lost families, homes, businesses, crops and all their worldly possessions, they now live in the streets and in makeshift shelters with International relief agencies working feverishly trying to patch up their lives.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said this about the end times: ‘Great cities will be ruined and it will be as if they had not existed the day before’ He further said: ‘The Hour will not be established until…earthquakes will be frequent’.
We have even had strange climatic occurrences, look at the recent events in the United States; the massive floods that hit parts of Texas, some river levels rose by 26 feet (approx. 8 metres), rising water levels destroyed homes, crops, infrastructure, and took lives. At the same time some parts of the US have been struck by tornadoes and strong winds that were so violent that they blew away houses and overturned motor vehicles leaving widespread destruction in their wake.
Some parts of India are experiencing an unprecedented heat wave with temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius being recorded in some areas as a result more than 1300 people have died due to dehydration and other heat related conditions; the heat has even caused tarred roads to melt. Closer to home, most parts of southern Africa have had less than the average rainfall this last season, pointing to food and water shortages in the months to come.
Without being alarmist, are we entering the countdown to the ‘end times’, is this part of the doomsday predictions that most religious texts and preaching have warned us about? Is this the beginning of the end? The Qur’an contains verses that describe the end of the world: When the sky bursts open’…, ‘When the oceans surge into each other’……., ‘When Mountains are pulverized’…… It is inevitable that the world will end, but when will this be? ‘They ask you about the Hour; when will it come?…..’Knowledge of it rests with my Lord’. (Quran 7: 187)
The Bible says the same: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. (Mark 13:32)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) described the chaos, conflicts, murder, war and anarchy that will take place all over the world, forerunners pointing to the signs of the Last days: ‘The hour will come when violence, bloodshed and anarchy will become common’ and ‘The world will not come to an end until a day would come to people on which there will be general massacre and bloodshed’. Look around you…… ‘Great cities will be ruined and it will be as if they had not existed the day before’. Hiroshima was destroyed by a nuclear bomb, cities in the Middle East have and are being bombed and almost raised to the ground.
The Bible also says: ‘…..days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another…..but ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified; for these things must come to pass…..and great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines and pestilences and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from Heaven’ (Luke 21: 6 – 11) and (Matthew 24:7)
On a different note ponder about this…..
Prophet Muhammad spoke of the proliferation of false prophets and imposters: ‘In the end times men will come forth who will fraudulently use religion for worldly ends and wear sheepskins in public to display meekness. Their tongues will be sweeter than sugar, but their hearts will be hearts of wolves’. And, ‘The Last Hour will not come before there come forth imposters, each presenting himself as an apostle of Allah (God)’.
Yes, we know them. The Qur’an warns these people; ‘Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents lies against Allah….. who says, ‘it has been revealed to me’, when nothing has been revealed to him….(6:93). Just look around and observe the many imposters who lay claim to be ‘prophets’, having received ‘revelations’ masquerading as religious men and women of God.
The Bible also warns: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’. (Matt 7: 15). ‘I have not sent these prophets…I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied….I have heard what the prophets said…saying I have dreamt…..yea they are prophets of deceit… (Jeremiah 23: 21 – 28).
The Bible says: “But understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people”. (2 Timothy 3: 1-5)
The above verses from the Quran and the Bible, also from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ring so true, especially when we see the state of the world today. Am I being a scaremonger, alarmist or just pessimistic or are these warning signs to us to change our ways and turn to and get closer to our Lord?
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.