In Surah Muhammad in the holy Quran, Allah says: “are (nonbelievers) waiting for the Last Hour to take them by surprise? Yet, some of its signs have already appeared. When the Last Hour befalls them, will it not be too late for them to submit?” [47:18]. In Surah Al-Ahzab, Allah further says: “people ask you (Muhammad) concerning the Last Hour. Say its knowledge is only with Allah. What do you know? Perhaps the Last Hour is near.” [33:63]
Some of the signs of the Last Hour (also known as the End of Time) are already mentioned in the Quran, while others are reported in Hadith. The widely accepted books of Bokhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Majah and Imam Ahmad contain many accounts related to the Last Hour.
These signs are divided into three categories: signs which have already occurred; signs which we can recognise in our times; and, signs which will come immediately before the Last Hour. However, the exact time of the Last Hour is known only to Allah. “Verily, with Allah rests the knowledge of when the Last Hour will come: He sends down rain; He knows the (future of babies who are still) in the wombs (of their mothers); no one (except Allah) knows what he will reap tomorrow; and no one knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allah (alone) is all knowing and all aware”. [31:34]
Signs of the Last Hour
So what are these signs that we should look for to know the Final Hour is close. These include: disintegration of family structure and breakdown of established social, ethical and economical norms globally; pursuit of wealth to the exclusion of positive human values and ethical principles; democratisation of debauchery, music and alcohol; construction of high multi-story residential and office buildings; sandy deserts turning green with vegetation and water supplies; things appearing to be what they are not, such as fake news or truth becoming hard to find in the sea of falsehood; indiscriminate and excessive killings of men of knowledge and wisdom through armed explosions, acts of war and disasters; frequent solar and lunar eclipses and earthquakes; appearance of Dajjal; the second coming of Jesus, son of Mary [43:61]; appearance of Yajuj and Majuj (mentioned in Surah Al-Kahf chapter 21 verses 96-97; appearance of the creature of the earth (mentioned in Surah Al-Naml, chapter 27, verse 82); rising of the big smoke; sunrise from the west; and, the big fire in Aden. These signs are mentioned in many Ahadith and are more or les in the order of their supposed occurrence.
As time passes, some of these signs will become more obvious and subject of debate in the Muslim community. At the time verse 47:18 (see the top paragraph) was revealed to the Prophet, a few signs had already appeared. These were the coming of Prophet Muhammad as the last of the messengers, the Quran declaring that the Final Hour could be close, and the unusual event of the red sand storm in Arabia.
Some of the other signs we see occurring now are integration of interest in all segments of trade and financial activity; increased use of alcohol and contraband drugs in Muslim societies, incompetent people replacing learned scholars in positions of authority and governance, speared of nudity and illicit sex, open disregard of Islamic teachings, and religion becoming a label but not a way of life in Muslim households.
In this essay we will use the available information in Islamic literature to understand about Dajjal. The Quran does not mention the coming of Dajjal but there is sufficient material in the Hadith to consider his coming as a clear sign of the Last Hour. In fact it is recommended in the Sunni School to memorise and recite every Friday the beginning and closing verses of Surah Al-Kahf chapter 18, or even the whole of Surah Al-Kahf, to stay safe from the evil of Dajjal because he will place people in great confusion with his temptation and punishment. His influence will be so overpowering and strong that it will be hard for anyone to resist it, except those who would have sought the protection of Allah against him.
Description of Dajjal
The anti-Christ will be a young man who will originate from the East. He will belong to the generation of deviant Jews who would have forsaken their faith for political power and wealth. He will be medium built and both of his feet will be crooked. He will have lots of hair on his corpus. His skin will be red or wheatish. The hair on his head will be curly like that of an Abyssinian. He will have a sharp nose like the beak of a bird. His left eye will be blind and right eye will have a pupil like the size of a grape. The word ‘kafir’ (unbeliever) will be written on his forehead, which every Muslim would be able to read easily.
When Dajjal will sleep his eye will be closed like other creatures but his heart will remain awake. In the beginning, he will rise with the claim of reviving the faith and bringing reformation, but as soon he will recruit his followers, which will include several thousand Jews, as well as women, he will claim that he is a prophet. He wouldn’t stop at this but eventually he will claim to be God. Probably that’s why in the Christian literature, he is named anti-Christ because by claiming to be Jesus, he will automatically claim to be God. His reach will be so great that the distance between his two steps will be forty yards.
During his time there will be abundance of prosperity. Those who submit to his authority and claim of being God will be rewarded with wealth but those who oppose him will face droughts and famine. Flocks of cattle grazing in fields will come back in the evening with their humps teller, their udders fuller and flanks fatter than they have ever been. Already we are familiar with genetically modified crops of wheat, barley, maze and rice; bumper harvests of bigger and better fruits; and industrially patented lab grown meats that have revolutionised food supplies. The portions of our poultry and meat purchases are getting bigger and better and we have no shortage of fruits, honey, eggs, milk and milk products despite the earth’s population increasing every day.
Dajjal will be a liar and a high-class magician, armed by modern technology of holograms, voice and face recognition technology, videography, language translation software and live animation. Using his power, he will cause rainfall and vegetation to grow faster. He will take control of agricultural stocks and streams of drinking water. During his reign, the minerals and treasures hidden under the earth will burst open like bees coming out from their hives. Any tribe or nation that challenges his claim of being God will be subjected to attack by his evil forces. Dajjal will address those people who resist him and say: “If I resurrect your dead parents, will you confess in my deity?” They will answer in the affirmative. Then the devils serving Dajjal will appear in the form of their parents who will talk to them in their language. As a result, many people will abandon their faith and believe that Dajjal is God.
Dajjal’s Power is Challenged
The speed of Dajjal’s influence will be faster than the winds and his spell will spread far and wide like a storm. He will conquer every corner of the world with his charisma and sorcery. He will spread hatred against Islam. The deviant Jews will support Dajjal against the Muslims. After conquering the Arabian peninsula, Dajjal would want to enter Makkah, but he will not be able to do so because Allah’s angels will be guarding the holy city. Dajjal will be humiliated and will aim to enter Madina instead, but he will not be successful there also because Allah’s angels will be guarding Madina as well.
It is believed that when this will happen, there will be three earthquakes in Madina, which will frighten the munafiqeen (people who say they are Muslims but in reality they are non-Muslims) and fasiqeen (people who say are Muslims but they practice everything that is forbidden by Islam) to flee the city. Outside Madina, they will fall into Dajjal’s hands and join his forces.
At last a youth will challenge Dajjal and confront him for a debate, but when he would be called to meet Dajjal, his guards would want to kill him. Dajjal’s security will stop them saying that the youth could not be killed without the permission of Dajjal.
Thereafter this young person will be brought before Dajjal. The young man will say: “I have recognised that you are none other than the cursed Dajjal.” He will further say: “Our Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) informed us about your coming”. As soon as Dajjal hears this, he will order this youth to be killed. Dajjal’s guards will immediately cut the young man into two pieces.
The anti-Christ will say to those present on the occasion: “Now, if I bring this man back to life, will you be convinced of my divinity?” His followers will reply: “We have already come to believe in you as God. But if you bring this man back to life, it will further increase our faith in you.”
Using his magic, Dajjal will join the two pieces of the dead body of the young man together, whereby he will come back to life. He will stand up and say: “Now I am even more convinced that you are the cursed Dajjal.” This will make Dajjal angry and he would want to kill the youth again. But now his power will be taken away. He will be embarrassed. In fury, he will throw the youth in his hell but the fire will become cool and will not burn the young man, just as the fire of Namrood became cool and could not burn Abraham.
The Reign of Dajjal
Dajjal will rule the world for forty days. According to a Hadith, the first day of his rule will be like a year, the second day like a month, the third day like a week and the remaining 37 days like normal days. There have been many explanations for this time cycle. Some scholars say these are metaphorical references.
One explanation of this account is that Dajjal means deceiver. He is not one personality but a regime of kufr and disbelief spanning four periods; the first period comprises a time span lasting a thousand earthly years (equal to one heavenly day); the second period lasting about 82 and quarter years (equal to one heavenly month); the third period lasting about nineteen and quarter years (equal to one heavenly week) and the rest of the days like the usual earthy days. During this period Dajjal would not want people to copy his liberal and atheistic lifestyle. The idea of separation of church and state would firmly take root even in Muslim societies.
Another explanation suggests that it is not really the heavenly days but the speed of time that is meant by this timeline. Globalisation and the Internet have changed they way we use time. In the not too distant past, the days it used to take to travel to another country to attend a business meeting are now reduced to hours as people can simply do a virtual conference on the Internet to complete their consultations. Emails and online messages are now delivered globally in seconds. The speed of time will be become even faster with new technologies and devices at our disposal. However, the cognisance of the fast pace of time will be short lived due to the law of diminishing returns. We will get used to the speed of time without realising how long it took to accomplish the same task in the past. So the awareness of what could be done in one day, which used to take one year in the past would gradually diminish to a month and then a week and then a day to become the new normal. Humans first walked from one place to another (year); then they learnt to ride on mules and horses (month); then they built roads to travel by bus or train (week); then they started flying planes (day). Thus, travel by planes became the new normal. This is how the forty days of Dajjal are explained according to this interpretation.
A third explanation is that the description of Dajjal’s rule lasting forty days with abnormal variations in the duration of the first three days is literal. According to this explanation it is possible that a major cosmic event caused by man’s interference with space and environment, (littering earth’s outer space with satellites, sending space missions to moon and other planets), or a huge heavenly body crashing against the surface of the earth, or a nuclear explosion going wrong on earth, would cause the earth to bounce on its obit resulting in its rotation to slow down from twenty-fours hours to a full year, but then settle down with two smaller bounces affecting the second day’s rotation to be as long as a month and the third day’s rotation to be as long as a week and then returning to its normal rotation speed of twenty hours as every other day. The impact of such changes will obviously result in reduced sunshine on one half of the earth, loss of vegetation, shortage of drinking water and changes to the surface of the earth which are all associated with the reports of coming of Dajjal. With extraordinary powers at his disposal, Dajjal will make use of these abnormal times on earth to strengthen his rule over the nations of the world. The reference to his donkey with stretched ears, as his mode of transportation could be an airborne rocket transport, which would be capable of taking him to any place around the globe within minutes, if not seconds.
The third explanation to me seems to be more realistic because science would find a justification for such an extraordinary cosmic event when it happens. In the Ahadith (No 4075 to 4081) in the Book of Tribulations in Sunan Ibn Majah, it is said that Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, said when such a long day comes, the believers should pray their five times prayers according to the calculations of their daily time. It means that the event will be real and not allegorical.
Whatever the real meaning of the Hadith, there are two important points that need elaboration. The first point is that we live in a time when we can instantaneously see, hear and speak to someone on the other side of the world in a different time zone without leaving our homes. According to an account of Dajjal’s power, day and night shall disappear before his power as he will be able to know what is going on in all parts of the world. This means living in a post-satellite age, with 5G communications technology becoming part and parcel of our lives as is water, gas and electricity and increased reliance on automation for mode of transport and other applications. With so much already within our grasp, we are very close to the time of the appearance of Dajjal.
The followers of each of the three Abrahamic faiths believe in the coming of the Final Hour and prior to that some form of tribulation and victory for their faith symbolised by the return of the ancient kingdom of Yehuda and rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon (for the Jews), coming of the anti-Christ and the second coming of Jesus, son of God (for Christians); appearance of Dajjal and the coming of Prophet Jesus, son of Mary (for Muslims). It is not unrealistic to think that at the time of the appearance of Dajjal, the followers of the three faiths will be both his target and his main opponents.
Dajjal’s Last Days
Moving on to what Dajjal will do after his consolidates his power, it is said that he will turn to Syria, but before he will reach Damascus, Imam Mahdi will have arrived there. When Imam Mahdi arrives in Damascus, he will start preparing for war, but the odds of victory will be against the Imam. Dajjal would control both political and military power and people will be on his side. But Imam Mahdi and his followers will be sure of Allah’s support and help. The Imam will call all Muslims to offer prayers at the Umayyad Mosque. In addition to organising the militia against Dajjal, he will make Damascus the centre of his activity. One day Imam Mahdi will go to the Umayyad Mosque to offer Maghreb prayers. He will then meet prophet Jesus, son of Mary, who would descent from heaven on the eastern minaret in Damascus with the Will of Allah to help Imam Mahdi defeat Dajjal.
After offering the post-sunset prayers, people will go out to confront Dajjal. Upon seeing Jesus, Dajjal will start dissolving like salt in water. Jesus will catch up with Dajjal at the Gate of Ludd and will kill him. Seeing Dajjal’s humiliating death, his supporters will try to disperse behind trees and stones but they will be unsuccessful to hide and will be eliminated at the hands of Jesus’ army.
Then Jesus will validate Islam, break the cross, meaning he will reaffirm that he is a prophet of Allah and not son of God; he will kill the swine, meaning he will restore the Sharia of Prophet Muhammad; and he will pronounce the end of war, meaning that peace will prevail and result in such an abundance of wealth that no one will be poor to accept alms. The people will become pious and there will be no evil until Jesus lives his time on earth.
Following the death of Dajjal, yajuj and majuj will emerge as Allah describes in the Quran, “swoop down from every mount [21:96] and consume all sweet water. A series of events will then take place in succession over a short period as described in detail in the Book of Tribulations in Sunan Ibn Majah before the Last Hour. These are: three solar eclipses, a great smoke bellowing, the foretold sunrise from the west, a beast of the earth speaking, a fire driving people to huddle together and the two trumpets blown one after the other to end the world.
Non-Muslim Perceptions about Dajjal
Non-Muslim scholars of Islam maintain that the belief in the coming of Dajjal has been imported into Islamic texts from the Jewish and Christian traditions. These ideas were brought by the Jewish and Christian converts in the early Islamic period and became part of the body of Hadith. According to these non-Muslim scholars, the long time it took for the canonical books of Hadith to be compiled and agreed upon (about eight centuries) provided sufficient time for these ideas to get consolidated in Islamic thought about the signs of the Last Hour which is foretold in the Quran together with some other signs (yajuj and majuj and the speaking creature of the earth). A great deal of material about Dajjal was later excised by the later schools of puritanical Muslim scholars on the grounds that it was taken from Talmudic texts and other Jewish accounts and formed part of those Ahadith which were considered to be weak or unacceptable by the majority of scholars of Hadith.
Another view is that during the Prophet’s time, a Jewish man by the name of Al-Siyyed claimed to be a Jewish prophet. The Prophet therefore wanted his followers to beware of the anti-Christ after his death.
While belief in the Last Hour and resurrection is a fundamental part of the Islamic faith, believing in all the signs of the Last hour or interpreting these as literal texts or metaphor does not change the context in which it is discussed, namely that there will be an end of life on this earth in this world and the beginning of an everlasting life on another earth in another world. It also makes no difference if Dajjal is a Jewish or Christian thought borrowed by Islam. There are many traditions in Islam, which came from other Abrahamic faiths such as fasting, giving charity, fulfilling the Covenant, establishing justice, pursuit of peace, and doing good deeds for the pleasure of Allah. There are more stories of Israeli prophets in the Quran than episodes related to the life of Mohammad.
The coming of Dajjal will unite the true believers among the real Jews, Christians and Muslims and expose those who are deceivers and not the true followers of the same great monotheistic faith that Abraham and the long line of prophets from his progeny until the last and final prophet Mohammad preached and practiced to guide humanity on the right path.
These signs are there to remind us that the Last Hour of our life, as well as that of this earth is approaching fast and the more we use the time at our disposal (meaning while we are young, strong, healthy, sane and resourceful) doing good deeds and preparing for the afterlife, the better it is for our salvation and rewards to come when we say goodbye to this world and walk into another world on the blessed journey to Paradise.
*Several resources were used in compiling this essay. Allah knows best.