Dajjal, the False Messiah
In Islamic eschatology Dajjal is known as the false Messiah. Christians call him the anti-Christ. The Jews believe in the appearance of an evil king of the last generation preceding salvation. The followers of the three Abrahamic faiths also 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, the second coming of Jesus for Christians and return of Mahdi and Prophet Isa, son of Maryam for Muslims. It is not unrealistic to think that at the time of the appearance of Dajjal, the true followers of the three faiths will be both his target and his main opponents.
Islamic View of Dajjal
There is no mention of Dajjal in the holy Quran but there are verses which scholars believe refer to Dajjal and the rebellion of man, for instance Surah Al-Anaam Verse 158 and Surah Al-Alaq verse 6. In the former verse Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala says that “when some of the signs of your Lord have appeared, no good will it do to a person to believe then if he had not believed before”. According to a Hidith of Tirmidhi, our Prophet, peace be upon him, said that when three signs have become apparent, it will not benefit someone who accepts Islam after the appearance of Dajjal, speaking of the beast of earth and sun rising from the place where it sets. The latter verse refers to the fact that “man exceeds all bounds”. Some scholars take this as the extreme which Dajjal will reach as a rebel human being.
There are over two hundred Ahadith about the coming of Dajjal toward the end of time. His powers and physical description are also mentioned in these Ahadith. According to these accounts, Dajjal will be the thirtieth false claimer of prophethood. His claim will gradually increase from being a ruler to a Messiah to a prophet and then God himself. What a ludicrous claim that a human who is trapped by biological constraints, who is imperfect in eyesight, who is unable to enter Makkah and Madinah and who needs supporters and cheerers to establish his rule, claims to be taking the place of a perfect and ever supreme God. The irony couldn’t be greater that Allah will choose to let him taste his humiliating death at the hands of the true Messiah and his true prophet (Isa).
Different Takes on Dajjal
Within the Islamic eschatological thought there is a wide range of views about Dajjal, whether he is a human being with extra-ordinary abilities of mind and body, or he is the symbol of a decadent era at a particular stage of human advancement. The literalists believe that Dajjal is physical in body and soul as a person. The allegorists say that Dajjal is a metaphor for the highly individualised spiritual and post-materialistic society that has now dawned upon us as a sign of the end of time. Some scholars equate Dajjal to Communist and neo-secularist ideology that promotes denial of faith and disbelief in God. According to this view, rejecting Dajjal represents a close relationship between the followers of Muhammad and Isa who have joined hands in serving God to defeat such ideologies. A contrasting view is that Dajjal represents Western civilisation which has discarded religion in favour of materialism and greed, and which employs advance technology, artificial intelligence, and economic sanctions to enslave dissenting people and nations.
The Sufis take Dajjal as an embodiment of the evil Nafs which must be resisted by the ‘Mahdi’ of one’s goodness and killed by the ‘Isa’ of one’s Rüh. According to them, the light of the day would not be physically long as a year on day one, a month on day two or a week on day three but it will seem so due to the dark clouds of ignorance surrounding people. In the Sufi interpretation a blind eye stands for inner imperfection. A person can be blind to evil, deceit, desire, and anger despite having two eyes.
Some Muslims believe that Dajjal has an ontological existence and is waiting for permission from Allah to reveal himself. In the Hadith of Fatima Bint Qays Al-Fihriyya quoted by Imam Muslim, Tamim Dari informed the Prophet about his shipwreck and how he landed on an island with thirty other shipmates where they saw a man whose neck and hands were tied, and he had iron shackles on his feet and ankles. After asking Tamim Dari a few questions, this well-built curly haired man told Tamim Dari that he was Dajjal, and that he would soon be permitted to leave the island and travel in the land far and wide. The Prophet reportedly said to Tamim Dari that he liked his account as it corroborated with his own description of Dajjal to the companions.
Generally, Muslims believe that Dajjal will appear before the end of time, but he is not yet born, because since he is human, he must go through the normal cycle of birth, physical development, and death in a time span of about hundred 100 years which is now the norm for human life.
A small body of Muslims believe that the Ahadith about Dajjal are weak and are not confirmed by the Quran. While believing in the other signs of end of time mentioned in the holy Quran and Ahadith about Yajuj Majuj (Gog and Magog) and the appearance of the creature of the earth, they do not take Dajjal either literally or allegorically. They believe that the fable of Dajjal has entered Islam from Christianity and is now a part of Islamic eschatology.
Belief of Majority Muslims
The authoritative sources of the Islamic tradition state that belief in the physical appearance of Dajjal as a person in body and flesh is an integral part of the Islamic faith. Imam Abu Hanifa belongs to this group of scholars. According to him the emergence of Dajjal is true and a reality. This is also the belief of other scholars in the Ahl Sunnah and Shia Athna Ashari schools of Islamic theology. Even the Kharijites and Motazilites accepted the emergence of Dajjal as a reality. There are, however, small differences among these schools of thought about the description of Dajjal and whether it is the Mahdi or Isa who will kill Dajjal.
Dajjal will come from a generation of deviant Jews who would have forsaken their faith for political power and wealth. He will come from the East, somewhere between Khorasan, Damascus and Iraq. He will be a young man of medium built strong body, with a wide forehead, a large round head, and broad upper cheeks. He will have lots of hair on his corpus. His skin will be fair or reddish. The hair on his head will be thick and twisted like that of an Abyssinian. He will have a sharp nose like the beak of a bird. He will be pigeon toed in both feet and blinded in the right eye. This eye will be green like glass. The other eye will be neither bulging not sunken from its socket but will move like a floating grape.
It is interesting that in the medieval Christian literature the anti-Christ is also described in similar terms to depict his evil nature. “His knees will be unbending, he will be crippled in his eyes, with wide eyebrows, crooked fingered, with a pointed head, gracious, boastful, wise, sweet in laughter, visionary, clever, sober, gentle, mild, worker of signs, bringing close to him the souls of the corrupt, bringing forth bread from stones, making the blind to see, the lame to walk, and he will make mountains move from place to place”. [Daniel Apocalypses].
When Dajjal will sleep his eye will be closed like other creatures but his heart will remain awake. His reach will be so great that the distance between his two steps will be forty yards. He will walk the earth with a speed like a cloud driven by wind. He will appear at distant places in a very short time. He will be without an offspring.
Followers of Dajjal
In the beginning Dajjal will rise with the claim of reviving the faith and bringing reformation, but as soon as he will recruit his followers, which will include several thousand Jews, as well as Turks, Bedouins, and people from the marginal groups, including a large number of women, he will claim that he is a prophet. He wouldn’t stop at this but eventually he will claim to be God. In the Christian literature, he is named anti-Christ because by claiming to be Jesus, he will automatically claim to be God. Dajjal’s appearance will be the supreme test of the Muslims. They will be confused and divided.
Time of Dajjal’s Appearance
Dajjal will appear at a time when people will be secular and materialistic and would have forsaken religion from their lives. The weather will be hostile and there will be uncertainty and anxiety everywhere. Three years prior to the appearance of Dajjal, there will be severe drought, famine, and poverty. The hot sun will dry up rivers and will evaporate lakes resulting in shortage of fresh water and disturbance in the growth of vegetation and harvesting of crops. People will be prepared to do anything to get fresh water, greenery and vegetation they need to survive. Dajjal will exploit these conditions to his advantage.
Prosperity will return to the earth for Dajjal’s followers after his appearance. Flocks of cattle grazing in fields will come back in the evening with their humps taller, their udders fuller and flanks fatter than they have ever been. We are all too familiar with genetically modified crops of wheat, barley, maze and rice. There are bumper harvests of bigger and better fruits and industrially patented lab grown meats that have revolutionised human food chain. The portions of our poultry and meat purchases are getting bigger and better and we have no shortage of fruits, honey, eggs, milk and dairy products despite the earth’s population increasing every day. Dajjal’s followers will have access to these foods in abundance.
Dajjal will invite people to his false religion and reward them with luxuries if they follow him. He will bring misery and penury to those who reject him. It will be nearly impossible to survive by rejecting his call and remaining steadfast on the teachings of the holy Quran and the tradition of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. People will join Dajjal’s forces with such speed that a man will be a Muslim in the morning but by sunset, he would have fallen prey to the material and physical temptations of Dajjal.
Dajjal’s powers will be such that have never been wielded by man, Shaitan or a Jinn before. Dajjal will also use the help of devils to advance his influence. But these powers will be based on deception. His goods will be unreal, and his promises will be false. He won’t perform prophetic miracles; instead, he will present his deceitful tricks as miracles. He will carry two rivers, one of blazing fire and the other of white water with him. His fire will be water and his water will be fire.
Dajjal will exhibit heaven and hell to people and invite them to choose between the two. Those who will be overcome by his awe and majesty will obviously choose to enter his heaven but upon entering there, they will find themselves in an inferno contrary to what was told to them. Those who reject Dajjal will be sent by him to his hell but upon entering there, they will discover that they are in a cool place just like the experience of Prophet Ibrahim when he was thrown in the fire pit by Nimrud for rejecting idol worship. It is not difficult to imagine that Dajjal will have the power to carry hell and heaven with him. Today, with the help of hologram technology and artificial intelligence (AI), an IT expert can virtually display a lush green garden on a barren mountain and if a person is asked to walk through it virtually without any moving pad under his feet, he may end up banging his head against a rock.
Dajjal will have power to gather actual rain clouds and cause the earth to be watered and produce vegetation in places where he would want the rain to fall. He will take control of agricultural stocks and streams of drinking water. He will accumulate rivers of water and mountains of bread. He will have full control on where they are expended. Any tribe or nation that challenges his claim of being God will be subjected to sanctions.
Allah Taala will give Dajjal the extraordinary power to raise the dead parents of a person from their graves and make them appear and talk to him. 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 will be a liar and a high-class magician, armed by modern technology of holograms, voice and face recognition technology, 5G plus videography, optical character recognition and language and translation software and live animation. Employing these technologies, it would not be impossible for him to do things we have never imagined. Dajjal will use this knowhow to convince people into accepting that he is God, but he will be a false god because Allah is perfect and Dajjal is imperfect having only one functional eye. Dajjal will carry this blemish with him as a sign to those who know his reality that he is so helpless that he cannot give himself two functional eyes. The believers know that in this life, no one can see Allah. They will therefore reject his false claim that he is God. The true believers will also be able to clearly read the inscription K F R standing for Kafir on his forehead. Non-believers will be unable to see this inscription on his forehead.
Dajjal will be given the knowledge by Allah to know where the treasures of the earth are hidden. During his reign, these minerals and treasures will burst open like bees coming out from their hives. Besides food security, much of the international politics centres around the ownership and possession of strategic minerals which are the key drivers of economic growth and domination of power in the world. These treasures comprise rare and precious materials and minerals which are essential for the supply chains of industrialised countries. The earth consists of one-third land and two-third oceans. Humans have still not mapped the entire breadth and width of land for strategic minerals and metals. They have only begun to scratch the surface of oceans to reach under-sea wealth and resources. Dajjal will be given the knowledge to identify the hidden resources buried under hostile oceans. He will have the ability to excavate and exploit these resources. How many believers will be able to resist the temptation of benefiting from Dajjal’s call and tribulation, is hard to tell. For this reason, Dajjals’ appearance will be the greatest test this Ummah will ever face in the existence of this world.
Dajjal will not have the knowledge of the unknown, but he will use reason backed by his tricks and coercive means to influence people. He will be able to travel far and wide, but he will not be able to enter Makkah and Madinah. Those who will live in Makkah and Madinah will be safe from his influence. It is also said that Dajjal will not be able to enter the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
The Reign of Dajjal
Dajjal’s reign will last a total of one year, two months and a fortnight compressed in forty days. According to Ahadith, 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 timescale. Some scholars say these are literal days of such length; others say these are metaphorical references.
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 the gates of Madina.
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.
Dajjal 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.” This description is reminiscent of the talks Pharoah used to have in his palace and reminds us of the dialogue he had with a nobleman in his court, which is narrated in the Quran
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. The martyred man 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 young man 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 Nimrud became cool and could not burn Ibrahim.
Dajjal’s Last Days
Moving on to what Dajjal will do after he 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 Muslims against Dajjal, he will make Damascus the centre of his activity. One day Imam Mahdi will go to the Umayyad Mosque to offer prayers. He will then meet Prophet Jesus, son of Maryam, who would descent from heaven on the eastern minaret of the Grand Mosque of Damascus with the Will of Allah to help Imam Mahdi defeat Dajjal.
After offering the evening prayers, people will go out to confront Dajjal. Upon seeing Prophet Isa, Dajjal will start dissolving like salt in water. Prophet Isa 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 Isa’s 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 announce 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 creature 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 Islamic eschatology. 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 false Messiah 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 fundamental principles and traditions in Islam, which came from other Abrahamic faiths such as prohibiting idol worship, abstaining from eating swine, 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 Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him.
The coming of Dajjal will unite the true believers among the true Jews, Christians and Muslims and expose those who are deceivers and not the followers of the same great monotheistic faith that Prophet Ibrahim and the long line of prophets from his progeny until the last and final Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, preached and practiced to guide humanity on the right path.
It is reported in the Hadith that a Muslim who recites Surah Al-Kahf (Chapter 18) on Fridays will be safe from the tricks of Dajjal if his appearance occurs in his lifetime. It is also said that the first and last ten verses of Surah Al-Kahf should be memorised by Muslims as a handy tool against Dajjal’s tribulations. Since Dajjal’s arrival is unknown, worshippers regularly seek protection from Allah from the mischief of Dajjal in their daily prayers, should he appear in their lifetime.
Several resources were used in compiling this essay. Allah knows best.
Dajjal, the False Messiah