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A lot of books have been written on the signs leading up to the Hour by scholars of past as well as present. These along with various television programs, radio programs and Internet websites speak enormously about the signs of the hour. Most of these sources speak on this subject in a way that shows their lack of knowledge on the subject.
It is very important to first know the methodology of understanding the Signs of the Hour, before taking up its study. Following the right methodology will eradicate any chance of erring on the subject and hence will let you grasp only the authentic knowledge.
The following are some of the rules or guidelines necessary to understand the Signs of the Hour:
Rule 1 – Quote as evidence only the texts of Qur’an and Sahih Sunnah
This aspect is very important as the only source of authentic knowledge is Qur’an and Sahih Sunnah. These are the only sources from which we learnt about the matters of Unseen. Allah says:
“Say: None in the heavens and the arth knows the Ghayib (Unseen) except Allah, nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected.” [Al-Naml 27:65]
Allah related to His Prophet, some matters of the unseen only for Islamic purposes, which included (some of) the signs of the Hour. These signs are the actual happenings that will take place in the future.
However, it is incorrect to derive the learning from dreams of people, visions of so called pious people or the Jewish sources. It is also incorrect to derive conclusions from the political changes of the world and relate certain hadith or ayah to it, without actually checking up the authenticity of both the event as well as source.
Similarly, any text quoted as evidence must be authentic, whether it is attributed to the infallible Prophet (Pbuh) or to one of his noble Companions.
The mention of strange, false, and odd ideas pertaining to the signs of the Hour have been used as a means of excitement and generating more readers and an increase in book sales. For example, the following is one of the strangest things that is commonly circulated around amongst Muslims, which is the “so called” narration of Abu Hurayrah (May he be immune to such allegations) which a writer wrote. He writes:
“In a rare manuscript from the third century (A.H.) found in the Islamic books section of the Turkish library in Istanbul, is a little known report related by Abu Huray rah, Ibn’ Abbaas and Ali ibn Abi Taalib. In it is recorded that Abu Hurav rah (ra) was initially afraid to speak of it. But when he felt that death was approaching he feared concealing knowledge so he said to the people around him, “I know something concerning the wars (Huroob) that will take place at the end of time. They said, “Relate to us and do not worry; may Allah reward you with good.” So he said: “After one thousand and three hundred years, the decade that follow, count five or six decades, a man named Nasser will rule Egypt, and the Arabs will call him the bravest of the Arabs. Allah will humiliate him in successive wars and he will never prevail. Allah wants for Egypt a victory for His sake and during the dearest of months to Him. The Lord of the House will please Egypt and the Arabs by the use of a dark skinned man (Sada) whose father is lighter (Anwar) than him, but he will make a peace deal with the thieves of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa in the land of sorrows.
In Iraq there will come a tyrant and Sufyaani in whose eye there will be slight laziness. His name will come from Sidaam (confrontation) and he is confrontational (Saddaam) to anyone who opposes him. The entire world will gather to confront him because of a small country that he will invade. There is nothing good in Sufyaani except by means of Islam, and he is both good and bad. Woe to the one who betrays Al-Mahdi Al-Ameen.
In the fourteen hundreds, give or take two or three decades, Al-Mahdi Al-Ameen will appear and fight against the people, those who have gone astray, those with whom Allah is angry, and the hypocrites will gather in the land of Isra and Miraaj, at Mount Majdoon (Armageddon) and the Queen of the world, the Queen of craftiness, the whore whose name is America, will come out to them, leading the world at that time in misguidance and disbelief. The Jews at that time will be in the highest position of control, occupying all of Jerusalem and the holy city. People from all countries will come by sea and air, except from countries where there is too much snow and countries from where there is too much heat. The Mahdi will realize that the entire world is plotting against him, but he will know that Allah is the best of those who plan and he will know that the entire universe belongs to Allah and to Him is the return of all things. The entire world is like a tree, root and branch, which He controls. Allah will send His worst punishment upon them and will cause the land, the sea, and the sky to burn around them; the sky will send down an evil rain and the people of the earth will curse all the disbelievers of the earth, and Allah will cause disbelief (kufr) to disappear.” [Kashf Al-Maknoon fil-Radd Ala Kitaab Harmajdoon, 58]
This is utter nonsense and the lie in the writing can easily be identified if one is aware of the language of the Hadith and how they were narrated. The word used here is Huroob for war. Such strange words were never used by the companions of the Prophet (Pbuh). This is why, such lies can easily be caught by the authentic scholars. However, a lay man tends to fall for such false narrations.
Rule 2 – Referring to trustworthy scholars concerning this issue
Anyone who develops any idea concerning this issue should not hasten to tell others before discussing it with the scholars.
“So ask the people of the Reminder [Scriptures] if you do not know.” [Al-Anbiya 21:7]
“If only they had referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have understood it from them (directly). Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allah upon you, You would have followed Shaytaan (Satan), save a few of You” [Al-Nisa 4:83].
This was the way of our righteous forebears; for example, Abul Tufayl (ra) narrated:
“I was in Kufah when it was said that the Dajjal had emerged. We carne to Hudhayfah ibn Usayd, who was speaking to the people, and I said, “The Dajjal has emerged!” He said, “Sit down.” So I sat down, and the man in charge of the people came to me and said, “The Dajjal has emerged and the people of Kufah are fighting him.” He said, “Sit down.” So he sat down. Then a call went out that it was the lie of a tanner. We said, “O Abu Surayhah, You made us sit down because you wanted to tell us something.”
He said, “If the Dajjal emerges at your time, your children would throw pebbles at him. But The Dajjal will emerge at a time when there is hatred among the people, lack of religious commitment, and division, and lie will travel everywhere and the land will be rolled up for him like a sheepskin rug,”
[Recorded by Al-Haakim in Al-Mustadrak, where he said, “This is a hadeeth with a sahih Isnaad, although Bukhari and Muslim did not record it.” Shaykh Mustafa Al-Adawi said: "There are a few reservations about its narrators, its isnaad includes Mu'uadh ibn Hishaam, and there was some talk about his Hadeeth which have brought it down to the level of Hasan. It also includes Qataadah who is Mudallis and narrated by saying 'an (“from”, rather than “So and so said” or “I Heard,” etc), but the one who narrated it from him is Hishaam ibn Abi Abd-Allah Al-Dastawaa'i, who is the best of those who narrated from him.]
Rule 3 – Tell the people what they can understand
A number of those who speak about the signs of the Hour take the matter of narrating Hadeeth to the common folk or those who are new in Islam, who may not comprehend what they hear, lightly.
It is well known that a person should not relate everything that he has knowledge of as not everything that is sound or correct is fit to be spread or publicized, because people may not be able to comprehend it or they may misinterpret or misquote it.
Ali (ra) narrated, “Tell the people what they understand; do you want Allah and His Messenger to be disbelieved?” [Narrated by Al Bukhari]]
According to another report, he said: “People, do you want Allah and His Messenger to be disbelieved? Relate to the people what they can comprehend and do not relate that which they may find strange. “[Narrated by Muslim]
Ibn Mas’ood (ra) said, “You will not tell people something they find difficult to comprehend, but it will become a source of confusion for some” [Narrated by Muslim]