Islamic eschatology is the aspect of Islamic beliefs, predictions and narratives about the end of the natural world, the dramatic events ("signs") signifying its approach, and the afterlife where the dead are resurrected, to be judged by God for their conduct during their life on Earth (ḥisbā), and sent to their eternal reward in either Heaven or Hell (much like other Abrahamic religions).
An estimated one tenth of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, is devoted to "matters eschatological". Hadīth literature and commentaries of various medieval Muslim scholars, including al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, and Muhammad al-Bukhari, among others, are devoted to the subject. A 2012 poll of Muslims in several Muslim-majority countries (Lebanon, Turkey, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) found that half or more respondents expected the Mahdi (the final redeemer according to Islam) to return during their lifetime.
Islam teaches that at some "undetermined time in the future" the world will end and providing portents of this will be a horrible "tribulation" including great battles (Armageddon or fitna), the arrival of a wicked false prophet (the Dajjal), but also the arrival of a "messianic figure" (the Mahdi), who along with prophet Jesus (ʿĪsā), will defeat the dajjal and liberate the world from cruelty and injustice for a short period before Judgement Day.
Theological questions in Islamic eschatology include whether Quranic verses and hadith on eschatology be taken literally or figuratively; who will be sent to Heaven and who to hell; is consignment to hell eternal, and if not whom will be allowed to leave it; can justice be reconciled with predestination; do heaven and hell currently exist; is there an abode other heaven and hell, such as al-aʿrāf?
Islamic sacred scriptures have a plethora of content on the Last Judgment and the tribulation associated with it. The sources which are primarily referred to when exploring the topic of Islamic eschatology are the Quran itself, and ḥadīth literature or sunnah (accounts of the sayings and living habits attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad during his lifetime). Muslims believe that the Quran serves as a reminder of Allah's intentions for humanity and as a warning for those who do not abide by him. The ḥadīth are often referred to give a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of the Quran and are generally viewed as being second in authority to the Quran, as the Quran is generally understood to be the verbatim word of God in Islam.
Concerning major figures of end times, the coming of the al-Mahdī and al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl and the second coming of ʿĪsā, are mentioned in the hadith literature but not the Quran; reports about Sufyani are available in both Sunni and Shia Hadith. Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog) are mentioned in two chapters of the Quran, Al Kahf and Al-Anbiya;
The Last Judgment and the tribulation have also been discussed in the commentaries of prominent ulama such as al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, and Muhammad al-Bukhari. Scholarly discourse on eschatology and its themes often includes an exploration of hadith as they pertain to matters in the Quran, and serve as a source for clarification.
The historian and the Qur'an commentator Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), was one of the most prominent scholars to elaborated a whole apocalyptic scenario with prophecies about the Mahdi, Jesus, and the Dajjal (the antichrist) during the end times.
The signs may be divided into "minor" signs (these happen first), or "major" signs. (scholars agree there are ten of these but not what they are). They may also be divided into signs that have already happened, are currently happening, or have yet to happen.
Savior and evil-doing figures that appear in the major signs include:
Traditionally interest in "apocalyptic speculation" was strongest among mainstream Shia (Twelver Shia), Isma'ili Islam, Sunni on the "doctrinal and geographic margins" -- such as present day Morocco -- but was weaker in the heartland of Sunni Islam. Various eschatological interpretations exist within Shia Islam. The concept of seven celestial Hells, as well as the idea that one's souls temporarily wait in either Paradise or Hellfire until the End Times, are accounted for throughout Isma'ili Shi'i literature. Shia tradition broadly tends to recognize the coming of the Mahdi as signifying punishment to come for non-believers.
Raj`a (Arabic: الرجعة, romanized: āl rj'ah, lit. 'Return') in Islamic terminology, refers to the Second Coming, or the return to life of a given past historical figure after that person's physical death. Shia believe that before the Day of Judgement, Muhammad al-Mahdi will return with a group of chosen companions. This return is more properly known as zuhur or 'appearance,' as the Hidden Imam is believed to have remained alive during his period of occultation, since the year 874. The return of these historical figures will signify the beginning of the Last Judgment. The purpose of this return is to establish justice for those who were oppressed in their lifetime up until their death: the oppressors are punished directly by the oppressed during this future reappearance.
Some Sunni scholars do believe in Raj’a, citing the return of numerous people, such as the Seven Sleepers, synchronous with the appearance of the Mahdi. According to Jalaluddin Al-Sayuti, in contrast to Shia belief, the return of Muhammad is not limited to a specific time in the future. Al-Sayuti did not mention if any other religious figures will return after death before the resurrection. According to Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, raj`a is understood to be the lack of physical presence of a prophet, who marks his apparent death by absence in the physical world but will reappear, from time to time, to those who are pure in heart.
Isa is the Arabic name for Jesus, and his return is considered the third major sign of the last days (the second being the appearance of Jesus's nemesis Masih ad-Dajjal). Although Muhammad is the preeminent prophet in Islam, Jesus is mentioned in the Quran, and so is Idris (Enoch), who is said not to have died but to have been raised up by God. Thus, in accordance with post-Quranic hadith, Jesus conceivably will return to Earth as a just judge before the Day of Judgment.
Like Sunni Muslims, Shia believe in the Hadith describing the return of the Mahdi that will coincide with the return of Isa, who will descend from the heavens in al-Quds at dawn. The two will meet, and the Mahdi will lead the people in fajr prayer. After the prayer, they will open a gate to the west and confront Masih ad-Dajjal. After the defeat of ad-Dajjal, Isa will lead a peaceful forty-year reign until his death. He will be buried in a tomb beside Muhammad in Medina. Though the two certainly differ regarding their role and persona in Islamic eschatology, the figures of the Mahdi and Isa are ultimately inseparable, according to Muhammad. although the Mahdi will already be present when Isa makes his second coming to earth.
In Islam, "the promise and threat" (waʿd wa-waʿīd) of Judgment Day (Arabic: یوم القيامة, romanized: Yawm al-qiyāmah, lit. 'Day of Resurrection' or Arabic: یوم الدین, romanized: Yawm ad-din, lit. 'Day of Judgement'), has been called "the dominant message" of the holy book of Islam, the Quran,[Note 1] and is considered a fundamental tenet of faith by all Muslims, and one of the six articles of Islamic faith.
The two themes "central to the understanding of Islamic eschatology" are:
The trials, tribulations and details associated with it are detailed in the Quran and the hadith (sayings of Muhammad); these have been elaborated on in creeds, Quranic commentaries (tafsịrs), theological writing, eschatological manuals to provide more details and a sequence of events on the Day. Islamic expositors and scholarly authorities who have explained the subject in detail include al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Majah, Muhammad al-Bukhari, and Ibn Khuzaymah.
After the final signs of The Hour -- the defeat of the Sufyani; the end of the just reign of the Madhi and/or Jesus; the rising of the sun from the west;[note 1] the peaceful death all believers from inhalation of a lethal breeze[note 2] -- a trumpet will blast signaling the destruction of earth (Q.69:13–16); a second blast will signal the death of any being still living (except God).
The dead will then be resurrected and Afterlife commence with yet another trumpet blast, (different sources give different numbers of trumpet blasts)[Note 2] The first to arise will be Muhammad, followed by the other members of the Muslim community. with all gathering at the place of assembly [al-maḥshar]. In between resurrection and the actual judgement will be an agonizing wait (Q.21:103, Q.37:20) for the unbelievers.
At divine judgment, the resurrected will stand in a grand assembly, each person's Book of Deeds -- where "every small and great thing is recorded" -- will be read, and ultimate judgment made. The resurrected will then walk over the bridge of As-Sirāt, those judged worthy for the Garden continuing to their heavenly abode, those damned to The Fire, falling off the bridge into the pit of Jahannam. There will also be a punishment of the grave (for those who disbelieved) between death and the resurrection.
Not everyone consigned to hell will remain there, as it is believed by both scholars and lay Muslims that "all but the mushrikun, those who have committed the worst sin of impugning the tawḥīd of God, have the possibility of being saved;" and God's intercession to save sinners from hellfire is a "major theme" in popular Islamic stories about Judgement Day.
Scholars did not always agree on questions of who might go to hell; whether the creation of heaven and hell would wait until Judgement Day; whether there was a state between heaven and hell; whether those consigned to hell would be there for eternity.
"Fear, hope, and finally ... of faith" have been given (by ) as motivations offered by the Quran for Muslims believe in an Afterlife (according to Jane I. Smith, Yvonne Y. Haddad), although some (Abū Aʿla al-Mawdūdī) have asserted it is simply a matter of reason:
The fact is that whatever Muhammad (peace be upon him) has told us about life after death is clearly borne out by reason. Although our belief in that Day is based upon our implicit trust in the Messenger of God, rational reflection not only confirms this belief but it also reveals that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) teachings in this respect are much more reasonable and understandable than all other view-points about life after death. 
One of the primary beliefs pertaining to Islamic eschatology during the Early Muslim Period was that all humans could receive God's mercy and were worthy of salvation. These early depictions even show how small, insignificant deeds were enough to warrant mercy. Most early depictions of the end of days depict only those who reject Tawhid, (the concept of monotheism), are subject to eternal punishment. However, everybody is held responsible for their own actions. Concepts of rewards and punishments were seen as beyond this world, a view that is also held today.
Although Islamic philosophers and scholars were in general agreement on a bodily resurrection after death, interpretations differ in regard to the specifications of bodily resurrection. Some of the theories are the following:
According to scholars Jane I. Smith, Yvonne Y. Haddad, "the vast majority of believers", understand verses of the Quran on Jannah (and hellfire) "to be real and specific, anticipating them" with joy or terror. Besides the material notion of the paradise, descriptions of it are also interpreted as allegories, whose meaning is the state of joy believers will experience in the afterlife. For some theologians, seeing God is not a question of sight, but of awareness of God's presence. Although early Sufis, such as Hallaj, took the descriptions of Paradise literal, later Sufi traditions usually stressed out the allegorical meaning.
On the issue of Judgement Day, early Muslims debated whether scripture on should be interpreted literally or figuratively, and the school of thought that prevailed (Ashʿarī) "affirmed that such things as" connected with Judgement day as "the individual records of deeds (including the paper, pen, and ink with which they are inscribed), the bridge, the balance, and the pond" are "realities", and "to be understood in a concrete and literal sense."
According to Smith and Haddad, "The great majority of contemporary Muslim writers, ... choose not to discuss the afterlife at all". Islamic Modernists, according to Smith and Haddad, express a "kind of embarrassment with the elaborate traditional detail concerning life in the grave and in the abodes of recompense, called into question by modern rationalists". Consequently, most of "modern Muslim Theologians" either "silence the issue" or reaffirm "the traditional position that the reality of the afterlife must not be denied but that its exact nature remains unfathomable".
The beliefs of Pakistani modernist Muhammad Iqbal (died 1938), were similar to the Sufi "spiritual and internalized interpretations of hell" of ibn ʿArabī, and Rumi, seeing paradise and hell "primarily as metaphors for inner psychic" developments. Thus hellfire is actually a state of realization of one's failures as a human being", and not a supernatural subterranean realm. Egyptian modernist Muhammad ʿAbduh, thought it was sufficient to believe in the existence of an afterlife with rewards and punishment to be a true believer, even if you ignored "clear" (ẓāhir) hadith about hell.
Some postmodernists have found at least one sahih (authentic) hadith on hell unacceptable—the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad stating, "most people in hell are women" has been explained as an attempt to "legitimate social control over women" (Smith and Haddad), or perpetuate "the moral, social, political, sectarian hierarchies" of medieval Islam (Lange). Amina Wadud notes that the Qur'an does not mention any specific gender when talking about Hell, Q.43:74–76, for example states that "the guilty are immortal in hell's torment"; and when discussing paradise, includes women, Q.3:14–15 for example states "Beautiful of mankind is love of the joys (that come) from women and offspring..."
In terms of classical Islam, "the only options" afforded by the Qur'an for the resurrected are an eternity of horrible punishments of The Fire or the delightful rewards of The Garden. Islamic tradition has raised the question of whether or not consignment to the Fire is eternal, or eternal for all, but "has found no reason to amend" the limit of two options in the afterlife. But one verse in the Quran has "led to a great deal of speculation concerning the possibility of a third place".
"What some have called" the "Limbo" Theory of Islam, as described by Jane Smith and Yvonne Haddad, implies that some individuals are not immediately sent to The Fire or The Garden, but are held in a state of limbo. Smith and Haddad believe it is "very doubtful" that the Qur'anic meant for al-aʿrāf to be understood as "an abode for those ... in an intermediate category, but this has come to be the most commonly held interpretation".
As for who the inhabitants of the inhabits al-aʿrāf are, the "majority of exegetes" support the theory that they are persons whose actions balance in terms of merit and demerit -- whose good deeds keep them from the Fire and whose evil deeds keep them from the Garden. They will be the last to enter the Garden, at the mercy of their Lord.
There was considerable debate regarding whether heaven and hell exists at the current moment. The Mu'tazila argued that since the Quran states that once the trumpet sounds, all except God will be destroyed, this would include the destruction of heaven and hell. However, the Ash'ariya argued that although the trumpet's sounding will precede all being destroyed, creation was a constant process. Evidence that Jannah already exists is also found in the Quran stating that Adam and Eve once resided in the Garden of Eden, which is part of Jannah, . Also, hadith reports pertaining to the Night Journey state that Muhammad saw visions of both destinations and creatures inhabiting it. Thus, heaven and hell are usually regarded as coexisting with the current world.
In Classical Islam, there was a consensus among the theological community regarding the finality of Jannah (also called Heaven, paradise, the Gardens); after Judgement Day, faithful servants of God would find themselves here for eternity. However, some practitioners in the early Muslim community held that the other abode of the hereafter (hell/Jahannam), or at least part of that abode, might not be eternal. This belief was based upon an interpretations of scripture that since the upper, less tortuous levels of Hell were reserved for Muslims who were only in hell for as long as God deemed necessary. Once Muslims had their sins purged and were allowed into heaven, these levels would be empty and so closed. These interpretations are centered on verses 11:106–107 in the Quran, stating, "As for those who are wretched, they shall be in the Fire, wherein there shall be for them groaning and wailing, abiding therein for so long as the heavens and the earth endure, save as thy Lord wills. Surely thy Lord does whatsoever He wills". To this end, the Quran itself gives a conflicting account of Hell, stating that Hell will endure as long as Heaven will, which has been established as eternal, but also the Quran maintains the possibility that God may yet commute a sentence to Hell. In a sense, these levels of Hell were interpreted to have a similar function as Purgatory in Christianity, with the exception to this comparison being that Hell in this context is for the punishment of the sinner's complete body, as opposed to the only the soul being punished in Purgatory. Arguments questioning the permanence of Hell take the view that Hell is not necessarily solely there to punish the evil, but to purify their souls. To clarify, the Garden is the reward while the Fire is for purification.
Traditional Islam teaches predestination, i.e. the belief that everything that has happened and will happen, including all acts of good and evil, has already been determined—the opposite of Free will.
In the fate of human beings in the Afterlife, this is reflected in Quranic verses such as
Muhammad also expressed predestination multiple times during his mission. Free will and predestination have been debated by many Muslim theologians; with believers in free will, (al-qadariyya) arguing that predetermining all action means taking the decision to do good or evil out of the control of God's human creation and thus control of whether they suffer eternal torment or never ending bliss—something that (they believe) a just God would never do. The Muslim community consensus has been that scripture indicates predestination. The Hanafi fiqh fatwa site IslamQA states that predestination is one of those issues which God urges Muslims to "abstain from" speaking about "as much as possible". "We must believe in predestination, yet we cannot assume that our actions are entirely bound by it." Though "everyone's abode (for Jannat or Jahannam [i.e. for heaven or hell]) has been written”, because God "knows everything we have done", are currently doing, or will do in the future, nonetheless God has still "given us the choice in everything" we do.
Scholars do not all agree on who will end up in Jannah and who in Jahannam, and the criteria for whether or not they will. Issues include whether all Muslims, even those who've committed major sins, will end up in Jannah; whether any non-Muslims will go there or all go to Jahannam.
According to the Quran, the basic criterion for salvation in the afterlife is the belief in the oneness of God (tawḥīd), angels, revealed books, messengers, as well as repentance to God, and doing good deeds (amal salih).: 51 This is qualified by the doctrine that ultimately salvation can only be attained through God's judgment.
Muslim scholars disagree about exact criteria for salvation of Muslim and non-Muslim. Although most agree that Muslims will be finally saved -- especially shahids (martyrs), who die fighting for Islam and are expected to enter paradise immediately after death -- non-Muslims are another matter.
The idea that jinn as well as humans could find salvation was widely accepted, based on the Quran (Q.55:74) and the fact that they are addressed by sharia. Like humans, their destiny in the hereafter depends on whether they accept God's guidance. Angels all go to paradise, (except for the punisher angels in hell), because they are not subject to desire and do not commit sin, but their role in heaven is to serve and praise the human inhabitants.
Muslim scholars arguing in favor of non-Muslims' being able to enter paradise cite the verse:
According to Mohammad Hassan Khalil, on the subject of whether self-proclaimed non-Muslims might be allowed into Jannah, Islamic theologians can be classified as
In addition there are those who could be described as
Based on these categories, Four "well-known and particularly influential Muslim thinkers" can be sorted as:
Ghazali distinguished between the "saved" and "those who will attain success". Therefore, righteous non-Muslims will neither enter hell nor Jannah, but will stay in al-Araf (a realm between Jannah and Jahannam inhabited by those who are neither entirely evil nor entirely good).
Ashʿarism (/æʃəˈriː/; Arabic: أشعرية: al-ʾAshʿarīyah), one of the main Sunni schools of Islamic theology, founded by the Islamic scholar, Shāfiʿī jurist, Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī in the 10th century, is known for an optimistic perspective on salvation for Muslims, repeatedly addressing God's mercy over God's wrath.: 165 However, God is, according to Ash'arism, neither obligated to punish disobedience nor to reward obedience.: 167
Ash'aris hold revelation necessary to understand good and evil, as well as religious truths.: 109 Accordingly, revelation is necessary to reach moral and religious truths and thus, people who hear from a prophet or messenger are obligated to follow the revealed religion. However, those who have not received revelation are not obligated, and can hope for salvation.: 215 Mohammad Hassan Khalil considers Ash'arite scholar al-Ghazali to divide non-Muslims into three categories: 
Of these three, only the last group would be punished.
Māturīdism (Arabic: الماتريدية: al-Māturīdiyyah) is one of the main Sunni schools of Islamic theology developed and formalized by the Islamic scholar, Ḥanafī jurist Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī in the 10th century. Māturīdi scholars generally acknowledge the idea that even sinners among Muslims will eventually enter paradise.: 177 Regarding the fate of non-Muslims, there are diverse opinions.: 110 Māturīdism holds people responsible for believing in a creator due to their intellectual capacities, even if they haven't heard about any prophetic mission.: 5 : 215 : 110 While some (like Rifat Atay) regard Māturīdism to be exclusivistic, only allowing people who are Muslims to enter paradise,: 110 others argue that Māturīdi understood "to believe in Islam" as referring to a subjective conceptualization of God and his laws by reason alone. This fits the doctrine that human reason suffices to grasp good and evil, and arrive at religious truths, uphold by Māturīdism.: 109 Accordingly, people are judged by their degree of understanding God's universal law, not by their adherence to a particular belief system.: 215 : 110 In modern times, Yohei Matsuyama largely agrees with this interpretation.: 5 According to Abu'l-Qasim Ishaq, children cannot be considered unbelievers, thus all of them go to paradise.
Muʿtazila (Arabic: المعتزلة al-muʿtazilah) emphasized God's justice, free will, and the responsibility of each human being for their actions. They have been called the "best known exponents" of Qadariyah, the idea that human free will was necessary "as a guarantee of divine justice". The "divine threat" (al-wa'id) and "divine promise" (al wa'd) became key tenets of the Mu'tazilites.,: 173 who stressed that they applied to both Muslims and non-Muslims. This meant that those who committed grave or heinous sins (Kabirah), even Muslims, might denied entry to paradise forever.: 173 The only way for a grave sinner to be forgiven is by repentance (tawba). Peculiarly to the Mu'tazilites was the belief that God's justice obligated Him to forgive those who committed very serious sins.: 175 The Mu'tazilites stress on individual accountability meant a rejection of intercession (Shafa'a) on behalf of the prophet Muhammad.: 178 Another controversial belief of many Mu'tazilites was that paradise and hell would be created only after Judgement Day. This meant rejection of the commonly accepted idea that paradise and hell coexist with the contemporary world. Their reasoning was that paradise and hell only serve as places for reward and punishment, and would be useless if they had to exist now.: 167–168
Like most Sunni, Shia Islam hold that all Muslims will eventually go to Jannah.[nb 1]
On the fate of non-Muslims in the hereafter, Shia Islam (or at least cleric Ayatullah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani of Al-Islam.org), takes a view similar to Ash'arism. Tehrani divides non-Muslims into two groups: the heedless and stubborn who will go to hell and the ignorant who will not "if they are truthful to their own religion":
- Those who are termed ‘Jahil-e-Muqassir’ (lit. ‘culpable ignorant’). These are non-believers to whom the message of Islam has reached and who have understood its truthfulness. However, they are not prepared to accept the truth due to their obstinacy and stubbornness. This group deserves to be punished in Hell.
- Those who are termed ‘Jahil-e-Qasir’ (lit. ‘inculpable ignorant’). These are non-believers to whom the message of Islam has not reached, or it has been presented to them in a very incomplete and untruthful manner. Such people will attain salvation if they are truthful to their own religion.
(Twelver Shia scholar 'Allama al-Hilli insists, not only non-Muslims will be damned but suggests Sunni will too as it is not possible for any Muslim to be ignorant of "the imamate and of the Return" and thus "whoever is ignorant of any of them is outside the circle of believers and worthy of eternal punishment." This statement is not indicative of all Shia eschatological thought.)
Also like mainstream schools, and unlike Muʿtazila, Twelver Shia hold that Jannah and hellfire "exist at present ... according to the Qur`an and ahadith". However, they will not "become fully apparent and represented" until Judgement Day. As to the differences between Adam and Eve's Garden of Eden, "the heaven or hell of one's actions which envelopes a person"; and the Barzakh state of "purgatory" in Islam after death and before Resurrection; in Shia Islam, these three "types" of jannah are "all simply manifestations of the ultimate, eternal heaven and hell".
Modernist scholars Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida rejected the notion that the People of the Book would be excluded from Jannah, based on Q.4:123-124 (see above). The Fate of the unlearned is also a matter of dispute within Islamic theology.
Islam theologian Süleyman Ateş argues, Muslims had made the same mistake Jews and Christians made before by claiming Jannah is exclusive to Muslims only. Further he states, that those who believe in God without associating any partners with Him, believe in the hereafter without any doubt and do good and useful deeds can enter paradise, conditions several religions offer. He also refers to the Quran 5:66 that there are good and bad people among any religion, and even not all Muslims may enter paradise.
Further those who regard Jannah as exclusively for Muslims argue, that Islam is the "completed" and "perfected" religion and it is necessary to believe in the whole teaching of God, the prophets and the angels that just can be done by a Muslim.
While "some traditional and contemporary commentators" have interpreted the Quran as condemning all Jews, Farid Esack argues this condemnation is neither "universal" nor "eternal", and asks ‘If the Qur'an is to consign the Jews to eternal damnation, then what becomes of the sacred text as a means of guidance for all humankind? Would that vision too be damned?’
An example of a line criticizing the Jews can be found in Surah 5:
However, some scripture praises the dedication of Jews to monotheism, and this verse of the Qur'an in surah 3, can be interpreted as taking a more reconciliatory tone:
After reconciling the different descriptions, one can gather the conclusion that some Jews are considered worthy of damnation, while others are righteous and capable of salvation. The transgressions of the "apes and pigs" are not indicative of the entire community.
The focus on end times/Eschatology in Islam has tended to occur among those less exposed to scholarly learning and/or not until recently. "The particulars of the end of the world are not a mainstream concern in Islam," according to Graeme Wood.
However, in 2012 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 50% or more respondents in several Muslim-majority countries (Lebanon, Turkey, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) expected the Mahdi (the final redeemer according to Islam) to return during their lifetime. The expectation is most common in Afghanistan (83%), followed by Iraq (72%), Turkey (68), Tunisia (67%), Malaysia (62%), Pakistan (60%), Lebanon (56%), and Muslims in southern Thailand (57%).
Stories of end times and doomsday tend to be passed on as bedtime stories or informal talk among the lay Muslims, rather than in the Imam's Friday khutbah. "Even Muslims with low levels of knowledge have heard parts of parts of it", according to scholar Jean Pierre Filiu.[nb 2] In Islamic bookstores, their "dramatic and sensational stories of final battles between good and evil, supernatural powers, the ultimate rise of a Muslim elite," are naturally more attention getting than more orthodox works on prayer, purity or the lives of exemplary Muslims. More official Muslim sources have often either kept quiet about apocalyptic hadith or outright denied their existence—an example being Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations who stated "There is no apocalyptic bloodbath in Islam."
Popular Islamic pamphlets and tracts on the End Times have always been in circulation, but until around 2010 their "impact on political and theological thinking was practically nil” among Sunnis. Interest in the End Times is particularly strong among jihadis and "since the mid-2000s, the apocalyptic currents in jihadism have surged." As of 2011, the belief that the end of the world is at hand and will be precipitated by an apocalyptic Great Battle has been noted as a "fast-growing belief in Muslim countries" though still a minority belief.[nb 3]
"Dramatic and sensational stories" of the apocalyse first made an impact in the mid-1980s when Said Ayyub's Al-Masīh al-Dajjāl (The AntiChrist) started a new genre of Islamic "apocalyptic fiction" or "millenarian speculation" in the Arab world. The book was so successful Ayyub went on to write a half-dozen other spinoff books, inspired imitators who enjoyed even greater success (Muhammad Izzat Arif, Muhammad Isa Dawud, and Mansur AbdelHakim).
The book (and the genre) was noteworthy for rupturing the "organic link between Islamic tradition and the last days of the world", using Western sources (such as Gustave Le Bon and William Guy Carr) that previously would have been ignored; and lack of Sahih Bukhari hadith (he does quote Ibn Kathir and some hadith "repeated at second hand"); and for an obsessively anti-Jewish point of view ("in all great transformations of thought, there is a Jewish factor, avowed and plain, or else hidden and secret", "the Jews are planning the Third World War in order to eliminate the Islamic world and all opposition to Israel", and cover art featuring a grotesque cartoon figure with a Star of David and large hooked nose).
Unlike traditional popular works of Islamic eschatology that kept close to scripture and classical manuals of eschatology in describing al-Dajjāl, Ayyub portrayed the Dajjāl as 1) the true Jewish messiah, that Jews had been waiting for, 2) a figure who will appear or reappear not only in end times, but one who has been working throughout the history of humanity to create havoc with such diabolical success that human history is really "only a succession of nefarious maneuvers" by him. Intermediaries of al-dajjal (according to Ayyub) include St. Paul the Apostle, who (allegedly) created Christianity by distorting the true story of Jesus; the Emperor Constantine who made possible "the Crusader state in service to the Jews"; the Freemasons; Napoleon; the United States of America; Communists; Israel; etc. He concludes that the dajjal is hiding in Palestine (but will also "appear in Khurasan as the head of an expansionist state") and the Great Battle between Muslims and his forces will be World War III fought in the Middle East.
Later books, The Hidden Link between the AntiChrist, the Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle, and Flying Saucers (1994), by Muhammad Isa Dawud, for example, move even farther away from traditional themes, disclosing that the Anti-Christ journeyed from the Middle East to the archipelago of Bermuda in the 8th century CE to make it his home base and from whence he fomented the French Revolution and other mischief and now sends flying saucers to patrol Egypt and prepare for his eventual triumphal return to Jerusalem.
The success of the genre provoked a "counteroffensive" by pious conservatives (Abdellatif Ashur, Muhammad Bayyumi Magdi, and Muhammad Shahawi) disturbed by the liberties he had taken with Islamic doctrine.
In the early 1980s, when Abdullah Azzam, called on Muslims around the world to join the jihad in Afghanistan, he considered the fight "to be a sign that the end times were imminent". Also around that time, popular Islamic writers, such as Said Ayyub of Egypt, started blaming Islamic decline in the face of the Western world, not on lack of technology and development, but on the forces of the Dajjal.
Al-Qaeda used "apocalyptic predictions in both its internal and external messaging", and its use of "the name Khorasan, a region that includes part of Iran, Central Asia, and Afghanistan, and from which, it is prophesied, the Mahdi will emerge alongside an army bearing black flags", was thought to be a symbol of end times. But according to Wood, Bin Laden "rarely mentioned" the Apocalypse and when he did, "he implied he would be long dead when it arrived" (a reflection of his more "elite" background according to Will McCants).
Abu Musʿab al Zarqawi, the founder of what would become the Islamic State "injected" the apocalyptic message into jihad. ISIS has evoked "the apocalyptic tradition much more explicitly" than earlier jihadis. Dabiq, Syria -- town understood "in some versions" of the eschatological "narrative to be a possible location for the final apocalyptic battle -- was captured by ISIS and made it its capital. ISIS also declared its "intent to conquer Constantinople" which was also a part of end times prophesy. Interviews by the New York Times, and Jurgen Todenhöfer with many dozens of Muslims who had traveled to fight with Islamic State, and by Graeme Wood with Islamic State supporters elsewhere, found "messianic expectation" a strong motivator to join Islamic State.
While Al-Qaeda and Islamic State are Sunni, Shia insurgents/militants have also been "drawn to the battlefield" by "apocalyptic belief", according to William McCants, who quotes a Shia fighter in Iraq saying, “'I was waiting for the day when I will fight in Syria. Thank God he chose me to be one of the Imam's soldiers.'”
Many of the "lesser signs" can be interpreted to having been fulfilled, especially by jihadis. It's generally agreed that there has been a war between Muslims and Jews, and that moral standards have declined leading to rampant fornication, alcohol consumption, and music listening. "A slave giving birth to her master" can happen when the child of a slave woman and her owner inherits the slave after the owners death—slavery being practiced in the Islamic State (until its defeat). An embargo of Iraq is alleged to be foretold in the hadith "Iraq would withhold its dirhams and qafiz". that Muslim states are being led by those who do not deserve to lead, is an article of faith among jihadis and many other Muslims. ISIS alleges that worship of the pre-Islamic deity al-Lat is the practice of its Shia enemy Hezbollah. That naked shepherds will build tall buildings is interpreted to refer to the fact that Gulf State builders of skyscrapers are "only a generation or two out of desert poverty".
Jihadis (in the Islamic State) not only see the fulfillment of prophecy in current events, but are attempting to fulfill it themselves to hasten end times. Zarqawi published "communiqués detailing the fulfillment of specific predictions" found in a famous book on jihad and end times called, A Call to a Global Islamic Resistance by Abu Musab al Suri. His successor, Al-Baghdadi, took "the fulfillment of apocalyptic portents even more seriously". According to Hassan Abbas, [nb 4] at least part of ISIS's motivation in killing and otherwise provoking Shia is to "deliberately ... instigate a war between Sunnis and Shi’a, in the belief that a sectarian war would be a sign that the final times has arrived"; and also explains the ISIS Siege of Kobanî: "In the eschatological literature, there is reference to crisis in Syria and massacre of Kurds—this is why Kobane is important."
Thus, "ISIS's obsession with the end of the world" helps explain its lack of interest in the "ordinary moral rules" of the temporal world, according to Jessica Stern. If you are "participating in a cosmic war between good and evil", (and if everyone will be dead and then resurrected relatively soon anyway), pedestrian concerns about saving the lives of the innocent are of little concern.
Mustafa Akyol criticises the current focus by the Muslim community on apocalypticism and the use of the forces of the Dajjal to explain stagnation in the Muslim world in the past two centuries vis-à-vis the West (and now East Asia). He argues that if supernatural evil is believed to be the cause of the problems of Muslims, then practical solutions such as "science, economic development and liberal democracy" will be ignored in favor of divine intervention. (On the other hand, a sahih hadith reports Muhammad saying that "If the Final Hour comes while you have a shoot of a plant in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.")
Western scholars agree that the apocalyptic narratives are strongly connected to the early jihad wars against the Byzantine Empire and civil wars against other Muslims. William McCants, writes that the fitan (“tribulations”) of the minor and lesser signs come from the fitan of the early Islamic civil wars (First Fitna (656–661 CE), Second Fitna (c. 680/683–c. 685/692 CE), Third Fitna (744–750/752 CE)) where Muhammad's companions (Sahabah) and successor generations (Tabi‘un and Taba Tabi‘in) fought each other for political supremacy. "Before and after each tribulation, partisans on both sides circulated prophecies in the name of the Prophet to support their champion. With time, the context was forgotten but the prophecies remained." Smith and Haddad also say that "the political implications of the whole millennial idea in Islam, especially as related to the understanding of the mahdi and the rise of the 'Abbasids in the second Islamic century, are very difficult to separate from the eschatological ones." Consequently, the reliability of hadith on end times has been questioned. Smith and Haddad state that "it is difficult to determine whether" the Prophet Muḥammad "actually anticipated the arrival" the Mahdi as "an eschatological figure", despite the fact that "most of the traditions about the Mahdi are credited to Muḥammad. Scholar Jean-Pierre Filiu has also states "The apocalyptic narrative was decisively influenced by the conflicts that filled Islam's early years, campaigns and jihad against the Byzantine Empire and recurrent civil wars among Muslims."
Skepticism of the concept of resurrection of the dead has been part of both "the compatriots" of Muhammad and "rational and scientifically-infused" of the contemporary world.
The fact of the resurrection of the body has been of continuing importance to Muslims and has raised very particular questions in certain circles of Islamic thought, such as those reflected in the later disputations between philosophy and theology.[nb 5]
It was not really a point of issue for early Islam, however, and bodily resurrection has never been seriously denied by orthodoxy. It is, as many have observed, basic to the message of God as proclaimed by the Prophet and articulated clearly by the Qur'an,[nb 6] especially in those passages in which the contemporaries of the Prophet are presented as having scoffed or raised doubts. It continues to be, as we shall observe shortly, a point of conviction for many of the contemporary interpreters of Islam to a world in which a rational and scientifically-infused populace continues to raise the same eyebrows of skepticism as did the compatriots of the
Early skeptics being quoted in the Quran as saying: "Are we to be returned to our former state when we have become decayed bones? They say, that would be a detrimental return!" (Q79: 10–12).
Death is also seen as a homecoming. When people visit tombs, they are having a specific spiritual routine. The correct way to visit someone's tomb is to recite parts of the Quran and pray for the deceased.
The writings of five medieval Sunni scholars on Islamic eschatology stands out for their "depth and originality", according to Jean-Pierre Filiu. Taking a work by them that includes the subject of the signs of end times, Filiu points out their characteristics, differences, and influences (Where the Mahdi will first appear, where Jesus will descend to, how many human and angel warriors will fight with the Mahdi, etc.).
Abu Shadi Al-Roubi liked