in the hadiths that have come down to us from the prophet (saas), news is given concerning the end times and the golden age of islam. when we compare these signs with the things that are taking place in our time, we can see many indications that we are living through the end times and which also herald the arrival of the golden age of islam.
we must make it clear that some of the signs pointed to in the hadiths that we have been considering in this chapter may have been witnessed to one extent or another throughout the 1,400-year history of islam, in some part of the world. that does not mean, however, that those were the end times. because, in order to describe one period as the end times, all the signs of the last day need to happen at the same time, one after the other. that situation is referred to in a hadith:
"signs following one another like bits of a necklace falling one after the other when its string is cut."257
in the hadiths, the beginning of the end times is described as when discord grows, and war and conflict are on the increase, when there is chaos and moral degeneration rears its head and people turn away from the morality of religion. at the time in question, natural disasters will occur all over the world, poverty will reach unseen levels, there will be a large increase in the crime rate, and murder and brutality everywhere. yet this will be only the first stage. during the second phase, allah will rescue mankind from this chaos and replace it with a blessed existence full of plenty, peace and security.
the hour will not be established … till the people compete with one another in constructing high buildings.258
the last day will not be established until... time will pass quickly.259
great distances will be traversed in short spans of time.260
the last hour will not come before time contracts, a year being like a month, a month like a week, a week like a day, a day like an hour, and an hour like the kindling of a fire.261
the century we are living in has seen the capability of constructing supersonic aeroplanes, and the ability, thanks to trains and other improvements in means of transport, to make journeys in a few minutes that would once have taken months, and in great comfort. what this hadith indicates is also taking place in this manner.
communication between continents would take weeks hundreds of years ago, but is now a matter of seconds, thanks to the internet and improvements in technology. goods that used to take weeks to arrive, following a long journey, can now be delivered at a moment's notice. billions of books can now be printed in the time it would take to write a single letter just a few centuries ago. as well, other technological developments have meant that we no longer waste large amounts of time on cooking, cleaning and child minding.
one could go on citing similar examples. yet, the important thing here, of course, is that the signs of doomsday, as set out by the prophet (saas) in the seventh century, are now happening one by one.
the last hour will not come before the end of a man's whip speak to him.262
the whip is known as a tool used in earlier times when riding or guiding pack animals such as horses or camels. when we look closely at this hadith, we can see that the prophet (saas) is making a comparison. let us ask people living at the present time a question, "is there a modern implement that talks and resembles a whip?"
the most logical reply to that question is the mobile telephone, with its long antenna, or similar communications equipment. if we bear in mind that mobile or satellite phones are comparatively recent developments, then the wisdom behind the prophet (saas)'s description of 1,400 years ago is even clearer. that is just one more indication that we are living through the period prior to doomsday.
there will be no judgment ... until a person's own voice speaks to him.263
the message in the hadith is quite clear: a person's hearing the sound of his own voice is another sign of the end times. there is no doubt that in order to hear the sound of one's one voice, one first needs to record it, and then to play it back to himself. sound recording and reproduction equipment are products of the twentieth century. that development marked a scientific turning point, and led to the birth of the communications and media industries. sound reproduction is nearly perfect now, thanks to computer and laser technologies.
in short, the electronic gadgets of our time, microphones and speakers, allow us to record sound and play it back, and are also manifestations of that related in the above hadith.
the sign of that day: a hand will be extended from the sky, and people will look and see it.264
the sign of that day is a hand extended in the sky and people stopping to look at it.265
the arabic word for "hand" in the above hadiths is "yed." as well as "hand," the dictionary also provides such meanings as "power, force, strength, means etc." it is probable that in these hadiths the word is used in those senses.
the idea of a "power, force, strength or means" extending from the sky and looked upon by people might not make much sense in the context of past ages. yet, it sheds considerable light on equipment such as the television, camera and computer, which have become such an indispensable parts of modern life, as described in the hadiths. in other words, the "hand" mentioned in these hadiths is used in the sense of force. it clearly points to pictures coming down from the sky in waves, in other words television broadcasting.
people will reap 700 measures of wheat for every one they sow … people will throw down a few handfuls of seeds and reap 700 handfuls … although much rain will fall, none will be wasted.266
the prophet (saas) provided many other details of the technological advances that will accompany the end times. attention is also drawn in the hadiths to the move towards modern agricultural techniques, the development of new production methods, seed improvement research, and increasing production as a result of better use of rainwater by building new dams and artificial lakes.
at that time ... life spans will grow longer.267
fourteen centuries have passed since the prophet (saas) brought forward that news. the average expected lifespan is much higher now than it has been at any other time in recent history. a great difference can be seen even between the figures for the beginning and the end of the twentieth century. for instance, it is estimated that a baby born in 1995 will live some 35 years longer than one born around 1900. another striking example on the same subject is that in the recent past very few people lived to be 100, whereas now it is a great deal more common